New Film Reviews
The earlier, funnier Adam Sandler comedies had a sweetly crazy allure that combined frat-house high jinks with a wholesome, join-the-party vibe. That recipe seems to have been tossed out by Sandler of late, but its essence is recaptured—and even improved upon—by Sandler crony Allen Covert, the star, producer and co-writer of this stunted-adolescence classic that hilariously explores a previously untapped nexus of stoner humor, joystick geekdom, elderly women and a martial arts-taught chimp. Covert, who resembles Mel Gibson's bedraggled younger brother, plays a 35-year-old, weed-loving video game tester kicked out of his apartment and forced to live with his grandmother (Doris Roberts) and her two roommates (Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight). The plot of Grandma's Boy may be as ephemeral as the pot smoke that accounts for the movie's visual haze, but what distinguishes this freewheeling, strangely honest comedy (directed by first-timer Nicholaus Goossen) is its puff-and-pass-it-along view, an inviting, goofy-grin attitude toward insular losers like a brilliantly weird, Matrix-outfitted nerd-mogul (Joel David Moore) a virginal cherub (co-screenwriter Nick Swardson) who refers to his parents as "roommates." There are gross-out gags, sure, but there's also the regal Jones, who seduces Swardson with tales of having pleasured everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Don Knotts, gloriously proving that not only is sexual authority evergreen—so is comic timing. (Robert Abele) (Countywide)
See Film feature. (Countywide)
An attempt to explore The Way They Live Now in modern India, Shikhar (The Peak) is only the second feature film written and directed by John Mathew Matthan, whose engrossing policier Sarfarosh (Rebellion) was a critical favorite in 1999. In Matthan's more didactic follow-up, reed-thin leading man Ajay Devgan (Yuva) sports orange "tea hair" and garish mirror-shades as G.G., a feral real-estate developer who emulates Bugsy Siegel in targeting a patch of sylvan countryside as the future site of a pre-fab city devoted to vice and gambling. The only snag is the paradisiacal ashram already squatting on this prime real estate, the beneficiary of a 50-year government lease that can't be subverted even by G.G.'s vest-pocket politicians. As long as the movie focuses on G.G.'s machinations as a tempter, teaching the high-minded son (Shahid Kapoor) of the ashram's saintly guru to drink and smoke and drawing him into his web of financial sin, it exerts some interest. And it's a pleasingly odd touch that Matthan casts as the steely guruji of the ashram a major actor from Pakistan, Javed Sheikh, whose past credits include International Gorillay (1990), a notorious Lollywood masala thriller in which Allah smites the satanic super-villain "Salman Rushdie" with a bolt of heavenly lighting. No such luck in this case: Perhaps as a sop to Devgan's vanity, G.G. remains a likable rogue and never becomes a truly dark or tragic figure, while the ashram crowd is as anachronistically other-worldly as a bunch of cloistered Amish adrift in the big city. Not even a third-act rescue from a burning building can prevent the tension from going up in smoke. (David Chute) (Naz 8, Artesia)
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