This Week's Movies Bob Mondello weighs in on the new releases this week: Poseidon, Wah-Wah and Keeping Up with the Steins.
NPR logo This Week's Movies

This Week's Movies

Miranda Richardson is the adulterous mother in Wah-Wah. Samuel Goldwyn Films hide caption

toggle caption
Samuel Goldwyn Films

Jami Gertz, Jeremy Piven and Daryl Sabara in Keeping Up with the Steins. Miramax Films hide caption

toggle caption
Miramax Films

Bob Mondello weighs in on the new releases this week. And heck, Entourage doesn't start up again for another month, I'm going with the Jeremy Piven flick.

Poseidon: Director Wolfgang Peterson is Hollywood's go-to guy for underwater daredeviltry, and he's more or less made Das Really Big Boot in this remake. Presumably, the point of redoing Irwin Allen's '72 disaster flick is the revolution in special effects in the interim.

The new CGI stuff's not bad, but the original picture's effects were pretty cool, so it's hardly enough to justify a $160 million do-over. The story's been stripped for action (20 minutes shorter than the original), which means there's not much character development. Kurt Russell plays a former NYC mayor (must've gotten elected in Escape from New York) who is more or less a combination of the Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters roles in the original (he leads the survivors and does a dolphin-esque underwater bit). Richard Dreyfuss plays gay (it's the 21st century, doncha know), but non-white characters seem to have an especially bad time of things generally. Thankfully, nobody sings "The Morning After," and within a week or so, there probably won't be one for this flick except on video.

Wah-Wah: Actor Richard E. Grant appears to have had a downright miserable childhood in Swaziland, but he's mined his experience for a coming-of-age story that's downright exuberant. Nicholas Hoult (the boy in About a Boy grown into a teenager whose angelic smile is tempered by seriously alarming eyebrows) plays the main character, a lad based on the first-time writer/director. Gabriel Byrne is effective as his alcoholic dad, Miranda Richardson monstrous as his adulterous mom, Emily Watson deftly amusing as his free-spirited American stepmom, and Julie Walters delicious as a tipsy aunt. The depiction of nattering Brit aristocrats in the dying days of the British Empire is priceless — the title is Watson's dismissive term for their sing-songy blathering — and the African scenery is breathtaking. Definitely worth a look!

Keeping Up With the Steins: Bar-Mitzvah competitions in Brentwood... oy, do we really need another movie about conspicuous consumption writ large? Garry Marshall plays a hippie granddad estranged from his talent-agent son (Jeremy Piven, more or less recreating his character from Entourage). Piven is determined to do for his own son what Dad never did for him, so he's renting out a stadium and hiring name talent, when all the poor kid wants is to see Dad and Granddad make up. Marshall's real son, Scott Marshall, has directed the film in the broad, sloppy style of his dad's old sitcoms, and a lot of TV performers lend their presences, as does Neil Diamond, for a rousing rendition of "Hava Nagila." So, nu?