July 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Bill Nighy, Will Arnet, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by: Hoyt Yeatman (debut)
Written by: Cormac Wibberley (“National Treasure”), Marianne Wibberley (“Bad Boys II”), Ted Elliott (“The Legend of Zorro”), Terry Rossio (“Déjà Vu”), Tim Firth (“Confessions of a Shopaholic”)

Hear that laughter? There might be a few children in the audience who are easily-entertained by the antics of the fluffy computer-generated guinea pigs that star in the new family adventure “G-Force,” but most of the giggling is coming from producer Jerry Bruckheimer as he strolls all the way to the bank.

As unbelievable as it is, the producer, who is known mostly for mindless action flicks like “Armageddon” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” has found another way to fill his pockets all while releasing projects with the entertainment value of a rusty jack in the box. Earlier this year, Bruckheimer jumped genres and released the subpar romantic comedy “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Now, it’s on to live-action/animation with “G-Force.”

It’s true, Bruckheimer has been down this avenue before, but a computer-generated kangaroo really didn’t do well for him in 2003’s box office and critical bomb “Kangaroo Jack.” In “G-Force,” he and first-time director and visual effects icon Hoyt Yeatman (he won an Oscar for “The Abyss”) shrink the heroes into cuddly rodents with “Mission Impossible” tendencies. Did we mention it’s in 3-D?

The story follows a group of secret agent guinea pigs – voiced by Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, and Penelope Cruz – who try to stop an evil home appliance industrialist (Bill Nighy) from taking over the world. Zach Galifianakis plays the FBI agent who trains the furball trio and the rest of the team, which includes Speckles the Mole (Nicolas Cage, who does some nice voice work) and a housefly named Mooch. Galifianakis, the star of the surprise summer hit “The Hangover,” however, is wasted as is the rest of the human cast. All are lost in a pointless script that relies on stale pop-culture references most kids won’t understand. And don’t say those references are there so parents in the audience don’t go crazy from boredom. If the mental well-being of moms and dads was really a concern, the rest of the movie would’ve at least tried to be entertaining for someone above the age of five.

While the guinea pigs themselves are impressive in terms of quality of graphics, the five screenwriters who churned out “G-Force” don’t give them much to do or say other than the basic action-star drills, stereotypical dialogue, and more than occasional act of flatulence. Guinea pigs were just so much cuter when they were voiceless pets who slept most of the day.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Kristen Scott Thomas
Directed by: P.J. Hogan (“My Best Friend’s Wedding”)
Written by: Tracey Jackson (“The Guru”), Tim Firth (“Kinky Boots”), and Kayla Alpert (debut)

Give credit to screenwriters Tracey Jackson, Tim Firth, and Kayla Alpert. No, not for their dopey adaptation of author Sophie Kinsella’s work, but for figuring out a way to incorporate both her books (“Confessions of a Shopaholic” and “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan”) into only one movie. Now, we don’t have to sit through a second one.

In “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” rising star Isla Fisher (“Wedding Crashers) stars as Rebecca Bloomwood, a Manhattan reporter who spends her days drooling over Gucci bags and dodging credit collectors because of her unhealthy addiction to shopping. (“They said I was a valued customer, now they send me hate mail” is the funniest line Fisher delivers in the entire movie).

With 12 credit cards maxed out, Rebecca finds herself over $9,000 in debt just when the magazine she writes for goes bankrupt. Setting her sights to work at one of the most prominent fashion magazines in the city (who better to write about clothes than someone who has so many?), Rebecca, instead, ends up landing a job at a financial publication when she impresses the editor (Hugh Dancy) with her out-of-the-box ideas on topics most people would find tedious.

After only one column, Rebecca becomes a star journalist and everyone wants to meet her. While she manages to rub elbows with publishers and work her way to the top, Rebecca lives in fear that someone will find out she is giving financial advice to her readers when she, too, is living in debt.

While Fisher has proven she can hold her own in comedies like “Wedding Crashers,” there simply isn’t enough material in this faux “Sexy and the City” episode for her to perform to that level. Fisher is better than exaggerated slapstick, but there’s nothing here to showcase her natural talent. In one of the funnier scenes of “Shopaholic,” Fisher reacts to how ugly a bridesmaid’s dress looks on her. With a few squeals and some hilarious facial expressions, she makes the scene work.

But those occasions are too few and far between in “Shopaholic.” It’s disappointing since the film is directed by P.J. Hogan, who helmed one of the best rom coms of the 90s in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” It’s less surprising when you find out producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s name is attached. Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly ruin anymore film genres, Bruckheimer manages to aimlessly wander into no man’s land and will definitely wander out a few dollars richer. Somebody stop him before he figures out what a musical comedy is.