In the DVD commentary for A Scanner Darkly, will Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. discuss the writings of the Apostle Paul?
It's possible, since the title of their new movie was inspired by a line from 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul writes that we currently see "through a glass darkly," but someday we will see God face to face, and all will become clear. Paul's observation would be reassuring to the characters in A Scanner Darkly, if they would ever stop to consider the claims of Christ. All of them are in desperate need of clearer understanding.
The famed sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick was clearly haunted by this verse. Tormented by drugs, and heartbroken as he watched some of his close friends destroyed by addiction, Dick felt the pain of a dazed and confused generation. His longing for redemption is palpable in books like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was adapted into the movie Blade Runner, and Minority Report, which Steven Spielberg adapted into a big screen thriller of the same title.
Now Richard Linklater has taken the novel called A Scanner Darkly and adapted it into the most faithful adaptation yet made from Dick's work. It gives us the clearest picture of the author's experience and his desire to find grace. But it's not a pretty picture. It's a film about ugly realities, but the truth is shining through the screen, just as it shines through Dick's writing—darkly.
My full review is at Christianity Today Movies.
"Drugs are presented as singularly unattractive," notes Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service), "and the film ends on a somber note … But even if there's no romanticizing of the drug culture, the nightmarish milieu is almost unremittingly sordid and unpleasant … and despite the animation technique (which adds a drug-tripping ambience), the film is surprisingly dull and talky."
Mainstream critics are divided over whether the film is fantastic or forgettable.
In Anthony and Joe Russo's comedy You, Me and Dupree, Dupree (Owen Wilson) is a slacker who moves in with a soon-to-be-married couple (Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson) and wreaks havoc on their lives and their relationship with his misbehavior and irresponsibility.
And in spite of Wilson's typically winning personality, the movie is proving to be as unpleasant and disruptive as Dupree's company.
Christa Banister (Crosswalk) says the movie "would've benefited from a better screenplay and more standout performances from someone other than Wilson. Even though it also stars Dillon … and Hudson … the movie was clearly designed for Wilson and his adorable-but-mostly-dim-witted charms. And sadly that's not enough to merit more than a rental."
Tom Neven (Plugged In) says it "has some great lessons on love, friendship, trust and the need for husbands and wives to communicate. In fact, the story premise is rife with opportunities for genuine, clean laughs. However, any hint of potential innocence gets immediately and routinely buried under an avalanche of juvenile and crude sexual 'humor,' even crasser bathroom humor and a pile of foul language."
But Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) says this "uneven comedy starts out irritating and contrived … but becomes more engaging as it goes along. Once Dupree is rehabilitated … the story—and especially his character—becomes easier to take. By the end, Dupree has become downright lovable."
"Not since Risky Business has there been a romantic comedy so misogynistic and so male-centered," writes Greg Wright (Looking Closer). He notes that the movie is "yet made with such back-slapping, nudge-nudge precision that men are unlikely to notice how literally faceless the women in this film are."
Mainstream critics are depressed by Dupree.
Little Man is infantile
Honey, he shrunk his brother!
In the comedy Little Man, through the magic of special effects, director Keenen Ivory Wayans has miniaturized his brother Marlon Wayans, turning him into a pint-sized jewel thief named Calvin Sims. When a heist goes wrong, this mini-burglar runs off with his lame-brained partner Percy (Tracy Morgan). Eventually, Calvin goes after one of the diamonds that was fumbled during the heist. In order to retrieve it from a woman's handbag, he poses as an abandoned baby, and allows himself to be parented by a childless couple (Shawn Wayans and Kerry Washington).
Are you laughing? Neither are the critics.
David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says it's "about as much fun as a bad case of diaper rash. … What could have been a serviceable farce with a sentimental plug for parenthood is instead a one-joke blunder full of infantile slapstick and crass sight gags that play to diminishing returns."
Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) was surprised by "a generally positive picture of marriage, motherhood and fatherhood," but even so he's dismayed to find that "the movie's positive emphasis on family still gets clobbered by its infatuation with extreme crudity and gross innuendoes."
Mainstream critics are wondering how such an infantile comedy made it to the big screen.
More reviews of recent releases
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Josh Hurst (Reveal) calls it "the most exhilarating and memorable big-screen adventure this side of The Fellowship of the Ring. There are elaborate set pieces; action sequences you won't believe; mystery upon mystery and secret upon secret; special effects and pyrotechnics that raise the bar for action movies everywhere; a thrilling score that ranks among the most distinctive since Raiders of the Lost Ark; and more spirited adventure than a whole galleon of amusement park rides. It's also riotously funny."
Brick: Josh Hurst (Reveal) writes that "the plot itself serves mainly as a vehicle for the director's stylistic and creative whims. The downside of that is that there's nothing especially meaningful about the story itself. The upside is that [director Rian] Johnson has plenty of space to demonstrate his obvious love for the genre he's working with, and to push his imagination into places so unexpected it'd be shocking even to M. Night Shyamalan."
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