The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"Bolt," rated G
If you’re expecting to see anything resembling a classic Walt Disney animated feature, you might want to rethink renting "Bolt."
Bolt is a movie star dog who thinks he really does have super powers. The film opens with his owner Penny’s father being kidnapped by evil forces. The chase scene is full of narrow escapes, helicopter explosions, motorcycle crashes and narrow getaways for young Penny (Miley Cyrus) and her four-footed companion Bolt (John Travolta).
Of course, unbeknownst to Bolt, it all takes place on a film set replete with an obnoxious agent, egomaniacal director, uptight network executive and various assorted extras. When the dog escapes the set and is mistakenly shipped far away, his challenge is to get back to Hollywood to "save" his co-star.
The problem with "Bolt" is that the movie is "too hip for the room." The dialogue clearly is aimed above the third-grade level. The auxiliary animals that Bolt and Mittens, the cat, encounter along the way are parodies of characters in other movies and the humans they come across are buffoons at best. All of that would be fine if the script was clever, but it’s not.
"Bolt" is a good reminder to parents that just because a film is animated doesn’t mean that it’s good or good for your family.
"The Fisher King," rated R
There’s something magical about Terry Gilliam’s "The Fisher King."
Released 18 years ago, the story plays as if ripped out of today’s headlines.
Shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) incites an unstable listener who goes on a killing spree. Lucas feels the immediate backlash in his career and spirals into a drunken tailspin. His girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl) stands by him at his worst and a chance meeting with Parry (Robin Williams) rockets Jack on a search not only for the Holy Grail but for purpose in life.
Filled with symbolism, it is not necessary to be a student of mythology to appreciate the brilliance of Gilliam’s storytelling. Williams’ well-known comic persona is perfect for Parry. When he encounters the love of his life, Lydia (Amanda Plummer), he meets his match in awkwardness and their double date with Jack and Anne in a Chinese restaurant is funny and touching and outrageous.
Movies are supposed to entertain. Sometimes they are light diversions and sometimes they are thought-producing. Terry Gilliam’s "The Fisher King" is all those things and more.
"Ace in the Hole," unrated
With the proliferation of 24/7 cable news networks and competing reporters to be first to break a story, one might think that cutthroat tactics were a new phenomenon of the 21st century. "Ace in the Hole" demonstrates that ruthless ambition is nothing new when it comes to the pursuit of media ratings or newspaper "scoops."
Kirk Douglas plays Charles "Chuck" Tatum, a big city reporter who has burned bridges with the major outlets and as a last resort lands a job at the hometown paper in Albuquerque, N.M.
When he gets word that a local is trapped in a cave, Tatum is willing to go to any length to ensure his exclusive. Manipulating rescue efforts, schmoozing law enforcement (the sheriff happens to be up for re-election) and bullying the victim’s wife (Jan Sterling).
As the rescue efforts take on a carnival atmosphere, Tatum has little compunction about profiting from the scenario he’s created.
Billy Wilder wrote and directed this black-and-white feature just one year after "Sunset Boulevard." Even though "Ace in the Hole" was not a financial success in 1951, the message it sends regarding ethics and journalism and human nature is timeless.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at r2redshaw@