1. Contraband (Universal, 2,863 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R): Saturday Night Live has ruined Mark Wahlberg for me. In seeing trailers for this film, where Wahlberg is trying to be all bad ass, I keep expecting him to say “Say Hi to your mother for me” after every line of dialogue.
Wahlberg plays a man who left a life of crime behind to start a family. When his brother-in-law botches a job for a drug lord (Giovanni Ribisi), Wahlberg has to return to smuggling to not only save his brother-in-law but also his wife and children. When his attempts to bring millions of dollars of fake bills into the US hits a snag, his family comes into jeopardy.
Since a threat to his family motivates him to action, and his family still ends up in danger after he does the job, the job itself seems a bit superfluous. You can still show him backsliding into a life of crime to help his family without the side trip to Panama.
This is the first of two films starring Kate Beckinsale opening this month (the second, Underworld: Awakening, opens next week). So, Kate Beckinsale fans are in luck. However, if your interest in Beckinsale is more prurient in nature, then the film you want to see is the one where she does deep knee bends is leather bodysuits.
2. Joyful Noise (Warner Brothers, 2,735 Theaters, 117 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this film probably wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for the popularity of Glee. I imagine that the powers that be believe that, hey, if people are willing to go gaga over a secular choir, then they might spend money to see a film about a spiritual choir.
I mean, that HAS to be the reason this film was made. Because it’s not like the world was asking for a film where Queen Latifah put Dolly Parton in a headlock (and, really, did you see the trailer? Okay, Parton is in her 60s and has had so many facelifts that any pressure on her face could cause the skin on her face to snap loose with such a force that it would break windows, but if you are going to make a plot point out of one person putting another in a headlock, at least make it look like it is a real headlock and not what Latifah slaps on Parton here).
The film appears to be the standard “underdog facing incredible odds yet overcoming them to win while learning something in the process” film with inordinate amounts of treacly spiritual preaching slathered on. If that is you kind of thing, then I guess this film is for you. If not, well, I doubt you’d be going to the film even if it looked well made and not completely horrible.
3. Beauty And The Beast 3D (Disney, 2,625 Theaters, 84 Minutes, Rated G): Okay, admission time. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney film of all time. Yes, all time. Something about that film just resonated with me.
In any other circumstance, I would be overjoyed to see this film back in theaters. However, this is the latest in Disney’s blatant cash grab tactic of re-releasing their later era animated films in 3-D. And that’s what it basically is–a blatant, stinking attempt to wring more cash out of your pockets by milking the 3-D trend for all its worth.
There is no reason why this film needs to be in 3-D. Adding a 3-D process to the film does not enhance the viewing experience at all, and will not make the film better than it already is. All it means is that you have wear a bulky pair of 3-D glasses to see a movie that you can see perfectly fine in 2-D in the comfort of your own home.
But The Lion King 3-D was a financial success, and converting these films to 3-D is probably cheap and easy, so we’ll probably see more of them. There are theaters showing this film in the original 2-D. I fully recommend that you take advantage of them and see one of the best films of all time on the big screen. But it’s really not worth paying the extra money to see it in 3-D.