“Beginners” stars Christopher Plummer as the elderly Hal who comes out as gay to his adult son, Oliver, played by Ewan McGregor. Hal also learns that he has cancer. Oliver meets a young lady with whom he develops a quirky relationship. The film is written and directed by Mike Mills who should be commended for his sensitive story and naturalistic direction. But the big deal here is Plummer who commands his every scene, without (seemingly) even trying too hard. In the end, though, I felt the film only approaches the truth of these characters; it flirts with greatness, but doesn’t quite achieve it. 2010, Rated R, 105 minutes, comedy, drama. 3 out of 4 stars.
“Hobo with a Shotgun” is the low-budget grindhouse movie starring Rutger Hauer as a hobo, and yes, he has a shotgun. There’s fighting, shooting, gore, blood, drugs, beheadings–and that’s just in the first couple of scenes. The film was directed and co-written by relative newcomer Jason Eisener. Generally speaking it’s an awful film, and it’s supposed to be. Eisener and Hauer have a ball, and if you like this genre, you’ll love it too. The premise (and production values) wear a little thin, and the film doesn’t hold up as well as say, “Planet Terror” or “Death Proof.” 2011, Rated R, 86 minutes, action, crime, thriller. 1.5 out of 4 stars.
Half of me hated and was bored by “Bad Teacher,” but the other half of me enjoyed it. There are several funny jokes, and the acting is fine. Cameron Diaz plays a teacher who hates her job and who wants a boob job so she can meet and marry a rich guy. One could choose to dislike the central character’s shallowness and amoral behavior, but honestly, it’s simply not that important. The film is weightless. While “Bad Teacher” is generally entertaining and vaguely funny, my overriding thought at the film’s finale was, why bother. 2011, Rated R, 92 minutes, comedy. 2 out of 4 stars.
In “Cars 2” the animated tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) joins his buddy Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) overseas for a big race. But soon Mater finds himself in the middle of some thrilling vehicular espionage. “Cars 2” is a bit talky in the beginning, but eventually, the film falls into a good pace. The animation is great like we’ve come to expect from Disney Pixar, but the story is a bit weak compared to other Pixar films. Still, it’s a worthwhile trip. 2011, Rated G, 106 minutes, animation, adventure, comedy. 2.5 out of 4 stars.
Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” is short (just 69 minutes) and wonderfully sweet (not just the honey). This is classic old school animation, a book within a movie, and it’s adorable–plus literate and musical. The gang’s all back, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the cutest honey-loving bear in history. The basic story involves Eeyore’s missing tail and everyone trying to capture a “Backson” so they can save their friend Christopher Robin. The film is probably best suited for little tykes, but honestly, grown adults might find themselves charmed as well. I loved it. Great voice talents too. 2011, Rated G, 69 minutes, animation, family. 3 out of 4 stars.