Friday movie roundup – Aug. 15

It used to be that August was almost entirely a dumping ground for lame movies, but “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” bucked that trend in 2005 and things have been looking up ever since, especially for comedies.

“Tropic Thunder” opened on Wednesday, and it’s a sharp, hilarious, vulgar Hollywood satire worthy of most of the attention it’s been getting. Ben Stiller has been in a few stinkers, but he redeems himself with this one. And so does Tom Cruise! All is forgiven, Tom. Just keep doing things like this.

And hey, did you know there was a “Star Wars” movie opening this week? Remember when that used to be a really big deal? Yeah, not anymore. It’s called “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and it’s a cartoon, and it’s frozen poo on a stick. My review is at

And hey, did you know there’s another cartoon opening today? It’s called “Fly Me to the Moon,” and it’s a terrible 3D adventure about three houseflies who stow away on Apollo 11 for the 1969 moon landing. Kids, when you make your animated films, keep this in mind: You need to have a story and some interesting characters. You can’t just draw a bunch of pictures of insects buzzing around and then record some actors saying stupid things to go along with them.

“Henry Pool Is Here” is a not-very-good inspirational drama about a depressed man (Luke Wilson) whose stucco wall might be the site of a holy miracle. Or it might just be a water stain that kind of looks like Jesus. You be the judge!

Woody Allen’s latest, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” is a very good movie despite its unwieldy title (which nine out of 10 blogs have been misspelling “Christina” anyway), and despite the distracting rumors you may have heard about a three-way sex scene involving Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson. The movie is sexy, but it’s not explicit. It’s still PG-13. Penelope Cruz didn’t even shave her mustache for the role.

Finally, in limited release, there’s the documentary “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” (which is good), and the Tarantino-produced biker-flick homage “Hell Ride” (which is bad). My review of the latter is at Cinematical, from way back at Sundance — seven months old, but still fresh!

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