Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 27-July 3: Moonrise People Like Mike, Madea and Ted

In Theaters

Yes! The wait is over. It’s finally here! I mean the new Tyler Perry picture with Madea, you understand. Not seriously—although, yes, that’s coming as well, along with several other things. What I really refer to is, of course, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The question is whether or not it lives up to the praise that has preceded its arrival?

So have I already seen Moonrise Kingdom? Yes—the ungodly hour of 9:30 a.m. this past Saturday found me comfortably ensconced at The Carolina for a press screening. And, yes, the review is in this week’s Xpress. And, oh my, yes, does it ever live up to what’s been said about it. And then some. Hell, I’d get up that early to see it again. If you’re worried—and I admit I was—that it’s going to be somehow less Andersonian than usual, the first five minutes alone will set those fears to rest. Is it Anderson’s best film to date? I’m not sure I can go that far, but it’s one of those movies that I like better day by day and I may eventually go that far. Time and repeat viewings will tell. You can see for yourself starting Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts.

Now, while Moonrise Kingdom is the only new art title (and I’m betting the best thing out there) this week, there’s certainly no shortage of new movies—none of which I’ve seen and some of which I may never see. Regardless, the week also offers Magic Mike, People Like Us, Ted, and, yes, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection. I suppose we ought to take some kind of look at them.

Magic Mike is the latest from the movies’ most chameleon-like filmmaker, Steven Soderbergh. With Soderbergh you just plain don’t know what you’re going to get. It might be art or it might be pure popcorn populism. Occasionally, it’s both. And sometimes, it’s just not very good. It’s hard to tell where this story of male strippers starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey is likely to land on the Soderbergh scale. If it comes anywhere near the claims made for it by David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter—“Arguably the raunchiest, funniest and most enjoyably nonjudgmental American movie about selling sex since Boogie Nights, its obvious if considerably darker precursor.”—it could rank pretty high. I admit to being a little leery not only of the stars, but of the idea that the story is based on—or “inspired by”—Channing Tatum’s real life. (I have to stop and ponder just to tell Tatum apart from Cam Gigandet.) But who can tell? In the main, Soderbergh’s batting average is pretty high.

Somehow or other I completely missed that writer-producer-turned-director Alex Kurtzman’s People Like Us opens this week when I was doing the upcomers for the print edition yesterday. Actually, I had thought—judging by the trailer—that this was a candidate for a limited release, but, no, it opens wide this Friday. What is it? Well, it’s an “inspired by true events” (say, aren’t they all?) comedy drama starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer—with some assistance from Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, and Philip Baker Hall. According to the studio, it’s all about “Pine as Sam, a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman, whose latest deal collapses on the day he learns that his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home, where he must put his father’s estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. In the course of fulfilling his father’s last wishes, Sam uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down: He has a 30-year-old sister Frankie whom he never knew about (Elizabeth Banks).” Frankly, the trailer looks a little on the predictable and gooey side.

Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane makes the leap to the big screen as writer-director and voice actor with Ted (warning: Red Band trailer), which is an odd kind of hybrid of fantasy and R rated raunchy comedy. The title character, Ted, is a living talking (with MacFarlane’s voice)  teddy bear with a taste for foul language, booze, dope—and getting his owner, 30-something John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), in trouble. Seems that as a child John wished his teddy bear would come to life. It did and now he’s saddled with the thing, much to the distaste of John’s long-suffering girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Honestly, this sounds pretty one-joke thin to support a movie with reported running time of 106 minutes, but it will likely have a certain built-in audience of Family Guy watchers. Since I have never experienced the show, I think the reviewing chore here will likely fall to Justin Souther, who has.

And that brings us to my own cinematic specialty, Tyler Perry. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve become our resident expert on all things Tyler Perry and have dutifully watched and reviewed every single one of his movies. (And people wonder why I’m called “Cranky?”) The troubling thing about this is that I no longer even dread the damned things. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but somewhere along the way, Perry seems to have turned into some kind of really weird almost…well, friend. There, I’ve said it. I know the ins and outs of his oeuvre and have followed his progress (yes, there has been some) from rank amateur to professional and even to occasional bouts of inspiration. I don’t expect this to be one of his better movies. Let’s face it, the Madea movies are Perry’s cash cows and they pander to a certain audience. This round it seems we have Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection with Perry as his lawyer character, Brian, finding himself placing a family (headed by Eugene Levy, no less) in a witness protection set-up with the outspoken Madea (also Perry) and her flatulent, pot-smoking brother Joe (also Perry). Hilarity will theoretically ensue. If nothing else, my wife will be happy. She decided a while back to see for herself about this Tyler Perry business. Unfortunately, she started with Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, which, as I told her, wasn’t exactly full-force Perry. This, on the other hand, promises to afford her full-immersion baptism into Perryana.

We don’t actually lose any of the more rarefied titles this week. Both The Carolina and the Fine Arts are holding onto The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While the Fine Arts is dropping Bernie, it’s holding pretty strong at The Carolina. Headhunters and Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding opened surprisingly strong last weekend at The Carolina, but they’re being split this week (two shows a day of the former and three of the latter), owing to the large influx of titles.

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) at 8 p.m. on Thu., June 28 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (And, of course, there’s the exciting next chapter of the 1935 serial The Lost City at 7:40 p.m.) World Cinema is screening Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff (1954) at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 29 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing George Cukor’s The Women (1939) at 2 p.m. on Sun., July 1 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. In honor of Ken Russell’s 85th birthday, the Asheville Film Society is screening the director’s first international hit Women in Love (1969) on Tue, July 3 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in the online edition of the Xpress. (Special Screenings were cut from this week’s print edition over space constrictions.)

On DVD

I guess the big deal this week is the release of the big Oscar winner The Artist, so if you missed it in theaters you can catch up with it now. Also up are 21 Jump Street, Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans, A Thousand Words, and my vote for the week’s best new offering Bullhead. Most of you missed it in the theater, you know.

Notable TV Screenings

I have no idea why, but TCM has a run of sci-fi movies on Thu., June 28. The highlight of strangeness in the set is The Manster (1962) at 9:30 a.m. The highlight in a serious sense is Five Million Years to Earth (Quatermass and the Pit) (1967) at 4 p.m. And the highlight of cheese is The Green Slime (1969) at 5:45 p.m. Don’t miss its groovy title song! Later that night—as in 12:30 a.m., Sat.—is Bob Rafelson’s very strange deconstruction of the Monkees, Head (1968).

Late night on Sun., July 1 at 2 a.m. Vittorio De Sica’s best movie Umberto D (1952) is on. For those of you who don’t work on TV Guide time, that’s really 2 a.m. on Mon. In either case, this is one of those real essentials.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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22 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 27-July 3: Moonrise People Like Mike, Madea and Ted

  1. Jim Donato

    Sweet cheeses, what is it with Eugene Levy? Is he that intent on dragging my memories of SCTV in the mud with his film career? First the Oleson Twins, now this. Why couldn’t he have the taste and restraint of Catherine O’Hara?

  2. Jeremy Dylan

    the ungodly hour of 9:30 a.m. this past Saturday

    If you didn’t stay up til the wee hours watching Johnny Carson, you’d feel better about getting up with the rest of the world.

    The troubling thing about this is that I no longer even dread the damned things. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but somewhere along the way, Perry seems to have turned into some kind of really weird almost…well, friend.

    There’s a name for this Ken – it’s called Stockholm syndrome.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Sweet cheeses, what is it with Eugene Levy? Is he that intent on dragging my memories of SCTV in the mud with his film career? First the Oleson Twins, now this.

    Though I think the Olson movie was the absolute rock bottom, it’s worth remembering the American Pie movies, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

  4. Ken Hanke

    If you didn’t stay up til the wee hours watching Johnny Carson, you’d feel better about getting up with the rest of the world.

    I don’t know how to break it to you, but Johnny Carson has been dead for a while now. By the bye, I haven’t been in the category of the rest of the world’s hours in years. In fact, I’ve rarely had a job that I got off from till well after midnight. (Then we let it all hang down.)

  5. Me

    If you get the HDNET movie channel they are doing a sneak peek Take This Waltz on Wedensday just like they did previously with the Tim and Eric movie and God Bless America.

    HBO is starting to show some of those docs that were talked about at Sundance like Me at the Zoo, and Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present.

    I’m also really excited to see what that addition of one of Woody Allens long time editors Susan E. Morse(Starting with Manhattan (1979), she edited the next twenty of Allen’s films through Celebrity (1998) will bring to the premiere of season 3 of Louie CK’s show Louie on FX.

    All that and Moonrise Kingdom its looking like a great week.

  6. Jeremy Dylan

    Sweet cheeses, what is it with Eugene Levy? Is he that intent on dragging my memories of SCTV in the mud with his film career? First the Oleson Twins, now this.

    The Oleson Twins are my favourite Swedish sketch comedy team!

    Eugene Levy will always be welcome to play Martin Scorsese in my film about Italians and Jews swapping identities. Rob Reiner will be play Francis Ford Coppola.

  7. Ken Hanke

    If you get the HDNET movie channel they are doing a sneak peek Take This Waltz on Wedensday just like they did previously with the Tim and Eric movie and God Bless America.

    I don’t, but most Magnolia films (maybe all of them) get some kind of VOD release — often before the theatrical one.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Eugene Levy will always be welcome to play Martin Scorsese in my film about Italians and Jews swapping identities. Rob Reiner will be play Francis Ford Coppola.

    I’d pay money to see that, but you know I’ve long said that if you close your eyes while listening Scorsese you could mistake him for Woody Allen.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I note that last week — with the comments in the Reeler not showing up on the side — was not, it seems, an isolated instance. Ah, the wonders of our website.

  10. Jeremy Dylan

    I’d pay money to see that, but you know I’ve long said that if you close your eyes while listening Scorsese you could mistake him for Woody Allen.

    I get that, but Woody doesn’t have the eyebrows.

    • Jim Donato

      Aaaah! But Eugene Levy has prehensile eyebrows! He’d be perfect for playing Scorsese and give me something other than dreck to see Levy work those brows in! Nice suggestion, Mr. Dylan! Rounding up other SCTV alumni, Rick Moranis did a spotless Woody Allen on SCTV. If anyone can pull him out of retirement…

  11. Jim Donato

    Mr. Dylan – I like the cut of your jib! Levy would be perfect to play Scorsese with those prehensile eyebrows of his! It would save me from seeing him work that brow action in more cinematic dreck. And who better to play Woody Allen than his SCTV cohort, Rick Moranis? He of the flawless Allen impersonation? Did you ever see the SCTV sketch “Play It Again, Bob?” Genius!

  12. Ken Hanke

    I’m not intimate enough with Jeremy to know whether or not his jib is cut.

    • Jim Donato

      Ah yes, “Scenes From An Idiot’s Marriage.” Words are inadequate to describe the majesty of that sketch. Even the cinematography [on film] was burnished to perfection. And yet, years later, Martin Short had actually devolved into Jerry Lewis with mind-numbing dreck like “Clifford.” If that wasn’t a Jerry-Lewis-film-from-hell, what was? I’ve never seen it but Roger Ebert’s review was more than enough.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Ken, I have you to thank for my appreciation of Tyler Perry, and I mean that without anything resembling irony.

    I think — think, mind you — that I’d like to see you expound on that. Myself, I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I actually kind of enjoyed Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection this afternoon. I don’t think it was entirely because I had just slogged my way through People Like Us, though that may have helped. Funny thing is, I just looked at the first reviews for the Madea movie, and they’re all bad. Now, I’m not saying it’s a great movie — maybe it’s not even a good movie — but I may find myself being its lone defender. I’m actually okay with that.

    I would be interested in a Tyler Perry sci-fi movie, though I’m not holding my breath — and as someone in another article said, for all we know it’ll be Madea Goes to Mars.

  14. Erik Harrison

    When Perry first started to get some notice, I was in college and pretty much got on board with the dismissive zeitgeist. It became fun to take potshots (like “Madea Goes To Mars”) – but I did so without paying a whole lot of attention to his actual work. You managed to be just as critical as everyone else, but then you’d say “and yet…” and because you had so perfectly captured the bad, I was willing to listen to the good.

    And that helped me realize that part of the reason I was being dismissive was because Perry was a black guy in drag, and that wasn’t super classy of me. And here Perry was working with a whole lot of actresses who are supremely talented, and don’t get enough work, and as an actor, I can get behind that. And actually, when you look at it, he does kinda have an eye for talent. And certainly I have a fondness for well produced melodrama and broad comedy, and isn’t Perry sorta doing that very thing?

    Next thing you know I’m, without irony, making a spirited defense of him at parties. I don’t mind people disliking him, or even dismissing him. It’s just the people that do so without having actually looked at his work that starts to piss me off.

    That make sense?

  15. Ken Hanke

    Yes, it makes perfect sense. I’ve scanned (not actually read past the break-out quotes) the reviews and what amuses me about them (apart from the tendency of the bigger papers mostly sending their less famous critics to see it) is that the reviews are more predictable than anything Perry has ever put onscreen — and far lazier. (Really, is this the first time someone has noticed that these titles with Perry’s name in them are awkward?) I don’t want to get too far into it because…well, I have a review to write. I will say this is the most polished and ambitious of his Madea pictures — and probably the most congenial.

  16. Me

    Apparently Wes Anderson has approached Johnny Depp for his next film and its not going to be family friendly.

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