By Bob Garver
This past weekend saw three new films take the top spots at the box office. They all took in roughly the same amount, between $12.7 and $13 million. Rather than choose one to review, I’m going to give you a taste of all three.
“End of Watch”
This has been a good year for the “found footage” movie. Once relegated to horror films, this year has seen the genre expand to include comedy (“Project X”), superheroes (“Chronicle”, still my favorite wide release of the year), and now a cop movie in “End of Watch”. The style gives the film a gritty, realistic texture. The downside is that the action sequences are filmed with such shakiness that they’re likely to make viewers motion sick. Also, there’s the constant question of who exactly is doing the filming, especially in the film’s climactic scenes.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play LAPD officers with an undying friendship and loyalty that comes from being partners. The actors are so endearing in their chemistry that the film could forget about its plot about a drug cartel and just give us two hours of the characters teasing each other. I’d say the film has an excellent script, but the dialogue sounds so spontaneous that I wouldn’t be surprised if much of it was ad-libbed and not scripted. That kind of natural feel is what makes “End of Watch” such a standout of the “found footage” genre.
Three Stars out of Five.
“End of Watch” is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use. Its running time is 109 minutes.
“House at the End of the Street”
The ads for “House at the End of the Street” promise that the film stars “The Hungers Games”’ Jennifer Lawrence, which in fairness it does. The ads do not promise that the film is actually exciting or scary, which it isn’t. I can only conclude that the film was thrown together without much thought simply because the studio wanted a vehicle for Lawrence and not because anybody was particularly interested in the story.
The film is your typical haunted house horror movie. Elissa (Lawrence) keeps finding reasons to poke around the home of her disturbed neighbor (Max Thieriot). The house has a violent past, a violent present, and if Elissa isn’t careful, a violent future. The script actually has some pretty clever misdirection involving the villain, but it’s not enough to save “House at the End of the Street” from being an utterly forgettable horror entry.
Two Stars Out of Five.
“House at the End of the Street” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying, and brief drug material. Its running time is 101 minutes.
“Trouble with the Curve”
The logic behind “Trouble with the Curve” seems to be that a film that combines things that everybody likes should automatically result in a film that everybody likes. The film takes the iconic Clint Eastwood, pairs him with the adorable Amy Adams, throws in the way cool Justin Timberlake, and puts them all in a story centered on the beloved national pastime of baseball. On paper this movie should be a home run, and perhaps that mindset led to a complacency that makes the film seem like a weak effort.
Eastwood stars as an aging talent scout for the Atlanta Braves. His estranged daughter (Adams) is compelled to accompany him on a crucial assignment to evaluate a young talent. Timberlake is in the mix as a love interest for Adams. The three spend the movie exchanging barbs, which isn’t nearly as endearing as when Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena do it in “End of Watch”. “Trouble with the Curve” practically dares you not to like it, but for such a likeable movie it has surprisingly little to offer.
Two Stars out of Five.
“Trouble with the Curve” is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material, and smoking. Its running time is 111 minutes.
Contact Bob Garver at firstname.lastname@example.org.