Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 29-July 5: Transforming Larry Crowne in Monte Carlo

In Theaters

This is one of those weeks where even writing about what’s in store for us at the movies is like trying to shove myself through a garden hose. The mere thought of Larry Crowne, Monte Carlo, and Transformers: Dark of the Moose…er Moon makes me want to take a nap. The prospect of actually sitting through them, however, makes me want to hide behind the sofa till the whole thing blows over. There aren’t even any art/indie titles to lighten the grim prospect.

Well, let’s get on with it. And since it happens first, we might as well tackle Mr. Bay’s 157 minutes of intellectual assault and property damage right away. I refer, of course, to Mooseformers, which opens on June 29 in order that audiences can be assured of getting every ounce of Shia LaBeoufish goodness out of the thing before the Fourth of July weekend is but a dim memory. I thoroughly detested the first two movies in this marketing empire, so I’m not expecting to feel any differently about the third. Getting rid of the jive-talking Autobots was a good idea. (Bay has, in fact, offered a $25,000 reward to anyone who can spot the duo in this entry.) Getting rid of Megan Fox is neither here nor there, though. Presumably it’s easier telling Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, “Raise your butt closer to the lens.” It’s still about cars that turn themselves into giant robots and knock down buildings, it still stars LaBeouf and it’s still directed by an insurance company’s worst nightmare.

I realize that there is a market for this Transmoosers jazz and that I’m not it. That’s fair. There are a lot of things out there that I’m not the market for. Most of them, however, have the decency not to be over two-and-a-half hours long and aren’t based on a line of toys. At the moment the early good reviews are starting to melt away, though I’m considering memorizing Roger Moore’s gushy breakout quote—“delivers the popcorn in gigantic fist-fulls of fun”—so I can use it on him next time I see him.

At least Tom Hanks’ socially relevant rom-com Larry Crowne has the common courtesy to be a mere 99-minutes long. Whether that means it’s likely to be good is a wholly separate issue. The fact that Hanks decided to break out his directing shoes isn’t necessarily good or bad. That he has co-written the film with Nia Vardolos is sketchier. Now, I liked the teaming of Hanks and Julia Roberts in Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), but that was a very different proposition than this story, which the press notes describe with, “Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to his local college to start over.” It gets worse-sounding with him becoming part of a group of “a colorful community of outcasts” and developing a crush on disillusion teacher Roberts. But we’ll see.

Last up is Thomas Bezucha’s Monte Carlo. Now, Bezucha made the pleasant—but hardly distinctive—The Family Stone way back in 2005. That this is his first film in nearly six years is—interesting. And it’s probably more interesting than the film itself which credits at least four writers (rarely a good sign). This PG-rated opus that has garnered zero reviews so far stars Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester—and is obviously pitched at people familiar with the TV shows they’ve been on. Offhand, it looks less like it was made for teenage girls than it was made for those hoping to become teenage girls. It also apparently offers Life Lessons, since according to Fox “at the end of their journey, they discover the true magic of friendship.”

Special Screenings

If ever a week needed some alternatives, this looks to be that week. This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Christophe Gans’ Silent Hill (2006) on Thursday, June 30, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (For those paying attention this Thursday will also boast the first episode of the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel approximately 20 minutes before the feature.) On Friday, July 1, at 8 p.m. World Cinema is showing the documentary film Antonio Gaudi (1985) in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Roger Corman’s The Intruder (1962) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Ken Russell’s Mahler (1974) on Tuesday, July 5, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

As if to add insult to injury, this week’s DVD releases include such wonders as Sucker Punch, Beastly, and Season of the Witch. By way of recompense, however, there is The Warrior’s Way and Barney’s Version. so not all is lost.

Notable TV screenings

For some reason, I thought last week wrapped up TCM’s “Drive-in Double Features,” but I was in error. This Thursday is the last cheese explosion. It all starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, and goes on all night long. This round we’re treated to The Blob (1958), The H-Man (1958), The Magnetic Monster (1953), X the Unknown (1956), The Thing from Another World (1951), and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). I’m not sure how The Thing slipped in there.

 

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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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27 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 29-July 5: Transforming Larry Crowne in Monte Carlo

  1. Also out this week is the Jesco White (Dancing Outlaw) biopic WHITE LIGHTNIN’ which is very good. Two of the stranger films from the 70s are also released, Louis Malle’s BLACK MOON and THE BABY, which needs to be seen to be believed.

  2. DrSerizawa

    Actually, aside from The Blob the rest of TCM’s Thurs Drive-in line up isn’t completely idiotic. IT even has a nifty anti-smoking message. And the role of women astronauts in the future is also notable. Anyone who hasn’t seen The Thing yet… shame shame. Time to remedy that lack. If there ever was a sci-fi essential this is it. Amazing what you can do without a lot of special effects. I’ve seen it a couple of dozen times and it still gets creepy to watch it alone.

    There’s a documentary after the movies called Watch The Skies that might be interesting. Though the fact that they interviewed Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron is less than encouraging for me since three of those are amongst my least favorite directors. How they could they leave out Roger Corman? He like created this stuff and he’s still making schlock.

    I’d sure rather see a documentary on Antonio Gaudi than the llama inspired Transformers. I recommend some pre-viewing lubrication. A tot or two of Bushmills is a good prescription.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Actually, aside from The Blob the rest of TCM’s Thurs Drive-in line up isn’t completely idiotic.

    I’d mostly agree, though apart from the footage from Gold I’m hard-pressed to find much merit in The Magnetic Monster. I remember watching Alien back when it came out and thinking, “This is It! The Terror from Beyond Space with a bigger budget.”

    A tot or two of Bushmills is a good prescription.

    If only. I think I’m going to go to the 11:30 show this morning and put it out of my misery. I might wait till 12:20, though, and see it in 3D. We shall see.

  4. Dionysis

    “There’s a documentary after the movies called Watch The Skies that might be interesting.”

    It is quite interesting, actually. It was included among the extras on the (now defunct) HD DVD version of ‘Forbidden Planet’. I believe it was originally shown on a cable television channel (can’t recall which one).

    Of the Double Feature Cheese-Fest titles, the only one I lack is ‘The Magnetic Monster’, which I don’t think has been released on DVD commercially. From what I can tell about it, it is similar to ‘Kronos’, in that there is no biological creature, but rather a non-living entity that absorbs energy. For a 1953 release, that seems fairly original.

  5. I enjoy an epically bad movie more so than the Oscar bait out there, so I have been totally absorbed with SUCKERPUNCH. How did this film get made?

  6. Dionysis

    “getting every ounce of Shia LaBeoufish goodness out of the thing…”

    Maybe I’m just not astute enough, but I fail to see the talent in this guy, and am puzzled mightily as to why he gets big roles. But I guess the same could be said for other actors.

  7. Ken Hanke

    From what I can tell about it, it is similar to ‘Kronos’, in that there is no biological creature, but rather a non-living entity that absorbs energy. For a 1953 release, that seems fairly original.

    Fairly original, perhaps; incredibly dull, most definitely.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I enjoy an epically bad movie more so than the Oscar bait out there

    That’s to sweeping a generalization in either direction, but if you want “epically bad” (is “epically” even a word?) then get thee to a theater to see Transmoosers asap. And be sure to see it in 3D so you can appreciate all its epicality in epicest.

    I have been totally absorbed with SUCKERPUNCH. How did this film get made?

    Because it came from “visionary director Zack Snyder.” Whether or not these visions were drug induced, only Coleridge knows. I don’t suppose this is a director’s cut that restores the film’s rumored musical numbers?

  9. Ken Hanke

    But I guess the same could be said for other actors.

    As long as Tom Cruise is around that’s probably true, but Shia is a special case in that you see him and you’re inspired to throw a brick at him.

  10. DrSerizawa

    …but I fail to see the talent in this guy, and am puzzled mightily as to why he gets big roles.

    He’s one of those generic bland actors that I guess are supposed to drive in the youth viewers. Maybe he’s a big hit with 14 year old girls? Or he’s nerdy enough that nerds feel encouraged that they too might attract a Megan Fox? Now that’s a revolting thought.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Now that’s a revolting thought.

    Even more revolting is the fact that his former lingerie model co-star replacement makes Megan Fox appear to have the acting talent of Helen Mirren.

  12. Mike

    Transformers that bad, Ken? Like, worse than its predecessor? That kind of folly begs to be seen on the big screen.

    Oi, what a year…

  13. Ken Hanke

    No, it’s proably not as bad as its predecessor. But what is that really saying?

  14. Me

    Im looking forward to that Black Moon release Orbit i remember seeing a weird clip of it on Youtube a couple of years ago, and that was the only thing i could find on it.

  15. I will hold off on my TRANSFORMERS 3 opinion until the review is posted, but SUCKER PUNCH is still the year’s worst for me. An enjoyable worst at that.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Im looking forward to that Black Moon release

    Something tells me this isn’t Roy Wm. Neill’s 1934 voodoo movie.

  17. Ken Hanke

    SUCKER PUNCH is still the year’s worst for me. An enjoyable worst at that.

    I’d call it fascinating more than enjoyable. Mooseformers is neither.

  18. Mike

    As much as I didn’t care for Sucker Punch it still gets points for ambition.

    I can’t say the same for Battle: Los Angeles, one of those rare films that actually made me feel disgusted with myself for dropping money on the ticket.

  19. DrSerizawa

    Even more revolting is the fact that his former lingerie model co-star replacement makes Megan Fox appear to have the acting talent of Helen Mirren.

    It’s hard to believe that something like that could be possible. I guess viewing 157 minutes of Moose-fellation has taken a serious toll on you. Perhaps next week looks better?

    As long as Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich don’t set up a film company together I suspect we will survive 2011. I just hope that there are some good ones being saved for Oscar season like last year because so far 2011 is looking like a disaster.

  20. Ken Hanke

    As much as I didn’t care for Sucker Punch it still gets points for ambition

    And screwiness, but…

  21. Ken Hanke

    It’s hard to believe that something like that could be possible. I guess viewing 157 minutes of Moose-fellation has taken a serious toll on you.

    You haven’t seen this girl’s “performance.”

    Perhaps next week looks better?

    Mainstream-wise we get Zookeeper, which looks pretty darn dismal, and Horrible Bosses, which at least purports to offer the novelty of a foul-mouthed Jennifer Aniston. If nothing else, locally, we are slated for the engaging documentary Buck and the surprisingly agreeable Troll Hunter. Unfortunately for me, I’ve seen both, but I have Queen to Play (opening on the 15th) to look forward to.

    As long as Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich don’t set up a film company together I suspect we will survive 2011.

    Emmerich has ostensibly abandonned big budget silliness in favor of smaller projects. What this will mean remains to be seen, but this Shakespeare conspiracy thing coming in October has a good chance of retaining the silliness.

  22. luluthebeast

    I think last weekend’s SWAMP SHARK on Syfy was better than the new movies this weekend.

  23. Ken Hanke

    That sounds suspiciously like a threat. Then again, there must be three or four titles you actually think I need to see that you have yet to foist upon me.

  24. Ken Hanke

    Well, based on what other critics have been saying, it looks like I woulda been marginally better off with Monte Carlo than Transmoosers and Larry Crowne (I am heading for it at noon). It’s a very near thing, though.

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