New films in theaters this week:
-- "Bandslam" (rated PG), a musical comedy-drama featuring Disney Channel stars Aly Michalka and Vanessa Hudgens.
-- "District 9" (rated R), a science-fiction thriller produced by Peter Jackson.
-- "The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard." (rated R), a raunchy comedy starring Jeremy Piven.
-- "Paper Heart" (rated PG-13), a faux-documentary about comic actress Charlyne Yi's search for love.
-- "Ponyo" (rated G), the latest fantasy from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Dubbed.
-- "The Time Traveler's Wife" (rated PG-13), an adaptation of the science-fiction/romance best-seller, starring Eric Bana.
Cash-strapped New Line Cinema only screened "The Time Traveler's Wife" in a handful of markets, which didn't include Salt Lake City. Word of mouth on the long-delayed film is not good.
And both "The Goods" and "Paper Heart" feature stars -- Piven and Yi, respectively -- who have as many detractors as they have fans. Also, the former is more crude than funny, while the latter is more cutesy than cute.
As for "Bandslam," the stars make this material feel fresher than it would otherwise. The film gets far too serious for its own good, though, and it's not nearly as music-savvy as the filmmakers probably think it is.
Poster art courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Poster art courtesy TriStar Pictures
The week's best films are "Ponyo" and "District 9." While "Ponyo" is more kid-friendly than Miyazaki's recent output, it's still bizarre. It's also sweet, gentle and features beautiful, cel animation.
And "District 9" is heady, especially for a science-fiction thriller. Things do take a slightly disappointing turn in the final third, and it is pretty gory, however.
Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?