The Press Herald’s Justin Ellis and I Run Down the Week’s New Releases (7/28/09)

Finally! We hit on a pretty strong new DVD release day, which includes some Joss Whedon, some Battlestar Galactica and…Vin Diesel. OK, maybe not THAT strong. Let’s turn it over to Dr. Videoport Jones.

Dollhouse – Season 1

Videoport Jones: “Why have I not watched this show yet?  I mean, if there’s a bigger groupie of the works of creator Joss Whedon, well, there isn’t.  Just trust me.  ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘Firefly,’ ‘Serenity,’ ‘Dr. Horrible’s

C'mon Jonesey, don't be such a sissy...

C'mon Jonesey, don't be such a sissy...

Singalong Blog’…I own them all, I have watched every episode of each, literally, over a dozen times (except for that one episode of ‘Angel’ that makes me want to smash the place up with a softball bat), and this is his new series, starring Whedon-verse alums Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker, and Alan Tudyk, all of whom I love almost as much as J.W. himself.  So, again, why haven’t I watched it yet?  Well, one, I don’t get the TV.  (The lovely Ms. Elsa S. Customer and I have no reception at our place and choose not to spring for cable just so we can watch pseudocelebrities demean themselves for table scraps),  And, two, well, I’m a-scared.  The word on the street is not great, and, while the street is notoriously addle-pated and such, the word on the much-better-informed street of trusted confidants and fellow Joss-o-philes is all abuzz with unsettling murmurs of shocked discontent.  And so, until now, I’ve been cowarding around, averting my eyes from any clip, conversation, or written opinion about ‘Dollhouse’; I just don’t want to see someone I hold in such absurdly-high regard tumble off of my carefully-constructed pedestal.  (It’s the same reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch Wes Anderson’s ‘Darjeeling Limited’).  So, yeah, call me a coward – I deserve it.  (Of course I’m still just gonna buy the show sight unseen and watch it all a bunch o’times…I’m a weird guy….)”

Justin: “You are a weird guy that way. I wish there was an easy answer for this, but ‘Dollhouse” is not an easy show to figure out. It’s no secret I’m a lover of all things Whedon. The guy could film an Amish barn raising and I would applaud. Saying that, ‘Dollhouse’ is not quite set as a show. I can’t call it bad (not because my love o’ Joss won’t let me), but because even in bad moments (and there are a number of them), it’s still more watchable that other shows. The problem is the premise is good, but flawed. And that is something Joss clearly wants to work with. What we know is this: There is technology (and evil genius behind it) to basically program human beings to be whatever someone (usually wealthy or powerful) wants them to be – assassin, negotiator, love, rodeo clown, whatever. It can be incredibly icky at times, dealing with the idea of free will, human slavery, etc. Another complicating factor is the star, Ms. Dushku. While I am fond of her, even I have to admit that sometimes she’s just not quite the girl for the job. Combine this with a “girl/assignment of the week” format for some episodes and it wears thin. But the show does pick up and give signs of life, particularly, in peeling back layers about what’s really going on in the ‘Dollhouse’ and who is behind it all. I’m gonna give it another shot when it comes back this fall. Maybe we’ll have to schedule a ‘Dollhouse’ marathon with our respective ladies.”

Battlestar Galactica – Season 4.5

VPJ: “Some of you may have heard of this show… I’m kidding, of course – we at Videoport are battening down the hatches in preparation for the barrage of phone calls (it’s really a good idea to call and reserve these for a while), wild-eyed renters, and pleading, bribery, and outright propositioning that’s coming our way when the last season of this sci fi series hits the shelves.  This show has really crossed over in a big way; it’s not just the pasty, sci fi crowd anymore, and I can sort of see why.  I’ve only taken on the first season of the show, but it’s pretty cool; the premise, acting, effects, and even the writing is well above-average.  (It accomplishes the feat which escapes virtually all sci fi series- that of making human characters in space seem like actual human people in space).  So, on your mark, get set, come and get it!!”

JE: “Funny how well that concept can work. I read something early on about the show, how one of the basic tenants was no ridiculous rubber-mask aliens. Obviously a ding on ‘Star Trek’ and sci fi in general, but when you think about it, it’s brilliant. Strip away the idea (and need for) telling stories about humanity through out encounters with aliens. Instead turn the camera on us and how we react to the idea of our extinction, our survival and overall place in the stars. Also, make space super scary…because it is. Sure the show had sexy robots, but they occupied a role that was more in line with the type of warring human factions we’re familiar with in the modern world. Plus, there is a big reveal that I can’t talk about. It’s a brilliant show, hands-down one of my all-time favorites. They were a perfect show in many ways, they created memorable characters (with an excellent and largely unknown cast), realistic settings and kept raising the stakes. And all the time it felt real. I’m gonna frakking miss it. Time to start saving for the complete series box set.”

Fast & Furious

VPJ: “Now, the urge to make fun of this movie is strong, and based on several factors.  First, one could suggest, were one so inclined, that the fact that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are returning to star in this, the third sequel to their biggest hit after taking some time away, suggests that their careers in non -’shiny cars going real, real fast’ genres have not panned out the way that they’d hoped.  One could, perhaps simply point out that this is a third sequel to a ‘shiny cars going real, real fast’ movie and make some jokes about the American filmgoing public’s affinity for ‘loud noises and shiny things’, as Sideshow Bob might say.  Or, if one were feeling particularly nasty and cynical, one might make a crack about the title, something like, ‘apparently, they decided that the original title ‘The Fast and the Furious’ was just tooo much for its target audience to read’.  Me, I’m gonna take the high road here…  Justin, over to you…”

JE: “No Jonesy…it’s already too late! There’s no turning back now. This movie DEMANDS to be made fun of in the most base and simplistic ways possible. Somehow they were lazy enough to truncate the title for the grammatically challenged, cobble together a sloppy and redundant story AND land the original cast! That’s MAGIC. I honestly want to get a six pack, sit down and EXPERIENCE the power of this movie. I have a feeling it transcends crappiness and hits that special area where unintentional comedy is achieved. I imagine it’s like redlining a Dodge Charger through the desert flats of Juarez. Which, may be a plot point in this film. In the words of Liz Lemon, ‘I want to GO to there!'”

Dragonball Evolution

VPJ: “Must…fight…urge to mock… AAIIIEEEE!  It’s too hard!  What can one say about this halfheartedly-released, live action version of the, what is it again? An anime series?  A manga?  Video games?  Hell, all I know is it’s about superpowered kicking-type people throwing superpowered kicks at each others’ breadbaskets,

Remember when I was Spike?  That was pretty cool...

Remember when I was Spike? That was pretty cool...

possibly while shouting incomprehensibly backstory at each other.  Tentacles may be involved.  I dunno, I’m sure there are some people who are happy that this exists, and I’m happy for them.  I am less happy for slumming cool guys Chow Yun Fat and Spike himself, James Marsters who are in this.”

JE: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHH!!! It’s like shades of ‘Double Dragon’ or ‘Super Mario Bros’ in here! Look, I’m enough of a nerd to know  that ‘Dragonball’ is a much loved manga series that has spawned its own mini empire of animated shows (several) and video games (several more). There is no easy way to describe it other than the balls are power, and with the balls one could conquer the world. This is a fact. And you gotta CATCH’EM ALL!! (Something about these popular Japanese titles and collecting things?) Along the way there is indeed much face kicking, chest punching, furious screams and energy bolts. If this was made on the cheap with no names in a limited release I may give it a rent for fun on an otherwise boring afternoon. Instead I’ll just ignore it.”

Miss March

VPJ: “It’s almost August, so I can start to lend some credence to statements like ‘this is the worst movie of the year’ like the ones trailing this teen comedy down the street like an angry mob with pitchforks.  The tale of a high school dimwit who goes into a coma only to wake up and discover his once-virginal girlfriend is now posin’ all nekkid in Playboy!  It’s like J. Geils’ ‘Centerfold’ come to life!  Now, a silly, smutty premise does not necessarily a bad, dispiriting, soul-killing movie make (I’d call ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ one of the best comedies in a decade), but being willfully stupid, ill written and acted, droolingly disrespectful of women, and, oh yeah, obsessed with poop jokes just might.  Created by and starring two guys from the truly-abysmal sketch comedy troupe ‘The Whitest Kids You Know,’ this is the dregs; it’s like no one involved in the movie has ever spoken to a woman they weren’t paying $3.95 a minute to.  And, again, I must point out that I feel sorry for one of the people involved (in this case ‘The Office,’ ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘Pineapple Express,’ and ‘Eastbound and Down’s’ Craig Robinson) who both provides the only laughs in the film and is completely humiliated in the process.  Memo to all women of Portland:  If some guy recommends this movie to you, run…run very far and very fast.”

JE: “You know, at this point I just give up. Really, at this point what can you say? Crap movies continue to get made, crap comedies continue to get made, and crap raunchy comedies get pushed out the door as soon as they come in. Is it because executives, producers and other Hollywood suits set the bar so low for these comedies that anything can pass? Am I crazy in thinking that there is a better standard for raunchy comedies? Anyone  remember ‘There’s Something About Mary?’ Did this movie just get a green light because execs figured it pretty much promises boobies, and audiences (or at least half of audiences) will take that as a selling point. Just…ugh.
Parting shots:

– Did Joss Whedon miss the target with “Dollhouse?”

– What does it say that The Diesel and Paul Walker made it back for “Fast & Furious?”

– Name the last “raunchy” comedy that made you laugh

Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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