Movies

The Top One Movie of the Week

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Our critics choose from Clash of the Titans, Why Did I Get Married Too?, Leaves of Grass, The Last Song, and Furry Vengeance.

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In Nerve’s new film feature, our two critics pore over the new releases and argue over what to see. In a perpetually crowded field of new releases, we’ll help you narrow down your options.

SCOTT: Release the Kraken! This Friday’s big-ticket item at the box office is, of course, the 3D remake of Clash of the Titans, starring Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington. Could this be our Top One Movie of the Week? I can’t say my hopes are especially high. Sure, it might be good, cheesy fun, but I’ve always found aged cheese to be the best kind, and as it happens, the original 1981 version of Titans is playing on TCM even as I write this. The new version may offer our first look at Jake Sully since he went blue at the end of Avatar, but how can that compete with the spectacle of master thespians Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith hamming it up in white robes as the Greek gods Zeus and Thetis?

ANDREW: I have to say it warmed my heart that the Warner Bros. marketing department had the decency to highlight the cult-classic line "Release the Kraken!" in the new Titans trailer, thus introducing a whole new generation to my all-time favorite euphemism for dropping a deuce. And since the original Harry Hamlin version was so enjoyably terrible, I’d say the bar for the remake is set low enough that my expectations for a brainless night of goofy fun would almost surely be met (especially if they skip the cutesy robot owl this time around and double-down on the Gorgon-slaying).

SCOTT: Maybe, but director Louis Leterrier didn’t exactly breathe new life into the Hulk franchise, and even with gobs of computer-generated graphics at his disposal, it’s hard to believe he can compete with the goofy charms of Ray Harryhausen‘s classic stop-motion effects. Plus, this is one of those pseudo-3D movies where the "comin’ at ya" gimmick was added in post-production to capitalize on those supersized ticket prices Avatar has foisted upon us. It’s possible that the sheer spectacle of the gods-vs.-humans battle will propel Clash of the Titans into our top spot this week — that Kraken does look pretty scary — but let’s size up the competition first. Andrew, you strike me as a huge Tyler Perry fan. Looking forward to Why Did I Get Married Too? Or is Furry Vengeance more your speed?

ANDREW: Unfortunately, as much as I’d probably enjoy it, I can say with one-hundred-percent certainty that I’d have a zero-percent chance of convincing my wife to see Clash of the Titans (in any dimension). And since our mutual love of Why Did I Get Married Too‘s Jill Scott is neutralized by our complete disinterest in the histrionics of the Tyler Perry oeuvre, I thought Furry Vengeance might be a better pick…until I read the description on IMDb just now and realized it’s NOT an ironic, funny-for-adults animated feature about ninja gerbils or telekinetic lemurs, but instead seems to be some kind of slapstick Dr. Doolittle-esque nonsense with CGI-enhanced raccoons, skunks, and birds attacking (and pooping on) Brendan Fraser and that annoyingly ubiquitous, painfully unfunny Asian guy from The Hangover and Community.

So I guess that leaves Leaves of Grass, the stoner comedy from director (and one-time Soggy Bottom Boy) Tim Blake Nelson about an uptight Ivy League professor (Edward Norton) returning home to Oklahoma to engage in some "high" jinks (get it?) with his funky, pot-dealing brother (Edward Norton…in a wig!). Actually, that doesn’t sound terribly promising either, but heck, Roger Ebert apparently called it "one of the year’s best" — and though the full quote might reveal Ebert merely dubbed it the year’s best Edward Norton identical-twin movie, given the competition it might still be a contender for Top One Movie of the Week honors. What say you, sir?

SCOTT: I’d hate our readers to think we didn’t give due consideration to The Last Song, the latest Nicholas Sparks three-hankie weeper to reach the screen. After all, it features a sullen and slouchy Miley Cyrus in her first post-Hannah Montana starring role as a rebellious teen reconnecting with her father over their mutual love of music. Sadly, Miley’s actual daddy Billy Ray Cyrus is not on hand to recreate the achy-breaky creepiness of their 3508 Vanity Fair photo shoot; instead, we’re confronted with the unappealing prospect of Greg Kinnear attempting to convey sincerity and earnestness. So let’s scratch that one off the list.

As someone who actually saw and reviewed Tyler Perry’s first Why Did I Get Married? movie, there’s no force on heaven or earth that could get me into the theater for another serving of sermonizing self-help platitudes and ham-handed ensemble comedy. As for Furry Vengeance, it’s not just the presence of anthropomorphic critters and their flatulence-fueled revenge schemes that puts me off — it’s the alarmingly bloated head of Brendan Fraser that really gives me pause. I swear, with each new bad movie Fraser makes, his melon grows three sizes. That guy really needs a vacation.

So that leaves Clash of the Titans and Leaves of Grass as my final contenders this week. It’s true that Tim Blake Nelson’s track record as a director is somewhat spotty — he’s responsible for O, the dreadful hip-hop flavored update of Othello starring Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett — but he showed a promising affinity for the travails of rural Oklahomans in his debut, Eye of God, and he’s working with a solid cast here. (In addition to the two Ed Nortons and Nelson himself, Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, and Melanie Lynskey are on hand to give their best Southern drawls a workout.) That’s enough for me to give it the edge over the latest 3D special-effects orgy, Kraken or no. So it looks like we’re in agreement this week.

THE TOP ONE MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Leaves of Grass

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