Film Openings

Week of April 3, 2002

Apr 3, 2002 at 4:00 am
Big Trouble. Barry Sonnenfeld. Had this been released on Sept. 21, as originally scheduled before the events of Sept. 11, it would now be out on video, where it belongs. Every laugh is forced, as though at gunpoint; every scene is strained, as though stretched on a rack. Director Sonnenfeld's film smells a lot like his own Get Shorty had it been left too long in the humid South Florida sunshine; even the cast looks like something unearthed from a Tupperware found in the back of the refrigerator, because Dennis Farina and Rene Russo appear in both movies. At the center of this unremarkable mess is Tim Allen as Eliot Arnold, a disgraced Pulitzer winner tossed out of the newspaper biz who's landed that most disgraceful of post-journalism gigs: an advertising man. Eliot winds up at the home of sweet, spoiled Anna Herk (Russo) and her corrupt, distant husband, Arthur (Stanley Tucci). Before long, the house is overflowing with cops (a dim-bulb Patrick Warburton and a bossy Janeane Garafolo), G-men (Omar Epps and Dwight Myers, better known as rapper Heavy D) and inept thugs Johnny Knoxville and Tom Sizemore. Given the invitation list, most of Big Trouble feels like an in-joke, a party where everyone on the screen's having a better time than anyone in the theater. And that's just no fun at all. Opens April 5 at multiple locations. (RW)

High Crimes. Carl Franklin. Opens April 5 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

National Lampoon's Van Wilder. Walt Becker. Hey, dude. How does your taste in college humor run? Wanna see smug frat boys devour cream puffs filled with dog semen? How about a luscious stripper who's evidently had beans for lunch? Care to watch an undergraduate have sex with an 82-year-old woman in the bursar's office? Since Groucho served as dean of students in Horse Feathers and John Belushi trashed the premises in Animal House, the bar has been drastically lowered: Director Becker and screenwriters Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner obviously mean to out-gross (in both senses of the word) the Farrelly brothers, Tom Green and Sorority Boys. Just pray there's no sequel. With Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid and Kal Penn. Opens April 5 at multiple locations. (BG)

Y Tu Mama Tambien. Alfonzo Cuarn. Opens April 5 at the Plaza Frontenac and Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.