We've got four comedies out this week. One is a remake. One is almost a sequel. One, believe it or not, is a sequel of a remake. In Hollywood that's called "regifting."
Don't despair, moviegoers, there is one new idea. It's from the Farrelly Brothers of "There's Something About Mary" fame, and it is in such bad taste, no wonder it's original. No one else would have made this movie.
Here's the premise: Johnny Knoxville pretends to be mentally challenged so he can fix the Special Olympics. Bad taste? You bet. But "The Ringer" is co-produced by the people who put on the Special Olympics. The film does such a great job of taking us into the lives of these indomitable champions that we don't give a hoot about Johnny Knoxville or his story.
We want to know about these kids. They are the reason, on a one-to-four scale, "The Ringer" gets three Snowflakes.
"Rumor Has It …" isn't quite a sequel. It's supposed to be, rumor has it, what's happened to the family that "The Graduate" was really about. Shirley MacLaine is great as an updated Mrs. Robinson. In this version, it's many years after she seduced a younger man who then became involved with her daughter. Kevin Costner steps into the Dustin Hoffman part, and Jennifer Aniston is Mrs. Robinson's granddaughter.
One minute Aniston's worried that Costner might actually be her real father. The next, she's worried that she might follow her grandmother and now deceased mother and have a fling with this guy.
That's funny? Besides, wasn't the Dustin Hoffman character from the original supposed to go into plastics, not acting? (Grade: Two Snowflakes)
Steve Martin's original "Cheaper by the Dozen" was a remake. Now we've got a sequel to a remake, "Cheaper by the Dozen 2," and at 10 bucks a ticket, it's not cheap enough.
This one is about fathers, not kids. Whose idea was that? And it doesn't come together until the very end, when Martin becomes a granddad. But even that's a remake of a sequel of a remake that Martin did already -- the far superior "Father of the Bride 2." Need a Steve Martin fix this Christmas? Rent that instead. (Grade: Two Snowflakes)
"Fun With Dick and Jane," another remake, simply isn't fun. My advice: "Run, Spot, Run," toward the red sign that says "Exit."
Jim Carrey and Téa Leon play a freshly fired, upper-middle-class couple who have no family and no unemployment insurance -- so they go on a crime spree. The George Segal, Jane Fonda original had a little class. This one has Jim Carrey, who can't stop himself from breaking character and stopping the movie in its tracks with silly slapstick. And he's got so much clout in Hollywood, he won't hire anyone who might stop him. (Grade: Lump of coal)
Here's some Christmas films worth seeing: "The Family Stone" (a Christmas comedy), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (a family film) and "King Kong" (a date film).