Friday movie roundup – Jan. 11

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The biggest new release this weekend isn’t new, technically. It’s “The Bucket List,” which opened in New York and L.A. on Christmas so that it could eligible for the Oscars … Oscars that it probably won’t be nominated for, since it blows. I guess they were thinking that if it starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and was directed by Rob Reiner (“A Few Good Men”), then of course it would get some Academy Award attention! My review of it is at Film.com.

The other new wide release is “First Sunday,” an African American comedy that is clearly a rip-off of the Tyler Perry genre of comedy/melodrama/religion mishmashes. It’s the worst movie of the year! So far!

It’s interesting that “The Bucket List” and “First Sunday” both have the same major thing wrong with them: They are ill-equipped to handle the abrupt shifts in tone from buffoonish comedy to serious drama. I even used some version of the word “buffoon” in both reviews. It is very hard to switch from cartoonish, unrealistic comedy to down-to-earth melodrama, and these movies do not pull it off.

Still in limited release but expanding to more theaters today is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” a true story about a man who suffered a stroke that left him unable to move anything other than his left eye — and with that left eye he established a means of communication and dictated a book. It’s very inspiring. If nothing else, it will give me a kick in the butt the next time I’m complaining to myself about writer’s block. This guy couldn’t even move and he still wrote a book.

Finally, we have two of HOLLYWOOD’S SHAMEFUL SECRETS© (movies that are not screened for critics, which almost always means they’re lousy):

“In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” is from notorious German director Uwe Boll, widely considered the worst filmmaker currently working. His previous films have been either video game adaptations (“The House of the Dead,” “Alone in the Dark”) or fantasy-and-swords crap (“BloodRayne”); this one appears to be both!

“The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie” is a Veggie Tales movie. I have no idea why anyone over the age of 4 would be interested in seeing it. Perhaps that is why they did not screen it, as most critics are over the age of 4.

(Actually, I’m told that it was screened in some cities. But if it was screened in Portland, the publicist neglected to tell us, so I’m callin’ it a Shameful Secret©.)

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