4 Not Ready For Prime Time Movies
“Real Steel”: Yes, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. And the boxing robot scenes are worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, the rest of the film sags in an utterly predictable story line. Set in a near-future where humans don’t box in a ring anymore, but robots do that for them, a down-on-his-luck divorced Dad (Hugh Jackman, who may be too buff for this role) who’d already failed as a boxer himself also can’t seem to find the winning combination in buying robots for boxing, either. He’s broke and drunk, the loan sharks are hounding him, he also can’t quite connect with an old girlfriend (Evangeline Lilly, either, and he doesn’t even know his own kid. But he suddenly winds up having to take care of his 11-year-old son for a while, and you guessed it, at first they can hardly tolerate each other’s presence, but after a while they develop a genuine affection. Together they salvage an old robot from the scrap heap, and soon they enjoy some success, and of course it’s metaphoric of their own relationship….well, OK, it’s “Rocky” with robots.
“Man On A Ledge”: Sam Worthington plays the fugitive con, ex-cop who was set up and falsely accused, and now stages a showy kind of “I’m going to jump” scenario in order to have a public platform to try to clear his name. He requests a specific police psychologist (Elizabeth Banks) who has a history of caring, too much, especially when she loses one. He figures he can get her to care, while he surreptitiously arranges for a heist that’s going to prove his innocence (which just happens to require a beautiful young cohort needing to strip down to her lacy underwear). Ed Harris plays the smarmy bad guy as a caricature, and Kyra Sedgwick does the on-scene reporter with kitsch and camp, and it’s all a bit too contrived, in addition to lacking both romance and an honest hero.
“One For the Money”, based on the novel by Janet Evanovich, also just happens to require a naked and barely-covering herself beautiful young woman, but this one is so tongue-in-cheek that even the nudity is more playful than erotic. Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie Plum (the character name may be important, we might start seeing sequels), who’s recently divorced, out of work, and the unpaid bills are stacking up. (Hmm, there seems to be a theme here of personal desperation in all of these films.) The only job she can find is at her snarky cousin’s bail bond business, hunting the bail jumpers. She’s woefully ill-equipped to play the seedy side of town, being neither a martial arts expert nor a cop, and having no particular detective skills, either. But somehow she bumbles through with grit and tenacity and a lot of luck, and it doesn’t hurt that one of the guys she’s after has a crush on her. Yeah, it’s silly to the point of spoofiness, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen a tongue-in-cheek bounty hunter, either. But it’s the cinematic equivalent of a “beach read,” which means that there will be always be a niche audience for it.
“Winnie the Pooh” is obviously for kids, but even smaller children would probably hope for something more interesting. Oh, the gang is all here, all right-----the Pooh bear that always wants honey, and his collection of equally predictable friends---including Eeyore the donkey, whose glass is always half empty, and Owl who’s not quite as smart as the thinks he is. A misspelled note from Christopher Robin causes a silly quest through Hundred Acre Wood for a monster that doesn’t exist. But despite the great art work as backdrop, it’s all so innocuous that it crosses the line into insipid. Sure, it’s harmless. But hardly very interesting.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas