Your Weekend at the Movies: Night of 1,000 J.J. Abrams Jokes

05/08/2009 11:13 AM |

Lots of weird little movies are scurrying around under Star Trek‘s feet this weekend. My completely intuitive advice: probably just go see Star Trek, huh?

Star Trek: Looks like the best J.J. Abrams sci-fi since the final story arc on Felicity! Just kidding, I love Lost like a good nerd, but I do wonder if Abrams is more of an idea man than a storytelling visionary, and I say that as someone who was totally fine with Mission: Impossible III. Perhaps the Star Trek characters and backstory (of which I am only somewhat aware; I’m a good nerd, not a great one) will fill in the emotional resonance his work tends to lack on its own. I’m just excited that the series looks to have been Star Wars‘d up a bit; glib and corporate as it may sound, Abrams’ admission that he found a lot of Trek stuff kinda “talky” isn’t so crazy.

Next Day Air: This comedy looks low-rent and madcap, which is too bad, because there’s certainly a good comedy to be made starring Mike Epps, Donald Faison, and Mos Def. Mainstream African-American non-spoof farce needs some kind of auteur to whip one into shape. Malcolm D. Lee briefly looked like he could fit the bill, because his Roll Bounce was pretty charming, and that scene where Epps and Charlie Murphy talk about how if they lose their jobs as garbagemen, they might have to become male prostitutes, turning tricks “not for money — just for a bite off man’s hamburger” made me cry laughing. (I just ruined it a little for you, but the rest of the movie is pretty cute.) Anyway, Lee didn’t do Next Day Air and it looks like a poor man’s Guy Ritchie type of situation, but it could be funny.

Adoration: Atom Egoyan is back, and the world remains somewhat indifferent! Remember when this dude made The Sweet Hereafter and Felicia’s Journey and he was our great Canadian hope? Where the Truth Lies did its best to wash some of those memories away, and I can’t take this new one seriously not just because of Rowin’s convincingly unimpressed L Mag review but because it co-stars Scott Speedman. That’s right, I hold Felicity-related grudges.

Julia: Mark makes this character-driven thriller sound pretty awesome, especially for anyone who thought Swinton was the only good thing about that stupid Narnia movie. Any thriller would do well to hire Swinton, because she brings with her the built-in tension of whether she is going to do something quietly terrifying. Actually, that makes me want to see her in a pins-and-needles romantic comedy, too.

Little Ashes: It sounds like this will hasten, in its own little way, Robert Pattison’s return to obscurity; obviously it can’t really happen until the Twilight movies are over and done with, but having him play Salvador Dali in an art-house movie nobody likes will at least lay the groundwork. Unfortunately, the distributor isn’t going through with any kind of hilariously foolhardy plans to give this a wide release based purely on Pattison’s name.

Love N’ Dancing: Based on title and negligible release alone, I just assumed this movie was a dance-off leftover like How She Move, but a closer look reveals that it’s actually a swing-dancing movie, which is to say that it’s a dance movie starring near-exclusively white people, which I guess is why the title, if you think about it, is more Middle American slangy than urban slangy, and why it stars (stars!) Felicity alum Amy Smart. Better: it co-stars Billy Zane reprising his Titanic role as the villainous fiancé! And the film’s screenwriter as its romantic lead! And Rachel Dratch pops up somewhere! The director is Robert Isocove, who shoehorned dance sequences into She’s All That and Boys and Girls before seeing his apparent dream of directing a teen musical simultaneously realized and incinerated with From Justin to Kelly. Now he’s back, and he won’t go straight to DVD, no matter how obviously this movie should. I might have to see it just to reward its perseverance, if I can find where it’s playing.

Powder Blue: In other almost-to-DVD news, Powder Blue, in which Jessica Biel plays a stripper, reportedly in a more, um, convincing manner than some other movie-star strippers, will be available in its preferred viewing environment in early June. But in the meantime, it gets a token theatrical release, and I struggle to make another Felicity joke because this seems like the type of movie that should star someone I loved on Felicity. There’s a certain class of oft-misused actors who tend to turn up in indie or quasi-indie ensemble movies; Powder Blue‘s crop includes Forest Whitaker (past entries: The Air I Breathe, Street Kings, and the mainstream thriller version called Vantage Point), Ray Liotta (Crossing Over, Smokin’ Aces); and Lisa Kudrow (Happy Endings, although that one was actually quite watchable). Basically, there are too many actors, in general, for movies and TV to hold. There needs to be a third thing for them to do (but not theater). Some kind of content broadcast to GPS devices or something. Starring Ray Liotta.

Rudo Y Cursi
: This Y tu mama tambien reunion brings back Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and… Alfonso Cuaron’s brother? I wonder if that sucks for him, like if he can’t do really amazing long-take tracking shots without someone saying something. The Real Cuaron is on hand as a producer, and advance word is pretty solid.