In Grown Ups, Adam Sandler plays a high-powered Hollywood agent who reunites with some boyhood friends (including former SNL castmates Chris Rock and David Spade) at the funeral of their grade-school basketball coach. Every character comes with a joke: Rob Schneider’s new-age boob has a thing for older — really older — women; Rock’s Mr. Mom is pussywhipped by his wife and harridan of a mother-in-law; Kevin James is, well, fat. None of them gets appreciably funnier with repetition. Lazy, witless, and aggressively coarse, this could very well be Sandler’s worst and most cringeworthy film (and, yes, I’m including The Water Boy and Bedtime Stories). I don’t know what’s more offensive here — the rancid, vulgar humor or the icky sentimentality that permeates every frame like a congealed layer of Transfat. Hopefully, Sandler and his pals had more fun making Grown Ups than anyone will have watching it. *
Set in 2011, Keitj T. Alin's experimental horror film, A Barge and Its Wind, is a dystopian movie about a government conspiracy involving a mysterious boat docked in Cleveland's harbor.
A local filmmaker, Alin cites Andrzej Zulawski, David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick as influences. And you can certainly see that in this edgy movie, which he shot in Cleveland using a local crew and actors. It starts simply enough, as a group of people try to cope with their despair. But when a fight breaks out between two factions, things start to unravel. One woman has her guts torn out and another guy becomes so manic, he starts drinking gasoline until he pukes.
"I just wanted to explore human emotions and how people deal with death and sacrifice," says Alin, who has made one other film. "I wanted to take something that you'd expect to be a B-horror film and make people think more and make into more than just a guy in a mask chasing them." A Barge and Its Wind makes its local premiere at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at the Cedar Lee Theatre (2163 Lee Rd., 440-564-2030, clevelandcinemas.com). Tickets are $8.
Filmmakers Jenny Stein and James LaVeck will be on hand for the Ohio premiere of their documentary Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, which screens at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 27, at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque (11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7450, cia.edu/cinematheque).In the film, Stein and LaVeck explore the ways in which some progressive farmers — including former Clevelander Harold Brown, who will also be at the screening — have adopted animal-friendly methods. It centers on the story of Brown, a multi-generational beef farmer, who becomes an animal-rights activist and environmentalist. Learn more at peaceablekingdomfilm.org. The screening is free.
The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque (11141 East Blvd., 216-421-7450, cia.edu/cinematheque) hosts "Comedy Stars Under the Stars" at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, June 26, in the CIA's outdoor courtyard. The mini-festival includes four silent comedies it has never screened before: the 1926 Charley Chase comedy Long Fliv the King; the 1920 Buster Keaton movie The Scarecrow; the 1928 Laurel and Hardy flick Habeas Corpus; and the 1920 Harold Lloyd film His Royal Slyness. Bring a chair or blanket and your own food and drinks (but no alcohol). Tickets $8.
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Like the ’80s TV series it’s based on, The A-Team is incredibly simple-minded stuff. The saving grace of both series and film is that the four main characters, Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), “Face” (Bradley Cooper), and Mad Dog Murdock (Sharlto Copley), are so damn likable. Copley (Wikus in last year’s District 9) and Neeson get most of the film’s best moments, but even supporting players Jessica Biehl and Ray Liotta are given a chance shine in between the explosions and shoot-outs. There’s not much to the plot about the Special Forces team that tries to clear their name after it gets framed for stealing U.S. currency printing plates, but plenty of fight scenes, ridiculous stunts, and clever jokes keep you from noticing just how flimsy the whole thing is. Director Joe Carnahan, who made the equally dumb and entertaining Smokin’ Aces, strikes just the right tone here. He doesn’t take the material too seriously, and he doesn’t try to camp up what was already a pretty silly concept. Normally, movies like this have no business going past the 90 minute mark, but Carnahan’s pacing keeps the film from dragging even at a full two hours. ***