The King’s Speech
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter | R |
Now it’s an Oscar race. Beautifully acted and exquisitely told, The King’s Speech uncovers the little-known friendship between England’s King George VI (Firth), a profound stutterer, and Lionel Logue (Rush), the unorthodox speech therapist who gave the sovereign a voice on the eve of war. That historical backdrop adds gravity, but this is no fusty drama about pummeling Hitler. A clever script and nimble performances from Firth and Rush make the film archly funny, with Bonham Carter a standout as a wry Queen Mum who drags her husband to Logue’s decidedly unroyal sessions. (His insistence on calling the king “Bertie” still seems cheeky.) While The King’s Speech should finally give Firth the respect he deserves, its biggest beneficiary may be the late king. If he’s known at all to Americans, Bertie is remembered as the brother of the guy who chucked the crown for Wallis Simpson. Here he comes alive as an engaging husband and father, who, when greatness was thrust upon him, needed a little help finding it in himself.
Love and Other Drugs
Is Love and Other Drugs a romantic comedy? Well, there’s romance and comedy in this movie-but never at the same time. The film’s first half, when pharmaceutical sales rep Jamie (Gyllenhaal) meets jaded artist Maggie (Hathaway) crackles. He’s a lovable reprobate, she’s been there, done that-and perfectly happy to do it with him, provided he’s willing to be naked most of the time. (He is.) Here’s the hitch: She’s suffering from early-onset Parkinson’s. Love’s back half is maudlin, with repeated conversations about her illness, but none of them feel honest until the finale. The Love Story plot doesn’t kill the experience entirely-Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are too charming-and with his buff bod and her Bratz doll looks, they’ve never looked hotter. But the movie this seemed to be in the first half? I’d love to know how that turned out.
Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy | PG |
Try not to focus on the hair. Yes, it inspires questions (Is it heavy? Dirty? What products does she use?), but then you’re missing the follicles for the tresses: With its classic storytelling and clever use of 3-D, Tangled is surprisingly refreshing. You know the story of Rapunzel (Moore), taken by a witch (Murphy) and locked in a tower. After years in captivity, Rapunzel gets a passing bandit (Levi) to help her escape so she can see the floating lanterns released every year on her birthday, never realizing that they’re for her. The usual merry chase follows, and the original songs and animal sidekicks are great, but sharing your kids’ joy will be the most fun. When 200 tots reach toward the screen for those lanterns, you’ll see what they do: pure magic.
Christina Aguilera, Cher, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet |PG-13 |
How many more small-town girls with big-time voices can there be? (And can we pack them all into one movie and get it over with?) Aguilera stars as Ali, a hick who quits waitressing after stealing her wages from the till-or at least she will, right after belting out a song. Logic isn’t Burlesque’s strong suit; Vegas showgirl numbers are. For these, we have Tess (Cher), owner of the club where Ali becomes a star, and Sean (Tucci), as its wardrobe master, to thank. Ali flirts with the barman Jack (Gigandet) and an evil businessman (Eric Dane), but we know who she’ll pick. Still, obviousness isn’t Burlesque’s big crime-wasting talents like Alan Cumming and Peter Gallagher in throwaway roles is.
Made in Dagenham
Sally Hawkins, Geraldine James, Miranda Richardson, Bob Hoskins |R |
Fed up with being underpaid, a group of miniskirted female autoworkers go on strike in 1968 England, facing down Ford-and their sexist husbands. Led by the humble Rita O’Grady (Hawkins), the rebels fight all the way to Parliament. Based on real events, Dagenham is great fun, with terrific performances and a soundtrack that will make you boogie.