Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide to This Week’s Movies: ’Toons and a Moon

sarris foxsearchlight un2 Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide to This Week’s Movies: ’Toons and a MoonGet ready for lots more animated films to head our way thanks to the gigantic opening of Horton Hears a Who! last weekend, which pulled an amazing $45 million-plus at the box office, making it the biggest opening thus far of 2008 (beating Cloverfield, for which we are thankful). Prepare yourself for all sorts of puns. (Don’t believe us? “It’s a who-mongous opening,” said Fox senior VP of distribution Chris Aronson). Whoo-ray! And it should be interesting to see what will happen this weekend, as Tyler Perry, a man who directs, writes, produces and stars in über-successful movies—Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, and Why Did I Get Married—has Meet the Browns in theaters nationwide. We’d love to tell you how it is, but they weren’t screening it. Huh! Shutter, a horror movie starring Joshua Jackson (hi, Pacey!), and Owen Wilson’s big comeback Drillbit Taylor (written by Seth Rogen, yet another member of the Judd Apatow universe) also weren’t available for perusal before press time. Hmmmm. We’re suspicious.

 

LUCKILY, WE DID get to see Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), a warm and very bighearted film from first-time feature director Patricia Riggen. The movie (which got a standing ovation after it’s premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival) is about a 9-year-old boy, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), who has been left behind in Mexico while his mother works two jobs in Los Angeles. After his grandmother dies, Carlitos decides to make the journey solo across the border with the help of some inexperienced college students (one of whom is played by America Ferrera). The movie skillfully splits into two parts: Carlitos’ journey—one that involves terror and peril in unexpected places—and that of his mother, who’s played by the luminously beautiful Kate del Castillo. The performances are great across the board, particularly the charmingly grumpy Eugenio Derbez, who begrudgingly comes to Carlitos’ aid. Believe us when we say there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater when the credits rolled.

Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna) opens Wednesday at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas and BAM Rose Cinemas.

 

MEANWHILE, ADAM CAROLLA continues to confound us. We kind of ignored him back in the days of Loveline (who could concentrate on him when Dr. Drew was around?) and were slightly annoyed by him on the The Man Show. So when we heard about The Hammer, based on a screenplay co-written by Mr. Corolla and starring him, about a once-promising amateur boxer who, at 40, loses his job and his girlfriend in quick succession and decides to get back in the ring for a shot at the Olympics, we sighed. Deeply. We imagined a Rocky/Cinderella Man/Big Daddy/Slackers-type mess. And we were kind of right! The movie is certainly silly and at times makes no sense whatsoever, but yet we still sort of liked it? We can’t really put our finger on why, except that Mr. Carolla is actually quite charming, and the movie has a few standout scenes that made us laugh out loud. Not quite a knockout, but close enough.

The Hammer opens Friday.