What if I told you Adam Corolla has a new feel-good romantic boxing comedy coming out? That's right, the acerbic guy from Loveline and The Man Show who took over for Howard Stern on the West Coast and who is about to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Now, what if I told you that The Hammer is pretty good? Would you be surprised?
That's the response Carolla has gotten, and he's not totally sure what to make of it. “You really don't know how you're perceived,” he tells CityBeat. “Evidently, I'm not perceived as a sweet, warm, fuzzy, root-for kind of guy. I've been finding out through this experience that most people perceive me as a misogynist a-hole who can't act. The shock and surprise when people say, ‘Hey, it was a good movie,' I guess it'd be like you hearing, ‘Hey, you've lost weight' all day long.”
But let's face it, Carolla's never been the guy we expected to do a sweet, smart little indie film. But The Hammer plays its romance and boxing cards well—like a chick flick for guys. Carolla is Jerry, a carpenter who loses his job and his girlfriend the same day he's offered a chance to get back in the ring after a 20-year break. Along the way he makes a long-odds run at the Olympics, woos one of his boxing students (Heather Juergensen of Kissing Jessica Stein) and goes toe-to-toe with a kid (promising newcomer Harold House Moore) who might be good enough to win the gold. And it all works, because Carolla is self-deprecating enough to keep us rooting for him, and also because the guy can really box.
“I wanted to show a side of boxing that was a little less violent and had more finesse,” says Corolla, a former Golden Gloves pugilist who got his start in show business when Jimmy Kimmel, then a morning-radio guy, needed a boxing coach. “I liked boxing a lot, I liked comedy a lot, so why not take what you know and run with it. This is a boxing comedy. It sounds a little oxymoronish, but for me, it was pretty simple.”—Anders Wright
Under the Same Moon: Following the death of his grandmother, 9-year-old Carlos works his way across the border and heads for L.A. to find his mother, armed only with the description of the street corner she has called him from for the last four years.
Drillbit Taylor: The latest entry into the Jud Apatow family of comedies finds three high-school freshmen advertising for a mercenary to defend them against a bully. These boys need someone strong, crafty and wise. Instead, they get Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a soldier of fortune (of sorts) who has hit the skids. Paranoid Park: Gus Van Sant goes back to the well that is disaffected youth in this non-linear drama about a young skater, Alex (Gabe Nevins), who finds himself involved in an accidental death. The film is part mystery, unraveling as it gets closer and closer to what really happened, and part examination of the emotions of the young, as Alex struggles to come to terms with what he's done.Please see our review on Page 21.
Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns: Angela Bassett is Brenda, a single mom living in Chicago who loses her job and is on the verge of losing everything else when she learns the father she never met has died in Georgia. So she packs up the kids and heads south, where she meets the Browns, a family unlike any she's had before. Former L.A. Laker Rick Fox is the love interest, and Tyler Perry, who directed the film based upon his play of the same name, reprises his hugely popular Madea for the movie.
Shutter: From Dawson's Creek to cheap horror flicks. Josh Jackson is fashion photographer who travels to Japan with his new wife, only to be involved in a car accident that kills a young woman. Bummer. And if that wasn't enough, as he starts developing film from his shoots, he starts seeing dead people in the pictures.
Sleepwalking: Charlize Theron is a single mom who ditches her 11-year-old daughter and leaves her with her brother James (Nick Stahl). Faced with the unexpected responsibility of raising his niece, James dedicates himself to young Tara, even when the two of them have to take on new identities and go on the lam, eventually hiding out on the ranch of his estranged, abusive father, played by none other than Dennis Hopper.
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Swingers: The movie that launched Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and director Doug Liman is still so money. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Bus Riders Union: In hopes of sparking a San Diego bus riders union in light of recent fare increases and elimination of transfers, the local Green Party presents Oscar winner Haskell Wexler's documentary. The Bus Riders Union covers three years of the L.A. organization, which launched to fight systemic racism and make strides toward turning mass transit into a viable option. Union members will be on hand. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. $10 suggested donation will help pay attorney fees to prevent San Diego's transit service from eliminating transfers.
A Woman's Word: The fourth and final film in Eveoke's Women's Rights series, this doc examines three female authors—Hanan Al Shaykh of Lebanon, Janata Bennuna of Morocco and Egypt's Nawal Al Saadawi—and breaks down stereotypes of Arab women. SDSU Arabic Program director Dr. Ghada Osman will lead a post-film discussion, and next week the month-long series culminates in a creativity workshop. A Woman's Word screens at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Eveoke Dance Theater.
Vanishing Point: The classic 1971 car movie that served as the inspiration for Tarantino's Death Proof is all muscle. Barry Newman is Kowalski, car deliverer extraordinaire, who makes a bet that he can drive a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco in 15 hours. Aided by the blind deejay Supersoul (Cleavon Little), he puts the pedal to the metal, burns rubber and sticks it to the man. Not to be confused with the wussy '97 made-for-TV remake with Viggo Mortensen. Screens at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 23, at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Free.
Great World of Sound: Sweet little 2007 indie that never found its way here. Pat Healy is Martin, an underachiever who gets a gig scouting talent for a less-than-scrupulous record label, Great World of Sound. He traverses the Midwest with his partner, offering up tin dreams of stardom to plenty of American Idol wannabes, while slowly watching his own dreams ebb away. Most of the acts auditioning in the film thought they were really playing for a label—it wasn't until they had finished their short sets that writer/director Craig Zobel explained what the whole thing was about. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, at the downtown Central Library. Free.
Catholic School Catfight: If the title of this 35-minute short isn't cool enough, then you should know that it's being put on by the awesome godless heathens of the Atheist Coalition. That is, like, two great tastes that taste great together. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the North Park Rec Center. Free, because Jesus would want it that way.
La Haine: The theme for Sushi Arts' final installment of its first Cinema Lounge is “Politics, Hip-Hop & Imagination.” The event has switched venues and features the blistering film La Haine, deservedly called “the French Do the Right Thing.”
Horns and Halos: In 2000, during the presidential election campaign, St. Martin's Press pulled from the shelves J.H. Hatfield's Fortunate Son, an unauthorized bio of George W. Bush that detailed the alleged cover-up of a '72 coke bust. Sander Hicks of Soft Skull Press set out to re-publish the book, but the two faced lawsuits, a bad showing on 60 Minutes and the mighty weight of the forthcoming Bush administration. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at Lestat's Coffee House in Normal Heights. Free.
Caring for Your Parents: There's nothing a yupster in this day and age tries to avoid thinking about more than eventually having to take care of Mom and Dad. This doc examines just how tough it's gonna be. KPBS' Joanne Faryon will lead a post-film discussion. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the downtown Central Library. Free.
Best in Show: This might be the funniest thing Fred Willard has ever done, and that's saying something. He's an announcer at a national dog show attended by Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean and the rest of Christopher Guest's regulars, all of whom improv their way through each scene. Though not quite as fresh as Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show is still better than most. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!: You probably wouldn't attend without a kid in tow, but if you have a carpet monkey you have to take, you'll have a decent time. Gorgeous animation keeps things Seussical, and the celeb voices—Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, mainly—don't overshadow the premise. Plus, the movie's message of tolerance and anti-conformity is a decent one for kids of all ages.
Doomsday: Following the low-budget success of Dog Soldiers and the slightly bigger-budget success of The Descent, writer/director Neil Marshall is finally given some money to work with. So he sends a team of soldiers and scientists into a sealed-off contaminated zone in the U.K. in hopes of finding a cure for a virus that threatens humanity. Tough chick Rhona Mitra is the squad's head honcho, facing off against all kinds of Road Warrior-influenced punk-rock bad-asses, led by perennial bad-ass Malcolm McDowell.
Funny Games: The German writer/director Michael Haneke does a remake of his own 1997 film, this time in English. Funny Games is brutal and vicious, starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as a husband and wife who, along with their 10-year-old son, are mentally and physically tortured by a pair of good-looking, articulate young sadists. Nasty business.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: Robert Redford narrates this new Imax journey, following environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. as he rafts his way through the Grand Canyon, on the Colorado River, along with anthropologist Wade Davis, as the two document new efforts to conserve water and restore the river. Music is provided by the Dave Matthews Band. Grand Canyon Adventure plays only at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Married Life: It's the 1940s, and Harry (Chris Cooper) has fallen for Kay (Rachel McAdams), a younger, hotter woman than his wife, Pat (Patricia Clarkson). Two problems, however—first, Harry's best bud, Richard (Pierce Brosnan), finds that he, too, has a thing for Kay, and second, Harry can't bring himself to leave Pat. So he does what any patriotic, red-blooded American male would do in his situation—he decides to murder her.
Never Back Down: Take the new-kid-in-school side of The Karate Kid, add it to the underground thrashings of Fight Club, multiply it by the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Octagon and divide it all by The O.C. That's Never Back Down.
10,000 B.C.: Roland Emmerich's first film since The Day After Tomorrow could be subtitled “The Day Before Yesterday.” It follows a young mammoth hunter who takes on sabertooth tigers and a nasty dominant civilization. The effects look terrific, and everyone speaks English, which totally comes in handy when it comes to those unfortunate time-machine accidents.
The Bank Job: Jason Statham and his buddies are amateur crooks who hit the big time in this gritty, '70s-style flick that also stars Saffron Burrows as the hottie who cons Statham and Co. into pulling a bank heist. But it's only after they've got the loot that they find themselves in serious danger, as vengeful politicians, angry pornographers, crooked cops, pissed-off black militants and even MI-5 want to get their hands on what the robbers got away with. Very loosely based on the then-infamous “Walkie-Talkie Robbery,” The Bank Job is a slow boil with more class than most of Statham's recent action-thrillers.
College Road Trip: Martin Lawrence is an overbearing cop who insists on escorting his smokin'-hot 17-year-old daughter to the schools she's interested in. Yep, she's embarrassed. So is the audience.
The Counterfeiters: Winner of this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Counterfeiters is about Operation Bernhardt, the Nazi attempt to counterfeit British and American currency in the waning days of World War II. It tells the story of Jewish master forger Sally Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), who heads up the detail of craftsmen whose lives are spared as long as they support the German war effort, knowing the entire time that if they do their job well, the war will continue on.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Frances McDormand is Miss Pettigrew, an English governess in need of a job who signs on as the assistant of a ditzy American actress (Amy Adams) whose romantic life is in such turmoil that only a strict English governess can sort it out. Of course, as she blossoms in her new high-society role, it's not impossible that Miss Pettigrew will attract some beaus of her own. Frances McDormand is terrific in everything she touches, and Amy Adams just gets better and better.
The Band's Visit: This charming drama was disqualified as Israel's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission because so much of it is in English. But you can see why they put it forward—the story of an Egyptian police band stuck in a backwater Israeli settlement is sweet and funny without being cloying, with subtle performances and a theme that plays like a soft Chet Baker trumpet solo.
The Other Boleyn Girl: So, you're Henry VIII and you look just like Eric Bana. Nice. You can have your pick of the English birds, but you're drawn to the Boleyn sisters, who look remarkably like Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Now, this isn't historically accurate in any way, shape or form, but it seems like a win-win for Henry, even if he eventually beheads the sister he ends up with.
Penelope: Christina Ricci is the titular character, born a wealthy girl who must find true love if the family curse that gave her a pig's snout for a nose is to be broken. But no dude wants to be with a schnozz like that, so Penelope ditches her family, hooks up with tough girl Reese Witherspoon and finds that maybe being different isn't so bad. Especially if you end up with James McAvoy.
Semi-Pro: You know how Will Ferrell movies oscillate between being really dumb and funny and just really dumb? This one, which finds Will playing Jackie Moon, the owner/coach/player of an ABA basketball team who got his money by singing a sexy, Barry White-esque '70s love song, is the just really dumb kind.
Be Kind Rewind: Simple. A magnetized Jack Black erases all the videos in his buddy Mos Def's shop, so they have to re-shoot, well, everything—including (but not limited to) Driving Miss Daisy, Rush Hour 2, Ghostbusters, Robocop, Back to the Future and The Lion King. There is only one man who could make this movie, and it's Michel Gondry, the dude behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Luckily, he did.
Vantage Point: An assassination attempt on the president (William Hurt) is seen through eight different viewpoints, each of which gives a different impression of what actually went down and why. Also stars Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Fox, Dennis Quaid and Forest Whitaker on the grassy knoll.
Definitely, Maybe: Precocious Maya (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin) forces her about-to-be-divorced dad (Ryan Reynolds) to tell her how he and her mom got together. Like the slow-pitch-softball version of How I Met Your Mother.
Jumper: The last time Hayden Christensen faced off against Samuel L. Jackson, he zapped him out a big window in Revenge of the Sith. In Jumper, he has a gene that allows him to teleport anywhere, anytime. This makes him rich and good-looking—but not particularly bright. Jackson, sporting a freaky dye job, is on the hunt for him and others like him. Great idea, cool FX, but very dumb, very standard execution with any nifty metaphysical questions shunted aside in favor of dumbing down for the overseas box office.
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The latest kids' fantasy-novel-turned-big-budget-movie-adaptation, Spiderwick tells the story of siblings Mallory (Sarah Bolger), Jared and Simon Grace (both played by Freddie Highmore) as their family moves into the mysterious Spiderwick Estate. The big surprise? They discover an alternate world filled with all sorts of mystical, magical creatures played or voiced by a barrage of big-name talent (Seth Rogen, David Strathairn, Martin Short, Nick Nolte).
Step Up 2 The Streets: Dancer Andie is an outcast in her new hoity-toity arts school—she just has too much street in her. But it comes in handy when she and the other dance geeks enter a hardcore dance contest. Yep, you can take the girl out of the streets, but you can't take the streets out of the girl. Or the title.
Fool's Gold: Matthew McConaughey. Kate Hudson. Skimpy bathing suits. And something about sunken treasure. In Bruges: Noted playwright Martin McDonagh's dark comedy finds Colin Farrell as a killer with a conscience—a return to the charismatic, small-film style of acting that got him all those big crappy movies. Brendan Gleeson is, as always, great as his mentor, and Ralph Fiennes swears a whole hell of a lot.
There Will Be Blood: Paul Thomas Anderson's first project since Punch-Drunk Love is easily one of the year's best, anchored by an epic, astonishing performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. He plays Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-20th-century oilman driven by greed and competition and utterly loathing of the world around him.
The Bucket List: Smart blue-collar Morgan Freeman and rich jerk Jack Nicholson meet in a hospital room where they're both battling cancer and become best buddies, determined to live the rest of their lives to the fullest. Interesting first act that quickly turns into an irritatingly goofy travelogue as they hit the road to check off items on their “Kick the bucket list”—like Wild Hogs for the senior set. Did those years on the political sidelines made Rob Reiner soft? He directs, but with no particular flair.
The Orphanage: Produced by Guillermo del Toro of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy fame, this first-time feature from director J.A. Bayona falls back on some horror-movie standards but is so well-made and so darn creepy that you won't care. Laura (Belén Rueda) returns with her husband and son to the orphanage where she was raised, only to discover that some spooky stuff went down since her adoption, and some of her childhood friends might still be hanging around.
Juno: Fizzy and enjoyable, the year's best feel-good film centers, surprisingly, on an unwed pregnant teen. That'd be Juno (Ellen Page), who decides to give her baby to a yuppie couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) and toy with her good friend and the father of her child, Paulie Bleeker (an excellent Michael Cera). With sharp dialogue from stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody and solid direction from Jason Reitman, Juno is a solid, if inoffensive, triumph.
No Country for Old Men: Their first decent film since Fargo, No Country is a Coen Brothers masterpiece and perhaps the best picture of '07. Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the story centers on a good ol' boy (Josh Brolin), an aging county sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones), a unstoppable psychopathic killer (Javier Bardem) and a valise thick with drug money. Tight, taut, challenging and brutal, it just gets better with repeated viewings.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: No, it's not a time warp—the love-it-or-hate-it camp classic continues its midnight run in its 37th year of release. When the lead character of the film is a transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, you know you're in for some seriously trashy viewing. And, of course, this is the one movie where you want the audience shouting at the screen. Screens Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas.
Fridays at the Fleet: Sea Monsters, The Living Sea and Mysteries of Egypt are some of the rotating films shown each Friday at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center's IMAX theater where, for only $7.50, you can catch four flicks. Sure, it's more Discovery Channel than Transformers, but the Fleet's enormous old-school dome screen is way cool, and some of the talent—narrators like Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp—is impressive. You might find yourself as mesmerized as the little kiddies sitting around you. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. Check www.rhfleet.org for the screening list.