Picks of the Week
(PG, 87 minutes, Disney): The story of a young science nerd who brings his dead dog back to life with a blast from a lightning bolt is an expansive adaptation by Tim Burton of his 1984 live-action short of the same name. Designed to appeal to both discriminating adults and older kids, the gorgeous, black-and-white stop-motion film is a fresh, clever and affectionate love letter to classic horror movies. Warning: It is decidedly not for little children. Transplanting Mary Shelleys 19th-century story to the 1950s, Frankenweenie is the story of 10-year-old Victor Frankenstein, a bookish loner whose best friend is his dog, Sparky. After Sparky is hit by a car, a desperate, distraught Victor applies some half-remembered lessons in electricity and reanimates the pet pooch. All is well until some of Victors classmates get wind of the secret experiment and begin resurrecting all of their dearly departed pets, too, including a hamster and some Sea-Monkeys. One kid, Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao) unleashes a Godzilla-like monster when his late pet turtle turns into a giant, rampaging reptile.
Its great fun. Contains some scary images and morbid thematic material. Extras: Frankenweenie touring exhibit, Pet Sematary music video by Plain White Ts. Also, on Blu-ray: the original Frankenweenie short; another original short, Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers; and a Bringing Frankenweenie to Life making-of feature. Also available in 3D.
Hit and Run
(R, 100 minutes, Universal): Writer, co-director and star Dax Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a bedraggled, drawling man under witness protection who lives in the middle of nowhere with his professor girlfriend, Annie (Kristen Bell). While Annie has no ambitions for a better job, as that would mean leaving her marooned boyfriend, her boss insists she interview for a dream position in Los Angeles. The only kink is that L.A. is the hometown of the criminals who have it out for Charlie. Devoted boyfriend that he is, Charlie breaks out his souped-up Lincoln Continental and chauffeurs his girlfriend to her interview and toward a potentially life-threatening scenario. Hot on their heels are Randy (Tom Arnold) the trigger-happy numbskull charged with protecting Charlie and Annies vengeful ex, Gil, played by Michael Rosenbaum. Also entering the mix are the bank robbers Charlie has been evading for four years. In terms of humor, the punch lines often feel uninspired or distasteful. Jess Rowland, who practically steals the show as a gay police officer, could teach the rest of the players a thing or two about comic timing. Contains nudity, violence and crude language.
House at End of the Street
(PG-13, 101 minutes, Fox): This violent but not terribly bloody thriller boasts a few nice touches, including the relationship between moderately rebellious 17-year-old Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her justifiably apprehensive mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue). Most of the comedy, however, is unintentional. The story begins with what seems to be the murder of two people by their young daughter, Carrie Ann. Four years later, Sarah and Elissa move into a nearby mini-mansion, fleeing Chicago and Moms failed marriage. Theyre told that nobody lives in the home they can see through the woods, whose creepiness has earned them a reduced rent. They soon learn, though, that Carrie Anns brother Ryan remains in the house. Elissa focuses her romantic interest on Ryan, whos sensitive and wounded. Sarah worries that her daughters nurturing instincts will lead her into trouble. Shes right, although she has no idea how serious the trouble will be. Serious, that is, if it werent so absurd. Contains violence, scares, profanity and drug use. Extras: unrated version; making-of featurette. Washington Post