The moon, magic rocks and love: this week’s movies

MOON (2009) has Sam Rockwell approaching the end of his three year stint as solo operator of a lunar mining base, where his social contact is limited to occasional videos from home (he’s on the far side of the moon, so communication is tough) and the unctuous tones of Kevin Spacey as the voice of the computer (very obviously set to invoke a Hal 2000 vibe). But why is he hallucinating? Why has an exact double of himself turned up? Why is it so hard to contact Earth directly? This is virtually a one-man show, and it’s very well done. “You look like a radioactive tampon.”

I’ve loved a lot of Robert Rodriguez movies such as Spy Kids and Machete but SHORTS (2009) does not make the cut. This kidvid has a bullied kid discover a wishing rock that allows him to change his life but not, of course in the ways he expects. Despite a good cast (Jon Cryer as Dad, Kat Dennings as the kid’s sister, James Spader as a CEO of Doom) this feels like a mediocre Disney/Nickelodeon pilot; admittedly, I’m not the target audience, but I’ve liked a lot of movies targeted at kids (for example). “He has friends here — he just doesn’t know it yet.”

SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE (2010) stars Jay Baruchel as a TSA screener whose Meet Cute with event planner Alice Eve leads to romance, but all his friends insist an obvious “5” like Baruchel can never make it with a 10 like her. This is pleasant enough for a talking lamp, but it never works as well as Say Anything did with a similar premise (I know John Cusack and the boombox is held up as a terrible example of Obsessive Love, but I’m sorry, I still enjoyed the film). Part of it is that even by the standards of rom-coms, the protagonist’s friends are clueless and annoying (reinforcing Baruchel’s insecurity makes me want to slap them); part of it is that they seem to think lampshading “beautiful amazing woman falls for unremarkable guy.”) will make the cliche more workable, and it didn’t. “Did you ever find something so exciting that you came too early?”

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