If the apocalypse is nigh, then it would
seem that there’s no better place to be than James Franco’s house, where
everybody parties like it’s 1999 (and I wish they had actually dropped
that track into the mix). By everybody, I mean Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel,
Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and, of course, Franco
playing alternate versions of themselves.
The simple premise of this suburban comedy — about a group of dads who
form a neighborhood watch group to patrol their block, but soon discover
an extraterrestrial menace threat far beyond their control — feels like
a lazy opportunity for Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill to hang
out and crack wise on the studio dime.
While the animated story of a criminal mastermind who stumbles off the beaten track and onto the path of heroic fame and glory (and for the chance to win the love of a woman) might seem a bit familiar to audiences, 'Megamind' devotes more time to turning the 'Superman' mythos on its ear to hilarious effect. Grade: A-.
The low-fi craze mumblecore, with its casual, hip camera techniques and sometimes barely audible improvised dialogue, has dominated Sundance, SXSW and other U.S. indie film festivals for the last few years. 'Cyrus' seeks to expand on that success, thanks to filmmaker brothers Jay and Mark Duplass and the summer's most unlikely hero, Jonah Hill. Grade: B.
Successful "spin-off" TV shows have given a showcase to fully fleshed-out second bananas. But in the movies second bananas don't always fare well as leads; case in point is Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), the vain, addle-brained British Rock star from 2008's 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall.' He's licking his wounds after his most recent record flops, but a music-industry functionary named Aaron (Jonah Hill) wants Snow to mount a comeback through a concert at Los Angeles' Greek Theater. Grade: C-plus.