Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Catch-Up Capsule Reviews for the Week of 8/26/2007:

The Ten



Not Rated | 93 mins


     The Ten’s best quality is also its greatest weakness: it sees nothing wrong with indulging in utterly random comedy. The film’s narrator (Paul Rudd), who is simultaneously engaged in a nasty break-up with his wife as he narrates, shows the viewer to ten different sketches, each of which represents one of The Ten Commandments. These are all intended to be humorous, but because of their entirely aimless nature, the segments are as about hit-and-miss as those on a recent episode of “Saturday Night Live”. They range from being downright priceless (a certain bit involving an Arnold Schwarzenegger-impersonator is absolutely hysterical) to amusing (I chuckled during a segment in which men ditch their wives and children at Church to spend Sunday hanging out naked together) to hideously stupid (I’m thinking of a sketch that involves gays and prison, enough said). The end result of The Ten is an entirely inconclusive experience; the film’s comedy is mildly amusing when watched, but doesn’t leave any kind of a lasting impression.

Eye of the Dolphin



Rated PG-13 | 100 mins


     More than any other emotion, Eye of the Dolphin made me feel anger. This was not because of the film’s content—it’s a pretty inoffensive motion picture all around—but because of its exploitation of a great lead performance. As the film’s protagonist, troubled-teen Alyssa, Carly Schroeder is a revelation. She hits all of the right notes as a rebellious girl who flounders through high school after the loss of her mother, only to be shocked when she is one day informed by her grandmother that her long-lost father isn’t dead, as she had been told for all her life. The rest of the movie, however, doesn’t measure up to the quality of Schroeder’s work: it’s dull, formulaic, and lacking in visual style. The experience feels nearly ironic because of this sad truth; the out-of-place greatness of the performance lends itself more to the viewer’s frustration than it does their admiration. Even when Alyssa and Grandma travel to the Bahamas, where her dad is a dolphin researcher, the movie never really finds its rhythm.  Had Eye of the Dolphin been more effective on the whole, critics would be comparing Schroeder’s work to Keisha Castle-Hughes’ Oscar-nominated turn in 2002’s Whale Rider. As it is, the movie is merely a tired entry in a tired genre with a somewhat-redeeming lead performance.

2 Days in Paris



Rated R | 96 mins


     Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and co-produced 2 Days in Paris, clearly drawing from personal experiences in her native France to make the film a work that is entirely her own. To a certain extent, she succeeds. Much like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, another film set in Paris that she starred in, 2 Days in Paris excels when indulging in its witty and pleasurable-sounding dialogue. However, whereas Before Sunset was a masterpiece due to the unconventional discourse between its two characters, 2 Days in Paris falls short on the whole because the majority of what it has to stay about its subject and its setting is stereotypical. The stereotypes may be true—much of the film is rather hysterical because of them—but this doesn’t make them any less conventional within the confines of the screenplay. The cultural misadventures of Delpy’s Marion and her American boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg) are humorous in the moment due to their ingenious delivery but ultimately prove forgettable given their inherent unoriginality. As Marion and Jack spend time with her family and run into many of her ex-boyfriends along the way, the tone—if amusing—is frothy and forgettable. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the end to the film comes so abruptly and is so squeaky-clean that it can’t help but seem like a cop-out. Delpy has exerted a noble effort to balance comedy and drama with 2 Days in Paris, but her work proves only partially successful in the end.


The King of Kong



Rated PG-13 | 79 mins


     To a certain extent, one could use the term fascinating to describe the experience of watching The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Indeed, its chronicle of arcade Donkey Kong-gamer Steve Wiebe’s attempt to beat pompous and deluded record-holder Billy Mitchell’s high score proves entirely engrossing. Still, despite the film’s obvious entertainment-value and insight into the eerie world of competitive arcade-gaming, the whole thing never really amounts to much. As much as I rooted for middle-aged middle-school teacher Wiebe to beat the record held by conniving low-life Mitchell, and as much as I was captured by the strange details of the complex realm that the two inhabit in the film, I never found myself moved or challenged by any of The King of Kong’s contents. Instead of being the truly great documentary that it could have been, the movie settles merely for being diverting. Humorous and intense, The King of Kong offers a terrific time spent at the movies, but not necessarily an entirely rewarding one.

Mr. Bean's Holiday



Rated G | 90 mins


     The first two acts of Mr. Bean’s Holiday are exactly what a non-fan of Rowan Atkinson’s famous character would expect: more of the same. Atkinson’s crazy, exaggerated Brit, Mr. Bean, takes to the screen here in exactly the same manner he did in the original Bean, getting himself into one series of misadventures after the next. This time around, Bean has won a trip by train to Cannes, France. On Bean’s excursion, one colossal misunderstanding leads to another, and he is falsely suspected of kidnapping a famous film director’s son. The premise proves funny enough, but those indifferent to the protagonist (like myself) won’t find themselves laughing out loud during the film’s first hour. The outrageous third act, however, is an absolute riot for all viewers. Pinning the ridiculous Bean into an outlandish confrontation with a self-indulgent auteur (played by Willem Dafoe) who is showing his latest self-important film at the Cannes Film Festival, the finale is hysterically pitch-perfect. Dafoe perfectly parodies melodramatic independent filmmakers in his role, and also plays brilliantly off of the famous mannerisms of Atkinson’s abstractly-constructed Bean. This wonderful segment doesn’t quite fully redeem the only occasionally-amusing first hour of Mr. Bean’s Holiday, but it comes mighty close. Whatever the picture’s flaws, it certainly ends with a bang, and deserves to be recommended for this.


Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale