By Rebecca Kelley
Welcome to January. After the excitement of holiday releases and Oscar contenders, we now get the releases that weren’t good enough to make it into the summer or holidays. Sigh. It’s a long time until Memorial Day, isn’t it? “Ticket or Click It” will help you sift through the choices. Click on the movie title for more information about ordering On Demand or buying tickets through Fandango.
What’s On Demand?
Based on the bestselling book, this movie follows Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) as he revamps his losing team using Ivy League economic algorithms. Applying math to baseball turns out to be a winning strategy, but it ruffles a few feathers in the process.
Our take: An excellent script and fine acting manage to make this movie about two boring subjects (baseball and math) interesting. Pitt is excellent as someone who wants to make his mark on the world, and does so by figuring out a better way to do things. His innovation drives the movie. Good bit parts from Jonah Hill (as the nerdy mathematician), Philip Seymour Hoffman (as a defiant coach) and Robin Wright (as the supportive and a bit awkward ex-wife) broaden the movie. Pitt is an Oscar contender for this role, which is well-deserved in this enjoyable movie.
A traveler to Asia brings home a souvenir: a virus with the power to kill millions. When the pandemic strikes, trained professionals from government health organizations spring into action and ordinary citizens try to keep their family safe and put food on the table.
Our take: This wide-reaching film tries to be as realistic as possible in terms of what would actually happen if a pandemic hit. It covers many characters, with an A-list ensemble of actors, so there is no one hero for whom to root. In most cases, multiple storylines mean a mess of a movie, but this film pulls it off. It is very well-done, but beware: It will make you want to wash your hands. Compulsively.
Kristen Wiig’s record-breaking comedy tells the story of a reluctant matron of honor who can’t manage to get her life together, much less plan the perfect bridal shower. It begins when her best friend (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, which springs Annie (Wiig) into action, stopping only to compete with a rival best friend. This rivalry leads to some very dark places, such as food poisoning in a swanky dress shop, takedowns by air marshals and Wilson-Phillips.
Our take: Easily the funniest movie of the year, Wiig blends man-style gross-out humor with a very female story of friendship. The film earns every bit of its R rating with plenty of sexual humor, scatological humor and language, but it’s so darn funny. Wiig is a breath of fresh air. Even the men will enjoy this film.
What’s In Theaters?
Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) has gone clean after an early life of crime, but to rescue his brother from an angry drug lord, he agrees to do one last job smuggling counterfeit cash in from Panama. If things go wrong, his wife and child will be put in the line of fire. Things can’t go wrong. Guess what? Things go wrong.
Our take: Welcome to January, when studios dump the films that didn’t turn out as well as they’d hoped. This movie isn’t bad, per se – it’s just not good. The story is tired, the plot confusing, the thrills not that thrilling and the whole thing lacks luster. Keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.
A Georgia gospel choir hopes to win the Joyful Noise competition – that is, if the leader (Queen Latifah) can stop sparring with her rival (Dolly Parton). To further complicate things, one’s daughter wants to date the other’s son. Man, can everyone sing, though!
Our take: Take two fantastic veteran singers, add in two youngsters with pipes, give them some gospel music and you have yourself a party! The music is excellent. The story is earnest and respects the faith of the characters. If you’re at all interested in gospel or are a fan of Parton, this movie was made for you. Enjoy!
Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher, the formidable Prime Minister of England during the 1980s. Controversial during her tenure (and after), this movie visits her history through the haze of memory. As an elderly woman beginning to lose track of reality, Thatcher weaves in and out of memories of her youth, marriage and career.
Our take: First and foremost, Streep is amazing – so much so that it’s hard to differentiate the actress from historical footage of the real Thatcher. The movie stays carefully A-political, which will frustrate both sides of the aisle, and spends too much time on Thatcher’s senile relationship with her imagined husband, who had been deceased for years. However, because the makers of the movie had the artistic integrity to let Thatcher be Thatcher, her strength, determination and ideals come through. I found this film extremely enjoyable and rousing. It is excellent and one of the best of 2011 (to which it technically belongs).
The Disney classic is re-released and re-mastered in 3D. We all know the story: To save her father, Belle agrees to live in a mansion with a horrible beast. However, a rough exterior covers a soft heart, one that Belle just might free. The film runs with a new Disney short based on the popular animated film “Tangled” called “Tangled Ever After.”
Our take: If you love “Beauty and the Beast,” here’s the chance to experience it on the big screen with your children.
Ticket or Click It?
Ticket! Go see “The Iron Lady” and be amazed by excellent acting. Decide for yourself if the controversy is deserved.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.