Worm Boy vs. Marky Mark 

Succinct Reviews for the Discerning Cinephile

How to Eat Fried Worms
dir. Dolman
Opens Fri Aug 25
Various Theaters

Being the new kid is never easy—just ask Billy Forrester (Luke Benward). Billy gets off on the wrong foot with the school bully, Joe (Adam Hicks), who fills Billy's thermos with earthworms. In an attempt to pretend that a thermos full of worms doesn't gross him out, Billy (who earns himself the sobriquet "Worm Boy") makes the ill-considered boast that he "eats worms all the time." So the two rivals make a bet that Billy 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

Kebab Connection
dirs. Akkus, Saul
Opens Fri Aug 25
Hollywood Theatre

There's a school of thought in filmmaking that goes something like this: With a movie, you don't necessarily have to have things like "themes" or "plot" or "tone"—all you really need are likeable characters, people that the audience wants to spend time with. While this technique has been used and abused for as long as cinema's been around (usually for likeable but untalented movie stars' benefit), sometimes it still works.

The German comedy Kebab Connection 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

Invincible
dir. Core
Opens Fri Aug 25
Various Theaters

Marky Mark Wahlberg makes his football-playing debut in this Disneyfied "true story" of Vince Papale, a down-and-out bartender/substitute teacher who blows off steam after work by tossing around the ol' pigskin with some pals. One day he 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 whatever—when the hotshot new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (Greg Kinnear) holds tryouts, Vince straps on the shoulder pads and makes the team, thus becoming an inspiration not only to his deadbeat alkie friends, but also to anyone who's ever gotten in a fight with his wife about football. By the end of Invincible, the bitchy wife gets it, Vince becomes a superstar, 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

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