Here's your weekend movie guide:
See This if You're a Teen – or the Parent of OneThis Is Us
Morgan Spurlock had all the ingredients at his disposal in the making of his documentary about the phenomenally popular boy band One Direction. This Is Us promises an all-access pass into the lives of Harry, Louis, Niall, Liam and Zayn but comes off as sweet as the cotton candy the band have been seen to eat on stage. This 3D documentary misses the opportunity to reveal the greater depth and strength of five young British lads who, after solo X Factor auditions and rejections, suddenly found themselves thrown together to form an instant boy band.
This Is Us compiles auditions, home visits, staged scenes and live concert footage from the band’s recent Take Me Home tour that weaves in playful behind-the scenes antics as the band crisscrosses continents. Their clamoring fans are only allowed glimpses of the sacrifice and hard work that comes with sudden and extraordinary success. This Is Us poignantly touches upon the personal loss of freedom that comes with a meteoric rise to fame. Undoubtedly, these guys are charismatic – after all, there's a reason that they're a world-famous band with legions of fans. But ultimately, the film misses the mark in presenting them as more than one-dimensional.
When a stranger kidnaps his wife (Rebecca Budig), washed-up racecar driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) has only one hope of getting her back: by following instructions from disembodied voice on the phone. Bewilderingly, those instructions consist mainly of driving a Shelby Super Snake in stunningly reckless ways, tearing up property all over Bulgaria. But don't write this thriller off as being merely dumb, because soon Selena Gomez shows up as The Kid, a hacker/gearhead who's also taken along for the ride, allowing Getaway to achieve epic stupidity.
The film is largely an excuse to smash stuff up, with the Super Snake outrunning and outmaneuvering police and civilian vehicles at every turn. It's a cool car, no doubt. But it comes with a contrived plot about an omniscient, omnipotent master criminal up against a lunkhead and a teenager. You not only know who'll win, it won't even be all that interesting to see how it's done. Mainly, Getaway is just loud, silly and wastes its talented cast – but not the car.
And Skip ThisAfternoon Delight
An offensive declaration of class war tarted up as a comedy, Afternoon Delight is a misfire from beginning to end. (I really do mean from the get-go; it opens with a rape joke then spirals from there.)
The film from writer/director Jill Soloway stars Kathryn Hahn as Rachel, an upper-middle-class Los Angeles stay-at-home mom who, for some reason, avoids sex with her husband, Jeff (Josh Radnor). Looking to spice things up, the couple and some friends head to a strip club, where a pro named McKenna (Juno Temple) gives Rachel a lap dance. It must be a doozy of a bump and grind, because immediately after, Rachel loses her mind.
Soon, the mom finds excuses to run into McKenna, eventually inviting the hard-luck case to stay with her family, including a preschooler. Maybe, you're thinking, she's just being charitable? Totally possible – plausible, even. But how about when McKenna quickly reveals that she's a full-service sex worker still seeing clients, and Rachel barely bats an eye? Now you're with me. Who wouldn't immediately insist this stranger pack her bags? On what version of Earth does this film exist?
It's not just that the plot is preposterous, it's that it pits privileged women against unprivileged women in a way that makes everyone look horrible. After all, for whom are we supposed to root, exactly? The woman who invites a prostitute into her home and social circle, or the woman who's a time bomb, ready to destroy lives on a whim? The film tries to hit serious notes toward the end, but by then it's far too late.
There are no winners here – least of all the viewers.
And This …Closed Circuit
Forgettable and stale, Closed Circuit casts Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana as British solicitors Claudia and Martin, caught up in a terror trial. The former lovers aren't supposed to have any communication due to the top-secret nature of the case, but when unfortunate accidents begin to befall people associated with the trial, they can't help but compare notes.
Strangely, for a film that's largely about technology (the bad guys follow Martin and Claudia on London's multitude of security cameras), Closed Circuit feels terribly dated, with twists you'll see coming and an ending that feels like everyone involved just threw up their hands and said "whatever." Still, if you have any inkling to see then film do try to avoid the trailer. It spoils the whole mystery, such as it is.