FROM the directors of Little Miss Sunshine comes a blast of sweet-natured romantic comedy with some bleak interludes to keep things interesting. Paul Dano plays Calvin, an author with a serious case of writer's block. When the girl of his dreams wanders out of his imagination and into his life, Calvin wonders if he should get out and see his psychiatrist (Elliott Gould) more. Nicely dorky in places, Ruby Sparks has some sharp points to make about some modern men and the women they really want, and Dano and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the screenplay) make a winning combination.
Hit & Run (15)
Dirs: David Palmer, Dax Shephard
With: Dax Shephard, Kristen Bell
Runtime: 99 minutes
WRITTEN by Dax Shephard, directed by Dax Shephard and starring Dax Shephard, this comedy road romp has, as you might have guessed, a tad too much of Dax Shephard. It has a tad too much of everything as characters, subplots, fancy cars and farcical scrapes pile on top of each other. The effort to entertain is commendable, but less would have meant more. Shephard plays Yul Perrkins, a man caught between duty to his girlfriend (Kristin Bell) and what's good for him. A comedy that runs out of road fast.
Interview: Page 20
Hotel Transylvania (U)
Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky
Voices: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez
GREAT visuals aside, Hotel Transylvania, left, is an animation that never realises its potential, possibly because the spectre of Adam Sandler and friends hangs over it. The concept finds Frankenstein (Kevin James), The Mummy (Cee-Lo Green), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and other ghouls seeking refuge from humans at a hotel created by Dracula (Sandler). When hapless teenager Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hideout, Dracula is forced to take drastic measures, especially once the young lad takes an interest in his daughter (Selena Gomez). Genndy Tartakovsky's 3D film looks great but suffers from a tired plot and a poorly written screenplay that rams home messages about overprotective parenting and acceptance. Attempts to nod towards adults by including some smarter horror references are negated by the relentlessly juvenile tone, which may amuse the youngest minds but feels lazy when compared to more imaginative family-pleasers like Frankenweenie.
Reviewed by Rob Carnevale
Dir: Luis Prieto
With: Richard Coyle, Agyness Deyn
Runtime: 89 minutes
LUIS Prieto's British drama about a drug pusher's push for the big payout comes on like it has just necked 100 espressos. The camera work is head-spinning, the characters career around like headless chickens and there's enough strobe lighting to keep Ibiza going all summer. Fortunately, the tear-along, race-against-time story holds the interest as Londoner Frank (Richard Coyle, looking like Andy Serkis's younger brother) and his girlfriend Flo (Agyness Deyn) try to rescue a deal that has gone bad. Headache-inducing, but the energy can't be faulted.
Private Peaceful (12A)
Dir: Pat O'Connor
With: Jack O'Connell, Richard Griffiths
Runtime: 102 minutes
THIS adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel is as far from the lavish epic that was Spielberg's War Horse as it is possible to canter – and is all the better for it. Where War Horse yanked the heartstrings painfully, Pat O'Connor's tale of two brothers going off to the First World War prefers to build gently to a powerful conclusion. Jack O'Connell (Skins) and George MacKay are excellent as the brothers in arms, with Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour as the old guard. Simply done to match the low budget and the tale's style, this is an old-fashioned family drama that keeps its head high from start to finish.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG)
Dirs: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Voices: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock
Runtime: 93 minutes
THE New York City Zoo animals who like to move it, move it manage to make it all the way to Europe in this, the third in the animated series. Madagascar works better than most family animations because as much effort is put into pleasing the oldies in the audience as the kids, and the voice cast, which again includes Chris Rock and Ben Stiller, is A-list all the way. Same old, same old then, but there's a new villain in town in the shape of a French policewoman, and she is pretty scary.
Opens in Scotland on Saturday.
Dir: John Cassavetes
With: Ben Gazzara, John Cassavetes
Runtime: 131 minutes
IF you happen to be a Cassavetes connoisseur you might just luxuriate in the expansive performances, wonder at the riffing story of three amigos (Ben Gazzara, John Cassavetes, and Peter Falk) trying to cope after a pal's death, and be lulled by the leisurely pace of the drama. Otherwise, this is a film that lets it all hang out, and not in an interesting way.
Glasgow Film Theatre, October 15-17; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, October 12-16.
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