Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"Get Him to the Greek" — Finally this summer, a movie that lives up to its hype. This is a complete blast, a much-needed breath of fresh air — well, as much fresh air as you can get in crowded clubs, packed rock shows and trashed hotel suites. But you get the idea. Its energy is what's so refreshing, its lack of pretension or self-seriousness, especially during a season of bloated, boring blockbusters. Like the 2008 hit "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" which inspired it, and like the other stand-out Judd Apatow productions such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," "Get Him to the Greek" is primarily here to offer up a good time, with rapid-fire jokes, great pacing and (of course) a litany of clever pop-culture references. But there's always that layer of humanity and sweetness that sneaks in, providing some heart along with the raunchiness. Russell Brand's performance was one of the funniest, most memorable parts of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and here he reprises the role of preening British rock star Aldous Snow. Jonah Hill co-stars as the young record executive who must escort him from London to Los Angeles for a 10th-anniversary concert at the Greek Theatre. Naturally, this does not go as planned. R for strong sexual content and drug use throughout, and pervasive language. 107 min. Three and a half stars out of four.
_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Marmaduke" — Seven-year-olds are the target audience for this talking-dog extravaganza, based on the long-running comic strip, and no one else. Adults, meanwhile, will have to endure groan-inducing puns, some seriously cheesy green-screen effects and a hokey, feel-good ending. We know we're in trouble early when Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) climbs into bed with his owners, Phil (Lee Pace) and Debbie (Judy Greer), and passes gas, prompting one of many exasperated, sitcommy cries of "Marma-DUKE!" Later on, there is the obligatory who-let-the-dogs-out joke. But somewhere in there is a clever nugget of an idea: the dog park as a canine version of high school. Once Marmaduke and his family move from Kansas to Orange County, Calif., for Phil's new job with an organic pet-food company, the 200-pound Great Dane must learn to make friends in a totally different environment. Mazie, a tomboyish Australian shepherd voiced huskily by Emma Stone, becomes Marmaduke's first friend and explains the various cliques to him. While he falls in with Mazie and the mutts, he dares to have a crush on Jezebel (Fergie), a Collie who happens to be the girlfriend of the leader of the pedigrees (Kiefer Sutherland). It's "The Outsiders," with fur. PG for some rude humor and language. 93 min. One and a half stars out of four.
_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Splice" — Director Vincenzo Natali's Frankenstein tale is pure potluck — a pinch of braininess, a bit of gothic terror, a morsel of gross-out horror and a touch of kinky sex fantasy. The parts sometimes don't fit that gracefully. Yet the movie's occasional bolts-in-the-neck crudeness is offset by its wicked humor, really cool effects and a fair number of genuine scares as the laboratory offspring of two cocky scientists grows from cute little freak to sensuous monster. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play possibly the dumbest super-geniuses ever on screen, who move from combining animal DNA into useful new critters to adding human genes to the recipe. The result quickly grows into a gorgeous femme fatale (Delphine Chaneac), roughly human in appearance but with birdlike lower legs, enhanced strength and agility and serious mommy-and-daddy issues. Natali composes some truly striking images around this creature — though the ethical idiocy of Polley and Brody's characters and the movie's gradual devolution into standard horror territory undermines this science project gone wrong. R for disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language. 104 min. Two and a half stars out of four.
_ David Germain, AP Movie Writer
Source: AP News