Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Retro Review X 4 or: How I Got Netflix Back

Insidious: Chapter 2
Thankfully, among the many things my amazing sister did for me, was help an electronically-challenged old fart reset his Wii, which got me back to Netflix, where I caught two of the four movies I finally got to see in between visits and the work they did.

The first was last year's Steve Carrell box-office failure comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a movie from which I think most people expected too much. And while it fails at being the Anchorman of magician movies, it succeeds quite well on smaller levels. Burt (Carrell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) have been best friends and magical partners since they were bullied 5th graders. Ten years after signing a multi-million dollar contract to headline at hotelier Doug Munny's (get it?) new Vegas hotel, they have done the same tired show thousands of times and have been reduced to bickering strangers thanks to Burt's full-on Diva mode. In comes Criss Angel-inspired Steve Grey (a VERY in-shape Jim Carrey), who is clearly insane, and suddenly ticket sales for Burt & Anton are falling. At the urging of Munny (the late, great James Gandolfini in one of his last roles), the two try a spectacular new stunt, which goes immediately awry and splits the pair for good. Alan Arkin plays Burt's childhood hero as his patently crotchety old man, but it serves the role well and Olivia Wilde is the perfect foil for Carrell's antics as stage-hand-turned-assistant, Jane. Of course, the eventual romance between the two was telegraphed well into the first act, but was still completely unconvincing. One of my favorite character actors - Jay Mohr - has a supporting role of a fellow magician with the hilariously unlikely name of 'Rick the Implausible.' What struck me most about this movie was it's heart. You could tell it was made with love by people who believed in it, and it actually is a sweet story of friendship and redemption, the last act is so ridiculous as to make what's come before, meaningless. I went in with lowered expectations and came out surprised by it's goofy sweetness. ** 1/2 (Two and a Half Stars Out of Four). The Incredible Burt Wonderstone currently playing on Showtime.

Next up was Insidious: Chapter 2 on Netflix. I was very much a fan of the first film, but missed it's sequel's theatrical release and was excited to return to the creepy realm created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan in the first film. The original cast is back, though it was odd hearing Lin Shaye's voice coming out of the mouth of  'young-alike' actor Linsey Seim. Whannell's script goes a long to explaining why the events of the first film happened, though oddly giving the explanation an exceptionally Freudian twist (though the Mama in this movie puts the 'batsh*t' in 'batsh*t crazy.'
Performances are fine, across the board though it is apparent that Wan has lost his taste for horror (he has announced that he is through with the genre) and the sequel lacks the intense creep factor of the original. ** (Two Out of Four Stars)

Showtime again  for 2012's The Watch. Originally titled Neighborhood Watch, the title was changed after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade form a Neighborhood Watch after Stiller's co-worker is found murdered at the Costco he manages. What follows is a weird mash-up of Science Fiction; buddy comedy and a d*ck joke every two to three minutes. Sadly, none of it works. That's not surprising since it's directed by former SNL writer/director Akiva Schaffer. The movie plays like an extended SNL skit with a fertility issues subplot that has little to do with the impending alien invasion they uncover. Nothing new. No surprises. Lots and lots and lots of d*ck jokes. I must admit to chuckling once or twice, but hardly enough to recommend The Watch. (Zero Out of Four Stars).

Finally and quite happily, the last movie I watched this weekend was also the best. Worst Best Movie is a very heartwarming documentary I've been wanting to see for the past five years, about the cult-status surrounding the 1990 horror movie Troll 2, which many believe is the Worst Movie Ever Made. I've seen Troll 2, several times. I agree that it is terrible beyond terrible, but fully understand it's watchability. Seeing the cast (most of whom were embarrassed to have been in the film) get their moments in the sun is quite fun and even inspiring, despite the obvious mental decline of one its members. I've been reading about Worst Best Movie for a long time and am very glad that I finally got to see it. If you haven't, you should! Nilbog! **** (Four Out of Four Stars). 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the tricks to Wii's and a lot of charging cords (always Google your problems) is that everything needs to be unplugged from everything in order to reset it. It's sounds crazy but it works.

I can't believe you only gave Insidious 2 on 2/4. I thought it amazing. One was only scarier because it was the first but 2 had me jumping almost as much. Also, I thought it was brilliant the way they wove 1 and 2.