By Katie Walsh | The Playlist July 8, 2011 at 6:39AM
Hello my summer chickadees, have your retinas grown back after the assault of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"? I'm peeping through protective lenses as I type my weekly missive to you. This weekend doesn't hold quite as much bombast in new releases, so if your addiction to explosions and CGI rears its head, you'll have to revisit some of our earlier summer releases. Or just take it down a notch with some low brow comedy. If you like your comedy R-rated, we have "Horrible Bosses." If you want to take a kid (or you have a massive head wound), check out "The Zookeeper" with the maestro of fat man physical comedy, Kevin James. There are also a few other new selections in theaters, or you may just have to get outside and soak up the Vitamin D.
"Horrible Bosses" is stacked with a winning cast: there's the charm-splosion trifecta of Jasons Bateman and Sudeikis and "Always Sunny" alum Charlie Day (that's a lotta great hair) making his star turn on the big screen, and Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey (a lot of very bad hair) working their bad sides as the titular bosses the aforementioned charmbots are trying to assassinate. Whew! Throw in a little Jamie Foxx and that's star soup! Despite the promise shown by the trailers, our reviewer was disappointed in the final product, saying "there’s just so little commitment to the core idea that movie can’t be anything but an intermittently funny, instantly forgettable romp." Rotten Tomatoes: 76% Metacritic: 58
It pains me that the only other offering this weekend is Kevin James vehicle "The Zookeeper," whose teaser trailer featured talking animals and James screeching, telling you all you really need to know about this "film." So the premise is that the animals in the zoo give Kevin James' zookeeper love advice to win back Leslie Bibb and/or seduce Rosario Dawson. Whatever. If you pay money for this, we are not friends. Our review (taking a bullet, there), calls it a "commercially craven piece of garbage," so... there's that. RT: 13% MC: 31
Moving on! Horror legend John Carpenter's latest, "The Ward" stars Amber Heard as a young institutionalized woman tormented by a ghost. What's with institutions being hot all of a sudden?! Our review says the film feels less like a John Carpenter film and more like a straight-to-DVD release, but Heard is a riveting performer, saying, "you can’t keep your eyes off this girl, less of a young twentysomething and more of a force of nature." RT: 33% MC: 41
Paul Giamatti and his outstanding bowl cut star as King James in the medieval sword slasher "Ironclad." Brian Cox joins in the scenery-devouring fun! James Purefoy and Kate Mara don't stand a chance. Director Jonathan English attempts to keep up with these two titans by spilling as much blood as possible. Our review says director English, "is less-interested in consistent, thorough characterizations as much as he’s thrilled by faces being torn clean off." RT: 44% MC: 38
Director Matthew Chapman returns with "The Ledge" a thriller about an atheist (GASP SPOOKY) played by Charlie Hunnam, having an affair with Liv Tyler, who is married to Patrick Wilson's born-again Christian (yeah, right). Then Patrick Wilson punishes them by making Charlie Hunnam almost jump off a building? And Terrence Howard is the negotiator? Our review says, "as a condemnation of religion run wild, it tiptoes on the edge of stereotyping but never totters over and ultimately, 'The Ledge' is worth a cautious visit." Check out our chat with director Chapman. RT: 5% MC: 31
Your best bet is taking the thinking person's route and checking out two excellent documentaries hitting theaters this weekend. First up, Michael Rapaport's "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest" about the influential 90s hip hop group. The film hasn't been without it's own personal dramas, as the members of Tribe come to terms with the intimate and vulnerable portrait Rapaport has put onscreen. Check out our interview with the director about the filmmaking process and conflicts he has faced in the press with the group. Our review says the doc is "utterly engaging, completely infectious," and "simply one of the best music documentaries that has come along in a long while." RT: 95% MC: 75
Next up is "Project Nim," from the filmmakers behind the compelling doc "Man on Wire." 'Nim' follows an experiment conducted in the 1970s on a chimp named Nim who is raised as a human child in a family in order to see if primates have a capacity for language that can be nurtured. It's a fascinating topic and our review says, "this smart documentary should prove the perfect summer antidote to most of summer’s films that require you to turn your brain off to enjoy them." RT: 95% MC: 81
French director Catherine Breillat's latest effort is "The Sleeping Beauty," a sexually charged retelling of the classic fairy tale. Our review says the film is "is an imaginatively immersive experience, fully embracing its fantasy roots and, with a decidedly lower budget, carrying more rich, complex imagination than even Peter Jackson’s Tolkien fantasies, and most assuredly the multiple 'Snow White' adaptations coming in the next couple of years." RT: 76% MC: 68
Also in theaters: Ellen Barkin and Famke Janssen in the based on the true story stolen identity thriller "The Chameleon"; some other sci-fi horror concoction called "The Fading of the Cries": French kidnapping drama "Rapt" RT: 89% MC: 72; Japanime feature "Trigun: Badlands Rumble"; "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness" is a doc about the Jewish writer whose writing inspired "Fiddler on the Roof" RT: 100%; a mysterious drifter named Rooster shows up at a farm in the mystery "Septien" RT: 58% MC: 50; "Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish" seems pretty self-explanatory, right? RT: 57%; Sri Lankan filmmaker Sanjeewa Pushpakumara's debut "Flying Fish"; Bollywood kid flick "Chillar Party"; Mexican drama "Summer of Goliath."