The 7 Best and the 5 Worst Streaming and DVD Releases of the Month
The 7 Best
7. Five Year Engagement -- I still maintain that this wasn't a bad movie; it just wasn't what I was hoping for from an amazing cast front-lined by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, and directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). It is, however, a perfectly acceptable Saturday afternoon rom-com diversion. From my open letter to the movie: "But in the end, you know the speech: It's not you, it's me. Well, actually, it's you, too. You brought a lot of the tone and sweetness from my last romantic encounter with you guys, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but you didn't bring very much humor along with you. Let's be honest: There was a full 45 minutes in the middle of our relationship that just didn't work. At all. But I loved the big romantic gesture in the end; that was something I haven't seen before, and I appreciate the hell out of that. But ultimately, it was too little, too late.
6. Snow White and the Huntsman -- Another not bad, but not great movie that makes a nice afternoon diversion, thanks mostly to Charlize Theron's fun and over-the-top performance and, of course, Chris Hemsworth flashing bicep all over the place. Joanna agrees in her review, "For all these problems. Was I not entertained? Oh I surely was. I only complain because this movie could have been truly great and was, instead, gorgeous and fun and, ultimately, just fine. First time director Rupert Sanders seems to have wanted to make a fairy tale-action-romance by way of the art house. The style is elegant (cinematographer Greig Fraser employed some of the same swinging out of focus close-ups that worked so brilliantly in Bright Star) but ultimately at odds with the blatant melodrama of the Queen's tantrums and the efforts of our embattled heroes."
5. Hysteria -- "A delightful distraction," sums up Prisco's thoughts on the film. "Hysteria is an incredible short comedy about the invention of the personal private massager wink wink buried in a ninety minute suffragette piece. It yearns to be extremely feminist promoting, all the while insinuating that the vibrator was invented because lady handjobs TAKE. FOREVER. It's why movie theater foolin' around involves mostly pleasuring the dudes. Because films only last 90 minutes. Plus, it takes men to save day in Hysteria. It's a delightful little distraction that's not going to change your life."
4. The Do-Deca Pentathalon -- This wasn't my favorite mumblecore film -- another from the Duplass Brothers -- but it was perfectly entertaining and enjoyable through and through (and very short, as most Duplass Brothers films are). Prisco was over-the-moon for it: "The Duplass Brothers, Mark and Jay, understand relationships, and are mining indie gold with ruminations on mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives and kids. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon continues the trend of thirty-somethings living in suspended funimation, but with spectacular fireworks. It so perfectly captures the dynamic between two insanely competitive brothers, with all the love and hatred that sharing an old wombpartment can engender."
3. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- This is one of those films that somehow just kind of fell through the cracks here at Pajiba, and we never actually reviewed the film despite the fact that I've seen it twice (if I see a movie twice, it always means that I loved it enough to introduce it to the wife, who rarely attends movies in theaters). It's a little slight, and somewhat predictable, but an all-star cast of brilliant geriatrics made this one of the most charming and heartfelt movies of the summer. I was completely smitten by it.
2. Cabin in the Woods -- Easily the best horror movie of the year, and running even with The Avengers as the best movie of the first half of the year. Both Joss Whedon efforts knocked the nylon out of my socks, and I can't possibly decide which is the better of the two, although maybe a slight edge to The Avengers for the Hulk. Seth's review of Cabin was basically: Try to know as little as possible going in so as to maximize the film's awesome. "The Cabin in the Woods is a self-aware horror film that seeks to give you a good ride while examining and maybe even reworking the genre. It succeeds in a way that is fast, fun and furious."
1. Avengers -- I think TK also nails the consensus on The Avengers, the third release of the month to feature Chris Hemsworth: "But the best part is that The Avengers is fun. It's genuinely enjoyable, engaging and frequently wickedly funny. Whedon's stamp is all over it -- sarcasm reigns, giggle-worthy peanut gallery commentary, and a couple of scenes which bordered on outright hysterical (featuring, surprisingly, the Hulk, who seems the least funny character) are spread generously throughout, to lighten up the gloom and doom of this pending apocalyptic invasion. It's got all the highs (and lows) of a Whedon project, but feels tighter and more focused, even in the wake of its inherent absurdity, than many of his previous endeavors. It's helped by the fact that each actor nails their roles, coming together to create a real sense of camaraderie. Even Johansson succeeds in showing more than pursed lips and cleavage, and gets her equal share of quips. More importantly, Whedon has clearly grown since his "Buffy" days, something we learned with "Firefly" and Serenity, but something that's on full display here. The humor is mature, fitting with the complexity of the interwoven characters, and one-liners are few, but when they're spoken, they don't feel artificial."
The 5 Worst
Babymakers -- Our newest critic Amanda, -- like Sarah -- has a big old crush on Paul Schneider but it wasn't enough to win her over to the Babymakers, although she appreciated his effort. "The worst part about the script is that it's simply not funny. At all. Recycled jokes and depressingly stupid scenarios. Olivia Munn makes an effort with the script, but there's not much even she can do to save this so she mostly grimaces and makes sad little faces that indicate she's fully aware of the nightmare transpiring around her. The cast of supporting characters act out in various stupid ways, Jay Chandrasekhar directs and stars and his commitment to the project, as well as Paul Schneider's, is kind of astonishing. Schneider never lets on that the script is terrible, he's in it to win it and gives it his all. I have to admire that, even if it's wrong."
Salvation Boulevard -- I'm not sure why this movie is just now coming out on DVD as I'm pretty sure I saw it at Sundance last year, which Seth's review confirms: "Salvation Boulevard, an intended satirical look at Evangelical Christianity, has an excellent cast: Pierce Brosnan, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marisa Tomei, and Jim Gaffigan. And in light of this cast, Salvation Boulevard has to be the most disappointing film of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival because how do you not make a good film with this batch?"
What to Expect When You're Expecting -- Though I reviewed it just a few months ago, I barely remember this movie except for how angry I was at the depiction of the fathers: "There's also the clueless husbands, because of course they are. What the fuck do men know, right? We just provide the semen and then stand back, say dumb things, and occasionally get in the way when our pregnant women are hormonal. Don't stand too close, fellas! Your pregnant lady might piss on you."
The Devil Inside -- Terrible movie with a ending so bad that, once word got out how bad it was, the movie -- which opened with $33 million -- had one of the steepest second-weekend drops in movie history, a 76 percent fall off to $8 million. It's not even worth revisiting the review. Just don't.
Piranha 3DD -- Even if you loved the first Piranha 3D -- as many of us did -- you'll still hate Piranha 3DD, so writes Prisco: Piranha 3DD is awful, soulless and sleazy. It fishes with dynamite. Sure, you'll catch some fish, but they're all ripped apart and everything stinks like smoke and blood and dead flat fish. None of the charm remains from the first film. It's the difference between ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue and "Girls Gone Wild." For most people, both things are just "WOOO! BOOOBIES!" and that'll be enough. But for people who have all their chromosomes, it's the difference between artistry and pulling off their tops."