Happy Thanksgiving! Maui theaters are marking the holiday with Wednesday openings of new films, and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center will also be cinema central this weekend. These are Maui Scene's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
New this week
Christine Aguilera steams up “Burlesque.”
Screen Gems photo via AP
"Burlesque" PG-13, 2:14, opened Wednesday at Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Christina Aguilera makes her debut as an actress, playing a small-town girl who heads for Hollywood to wow the world with talents in this splashy, brassy musical for the holidays. She's got the voice to pull it off, and it doesn't hurt to have Cher starring as the resident diva in the "Showgirls"-style goings-on. Stanley Tucci, Kristin Bell, Eric Dane and Cam Gigandet co-star, working something like a story in amidst the mirror-ball, bump-and-grind musical numbers. Steven Antin writes and directs.
"Faster" R, 1:38, opened Wednesday at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. For up-to-date movie time changes visit http://www.mauigateway.com/~rw/movie/
Dwayne Johnson is a furious ex-con on a mission of vengeance in this adrenalized action adventure. Billy Bob Thornton is the cop on his trail as he carries out a series of executions of the gang members who killed his buds and sent him to jail in the first place. George Tillman Jr. directs the nonstop carnage co-starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino and Maggie Grace.
"Love and Other Drugs" R, 2:07, opened Wednesday at Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway take their clothes off a lot in this romantic comedy set in the '90s. He plays a charming pharmaceutical salesman of a new drug called Viagra, and she portrays the free spirit who makes him wonder if there might be better things in life than his wayward ways. Oliver Platt, Hank Aaria, Gabriel Macht, Judy Greer, George Segal and the late Jill Clayburgh co-star; Edward Zwick co-writes and directs.
"Stone" R, 1:45, opened Wednesday at Maui Mall Megaplex.
Edward Norton as a crafty jailed criminal plays cat-and-mouse with Robert De Niro as a straight-arrow parole officer, using his wife, Milla Jovovich, as bait in this tense drama directed by John Curran. A parole hearing provides the setting, and the fireworks, as these two great actors move into uncharted psychological territory, with the possibility of a big explosion never far away.
"Tangled" PG, 1:55, opened Wednesday at Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Front Street Theaters (2-D).
"Repunzel" gets the Disney treatment in this family-friendly animated musical comedy. Mandy Moore gives voice to the heroine, stolen away as a baby and locked in a tower by evil Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) until her hair grows long enough for rogue in the vicinity (Zachary Levi) to come up and see her. Once on solid ground, they set off on a series of adventures that give new meaning to the term "big hair." Byron Howard and Nathan Greno direct, with Disney stalwart Alen Menken providing the tunes.
"Keao" and "Stones" 3 p.m. Sunday in McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, part of the Heritage Film Festival. Admission is $10 plus applicable fees.
"Keao" by Emily Spenser is the story of a young Hawaiian dancer in a luau show, who is transported into a personal epiphany about culture and identity. "Stones," by Ty Sanga in Hawaiian with English subtitles, adapts a traditional folktale to tell of newcomers displacing longtime inhabitants and the separation, grief and friendship that ensue. The filmmakers will take part in a Q&A session after the screening.
"Due Date" R, 1:50, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are the odd couple stuck together for the road trip from hell in this screwball comedy from "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips. Downey plays the high-strung, uptight one trying to get home from Atlanta to L.A. in time for the birth of his first child. Galifianakis is the loose cannon who thinks he's going to be a star once he gets to Hollywood. There's also a dog, and a can with Zach's father's ashes in the back seat, all adding to the mayhem. Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA and Matt Walsh co-star.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," PG-13, 2:23, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
As actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have grown into the roles of Harry, Hermione and Ron, the tone of their adventures has gotten darker. This first of the two-part conclusion to the series brings Harry into the final conflict with his unspeakable nemesis, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), in a fight to the finish. David Yates directs this epic, if frightening, latest installment, which backs the young stars with performances by superb series regulars Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, newcomer Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon in flashbacks.
"Hereafter" PG-13, 2:24, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Following a harrowing tsunami sequence filmed (with help from the special effects department) on Lahaina's Front Street last January, this Clint Eastwood-directed drama takes a more meditative tone. It intertwines the lives of a French TV journalist (Cecile de France), a San Francisco man trying to hide from his psychic powers (Matt Damon) and a young London schoolboy (Frankie McLaren), deeply scarred by a brush with death. Peter Morgan's screenplay is less concerned with supernatural answers than with death's effect on the living, and Eastwood's elegant direction adds just the right tone. The performances are brilliant, with the cinematography and music (composed by Eastwood) adding nuance and subtlety. While the subject matter is painful and frightening and the film's pacing deliberate, it pays off with a grace note at the end both hopeful and liberating. Recommended.
"Megamind" PG, 1:51, 3-D, Kaahumanu 6 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
After the megasuccess of "Despicable Me," here comes another animated comedy starring the villain. Will Ferrell gives voice to the brainy bad guy who finds life is boring after offing his nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). Concocting new adversary, Tighten (Jonah Hill), he experiences a fresh challenge when his creation turns out to be worse than he is, forcing him to become the hero after all. Tina Fey co-stars and steals whatever scene she's in, and David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller and his kids are among those providing voices, along with the film's director, Tom McGrath, who guided the project to two weeks atop the box-office charts.
"Morning Glory" PG-13, 1:42, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Rachel McAdams stars in this charming if slight sendup of the world of morning network TV shows. She plays the endlessly optimistic young producer of "Daybreak," a show stuck in fourth place in the ratings due to numerous problems including ridiculously wrong chemistry between its anchors played by Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. Diane is fine for the light-news beat, but Ford, as a pompous, once legendary newsman, never breaks out of his scowl at finding himself in this position. The writing is witty, the tone light and there's romance with fellow producer Patrick Wilson to keep McAdams preoccupied. "Notting Hill's Roger Michell directs, and Jeff Goldblum co-stars, peeling the covers off "happy news," but making the film's audience happy in the process.
"Red" PG-13, 2:06, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Actors more used to snagging prestigious film awards like Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Richard Dreyfuss join Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" territory for this action-comedy that casts them as former CIA agents now on the agency's hit list. With Mirren and Freeman adding class and Malkovich pushing things in a wiggy direction, Willis dispenses his trademark cool-under-fire wisecracks as the bullets fly. Amidst all that star power, Mary-Louise Parker turns out to be the movie's secret weapon, with Karl Urban and 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine co-starring under the direction of Robert Schwentke.
"Secretariat" PG, 2:18, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Historical facts are the spoilers in the unlikely but true story of the horse that gained the nation's attention as a Triple Crown contender in 1973. This Disney production pulls out all the stops when it comes to excitement and sentimentality. Five horses take turns playing the title character, but Diane Lane and John Malkovich add the human dimensions that give the film character. She plays a Denver housewife who becomes a Virginia stable owner after her father is taken ill. Malkovich plays the flashy dressing and eccentric but effective trainer she hires to make a contender out of the horse they call "Big Red" in order to save the stable. James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, Nelson Ellis and Otto Thorwarth co-star; Randall Wallace directs.
"The Next Three Days" PG-13, 2:02, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters.
The mild-mannered married lives of Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks are upended when she is accused of murder, and then is convicted in court, loses her appeals and is sent to the state penitentiary. Although his career as a community college English professor wouldn't seem to prepare him for the task, Crowe sets about devising a plan to break her out, enlisting guidance from hardened criminal Liam Neeson. "Crash" Oscar winner Paul Haggis directs.
"Unstoppable" PG-13, 1:38, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
One million tons of steel. 100,000 lives at risk. 100 minutes to impact. And only two men have any chance of stopping the looming disaster. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine star in this adrenaline-fueled drama inspired by true events. Frank, a veteran train engineer, and a young conductor named Will race the clock to thwart an unmanned runaway train carrying toxic chemicals as it barrels toward a densely populated area where a spill could decimate the town. Strap in for high-speed action that makes you look differently at locomotives and the power that's packed in the missile-looking machine. Rosario Dawson, Jessy Schram, Kevin Dunn and Elizabeth Mathis co-star. Action master Tony Scott directs.