Monday, May 5, 2008

Week of May 2-8

What's On At the Tropic
by Phil Mann [reprinted from Key West the Newspaper,]

If movies were thoroughbreds the handicapping for the Tropic’s new movie Smart People would be off the charts. Starring Hollywood Walk of Fame actor Dennis Quaid (The Big Easy, Far From Heaven) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in the City on TV, the original runs of Annie and Sylvia on the New York stage), plus Ellen Page (Juno) and Thomas Haden Parker (Sideways). Did I mention that the plot reminds me of The Squid and the Whale and Little Miss Sunshine?

Quaid plays a pompous, pedantic English professor, a character (reminiscent of the fathers in Squid and Little Miss) whose life is thrown into turmoil by his ne’er-do-well (and immensely likeable) brother (Church); his wise-cracking, Republican teen daughter (Page); and an affair with a former student (Parker). Like Juno, the script is from a first-time screenwriter with an ear for sharp dialogue. All the characters work through their issues and even change… though not in a Hollywoody absurd way.

Can’t miss, right? Well some reviewers think so. Rex Reed in The Observer says he “just loved this movie” because “it’s witty, intellectual without being pretentious, and filled with characters who are logically stressed and anxious to connect to a world outside of themselves.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times lauds it as a “frisky comedy” with an “excellent script” and great performances all around. David Denby in The New Yorker praises first-time director Noam Murro for his precision and comic touch. But overall the Tomatometer at RottenTomatoes gives it a score of 50%, the ultimate “mixed” review rating.

So we’ve got the dilemma of the smart moviegoer. Do we accept the dictates of review consensus, or do we take a chance with our few bucks and find our for ourselves? For myself, I’ve been following movies and reviews for enough years to know that I disagree with the critic-ocracy as often as I agree. Let’s make this a challenge. If you go, let me know what you think of Smart People, and I’ll publish its Conchmeter rating.

Meanwhile, if you’re a RottenTomato disciple, the Tropic is offering The Band’s Visit (“A clever slice-of-life comedy, and poignant cross-cultural exploration” Tomatometer 98%!), The Bank Job (“a thoroughly entertaining British heist thriller” Tomatometer 78%), and Shine the Light (“Martin Scorsese's document of the Rolling Stones' live show” Tomatometer 86%). You can let me know what you think about those ratings, too.

Oh, yes. There’s also La Scala’s production Il Trittico, from that guy Puccini, showing on Tuesday. Tomatometer rating unknown.

The free Saturday kids movie series is featuring Knights of the South Bronx, starring Ted Danson as an inner-city teacher who captivates his kids with chess. Danson was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in this made-for-TV film. Well worth the price of admission.

See you at the Tropic.

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