As if rising with the temperature, the second quarter of the movie season is shaping up pretty nicely.
After months of stagnation, the Esquire and Mariemont theaters have finally mixed up their bookings in recent weeks, bringing in such worthwhile (if often little-seen) fare as Anvil! The Story of Anvil, The Class, Examined Life, Is Anybody There?, Paris 36, Sin Nombre, Sunshine Cleaning, Sugar, 12 and Tyson. Even flawed efforts like Brothers at War, Fados, The Informers and The Brothers Bloom are welcome diversions from the seemingly endless awards season films that clogged their marquees the first quarter of the year. This week adds two more uneven but intriguing art-house offerings the mix, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 and Rudo y Cursi, both of which I review below.
There’s even been a few quality Hollywood options of late: Drag Me to Hell, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, The Soloist, Next Day Air and Up are all nice options in their given genre. And this week brings The Hangover, a ribald ride that is likely to become the breakout comedy of the summer, as well as the less-promising Land of the Lost and My Life and Ruins.
THE HANGOVER — To its credit, The Hangover transfers to the audience the smelly, still-inebriated state that the title promises. Director Todd Phillips (Old School) is nothing if not relentless in his pursuit of a full sack of masculine stupidity at the hand of drink, drugs and the dubious charms of Las Vegas. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Cole Smithey (Rated R.) Grade: B-
HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 — Veteran documentary filmmaker Kevin Rafferty looks back to his own undergrad days at Harvard in this surprisingly tepid reexamination of a 40-year-old football game. The director interviews 37 players, nearly all of whom recall the “landmark” game with a mix of nostalgia and regret, depending on which side of the ball they resided: Yale, a heavy favorite, was ahead by 16 points with 42 seconds left to play before allowing Harvard to tie the game in miraculous fashion. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Jason Gargano (Not Rated.) Grade: C
LAND OF THE LOST — Will Farrell, as scientist Rick Marshall, tries his hand at a big summer comedy/adventure blockbuster, which is a remake of the creepy, tripped-out science-fiction TV show from the 1970s. Look for the original’s kid-friendly approach to take a backseat to a more menacing brand of dinosaurs, cavemen and aliens (better known as those campy, lizard-looking dudes called Sleestaks). Comedic man-of-the-moment Danny McBride costars along with Anna Friel. Brad Silberling directs. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon
MY LIFE IN RUINS — My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos returns to the big screen in this uninspired romantic comedy about a professor (Vardalos) who moves to Greece and falls for her tour-bus driver (Alexis Georgoulis.) Veteran director Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza, Miss Congeniality) guides a cast that also includes Richard Dreyfuss and Rachel Dratch. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated PG-13.) Grade: D
RUDO Y CURSI — Together for the first time since Y Tu Mamá También, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna team up as soccer-playing half-brothers in Carlos Caurón’s scattershot corn-fest Rudo y Cursi. That’s not to say Bernal and Luna aren’t fun to watch — they tackle the ribald dialogue, deeply unconvincing plot and corny emotional turns with enough conviction to almost make us believe in this ludicrous tale. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — JG (Rated R.) Grade: C