Movies reviewed in brief: 'Girl Most Likely,' 'Far Out Isn't Far Enough,' 'The Look of Love'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2013 - 4:32 PM
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Kristen Wiig and Darren Criss in “Girl Most Likely.”

Photo: Roadside Attractions,

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Turbo ⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG for some mild action and thematic elements.

 

The story of a high-revving snail who enters the Indianapolis 500 delivers the upbeat message that with the right attitude (and some magic) even a mollusk can overcome obstacles physical, environmental and emotional to land in the winner’s circle.

By day, Theo the snail (Ryan Reynolds) works a spirit-sapping job at “the Plant.” That would be the tomato plant in a Los Angeles tract home’s garden patch. He’s fussed over by his protective brother Chet (Paul Giamatti). He’s bored up to his eyestalks by the sluggish pace.

Watching old car-racing tapes on the humans’ TV, he dreams of becoming Turbo, the planet’s fastest snail. With the help of a gaggle of sassy snails (a stupendous supporting cast led by Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Maya Rudolph) and mall shopkeepers (Michelle Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins and a priceless Ken Jeong), the go-go gastropod is soon Indiana-bound.

Oddly for a car-racing film, “Turbo” is not as fast on its feet as one would wish. Still, there’s plenty of good stuff under the hood. It’s so likable that, like its humble hero, you have to root for it.

See the full-length review of “Turbo” at startribune.com/movies.

 

Girl Most Likely ⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language.

 

In “Girl Most Likely,” Kristen Wiig plays Imogene, a New York playwright of great promise who squandered her opportunities and talent. That’s the story of the movie as well. The gifted and likable Wiig fritters away her gifts in a misconceived comedy far beneath her abilities.

Down on her luck, Imogene fakes a suicide attempt, then undergoes a sort of rebirth, emerging from the hospital into the care of her overbearing, gambling-addicted mom (Annette Bening). Back home in dismal Ocean City, N.J., Imogene reluctantly connects with mom’s seedy beau (Matt Dillon), who claims to work for the CIA, and her young lodger (“Glee’s” Darren Criss), a casino lounge singer. Focused on maintaining appearances after her meltdown, egocentric Imogene condescends to her embarrassing new acquaintances even as they teach her Important Life Lessons.

The quirky but dark tone of the opening wobbles into stupefying cartoon silliness in the final reels as directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini fail to find the story’s emotional center of gravity. Wiig does her best with the hit-and-miss (mostly miss) material, earning laughs with a wild dance number and a parade of goofy ’80s outfits that mom held onto. Something is wrong when the wardrobe gets bigger laughs than the dialogue.

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough ⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars

Unrated: Images of erotica.

Theater: Edina

 

When cartoonist Jules Feiffer endorses illustrator Tomi Ungerer as “a wonderfully brilliant, innovative madman,” he’s not exaggerating. He’s a thrillingly skilled and imaginative draftsman, with 140 books to his credit, ranging from popular children’s titles to social criticism to erotica. Following a childhood under the Nazis, he emigrated to America where his distinctive vision won him a promising career as a children’s author. Then he became involved in political protest during the ’50s and the sexual freedom movement of the ’60s. His livelihood was derailed as bluenoses banned all his works from U.S. libraries because they disapproved of some.

Now in his 80s, Ungerer is a lively, articulate interview subject, acerbically funny about his run-ins with censors and anyone else who would hope to quash his colorful contradictions. Director Brad Bernstein (of VH-1’s Emmy-winning documentary series “Behind the Music”) brings the story to life with inspired use of Ungerer’s artwork that virtually makes it dance. The film is a salute to, and a shining example of, untrammeled creative freedom.

 

The Look of Love ⋆½ out of four stars

Unrated: Extensive nudity and sexuality; drug use.

Theater: St. Anthony Main

 

Steve Coogan, the rapier-sharp English comedian, specializes in playing hollow men who have sold their souls. Here he’s cast as the late Paul Raymond, an enterprising operator of nude revues, pornography publisher and real-estate magnate who became England’s wealthiest man.

Director Michael Winterbottom follows Raymond from his modest beginnings in the ’50s to vast riches 40 years later, capturing the feel, music and fashion of each era impeccably.

A libertine in his private life, Raymond valued public respectability above all, a clamped-down, coolly reserved satyr. It’s a film made with undeniable craftsmanship, but Raymond is poor company. Coogan is wasted playing a man too dull in spirit to be tragic and too complacent in his sins to be an entertaining, outrageous hypocrite. Even his orgies are tedious (that’s Winterbottom’s point, but still). Groovy period soundtrack aside, “The Look of Love” has almost nothing to say of any interest, importance or humor.

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