The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Jack of the Red Hearts

Jack of the Red Hearts - A 19-year-old con artist named Jack (AnnaSophia Robb) needs money to get her sister out of a social welfare placement. To do so, she lies her way into a job working as the personal care assistant for a little girl with autism. Jack has to teach herself about the diagnosis, all while trying to prevent the girl's parents (Famke Janssen and Scott Cohen) from uncovering her ruse. Jack of the Red Hearts takes pains to present a realistic look at the challenges of autism, but its fundamental mistake is in making the story more about Jack's con than about the progress she makes with the child. Consequently, there's a lot of melodrama regarding stuff we don't care about, all leading up to a predictable conclusion in which Jack has to prove that, despite being a criminal, she's really good for the girl. Also troubling is the film's unintentional suggestion that you don't need to be trained to help kids with autism, you just need to fumble around until you find what works. At one point, Jack watches The Miracle Worker for ideas. The brief clip used from that movie is far more powerful than anything in Jack of the Red Hearts.

( out of four)

Jack of the Red Hearts is rated PG for thematic elements including teen behavior, language, and smoking. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny - Ang Lee's 2000 Oscar-nominated film paid deep tribute to martial arts cinema, while also finding a clever new angle for it. This sequel which arrives a day late and a dollar short doesn't come anywhere close to recapturing its predecessor's majesty. Michelle Yeoh returns as Yu Shu Lien, who is trying to protect a mystical sword from falling into the wrong hands. It's a weak plot, undone by dull characterization, leaden plotting, and a choppy pace. (This is one of those movies where it feels as though entire chunks have been edited out.) There are a few half-decent action scenes, including a fight on a frozen pond, but on the whole, Sword of Destiny is a pale imitation of the masterpiece that spawned it. Whereas the original had a freshness and a beauty that made it accessible to martial arts fans and non-fans alike, the sequel will leave even the faithful unimpressed. The movie is in select theaters and on Netflix Instant.

( 1/2 out of four)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and brief partial nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.

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