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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The 2013 Fall TV Season

Michael J. Fox, James Caan, James Spader, Marvel Comics, and More!

By Chris Sabga

Silver Screen Surprises is primarily a film site, but I'm taking a slight detour today to highlight some of the new shows of the fall TV season.

It's no secret anymore that the best television programs can be every bit as satisfying as a great movie. After all, like an epic series of novels, TV shows have many more hours – years – to tell their story.

Fans of classics such as "Babylon 5" and "Lost" – as imperfect as those were – can certainly attest to the power of the medium when done right.

The list below is by no means a comprehensive one. I've simply compiled some of the new shows this season that are of interest to me.

The Blacklist (NBC – Monday 10 p.m. EST): The best new show of the season? James Spader stars as a mysterious, creepy criminal who walks right into the F.B.I. and allows himself to get arrested. He specifically requests to speak to Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a rookie agent going into her first day on the job. He has information about an underground terrorist with a bomb, and she's the only one he'll work with. Why? I have some ideas about that, and by the end of the episode, you will too. With twists, turns, and thrills galore, "The Blacklist" is immensely satisfying. Like "FlashForward" before it, it has the potential to get too silly. It's already over-the-top, but there's a fine line. Hopefully this promising new show will maintain the right balance.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC – Tuesday 8 p.m. EST): This, of course, is based on Marvel's "Avengers" universe – minus any of the actual Avengers. Clark Gregg reprises his role as Agent Coulson from the films. Without spoiling anything, that does get explained somewhat. I enjoyed this, but it's a mess. Joss Whedon's trademark humor is there, but it doesn't seem to fit. Meanwhile, other parts of the show are stark serious. All of that is mixed in with several cheesy elements that make this seem like (bad) parody of the superhero genre. I think "Agents" could be a case of a pilot trying to do way too much and establish way too many characters and storylines. Don't get me wrong: "Agents" is never unenjoyable at any point. It's fun. But this went from a show that I thought would dominate the landscape and last several years to something I could see being cancelled at the end of the season. Next week's ratings will be very telling. Like Whedon's "Dollhouse," which started out roughly too, this can (and hopefully will) get better.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX – Tuesday 8:30 p.m. EST): Andy Samberg is a detective and Andre Braugher is his gay captain. Terry Crews is in it too. Samberg doesn't tickle my funnybone and I can't buy Braugher as gay (which may be the point, since it's treated so matter-of-factly – not a big deal at all), but I like cop shows, and this one is pleasant enough. It's sillier and quirkier than most. The second episode is better. Samberg and Braugher are really gelling as a team. This is going up against ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which could provide very stiff competition. I just hope the finicky FOX will stand behind "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and give it a chance to succeed.

The Goldbergs (ABC – Tuesday 9 p.m. EST): If I had to describe it, I'd say it's "Married with Children" meets "The Wonder Years." But it's not as good as either show (yet). It's set in the '80s, and it even references some of the more ridiculous '80s sitcom clichés. If I didn't know any better, I'd think Jeff Garlin and Troy Gentile were really father and son. Wendi McLendon-Covey is pretty good – just LOUD! My favorite is George Segal as the grandfather. He really provides the heart of the show.  The coolest part: the show is based on a real family, and it's written by the youngest son, who is an adult in real life now (he's played as a child by Sean Giambrone). There's footage at the end of the real Goldberg family. That alone elevates this a little bit in my mind. As far as pilots go, I wouldn't call this one great, but they almost never are. As one friend of mine said, it's trying too hard. There's definitely enough potential here, though, that I'll keep watching.

Trophy Wife (ABC – Tuesday 9:30 p.m. EST): Wow! Despite the cringe-worthy name, it's actually quite funny and has a great cast. Malin Akerman (who rubbed me the wrong way before, but I love her in this) stars at Bradley Whitford's third wife – his "trophy wife." Needless to say, she's much younger than him. The always superb Marcia Gay Harden plays one of his ex-wives. The kids are good too. The daughter (Gianna LePera) looks like a young Jodie Foster, the son (Ryan Lee) is the little blond boy from "Super 8," and their baby brother (Albert Tsai) was adopted from China and has all of the "cute and funny" lines – and he's good at delivering them. "Trophy Wife" is a fun 20-minute sitcom with really great actors. I hope it lasts. Definitely the surprise of the season.

Back in the Game (ABC – Wednesday 8:30 p.m. EST): James Caan stars as an old, washed up baseball player. His daughter and her young son (Maggie Lawson and Griffin Gluck) have to move back in with him. She has a strained relationship with her father and hates baseball because of it, but gets roped into agreeing to coach a little league team. It's a weird show so far – two little boys kiss and there are several "dick jokes" – but it has potential. Apparently, it "isn't really about baseball," so we'll see.

Ironside (NBC – Wednesday 10 p.m. EST): It's a remake of a Raymond Burr show I've never seen and hadn't even heard of before now. It seems a bit generic, despite the gimmick of the main detective being in a wheelchair. But Blair Underwood is very good in it. I watched this right after the season premiere of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and Pablo Schreiber is in both – which was a bit jarring because he plays a sick rapist on "SVU" and a good guy cop here, but he's a decent enough actor to pull it off. The pilot didn't give him much to do though. The captain is an Asian-American, which is new at least, so between him and Underwood, "Ironside" gets points for diversity. Not an awesome show, but it's enjoyable enough.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC – Thursday 9:30 p.m. EST): Very cute, lighthearted show. There's nothing groundbreaking here, except that the main character (and actor) has Parkinson's Disease. They don't dance around the situation or treat it with pity. If anything, they make fun of it at times (in a lighthearted, inoffensive way). Good, clean fun, just like another Michael J. Fox family sitcom we all know and love. Aside from Fox himself, Betsy Brandt (as his wife) and Wendell Pierce (as his old boss) are the best aspects of the show. There are also special guest stars in each episode (Matt Lauer and Tracy Pollan, respectively). There are occasional asides featuring a character commenting into a camera (presumably being recorded by the daughter) like a reality show. I'm not sold on that aspect yet, and it doesn't make much sense after the first episode. But I like the show overall.

Other shows: "Sleepy Hollow" (FOX) is getting big buzz from just about everyone I've talked to, but I haven't watched it yet. To be honest, the premise doesn't appeal to me. Still, people are going crazy for it, so I will probably give it a try at some point.

"Super Fun Night" (ABC) – featuring the always hilarious Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy from "Pitch Perfect") – hasn't aired yet, but it will be worth a look because of her.

Despite being no fan of reality shows, I find myself oddly drawn to the premise of "MasterChef Junior" (FOX), which allows children from 8 to 13 to run a real kitchen. What the...? I'll probably try an episode. Let's just hope it's not as exploitative as it sounds.

You may notice the omission of anything from CBS. That's because they won't allow their newer shows to be broadcast on Hulu Plus's TV app for the PS3, Roku, and other set-top boxes and tablets. (I "cut the cord" on my overpriced cable company.)

Instead, my only option is watch their shows as they air (how 1980s!) or from my PC via Sorry, that outdated scheme doesn't work for me. I won't be a slave to CBS's mandated schedule. (And no, I'm not going to hook my PC up to my TV just to watch a show.) Keep being behind-the-times, CBS! How is that slippery slide into irrelevancy working out for you?

With all of that said, "The Crazy Ones" with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar does look good.

Which new shows are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Disconnect

Do You Know What Your Loved Ones Are Doing Online?

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: April 12, 2013 – U.S.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Running Time: 115 minutes
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Writer: Andrew Stern
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, 
Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, 
Alexander Skarsgård, Max Thieriot, Colin Ford, 
Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm, Norbert Leo Butz, 
Kasi Lemmons, John Sharian, Aviad Bernstein

People all over the world are living second, secret lives on the Internet. Too many of them – you – are naïve or otherwise ignorant about the perils and pitfalls potentially lurking in the shadows. It's called the web for a reason. Information is left behind casually like breadcrumbs, creating a digital paper trail anyone can follow.

"Disconnect" tells several stories, all with one central theme: behind that glowing screen, danger lurks online. It's one of the best – and most relevant – films of the year.

  • An inexperienced local news reporter, Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough), pays to access a "live cam" website and engages with an underage sex worker, Kyle (Max Thieriot), in the hopes of breaking a big story. It isn't long before their "relationship" becomes more involved than either of them anticipated.
  • Two immature 15-year-olds, Jason and Frye (Colin Ford and newcomer Aviad Bernstein), are caught playing a childish prank by fellow classmate Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo). They get revenge on Ben by creating a fake Facebook profile and pretending to be a girl at school who likes him. Their impersonation quickly spirals into sexting and cyberbullying.
  • A married couple, Cindy and Derek (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård), find themselves the victims of identity theft after she befriends someone in a chatroom and becomes overly trusting. They turn to a former cop, computer expert Mike Dixon (Frank Grillo), for help. His investigation reveals that the perpetrator is a man named Stephen Schumacher (Michael Nyqvist). Derek is an ex-Marine who is used to taking matters into his own hands.
  • Mike is also Jason's father, but their relationship has become "disconnected" over the years. He has no idea what his son is doing to Ben.
  • Ben, meanwhile, has an equally distant relationship with his own dad, Rich (Jason Bateman), a busy lawyer who can't relate to the long-haired, musically-inclined, sullen teenager living under his roof. As the issues between the boys escalate, Rich becomes obsessed with helping his son and uncovering the truth – at the expense of his wife and daughter, Lydia and Abby (Hope Davis and Haley Ramm). 

The performances are all stellar. Everyone brings a raw, natural quality to their work. These characters' emotions, reactions, and facial expressions tell just as much of a story as the dialogue and script. Their desperation is palpable, and that by itself increases the tension. Despite being dominated by computer monitors and phone screens, "Disconnect" is one of the best thrillers in recent memory. That's quite a feat. The credit belongs to its strong acting and great writing.

Throughout the film, various people can be seen texting, chatting, and using Facebook. During these scenes, their words appear on the screen as they're being typed or touched. Jason Bateman's 40-something-year-old character writes clearly, capitalizes properly, and uses punctuation. The teenage boy played by Colin Ford, on the other hand, is much sloppier. He misspells or abbreviates words, and doesn't use periods. And that's different from the kid who plays his best friend. In a lesser movie, everyone's typing style would be the same. "Disconnect" realizes that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they write and communicate online.

It's so easy to "say" things – both good and bad – on the Internet that you never would in real life. Without any face-to-face interaction, the stakes seem nonexistent and the consequences are easily forgotten. It feels anonymous, even though it's anything but. I've been on the web for close to two decades now, and I've run into quite a cast of characters in that time – with some of them literally being characters.

  • The repressed homosexual who once dated transvestite men only because he thought they could pass for women and wouldn't arouse the suspicions of the closed-minded parishioners at his church. He would often send out pictures of his latest "girlfriend." After a litany of "she's hot" responses, I'd say to him privately, "That's a man!" Hey, I saw "The Crying Game" when I was 13, so I know how to identify these things. :)
  • I think "Tammy" saw it too. Imagine everyone's disappointment when the feisty redheaded firebrand they all thought they were flirting chatting with turned out to be a prematurely-balding cowboy. "That's a man!"
  • Two hardcore drug users – possibly dealers – who seem to be constantly high. Their response: "It's not a drug! It's a plant. It's God's natural herb." Right!
  • Someone who calls himself "Dirk." He seems normal otherwise – seems being the key word, because one can never really tell on the Internet.

It's very unlikely that I'll ever run into these types of people in real life. Social circumstances, disparate personalities, and sometimes just plain common sense are probably going to prevent me from gravitating toward those circles that exist outside my comfort zone.

I pray for my Christian friend who isn't comfortable enough with himself to be who he really is. On the other hand, I've often wondered what would possess someone like "Tammy" to create a completely false personality. Does he struggle with gender-identity issues in his own life? Is the "real" persona he revealed yet another fiction? Wherever the truth lies with him or her, it's sad. I sympathize.

But the 'net can be exciting too. I will never be around a drug deal in real life, but thanks to my two stoner buds online, I can feel like I'm in the middle of scoring a dimebag in the worst part of town. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit – truth be told, they're probably more like "Grandma's Boy" than "Requiem for a Dream" – but my point remains the same.

The beauty of the Internet is being able to connect with such radically different people and find some common ground.

"Disconnect" understands that alluring feeling but focuses on the darker side of it. While online, it's all too easy to disconnect from human emotions and take things too far. It's just as easy to disconnect from the ones you love – the people in your life every day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Hope Springs

Golden Years, Copper Marriage

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: August 8, 2012 – U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Vanessa Taylor
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, 
Steve Carell

"Hope Springs" is awkward, uncomfortable, and excruciating at times. But that's by design. After all, it's about old people having sex – or not having it, as the situation is for Kay and Arnold (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) at the beginning of the movie.

Kay turns to a book written by Dr. Bernard Feld – he must be Catholic – called "You Can Have the Marriage You Want." Feld (Steve Carell) is a marriage counselor who operates out of a small town in Maine called Great Hope Springs.

Desperate to save a marriage that has been robbed of all affection, Kay uses her own money to book a plane ticket for her and her husband to attend intensive couples counseling with Feld for one week. 

David Frankel, the director of "Hope Springs," spoke to Entertainment Weekly about Tommy Lee Jones's approach to the role: "I'll do anything," Jones told the director. "I'll be tough, I'll be demanding, I'll be closed up sexually, but I won't be mean."

Jones's character is certainly gruff, insensitive, and oblivious to his wife's basic needs. As a result, he can sometimes appear to be mean – but he never actually crosses the threshold into actual meanness. It's a fine line, and Jones is masterful at walking it.

Streep brings an endearing sweetness and naivety to her role as a repressed housewife who is determined to act when she reaches her own breaking point. What could have been a comedic caricature in the hands of another actress becomes a fully formed human being in Streep's capable care.

Carell's Dr. Feld always responds to his clients softly and stoically. Even when he's making outrageous observations and asking overly explicit questions, he says everything with a completely straight face. As tempting as it must have been to go over-the-top, Carell maintains a low-key composure.

But make no mistake: there is still humor to be found in "Hope Springs." Because everyone is so stark raving serious, everything is that much funnier. This isn't a laugh-out-loud comedy, but there are quiet chuckles that come from recognizable situations and realistic reactions to them.

Veteran actresses Jean Smart ("Designing Women"), Becky Ann Baker ("Freaks and Geeks"), Elisabeth Shue ("Adventures in Babysitting"), and Mimi Rogers ("Someone to Watch Over Me") are also in the cast, but don't see the movie for any of them – their appearances are glorified cameos at best. This film belongs entirely to Streep, Jones, and Carell – and that's a good thing, because they make the most of it with likeable, charming performances.

No one here is perfect – well-meaning words or actions can sometimes (and usually do) backfire – but they're all trying to do the right thing in their own way. They have only the best intentions at heart.

"Hope Springs" isn't always easy to watch, but it's impossible not to root for these complicated people at the center of this broken, wonderful marriage. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Peeples

Tyler Perry Presents a Movie He Didn't Write or Direct

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: May 10, 2013 – U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Running Time: 95 minutes
Director: Tina Gordon Chism
Writer: Tina Gordon Chism
Cast: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, 
David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, 
Tyler James Williams, Melvin Van Peebles, 
Diahann Carroll, Kali Hawk, Kimrie Lewis-Davis, 
Malcolm Barrett

"Peeples" is being marketed as a movie "presented" by Tyler Perry, which is just a fancy way of saying he didn't actually write or direct it – Tina Gordon Chism did. But Perry is credited as the producer, and his fingerprints are seemingly all over the place.

This marks the first leading role for comedic actor Craig Robinson, who was one of the highlights of the otherwise wildly inconsistent "Zack and Miri" and more than held his own in "This is the End" against James Franco, Danny McBride, and the rest of that star-studded cast. It's an opportunity he has earned and deserves. But as Robinson has shown in his own career, sometimes the supporting parts are the best ones. That's certainly the case here, too.

Wade Walker (Robinson) is in love with Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington, "Scandal"). When she takes a trip to visit her family, he surprises her by showing up at their doorstep without warning – only to find out that they have no idea who he is. Ouch!

This is a well-worn formula, used over and over (with slight variations) in countless movies through the years, because it's simple but effective – sometimes, anyway.

Grace's father, Judge Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), is a hard man to please. He's also an intimidating one. Even though Grace is a high-priced lawyer herself, she's still afraid of Daddy.

Age has served David Alan Grier well. For the part of Judge Peeples, he has morphed into a cranky old man. It's a routine I wouldn't mind seeing him repeat in future films. He steals the show from Robinson. Like I said, sometimes the supporting roles are the best ones. In a way, it's disappointing that Robinson doesn't radiate the same room-filling charisma and dominance we've seen him from him previously. To be fair, the character of Wade calls for a meeker, more nervous portrayal. But it also has to do in part with Grier, who is just that good as the ornery judge and judgmental dad.

The Peeples clan also includes the judge's wife, Daphne (S. Epatha Merkerson, "Law & Order"), who is much more friendly and mellow than her sourpuss husband – for, well, various reasons. Merkerson is delightful in the role and makes the most of it. Their other daughter, Gloria (Kali Hawk), is very close to her "friend," Meg (Kimrie Lewis-Davis).  Their youngest son, Simon (Tyler James Williams, "Everybody Hates Chris"), is a robotics genius who insists on being called "Si" because Simon is a white boy's name. He also tries to be "gangsta" in other ways. Grandpa and Nana Peeples also make an appearance (Melvin Van Peebles of "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" and "Dynasty's" Diahann Carroll lend their credibility in small supporting roles).

They're joined by Chris Walker (Malcolm Barrett), Wade's younger brother. Wade is a therapist/musician who sings silly songs about urine to kids to help them overcome their anger and fear. Chris is a doctor, but not just any kind of doctor – he's a doll doctor! Needless to say, these aren't career paths that will impress the snooty, stuffy (on the surface) Judge Peeples.

"Peeples" bounces from one vignette to another, all of which lightly thread together the main narrative of Wade getting to know the Peeples. I'm not sure whether the loose structure is refreshing or annoying. In any case, it doesn't quite work. There are a few scenes that are meant to be shocking or outrageous, but they somehow manage to feel dry and lifeless. Even Kerry Washington in a schoolgirl uniform barely elicits any excitement. Like Halle Berry as Catwoman, it sounds so much better on paper!

Stories of this type always seem to build toward a massive family fight, filled with raised voices and uncomfortable revelations. "Peeples" is no exception. But when the big "explosion" finally happens, it all feels a bit rushed and underwhelming.

The movie drags at times, but the characters are pleasant and I did find myself developing warm feelings toward each of them. Still, after seeing "The Big Wedding" so recently, I can't help but compare the two. "Wedding" features a similar setting, but with much better execution, funnier jokes, and big moments that actually pack a punch.

"Peeples" is never a bad movie, but it's not a particularly memorable one either. There are worse ways to waste a lazy Sunday afternoon, but why waste it at all?  There are far better films about families to choose from – and far better films, period. Only diehard fans of David Alan Grier need apply.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Silver Screen Surprises Coming in September

Sex Addicts, Salinger, Sawyer from "Lost," the Stars of "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos," and Tony Danza

By Chris Sabga

As one season ends and another begins, the flashy blockbusters of the summer recede into the background, making room for quieter but more interesting and varied fare. But there's still some shooting left, and more than one explosion – all coming in September.

Bounty Killer (September 6th): Corporations have taken over the world, and it's up to a group of bounty hunters to kill off all of the greedy CEOs and white collar criminals. "Bounty Killer" will either be tons of fun or a total disaster – there's usually no middle ground with a movie like this – but I have a good feeling. It's based on the graphic novel of the same name.

Salinger (September 6th): With 150 interviews – ranging from Salinger's inner circle to contemporary celebrities influenced by his work – and never-before-seen film footage and photographs, this promises to be a rare glimpse into the mysterious life of the reclusive author of "The Catcher in the Rye." Shane Salerno, the director of "Salinger," also wrote a book to coincide with the documentary. At over two hours and more than 700 pages respectively, there's a danger that both projects will buckle under their own weight – but I suspect that Salinger's fans will be probably happy to know too much after knowing too little for so long.

Battle of the Year (September 13th): When "Lost" ended, everyone expected Josh Holloway (Sawyer) to become a major star. What happened? In this film, he plays a basketball coach who is hired to lead an American team to victory – in a dance tournament. After the surprising quality of "Step Up," I can appreciate a premise like this – and it should be a fun fish-out-of-water role for Holloway. The only problem: Chris Brown is also in it. I can't see his toxic reputation doing the movie's box office any favors – even if his last album did top the charts. It also makes me feel a bit sad for Holloway – a bigger star in a better position would have been able to veto the casting (as Zach Galifianakis reportedly did when Mel Gibson was going to be in "The Hangover: Part II"). Who knows, maybe we'll get to see Holloway channel Sawyer again and smack the living daylights out of Brown.

The Family (September 13th): Several months ago, a casual filmgoer friend of mine e-mailed me excitedly about the "awesome" trailer he had just seen. It was for "The Family." There's something to be said for that. Robert De Niro is back in familiar territory – as the head of a Mafia family – but this time he's playing it for laughs. Michelle Pfeiffer joins him as his wife. Along with their two kids, they're forced to relocate to France after entering the Witness Protection Program. Tommy Lee Jones plays the agent in charge of them, and Luc Besson directs. I like Besson's style; it's always a bit wacky, which serves a movie like this well.

Enough Said (September 20th): I love it when two interesting actors come together in an unexpected way. Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Seinfeld") and James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos") are the last two people I'd think of to play a romantic couple. When so many casting decisions feel like they took place in boardrooms, a unique pairing like this is refreshing. This will be one of the late Gandolfini's final film roles.

Parkland (September 20th): Everyone knows the story of JFK's assassination – or thinks they do – but "Parkland" focuses on the peripheral people involved that you don't hear much about: the doctors and nurses, cameraman, and others who were there that day and in the aftermath. It's a fresh angle on an incident that has already been dramatized countless times.

Prisoners (September 20th): A father's daughter goes missing, and he'll do anything to get her back. As we've seen from other movies, it's not wise to get in the way of an intense Hugh Jackman. In addition to Jackman, "Prisoners" features a huge cast of respected actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano.

Thanks for Sharing (September 20th): One man, played by Josh Gad ("1600 Penn," "Jobs"), tries to shove a camera up his boss's dress in this comedy-drama about a 12-step program for sex addicts. Meanwhile, Adam (Mark Ruffalo) struggles after five years of sexual sobriety when he meets the irresistible Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). Putting Paltrow in that role seems like a stretch to me, but it all depends on how she plays it. With one of the screenwriters of the wonderful "The Kids Are All Right," Stuart Blumberg, directing and also co-writing this, I have high expectations.

As I Lay Dying (September 27th): This seems like exactly the kind of movie everyone was making fun of during Comedy Central's Roast of James Franco – and maybe it is. It's based on the novel by William Faulkner, starring James Franco, directed by James Franco, and written by James Franco. Pretentious? Perhaps. But it also features Danny McBride in a major role. This is not the type of film I'd expect him to pop up in. That alone makes me curious.

Don Jon (September 27th): Tony Danza returns to the silver screen as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's father. What else needs to be said? Actually, even if you aren't an '80s Danza fanatic, there's a lot to like here. A porn addict (played by Gordon-Levitt, who also writes and directs) has to navigate potential true love in the form of Scarlett Johansson. Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, and Julianne Moore also star.

Blockbusters: Riddick (September 6th), Insidious: Chapter 2 (September 13th), Rush (September 20th), The Wizard of Oz: IMAX 3D (20th), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (September 27th), Metallica Through the Never (27th)

The first "Insidious" was a pleasant surprise – a smart, fun, interesting little horror movie. I'm excited for the sequel.

I'm a bit ambivalent about "Rush." The trailer seems to reveal everything, and the color scheme appears to be murky for no good reason. Perhaps the washed-out look is meant to evoke the time period in which the film is set, but I think the effect might be overdone.

Everyone I've talked to who saw the first "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" feels a special fondness for it. We'll see if the sequel can capture the same magic.

If I'm able to find a theater showing "The Wizard of Oz," I will be there. It is technologically mind-blowing for a movie released in 1939, and it feels every bit as fresh and modern today. It remains an all-time classic. Purists might frown that a gimmick like 3D has been added to one of the most iconic and revered motion pictures ever made, but original 2D version is still readily available – no one has taken that away.