Film

Kevin Costner's Gonna Kill You!

Succinct Reviews for the Discerning Cinephile

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Mr. Brooks
dir. Evans
Opens Fri June 1
Various Theaters

Beware, Portlanders: Kevin Costner is GOING TO KILL YOU. Whether that's because he's bored from not working so much anymore or because he's sick of his Dances with Wolves Oscars sitting on his mantle and mocking him ("Waterworld!" they cry in tiny, cruel voices that only Kevin can hear. "The Postman!"), now the once-famous Costner is haunting the streets of Portland, lookin' for people to kill.

On the surface, Earl Brooks (Costner) is the perfect guy, a successful businessman (he makes boxes!) with a sort-of-hot wife and a cute college-age daughter. But Earl has also seen Fight Club too many times, so he's constantly fending off his hallucination/alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt), who keeps telling Earl to murder people, which Earl guiltily (and bloodily) does. Throw in a super-annoying douche who wants Earl to teach him how to kill (played by "comedian" Dane Cook, a real-life super-annoying douche) and a cop (Demi Moore) who's trying to find Earl, and you've got a misguided, scattered film that's neither scary nor interesting. Then again, it does have Hurt, who's always awesome, and Demi Moore, who, at the age of 97, still has a body that just won't quit. That probably makes me sound shallow, but whatever—like there's anything else to think about once you've grown bored with seeing Kevin Costner and Dane Cook drive past Wentworth Chevytown, looking for somebody to kill. Somebody who might be YOU! ERIK HENRIKSEN

Once
dir. Carney
Opens Fri June 1
Various Theaters

There's not a lot to hate about Once, a little Irish film about a downtrodden vacuum repairman/street musician who meets and falls in love with a Czech immigrant, and then spends a weekend recording an album with her. The story is a tad trite and overwhelmingly cutesy—it's the kind of film where everyone has good intentions and becomes fast friends, no one is wary of strangers, and a hit album can be written and recorded in a weekend.

Their love story is complicated by other romantic interests, but under that slight depth remains a formulaic film whose sentiments you've seen a million times. Here's the thing, though: The unnamed lead characters' cute-as-a-button accents salvage what would otherwise have been an insufferably saccharine film. You'd have to be a robot (or irredeemably burned by love gone bad) to not enjoy it.

And then there's this: Glen Hansard, of the Irish folk-rock band The Frames, is charming in the lead role. Approximately 80 percent of Once consists of him singing like a cross between Damien Rice and Thom Yorke, and the other 20 percent is him mugging for the camera, looking every bit the ruffled-but-good-hearted Irishman that high school girls shit their pants for. SCOTT MOORE

Gracie
dir. Guggenheim
Opens Fri June 1
Various Theaters

Remember in Karate Kid when Elisabeth Shue was the good girlfriend who cheered on her diminutive boyfriend at the karate tournament? Turns out she should've been the one to crane kick the crap out of that dillweed Johnny. In real life, Shue fought to be the first girl on her New Jersey high school boys' soccer team, and Gracie is based on her experiences. Elisabeth produces and costars, her brother Andrew Shue writes, produces, and costars, and her husband Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) directs this sports film.

Gracie centers on teenage Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder), a girl in a family of soccer-obsessed males who longs to play the game herself. When her older brother, a star player, dies in a car accident (echoing the Shues' brother's death in a freak accident), Gracie decides to take his place on the high school team. But in 1978, there's no girls allowed. Coached by her father (Dermot Mulroney), Gracie fights the system. (SPOILER ALERT! Odds are overcome!)

At times, Shue's backstory overshadows the quality of Gracie, but it's still a rewarding watch. You won't find manipulative saccharine moments, or much "girls kick ass" bravado—it's just a solid movie that makes you want to befriend a preteen girl so you'll have a companion to cheer on Gracie in the theater. COURTNEY FERGUSON

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