Justin Ellis of the Press Herald and I Run Down the Week’s New Releases (8/11/09)

We’re nearing Indian Summer of new DVD releases and that’s probably a good thing. This week features a manchild bromance, a man-to-child comedy and a grisly Texas horror flick. Which does not involve children. We think.
Annnnnnnnd here’s Videoport Jones

Thanks guys, we love you, too.

Thanks guys, we love you, too.

I Love You, Man

Videoport Jones: “Sometimes I look at a film and just get a nice, warm feeling inside, secure in the knowledge that I’m going to have a good time. This movie’s poster, staring out at me with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel flashing big, goofy grins is, seriously, like a nice, hot bowl of soup on a winter’s day. Throw in some support from people like Rashida Jones, Jon Favreau, The Upright Citizens Brigade’s Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, Human Giant’s Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari, Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar, Mather Zickel, The State’s Tom Lennon and Joe Lo Truglio, J.K. Simmons and Andy Samberg, and you’ve got (I’m just gonna stick with the soup theme) a nice, rich comedy stew. The story’s fairly premise-y (Rudd’s soon-to-wed nice guy is worried that his fiancee [dishy, fresh-faced Jones] will leave him because she’s realized he has no male friends, ends up hanging out with wacky free spirit Segel). I know, not that promising, right? Well, have faith in the assembled talent, folks, because this is a breezy, sweet, and reliably funny ride. Or soup. Whatever. Rudd takes to the role

Today's word is bro-mance.  "Bromance".

Today's word is bro-mance. "Bromance".

of the nice, funny, believably-awkward lead like , well, Paul Rudd, simply the most reliable comic leading man in movies today. And Segel (‘Freaks and Geeks,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’) is making a serious bid for leading man status himself, with his surprisingly-layered sideman role here. Sure, he’s got a big, ungainly, Frankenstein build and face, but Segel’s unfailingly hilarious and soulful and I look forward to seeing him try to make a place for himself. The movie’s good, too, if nothing groundbreaking; I particularly like the underlying humanity which resists making anyone a villain, and the way it goes out of the way to subvert your expectations. Rent this. You’ll laugh.”

Justin: “Jonesy, I love you, man. There. I said it. It just got all bromantic up in here. References to Brody Jenner aside (his time will come), this movie is charming, sweet, hilarious and a touch crude. If you liked ’40 Year-Old Virgin,’ you are going to like this. Aside from a solid cast (don’t forget SNL legend Jane Curtin), what makes the movie jump outside of cliche territory is that the characters aren’t stock Hollywood archetypes. OK, yes, they are all ridiculously beautiful people, but you buy the fact that Rudd’s the type of guy who never managed to make too many guy friends. Oh, and he happens to be a pretty normal grown-up dude living a normal life. Also, I don’t think enough can be said about Rudd and Segel. You and I love these two (way past man-crush territory), but I think to many they’re B-list and sneaky talented at best. But they totally carry the movie and pair well together. The characters are funny without being cartoonish and the plot is really kind of unique. Stop and think, how do you make friends in your 30s? Now go and buy this movie.”

The Class

VPJ: “Can’t say I’ve heard more buzz about a foreign film since that one really dirty French one. You know the one I mean… A pseudo-documentary (Begaudeau plays himself and the students are played by real, nonprofessional students) about real-life teacher Francois Begaudeau, ‘The Class’ follows his year-long attempt to connect with his low-income, racially-diverse class of middle school students and is, by all accounts, the most realistic, heartbreaking portraits of an educator anyone’s ever seen. Like I said, simply everyone wants to see this, and, as a former, oft-heartbroken, educator my own self, I’m putting myself at the head of the line.”

JE: “So I should resist ‘To Sir with Love’ or ‘Stand and Deliver’ jokes is what you are saying? The pseudo-documentary is a tricky thing to pull off, from the tone and ‘script’ to the cast and even how the film is shot. Some, like Christopher Guest, have made it into a art, while other films (yes, I’m looking at you ‘The Blair Witch Project’) have tempted disaster. For most films it probably comes down to how well it fits the story, and in the case of ‘The Class,’ which really needs a low-key, intimate approach, then it fits perfectly. A study in the struggles of urban education? Sure. But also I’m interested in film’s take on the emerging racial diversity in classroom, which has been a topic popping up in headlines more and more often. Put aside any gripes with subtitles and rent this one.”

17 Again

VPJ: “It’s body switch time again! Yeah! Like the great, body switch heyday of the 80s, this one pairs up an older comedy actor (this time it’s the former Friend Matthew Perry) with the teeny pop culture product of the moment (here it’s something called Zac Efron). Sure, I’m kidding, I know who Zac Efron is. However, I’ve never seen any of his movies (TV shows? Theme park rides?) and am unlikely to, unless he undergoes some sort of late career Jason Bateman-style transformation, therefore I cannot state with any degree of authority how well this generation’s toothy, floppy-haired consumer item stacks up against your Fred Savages, your Kirk Camerons, or even your Charlie Schlatters of yesteryear. Let’s

An unrelated picture of Tom Lennon.  Who is funny...

An unrelated picture of Tom Lennon. Who is funny...

see, what else can I usefully say about this thing?…Oh! I know! Slumming guest stars! There’s Tom Lennon, Leslie Mann, Michelle Trachtenberg (she’s not interesting, but she was Dawn on ‘Buffy’), and Melora Hardin (Jan on ‘The Office’) – they’re probably momentarily funny. And I maintain that Perry is a really funny, talented guy. There…I’ve discharged my reviewerly duty.”

JE: “I’m beginning to think the whole ‘body-switching going back in time’ thing is taking on an air of creepiness. How so? Consider the fact that inevitably we’ll have the final scene in ‘Big’ in all of these movies, where one person is an , and the other is a kid, and whatever budding romance (or worse) was taking place, it just got down right gross. Also, though these movies I think are supposed to appeal to the kids and the parents, it seems they continue to lean more towards the parents wanting to re-capture some longing for the teen years. Again, gross. Mom, Dad, you can’t go back to school again, nor should you want to. As for young master Efron, I’ll give him a shot. I caught him on ‘SNL’ a few months ago and he was more than willing to lampoon his career. Shrewd you floppy-haired impresario. Very shrewd.”

The Wild Man of Navidad

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about...

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about...

VPJ: “I love sleaze. You know this. The grimy, disreputable, drive-in fare of, again, yesteryear (I love that place) is a constant source of fascination and joy to me (just check out the value pack collections of said sleaze huddling evilly in my apartment). There’s something satisfying about finding a truly entertaining piece of sleaze. Ahhh, sleaze. Anyway, horror movies have forgotten how to be both and scary, so this super low-budget (let’s call it ‘unbudgeted’) exercise from a couple of Texans is a real pip for the likes of me. They were screenwriting students of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ scribe Kim Henkel (don’t laugh – TCM is one of the most effective horror movies of all time, and Henkel also wrote a great little – out of print – indie called ‘Last Night at the Alamo’), and they successfully resurrect the spirit of the 70s, from the Bigfoot-critter-on-a-rampage plot to the completely-nonprofessional but all the more effectively-authentic because of it cast of truly-horrible rednecks, even to the AIP-style font of the titles. A grimy, fun, throwback, it’s like it was created just for me.”

JE: % came to the little town of ‘Sublime, TX.’ Oh you gotta love that. We all know I am not the world’s biggest horror movie fan, but I must admit I have a begrudging respect for the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ because it’s just dang creepy. And gritty. You feel like you need a shower after inhabiting that world for 80 minutes. And you are right that this is something modern horror has largely (at least on the big-Hollywood scale) has gotten away from. They seem to focus more on the sleaze than the scare. Just watching the the trailer for ‘Wild Man’ is like stepping into a time machine, or at least an episode of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000,’ and those are good things. Not only does this movie get us back to the ‘weird beast roams the back woods’ aesthetic of horror, but we get that classic storytelling device: rednecks. Guns, booze and a fear of the unknown makes for a potent mix in slasher flicks because so often in movies you’re supposed to be rooting against hillbillies.”

Finally, Jonesy offers up some more goodness on the shelves of your favorite local video store:

“And, if you want to see Gerard Depardieu shirtless, with a huge fake mustache, and striped, high-waisted leggings (and I know that some of you have), Videoport brings you two of the highest-grossing films in French history, the comics adaptations ‘Asterix and Obelix Contre Caesar’ and ‘Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatre,’ where big, beefy, Gerard and ‘The Visitors’s’ Cristian Clavier romp around the ancient world having comic adventures and acting all goofy. Ahhh, France.”

Today’s parting shots:

– Rudd and Segel: Unde ?
– Are teen body-swap movies past their prime?
– Give us your favorite gritty horror flick from the past

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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