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The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6, summer sequels going in opposite directions

A monumental contest in the movie theaters: The Hangover Part III races against Fast & Furious 6. 

 This could be the biggest weekend ever for movie profits. Well, some pundits on the internet are saying that because another Hangover has arrived along with the latest Fast & Furious. That series has taken in $1.5 billion box office through its first five episodes. Good news, there’s quality over there out of the fast lane. Here’s the list:

The Hangover Part III:  2 stars

Fast & Furious 6:   3 stars

Beyond the Hills:  3 ½

Love is All You Need:  3 ½

Sunset Boulevard:  5

Epic: --

 

THE HANGOVER PART III:  One good idea: this third film wisely puts its two most lunacy-driving characters up front. The first would be Alan, the drug-dabbling brother-in-law who was originally only along for the ride but made Zach Galifianakis a star (enough to be on Bill Maher’s show the other night, where unfortunately he didn’t have much to say). The other is Mr. Chow, played wild-eyed and foul-mouthed by former dentist Ken Jeong, who’s game for indignities and stereotyping if they lead to laughs.  One bad piece of news: there aren’t that many laughs and unlike in Part I, they’re not fresh and inspired. Mostly they’re callous and cheap. I must admit though that two women across the aisle from me were laughing almost continuously, at everything.  

 

The movie re-activates the wolfpack (with Bradley Cooper and Stu Helms as the other members). After Alan kills a giraffe (it’s in the trailer if you’re interested), is oblivious to his father’s heart attack in the background and does a falsetto Ave Maria at his funeral, the boys initiate an intervention. On the way to a mental health centre, they’re run off the highway by a truck and kidnapped by a hood played by John Goodman who orders them to find Mr. Chow and the gold bars he stole from him. That takes the boys to Tijuana and then back to Las Vegas. There’s loud action in both and a couple of quietly sweet interludes for Alan. He has a spaced-out chat with a young boy and is smitten by a pawnshop clerk played by Melissa McCarthy.  Good scenes inside a blatantly formulaic mass. Overall: better than Part II but way behind the original. (International Village, Dunbar, Dolphin and many suburban theatres) 2  out of 5

FAST & FURIOUS 6:  This series also hit a weak spell a while back but it recovered to be a favorite with the fans. Of course, they’re adrenaline junkies who love to see fast cars speeding down the road and rolling and crashing as often as possible. This film starts right off with a two car race on one of those cliffside roads on the Spanish coast and hardly ever lets up.  (Except for a slow section in the middle where guys menace and explain the story to each other.) We get car chases in the streets of London,  then an over-the-top run in which the bad guys speed an army tank down a highway – against the flow of traffic – while our heroes buzz their cars around like bees, and then at the climax a sequence that may stand up as the most extended action sequence this summer. There’s a cargo plane hurtling down what must be the longest tarmac on earth while our friends both inside and underneath try to stop it. Preposterous? Sure. But logic isn’t the point. 

 

Our friends started 11 years ago as Los Angeles street racers and have at various times been on one side of the law or the other. This time their leader Dom (Vin Diesel) is approached by the FBI man who chased them in the last film (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to help take down an international criminal who is stealing parts for a high-tech weapon system. It’s like a Mission Impossible film. The plot also has to explain why Dom’s girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez), who died three films ago, is alive and working with the bad guys. It does and with great stunts races to the end, where you’ll find a blatant teaser for #7 coming next year.  (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 3 out of 5   

BEYOND THE HILLS: Is Romania’s Cristian Mungiu the new Bergman? He makes a good case for it in his new film which watches people on earth flop around trying to do what they think God wants. God, meanwhile, seems indifferent in this true story that took place in a rural monastery in Moldavia a few years ago. A young woman visits an old friend, now a nun, (they were raised in an orphanage together) and asks her to come to Germany where she now works as a server on a tourist boat. The nun declines  saying she still loves her “but not like before.”

 

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