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In Theaters: 'I Am Number Four,' 'Unknown,' 'Big Mommas,' 'Putty Hill'

by Katie Walsh
February 18, 2011 5:39 AM
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Another Friday brings us another blockbuster, this one aimed squarely at the fluttering innards of tweenish types everywhere. And for the dads that drop them off at the theater, Mr. Neeson kicking ass, and for the true masochists, a new entry in the Granny Drag cannon. Of course, if you so choose, there are some interesting offerings in the mix, if pretty aliens and badass Neeson and Martin Lawrence don't entice you. Opening in wide release, Alex Pettyfer hopes to earn his diva behavior with "I Am Number Four," Liam Neeson stars in the reverse-amnesia vehicle "Unknown," and there's an unasked for sequel in the "Big Momma's House" franchise. In limited release, we've got some interesting stuff, including narrative/doc hybrid "Putty Hill," Gael Garcia Bernal in "Even the Rain," and Mexican cannibal flick "We Are What We Are." Let's begin, shall we?

The man behind the cheekbones finally shows Hollywood just how much those paycheck tantrums are worth in his first blockbuster offering, "I Am Number Four." This weekend will be interesting, because come Monday, Alex Pettyfer will either be handed the deed to the Hollywood sign, or chased from the studio lot by an angry mob. No pressure, Alex! This is what happens when they anoint an unknown the Next Big Thing. At least it's a fairly easy target, the teen/tween market. Throw some pretty British tousle-headed boy against a somewhat recognizable American gal, add impossible romance and a supernatural element and stir. 'Number Four' at least looks like it will deliver on the action front, and D.J. Caruso has made a few not-quite-god-awful films, so there could be promise. Our review said, "when the fireballs and plasma bursts start to fly, it’s hard to care much," but "the action sequences in particular have a lively spark." Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron and Theresa Palmer co-star. Rotten Tomatoes: 29% Metacritic: 39


The second coming of Liam Neeson involves a European location, a vague, single word title, and Neeson crackin' skulls to get whatever he needs back, back. This time it's his identity! January Jones plays his forgetful (or is sheeeee??? I don't know!!!) wife and blah blah blah conspiracy, Diane Kruger is the prettiest cab driver ever or whatever. The film is directed by "Orphan" and "House of Wax" helmer Jaume Collet-Serra, who brought some fun and life into those standard horror proceedings. Dudes who haven't been dragged into 'Number Four' will enjoy this. Our review says the film is, "a pulpy chunk of absurdist escapism that has a sense of humor about its own outlandishness." RT: 53% MC: 57

Who thought a third Big Momma film so long after the fact was a great idea? Fox? Was it you? This is more of a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot situation, guys. You don't see Tyler Perry taking off the fat suit for so long, Martin Lawrence! In fact he probably directed "For Colored Girls" with it on just in case there was a chance to shoot some Madea pick ups. Brandon T. Jackson takes the job as Big Momma's young protege. Yeah, they are undercover cops or something. On second thought, a Big Momma-Neeson mashup should really happen. In Neeson's next flick, he should don the granny drag. Perfect. "Big Momma's House: I Didn't Bother To Remember the Subtitle" currently possesses the rare 0% on the tomato-meter. RT: 0%

Brad Anderson's "Vanishing on 7th Street" asks: are you afraid of the dark? Sometimes, yes. Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo help to explain why. Hint: there are shadows that will eat you!! Our review describes the film as "all apocalyptic posturing with no sense of what it means." RT: 55% MC: 48

There are a bunch of really interesting, small films out in limited release this week, so if you are driven from the multiplex into the warm and waiting arms of the arthouse, you will be welcomed with lots of great choices.

The narrative-doc mashup "Putty Hill," directed by Matt Porterfield opens in limited release this week, and our review says, "the director creates a special kind of cinema, one that only crops up every so often. It refuses to adhere to restrictive conventions, forming its own structure by freeing itself to experimentation and collaboration, which in turn incites not only a feeling of intimacy in the viewer, but also excitement." RT: 70% MC: 76

Also hitting theaters, "Even the Rain" directed by Icíar Bollaín, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. The movie about a movie sees Bernal as a director making a film about Columbus in the face of a Bolivian revolution. Our review says the film is, "a well made and engrossing picture... a film that should definitely be sought out when its released stateside this spring." RT: 70% MC: 69

Mexican genre bending cannibal flick "We Are What We Are" opens in theaters in limited release before hitting On Demand next weekend. This debut feature from Jorge Michael Grau follows a family of cannibals as they struggle to move on in the wake of the father's death. Our review from NYFF calls the film "a vital piece of cinema," and be sure to check out the interview we did with the new director on the scene. Definitely worth checking out in your theater or On Demand. RT: 78% MC: 63

Tariq Tapa's guerrilla-style "Zero Bridge" opens this week, featuring a cast of non-professionals in a story of conflicted young love in Kashmir. Our review says the film, "doesn’t work as well as it could’ve. All things considered, if this is the kind of movie that he can make as a one man crew with no dough, we might be in for something else if he ever gets proper funding and talent. For now, though, we’ll have to wait, because Tapa’s better days are ahead of him." RT: 75% MC: 55

VHS tape of "Kindergarten Cop" wore out? Lost that "Mr. Nanny" poster? Lent that DVD of "The Game Plan" out only to see it never return? No worries, my friend, there's a new entry in the Former Wrestler Tough Guy Takes Care of Small Children microgenre with this week's "The Chaperone." This time, nannying duties are passed on to Triple H aka Paul Levesque, who looks truly odd on the poster. Boy oh boy, I can't imagine what wacky hijinks and heartwarming ending is in store! RT: 21% MC:

Also in theaters: Tom Shadyac's personal exploration documentary "I Am;" frat hazing drama/mystery "Brotherhood" RT:46% wildlife documentary with narration by Jeremy Irons "The Last Lions," RT: 87% MC: 70; wife swap green card rom com "Immigration Tango," RT: 14% MC: 22; sexy cerebral "Now & Later," RT: 17% ; NYC sex dramedy "Loveless."

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