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Movie News & Reviews
Opening this week
Cusack, Corddry head back to the ’80s while DreamWorks shows ‘How to Train Your Dragon’
Article published on Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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[Image]
Photo courtesy of DREAMWORKS ANIMATION LLC
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) befriends Toothless, an injured Night Fury – the rarest dragon of all – in DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon.”
A number of new movie releases will hit theaters this week, including the following films opening in wide release.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Genre: Comedy
Cast: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke and Chevy Chase
Director: Steve Pink
Rated: R

“Hot Tub Time Machine” follows a group of best friends who’ve become bored with their adult lives: Adam (John Cusack) has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou (Rob Corddry) is a party guy who can’t find the party; Nick’s (Craig Robinson) wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob (Clark Duke) won’t leave his basement.

After a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, the men wake up, heads pounding, in the year 1986. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures – one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists.

How to Train Your Dragon

Genre: Action, fantasy, kids and animation
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller
Director: Christopher Sanders and Dean DeBlois
Rated: PG

From the studio that brought you “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” comes “How to Train Your Dragon” – an adventure comedy set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild fire-breathing dragons, based on the book by Cressida Cowell.

The story centers around a Viking teenager named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who lives on the Island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. The teen’s rather progressive views and offbeat sense of humor don’t sit too well with his tribe or its chief … who just happens to be Hiccup’s father, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler).

When Hiccup is included in Dragon Training with the other Viking teens – Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) – he sees his chance to prove he has what it takes to be a fighter. But when he encounters – and ultimately befriends – an injured dragon, his world is flipped upside down, and what started out as Hiccup’s one shot to prove himself turns into an opportunity to set a new course for the future of the entire tribe.

The following will open in limited release.

Chloe

Genre: Foreign, thriller and remake
Cast: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Max Thieriot and R.H. Thomson
Director: Atom Egoyan
Rated: R

When David (Liam Neeson) misses his flight home from New York and, as a result, the surprise party his wife Catherine (Julianne Moore) has planned for him, Catherine is forced to swallow her disappointment and any suspicions and return to the waiting guests. Reading a text message sent to David’s phone the following morning from one of his female students, Catherine’s fear grows.

The successful couple have a 17-year-old son, Michael (Max Thieriot), and to an outsider, they have everything. But their careers and raising a child have put strains on the marriage; their relationship is suffering greatly from loss of communication and intimacy.

Two weeks after the surprise party, Catherine and David are at dinner with friends when Catherine excuses herself to use the restroom. There she meets an alluring young woman who, in those brief moments, connects with Catherine – it is Chloe (Amanda Seyfried). Returning to the table where they’re now playing “spot the hooker,” Catherine watches with interest as Chloe approaches an older businessman.

On the drive home Catherine finally asks David if he intentionally missed his flight from New York to stay for drinks. When he claims he did not, she knows she has caught him in a lie.

Now more suspicious than ever that David is having an affair, Catherine seeks out Chloe, an escort, hiring her to test David’s fidelity. Meeting regularly, Catherine absorbs the explicit details Chloe shares of her encounters with David, igniting Catherine’s jealousy and awakening long-dormant sensations.

Soon caught in a web of sexual desire, Catherine finds herself on a journey that places her family in great danger.

The Eclipse

Genre: Foreign, drama, fantasy and adaptation
Cast: Aidan Quinn, Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjejle and Jim Norton
Director: Conor McPherson
Rated: R

“The Eclipse” tells the story of Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds), a teacher raising his two kids alone since his wife died two years earlier. Lately he has been seeing and hearing strange things late at night in his house.

He isn’t sure if he is simply having terrifying nightmares or if his house is haunted.

Each year, the seaside town where Michael lives hosts an international literary festival, attracting writers from all over the world. Michael works as a volunteer for the festival and is assigned the attractive Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), an author of books about ghosts and the supernatural, to look after. They become friendly and he eagerly tells her of his experiences. For the first time he has met someone who can accept the reality of what has been happening to him.

However, Lena’s attention is pulled elsewhere. She has come to the festival at the bidding of world-renowned novelist Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), with whom she had a brief affair the previous year. He has fallen in love with Lena and is going through a turbulent time, eager to leave his wife to be with her. But all Lena is trying to do is extricate herself from this mess and just get through the next few days.

As the festival progresses, the trajectories of these three people draw them into a life-altering collision.

Embellished by the supernatural, “The Eclipse” is a film about the challenges of love, fear of the unknown and release from the burden of grief.

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Genre: Documentary
Cast: Ron Clements, Roy E. Disney, Glen Keane, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Mike Gabriel
Director: Don Hahn
Rated: PG

By the mid-1980s, the fabled animation studios of Walt Disney had fallen on hard times.

The artists were polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old timers not yet ready to relinquish control. The conditions produced a series of box office flops and pessimistic forecasts: maybe the best days of animation were over. Maybe the public didn’t care. Only a miracle or a magic spell could produce a happy ending.

“Waking Sleeping Beauty” is no fairy tale. It’s the true story of how Disney regained its magic with a staggering output of hits – “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and more – over a 10-year period.

Director Don Hahn and producer Peter Schneider bring their insider knowledge to “Waking Sleeping Beauty.” Hahn was one of the Young Turks at Disney who produced some of its biggest sensations. Schneider led the animation group during this amazing renaissance and later became studio chairman. Their film offers a fascinating and candid perspective of what happened in the creative ranks set against the dynamic tensions among the top leadership, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney (the nephew of Walt).

The process wasn’t always pretty. The filmmakers bring a refreshing candor in describing ego battles, cost overruns and failed experiments. During times of tension, the animators’ favorite form of release was to draw scathing caricatures of themselves and their bosses. Director Hahn puts several memorable ones on display and marshals a vast array of interviews, home movies, internal memos and unseen footage.
Article published on Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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