Happy days for children at The Meads Primary School in Luton last week when they were visited by Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz.
The actor, who is dyslexic, was there as part of an educational partnership with charity Achievement for All 3As.
But Winkler is still making movies and has third billing behind Kevin (Zookeeper) James and Salma Hayek in hit-and-miss comedy HERE COMES THE BOOM (12: Sony) - set in a school.
In a bid to save his school’s music department and the job of timid colleague Marty Streb (Winkler), jaded biology teacher and ex-college wrestling champion Scott Voss (James) moonlights as a mixed martial arts fighter.
The school wants to save money, but Scott hopes to win enough to put things right and become a hero to his students in the process.
His exploits are brought to the attention of disapproving superiors after a series of bruising and embarrassing encounters in the ring (actually a cage), so will he win the heart of feisty school nurse Bella Flores (Hayek)?
Combining the inspirational life lessons of Dead Poets Society and the underdog melodrama of Rocky, James’s ordinary Joe charm and quick wit help carry the film through its stuttering storyline and predictable plot twists.
In the middle of the slapstick and one-liners, the story even tries to shoehorn in a commentary on failing education systems and the therapeutic value of music.
> I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who finds the shooting of films with shaky hand-held cameras irritating.
Not to mention the horror genre’s almost totally clapped-out found-footage gimmick, which is now taken to the mean streets of Los Angeles in END OF WATCH (15: Studio Canal).
This police movie is from the same stable as Training Day and is well acted, but doesn’t have the earlier film’s cynical wit. Uniformed cops Taylor (a shaven-headed Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Pena) stumble across the activities of a Mexican drug cartel, with violent and tragic repercussions.
Much of the film’s appeal relies on the relationship between the wisecracking duo, with equal weight given to their personal and professional lives.
But the whole thing is crudely manipulative, with the LAPD painted as spotless saints and the villains sketched as barely human.
> There’s even more found-footage in THE BAY (15: Momentum), a cautionary Jaws-meets-Paranormal Activity tale from Rain Man director Barry Levinson.
He delivers unexpected jolts and grisly scenes as he unveils the implosion of 4th of July celebrations in the small coastal town of Claridge, Maryland, after parasitic crustacean isopods terrorise the population. Panic gradually takes a grip as the carnivorous creatures attack in the water.
For Levinson, it’s not just tosh as he was born in Maryland and has observed the effects of pollution first-hand.
The film location, Chesapeake Bay, actually has a marine ‘dead zone’ and this terror tale is an impassioned expression of his own concerns. Intense farming and local government are implicated in the catastrophe in the movie.