Jack Black, Michael Cera, Olivia Wilde, David Cross, Paul Rudd
(Sony; US theatrical: 19 Jun 2009 (General release); 2009)
There are a bunch of big questions marks hanging over this irreverent epic comedy, many left unanswered by the uninspired Super Bowl preview and recently released trailer. Former SCTV savant Harold Ramis has made come classic laughfests—Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day. But his recent resume is full of mishandled misfires (Analyze That? Bedazzled? ). Add in the questionable casting of Jack Black and Michael Cera as a couple of lazy Cro-Magnons setting out to discover the ancient world, and this could be an unfunny History of the World Part II. The sole saving grace may be one Judd Apatow. Taking an actual producer’s credit here, he’s capable of guiding even the most haphazard project into fits of fan hysterics—just look at Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story or Pineapple Express. Here’s hoping he can work his magic on this otherwise suspect project.
Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nuñez
(Touchstone Pictures; US theatrical: 19 Jun 2009 (General release); 2009)
Sigh. Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before. A high strung career gal (Sandra Bullock) has a problem (in this case, an expiring Visa) that requires a quickie engagement/marriage to solve. She turns to the most unlikely of candidates (her desperate assistant played by Ryan Reynolds) and before you know it, the government is investigating the couple’s lovebird legitimacy. So it’s off to the family home for a weekend of misunderstandings, forced funny business, and of course, budding romance. While some may consider it the chick flick answer to a weekend ripe with frat boy buffoonery, the old maxim still holds some truth. Familiarity might just breed contempt here.
Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Cavill, Patricia Clarkson, Kristen Johnston, Larry David, Ed Begley Jr.
(Sony Classics; US theatrical: 19 Jun 2009 (Limited release); 2009)
Woody Allen is back, this time returning to his recognizable Manhattan angst with this Larry David vehicle. As a substitute for the American legend, the Seinfeld scribe gets involved with a much younger woman. Their relationship fuels a series of comic misadventures with the massive May/December issues involved front and center. Many believe the Oscar winning genius behind Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and the recent Vicky Christina Barcelona is back to his winning ways. For those of us less enamored with his output, it remains a case of cautious optimism.