Capsule reviews: `Shrek Forever After' and others

The Associated Press, Friday, May 21, 2010, 2:46pm (PDT)

Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"Holy Rollers" — The film depicts a world the majority of us have never visited — the insular existence of Brooklyn's Hasidic Jews — only to wind up following the same rise-and-fall formula we've seen countless times before. But it does allow Jesse Eisenberg to put a new spin on the brainy-but-sweetly-a wkward shtick he's perfected in movies like "The Squid and the Whale" and "Adventureland." Here, it feels like he's really acting — and he's really a grown-up — for the first time. Inspired by the true story of Orthodox Jews who functioned as drug mules in the late 1990s, smuggling a million Ecstasy pills into the United States from Europe, this first feature from director Kevin Asch offers some strong performances and a vivid sense of place with its synagogues and modest homes. Eisenberg stars as Sam Gold, a serious man with plans to marry, have children and become a rabbi. But he finds himself intrigued by the brash flashiness of his next-door neighbor, Yosef Zimmerman (Justin Bartha, the bachelor from "The Hangover"), and getting drawn into his smuggling ring. You can see the self-destruction coming from a mile away — long before Yosef gets in over his head with an Israeli drug cartel — in the script from Antonio Macia. And yet Yosef is charismatic and undeniably magnetic, for Sam and for us, so it's hard not to get dragged along for this wild ride. R for drug content and language throughout, and brief sexual material. 89 min. Two stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic


"Shrek Forever After" — Given that this is the first film in the "Shrek" franchise in 3-D, it's surprisingly flat — and we're not just talking about the look of it. This fourth and allegedly final installment in the series is lifeless, joyless and woefully devoid of the upbeat energy that distinguished the earlier movies — well, at least the first two. If "Shrek the Third" from 2007 felt tired, "Shrek Forever After" is practically narcoleptic. Brief bursts of manic energy give way to long, heavy stretches that drag. Most of the hackneyed pop culture references of its predecessors are gone, mercifully, but so is the fun. This time, the big, bad ogre (voiced as always by Mike Myers) is having a mid-life crisis — not exactly a hoot for the kids in the audience, and their parents can suffer through that at home for free. As for the animation, presenting it in 3-D doesn't add a whole lot. This is not a deeply immersive experience; more often, it consists of stuff being flung at you in gimmicky fashion. And the frustrating part is, the "Shrek" movies didn't need an added dimension: They already had an impressive visual scheme all their own. Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas return to the voice cast. PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language. In 3-D and IMAX 3-D. 93 min. One and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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