Mini-reviews to help you choose
Can you believe the year’s 1/4 over already?
What? You don’t go time for chit-chat? Alright, to it then.
I didn’t get around to seeing much in the theater last month and what I did see didn’t quite match the highlights that January & February provided but there’s some decent stuff in here and if you get a chance some stuff definitely worth checking out.
Again, per the industry standard, all films are rated on a 5-star scale.
Project X (d. Nima Nourizadeh)
Sorely lacking in Matthew Broderick or space monkeys, this teen-skewed raunchy comedy is another entry in the pervasive ‘found footage’ genre. Told through a storyline student ‘documentary’ and video captured on cell phones and television news cameras, a group of kids decide to throw the ultimate party in a most likely futile effort to gain popularity and get laid. It’s a tale as old as time. I’m pretty sure it was in the Bible. Let’s be honest. The 80’s were the heyday of the teen sex comedy (Fast Times, Porky’s, Hardbodies, etc.) The American Pie franchise did it’s feeble best to revive the genre in the 90’s/00’s with some success but no one’s done it as well as those horn-dogs that did it so well in the day’s of hair metal and boom boxes. Our young protagonists are likable enough and capable actors. There’s plenty of nubile flesh on display. Wacky hijinks ensue. It’s ultimately a pleasant if empty diversion. Save it for a renter.
Project X is still in theaters
John Carter (d. Andrew Stanton)
I wanted to like this more than I did. But I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. Andrew Stanton is known as a director of Pixar films (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) and star Taylor Kitsch is better known as ‘That Guy from Friday Night Lights” and “Was he that guy that played Gambit?” Here both shoulder a heavy load in trying to bring to life Edgar Rice Burrough’s almost century old Barsoom universe. And they do an alright job. The problem is that so many filmmakers have been inspired by the source material that a film based on it now feels almost dated and derivative. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like here. Kitsch handles the role of the hero well. There’s really only one scene where I could call in to doubt his acting chops. This was Stanton’s first non-animated feature and he has a great visual style and made excellent use of CG in realizing the various alien life forms that inhabit Carter’s adopted world. The movie was a box-office disappointment domestically so there seems to be little chance we’ll see future installments. And that’s a shame.
John Carter is still in theaters and will be arriving on Blu-ray & DVD later this year.
Casa de mi Padre (d. Matt Piedmont)
Will Ferrell stars in a movie paying homage to the telenovela. The very idea of it struck me as intriguing if somewhat suspect. I’m not sure I initially believed it was actually going to be a feature. But it was. And I liked it. And it was nothing like I thought it would be. One expects Mr. Ferrell to be crazy and over the top. This is a reasonable expectation given his body of work in movies such as Anchorman, Talledega Nights, Stepbrothers, Old School, Blades of…you get the idea. Anyway, leave that assumption at the door. The filmmakers play this straight. Ferrell has a surprisingly good handle on the Spanish language as Armando Alvarez, the less revered son of a wealthy land owner. His family runs afoul of a vicious gang of drug runners who are using the expansive ranch where he lives to ply their trade. Love is found, family dies, revenge is sought. It’s all very ridiculous but surprisingly engaging.
Casa de mi Padre is still in a few theaters.
21 Jump Street (d. Phil Lord/Chris Miller)
This film was easily the biggest surprise of the year for me. When I first saw the trailers, I was not enthused. I was thinking it would be no better than the terrible Starsky & Hutch movie that Ben Stiller unleashed upon an unsuspecting universe a few years back. I could not have been more wrong. As the release date approached, word was quickly spreading that this was actually a very enjoyable flick. And more importantly, it was being billed as hilarious. So with renewed but cautious optimism, I went to see a movie I had previously vowed I would not. Glad I did. Channing Tatum is not a great actor but he’s pretty damn funny. Jonah Hill has shown his comedic prowess in previous films though his act was getting a bit tired. He plays it slightly different here to great effect. They make a fine comedic duo as two inept cops who get shunted off to a forgotten undercover division because their superior officer doesn’t know what else to do with them. The plot, something to do with a new designer drug, plays second fiddle to the relationship between the leads and their attempts to ingratiate themselves to a student body who can’t help but notice that they seem terribly out-of-place. Fans of the old TV series will be delighted by several cameos peppered throughout the proceedings. I won’t say you have to see this in theaters but if you’re looking for a healthy laugh on down the road check it out when it hits home viewing.
21 Jump Street is still in wide release at a theater near you
That’s all I’ve got. Go away. I’m done.