Hamlet 2

© 2008 Ray Wong


It's irrelevant; it's satirical; it's rather dumb. But the charm of Hamlet 2 is that it doesn't really take itself too seriously. And neither should you.

photo1Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) is a failed actor who, according to the old adage "those can't do, teach," becomes a high school drama teacher in Tucson, Arizona. He's not very good at that either. He's broke and his wife, Brie (Catherine Keener), despises their lives in Tucson. When the school board tries to shut down the drama department, Dana decides the only way he can save it is by putting on the greatest show on Earth.

photo2But not only is Dana a bad actor, he can't write either. Eventually, he comes up with a preposterous musical called Hamlet 2, in which Hamlet uses a time machine to return to his past trying to save everyone and change everything. In the process, Hamlet meets an eclectic group of historical figures including Jesus. The play is so bad that even his students have a hard time believing they can pull it off, but Dana marches on. When the school board decides to shut down the play for its obscenity, Dana fights it with the help of an ACLU lawyer Cricket (Amy Poehler). Together, they're determined to put on one of the most offensive plays in history.

photo3Steve Coogan (Hot Fuzz) is one of UK's most prolific comedian-actors. As the perpetual loser, Coogan is at once repulsively stupid and affectingly charming. His character truly is clueless, but at the same time he seems to have real heart and believe in what he does. Coogan is apt in portraying such a doofus. Sometimes his performance is too over the top even for such a comedy, but he really does carry the film well.

photo4Catherine Keener (Into the Wild) actually has a small part as Dana's wife Brie. She's self-absorbed, distracted, irritated, and disapproving. She does a fine job but her role is too small to make any real impact. David Arquette (The Tripper) also has a small part playing their boarder, Gary. His character is just a dumb ass, and Arquette is very good at playing a dumb ass. Amy Poehler (Baby Mama) stands out as the zany, overzealous ACLU lawyer and I wish she had more to do -- her role is hilarious. Elisabeth Shue (Hide and Seek) plays herself as a burned out actress-turn-nurse. Her small role is amusingly self-referential and self-deprecating.

photo5The young cast, who play the students, are not bad either. Skylar Astin, in his debut film role, is really funny and plays his role as the "sexually confused" drama queen excellently. Phoebe Strole (Descent) is also very good as the naive actress wannabe who plays the stage version of Erin Brockovich as if she was a hooker. Joseph Julian Soria (Fast & Furious) is dutiful as the Latino misfit who finds his true calling as an actor. And Melonie Diaz (Be Kind, Rewind) is smart and funny as the bitchy drama student, Ivonne.

photo6Written by Pam Brady of South Park fame and director-writer Andrew Fleming (Nancy Drew), the script is inconsistent. At times, it's a stroke of genius, mocking everything from Hollywood to high school musicals. At times, the story drags and the jokes aren't funny at all. The middle part of the film lacks focus, and the plot goes all over the place. They spend way too much time concerning us with Dana's domestic life (but still, in the process, not able to give Keener and Arquette more to do). Some of the dialogue is really cheesy, and some plot element is ridiculously cliched.

photo7But once the film comes to the final act, the pace picks up and the plot turns golden. The satirical nature of the final reels is spot on and hilarious. There's also great energy near the end and, surprisingly, the "horrible" musical they put on is better than a lot of actual musicals I've seen on Broadway lately. The tunes are catchy and the production stupendous. Perhaps the director goes overboard with that (as if a high school production really can pull of an audio-visual feast like that), but in the spirit of the film, it's too delicious to even question the authenticity. This is, after all, a comedy. Fleming's done a great job pulling the film together toward the end.

photo8Despite its obvious flaws and the soggy pace in the middle, Hamlet 2 is funny, entertaining, and culturally relevant even if the comedy itself is irrelevant. The performances are solid all around and the ending, like the climactic scenes in Hairspray, is going to put a smile on your face in a rather Hamlet-like depraved way.

Stars: Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Joseph Julian Soria, Skylar Astin, Phoebe Strole, Melonie Diaz, David Arquette, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Poehler
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writer: Pam Brady, Andrew Fleming
Distributor: Focus
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references, brief nudity and drug content
Running Time: 92 Minutes


Script – 6
Performance – 8
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 7
Music/Sound– 8
Editing – 7
Production – 7

Total – 7.4 out of 10

Bottle Shock

© 2008 Ray Wong


The title is a double entendre: it refers to the fact that wines lose their flavors and delicacy right after they get bottled or shaken in travel. It also tells of the shock the French viniculture community was to get from the Californian winemakers in their early years.

photo1Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) is a British wine connoisseur in Paris. He'd like for his business to pick up and get some respectability, and he's convinced that he needs a promotion. Learning that the Californian viniculture is in its infancy, he decides to hold an "international" wine tasting competition, pitting the French against the Americans. He sets out to Napa valley and lands himself at the Chateau Montelena, owned and operated by Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his son, Bo (Chris Pine).

photo2Jim is a very serious and "pigheaded" man, as his son calls him. Meanwhile, Bo is a stoner, and has no ambitions in life except to eat, sleep, be happy, and sleep with as many pretty girls as he can. Jim gives Bo an ultimatum: either go back to school, get a degree and a job, or get out at the end of the year. Bo begins to question if he's a loser, especially after the girl he really likes, intern Sam (Rachael Taylor), falls for his best friend and coworker Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez). He wants to prove to his father that he is not completely useless.

photo3Spurrier becomes the local celebrity when the wineries discover who he is and what he's doing in California. Eventually, he is ready to pick his wines for the competition, and he likes Jim's 1973 Chardonnay. However, Jim believes Spurrier -- a "French wine snob" -- is only there to ridicule and humiliate him and the Americans. On top if it, he doesn't believe his Chardonnay, which turns out brown instead of golden in color, is ready and is heartbroken when he finds out Gustavo is making his own wine. When Bo gives the Chardonnay to Spurrier to take back to Paris, Bill believes he's totally ruined, and he'll be laughed at by everyone, and his dream as a winemaker is dashed.

photo4Alan Rickman (Harry Potter) is arguably one of the best actors in the world, and he delivers. As Spurrier, his comic timing is impeccable, and yet he displays the right air of snobbery to offset his funny moments -- that's it, he doesn't think he's funny! Yes, the characters seems somewhat of a caricature, but Rickman's performance is delightfully dry and witty. Bill Pullman (The Grudge) also does a good job as the stubborn and proud man who believes in his dream so much that he's willing to risk it all. Sometimes his character is so serious with a lack of warmth that you just want to smack him. At the same time, Pullman makes us believe that it's a man whose been beaten up so many times that he's desperate for a last chance.

photo5Chris Pine (Star Trek) is amiable as the happy-go-lucky charmer. Still, there's just not enough depth and substance in both the character and Pine's performance to make any significant impression. Freddy Rodriguez (Grindhouse: Planet Terror) fairs a bit better as the happy-go-lucky Mexican-American who knows his wines. His is such a likable character that it's a shame we don't see more of him. Rachael Taylor (Transformer) is almost too cute to play Sam, the girl who likes to get dirt under her nails. But she gives the film a needed boost of female energy; and, yeah, she's really cute.

photo6Based on a true story and written by Jodie Savin (Witchcraft), Randall Miller (Nobel Son) and Ross Schwatz (The Smartest Person Who Ever Lived), the script feels a little light and scattered. There is no strong conflict. We don't exactly know who the protagonists are: is it Jim or Bo, or is it Spurrier? The dialogue is rather standard as well, with events and character development that don't necessarily go well together. Still, the characters are extraordinarily likable and there's some kind of "fable" feel to it. The story is predictable, however, complete with the obligatory spunky love interest and the coming of age part of journey Bo has to go through. The conflicts and problems seem a bit forced as well.

photo7Still, director Randall Miller (Nobel Son) gives the film a pleasant, almost romantic visual style. The California vineyards are gorgeous, and it's a hoot to set the sophisticated viniculture against the Hicksville environment in Northern California. No wonder Stephen Spurrier is such a snob when it comes to the Americans. The middle does drag, and some of the plot lines, scenes and editing can be tightened. The production is good; however, the feel of the mid-70s is a bit off. Sure, there are the hair and the cars and the clothes. I guess the film still has too much of a contemporary look to make us believe it's actually 1976.

photo8Bottle Shock is nothing serious or remarkable, but it's lighthearted and a warm and fuzzy little film that will make you want to drink a bit of wine, eat a bit of cheese, and dance a little dance. So don't be shocked if you find yourself enjoying it with a nice glass of Chardonnay.

Stars: Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina, Eliza Dushku
Director: Randall Miller
Writer: Jodie Savin, Randall Miller, Ross Schwartz
Distributor: Freestyle
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual content and drug use.
Running Time: 110 Minutes


Script – 6
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 8
Music/Sound– 7
Editing – 7
Production – 7

Total – 7.7 out of 10

Vicky Christina Barcelona

© 2008 Ray Wong


Maybe Woody Allen is channeling Pedro Almodovar, or maybe he's just bored with New York and London, but Vicky Christina Barcelona is a slight departure from the standard Woody Allen's comedy that deals specifically with love, friendship, art, loyalty, and, oh yes, sex.

photo1Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson) are two best friends who are spending a few summer months in Spain at the beautiful home of Vicky's friend Judy (Patricia Clarkson). Vicky's there to study art and prepare for her thesis, and Christina is there to have an experience. While having a lot in common, Vicky and Christina have one sharp difference: their views on love and relationships. Vicky knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to live out her life: she and fiance Doug (Chris Messina) are getting married in the Fall; meanwhile, Christina doesn't believe in the conventional and she's desperate to find out what she really wants.

photo2Soon enough, they meet their challenge in a dashing, Bohemian artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), whose no-nonsense approach to life is both alluring and threatening to Vicky and Christina. Juan Antonio makes no apologies for desiring both women (at the same time). Vicky finds that repulsive, while Christina is seriously considering the offer. Eventually, however, despite her resistance, Juan's sensitive side wins Vicky over. She's extremely confused, and when Doug proposes that they get married in Barcelona, Vicky reluctantly agrees while trying to hide her feelings and confusion. At the same time, Christina carries on a torrid love affair with Juan Antonio, to the dismay of his neurotic ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).

photo3Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) is endearing as the "always in control" Vicky. Once Vicky's world is turned upside down by Juan Antonio, Hall shows a great range of emotions even if her character is trying to hide those emotions. She has a great balance of confidence and vulnerability. In comparison, Scarlett Johansson's (The Nanny Diaries) is rather flat and unconvincing as the naif whose idea of love is to do whatever she wants with whomever she wants. Johansson's portrayal isn't layered enough to make us really get her.

photo4Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is charismatic as the seducer. He shows enough deepness and soul to lift the character from the potentially damaging characterization of a callous cad. Still, one questions his motives, especially with Vicky, knowing full well that she's either engaged or married. Where are his morals and limitations or boundaries? Still, Bardem is good enough to make us believe that these women could be so utterly smitten with him. Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz (Elegy) has relatively brief but important role as Juan Antonio's passionate ex, Maria Elena. Her character is possibly the most interesting and explosive one in the film, and she's dazzling in the role. It's a shame that she doesn't have enough screen time to really take the character to places.

photo5Written and directed by Woody Allen (Scoop), the screenplay is supposed to be loosely structured, episodic and casual. The romantic comedy unfolds casually and the plot takes on different turns based on the characters' impulsive decisions. The dialogue is typically Allen-esque: witty, sharp, and often verbose. It also has Allen's quirky characters and outrageous situations. Still, something is amiss in the screenplay, and it feels amateurish. The overbearing narration sounds like a radio play and eventually grates on my nerves: "And then they had some wonderful wine at a bistro by the river. After that they visited the art galleries and had a good time..." Perhaps Allen is trying for some dry, deadpan humor in the narration but it just comes off as pedestrian and annoying. What part of "show, don't tell" does the veteran scribe and filmmaker not understand?

photo6In addition, the circumstances seem forced and unconvincing. There are times when I feel that Allen is trying too hard to make his characters do what he wants, so the narrator has something to talk about: how silly these people are. The characters appear to be too wishy washy for my taste. One minute they're in love and the next they're saying, "This is not what I want." Also, Allen seems to be saying that artists are colorful, spontaneous, exciting people while the non-artist are boring, common, and unwanted. Surely Allen has a biased view on the subject and he may be trying to push that on us. I wouldn't have minded if he did have an agenda with this "romantic comedy" if only he didn't bore me so much with the inane situations and narration. At times, while watching these characters meander through their lives and relationships, I feel like I'm watching paint dry.

photo7And I was expecting the film to entice me to take a trip to Spain. While the locations are beautiful, they don't feel sexy, and Spain is supposed to one of the sexiest places on Earth. That's just odd -- how can Spain not feel sexy in a film about love and sex? All we see is how these people roam around town, sipping purple wine, and feeling sorry for themselves. It's such a far cry from Allen's brilliant and excitingly sexy thriller, Match Point. Now, that movie made me want to go to London. I think Barcelona deserves the same thing.


Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Christopher Evan Welch, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Distributor: Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexuality, drinking and smoking
Running Time: 96 Minutes


Script – 5
Performance – 7
Direction – 6
Cinematography – 7
Music/Sound– 5
Editing – 7
Production – 7

Total – 6.1 out of 10

Brideshead Revisited

© 2008 Ray Wong


Based on Evelyn Waugh's acclaimed 1945 novel, Brideshead Revisited is the second adaptation (the first was a 1981 TV miniseries) that examines "the operation of divine grace" through the eyes of an atheist and his relationship with the aristocratic Flyte family in pre-war England.

photo1Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode), a middle-class first-year student at Oxford, has a chance encounter with Sebastian Flyte (Ben Wishaw), the younger son of an aristocratic family. They become fast friends, and when Sebastian takes Charles to his stately family home, Brideshead Castle, Charles is entranced by the wealth and opulent lifestyle of the Flytes.

photo2Charles and Sebastian form an extremely close friendship, often over food, wine, and childish horseplay. Eventually, Charles meets Sebastian's beautiful sister, Julia (Hayley Atwell) and mother, Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson), whom Sebastian has tried to avoid. A devout Catholic, Lady Marchmain tries to control her children through guilt and manipulation. Sebastian is a self-proclaimed sinner, and he finds greater solace in alcohol than religion, to his mother's dismay. Meanwhile, Charles is smitten with Julia. During a vacation at the Venetian home of their father, Lord Marchmain (Michael Gambon), Sebastian witnesses a passionate kiss between Charles and Julia. Soon, the friendship between Sebastian and Charles deteriorates; and when Julia is engaged to a Catholic named Rex Mottram, Charles is further estranged from the Flytes.

photo3Years go by before Charles is once again entangled with the Flytes. Eventually, he forms a relationship with Julia, who is now married to Rex. Charles plans to divorce his own wife and marry Julia. But circumstances arise and Julia doesn't want to live in sin anymore. Thus she chooses God instead of Charles. During WWII, Charles is now an army officer stationed at Brideshead. Finally he realizes the operation of the divine grace, even if he doesn't fully understand it.

photo4Matthew Goode (The Lookout) is a promising young actor who has a short but impressive resume so far. As Charles Ryder, he exudes charm and an naiveté that can be deceiving. Charles is a truly conflicted character -- a reluctant protagonist, if you will. He's trapped by his vision of what a good life should be, his affection to Sebastian, his love for Julia, and his unwillingness to compromise. Goode portrays that inner conflict and reluctance very well. At times, however, he's a little dull as the man of both Julia's and Sebastian's affection. His performance may be a bit too controlled, too well-mannered, and reserved.

photo5Ben Whishaw (I Am Not There) has a lot of heart playing Sebastian. He's supposed to be a weak character, partially why Charles feels protective of him. Though acting a bit too stereotypically effeminate, Whishaw actually shows a quiet strength in his character that Charles doesn't have -- he's defiant of his controlling mother and he refuses to compromise. He also knows exactly what he wants: Charles. Heyley Atwell (The Duchess) is the weakest of the three young leads. As Julia, her character is inconsistent, passive and her portrayal is low-key. Except for the moment when Julia is "sinning" with Charles, I don't find much sympathetic about her.

photo6The veterans are what anchor the film. Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction) is remarkable as controlling Lady Marchmain, and somehow she makes us pity her. Her faith has pushed her family away from her -- first her husband, then her children, and yet you know she genuinely cares for them. She's in every way a tragic character and it's all her own fault, but you still can't help but feel sorry for her. Alas, she simply doesn't have enough screen time. Michael Gambon (Harry Potter) also doesn't have enough screen time with his excellent portrayal of Lord Marchmain, who abandons his family to live with his mistress. He's a mirror of Sebastian (albeit totally heterosexual), and Gambon lights up the screen whenever he's on.

photo7Not having read the novel, I have no idea how closely the screenplay, written by Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland), stays with source material. As a standalone screenplay, however, the dialogue is good and the complexity of the relationships well laid out. There are places where the subtexts and subtlety are lost, however. Considering the novel is a first-person narration from Charles' point of view, what the film misses are the internal thoughts and conflicts Charles possesses, which don't really translate well to film. Often we're left without an inkling of why the characters act the way they do. I also assume that much of Waugh's symbolism, subtexts and lyrical prose are lost in the 133-minute production as well. Structurally the screenplay is good, but some of the time jumps are confusing. There are actually two bookends (one with Charles as an army officer during WWII, and one with Charles being an accomplished artist on board the Queen Mary) -- that threw me off a bit.

photo8Julian Jarrold's (Becoming Jane) direction is lush and stately. The cinematography is scrumptious, and the costumes and set designs are wonderful. His pacing is languorous, and often evokes a sense of nostalgia that is appropriate for the film (which is supposed to be Charles Ryders's memoir). Even at over two hours long, the film doesn't feel slow. There are some key emotional moments that are poignant, subtle yet powerful. Still, limited by the screenplay, Jarrold can't seem to delve deeper into the psychology and layers of the character development. Therefore, the film looks gorgeous, sounds beautiful, but feels superficial.

While Brideshead is a beautiful adaptation with a nice cast (and a wonderful Emma Thompson) and a gorgeous production, in the shadow of the award-winning miniseries starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, one must wonder if this Brideshead is worth revisited.

Stars: Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon
Director: Julian Jarrold
Writers: Andrew Davies, Jeremy Brock (based on Evelyn Waugh)
Distributor: Miramax
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content, nudity
Running Time: 133 Minutes


Script – 7
Performance – 8
Direction – 8
Cinematography – 9
Music/Sound– 8
Editing – 7
Production – 8

Total – 7.8 out of 10

Swing Vote

© 2008 Ray Wong


It's election year, and what's more topical than the continuing debate of "red" vs. "blue" states? Swing Vote tries to take a swipe at the political process from the point of view of a little girl. The result is a halfway house between political satire and family drama.

p1Bud (Kevin Costner) is an egg factory worker whose main goal in life is to get through the day without getting fired or too drunk. He's a 40-something single father, but in reality he's more like an overgrown 14-year-old. Meanwhile, his ten-year-old daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll), is really the master of the house. She cooks, cleans, washes, pays the bills, and even drives herself home when her father was too drunk. What Molly wants the most is for Bud to care about what's going on in the world. To her, civil duties are very important, especially on election day. She urges her father to come to the polling place to vote.

p2When Bud doesn't show up, Molly gets angry and she decides to vote for Bud instead. But a chain of events render her (or Bud's) vote invalid. She thinks it's the end of the story, until the result of the election comes down to one single state, one single county, and finally one single vote: Bud's. Suddenly, Bud becomes the most important person in all of America -- the President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) wants him, the Democratic challenger Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper) wants him, and everyone wants him. Meanwhile, Bud gets the hang of the idea of being a celebrity (even only for ten days until he recasts his vote), and thinks everything is a joke. Unbeknownst to him and to Molly's dismay, he's slowly turning the political process upside down with a circus around it. Who will he choose? Does it even matter? What does it mean to be American?

p3Kevin Costner (Mr. Brooks) hasn't had a certifiable hit for a long time; yet he remains one of America's most recognizable stars. There's a reason to that, and the character Bud reminds us of that reason: he's a lovable, everyday kind of guy. Bud is every bit of a loser, someone we'd love to laugh at and ridicule. Bud is all that, but at the same time, Costner's earnestness and genuine cluelessness evoke the audiences' empathy. Sure, he's dumb, uneducated, sad, broken, and irresponsible, but at the same time he's also a loving father, and basically a good-hearted guy. Costner is very good at portray a quintessential lovable loser.

p4Madeline Carroll (Resident Evil: Extinction) is really good as Molly -- she has a wide range of emotions and her performance is natural and convincing. She also has one of the most three-dimensional characters in the film and she delivers. The chemistry between her and Costner is key for us to feel the genuine connection between father and daughter, and makes us believe they would stick together despite all the problems they have. Paula Patton (Deja Vu) has relatively brief but important role as reporter Kate Madison. She's gorgeous and lovely, and does her job.

p5The rest of the cast seems to have a good time with this project: Kelsey Grammer (X-Men: The Last Stand) plays a US President seeking reelection with an equal dose of self-deprecating humor and seriousness, and Dennis Hopper (Sleepwalking) plays his Democratic challenger, aptly named Greenleaf, with dashes of befuddlement and shrewdness (yet we miss the edgy, crazy Dennis Hopper). Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and Nathan Lane (The Producer) play the President's chief of staff and Greenleaf's campaign chief respectively, but their performances are limited by blatant caricatures. George Lopez (Balls of Fury) doesn't have much to do as a local news producer, while Judge Reinhold (The Santa Clause 3) seems to have fun being Bud's fellow country bumpkin.

p6The concept of the story, written by writer-director Joshua Michael Stern (Neverwas) and Jason Richman (Bad Company), has the potential of being a sharp political satire much like 2006's Thank You for Smoking. Instead, the characters, with the exception of Molly, feel more like caricatures than real people. Even Bud seems like a collection of stereotypes. Surely the writers must have been thinking: "Who is the most unlikely hero we can put in that situation?" Thus born the ultimate loser (yet lovable so we have something to root for). Loser are fun to laugh at, but after a while, the schtick becomes tiring. We keep seeing Bud making a fool of himself and Molly over and over again, and we start to ask, "What the Hell is this guy's problem?" No one can be that stupid, right? And we keep waiting for the moment when Bud would wise up and be responsible for a change. He does, but only until the last reel of the film -- too little, too late.

p7Granted, I think it's equally unrealistic if Bud would make a 180-degree change. He's been a slack for forty-some years, after all. So in a way I appreciate the writers for not going down that route. Still, Bud's behavior eventually grates on my nerves as I start to say to myself, "Dude, grow up already." Bud's character is more suitable for gross-out comedies such as The Stepbrothers or Knocked Up.

p8Thus lies the second problem of the script: the writers can't decide whether it's a family drama or a political satire. There are indeed some poignant moments, especially between Molly and Bud, who have the best onscreen relationship of the entire film. As a political satire, however, the film falls flat. The characters (especially Mr. President and Mr. Greenleaf) are very unconvincing, and the situations are simply absurd. The premise is outlandish to begin with -- it takes a huge dose of suspension of disbelief -- so add cartoonish characters to that mix and you have something that is half-cooked.

Stern's direction is brisk and adequate, however. The comic timing is generally spot on and there are some funny, witty moments. I specifically like the campaign ads -- they're so ridiculous that they're hilarious. But that's the thing -- the tone of the political satire doesn't mesh with the dramatic part of the story. Everything feels too superficial and convenient.

While this is not a complete disaster, don't expect something like Thank You for Smoking. My vote is this: stay home and rent the DVD some other time, preferrably after the real election in November.

Stars: Kevin Costner, Madeline Carroll, Paula Patton, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, Stanley Tucci, George Lopez, Judge Reinhold, Charles Esten
Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writers: Jason Richman, Joshua Michael Stern
Distributor: Walt Disney
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language
Running Time: Minutes


Script – 6
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 7
Music/Sound– 7

Editing – 7
Production – 7

Total – 6.8 out of 10