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Diary of a Kick Ass Life

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | August 3, 2010 |

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | August 3, 2010 |

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: “Essentially, Wimpy Kid is only slightly better than its trailers (“Wanna see my secret freckle? It’s got a hair in it!”) would suggest, and it’s sort of like “The Wonder Years” with much less charm and no sense of nostalgia. Unlike the young Fred Savage, actor Zachary Gordon doesn’t make us feel for Greg, who isn’t so much an anguished soul trapped in a short kid’s body but, instead, a conceited, opportunistic, and unfeeling prick with an inexplicably inflated sense of self worth. At home, Greg has a sadistic older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) and inattentive parents Susan (Rachael Harris) and Frank Heffley (Steve Zahn, nooooo) who are portrayed as idiots. At school, fellow outcasts Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Rowley (Robert Capron) are company; the latter is Greg’s best friend from grade school, who is suddenly a huge embarrassment with a girly bike, rotund body, and innocent way of shouting, “Do you want to come over and play?” Within our antihero’s misguided search of cool, the perpetually clueless Rowley is suddenly everything that Greg doesn’t want to be, so he mercilessly rids himself of what he considers to be far too much dead weight upon his potential popularity. Yet, Greg doesn’t even deserve a friend like Rowley, who actually earns more cool points by genuinely not caring what anyone thinks and, as such, is the only character of the movie that moves beyond mere caricature.” - Agent Bedhead

Kick-Ass: “Vaughn and Goldman’s screenplay, it turns out, strays pretty far from the source material. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, and in fact it’s often the only way to turn a narrative built on literary beats into one that works on cinematic ones. But they’ve turned a potentially interesting premise — an ordinary boy is drawn into the world of superheroes — and turned it into a cheap, easy story with plenty of characters but no one to care about, and you can’t land emotional punches unless you’ve got people on screen worth worrying over. Maybe it’s because Vaughn’s last film, 2007’s Stardust, was a sweet-natured romantic fantasy, so he’s blinded by his habit of making sure everything ends neatly. But even that film had moments of tension and character development, of pursuit and drama, that Kick-Ass sorely lacks. At every chance to be brave or interesting, the film flinches and turns into a grotesque wish-fulfillment factory that’s impossible to trust. The problem isn’t that the film diverges from the comic’s story line; it’s that those changes are psychological, not structural, ones. What starts out potentially compelling devolves into a lame joke, as resistant to feeling as its hero’s deadened nerves.” - Daniel Carlson

After.Life: “The concept of this interesting little horror film was pregnant with promise: A young girl awakes on a mortician’s slab convinced she’s still alive while the mortician explains that she’s dead and he’s the only one who can help her over to the other side. From there, you’ve got two options: Is you is or is you ain’t my dead body. For her first feature, Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo (no relation to the Mummy) does an outstanding job balancing your doubt with atmospheric creepiness and great performances from her two principal leads. You’re never quite sure which way the wind will blow. Unfortunately, she manages this for about 40 minutes, until the whole house of cards completely collapses from arty-goth-porn into a bitterly cheesy B-grade slasher flick tarted up to look as slick and shiny as the ridiculous red slip Ricci runs around in. That is, when she’s not spending the rest of the movie bare-ass naked, carefully crossing legs or shifting hips to avoid the gratuitous beaver shot. Wojtowicz-Vosloo (who shall henceforth be referred to as WV because she has not earned the respect of a fully-spelled name) tips her hand early, particularly when there’s a parallel storyline that involves the boyfriend running around like a histrionic Hardy boy. Even when WV rolls back around at the last minute to try for what on paper seems like a clever ending, the movie feels like a cheat. Justin Long’s been a better horror boyfriend, the creepy little kid in the film doesn’t even make the top ten list, Liam Neeson’s been way more unnerving, and there’s better movies to sit through if you want to see Christina Ricci’s tits. So unless you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands or a death wish, you should just do what Ricci’s character took forever and a half hours to do and fucking pass.” - Brian Prisco

Also released this week: A Prophet, Open House, The Ghost Writer, To Save a Life

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Genevieve Burgess is a Features Contributor for Pajiba. You can follow Genevieve Burgess on Twitter.