At the Movies: ‘Friends With Kids,’ ‘John Carter’ and more

Mar. 9, 2012 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
Taylor Kitsch stars in "John Carter." —Courtesy Disney

Taylor Kitsch stars in "John Carter." —Courtesy Disney

OPENS TODAY

‘Friends With Kids’ **
Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships. Director-writer Jennifer Westfeldt stars along with Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd and Megan Fox. (R, 107 minutes)

‘John Carter’ ***
Taylor Kitsch stars in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ action-fantasy tale about a Civil War veteran who finds himself transplanted to Mars, where he becomes part of a conflict between warring nations. Review on Page 17. (PG-13, 132 minutes)

‘Norwegian Wood’ **
Based on the novel by Haruki Murakami, a man recalls his life in the turbulent 1960s when, after the suicide of his friend, he not only gets involved with the grieving girlfriend, but another, more lively woman as well. (NR, 133 minutes)

‘Silent House’ ** 1/2
Trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat, a young woman finds she is unable to contact the outside world as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house. (R, 85 minutes)

‘A Thousand Words’
Eddie Murphy reteams with “Norbit” director Brian Robbins for this comedy about a smooth-talker who discovers that he has only a thousand words left to speak before dying. (PG-13, 91 minutes)

Eddie Murphy stars in the comedy "A Thousand Words." —Courtesy DreamWorks Pictures

Eddie Murphy stars in the comedy "A Thousand Words." —Courtesy DreamWorks Pictures

NOW PLAYING

‘Act of Valor’ **1/2
An elite team of Navy SEALs embarks on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. This is an amped-up, action-packed adventure, a furiously macho saga scripted by the screenwriter of “300.” (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (R, 101 minutes)

‘The Artist’ ***
The multi-Oscar-winning homage to Hollywood, 1927, as a silent movie star’s career is revitalized with the arrival of a young dancer set for a big break. It’s a gorgeously made curiosity that functions as a testament to its own obsession with other movies, specifically “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Star is Born.” (Christopher Kelly, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 100 minutes)

‘Chronicle’ ***
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. But soon they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides. The young actors are charismatic, sympathetic and charming, making this semi-serious sci-fi romp lighter and more fun than many of the comic-book movies that it steals from. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 83 minutes)

‘The Descendants’ *** 1/2
George Clooney and Alexander Payne join forces in this Oscar-winning adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel about a man from a longtime kama’aina family who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife slips into a coma after a boating accident and he has to reconnect with his two young daughters. This deceptively breezy film is a kind of wonderful journey through the shifting landscape of human emotion, ranging from deliciously awkward comedy to heartfelt, transformative tragedy and all points in between. (Burl Burlingame, Star-Advertiser) (R, 115 minutes)

The Chinese cinema import "Let the Bullets Fly" stars Chow Yun-fat. —Courtesy Emperor Motion Pictures

The Chinese cinema import "Let the Bullets Fly" stars Chow Yun-fat. —Courtesy Emperor Motion Pictures

‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ *** 1/2
From the creators of “Despicable Me” comes this gorgeous and glorious fable of a 12-year-old boy’s search for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of a grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG, 94 minutes)

‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ ** 1/2
Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, who is hiding out in Eastern Europe. As the Ghost Rider, he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form. This is a goofy, gonzo thrill ride, a profoundly silly mash-up of comic book and quasi-religious “prophecy,” and Cage is hilariously wound-up — manic, motor-mouthed and bug-eyed. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 95 minutes)

‘Good Deeds’ * 1/2
Tyler Perry plays a businessman who is jolted out of his scripted life when he meets a single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building. This overlong movie has a few good scenes and a few solid messages about the importance of being needed in a relationship or marriage and the financial tightrope a lot of families are walking in this economy. But Perry is such a dull dramatist and boring actor that the message isn’t delivered. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 111 minutes)

‘I Am Bruce Lee’
Archival footage, classic movie scenes and personal testimonials make up this documentary of the iconic martial arts legend. (NR, 90 minutes)

‘The Iron Lady’ *** 1/2
Meryl Streep stars in this look into the life of Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, with a focus on the price she paid for power. It’s an uncanny turn by the screen’s greatest actress, an Oscar-winning acting job with towering bombast and marvelous subtlety. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 105 minutes)

‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’ **
In this sequel, the now-young man Sean Anderson partners with his mom’s boyfriend on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island. Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson star in this movie that rockets along on a certain goofy bliss, and is aimed at kids, and kids only. (Burl Burlingame, Star-Advertiser) (PG, 94 minutes)

‘Let the Bullets Fly’
Chow Yun-fat’s latest film takes place in 1920s China, where a bandit arrives in a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor and must face off against a tyrannical local nobleman. (NR, 132 minutes)

Reese Witherspoon, left, and Chris Pine star in the surprisingly tolerable "This Means War." —Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Reese Witherspoon, left, and Chris Pine star in the surprisingly tolerable "This Means War." —Courtesy 20th Century Fox

‘Project X’ **
Three high school seniors throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves. Things spiral out of control as the night progresses and word of the party spreads. The movie produces its share of explosive laughs, mostly of the “Oh my God” variety, but overall it’s a wearying experience. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (R, 88 minutes)

‘Safe House’ ***
A young CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) is tasked with looking after a fugitive (Denzel Washington) in a safe house. But when the house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. Well-cast, well-acted and brilliant shot and edited, it’s a thoroughly entertaining peek into spycraft and the spies who practice it. (Roger Moore, McClatchy Newspapers) (R, 115 minutes)

‘The Secret World of Arrietty’ ***
Disney presents the English-language version of the latest film from Studio Ghibli of Japan. Life changes for a 4-inch-tall family living in a human-sized house when the daughter is discovered. This is a slow, stately, gentle and meditative marvel of image and color. (David Germain, Associated Press) (G, 94 minutes)

‘A Separation’ *** 1/2
The winner of the Academy Awards’ best foreign language film comes from Iran, where a married couple faces a difficult decision — improve the life of their teenage son by moving to another country or stay and look after a parent stricken with Alzheimer’s. Rife with fine performances by the cast, the film unfolds with a deep confidence in the dramatic tug of ordinary life. (Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post) (PG-13, 123 minutes)

‘This Means War’ ** 1/2
Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman. The talents of Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy make this noisy, contrived romp more tolerable than it ought to be. (Christy Lemire, Associated Press) (PG-13, 98 minutes)

‘Unofficially Yours’
Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin star in the Filipino romantic comedy about how love blossoms between two casual sex partners. (NR, 110 minutes)

‘The Vow’ ***
A car accident puts a woman in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband works to win her heart again. The movie has three things going for it: likable stars in Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, a director who knows how to stay away from saccharine sentimentality, and a compelling story. (Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers) (PG-13, 104 minutes)

‘Wanderlust’ *
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play a Manhattan couple who, rattled by sudden unemployment, surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules. This is a comedy that aims for hip irreverence but ends up firmly in Squaresville, filled with ossified stereotypes and a hopelessly traditional outlook. (Rafer Guzman, Newsday) (R, 98 minutes)

Sara Wiseman, left, and Rawiri Paratene star in "The Insatiable Moon," showing at the Doris Duke Theatre. —Courtesy Rialto Distribution

Sara Wiseman, left, and Rawiri Paratene star in "The Insatiable Moon," showing at the Doris Duke Theatre. —Courtesy Rialto Distribution

ARTHOUSE
DORIS DUKE THEATRE

Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly Honolulu Academy of Arts), 900 S. Beretania St., entry on Kinau Street. (532-8768); $10 general and $8 museum members (tickets also available online at www.honolulumuseum.org):

Aotearoa-New Zealand Film Festival: ‘The Insatiable Moon’
1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Showcasing the country’s independent cinema movement, the festival kicks off with this urban fairy tale about a recovering psychiatric patient who joins a battle to prevent the closure of his local homeless shelter. (7:30 p.m. opening night reception will be $20, $25 museum members) (2011, 101 minutes)

‘Boy’
1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
An audience favorite both at home and international festivals, Taika Waititi’s film is a comic coming-of-age tale set in 1984 about a Michael Jackson-obsessed 11-year-old who gets a dose of reality when his previously absent father comes home. (2010, 88 minutes)

‘The Strength of Water’
1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
In an isolated Maori community, the arrival of an enigmatic stranger precipitates an accident that forces 10-year-old twins apart. (2008, 86 minutes)

‘Matariki’
1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
A tragic late-night scuffle on the eve of the Maori New Year brings together eight strangers. (2010, 92 minutes)

MOVIE MUSEUM

3566 Harding Ave. (735-8771); $5 general and $4 members; reservations recommended:

‘A Gentle Breeze in the Village’
Noon, 2:15, 4:30 and 6:45 p.m. today; and noon, 2:15 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Based on a popular Japanese manga, this coming-of-age romance is about a rural high school girl who becomes attracted to a new student, a cool boy from Tokyo. (2007, 121 minutes)

‘Tower Heist’
9 p.m. today
After staff workers at an upscale Central Park condominium discover the billionaire in the penthouse has stolen their retirement money, they conspire to take back what’s theirs. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck and Tea Leoni star in Brett Ratner’s film. (2011, 99 minutes)

‘The China Syndrome’
Noon, 2:15 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and 6:45 and 9 p.m. Sunday
Marking the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it’s the cautionary American thriller from the late 1970s about a TV reporter and her cameraman who, with the help of a worker, discover safety coverups at a nuclear power plant. Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas star. (1979, 122 minutes)

‘Little Nicholas’
7 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday
Based on a popular children’s book series, this story’s mischievous French schoolboy thinks his happy life will take a turn for the worse when he suspects that his mother is pregnant. (2009, 91 minutes)

‘Le Silence de la Mer’
12:30, 2, 3:30, 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Monday
In a small town in occupied France in 1941, an old man and his niece reluctantly have a German officer as a houseguest, a man who has a rosy outlook about the relationship between the two countries. (1949, 84 minutes)

‘Mickybo and Me’
Noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday
Set in Belfast, Ireland, in 1970, the film tells the story of two boys from Catholic and Protestant families who decide to run away together to Australia after seeing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” (2004, 95 minutes)

‘A Shine of Rainbows’
1:45, 5:15 and 8:45 p.m. Thursday
A lonely Irish orphan’s life is transformed by an extraordinary woman who teaches him to conquer grief and discover the magic in nature and himself. (2009, 101 minutes)

MONDAY MOVIE CAFE

theVenue, 1146 Bethel St. (528-1144); $10:

‘What Remains of Us’
7 p.m. Monday
A Tibetan-Canadian returns to her homeland to smuggle a secret message from the Dalai Lama and to document the occupation and cultural genocide of Tibet by China. (2004, 77 minutes)

[OFF]HRS/CREATIVE

thirtyninehotel, 39 N. Hotel St.; $10, $5 w/student ID; offhrs.blogspot.com

‘Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods / Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts’
7 p.m. Thursday
New York filmmaker Patrick Meaney will introduce these documentaries about two of the most visionary writers working in the comic book medium today.

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