To get a jump on the Memorial Day weekend, most of this week's new movies are opening today. Here are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
New this week
"The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" PG-13, 1:30, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Jack Black returns as roly-poly Po, backed by Monkey (Jackie Chan) and Tigress (Angelina Jolie) in “Kung Fu Panda 2”
DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures photo via AP
After winning an Oscar nomination for eating a McDonalds diet for a month and chronicling it in the documentary "Super Size Me," writer-director Morgan Spurlock turns his attention to product placement in his latest docu-comedy. Hyatt, Jet Blue, Mini Cooper, Merrill shoes and Pom Wonderful are some of the products he places onscreen; Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Paul Brennan and Donald Trump add their talking heads to the mix. (See review in today's Maui News, Page A10.)
The Hangover Part II" R, 1:57, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
The silver screen's answer to the morning after the morning after, this sequel to the original comedy that put the "smash" in hit reunites Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis for another bachelor party on the eve of another buddy's wedding. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips recycles many of the how-low-can-you-go raunchy gags from the first film, moving the action to Thailand to find out what sort of new trouble the guys can get into there. There's no mystery baby this time, but a smoking, drug-dealing monkey, who tends to outshine his human co-stars in the brains department. (See review in today's Maui News Page A11.)
"Kung Fu Panda 2" PG, 1:45, Kaahumanu 6 (3-D and 2-D) and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas (3-D).
Jack Black's portly panda Po has evolved from the under-bear of the first film to the Dragon Warrior in this colorful, cinematic animated 3-D sequel. His mission this time is to keep things in harmony in his Asian domain and to discover his roots as more of a personal quest. He's once again mentored by Dustin Hoffman and aided by Tigress (Angelina Jolie) and the rest of his celebrity-voiced posse of critters (Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross), crossing paths with other animals voiced by Gary Oldman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Haysbert, Michelle Yeoh and others. Jennifer Yuh Nelson directs. (See review in today's Maui News on Page A11.)
"Win Win" R, 1:46, opens Friday at Kukui Mall 4.
Paul Giamatti's got another under-the-radar potential cult classic, playing a none-too-ethical lawyer and volunteer high school wrestling coach in this dry comedy. In a life of quiet desperation and broken furnaces, he cobbles together a survival strategy that will make audiences both cringe and laugh. Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Alex Shaffer and Melanie Lynskey co-star, guided by writer-director Tom McCarthy, who has previously shown himself a master of compassionate comedy in "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor."
"13 Assassins" R, 2:06, ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4.
Taking on the thankless job of trying to ward off Johnny Depp and his pirate crew, this samurai adventure responds with vivid characters, grand-scale cinematography and sound that shakes the floor. Takashi Miike directs a cast featuring Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Tamada, Yusuke Iseya and Goro Inagaki as a band of assassins who come together in 1884 on a suicide mission to bring down an evil lord. The blend of action, much of it bloody, and philosophy invites comparisons to master director Akira Kurosawa.
"Bridesmaids" R, 2:05, Maui Mall Megaplex, Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Kristin Wiig brilliantly co-writes and leads the ensemble in this raunchy and neurotic but warm-hearted comedy that proves the Judd Apatow formula works just as well for female characters as it does for guys -the gross-out jokes just involve different parts of the anatomy. Wiig's character starts the movie by losing her Milwaukee bakery and her boyfriend. The invitation to be the maid of honor at her best friend's (Maya Rudolph's) wedding provides a distraction from her nervous breakdown, until she finds herself competing for the role with the bride's new best friend, Rose Byrne. Melissa McCarthy is a scene-stealer amidst the strong supporting cast directed by Paul Feig. Recommended.
"Fast Five" PG-13, 2:25, Kaahumanu 6; Front Street Theaters.
Dwayne Johnson climbs into the driver's seat to join the automotive action of this fifth installment of "The Fast and the Furious" franchise. He plays a relentless federal agent trying to keep up with the always-on-the-run Vin Diesel and his former foe now turned buddy, Paul Walker. Jordana Brewster is also along for the ride, directed by Justin Lin with an emphasis on speed and stunts not to try while taking your driver's license test. Past "Fast and Furious" rowdies including Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Sung Kang join in the reckless driving antics in this mindless but enjoyable "Ocean's Eleven"-style heist romp set in the streets of Rio.
"Jumping the Broom" PG-13, 2:07, Maui Mall Megaplex.
The title refers to a time when slaves weren't allowed to marry, but instead engaged in a ritual of jumping over a broom to tie the knot. It becomes a sticking point in this class-conscious comedy involving a wedding between a upscale corporate lawyer played by Paula Patton and up-and-coming (but blue-collar-born) Wall Street trader Jason Taylor. Watch for the class clash between their respective families. Set on tony Martha's Vineyard, scene of the upcoming nuptials, sparks fly between soon-to-be mothers-in-law Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine amidst all the eye candy and family dynamics leading up to the ceremony. Brian Stokes Mitchell, T.D. Jakes and Julie Bowen co-star; Salim Akil makes the jump from TV's "Girlfriends" for her big-screen directoral debut.
"Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides" PG-13, 2:16, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D), Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters.
Johnny Depp brings rascally Capt. Jack Sparrow back for the fourth installment of the fantastically successful film franchise inspired by a Disneyland ride. This time he's onboard with the always interesting Penelope Cruz as his old flame, Angelica, and Ian McShane as the dastardly Blackbeard, who's on a desperate mission to find the fountain of youth after a prophecy that he's going to die in two weeks. En route, out on the bounding main, they encounter zombies and mermaids, among other things. Although Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley got off the ship in the last film, Geoffrey Rush is still around as old foe-turned-ally Barbarosa. Rob Marshall directs. (See review on Page 2.)
"Priest" PG-13, 1:27, Kaahumanu 6 (3-D) and Front Street Theaters.
Paul Bettany stars in this futuristic sci-fi thriller. It's set in a time when a blighted society is ruled by a Big Brother-like church, which, in turn, is at war with a race of vampires. Betthany plays a banished warrior priest who has to go back into action to rescue his niece (Lily Collins) after she is kidnapped by the bloodsuckers. Based on a Korean comic book, the movie goes heavy on film lore and esoteric references, from the Westerns of John Ford and Clint Eastwood to "Mad Max" and "Blade Runner." Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Christopher Plummer and Brad Dourif co-star; Scott Stewart directs.
"Something Borrowed" PG-13, 2:08, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Ginnifer Goodwin plays a single attorney about to be a bridesmaid at the wedding of her best friend (Kate Hudson), when she makes the mistake of sleeping with the groom (Colin Egglesfield). Only it's not a mistake since they've been best friends since childhood and everyone in the theater can see that they belong together. Of course it will take the rest of the movie for them to figure that out. John Krasinski, Steve Howey and Ashley Williams co-star under Luke Greenfield's direction.
"Thor" PG-13, 2:10, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D and 2-D) and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas.
Norse mythology makes its contribution to the Marvel Comics superhero franchise with hunky, funny Australian actor Chris Hemsworth in the title role, and Shakespearean veteran Kenneth Branagh directing a cast also featuring Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Branaugh adds Shakespearean shadings to the story in which Thor defies his father, Odin, and starts liking the humans he encounters on earth more than the deities he comes from. Stellan Skarsgaard and Kat Dennings co-star with the epic-scale action and special effects. Smarter, funnier and classier than your typical superhero epic, it's on top at the box office for a second week. Recommended.
"Water for Elephants" PG-13, 2:16, Maui Mall Megaplex.
Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson make romantic sparks as director Francis Lawrence's adaptation of Sara Gruen's best-seller lumbers onto the screen. Set in the Great Depression, he plays a young veterinarian treating the animals in a traveling circus starring the horseback-riding Witherspoon. Their attraction is inevitable, prompting her sadistic husband (Christoph Waltz), to take out his displeasure on his wife and the circus' elephant star. (No real animals were hurt in filming, the studio is quick to point out.)
* Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. For up-to-date movie time changes, visit . www.mauigateway.com/~rw/movie/