Movies

Top One Movie of the Week: Marmaduke, Ondine, Killers, Get Him to the Greek, and Splice

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Our critics choose between Marmaduke, Ondine, Killers, Get Him to the Greek, and Splice.

Jonas Hill, P Diddy, and Russell Brand in Get Him to the Greek

Marmaduke

ANDREW: This week brings a thus-far unique dilemma in the history of our column: there are actually three movies scheduled for release that interest me. And, uh, then there’s Marmaduke. Which… doesn’t. I mean, it’s not that I have anything against loveable Great Danes per se, but live-action animals spouting wisecracks from CGI-animated mouths don’t exactly have a great cinematic track record. And also: Marmaduke? Seriously? What, they couldn’t get the rights to Fred Basset? Way to stay cutting edge, there, Hollywood. Moreover, while I understand that veterans like Steve Coogan and William H. Macy will sometimes grab an easy paycheck on a project like this between more respectable roles (and actors like George Lopez… well, between his voice work in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and his upcoming role as "Grouchy Smurf," I guess this is just what he does), I’m a little concerned about the film’s top dog, Owen Wilson. After his recent personal troubles and Marley & Me, it seems more and more likely the beloved indie mainstay is about to go all Nicolas Cage on us.

 

Ondine

ANDREW: The Cage-ification of Owen Wilson is a depressing concept to contemplate, so instead I’m gonna turn my attention to the Colin Farrell mermaid tale Ondine, from reliably unpredictable director Neil Jordan. As one of the few people in the world who actually championed M. Night Shyamalan‘s Lady in the Water, I may have a higher tolerance for fishy fantasy than most, but maybe Jordan’s track record with classics (and curiosities) like Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, and The Butcher Boy will convince you to give the director’s latest a shot?

SCOTT: Jordan is pretty much always worth a shot, although his track record is spottier of late (I never did get around to his Jodie Foster Death Wish fantasy, The Brave One). The first point of comparison to spring to mind when I hear the phrase "Irish fishing fable" is John Sayles‘ acclaimed The Secret of Roan Inish, although from the trailer, Ondine looks more like a melodramatic variation on Splash. (I’ll just pretend you never mentioned Lady in the Water, in hopes of avoiding traumatic flashbacks.) Still, Colin Farrell is much more likable these days than he ever was when Hollywood was trying way too hard to turn him into a huge movie star, and Ondine looks like one of this summer’s few attempts at telling a compelling story rather than blowing us away with 3D pyrotechnics. Definitely a contender this week.

 

Killers

SCOTT: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this isn’t one of the three new releases that interest you this week, unless you’ve developed some kind of Katherine Heigl fixation I don’t know about. Some might point to the toxic presence of Heigl, her co-star and bad-movie staple Ashton Kutcher, or even the ridiculous premise (woman marries man of her dreams, then learns he’s a CIA agent and their neighbors are trained assassins trying to kill them) as reasons to avoid Killers. But I’m pinning the blame on one of the most under-the-radar hacks in Hollywood today, director Robert Luketic. Not only is he responsible for the last Katherine Heigl waste-dump of a rom-com, The Ugly Truth, he’s also the man behind Monster-in-Law, the botched adaptation of 21, and (I shit you not) Titsiana Booberini. This fiend is never getting another cent from me.

ANDREW: It’s strange that Heigl — who complained about the rampant sexism of her breakthrough role in Knocked Up — would deign to work for a man with Titsiana Booberini on his resume. But then again, based on her post-Knocked Up career in regressive throwbacks like 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth, it’s possible that Heigl’s definition of "sexist" is simply any movie where she has to kiss a schlubby guy. Given her himbo co-star, that won’t be a problem in Killers… but personally, I’ll save my ticket money for the summer’s other "I’m in love with a superspy!" guilty pleasure, Knight and Day.

 

Get Him to the Greek

ANDREW: Which brings me to my second major contender of the week: Get Him to the Greek. Now, I’ll admit, this rock-and-roll comedy is a bit of a long shot, given the high probability that it will suck. And yet, I enjoyed the low-wattage pleasures of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which shares a lot of Greek‘s DNA (including screenwriter Jason Segel, director Nicholas Stoller, and sporadically hilarious recovering slut Russell Brand, reprising his role as the highly Brand-esque rock star Aldous Snow). Jonah Hill also reappears (but, through some odd quirk of spin-off logic, does not reprise his character from Sarah Marshall)… though, given the porcine funnyman’s mostly satisfying track record since Superbad, I’m pretty much willing to follow him anywhere at this point. (As long as he doesn’t make out with Katherine Heigl, since that would be sexist.)

SCOTT: You’ve almost convinced me, and yet… some supporting characters were meant to remain supporting characters, and I fear Brand’s oafish rock star is one of those. He was an enjoyable bit of seasoning in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I have a feeling too much of that particular spice will make for an indigestible meal, if you follow my highly complex metaphor.
 

Splice

SCOTT: Speaking of indigestible meals… if the graphic medical experimentation in The Human Centipede was a bit too much for you to stomach, perhaps I can interest you in some less icky (yet still potentially disturbing) genetic splicing gone awry, via this horror flick from Cube director Vincenzo Natali? Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody are a reckless pair of scientists who bypass the ethical issues surrounding human cloning by fusing human and animal DNA to create a winged creature they call Dren. Splice was a Sundance hit earlier this year, and it looks like a good bet to deliver Cronenbergian thrills and chills without all the pesky ass-to-mouth suturing that made Centipede a turnoff for so many. I’m giving it my seal of approval as the Top One Movie of the Week.

ANDREW: To be honest, Adrien Brody’s sad-sack mug on a poster is usually a big red flag for me. (I mean, dude, seriously: why the long face?) But this time, his mopiness is more than counterbalanced by the welcome sight of Go girl Sarah Polley in one of her all-too-rare screen appearances. Like Jonah Hill — and really, this may be the only way they’re alike — Polley generally makes even subpar movies worth watching (hello, Weight of Water!). Plus, Delphine Chanéac‘s sexy, spooky Dren seems way more fascinating than Alicja Bachleda‘s sexy, spooky mermaid or Russell Brand’s sexy, spooky hair, so it seems we start the summer in agreement!

The Top One Movie of the Week: Splice