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- December 08, 2008
- Vol. 70
- No. 23
Picks and Pans: Movies
3 Reasons I Love Dazed and Confused
With this exceedingly old-fashioned romantic drama, director-cowriter Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) has made a big, luscious-looking movie-movie. Make that four movies. Just when you think Australia is over and have pulled on your coat, it revs into gear with yet another challenge to its romance between a prim titled Englishwoman (Kidman) and a rough-hewn Aussie cattle herder (Jackman). The two must surmount a brutal cattle drive through the outback, the Japanese bombing of Darwin (Australia's northernmost city) during World War II, a daring wartime rescue mission, the machinations of a snarling bad guy (Wenham) and even a lingering dispute over how best to parent an Aboriginal orphan (Walters).
It's enjoyable in a schmaltzy, throwback way, with Kidman and Jackman striking sparks. But Australia is so self-consciously aware of its very movieness—this is how they used to make 'em, folks—that it fails to breathe believable life into its characters. Instead, its romantic duo are like less-vivid versions of Rhett and Scarlett relocated to the outback. The film is easy to like, harder to love.
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke, Taylor Lautner | PG-13|
In a formula as old as Romeo and Juliet, our teen heroine falls for a troubled young tough guy. How can she resist his smoldering stare and fervent vow "You are my life now"? So he's a vampire. No one's perfect.
Twilight, in case you've been off visiting Pluto, is based on the first of four bestselling novels by Stephenie Meyer chronicling the romance between Bella (Stewart) and blood-sucking Edward (Pattinson). As directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), the film gets the swoony obsessiveness of teen love just right. Stewart has a lovely bruised quality to her, and Pattinson has mastered a look of dark longing. These kids hunger for each other so mightily (literally, in his case) it hurts. It's all a mite silly, but not if you're 14.
Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight| PG-13
If someone climbs onto a roof in a comedy, it's a sure bet they'll tumble off sooner rather than later. That's exactly what happens to Vaughn's character when he edges onto his father's roof to install a TV satellite dish in Four Christmases, a predictable seasonal comedy that half amuses in the moment but leaves no lasting impression. Vaughn and Witherspoon play a couple who must, in a single day, visit with each of their wacky divorced parents (Duvall, Spacek, Voight and Mary Steenburgen). How are Witherspoon and Vaughn as a pair? The difference in their heights greatly exceeds their chemistry.
Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova, Robert Knepper| PG-13
In Transporter 3 it's hard to tell who's the bigger star: an unflappable Statham or the black Audi S8 that his character, an ex-special-forces officer, drives with such skill and speed. I vote for the sinewy Statham, especially when he whips off his shirt, as he does several times. In this slickly efficient sequel, he zips through Europe, accompanied by a Ukrainian cutie (Rudakova), both of them locked by the villain (Knepper) into metal bracelets set to detonate if they leave the car. Give Statham enough vroom to move and he grows on you.
LOOKING FOR A G'DAY? CHECK OUT ...
CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986) Rugged croc-hunter Paul Hogan takes on New York City in a low comedy.
NED KELLY (2003) Heath Ledger (left, with Orlando Bloom) plays Oz's most famous outlaw.
RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (2002) Aboriginal kids make a long, dangerous trek home.
The British action star, 36, gets back behind the wheel in Transporter 3.
YOUR CHARACTER CAN DRIVE A CAR VERTICALLY AND ATOP A TRAIN. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN'T DO BEHIND A WHEEL? I suppose peel potatoes while driving! No, I went to stunt school, so we can make that car do anything: 360s, 180s and Tokyo drifts.
HOW MANY SPEEDING TICKETS DO YOU HAVE? I used to get a lot, but I don't speed anymore. As a kid I would race around, but now I prefer to put a CD on and just cruise.
YOU END UP SHIRTLESS IN A LOT OF YOUR MOVIES. HOW DO YOU GET IN SHAPE? It's tough. To get in shape there comes a bit of sacrifice. You can't have spaghetti Bolognese and big ol' PB&J sandwiches. You have to eat a lot of lean protein and try to eat organically. It's quite expensive to eat healthy these days, you know. Thank God they pay well in these films!
• The '70s-era cult comedy turns 15, but with its memorable characters and universal take on high school, it remains as timeless as ever.
1 IT'S MEANER THAN MEAN GIRLS Rachel McAdams has nothing on Parker Posey, as a power-hungry senior who doused underclassmen with ketchup and drove 'em through the car wash. Classic.
2 NICE TO MEET YOU, MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY What an introduction! He makes a splash in his film debut as a lovable slacker with a penchant for high school girls. Bonus: His lines are the best in the movie.
3 IT'S HOPEFUL Because of Dazed, somewhere a freshman truly believes he'll party with the popular kids or she'll begin the year with a senior boyfriend. And that's a beautiful thing.
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