Film Openings

Week of February 18, 2004

Feb 18, 2004 at 4:00 am
Against the Ropes (PG-13) Charles S. Dutton. Opens Friday, February 20, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (PG) Sara Sugarman. Concerning clothes, clothes, peer pressure and clothes, this teen girl movie's sass and style add up to fun. Flush with starry provenance from Mark Waters' big hit remake Freaky Friday (and next up in his Mean Girls) comes sudden topliner Lindsay Lohan as a brash Big Apple girl whisked away to the "wasteland" of New Jersey by her bohemian potter mother (Glenne Headley). There the titular drama queen enlists an earnest new best friend (terrific Alison Pill) to battle popularity-squad "villainess" (splendid Megan Fox) while grabbing the lead in a street-revisionist remake of Pygmalion directed by Carol Kane and orchestrated by those inescapable Apple iBooks. Gail Parent's screenplay (based on Dyan Sheldon's book) feels forced, but superb director Sara Sugarman (of the wonderful Very Annie-Mary) brings funky playfulness into her first major studio outing. Canada doesn't pass for New Jersey, Adam Garcia is pretty terrible as a "Cockney" rock idol, and Lohan's cover of Bowie's "Changes" is puke-inspiring, but nonetheless Sugarman's sweet caprices impart an agreeable buzz. Opens Friday, February 20, at multiple locations. (Gregory Weinkauf)

Eurotrip (R) Jeff Schaffer. An American high school boy, Scott (Scott Mechlowicz), finds a German pen pal to help him cheat on his German homework by translating assignments (wouldn't Babelfish be easier?). When the pen pal suggests a rendezvous, Scott freaks out, thinking that he's been communicating with a dude named "Mieke." But no, silly, Mieke is a girl's name, and oh yes, she's hot. Scott and pals travel to Europe, where all manner of libations and sexual opportunities await. Opens Friday, February 20, at multiple locations. NR

My Architect: A Son's Journey (unrated) Nathaniel Kahn. Opens Friday, February 20, at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.

Touching the Void (unrated) Kevin Macdonald. Director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) has created the most dangerous-looking, thrill-packed mountain-climbing movie ever made, a relentless nail-biter that chronicles the ill-fated 1985 attempt by two fearless British climbers to conquer a forbidding 21,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes. It's a nearly flawless example of the customarily multi-flawed genre called "docudrama" -- a combination of dispassionate, classically "British" talking-head interviews with the two climbers, Simon Yates and Joe Simpson (from whose memoir the film is adapted), and Macdonald's breathtaking re-creation of the climb, using actors Brendan Mackey and Nicholas Aaron. No swirling soap flakes or white plastic glaciers for these filmmakers -- just the Andes and the French Alps in bleak, angry weather. Macdonald shows us, in incredibly vivid detail, the heart-stopping peril and the unquenchable will to survive in a misadventure that has become part of mountain-climbing lore -- not least because in a crucial decision, Yates cut the lifeline linking him to his partner dangling below. Opens Friday, February 20, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Bill Gallo)

Welcome to Mooseport (PG-13) Donald Petrie. Ray Romano is the David to Gene Hackman's Goliath, and the audience would be wise to bring the slingshot. Romano plays "Handy" Harrison, hardware store owner and Mr. Fixit in the small Maine town where former president Monroe "Eagle" Cole (Hackman) has decided to move after eight years in office. The day Cole arrives, he's begged by the townsfolk to run for mayor, which he, of course, refuses...till the town's vet (Maura Tierney) tells him, oh, sure, sounds like a good idea. And it is, until Cole discovers, long after the national media has, that Handy's also running, making Cole look like he's big-timing a small town and the little people in it. The premise of Mooseport makes so little sense that to wonder why "the most beloved president since Kennedy" would sacrifice millions in speaking engagements and risk damaging years of international goodwill to govern a tiny burg is to spend far more time pondering the question than did screenwriter Tom Schulman. Opens Friday, February 20, at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)