With Halloween and another 'Saw' sequel behind us, Hollywood has decided to dole out a variety of wide releases this week, in addition to the usual indie titles likely to come your way on screens both big and small.
-'Due Date': Todd Phillips' follow-up to 'The Hangover' pairs up Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis for a rowdy cross-country road trip that I only found to be moderately amusing: "Phillips' shotgun spray approach to comedy does work on occasion, with Ethan's more absurd non sequiturs earning a laugh and Peter's punchier moments earning a rightful gasp. 'Due Date' is by no means a chore to watch; it just too often falls back on broad crutches instead of making the most of the acidic and deadpan talents at its disposal." (You can read my full thoughts here.)
-'For Colored Girls': Tyler Perry has set aside adapting his own plays from the stage to the screen in order to tackle Ntozake Shange's acclaimed "choreopoem" about the plights of the modern African-American woman. According to our Eric D. Snider, "Tyler Perry has Tyler Perried the hell out of this thing." (Full review here.)
-'Megamind': Todd Gilchrist checked out this spin on the superhero formula and called it "one of the year's better animated films, [offering] a surprisingly engrossing nature-versus-nurture question about those mythic origin stories: are heroes born, or are they made?" (More of Todd's review here.)
-'127 Hours': Eugene Novikov caught Danny Boyle's harrowing drama at the Telluride Film Festival and had this to say: "James Franco, who is on screen alone for the vast majority of the film's short running time, is perfectly cast and excellent. A lot of 127 Hours' medical-procedure-like squeamishness actually comes from him – e.g. his look of stunned incomprehension as the dust settles and he first beholds his arm crushed under a boulder... As things start looking dire, his pain and heartbreak are palpable."
-'Fair Game': Joe Utichi saw Doug Liman's take on the Valerie Plame scandal back at Cannes and felt that "this is a more serious piece of cinema than he's delivered to date, but his action chops mean it's a film which maintains its tension from scene one, even if there are no big action moments to fall back on."
-'Four Lions': Scott Weinberg raved about this farcical look at terrorism after seeing it at Sundance: "It's probably important to remember that director Chris Morris and [his] co-writers ... are mocking extremist values, and not all Muslim ideals. Plus, they do the world a great service by trying to de-mystify this type of horrifying behavior. If it's true that we stop being scared of something once we're able to laugh at it, well then, 'Four Lions' has made me feel just a little bit better about the war on terror."
-'Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer': Christopher Campbell saw a work-in-progress cut of Alex Gibney's new documentary at Tribeca, saying then that "the film details the shamed politician's career from Wall Street-wrangling Attorney General to reform-bent state leader." Per Magnolia's distribution model, the film has been available on demand and iTunes for the past month and is now playing in theaters.
-'Red Hill': We never formally reviewed this present-day Western starring Ryan Kwanten, but having caught the film at Fantastic Fest, I agreed most with Noel Murray's lukewarm review over at The A.V. Club: "There's nary a character, prop, or animal introduced in the first 20 minutes that doesn't become a factor in the story by the last 20, but [writer-director Patrick] Hughes embraces these contrivances, positioning 'Red Hill' as an homage to his favorite genre movies. The problem is that Hughes fails to imbue this homage with anything personal."
-'Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench': This indie musical currently sits at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.