Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide to This Week’s Movies: A Keanu Is a Comforting Thing

thirdstringer streetkings2h Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide to This Week’s Movies: A Keanu Is a Comforting ThingHollywood types are scratching their heads over George Clooney’s Leatherheads, which only brought in $13.5 million when Universal reportedly had been hoping for something closer to $20 million. How could this be? Didn’t the moviegoing public realize this was George Clooney? Folks are wondering how it is that one of the most likable movie stars around continues to be in movies that people ignore (ahem: One Fine Day, which we love, by the way; Solaris; Intolerable Cruelty; etc). It just doesn’t seem right considering that 21—soundly batted around by critics—took top honors for the second week running. Come on people, stay strong … we only have a few more weeks till Iron Man comes out.

 

SPEAKING OF IRON Men (ba-dump), Keanu Reeves returns to the big screen this weekend with Street Kings, and oh, how we’ve missed The Keanu. Here’s the thing about Mr. Reeves: He’s consistently sort of flat, and weird in his delivery (has he ever been more believable than as sweet-but-daft Todd in Parenthood?). But somehow, over the course of his career—Point Break years, The Matrix ones, hell, even the Constantine and The Lake House days—he’s become someone we feel genuinely fond of. A Keanu Reeves performance is a comforting thing, like reading a book a second or third time. Which is perfect for Street Kings, a movie we swear we’ve seen at least three other times before. It’s based on a James Ellroy book, directed by David Ayer (who wrote Training Day), about an LAPD cop who is forced to question his loyalties to his team and his captain after a fellow officer is murdered. Can you guess, in a secret-super-twist, who turns out to be the villain? If you can’t, just watch the preview, as it’s clearly revealed! Mr. Reeves is surrounded by a stellar cast—hi, Jay Mohr!—that includes Forrest Whitaker, who seems to be having a lot of fun, and unlikely hot man Hugh Laurie. The movie may be predictable, but somehow, perversely, it’s still pretty entertaining.

Street Kings opens Friday at AMC Magic Johnson.

 

WE FULLY EXPECTED to love Smart People. It had everything that we like in a movie: a smart cast (Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church) and a funny premise (crotchety professor tries to find love), and seemed right in that Juno-Little Miss Sunshine-The Family Stone-The Squid and the Whale-Wonder Boys-Nobody’s Fool wheelhouse. Which was maybe the problem. For when you take apart the film, directed by first timer Noam Murro, everything at first glance seems to work—funny dialogue, good music, chemistry within the cast—and yet somehow nothing ever seemed to click into place. We couldn’t put our finger on what the precise problem was—maybe Dennis Quaid’s odd choice in his character’s speaking voice?—and, it’s not Ellen Page’s fault that she has been cast again as a sassy, fast-talking, preternaturally smart teen (this time, she’s not pregnant, she’s a young republican). The standout was Thomas Haden Church who livened things up every time he was onscreen … which wasn’t, sadly, enough.

Smart People opens Friday at the Angelika Film Center and City Cinemas Third Avenue.