Let’s do the numbers, yes? This weekend’s prequel will be the third adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (’member when David Niven, Woody Allen, et al donned the double-aughts in ’67?); at 38, Daniel Craig (Munich, Layer Cake) is the blondest Bond, the second-youngest (one-termer and former male model George Lazenby was 30 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and the sixth in 21 films — though, interestingly, he’s only the third Englishman to play the iconic spy; Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) is the series’ fifth repeat director (five others have had one-shots); the film is the fifth to feature Dame Judi Dench as boss-lady M, only the second to omit gadget-purveying quartermaster Q, last played by John Cleese, and the first ever to exclude everyone’s favorite starry-eyed-and-smitten secretary, Miss Moneypenny. I’m definitely intrigued, but … no Moneypenny? No gadgets? Do they expect us to line up and swallow whatever they happen to toss together just because it’s got the name “Bond” and that oft-undressed chick from The Dreamers? No, dear reader. They expect us to die.
Ah, Happy Feet. I actually caught this one this past weekend — woke up early on Saturday, drove up to Austin, and wedged myself into a miraculously vacant seat in a theater packed tight with children and their parents. The result? 98 minutes’ worth (feels much longer) of Robin Williams ad-libs (chuckle-worthy), a budget-blowing, multifarious onslaught of actor-covered pop songs (more or less sigh-worthy), and unnervingly sexualized, breathy-voiced female penguins voiced by Nicole Kidman and Brittany Murphy (shift-in-seat-and-cast-worried-glances-at-young-audience-members-worthy). In a land of singing penguins (with a musical vocabulary courtesy of Mix 96.1, apparently), tone-deaf but tap-happy Mumble (Elijah Wood) feels out of place, especially when he is shunned — and his “pagan” (and Savion Glover-choreographed) gyrations are outlawed — by the town elders (Hugo Weaving among them). It’s Moulin Rouge meets Footloose meets March of the Penguins — in a very weird, bad way, for my tastes. (Plus: Hugh Jackman does Elvis.) But the kids next to me seemed to really like it, so I’ll shut my mouth.
For those of you (rightfully) still whining about the untimely demise of Arrested Development (and those hankering for that first golden season of Punk’d), it’s G.O.B. (pronounced “j-oh-b”) and Dax to the rescue. Let’s Go to Prison stars Dax Shepard as a released criminal who exacts revenge on the judge who sent him to the slammer by getting himself re-arrested in order to torment said judge’s son (Will Arnett). Co-written by Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant among others.
Richard Linklater’s long-awaited Fast Food Nation also opens this week, adapted by Linklater and Eric Schlosser from Schlosser’s celebrated nonfiction book. Get FFN-centric insight from the pair in an interview on page 21.
Be safe. Go get you some Bond.
Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.