New movie releases this week include Katherine Heigl’s return to the big screen, plus The Promise, Truman, and more
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., April 21
David O. Russell needs to leave Philadelphia almost as much as John Woo needs to stay in Hong Kong. For his follow-up to The Fighter, Russell once again takes the low road in search of truth and beauty amidst a group of boorish louts with personalities akin to the cast of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. A former schoolteacher (Bradley Cooper) — undiagnosed bipolar, borderline delusional, violent, and fresh out of the state mental institution — decides to move back home with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro, both phoning it in). Not since Do the Right Thing have so many characters in one movie spoken with the same identical voice. Close your eyes during one of the film’s numerous screaming matches and you won’t be able to distinguish between Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. To add injury to the insults, Russell’s camera covers the action either in constipated close-up, as a “walk and talk” (traveling shots of characters delivering dialog as they stroll), or both. Even a musical number is photographed from the waist up. The third-act combination of Dancing with the Stars and repugnant behavior on the part of violent football fans should make this a bit hit with Monday night TV viewers. Apart from Ms. Lawrence’s electrifying turn as the tough-talking dame who plans on mending Cooper’s heart by putting him back in touch with his ex, this couldn’t have ended soon enough for me. With incessant jabbering from Chris Tucker, a welcome, albeit brief appearance by Julia Stiles, and brilliant background work by Paul Herman. 2012.