THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN: Steve Carrell plays Andy, a guy who lives alone surrounded by his action figure collection. He works in an electronics store. He has a solid circle of friends (Paul Rudd Romany Malco, and Seth Rogen). The only problem, if it is a problem, is that Andy is 40 and has never had sex. Not with a woman. Not with a man. So the movie spends its weary length discussing this fact, prepping Andy for the right date, and then having him get laid. The films best gag has been shown all over television talk shows and in the preview: Andy gets his chest waxed, although why he needs his chest waxed is an unanswered question). The bit was shot without a script and Carrell really had his chest waxed so his swearing and comments could be spontaneous. And you thought movies were filled with acting. The bit no longer has any oomph. Anyway, the overly long film is grotesquely unfunny because it goes nowhere. The friends are a variation on the three stooges (and the gang in Anchorman). Carrell co-wrote the weak script along with failed director Judd Apatow. Furthermore, the sad little movie mines the despicable mother lode of ethnic jokes and homophobia and one would think smart guys like Rudd and Carrell would know better than to wallow in that pigsty.
THE BROTHERS GRIMM: Matt Damon and Heath Ledger star as charlatan brothers (Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm). In a Germany long, long ago, they travel from village to village inventing strange tales of ghosts and goblins and then charge the unhappy peasants a fee for exorcising all demons. The movie is filled with fanciful settings and moments of pure whimsy. Damon and Ledger really dont lose all traces of their modern acting selves, but are fun to watch. When a real and violent threat challenges the Grimm mens huckster skills and phony courage, the movie soars into delirious nuttiness. Director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil, Time Bandits) keeps the energy level high. Working with screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Gilliam invents a zany world that movies do so well. Theres mystery, silliness (some of the film is quite funny), and an enchanted/haunted forest setting that is magical to see. When all those little red riding hoods start disappearing, the fun really begins. This is a film in which dropping breadcrumbs can lead to very dark days and vats of witchcraft. All-in-all, a strange but entertaining fable for teenagers and adults.
THE SKELETON KEY: The delightful and talented Kate Hudson plays a nurse who takes a job any sane person would run away from. She needs a fresh start in her life, so why not accept $1000 a week to keep an eye on two elderly kooks? This haunted house thriller set in mossy Louisiana kicks it up a notch thanks to terrific performances from Hudson; Gena Rowlands, as the woman who hires her; John Hurt, as Rowlands mute crippled husband; and Peter Sarsgaard as a bayou lawyer. All of the rooms in the creaky house are okay, except for the attic. And you know who just has to go into that attic. But I keep hearing noises. You bet she does. Good in a funhouse way thanks to Iain Softleys ability to direct without a heavy hand.
FOUR BROTHERS: Awful in a cheesy way, this meandering, violence-strewn revenge effort is a throwback to Charles Bronsons Death Wish movies, but not as well-made or as sociologically interesting. The brothers are a hodgepodge of good and bad, black and white former foster home lads, now annoying adults. The woman who raised them is murdered in a badly sketched convenience store robbery, so at her funeral, the lads vow to find the punks. But not before theyve eaten Thanksgiving dinner. The movie tries for sentimentality, but lands in the slop. John Singleton directs as if hes forgotten how to frame a scene. Star Mark Wahlbergs career continues to decline. But Andre Benjamin (one half of the singing duo OutKast) proves he has acting promise.
DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO: What can one say about a girl who died? Oh wait thats Love Story. What can one say about a movie that is so poorly made you cringe at every image? Rob Schneider has no talent save appealing to pre-teen boys and turning scatological immaturity into cash. This sequel (the mind boggles) to Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo is rife with bad taste, but not in that good John Waters way. Schneider is a chubby, dwarfish guy who plays an oaf who thinks hes Gods gift to women. Obviously, he isnt and thats supposed to be the joke. Heaven help the future of the cinema.
THE GREAT RAID: Based on the true story of the successful American raid on a Japanese POW camp in the Philippines from which 500 Allied military personnel were rescued from the brutal Japanese caretakers. Many of the GIs were survivors of the brutal Bataan Death March. The movie is hit and miss. The history lesson is well-prepared and you follow that thread. But the prison camp material is too familiar, the acting is B-level (Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, and Connie Nielsen in a slow-the-movie-down subplot), and the directing is flat. The film never reaches the heights of a solid action adventure. The quirky and talented James Franco is hopelessly lost in this effort, and director John Dahl, a master of contemporary noir (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West) is a bit out of his element.
STEALTH: a top secret robotic plane (it talks) goes a little loopy and causes problems as American Navy fliers soar from here to there on pointless bombing missions that have no grounding in the real world. Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel (way to young an actress to be a fighter pilot), Jamie Foxx, Joe Morton, and Sam Shepard star in this silly action movie that wastes a lot of time flying nowhere. By Michael Calleri ALT Movie Editor
As the summer movie season meanders down to a close, its time to start thinking of the Toronto Film Festival, which runs this year from September 8 through 17. Anyone can drive up to TO and take a chance on seeing at least three movies a day, maybe four. My personal record is six a day for a couple of days in a row, but I have the advantage of watching press screenings at a single location. The Toronto Festival unreels its movies all over town, with Galas at Roy Thompson Hall, special presentations at the Elgin on Yonge Street, and upwards of 300 films at venues like the Varsity and Cumberland, or at screening rooms and museums, etc. The public can attend the Galas thanks to rush seats and the huge capacity of the Thompson. There are also plenty of star sightings. The Four Seasons, Sutton Place, and Inter-Continental hotels are prime viewing spots for celebs, and the Bistro 990 on Bay Street is a favorite watering hole for stars, directors, and the press. Public allowed in as well.
Meanwhile, heres a look at some new and recent openings.