Four full-lengthers in print, but expect Anthony Kaufman to get all bothered by 100 words or so about Herbie Hancock that appear in the Voice.
“It’s the familiar Full Monty formula: Working-class Britain + quirkiness + mildly risque comic element = box office. Problem is, The Full Monty worked because it wasn’t formulaic at the time. Kinky Boots, on the other hand, is going through the motions, and it feels like all the actors know it … save Ejiofor, who obviously took on the role for the challenge — and he rises to it. It’s difficult to tell if Lola is the only interesting character because he’s written that way, or because the actor is so clearly in a class above the rest. Whatever the case, the movie loses its energy when it focuses on Charlie, who, like another recent cinematic Charlie who inherited a wondrous factory, is a passive protagonist who hardly does anything. Every decision made by Charlie is the result of someone badgering him into it; even after he supposedly figures out what he wants, it’s because Lauren and Lola forced him to realize it and act accordingly.”
“Who better to understand, say, Othello, than a man who actually has strangled his wife? Prison also offers the authentically Shakespearean-era touch of forcing men to play women, and while the frail-looking bisexual actor Red initially protests being cast as Miranda (because he’d like the option of choosing), he does concede that he’s probably the best one for the job, and doesn’t object for too long.”
more Shakespeare in jail here
“There’s a certain exuberance, a “You go, girl!” spirit of defiance and self-reliance to the new Mo’Nique vehicle, Phat Girlz, that’s undeniably appealing — and likely to be especially so for its target audience of overweight women. (That is, assuming they see it, which the box-office numbers so far seem to indicate has not been the case; moviegoers tend to prefer fat black women when they’re played by Martin Lawrence or Tyler Perry.) As Mo’Nique movies go, it’s a whole lot better than Hair Show. But beyond the star’s obvious enthusiasm for the project, there isn’t a lot going for Phat Girlz, which looks cheap and falls apart after the first act. ”
Phatten up here
“Believe it or not, The Benchwarmers is so lame that it can’t even lay claim to being the best Adam Sandler-produced movie not screened for critics in 2006; that dubious honor would go to Grandma’s Boy, which was by no means good but at least featured a kung-fu chimp and naked breasts. Maybe you were hoping that the presence of Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder would amp up the game of the usual gang of Happy Madison idiots (Sandler pals Rob Schneider, David Spade, director Dennis Dugan, and screenwriters Allen Covert and Nick Swardson). You’d be wrong: Heder, who’s a clean-living Mormon in real life, does claim to have softened some of the raunchier humor, but all that means is that sexual fluids aren’t the subject of any jokes here. Every other bodily emission is fair game.”
the rest here
short takes after the jump…
Kurt Hale’s latest Mormon comedy would be completely forgettable if not for the fact that, this time around, he has managed to cast Fred Willard, Clint Howard, Gary Coleman, that crazy guy from the Holiday Inn commercials, and the gibberish-talking farmer from Napoleon Dynamite. Willard plays a bishop determined to have his church league basketball team win the championship in their final season. To achieve this, he asks his best athlete Dennis (Andrew Wilson, brother of Luke and Owen) to whip their group of misfits into shape, but their chances seem hopeless if they can’t persuade a long-since-ostracized star player (Stan Ellsworth) to return to the fold. Curiously for a religious movie, the film’s message seems to be that competitiveness makes people forget their manners, and that’s kind of okay. Hale’s directorial style relies way too much on the kind of cheesy music video montages that have long since been parodied to death, and the religious rock songs used are truly awful. Other than that, an innocuous movie overall.
HERBIE HANCOCK: POSSIBILITIES (DVD) (a shortened version of this ran in the Voice, as New York gets a theatrical engagement)
For a man in his mid-sixties, Herbie Hancock is looking damn good, and unlike many his age, is far from set in his ways, as his 2005 duets album Possibilities proved, teaming the veteran jazzman up with collaborators including Christina Aguilera, Annie Lennox, Trey Anastasio, Wayne Shorter, and Sting, to name a few. This movie tie-in is considerably less innovative than its subject — for the most part, it feels like something you’d find on the special edition bonus disc of a deluxe package, with straightforward track-by-track recording session clips. Only when Hancock teams up with Brian Eno late in the film to we get a look back at some of his previous innovations like the ‘80s hit “Rockit” that integrated synth sounds in ways most jazz players might find disturbing. Then we get scenes of Hancock in Japan visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki for a peace festival — it’s a bit out of left field, but we see him work with synth again. Primarily a film for fans of all involved. Extras are slim, but will probably be coveted by the faithful: Two bonus performances, edited like music videos: one of which features Hancock and Wayne Shorter in Japan; the other, Hancock and Trey Anastasio in Vermont.