The Big Bounce (PG-13) George Armitage. Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard (Out of Sight, Get Shorty), The Big Bounce stars Owen Wilson as a surfer/con man who lands a job caring for a judge (Morgan Freeman) and becomes involved with a beautiful woman (Sara Foster) who, unfortunately, is also the longtime lover of a sleazy real estate tycoon (Gary Sinise). Not surprisingly, our man must make some Important Decisions (love or money? Honor or success?). Opens Friday, January 30, at multiple locations. NR
The Company (PG-13) Robert Altman. Opens Friday, January 30, at the Hi-Pointe. Reviewed this issue.
The Perfect Score (PG-13) Brian Robbins. At times, there appears to be a good movie struggling to get out from within The Perfect Score. The heist genre has been in dire need of a fresh twist for quite some time, and substituting misfit high school students for the usual gang of ex-cons pulling one last job, and the SAT answers for the loot, is a nifty idea. The heist itself is quite nicely filmed herein, but unfortunately, getting to it requires sitting through a bunch of noisy, fussy crap, from the overly busy soundtrack to the irritating narration of stoned guy Leonardo Nam. Scarlett Johansson and Erika Christensen do a fair job with their characters (Rebellious Rich Girl Gone Goth and Highly Strung Smart Beauty, respectively), but the other characters don't get as much time to develop, save Nam, who's copying Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The actual raid on SAT corporate headquarters is nicely done and smartly paced, but it also makes one wonder: Wouldn't it actually be easier just to study? Opens Friday, January 30, at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)
To Be and to Have (unrated) Nicolas Philibert. Or, Li'l French Kids Do the Darndest Things. A documentary about a small one-room elementary school in rural France, this is exactly the sort of movie for anyone who has ever thought, or said aloud, "Awww, that's so cute, they're doing math for the first time!" Shot like a slow-paced narrative (only once does any character address the camera, and there's no narration) and frequently focusing on a moppet named Jojo who couldn't have been better cast by Hollywood, Nicolas Philibert's film is beautiful to look at but feels twice as long as its 104-minute running time. Teacher Georges Lopez comes off as exactly the kind of guy with whom you'd want to entrust the care of your kids, and the youngsters are all adorable, so there isn't really anything approximating conflict or narrative tension, save the fact that Lopez is on the verge of retiring from full-time teaching. The film's been a big hit in Europe, but American attention spans are less likely to embrace it quite so wholeheartedly. Opens Friday, January 30, at the Tivoli. (Luke Y. Thompson)
You Got Served (PG-13) Christopher B. Stokes. Opens Friday, January 30, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.