Summer Movie Roundup

Reviews of seven flicks now in theaters, including Horrible Bosses, The Tree of Life and Cars 2. Plus what you can't miss at QFest

The summer 2011 movie season, or more aptly named Movie Season of Superheroes, R-Rated Comedies, and Underwhelming Sequels, is in full swing. So far, we’ve seen the good (Bridesmaids, Super 8), the bad (The Hangover Part II), and the ugly (Your Highness). But before Harry Potter, Captain America and The Smurfs open in the coming weeks, let’s take a quick look at movies, new and older, that are playing this weekend.

Horrible Bosses
Despite not-so-positive female roles, a script that hasn’t met a dick joke it didn’t like (seriously, the writers must feel there is nothing funnier in the English language than anything that starts with “dick”: dickhead, dick-skin, dick-bag), and a premise — where each character decides to kill the other’s boss — that isn’t entirely new, the movie is successful… in spite of itself. This is due to its cast. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Andy Sudeikis have perfect chemistry. A much more likable Wolf Pack. The bosses are also impeccably cast: Kevin Spacey as the asshole (though this performance feels slightly like a rehash of his part in 1994 film Swimming with Sharks), Colin Farrell as the druggy, and Jennifer Anniston as the sexual predator. But this is Charlie Day’s movie. Known (by some) for his work on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, his performance in Bosses, specifically his cocaine-laden hysterics, will hopefully bring him wider acclaim. My Grade: B

Yes, it’s another “found footage” movie. Yes, it’s in Norwegian and it takes itself a little too seriously. Yes, the special effects are a little humorous. But, it’s a movie about a troll hunter. And it’s a blast. My Grade: B-


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I still haven’t seen it, but I have no qualms in reviewing the latest. After seeing the first two, I know there are lots of explosions, fires, overproduced/over-fogged montages, fight scenes where people/places/things are unidentifiable, and lots and lots of product placements. I just hope we’ll finally learn how Shia theBeef keeps getting the hot girl. My Grade: C-

The Trip
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, well-regarded and brilliant British comedians, star as “themselves” in this feature taken from the British series directed Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart). When Coogan breaks up with his girlfriend before going on a restaurant tour, he asks friend/colleague Brydon to go along. The movie is less about what happens, and more about the wonderfully hilarious relationship between these men… and their competitive Michael Caine impressions. My Grade: B+

Cars 2
This is the first time I have felt let down by Pixar (it’s also the worst reviewed film from the studio — 35 percent on RottenTomatoes). Of all the sequels it could have made (ahem, The Incredibles?), the choice to make a sequel to Cars feels more about merchandising to younger audiences than about great storytelling. Even the Toy Story short at the beginning lacked the typical Pixar magic. My Grade: C-

The Tree of Life
Frankly, I didn’t have a flippin’ clue what was going on half the time, but oddly that was okay. I knew Brad Pitt and Sean Penn would be in it, but I was not aware that there would be an extended treatise on the universe’s beginning (including random dinosaur scenes). But there is no denying the visceral response to the stunning imagery. Terrence Malick is able to examine life, death, and our place in the world with his nontraditional narrative … even if we don’t always understand what’s going on. My Grade: A-

Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen channels 1920s Paris through Owen Wilson — a perfectly nebbish stand-in. Though Allen’s Paris debut is not quite as successful as his London debut, Match Point, it is nonetheless charming. My Grade: B



The 17th annual Philadelphia QFest is now underway through Monday, July 18th. It will feature some of the best new LGBT features, documentaries, and shorts. Here are a few recommendations for this weekend. Check the festival’s website for up-to-date show times, complete film listings, and ticket information. Note: Many screenings will sell out fast!

Judas Kiss
This time-bending movie opens the festival. It also costars this year’s Rising Star Award recipient Sean Paul Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan). July 9th, 12:00 p.m. at Ritz East

The Night Watch
Like last year’s The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, this had me at “BBC Presents.” July 8th, 7:30 p.m. at Ritz East; July 9th, 5:00 p.m. at Ritz East

Leave it on the Floor
A new musical from Beyonce’s team (music director Kim Burse and choreographer Frank Gaston, Jr.), already being described as a mash-up of Paris is Burning, Rent, and Dreamgirls. July 8th, 9:30 p.m. at Ritz at the Bourse; July 10th, 2:30 p.m. at Ritz East

This is What Love in Action Looks Like
Examining “Love in Action,” a Christian “conversion” camp, through interviews with youth who had attended the program, the (then-) program director, and several community activists. July 9th, 5:15 p.m. at Ritz at the Bourse; July 13th, 5:00 p.m. at Ritz East

The Perfect Family
Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, Jason Ritter, and Richard Chamberlain. I only hope Turner gets to say “pussy willow.” July 9th, 7:30 p.m. at Ritz East