Movie reviews: 'Changeling,' 'High School Musical'
Angelina Jolie stars in "Changeling."
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan
The biggest thing Changeling, Clint Eastwoods latest directorial undertaking, has going for it is a gut-wrenching story based on true events. When the film isnt moving you, its angering you with its blood-boiling accounts of injustice, corruption and chauvinism. Which brings us to the biggest strike against the film: The story is so intrinsically affecting and horrifying that any dramatic embellishments could send it into overkill which is sadly what happens.
Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a single mother raising her 9-year-old son, Walter, in a modest rambler in Los Angeles. The year is 1928, when it was still more or less alright to call women little ladies. When Collins returns home from work one day to discover her son is missing, she alerts the police, instigating a nationwide, high-profile search.
The LAPD, under much scrutiny for its internal corruption at the time, is desperate for some good PR. So, months later, when they come across a young boy who says hes Walter, and who bears a mild resemblance to Walter, they pat themselves on the back and send him to L.A. to reunite with his mother. The minute Collins sets eyes on him, shes on to the posing runt. But the LAPD, under the direction of a particularly galling chauvinist named Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), insists shes wrong and deems her insane when she claims otherwise. Too bad for them, she has a high-profile reverend-with-a-radio-show (John Malkovich) in her corner.Jolie, in distractingly gaunt form, is convincing enough as a distraught mother and quietly empowered woman, even if her performance does practically have For Your Consideration written all over it. Unfortunately, Jolie is starring in a very good movie, but not a very great movie. Its wrought with undeniable heart and the piano score, composed by Eastwood himself, is keenly touching. But the march of dramatic beats the telegraphed indignation, the brimming righteousness, the injustice written blatantly into the script cheapen the storys natural potency. Overt strokes are unnecessary for a powerful story like this, and its surprising that they come from Eastwood, who is usually a master of understatement.
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens star in "HSM."
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Directed by Kenny Ortega
Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale
As a childless 30-year-old adult who didnt know a thing about High School Musical until this week, after perusing Wikipedia, I admit: HSM3: Senior Year was fun, if for no other reason than to hear the gaggles of girls, ranging from grade schoolers to high schoolers, collectively scream when Zac Efrons face appeared on screen. HSM3 is not quite a guilty pleasure its too G-rated and kiddie-centric to appeal that widely to adults. But if you do happen to have a child or niece or nephew who needs a chaperone to this movie, its at least as good as the schlockier animated films out there.
This is all assuming, of course, that you can tolerate musicals, fairy tale endings and high school scenes full of chastity and optimism. If any of this makes you want to recoil, youd best stay away. But if theres a part of you that laps this stuff up, youll be treated to some colorful eye candy and truly charming, energetic dance numbers my favorite is The Boys Are Back, in which the main character Troy (Efron) and his best friend leap and boogie all over a junkyard as they reminisce to when they were tykes.
The plot, in a nutshell, revolves around the lovebird stars: Troy, the popular basketball team captain who moonlights as a theater geek, and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), his intensely sweet, constantly giggling girlfriend who also has thespian blood. The story follows the sweethearts as they grapple with senior-year decisions, and the pinnacle of the year is the titular high school musical you know its a Disney movie when the climax of senior year is a musical, not prom. And yes, this is Disney material through and through, so dont expect a shred of Freaks and Geeks realism to find its way into the story.
The Disney treatment does make you pause sure, a 10-year-old girl knows people dont break out in song during basketball games, but does she know that boys like Troy, who brings picnic baskets to Gabriellas window and serenades her on rooftops, are more fairy tale than reality? Not to get too cynical. I guess every generation needs their Prince Charmings.