Your Weekend at the Movies Inside a Computer

12/17/2010 10:14 AM |


Tron: Legacy: I have seen Tron at least twice. I have never, to my memory, seen Tron without dozing off. No offense, Tron; you’re a great-looking curio with some neat visual ideas and an appealing Jeff Bridges performances. You’re just not Blade Runner or Star Wars and that’s cool. I’m feeling a little bad for Tron as an entity because I feel like it’s about to get slammed with a wave of pointless Star Wars prequel-style disappointment slash anger. Only the original Star Wars movies, even if they’re not quite as superior to the newer trilogy as many nerds would like to think, are legit childhood classics, and Tron is, in the end, just Tron: a movie that, if anything, you probably liked less if you saw it as a child. But if Tron: Legacy turns out to be merely visually stunning and silly, it will be treated as a betrayal, just as slightly downgraded dialogue in the Star Wars prequels has been treated as some kind of a war crime.

Plus, bad news for Disney: kids really like the Star Wars prequels. Kids may not really like Tron: Legacy or even know it’s coming out. But they should get points for making a Tron sequel at all, even if it had to be accompanied by the delusion that it would be their Star Wars or their Avatar or even their Star Trek. My level of Tron: Legacy anticipation is, I believe, correct: I want to watch something that looks neat on the (real-deal) IMAX screen. Underreported in all of the 3-D what’s-it and Tron-disappointment-backlash-to-the-backlash-to-the-etc: this is the first feature IMAX movie to have full-IMAX sequences (the kind you can only see at the 68th Street theater) since Transformers 2, and the first one since Dark Knight not directed by Michael Bay. So at very least, it should briefly make you feel as if you’re racing through a computer, as compared to the original Tron, which generally makes me feel like I’ve been napping inside one.

Rabbit Hole: In the maligned/beloved cult movie Birth, there’s a sequence where Nicole Kidman’s character processes her feelings about the newly presented idea that her dead husband may have been reincarnated as a young boy while sitting at the opera. The camera stays fixated on her face for several minutes, and you can see every complicated emotion float across it. It’s a stunning scene in an interestingly weird little movie. There’s no such bravura piece in Rabbit Hole, but director John Cameron Mitchell does linger on Kidman’s face for stray moments, and you can catch that same sort of silent openness, that same emotional detail spread out across the entire film. This time, the grief is easier to explain: her four-year-old son was killed in a car accident eight months earlier. The movie, based on David Lindsay-Abaire’s play, follows her around as she and her husband (Aaron Eckart) attempt to re-enter real life. This sounds like a recipe for indie wallowing, but the sweetness and humor Mitchell brought to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus finds its way into this sad story, with less of the hippie-dippie celebratory vibe that muffled the impact of those earlier films. Kidman and Eckhart have one Oscar-ready blowout, but much of the movie is hushed, prickly, and often quite lovely.

How Do You Know: Word on the first Jim Brooks rom-com to take longer and cost more to make than your average Ghost Rider movie is that it’s not so good, and while it’s easy to picture every capable member of the cast—Reese Witherspoon (Just Like Heaven), Owen Wilson (Drillbit Taylor), Paul Rudd (Dinner for Schmucks), Jack Nicholson (Anger Management)—turning up in a big-studio comedy that sounds amusing on paper but turns listless on screen, the prospect of all four getting let down by a script from the writer of Broadcast News and Terms of Endearment (as well as fine, several less impressive movies) seems stranger, and almost compelling unto itself. I’m pulling for Brooks—that Spanglish bar is not very high—but picture how much more willing you’d be to see this movie if it were written and directed by Judd Apatow, and then realize that maybe Brooks is going the way of Rob Reiner.

Casino Jack: I’m happy to see Kevin Spacey taking more idiosyncratic parts in the aftermath of that stunningly terrible Pay It Forward/K-PAX/Life of David Gale shamelessness spiral so I’m tempted to see his turn as Jack Abramoff just on general principle, and maybe as a tip of the hat to director George Hickenlooper, who died earlier this year after completing the film.

Yogi Bear: I’ll say this for Yogi Bear: it’s not all together the worst possible crummy-cartoon-turned-live-action-movie-with-talking animals. Yogi doesn’t ride a four-wheeler (though he does water-ski), and he doesn’t wear sunglasses to connote California Raisins-level coolness (though he does dance, briefly, to “Baby Got Back”). Mostly he just kills time for eighty minutes, at least when the budget allows him to be on screen with pro seat-fillers Tom Cavanaugh (looking bored, borderline despondent) and Anna Faris (looking adorable, as usual, though less successful at summoning high spirits than when she elevated, say, Just Friends).