Opening in Las Vegas, July 24, 2015

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An eclectic assortment of films opening this week, including one that will be remembered come Razzie time.

I refer to Pixels (27), getting some of the most venomous reviews of the year, mostly directed at Adam Sandler. This seems to be another nail in the coffin of his career as a bankable feature star–will a sit-com be next? Josh Bell: “Of course, calling Pixels one of Sandler’s better movies is like calling a particular strain of Ebola somewhat less horrifically painful; either way, it’s not pleasant.”

The “prestige” opening this week is Southpaw (56), which I reviewed below, with Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer who starts high and ends up low. I found it to be a compendium of cliches, and while there may have been some Oscar hope with the Weinsteins for this they can forget it. Rodrigo Perez: “A very routine twelve rounds of tragedy, resilience and redemption, the boxing film Southpaw is a conventionally told dramaturgy high on intensity, but low on human insight or novel ways to tell a familiar story.”

For teenage girls there’s Paper Towns (57), based on a novel by the same author of The Fault in Our Stars. Cara Delevignge stars as the latest fashion model to attempt to break into acting; she’s mostly known for her bisexuality and her eyebrows, but is not getting rave reviews for her thespianism. Eric Henderson: “To hose down the white elephant in the room right off the bat, yes, it falls into place as a coming-of-age spin on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype.”

A better family drama may be Infinitely Polar Bear (64), which stars Mark Ruffalo as a father struggling with bipolar disorder. Marjorie Baumgarten: “With Infinitely Polar Bear, Forbes has created a warm family portrait, even though it sugarcoats the specter that mental illness casts on this group’s well-being.”

For those who want a really bad movie, VOD is offering Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, a misbegotten attempt by David Spade to remain relevant. I would have really liked to see the pitch meeting for this and the idiots who spent money to make it. There is no Metacritic rating, but my local paper gave it one star: “You’d think that after 14 years, they’d have more than stale fart jokes and weak callbacks to bits that weren’t funny in the first place.”

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

4 responses »

  1. I’m no fan of Sandler but he did well to be such a consistently popular comic star from mid-90s to early 2010s, he might have had only one or two flops in that period. Pretty rare for any comedian to do that, especially in past few decades.

    As for Joe Dirt, if anyone can name a less-anticipated sequel ever, you’re doing well

  2. I actually didn’t realise initially that Pixels was directed by Chris Columbus instead of the usual Dennis Dugan-types that direct these Sandler films.

    Columbus’ career has suprisingly gone off the rails in recent years. He wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s written and/or directed some good films in the early part of his career (a lot of which were massive hits) and you would’ve thought his career would be better than it has turned out.

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