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Wild About “Harry,” But Not Much Else

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (...

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It is time for a movie break.
It was hotter than January Jones on Tuesday and the forecast is that is going to get hotter than Jennifer Lopez today and hotter than Rachel McAdam on Thursday.
So I took a break from watching the new fall TV series to look for a movie to escape to experience the joys of someone else paying for air conditioning.
I’m sure you can relate.
For guidance, I went to the Buffalo News At the Movies page.
I saw that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” received 3 stars and quite frankly it scared me more than Voldemort scares Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends.
In my book, 3 stars usually means very entertaining.
But on Saturday night, I went to another movie given 3 stars, “Beginners,” with Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent. The couple I went with wanted to leave after an hour. McGregor played the commitment phobic son of Plummer’s character, who came out as gay at age 75.
My friends wanted to go to Joe’s Crab House on Maple Road early but I forced them to stay because I wanted to see the ending. I felt I had the right to make the call because we were there because a close friend of theirs, let’s call her Susie, said it was one of the best pictures she has seen all year.
I felt guilty when the ending came and McGregor – who is one of my favorite actors – ended up sitting on a bed with Laurent (who I loved in “Inglorious Basterds’”) contemplating their next relationship move. I liked the film more than my friends but I still wanted my $7 back from Susie.
The next move of my couple friends was to head to Joe’s, where the waiting list was more than an hour. So I felt more guilty that I forced them to see the end of “Beginners,” which we later nicknamed “The Never Ending Story.”
It is what is often referred to as a quirky story, with quirky often a synonym for a movie that is painful to watch and has an underlying and understated message. I would have given it 2 stars tops because I’ve been a fan of McGregor (“Moulin Rouge” is one of my favorite movies) ever since he did an engaging interview at a Los Angeles press conference for some little-watched cable travel series he was in years ago.
By the way, we didn’t get into Joe’s because of it’s never ending line.
The 3 stars for “Potter” also scared me because The News movie page gave the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts movie, “Larry Crowne,” 3 stars.
I love Hanks, who has produced some great miniseries for HBO including “Band of Brothers,” and I adore Roberts. Who doesn’t? So in a moment of weakness I went to “Crowne” with a very close friend. It was, as my late father would say, “a piffle” (nonsense) even if you didn’t expect much.
Hanks and Roberts had zero romantic chemistry and the story was so shallow that it could have been written by Forrest Gump so I wasn’t surprised that my local theater had quickly cut its showings down to one a day. I would have given it 1 and a half stars as a warning to big fans of Hanks and Roberts.
How bad was it? My 18-year-old son always says that the male in my couple friends likes every movie he’s ever seen. And even he didn’t love “Crowne.” (His wife didn’t even like it).
The 3 stars for the “Potter” movie also scared me because that’s the same rating that the raunchy comedy “Horrible Bosses” received. I haven’t seen it but my 18-year-old son went to it with some of his friends in the target audience and he said it was horrible and unfunny.
He has credibility because he also warned me against seeing “The Hangover Part II,” which got 2 and a half stars from the newspaper. That is a devastatingly low rating from the newspaper, which seems to share my male friend’s opinion that there is never a bad movie. I went to the “Hangover” sequel against my son’s advice, laughed once or twice and would have given it 1 and a half stars tops.
So I trusted my son about “Horrible” and ignored it.
The 3 stars for “Potter” had me briefly considering the three summer blockbuster movies – “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “X-Men: First Class.” I admit finances had something to do with it since “Caribbean” and “X-Men” are in the $2 movie house.
So I looked for guidance in The News and discovered none of them was given a star rating. This confused me. Since just about everything gets 3 stars in The News, I don’t know why the paper just doesn’t give the three summer blockbusters that seemingly automatic rating even if no one on the staff reviewed them.  (I’m not sure if they were reviewed locally).
So I had a decision to make. Should I dare go to “Potter” even though it got the same 3 stars as three movies that were way over-rated.
I sought guidance outside the News. My bright 21-year-old nephew, Rob, is home from his internships with two U.S. senators in Washington, D.C and he loved the “Potter” movie.
I mean if you can’t trust someone who worked for U.S. senators, who can you trust?
So I went to “Potter,” scared of the 3 star rating, scared that I remembered few very things from the books and previous six movies and scared that the air conditioner in the theater would conk out.
And I loved it! It turned out I didn’t need to be a Potter expert to enjoy the movie, which was loaded with action scenes, poignancy and had some very strong twists that made this film more understandable than I expected it to be.
It is a movie that stands on its own. It was 130 minutes long and I didn’t want it to end – and only partly because I had to go outside again in the oppressive heat.
I would have given it 4 stars out of 4.
I mean something is severely wrong with a ratings system that gives “Larry Crowne,” “Beginners,” “Horrible Bosses: and “Harry Potter” the same number of stars.
If the record heat leads you to an air conditioned theater this week, I hope I’ve given you some guidance of where to go. As I learned, it isn’t easy to come by.

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