Friday movie roundup – Feb. 22

It’s rather perverse to open a Larry the Cable Guy movie on Oscar weekend, isn’t it? I guess that’s what they call counter-programming, like releasing a chick flick on Super Bowl weekend.

Larry’s movie, “Witless Protection” (what’s with this guy and pun titles?), was of course one of Hollywood’s Shameful Secrets®, not screened for critics before opening today. Curiously, the film “Be Kind Rewind” — which premiered at Sundance last month — was also not screened for critics in most cities. Some of us skipped it in Park City because we figured we’d get a press screening when it opened locally. Shows what we know.

As for movies whose distributors are not embarrassed by them, “Charlie Bartlett” and “Vantage Point” are the two big releases today, and both of them are pretty good. “Charlie Bartlett” was actually supposed to open last July, and I saw it way back then, wrote my review — and then had to sit on it for seven months when they pushed the film back on the schedule. It was very annoying to have that review sitting there on my desktop, waiting to be posted, for all that time. The organizer in me kept wanting to do something with it, and kept being frustrated by the knowledge that I couldn’t. So I’m glad to have it gone.

Finally, two good horror movies are in limited release. George Romero’s “Diary of the Dead” is pretty decent, while “The Signal” — in which a signal goes out over all the TVs, radios, and cell phones and causes people to become violent — is fantastic. It’s scary and funny, very much in the spirit of the “Evil Dead” movies.

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