This week finds a couple of small screen favorites treated to big screen outings, comedies both black and blacker, as well as the ballad of the real-life Spinal Tap.
“Anvil! The Story of Anvil”
With its singer’s proclivity to play the guitar with a dildo, a disastrous tour managed by a churlish Swiss-Italian fan with little professional experience, and a drummer really named Robb Reiner), comparisons to the 1984 mother of all music mockumentaries are inevitable. But ladies and gentlemen, this really is Spinal Tap, and so much more. First-time director Sacha Gervasi, who served as Anvil’s roadie for a time in the ’80s, follows the legendary underground Canadian rockers throughout their ill-fated European tour in preparation for their 13th studio album. Still chasing the dream and that ever-elusive break, they subsist on a strained friendship, bad food and blind optimism to the tune of “at least there is a tour for everything to go wrong on.”
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.
Over the course of his varied and underrated career output (go rent “Space: Above and Beyond” and thank us later), writer/director James Wong has shown, amongst other things, that he’s adept at handling both mythology and elaborately cartoonish live-action set pieces. As luck would have it, these are two things crucial to preventing this FX-heavy adaptation of the beloved Japanese comic book series from becoming just another digitally induced headache. From producer Stephen Chow, “Dragonball: Evolution” centers on the headstrong young Goku (Justin Chatwin), who embarks on a dangerous quest to obtain the seven mystical Dragon Balls following the death of his grandfather at the hands of sorcerer Lord Piccolo (James Marsters). Hard to believe it’s not in 3D, really.
“Hannah Montana: The Movie”
With Disney alum Christina Aguilera going dirrty and her fellow Mouseketeer Britney going barmy, it’s left to little Miley Cyrus to fly the white flag of purity for the Mouse House’s tween target audience, reminding good little girls that the fame game is a sham and it’s friends and family that count. This mildly meta big screen outing for “Hannah” finds her real-life alter ego Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) letting things go to her head, culminating in some devilishly diva-esque antics involving Tyra Banks and a shoe store catfight. Deciding his daughter needs an extended time out, father Robby (Billy Ray Cyrus) drags Miley back to the farm and her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee where her childhood pals Lilly (Emily Osment) and Oliver (Mitchel Musso) bring her back down to Earth.
“In a Dream”
Winner of an audience award at last year’s SXSW, director Jeremiah Zagar’s intimate documentary is both a tribute and a love letter to his wildly eccentric father Isaiah, a street artist who’s enriched the lives of thousands with his inimitably beautiful designs along the streets of Philadelphia, even though few know him by name. The younger Zagar showcases his father’s great works of tile, glass and shard that are at once striking and beautiful, as well as the fractured genius behind them — a man who’s spent much of his life putting his considerable talents to work giving back to his beloved city and fracturing some of his closest relationships in the process.
Opens in limited release.
From “Blue Velvet” to “American Beauty,” one thing that’s become abundantly clear is that beyond the white picket fence of suburban bliss lurks unimagined horror and volatile repression. The talk of Toronto last year, where it scooped the coveted International Critics Award, “Lymelife” marks the directorial debut for Derick Martini, who, with his brother Steven, fashioned a darkly comic script from their own experiences growing up in 1970s Long Island. In addition to serving as a producer, Alec Baldwin stars alongside Jill Hennessy as the mutually loathing parents of Jim (Kieran Culkin), who prepares to ship out to war, and Scott (Rory Culkin), who idly watches their marriage deteriorate as an outbreak of Lyme disease sparks paranoia throughout the neighborhood.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on April 17th.