The low-down on this week's premieres - 'Madagascar, The Longest Yard, Eros, Winter Solstice
When a group of animals leave their comfy, if confining, home at the New York City Zoo, things get a little hairy in the new DreamWorks animated film Madagascar. With the voices of Ben Stiller (Meet the Fockers) as Alex the Lion, Chris Rock (Head of State) as Marty the Zebra, David Schwimmer (TV's Friends) as Melman the Giaraffe, and Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral) as Gloria the Hippo, the Big Apple is in for a real creature feature, which includes some deranged lemurs and conspiring penguins. When the foursome are sent to the African island country of Madagascar by a few humans who think the former inmates would much rather live in freedom (PETA, is that you?), they must learn how to live on the wild side for the first time. `See review, in this issue of the Current.`
Chris Rock also sports stripes - he's behind bars, anyway - in The Longest Yard, a remake of the Burt Reynold's 1974 sports film. In Yard, ex-football hero Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) is thrown in jail after a drunk-driving incident. Because of his reputation on the gridiron, Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) assigns Paul to put together a team of inmates to play a football game against the prison guards. Directed by Peter Segal, who has worked with Sandler for the past three years (Anger Management in 2003 and 50 First Dates in 2004), Yard also stars real-life NFL players, a few brawny professional wrestlers, and the mustachioed hunk himself, Burt Reynolds.
Comprised of three short films, Eros is based on the themes of love and sexuality. The Dangerous Thread of Things is directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni (Blow-Up), The Hand by Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love), and Equilibrium by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic). Academy Award-nominated actors Alan Arkin (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter) and Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin) star in Soderbergh's bit of eroticism.
A family drama unfolds in Winter Solstice as Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) plays father to his two rebellious sons and attempts to romance Molly (Allison Janney), the new neighbor lady. •