Greetings! Have you ever wondered if a movie's worth blowing the money on to see at the theater or what to add next to your NetFlix queue? Then you've come to the right place! Enjoy!

"Abduction" Review

The werewolf kid from the Twilight abominations dumps the sparkly vampires and dippy love interest to step into the tweener-action hero spotlight with Abduction, a occasionally fast-moving but inherently banal actioner with an improbable plot, even by the standards of the genre.

Taylor Lautner is a knucklehead jock dumbass who parties hard and doesn't have a care in the world. I mean, other than the father (Jason Issacs) who picks his hungover ass off the lawn of the crime and then makes him fight like a twisted scene from The Great Santini. However, he's not an abusive pop, just someone who's training Shark Boy for the rest of the plot. When Taylor finds a photo on a missing children website that looks like him, his attempt to find out about his past leads to his present being literally blown to pieces and the couple who raised him being killed by bad guys. With the CIA and Russian baddies chasing him and not knowing whom to trust, he takes off with the cute classmate from across the street (Lily "My daddy drums for Genesis" Collins) and the hijnks ensue.

Since the target audience is horny teenage girls, it's understandable how much superfluous rigmarole has to take place up front, in the middle, and at the end. While the action staged by director John Singleton (in his first feature since 2005's lackluster Four Brothers) is occasionally exciting and Lautner is a credible butt-kicker, the pace is too languid for such a threadbare plot. How do the bad guys manage to tap into the CIA's comms without fail? What exactly is the McGuffin they're chasing and why are we supposed to be surprised someone doesn't turn out as they initially appear? Can Taylor act or us he just a square-headed caterpillar with some charm to go with that prison-ripped bod? I'm the wrong audience for this movie, aren't I?

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.

"The Sitter (Unrated)" Review

Judging from this trailer...

...The Sitter, starring Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill, looks like a stupid, raunchy retread of Adventures in Babysitting with the loutish, porcine Hill doing his usual loud moron schtick and for the most part, that pretty much sums things up. However, there is actually a little more depth and heart to the flick, though it doesn't maintain enough consistency in the laugh department.

For those who didn't watch the trailer - and why didn't you? - Hill is a tubby slacker who gets stuck babysitting for a friend of his mother's when he gets an offer of nookie from his fickle sorta girlfriend. Of course, the kids are punks - a mopey emo with "issues" (played by the kid from Where the Wild Things Are), a celebrity-obsessed girl, and an adopted El Salvadoran terror who spends half the movie blowing stuff up and relieving himself anywhere and everywhere - and hijinks ensue.

Where The Sitter actually scores some points is in making Hill not quite the disaster he initially appears, but more of an unmotivated victim of his own problems, which he eventually confronts and overcomes. Where it really gets crazy is when it pit stops in the crazy lair of a drug dealer (an unrecognizable Sam Rockwell) which is so genuinely weird that I don't even want to spoil the surprises in case you catch this sometime.

It's all meaningless and won't change your life, but if you burn 90 minutes on the couch viewing it, you won't wish you were dead. (There's some box copy!)

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.

Judging from the credits and the IMDB parent's guide, there's not much more that has been added for this "unrated" version other than a quick scene of two people shagging with a brief glimpse of bare breasts. While much of the vibe is sort of like Eighties teen comedies, there is no nudity in the regular cut; the R comes from the barrage of F-bombs. It's the 21st Century; how are we getting more Victorian?

"Young Adult" Review

The writing-directing tag team that brought us Juno, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman, team up again with Charlize Theron for a dark drama with comic accents, Young Adult, which unfortunately doesn't live up to its pedigree and potential.

Theron is a 37-year-old divorcee in Minneapolis who drinks too much, sleeps around, plucks the hair out of her scalp in spots, barely cares for her Pomeranian, and makes her living ghost-writing a young adult series of books set in a high school. The movie's title has a dual meaning that her arrested development makes her able to capture the voice of her characters. It also helps that she always seems to be near teenage girls in time to overhear them say something she can crib for her books.

When she receives an email announcing the birth of a child to an old flame (Patrick Wilson), she obsesses over it until finally deciding to return to her home town of Mercury, MN and rescue him from the horrible life of domesticity she feels he's trapped in. While setting up her plan, she encounters Patton Oswalt, a dumpy guy who had the locker next to hers throughout high school whom she never noticed. Hobbled by a savage beating (more on this later), he quickly becomes her Jiminy Cricket, trying to talk her out of her plan. Of course, she's not listening.

While there are some hints of greatness throughout Young Adult, it simply doesn't gel up into a cohesive whole. Theron is unlikeable, which isn't a problem since she's supposed to be a boozy deluded mess, but her realizations and growth are undercut by Cody's script which seems to forget its points at the end. I thought Reitman's last film, the George Clooney-topped Up In The Air, fell apart in it's last act and ending and something similar happens here with the precisely wrong thing happening and then everything that could've been learned tossed out the window in a single scene in which someone basically tells her that her wrong-headed views were right all along. I honestly had no idea what the movie was trying to say at the end.

Theron is very good, managing to make an unsympathetic character earn our pity. (If you know the difference between sympathy and pity, you'll get the distinction I'm making.) She almost manages to make us overlook the gaps in the plotting like how Wilson seems to act as if they merely dated a short while in high school when it's revealed later that their relationship was much, much more involved. I place blame for this on Reitman who let him play it as if there had been little between them.

I had been enthused about seeing Young Adult because of the players involved, but it shows that past prowess provides little guarantee of future competence. I wonder if the makers have become too big for their britches and aren't being held to the standards of polish that others would (and should) be held to? While not especially bad, it's not particularly good in the final analysis because it manages to undercook the characters. Also, if you hated the Teenage Fanclub song "The Concept", you may want to steer clear of this movie because it gets played about five times and will stick in your head the next day.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.

Regarding Oswalt's beating ** SEMI-SPOILERS **: He was supposedly beaten with a crowbar by a pack of jocks because they thought he was gay - this is how Theron remembers him, as the "Hate Crime Guy" - and it was quite the scandal until it was learned that he wasn't gay; then it became a socially acceptable attack of jocks on a fat guy. That she doesn't seem to feel this is anything to whine about despite his walking with a cane and having mutilated junk makes the ending that much more questionable.
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