Jun 19, 2012 / 10:00 am
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday June 19.
In small town Alaska, a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend - a Greenpeace volunteer - on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. Inspired by a true story, Big Miracle is a likeable, nice family film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It stars Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell and Tim Blake Nelson.
I actually ended up enjoying this more than I expected since I thought it was going to be a forced, insipid tale of inspiration and instead it was a charming, sweet story that entertained me. It has a very positive message contained within and I would encourage families to rent this film.
It's quite solid.
Faced with sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a commune known as Elysium, where free love rules.
Starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, Wanderlust is an outrageous comedy that is hilarious at times but also quite scattershot. It has a simplistic plot and jokes that don't hit the mark every time but it contains enough laughs to keep fans of rude, crude comedies entertained. The supporting cast is excellent in this including Alan Alda as the amusing and forgetful head of the commune, Justin Theroux as Seth, the spiritual leader who seems perpetually stuck in the 90's, as well as Malin Akerman, Kathryn Hahn and Lauren Ambrose.
It's not brilliant, but it's entertaining enough to be worth checking out as a rental.
Project X deals with 3 high school seniors who throw a huge birthday party to make a name for themselves. As the night progresses, things spiral out of control as word of the party spreads. Produced by Todd Phillips who made Old School, Road Trip and the Hangover films, Project X features a relatively unknown cast in order to lend credence to its pseudo documentary style.
I wasn't a big fan of this film as I thought it pandered shamelessly to 14-18-year-olds by being overly juvenile, mean-spirited and filled with reckless behaviour that bordered on sociopathic misogyny.
If you enjoy watching a train wreck of debauchery then have at it, but I can't in good conscience recommend something as shallow as this film is.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother Pat as they track Pat's possibly adulterous wife.
This is a little gem of a movie that I urge people to seek out. It stars Jason Segal, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer and it's directed by the Duplass brothers, who made small films like Baghead, Cyrus and The Puffy Chair.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home is an offbeat, quirky, charming and heartwarming comedy that delves into some dramatic territory near the finale that ends up being quite moving and affecting. It's a really likeable film that I hope will find an audience.
My favourite this week for sure.
Blast From the Past
Carrying on with my top ten lists, here are my top ten films of 1983:
10. Sudden Impact - I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood and his Dirty Harry Callahan character. This fourth installment in the series was the only one directed by Clint himself and it spawned the famous line "Go ahead, make my day". Full of action and excitement as only Clint could deliver.
9. National Lampoon's Vacation - Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo star as the Griswolds in this hilarious comedy about a family embarking on a cross-country trip to visit an amusement park called Wally World. It's full of hi-jinks and mishaps and it's totally funny. It spawned 3 sequels including the super popular Christmas Vacation.
8. Something Wicked This Way Comes - I saw this in the theatre when I was 9-years-old and it thoroughly creeped me out. Based on a Ray Bradbury novel about two boys who must battle wits with a sinister carnival proprietor named Mr. Dark, this movie was pretty scary stuff for a Disney film. I haven't seen it for many years and I'd like to get my hands on a copy. I wonder if it's as good as I remember?
7. Scarface - Al Pacino stars in this ultra-violent, over-the-top gangster film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone. It's bombastic, crazy, bloody and profane but it's a heck of a film that has reached almost legendary cult status. One of the more interesting films out there about a crime lord's descent into hell.
6. Octopussy - While not critically regarded as one of the better James Bond films I happened to think this one was a hoot. You could tell the filmmakers were influenced by Indiana Jones at the time by making this more of an adventure film full of exotic locales. Sure it was tongue-in-cheek, but it's also a lot of fun.
5. Never Cry Wolf - Starring Charles Martin Smith and Brian Dennehy this beautifully shot drama about a researcher sent to the Canadian arctic to study whether wolves are responsible for killing the indigenous caribou population is a poignant and meditative study of life and survival. Infused with bits of humour also this is a film well worth seeking out.
4. The Dead Zone - Creepy Canadian director David Cronenberg adapted this Stephen King novel and made a really compelling horror thriller. Christopher Walken plays a man who upon awakening from a coma discovers that he has developed psychic powers. It features a great cast also including Martin Sheen, Tom Skerritt, Brooke Adams and Herbert Lom. This still remains one of the best films based on a Stephen King book.
3. The King of Comedy - Martin Scorsese's brilliant black comedy starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis is an unsettling and scathing look at the obsession of fame and celebrity. It is a film that really is ahead of its time when you consider today's media obsessed culture that we live in. De Niro is amazing and creepy as the psychotic Rupert Pupkin. This is without a doubt one of Scorsese's most underappreciated gems.
2. Return of the Jedi - I could have easily made this number 1 on my list but I thought that might be too obvious so I relegated it down to number 2 for no other reason than it wasn't quite as good as Empire or Star Wars. But who am I kidding? I saw this when I was 9 and went nuts for it like every other boy my age at that time. What more can I say about the conclusion of the greatest cinematic space opera trilogy of all time. The force is definitely with this one.
1. A Christmas Story - Along with It's a Wonderful Life this remains one of my all-time favourite holiday movies. Peter Billingsley plays Ralphie, a boy who only wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB Gun. This is an absolute classic film that is funny and heartwarming and contains so many memorable scenes in it. I've seen it countless times and I'm sure I will see it many more to come. Just a wonderful film!
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