Movies in Theaters on Friday, August 5, 2011
The final month of summer begins with a cautionary tale about the global dangers of trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease, an argument for why you shouldn't be married or single and Rachel Weisz taking on the entire United Nations (and an American accent). Which will get your butt in a seat this weekend?
Ten years ago, Tim Burton's oddly misguided Planet of the Apes remake failed to create a new beginning for the once-popular science fiction series; the head-scratching final shot of a statue of Tim Roth in ape makeup in the place of the Lincoln Memorial didn't inspire so much "Huh?" as "Who cares?" and plans for a sequel were dropped. Now we have this origin story, a kind of Frankenstein tale with James Franco as a doctor whose noble quest to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease leads to the enslavery and near-extinction of the human race. Rise of the Planet of the Apes looks to be a gripping, violent and (inevitably) downbeat portrait of evolution/revolution, and Andy Serkis -- Hollywood's go-to mo-cap maestro -- will undoubtedly steal the show as Caesar, the super-smart simian who rabbles and rouses.
Rachel Weisz stars in this true-crime story as Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. (whoa, the entire U.N.?) for covering up a prostitution scandal. This is the kind of movie where the protagonist can't trust anyone (least of all David Strathairn, but that's just our guess -- hey, we saw The Bourne Ultimatum) as she fights her righteous lonely battle against corrupt and shadowy super-powers, regularly coming home to a tossed apartment and threatening answering machine messages. Weisz gets to show off her American accent and Monica Bellucci goes for some serious-actor credibility by sporting more than a few gray hairs; whether this all adds up to a (secret) hill of beans remains to be seen. Is it us or did Samuel Goldwyn drop the ball in releasing this kind of movie during the summer?
Jason Bateman (as a harried family man) and Ryan Reynolds (as a promiscuous, devil-may-care bachelor) play two best pals who get a taste of each other's very different lives when they experience one hell of a Freaky Friday. The last thing we (or many generations to come) need is another body-changing comedy, but Bateman and Reynolds are such likable performers that they may be able to keep The Change-Up above water all the way to the finish line -- as long as they're given more to do than just flail about with "Look at the clueless single guy trying to change diapers" and "Whoa if he sleeps with that girl he's committing adultery but only sort-of" scenarios. Olivia Wilde, who's always welcome company, plays Bateman's dreamy colleague, and Leslie Mann once again does the alternately harried/bemused housewife act she perfected in Knocked Up. One wonders what lesson there is to be learned with this particular yarn, though -- in Freaky Friday, a mother and daughter learned to understand and respect each other by living in each other's shoes for a while... will there be more to The Change-Up than just "Well, that happened?"