Rated PG; out June 8
Another film about penguins? They've marched and danced; now they hang 10 in a funny, hip cartoon mockumentary--sort of Capturing the Penguins-- that goes behind the scenes in a Hawaiian surfing contest to expose the romance, dirty deals and ultimate triumph of the underbird. Shia LaBeouf voices the little hero. Jeff Bridges, as the kid's mentor, reprises his Dude character from The Big Lebowski. Not a comedy tsunami, just consistent ripples of laughs and good vibes.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, SEASON 2
Not rated; out June 5
Sometimes the appetizer is more fun than the main course. Where the Mission: Impossible movies trade in explosions and vertiginous high-wire feats, the brilliantly implausible TV version used charm and DIY ingenuity. Greg Morris and Peter Graves, both center, and the Impossible Missions Force capture international drug smugglers, weapons dealers and corrupt government officials, often with little more than an eye patch, a lady, a drill and lots of nerve.
Rated PG-13; out June 8
What can you expect of the third in a series of remakes of a not-so-hot 1960 caper (the Rat Pack's Ocean's Eleven)? No matter how slim your hopes, they will probably be deflated by this tired smarmathon. Despite all the star quality--George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, guest villain Al Pacino--director Steven Soderbergh can infuse no energy into the Vegas caper plot. He can't even make these photogenic celebs look fabulous. For them and the audience, this Thirteen is bad luck.
SONG OF THE MOMENT
And She Doesn't Mean Parasol
Sometimes an umbrella is just an umbrella. A few seconds into Rihanna's Umbrella--the No. 1 song on iTunes and seemingly every passing car radio--you realize that this is not one of those times. It's not that Umbrella is explicit; its lyrics ("Now that it's raining more than ever/ Know that we'll still have each other/ You can stand under my umbrella") owe more to Doris Day than Madonna. But Rihanna, a Barbadian ex--beauty queen who just released her third album, has a special talent for vocal innuendo. She toys with the word umbrella--or, as Rihanna would put it, um-ba-rella, ella, ella--as if she's taking it for a ride on a water bed. It's hard to believe there will be a sexier song this summer.
A Surfer Sutra, Lost at Sea
If you have seen the HBO ads, you will be wondering what the deal is with that series about the levitating surfer. After seeing three episodes of John from Cincinnati, a critic can tell you that it is about a levitating surfer. Beyond that, you are on your own.
John is the latest from David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue), working with "surf noir" novelist Kem Nunn. It follows the troubled Yost surfing dynasty: Grandpa Mitch (Bruce Greenwood) is a retired ascetic; son Butchie (Brian Van Holt) is a champ turned junkie; grandson Sean (Greyson Fletcher) wants to surf competitively, over Mitch's objections. They meet John (Austin Nichols), a pompadoured stranger who may be an alien or God (his last name is Monad, a Gnostic reference). Actual, literal miracles begin happening.
It's very Twin Peaks at the beach, but Peaks had a murder mystery to ground it. Likewise, Deadwood drew viewers with a ripping genre tale before wowing them with Milch's funny, profane, philosophical lyricism. John seduces us with language and atmosphere and writes us an IOU on plot. Its visuals are gorgeous and its mystical glimpses tantalizing, but its transcendence is more asserted than earned. We sinful mortals still want prosaic things like a story. Until John from Cincinnati provides that, it will float two inches above the ground, too beautiful and pure for this earth--or our attention.