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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig | PG-13 |



Reprising Dudley Moore’s role from the 1981 original, Brand is Arthur Bach, a spoiled man-child who lives in a pimped-out penthouse complete with a floating bed, a never-ending supply of bourbon and a $950 million inheritance. But that last part comes with a hitch: He must marry uptight social climber Susan (Jennifer Garner). As the eccentric but endearing alcoholic playboy, Brand wears Arthur’s signature top hat perfectly, bringing a surprising thoughtfulness to an otherwise fizzy film (though it takes a brief, serious turn into rehab territory). As in the original, Arthur ponders trading his fortune when he falls in love with a working-class girl (Gerwig, taking on Liza Minnelli’s role). If only the women got some of the glory. Mirren, as Arthur’s tough but caring perma-nanny Hobson, mostly plays it straight, and Gerwig’s Naomi just doesn’t measure up to Minnelli’s tough and sassy Linda. She’s earnest and innocent; that is to say, far less fun.


Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana | PG-13 |


In hiding her whole life, 16-year-old Hanna (Ronan) is ill-equipped to live in the world-but she damn well knows how to survive it. Thanks to her rogue CIA agent dad, Erik (Bana), Hanna’s a perfect little warrior, and she has a mission: kill the woman who’s trying to kill her, Erik’s blackhearted former colleague (a tightly controlled Blanchett). The joy in Hanna is that it leaves room for the girl to discover herself, make a spark plug of a friend (Jessica Barden) and be of the world, and Ronan is as engaging in those scenes as she is when battling thugs. But don’t get sentimental. In the end, the movie is as cold as Blanchett’s iron spy maiden.

Your Highness

Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel | R |



Pineapple Express by way of a Renaissance fair, Your Highness (pun intended) follows slacker Prince Thadeous (McBride) and his brother Fabious (Franco) on a quest to rescue the latter’s love (Deschanel). The What-Is-She-Doing-There? Casting Award goes to Portman, who gamely scores laughs as a tough warrior. The movie drags toward the end, and Franco and Portman aren’t garnering Oscar nods for this one-but that’s not really the point, is it?