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July 1, 2008 |

By Ranylt Richildis | DVD Releases | July 1, 2008 |

When corporate chum like Drillbit Taylor comes up roses, you know it’s been a lousy week for DVD releases.

Drillbit Taylor: This Apatow-produced, Rogen-penned vehicle for Owen Wilson’s nose reeks of mediocrity according to Dan, who wrote, “Drillbit Taylor is dopey but sweet, a mixture of decent jokes and predictable plotting that’s completely devoid of surprises but still somehow mostly entertaining. … The film struggles to walk the line between the predictable comedy it mostly is and the occasionally endearing geek-revenge film it wants badly to be. … I guess the best way to sum it up is to say that it’s not a terrible movie. But for a film with such a gifted comedic pedigree, that’s far from praise.”

My Blueberry Nights: Wong Kar-wai’s first English-language movie not only made Dustin hanker for the days of good pretentious art-house cinema, it gave him a major case of the pastry munchies: “Here’s a film that aspires to be meaningful, rich, and entertaining but falls well short of the mark on all three counts, landing somewhere closer to pointless, banal, and plodding (oh, and don’t forget vapid!). But, it sure is pretty to look at — and the blueberry pie, to which the title refers, looks positively delicious. Shame you can’t eat the movie.”

Sex and Death 101: Not even Natalie from “The Facts of Life” could enliven this plodding, indulgent tale about a late-blooming Gen-Xer who receives a list of his next supposed conquests on the eve of his marriage to the perfect gal. Dustin proclaimed this one to be “a lazy, stupid, overlong, deliriously unfunny, spectacularly bland embarrassment. … Sex and Death 101 is another brightly lit, poorly executed comedy with a similar brand of bored campiness and a number of veteran actors who are clearly either 1) trying to grasp onto that last bit of fame before toiling away the rest of their years emceeing infomercials or 2) repaying a debt to a past-his-prime director for a big break back in the ’90s.”

Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns: Yet another Perry film inflicted intellectual anguish on one of our reviewers, and triggered the predictable cat-squall in the comments section over Perry’s relevance to the medium. Dustin admitted he’d rather stare at the back of an airplane seat for two hours than watch Meet the Browns, which met his very low expectations as “a less than mediocre film with zero laughs, little drama, and a plotline with all the originality and mystery of the Big Mac’s secret sauce.” In the handy space provided below, readers can continue to argue whether or not assaulting the public with undiluted cinematic sewage in the form of stereotypes, misogyny, hack writing, and oppressive Christian messaging is forgivable, considering that Perry is at least “depicting a segment of American society that rarely gets attention anymore.”

Vantage Point: The sheer inconsequence of Vantage Point, a poorly executed Rashomon wannabe about a political assassination, caused Dustin to malfunction; his world spun in repetition hours after leaving the theater, tainting his film-reviewing abilities. Alas, the movie was no Groundhog Day. “Indeed,” he wrote, “the only purpose the gimmickry serves is to create the cinematic equivalent to extremely bad sex that’s nevertheless repeatedly and frustratingly interrupted seconds before climax, forcing you to start all over from scratch. And by the time you finally get to empty your gun, so to speak, you’re so bored with the whole production that your cinematic spasm is more of a relief than a delight, because it finally means you can fall asleep.”

War, Inc.: Dustin, who reviewed a lot of shit movies this past spring, also suffered through War, Inc., which stars John Cusack as a hitman trying to knock off a veep in a fictional Iraq-like nation. Although the director seemed to have been inspired by Terry Gilliam and Dr. Strangelove, the result “sucks ass through a straw. Seriously: It is tit-rippingly awful — disjointed, nonsensical, somehow both underwhelming and over-the-top, dull as old-man boners and completely self-righteous to boot, as though it were written by an unemployed troll on an political blog who spends all day typing out conspiracy theories with the same fingers he uses to prod around in his own asshole, digging for nuggets of wisdom.”

Also, a belated heads-up to some of last week’s better releases, which got no love while we masturbated over classic films. We’re throwing them in because you’ll need a pick-me-up after reading about this week’s infected batch.

Charlie Bartlett: Dustin gave Charlie Barlett mild props for breathing life into the teen dramedy genre. The movie cherry-picks influences from the best of them, including Pump Up the Volume, Rushmore, Ferris Bueller and even Harold and Maude. “While it lacks much in the way of inventiveness and originality,” Dustin found it to be an engaging and authentic portrayal of a new kid who staves off bullies by turning in-school therapist. “What’s most refreshing about this film, however, is that while most teenage pics glorify status and center largely on the unpopular kid gaining his or her popularity via makeover, revenge, or fuck, Charlie Bartlett is less about becoming popular and more about what to do with that popularity once you achieve it.”

Definitely, Maybe: Dustin would never assign a romantic comedy starring his man-crush, Ryan Reynolds, to another reviewer. Heavy D has a weak spot for rom-coms and roots through a lot of garbage in search of the odd gem. Thankfully, he found what he was looking for: a film that takes “traditional romantic conventions and — instead of turning them on their head, subverting them whimsically, or slapping a few dick-and-ball jokes around them — fleshes them out. I know this sounds utterly preposterous for a film that features Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin, but Definitely, Maybe does what so few love stories do: It understands that the “one great love” or the “love of your life” is, more often than not, the product of years worth of relationships, both great and failed.”

In Bruges: Dan was so effusive about In Bruges that some of us may have to shunt aside our loathing of all things Farrell and give it a chance. Besides, the magic that is Bruges is bound to temper the ego-cock-skeeze that is Farrell, right? Martin McDonagh’s film about hitmen hiding in a mist of Belgian quaintness “has all the action and flow of a dynamic film, but the pain, drama, humor, and sharp characterizations could only come from someone who’s spent a lifetime writing stories that rely solely on dialogue for emotional content. The whole thing is grim, weird, witty, and not quite like anything you’d expect it to be.”

Persepolis: Phillip, who hates judging a film by how faithfully it mirrors its source material, admitted that his own love for Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels somewhat hampered his enjoyment of an otherwise lovely adaptation. “The film is completely deserving of its critical high-marks, and I mourn my inability to view it independently. The animation style … mimes the austere monochrome of the two graphic novels, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. It’s refreshing to see a cartoon point backwards to artistic traditions like Art Nouveau and Expressionism, rather than forward to hollow computerized tinkering.”

Priceless: Dan felt that Pierre Salvadori’s twisted little rom-com was “enjoyable and sweet even as it turns to realistic portrayals of longing and confusion for inspiration.” Thanks to a great script and fine performances by Audrey Tautou and Gad Elmaleh, gigoloing on the Riveria while falling in love has never seemed so convincing. “Salvadori has created something light and engaging out of material that in clumsier hands could have been weighed down by its own inherently intricate story. … The film’s purported message is about love triumphing over materialism, but Salvadori only includes a moral out of token obedience to the genre. The whole point here is to create something beautiful but transient as the summer sun itself, and in that regard, Priceless is a total success.”

The Spiderwick Chronicles: Phillip wasn’t overbowled by the latest screen treatment of children’s fantasy lit, but he gave it marks for “getting the basics right” and for being a solid choice for the kids on a rainy day. “There’s plenty of urgency in The Spiderwick Chronicles to give the movie an engaging clip, and the story’s absence of ‘high’ fantasy should keep the uninitiated from being bored. The human subtext — Jared’s embittered relationship with an absent father — is never more than predictable, but it still works in context. … This is a film which works well with low-expectations and doesn’t wreck higher ones. Even the suckers who aren’t twitterpated by magical intrigue like myself should find this a grand diversion.”

NB: Yes, 10,000 BC also came out on disc last week, but we’re trying to wash out the stink, not invigorate it. We did say “better releases.”

Drillbit Tyler

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DVD Releases | July 1, 2008 |

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