dir. Steve Pink
Accepted, less a movie than a stupid piece of shit, has thrown me into a mighty rage. I know some of you harbor secret teen feelings for Justin Long—fine, he's perfectly lovable—but unless your name is "Justin Long's Mom" and you're paralyzed from the eyeballs down, you need to let this one go.
Ostensibly a critique of our nation's higher-education system (oh, the elitism!), Accepted is about a bunch of horrible, entitled, middle-class teens who don't get into college for perfectly legitimate reasons. Well, boo fucking hoo. You're such a smarty-pants that you only applied to Yale? Your bad! Busted rotator cuff busted your sports scholarship? How about some studying, champ? Oh, you just didn't try that hard? Wow! Fuck you!
To appease their grumpster, goal-oriented families ("Get a job! Wear pants! Blah blah blah!"), the kids invent a fictional college ("South Harmon Institute of Technology" or SHIT, if you're into uproarious chuckles), renovate an abandoned mental hospital, and pocket the tens of thousands of dollars in tuition money that the oppressive 'rents toss their way. Did somebody say pizza party?
Accepted would be just another dumb loser comedy if it didn't have such a destructive chip on its shoulder. When it's not insulting those who actually worked hard and enjoyed college, Accepted farts boldly in the face of anyone facing real educational hurdles (stop crying, poor people!). Screenwriters Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (whose other collaborations include New York Minute and 2008's much-anticipated Untitled Brett Ratner Project) want their movie to be irreverently anti-intellectual and heroically antiestablishment, but it's neither. It's just pro-lazy. Tired of being "told what to learn," the self-proclaimed "SHIT-heads" create their own course catalog, which unironically includes "Hooking Up," "Wingman-ing 101," and "Walking Down the Road Thinking About Stuff."
I wish it were possible to punch a movie in the face (can we get to work on that, science?). LINDY WEST
The Oh in Ohio
dir. Billy Kent
Parker Posey plays a cold, controlling woman with nice clothes and a convertible and a fast-track career in advertising. She becomes a vice president early on in the movie because she's "so awesomely, unbelievably predictable, and that's the quality I prize most," according to a superior. Paul Rudd plays Posey's husband. He's a biology teacher in the Cleveland public school system, which is taking a toll on his pride. "I mean, look at me," he says. "Am I really the man you thought I'd become?"
Something else is bugging him, too. He's never given his wife—the "most magnificent woman in Cleveland"—an orgasm. They've been married 10 years. They've had sex 1,482 times. (She keeps track of everything.) "Do you have any idea what your frigidity has done to me?" he says. They decide to seek help, which is how Posey ends up in a class taught by a sort of pink sorceress played by Liza Minnelli. She intones: "Fifty million women in the United States suffer from orgasmic dysfunction. Fifty million! Tonight we're going to learn about the healing power! Of mastur! Bation! The greatest source of energy known to womankind!" Minnelli's part is a '90s stock character, instructing her pupils to pick up hand mirrors and examine "every glorious fold"—wasn't this exact scene in Fried Green Tomatoes?—although it's funny to see Minnelli play an even crazier person than Liza Minnelli. But she's only in the one scene.
The rest of the movie isn't funny. Once Posey learns to give herself orgasms using vibrators, she's firmly back in Posey territory—laughing, screaming, jumping around. In no time she's shoving her pager (people still have pagers?) into her vagina (wouldn't that hurt?) and dialing her own number (no, really). Danny DeVito's also in the movie, playing a swimming-pool salesman and then, implausibly, a love interest. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
dir. Sérgio Machado
Everything about Lower City is spun to make you think of City of God, from the setting (Brazilian cities) to the personnel (some coproducers) to the title. It plays the exotic sex-and-violence card, but Lower City is no City of God. Or Y Tu Mamá También. Or even Chocolat.
There's a black guy and a white guy—I can't be bothered to remember their names—and they're best buddies. They do everything together: drink, fight, defend each other's honor, go to cockfights, call each other "brother." They also co-own a boat for small-time cargo shipments and smuggling. On one of their river runs, they pick up a prostitute, both fuck her, and both fall in love with her. Their rivalry tears them apart, yadda yadda, until, in the only interesting scene in the film, they beat the teeth out of each other on a midday backstreet while deadpan spectators watch from their windows and doorways. The movie mostly drags; the only response it arouses is indignation at the way the filmmakers treat Ms. Prostitute. She's not a character, she's just a fuck-basket, doing both boys for fun and other boys for money. She doesn't have any ideas, any gumption, any desires other than getting laid and getting paid.
Lower City isn't even shot well. For all the time the trio spends on rivers and in the urban underworld, there isn't a single memorable image. City of God plays to some orientalist/tropicalist fantasies of North American liberals, but it remains a great movie because it's less a story about individuals than a story of an aggregate of people trapped inside the physical, economic, and moral architecture of a poor neighborhood. Lower City is about particular people, floating through the Brazilian underclass. The problem: For all their sex and recklessness and lower passions, those people are pretty boring. BRENDAN KILEY