Capsule reviews for June 1

Battlefield America

This innocuous but woefully predictable urban comedy follows Sean (Marques Houston), a slick marketing executive in line for a promotion who is forced to work as a dance teacher at an inner-city recreation center as a form of community service after a drunk-driving conviction. He reluctantly is assigned a group of ragtag boys who hope to form a hip-hop dance crew and compete in a prestigious youth competition. Along the way, there are lessons about mentoring and teamwork. The dance sequences are energetic and the kids are charming enough, but the generic script by director Christopher Stokes (You Got Served) is underdog formula throughout. (Rated PG-13, 106 minutes).

 

High School

Perhaps mind-altering substances might be required to best enjoy the hijinks in this horrendous teen comedy about a pair of high-school slackers – one a stoner (Sean Marquette) and the other a valedictorian (Matt Bush) – who hatch a scheme to rebel against a school-wide drug test by feeding pot-laced brownies to the entire student body. The concept is much funnier than the execution as the characters are all unappealing losers and the low-brow script feels thrown together from a series of frat-house tweets. And it simply isn’t funny. Even a supporting cast that includes Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks and Michael Chiklis can’t save this mess. (Rated R, 93 minutes).

 

The Loved Ones

This low-budget Australian horror film took three years to migrate to domestic screens, but is worth the wait. It’s a twisted mix of gory revenge fantasy and teenage romantic comedy that centers on Lola (Robin McLeavy), whose invitation to the school dance was turned down by Brent (Xavier Samuel). So she kidnaps him and enacts a violent revenge scenario that includes torture with power tools and a pit of flesh-eating cannibals. It’s hard to tell whether rookie director Sean Byrne means for the audience to be amused or terrified or both, but there’s enough genuine tension and imagination to provide some shocks and visceral chills. (Not rated, 84 minutes).

 

6 Month Rule

Blayne Weaver is the man to blame for this self-indulgent romantic comedy. He’s the writer, director and star of this low-budget vanity project about a single guy who devises a set of rules to avoid emotional attachment in relationships, including the titular guideline for ending romantic entanglements. Naturally he meets a woman that causes him to change his feelings. There are some scattered amusing moments among the supporting characters, but the protagonist is consistently smug and pretentious, which almost evaporates any emotional connection with the audience. Meanwhile, the script is content to rehash genre clichés without much attempt to establish insight into contemporary relationships. (Rated R, 99 minutes).

 

U.N. Me

Audiences on both sides of the political spectrum might become outraged — in a good way — by this documentary condemning the general incompetence of the United Nations in issues ranging from peacekeeping missions to human rights to contemporary terrorism. The film alleges everything from laziness and indifference to outright corruption, but seems to find that the organization’s biggest flaw is passive ineffectiveness both in terms of leadership and policies. Director Ami Horowitz’s sometimes glib narration and aggressive on-camera tactics can be annoying (he fancies himself a young Michael Moore in terms of technique), but the film winds up making some persuasive arguments in favor of change. (Rated PG-13, 93 minutes).

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