The Transamerica Pyramid is the target of a nuclear strike in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the latest thriller off one of Hollywood’s most dependable assembly lines. Pixar’s Brad Bird is not the first to wreak havoc on San Francisco, though the Golden Gate Bridge, rather than the city’s tallest skyscraper, is a more popular bull’s-eye.
Imagine E.T. recast as a low-rent comedy, conceived by the cheerfully profane Shaun of the Dead co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and you should have some idea what to expect from Paul, their first big-screen collaboration as screenwriters.
Absent the subversive touch of Edgar Wright, who directed and co-wrote Shaun (2004) and the pair’s buddy-cop parody Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul is a slighter diversion, as much a loving homage to geek culture as a gentle send-up of the genre’s lesser entries, including 1988’s Mac and Me.
Home Movies: Adam Sandler's Regressive Foray into Adulthood, Michael Cera's Bruising Video-Game Romance
Based on an original story by Adam Sandler and former Saturday Night Live writer Fred Wolf, Grown Ups contains not a single imaginative minute. It is as lazily conceived as anything Sandler has done.
But it must have been a blast to make. Judging by the fact that Sandler and his fellow SNL alum, with King of Queens star Kevin James gamely filling in for the late Chris Farley, spend so much time laughing at their own jokes, we might reasonably suspect something funny is afoot. Just try and find it.
Edgar Wright, the English director of the exuberant romantic comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, cites 2007’s Hot Fuzz, his Point Break-inspired follow-up to the 2004 zombie satire Shaun of the Dead, as the movie that afforded him the chance to film in his hometown of Wells, and to pay tribute to influences ranging from Agatha Christie to Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II.
At 40, Simon Pegg is too old to play Scott Pilgrim, the painfully ordinary 22-year-old bassist of the fledgling garage-rock trio Sex Bob-omb. Still rebounding from a painful breakup – he’s the dumpee – Scott finds an effusive “Scottaholic” in high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who soothes his tattered ego but otherwise fails to engage him. For all his affectations, he’s an aimless schlub.
Once you're finished scouring the city for the season's best Black Friday bargains, settle into a darkened theater to catch this year's Oscar hopefuls, including Fantastic Mr. Fox, which should give Pixar's Up fierce competition for Best Animated Feature. To help you on your way, here's a list of the finest films now playing at your local indie theaters.
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.