Movies in Theaters on Friday, November 4, 2011
This weekend brings us the return of two stoner pals getting a little too old to be stoner pals (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), a caper comedy that might very well be the first step toward a major career comeback for a has-been comedian (Tower Heist), a look at Ireland’s other great rock ‘n’ roll band (Killing Bono) and the umpteenth crime thriller about police corruption and related moral dilemmas (The Son of No One). Which early present will you open?
Hey, after all, why not? Harold and Kumar are two of the most lovable doofuses in the history of “stoner art,” with both White Castle (2004) and Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) managing to be about a hundred times funnier (and more clever) than they have any right to be, so why not let the boys bring on a little subversive Christmas cheer this year (and in 3D, at that?). Taking place six years after the events of Guantanamo Bay, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas features the now-estranged friends coming back together after Kumar accidentally burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s beloved Christmas tree, forcing them to embark on another strange and surreal adventure as they search for a replacement. John Cho and Kal Penn are terrific in these roles (both separately and together), but the greatest thing about the Harold & Kumar movies are the completely out-of-nowhere subplots involving Neil Patrick Harris playing a bizarre meta-version of himself, one that can die, go to heaven (which looks like a rave club) and manage to come back to life to star in his very own Christmas stage spectacular. Yeah, count us in, dude.
Tower Heist follows a group of employees at an exclusive apartment building (including Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena and Gabourey Sidibe) who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of a Wall Street tycoon (Alan Alda). The disgruntled workers enlist the help of an ex-con (Eddie Murphy) and a bankrupt investor (Matthew Broderick) as they plot to break into Alda’s apartment and steal back their money, all while trying to avoid the FBI agent assigned to his case (Tea Leoni). This looks like another ho-hum action comedy from professional hack Brett Ratner, a name that’s become synonymous with cinematic mediocrity‚ but with a cast like that, there’s got to be some kind of movie magic going on, at least part of the time. If nothing else, Murphy is getting a lot of good buzz for his performance, which is being hailed as a true return to form for the comedian — and if there was anyone we’d like to see score a sweet career comeback, it’s Axel Foley.
Killing Bono chronicles a curious piece of little-known rock ‘n’ roll history, introducing us to the band that wasn’t U2. The film, based on Neil McCormick’s 2003 memoir Killing Bono: I Was Bono’s Doppelganger, tells the tale of young Irish rocker McCormick and his younger brother, Ivan, who attempt to become rock stars but can only look on helplessly as their school friends form U2 and become the biggest band in Ireland (and later, arguably, the world). This one looks to be funny and angry in equal measures (as any good Irish melodrama should), filled with bitterness, self-loathing and plenty of gallows humor — call it the Irish version of Amadeus. Ben Barnes, who plays Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia movies, plays Neil McCormick, with Robert Sheehan of the Red Riding series as his brother Ivan and The Pacific star Martin McCann as Bono; you also get the late, great Pete Postlethwaite in his final film role.
A cop drama that might have just enough good intentions to transcend its overly-familiar premise, The Son of No One stars Channing Tatum (getting more confident with each film role) as a cop assigned to the precinct in the Queens neighborhood where he grew up; when new information about a years-old case involving an elaborate cover-up suddenly bubbles to the surface, the entire community threatens to explode. What’s a young man who’s sworn to serve and protect supposed to do? Written and directed by Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), The Son of No One looks to be no great shakes despite what looks like Montiel’s rather earnest approach to the material — but, like Tower Heist, the film boasts an incredible cast that’s bound to deliver at least a few powerhouse moments, including Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Juliette Binoche (!), Ray Liotta and, of course, Al Pacino, playing a sad, tired, cynical old detective who probably just wants to die more than anything else.