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This Week's Movie Buzz: See It, Rent It, Or Skip It?

April 13th, 2009 8:57am EDT | Evan Crean By: Evan Crean favorite Add to My News
17 AgainI must admit that two weeks ago, I grossly underestimated how popular "Fast & Furious" would be. The film captured the title of highest grossing opening weekend for a car-themed movie by taking in $72.5 million. I think it's important to note this, because I believe I'm an excellent judge of movies, but I admit the movies I recommend will not always reflect the average American movie patron's opinion.




Things seem to be perfect for up-and-coming U.S. congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), until the murder of his research assistant and mistress. It becomes the mission of reporters Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) and Della (Rachel McAdams) to find the truth behind the murder. However, Cal and Della's path is hindered by three main obstacles: Cal's friendship with Stephen, their hardnosed editor (Helen Mirren), and a conspiracy that goes deeper than either of them thought.

Helmed by Kevin Macdonald, director of "The Last King of Scotland," "State of Play" stars A-list players like Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, and is rounded out by solid supporting actors such as Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels.

Edward Norton and Brad Pitt originally signed on for the roles of Stephen Collins and Cal McCaffrey, respectively. It was to be their first collaborative effort since "Fight Club," but due to the writers' strike in Hollywood, eventually both became busy with other projects and gave up the roles.

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? See it. In the trailer there all of the classic cues of a thriller: frantic music, unseen forces at work, and a lone man racing against time to unravel a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of society. The film's tagline, "Nothing Is Off the Record," in addition to shots of Cal McCaffrey dodging bullets and engaging in sneaky reporting make it seem like Russell Crowe's character is a man who has to get his hands dirty to find the truth.

Watch "Today's Top 3 Movie Stories"





In 1989, Mike O'Donnell throws away his promising future as a basketball player to be with his girlfriend Scarlett and the baby they are expecting. Fast-forward 20 years: Mike's marriage has fallen apart, he has been passed over for a promotion, and his teenage kids think he's a loser. While staying with his billionaire best friend Ned, Mike is transformed into his 17-year-old self. As a 17-year-old, he is given another chance at high school and the opportunity to choose a path that leads to a better adult life, but in doing so he could lose some of his most valuable life experiences.

Matthew Perry ("Friends") lends his talent to the role of the adult Mike O'Donnell, Leslie Mann ("Knocked Up") plays the adult Scarlett O'Donnell, and Zac Efron ("High School Musical") is the 17-year-old version of Mike. The film is directed by Burr Steers, the man responsible for "Igby Goes Down," and the writer of the romantic comedy "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? Rent it. "17 Again" seems to borrow elements from a couple of different age-swapping films and might have a good message, but not necessarily anything new to say. The premise that as a fellow teenager Mike can impact the lives of his children by befriending and mentoring them is interesting, however you could just as easily wait to catch this one at home.

Watch "High School Musical star Zac Efron is back on the big screen"





At the end of "Crank" it appeared Chev Chelios was dead, after he fell from a helicopter. Appearances are deceiving though, and as it turns out Chelios is still alive. He is scraped off the street and brought to a place where mobsters start to harvest his organs.

His nearly indestructible heart is replaced with a battery operated ticker that requires jolts of electricity to work. Chev busts out determined to get his heart back from the mobster who stole it, but he must continue to find sources of power to keep his electric heart ticking in the meantime.

Writing/directing team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the evil geniuses behind "Crank" return with their rather unique hyper-visualized style. Jason Statham is back as Chev, and Amy Smart reprises her role as Eve, but a new cast of baddies is introduced including 80s heartthrob Corey Haim and David Carradine ("Kill Bill").

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? Definitely see it. If you were a fan of the first movie, "Crank: High Voltage" shouldn't disappoint you. For those that haven't seen "Crank," but enjoy mindless action movies with ridiculous stunts, scantily clad women, and lots of guns you should check this movie out. Part of the charm of this series, is how unapologetically over the top it is, relishing in ludicrous and physically infeasible concepts, almost like a video game come to life on the big screen. You can't go in expecting something that will make you think too hard, and if you have, you've missed the point.

Watch "Crank 2 Red-Band Trailer"






A documentary on musical theater, "Every Little Step" follows a group of dancers as they audition for the Broadway revival of the musical "A Chorus Line." By comparing and contrasting the original musical with the current revival, it examines the societies in which they both debuted and why their themes are so timeless and universal.

The documentary's directors Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern are not new to working together. They collaborated previously in 2004, co-directing the documentary "The Year of the Yao," which focused on basketball player Yao Ming.

SEE IT, RENT IT OR SKIP IT? Rent this one. The limited release will make it hard to find, and its narrow subject matter might turn a lot of viewers off. Basically unless you are a fan of musical theater, or you're an actor struggling to make it in musical theater, you might not have as much of an appreciation for this documentary.





This drama set in 1980s England, tells the story of Edward (Bill Milner), a 10-year-old boy growing up in a retirement home run by his parents. Edward's existence is lonely until he meets Clarence (Michael Caine), a retired magician who reluctantly moves into the home. Despite being an odd couple, Edward and Clarence teach each other important life lessons about growing up and growing old.

According to the trailer, "Is Anybody There?" is brought to us by the producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Harry Potter," who in actuality are Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, and David Heyman. The trailer also includes a quote from critic Stephen Farber, which lauds Michael Caine's character as "one of the best performances of his career."

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? Rent it. In many ways the trailer makes the movie seem like a generic independent movie that doesn't entice you to see it in theaters. The movie's release in only New York and Los Angeles will also make it hard for you to catch it. Wait until this one is out on DVD, to decide if it's "one of the best performances of Michael Caine's career."




Evan Crean
Story by Starpulse contributing writer Evan Crean, a movie trivia guru and trailer addict with a practically photographic memory of actors and directors. Get a first look at the movies premiering each week, which which ones will be worth your $10, which ones you should wait to rent and which ones aren't worth your time.


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