Movies opening today in SA: crowd-pleasers for every audience

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Six new films release today, which also marks the start of the Easter school holidays in KZN and the Cape provinces. So, first up for the sprogs and their parents we have…

The Lorax:

Screening in 3D and 2D is this animated adaptation of Dr Suess’s eco-conscious comedy adventure. Zac Efronvoices an idealistic tween who lives in a 100% artificial, walled-off city. In an attempt to impress the girl of his dreams – who wants to see a real tree – he seeks out a grumpy orange Nature guardian, the Lorax (Danny DeVito), and learns some sad truths about corporate greed and its impact on the environment. From the creative team behind Despicable Me.

Right now I’m just happy that I won’t have to again sit through the trailer for The Lorax (which seems to have screened before every cinema release for the past 3 months!). For the record, though, the film shot to No. 1 at the US box office when it was released a few weeks back. Apparently it’s colourful, cute and energetic, but Dr Suess fans have complained it over-clutters the book’s storyline. Unbiased critics meanwhile have complained that the film is too preachy and comes off like a poor man’s WALL-E.

21 Jump Street:

Sure to be the biggest hit of the new releases with The Movies readers, this R-rated action comedy is a big screen remake of the 80s TV seriesthat launched Johnny Depp’s career. Channing Tatumand a slimmed down Jonah Hillplay rookie cops who are forced to return to their old high school, masquerading as students while they lay the groundwork for a massive drugs bust. Look out for several leads from the original TV show – including Depp – who make cameo appearances.

Surprisingly for yet another 80s remake, 21 Jump Street has been very well received critically. The film currently sports a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86% Fresh. It’s apparently smart, funny and a lot of fun as it lovingly parodies its source material, today’s teens and action genre conventions. Just don’t take your mom! 21 Jump Street is unapologetically crass.

Our Idiot Brother:

Everybody loves Nice Guy Paul Rudd. In this, his latest lighthearted comedy, he plays Ned, a hopelessly naive, placid hippie, who’s the black sheep of his family. His trio of sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Dechanel and Emily Mortimer) seem to have it all, but their problems come into stark relief when down-on-his-luck Ned comes to stay. For the record, it’s taken 7 months for this movie to reach our shores.

The major attraction of Our Idiot Brother is charming Rudd, although apparently the entire film is sweet and good natured… which is unusual in this era of snarky, gross-out comedies. Just don’t expect the film to be anything more than gently funny. You won’t be rolling in the aisles.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

Lovers of bitter-sweet cinema, as well as acclaimed veteran performers, should definitely consider this British comedy-drama. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wiltonstar in this tale of a group of English pensioners who emigrate to India, intending to enjoy their retirement at a luxurious Colonial Era hotel. Unsurprisingly, the hotel is nowhere near as glamorous as advertised online, and the retirees adapt to their new lives, and Indian culture in general, with varying degrees of success.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn’t look particularly original in terms of its “Westerners rediscover themselves in a foreign country” plot-line. This predictability as well as the inevitable sentimentality aside, the cast is superb. And it all looks so very charming and life-affirming.

Carnage:

Showing exclusively at Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau is this black comedy, the latest from acclaimed but controversial director Roman Polanski. Jodie Foster, John C Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltzplay New York parents who meet to discuss a playground fight between their sons. As the whisky flows, the thin veneer of civility cracks and discussions turn into heated arguments. Based on the Tony Award-winning playby Yasmina Reza.

With a cast of 4, and basically 1 location for events, Carnage looks a little too much like a filmed theatrical production for my liking. Still, it certainly has been acclaimed, clocking up a good dozen award nominations. Performances (particularly from Foster and Waltz) are the major drawcard here, as well as the film’s wickedly smart sense of humour. It has however also been referred to as a self-satisfied, stilted oddity, and clocks in under 80 minutes.

All Things Fall Apart:

No, this isn’t an adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s classic novelabout Colonisation’s impact on Nigeria. This is your bog standard “triumph against the odds” drama, centring on a college football star (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) whose fortunes change when he’s diagnosed with cancer. Jackson adopted a crash diet to completely resculpt his physique for the role. Oh, and he co-wrote the script. Ray Liotta and Mario Van Peeblesco-star.

All Things Fall Apart went straight to TV and DVD in North America. Apparently it’s your typical made-for-TV movie as well: unsubtle, unoriginal and pretty mediocre. And alas, even his commitment to physical transformation doesn’t make 50 Cent any better as an actor.

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

Noelle Adams

Sometime Tomb Raider. Full-time Pop Culture fanatic and Geekaissance Woman. Most often spotted outputting Pop Culture opinion pieces, writing fanfic and original genre fare, cosplaying and bringing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu smackdown. Editor of the Comics and Toys section.

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