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Trailer Reviews for January 24, 2014

I, FRANKENSTEIN



Updated fairy tales are all the rage these days, but not all of them adhere to the adaptation adage: ‘stay true to the intent of the original.’ After all, the intent of original stories like Beauty and The Beast and Frankenstein is that the main characters are ugly. When you ‘update’ their ugliness to a few scars (I, Frankenstein) or an eyebrow tattoo that says ‘suck’ (Beastly) you miss the point and your movie doesn’t work. This is what happened to Beastly and what I predict will also happen to I, Frankenstein, no matter how big they go with the special effects. Actually, it will probably be worse for I, Frankenstein. I mean… superpowers? Saving the human race? What?? And Frankenstein was the doctor’s name, not the monster’s.

DEVIL’S KNOT



Ooh, I remember this. There was a really good documentary about it called Paradise Lost. The whole (true) story is such a big mess (did the teens do it, is the town blaming them just because they wear black, why is that other guy so sketchy in interviews) that the title is an apt one. I just hope they’re able to ‘unravel the knot’ so to speak by the end of this fictional version, otherwise why bother to fictionalize it at all?

WHITEWASH



A drunken snowplow driver. Now there’s a scary thought. As our province continually reminds us in TV commercials, a snowplow ‘ain’t no featherduster’ (seriously – they really say that). But in this movie’s case, the snowplow really is a featherduster! Just look at that silly little thing! Also this trailer is confusing. So he ran a guy over… on purpose? By accident? Before or after the dude was crashing at his house cooking up a tray of eyeballs and our pal snowplow driver was hiding in a quinzhee? And then there’s a…. what’s who doing with that snowmobile? WTF is going on??

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Trailer Reviews for November 16, 2012

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 2



It’s pretty safe to say that if you haven’t been looking forward to the release of this movie, you don’t need to bother seeing it. First of all, it’s the last of a five-film series and you need to have seen the one before it (Breaking Dawn Part 1) to make sense of it. Breaking Dawn Part 2 picks up halfway through the last of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance books, right around the point Bella became a vampire, developed an actual personality, and became mildly interesting (at least, I stopped wanting her to be ripped apart by one of the many giant wolves). The clincher for me will be whether the battle with the killer Italian vampire ruling elite that they spend the whole book/movie building up to actually goes down or not. If it doesn’t (like it doesn’t in the book), I may have to burn down the studio (you’re on notice, Summit Entertainment). I’m just saying: if I have to spend my birthday weekend watching this movie, somebody needs to get ripped apart by a giant wolf.

LINCOLN



My quota for Abraham Lincoln movies has already been met this year, so I don’t feel any great need to see this movie. Besides which, I feel like this would be less exciting to watch than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Steven Spielberg, you know I think you rock, but if you’re going to tell us a story we already know inside, outside, and upside down, at least have the decency to tweak it a little bit. Put in some zombies or something. I’m sure Daniel Day Lewis will win more awards for the role (though I can’t help thinking the voice sounds wrong) and that the critics will like it. History teachers will also wear out their copies showing them to their classes, but the regular people, the ones who are not critics or history teachers, are just going to glaze right over this one. “Been there, learned that” they will think to themselves. “Slavery bad, war sad, Lincoln good.” And then they will buy a ticket to Skyfall.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, November 15 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Your Sister’s Sister, an awkward romantic comedy/drama about two traumatized people trying to start a relationship with a third wheel in the middle. You can check out the trailer review here.

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Trailer Reviews for July 20, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES



Batman has always been my favorite superhero and I loved Batman Begins, BUT I wasn’t tremendously impressed by The Dark Knight like everyone else in the world was. The story was a little too rambling and cluttered. I want to trust that this will be better, but I’ve had a look at the running time (2 hours 44 minutes!) and I just don’t think it will be. I think it will be worse. The trouble is that they give you so little to work with in the trailer(s) that the plot could be about anything. All we know is that Catwoman is in it, that Batman goes somewhere at some point. and that the ending will be so endy that it will not be possible to make anymore movies. Sounds nice and uplifting (not) but sometimes the darkest movies are the awesomest. I hope it’s the awesomest. Please be the awesomest. They really can’t justify keeping me in a theater for 2 hours and 44 minutes if it’s not going to blow my mind… can they?

MOVING DAY



I see there is only one film brave (or stupid) enough to face up against Dark Knight Rises this weekend: and I’ve never heard of it. Actually, I’m glad. It looks like something I’d actively avoid anyway. It’s my least favorite Mad TV alumni (Will Sasso) starring in a movie made by the creator of my least favorite TV show (Trailer Park Boys) about (one of) my least favorite subjects: losers acting like losers. Add that to the fact that it’s set in Canada (so it’s probably only going to be in a few theaters anyway) and you’ve got a movie that only the families and friends of the people involved are going to see – AFTER they’ve all seen Dark Knight Rises.

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Trailer Reviews for May 18, 2012

BATTLESHIP



Call me crazy, but I actually kind of want to see this movie. Not because I think it might be good, but because I think it might be such a godawful trainwreck that it actually becomes funny, at least in review form. First Bottom Five of 2012 candidate! Whoo! Not only is it a film based on a loosely connected board game, but it also goes the massive alien invasion route that has become irritatingly common in the last few years. Rhianna is a singer who seems to be capable of only one facial expression, so it makes sense that she’d be on the cast, and Liam Neeson has effectively given up, but I have to wonder what Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard were thinking. “I need to pay off my mortgage” seems more likely than “this looks like a good movie.”

THE DICTATOR



Sacha Baron Cohen is a funny guy (okay, maybe not so much in Bruno) but his track record combined with the inherently ridiculous lives some real life Middle Eastern dictators lead makes this movie appealing to me. I don’t know if it’s appealing enough to make up for the extreme trainwreck fascination I feel for Battleship though. I haven’t made up my mind yet. The second trailer reveals more of the plot than this one does – it seems like these funny Wadiyan scenes may all be from the opening act and that the bulk of the movie is occupied by “fish out of water” jokes after he flees his country for America and ends up having to live life like the rest of the riffraff. Still funny, but possibly not as funny as life in Wadiya.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING



Geez, they’ll make a movie out of anything these days. Self help books (He’s Just Not That Into You), toys (Transformers), board games (Battleship) and now medical advice handbooks. What’s next? Lawn furniture? Having said that, though, I don’t know if the humor of the reality of pregnancy contrasted with the magazine version ever really gets old – the screeching, the mood swings, the crushing of husbands, the leakage of bodily fluids… it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to spin that into a plus. I just hope they don’t go the Valentine’s Day route and turn the ensemble into a ginormous, trite mishmash.

THE LADY



Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis – two actors I like but would not have thought of sticking together, probably because I would be expecting kung fu fights on treetops and “Avada Kedavra!” Anyway they have good chemistry here, even if David is looking a little worse for wear these days. Even more interesting is the story – I’ve read the graphic novel Burma Chronicles, which mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi in passing as an activist who was under house arrest that the author wanted to sneak in and see, and I always wondered what her story was (not enough to look up a book about it, obviously, but enough that I would see this movie). The events in this movie may have taken place years ago, but they’re still relevant – the military governing body that takes power is still in power in Burma (also called Myanmar).

THE SAMARITAN



Oh joy. A movie about criminals that stars Samuel L. Jackson. Let me quickly put on my hat and run down to the theater for tickets (not). Though it is good to see Samuel L. Jackson in a role that’s not some badass secondary character in every movie ever made, it’s also not good, because the reason he’s so often a badass secondary character is that he can only play that one character convincingly. Usually you can just squint and imagine him with an eyepatch or a lightsaber to turn his current role into Mace Windu or Nick Fury. But in this one he seems slightly more subdued. It’s progress! It’s not enough to make me want to see the movie (especially not when they give it all away in the trailer) but it’s progress nonetheless.

VIRGINIA



Okay… what? Dramatic hostage situation to quirky dysfunctional family comedy in the blink of an eye. After reading the description of this film (blah blah single mom, blah blah sherriff, blah blah political office) I was not interested in seeing it but a few seconds into the trailer I changed my mind (I think it was the peas and carrots comment that did it). Also, that Mormon kid looked like Justin Bieber, and that’s just funny.

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Trailer Reviews for November 25, 2011

HUGO



I’ve been really looking forward to this movie, and no, it’s not because of Martin Scorsese. Martin Scorsese is incidental. What’s important is that it’s a cute movie involving a Steampunk mystery that stars a British kid rather than an American (the one who was in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, no less) and features the 30 Seconds to Mars song “Kings and Queens” in the trailer. I frikkin’ love that song. So I can easily forgive it for having a lame cake-wrecking joke in the trailer. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to it so much that I might just burn down our theater if it doesn’t get here pronto. I checked today, and it’s not in the lineup. This is a BIG MOVIE, Empire Theaters in Sydney, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!?

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS



This movie reminds me of something that’s been done before… a combination of the “marginalized Santa family member” plot from Fred Claus and the militarized elves of the E.L.F. Sqad from The Santa Clause perhaps? But still, it’s Aardman/Sony, so that’s a big draw for me. Aardman have been behind several movies I love, including Chicken Run and Flushed Away. James MacAvoy is perfect as Arthur, and that’s a pretty clever jab at the American “no child left behind” education initiative at the end of the trailer there. I think it’s going to be worth seeing, but unfortunately it comes out the same week as Hugo. And you can’t beat Hugo.

THE MUPPETS



When I was a kid, there were some programmes I only watched because they were on. Smurfs fell into that category. And there were others that I loved to pieces, like The Muppets. I still laugh every time I see Statler and Waldorf, and I’ve been a grown up for ten years now. I love the idea of a new muppet movie, but did they really have to put Jason Seigel in it? That guy is like everywhere, and he is not growing on me. I do like Amy Adams, though. And OH MY GOD they play the “munah munah” song. I love that song. I’ve seen the trailer a few times now and I’m still not sure what the plot is supposed to be. They’re putting on a reunion show? Is that the whole plot? Oh well, the whole reason people will be going is to see the nutso looks on the muppet faces as they flail around behind chest-high wall anyway.

THE DESCENDANTS



I know at least half the world is waiting in line to give George Clooney acting awards, but I just don’t see it. Look at that scene where he’s sitting across from his daughter attempting to have a meaningful conversation. The daughter looks embarrassed and exasperated. Clooney looks blank, just like he looks in every other scene in this trailer. I’m sorry, but if I’m going to watch a character-based drama like this, I need it to star someone who can freaking emote. Even the robot dad from And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird is more lovable than this. I am, therefore, unlikely to see this movie. If I want to watch a dad/child bonding film, I’ll break out my DVD of The Boys are Back, because even Clive Owen can do better than this.

MARGIN CALL



I suppose they’re trying to capitalize on all the Occupy Stuff protestors sitting around outside for various reasons by putting the movie out now, but is this what we really want to see as the Christmas season begins? A depressing movie about the terrible state of the economy? Yes, we like Zachary Quinto and Kevin Spacey and and Paul Bettany and Penn Badgley and Jeremy Irons and Simon Baker and Stanley Tucci, but even all of them combined will not be enough to induce people to subject themselves to a movie that will make them miserable when they want to feel happy. So they will go see Hugo and Arthur Christmas and The Muppets and forget about this until January, when their Christmas credit card bills arrive and they’re looking for someone else to blame it on. That’s my prediction.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN



This is a limited release, so I was just going to ignore it until I saw the cast list. Emma Watson and Michelle Williams and Kenneth Brannagh and Dominic Cooper and Judi Dench all in one movie together?? Well I had to check it out. I’m not a big Marilyn Monroe devotee. I think all I’ve ever seen are the posters, which are pretty much a cliché now, so it would be interesting to see more of her life from a more personal perspective. And of course it’s British, so I wouldn’t miss it for that. I wouldn’t have thought of Michelle Williams as looking much like Marilyn Monroe, but I have to say she does pretty well here, from what I can see. I’ll add it to my list of DVDs to see.

THE ARTIST



This is another limited release, but I feel like I have to talk about it anyway because I talked about the last one. Is this a silent movie about silent movies? I have to admit, I’m intrigued. Some of my favorite episodes of TV shows have been the ones where characters lose the ability to speak and have to rely on their body language and the ambient music to convey emotion. (Check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4×10 “Hush” and The Fairly Odd Parents 3×24 “Pipe Down” to see what I mean) Holy cow that hand-in-the-empty-jacket thing is freaky, though! Anyway, it looks totally cool. I definitely want to see it. Sign me up for the DVD.

And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing a cool looking documentary called The Interrupters, which is about people who try to fight urban violence like it’s an infectious disease. Click here to see the trailer and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.

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Trailer Reviews for October 28, 2011

PUSS IN BOOTS


I was never crazy about Shrek or Donkey or Fiona or any of the other characters in the Shrek movies, but I looooove Puss in Boots. FINALLY he gets his own movie all to himself, where he can be adorable and Spanish without those annoying green ogres getting in his way. They aren’t exactly forthcoming when it comes to the plot – there’s some blue fire, the world is in danger, and his partner is a girl kitty – but to be honest, I’m not sure I’ll even notice if there’s no plot at all. You see, they’ve tapped into my crippling weakness: KITTIES DOING CUTE THINGS. I won’t be able to resist.

IN TIME


I thought it sounded a little bit like Logan’s Run at first, but they took the concept way further than Logan’s Run, and now I think it’s a really cool idea. The way time works in their world is the same way money works in ours, so it’s actually pushing a deep social message instead of just throwing two hours of explosions in our faces (everyone knows the best sci-fi is messages AND explosions). It seems like they’re trying to turn Justin Timberlake into a James Bond-style action hero here, and I don’t think it’s working. He still looks and sounds like a youngster, and it hasn’t been THAT long since NSYNC that some nice suits and cars can make us forget all the spotlit gyrating.

ANONYMOUS


Apparently there’s real controversy out there over whether William Shakespeare actually wrote all his plays… and whether he ever existed in the first place, but this is the first movie I’ve heard of about it, which I find surprising. It seems like prime period drama fodder. They don’t give you much in this trailer, just the impression that whoever wrote the plays was being punished with anonymity and the idea that the movie cost an awful lot to make. You have to go on IMDB to look up who the movie claims really wrote the plays – Edward DeVere, the Earl of Oxford – and that the fighting in the trailer is from the rebellion against the succession of Elizabeth I. I dunno about you, but that’s too much work, and we still don’t have a very good idea of how the plot goes. I’ll still see it (eventually). I just hope seeing it doesn’t retroactively ruin my enjoyment of Shakespeare in Love.

THE RUM DIARIES



Okay… this movie doesn’t waste any time. It stampedes straight for crazytown within the first few seconds of the trailer. And it’s not just the situations and plot that are weird – there’s something unsettling about the characters. I want to look away from Johnny Depp’s face because of all the weird contortions it’s going through. His boss is even worse. I strongly suspect, based on the fact that there’s only the barest hint of plot in the trailer, that this isn’t so much a coherent story as it is a madcap series of events where characters’ decisions are heavily influenced by drugs and alcohol. I’ve never been a fan of those types of films (I prefer my madcap sober and with a British accent) so I’ll steer clear of this one.

LIKE CRAZY



This one is only a limited release, I just stop reading/watching now unless you live in a big city, I guess. While I was watching this trailer, I thought – this is going to be one of those slow, boring, introspective movies that doesn’t seem to realize it’s the nine millionth movie made on the same subject, isn’t it? And the second thing I thought was: is Anton Yelchin’s hairline receding already? Poor boy. He can’t be more than twenty. Anyway, this is going to be one of those movies I forget about after a few minutes…. yup. There it goes.

STARBUCK



You’re not likely to see this one unless you live in Quebec, but I thought I’d mention it anyway for two reasons. Firstly, it stars Patrick Huard, the French guy we all loved in Bon Cop Bad Cop, and secondly, it’s got a genius premise. Fathering 533 kids though a sperm bank? And getting to know a hundred of them? Hilarious. I’ll totally rent this one someday.

TAKE SHELTER



I’m trying to remember which war movie I remember this guy from… to IMDB! Ah yes, he was in Pearl Harbor. Anyway, I don’t usually go for these “is he crazy or isn’t he” movies, but I think if it turned out that he was right about the big storm, I would like it. If he was crazy, I wouldn’t. There’s no real way to find out other than to go see it. It wouldn’t be such a hardship – those are some pretty cool looking storms.

The Cape Breton Film Series is also showing Meek’s Cutoff, which is a boring looking art-type film about early settlers who have to decide whether or not to trust a native after their guide gets them lost in a desert. Check out the trailer and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.

And finally, you should know that many Empire Theaters locations are playing GHOSTBUSTERS on HALLOWEEN night, should you wish to tell the trick or treaters to screw themselves and go to a movie instead.

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Three Musketers Review

poster from the Constantin Film Three Musketeers 2011

Choosing a movie to see this week was tough, because all three of the major studio offerings looked less than stellar. Paranormal Activity 3 looked unscary, Johnny English Reborn looked unfunny, and The Three Musketeers looked unoriginal. In the end I eliminated Paranormal Acivity because I had done a horror movie last week and I decided to give Three Musketeers the benefit of the doubt, because aren’t all movies based on classic novels a little bit unoriginal? After all, we’ve known the story for ages.

A young swordsman aiming to join the king’s elite guards joins his three heroes in rescuing the queen’s jewels from England to thwart a plot against the monarchy by the evil Cardinal Richelieu.

The trick with an adaptation is not necessarily to follow the book’s storyline exactly (Alexandre Dumas’ novel is rather more complicated than that) but to add something new to the mix that makes it worth seeing over again. Unfortunately, by this rule, this new version of the Three Musketeers is utterly worthless, as I don’t think that there is one original scene in the whole movie.

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Trailer Reviews for September 16, 2011

DRIVE



Don’t confuse this movie with Drive Angry. While Drive Angry was a retarded Nicholas Cage vehicle about the dangers of crossing Satan (really), Drive is a depressing Ryan Gosling vehicle about the dangers of moonlighting for organized criminals. So basically they both involve cars. I have to say, Ryan Gosling is incredibly blank in this. I think he’s probably supposed to come across as unflappable, but he overshot the mark and ended up looking like a robot. *bleep bloop* I will operate your vehicle for monetary funds. It’s hard to see him being appealing to women and children. Not that anyone who goes to see this movie will care. All they’re looking to see is the driving. Hence the title.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT



“I Don’t Know How She Does It” would be a good title for a documentary about Sarah Jessica Parker’s life. As in “I don’t know how she manages to be famous when she looks like a skeleton with some skin stretched over it and her voice sounds like it emanates from her nose.” It can’t be that people are identifying with her characters, who are all shallow, annoying, and selfish. It can’t be that she chooses really original, one-of-a-kind projects, because it’s all the same “oh I’m so busy, I hardly have any time to screw rich people and buy shoes!” dreck. This movie seems like more of the same, so whether you see it or not depends on whether you’re a Sex in the City fan (dad!) or hater (like me).

STRAW DOGS



I don’t think I would enjoy this movie. It’s not that I’m opposed to violence or revenge (in movies!) it’s just that if I don’t have a clear understanding of why the characters are doing what they’re doing, my brain will get stuck on this problem and as the story progresses and they pile more and more plot onto the flawed premise I’ll get increasingly angry about being the only one who can see that the whole thing should be collapsing like a house of cards in a hurricane. I say this because the Straw Dogs trailer has failed to convey to me a good reason (or any reason, really) why Eric from True Blood and his goons are able to get away with being such psychos to Cyclops and the girl from Blue Crush. I think if I asked the writer he would go: “they just DO okay!? ” The point is supposed to be James Marsden and how he snaps, so if you think you can overlook the rest, you might like it. I’ll just get angry.

THE LION KING 3D



I like The Lion King as much as the next person who was a kid in the 90s, but I think Disney is really scraping the bottom of the barrel if they’re resurrecting twenty year old movies, slapping 3D on them, and assuming this is good enough to release in theaters. The sad thing is that this this will make money, which means in the next couple of years we’ll have Snow White 3D and The Aristocats 3D and The Little Mermaid 3D clogging up the theaters, and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves. Having said that, however, The Lion King is a great kids movie. But you should rent it, not waste $15 seeing it in the theaters.

PROJECT NIM



If any of you are curious about the inspiration behind some of the material in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I strongly suspect this is it. I don’t really know why they had to raise Nim as a person in order to teach him sign language, but I guess that’s the point of the film. They must have messed Nim up pretty bad, like a human baby being raised by wolves or something. I want to know what happened to Nim now, but since I can’t attend the Cape Breton Film Series showing, I’ll have to get the DVD. It plays Thursday evening only at 7pm at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.

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Green Lantern Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Green Lantern

The Green Lantern was not a superhero I was familiar with as a child. When I thought about him at all, I often got him confused with Green Hornet, so that the picture I had in my head was of a guy in a black car with a green ring that worked sort of like the ones on Captain Planet and the Planeteers. This year’s crop of superhero movies cleared up the confusion for me. I never would’ve guessed that the actual story for Green Lantern went more like this:

A test pilot receives a ring from a dying alien that gives him the power to create anything he sees in his mind and the duty to fight alongside a corps of galactic guardians against a massive amorphous being powered by fear.

I was unsure of what to expect from the film after I saw the trailers, because there were some promising jokes that made light of the alien/superhero angle but also a super lame, ultra serious poem/oath that sounded like it was written by a fifth grader. I had high hopes, given that there were fighter planes involved, but sadly now that I’ve seen the movie I have to report that Green Lantern isn’t even the best superhero movie I’ve seen this month.

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Trailer Reviews for May 27, 2011

THE HANGOVER PART 2



Like Final Destination, The Hangover isn’t a movie you can really make sequels to. You can only repeat the same basic plot, but with slightly different situations and characters. Sequels aren’t sequels, they’re remakes. I saw and liked the first one, but no matter what they do in this one, it’s not going to hit the same chord, because the surprise factor of them forgetting everything is gone. They’re also going over a lot of familiar comedic ground – a permanent disfigurement to Stu’s face, a random animal in the hotel room, a missing character, checking the pockets for clues… it’s essentially just the same movie. No doubt they were wary of changing too much for fear of not sucking up as much money as the last one. It doesn’t deserve to be as successful as the first, but the sad fact is that it probably will be.

KUNG FU PANDA 2



I am not a Jack Black fan. He’s a clone, always playing the same character (and that character is usually Jack Black). Normally I would avoid his movies like the plague (The Holiday is the only exception) but cartoons offer a certain amount of distance between the actor and the movie, so it’s possible (but unlikely) that I could like Kung Fu Panda. The fact that Po is fat, slobby, and stupid (i.e. a panda version of Jack Black) does not make me hopeful, however. The “beware the signs” and “my old enemy” jokes actually made me laugh, which is more than I can say for anything in the Hangover trailer. So I may have a tough call this week: choose the popular movie or the cartoon? Maybe I’ll watch the first Kung Fu Panda tonight to help me decide.

THE BEAVER



Okay… what? Whose idea was this? And why did Mel Gibson and Jodi Foster agree to be in it? And Anton Yelchin. That kid is good. I bet Mel Gibson just wanted to practice his fake British accent and play with a beaver puppet that looks like it would give Tetanus to anyone who touched it. But what about the rest of them? This premise… it’s like a whole movie about Mr. Garrison and Mr. Hat from South Park with all the comedy taken out of it combined with those million and a half “depressed guy and his family” movies independent filmmakers churn out in a year. Oh, and the title makes it sound like a porno. The sad thing is, I’d probably see it if it was coming to my theater, given that my other choices are The Hangover Part 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2. At least this one isn’t a sequel.

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