Cineast: ‘Free Birds,’ ‘Doonby,’ ‘Last Vegas,’ ‘A Perfect Man’

Free Birds
"Free Birds"

Free Birds, Doonby, Last Vegas and A Perfect Man come to theaters this week.

Free Birds
Free Birds calls itself “The Greatest Turkey Movie Of All Time,” explicitly setting itself up against…oh wait, I get it. It’s the ONLY turkey movie out there. Featuring the voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, Free Birds is a family-friendly animated film about a pair of turkeys who undertake to go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to try to convince the pilgrims and Native Americans to put something other than turkey on the menu for that inaugural feast. It’s a clever idea, and the running joke about turkeys being really stupid is good for a lot of laughs for young and old alike. The only question: what if a youngster decides he can’t eat turkey after falling in love with the turkeys in Free Birds? Could this film spark an outbreak of young vegetarians?

Yes, the title looks like a truncation of Doonesbury, but what you really stub your eye on with Doonby is that it stars JOHN SCHNEIDER. That’s right, THAT John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, who went on to become a popular country singer and has since become a producer of films for the Christian market. Schneider stars as Sam Doonby, a drifter who shows up in a small Texas town and makes a big splash as a singer at a local bar. Doonby also seems to have a supernatural ability to intervene on behalf of the people in town and prevent calamities. Still, the narrow-minded people of the town come to envy and resent him, and he is forced to leave. Now, let’s see, what does that remind you of? READ YOUR BIBLES!

Last Vegas
How much does the city of Las Vegas pay Hollywood studios to make films about people debauching themselves in Las Vegas? The slow but steady erosion of Vegas’ monopoly on legal gambling means that it has to publicize its other signature vices: legal prostitution, public drinking, widespread availability of drugs and the idea that everybody goes to Vegas to behave badly. Of course, the excitement of committing some kind of vice depends partly on the idea that it’s transgressive—and with all of this cinematic advertising Vegas is doing, it’s running the risk of making its guilty thrills seem ordinary and expected. In Last Vegas, four old-timers, played by Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and (gulp!) Kevin Kline, go back to Vegas for one more sleazy weekend before the last of them ties the knot. The Hangover with geezers pretty much sums it up.

A Perfect Man
Chick flick alert. Liev Schreiber’s unfaithful husband James messes up his marriage to Jeanne Tripplehorn’s Nina. But the heartbroken Nina uses a bit of trickery to get James to want her again in this comedy-drama exploring the differing emotional lives of men and women.

Last Week: ‘Bad Grandpa,’ ‘The Counselor,’ ‘Spinning Plates’

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