New movies this week
The gist: A sweet-natured dope is exposed to the wild life when he goes to a convention of insurance agents in the Iowa town. Apparently Iowa is cast as the Las Vegas of the Midwest for people who've never been anywhere (and here we thought that was Branson, Mo.). R
The cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Isiah Whilock Jr., Anne Heche, Kurtwood Smith, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Root and Rob Corddry.
The buzz: Doofy and immature, it's still quite capable of producing some laughs. "These corn-fed Rotarians are such a cuddly bunch, and the movie's barbs are so pudding-soft, that it's not hard to get caught up in all the gee-whizzery," the New York Post lauds.
Battle: Los Angeles
The gist: Aliens invade Earth, humanity fights back. But is L.A. really worth the trouble, guys? PG-13
The cast: Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Will Rothhaar, Cory C. Hardrict, Jim Parrack and Gino Anthony Pesi.
The buzz: Critics are hating it, but let's not kid ourselves: We're going to see it to watch stuff blow up. It's sounds like a live-action Robotech movie, for crying out loud. "It's not new, it's not novel and it's not art. But as a popcorn movie a couple of months out of summer season, Battle: Los Angeles will have to do," the Orlando Sentinel says. Sold!
Mars Needs Moms
The gist: A kid goes to rescue his mom, who has been kidnapped by aliens who need mothers to serve their own nefarious needs. In other words, the cartoon version of Battle: Los Angeles. PG
The cast: Voices of Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler, Elisbeth Harnois, Mindy Sterling and Kevin Cahoon.
The buzz: Yet another subpar animated offering. "The tone baffles and wobbles. This is one of the least visually appealing films ever to go out under the Disney banner," the Chicago Tribune says.
Red Riding Hood
The gist: Who thought making a movie out of this fairy tale, throwing in a love triangle and a werewolf, was a good idea? Probably the same people who will be releasing TWO Snow White movies in a few months, that's who. PG-13
The cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons and Virginia Madsen.
The buzz: How bad is it? Imagine if the Twilight crew populated Aesop's Fables. "Adamantly refuses to provide any wit, humor or fun, concerning itself mostly with the heroine's taxing dilemma of picking between the rural village's two best-looking boys," the Hollywood Reporter sighs.
Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen
The gist: A portrait of a 12th-century Benedictine nun who wrote books, practiced herbal medicine, composed music and went on speaking tours. She was kind of like the reality show star of her day. No MPAA rating
The cast: Barbara Sukowa, Heino Ferch, Hannah Herzsprung, Gerald Alexander Held, Lena Stolze and Mareile Blendl.
The buzz: An absorbing look at a remarkable feminist figure. "Vision is shot through with issues of power — personal, political, spiritual. Which makes it a terrifically resonant work," the Denver Post lauds.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org