(NEW YORK) -- Here are movie reviews for three films opening Friday:
The Five-Year Engagement
Jason Segel is Tom and Emily Blunt is Violet, a newly-engaged couple living in San Francisco. They're in the throes of planning a wedding when Violent is accepted to the University of Michigan to earn her masters in psychology. Tom puts his career as an up-and-coming sous chef on hold to move to Michigan, where he's forced to make sandwiches at a local college sandwich shop, and hang out with fellow faculty husband Chris Parnell -- who teaches him how to hunt -- and Tom's foul-mouthed alcoholic boss, played by Brian Posehn. In the meantime, Violet's having the time of her life, conducting psychological experiments and hanging out with her brilliantly obnoxious professor, played perfectly by Rhys Ifans.
What does it all mean? You're going to laugh, a lot. Segel and director Nicholas Stoller team up on The Five-Year Engagement to write a film that strikes an amazing balance between absurdity, profanity and the very real intricacies of a relationship that can be both frustrating and annoying, euphoric and fulfilling. The Five-Year Engagement may also prove to be an important career-booster for Alison Brie, who plays Violet's sister, and Chris Pratt, who plays Tom's best friend. The duo co-own every scene they're in and are simply hilarious.
Four out of five stars.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
From Aardman Animations, the sensational Claymation studio that's given us the Wallace and Grommit series and Chicken Run, comes The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The film was five years in the making, which just goes to show it takes a lot of work to be adorable. That's pretty much what this movie is, but that doesn't mean I loved it.
Hugh Grant voices the Pirate Captain, an underachieving leader with a typically motley, underachieving crew -- "briny rogues," as he calls them. The Captain hopes to win Pirate of the Year at the annual Pirate of the Year awards. Problem is, he has no booty (insert Kim Kardashian joke here) and is considered a loser by all the other pirates. What to do? Plunder some ships and get some booty!
Unfortunately, when it comes to plundering, our Captain leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, he encounters a scientific vessel with one Mr. Charles Darwin on board, who discovers that the Captain's beloved parrot Polly is actually a nearly extinct Dodo bird, leading our hero to conclude that if he presents Polly to Darwin's fellow scientists, he'll earn booty to spare.
While not exactly a treasure, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is no-brainer entertainment for the kids. As for mom and dad? Though many of the jokes are aimed at adults they miss their mark, coming off as merely cute rather than truly funny.
Three out of five stars.
Sound of My Voice
In Sound of My Voice, Brit Marling stars as Maggie, a cult leader who claims to be from the not-so-distant future. Peter (Christopher Denham) is a budding investigative journalist who enlists his girlfriend Lorna (Nicole Vicius) to infiltrate Maggie's cult. Using a camera hidden in Lorna's glasses, they want to record what happens in the basement where Maggie, dressed in a white robe, holds court, warning of and "preparing" her minions for their post-apocalyptic future.
Sound of My Voice is one of two movies Marling co-wrote and in which she stars that were featured in last year's Sundance Film Festival. The other is Another Earth, a wonderful, compelling, low-budget sci-fi film worth checking out if you haven't already. With the equally low-budget Sound of My Voice, Marling and co-writer Zal Batmanglij again prove that less is so much more. There are no special effects, no timeworn movie gimmicks or intrusive musical score used to build tension. Instead, riveting storytelling through excellent writing does the job, supported by creative camera work and exceptional performances from the three main players. Sound of My Voice screams brilliance, a thriller that defies convention and leaves you questioning everything you just saw.
Four-and-a-half out of five stars.
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