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Observe and Report. But Don't Talk About the Rape Scene, Please

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | September 22, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | September 22, 2009 |

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: It’s an atrocious movie. It’s a lot like a Fray song or Snow Patrol (or are they the same band?) — corporately manufactured and sanitized, but it hits all the big notes — pounds on them, in fact. It’s empty, full of itself, and kind of tedious, but it’s not painful. Just overly processed and really fucking shiny. Especially McConaughey. What is up with that dude? Why does he always glisten? He’s not sweaty in Ghosts, and it’s not oily skin exactly. He just glistens like he’s just finished some really stinky McConaughfuck. He’s got a weird Mickey Rourke aura — filthy sex and sleaze. I bet he smells like a wet spot. But it works for McConaughey; he’s charmingly slimy, the kind of guy a lot of ladies might like to sleep with, but not a guy I’d want to shake hands with. — Dustin Rowles

Observe and Report: The defining moment of writer-director Jody Hill’s hilarious and often shocking Observe and Report comes somewhere in the middle, when one character says of an attempt to humiliate the central anti-hero, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), “I thought this was gonna be funny, but instead it’s kind of sad.” Hill’s film is a brutally dark comedy, the kind of story that surprises you into laughter and then almost shames you into stunned silence at the way the characters are behaving. It is light-years away from a wacky bathroom comedy by, say, the Farelly brothers, in which you could reasonably comfort yourself with the knowledge that everything on screen is meant to exist in a kind of heightened unreality. What makes Hill’s film so impressive and daringly funny is the way he firmly grounds it in violence, insanity, and the pathetic lives of deluded and bizarre little people. Observe and Report is a random and immediate film, a blast of weird humor that’s as entertaining for the roundabout way it discovers its voice as for what it’s using that voice to say. — Daniel Carlson

Battle for Terra: Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas and scripted by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Battle for Terra manages to appear simultaneously generic and preachy. Even if you believe that humans should refrain from destroying the environment and reject violence, this film still comes off as much too overbearing for what’s supposed to be a family film. While I do give the filmmakers credit for stepping outside the cookie cutter, the film’s many agendas wash away all of that goodwill. The broad brush of symbolism — from kamikaze pilots to white men shooting the innocents with different colored skin to the crucifix-shaped fighter jets invading a land whose inhabitants wear customary keffiyeh as headdresses — weighs all to heavily on the story’s threadbare plot. — Agent Bedhead

Lymelife: I give Derek Martini credit for letting his actors do their thing. The material’s strong if prepackaged, like high-end IKEA. But the man knows how to frame a shot. There are several wonderful moments where dialogue occurs in the forefront while action goes on subtly in the background. Scotty and Adrianna are at a boring church Christmas party where they exchange flirtations, well, okay, Adrianna bullies Scott into adoring her. She makes him do a twirl and slaps him a squeeze on the lower cheeks. It is only then, through a subtle flinch in the background, do we realize that Brenda caught a glimpse of it as she was sitting drinking wine. Her shocked half-smile says volumes. — Brian Prisco

Because of the lack of releases, we didn’t run a DVD Releases post the last two weeks. I’m including those releases here. — DR

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Regardless of what perspective one takes, there’s one important fact about X-Men Origins: Wolverine that is pretty much incontrovertible:
It’s fucking stupid. Completely, utterly ridiculous. Worse still? It could have been not just good, but great, using the exact same tools. Beware, there will be slight spoilers in here, but that’s just as well, because you should avoid this goddamn mess anyway. — TK

Grace: Horror movies do the most psychological damage when everyone’s a monster. Any idiot can cover their face with a mask and hack up preteens with the Home Depot Clearance Sale. It takes true artistry to work the blade under the skin and release the real creepy-crawlies. Writer-director Paul Solet, expanding on his original short film, pulls it off for about three-fourths of the disturbing Grace. It’s only in the final act he betrays his Fangoria roots, taking his darling creepshow and dropping it squaw on its noggin. Delicately the film treads the fine line between unsettling horror and macabre comedy, deftly blending chills with chuckles, but Solet either doesn’t have or doesn’t want the self-confidence to not cop out to a cheesy yuk twist ending. Which is not to say the ending wasn’t clever, so much as an unsatisfying trombone-“waahing” smirk at the audience. — Brian Prisco

Easy Virtue: They make films pandering to children, to single ladies, to foam-mouthed geeks, to miserable art fiends, so why not old folks? The crowd that watched the Noël Coward redux was a veritable sea of bluehairs, the kind of folks that usually comprise 65 percent of a community theatre audience and/or bingo parlor. They tittered merrily during the film, sighing and gasping and oohing and aahing, as if watching a low-key fireworks display. And really, that’s what a Noël Coward piece is: wit drier than a Boozehound martini, lazily fencing Brits dueling with nonchalance and panache, all snugly ascot wrapped about a bland comedy of manners. It’s inoffensive and stodgy, so the old folks eat it up with an oatmeal spoon. Maybe if I was bored with life, clad in diapers, and fondly could reminisce about the time between wars that weren’t fought in an oil-man’s sandbox, I might have enjoyed it. But I wasn’t and I didn’t, and when I pooped myself, it was with indignant outrage. — Brian Prisco

Next Day Air: There are only two kinds of people that I can imagine might want to see Next Day Air: Mos Def fans and Donald Faison fans. Please allow me to dissuade those people from seeing it anyway. I fall under both categories and I, like you, was under the misconception that any movie with both Faison and Mos Def couldn’t be that bad, could it? It can. And it was. — Dustin Rowles

Accidentally on Purpose Review | Pajiba After Dark 9/22/09

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.