At the Movies

Chasing Papi
1 Hatchet
by Magali Armillas-Tiserya

“But how can you choose between all of nature’s beautiful flowers?” The speaker’s voice is husky, accented and desperately sincere. The camera pans out and the audience is given another good long look at a man’s over-developed and disturbingly hairless pectorals.

All the audience needs to know about Tom?s Fuentes (Eduardo Verastegui), Chasing Pap?’s title character, is in the cartoon that plays during the opening credits.

Tom?s has always been devastatingly handsome. Even when he was a little ni?o, in traditional Mexican dress, the ladies swooned. He is basically the stereotypical Latino man. He’s Paco, the mischievous Mexicano who has a penchant for taking siestas under his sombrero, but updated for the 21st century. Instead of liking siestas though, Tom?s likes the ladies, three of them.

Chasing Pap?’s plot follows the three women Tom?s is seeing. There is Lorena (Roselyn Sanchez), the idealistic but fiercely intelligent Chicago lawyer; Patricia (Jaci Velasquez), a bratty but pretty New York heiress; and Cici (Sofia Vergara), a fiery, sassy Miami cocktail waitress who was born to dance.

Despite the movie’s four writers, these three women remain as flat as a supermarket tortilla. Instead of character development, Chasing Pap? relies on the three women’s good looks to carry the film’s thin plot.

Basically, all three women, desperately jealous, decide to go see Tom?s in L.A. They arrive at the same time and find out about each other. Screaming and cat-fighting ensues.

Tom?s dopes himself up and spends most of the movie gorgeously unconscious. The FBI, some petty thieves, a suitcase full of money and a beauty pageant (which bookworm Lorena enters ? la Sandra Bullock) all become entangled in the already-predictable plot.

Some may argue that is it important to appreciate the space a movie made for Latino audiences allows the Latino community. But no important issues are actually engaged. Issues of class and self-acceptance are shamelessly mentioned, then glossed over.

As for empowerment and the construction of a strong cultural identity, Chasing Pap? is spoken entirely in the befuddled Spanglish of Latina magazine, course and unrefined gibberish. And the women, who could have been examples of powerful Latinas, come off as catty and man-hungry. They scream, quibble, tear each other’s clothes off and dance, oh, they dance.

You can really feel all four writers stretching out nice and comfortable in that huge, gaping space.

Bulletproof Monk
2 Hatchets
by Jeff Frost

Chow Yun-Fat is one of the best on-screen-martial artists the world has ever seen. Seann William Scott is someone who will forever be known as “Stiffler.” When they come together, all you want to see is one of them get their ass kicked and the other one drink inseminated beer.

The Monk With No Name (Yun-Fat) has wandered the world for 60 years, protecting a scroll that gives its possessor the ability to rule the world. Trained in a mystical monastery, Monk has not aged one day since being ordained as keeper of the scroll.

Kar (Scott) has wandered the subway stations of New York for 20 some odd years, picking the pockets of rush hour commuters.

When they are thrust together in twist of fate, Monk becomes convinced the pickpocket may very well be his prophetic successor. Kar, however, isn’t so sure he wants the job. Monk tries to convince the ruffian of his destiny, while at the same time protecting his scroll from relentless Nazis.

The main problem with the film is its absolute lack of plot. It seems, at best, an amalgamation of other films.

The plot wanders this way and that, lacking logical progression. Increasingly dull scenes precede the film’s inevitable and predictable conclusion.

There are, however, some fairly stunning visuals and occasionally impressive action sequences. Yun-Fat appears graceful and is fun to watch. Scott, straying from his usual loudmouth role, seems comfortable playing a confused, streetwise orphan.

This said, a poor supporting cast and weak dialogue sink everything these two bring to the table.

Malibu’s Most Wanted
1.5 Hatchets
by Lauren Spitzer

Malibu’s most wanted has “got somethin’ to say and (he) wants the world to hear it.” Unfortunately, Brad ‘B-Rad’Gluckman (Jamie Kennedy, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment) thinks he’s that man, and he will speak at our expense, no matter what the shameful cost.

The one-dimensional plot of director John P. Whitesell’s Malibu’s Most Wanted involves Malibu’s Governor Bill Gluckman (Ryan O’Neal), who, in order to win re-election, must control his “gangsta son B-Rad,” a trash talking Jewish kid.

Bill’s campaign manager comes up with the idea to hire two acting students, Sean (Taye Diggs, How Stella Got Her Groove Back) and PJ (Anthony Anderson, Kangaroo Jack) to kidnap him, take him to the “ghetto” and “scare the black out of him.”

B-Rad’s case of “gangstafreenia” is so overdone the audience could not possibly do anything but silently weep. B-Rad claims to have a “Ph.D., poser-hatin’ degree,” yet one could feel their intelligence drop as the film came to its conclusion, for shizzle.

Playing on racial stereotypes, Malibu’s Most Wanted makes the statement that you should be able to be whoever, or whatever, you want, no matter who stands in your way. This message is conveyed, however, by a gangsta-rat (Snoop Dogg), who comes to B-Rad in a dream.

Yet B-Rad remains determined to prove that he’s down with the hood because he watches BET and plays Grand Theft Auto 3.

Running a mere 86 minutes, Malibu’s Most Wanted is funny even with the inclusion of its bloopers. Originally titled “Suckaz,” perhaps referring to those who pay to see the film, Malibu’s Most Wanted may actually be Hollywood’s least wanted … fo’ rizzle.

Holes
2.5 Hacthets
by Janice Cane

Holes is supposed to be a kids movie with a few adult themes. Perhaps it’s best left to the kids – it’s not great, it’s not terrible. It is utterly mediocre.

The film, directed by The Fugitive’s Andrew Davis, is definitely not a bad movie. It is based on what could be a clever premise and stars decent actors. But I did wonder why the bigger names signed on for the film. Sigourney Weaver plays the obsessive warden of Camp Green Lake, a detention facility for juvenile delinquents. Jon Voight (Mr. Sir) is her right-hand man.

Voight’s character is not all that menacing, in fact he’s something of a bumbling idiot.

Weaver’s role is that of a crazed maniac on a desperate treasure hunt at which she is doomed to fail. The movie is predictable in this manner – after the first five minutes the young protagonist Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) spends at the dry, dusty camp, the audience knows who will come out on top. But there are some twists and turns along the way.

The corrupt warden sends her subjects to dig holes all day in the desert, with little rest or water. Her purpose? To find her grandfather’s lost treasure. The story of the treasure is revealed through a series of seemingly unrelated flashbacks.

Holes does a decent job of tying together divergent themes, but it allows little room for the audience to participate. The end result? The mystery element of this adventure-mystery is not all that mysterious. Its secrets are spelled out quite clearly well before the conclusion.

The movie’s target audience, young children, may be a bit more spellbound by the plot. Holes is not a movie you will regret seeing, but at the same time you won’t be missing much if you pass it over.

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