Film Openings

Week of August 31, 2005

Aug 31, 2005 at 4:00 am
The Constant Gardener. (R) Reviewed in this issue.

Junebug. (R) Thomas Wolfe's literary alter ego, George Webber, couldn't go home to fictional Old Catawba, North Carolina. The protagonist -- also named George -- created by first-time director Phil Morrison and screenwriter Angus MacLachlan has no better luck in the unnamed Carolina town where this tale of family friction and outsider drama unfolds. George Johnsten (Alessandro Nivola) has not only fled his tentacular middle-class family for the Yankee corruptions of Chicago; he's now returned to visit in the company of an overcivilized, foreign-born wife (Embeth Davidtz, late of Schindler's List). Resentments soon boil over -- especially in George's combustible younger brother (Ben McKenzie) and their sour, distrustful mother (Celia Weston). Combining the tragic and the comic, this drama is amateurish in places, but it's a triumph of atmosphere (the makers are both North Carolinians) and the acting is first-rate. Amy Adams runs off with the trophy as George's good-hearted but dopey sister-in-law, who's about to give birth to her first child. (Bill Gallo)

A Sound of Thunder. Travis Ryer (Edward Burns, what happened to ye?) is sent on a safari. But this is no ordinary jungle cruise, it's a prehistoric-era safari, complete with dino-huntin'. And as if that's not bad enough, Ryer inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to wipe out humanity forever. You know, like Back to the Future, but sans DeLorean, and probably not very funny. (Not Reviewed)

The Transporter 2. Because you still seek closure after the original Transporter, Louis Leterrier provides this follow-up flick. Expect fists, most likely "of fury." (Not Reviewed)

Underclassman. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue.

Undiscovered. (PG-13) Aspiring rocker Luke Falcon (Sky High brooder Steven Strait) has a chance encounter with a beautiful girl (Broken Flowers' Pell James) the same day he's set to leave New York for L.A. The girl's name is Brier, and she's actually a professional model, managed by her Aunt Carrie (Carrie Fisher, who deserves better). Unbeknownst to Luke, she also moves to L.A. to become an actress, where she is horrified to find that people in showbiz are as mean to her as other models are. The only one who's nice is Clea (Ashlee Simpson), an aspiring actress and singer -- which is convenient, because through her Luke and Brier get to meet up again. So, yeah, Ashlee Simpson's in Undiscovered, and she sings. And you'll be glad when she does, because it's a huge improvement over Steven Strait, who performs all his own vocals. Like his character in the movie, Strait has charisma, but he isn't yet ready to take the lead. (Luke Y. Thompson)