Movie Capsule Reviews

“Fun with Dick and Jane”

Directed by: Dean Parisot

Starring: Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni and Alec Baldwin

2.5 stars

Dick (Jim Carrey) and Jane (Tea Leoni) lead a simple life. Dick works for a large company run by “the man” (Alec Baldwin), and Jane is a travel agent. All is well. See Dick get promoted. See Jane quit her job. See Dick lose his job. See Dick and Jane rob a tattoo parlor.

Remake of the 1977 Jane Fonda flick, this couple turns to robbery to pay for their expensive, upscale life.

“Fun with Dick and Jane” is a good, goofy movie worth a few laughs, but best kept for renting. Skip the money for the movie ticket.

– Danielle Tararuj, Staff Writer

“Brokeback Mountain”

Directed by: Ang Lee

Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid

3.5 stars

Two cowboys meet one summer while herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain. Despite claims that “I ain’t no queer,” Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) can’t seem to help but fall for each other. They form a secret relationship while leading separate lives with wives, children and jobs.

Based on the short story by E. Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” is definitely an acquired taste. The whole film seems lazy and drawn out like a life herding sheep. The sparks between Twist and Del Mar aren’t even recognized until the last 20 minutes of the movie. It appears to be a love story without the love.

However, the pain of a broken marriage and a life of lies and secrets can be felt. “Brokeback” is in a class of its own, detailing a forbidden relationship in a closed-minded society.

– Danielle Tararuj, Staff Writer

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”

Directed by: Andrew Adamson

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton and the voice talents of Liam Neeson

4 stars

Four children stumble upon a wardrobe that isn’t quite what it seems. They are thrust into the frosty land of Narnia- – a strange place with fauns, a talking lion (Liam Neeson) and the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Little do the siblings know that the fate of Narnia rests upon their shoulders.

Based on the books by C.S. Lewis, the movie is an exquisite masterpiece. Not only is the world of Narnia amazingly done, but the acting and the script are well-done. The four unknowns playing Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) are bright new stars, and Swinton is powerfully frightening.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” draws you in, showing you betrayal, hope and a terrible war. It is a fantastic adventure.

– Danielle Tararuj, Staff Writer

“King Kong”

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann and Andy Serkis

3 stars

A demented director (Jack Black) finds a map to a strange island. Upon arriving with a full cast and crew for a new movie, they are ambushed by natives. The unlucky leading lady (Naomi Watts) is kidnapped as a sacrifice to a giant gorilla better known as King Kong.

However, Kong has no interest in eating the damsel, but becomes her guardian and companion. Kong is captured and brought back to New York City as the “Eighth Wonder of the World!” But as most of you know, Kong meets his end at the top of the Empire State Building.

The moral of the story? According to Peter Jackson, “‘Twas beauty killed the beast.” That along with an excruciating three hours of the same slow, jerky camera movement on bones and skulls. Jackson’s second blockbuster is, of course, a technological wonderland. It is eye candy that brings you into an exotic world with strange creatures.

But the script isn’t that great, the lines are cheesy and most of the acting is subpar. However, Watts is a breath of fresh air as the lonely ape’s companion, Ann Darrow. And Andy Serkis, playing both Kong and a shipmate, once again masters the art of making a CG character come to life. See “Kong” for the action and technology. If you’re seeking compelling dialogue, try another movie.

– Danielle Tararuj, Staff Writer

“The Family Stone”

Directed by: Thomas Bezucha

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, Craig T. Nelson and Dermot Mulroney

3 stars

Despite being marketed as a feel-good family flick for the holiday season, “The Family Stone” surprised me on a number of levels. The story focuses on the tribulations of Meredith, (Sarah Jessica Parker) who is thrown into the lion’s den at a Stone family Christmas.

The matron of the house, Sybil (played in a brilliant, bipolar manner by Diane Keaton), rejects all of her son’s pleas for the prized family diamond ring. Younger sister Amy (rising star Rachel McAdams) greets her future sister-in-law with the warmth of an Arctic blast.

And along the way, the stuffy, conservative Meredith confronts the advances of her boyfriend’s pot-smoking brother, Ben (hilarious Luke Wilson).

This idiosyncratic family portrait has plenty of laughs and a few emotional moments, but fails to throw any loops into the plot. One character hints at a possible health problem and there is a romantic twist that can be seen from a mile away.

However, each in the ensemble cast (which also features Claire Danes and Craig T. Nelson) is given a moment to shine. The laughs seem out-of-place at times, but the tension can become so palpable (the dinner scene in particular), you almost want to duct-tape Meredith’s mouth shut.

As if that’s not enough proof, this movie made me dislike Diane Keaton. Her character, while redeemed at the very end, is so mean that Keaton and the writers deserve credit for making the usually likeable star into a monster-mom.

– Scott Napolitano, Staff Writer

“The Producers”

Directed by: Susan Stroman

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman

2 stars

Remakes have taken over Hollywood, and “The Producers” is no exception. Here we have Mel Brooks’ gem picture, which was turned into a hit stage play before being translated (once again) in film form.

I know that there is far more singing this time around, but is this really necessary?

The story, for those who don’t know, takes place in the 1960s. Accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick, in Gene Wilder’s classic comedic role) confronts down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) with the idea that a flop might make more money than a hit show. The two schemers then get in deep trouble when their show – “Springtime for Hitler” – inadvertently becomes a hit.

Listen to the soundtrack of the play if you want the music. Watch the original if you want the laughs.

Sure, Will Ferrell is funny as a Nazi playwright. Sure, Uma Thurman is attractive and Lane and Broderick are excellent singers. But does that warrant a remake of an already great story?

Broderick captures Wilder’s nervous style. However, Wilder did it first and did it better way back in 1968.

And while no one turns in a horrific performance, the neo “Producers” need not have been made.

– Scott Napolitano, Staff Writer