SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl takes a look at three new movies coming to theaters this holiday season including early award-season favorites “American Hustle” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and the return of cult-favorite Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
KCBS Entertainment Reporter Jan Wahl:
AMERICAN HUSTLE (R) 138 min
The opening of the film reads “some of this actually happened.” This movie keeps us so revved up and enthralled, it doesn’t matter if it happened or not. It’s a story we can all believe: some Americans are hucksters and cons. The central characters in this tale of swindlers include Christian Bale (sporting the worst combover this side of Donald Trump), Bradley Cooper—with his own hair issues, and sexy, smart Amy Adams.
Abscam is the scandal and we meet everyone from a New Jersey Mayor to Arab Shieks to the Mob. Everyone is conning everyone, with a scene-stealing Jennifer Lawrence as a furious wife. It’s part “Goodfellas,” part comedy and fashion show that’s all rather dazzling and well paced fun.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (R) 105 min
From “Philomena,” “Saving Mr. Banks” to “Nebraska” and “All is Lost,” this has been a good few weeks for movies. Since I count myself as one of the Coen Brothers’ many fans, this one about a burned-out folksinger sounded promising.
Set in Greenwich Village during the folk-music craze of the 1960’s, it’s the story of a singer/songwriter who can’t seem to catch a break. Inspired in part by famed singer guitarist Dave Von Ronk, as played by Oscar Isaac, there is one thing very wrong with the film: our protagonist is unlikeable to the point of almost being unwatchable.
As the unemployable Davis, he couch surfs at people’s homes, loses their cats and is completely self centered. It’s clear he wants to perform without compromise, but it’s hard to root for him or care what happens. I’ll look forward to the next Coen Brothers film.
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (R) 94 min
I was a fan of the original “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy” (2004), but this is nowhere near as good, or as consistently funny, as that. This time, led again by the classy Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), our fearless foursome has been fired by local TV, going on to work in 24-hour cable news. Much of the plot is beside the point—it’s character and visual comedy.
The bad news is that it’s just too long and labored, with gags repeating and slapstick instead of satire. The good news: laugh-out-loud moments and a sometimes lunatic, surreal script. It could have been better—focused and less juvenile but when it hits, it is fun and just crazy enough.
Two & 1/2 hats.
You can hear KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl’s movie reviews on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM Fridays at 8:53am & 4:53pm.
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