Film Clips: This weekend's movie openings and more April 17 2010

Heroes without powers, laugh-out-loud funerals and a thriller in a gated community makes me think somethings off at the box office this weekend.



DEATH AT A FUNERAL 3 stars (R ) An African-American family experiences one disaster after another during the funeral of their paterfamilias. This remake of the hilarious 2007 English comedy stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan and Peter Dinklage, reprising his role from the original. — Edward Adams

THE JONESES 2 stars (R ) When Steve (David Duchovny), Kate (Demi Moore), Jenn (Amber Heard) and Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) Jones move into a posh suburban neighborhood they immediately turn heads. This do-no-wrong family pimps the latest gadgets, the hottest clothes and the nicest rides. Now everybody wants to be like the Joneses, no matter the cost. What the community doesn't know is the Joneses are a fabricated family made up of stealth marketers whose only goal is to peddle products to their unsuspecting neighbors. —  Adams

KICK-ASS 3 stars (R ) A geeky teen (Aaron Johnson) with no special powers or training becomes a superhero called Kick-Ass, and teams with other eccentric crime-fighters to battle a crimelord. Like a caped crusader with a dual identity, Kick-Ass suffers from a bipolar disorder, and the sort-of realistic comedy with Kick-Ass doesn’t mesh with the outrageously violent revenge subplot involved an obsessed ex-cop (a highly amusing Nicolas Cage) and his tweenage killing-machine daughter, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). Hit-Girl’s incongruous presence and bracing, slapstick bloodbaths make up for Kick-Ass’sweaknesses. — ''Curt Holman

THE PERFECT GAME (PG) An uplifting story about an impoverished group of boys from Monterrey, Mexico who battle the odds and become the first non-American champions of the Little League World Series.


ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL "Festive" sometimes seems like the wrong word for film festivals, which can come across as strongholds of solemnity. This year's Atlanta Film Festival opens Thurs., April 15 with Freedom Riders, a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement and the freedom rides of 1961. The fest also includes movies about such cheery topics as the plight of Tibet, Proposition 8, illegal immigration, high school shootings and blind teenagers. And that's just the documentaries. Phrases such as "drug addict," "underbelly of suburbia" and "spiral out of control" frequently describe the feature film plots (See additional coverage on page 22). — Holman

THE BICYCLE THIEF (1948) 5 stars (NR) This heartbreaking film about a father whose likelihood depends on retrieving his stolen bicycle became justifiably acclaimed as one of the cornerstones of post World War II Italian Neo-Realist cinema. April 19-25. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.

CITIZEN ARCHITECT 3 stars (NR) This documentary short follows Rural Studio, started by Samuel Mockbee, and the volunteer students who create an architectural home for local “Music Man” Jimmie Lee Matthews. April 16-22. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com. — Wyatt Williams

EASY RIDER (1969) (NR) A pair of free-thinking hippies (Peter Fonda and director Dennis Hopper) take a cross-country motorcycle trip to find America in a film that both reflected and defined the era’s counterculture zeitgeist. Jack Nicholson has an amusing supporting role. April 15. 7:30 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.

LAILA’S BIRTHDAY (NR) This dark urban comedy depicts the travails of a Palestinian judge who must take a job as a cab driver when the government runs out of money to pay his wages. __April 17, 8 p.m. Free-$7. Rich Theatre, High Museum, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.high.org.

REEFER MADNESS (1936) (NR) Filmed under the title Tell Your Children and remade as a campy musical in 1998, this lurid expose on the reveals the powers of “Maryjane” to turn its victims into gibbering, psychotic dope fiends. April 20, 10 p.m. and April 23, midnight. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.


THE RUNAWAYS 3 stars (R ) An abusive record producer (Michael Shannon) builds an all-girl, pre-punk rock band around underage singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and hard-charging guitarist Joan Jett (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) in this fairly conventional rock biopic. Despite the vivid sense of period detail and some bracing tunes like “Cherry Bomb,” The Runaways emphasizes Currie’s victimization at nearly every turn and avoids enjoying the band’s music as feminist empowerment. Fanning comes across as young and vulnerable, and Stewart as rather passive, suggesting that different casting might have lead to a more fun film. — Holman

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE: A FILM ABOUT THE DOORS 2 stars (R ) Writer/director Tom DiCillo has fashioned an unremarkable documentary about one of America’s most remarkable rock bands, the Doors. When You’re Strange’s visual odyssey details the life and times of the group. — Chad Radford

(Photo Gene Page)