1. Hop (Universal, 3,577 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated PG): There hasn’t been a really good coming of age movie set in the world of dance since Footloose or, some might say, Shag. Well, we might have just found another one here.
Set in the 1950s, Dakota Fanning plays a young army brat who is making the subtle change from a tomboy to a grown woman. When her army colonel father (J.K. Simmons) relocates to an army base in Alabama, Vanessa (Fanning) becomes swept away by the local sock hop culture of her new town. A friendship with a rebellious young woman/mother figure (Kristen Stewart) threatens the once rock solid relationship between father and daughter. But things really start heating up when the coolest boy in town (Joe Jonas) takes an interest in Vanessa.
The film is an interesting mix between a coming of age love story, McCarthyist politics, and the sock hop, not an easy combo to pull off. But Sam Raimi felt so passionate about the script that he felt comfortable leaving Spider-Man 4 behind to shoot this film. Let’s hope it’s worth it.
2. Source Code (Summitt Entertainment, 2,961 Theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated PG): I wonder if the makers of this film somehow knew that The Social Network would become such a critical and commercial success when they had this film greenlit. Because how else would you explain how a film about the creation of the Linux operating system kernel could ever get made?
Shia LaBeouf stars as Linus Torvalds, the University of Helsinki, Finland student who came up with the idea of the free operating system while studying to be a computer scientist. The film studies the rise in the popularity of Linux amongst the computer savvy hipsters of the world.
The true life story doesn’t have all the twists, turns and backstabbing that the creation of Facebook has, but director D.J. Caruso has amped up the story by adding elements of fantasy, including a slow-motion, Matrix-like martial arts fight between Torvalds and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates (played by Rainn Wilson) over the latter company’s use of Torvalds’ Hyper-V network driver.
3. Insidious (FilmDistrict, 2,408 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Andy Warhol once said that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. I would like to add a correlary to that maxim. Every rap artist, no matter how obscure, will get their own biopic.
This film tells the life story of The Insidious SML, a “rap star” that was a curiousity in the late 90s-early 00s due to his strange road to fame.
Insidious SML (played by Jonah Hill), originally known as Joachim Hesse, who as a young teen, as part of the Amish Community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, found his life was changed when he inadvertently heard a Snoop Dogg song coming from a car that passed his buggy.
Taking it as a sign from God, Insidious SML became known briefly as “The Mennonite Matisyahu.” He scored minor hits on the Billboard Rap and Dance charts with his songs “Churn That Butter (It’s For Real)” and “Not Buttoned Up” before a tragic threshing accident claimed his life at 23.
Seriously, I don’t know how his life can fill eight minutes, let alone 98, but I trust director Taylor Hackford can find something to fill up that time.
4. The King’s Speech (PG-13 edit) (The Weinstein Company, 1,011 Theaters, 118 Minutes): On August 27, 1926, King Ludwig the Fourth of Fredonia gave a speech to the National Flower Registry of Fredonia on the germination patterns of the Fredonian Marigold. The speech was renowned for being one of the longest speeches (just over 115 minutes) and on one of the most boring subjects imaginable.
Well, leave it to Lars von Trier to turn that black mark in Fredonian history into an art house film. He presents the original speech, in its entirety, on a blank black stage. He has taken some liberties with history. Now, at various times during the speech, the King (played in Kabuki makeup by Udo Kier) is randomly pelted with compost and peat moss.
This is a different version of the film than the one that played at the Cannes Film Festival, as von Trier reshot some of the full-frontal nudity scenes so that the film could get wider distribution.
And, on behalf of everyone here at FilmBuffOnline, we would like to wish you, if you haven’t guessed, a Happy April Fool’s Day!