Sunday, April 16, 2006

Two Roeper Zinger Reports for the Price of One

Roeper wasn't really on his game this week. In fact, Ebert produced the only really decent zinger of the day, about the new movie The Sisters:

It is possible to make a great modern version of Chekhov as Louis Malle did in
Vanya on 42nd Street. It is also possible to make unconvincing, pointless, and
unfocused version of Chekhov, and that would describe Sisters.

Sadly, Roeper's characterization of Joel Edgerton - saying that he "gives a Vanilla Wafer of a performance [in Kinky Boots] - can be applied to his own performance in this week's episode.

Last week's episode had a lot more: about On a Clear Day, which I want to see, and which is most decidedly not to be mixed up with On a Clear Day you Can See Forever, a guilty pleasure of mine, he had this to say:

'On a Clear Day, Billy Elliot and the Calendar Girls Can See the Full Monty. '
About once a year we get one of these heart-warming tales from across the pond
about a determined dreamer who sets out to accomplish an impossible and/or
controversial task.
Heh. Interestingly enough, he gave On a Clear Day thumbs up, despite the zinger. (He picked up on the same thread in this week's review of Kinky Boots: "Time for another quirky Brit-Com about working-class folks with a crazy dream!" - which he did not recommend.)

His best zinger from last week was for Antonio Banderas's newest venture, Take the Lead, based on a true story about a ballroom dancing instructor who volunteers to teach dance to a bunch of New York City schoolkids on detention: "I thought this movie was a Leslie Nielson away from being a pure parody of all these high-school movies." Nice one! Though I could tell that much from the previews. And actually, I thought the Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe did a much better job in his April 7 review, Missteps and questionable moves:

Teacher wants to teach. Students won't let him. Then he reels them in by speaking their language, or rather, he lets them speak their language all over the pastime he loves. Indeed, when he tries to play an oldie for the class, someone tells him, ''Yo, man, I need the remix!" So Sarah Vaughan is out in favor of mash-ups combining standards and new stuff.

Pierre Dulaine is a real-life ballroom dancer and instructor who has inspired scores of New York elementary schoolers to merengue and waltz. If I were Dulaine or any of his pupils, I'd find ''Take the Lead" distressing. Not because Dianne Houston's script leans on enough ancient movie formulas to qualify as a question in the math portion of the SAT; nor because director Liz Friedlander, a veteran of so-so music videos, doesn't meet a sequence she can't turn into a montage more appropriate for a Sprite commercial. The movie would bug me because its makers don't seem to think much of ballroom dancing, or learning.

I would probably have chosen "depressing" instead of "distressing", but that certainly summed up my reaction to the clips I've seen of this film.

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