The action thriller “Salt” turned out to be more complex than I initially thought. Promotional material made the film seem like it would be a run-of-the-mill rogue spy on the run story. Without spoiling the details, there is additional intrigue surrounding CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), and the accusation that she’s a Russian mole. Thankfully the filmmakers don’t reveal her motivations too early on, keeping them close to the chest until the final act.
Jolie convincingly plays a strong female heroine, however as an actress I don’t feel like she adds much flavor to the role itself. Her character does not have enough personality to make her sympathetic to audiences. While her stunts are entertaining, some of them border on unbelievable feats of strength even for a trained operative. My Grade: B
This week in theaters we have the Paul Rudd/Steve Carell film “Dinner for Schmucks,” the family adventure “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” the romantic drama “Charlie St. Cloud,” the wacky comedy “The Extra Man,” and the unconventional period piece “Get Low.”
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS
Tim (Paul Rudd) seeks out the perfect guest to bring to his boss’s monthly event, a “dinner for idiots,” where the executives mock people with weird talents. A chance encounter with the IRS agent Barry (Steve Carell) provides Tim the ideal opportunity to secure his company for the event. Tim fails to realize that instead of getting a dinner guest though, he has just earned a clingy new friend.
Jay Roach, the man behind franchises like “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents,” directs this raunchy comedy. The writing team David Guion and Michael Handelman adapts the French film “Le Diner de Cons,” for American audiences with their screenplay.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Fans of Paul Rudd and Steve Carell from previous collaborations like “Anchorman” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” should be the first in line for this movie. If you appreciate Jay Roach’s style in other awkward comedies like “Meet the Parents,” then you should check out “Dinner for Schmucks.”
CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE
Canines and felines put their ongoing war on hold so that they can join forces to thwart a rogue cat spy with her own evil plans for world domination.
Brad Peyton helms this sequel to the 2001 family action movie “Cats & Dogs.” The scribes for 2006’s “Open Season,” Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich join forces again to pen the screenplay for this film.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Parents searching for a generic family picture should look no further than this movie. If you have seen all the other entertaining animated films of the summer with your kids then you should watch “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.”
CHARLIE ST. CLOUD
Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) deals with the grief of losing his younger brother Sam by working as caretaker of the cemetery where Sam is buried. Charlie and Sam keep their bond with nightly conversations and games of catch, but when a girl enters Charlie’s life, he feels conflicted about whether he should remain with Sam or pursue love.
Burr Steers, who collaborated with Zac Efron on last year’s “17 Again,” directs him again in this romantic drama. Craig Pearce and Lewis Colick adapt the novel The Life and Death of Charlie St. Cloud for the big screen.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Audiences that appreciate the tender side of Zac Efron should catch this drama about coping with grief. If you thought Steers and Efron made a good team with “17 Again,” then you should see “Charlie St. Cloud.”
THE EXTRA MAN
Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline) is an eccentric professor, who devotes a portion of his time to escorting Upper East Side widows to various social events. His Spartan existence is altered when Louis Ives (Paul Dano) an aspiring playwright looking, begins renting the spare room in his apartment. Harrison becomes a mentor of sorts for Ives, showing him the ropes of the male escort business.
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini both co-write and co-direct this unconventional comedy. They receive assistance with the screenplay from Jonathan Ames, whose novel is the basis for the story.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Independent film connoisseurs that missed this movie at the various festivals should see this wherever it is playing. If think Kevin Kline is gifted at playing eccentric characters like this one, then you should watch “The Extra Man.”
Set in 1930s Tennessee, a lonely hermit Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) comes up with the outrageous idea to throw a party for his own funeral while he is still alive.
Newcomer Aaron Schneider directs his first feature length film with this dramedy. Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell pen the screenplay for a story Provenzano developed with Scott Seeke. Bill Murray stars alongside Duvall as the funeral home owner tasked with arranging Felix Bush’s ceremony.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Those who enjoy Bill Murray in dramatic roles that still maintain a sense of humor, are the ones who should see this movie. If you like period pieces and you find the premise for this movie to be fascinating then you should go see “Get Low.”