Reviewed in brief: 'Hotel Transylvania' & more

  • Updated: September 27, 2012 - 2:05 PM

Also: "Hello, I Must Be Going," "Pitch Perfect," "Solomon Kane," "Knuckleball."

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Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, left, and Johnnystein, voiced by Andy Samberg, in "Hotel Transylvania."

Photo: Courtesy Of Sony Pictures Animation, Associated Press

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HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

★ 1/2 OUT OF FOUR STARS

Rating: PG, some rude humor, action and scary images.

This good-looking, laugh-starved farce puts Dracula (Adam Sandler) in charge of a hotel for monsters -- "Human-free since 1895" -- and makes him an overprotective single father with a teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). She's turning 118, and so is ready to see the world. But protective Daddy Drac instead plans a birthday party at home.

Monsters like Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Mummy (CeeLo Green) and the Invisible Man (David Spade) are honored guests. Then a nerdy human hiker named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles in and makes Mavis' heartstrings go "zing." The best gags come from quick cuts. The rest of what is most decidedly a "boys" comedy is humor of the fart/butt/toilet variety.

ROGER MOORE, MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING

★ 1/2 out of four stars

Rating: R for language and sexual content.

Theater: Edina.

Melanie Lynskey is Amy, a 35-year-old hiding out in her parents' swanky house as she goes through a divorce. The play-it-safe script and Todd Louiso's heavyhanded direction combine to kill the film's potential. We have lots of dinners and parties, lots of wine-sipping and shallow comments by the 1 percent (at least as imagined by an indie filmmaker). It needs less whine and more surprise.

G. ALLEN JOHNSON, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

PITCH PERFECT

★ 1/2 out of four stars

Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, drug references and language.

Theaters: Arbor Lakes, Rosedale, Southdale.

The comedy is off-key in this "Glee"-inspired misfire. Anna Kendrick plays a peevish freshman involuntarily attending college, which she sees as a distraction from her dream career as a DJ. Recruited by the Bellas, an all-girl a capella group (they're all nerd and weirdo stereotypes, but at least they're musical) she helps them update their sound for the national competition. Aghast at their retro repertoire, she groans, "There's nothing from this century here."

The usually enjoyable Kendrick maintains an unwavering snarky grin throughout, while her charismatic co-star Rebel Wilson steals the show. The big, blond Australian actress graduates from bright supporting turns (Kristin Wiig's crazy roommate in "Bridesmaids"), turning what could have been a background character into a goofy persona like Jonah Hill in drag. The soundtrack is at least half songs, with a running joke featuring Ace of Base's insipid "I Saw the Sign." If you just can't get your fill of that '90s Swede-pop ditty, this is your favorite movie ever. If you want fresh, creative laughs, well, there's nothing from this century here.

COLIN COVERT

SOLOMON KANE

★ 1/2 OUT OF FOUR STARS

Rating: R for violence throughout.

Theater: Southdale.

Great promise, massive disappointment. "Conan" creator Robert E. Howard dreamed up an interesting antihero in Solomon Kane, a bad-ass 17th-century Puritan who travels the world to vanquish evil with rapier, cutlass and flintlock. The character is introduced in a blood-and-thunder assault on a North African castle, where he is tormented by one of Satan's minions and renounces violence lest he forfeit his soul. This makes for personal difficulties when he returns to an England overrun by highwaymen, sorcerers and zombies.

Despite its gangbusters opening, writer/director Michael J. Bassett's commitment to the material, strong work in the title role by James Purefoy and supporting turns by Max von Sydow and the late Pete Postlethwaite, the film dis-improves as it goes on. At the halfway point it's just another well shot hack-and-slash epic. Now we know why it's been sitting on the studio's shelf since it was completed in 2009.
 

COLIN COVERT

KNUCKLEBALL!

★★★ 1/2 OUT OF FOUR STARS

Rating: Unrated. • Theater: St. Anthony Main.

"You need the fingertips of a safecracker and the mind of a Zen Buddhist." That's New Yorker magazine writer Roger Angell on what it takes to become a great knuckleballer. The sweet achievement of this documentary, about the quixotic pitch and the quixotic men who throw it, is that it gives both sides equal play. The movie, by Ricki Stern and Edina native Annie Sundberg (whose last film was "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"), is a must for baseball fans.

"Knuckleball!" focuses on Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and the Mets' R.A. Dickey, but the best scenes paradoxically take place off the field. Both come across as honorable, articulate individuals, thankful for their successes and respectful of the mystery. It does a viewer's heart good to see them in a living room with legendary knuckleballers Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough, trading tips and war stories.

TY BURR, BOSTON GLOBE

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