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The Best of Me Review

poster from the Relativity Media film The Best of Me

This Friday was Halloween. There weren’t a lot of new movies at the theater to pick from, and even most of last week’s were gimmicky, phoned-in looking low budget horror movies. So I rewound the clock a few weeks and went to The Best of Me with my mother. After all: The Lucky One was pretty good, and who can say no to James Marsden?

A pair of high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks are reunited twenty years later by the death of their mentor.

Mom and I both like a good love story. The kind where you float away from the theater thinking: “awww.” Our mistake was looking for one from Nicholas Sparks. The Best of Me was the worst of Nicholas Sparks: he created an adorable couple and then beat them to death with the Hammer of Tragedy.

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Book of Life Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Book of Life

Fury, The Best of Me, and Book of Life came out this week. I’m tired of World War II movies about Heroic Americans in general and Brad Pitt specifically. Nicholas Sparks movies tend to make me want to punch his lights out. Book of Life is a cute cartoon about dead things created by Jorge R. Gutierrez, a Guillermo del Toro student. No brainer.

Two best friends, a soldier and a musician, compete for the hand of the same girl while the king and queen of the dead wager on the outcome.

In most respects, Book of Life is pretty good. It’s pretty original. The story is pretty tight. Characters are pretty likeable. It’s got a pretty cute side kick. The message to kids is pretty relevant. Where it really shines is in the visuals. Every inch of the screen is filled with something bright and intricate, which will either give you a headache or make you want to buy it as poster art.

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The Fault in Our Stars Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film The Fault in Our Stars

I wanted to see Begin Again this week, but all we got was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and as I previously mentioned, Planet of the Apes has overstayed its welcome. So my brother and I decided to go to a film from a few weeks ago: The Fault in Our Stars. I havn’t read the John Green novel (not because I wouldn’t, I just haven’t gotten around to it) but I knew it would be sad.

Two teens with cancer meet at a support group and fall in love.

I’m not opposed to sad movies per se. I’m opposed to tearjerkers. For those of you who don’t go to a lot of dramas, sad movies are like The Boy in the Sriped Pajamas. They’re all about conveying the reality of sad situations. Tearjerkers are like The Notebook. They’re all about hamfistedly slapping tears out of your face. This movie is the former.

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Trailer Reviews for July 11, 2014

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES



Planet of the Apes is a one-off for me. It was good for that one surprise at the end of the first one (I won’t say what it was in case you haven’t seen it) and the brief ‘ha ha, those are monkeys that act like people’ aspect of the premise. It’s not something I want to keep seeing movies about, even if they’ve upgraded from monkey suits to CGI and hired Gollum to animate them. Also, I think the title for this one and the one that came before it (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) should be switched around. It would just make more sense.

BEGIN AGAIN



Once was a film with a very simple (too simple, really) story that was carried on the strength of its soundtrack… or mostly that one song: “Falling Slowly.” I liked Once enough to check out another John Carney film but I do hope the “rejected rockstar girlfriend meets rejected agent” story is stronger than the storyline in Once.

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Repost – Funniest Canadian Movies

All the DVDs releasing today are old/B movies and TV shows (or anime) so here’s a repost of an old article I did on Canadian comedies. Happy Canada Day!

As you probably already know, I don’t usually go out of my way to see Canadian movies just because they’re Canadian. Maybe that makes me a bad Canadian. Maybe it just means I’ve got high standards. At any rate, that doesn’t mean I never watch any Canadian movies. In fact, some of my favorite comedies of all time were written and filmed right here in Canada with all or mostly Canadian casts and crews. I’ve listed them for you here, just in case you feel like renting something that will make you snort your stronger-and-therefore-better Canadian beer out of your nose at your Canada Day party. Comedy is notoriously subjective, so if you’ve got different favs why not list them in the comments? Bon viewing!

#5. Men With Brooms

Curling is an inherently silly sport, if you ask me. You don’t even have to be physically fit to play it professionally. Add in Paul Gross as the leader of a team consisting of a drug dealer, a mortician, and a guy with the world’s lowest sperm count, Scandinavian villains who wear silver pants, and a dead coach’s ashes packed inside a piece of sporting equipment, and it gets even funnier. Plot wise it follows the ol’ sporting standard: misfit team, come from behind victory, the captain wins the girl, etc. but with any luck you’ll be laughing so hard at their ridiculous antics that you won’t even notice.

Buy Men With Brooms on DVD.

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#4. Gunless

Yes, it’s Paul Gross again, but with good reason. Gunless is a hilarious Western about an American gunfighter who ends up in Canada, where there’s no guns, gunfighting, duelling, or wonton violence allowed. Suddenly he has no idea what to do with himself. Maybe he should fall in love! Or build a windmill! His clashes (or lack of clashes, if you will) with the local populace are funny, but the best part is the dumbass Mountie character and his much smarter Native “sidekick.” It would have rated higher on the list if it weren’t for some stumbling around in the story department.

Buy Gunless on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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#3. A Dog’s Breakfast

This one is a little harder to find because it was an off-season vanity project filmed using favors called in from crew of Stargate Atlantis but it’s totally worth the extra effort. David Hewlett plays a dysfunctional recluse whose major relationship is with his dog. He receives an unwanted visit from his makeup artist sister (Hewlett’s real sister) and her soap actor boyfriend (Paul McGillion, also of SGA), whom he hates and accidentally succeeds in killing. His Telltale Heart-style efforts to hide the body are cripplingly funny, but even better are the hilariously cheesy sci-fi soap clips. Oh, and how’s this for a fun fact: I actually met him!

Buy A Dog’s Breakfast on DVD.


#2. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

A spin-off from the popular sketch comedy series Kids in the Hall, Brain Candy follows the story of a mostly inept scientist working for a pharmaceutical company that treats pills like candy and spends money making parties within parties for their more important guests. He accidentally discovers a drug that traps people in their happiest memories while trying to cure depression. Each of the “kids” plays about eight different characters and the whole thing is totally insane yet brilliantly satiric. Everything from the rose colored glasses grandmas wear to view their families to drug companies’ preference for money over safety is fair game.

Buy Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy on DVD.


#1. Bon Cop Bad Cop

Forget Canada, Bon Cop Bad Cop is one of the funniest movies made anywhere. An Ontario/Quebec co-production, it’s about an English cop and a French cop who have to team up to solve the hockey-related murder of a man who was found draped over the “Welcome to” sign at the border between the two provinces. Whether they’re giving a lesson on conjugating French curse words while stuffing suspects into the trunk of their car or arguing in two languages over who’s fault it is that they just blew up a house full of marijuana, the jokes are smart, crude, and hilarious. This is the sort of movie you have to watch several times because you couldn’t stop laughing long enough to hear all the jokes.

Buy Bon Cop Bad Cop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Update: Since writing this a few years ago, I’ve seen a few others worth an honorable mention: The Grand Seduction, and The Right Kind of Wrong.

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Trailer Reviews for June 27, 2014

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION



NO. Making one of the robots a dinosaur DOES NOT MAKE IT LESS DUMB.

THEY CAME TOGETHER



You had me at “from the creators of Wet Hot American Summer.” Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Paul Rudd or Amy Poehler. Put them together and you could get away with murder… ing the romantic comedy genre! (hur hur)

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DVDs for June 24, 2014

winters tale

Winter’s Tale

I’d have waited until February to release this. Nobody wants to be reminded of winter in the summer, plus it’s the kind of epic love story that people always buy for each other for Valentine’s Day. Oh well. The movie itself is soppy but watchable. It’s part historical fiction set in early 1900s New York and part angels vs demons magical fairy tale/love story. Colin Farrell plays a thief with a magical horse who falls in love with a dying woman then wakes up in the present day to help some little girl with cancer. Read my review for more.

Buy Winter’s Tale on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

300 2

300: Rise of an Empire

If you thought a movie where everybody dies couldn’t possibly have a sequel, you haven’t seen Hamlet 2… or tried to get between a studio and a giant pile of money. Rise of an Empire is basically the same as 300, in that bare chests and slow motion droplets are the stars of the movie and the story consists of some Greeks planting themselves between an army of insane monsters and their homeland. If you like action, this is the movie for you. If you like character, content, or story, pick something else. Literally anything else.

Buy 300: Rise of an Empire on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

enemy

Enemy

In this drama/thiller, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a boring college professor who goes to a show and meets an actor who’s basically a more exciting version of himself (existentially and literally) and ends up stalking the guy/going crazy (as you do). Actors love to stretch their wings by playing two roles in the same movie, but if you want to watch a movie like that, pick Moon instead of this one. It’s less boring (read: not boring), stars Sam Rockwell, and it has an actual story, whereas this one is more of a metaphor.

Buy Enemy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

blood ties

Blood Ties

At this point, they could release a movie about two brothers/friends on opposite sides of the law and have it be the greatest movie in the history of movies and I would still refuse to see it because these ‘oh noes, do we choose principle or family?’ stories are a dime a dozen. This one stars Clive Owen as the criminal brother and Billy Crudup as the cop brother and it’s the 70s. That’s the only thing that sets it apart from We Own the Night, Mission Park, Line of Duty, Ganga and Yamuna, etc. etc. etc. Randomly select one from the list, or just skip them all and watch something more upbeat.

Buy Blood Ties on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for June 20, 2014

JERSEY BOYS



I feel like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe where bad is good. I cannot fathom how anyone could possibly think that Frankie’s whiny, nasal, helium-fueled voice sounds good. And yet… here this movie is. And here are a lot of people who want to see it. As you probably guessed, I am not one of them. Just watching this trailer made me feel like someone was trying to puncture my eardrums with a Q-tip.

I’LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN



Somehow the tone of this movie doesn’t quite jive with the perky Gin Blossoms lyrics that pop into my head when I read the title. I seriously doubt it will be in many theaters, given that the only official version of the trailer on YouTube is almost impossible to find and has no audio (hence the 3rd party one). It’s pretty cliched but it looks like it could be okay as long as they don’t muck up their time travel rules in favor of relationship drama.

THE ROVER



My thought progression while watching this trailer:
Ooh, Australian
So… like Mad Max?
But sloooooooow
WTF is going on?
Uh oh, the director of Animal Kingdom?
Never mind, then.

THINK LIKE A MAN TOO



Hi Dorian! Sorry your show got canceled 🙁 (the “you’re rollin’ with the pros” guy is Michael Ealy from Almost Human for those of you who aren’t nerds) I don’t really understand why their bachelor party is a contest, or who’s getting married, or why any of them would listen to Kevin Hart’s character when he’s so obviously the ‘clueless and annoying one’ (like Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, only squeakier), but naming your blow-up sex doll after Idris Elba is pretty funny.

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Trailer Reviews for June 6, 2014

EDGE OF TOMORROW



This movie looks awesome and stupid at the same time. Dying every day and waking up to do a big battle over again until you get it right? Awesome. The suits they wear in said battle? Stupid. They’re clunky and they offer no protection at all (I guess if you just keep waking up again it doesn’t matter if you get shot?) Their only purpose seems to be as a framework for hoisting their massive, ridiculous guns.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS



Again, I do and I don’t want to see this movie. I’m sure it’s cute and romantic and meaningful, but one or both of them is dying, so there’s no getting around the fact that it’s going to be really f***ing depressing. So I guess the question is: do I want to be sad all weekend?

CHEF



To me, Jon Favreau will always be the guy who made Iron Man hilarious and awesome. But who’s to say he couldn’t make independent dramedies about cooking awesome and hilarious as well?

TRACKS



I’m pretty sure Robyn Davidson is who they were making fun of in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, when the lady dragging the little blinking light would run by. It’s an inspiring story and Mia Wasikowska is a great actress, but I feel like this movie will have to work really hard not to be boring. Struggling alone makes for a compelling autobiography, but put it on screen and it’s just a woman squinting at the horizon.

WOLFCOP



This movie was some sort of Cineplex contest winner. I’ve been seeing ads for this for months. Looks pretty funny. Maybe I’ll see it someday. Our theater’s not currently on the Wolfcop list.

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The Grand Seduction Review

poster from the Entertainment One movie The Grand Seduction

I can count on one hand the number of Canadian movies I actually like (well, maybe two hands at this point). I reject most at the trailer stage for being boring, confusing, pretentious, or only playing in Toronto. So when the previews my theater showed for The Grand Seduction made me laugh, it didn’t matter what else was coming out this week. I HAD to see it.

An unemployed fisherman convinces his town to lie to a visiting doctor so he’ll stay and help them meet the oil company’s requirements for a new factory.

The trailers made it seem like a romantic comedy, and it was. But the romance wasn’t between the doctor and the woman he meets in town. It’s between the doctor and the town. And while there were a few things in The Grand Seduction that I found hard to believe, it was easy to enjoy.

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