We've seen it in countless movies: Good-looking college kids go off into the woods and run into some grungy hillbillies in a skanky cabin who like nothing more than slaughtering good-looking college kids who find their way into skanky cabins in the woods. Usually, one of the hillbillies takes a liking to the cutest girl and kidnaps her, using her as bait to lure the rest of her companions to brutal, violent, gory deaths.
That's what happens in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Well, kind of. There are college kids in the woods, and there's a seriously skanky cabin, and there are a couple of grungy hillbillies, and there's a whole lotta killing. But these good ol' boys are just Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), longtime buddies enjoying a cooler full of beer on their way to the vacation home into which they just sunk their life savings. And when they end up taking Allison (Katrina Bowden, Cerie on 30 Rock) back to the skanky cabin, it's only because they saved her from drowning and her friends ran off screaming because they thought she'd been kidnapped by psycho hillbilly killers.
Despite Tucker and Dale being fairly smart, sensitive guys, everything they say and do is totally misinterpreted by Allison's friends, which leads to endless stabbings, spearings, impalings, weed-whackings, torchings, wood-chippings and so on. It flip-flops the triedand-true formula, and it's very funny—Tudyk and Labine sell it wholehog. The joke gets a little long at 89 minutes, but you'll still be out of the Ken Cinema by 1:30 a.m.
Oh, I forgot to mention that part—Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is playing just two midnight shows in San Diego, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. That might be past your bedtime, but it does mean you can visit any of Kensington's watering holes beforehand.
Tucker and Dale are partial to PBR (I'm guessing they got a little product-placement money, in fact), but what you drink is up to you.
50/50: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Adam, a 28-year-old who learns he has cancer. Seth Rogen is his best friend, so it's got the R-rated raunch-comedy thing going on, but JGL's performance is so good you won't care. See our review on Page 24.
Courageous: A bunch of tough cops find out that while they're great on the job, at home it's really hard to be dads and Christians at the same time. No, really, that's what the movie's about.
Dream House: Newlyweds Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (in real life) move into a house where most of the family that used to live there was murdered. And, it seems, the killer's not done yet. Sounds cheesy, but it's directed by Jim Sheridan, who's made some terrific films.
Force: Bollywood flick about a cop tracking drug cartels who finds himself being tracked by some serious bad guys.
Happy, Happy: A Norwegian comedy about Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen), an eternal optimist who refuses to see the bad in life—that is, until the perfect couple moves in next door.
Machine Gun Preacher: Gerard Butler is Sam Childers, a real-life former drug dealer who, after finding religion, led armed incursions into dangerous parts of Sudan to rescue conscripted child soldiers.
My Afternoons with Margueritte: Gerard Depardieu is Germain, an almost-illiterate man in his 50s whose friendship with the elderly Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus) allows both of them to grow in ways they hadn't anticipated.
Road to Freedom: Sean Flynn, son of Errol, became a photojournalist who went missing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War and is assumed to have been murdered by the Khmer Rouge. This biopic was shot in Cambodia, where they aren't making a lot of movies these days. Opens on Monday, Oct. 3, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
San Diego Film Festival: SDFF turns 10! The Fest runs Wednesday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp. Find some details on Page 15, or you can swing by sdff.org for a complete list of films, showtimes and pass info.
Shut Up Little Man: Documentary about two guys who made audio recordings of their neighbors fighting, which eventually went viral. Thing is, this was 1987, though, when going viral really meant something.
What's Your Number?: Hopefully, the answer to the question asked in the title of this Anna Faris rom-com is 867-530 ni-ee-ine.
One Time Only
Viva Mexico: This documentary, which traces the history of our neighbor to the south, screens across San Diego County this week. Check vivamexicofilm.com for locations and showtimes.
The Endless Summer: The seminal surf flick screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. Free.
The Goonies: I'm pretty sure this is the movie that has screened at more one-off venues than any other this summer. This time it's at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Harold and Maude: He's young and obsessed with death. She's old and hooked on life. Together they make sweet music together that sounds a lot like Cat Stevens in Hal Ashby's wonderful 1971 love story. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 1, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
North by Northwest: Cary Grant is an advertising man mistaken by espionage types for a secret agent in Hitchcock's classic. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp, Downtown.
Fahrenheit 451: This adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel—the title refers to the temperature at which paper burns—will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Central Library, Downtown, in observance of Banned Books week. Free.
White Wedding: South African road-trip comedy about a groom desperately trying to make it to the church on time. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Notorious: Secret agent Cary Grant falls for Ingrid Bergman after assigning her the task of infiltrating a group of Nazis hiding out in Brazil after WWII. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp, Downtown.
My Cousin Vinny: Joe Pesci is a bumbling lawyer trying to defend Ralph Macchio and his buddy on a murder rap, but it was Marisa Tomei who took home an Oscar. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Killer Elite: This action thriller, which stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, really wants to be Heat, but it just doesn't cook.
Abduction: Taylor Lautner tries to break away from the Twilight franchise and take over Shia LaBeouf's gig as the plucky teenager everyone wants to kill.
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame: A steampunk murder mystery set in ancient China finds a legendary detective trying to solve an epic case on the eve of the Empresses' coronation.
Dolphin Tale: A boy and his dolphin. A family picture with Morgan Freeman and Harry Connick Jr., not to be confused with that weird '75 Don Johnson sci-fi movie A Boy and His Dog.
Love Crime: Kristen Scott Thomas is a powerful executive who toys with underling Ludivine Sagnier just a little too much.
Mausam: A Punjabi Air Force officer and a Kashmiri refugee fall for one another in this Bollywood love story.
Moneyball: Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's who shook up baseball by reinventing the way players are valued. Sounds like dry stuff, but the last time someone adapted a Michael Lewis sports-business book for the big screen was The Blind Side, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar.
Mysteries of Lisbon: A more-than-four-hour epic adaptation of the 19th-century Portuguese novel about the successes and failures of three decades' worth of aristocracy. Ends Sept. 29 at the Ken Cinema.
Restless: Mia Wasikowska is a terminal cancer patient who starts a romance with Henry Hopper, a young man who's terribly depressed over the death of his parents and whose best friend is the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot. Ends Sept. 29 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Straw Dogs: This remake of Sam Peckinpah's controversial 1971 film, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Susan George and was set in the U.K., stars James Marsden as the wimpy husband and Kate Bosworth as his gorgeous wife, who return to her hometown in the deep South and run into all kinds of trouble with the locals.
Circumstance: A coming-of-age film that takes place in Iran's underground youth culture, where gay teens risk arrest and jail for doing what American kids do on YouTube every weekend.
Drive: Ryan Gosling is a wheelman who spends his days doing stunts for the movies and his nights driving the getaway car for crooks. Nicholas Winding Refn's film also stars Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks as you've never seen him before.
The Hedgehog: An 11-year-old who's decided to commit suicide on her 12th birthday finds herself drawn to some other curmudgeons who encourage her interest in stuff like art and philosophy.
The Lion King 3-D: Hakuna matata in another dimension.
Contagion: Stephen Soderbergh's big-budget virus movie stars everyone from Matt Damon to Kate Winslet to Marion Cottilard to Gwyneth Paltrow. Finally, we know what happened to the bird flu.
Mozart's Sister: He had one, apparently, and she was quite a musical prodigy in her own right.
Warrior: Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star as estranged brothers going mano-a-mano for a winner-take-all MMA championship. Gavin O'Connor's new film has every sports-movie cliché in the book yet still manages to be well-acted, well-shot and totally inspiring.
The Debt: Helen Mirren is a retired Mossad agent forced to revisit her past when developments from a previous operation come to light.
The Living Sea: Sting provided the music for this IMAX film, screening Friday evenings in September at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. That'll either send you to it or drive you away.
Sholem Aleichem: This doc about the writer whose work became the foundation for Fiddler on the Roof should be something to think about, something to drink about.
Columbiana: Zoe Saldana grows up to become an assassin after she witnesses the murder of her parents.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: This Guillermo del Toro-produced remake of the 1973 horror flick stars Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes as a couple who should, in fact, be afraid of the dark.
Our Idiot Brother: Paul Rudd is Ned, a simple soul who continuously screws up his sisters' lives by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, although, by the end of it, you might wonder who the real idiot is.
One Day: Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are Dexter and Em. The film follows the same day of their lives, year after year. David Nicholls adapted his own book into a screenplay, but director Lone Scherfig—who did so much with An Education—is unable to transform it into something truly interesting.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D: The fourth dimension in this case is Aromascope. No, seriously.
The Help: Based on Kathryn Stockett's novel, this stars Emma Stone as Skeeter, a '60s-era college kid who starts interviewing the African-American women in her southern town, something that just wasn't done at the time.
The Guard: Brendan Gleeson's portrayal of a corrupt small-town Irish cop trying to take down some major drug traffickers is one of the best of the year, raising this crime comedy, which also stars Don Cheadle, to unexpected success.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: James Franco, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis and the kid who played Draco Malfoy go bananas.
Crazy, Stupid, Love: Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling headline a good-enough romantic comedy that's not ashamed of its PG-13 status.
Sarah's Key: Kristin Scott Thomas is an American journalist trying to learn the fate of a Jewish French girl who went missing during WWII.
The Smurfs: They're so hard to get off your shoe when you step on them, especially when they're in 3-D.
Captain America: The First Avenger: Chris Evans plays the superhero in this week's superhero movie.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: It's tough to say goodbye, but fans will be thrilled with the franchise's conclusion, which streamlines the final half of the final book and offers up some serious wizardry—in story and special effects.
Horrible Bosses: Put-upon drones Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day decide to murder their employers, played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. It's a comedy—ha!
Buck: Documentary about Buck Brannaman, one of the leading experts in horses and the inspiration for The Horse Whisperer. Screening at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen's most charming film in years stars Owen Wilson as a Jazz Age-infatuated screenwriter and aspiring novelist who ends up hanging with the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
Boto be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it's narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.
Tornado Alley: This new IMAX film, which travels into twisters with some professional storm chasers, has to be better than Twister, the movie. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Hubble: Leonardo DiCaprio lends his pipes to this IMAX film, which uses CGI and real footage to take a close look at saturn's rings. Just stay away from Uranus. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.