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Movie Column

The great art of wasting time

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Ah Hollywood. They’ve really taken wasting our time to new levels this week with two remakes, another PG-13 sci-fi action flick, and Garfield: The Movie ? Give me a break.

First off, Garfield . While it’s admittedly tough to make a feature film out of a comic strip that was usually three panels long (six on weekends), this movie is even worse than one could imagine. The plot has Garfield as a cynical, lazy, lasagna-loving fat-ass of a cat who gets jealous when owner John is sweet talked into adopting Odie, a stupid dancing dog. Garfield locks Odie out of the house, where he immediately gets lost, then kidnapped. Then, feeling guilt for some reason, Garfield must lead the adventurous search and rescue with John and the sexy veternarian played by Jennifer Love Hewlitt (whose breasts get a lot of screen time for a kids movie.)

And it gets worse. Main character Garfield is computer generated and looks out of place every time he interacts with another person or animal. Even the voice of comedic legend Bill Murray can’t save this hack fest, which is so bad even long-time fans (you know, the people that had those stupid spread-eagled Garfield dolls suction-cupped to the windows of their Chevy Sprints) will be sorely disappointed. I mean if you’re going to put millions into a movie based on an old comic strip, make it Calvin And Hobbes or stop wasting my time.

Speaking of wasting time, The Chronicles of Riddick also opens this week. Despite having the most un-engaging title of any action movie in recent history, director David Twohy manages to make a somewhat visually stimulating PG-13 action/sci-fi adventure that might keep you entertained but will easily be forgotten.

Supposedly the sequel to Twohy’s dark space horror Pitch Black (2000), Chronicles follows once-criminal Riddick (Vin Diesel) across the galaxy as he, the last of his kind, must fight and defeat a bunch of religious zealots called Necromongers as they try to take over the universe. Where Pitch Black (also directed by Twohy) was rated R and portrayed a bad-ass, shit-talking Riddick, The Chronicles is PG-13, forcing Diesel into a run of the mill, reluctant hero fighting in another Star Wars rip off full of not-gory-enough battle sequences. Not the worst movie ever (see above) but nothing to get excited about either.

Also opening are a couple of remakes starting with PG-13 rated The Stepford Wives , which even with an all-star cast fails to even compare to the dark cynicism and social pertinence of the 1975 original, a creepy commentary on the rise of feminism. Then on Wednesday the 16 th we get Around the World in 80 Days , a movie that’s been re-made six or seven times already. This time it stars Jackie Chan and has a billion cameos (even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s in it) and it’s directed by Frank Coraci ( The Wedding Singer, Waterboy) so it should be slightly funny at least. Rated PG, though and that’s rarely a good sign.

Basically if you want to enjoy a new movie this week you have to rent it. The original The Stepford Wives is on VHS at Rogers and the DVD of the week, Fernado Meirelles’ City Of God is available everywhere.

City of God follows a group of Brazilian children growing up and killing each other in the gang violence and drug-infested slums outside of Rio De Janeiro. Narrated by Rocket, a child with dreams of becoming a photojournalist, City of God tells the tale of kids who kill kids, grow up to be drug lords, kill more kids and eventually get killed by other kids. It’s grim and bleak and horrible and the only fat cats in this movie are psychotic murderous drug dealers. But they’re deeply characterized and likeable psychotic murderous drug dealers who’ve never had a hot shower in their lives and live in a slum full of guns, gangsters and crooked cops. What career options do they have?

Based on a true story, Meirelles’ film is technically amazing. Beautifully shot in real Brazilian slums and amazingly edited, City of God is not only a manual on how to make a movie look really cool, it’s also a textbook on character, motivation, drama and tragedy. It’s the kind of movie that takes Hollywood to school. Hopefully they take notes.

Maybe Hollywood can learn some time management while they’re at it, because they sure waste a lot of mine.

At Village 8 June 11-17: Garfield, Stepford Wives, Chronicles of Riddick; Shrek 2, Harry Potter — Prisoner of Askaban, Troy, Day After Tomorrow. Opening June 16: Around the World in 80 Days.

At Rainbow Theatre June 11-17: Kill Bill Vol. 2.

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