By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
Directed by Todd Stephens. Screenplay by Stephens, based on a story by Stephens and Tim Kaltenecker. Starring Michael Carbonaro, Jonah Blechman, Jonathan Chase and Mitch Morris. Opens Friday.
A blow-by-blow remake of American Pie, albeit with more gerbil sex play, Todd Stephens' Another Gay Movie follows four strapping guys from San Torum High School trying to lose their (anal) cherry. The film boasts a Scary Movie rate of scatological jokes-per-minute but fails to match that franchise's low yield of guffaws. Even with shit, timing is everything, and Another Gay Movie jumps from emission to emission with exhausting alacrity. Offering some respite is Scott Thompson in the Eugene Levy role. (His character discusses butt plugs with his son in scientific detail and builds awkward silences that elicit screw-faced reaction shots from the boy.) As with its hetero template, the gags slow down for sentiment, and the likable cast is allowed a few moments sans fluids. Jonah Blechman proves especially game as the Hollywood-obsessed queen with a killer Paul Lynde impression. --R. Emmet Sweeney
Written and directed by Preston A. Whitmore II. Starring Wesley Jonathan, Anthony Mackie and Eva Pigford. Opens Friday.
Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) is an aspiring medical student with a full scholarship to UCLA and mad skillz on the basketball court. His best friend Tech (Anthony Mackie) is good at underground street ball but has yet to get his GED and occasionally lets his temper get the better of him. In pursuit of their goals, no movie cliché is left unturned. The street-ball scenes offer some nifty trick plays, but the rest of the movie features poorly dressed sets, cheap-looking costumes and locations, and silly histrionics--particularly (and unintentionally) amusing is the part where Tech films a commercial on the Sony Pictures lot, only to get in a fight, hurt his woman and head back to the hotel where he promptly gets drunk on two beers and spills his emotional secrets. America's Next Top Model winner Eva Pigford shows up as a screeching gold-digger who latches on to Cruise, while Wayne Brady almost adds some respectability as an unscrupulous agent. Alas, no hot tunes on the soundtrack. --Luke Y. Thompson
Written and directed by Charles Sturridge, based on a novel by Eric Knight. Starring Jonathan Mason, Samantha Morton, John Lynch and Peter OíToole. Opens Friday.
British writer-director Charles Sturridge makes beautiful, stubbornly unhurried movies about the best and worst in human, animal and even otherworldly nature. Set in World War II England, Sturridge's Lassie reaches back to the original 1943 movie and to Eric Knight's 1940 novel about the famously determined collie's obstacle-ridden trek through the North Country to rejoin the bereft young master, whose down-on-their-luck parents were forced to sell his best friend to pay for food. Deploying a stellar cast to mine the evergreen potential of poker-faced British proletarian waifs (Jonathan Mason), honest-to-God mums and dads (Samantha Morton and John Lynch), crusty old bluebloods (a happily mugging Peter O'Toole), blustery retainers (a very good Steve Pemberton) and kindly traveling players (Peter Dinklage), Sturridge spins a warm but persuasively unsparing tale of war's multiple displacements and the redeeming power of loyalty and love. Lassie puts its trust in kids to be grown up and appeals honestly (minus the usual knowing winks) to grown-ups by returning them to a state of childlike wonderment. --Ella Taylor
Directed by Jamie Babbit. Screenplay by Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft. Starring Elisha Cuthbert and Camilla Belle and Edie Falco and Martin Donovan. Opens Friday.
What if it's not cell phones, iPods, MySpace and whatever that's keeping the teen demographic out of movie theaters? What if, instead, it's the movies' endless reduction of their complex, muddled and--gasp--occasionally enjoyable lives to a bunch of recycled social-problem clichés? Directed by Jamie Babbit from a capable but glib screenplay by Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft, this emotionally loaded melodrama turns on the lives of two adolescent girls (sharply played by Elisha Cuthbert and Camilla Belle), at once divided and united by dark family secrets. Before you can say "Child Welfare Services," sexual abuse, pill popping, cruel peer groups and (to gild the lily once and for all) physical disability rain down on these two unfortunates, with homicidal tendencies lurking in the wings. The Quiet has an excellent supporting cast in Edie Falco, Martin Donovan and Katy Mixon in a minor but interesting role as the school vixen and is competently, even lyrically, directed in high definition by Babbit (with input from students at the University of Texas). But thematically the movie never reaches beyond the ready-for-prime-time mentality that specializes in psychological shorthand. --E.T.
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