1. The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Sony/Columbia, 3,358 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated PG): Kind of a busy week for the movies. I guess the studios are dumping all their leftovers before the summer movies season begins next week, a month and a half before the official start of summer.
Maybe “leftovers” is a bit too cruel. This film is by Aardman Animation, the folks who brought us Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, so they have a pretty good track record.
The film follows a band of pirates who are trying to win a “Pirate of the Year” contest who somehow get involved with Charles Darwin and run afoul of Queen Victoria. Wackiness ensues, voiced by an all-star, international cast.
2. The Five-Year Engagement (Universal, 2,936 Theaters, 124 Minutes, Rated R): Jason Segel has developed a career on film as a sad sack who always has a difficulty in the relationship department (usually in films he has a hand in writing). Emily Blunt has failed to fully capitalize on the big splash she made in The Devil Wears Prada. Now, they are together in this film, one which–surprise–Segel co-wrote and–just as surprising–produced by Judd Apatow (he’s the said “producer of Bridesmaids” on the poster to the left).
They play a couple whose engagement stretches to a five-year span through some incredible and extreme circumstances.
I’m a big fan of the Apatow school of comedy, and liked both The Muppets and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but this one just seems kind of eh for me. I’ve seen Segel playing someone who has fate screw up his happy romantic ending before. Do I really need to see it again?
3. Safe (Lionsgate, 2,266 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R): The initial premise of this film reminds me of one my favorite “acquired taste” films, Shoot ‘Em Up. Both films feature a man who stumbles a group of thugs meaning to do harm to an innocent child. The man, skilled in the art of combat, defends the child from its attackers and acts as its protector until he can figure out what the bad guys want with the kid.
From there, the paths diverge. Shoot ‘Em Up was a live-action cartoon that pushed its violence to an absurd level. This film seems to be more of a conventional thriller.
Jason Statham’s films remind me of the kinds Chuck Norris and a early Steven Segal used to make. The films might not be Oscar worthy, but if you’re in the mood for a tough guy hitting bad guy in the face with his foot, you’re bound to be entertained.
As dismissive as I was at the start of this column about the week’s new releases, I’d probably have a hard time picking which one I would like to see first. I can see value in all of them (yes, even The Five-Year Engagement). But if I had to choose, I’d choose this one, if only for the premise alone.
I’m a big fan of Poe. That man has the market cornered on macabre wit. To build a period piece about a serial killer using Poe’s writings to kill his victims and Poe having to be called in to try and catch him is brilliant. While I do think that John Cusack looks a bit too healthy to play