Well kids, my favorite guilty pleasure of the year is now out on DVD. Talk to me in month, when I’m done watching it over and over. (Well, I’ll take a short break, at least.)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year –
The High School Musical franchise isn’t for everyone, of course. I know our fearless leader Evan would rather get the ol’ icepicks under the fingernails treatment than sit through this one, but for my part, I loved it. I loved it so much that I made my wife (who hates the franchise more than Evan) take me to it a second time. And now that it’s on DVD, I’ll make her sit through it again and again. Isn’t marriage great? Anyhoo, this one’s pretty much more of the same, but on a bigger and better scale. Ideally, you should have seen it in theaters, but if you pick up a Blu-ray and watch it on a big ol’ hi-def screen, it should be almost as good.
Recommended if you don’t take your musicals too seriously (those who think Andrew Lloyd Weber is a genius need not apply)
The Midnight Meat Train
You’re the owner of a successful independent movie studio with a pretty good horror movie ready to be released. Do you: (a) pre-screen it for critics, to make sure people know it’s worth the eight bucks, (b) release it into as many theaters as possible along with a marketing barrage to ensure a big opening weekend, or (c) dump it into a handful of second-run theaters and then release it on DVD a few months later? Guess which one Lionsgate decided to go with. Seriously, I don’t know if this one is any good, but it can’t be too much worse than The Eye, which Lionsgate pushed harder than Sisyphus on his first day in Hades.
Recommended if you liked The Silence of the Lambs or Seven
Clint Eastwood just isn’t having the Oscar-filled year he apparently wanted.Changeling turned out to be too stodgy (and not Holocaust-related enough) for the Academy, and the Gran Torino was just…too weird. This one’s a pretty unassuming thriller about a mother who loses her son, only to have him replaced with a different one and see the case swept under the rug. I enjoyed it despite its shortcomings, but most people I know who saw it were bored out of their minds. Angelina Jolie’s up for Best Actress for her performance…take that for what it’s worth. (And for even more Changelingfun, check out episode nine of our podcast!)
Recommended if you’re experiencing some serious 1920’s nostalgia (I know I am)
Bill Maher sets out to prove that he can be just as self-righteous, preachy, and obnoxious as the religious people he hates. He succeeds with flying colors. This just may be one of the funniest movies of the year — and also one of the most vacuous. Odds are, it won’t change the way you think about anything, but it just might dig you deeper into your rut. And that is definitely what human discourse needs right now. (And for even more Religulous fun, check out…eh, you know the rest.)
Recommended if you think you invented free thought
Flash of Genius
The (Hollywoodized) life of Robert Kearns, who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, only to have the idea stolen by Ford, who refused to compensate him for it. Of course, in real life, the ensuing legal battle destroyed his marriage and turned him into a paranoid schizophrenic. I’m not sure how much of that made it into this movie — frankly, it puts a bit of a damper on the “inspiring” angle they seem to be going for. Still, it’s an interesting story either way, and after watching Ghost Town, I’m a bit of a Greg Kinnear fan. So count me in.
Recommended if you liked Tucker: The Man and His Dream or October Sky
I missed this one when it was in theaters, but I really enjoyed the Spanish-language original (which was titled [REC], in case you feel like Googling it). It’s one of those “OMGZ GUYZ THIS FOOTAGE IS LIKE TOTALY REALZ!!!” movies (like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield), so I can understand why they remade it (having to read the subtitles distanced me a bit too much to really get into the original version). That said, it got middling reviews, so it might not be worth your time. But if you do decide to skip this one, be sure to check out [REC].
Recommended if Diary of the Dead was too much fun for you.
Another one I missed, and don’t really regret missing all that much. It’s the latest adaptation of the work of Chuck Palahniuk of Fight Club fame, but this hero is addicted to sex instead of violence (Chuck sure does have his finger on the American pulse, doesn’t he?). I tried to read the book a while back and I couldn’t make it through (and, for reference’s sake, I devoured Fight Club in a weekend). Take that for what it’s worth.
Recommended if you saw the book and said “Meh…I’ll wait for the movie,” and then you saw the poster for the movie and said “Meh…I’ll wait for the DVD.”
Body of Lies
So Leonardo DiCaprio, Russel Crowe, and acclaimed director Ridley Scott walk into a bar in the Middle East…
Just finish that joke however you want, and it’s probably more or less how this movie goes. Suffice it to say that this genre doesn’t really get my blood going, but if intrigue and explosions are your cup of awesomeness, have at it.
Recommended if you liked Traitor and can’t wait for more.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
As I understand it, the cleverness of this one starts and ends with its title. And they took the title from the book, so it might not even count. It’s supposedly based on the memoir of magazine writer Toby Young, but it looks a bit more like something the Farrelly Brothers pulled out of their proverbial Where the Sun Don’t Shine. And I really mean that, with every facet of irony fully intended.
Recommended if you’re wondering how. Duh.
Okay, this one’s almost undoubtedly the same ol’ direct-to-DVD dreck, but I just have to mention it. I noticed that it was directed by Ben Rock, who was the production designer for Blair Witch, and he’s also one of those people who fairly obviously wrote their own Wikipedia entries. Some gems from his: “Rock’s career was launched when he served as production designer on the independent sensation The Blair Witch Project…and… Shadow of the Blair Witch, which Rock wrote, produced, and directed promoting the release of the sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 that many deemed better than the film itself.” Part of me wants to say that anything was probably better than Blair Witch 2; part of me wants to say it’s sad that he felt the need to point that out.
Recommended if you just won a lifetime supply of Skittles and you need something playing on TV while you polish them off.