⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG for some action, peril and rude humor
The creators of "Free Birds" make the same mistakes that generations of animators made before them, having a cute idea and a feeble script to go with it, lining up a "name" voice cast to overcompensate.
Owen Wilson voices Reggie, a scrawny bird at his turkey farm. His friends and family are dragged off to "turkey paradise," but Reggie is that lucky bird who wins a presidential pardon.
Reggie has barely settled into a pampered life of pizzas and TV-watching at Camp David when the demented Jake (Woody Harrelson) shows up to birdnap him and enlist Reggie in his mission — to time-travel back to early America and change Thanksgiving history, "to get turkey OFF the menu."
The few gags there are seem borrowed from better, earlier films. The odd throwaway line works, but the sight gags fall flat and much of the screenplay seems like a rough draft. Undercooked and sorely lacking much in the way of "all the trimmings," this turkey isn't ready to serve.
ROGER MOORE (MCT)
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language and some sexual content
Theaters: Eden Prairie, Edina, Highland, Rosedale, Willow Creek
Who wouldn't like a second or third shot at making a killer first impression with a potential mate? That's the possibility that Dad (Bill Nighy) presents to his son Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) in this time-travel romantic comedy by director Richard Curtis ("Love Actually"). The men in their family can sneak off to somewhere hidden, clench their fists, and wish their way back to a moment they'd love to relive.
Clumsy, awkward Tim first tests this out on his sister's pal, hot Charlotte (Margot Robbie). Then it's on to Mary (Rachel McAdams), an American lass Tim meets at a gimmicky restaurant. Sparks fly, but the meeting doesn't quite come off.
The movie takes us into the life they might share, and finds ways to test love and the dilemma of choices as Tim keeps discovering all these "rules" about his time travel.
Gleeson has a winning screen presence and clicks with McAdams, the most underrated romantic comedy actress of her generation.
As in most Richard Curtis films, things go on too long and turn a trifle gooey here and there. But "About Time" is a most romantic way to spend your time at the movies this fall.
MAN OF TAI CHI
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R, for violence
Theaters: Eden Prairie, Rosedale, Southdale.
For his directing debut, martial-arts film fan Keanu Reeves makes an entertaining, if hardly groundbreaking kung-fu movie. It's set in authentic locations (shot in Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau), uses three languages (Cantonese, Mandarin, English) and sports the kind of young-man-against-evil story line that could have been cribbed from 100 other such movies.
Tiger Hu Chen is Tiger Chen, a tai chi student who, instead of utilizing his talents for meditation and exercise, puts them to use in combat, much to the chagrin of his teacher (Yu Hai). His fighting skills attract the attention of Donaka Mark (Reeves), a well-heeled security expert by day, a villainous organizer of illegal underground fight clubs patronized by the rich and powerful by night.
Chen can make some quick money by entering Mark's deadly kung-fu thunderdome. It's hardly a spoiler to know that Chen and Mark end up squaring off.
"Man of Tai Chi's" problems arise when the fighting stops. Reeves may know kung fu and even a bit about directing. It's the acting that still gives him trouble.
Cary Darling (MCT)