Finding Amanda

Ferris Bueller has gone magnificently to seed.

The one-time ruler of the high school set is slouching through middle age, and his portrayer, Matthew Broderick, is thicker around the jowls, a bit beaten down by life, and prone to shrugging as his potential blows away in the wind.

At least on screen, that is.

Roll the dice and get a winner with this darkly funny film about Broderick hitting up Sin City in a bid to retrieve his niece (Brittany Snow), who’s busy exploring the parts of town not generally approved by the chamber of commerce.

A love letter to degenerate gamblers everywhere.

Used Cars

“You killed my dog, mister!”

Nothing is off limits for the salesmen in this salty comedy, from hijacking the airwaves to run renegade TV ads, to faking out a prospective buyer by making him think he turned the company dog into a pancake.

Director Robert Zemeckis, before he got respectable with an Oscar, gets down ‘n dirty, with Kurt Russell and Gerrit Graham a formidable duo as fast-talking, eyes-ever-on-the-wallet shysters.

If you’re a person who thinks kids falling out of the back of a moving car isn’t funny, this probably isn’t the movie for you.

Which is too bad.

 

Miami Blues

He’s a killer dude.

Mixing a big grin with cold eyes, Alec Baldwin saunters into frame and immediately wins everyone over — through charm, or by painfully mashing their body parts.

“Junior” genuinely cares for a hooker played with plucky resolve by Jennifer Jason Leigh, and just wants to enjoy being back in the real world.

But the violence which put him in jail before is quick to surface, and after stealing a gun (and some dentures) from cop Fred Ward, things get out of hand fast.

A lot of fun, if you have a dark and dirty sense of humor.

Burn After Reading

No one loves idiots more.

The Coen brothers delight in concocting tales about people who think they know more than they do, morons who stumble in and out of danger, often ending up prematurely erased.

This pitch-dark comedy, while not on the top tier of their filmography, has some huge laugh-out-loud moments.

Especially from Brad Pitt as a man so remarkably stupid you expect him to forget how to breath at times.

From the mystery project George Clooney is building in his basement, to Frances McDormand’s letting the CIA buy her off with plastic surgery, this is primo tomfoolery.

 

Secretary

“Oh, you better believe that’s a paddlin’.”

Possibly paying tribute to discipline-loving old coot Jasper on The Simpsons, this darkly-humorous tale hits all the right … notes.

James Spader is a tightly-strung lawyer with a fondness for the spanking arts, while the sublime Maggie Gyllenhaal is his new employee, a woman searching for direction in her life after being hospitalized.

Two outsiders looking for someone to understand their innermost urges, they form an unusual, but successful duo.

The result is like if you took the God-awful Fifty Shades of Grey series, and substituted strong writing and quality acting.

What a concept.