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The Man from Earth (2007)
Mostly a vehicle for bashing Christianity
Like many other reviewers my first impression was that there was something wrong with the acting. It seemed stilted and unnatural (not that I could do better!). Unlike other reviewers I don't think that it improved as the movie progressed - you just get used to it.
The movie has an interesting premise which it explores in detail off and on for about two thirds of its length - if you encountered a man who claimed to have lived for 14k years, what could he tell you to prove it?
The other third is typical Hollywood Christian bashing. It follows the usual template. First you introduce characters purported to be highly intelligent professors and scientists. This gives their sophomoric pontifications credibility with the audience. Then you throw in a hysterical "Christian literalist" to show what anti-intellectual idiots Christians really are. Sci-Fi books often follow the same tedious template.
If they wanted to do something original they should have tried bashing a different religion for a change, like Islam. That would have been bold! And maybe even worth the price of a rental.
The Family Stone (2005)
Derivative and predictable
Take "Meet the Parents", reverse it, throw in a measure of Big Chilliness and some Cider House Rules moralizing and you'll have The Family Stone. It is derivative, utterly predictable, and largely humorless.
Its pivotal scene is a heavy handed attempt to redefine deviancy and make anyone with more normal moral values look like a fool. Diane Keaton plays such an annoying role that my only reaction to her death was relief.
This is the type of movie that wins awards for its political values rather than entertainment value. Don't waste your time or money.
The Cider House Rules (1999)
Long, patronizing and ultimately unentertaining
Cider House Rules may be well acted and nicely photographed but its lethargic pace and patronizing moralizing make it an ultimately unentertaining experience. This is one of those films where you spend the entire time waiting for something interesting to happen - and nothing ever does. Based on its myopic pro-abortion script I expected to see Planned Parenthood listed as research consultants in the credits.