A tad crude, 'Man' might humor teens

4/5/2006

By Phil Boatwright

The Movie Reporter

 

She’s the Man

Stars: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Robert Hoffman III, David Cross, James Kirk.  Director: Andy Fickman

Rating: PG-13

Viola disguises herself as her brother, Sebastian, taking his place in a new boarding school so she can join the boys’ soccer team. There she falls for her roommate, a hunk under the misconception that Viola is a guy. He falls for her friend Olivia, who has a crush on Sebastian, who is really Viola. To complicate things even more, the real Sebastian shows up.

Adults may find this retooling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night beyond silly and resentful that each adult character is clueless, but teenage girls may enjoy the fact that the quick thinking lead gets the best of both worlds, pretty in pink in some scenes and carefully smudged while on the soccer field in others.

The film avoids crudity. That said, the preconceptions girls have about guys leads to some comic crudeness as the lead attempts to emulate the male of the species — spitting, grabbing the crotch, etc. The lead utters the s-word under her breath in one scene and again in another scene. There are a couple of minor expletives. God’s name is followed by a curse one time by a snobbish woman; Jesus’ name is also misused once. 

There are a few sexual innuendos and certainly love is in the air, but besides some kissing in a few scenes, there are no graphic sexual encounters. In a “comic” situation, a boy and a girl have to prove their gender. He drops his pants, she lifts her shirt.  We see only the crowded stadium’s reaction.

V For Vendetta

Stars: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rae, Stephen Fry, John Hurt.

Rating: R

Set in a futuristic totalitarian world, a mild-mannered woman becomes an ally to a well-spoken masked vigilante who rescues her from a dangerous situation. With injustice rampant, V, a combination of Zorro, Batman and Noel Coward, battles the Nation’s wicked leaders by cutting their throats and blowing up symbols of governmental power.  Aided by his new Lois Lane, V fights a society ruled by corruption and cruelty.

The movie’s villainous characters are Christians and conservatives. In the story, America isn’t even a player, evidently overcome by its own excess; the action therefore takes place in England.

One gets the distinct impression from this film that the true threats to the freedom of man are the adherence to Christian and conservative philosophies. The socially acceptable pabulum that spews forth from this action-masked political parable is designed to indoctrinate viewers with the conviction that if these two belief systems were no more, the peoples of the world would at last find their utopian existence. 

Don’t care about the social rantings of the film’s makers? Well, you may enjoy some of the film’s other variables. There’s lots of bloodletting by way of swords, knives, guns, bombs and slow-mo martial arts battles. Or, if you’re so inclined, there’s the explicit physical torture of the leading lady.

I think a lot of people will find something about V for Vendetta to appreciate.  And you bad old conservative Christians, you just sit there and be quiet.

V contains strong language and violence. God’s name followed by a curse, Jesus’ name and Jesus Christ are uttered several times. It is an extremely violent film with murders by the male lead. Conservatives and Christians are portrayed as unfeeling, crooked, murderous and the purveyors of genocide.

Inside Man

Stars:  Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe.

Director: Spike Lee

Rating: R

This clever cat-and-mouse crime caper has a tough detective matching wits with a dangerous bank robber. Suddenly the volatile situation becomes even more complex when a power broker surfaces with a hidden agenda.

Finally, a smart heist-caper movie. This is one you have to pay attention to and think over after leaving the theater. With a jaunty score, lively direction and solid performances from the leads and supporters, this is one of the best suspense dramas in years.

What’s more, it’s about something more than a good cop up against a bad bank robber.  It has a theme about justice ultimately prevailing and your sins finding you out. The front story is deceptive, with a satisfying conclusion.

Alas, there is one problem: there are nearly 100 obscenities, mostly the f-word emanating from the cast. And no one in the film seems immune from such usage, including Washington, who professes to be a Christian in real life. A story this smart, with otherwise sparkling dialogue, deserved better than the constant and desensitizing use of the f-word as a means to express frustration, fear and even comic relief.