COMEDY/ROMANCE OUR FAMILY WEDDING (12A) 102min ●●●●● WAR LEBANON (15) 93min ●●●●●
The comic potentialities of an African- American/Mexican marriage are explored with variable results in Rick Famuyima’s glossy rom-com, which makes a few pertinent points about race and family relationships before regressing into cringeworthy slapstick.
Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera and Lance Gross play Lucia and Marcus, two lovers who jet into LA to announce their engagement at a dinner for their future in-laws. By a contrived co-incidence their fathers, garage-owner Miguel (Carlos Mencia) and playboy radio presenter Brad (Forest Whitaker), have just been involved in a parking dispute, and soon battle lines are being drawn alongside the wedding plans.
Our Family Wedding has a useful, inclusive message about tolerance and equality between different sexes and races, but unfortunately attempts to raise laughs with considerably less sophisticated set-pieces; three scenes in which family members push cream cakes into each other’s faces are bad enough, but a scene in which recent Oscar nominee Whitaker has his leg humped by a randy goat accidentally hopped up on his Viagra supply firmly relegates Our Family Wedding into the registry office. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 14 May.
Welcome to hell. June 1982, in an alleged attempt to quell PLO rocket attacks (sound familiar?) and deal with a burgeoning Palestinian refugee problem, Israeli Defence Forces invade southern Lebanon. Many civilians die and many young Israeli military conscripts are marked by the carnage they witness. One such man was Samuel Maoz, the writer/director of Lebanon. Back then Maoz was part of a tank platoon which followed in the wake of a paratrooper platoon as they bloodily swept through the towns and villages. Their only view of the outside world was through the cannon sights. Like its two First Lebanon War-set predecessors – Beaufort and Waltz With Bashir – Lebanon is a muscular, technically bravura piece of film therapy. Thirty years on from the events depicted in the film (which he contends are all completely true) Maoz is clearly still seeking answers and redemption from the horrors he witnessed. As with Wolfgang Petersen’s seminal Das Boot, claustrophobia is everything here, the violence and horror is kept at one remove but it’s happening and these gauche young men know they are the possible agents of genocide. It’s lean, powerful stuff aided by a terrific cast and an economy of scale on Maoz’s part. The stench of petrol and phosphate almost lifts off the screen. Sam Fuller would have approved. (Paul Dale) ■ GFT, Glasgow & Cameo, Edinburgh, from Fri 14 May. See feature, page 42.
COMEDY/THRILLER COP OUT (15) 107min ●●●●●
A promising vehicle for the scatological humour that writer-director Kevin Smith has made his trademark since Clerks, Cop Out features Bruce Willis and 30 Rock’s Trace Morgan as Jimmy Monroe and Paul Hodges, two Brooklyn cops whose decade-long professional friendship is tested by domestic matters.
In an old-school plot, Monroe sets out to sell a rare baseball card to pay for his
daughter’s wedding, but while Hodges is distracted by suspicions of his wife’s infidelity, the card gets stolen, forcing the two policemen to shake down a variety of NYC low-life characters to get it back. Originally titled A Couple of Dicks, Cop Out was, surprisingly, written not by Smith but by sibling TV writers Robb and Mark Cullen. Their script, however, reflects many of Smith’s usual obsessions with modern manhood; the dangers of sexual jealousy, the importance of camaraderie, and the usual salty stream of sexual swear words.
Featuring a retro score by Beverley Hills Cop’s Harold Faltermeyer, Cop Out is aimed at nothing more than an 80s action/comedy throwback in the mould of Pineapple Express. The problem is that Smith doesn’t have the same feel for action as he does dialogue, and despite lively work from Willis and Morgan, Cop Out never really delivers on its simple idea. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 21 May.
ACTION/ADVENTURE ROBIN HOOD (12A) 140min ●●●●●
Marking his fifth film with Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood seems determined to conjure up the magic of their first collaboration, Gladiator. After all, both are historical dramas featuring a hero facing insurmountable odds. Yet try as it might, this epic never quite musters up the sheer power of its predecessor, just as Crowe – despite sporting a haircut that seems styled in tribute to his Roman slayer Maxiumus – feels rather muted in comparison. Still, with Scott going for a gritty take on the legend of the outlaw who robbed the rich to give to the poor, at least Crowe lends the character a level of credability Kevin Costner never attained in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Scripted by Brian Helgeland – no stranger to this era, having written and
directed A Knight’s Tale – the film begins in the late 13th century with Crowe’s lowly archer Robin Longstride fighting in the Crusades for King Richard (Danny Huston). After meeting a dying envoy for the king, who himself has just been slain, Robin spies his safe passage back to England – adopt the man’s identity and deliver the news to the court that Prince John (Oscar Isaac) must be now crowned. Arriving home to find a nation divided, he heads to Nottingham to complete his mission, and soon finds himself falling for Lady Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett), the wife of the man whose identity he stole.
While this romance feels gratuitous at best, it’s not the film’s most diappointing element. Matthew Macfadyen’s Sheriff of Nottingham is woefully underused, and certainly not a patch on Alan ‘Cancel Christmas’ Rickman in Prince of Thieves. Indeed, with Mark Strong the de facto villain as the treachourous courtier Godfrey, a little of Rickman’s dry humour wouldn’t have gone amiss in what is a rather po-faced adventure story. There are some strong actors on show, not least William Hurt and Max von Sydow, who plays Marion’s father. Scott also handles it all proficiently enough, particularly the final beach-set battle as Robin helps repel the invading French. But all this tangling with the myth of the man never really sets the screen alight. (James Mottram) ■ General release from Wed 12 May.
44 THE LIST 13–27 May 2010