Shirin In Love
Bride-to-Be Gets Cold Feet In Cross-Cultural Comedy
Shirin (Nazanin Boniadi) has never really found the courage to pursue her own dreams. For example, after graduating from college and law school, instead of going into practice, she moved back home and began writing book reviews for BH Style, a magazine owned by her domineering mother (Anita Khalatbari). The deferential daughter knows her problems stem from living under the same roof as her very traditional Iranian-American parents. Furthermore, they’re members of a tight-knit community located in a section ofL.A. known as Tehrangeles.
Consequently, more out of obligation than love, she accepted the marriage proposal of Dr. Joon (Maz Jobriani), a successful,Beverly Hillsplastic surgeon who shares the same background. But with the wedding day fast approaching, Shirin is belatedly questioning the wisdom of tying the knot with a man she’s not passionate about just because everyone else considers him to be Mr. Right.
A fly lands in the prenuptial ointment the night she spots a handsome hunk (Riley Smith) across a crowded room at a publishing party. Trouble is she’s tipsy at the time, and he’s too much of a gentleman to make a pass, given the situation. And since he lives far away in the coastal town ofMendocino, they seem fated to pass like ships in the night and never see each other again.
However, thanks to a frankly farcical series of coincidences they cross paths once more when Shirin ventures toNorthern Californiaon a writing assignment in search of an interview with a notoriously-reclusive, best-selling author (Amy Madigan). This time around, she and William do make a love connection, leaving the blushing bride-to-be in quite a quandary.
Thus unfolds Shirin In Love, a formulaic romantic comedy that eschews breaking new ground in favor of resorting to a slew of shopworn Hollywood clichés. For that reason, the most amusing aspect of this otherwise predictable romp is the presumably-authentic peek offered into Iranian culture. Nevertheless, you’re left with a nagging a sense of déjà vu that’s hard to shake.
My Big Fat Iranian Wedding!
Good (2 stars)
In English and Farsi with subtitles
Running time: 104 minutes
The Single Moms Club
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes
Frazzled Mothers Join Forces In Tyler Perry Tale Of Female Empowerment
Fast-food waitress Lytia (Cocoa Brown) survives paycheck to paycheck and has to rely on public transportation to get around. By contrast, Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an ambitious executive at a prominent publishing company, has many modern amenities and a luxury automobile at her disposal.
Meanwhile, May (Nia Long) is unemployed but dreams of a career in journalism. Then there’s Hillary (Amy Smart), a recent divorcee who’s a bit overwhelmed about the prospect of raising her kids alone in suburbia. And finally, frightened Esperanza (Zulay Henao) has been reduced to cowering and hiding from an abusive ex-husband (Eddie Cibrian) who has continued to threaten her long after their separation.
At first blush, it probably sounds like these five females would have little in common, let alone a reason to cross paths. But that’s exactly what transpires when they’re all summoned to the principal’s office at West Merryville Prep where they each have a child who has just been put on probation for disciplinary reasons like smoking and spray painting graffiti.
At the meeting, Principal Walters (Carrie L. Walrond) leaves the parents no choice but to co-chair the school’s annual fundraising dance. However, this is easier said than done, given that the five frazzled single moms are not only bordering on burnout, but are unaccustomed to interacting with folks from the other side of the tracks.
They grudgingly agree to organize the soiree, but can these black, white and Latino women even get past their considerable class and cultural differences? That is the concern established at the outset of The Single Moms Club, a humor-driven tale of female empowerment played more for laughs than for serious enlightenment.
Written, produced and directed by and co-starring Tyler Perry, the picture first pits the protagonists against one another before having them gradually see their similarities as overburdened sole providers. At that point, they create an informal association which basically functions as a babysitting support group as well as an excuse to share a weekly girls’ night to decompress by singing karaoke, watching hunky men strip, and trading relationship advice about the battle-of-the-sexes.
Tylertweaks his familiar, morality play formula here by toning down the sermonizing this go-round in favor of going more for laughs. Of course, before the closing credits outtakes roll, he makes sure his heroines conveniently bond into a tight-knit band of sisters whose lovers and little monsters are all behaving again.
An unabashedly-sentimental salute to single moms from all walks of life!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 111 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening March 21, 2014
Divergent (PG-13 for intense violence, mature themes and some sensuality) Futuristic sci-fi set in a supposedly-utopian society where people are segregated by personality, although anyone who fails to fit into one of five groups ends up condemned to death. Starring Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Theo James and Maggie Q.
Muppets Most Wanted (PG for mild action) Animated adventure set in Europe where the Muppets unwittingly become embroiled in a jewel heist hatched by a Kermit The Frog look-a-like (Steve Whitmore). Voice cast includes Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell, with cameos by Lady Gaga, Sean Diddy Combs, Celine Dion, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Tony Bennett, Usher and Salma Hayek.
50 To 1 (PG-13 for suggestive material and a bar fight) Fact-based drama chronicling the road trip from New Mexico to Kentucky undertaken by a posse of cowboys when their crooked-footed horse miraculously qualifies for the Derby. Starring Skeet Ulrich, William Devane and Christian Kane.
Awakened (Unrated) Supernatural thriller about a young woman (Julianne Michelle) who gets help from beyond the grave while unearthing the truth about whether her father (John Savage) murdered her mother (Kiva Dawson) when she was a child. Featuring Steven Bauer, Edward Furlong and Sally Kirkland.
A Birder’s Guide To Everything (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, drug use and partial nudity) Ornithological comedy about a 15-year-old bird watcher (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who embarks on an expedition with a couple of friends in search of the supposedly-extinct Labrador Duck. With Ben Kingsley, James Le Gros and Katie Chang.
Blood Ties (R for sexuality, violence, brief drug use and pervasive profanity) Gangster saga, set in 1974, revolving around two brothers (Clive Owen and Billy Crudup) operating on opposite sides of the law in theirBrooklyn neighborhood. Ensemble cast includes James Caan, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Jamie Hector and Griffin Dunne.
Cheap Thrills (Unrated) Dark comedy about an unemployed auto mechanic (Pat Healy) who, for some much-needed cash, accepts a rich couple’s (David Koechner and Sara Paxton) series of increasingly twisted dares. With Ethan Embry, Amanda Fuller and Laura Covelli.
God’s Not Dead (PG for mature themes, brief violence and an accident scene) Christian-oriented drama about a college freshman (Shane Harper) who finds his faith challenged by a philosophy professor’s (Kevin Sorbo) pressure to embrace atheism for a passing grade. Featuring Dean Cain, Jim Gleason and Willie Robertson.
Maladies (Unrated) Dream deferred drama about a mentally ill soap opera star (James Franco) who retires prematurely to a quiet coastal town with his deranged sister (Fallon Goodson) and best friend (Catherine Keener). Cast includes David Strathairn, Jean Carter and Jon Prescott.
McCanick (R for profanity, graphic violence and brief drug use) David Morse stars in the title role of this out-of-the-closet drama chronicling an eventful day-in-the-life of a cop with a big secret. Featuring Mike Vogel, Tracie Thoms, Aaron Yoo and recently-deceased Cory Monteith in the late Glee star’s final screen appearance.
Nymphomaniac: Part One (Unrated) Lars Von Trier (Breaking The Waves) directed this erotic drama in which a 50-year-old woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) recounts her adventurous sex life to the Good Samaritan (Stellan Skarsgard) who came to the rescue after she was beaten and left for dead in an alley. With Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman and Willem Dafoe.
Rob The Mob (R for sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Crime caper about a couple (Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda) that stumbles upon something unexpected at an underground club in the process of attempting to fleece the Mafia. Support cast features Ray Romano, Andy Garcia and Griffin Dunne.