Movies out today: Fast cars, time travel and Wes Anderson quirkiness

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Thanks to Human Rights Day falling on a Friday this year, it’s a 3-day weekend in South Africa. This means all the new cinema releases are out from today, not tomorrow. And this week you have a choice of 6 new movies.

Need for Speed:
Screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is this action film based on the Need for Speed series of racing games. A garage owner and after-hours street racer (Aaron Paul) sets out to avenge his friend’s death and his own imprisonment. This means taking part in an illicit cross-country race of course! Dominic Cooper is the Big Bad, for the record.

The cash-in comparisons to The Fast and the Furious were inevitable, and Need for Speed doesn’t hold up well. 23% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film is apparently too long (it’s 130 minutes) and painfully stupid. Spectacular stunt work though. Out of interest, Kervyn has called Need For Speed the best car racing movie in ages; pity it’s just not a good movie in general. Not my bag, but hey, enjoy if it’s your sort of thing.

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Mr Peabody & Sherman:
For families there’s this animated comedy adventure in 2D and 3D. The latest from DreamWorks Animation is a spin-off off the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon (unknown to South African audiences). The film centres on the time-travelling adventures of genius dog Mr Peabody (Ty Burrell) and his adopted human son.

Like most movies involving time travel, Mr Peabody & Sherman apparently has an increasingy convoluted plot. Evidently it’s nothing exceptional, but still offers fast-paced, punny fun for kids and parents alike. 78% Fresh.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Seeking some unapologetic, highly affected quirkiness? Here’s the latest comedy-drama from Wes Anderson. Ralph Fiennes is a hotel concierge accused of murder. He is surrounded by an all-star cast including Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and many more.

Anderson is a love-him-or-hate-him filmmaker, so it’s unlikely The Grand Budapest Hotel will win over those who react badly to his trademark brand of whimsical silliness. If you can tolerate his approach though, The Grand Budapest Hotel is apparently loads of elaborately styled fun.

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Reasonable Doubt:
Get even more Dominic Cooper this weekend with this courtroom crime thriller about an up-and-coming district attorney who feels guilty when another man (Samuel L. Jackson) is blamed for the hit-and-run he committed. Our hero works hard to the get the accused acquitted… but perhaps he shouldn’t have.

Reasonable Doubt is one of those shot-years-ago-and-released-after-Christmas-when-nobody-is-looking flicks. Apparently it’s a case of strong actors just going through the motions in a sloppily made, mediocre genre entry. Not without its moments of tension though.

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Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club:
Proving yet again that he is actually the first man to secretly clone himself, here’s another comedy drama from writer-director-producer-actor Tyler Perry. This one centres on five very different single mothers who form a support group, and find friendship and inspiration – inbetween the wine sipping – to tackle every day. Some of the more recognisable names in the cast include Nia Long, Amy Smart and Terry Crews.

Some reviewers have found The Single Moms Club funny and enjoyably sentimental. Most critics have dismissed it though as a one-dimensional, pseudo-sitcom pilot. In fact, Oprah wants to turn it into a TV series.

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The Spectacular Now:
Screening in limited release is this indie romantic drama – and novel adaptation – from the writer of (500) Days of Summer. The Spectacular Now centres on a hedonistic, heavy drinking high school senior (Miles Teller) who forms a bond with a quiet, geekish girl (Shailene Woodley) with issues of her own.

It may sound super cheesy on paper, but The Spectacular Now has been highly acclaimed, winning multiple awards, including the Special Jury Award for Acting at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s apparently an unaffected, nuanced and moving look at the teen experience – the best of this type of flick since, well, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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Last Updated: March 20, 2014

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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