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Scott St. Cloud vs. The Grown Up Ramona Love Ranch

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | November 9, 2010 |


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Grown Ups: "Congratulations, Adam Sandler! After a decade or so of trying in earnest, you've finally achieved what must be your ultimate goal: to make a completely unwatchable movie. The problems in the past -- and the reasons that your movies have been mostly unwatchable instead of completely unwatchable -- have finally been eradicated. Turns out that before you were trying too hard. In Grown Ups, you've finally figured out the formula: Don't try at all! It's brilliant! All that effort is what's been holding you back all these years. As it turns out, laziness really is the best way accomplish the lifelong pursuit that has eluded you until now." - Dustin Rowles

Ramona & Beezus: "With Ramona and Beezus, the filmmakers have not merely adapted the first novel, Beezus and Ramona, in Cleary's series. Instead, this movie is a dumping ground for various misdeeds from several books, including Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona Forever, and Ramona's World. Onscreen, the cumulative effect appears choppy and sitcom-ish, but at least the filmmakers have guaranteed to a virtual certainty that there won't be any future jaunts by Ramona in a theater near you. And although I'm relieved that these are not franchise-minded filmmakers, there's a more troubling result of the blended-up Quimby family history. Here, the "nine-years and three-months old" Ramona (played with impotent gusto by Joey King) engages in behavior that was better suited for her four-year old self. So, she comes off onscreen as much less of a pest and more of an ADHD-afflicted mascot for the Adderall crowd. Further complicating matters are director Elizabeth Allen's execution of misguided CGI live-action sequences which, presumably, are meant to lead us into Ramona's overactive imagination. Once again, the age factor complicates matters, for many of these sequences come from the mind of younger Ramona, whose movie counterpart reenacts them as a fourth grader. Now, this child is obviously not mentally retarded, but one could be forgiven for thinking so while watching a gleefully unaware Ramona parachute (in slow motion, no less) through a cotton-ball filled sky while "Walking on Sunshine" blares in the background. In other words, we're witnessing a future reprobate instead of the spunky, misunderstood middle child beloved by several generations of young girls." - Agent Bedhead

Charlie St. Cloud: "In fact, Efron single-handedly elevates Charlie St. Cloud from a complete fucking disaster of a film to a simple and benign atrocity. Cloud comes from Burr Steers, who directed the overlooked Igby Goes Down, as well as 17 Again, which also starred Efron (and some have suggested that Efron elevated that picture slightly, too). Cloud represents one, possibly final, step in Efron's transition from younger tweenkie roles to more mature ones, including the upcoming Snabba Cash remake, where Efron will play a coke runner and piss on the unicorn dreams of his existing fan base. Unfortunately for Efron, Cloud also demonstrates his limited range -- he cries at least 59 times in the film, and in nearly every instance, he's aesthetically the same robotic picture of perfection, save for the occasional tear dripping down his cheek, but even those trickle faultlessly down the contours of his face. He makes you want to punch him, if only to alter the perfect symmetry." - Dustin Rowles

Love Ranch: "These are the words Helen Mirren should have spoken when her asshack of a hubbie asked her to be in his latest flick. I guess Taylor Hackford was getting sick of being treated like Helen's handbag, an accessory she drags around to awards ceremonies and accidentally leaves in chairs, and so he wanted to make a movie again. The last time he unleashed his "talent" Jamie Foxx wore sunglasses for two years and sold out faster than you can sing "That's the Real Thing." Love Ranch is a purported bio-pic about Charlie and Grace Bontempo, the owners of the first legal brothel in Nevada. Hackford directs like a stupid, stupid ugly neighbor child playing loudly with expensive toys in the next yard, toys that he doesn't deserve and will probably break. He unfurls his narrative like a D student giving a book report: This happens, and then this happens, and then some other stuff, and then it's over. Taylor Hackford made one decent movie a long time ago, An Officer and a Gentleman, and he's been trading on that cred ever since. He needs to sit in the same dressing room exterior chair with James Brolin and that "I'm Freaking Out" kid porking Christina Hendricks, and just squint and clap when Helen wins awards for her better films and pray to God he's not cast into the wintry tundra of disharmony like Chad fucking Lowe." - Brian Prisco

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: "He had his work cut out for him with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The comic books in question are about a twentysomething Canadian geek and musician who falls in love with a girl who turns out to have seven evil exes that he must fight, video game-style, to win her hand. The hyperkinetic blend of fantasy and quasi-reality works pretty well on the page, but turning it into something cinematic adds a new level of complication. It's one thing to create a recognizable if slightly fantastical world on screen, in which characters are introduced via cutesy text bubbles and in which comic book and gaming iconography make regular appearances. (E.g., a character enters a bathroom with an animated "Pee Meter" floating above his head, with the meter depleting as he empties his bladder.) But it's a whole other to double down on that fantasy and take it to the necessarily cartoonish levels created in the comic, wherein the hero finds himself suddenly drawn into insane, reality-bending battles with an escalating series of enemies who can levitate, shatter walls, and generally perform like constructs from the Matrix. What starts out as a comedy with comic book stylings becomes a far more surreal and genre-bending experience, but that's where Wright eats and sleeps. That's where he makes his home. And because of that, there are moments in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World that are absolutely fantastic, full of heart-pumping, chord-strumming, toe-tapping utter rock joy that bleeds from the edges of the frame. When it flies, it does so with an energy and verve and wit rare in pop comedies and totally absent from comic book movies." - Daniel Carlson

Also released this week: Jean-Michel Basquiat: Radiant Child, The Dry Land


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