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Notes From The Back Row

Z-Boys,13 year old girls, and Spaghetti

Pique Movie Reviews

I’m gonna borrow an expression from my buddy Pete here, but I’d rather eat spaghetti out of a colostomy bag than watch another Renée Zellweger movie.

I’m not sure if it’s her oily, pug-like face, her squeaky nails-on-chalkboard voice, or her penchant for making annoyingly sappy drivel of late, but she’s in the Ben Affleck league as far as pissing me off goes. And since her latest film, Cinderella Man, also has the most laughably weak title of the year, lets skip it and get on to some hot new teeny-bopper flicks.

First up is Lords of Dogtown . Sure most of you connected people already saw it when it premiered here in April but for poor, common folk Friday is the opening for this much-anticipated skateboard drama based on the popular 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys.

Most likely some people will want to crucify me for calling Lords a teeny-bopper flick but the fact of the matter is we already know the story, thanks to the documentary, and if you’re not into skateboarding it’s really just a PG-13 coming-of-age sports movie full of teenage rebellion and hardcore attitude. But if you’re a skater (and in this town everyone who isn’t wishes they were) you’ll be surprised.

Director Catherine Hardwicke ( Thirteen) made sure the original Z-Boys were on hand to keep the film real and since she used to be a production designer (even worked on the 1986 skate film Thrasher) she’s pretty much perfectly replicated the unpolished Venice Beach of the 1970’s. Along with the pools, costumes and even skating styles of the era. It seems Hollywood is finally portraying skateboarding realistically rather than as a fad or "X-treme" gimmick. And while Hollywood needs skateboarding much more than skateboarding needs Hollywood, it looks like, this time at least, it’s a nice fit.

Speaking of nice fits, lets talk about blue jeans and teenage girls’ asses. No really, there’s a movie about that opening Friday as well. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is another coming-of-age flick that’s (aptly) turning a lot of heads. Based on the popular young-adult novel of the same name, Sisterhood tells the tale of four 16-year-old best girlfriends who discover a ‘magical’ pair of pants in a thrift shop. The pants fit each girl perfectly, even though they have different body types and sizes. As the four travel away from each other for the summer they vow to share the pants by Fed-Exing them to each other. Basically it’s a good-hearted movie with good-hearted messages although I found it more concerned with the lessons than the characters who are supposed to be learning them. Still, compared to most crappy teen flicks, the wholesomeness is almost refreshing.

This is perfect mother-daughter fare, or father-daughter since Father’s Day is coming up. I really think parents should take their teenagers to the movies more often and talk to them about stuff. While you’re at it, teach your kids to be quiet in the theatre.

Which brings us back to that colostomy bag, Cinderella Man. Starring Russell Crowe and directed by schmaltzy Ron Howard, Cinderella Man is a depression-era rags-to-riches boxing picture celebrating human spirit, believing in one’s self, hard work, and America. Yay! Ron Howard proves once again that all he’s capable of is cheap sentimentality and emotional manipulation. And how tough-as-nails does a boxer called ‘Cinderella Man’ sound to you? That spaghetti is looking tastier by the minute in this two-hour-plus shitstorm of melodrama and jerked tears. I’m down for the count before it even begins.

AT VILLAGE 8 June 3-9: Lords Of Dogtown, Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants, Cinderella Man, The Longest Yard, Madagascar, Monster In Law, Star Wars III.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE June 3-9: xXx: State Of The Union.