2 New Summer Blockbusters Hitting Theaters Now

The summer movie season is heating up, and two new major features are now hitting theaters across the country.  One is a silly comedy with the other being an action flick, and both are “date-friendly” and have elements to please members of both genders.

Salt (July 23)

As Law And Order used to claim, Salt is literally ripped from the headlines.  The recent spy scandal involving luscious redhead Anna Chapman has given Salt a wealth of free publicity.  Some even claim the entire spy scandal was just a huge PR stunt in advance of Salt’s release — although this is somewhat doubtful.  Salt marks famed director Phillip Noyce’s return to Hollywood film making, and Salt will certainly go down as a classic modern action/thriller.  It both harkens back to the bye-gone Cold War era while at the same time is more timely than its creators could have ever dreamed.

Salt was able to retain a degree of edginess along with impressive action sequences while still achieving a PG-13 rating.  This was certainly well planned in order to increase the film’s audience reach, and don’t be surprised to see the younger demographic amply represented at the theater.  Salt strikes the perfect balance between a spy mystery and an action thriller — and throws in a good love story to boot which broadens its appeal to chicks.  There are even comedic moments perfectly timed to provide moments of relief from the action.

Angela Jolie gives a superb performance as the Russian spy, and to most objective viewers she is much hotter than the real thing — Anna Chapman.  She is the highlight of every scene she appears in, and scenes without her have a feel that something is missing.  Many critics have asserted that Jolie carries the film which otherwise would have failed to deliver with a less than stellar script and directorial prowess.

The script for Salt was written by Kurt Wimmer, and part of the movie’s weakness is that it was originally written envisioning a male lead.  When Jolie became available it was tweaked to reflect a female lead, and the result is less fluent as it would have been should it have been written with Jolie in mind from the start.  The plot for the movie is relatively straightforward.  Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a tough CIA agent.  A defector accuses her of being a Russian spy which sets off the oft-used theme since the time of Hitchcock of an innocent person on the run and seeking vindication.

Salt proceeds to use her lethal CIA training in order to avoid capture and to pursue the truth in the matter.  The question arises whether she is an unknowing “sleeper agent” — a phenomenon depicted in previous Soviet spy thrillers and much debated within the real world as to its plausibility.  Salt’s predicament becomes increasingly enigmatic, and the simple truth turns out to be not so simple.

This summer blockbuster movie is sure to please viewers of all varieties including those seeking a good excuse to get a full share of Angelina Jolie.


Dinner For Schmucks (July 30)

The plot line for this silly comedy is quite simple — locate a schmuck and invite him to dinner.  The winner is the one is brings the most idiotic, hapless schmuck to this offbeat dinner.  The film amply illustrates over the course of an extended evening that the biggest schmuck isn’t always the one you’d expect.  Steve Carell plays “Barry” who, in the truest sense of the word, really is a schmuck.  Carell gives a performance worthy of Steve Martin in his heydey in the creation of this bumbling imbecile character of Barry who is truly oblivious to his own ineptitude.  Some have even likened Carell’s performance to such schmucky standards as Peter Sellers’ depiction of Inspector Clouseau.

Barry is a poor soul sporting a ridiculous toupee always sporting a windbreaker no matter what the occasion.  A taxman by trade, Barry spends his free time playing with dead mice.  The creations using dead mice concocted by Barry in the movie are actually the work of the Chiodo brothers and Joel Venti.  This trio gained almost cult fame with their puppet creations for Team America World Police.

Wearing a cologne sure to drive away even death-row female prison inmates, Barry is truly a loser.  He can be a grating character, and some who viewed the movie relay tiring of his cringe-inducing moments early on in the flick.  However, the audience viewing the Montreal premiere of the film found him to be hilarious and the theater was engulfed in non-stop laughter.  “Tim” (played by Paul Rudd) was toned down a bit by the movie’s producers prior to the final cut.  Those behind the film believed that a foreign character like Borat (both Borat and Schmucks share the same executive producer) can get away with showing up at an American home humiliating everyone around him.  However, an upper crust American like Rudd they felt couldn’t get away with this behavior without drawing the ire of the audience.

Consequently, the character of Tim was massaged so that even though he was the genesis behind this nefarious idea to invite unfortunate slobs to dinner, in order to make them objects of ridicule, he still retains goodwill and doesn’t come off as evil.  Dinner For Scmucks is a screwball comedy, and it doesn’t get deep into social commentary or the larger issues behind this simple plot.

The movie has a strong cast with a plethora of memorable schmuck iterations.  If you’re looking for a relatively light-hearted romp to take your mind off of more pressing issues, than this movie should be towards the top of your list.

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