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The Art House Is Full, But The Multiplex Is Empty

There is an exciting variety of movies opening in limited release this week, but chances are, there’s only one new movie coming to your multiplex: Couples Retreat (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).  However, before we begin discussing famous people having fun in paradise (or whether the title should have an apostrophe), let’s briefly touch focus completely on the more intriguing movies that will visit art houses and video stores rather than mainstream mall America.


The documentary Good Hair (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) features host/star Chris Rock examining how African American culture struggles with hair issues.  From interviews with Maya Angelou and Al Sharpton to the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show (the annual trade show for hair styles, products, and demonstrations), this documentary probes a pop culture topic that rarely gets addressed.

“Quite brilliantly, Rock skillfully peeled back archaic layers, opening up a dialogue that could’ve been volatile. His natural talent made the doc hilarious and thought-provoking, rising above race and gender.” Clay Cane BET.com

A documentary about hair?  If it was a wide release, I’d feel justified in making stupid hair jokes about Chris Rock’s perm-formance, but sadly no.  Interested parties will have to wait to watch it at home. And the same sad fate awaits The Damn United (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic), the story of Brian Clough, manager of the Leeds football team.  Despite getting critical attention for its strong acting and compelling character study, it is still a football movie about soccer, which is more than American audiences can handle.


And speaking of too much to handle, another limited release is Yes Men Fix The World (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).  The poster alone makes me want to see it.

The poster alone.

The poster alone.

The premise is a combination of Michael Moore’s subject matter and Sacha Baron Cohen’s guerrilla comedy where the documentarians stage elaborate pranks on corporate America (such as dressing up as executives and crashing training seminars).  If it is half as interesting as the poster, then at least half of it is interesting.

“Entertainment that tickles the justice-for-all glands.” Empire Magazine

Also on the art house circuit is a drama about a young woman attending Oxford: An Education (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) and a drama about estranged Israeli relatives: Disengagement (Rotten Tomatoes – Metacritic).


But there are even some limited release movies that may not find a home in art houses, such as a comedy about a social misfit who plays imaginary drums: Adventures Of Power (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) or a family-friendly motocross movie featuring an actor from High School Musical: Freestyle (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic). adventures_of_power_ver3


Believe it or not, I didn’t even mention the drama Bronson (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) about a man who creates an anarchist alter ego after spending nearly his entire life behind bars or a film about a street basketball legend: Balls Don’t Lie (Rotten Tomatoes – Metacritic).


June 5th must have been a tentative release date...

June 5th must have been a tentative release date...

All these amazing options, but like a man eating Top Ramen while watching the Food network, all you get is what you got in front of you.  And what we got is lots of funny famous people in paradise making audiences as happy as the actors are in the poster.


“Despite being mediocre and largely forgettable, Couples Retreat is not unpleasant, although it’s easier to recommend it for home viewing than for a trip to a theater.” ReelViews James Berardinelli

“Couples Retreat is a pleasant, undemanding, middle-of-the-road comedy, and really, were you expecting anything else?” Colin Covert Minneapolis Star Tribune

I was expecting it to be funny, really.  Also it seems like a positive that the film was directed by Peter Billingsley, also known as this kid.

"If you don't see my movie, I'll shoot your eye out."

"If you don't see my movie, I'll shoot your eye out."

But, since those were two of the only good reviews, we must now turn to the dark side for all the reasons why you’d be happier with any of the movies listed above.

“The scenery makes you want to be somewhere other than a movie theater, and the movie has the same effect.” Matt Pais Metromix.com

So I’d be better off sipping a homemade Pina Colada and staring at my tropical screen saver?

“After traveling to Eden with the shallow, self-involved, unpleasant twits that populate Couples Retreat, you’ll be wishing they’d all have packed their bags and gone straight to hell, instead.” Dustin Putman DustinPutman.com

I smell sequel.  How about: Couples Reheat?

“Somebody shoot Vince Vaughn before he makes another insipid, inane and idiotic movie.” Fiore Mastracci Outtakes With Fiore

“Has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and makes extra effort to insult its audience whenever possible.” Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly

Somebody shoot Vince Vaughn for insulting the idiots who paid to see his movie.

“To avoid paying for a holiday to hell, don’t see Couples Retreat. A prime contender for 2009’s Worst Film, this star-studded but startlingly drab “comedy” is the kind of terrible trip you pray will be over long before it’s time to go home.” Ben McEachen Empire Magazine Australasia

I want it to end already and I haven’t seen it yet.  And just in case you’re having a similar sensation with this roundup, we’ll finish with the succinctly simple.

“Couples, retreat.” Nick Pinkerton L.A. Weekly

Enjoy your weekend.

PDJ is contemplating dressing up for Halloween as that weird ball thing from the Yes Men poster

PDJ is contemplating dressing up for Halloween as that weird ball thing from the Yes Men poster

2 Responses

  1. First of all, balls do occasionally lie. Mine have done so.

    Second, what does it say about Moscow-Pullman that our theaters will get Couples Retreat but not Good Hair or that sweet-looking Yes Men movie? That the area is full of philistines? Or that the theater owners THINK the area is full of philistines? I pick #2.

  2. P.S. What happened to Screenshots? I started using it, and you guys seem to have abandoned it.

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