Hot Tub Time Machine, Greenberg: See 'em or flee 'em?
Lots of worthy, if not great, films opening this weekend, from Jonathan Demme's Neil Young concert film to the better-than-you-might-expect Hot Tub Time Machine to a darker-than-usual comedy from Ben Stiller.
Hot Tub Time Machine
SEE: Hot Tub Time Machine
Sad-sack friends Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (a standout Craig Robinson), and Adam (John Cusack) head to the mountains where, 24 years ago, they had an epic weekend. Soon, via the eponymous plot device, they're young again at "Winterfest '86," an absurd wonderland of lime-green ski suits and casual sex. (area theaters)
City Pages: "A fundamentally lazy comedy that will probably make you laugh like an idiot. ... Though the sweetness and cheer of its inspirations is supplemented with violence, barfing, and hate-fucking, it's still a funny and worthwhile."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 66% positive
The personal assistant (Greta Gerwig) to a Hollywood Hills hotshot about to go on vacation is supposed to do whatever she can for her boss's brother Roger (Ben Stiller), who, newly released from a mental hospital back East, will be house-sitting and looking after the family dog. Stiller's failed rock musician turned carpenter is a cranky, opinionated, self-pitying know-it-all. Not much happens--it's a movie of throwaway one-liners and understated drama--but when the time comes it knocks you out with the subtlest of badda-booms. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Sad, funny, and acutely self-conscious, it's a mordant character study, unafraid to project a downbeat worldview or feature an impossible protagonist. Stiller is painfully poignant."
Star Tribune: 1.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 69% positive
SEE: Neil Young Trunk Show
The second in Jonathan Demme's planned trilogy of Young-in-concert movies, Trunk Show is a slapdash job--endearingly so, as Young's set juggles between acoustic and electric. (Lagoon Cinema)
City Pages: "Removing even stage banter, the focus is entirely on performance, save for a few 'candid backstage' bits."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 2 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 90% positive
SEE: Terribly Happy
After waving a gun around at home, young Copenhagen cop Robert Hansen (Jakob Cedergren) is shipped to the boondocks to cool off as marshal of a small town. He finds amused villagers with a highly developed talent for collusion as he investigates dark deeds unfolding on the town's marshy outskirts. (Edina Cinema)
City Pages: "A simmering stew about a man who made one violent mistake and gets ruined anew by genially corrupt yokels."
Star Tribune: 2.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 90% positive
In Atom Egoyan's work-for-hire film, successful gynecologist Catherine (Julianne Moore) suspects that her husband, the distinguished professor David (Liam Neeson), is having affairs with his students. In lieu of a detective, she hires a fresh-faced young hooker who calls herself Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to entrap him. Before long, the enigmatic child is giving Catherine a detailed account of her relations with David, and the client is turned on. (area theaters)
City Pages: "Posh, cool, and never less than obvious. ... It's all too soigne to be truly risible, but thanks to Egoyan's trademark mix of detachment and prurience, the fun is more cheesy than queasy."
Star Tribune: 3 stars Pioneer Press: 3 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 49% positive
MAYBE: How to Train Your Dragon
Other critics were much kinder than City Pages' toward this animated tale of a skinny Viking nerd-boy (voiced by Jay Baruchel) named Hiccup who befriends fire-breathing dragons, hoping to impress his father (Gerard Butler), and falls in love with a feisty young Vikingette (America Ferrera). (area theaters)
City Pages: "Adequate but unremarkable. Struggles to rise to the challenge of hitching a red-blooded fantasy action-adventure to a huggy-kissy message that covers all antiwar and eco bases."
Star Tribune: 3.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 96% positive
Next pages: Special screenings, art houses, and ongoing films