Movie Reviews: ‘Greenberg’, ‘She’s Out of My League’, ‘Happy Tears’
Happy Tears – We grow old. It goes without saying, and yet, we don’t say it much. Happy Tears contends with this inevitability. Parker Posey and Demi Moore play sisters who return home to care for their increasingly delusional father (Rip Torn). Mitchell Lichtenstein, director of vagina dentata classic Teeth, honors his own father, late pop-art star Roy Lichtenstein, by crafting whimsical fantasy sequences that mimic his work. Posey and Moore aren’t always believable as kin and, poetically, it’s left to the old folks to steal the show: Torn’s peculiar brand of crazy — unlike his character — never gets old, while Ellen Barkin is downright resplendent as an aging sexpot who claims to be his nurse. (Think: Elle Woods in 30 years, rocking a prop stethoscope.) — Eiseley Tauginas
Shutter Island – In the latest offering from Scorsese-DiCaprio, the legendary director quells his epic ambitions (The Aviator, Gangs of New York) and goes straight for the jugular (Goodfellas, The Departed). The ageless DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal sent to investigate the disappearance of an inmate (Emily Mortimer) at an insane asylum. Less cerebral than what we’ve come to expect from the creator of Taxi Driver, it’s still a thrill to watch him revel in B-movie jolts. Anchored by strong performances from a cast that includes Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley, Shutter Island mines suspense thriller tropes all the way down to the twist ending. It’s a popcorn movie from a master. — Ben Barna
She’s Out of My League – Following Judd Apatow’s not-so-secret recipe — equal parts fart and heart — is harder than it looks. Director Jim Field Smith serves up the story of a dorky string bean (Jay Baruchel, an Apatow protégé) who lands himself a Maxim-ready dream girl (newcomer Alice Eve), and it doesn’t go down easy. Peppered with recycled ingredients, League features the stereotypical abusive quarterback brother, trashy ex-girlfriend and obligatory body-hair-removal scene. There’s even a final breathless run to the airport. Baruchel is charming and self-deprecating enough, but he can’t seem to figure out why his curly-haired best friend isn’t Seth Rogen. — B.B.
The Exploding Girl – Let’s just come right out and say it: despite its title, not much happens in The Exploding Girl. (Still, don’t Google the title, ever.) It’s a languid, dreamy two-hour nap, in the best possible way. Zoe Kazan commands each scene as a college co-ed whiling away her summer break. Torn between an existing relationship with her distracted boyfriend and new feelings for her best friend, she captures with glorious lethargy the stumbling hesitance of young love. With the exception of her character’s epilepsy, which does give the film a streak of Degrassi, there are no histrionics, just plenty of minor disappointments, quiet kindnesses and inarticulate dialogue. — Nick Haramis
Greenberg– Do overgrown man-boys inspire your compassion or ire? Do you empathize with lost, emotionally stunted, over-privileged, brutally honest 40-somethings — or do they make you want to throw popcorn at the screen? These are some of the questions raised by Greenberg, the latest therapy session from The Squid and The Whale director Noah Baumbach [see page 48]. The film stars an extremely convincing Ben Stiller as Roger Greenberg. A bumbling, neurotic New Yorker with an ambition deficit, he returns to Los Angeles to behave awkwardly while dating his brother’s much younger dog-walker Florence, the immensely appealing mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig. True to Baumbach form, the film feels oppressively honest. — Willa Paskin