Helen Mirren, Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton and Pierce Brosnan all in the movies
Time Out staff
Let’s Be Cops Director: Luke Greenfield Stars: Nina Dobrev, Angela Kerecz, Jake Johnson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans Jr. 1/5
You’d think gun-happy police would have enough PR problems these days – now they must contend with lame portrayals in aggressively unfunny August comedies. Directed by Luke Greenfield (whose The Girl Next Door suggested a brain), Let’s Be Cops is both hyperactive and shoddy, a skit-length concept stretched beyond shattering. Post collegiate losers Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) flail in unfulfilled lives, the former a washed-up football player who now bullies kids in pickup games, the latter an effete computer-game designer who can’t stand up to his boss. After dressing up as officers and reaping unusual rewards they take the ruse too far and find themselves on actual crime calls.
The movie is being sold as zany and irreverent; its few laughs (all of which boil down to: Hey, we can make strangers do things) are crammed into the trailer. Not revealed beforehand are the remarkably long stretches of sub-Apatow male bonding, dragging the movie closer to a psychodrama. Tonally, Let’s Be Cops then trips into a minefield after tiring of its own provocative setup; suddenly, there’s an actual cop in the guys’ midst (the effortlessly believable Rob Riggle, a former Marine lieutenant colonel), and the movie sobers up, disastrously, into a rise-to-the-occasion Bad Boys action flick, never mind the credentials. Neither at ease as a broad romp or a stakes-heavy shoot-’em-up, the film deserves a stern verbal warning at the least. From Police Academy to Hot Fuzz, there are satires to be made about undisciplined law enforcement; this will not join their ranks, try as it might. Joshua Rothkopf
The Hundred-Foot Journey Director: Lasse Hallström Stars: Helen Mirren, Charlotte Le Bon, Manish Dayal, Om Puri 3/5
If you catch whiffs of Chocolat, you’re not imagining them: This middlebrow culture-clash foodie fable, based on a novel by Richard C. Morais, shares more than just a director with that Juliette Binoche concoction. There’s also the quaint, postcard-ready French setting, the heavy-handed musings on the mystical power of spices, and a prickly, purse-lipped antagonist butting against the threat of change.
The latter, Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, in a deliciously salty turn), oversees a starched-linen fine-dining temple in the south of France. Her primary concern is securing yet another Michelin star – that is, until thrifty Mumbai import Papa (Om Puri) and his brood move in across the road to open a vindaloo-stirring, A.R. Rahman–sound tracked eatery of their own, helmed by kitchen-prodigy son Hassan (Manish Dayal).
The movie’s never tastier than when screen vets Mirren and Puri are sparring, pettily buying out each other’s produce at the local market or bellyaching to the town’s mayor. But when that rivalry reduces to a low simmer in favour of Hassan’s rags-to-riches rise in the food world, the story goes bland. The film should have taken a cue from its spice-loving subjects and jacked up the heat. Christina Izzo
Into the Storm Director: Steven Quale Stars: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies 2/5
A simple tornado just isn’t enough for the modern disaster movie. They’re just not sufficiently scary unless a) there are also sharks involved or b) there are loads of them. Wisely, this shakycam screamer adopts the latter approach – and when the cyclones do muscle into town, ripping up schools, banks and airports willy-nilly, the film is fairly fun to watch. Sadly, everything else about it is, well, a bit of a disaster. The characters – including Richard Armitage as a small-town dad who can’t relate to his kids and Sarah Wayne Callies as a weather scientist – are without exception derivative and dull. Tom Huddleston
As Above So Below Director: John Erick Dowdle Stars: Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Perdita Weeks
This docu-horror takes place below the streets of Paris, in the sinister setting of the subterranean catacombs. The story is told through a handheld camera carried by two archaeologists who set out to document the mass graves that sit below the streets of the French capital. Yes, it’s another shakycam screamer, but that is one hell of a location. Time Out staff
The November Man Director: Roger Donaldson Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko
Retired CIA veteran Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is called back into service to help retrieve a Russian agent – also his former lover – who has incriminating evidence on a corrupt Russian leader. When a different CIA team, led by Devereaux’s former protégé (Luke Bracey), shows up, the mission goes south and Devereaux’s ex-lover is killed. Now a rogue agent, Devereaux is out to settle the score. Time Out staff
And So it Goes Director: Rob Reiner Stars: Diane Keaton, Michael Douglas
Directed by Rob Reiner, who gave us When Harry Met Sally, this uplifting comedy about the joys and pains of family and friends, stars Michael Douglas as Oren Little, a rude, selfish estate agent with a sharp tongue and few real friends. Things start to change for Oren when his estranged son dumps him with the granddaughter he never knew he had. Time Out staff
What If Director: Michael Dowse Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park
A rom-com that aims to take a look at that modern dilemma ‘can men and women ever really be just friends?’ Daniel Radcliffe plays a medical school dropout who’s had nothing but bad luck in relationships until he meets the seemingly perfect woman – who has a boyfriend – but maybe they can just be friends. Time Out staff