Two surprises this week: Films that might seem like tired retreads of a cop movie (Cop Out) and horror flick (The Crazies) but that bring something new and creative to the genres.
SEE: Cop Out Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis play two mismatched cops in a clever riff on every cop movie you've seen before. (area theaters) City Pages: "A sly subversion of the cop genre. Cop Out only works as well as it does--and it works exponentially better than it should--because the movie-trivia game is played smirk-free. A loving homage, with palpable joy from everyone involved." Star Tribune: 3.5 stars Pioneer Press: 2.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 17% positive
SEE: The Crazies A peaceful little American town suddenly becomes a nightmarish killing ground when its law-abiding citizens are struck by a virus that makes people go berserk. (area theaters) City Pages: "Director Breck Eisner stages a series of nifty action sequences, nearly all of which feature a moment of surprise, as well as gruesome wit. Timothy Olyphant, as a sheriff, grounds the film with his ever-fascinating mix of soulfulness and swagger. Any day now, he's gonna be a star." Star Tribune: 3.5 stars Pioneer Press: 3.5 stars RottenTomatoes.com: 70% positive
MAYBE: 44 Inch Chest A long-married man (Ray Winstone) is told by his wife (Joanne Whalley) that she's leaving him. So he gathers a quintet of pathetic pals to kidnap the French waiter she's fallen for and subject him to 90 minutes of threats and vile obscenities. (Lagoon Cinema) City Pages: "An often sharp, nasty expose of masculinity." Star Tribune: 2 stars Pioneer Press: 1 star RottenTomatoes.com: 41% positive
Next pages: Special screenings, art houses, and ongoing films
SEE: Dreamgirls The movie, with stars like Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson, overflows with showmanship in a story about a Supremes-like R&B act struggling to make it big. Hudson brings down the house with the showstopper "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going." (St. Paul Central Library, Sunday at 2 p.m.)
MAYBE: Band of Outsiders A breathless jumble of film allusions, literary shout-outs, and exuberant pop-culture riffing, this gangster fantasia, dreamed up by Jean-Luc Godard in 1964, follows two crooks who hook up with a girl so they can rob her aunt's house. (Trylon Microcinema, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 8:55 p.m.)
Next page: Ongoing films
SEE: Crazy Heart Jeff Bridges has become an Oscar favorite for his performance as Bad Blake, a washed-up honky-tonk hero who travels the country playing low-pay, low-turnout gigs with pickup bands half his age. But Bad's life starts getting better when a small-time journalist and single mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal) meets him for a rare interview. (area theaters)
SEE: Omnifest 2010 The Science Museum of Minnesota's annual extravaganza of giant-screen nature and cultural films runs through March 11. Each day the Omnitheater will show a rotating lineup of five films: on African elephants, a California kelp bed, Van Gogh's paintings, extreme skiing, and a visit to seven spectacular landscapes, from the Amazon River to Greenland icebergs. Visit www.smm.org for show times. (Science Museum of Minnesota)
SEE: North Face An excruciatingly tense dramatization of an epic, real-life attempt to scale the fearsome north face of the Eiger mountain, which became a Nazi obsession during the 1930s. (Uptown Theatre)
SEE: Shutter Island Martin Scorsese's florid art shocker, about a U.S. marshal (Leo DiCaprio) and sidekick (Mark Ruffalo), who investigate a disappearance on an island prison for the criminally insane. (area theaters)
MAYBE: District 13: Ultimatum Less a sequel than a remake of the exhilarating 2006 action flick that introduced parkour, the French run-and-jump urban obstacle sport, to American audiences. David Belle returns as the endlessly inventive ghetto acrobat who teams with an equally idealistic policeman to save the local ghetto from destruction by an evil corporation. (area theaters) MAYBE: The Wolfman It's got Benicio Del Toro, lush atmospherics, and chilling special effects, so it's probably on your list. But despite all the sound, fury, and unintentional camp, it's still bafflingly inert. (area theaters)
FLEE: From Paris With Love Travolta, in all his compellingly horrible jivey splendor, plays a loose-cannon American field agent who teams up with a personal assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to France (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to save the U.S. by blowing up France. (area theaters)
FLEE: Valentine's Day Garry Marshall's embarrassingly star-studded stiff--an ensemble film of intertwining love stories--is long on talent but short on entertainment. (area theaters)
For more film ideas, capsule reviews, and showtimes, click here.