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After struggling to find movies interesting enough to watch over the past month we return with reviews of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Knowing, Marley and Me, The Unborn, Monsters vs Aliens and The Damned United. And beer.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop provides a relentlessly adequate comedy, at least once it gets over a ropy half hour or so at the start. It doesn't really progress much beyond the visual gag of a fat man on a Segway, but there's some fun to be had in the combination of Die Hard and Home Alone it morphs into by the end. Kevin James has been in funnier films, to be sure, but there's little in this one that's truly offensive.
Marley and Me is a film about a big dog. I'm sure it's awesome if you like sentimental films involving dogs, Jennifer Aniston, or if you are in some other way mentally impaired. Awww. Doggies. Woof woof. I'll be honest, I didn't see it. Ask Drew about it. Or listen to him. In this podcast. Obviously.
The Unborn is... well, unmitigated pish, if we're not pulling our punches. A young woman is haunted by the spirit of her twin brother, strangled by her umbilical cord in the womb and, well, if you can get this far without laughing at it then it's probably just the uninspired, deftly non-scary teen oriented horror that you'll get a kick out of. For any sane person it's a spack-handed festival of faeces. Mr. Goyer can do better. Well, to be honest Uwe Boll could do better.
Things aren't immediately less silly when talking about Knowing, the latest from Dark City / I, Robot director Alex Proyas. Thankfully it veers more in quality towards the first than the latter, providing Nic Cage with the best film he's been in for years. Coming into possession of a list of numbers that appear to list tragic accidents leading up to one really big, really tragic accident, he attempts to stop it with somewhat silly consequences. While it's well handled and features some truly jaw-dropping special effects and sound design, the central premise continues to grow more ridiculous as the film goes on and by the end it's collapsing under it's own weight of stupid. Even with that, it's still a pretty watchable film and gets a mild recommendation.
Monsters vs Aliens provides another opportunity for cinemas to charge us more to rent an uncomfortable pair of glasses for the RealD-3D-38DD enhanced assets to parade across your eyeballs. The story, however, is little more than adequate child-mollification fayre, with a bunch of largely tame government captured monsters voiced by the likes of Hugh Laurie (a cockroach scientist) and Seth Rogen (a sentient jelly) joined by the recently gigantified Reese Witherspoon (a big human) to stave off an evil alien invasion. It's mildly entertaining throughout and to be honest I've no massive complaints with it, but the only novelty here is the 3D effects which are inherently pointless.
The best is saved to last, with the excellent The Damned United. Michael Sheen plays Brian Clough as he takes the mantle of Leeds United manager, a job he keeps for a dismal 44 days. Telling of his earlier rise to the top flights with Derby County and his managerial partner Peter Taylor (Tim Spall), this is really less of a football film and more of a character piece, looking at Clough's charisma and drive that's in more or less equal parts attractive and repugnant. A brilliant and compelling central performance from Sheen confirms his status as Britain's best character actor, and support from Spall and Colm Meaney as his arch-rival Don Revie is similarly flawless. Easily one of the year's best films.
More later. Peace, out.