Editor’s note: A Jacksonville resident has been reviewing movies for friends for several years and has offered to share his thoughts with Daily Progress readers. His reviews come in personal letters to his nicknamed friend, Spud Nut. Our reviewer is Tater Tot, so consequently, the movies get ratings based on potatoes.

Spud Nut,

This week, our local theater made the first feature changes of the new year and brought us three new movies for our entertainment. By far, the very best of the group is The Book of Eli (rated R, 118 minutes). Denzel Washington is a samurai road warrior on a walking mission to the West traveling through a desolate, post-apocalyptic world seen in sepia tones. He carries with him the last copy of a sacred book sorely needed by an illiterate, savage society. Gary Oldman wants what Denzel carries, and so the conflicts begin. Blind Jennifer Beals and her attractive daughter, Mila Kunis, need the kind of protection that only a stout heart can provide. If this movie made a few minor changes, it could easily be rated PG-13 and would become almost required viewing by some religious groups. I loved every moment of this drama, lopped-off hands and all, and give it a three-plus hot-potato rating.

On the other hand, the only good parts of the family comedy The Spy Next Door (rated PG, 92 minutes) are the Jackie Chan action scenes with the fanciful props he uses to fend off Russian agents who are after him. The bloodless battles are choreographed like a Three Stooges slapstick routine and produce the same hard belly laughs for those who enjoy physical farces. You would like to edit out all the other cheesy stuff aimed at a Nickelodeon-age audience. George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus have minor supporting roles, whereas Amber Valletta and her conflicts with three children are the center of attention. If the script had been written more like The Pacifier, it would have more appeal for all ages. This fair-to-middling film barely gets a two-potato rating.

You can skip viewing Did You hear About the Morgans (rated PG-13, 107 minutes) because there is just no chemistry between Hugh Grant and his estranged wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. She is not funny and not a good foil for Grant’s witty asides. The comedy is the familiar theme about two New Yorkers forced to adapt to country living conditions in rural Wyoming (the old Green Acres TV routine). You will be more interested in the host couple, Sam Elliot and Mary Steenburgen, than the bickering, bantering subjects of this story. Write off this release as a one potato rated movie and wait for something better to open next week.

Tater Tot

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