It’s a big week for new DVDs -mostly because I’ve actually seen two of ’em. Besides American Hustle (pictured above), there’s also Disney’s latest animated smash hit, Disney’s latest live-action stab at a prestige film, and even some movies not made by Disney. Besides the stars in the photograph above, we’ve got films starring Tom Hanks, Daniel Radcliffe, Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson, and Danny Trejo. We’ve got con-men and snowmen, we’ve got lady authors and gentlemen authors, we’ve got live-action superheroes and cartoon terrorists. We’ve got two movies that feature car accidents as their inciting incidents. All of that and even Jon Lovitz playing a scary loan shark!
Saving Mr. Banks
Kill Your Darlings
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Here Comes The Devil
20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending
Achmed Saves America
Four of these movies are Oscar-nominated films, but only one of them actually took home a statue. Wondering which one it is? You’ll just have to continue -aw, to hell with it. It was Frozen, and you probably knew that if you bothered to stop staring at the banner image and actually gave any of these words a moment’s thought. When you’re done doing whatever you need to do in order to actually read words again, I’ll be waiting on the next page.
David O. Russell reunites with half the cast of his Oscar-winning film, The Fighter, mixes them up with half the cast of his Oscar-winning film, Silver Linings Playbook, adds two-time Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner for the heck of it, resulting in his best film to date –and it went on to win absolutely no Oscars. To be fair though, it was a very strong year for Oscar-baiting films. American Hustle is loud and fun –in Vince’s “A-“ review he refers to it as, “Sexy People F*cking, The Movie”, whereas its competition for largely meaningless cinematic validation were true stories about slavery, AIDs, and panicky lady astronauts. Frankly, American Hustle never stood a chance. Still, it’s a great movie, and certainly more fun to watch than any of the films that actually triumphed over it in the 10 Oscar categories for which it was nominated. So if you’re a slave to the Academy, feel free to pop in The Great Gatsby and marvel at its Oscar-winning costumes (they were very nice), but for my money, I’d much rather watch Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams cat-fight and kiss while wondering just how many rolls of double-sided tape they had to use to keep Ms. Adams breasts from falling out of the barely-there tops she wears throughout the film. I’m guessing 10 rolls, because you have to assume her breasts would start to sweat and glisten under the hot lights they use on movie sets, and the tape would start to lose its stickiness, so between shots some young female production assistant would have to come up and reapply the tape. Adams and Bethany –that’s the assistant’s name, I’m assuming- would try to remain professional but they’d both end up giggling at the awkwardness while Beth carefully pulls Amy’s dress fully open and gently cups her –you know what? Never mind. Good movie, you should see it.
You’ve got to hand it to Disney: they did everything right with Frozen. In my estimation, this is their biggest (non-Pixar) success since The Lion King came out 20 years ago. Kids love it, parents love it, the critics love it, and toy retailers really love it. Hell even the Dove Foundation gave it a full 5-Dove Seal of Approval, despite it featuring a character with ‘unexplained magical powers’. It’s earned over a billion dollars and counting at the box-office, and that’s got to be peanuts compared to the money it’s making in merchandising. My wife and I took our daughter to see Frozen just after Thanksgiving and with both Christmas and her birthday happening since, she is now the happy four-year-old owner of a set of Frozen bed sheets and pillow cases, three Barbie-sized Frozen dolls (Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff), two dolls depicting toddler-aged versions of Elsa and Anna, a small plastic Olaf (the snowman) toy that collapses when you press the down on the base and snaps back to form when you release it, a Frozen toy camera, a Frozen toy cell phone, a Frozen tote bag, the official soundtrack -which has been dutifully loaded onto every iPhone and iPad we own (as well as being in semi-permanent rotation in both of our cars), and come Easter she will add a plush over-sized Olaf to her collection, courtesy of a grandma who went to the Disney Store every God damn day for two months hoping to find one. You know what, though? I don’t mind it a bit. As far as kid’s movies go, Frozen was pretty great. (Not The LEGO Movie great, but what is?) I liked it. Of course, it’s possible that I wouldn’t like it as much if I didn’t have a little girl sitting next to me absorbing it all and having the time of her life, but I do and she did so that’s that. I’d rather she engross herself in a movie with decent music from one of the folks who gave us The Book Of Mormon than have her shrieking at the top of her lungs to whatever Top 40 hit the Chipmunks of the Smurfs cover in their latest cash-in. Plus, and I’m being completely serious here, the whole female protagonist(s) not needing a man to rescue them thing is a big selling point.
And so I give in. Disney wins this round. Even though it pains me to say it, I’m gladly giving them more of my money. Look, at least I realize the whole thing’s not about my kid, but about the cash -trust me, I know. Every time she gets excited about seeing a new Frozen toy, or sings “Let It Go” quietly to herself while playing in her room, I feel like it’s money well-spent. Disney gets what it wants, but she also gets what she wants, so I guess I’m getting what I want, too. And she won’t be this young and innocent forever. Zeitgeists come and go, but I’ll always remember how much she currently loves Frozen. Especially because she saw it and loved it so before any of her friends saw it and told her to like it. Even if they had, it still wouldn’t matter because it isn’t about pop-culture or peers -it’s about her happiness. Maybe that’s why there’s no way she’s seeing whatever Disney’s next princess movie ends up being, because her happiness is expensive as f*ck.
Speaking of Disney and its ingenious ability to make a buck, Saving Mr. Banks is the story of how Mary Poppins became a film. In other words, Disney took a DVD special feature, hired Oscar-winning actors for the lead roles, and released it in theaters instead of as a supplement on the Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Blu-ray . Which, by the way, brazenly includes a special feature promoting Saving Mr. Banks. The film went on to garner a good bit of critical favor and earned over $100 million at the box-office, so congratulations to Disney are in order. The only question is, will this movie become such a beloved classic that it ends up getting its own theatrically-released making-of 50 years from now? I’m guessing not, but if it did, they should call it Paying Mr. Hanks. (F*ck you, that joke was awesome.)
Here we have yet another film focusing on a writer of the Beat Generation, and this time it’s Allen Ginsberg. Again. To review, this isn’t the movie starring the bad guy from Hulk, or the one with the girl from Twilight and the guy from Tron: Legacy –those were both about Jack Kerouac. This is the one about Ginsberg as a young man. No, not the one starring Harry Osborn from the old Spider-Man movies, this is the one that co-stars Harry Osborn from the new Spider-Man movies. Got it? No? Look, I’ll put this as simply as I can: this is the one with Harry Potter as Ginsberg. It’s about the time his weirdo friend (new Harry Osborn, obviously) murdered the guy who played Dexter on Dexter and how that inspired Ginsberg, Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs (Angel from X-Men: The Last Stand) to become writers or something. I’m just hoping this famous-author biopic trend stays stuck in the past long enough for me to finish my spec script about the life and loves of the lady who wrote those 50 Shades Of Grey books. Spoiler alert: it’s gonna end up being a lot of middle-aged lady masturbation scenes and cats. Mostly cats.
This is that biopic about Nelson Mandela that stars Idris Elba and was Oscar-nominated for that U2 song that they, appropriately enough, performed at the Oscars. As you probably recall, they rightfully ended up losing out to the song from Frozen. Speaking of, if you were surprised and impressed that I went with a (mostly) joke-free and (mostly) sincere approach to my write-up of Frozen on the previous page instead of going after the low-hanging fruit by making an “Adele Dazeem” joke, I suggest you mosey on back there and look at the first letter of every sentence in the second paragraph. That’s right, mother*ckers, BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM, you’ve been incepted. (Or would it be ‘inceptioned’? Either way, it happened.) I will always go for the easy joke, even if I have to put in extra work just to do it subliminally.
Dominic Cooper plays a district attorney who commits a hit-and-run. Samuel L. Jackson plays the guy who is found standing over the body and subsequently put on trial for the hit-and-run. (Nobody seems to wonder what he did with his car, but I digress…) Cooper gets assigned to the case and throws the trial because he believes Jackson is innocent because he knows the truth -that he himself did it- but afterwards he realizes that Jackson is a serial killer who was torturing the victim who was only running straight into traffic because they were fleeing from Jackson. Got it? Now both men know that both men know so Jackson starts framing Cooper for the rest of his crimes and the whole thing culminates with Jackson targeting Cooper’s family and ending in a bloody showdown. I got all of that from the trailer, so if you don’t like trailers that spoil the entire plot, you probably shouldn’t watch the trailer below. Of course, if you’ve read all of this, the whole thing is spoiled for you anyway, and for that I apologize. Perhaps I can make amends by sharing some info that isn’t in the trailer: this film is a co-production of Germany and Canada (how exotic) and is from the same director who gave us Johnny English, that spy spoof starring Mr. Bean. Apparently the guy’s pretty versatile, if not actually very good. I hope that this knowledge squares us and that there are no more hard feelings. I promise I won’t give so much away about the next movie.
As usual, there are at least a dozen horror movies hitting DVD this week, and as usual, only two of them look like they might possibly be worth a damn, and as usual, I’m still only going to feature one of them because I’d hate to give both of them their own spot and have to omit my expert analysis of Swerve as seen above. Anyhow, the one I’m not featuring is called Contracted and it’s a film about the dangers of date rape –specifically, that if you get raped you get an STD that turns you into a hideous freak. That’s a good message for impressionable viewers: getting raped taints you forever, and any victim of rape should be duly avoided and shunned. Anyhow, the featured film is Here Comes The Devil, a Mexican film about a family on vacation near Tijuana. The parents decide to let the kids explore a mountain-side cave and the kids go missing. When they finally return a day later, they’ve changed. Based on the title, I’m guessing they’ve been possessed. So what puts Here Come The Devil over Contracted? Well, there are a couple of reasons: first Here Comes The Devil has subtitles, and that makes it classy. Second, the trailer is red-band, and among the usual red-band sex and gore is a quick shot of a young lady’s bare breasts and she has pierced nipples, and if there’s one thing we all know to be true, it’s that pierced nipples are extra classy. In short, the choice was made for me.
This is a low-budget period-piece superhero movie that stars that one guy from John Dies At The End, that girl from The Last Exorcism, as well as easy paycheck connoisseurs Clancy Brown, Clint Howard, and Jake Busey. They’ve even got William Katt for you fans of The Greatest American Hero, as well as Larry Cedar, who’s been in everything from C.H.U.D. II – Bud The Chud to Community, but to me he’ll always be the ginger dude from Square One TV on PBS. As for the film, it doesn’t look that terrible, given what it is. Period pieces are expensive and comic book movies are expensive, so I’m basically giving the filmmakers a bit of a pass just for completing the film. That being said, there is one part of the trailer with which I must take issue: just before the 1-minute mark in the trailer, the protagonist, Ian Sparks, meets up in a graveyard with other super-heroic persons offering their services to his cause. Among the group is a rather burly looking bald fellow who demonstrates his bona fides by bursting into flame and then shooting a fireball at a gravestone, which subsequently explodes. First of all, why are they meeting in a graveyard? That seems more like super-villain territory to me. Just sayin’. Secondly, and more importantly, are we supposed to be okay with wanton gravestone destruction? Imagine what must go through the mind of someone the next time they attempt to visit that grave site? Somebody has not only vandalized their loved one’s final resting place, but did so by f*cking blowing it up. Even worse, they only did it to that one gravestone, so it seems as if it was a deliberate act of aggression. The dead person’s surviving loved one will spend the rest of their days in confusion and fear, wondering just why anyone would do such a thing. Did the dead person have enemies in life that were kept secret until now? If so, what kind of other secrets did they have? Were they criminals? Did they smoke? And if they were dead for a long time, why did the destruction come when it did and not sooner? Was a message being sent to the living survivor, and if so, from whom? And to say what, exactly? I’m just saying, I don’t think Baldy McFireball really thought things through, and maybe he shouldn’t be considered a full participating member of the newly-formed super team. Maybe enact a trial period for him or some sort of mentor/review program, because after all, thanks to his, shall we say, hot-headedness there’s at least one person out there who will for now on be living in perpetual confusion and fear, and that hardly seems right. It’s like I always say, flying’s great and x-ray vision has its perks, but courtesy and caution truly are the greatest super powers.
Danny Trejo makes plenty of terrible movies, but this film, in which he plays the leader of a violent cult of mole-people living beneath New York City, isn’t one of them. You know how I know? BECAUSE IT STARS DANNY TREJO AS THE LEADER OF A VIOLENT CULT OF MOLE-PEOPLE LIVING BENEATH NEW YORK CITY. Still, it does seem kind of strange that the darkness is descending. The official synopsis implies that he’s fixing to take the cult top-side in an attack on the normies, so shouldn’t it be 20 Ft. Below: The Darkness Ascending? I mean, I’m a fan of alliteration as much as anyone, but you guys have already decided to needlessly abbreviate ‘feet’ -and omitted the all important period, no less- so maybe you shouldn’t be worrying about having an aurally pleasing title and just stick with one that makes f*cking sense?
See, now there’s a title that makes perfect sense! Obviously, this film is about two dudes who want money for their shark-proof wetsuit business idea, and the one dude’s dad (played by Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell) won’t give them the dough, so they go to a nightclub owned by a scary loan shark played by Jon Lovitz and while there they fall in love with the lady who is on the ‘catching’ end of the nightclub’s knife-throwing act -as nightclubs are known to have. Of course she goes with the dudes, which outrages both the knife-thrower (Borat’s fat man-servant) as well as the loan shark because who wouldn’t be in love with a girl who makes a living by catching knives onstage in a nightclub owned and operated by a loan shark? Like I said, it’s all right there in the title –although it really should be ‘shark-proof’, shouldn’t it?
Given that most FilmDrunk readers are undoubtedly huge Jeff Dunham fans, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t highlight this film and its DVD release today. Jeff Dunham’s mastery of ventriloquism is such that he now goes beyond the simple puppet and gives voice to a fully realized animated character. Let me state publicly what I know we all believe: the man’s a genius, and probably history’s greatest artist. I know you’ve all already devoured the trailer for Achmed Saves America after Josh posted it on Warming Glow earlier this month, and I usually like to save this last spot for the worst film getting released on DVD each week (which is obviously not this hilarious gift given to us by Mr. Dunham), so I will instead close things out with the trailer for a far inferior comedy hitting DVD today, American Virgins. Make no mistake, this is American Virgins, not American Virgin, a 2009 comedy starring Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Rob Schneider. Yes, you’re reading this correctly: I am actually comparing a movie –unfavorably- to one starring Rob Schneider and Channing Tatum’s wife. Thank god Achmed’s saving America, because with films like these, we’re really going to need him to.
As a necessary palate cleanser after that last trailer –and to bring things back to everyone’s favorite comedic form (ventriloquism), please enjoy this 1990 episode of Tales From The Crypt entitled “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”. It stars Don Rickles and Bobcat Goldthwait, was written by Frank Darabont and directed by Richard Donner. It’s no Achmed Saves America, but what is?