This comedy about a high school kid who fails to get into college (he starts a fake one to fool his overzealous parents) not only gets a D-minus for plot, but stars no known actors. So I expected it to be awful. But it's not! True, as flicks about high-school-burnouts-with-romantic-souls go, Accepted is no Ferris Bueller, nor is it as deft at college craziness as Old School. But hey, it's hot outside. You could do worse. (Matt Davis) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Bad Education & Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown
Two films from Pedro Almodóvar—for free! Pi-Rem
Todd and Jan Wolfhouse (Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter), to get back at some asshole Germans, put together a team of misfits to compete in the Beer Olympics. Insert all your favorite Broken Lizard actors, dick and burp jokes, and a nasty run-in with mustard. Go into Beerfest expecting a good time, a lot of laughs, and not much else—and you, like me, will likely enjoy this hilarious masterpiece. I loved this movie—and I'm not just saying that because I'm drunk! (Christine S. Blystone) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Bring Your Dog to the Movies Day
Watch movies with your dog. Plus: Free organic dog biscuits. Also: Probably a lot of dog shit. Clinton Street Theater
Clerks II is old-school Kevin Smith. It wipes away the memories of his later films; it reminds viewers why he was so heralded and great and hilarious in the first place. In other words: The smart, fresh, funny, crude, and well-written Clerks II is the best and funniest film Smith's made since the first Clerks. (Erik Henriksen) Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Mission Theater, Laurelhurst
Not screened for press (LAME!) this actioner stars The Transporter's Jason Stratham as a dude who'll die if his heart rate drops. That means pulse-pounding action—literally! Also starring that goddamn kid who played that goddamn Pedro in that goddamn Napoleon Dynamite. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Not screened in time for press (LAME!), this basketball drama co-stars the inimitable Wayne Brady! Oh, shit yeah! Wayne Brady in the house! Century Eastport 16, Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Lloyd Cinemas
Escape to Canada
A documentary about the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, and the country's brief decriminalization of marijuana in 2003. Cue shot-upon-shot of same-sex kissing and people smoking joints in public, with the odd Religious Right nutcase denouncing it all for good measure. Attempting to tackle nationalism, the American Right, liberalism, drugs, and the legislation of sexuality in 81 minutes is a tough order for anybody—and director Albert Nerenberg falls flat on his face trying to do it. (Matt Davis) Clinton Street Theater
See review this issue. Cinema 21
Godzilla: Final Wars
See I'm Going Out on pg. 51. Hollywood Theatre
How to Eat Fried Worms
Being the new kid is never easy—just ask Billy Forrester (Luke Benward), who makes the ill-considered boast that he "eats worms all the time." So the school bully bets Billy that he can't eat 10 worms before 7 pm on Saturday—and the loser has to go to school with worms in his pants. (Oh, snap!) So it begins: Worms are eaten raw, then blended, deep-fried, microwaved, and stewed. But Billy chokes 'em down, and makes a few friends (and learns a few lessons!) while he's at it. This movie is completely disgusting and made me want to throw up several times—but it's also funny, and the writing is surprisingly tolerable for this sort of kids' flick. This is not to say that anyone over the age of 12 should actively seek it out or anything, but if you read the book as a kid (or are titillated by the thought of young boys eating worms), you might get a kick out of it. (Alison Hallett) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The more you like OutKast, the more you will hate Idlewild, a feature-length vanity project showcasing André 3000 and Big Boi. Essentially a scant few music videos threaded together by an impossibly boring and limp plot, the film is mishandled at nearly every step by director Bryan Barber. With OutKast's future in doubt—they don't tour together anymore, and a proper album sounds like a pipe dream—it's already hard being an OutKast fan. The reason we loved them so much in the first place was because they were a brilliant alternative to everything unimaginative and corny that Idlewild celebrates. (Chas Bowie) Century Eastport 16, Lloyd Cinemas
Take Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, two of the best actors working today, and throw in a few interesting themes—science vs. magic, order vs. chaos, politics vs. love—and it'd seem like The Illusionist has everything going for it. But it doesn't. Writer/director Neil Burger doesn't know what to do with these two great actors, let alone how to handle what should have been a multi-layered drama. Five minutes in, one realizes that just about everything in The Illusionist, with the exception of Giamatti, feels like a cheap TV movie. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Marky Mark Wahlberg makes his football-playing debut in this Disneyfied "true story" of Vince Papale, a down-and-out bartender/substitute teacher who arrives home to find that his wife has left him, mainly because she thinks he's a big fuckup—and yeah, he is a big fuckup, but then Papale becomes a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, and he gets himself a foxy girlfriend who actually likes football! A lot of the movie consists of Marky Mark running really fast, and the rest of the movie is Marky Mark falling down and getting back up again, because Marky Mark is scrappy and tough and he doesn't need you or me or the Funky Bunch or anybody else. And fuck you Vince's ex-wife, you fucking bitch. Football is a way of life. (Alison Hallett) Regal Cinemas, etc.
This German comedy is a hodgepodge: relationship drama/slapstick comedy/Romeo and Juliet redux/social commentary/kung fu. Our befuddled hero is wannabe filmmaker Ibo (Denis Moschitto), who makes kung fu-themed commercials for his uncle's crappy restaurant—and he also manages to impregnate his incredibly hot girlfriend, Titzi (Nora Tschirner). Problem is, Ibo's dickhead dad doesn't like Titzi; Titzi wants Ibo to grow up; and Ibo's more concerned with making a kung fu flick than, you know, being a father or whatever. Kebab Connection's writing and direction is broad and trying—there are too many satellite characters, and the tone steadfastly refuses to gel. So it's Kebab's saving grace that Moschitto's Ibo, despite his childish confusion, is a charmer, and even though all the script really wants her to do is act pregnant and bitchy, Tschirner's still sweet, sexy and identifiable. With characters like these, Kebab Connection's faults are easily forgiven. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
Kill Your Idols
See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
It was only a matter of time until the French churned out a film like this one. Lemming is a Lynchian take on life in the suburbs, a freaky tale of infidelity and rodents that starts on a sunny day and ends on a sunny day, but goes to some pretty dark places in between. Alain (Laurent Lucas) and Bénédicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are a model married couple—until the day that Alain's boss' wife commits suicide in their guest room, and it's all pretty much downhill from there. The film's atmospheric creepiness never gathers enough speed to be compelling, but the scene in which Alain gets attacked by hundreds of lemmings just might make up for the many dull moments found in the rest of the movie. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
Little Miss Sunshine
No, Little Miss Sunshine—a dark comedy about a family road tripping from New Mexico to California in a busted-up Volkswagen van, and a film that got a lot of people talking at Sundance—isn't quite deserving of all its ecstatic buzz. But yes, still: Once you get past all that impossible hype, Sunshine is still pretty great, with clever humor, a tone of whimsical melancholy, and great performances, especially from Steve Carell and Alan Arkin. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
More like Miami NICE! (Adam Gnade and Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall
A Prairie Home Companion
Back when The Simpsons was funny, they had a great gag about PBS' A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Homer, et al., were sitting on the couch, watching Keillor tell his supposedly comedic stories. Stone-faced, the Simpsons couldn't figure out why the TV audience was in fits over Keillor; finally, Homer stood up and banged on the TV: "Be more funny!" he shouted, confused and angry. So let's give Homer the benefit of the doubt: If broken technology is why A Prairie Home Companion is so dull on PBS (and equally so on NPR), then that means there are a whole bunch of lousy projectors in America's movie theaters—because Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion film is even duller. (Erik Henriksen) Lake Twin Cinema, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, Academy Theater
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10, City Center 12
In Latino culture, the quinceañera is a customary ceremony to commemorate a girl's 15th birthday. More importantly, it signifies the transition into womanhood. The amount of fuss and pomp (read: money) over this event is taken to be indicative of the family's economic status, and the similarities to weddings don't stop there—the young woman of the hour almost always wears a big, fluffy, white, virginal dress. You can understand, then, the monument of mess that 14-year-old Magdalena (Emily Rios) is in when it's discovered that she's pregnant—just as preparations are starting to be made for her quinceañera. (Marjorie Skinner) Hollywood Theatre, Fox Tower 10
A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick's writing is some seriously wacked-out stuff, happily walking a tightrope between comprehension and confusion, and veering into philosophic acrobatics as comfortably as it does visceral blows. Richard Linklater's note-by-note adaptation and inspired visuals nail Dick's fascinating plot and unsettling tone—throw in some dead-on performances, a soundtrack that flows with the prickly, urgent, and moving strains of Radiohead, and, for all its otherworldliness, A Scanner Darkly feels damningly prescient and tangible. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, Academy Theater
Woody Allen's older, great comedies had an edge to them fueled mostly by his unrelenting anxiety and self-loathing. Now, he's comfortable in his skin, he finally likes himself, and the tension is gone. Remember how funny grandpa thought it was when he asked you to pull his finger? Scoop is like 90 minutes of that. (Justin Sanders) Cinemagic, St. Johns Twin Cinema and Pub, Fox Tower 10
The story is classic: Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a roughish foster kid who steals cars and gets in fights, but who mostly is just a sweet, cute guy who's good with children, plus is a really killer street dancer. (He's a hell of a lot more modern jazz than krump, but go with it.) For slap-dash and expediently deployed reasons, he ends up in a dance studio with Nora (Jenna Dewan), a serious dance student at the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts. Rousing hybridizations of formally trained skills and raw talent ensue, as does romance, a couple of unobtrusively inserted life lessons, some cute clothes and fresh, pretty faces, and, of course, some decent dancing. Step Up doesn't fart around trying to be something it isn't, but it sticks the finish by being exemplary as what it's supposed to be—Fame-lite. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Strangers with Candy
For those just joining us, Strangers was a wickedly funny show that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons. It featured the talents of David Sedaris' funnier sister, Amy, as ex-crack whore Jerri Blank who returns after a stint in prison to finish high school. A clear parody of the ABC After-School Specials, Strangers put a hilarious spin on such heavy teen issues as drug abuse, body image, and mental retardation. Though barely watched by mainstream America, Strangers was an absolute hit on the fringe, with pickle-jar tight direction and an average of three laugh-out-loud jokes per minute. Which makes it really uncomfortable for me to relay the news that the Strangers with Candy movie... well... kind of sucks. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Considering that Anchorman is probably the best movie Will Ferrell will ever make, comparing Talladega Nights to it is kind of unfair—but also inevitable. Ferrell's Ricky Bobby is a borderline retarded, all-American racer who drives a Wonder Bread-branded car and serves as a hero to mouth-breathing NASCAR fans everywhere. Until, that is, a nemesis shows up: the all-French racer Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). Disappointingly, Ferrell just phones it in here—it's the film's two supporting characters who make Talladega so entertaining. Da Ali G Show's brilliant Cohen is hilarious as the crêpe-loving Girard, and he's shown up only by the great John C. Reilly, who giddily plays Ricky Bobby's dumb, loyal friend Cal. Whenever Reilly and Cohen are on screen, Talladega Nights is a blast—fast, goofy, unpredictable, and willing to go all-out for laughs. You know, sort of like Anchorman. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Team America: World Police
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have not only created a meticulous homage to the terrific Gary Anderson Thunderbirds series of the '60s (in which a globe-trotting team of marionettes save the world), but also a biting commentary on the very modern "war on terror" that gleefully cuts both ways. "Team America" is a international police force whose mission is track down terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction—and kill them with even bigger weapons of mass destruction. While Parker and Stone obviously enjoy skewering the "fuck 'em all" ethos of the American redneck, they're just as happy torturing, blowing up, and beheading puppet representations of the liberal acting community. But none of their hilarious jokes or jaw-dropping crudity takes precedence over what is very accomplished filmmaking. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst
Trust the Man
Trust the Man, the latest comedy from one-time gloomy Sundance wunderkind Bart Freundlich (The Myth of Fingerprints), has a few minor deficiencies in certain areas. Laughs, for one thing. Freundlich's script deals with a closely intermingled pair of fracturing couples, one (Julianne Moore and David Duchovny) severely undersexed, the other (Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal) terminally afraid of commitment. Round and round they go, with a series of foibles intended to amuse, but building instead to an overall flatline that not even a cameo by the usually solid Bob Balaban can juice. So, it's a crummy film, of the kind that normally would be too blah to work up much of a dudgeon over. What sticks in the craw, finally, is its sense of entitlement, the smug sensation that the filmmaker, as in his previous films, thinks that he's absolutely knocking it out of the park. Really, for all of its supposed witty urbanity, the only thing that works in the whole film is the existence of two decent fart jokes within the first three minutes. (Andrew Wright) Century Eastport 16, Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Fox Tower 10
The Wicker Man
Neil LaBute's remake of the 1973 cult horror classic. Not screened in time for press (LAME!), but hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, September 1 for our review. Regal Cinemas, etc.
World Trade Center
Whoa, wait a minute—you must have me confused with the old Oliver Stone! The one who used to like to push buttons and explore ideas? That's not me any more! No, what I'm doing with World Trade Center is making a happy 9/11 movie—no one wants to be depressed at the movies anymore! World Trade Center starts with the Twin Towers falling... and ends with a picnic! (Oliver Stone) Regal Cinemas, etc.