Film » Film Listings

Film Openings

Week of January 26, 2006

Annapolis. (PG-13) The best things about this numbingly predictable service-academy drama are its talented leading men — chiseled James Franco (Tristan & Isolde) as a beleaguered Annapolis plebe from the wrong side of the tracks, and Four Brothers star Tyrese Gibson as the inevitable tough-as-nails drill instructor who serves as his constant tormentor and sometimes inspiration. They're both terrific. But the movie's Rocky Balboa-goes-to-college notion doesn't work very well, and the insertion of lovely Jordana Brewster as the plucky hero's student fight trainer is whimsical at best. For at least an hour, we see the climactic Big Fight (and its redemptive result) coming. Directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow), the overdose of screenplay clichés courtesy of Dave Collard (Out of Time). The outstanding supporting turn here comes from big Chi McBride as the academy's salty boxing coach. (Bill Gallo) ARN, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, WO

Big Momma's House 2. Big Momma's House 2 proves that a fat suit and a dress can cause even a hardened FBI agent to go soft when he moves into the house of a suspected criminal and starts to get close to her children. It also proves that people fall for Martin Lawrence's game of cross-dressing make-believe. Still. (NR) ARN, CGX, CC12, DP, EG, EQ, GL, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL, WO

Bubble. (R) Steven Soderbergh returns to his indie roots with this tightly crafted drama about three members of America's working poor. Martha (Debbie Doebereiner) is a chipper woman nearing middle age, living with her father, and working at a doll factory. Every day, she picks up her younger co-worker (Dustin James Ashley), with whom she eats lunch while they discuss virtually nothing. Trouble arrives in the form of Rose (Misty Dawn Wilkins), an attractive young woman who begins work at the factory. When the manager introduces Rose to the tiny staff, Martha's face is a map of masked misery and alarm: She faces losing her only friend (and, we suspect, crush). Bubble is a strong film with a gorgeously minimal script by Coleman Hough (Full Frontal). Soderbergh has directed his novice actors to perfection, so that they're indistinguishable from their roles. And, though the story resorts to sensationalism for its conflict, the film is eloquent in its portrayal of silence, depression, repression, denial, and the woes of the midwestern white working class. (Melissa Levine) TV

Nanny McPhee. (PG) Sporting a prosthetic bulb-nose, a faceful of warts, and a lumpy torso Lon Chaney might envy, the usually elegant Emma Thompson makes for a grotesque presence in this rather dark children's fantasy — at least until her character's no-nonsense good works start to score points with the seven unruly brats in her care and she begins to shed her deformities, one by one. Thompson's sour nanny (she first appeared in a series of 1960s books by Christianna Brand) is the anti-Mary Poppins, and the movie's bleak tone suggests Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket. But in the end, the redeemed children and their beautified keeper float off on a cloud of delightful contrivance. Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) directs with skill, Thompson's screenplay (this is a labor of love) is witty, and the classy cast includes Colin Firth (as the kids' baffled widower-father), Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton, and Celia Imrie. Good fun. (Gallo) ARN, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, GL, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, WO

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.