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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Dark Shadows

Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green | PG-13 |


Barnabas Collins, is that you? Funny, I was getting more of an Eddie Munster vibe. Depp’s undead hero is greener and more garish than the original Barnabas, the recently departed Jonathan Frid, from the late-’60s gothic soap Dark Shadows. But then, that Dark Shadows was a deadly serious (if shabbily produced) cult series. This one is all camp. The backstory is the same: Turned into a vampire by spurned lover and witch Angelique (Green), Barnabas awakens in modern times to live with his calculating cousin Elizabeth (Pfeiffer) and her brood. In this case, “modern” means the ’70s, our cheesiest decade, giving Barnabas plenty to riff on. In fact, it might be too much. Shadows spends so much time letting Depp (pardon the expression) vamp with Pfeiffer and the marvelously vicious Green that little things, like plot and everyone else in the movie, get short shrift. Shadows still (mostly) succeeds because the actors are so funny and director Tim Burton has an expert eye for Gothic detail. Still, after eight films together, the Johnny-Tim act is beginning to wear thin. As terrific a pairing as they are (see: my faves Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd), they would do well to get out more and see other people.

Girl in Progress

Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez, Matthew Modine | PG-13 |


Ansiedad (Ramirez) is keenly smart, so why does she do such stupid things to escape her party-girl mom, Grace (Mendes)? The high schooler lies, skips class and becomes a meanie-all in accordance with her plan to live out a coming-of-age story, complete with goals like “dump best friend” and “have brush with death.” The result is a cringingly artificial plot with no one to like.