Film Openings

Week of July 19, 2006

Expiration Date

Clerks II. (R) Reviewed in this issue. ARN, CPP, CGX, DP, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, STCH, STCL

Expiration Date. Some families have medical histories checkered with boring-ass diabetes or heart disease. Yawn. But like in a bad game of Frogger, Charlie Silvercloud's father (and his grandfather) have all succumbed to death by milk truck on their 25th birthdays. Expiration Date catches up with Charlie eight days before his ill-fated birthday and find out whether his game is over or if he defies his ancestry and lives to see 25 and one day. (NR) PF

Lady in the Water. (PG-13) It would be a mighty sweet thing to see M. Night Shyamalan as the great redemptive storyteller he clearly thinks he is. But nothing will prepare you for the rampant foolishness of Lady in the Water. It's not easy to get your descriptive jaws around this nut-studded muffin, but it comes down to a bizarre apartment complex in the Pennsylvania woods, its schlubby superintendent (Paul Giamatti), a water-logged nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) who saves him after he falls in the pool, and a completely fabricated legend involving "narfs," killer-hyena "scrunts," human helpers somehow designated as "the Guardian," the "Symbolist," etc., the "Great Eatlon," yadda yadda. You'd think Shyamalan made this malarkey up in the editing room, but it has also manifested as a children's book that makes just as little sense. What "scrunt" yields when Googled is proof that Shyamalan don't surf, though he does seem to believe that any idea or image that pops into his skull will make a shapely tale, no matter how much cock-and-bull he has to invent to Gorilla Glue it together. (Michael Atkinson) ARN, CGX, DP, GL, J14, MR, OF, RON, STCH, STCL

Monster House. (PG) Three kids are intimidated by a creepy old man named Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi, animated in such a way that one can easily imagine how well he might have played Gollum) and his frightening old house, which seems to literally consume toys carelessly left on its lawn. When Nebbercracker apparently has a heart attack, the house gets even scarier, acting autonomously and making scary "faces" with its windows, door, and porch. In this latest extravaganza from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, millions of dollars and long hours in the digital animation studios have produced . . . a photorealistic, computer-animated, generic American suburb! The coolest thing about Monster House is that Kathleen Turner's face was actually motion-captured to create the house's movements, but actual human beings onscreen might have ratcheted up the tension, of which there is none. As with Over the Hedge, there's a sense here that computer animation may be getting too realistic for stories that are meant to work as cartoons. But hey, maybe it's more fun in 3-D. (Luke Y. Thompson) ARN, CGX, DP, GL, J14, MR, OF, RON, STCH, STCL

My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Excitement notwithstanding, new relationships are sort of a pain in the ass. There's constant walking on eggshells, not wanting to offend your date lest they decide not to pay for dinner or, in the case of My Super Ex-Girlfriend, end up being a superhero who doesn't take kindly to being kicked to the curb. Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson star. (NR) ARN, CGX, DP, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, STCH, STCL

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