Mr. Woodcock

Small town boy John Farley (Seann William Scott who will forever be known as "American Pie's" Stifler) is enjoying success as a best-selling self help author on his first book tour when he discovers is home town wants to present him with the coveted corncob key. Elated, he veers off his agent Maggie's (Amy Poehler, TV's SNL, "Blades of Glory") itinerary to return home to his beloved mom and former 'Cornival' queen Beverly (Susan 'what was I thinking' Sarandon), but his elation turns to horror when he learns his mom is dating the sadistic phys ed teacher who tortured him and his pals when they were kids - "Mr. Woodcock."

Laura's Review: D

Watch out when the best thing to say about a movie is that director Craig Gillespie (the upcoming "Lars and the Real Girl") has staged one of the better 'getting catapulted off of a treadmill' scenes. As written by Michael Carnes (written by) & and Josh Gilbert, I doubt "Mr. Woodcock" would survive half a season as a television sitcom. As soon as John gets a glimpse of Woodcock (the name reflects for what passes for humor here), he flashes back to his portly boyhood, where Woodcock slammed him on the mat and forced him to chin up in his underwear. An asthmatic's dubbed 'Wheezy' and made to run laps. Woodcock hasn't changed and soon the film devolves into a contest to win mom's affections. When Beverly agrees to marry Woodcock, John becomes obsessed with breaking them up. Combining his "Bad News Bears" coach minus the laid back geniality with the misanthropy of "Bad Santa," Thornton, whose talent far outweighs his film choices, comes up with such a rigid creepy guy it is pretty inexplicable why Bev would fall for him in the first place and an attempt to explain him by briefly introducing his abusive father is left hanging out there. William Scott's manic flipout is grating and juvenile and while Sarandon's presence is welcome, this is a most serious case of slumming. Poehler brings some humor to the proceedings as the cynical, alcoholic, nymphomaniac agent, but the material she's give is just too broad. As Farley's friend Nedderman, Ethan Suplee (TV's "My Name Is Earl") cannot be bothered to step out of Randy's skin. There is a slightly amusing climax involving a gurney and parade float, but it is way too little too late. "Mr. Woodcock" is an unfunny rehash of stuff we've seen a hundred times before.

Robin's Review: B-

Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) is both saddened and pissed off that her husband has suddenly died and left her, rich but alone. It is London, 1937, and she doesn’t want to endure the usual wealthy widow usual activities of charity and social work. When she spies a run down theater in London’s West End, she has the idea to become an impresario. But, Mrs. H knows she needs professional help to fulfill her vision. Enter veteran producer Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) and, between them, a stage phenomenon is born in “Mrs. Henderson Presents.” Helmer Stephan Frears, using a fact-based script by Martin Sherman, tells a story about an innovative concept of live stage that resonated through the highest levels of London government during the darkest days of the Battle of Britain as England fought for her life against the Nazi aerial onslaught. Mrs. Henderson Presents” is an old fashioned, plucky British-stiff-upper-lip-during-the-blitz movie that does a lovely job in creating a look and feel reminiscent of the period it portrays. Directed by Stephen Frears from a script by Martin Sherman, “Mrs. H” is for mature audiences only. By that I mean really mature, as in not young. This will appeal to the senior ranks but will fall far short with the youth-oriented crowd. Mrs. Henderson purchases the rundown Windmill Theater and begins a program to rejuvenate the old West End hall. She hires Van Damm who comes up with a hook to make the theater a stand out above the rest – continuous performances from matinee to late night closing. The stage revue, dubbed Revudeville, is a big hit and folks flock to it. For a while. Then the rest of the theaters follow suit and a new plan is needed. Then, Mrs. H has a brainstorm – nude performers on stage. She enlists her friend, High Commissioner Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest), to get city approval but there is one condition that must be met. The nude woman appearing on stage cannot move. To the prudish Londoners, nude dancing is obscene but posing still is art. The new review is a major hit and runs uninterrupted, even when the Nazi bombs rain down on London. The theater is underground and as good a shelter as any during the Blitz. The impact the show has on the morale of the British soldiers on leave in the city and destined to combat is inestimable. And, it is all done in good, if erotic, taste. (BTW, the movie is based on a real theater that ran a real nude review during Hitler’s assault on Blighty.) Dame Judi Dench, as the title character, gives a performance that the talented actress could have phoned in. She has played the feisty, single-minded rich woman before and, as such, does it, easily, well. Bob Hoskins has a bit more fun as the flamboyant and smart theater director, Van Damm, who stands up to his wealthy benefactor and won’t back from his principles. These are two strong performances in a somewhat slight film. The supporting cast is led by a good song-and-dance performance by Will Young as the ever ebullient and talented choreographer and star, Bertie. Christopher Guest appears, amusingly, as the droll but pliable Lord Cromer. Kelly Reilly is only OK as the stage review’s ingénue, Maureen. Techs are solid with both the overall look of the film and the numerous musical numbers having a good, old-fashioned sense reminiscent of the period. Costume and production design fit the bill nicely. Mrs. Henderson” will likely do best on home video, especially during the cold months of winter when the older crowd would rather stay home instead of braving the icy roads and snow to go to the theater.