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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little Fockers, Tron: Legacy, and Others on DVD This Week

Looking at their 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes... 

On DVD this week, an almost unanimous group of disappointing films. Little Fockers, Tron: Legacy, Casino Jack, and I Love You, Phillip Morris. Each film manages to destroy the hype that surrounded them for months, and leave very little for the viewer to walk out of the theater and praise. Of course, Tron: Legacy is almost immune to any sort of criticism being that it's strictly a film for the fan of the original (which is a masterpiece). But, being that Legacy is also a film that can be seen without seeing the original, that sort of evens the playing field. 

More after the cut --

We should go ahead and dive right into all of this. We don't have much to go over, and I want to help you determine which might be worth your valuable time and hard earned money. But, I can tell you right now - if you have to watch one of them, and I mean ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO, it should be I Love You, Phillip Morris. At least that one has above average performances you can cling to. And, the story is a lot of fun. 

So, let's start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?

Little Fockers is one of those movies where the green light to make it is ridiculously reasonable. The third sequel to a film that was wildly popular (and admittedly very good), and the second one became more popular over time as well. This film has a story that people saw coming a mile away and hypothesized after the first one ("Oh man, what if they had kids?!), so it only makes sense to bring that to the big screen. The most unfortunate thing about the film though is... well, everything. Performances that seemed phoned in and disinterested, a screenplay about as thin as they make them, and direction that antithetical to the inspired making of Meet the Parents. 

For those who aren't familiar with the series, it goes like this: Meet the Parents - a girl brings a silly boy home to meet a serious family. Meet the Fockers - the silly boy takes the serious family to meet his silly parents. Little Fockers - the silly married couple has a bunch of silly kids. You can see how uninteresting it all becomes over time. I never felt the need for a second entry, but here we are. And since it's already out there, we have to live with it. 

What I wind up regretting most about these kinds of movies are two sad facts. One, people will always go see movies like this, so there will always be movies like this. And two, the genuine talent of everyone involved always goes to waste. But, on the other side of that argument, I'm totally behind people taking roles for paychecks, and without having bad around how will we ever know what's good? So, the mirror has two faces. Stacking a cast like Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand against each other, and you can't produce a single interesting moment? It's time to head back to the drawing board, guys. This is a dud. 

Also on DVD this week is the hideously misguided final film from George Hickenlooper. Casino Jack, as it tells the story of Jack Abramoff and his crimes of fraud. Earlier last year, we were given a wonderful documentary called Casino Jack and the United States of Money. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, we now have Casino Jack. 

Abramoff was convicted of fraud against a handful of Indian tribes, and was also found guilty of all sorts of other financial crimes that helped to cripple parts of our economy, at least emotionally if not physically. He was a lobbyist, and he abused the power (like most lobbyists do). To honor (?) the legacy of what he left behind, Hickenlooper, Kevin Spacey, and screenwriter Nroman Snider do their best to turn Jack into the kind of guy you want to give a giant hug to and play poker with. It's dangerous story telling and disrespectful to the crimes he committed and the people he hurt. 

For my full review, click here

Also on DVD - 

Tron: Legacy - Over a decade after the original Tron was released, there has always been an underground clamoring for a sequel. Much like there was an underground clamoring for a sequel to The Boondock Saints. Look how far that one got us. To its credit, though, Tron: Legacy has a few major things going for it - consistently beautiful visual effects, and a beautiful musical score from Daft Punk. That seems to be the film's only couple of saving graces. Flat performances make for a flat filmgoing experience, and what's worse? The story isn't that engaging either. A promising premise made sour by a bland execution. 

I Love You, Phillip Morris - No, it has nothing to do with the tobacco company. But, that would have been pretty interesting, too. Boasting the "true story" tag, it's about a gay con man who fakes his way across a few states before winding up in prison. He miraculously becomes "a lawyer" and gets his prison boyfriend out. They pretty much go to Hell from there. The good news - these men are Jim Carrey (the con man) and Ewan McGregor (his prison bf). The bad news, how sloppily the film is put together. I saw this film in 2009, and I remember very clearly enjoying about half of it. But, the parts that I didn't care for always come to mind first. That makes me a bit... uncertain about the film. But, I'm willing to call this one merely decent, only because the performances are so genuine and heartfelt. 

Go pick up a movie. You have a long week ahead of you. I can really only recommend I Love You, Phillip Morris out of this bunch, but... give them all a shot. Watching crap helps define taste. And where would we be without taste?

Leave a comment below and tell me what you'll be picking up! Seen the movies being released? What are your thoughts? I always love a good discussion.