New Reviews

Beerfest; How to Eat Fried Worms; Queens

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HALF NELSON
See Film feature. (Edwards University, Irvine)


HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
From the studio that brought you Snakes on a Plane comes this equally stomach-churning (in the best sense) adaptation of Thomas Rockwell's beloved young adult novel, with its evergreen message about the struggle to fit in and the danger of judging books by their covers. Worms is the story of one Billy Forrester (Luke Benward)—the proverbial new kid on the block—and how his newness is sniffed out by the schoolyard bully, who challenges Billy to a creepy-crawly test of prepubescent manhood: Eat 10 worms, cooked in inventively disgusting manners, in a single day. From there, writer-director Bob Dolman (The Banger Sisters) kicks things into gross-out-slapstick overdrive, and the movie is so cheerfully crude that you begin to wonder if it wasn't just made for fifth graders, but by them as well. That's a compliment, of course: Worms is a rare kiddie flick that successfully adopts a child's-eye view, where nothing carries more importance than the saving of playground face and where parents are as distant and clueless as storybook giants. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)


THE ILLUSIONIST
See Film feature. (Edwards "Big One" Megaplex, Spectrum, Irvine; UA Marketplace, Long Beach)


INVINCIBLE
See Film feature. (Countywide)


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BEERFEST
Connoisseurs of le cinema de Broken Lizard can take modest consolation that this ode to "cold, fresh joy" marks a distinct rebound for the Colgate University-spawned comedy troupe from the dregs of Club Dread and Dukes of Hazzard. A pair of brewsky-loving brothers (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) travel to Munich to scatter the ashes of their dear old dad (Donald Sutherland), where they stumble upon the titular Olympiad of inebriation and, after getting their asses whooped, vow revenge. Topped off with politically incorrect potshots at the Fatherland (characters escorted offscreen and shot; a jackboot-shaped stein) and an impressively idiotic litany of drinking games (beer pong, trick quarters, the line chug), Beerfest bubbles with the cheeky irreverence of early John Landis and David Zucker. Yet, like almost every other American screen comedy of the moment, it's far too long in the tooth, with a scattershot final half-hour that seems the work of an editor battling a bad hangover. The Lizards are a likable bunch, but in the pantheon of pilsner-scented comic pleasure, Strange Brew's immortal McKenzie brothers could chug them under the table with one liver tied behind their backs. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)
IDLEWILD
See Film feature. (Countywide)
QUEENS
With five overbearing mothers and six overshadowed gay sons, this Spanish meet-the-parents ensemble farce aims for Almodóvar but falls far short. Even Almodóvar's leading women (Marisa Paredes, Verónica Forqué, and Carmen Maura) can't rescue the script, whose strained sitcom patter renders each mother in caricature: the doe-eyed sex addict, the icy businesswoman, the frigid judge, the chilly film star, and the blubbering martyr. The plot revolves around a multiple wedding, supposedly the first (legal) gay weddings in Spanish history. The out-of-town mothers have converged in Madrid for the event; those already there would avoid it if they could. The conflict arises when the women meet each other and their prospective sons-in-law. The seasoned actresses are grand enough, but what a waste: Rather than elevate the material, they amplify its banalities. Director-co-writer Manuel Gómez Pereira's answer for everything seems to be heterosexual sex, even when sex is the problem, or when the participants are gay. (Melissa Levine) (Edwards University, Irvine) 
 
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