It might seem like a dramatic departure for director Joe Wright and his favorite young star, Irish-born Saoirse Ronan, who last collaborated on the tender World War II-era romance Atonement (2007) before reconnecting two years later, at Ronan’s suggestion, on the set of Hanna.
Yet Wright, 38, says his latest, opening Friday, a taut, Bourne-inspired thriller about an Eastern European teen isolated from society and trained from childhood to kill – a task at which she is frighteningly adept – isn’t so different from Atonement once you delve beneath Hanna’s grittier surface.
“Comedy usually is for funny people.” So proclaims George Simmons, the world-famous stand-up and movie star whose premature death sentence – he is diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of leukemia – provides the dramatic thrust for roughly half of Judd Apatow’s maudlin, wildly self-indulgent comedy Funny People.
George (Adam Sandler) is right, of course. As if to prove the point, Apatow has assembled a cast of gifted comic actors, including Sandler, longtime protégé Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann and Eric Bana, the Munich star who rose to prominence in his native Australia with his own sketch-comedy show. The resulting slog, clocking in a nearly two-and-a-half hours, is far less amusing than the sum of their talents.
If J.J. Abrams aimed to boldly go where no man has gone before with Star Trek, his long-anticipated franchise reboot that traces Capt. James T. Kirk’s roots back to his wildly undisciplined youth, give the man some credit. While there’s no denying that his contribution to the cult creation of the late Gene Roddenberry is cleverly executed, this latest Star Trek sometimes feels more like a winking homage than a new beginning.