[National Review Online, July 28, 2006] After a run of movies that were so-so or worse, Woody Allen won praise for last year’s “Match Point,” and hopes were raised that he’d again found his footing. Unfortunately, “Scoop” slips. A comedy that is not very funny, a murder mystery that is not very suspenseful, “Scoop” is one more in a series of movieplex disappointments this summer.


[National Review Online, June 9, 2006] If anybody can turn out a car-themed movie that’s warm-hearted, funny, and original, the genius crew at Pixar Animation can. So that’s why I hate to tell that they can’t. Or, at least, they don’t. “Cars” is the first disappointment from a studio that has had one well-deserved hit after another.

DaVinci Code

[National Review Online, May 18, 2006] An ordinary man – a professor, say – gets caught in a deadly game of mystery and murder. He’s thrown together with a cool, attractive young woman who may be more than she seems. After many chases and escapes, the two wind up safe in each other’s arms. Alfred Hitchcock gave us goosebumps with that theme and variations. Ron Howard’s “The DaVinci Code” turns similar material into a big yawn. What happened?

Art School Confidential

[National Review Online, May 5, 2006] If they gave an Oscar for best film title, this one would surely swipe the statue. Fortunately, the movie that comes after the opening credits lives up to that promise. Screenwriter Daniel Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff have collaborated before, on the 2001 cult…

American Dreamz

[National Review Online, April 21, 2006] The posters for “American Dreamz” are not real subtle: “Imagine a country where the President never reads the newspaper, where the government goes to war for all the wrong reasons, and where more people vote for a pop idol than their next president.” Sounds like some lefties woke up feeling cranky on the day after Bush's re-election. The film's signature image, of Lady Liberty strutting in red thigh-high boots behind a microphone, reinforces the message that this is a rock-the-vote story for hip people, and squares need not apply. But self-identified hip people who buy a ticket on the basis of this ad are likely to be disappointed.

Friends With Money

[National Review Online, April 19, 2006) Here's a movie plot for you. There are four women, see? And on top of that, three of them are rich. But hold onto your hat, they're all friends. Whaddaya think? I don't get it either. “Friends With Money” shows us four women, and shows that they are friends, and that's about it. Three of the women are married, and also wealthy, and one is neither.

Thank You For Smoking

[National Review Online, March 17, 2006]  There's something exhilarating about watching a clever liar in full, resplendent flight. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhardt) has what he cheerfully describes as a “challenging” job: he represents the interests of the tobacco industry in a world that generally considers the product reprehensible.

Failure to Launch

[National Review Online, March 10, 2006] You'd have to have an extraordinary amount of confidence in a film to give it a title like “Failure to Launch.” It's a target as big as a barn. And I'm left wondering what made the folks behind this film so sure that it was guaranteed boffo. It's got the elements a standard romantic comedy requires: two hot stars, their oddball friends,

Curious George

George, the curious little monkey, had a precarious start: his parents, Margaret and H.A. Rey, bicycled out of Paris just hours before the Germans arrived, with the preliminary watercolors and story text in their backpacks. Margaret, a Bauhaus-trained artist, was a sharp cookie and blazingly direct, capable of blurting to her publisher: “You always wear a hat. Is there something wrong with your head?” (The reply was, “Nothing that a hat can hide.”)