Friday movie roundup – July 27 – mmm… roundup…

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Grab a bottle of Duff and yell “Woo-hoo!” “The Simpsons Movie” is a worthy big-screen adaptation of our favorite yellow-skinned family’s adventures. Like the TV show, it’s about one-fourth brilliant and three-fourths just OK — but even the “just OK” parts are full of fast-paced sight gags and extremely clever parodies of modern American life.

Also worth seeing this weekend is “Sunshine,” a thrilling sci-fi tale from director Danny Boyle. I distinctly remember seeing the trailer for this with my friend Brett this past January. It starts with a voice telling us that the sun is dying, and so Earth has sent a spaceship loaded with a nuclear bomb to restart it. Brett and I snorted derisively, and those snorts were saying: What a dumb idea for a movie. Then the trailer showed these words: “From the director of ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Trainspotting.'” That’s when Brett and I repented of our snorting and started paying attention. The movie is proof that even an idea that sounds ridiculous on its face can be made into something compelling and entertaining if you do it right.

“No Reservations” opens today, but there’s no reason for you to watch it. In fact, I only saw it four days ago, and already I’ve forgotten everything about it.

Two of Hollywood’s Shameful Secrets© (films that aren’t screened for critics, which is almost always a sign of lousiness) are being dumped into theaters as well. “I Know Who Killed Me” is a horror thriller starring Lindsay Lohan; “Who’s Your Caddy?” is a comedy about black people infiltrating a snooty white country club. I plan to see them both as a double-feature sometime this weekend, which is a clear indication that I don’t have the sense the good Lord gave a donkey.

Finally, in today’s “In the Dark” (sign up here), there is a brief review of “Joshua,” which is playing in limited release and is worth catching if you enjoy thrillers about creepy kids.

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“The Simpsons Movie” is yet another example of movie studios behaving illogically with regard to movie critics and entertainment writers. Many studios still have a generalized terror of the Internet, believing it to be an anarchic wasteland where nobody plays by the rules. If you show a movie to an online film critic more than a day or two before the film opens, why, he’ll have a review posted within hours! And that’s against the rules! The only way to prevent early reviews being posted online is to not show them the film until the night before it opens.

20th Century Fox (which we now just call “Fox,” what with the 20th century being sooooo last century) is perhaps the most online-film-critic-phobic. Newspaper critics nationwide were invited to press-only screenings of “The Simpsons Movie” on Tuesday. Onliners had to wait until Thursday night, when they were allowed to join the sweaty, rabid masses at public promotional screenings.

Fox has been gun-shy the last several weeks, ever since some moron in Tennessee — don’t worry, I’ll narrow it down for you — posted an early (negative) review of “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” on Ain’t It Cool News. The guy worked as a projectionist for his local theater, and he reviewed the film based on having watched it from the booth as it unspooled at a private screening — one to which critics were not invited. Understandably, Fox was angry about this breach, and they’ve been rabbity ever since, taking it out their paranoia on everyone.

But back to “The Simpsons Movie.” Onliners weren’t invited to the Tuesday press screening, apparently because Fox was worried about early reviews being posted. The thing is, anyone who’s a critic is an “online critic” nowadays. Every newspaper and magazine has a website, and many of them are not shy about posting reviews as soon as they’re available, even if the print editions aren’t out yet.

As a result, by Wednesday night there were about 25 reviews already linked at Rotten Tomatoes. When I left the house Thursday night to go see the movie, there were 55 reviews posted. A few were online-only critics who had managed to gain access to an earlier screening, but most were from magazines and newspapers.

So, you know … good thing Fox didn’t let the onliners attend that press screening on Tuesday.

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Anyway! I mentioned “In the Dark” already; the podcast version is here. It makes use of reverb! I bet you’re excited now!