Movies in Theaters on Friday, July 29, 2011
The penultimate month of summer comes to a close with a heaping helping of moviegoing choices, including two alien invasion flicks (one with Indiana Jones and James Bond, the other with a bunch of foul-mouthed hooligans), a movie about how hot Ryan Gosling is, a look at Saddam Hussein's batshit crazy son and a creepy-looking indie about how you should never leave your apartment and make friends with anyone ever.
The first teaser for director Jon Favreau's adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's cult graphic novel should be used as a template for any and all genre teasers to come: it gave just enough information to get you interested, showed off its all-star cast with class and style and -- most surprisingly -- created a sense of genuine mystery and unease. Indeed, it looked like Cowboys & Aliens, despite its somewhat goofy postmodernist title, was going to go heavy on the atmospheric dread -- could this be something as dark and deliberately paced as Clint Eastwood's now-classic Unforgiven, but with, you know, aliens? Alas, the full-length trailer traded the mysteriousness of the teaser for the usual over-explanation that plagues so many trailers these days, presenting what looks like an entertaining but pretty run-of-the-mill summer movie -- we doubt there's really much more to it than what's presented in those two and a half minutes. Still, it's not every day you get Indiana Jones and James Bond in the same movie, and Favreau has proven himself to be pretty good with this comic book stuff what with Iron Man and all, so we've still got some of our hopes up, if not all of them. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is in it, and she's just all sorts of nice.
If you take Shaun of the Dead and mix it with a sort of British Goonies, you're still not quite halfway to describing what Attack of the Block looks like, an alien invasion flick that provides the weekend's yang to the ying of Cowboys & Aliens. Creatures from outer space make the biggest mistake of their lives when they show up in the toughest neighborhood in London, as the young hooligans that populate the area don't take kindly to anyone muscling in on their turf, even if they are from another bloody planet. This will probably have enough audience-pleasing moments to fill three summer movies, a sort of non-nostalgic, foul-mouthed (and extremely violent) response to J.J. Abrams playing it safe with this summer's Super 8. Written and directed by Joe Cornish, who appeared in both Shaun and Hot Fuzz; his buddy Nick Frost is on hand as seemingly one of the few adults in the cast. A must-see for anyone who, in a summer full of PG-13 adventures, is ready for a down-and-dirty R-rated E.T. smackdown.
An oddly self-conscious-looking movie that might be introducing the age of the "meta-rom-com," Crazy, Stupid, Love (awful title, by the way) stars Steve Carell as a fella made a cuckold by his lonely wife (Julianne Moore, doing her shrill, hysterical routine again) and Ryan Gosling as a hot guy who sleeps with a lot of hot chicks; the latter soon takes the former under his wing and shows him how he can do it, too -- all he needs is nice clothes and a better haircut, after all. Carell's character seems nothing more than a slight variation on The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Gosling seems to be playing, well, himself -- Emma Stone exclaiming "You look Photoshopped!" at his impossibly cut physique makes all of this seem even more like a put-on. Warner Bros. also loses points for poking at Twilight in the trailer -- the mega-studio certainly doesn't need to stoop to such cheap shots.
Remember Moon Over Parador, the late '80s comedy starring Richard Dreyfuss and Raul Julia in which Dreyfuss plays a two-bit actor called upon to be the stand-in for a dictator? Neither do we, really, but that's actually what came to mind upon first viewing the trailer for this Bagdad-set crime drama about Latif Yahia, the army lieutenant forced to become the "fiday" (body double) of Saddam Hussein's sadistic son, Uday. The Devil's Double looks to be filled with danger, decadence and general rambunctiousness, with Dominic Cooper (who was recently so amusing as Tony Stark's equally brilliant and flirty dad, Howard, in Captain America: The First Avenger) delivering what might be an Oscar-worthy double performance, playing both the Angel and Devil of a hot, dusty hell on Earth. Believe it or not, The Devil's Double is based on a true story, which makes all of this even frickin' crazier.
This moody-looking thriller seems like it would've been right at home in the indie-happy days of the '90s, and wouldn't you know it, the story actually takes place in the dead of winter '95, as three tenants in an old apartment house have to decide who they can and can't trust as their small Montreal neighborhood is under siege by a serial killer. Good Neighbors doesn't look like it's going to be anything special, and Jay Baruchel, who plays the excitable Victor, may once again wear out his welcome pretty early on, but it's been a while since we had at least an attempt at a good old-fashioned wintry tale of paranoia, so it might be worth a shot -- or a stab, as it were. If nothing else, the production design looks impressively seedy and creepy -- apartment buildings can be spooky places, especially when they have Scott Speedman rolling around in a wheelchair all suspicious-like.