This week, there are two new films that I can recommend that you see.
For laughs, the Ryan Reynolds/Jason Bateman vehicle “The Change-Up” manages to keep you rolling in the aisles while still making you think. The basic premise is that two best friends – one married and one happily and actively single – trade bodies and have to live each other’s lives. Like “Wedding Crashers,” the characters are smucks but likeable smucks and guys we actually know. (Hell, I’m sure that after years of the same punanny every night, most married people in America have a “cancer list,” although to date, only John Edwards was low enough to get caught living his out! In fact, there was only ever one guy, who’s appendage I could ever imagine looking at every day. But recently, I have been wondering if even he would have become boring after a few years! I am convinced that all marriage is a combination of patience, compromise, and a vivid fantasy life!)
I love Ryan Reynolds. But here, he tends to make the Steve Martin-esque sincere face a bit too much for me. Bateman steals the film as the Peter Pan lothario stuck in his married friend’s body. As Bateman’s wife, Leslie Mann is fantastic. Her portrayal of Jamie is practical and real, very unlike the cliche trod upon movie housewives of the past. She wants more attention but not at the expense of the comfy life her husband’s heart attack inducing, work ethic have bought her. The one disappointment is Olivia Wilde, who is just eye candy as Reynolds’ love interest and wasted in this role. Any hot chick could’ve played it. The kids are stand-outs, in particular, the infant twins who are far more animated than most movie babies. For added chuckles, check out their little faces at key comedic moments in the film.
For thought-provoking thrills see The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the prequel to the Planet of the Apes series, which tells the story of how the world gets taken over by the apes in a compelling and plausible way. The story follows Will (James Franco,) who is racing to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. He has a special tie to the disease because it is afflicting his father (John Lithgow). Financed by a major corporation, that puts profits over safety, he unwittingly starts mankind on a path to extinction while eliminating the last vestige of intellectual difference between Man and Ape. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) the film is both believable and disturbing. A bit slow paced at times, this is a thinking person’s action movie, more character study than action-packed blockbuster. Andy Serkis, who previously brought us “Smeigel” in the Lord of the Rings, brings a realistic complexity to the main ape character, Ceasar. By the end of the film, the audience is actually rooting for the apes to take over! It was also wonderful to see Frieda Pinto cast as Franco’s love interest. The one warning I will give you is, as an animal lover, I found the scenes of ape torture hard to take. I can watch movies, like “Kill Bill” where hundreds of people get massacred and not flinch. But hurt or kill an animal and I am in tears! That said, I fell in love with Ceasar and hope that we will see him again.