By Nicole Shelton and Laurie Davis
Dark drama disturbs; corny comedy tickles
"Monster" is based on the true story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), who was executed after murdering at least six Florida men while working as a prostitute.
"Monster" opens with a homeless Aileen, a prostitute since 13. Contemplating suicide, she meets Selby (Christina Ricci) in a bar. Aileen unexpectedly falls in love with Selby and supports her by continuing to turn tricks. Aileen's first murder involves self-defense against a sadistic client who ties her up and rapes her. The movie then alternatively focuses on the relationship between Selby and Aileen and Aileen's continuing murders.
Theron delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. She is Aileen not only in appearance, but in mannerism, accent and posture. You fully believe in her transformed character.
However, the story disappointed me. I wanted to know more about how Aileen got to this place, how the system continued to fail her and more details of her internal world. Instead, "Monster" repetitively goes through the steps of roadside prostitution and the subsequent murders. It hints at internal chaos, but lacks any substantive exploration.
Ricci seems miscast as Selby. I found it hard to believe in Selby's beauty-and-the-beast attraction for Aileen. Maybe if I knew more about Selby and her past, the pieces would have fit better. The movie shows powerful scenes of how ill-equipped Aileen was for the mainstream world and whether her fate was sealed at 13.
"Monster" is rated R for strong violence, sexual content and pervasive language. The language is much stronger than the violence or sex, which is there, but not gratuitously.
Reel View: "Monster" succeeds in painting a graphic sketch of Aileen, but fails in completing the picture.
— Laurie Davis
Unless you've been dying to see "Starsky and Hutch" since you first saw the trailer, I would wait to rent it. Don't get me wrong. If you love Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson's humor, or you're a fan of the popular 1970s television show and are willing to see it spoofed, you'll love it. It's hilarious.
Otherwise, it may get too silly and slapstick for moviegoers unfamiliar with the stars or the show.
The main reason to see "Starsky and Hutch" is for the dynamic duo of Wilson and Stiller. This film is their sixth pairing on the big screen and, I admit, I love them together. Their chemistry is wonderful here, and you don't get tired of either one. They're the classic comedic pairing of the hyperactive, ultra-sensitive guy versus the calm, cool, collected type.
This film is also a fun tribute to the '70s — the clothes, the jewelry, the avocado green and gold appliances and especially the cars. There must be a Hollywood back lot filled with vehicles from the '70s.
"Starsky and Hutch" celebrates the cheesiness and corn of the hit television show without making fun of it. Along with Stiller and Wilson, rapper Snoop Dogg plays a shady police informant and Vince Vaughn is the white collar criminal Starsky and Hutch are trying to bring down.
Reel View: "Starsky and Hutch" is such a silly movie, you can't help but like it. Please don't go expecting much more than a hearty laugh or two. There's nothing else to it.
— Nicole Shelton