Welcome to our latest stab at a weekly DVD column, as we attempt again to find a novel or amusing way to repackage opinions expressed in earlier reviews. Because many of you have already seen these movies, and because the readers often value the Pajiba community’s opinions as much as the critics, I encourage you all to weigh in with your own opinions in the comments, particularly of the Must See Titles on Netflix Instant.
And before we get into this week’s regular DVD releases, we will start with those must-see titles that just hit Instant Netflix. The first is Harry Brown, which Prisco went apeshit for last year: “There’s just one man, upset that his friend was murdered, taking out the trash. And goddamn is it fun to watch … Michael Caine is simply awesome as Harry Brown. You never once doubt his character. There’s more depth in his payback and melancholy than in the collected tears of the entire cast of The Expendables. He’s more like a Shakespearean tragedian, and he pays for every knife thrust. He never loses his humanity, he never becomes cartoonish, even with the ramped-up violence. Heads are juicy and filled with fluid, and when a bullet enters it, here comes the rain again.”
Michael Caine and exploding heads. Count me in.
The other must see this week is yet another revenge flick, Kim Ji-Woon’s I Saw the Devil. Prisco was equally impressed with this film, which I believe premiered at Sundance this year. In fact, Prisco said it made “Taken look like Strawberry fucking Shortcake.” He also wrote that the film “goes some truly dark fucking places. When you discover what Kyung-Chul’s been doing with his kills, your jaw will drop. It’s like escaping from the Hostel in the middle of Eurodisney; it’s that much of a mindfuck.” Sounds outstanding.
We kick it off with Battle Los Angeles, which remains the only non-animated film among this year’s top 20 at the box-office that I haven’t seen. Occasional Pajiba critic Will Goss reviewed the theatrical release for us back in March (a short 3-month window), and he wrote that the movie is about what you’d imagine it is: “Every bit the Black Hawk Down-War of the Worlds hybrid that it’s being advertised as, Battle: Los Angeles is a loud and proud piece of semper fi sci-fi, occasionally thrilling, periodically groan-inducing and thoroughly familiar in its efforts to imitate ground-level warfare against a biomechanical menace.” Sounds like the perfect post-coital, slightly-tipsy can’t sleep fare you watch when your significant other is snoring the night away. I’ll catch it before the end of the month, if only for Aaron Eckhart’s chin dimple and because, as borderline offensive typecasting goes, I’m a sucker for the Michelle Rodriquez role.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son also comes out today, and there’s no reason in the world for you to bother with it. I reviewed it back in February, and I can still feel the sting of anger I had that Martin Lawrence remains employed despite the country’s 9 percent unemployment rate. It’s not fair. “Martin Lawrence didn’t even try. He put on a fat suit, he rolled his eyes a few times, danced on a table, posed for a nude art class, stole a storyline from Some Like It Hot and mashed it together with gags from his last two Big Momma movies, wrinkled his nose and delivered a few bad lines written by other incompetent people who spent almost no time writing a script.”
The biggest fact that the readership picked up on in that review (and the movie), it seemed, was the fact that it was directed by a man named John Whitesell. You people love an unintentional pun.
Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson star in Hall Pass, the latest Farrelly Brother flick, which also comes out today. I reviewed that film, as well, and remember leaving the theater feeling kind of sad that Owen Wilson had fallen so far, but then he surprised a lot of us and turned in a marvelous performance in Midnight in Paris. All is not lost. (Luke, on the other hand …) As for Hall Pass, it “ends up being a muddled, schizophrenic mess, a few vintage Farrelly gags (and a couple that are even quite funny) diluted by the film’s predictable themes.” That is to say, it’s not the worst thing you could watch on DVD, but don’t go seeking it out. There is a scene with Sudeikis in a bathroom that I giggled at unmercifully, although I felt horrible about it afterwards.
Red Riding Hood, the Gothic re-imagining of the classic fairy tale with Amanda Seyfried, was met with almost unanimous disinterest from both critics and audiences. Dan found it exceedingly dull. He leveled the film in his review: “Telling a boring and often ridiculous story from a girl’s perspective instead of a boy’s isn’t empowering; it’s still boring, just with different music. It’s impossible not to think that the presence here of director Catherine Hardwicke — who got her start with Thirteen and also helmed Twilight — is merely another tool in a machine meant to produce an illusion of individuality and strength, when what we’re really seeing is a wisp of smoke on mirrors to cover up the fact that everything on screen is remarkably unoriginal.”
Kill the Irishmen also comes out today. The film, which stars Christopher Walken, Ray Stevenson, and Val Kilmer, didn’t officially go straight to DVD, but it was mostly ignored by audiences. Cindy wrote up the trailer last December. It was modestly reviewed (61 percent on the Tomatometer), although one of my favorite off-site critics, Nich Schager, did not care for it, calling it “a mind-numbingly familiar saga of thuggish tough guys, dapper mafioso, and urban warfare that, despite a based-on-real-life pedigree, proves indistinguishable from its imitative brethren.”
Jackass 3.5 really is straight-to-DVD (although, it’s been available on Amazon Video for a few weeks now). I’ve been pounding the Jackass movies for years, so for those who want a different perspective, Prisco reviewed this one. After waxing poetic about his love for the franchise, Prisco actually suggested that 3.5 is better than Jackass 3D. “There’s still the same focus on genitals, surfing on non-conventional materials, and kicking the fuck out of each other for shits and giggles, yet, it’s toned down and focused. It’s like the Jackass dudes took their Ritalin and looked back over what they with frat hangover glee. It’s not the “I Can’t Believe We Did That” of a remorseful groom, it’s the “I Can’t Fucking Believe We Did That!” high-fiving of his bachelor buddies.”
Yeah, but they’re still shooting shit up each others’ asses, right?