There can no more excruciating chore for a film critic than watching movies in January. Typically the month that serves as the “dumping ground for bad movies,” doesn’t disappoint this week with three new films that you will have forgotten a month from now.
Here is the skinny on films opening in theaters tomorrow.
New In Town
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. A cosmopolitan, upscale city professional finds themselves living in in a remote, rural location and initially looks down on the country rubes before rediscovering the virtues of small-town values and turning their back on city life. Almost 20 years, it worked for Michael J. Fox in “Doc Hollywood” and now Oscar-nominee Renée Zellweger decides to flip the script in the predictable yet mildly charming romantic comedy, “New in Town.” Zellwegger plays a Miami executive, Lucy Hill sent to the Land of Lakes, Minnesota to close down a local processing plant. Soon she encounters handsome union rep, Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick, Jr.). Even Stevie Wonder could see that after the two quarrel early in the story that sooner or much later they would end up together. Connick is entertaining but Zellwegger comes across as a little too stiff to convey true romantic warmth. While the producers have changed the locale, the only thing new about this story is the year!
Less than two weeks after the release of the uninspiring and comically bad horror thriller, “The Unborn,” provides another opportunity to see just how low this genre can go. When a young mental patient Anna (Emily Browning) returns to the home of her late mother, she finds her father has hooked up with his nurse, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) and with the help of her sister (Arielle Kebbel) the two begin to suspect that their father’s new lady love may be behind the death of their mother. What in Hades is Banks doing in this mess? Her appearance almost undercuts the good feelings she generated in “W.” and “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” All you need to know about this “Sixth Senseless” is that in addition to one critic laughing hysterically during a crucial moment in the film is that when you’re film is directed by the Guard Brothers, you should “guard” your wallets and RUN as fast as you can in the opposite direction!
In easily the most entertaining film of the weekend, Liam Neeson morphs into a vicious bad ass Jason Bourne when his daughter is abducted on holiday in France in the clownishly violent thriller, “Taken.” After reluctantly agreeing to let his daughter go away with a girlfriend to France, the former spy and operative is absolutely livid when his baby girl is snatched and possibly being sold into prostitution. In no time flat, Neeson has Paris burning as this “army of one” shows that he is the wrong father to f*^k with. Never mind the fact that Neeson runs up a ridiculous body count and barely sustains any physical damage, his kitchen scene with an adversary and his wife is worth the price of admission alone! Plot holes and logic aside, “Taken” packs enough action and beat-downs that will mask the fact that there’s not much story and too many details James Bond-lite peaces together much too quickly for us to really take it seriously. At it’s core it is cinematic eye candy, but make sure not to take in too much or you might get sick!