New Movie Reviews: Greek, Killers, Marmaduke, Splice

I saw four movies this weekend, and, unfortunately, do not have the time to write up full reviews of each of them so let's knock 'em out in one fell swoop.  Enjoy!

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Get Him to the Greek (**1/2)

This spin-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall is fun enough I guess, but nowhere near as great as the critics are making it out to be.  Russell Brand reprises his Aldous Snow character, and delivers a breakout movie star performance.  When he walks into a room with co-stars Elizabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men, wasted here) and Jonah Hill, he just reeks of being larger than life.  Although Brand was funnier in Sarah Marshall (so was that movie), it probably had to due with the fact that he was a supporting character.  Here, he's been bumped up to the lead, which means his character has to have an arc and some dramatic storylines, most involving his shifty dad.  My big problem though is with Jonah Hill.  I like him enough in smaller roles - his presence in Funny People was just the right amount of screen time - but here he drags the movie down, giving a muted, inconsistent performance.  Every time Hill was on screen, I couldn't stop thinking about all of the other actors I would rather see paired with Brand : Aziz Ansari, Jessie Eisenberg, Jason Bateman, etc.  Any of them would have been better than Hill.  Apart from Brand, the big bright spot (and major scene stealer) is Sean "P.Diddy" Combs as the mind-f**king record exec, Sergio Roma.  He gets the best lines and earns most of the movie's big laughs.  Between Combs and Brand, Get Him to the Greek is good enough for a rental but not much more than that.

 

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Killers (**)

An almost worthless movie and a giant suck of your time.  Killers pairs Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl as a newly married couple, whose happily ever after hits a snag when Kutcher's spy past catches up to him.  When not escaping the clutches of unimposing bad guys or trading unfunny barbs, the two bicker over babies, parents, and other marital bonds.  This is lazy, uninspired filmmaking on every level - the script is lame and derivative, the actions scenes suck, the comedy is non-existent, and the performers grate.  Heigl shrieks a lot.  Kutcher tries to act tough.  Catherine O'Hara milks the boozy mother act for the umpteenth time.  And Tom Selleck is all mustache.  Not so much excruciating to sit through as just utterly forgettable.  I liked this movie better when it was called True Lies.

 

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Marmaduke (*)

A lot of talented actors jumped at the chance to voice the talking dogs that appear in this family "comedy."  Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, McLovin', Kiefer Sutherland, George Lopez, Steve Coogan, and more can all be heard.  I hope the work was easy and they were paid well because this is not something I would want on my resume.  Same goes for the quality human actors in it, including William H. Macy and Judy Greer.  What did they do to deserve this?  And what did we as audience members do?  As a parent who loves taking his kid to the movies (which I did here), I'm thankful for new family movie product every week, but I have to wonder.  Why are all the decent family films animated?  Why do all current live action kids' movies suck?  They used to be awesome in the '80s (Goonies, Willow, Labyrinth).  Now, they're just noisy idiot machines, designed to suck the joy out of going to the movies.  Marmaduke is no exception, continuing down the same dumb-ass path as The Tooth Fairy.  If CGI dogs surfing, dogs farting (and narrating while they do it), and lame puns like "Cow-a-Bark-a!" are your thing, the more power to you.  All others, beware.

 

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Splice (***1/2)

Less a horror film than it is a sci-fi drama exploring the ethical issues of genetic experimentation (albeit with horror elements), Splice is unique and memorable in a summer that has been anything but.  It goes places you predict but don't expect, and raises a lot of interesting questions about science, sexuality, and parenthood.  Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star as married scientists, caught up with topping themselves and finding cures to diseases through genetic manipulation and gene splicing.  Both actors do good work, and constantly toe the line throughout the movie of being both relatable and totally unlikeable.  The character design of Dren, the successful human/animal hybrid created, is fascinating to watch, and the movie never goes for cheap scares.  I don't know how the last 30 minutes will work for everyone.  The audience I saw it with was laughing hysterically and kind of mentally exited the movie at that point.  I won't reveal what happens, but it's safe to say the movie definitely takes a turn.  Is it for the worse?  Probably - I get what director Vincenzo Natali was attempting, but I'm not so sure he pulled it off.  Still, this is thought-provoking and entertaining stuff, and, a day after seeing it, I find myself forgiving any last act missteps.  That just means this is a good, even really good, movie, if not a great one.  Given the way this movie year is going, that's good enough for me.

 

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  • I don't think the action scenes in Killers suck. I think the script writers tried to cram too many into too short of a span.

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