It’s Tuesday and that means you’ve had almost two full days to digest the Breaking Bad finale, so now that I’ve fulfilled my official blogger’s obligation to namedrop Breaking Bad at least one time in this post, we can actually move on to the task at hand. This Is The End is this week’s main offering, but as usual we’ve got a full and robust potpourri of films to choose from if you’ve already seen the one that gets the banner image. We’ve got Nicolas Cage films both live action and animated. We’ve got some new blood and a broken heart. We’ve got frozen ground and organic fertilizer. We’ve got cavemen and Christmas pageants. We’ve even got a film that has already cemented its place in Canadian cinematic history.
This Is The End
The Frozen Ground
So This Is Christmas
Fright Night 2: New Blood
The Book Of Daniel
Beyond The Heavens
Language Of A Broken Heart
100 Bloody Acres
Dead Before Dawn
Two of this week’s films are Dove-approved, but if you want to know which ones they are you’re just going to have to continue reading. Another one of these movies is about an abandoned mine. Sure, you may think you know which one it is, but if you continue reading you might be surprised by the answer. Or not, because it’s the one called Abandoned Mine, but you should keep reading anyway because at one point during this crazy adventure I end up quoting scripture and I for one think we all could use a little more Biblical influence in our lives.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg write and direct this comedy about people trying to survive the Biblical apocalypse. It stars the likes of James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson (along with a host of other celebrities in smaller roles), and they all play comedically exaggerated versions of themselves. The movie’s domestic box-office alone has more than tripled its production budget, and the critics were surprisingly receptive to it (84% on Rotten Tomatoes) making this film an unqualified success. Vince gave it a ‘B+’ in the official FilmDrunk review, and you know how he normally feels about Canadians making light of Biblical prophecy. As usual, I haven’t caught this one yet, and while I’m eager to see it, I’m going to go on record and say that this movie shouldn’t exist. I have two basic problems with the existence of this movie. My first complaint is pretty simple: I don’t think it will still be funny 10 years from now. Now I know most movies aren’t made with the expectation of living long lives as classics that people watch and re-watch and share with their friends, but I do think most movies are made with the hope that that will be the case. Certainly most comedies and definitely most studio comedies with a large cast of recognizable stars that cost $32 million to make are made with that hope. We may laugh now at the James Franco-is-gay because he’s known for playing coy about his sexuality, but it will just seem stale and dated after he comes out of the closet, and the same holds true for how every ‘character’ is portrayed. The jokes are all based on the presumption that you know who these people are and are not only familiar with their work, but also with their personas. If I tried watching this with my son twenty years from now I’d have to explain who these people were and all the various pop culture references and he would have a hard time believing that Jonah Hill, the same Jonah Hill who -in the then current year of 2033- pops up on late night infomercials showing us how we can revolutionize the Martian real estate industry just by experiencing his 11-part seminar teaching his patented fool-proof system for intergalactic business transactions as obtained via extra-sensory memory file uploaded directly to our government-mandated neural-net cybernetic cortex database (thanks a lot, Obamacare), used to be a big enough star to actually draw people to a theater to watch a movie in which he plays himself. Of course I’m not saying that all movies hold up over the years, I’m just saying that this one seems expressly designed to grow stale over time, even if I were to find it hilarious right now. The bigger problem is my second complaint: simply put, this movie was too successful. This is going to be its own sub-genre now, and nobody wants that. Adam Sandler already freely admits he makes movies like Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2 as an excuse to hang out with his celebrity friends -what’s going to happen when they don’t even have to pretend to be characters? What’s sadder than watching Kevin James rolling around trying to be a zookeeper or an MMA fighter? Watching Kevin James rolling around just trying to be himself. Don’t even get me started on David Spade. So watch this movie if you want, and by all means enjoy it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s all fun and games when we’re watching Michael Cera pretend to have a drug problem, but none of us will be laughing 18 months from now when Kristen Stewart is playing herself in a movie about the time she was confronted by Twilight fans who turned out to be real vampires and we’ll be laughing even less a month after that when Miley Cyrus is playing herself in a time travel movie about twerking dinosaurs. Let me be clear: I would love nothing more than to see some twerking dinosaurs, but not like that. Not like that at all.
This is that Dreamworks animated film where Nicolas Cage voices a caveman who doesn’t want his family to ever leave the cave because he wants to have necessary-for-survival incest with his Emma Stone-voiced daughter but she’s not having it because there’s a new guy who sounds like Ryan Reynolds and he knows about fire and shit. By now we all know the drill: it’s an animated film targeted to kids so it made buckets of cash, a sequel is in the works, and those of us with kids will end up watching it because kids don’t have any discernment when it comes to their entertainment choices and we all stopped fighting the good fight around the time they could walk. Beyond that, the only analysis I have to contribute is the curious fact that the story for this fine piece of art was co-written by John Cleese of Monty Python fame. What’s strange is the fact that he did not provide a vocal performance for this film, despite doing so for such films as Planes, The Big Year, Winnie The Pooh, Shrek Forever After, Planet 51, Igor, Shrek The Third, Charlotte’s Web, Mickey’s Around The World In 80 Days, Valiant, Shrek 2, George Of The Jungle 2, Pinocchio (the really creepy one with Roberto Benigni as the puppet-turned-real-boy), The Magic Pudding, George Of The Jungle, The Swan Princess, and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. I’m sure he really wanted to –because the movie’s just so great- but he was probably too busy filming Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure. You know the movie I’m talking about -the seventh film in the series about a loveable but mischievous St. Bernard. Christmas Adventure is the fifth straight-to-video installment in the epic saga by the way, and for those of you not in the know, Beethoven talks now and is voiced by Tom Arnold. So yeah, The Croods is probably pretty great.
Nicolas Cage and John Cusack headline this true-crime thriller about an Alaskan State Trooper played by Cage and his quest to catch Cusack, a serial killing rapist. Or would that be a raping serial killer? Serial killing rapist sounds better to the ear, but it kind of implies that rape is a worse crime than murder, and while both are horrible, if I were forced with a gun to my head to pick which was worse I’d probably say serial killing is worse than rape. I’m just sayin’. At any rate, Cusack rapes and murders young girls like Vanessa Hudgens, who plays the one girl who got away and becomes a junkie stripper, and Cage is convinced Cusack is the culprit, but he has no hard evidence so he gets Hudgens to help him but nobody believes her much anyway because, as I said, she’s a junkie stripper. Hank from Breaking Bad shows up too, as does 50 Cent, who also produced this movie. The Frozen Ground must really stink because despite the cast above and a budget in excess of $27 million, the film got a barely-existent theatrical/VOD release in late August and is now hitting DVD less than six weeks later. I don’t know what went wrong exactly, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say it has something to do with limiting 50 Cent to a producer/actor’s role. A man of his immense talents, impeccable taste, and refined artistic sensibility really deserves to be given the director’s chair. If nothing else, I bet he’d be able to give us a straight answer as to whether or not Cusack’s character is a serial killing rapist or a raping serial killer.
Jeanne Tripplehorn and Leland Orser play a married couple struggling through the aftermath of the accidental death of their child. Laura Linney and Elliott Gould also show up to give the film some much needed ‘Oscar-nominee’ clout, which evidently didn’t work because this film played at a couple of film festivals three years ago but ultimately received no actual release until just last Friday, and then presumably only to fulfill a contractual obligation to have a theatrical release preceding the DVD release. Once again, we’re left to speculate about what went wrong with this film, but if nothing else we do have the sage wisdom of IMDb member mrrockstone: