Radio 11.06.09
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on films now showing:
“A Christmas Carol” is a high-quality animated re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic novella.  But it’s not for kids.  Jim Carrey’s prodigious voice talents and the masterful direction of Robert Zemeckis combine to make this version memorable, disquieting, and even scary.  But it’s too intense for small children, and the older ones may tire of the lengthy “hellfire and damnation” sermon followed by a very short summation of the repentance and restoration.  It’s really preaching to the adults.
            “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is also intended to be a morality tale, but it’s so rambling and confusing we’re not even sure who we’re making fun of.  George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges are all great at self-parody, and Ewan McGregor is always an interesting “straight man,” and yes, we get it about how he doesn’t get the “Jedi” references.   Cute, but overworked.  As for the rest, well, we’re supposed to be amused by a military that is trying to study the paranormal by putting crackpots in charge.  Just because people claim to have super-perceptive abilities (reading minds, locating lost persons, etc.) doesn’t mean that they do.  That should be self-evident.  But apparently, to a bumbling American military hierarchy, it’s not.  So, is the joke on us? Or on someone else?  Hard to tell.  Undoubtedly they had fun making this satire.  Too bad it too quickly degenerates into humorless silliness.
            “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” is an animated story that follows the popular children’s book.  When young Flint Lockwood (the voice of Bill Hader) invents a way to turn water into food, he sends his contraption up into the sky to…rain meatballs.  Or anything else, even pancakes with syrup.  Manna and quail from heaven, indeed.  But, as in the biblical account, people manage to complain constantly, anyway, and things aren’t nearly as utopian as one might expect, even with food falling from the sky.
            “The Canyon” is about a honeymoon couple’s impulsive trip to the Grand Canyon .  Not realizing they would need to make advance arrangements, and all the regular tours are filled, they make a handshake deal for a pack mule trip with a wizened old adventurer whom they meet in a bar (which should have given them a clue).  Not surprisingly, everything goes wrong.  Now what?  A misadventure tale where things descend steadily from bad to worse.
            “Hump Day” is a very odd little movie about two “regular” guys who wonder if they could make some money by making a porn movie.  OK, that premise has been used before (“Zack and Miri Make A Porno” comes to mind), but these guys are straight, and wonder if anybody else would be interested in watching them talk themselves through the experience.  In a word, No.
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM