In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

40. She's Out of My League

Century 25 Union Landing

Cinemark's Century 25 Union Landing has more screens than does any other theater in the Bay Area, and, as far as I can determine, has the most seats too (5043).  The theater anchors one end of Union City's Union Landing shopping center, featuring fifty different retailers, including twenty restaurants.  Parking spaces are numerous, but with so many retailers you'll face stiff competition, so leave some wiggle room to stash your car.

According to Union City's official website, the city has one of the youngest, most racially diverse populations in Alameda County, and the highest percentage of foreign-born residents.  A younger population means more people filling up the theater's five thousand seats.  The theater is a titan not only in size, but in geography, too.  The nearest theaters are Century at Hayward seven miles to the north and Cinedome 7 Newark seven miles to the south (both owned by Cinemark).  The Century 25 Union Landing commands the entire swath from highway 92 to highway 84.  Few other theaters in the Bay Area enjoy so wide a footprint.  I attended this showing with a friend who lives right down the street from the Hayward theater, and with two friends who live near the Newark theater, but all three of them prefer to come to this theater at Union Landing.  Size matters.

Wikipedia says Union City was formed in 1959 by incorporating the towns of Alvarado, Decoto, and New Haven.  At the time of the incorporation, Alvarado had its own theater (the Alvarado Theater), as did Decoto (the Decoto Theater, though this might have already closed).  The Union City Drive-In Theater was built in 1966, perhaps precipitating the close of the Alvarado.  The drive-in started out as a two-screen, but was expanded to six screens before finally closing in 1998.  Century Theaters tore down the drive-in to make room for the Century 25 Union Landing.

The Cafe Cinema has the usual gourmet offerings, but the ticket taker separates the cafe from the seating area.  Perhaps the seats are meant only for awaiting the rest of your party.

The lobby is enormous.  Unlike in an Art Deco theater, where even the ceiling is decorated, these modern theaters are designed to keep you looking forward, rather than up at the exposed pipes and vents.  I don't know why they make the lobbies so tall if they aren't going to do something better with the vertical space.  In the picture below, you can see the decoration just drifts off into nothingness.

The theater has one of Cinemark's three XD Extreme Digital Cinema auditoriums in California (the other two are in the San Francisco Centre 9 and Century 20 Daly City theaters).  I talk about XD auditoriums and how they aren't vegan here.  Price for the 3D XD experience in Union City?  $15.00.

This is a nice theater, partly because its size conveys a majesty that its decoration cannot.  What keeps it from being a four-star theater is that it uses the same crummy seats employed in Cinemark's CinéArts @ Empire theater, among others.  I swear noone sat in these horrid little things before shipping them out to theaters, or they would have noticed how uncomfortable it is to have a horizontal bar digging into their backs during a movie.  The seats are ugly, too, but maybe I'm just bitter.

The theater's largest auditorium seats 488.  The remaining auditoriums seat, on average, 190.


Kick-Ass (Trailer 2)
(Previously reviewed)

Get Him to the Greek

Hot Tub Time Machine

Iron Man 2 (Trailer 2)

The Joneses
Ever feel like your neighbors have perfect lives and all the best toys?  Are they really better than you, or are they just backed by a corporate sponsor?  As head of a family 'unit' in an upscale neighborhood, Demi Moore and her mock husband (David Duchovny) and two mock children influence spending patterns among their affluent neighbors just by looking good and having fun.  Moore peddles frozen hors d'oeuvres while Duchovny gets his sports buddies to buy better golf clubs.  They show off their big-screen television, their tennis shoes, their car, and everything else they own.  Moore maintains a professional distance from her fake family, interacting with them in the context of sales and marketing, but Duchovny begins to pursue Moore romantically, wanting to exchange spreadsheets for bedsheets. 129 cuts.

The Last Airbender (Trailer 2)
(not rated)

She's Out of My League
Typically a comedy's trailer spoils the funniest moments, the same way a sci-fi's trailer spoils the best visual effects.  She's Out of My League bucks that trend by being so crass that very little of its footage is fit for a preview.

Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is a Pittsburg airport security guard, still in love with his evil ex, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane).  Marnie rebuff's Kirk's attempts to reunite, citing that her new boyfriend is an entrepreneur (of a Pizza Hut, Kirk reminds her, and not even a real one, but a Pizza Hut Express).  Marnie and her boyfriend get along better with Kirk's family than Kirk does, and plan to join his family on their annual trip to Branson, Missouri.  Kirk prefers to remain in Pittsburg with his three best friends, Stainer, Devon, and Jack, who all work at the airport with him.  A chance encounter endears Kirk to super babe Molly (Alice Eve), and despite the impossibility of someone like Kirk ending up with someone like Molly, the two start dating.

The movie's central question is this: Can a beautiful, intelligent, successful, funny, kind woman fall for an ugly but nice guy?  Baruchel isn't actually ugly, but he's no better looking than the rest of us, whereas Eve is just as pretty as everyone in the movie says she is.  There is a double standard in Hollywood (you heard it here first), by which it's not actually uncommon for beautiful female characters to end up with homely male characters.  This movie isn't breaking new ground on that front, but it does an above-average job of convincing us of Molly's perfection and Kirk's awkwardness.  (Are there any movies where gorgeous men end up with unattractive women?)

Molly's best friend, Patty (Krysten Ritter), who delivers some of the cruelest but funniest lines in the movie, is surprisingly uncritical of Kirk.  I get the sense that Patty pretty much hates everyone, and so doesn't hold any special grudge against Kirk for his looks.  Kirk's friends, though, do.  They are absolutely floored by Molly's interest in him.  His best friend Stainer (responsible for the rest of the movie's crass dialog) uses a rating system that places Molly at a hard 10.  Kirk starts at 5, gets half a point for humor and half a point for being nice, but is then docked a point for the car he drives, landing him back at 5.  According to Stainer, relationships never work out if there is more than a two point difference between two people (Stainer, who rates himself a 6, uses his own failed relationship with a 10 as an example).  Here's the great thing about Kirk's friends though: they're loyal.  They give Kirk a self esteem complex, but once it's clear that Molly isn't just a serial killer trying to harvest Kirk's organs, they do their best to guide Kirk through the turbulent waters of up-dating, and none of them try to steal her away from him.  At home, Kirk gets a huge increase in street cred with his family.  Whereas Kirk's friends doubted Kirk was good enough for Molly, Kirk's family assume that Kirk must be cooler than they gave him credit for (how depressing to be part of a family that you have to win over).

She's Out of My League earns its R rating for language.  Much of the language is gratuitous, like during a scene on an airplane when Kirk is telling everyone what he thinks of them.  But quite often the crude language is used to good effect.  I laughed consistently throughout the film, and only experienced a few moments of cringing, when I was momentarily embarrassed to have Kirk as my main character.  The relationship between Kirk and Molly is sweet.  The movie doesn't give us quite enough to believe it, but I was willing to meet them half way.  If Kirk can end up with Molly, there's hope for all of us.

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