Rated R for profanity, sexuality and brief nudity.
A-List Cast Can’t Save Atrocious Adaptation Of French Farce
This picture is such a wholesale disaster that it’s hard to decide where to start in critiquing it. I could talk about how it is just the latest case of Hollywood remaking a French farce (Mon Frère Se Marie) which somehow lost all of its charm in the translation into English. Or I could point out how it’s a slight variation of Meet The Parents and even has Robert De Niro reprising his role as a macho father-in-law less inclined to reason than to threaten to bust a kneecap or tweeze a guy’s gonads off.
Or I could focus on how the production squandered the services of a talented cast including a quartet of Oscar winners in De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Diane Keaton, as well as that of such seasoned comedians as Topher Grace, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried and SNL alum Christine Ebersole. Or I might mention the telling fact that the movie sat on the shelf for over a year before the studio made the ill-advised decision to pump up the marketing and dump it on the gullible public.
Then there’s the homophobia and racism, reflected in disparaging offhand remarks about lesbian and Colombian characters. Equally-objectionable is the picture’s frequent resort to sophomoric sight gags ranging from projectile vomiting to sucker punches to the face.
Perhaps most offensive of all is the film’s coarse, off-color humor featuring a life-size sculpture of a nude woman masturbating, a seductive wedding guest pleasuring her seatmate under the table during the reception, and a relentlessly-lurid script laced with salacious lines like “I can’t believe I’m being cock-blocked by my own mom,” “Go [expletive] a yak!” and “My father had his penis in your mom.”
All of the above amounts to a bitter disappointment, especially given the pedigree of the elite ensemble. Blame for this fiasco rests squarely on the shoulders of writer/director/producer Justin Zackham, who ostensibly was trying to replicate the lowbrow nature of his only other feature-length offering, GoingGreek, a raunchy teensploitation flick released back in 2001.
As for the storyline, Mr. Zackham lazily relies on “The Big Lie” cliché, a hackneyed plot device popular on tv sitcoms since the Golden Age of Television. It basically revolves around characters going to increasingly great lengths to hide an embarrassing fact from someone until the ruse blows up in their faces and the truth comes out anyway.
Here, we have Missy (Amanda Seyfried) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes) on the verge of tying the knot inConnecticut, when they learn that his birth mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), is unexpectedly flying in fromColombiato attend the wedding. Because she’s a devout Catholic, they don’t want her to know that the adoptive parents (De Niro and Keaton) have been divorced for a decade.
So instead of simply explaining the changed state of affairs to Madonna, everybody agrees to participate in an elaborate cover-up to make it appear that Don and Ellie are still together, even though he’s currently in a committed, long-term relationship with Bebe (Sarandon). What a patently-preposterous premise!
The escalating concatenation of calamities adds-up less to a sidesplitting, screwball comedy than to an incoherent string of crude skits, the crudest being a scene where an undignified De Niro sheepishly sports a substance-eating grin after getting caught in the act of performing cunnilingus between a widespread pair of naked legs.
Look! A falling star! Make a wish!
Poor (0 stars)
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 90 minutes
Paradise: Love (Paradies: Liebe)
Single Mom Develops Jungle Fever In Kenya In Initial Installment Of Incendiary Trilogy
Paradise: Love is the initial offering in a trilogy of incendiary dramas from the Austria-born director Ulrich Seidl. Each of the three installments focuses on a different female from the same family.
This episode revolves around Teresa (Margarete Tiesel), an unremarkable single mom whom we find tired of her Vienna existence at the point of departure. The jaded 50-year-old divides her time between raising an adolescent (Melanie Lenz) and working with the mentally handicapped.
Needing a break from that humdrum routine, Teresa leaves her daughter in the care of a sister (Maria Hofstätter) before flying alone toKenyafor a much-needed vacation. However, she’s planning for a little more than fun in the sun, since her destination is a resort that caters to the carnal desires of European sex tourists.
Specifically, it’s older white women looking to get their groove back, so to speak, with help of African men, the younger and better endowed the better. The goal, obviously, is less to find romance than to mate with any hunks who find them attractive.
Upon arriving, Teresa checks into the hotel where she makes the acquaintance of several fellow Austrians with the same goal in mind. What soon unfolds is a series of lusty liaisons approached by the consenting parties with a compatible set of competing expectations.
The women want to be wined and dined a bit prior to seduction, while the local lads are more than happy to oblige with the unspoken understanding that they will be tipped generously for providing stud service. Given the language, age and cultural differences, it is no surprise that complications still ensue for first-timer Teresa as she awkwardly attempts to negotiate her way with fellows with hidden agendas.
Will her cravings be satiated? Will she be respected in the morning? Will she be fleeced out of every last pfennig by the local Romeos? Those are the basic questions raised over the course of this intriguing character study, a female empowerment flick which harks back to Heading South (2005), a similarly-themed film set inHaiti starring Charlotte Rambling.
Fair warning: the film does feature graphic nudity and indiscriminate coupling, as the ladies sensuously sample a veritable smorgasbord of native cuisine. When all is said and done, Teresa returns home revitalized enough to resume her unfulfilling life, but ostensibly having to keep her assorted sexual conquests a secret.
After all, as the saying goes: What happens inNairobi, stays inNairobi!
Excellent (4 stars)
In German, Swahili and English with subtitles.
Running time: 120 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening May 3, 2013
Iron Man 3 (PG-13 for intense violence and brief sensuality). Latest installment of the Marvel Comics franchise finds the brilliant billionaire-turned-intrepid superhero (Robert Downey, Jr.) teaming with a precocious, prepubescent sidekick (Ty Simpkins) to take on a new nemesis, Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), the maniacal madman behind a recent string of terrorist bombings. Cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau.
Aroused (Unrated). Revealing documentary featuring revealing interviews with 16 of the world’s most successful female porn stars as they shed their clothes in preparation for a fancy photo shoot. Cast includes Misty Stone, Ash Hollywood, Asphyxia Noir, Belladonna, Kayden Kross, Lisa Ann, Katsuni, Lexi Belle and Brooklyn Lee.
Desperate Acts Of Magic (Unrated). Romantic comedy about a bored computer programmer/aspiring magician (Joe Tyler Gold) and a pickpocket/street performer (Valerie Dillman) who fall in love after they meet as entrants in the annual Brotherhood Of Magicians Competition. With Jonathan Levit, Sacha Alexander and John Getz.
Generation Umm… (Unrated). Tawdry tale of sex, drugs and denial chronicling a day in the life of an escort service chauffeur (Keanu Reeves) as he shuttles a couple of self-destructive call girls (Adelaide Clemens and Bojana Novakovic) aroundManhattan. Supporting cast includes Daniel Sunjata, Sarita Choudhury and Jake Hoffman.
Greetings From Tim Buckley (Unrated). Followed footsteps drama about the launch of Jeff Buckley’s (Penn Badgley) musical career after a performance of his late father Tim’s folk songs at a 1991 tribute concert, only to meet his own untimely demise in a drowning accident a few years later.
The Happy House (Unrated). Horror comedy about a Brooklyn couple in crisis (Khan Baykal and Aya Cash) vacationing at a country bed & breakfast to work on their relationship who find themselves cooped up in an old mansion with a motley crew of colorful characters including a demented serial killer with a .44 Magnum. Featuring Marceline Hugot, Mike Houston and Oliver Henzler.
The Iceman (R for sexuality, gruesome violence and pervasive profanity). Grisly biopic recounting the real-life exploits of elusive Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), the sociopathic hit man who murdered hundreds for the mob over several decades before his apprehension in 1986. With James Franco, Winona Ryder, David Schwimmer, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans and Stephen Dorff.
Kiss Of The Damned (R for nudity, profanity, drug use, gory violence and graphic sexuality). Erotic thriller about a handsome scriptwriter (Milo Ventimiglia) and beautiful vampire (Josephine De La Baume) whose star-crossed love affair becomes imperiled when her troublemaking sister (Roxane Mesquida) makes an unexpected visit. With Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport and Riley Keough.
Love Is All You Need (R for nudity, profanity and brief sexuality). Romance drama set at a wedding in Italy where the recently-abandoned, cancer-survivor mother (Trine Dyrholm) of the Danish bride (Molly Blixt Egelind) falls for the British groom’s (Sebastian Jessen) father (Pierce Brosnan), a lonely widower in need of help getting over the loss of his wife. Support cast includes Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen and Bodil Jorgensen.
What Maisie Knew (R for profanity). Dysfunctional family drama about an unfortunate little girl (Onata Aprile) caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle between her selfish, immature parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan). With Alexander Skarsgard, Emma Holzer and Joanna Vanderham.