Opening in theaters: 'Righteous Kill,' 'The Women,' 'The Family That Preys'

Robert De Niro, right, and Al Pacino are arguably their generation's greatest actors. So, why isn't their on-screen teaming in Righteous Kill (R) a can't-miss proposition? Because their generation's heyday is so last century.

De Niro mostly spent this decade trashing his tough guy image (Stardust's gay pirate), jumping on the terror train (Godsend, Hide and Seek) or sleepwalking through roles (15 Minutes, City by the Sea) he would have rejected 30 years ago.

Pacino's decline in significance is more startling, chiefly bellowing caricatures (Ocean's Thirteen) and harboring delusions of sustained sex appeal (S1m0ne, 88 Minutes) and Shakespearean missteps. If not for HBO's Angels in America, he wouldn't matter much at all.

There's also the disappointment some viewers felt about De Niro and Pacino's first teaming in Michael Mann's Heat, when they barely shared any screen time.

Preview trailers for Righteous Kill promise more eye-to-eye contact between the Oscar winners. They play veteran New York detectives investigating a murder resembling a serial killer case solved years before. Rap musician Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson co-stars for youth market appeal.

Look for a review of Righteous Kill Saturday on Etc (Page 2B) and on entertainment.tampabay.com.

The Women (PG-13) is a project that has kicked around Hollywood for years, a remake of George Cukor's 1939 comedy about sharp-tongued socialites at leisure. That version featured the era's finest actresses — Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Norma Shearer among them — relishing one of the tartest screenplays ever written.

The updated remake stars Meg Ryan, left, as Mary, a pampered wife whose husband is having an affair with a perfume counter clerk (Eva Mendes). Mary's best friends (Annette Bening, right, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith) and assorted female archetypes (Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Cloris Leachman) lend support and snippiness.

The Women has no advance screenings, but maybe a bit of Sex and the City's success will rub off.

Tyler Perry continues to make and sell movies his way, which means deft targeting to African-American females. In previews, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys — you've gotta love his eponymous ego — appears less frantic than his Madea-drag comedies, with similar spiritual undertones. The Family That Preys (PG-13) also features Perry's first overt outreach to a racially diverse audience, with Oscar winner Kathy Bates, left, co-starring.

Bates plays Charlotte, whose married son (Cole Hauser) is having an affair with the daughter (Sanaa Lathan) of her best friend (Alfre Woodard, right). The son is also trying to usurp his mother's influence in the family construction company. Clearly these are two families with issues. Luckily there are level-headed relations (Perry, Taraji P. Henson) willing to steer everyone to the straight and narrow.

Opening in theaters: 'Righteous Kill,' 'The Women,' 'The Family That Preys' 09/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 12, 2008 5:52pm]

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