Movies reviewed in brief: "Fed Up,” "Stage Fright,” "Mom's Night Out”

  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 12:11 PM
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“Fed Up” explores the obesity epidemic.

FED UP

⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG for thematic elements including images of smoking, and brief mild language.

Theater: Lagoon.

 

If you’re old enough to recall the 1960s and earlier decades, you probably remember a time when obesity was not a commonly seen condition. Now look around you. What changed? Since 1977 Americans doubled their sugar intake. Thirty percent of the adult population is obese. Type 2 diabetes has exploded in the past 30 years.

“Fed Up,” a workmanlike documentary about the perils of America’s addiction to empty calories, puts the picture in easy-to-understand perspective and offers a personal and political call to action.

Stephanie Soechtig’s film frames the obesity epidemic as a result of diet fallacies in collision with flawed food policy. Executive-produced by Laurie David (“An Inconvenient Truth”) and Katie Couric, who narrates, the film is no partisan diatribe. It calls out Michelle Obama’s Get Moving campaign for focusing on exercise rather than tackling the politically thorny issue of powerful food industry interests distorting U.S. food policy. The film points to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s advocacy on behalf of Schwan’s of Marshall, Minn., which sells 70 percent of U.S. school cafeteria pizzas.

“The government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic,” says food writer Michael Pollan. “Fed Up” will make you want to do something about it.

FOR NO GOOD REASON

⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: R for language, some drug content and brief sexual images.

Theater: Lagoon.

 

You’d never guess it from the pigment-splattering ferocity of his work, but English caricaturist Ralph Steadman is a lovely chap. Best known for his decades as the artistic accomplice to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Steadman is the mild-mannered focus of “For No Good Reason,” a biographical film that veers between affectionate appreciation and outright fawning. The film’s frame is a visit to Steadman’s estate by Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in the features “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Rum Diaries”). Depp guides Steadman through reminiscences of his past adventures with the high-living Thompson, and observes his creative process. Beyond Depp’s celebrity appeal, his unifying presence is useful. Director Charlie Paul piles on the split screens, with a deliberate jumble of film formats and film stocks chosen to represent each era in the story’s chronology. Interviews with Thompson, Terry Gilliam, Richard E. Grant and William Burroughs feel a bit random and tacked on. Your enjoyment of the film will probably parallel your appreciation for Steadman’s work.

 

STAGE FRIGHT

⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: R for bloody horror violence, language and some sexual references.

Theater: Uptown, Fri. and Sat. at midnight.

 

A mad pastiche of slasher flick and musical comedy. “The Haunting of the Opera,” this year's summer production at Center Stage Camp for Performing Arts, has its troubles. There’s the pretentious student director, competitive campers vying for key roles, and unbeknownst to all, a masked murderer plotting to slit their throats. Camilla (fetching ingenue Allie MacDonald) wants to sing the title role, though her mother (Minnie Driver) met a tragic end when she performed it on Broadway a decade earlier. Meat Loaf is solid as the down-on-his-luck theater producer running the camp. Everyone, killer included, sings old-fashioned character songs; the humor is a series of “Scream”-style jabs at horror clichés and wheezy “Glee” gags about theater types. It's too silly to be scary and too gory to be a romp.

 

MOM’S NIGHT OUT

⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG for mild thematic elements and some action.

 

“Moms’ Night Out” doesn’t join the ranks of the very few faith-based comedies that work — “Oh God,” “Angel in My Pocket.” A PG-rated romp that never romps, it lacks the jokes, sight gags, pacing and performances that are the stuff laughs are made of.

Sarah Drew plays Ally, a stressed-out mother of three preschoolers and a “Mommy blogger” who brags online about being “a clean freak” who can “actually feel the house getting dirty.”

She’s unhappy, so her husband (Sean Astin) urges her to take a night for herself. She talks her mother-of-two pal Izzy (Logan White) and, oddly, that icon of motherly virtue, her pastor’s wife (Patricia Heaton), into a girls’ night out “to remember.”

As the night runs from losing their reservation at a pretentious restaurant to losing their phones to losing their minivan to losing a baby and their husbands losing their minds, overwhelmed by simple child care, “Mom’s Night Out” sets itself up for laughs that it rarely delivers.

-- ROGER MOORE, MCT

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