Recliner Reviews for July 2013

July 3, 2013 

Keri Russell in "Dark Skies."

“The Details”

Every once and awhile, the actors that usually do the big budget films need to take a break from being Spiderman or hustling for award nominations and do a dark comedy. Since Tobey Maguire lost his gig as Peter Parker, he’s gone in a few dramatic directions before taking the lead in this movie where infidelity abounds and animals are killed in various ways and kidneys are donated. It is dark, but it’s also bustling with great performances from Maguire and Elizabeth Banks. Laura Linney is convincing as a crackpot. Ray Liotta and Kerry Washington turn in small but impactful scenes. The script is a bit rushed, and things fit together a little too well at times, but the moving parts are fun to see in motion. It’s these devils in the details that make it worth a watch.

“21 and Over”

The writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are the guys who brought you “The Hangover.” This is their first effort as writers and directors. The result is a light beer version of “The Hangover.” It follows the same one-night-of-partying plot device. The storyline is set up the same. The characters are triangulated the same. The difference is there aren’t a cast of quirky characters, and the stakes aren’t as high, and the acting isn’t at the same level, and it’s not as funny. It’s flat and been done before in other college comedies. The main problem comes from stretching the envelope so far you can’t come back. It would be different if everyone hadn’t already seen “The Hangover” movies, if it were a small underground film. Then, you could remake it in levels, for every demographic, all day – you could have a preschool version where babies get wound-up on Kool-Aid and hide from adults and have poop-parties. But “The Hangover” was a phenomena in every demographic and it shouldn’t be replicated until the whole franchise is corrupted, not even by the originators – Pass.

“Dark Skies”

Normally horror movies involving suburban families getting tortured by supernatural forces are bland affairs with a few decent scares that you already saw in the trailer. To make matters worse, this film was written and directed by Scott Stewart. He’s the guy who made the pair of terrible action/horror films – “Legion” and “Priest.” From the outset, you would think this film is going to be all style and no substance, a forgettable mess. But that’s not the case. There’s nothing groundbreaking here as far as horror films go. But actress Keri Russell has caught a second wind in her career and she really does a great job as a suburban wife and mother falling to pieces. Josh Hamilton lobs up one assist after another to Russell as the two of them add new dimensions to Stewart’s script. And just for good measure, J.K. Simmons enters as solid support to the cast. There are times when the plot reaches a little too far, but sometimes reaching for the skies makes a film worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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