“The Roommate”: Minka Kelly plays Sara, who goes off to college taking potluck for a roommate, and gets a psycho off her meds. Leighton Meester gets to play the delicious part of the bipolar schizophrenic gone amuck, running off first the girlfriend (Alyson Michalka) then the boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) so she can have Sara to herself. The problem is that all these actors are way too old to play freshmen, so the suspension of disbelief is nearly impossible.
“Tiny Furniture”: Newcomer Lena Dunham wrote, directed, and played the main character: Aura, a young woman who returns home after graduating from college to find that she has no ambition, and little interest in doing much of anything. This is a slacker film, but it’s the girl’s version. It’s passive aggression to fantastic heights. Mooch off Mom, pilfer her wine stash when she’s out of town, squabble with your sister, drift into a passionless sexual encounter with a co-worker, quit the meaningless job because it doesn’t pay anything, and just slough off old friends who try to shake you out of your lethargy. Ms. Dunham, not exactly a beauty queen, is unafraid to show us who she is. The problem is, we’re just not sure we’re all that interested in finding out.
“Gnomeo and Juliet”: It’s not “Toy Story,” but with more modest expectations, this little lawn-gnome tale of feuding families is suitable for kids and tolerable for adults. The reds and the blues have been arguing for so long they’ve forgotten why; it’s just become a way of life. So when an unexpected romance develops across the great divide, we all hope it doesn’t end the way Shakespeare envisioned the original. Cute, but doesn’t soar.
“Never Say Never”: Yes, Justin Bieber is the real deal. And yes, there’s plenty of hype surrounding him, but it is, after all, what this 16-year-old wunderkind has been striving for all his young life. See the home videos of a two-year-old Justin Bieber beating out a rhythm with spoons on the kitchen table. Then it’s the plastic drum set. Then a real drum kit. He’s in a talent show at 8, singing on a street corner at 10, and does his first clip on YouTube at 12, which instantly goes viral. Is he a real musician? Without a doubt. He also has managed to surround himself with people who have figured out 21st-century marketing (including the astute use of Twitter to his many adoring young fans). And above it all, he just seems like a sweet, uncomplicated kid: no sex, no drugs, no cursing, no smoking, not even so much as a crass innuendo. He even prays before meals, and before every concert. How can you not like the guy? And how can you not wish him well?
Hall Pass ”: At one level, you don’t want to admit in polite company that you’ve even seen this movie. “Raunch humor” doesn’t even begin to describe the jokes that objectify women as sex objects and men as slobbering buffoons of animal instinct with a mere veneer of civility. But the strange thing is that after all the crude and obnoxious frat prats, this Farrelly Brothers film has some heart, and even some old-fashioned romance.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas