Slow, awful week at the cinemas (Obsessed, Fighting, and The Soloist came out and I just have very little interest in watching any of those), so I'm sticking with DVD releases this week.
Role Models - Directed by David Wain, starring Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Bobb'e J. Thompson - Rated R and Unrated (on DVD)
I really don't have much to say about this one. It was funny at times and I even started to care about the characters, but I didn't think this was on par with recent comedies like Zack and Miri, Tropic Thunder, or Pineapple Express. Not that this movie is supposed to be like any of those movies, I just didn't think it was as funny as them.
The story goes something like this: Rudd and Scott sell energy drinks to schools for a living. Rudd gets depressed and angry about his life and wrecks the company truck into a statue at an elementary school. Instead of jail time, though, Rudd and Scott must spend 150 hours as big brother types for Mintz-Plasse (known as McLovin' from Superbad, but showing a little range here) and Thompson (one of the funniest child performances I've ever seen). Of course things don't go smoothly at first, but hilarity ensues as they get to know each other.
The scenes with Bobb'e J. Thompson as Ronnie are by far the best. On paper, Ronnie may seem to be a one-note character since it seems like all he does is cuss. And while that should get old (a child cussing is only funny for so long) but it doesn't. I mark that up to the performance. Mintz-Plasse does fine as Augie, but that character doesn't deserve the majority of the story. Augie is into a fantasy role-playing society called Laire. While this is funny at first, it gets stale when the story goes back to Laire again and again. If you enjoy the role-playing aspect of the story, then you'll enjoy this much more than I did. It didn't ruin the movie for me or anything, but I did get pretty sick of it by the end.
Alot of your enjoyment will be based on how much you like Rudd and Scott, too. They are basically playing the same characters they've always played (Rudd is the wise-cracking narcissist and Scott is the sex-obsessed party animal with the hint of a heart). If you don't like Rudd's snide comments from other films, then you need to stay away from this, because every other line of his dialogue is a comment like that (probably because he co-wrote the script). I enjoy those comments, myself, which is why I consider this movie to be worthy of a rental, or maybe a purchase when it inevitably reaches the $5 rack.
The DVD has all the typical special features of a comedy. Extended/Deleted scenes that provide a couple laughs, a blooper reel that is amusing, and a bland making-of featurette. It's all just more of the same from the movie.
The Wrestler and Frost/Nixon - on DVD
Refer to my old reviews (on the left) if you want a full review. I just wanted to point out that these movies are now on DVD and you should definitely check them out. The Wrestler might appear to be lacking in special features, but the making-of documentary is fairly lengthy and covers almost anything you would want to know about the film (like the fact that Slash did some guitar work for the score and they filmed the wrestling scenes at actual wrestling shows). So the disc might not be overloaded with features, but it has quality features. It also includes a music video for the Oscar-snubbed Bruce Springsteen song. Keep in mind the most important fact for this DVD, it contains what I consider to be the best film of 2008. Sometimes the film itself is enough for a DVD.
Frost/Nixon has a few interesting special features, but the best thing you could do is just rent the actual interviews on DVD. Other than that, the special features are worth a watch, but they don't add much background for the story. I enjoyed the look at Nixon's presidential library, but I have an interest (some might call it a creepy obsession) with Nixon, so it may not appeal to most people. I also want to reiterate the boxing-match aspect from my original review. There is a scene in this movie where Nixon is told that there is something he should see as an aide turns on an interview with David Frost. Think about Rocky for a minute. There is an identical scene in which Apollo Creed is told to watch a clip of Rocky training. I think that the filmmakers were completely aware of the comparison and added it to hammer home the boxing aspect of the film.
Crappy Classic: Replicant - Directed by Ringo Lam, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Rooker - Rated R
First off, I still need a better title than "Crappy Classic," so please give me some ideas. As you'll soon find out with next week's review of JCVD, I am a huge Van Damme fan. I realize his acting is sub-par at times and that he has really fallen off in the last decade (here's hoping that JCVD marks a comeback for him), but I still love almost all of his theatrical releases. Most of his straight to DVD stuff is garbage; complete and utter garbage. Replicant is the exception.
Replicant is about a serial killer with mommy issues who goes around killing "bad" mothers and setting their houses on fire, earning him the nickname, "The Torch." Michael Rooker plays the hard-nosed cop that has been on the case for years. When Rooker retires, after nearly capturing the Torch, he is contacted by the government and told that they have created a replicant of the serial killer in the hopes that his genetic memory will become like actualy memory and lead Rooker to the Torch. Stupid sci-fi? Absolutely, but that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining.
Van Damme basically gets to act like a kid in a man's body for most of the film. This is where it gets funny. Watch Van Damme eat dog food, have an awkward encounter with a prostitute, and cuss at inappropiate times. (And check out the deleted scenes for a hilarious gag at a fruitstand.) While this gimmick is used for comedy quite often, it is also effective in creating sympathy for the character; especially since Rooker beats the crap out of Van Damme in nearly every early scene. Van Damme can play a scared child quite well. He's also not bad as a serial killer, too. You might notice his serial killer get-up from those USA Network ads from about 8 years ago ("It's a Damme good month for USA.") It's not Oscar worthy, but it is effective.
But this still a bad movie in many ways. Rooker is laughable at times, there's a strange scene in which it looks like Rooker is about to molest Van Damme (with Rooker's mother watching), the characters aren't really fleshed out, there are all kinds of plot holes, and there is a stupid attempt to use CG early on. But it's enjoyable. Very enjoyable. This might be straight to DVD, but it's just as good (better, I think) as any stupid Jason Statham movie out there.
Next Week: Wolverine, JCVD, and another Crappy Classic...I'm thinking something with Nicolas Cage...