by Rebecca Kelley
This weekend, we sadly say goodbye to summer. Which movies are available to console us? Is it better to watch something at home with XFINITY On Demand or head to your local theater? We have your options all spelled out. Click on the movie title for more information about ordering On Demand or buying tickets through Fandango.
What’s On Demand?
Sacha Baron Cohen skewers Middle Eastern dictators in this timely movie. The film is completely scripted, as opposed to his ambush comedy in “Borat” and “Bruno.” Cohen plays a self-centered, clueless and mindlessly ruthless dictator who becomes lost in New York when a mission to the U.N. leaves him without documents or his trademark beard. Joining a community of other immigrants and left-leaning neo-hippies, he should learn lessons about tolerance and justice, but charmingly stays true to his totalitarian self.
Our take: A bit uneven and over the top, this film has some truly hilarious moments. Unfortunately, one has to sit through Cohen’s stale and hyperbolic body humor to get to the biting political satire. If one can stomach masturbation, childbirth and scatological jokes, the satire is worth it. But it’s a big hurdle to overcome.
From author Nicholas Sparks, this movie is the story of a solider (Zac Efron) coming home from Iraq. He no longer fits into his former life, so he sets out to find the women in a photo he uncovered in the rubble of Baghdad – a photo that serendipitously saved his life. Her life is complicated, with a controlling ex-husband and a sweet little boy, but perhaps she can bring meaning and happiness to the soldier’s life.
Our take: Sparks’ sappy, syrupy style is on full display here. The woods are perpetually sunlit, the butterflies perpetually fluttering. He does, however, treat our troops well. Efron’s character is neither crazy nor bitter. He’s a good man looking to find the rest of his life. If you like big, rich love stories with melodramatic elements, this is the movie for you.
With the Pacific Fleet off on war games, just one ship sneaks inside the force field cone erected by invading aliens around Hawaii. Can the seamen, led by actor Taylor Kitsch, stop the aliens before their main force arrives? Or will the aliens –ahem – sink their battleship?
Our take: Goofy and explosive, this movie is better than the jeers it received. It won’t win any Oscars, but it’s not a bad way to spend two hours. The best part? The film uses real-life double-amputee Iraq vet Greg Gadson as a recovering warrior who doesn’t need his legs to find his courage.
What’s On Demand?
Three brothers (Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf) build a bootlegging empire in Prohibition-era Virginia while wooing lovely ladies (Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska). A dandy lawman (Guy Pearce) aims to shut them down, even if it means all-out war.
Our take: Gritty and violent, this is a classic cops versus bootleggers flick that glories in death and mayhem. Based on a true story, it’s easy to root against the lawman enforcing an unpopular rule, but not so easy to root for the brutal gangsters. With mostly fine acting and some good moments, this movie isn’t the best crime family drama you’ll ever see, but it’s certainly far from the worst.
When a suburban dad buys an old wooden chest with mysterious Hebrew letters, he little suspects he’s buying the demon inside (called “dibbuk” in Hebrew). As his daughter begins to act more and more erratic – and not in a normal preteen way – he seeks the help of a Hasidic dibbuk fighter.
Our take: Supposedly based on a true story, the film will frighten you if you believe in such things. It’s fairly well done, but covers territory you’ve seen before. The twist here is that it’s a Jewish version of “The Exorcist” and all the clones since.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia has made a cottage industry out of self-deprecating humor centering on his real-life sleepwalking episodes. In this film, sleepwalking forms the nutty center of his character’s life, but he also explores his commitment-shy relationship with his patient girlfriend and his determination to be a comic despite the long, thankless hours.
Our take: This indie film is quirky, no question about that, but Birbiglia is so likeable as a flawed everyman with a sense of humor that it is entirely watchable. Just don’t fall asleep!
Ticket or Click it?
Ticket! Drink some strong coffee and check out “Sleepwalk with Me.”
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.