Today is Tuesday, November 5th and you know what that means: it’s Guy Fawkes Day! Unlike most Americans who’ve only heard of Guy Fawkes because of the V For Vendetta movie, I first heard of the man way back in 1996 thanks to a little computer game called The Pink Panther: Passport To Peril. Suck it, haters. But enough about me, we’ve got DVDs to discuss! There are several reasonably high profile films coming out on disc today, and obviously White House Down and Lovelace are among them. Additionally, we’ve got several films that are packed to the gills with celebrities such as Billy Bob Thornton, Adam Sandler, James Franco, Danny McBride, Kristen Wiig, Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Edward Burns, Amber Heard, Meat Loaf, Luke Perry, Katee Sackhoff, and perhaps most exciting, Dazed & Confused‘s Wiley Wiggins! We’ve got presidents and porn stars. We’ve got literary adaptations and historical recreations. We’ve even got three movies with the word ‘Christmas’ in the title!
White House Down
Grown Ups 2
As I Lay Dying
Girl Most Likely
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas
All American Christmas Carol
Scoot & Kassie’s Christmas Adventure
A Deadly Obsession
(You may notice that I’ve omitted one of today’s bigger DVD releases: the extended edition cut of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Apparently Peter Jackson added 14 extra minutes of dwarves doing light housework around Bilbo’s home, shaking out rugs, dusting lintels -that sort of thing. Thrilling, I know, but that doesn’t make it a film new to DVD, so tough cookies, Tolkien fans.)
Wondering if Wiley Wiggins still has that annoying tick where he compulsively rubs his nose and pushes his hair back behind his ears? I’m guessing he does, but I didn’t recognize him in the trailer for Computer Chess, and in fact I don’t even mention him again beyond this sentence so I don’t know why I mentioned him at all, but believe me, he’s in Computer Chess and the best way to learn all about the movie -minus any further Wiggins discussion, of course- is to continue reading. If you’ve never seen Dazed & Confused or don’t have a clue who Wiley Wiggins is, you might as well keep reading anyhow because there are lots of other celebrities popping up in movies this week that you have heard of. People like James Woods, James Franco, Paul Giamatti, Chris Rock, Danny McBride, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon, Noomi Rapace, Tim Roth, Connie Britton, Kellan Lutz, and Eric Roberts. I know I mentioned James Franco and Danny McBride twice, but guess what? They’re each in multiple movies this week! They might even be in one together. The journey through this week’s DVDs begins on the next page. Join me, won’t you?
The White House is under attack and the only man who can stop the bad guys is Magic Mike. What a gloriously stupid sentence. Given FilmDrunk’s adoption of Channing Tatum as the site’s official human mascot (sorry Eudora Welty) there was a lot of anticipation around these parts that this movie would deliver on the dumb action promise of the premise. Burnsy even risked life and limb to leak us the storyboards. I can honestly say that no one was more excited to see this movie than him. But then the cease-and-desist came down like hellfire from Sony and even worse, C-Tates finally filed a restraining order against him and to make a long story short, it was left to Vince to actually review the film and he was disappointed, giving it a “C-“. It just wasn’t dumb enough. By now plenty of other people have gotten the chance to see it and form their own opinions, but I haven’t seen it and I’d never express an opinion of a film I haven’t seen, so instead I’ll just say that if it’s dumb you want, Vince, there’s always Olympus Has Fallen. Several FilmDrunk commenters have been singing its praises as just the dumb, over-the-top, quip-filled action flick you’ve been searching for, and allow me to agree. I caught it on blu-ray and it was gloriously stupid. For instance, hell is raining down all over Washington D.C. Civilians, soldiers, and secret service agents alike are being riddled with bullets and our man Gerard Butler simply walks across the White House lawn and into the front door. Sure he has a handgun, but the bad guys have stuff like RPGs and heavy artillery garbage trucks and a giant airplane that maneuvers on a dime and has gun ports coming out of every which way -but it all means nothing compared to Butler and his handgun. And oh sweet Uncle Sam, the patriotism torture porn. There are multiple lingering shots of the charred and bullet-riddled American flag valiantly flapping in the breeze –until Olympus falls that is. At that point, the bad guys pull a reverse Mount Suribachi and actually take the time and effort to go out into the open just so they can tear down the American flag and send it fluttering in a dirty heap down off the side of the White House and onto the smoking and blood-soaked ground below. The sequence is delivered in slow-mo and it looks just like an Arby’s commercial, but instead of slices of slow-roasted roast beef-product floating down into a juicy pile on a stale sesame seed bun, it it our beloved flag being horribly desicrated. (I’m also pretty sure it was a CGI flag, but that’s neither here nor there.) What’s more, all of that is in the first half-hour of the movie, before Butler’s John McClane character starts quipping and killing everyone and the bad guys start torturing hostages to get the codes for the big macguffin, and Morgan Freeman starts going head-to-head with Robert Forster over in the pentagon, and oh my sweet lord in heaven, I really did feel like a kid again. This movie deserves the London-set sequel it’s getting (and that I predicted). If you’re still not convinced, there is a scene where Oscar-winner Melissa Leo gets violently pulled across the floor of the White House to her imminent demise and all the while she is valiantly and courageously reciting the Pledge of Allegiance instead of pleading for her life or reciting the Lord’s Prayer or fighting back or anything. Why? Because America, that’s f*cking why. Dude, I’m not even mentioning the obvious traitor-in-the-ranks ‘twist’, his ludicrous deathbed conversion or the adorable moppet of a kid who has to be found before the bad guys can get to him. The only thing Olympus Has Fallen is missing is Channing Tatum, which brings us back to White House Down, which is on DVD today, and which doesn’t yet have a sequel announced, and so I will offer up the suggestion that Sony opt out of pursuing a White House Down sequel and instead put some more eggs into the Olympus Has Fallen basket by bringing C-Tates in as a British MI-6 agent. (While Sony produced only White House Down, they hold the home video rights to both films and therefore have a stake in each, so their pushing for this casting choice really isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.) Just think how amazing it would be to see Channing Tatum struggling with a British accent, side by side with Gerard Butler and his terrible American accent as they bicker over the merits of the metric system. They might even call C-Tates’ character Cole Baretta, a.k.a. Agent 0069, and everything would be right with the world. God Bless America and God Save The Queen.
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was supposed to star in Inferno, a forthcoming biopic about Linda Lovelace -the porn legend who later became an anti-porn activist? Remember how it seemed really unlikely because nobody would actually hire Lindsay Lohan for a movie anymore but to be fair if anyone were to hire her it would be for something like a porn biopic because she was still somewhat famous but on such a downward spiral that there was a good chance her sex scenes would not be simulated and that would be a selling point? And then you felt bad about yourself for thinking that might be the hook that gets you to see the movie even though it’s terribly sad that someone who once showed talent and promise had so very quickly devolved into such a mess that while still in her twenties people spoke about her like she was already dead and her so-called good years were behind her -and even then they were referring to her time dating Fez from That ‘70s Show? Well this isn’t that Linda Lovelace biopic. This is the other one with Amanda Seyfried. You might say this is the Olympus Has Fallen to Inferno’s White House Down if you were terrible at making comparisons and White House Down was never actually filmed. Anyhow, Vince liked this movie well enough to give it a “B” in his review. So there’s that. Personally, I’m fascinated by the decision to bother listing all the famous actors on the box cover. Does a movie about a woman infamous for sucking cock really get sold based on the star power? I’d love to meet the guy who was on the fence about seeing a movie all about a woman whose claims to fame include the lack of a gag reflex and having f*cked a dog in a bestiality porno be swayed by the participation of Hank Azaria and Bobby Cannavale. Assuming just such a guy exists, what do you think his feelings are in regard to Eric Roberts? I only bring it up because he’s also in the movie, but they didn’t list him on the box cover and I can’t imagine there’s any logical reason behind including somebody like Chris Noth but leaving him out. I bet our hypothetical film watcher is a pretty big Eric Roberts fan, because who isn’t, right? Maybe the thinking is that they wanted Eric Roberts to be a surprise and I’m kind of ruining it. Oh shit, that’s it isn’t it? I’m spoiling the big Roberts reveal. He’s…he’s the dog, isn’t he? I know he has experience with that sort of thing. Whoops, looks like this time I’m the one who really screwed the pooch.
This is that movie that focuses on the arguably minor historical figures that were involved in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination; people such as the doctors who tried to save him, the secret service agents who failed to protect him, the assassin’s brother, and the family man who just happened to be filming when the president got shot. Vince gave it a scathing “D+” review just last month (and the other critics weren’t much kinder). Like Lovelace, this one’s got a big cast of famous names including Paul Giamatti, Jacki Weaver, Billy Bob Thornton, several other lesser-known character actors, Chet Haze’s brother, and perhaps most strangely –given his top billing, at least- Zac Efron. I don’t begrudge Zac Efron for trying to stretch his acting wings, but I can’t help but imagine him trying to chat up Giamatti and Thornton between takes (I don’t care if they don’t have any scenes together) and both of the more seasoned professionals just keep giving him withering stares and not even dignifying him with a spoken response. Eventually Efron tries to make a joke, like saying he thought he was signing up for the (then) new Stallone action picture, Bullet To The Head, and even Colin Hanks is like, “Dude. Not cool.” This makes Efron feel terrible, because nobody likes to be chastised by Colin Hanks. Still, it was good of Efron to force that Bullet To The Head joke in so I didn’t have to.
I had planned to take this moment to explain that it is very difficult to watch a film ironically because all that matters to the filmmakers is that you watched it and not whether or not you genuinely enjoyed it, but then I looked at how much money this movie made over and above its wholly unnecessary $80 million budget and decided it wouldn’t matter anyway. F*ck, people are terrible.
This adaptation of William Faulkner’s 1930 novel –about a grieving family’s journey to honor their wife/mother’s last wish to be buried in her hometown- stars James Franco, who also directed and wrote the adaptation. The film co-stars Tim Blake Nelson and Danny McBride, who seems to be playing against type. In fact, the whole thing kind of defies my expectations because it really does look like a straight adaptation, devoid of any Franconian dicknosing. Is that a good thing? I honestly can’t tell. If anyone else were making this movie I probably wouldn’t give it much thought, unless it got a lot of buzz from the critics and then I finally decided to check it out and get thoroughly outraged at how terrible it is. I’m looking at you, Beasts Of The Southern Wild. That being said, I have just as little interest in James Franco’s dicknosing pursuits of late because they stopped seeming novel and silly quite some time ago and now just seem tired and kind of desperate. But with that also being said, I actually am intrigued by this movie simply because it does look normal and non-dicknosy. If this exact same movie existed but without James ‘King of the Dicknose’ Franco’s involvement I’d probably forget it existed, but to have him direct something so normal-seeming instantly makes it intriguing. Am I making any sense? It’s kind of like how it can be strangely compelling to see GWAR without the costumes or Insane Clown Posse without the makeup, even if you don’t like their music. It’s just always kind of fascinating to see the real people living normal lives behind the aggressively strange public persona. Or not, I don’t know. I guess what I’m saying is: if James Franco creates art and he doesn’t dicknose it, isn’t that really the greatest dicknosing of all? Either way, I’m sure this type of ‘Is he f*cking with us or what?’ expert analysis is exactly the type of legacy William Faulkner always hoped to have associated with his novel.
Speaking of Danny McBride, he takes over the Jeff Garlin role in this Curb Your Enthusiasm movie. Well, to be fair, it isn’t really a Curb movie, but it might as well be. It’s still about Larry David pissing people off, it’s still filmed with pre-determined scenarios but improvised dialogue, and it’s still hilarious (to me, at least). Of course there are a few differences: Clear History takes place on Martha’s Vinyard instead of in L.A./New York, and Larry David isn’t playing a guy named Larry -instead he flipped the consonants and is playing a guy named Rolly. Seriously. Instead of celebrities making cameos as mostly themselves, they all play characters, and the cast list includes Bill Hader, Philip Baker Hall, Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, the aforementioned Danny McBride, Eva Medes, Amy Ryan, Lenny Clarke, Peter Farrelly, Paul Scheer, and J.B. Smoove who isn’t playing Leon at all (*wink, wink*). Of course there’s still a couple of celebrities playing themselves but they all appear on TV shows the characters happen to be watching, so that’s kind of a draw. So, yes, it is very much a Curb Your Enthusiasm movie, but as I said, I love the show and I loved this movie. On the other hand, if you don’t like Larry David’s shtick –and I wouldn’t blame you- stay far away. Of course, if you do happen to already have an opinion about him then that means you’ve seen his show which means you probably have HBO which means you’ve already had plenty of chances to see this as it was made for the premium channel and there’s really no point in me writing any of this –especially because I’m breaking one of my own rules by featuring a made-for-TV movie (f*ck you, HBO’s slogan). If that’s a problem for anybody, would you really rather I spent this paragraph breaking down Bonnie & Clyde: Justified, Ridge War Z, or Paranormal Whacktivity? Those are all real movies that really hit DVD today and if you really want my thoughts here they are: I don’t think these films look very good.
First the easily copied and pasted synopsis:
Kristen Wiig stars as Imogene, a failed New York playwright awkwardly navigating the transition from Next Big Thing to Last Year’s News. After both her career and relationship hit the skids, she’s forced to make the humiliating move back home to New Jersey with her eccentric mother and younger brother (Annette Bening and Christopher Fitzgerald). Adding further insult to injury, there’s a strange man sleeping in her old bedroom (Darren Criss) and an even stranger man sleeping in her mother’s bed (Matt Dillon). Through it all, Imogene eventually realizes that as part of her rebuilding process she must finally come to love and accept both her family and her Jersey roots if she’s ever going to be stable enough to get the hell away from them.
So basically we have Kristen Wiig doing a variation of her character from Bridesmaids. Bridesmaids was okay, and while I didn’t hate her Bridesmaids character as much as I hate every single recurring character she ever had on SNL, I don’t exactly feel the need to see another Kristen Wiig movie about a woman over 30 who is still struggling to figure out her life. Unless she shows her boobs or something, I mean. On a related note –the IMDb ‘goofs’ section for this movie claims that New Jersey has no self-service gas stations. Is that true? If so, my mind is blown.
Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace lez out in this thriller from occasionally acclaimed director, Brian De Palma. That’s literally all I’ve ever heard about this movie, because that really is the thrust of the marketing campaign. There is a plot, however, and it has something to do with McAdams being Rapace’s boss and there’s some other people and a murder or something and to be honest, I suspect the trailer gives too much away. I only mention that because I know everyone reading this is basing their viewing choices based on the merits of the film itself and not just on the nature and extent of the depictions of lesbian sexuality. After all, we’re an educated and mature bunch; we aren’t twelve-year-olds who watch an entire film in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some famous actress’s bare breast or to see a sex scene starring strategically naked celebrities. No, there’s google for that.
The terribly long-winded synopsis:
The summer holidays have just begun and 11 year-old Skunk’s afternoons are full of day dreams and curious wanderings around her neighborhood – with the exception that she must regularly give herself injections to combat her type 1 diabetes. When, one day, Skunk (Eloise Laurence) discovers her bitter and angry older neighbor, Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear), savagely beating Rick, a psychologically-troubled boy from the neighborhood whom Mr. Oswald’s daughter has callously and fictitiously accused of rape, Skunk’s innocence begins to vanish. Trying to find solace with her loving nanny (Zana Marjanovic) and father (Tim Roth), with whom she is very close, Skunk is unwittingly drawn into her neighbors’ unfolding melodrama involving violence, sex, and life-shattering illness. Her home, her neighborhood and her school all become treacherous environments where the happy certainties of childhood give way to a fear-filled doubt, and the promise of a complex, broken future. Overwhelmed by her experiences, Skunk herself is drawn into an ethereal chaos from which she may only return through the intense love of those closest to her.
Sounds like fun! The film also stars Cillian Murphy, who I bet does an amazing Christopher Walken impression.
Edward Burns’ latest film as writer/director/star is also the first of this week’s three DVDs that have the word ‘Christmas’ in the title. So Merry Christmas DVD season everybody! As for the film, it’s about the Fitzgerald family and the drama that ensues among the adult children of the family when their father, Big Jim, wants to join them for Christmas after being absent from their lives for the past twenty years. Will they all make peace with one another? Will the kids be able to forgive their dad and stop using his walking out as an excuse for every mistake they’ve made in their lives? Will Edward Burns’ character end up dating Connie Britton’s character? Will Big Jim fake cancer just as an excuse to get his foot in the door, only to be discovered and kicked out again? Will Luke Wilson shave his beard and then slit his wrists in a scene which makes me woozy every time I watch it? I’ll never know, because I only have room in my heart for one film that revolves around the upheaval created by the return of an estranged family member and that film is obviously Arnaud Desplechin’s Un conte de Noël.
This film, about the power of effective marketing, cost $6 million to make and earned a whopping $663 at the box office. I’m not sure which I find funnier: the fact that I’ve never even heard of this film –which again, is about the power of savvy marketing- or that they think putting Kellan Lutz’s name above the title serves as a selling point.
You know how every so often there’s something that everybody seems to like, that everyone insists you will like, and despite your being perfectly willing and open to the experience, you just don’t see what everyone else sees, and instead of liking it you think you might actually actively hate it? That’s how I feel about this movie –or at least, the trailer. I’ve heard a fair amount of buzz about this mockumentary set during a 1980s-era computer chess tournament, and I just don’t get it. Why is it in black-and-white? Is that supposed to be period-specific, because I remember there being color in the 80s. The critics mostly say it’s great, funny, innovative, blah blah blah, but watching the trailer I just don’t get it. Where were the jokes? Nerds are awkward around women? I never knew. Hilarious! I guess I just don’t see the appeal –it’s like Chinese food or Pearl Jam; you can claim it’s good or even great, but I’m pretty sure you’re just full of shit. Now if they made this about a real thinking man’s game, The Settlers Of Catan, that I could get behind it. Chess is for assholes –just like Chinese food and Pearl Jam.
DO YOU SEE, LOVELACE MARKETERS? DO YOU SEE? Right there –above the title- before Beverly D’Angelo and Meat Loaf: Eric Motherf*cking Roberts. THAT’S how you sell a movie. What’s more, he plays a rocking-and-rolling redneck Ghost of Christmas Present, and he even sings a kick-ass rendition of The 12 Days Of Christmas in the trailer. By which I of course mean the promotional video for the film provided below, and not the actual trailer which is featured on the box cover because that’s how on point these filmmakers are with their salesmanship: not only do they sell their movie with a trailer on YouTube, they even include an additional trailer right there on the box cover. That’s service. That’s value.
Originally titled K-9 Adventures: A Christmas Tale, this movie is about a young girl and her pet dog who not only organize a successful fundraiser to help the less fortunate during Christmas time, but they also fend off the comically inept burglars attempting to steal the money. You know, speaking of Linda Lovelace –if I may backtrack a bit- I can’t think of her name or her most famous film, Deep Throat, without thinking about my in-laws. Several years ago, before the wife and I were married, we were having dinner with her parents and her father tried to impress us with his hip knowledge of all things edgy by turning the conversation on a dime and mentioning –out of absolutely nowhere- that back in his college days the small theater just off of campus used to show Deep Throat all the time. Before the future wife and I could form any sort of reaction to this change in conversational topic, her mother innocently asked what Deep Throat was. My future father-in-law told her that it was an adult-film. She chastised him for bringing up such things while at the dinner table and I wish the story ended there, but it does not. After a few moments of awkward silence among the four of us, she violated her own rules of dining etiquette and asked why they would ever name a pornographic film after the informant from the Watergate scandal. Her husband was only too happy to explain that she had it in reverse and that the informant was named for the film. This prompted another terrible question from the poor woman who sat down at the table expecting nothing more than a nice meal with her family and the decent young man aiming to steal away her only child. Yes, my friends, she wanted to know what the title meant. At this point, my future father-in-law saw that things had gone further than he had intended and tried to avoid answering, but his wife is nothing if not persistent and finally his resolve broke down and he told her. In front of his daughter. In front of me. Never in my life have I pretended to be more fascinated by a plate of mashed potatoes, corn, and gravy-soaked pork. Just as I became hopeful that I could again look up and make eye contact with my girlfriend, her mother –in an obvious fit of existential and moral crises- blurted out that if that’s what the title means, then the movie couldn’t have been real because people simply don’t do that. Recognizing that all decorum and dignity was lost, my future father-in-law replied, “No, it’s just that you don’t do that.” Nobody spoke for the rest of the meal. It’s a strange feeling, knowing that your girlfriend’s mother doesn’t give blow jobs and that her father resents her for it. What does any of this have to do with Scoot & Kassie’s Christmas Adventure? Absolutely nothing, but f*ck any movie that casts both Luke Perry and an awesome dog in prominent roles but then gives Perry tons of dialogue and the dog absolutely none.
Basic cable TV star Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Longmire) stars in this film about a woman who crosses paths with a misguided young adult who ultimately goes on a shooting rampage at his college campus. To be honest, I was going to share that anecdote about my in-laws here instead of in the previous paragraph, but after the gun scare at Central Connecticut State University yesterday, it just seems like it would’ve been in poor taste. Instead, here’s another anecdote about them: A few years after the Deep Throat incident we were again eating dinner with my in-laws, but this time at a restaurant. My mother-in-law decided that this was the perfect forum to express her frustration with what she deemed ‘fake’ holidays and she cited Martin Luther King Day as her primary example. My wife, her father, and I all tried to stop her from saying this, but to no avail. She stayed with her subject for a few more agonizing minutes before thankfully changing to a topic less uncomfortable for the rest of us, and things were fine for a while. Eventually the African American family that had been sitting in the booth backing our own got up and left, and as they did they made a point of scowling at my mother-in-law. She definitely noticed, but for once she had the good sense to keep her mouth shut until they had left. As soon as she deemed it appropriate, she asked the rest of us if we had any idea why they gave her a dirty look and we pointed out that they probably didn’t consider MLK Day a fake holiday and were offended by her comments. She thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know why that should offend them; don’t they do most of their banking around the first of the month?” Needless to say, we skipped dessert.
A couple years ago, The Asylum released a horror film called 11/11/11, which was essentially about the antichrist bringing about Armageddon on November 11, 2011. It must’ve been a relative hit, because last year they released a sequel/re-make, 12/12/12, which was –funnily enough- about the same thing happening on December 12, 2012. In my coverage of 12/12/12’s DVD release, I joked that surely The Asylum would be giving us 13/13/13 because they’ve never let things like logic or a 12-month calendar stop them from cranking out cheap shitty movies. I’m not laughing any more. I am, however, wondering if perhaps I might be due some financial compensation for The Asylum’s use of what was clearly my original idea. Also, before things go any further, I’d just like to say to whichever Asylum executives might be reading: I’ve already got an idea for 14/14/14, and not to give too much away, it involves time travel, Pope Francis, and governmental overreach as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act. I’ll be waiting for your call, fellas.