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I Love 17 Again, Man

By The Pajiba Staff | DVD Releases | August 11, 2009 |

By The Pajiba Staff | DVD Releases | August 11, 2009 |

17 Again: Not Efron’s break-out role, to say the least. So says Agent Bedhead: “Director Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) and screenwriter Jason Filardi (Bringing Down the House) attempt to staple 17 Again together as a playful remix of such semi-celebrated fare as Big, It’s a Wonderful Life, 18 Again!, and Freaky Friday, but the final product lands at half-mast in rough and non-navigable waters. The filmmakers have failed to smoothly guide Efron’s transitory star vehicle that would, ideally, set their boy wonder up for a more mature audience in the future. Unfortunately, the markedly risque material of 17 Again results in a visibly uncomfortable Efron, who has yet to remove that halo from his perfectly coiffed head. The onscreen result is quite disorienting, and, despite Efron’s obvious charisma, his acting range leaves much to be desired. Quite simply, one is left with the impression of a cherub that walks into an orgy but is unable to participate, run like hell, or do anything but awkwardly gesticulate. Not that the shortcomings of this film or its star will be noticed by Efron’s fanbase, however, for they’ll be too busy swooning to care about trivial things such as acting.”

I Love You, Man: Dan writes that John Hamburg (Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly) has “finally made a great comedy, and he figured out how to do it: Basically, stop making the lead(s) such an unlikable jackass, and turn his awkwardness into a character trait born of earnestness instead of a tic born of desperation. I Love You, Man is a hilarious, breezy comedy that coasts on the sheer chemistry of its leads, but it’s also less abrasive to the soul simply because, for the first time, Hamburg’s heroes are allowed to be energetic without being manic, and clumsy without being punished. There’s a genuine sweetness to the film, and though Hamburg doesn’t reinvent the modern comedy, it’s nevertheless a major step in the right direction.”

The Class: Of the Oscar-nominated foreign film, Dan writes: “An infinitely more revealing and accurate title for The Class is its original French one: Entre les murs, which translates as “Between the Walls.” Laurent Cantet’s film is a masterful examination of youth, education, and the liquid nature of language and emotion that defines the time everyone serves in public school, and that original title is better at getting to the heart of the students’ problem: that they are literally trapped, confined in a place not of their choosing and forced to survive there. The film is also a beautiful doubling and trebling of real life; it’s based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau, who taught for a while and who stars as a version of himself. Additionally, though the story is inspired by several of the anecdotes from Begaudeau’s book, it takes on a life of its own by using authentic middle school students and letting them improvise and interact freely within a larger scenic framework, creating amazing moments of anger and joy and rowdiness as they play off each other and their teacher in an attempt to come to grips with the general hell of being 14. The winner of the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, The Class is a stunning, evocative work that succeeds at everything, from Begaudeau’s multifaceted approach to teaching to the way the children challenge him and cut through each other.”

Gigantic: Prisco brings the upchuck, writing: “Gigantic was akin to following a dog who swallowed your wedding ring with a baggie. Individual poops would fall out from this dreadful sphincter of a film, and both you and the dog would sort of resignedly stare at the coiled pile of cinema, then trudge onward, waiting until the next nugget potentially fell out. I wish I could tell you the plot, but essentially the movie is about Brian Weathersby (Paul Dano) getting a Chinese baby. But what about the burgeoning love interest between — ah, ah, no. He is getting a Chinese baby. What about the homeless guy (Zach Galifianakis), who arbitrarily and viciously mauls him — shh! Brian wants a baby. Hey, how about John Goodman the fath— no, sir. The only baby’s that baby is baby. Baby!”

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