Sunday, August 29, 2010

FARCE/FILM Episode 58: The Last Exorcism, Pontypool

--> Episode 58: 08/29/10 <--
Hosts: Colin George, Brian Crawford, Kevin Mauer, Ben Wong

Intro – 00:00
Top 5 – 03:12
The Last Exorcism - 06:15
Pontypool (spoilers) – 26:36
WMD – 41:45
(Dead Space: Downfall, Batman and Robin, The Kids Are Alright, Milk, Nosferatu, Tango and Cash, True Romance, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, This Film Is Not Yet Rated)
E-mail and Outro – 01:11:55
(What director is defining the teenagers of 2010?)

"The Last Exorcist"




-- Weekly Discussion --

This week we discussed the use of the mockumentary cinematography style in films and its effectiveness in both the comedy and horror genres. What is your opinion of the style? Do you think it fits in only one genre of filmmaking?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"The Last Exorcism" Review

“The Last Exorcism” is a pretty interesting film right up until it tries to scare you. Told in the faux documentary style popularized recently by “Paranormal Activity” and “District 9,” director Daniel Stamm’s take on the oft-botched demonic possession sub-genre begins tantalizingly well. At its root is a terrific character, evangelical preacher and admitted shyster Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), who sets out to produce a documentary exposing exorcismal ritual as a mere placebo for the affected.

Like a magician revealing trade secrets, we follow Marcus and his two-man film crew down Louisiana way to the Sweetzer residence, where he pulls out all the stops, first feeding into the symptoms of the peculiar young girl Nell (Ashley Bell), then to his entire prefabricated ceremony, complete with a hidden iPod wailing stock demon sound effects, and a crucifix rigged to exert steam when pressed. Mr. Sweetzer (Louis Herthum) and, more importantly, Nell eat it up. Cut to Marcus counting his dough.

The first forty or so minutes of the film work because Marcus is charismatic and interesting, not to mention very funny in his disingenuous showmanship. But the scenes play subtly suspenseful as well because the audience knows the rug will eventually be pulled from under him—And when it is, it’s a that shame things so quickly spiral into the sloppy and the spoiled. More so than “Quarantine” (or consequently, “[REC]”) or “Paranormal Activity,” “The Last Exorcism” is a film being advertised (and seemingly relentlessly) with a greatest hits compilation of its most horrific moments, cherry-picked from the few sequences that actually contain them.

Not only does that diminish the impact of the shots in context, but all the subtlety and restraint of the first half crumbles around them once the hardcore horror gets going. What works about “The Last Exorcism” is its intimacy, and as it wears on, its scope exponentially widens. Suddenly, the film crew are our central characters while new ones are still being introduced. It climaxes in an ending both abrupt and irrelevant, leaving what should feel intriguing unsatisfying.

The movie might have worked better had it retained its focus on Marcus throughout the second half. Maybe the faithless preacher being scared straight is old hat, but the story really feels like it’s leaning that way until it’s not. Until it isn’t even about Marcus anymore—It’s just about going through the horror movie motions. Keeping it simple would at least have kept it coherent; instead, the film balloons into a sufficiently atmospheric, but ultimately dull and unfrightening chase film. The third act has the cast running into and out of houses, sheds, and vans like characters from a “Scooby-Doo” cartoon.

The hectic disorganization sullies much of what I found so compelling about the film initially—The beginning of “The Last Exorcism” is effective expressly because it isn’t trying to be scary. When it tries, it’s apparent it’s trying. Ultimately, I’d rather see the documentary (real or otherwise) about the fake exorcism than the real one it becomes.

But if I am afraid, it’s that the faux-film aesthetic Stamm borrows will soon be exploited and crippled by increasingly derivative filmmakers. “The Last Exorcism,” despite its flaws, further proves that the technique is particularly well suited to horror (the trailer for “The Virginity Hit” makes a clear case against comedy), and had the writing in its second half lived up to the first, it really might have been something special.

Alas, like “1408,” the movie simply has nowhere to go once called to deliver on its premise. The disappointment is even more profound here; the suspense, the characterization, and the sly sense of humor are all spot on. And then it tries to scare you.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"The Expendables" Review

I’m sorry, men of the world, but “The Expendables” is a piece of shit. In fact, as a man, I’m a little embarrassed that this putrid, structureless, diarrheic pile entertained a single one of you. Without an ounce of artistry, Sylvester Stallone has essentially created “The Twilight Saga” for men, and just as that series caters to a lowest-common-denominator teenage girl audience, Stallone deposits this Cro-Magnon mess for males, simultaneously juvenile and out-of-touch.

The suffocating machismo of it all makes it tough to pick a place to start. First, the film is hideous. On a technical level, many of the shots are out of focus, smearing the ugly greens and browns into a muddy pastiche. The rest is soiled by awful CG that completely undercuts the entire eighties aesthetic. I’m trying hard to think of something less conducive to an action throwback than a half-dozen rifles with animated laser-sights firing bullets that spill digital blood—No luck yet.

Even forgiving the film its bland palette, cinematographic shortcomings, and near total lack of practical effects, “The Expendables” misfires on the single most obvious ingredient for exciting action—Compelling set pieces. It takes place, almost in its entirety, on a small South American island where there is a dock, a palace of some sort, and apparently nothing else. Those backdrops set the stage for some dismally choreographed shootouts where, despite the exotic locale and 80 million dollar budget, “The Expendables” maintains a consistently amateurish feel.

And for a movie positively brimming with A-List (or once A-List) action personalities, how about some personality? Ultimately, it doesn’t even register that Stallone assembled such a dynamic ensemble—There isn’t a single distinct personage among them. Sure, Jason Statham likes knives and Stallone prefers firearms, but that’s about where the definition ends. Anyone could have played these nobodies, and it reduces what should be the film’s sole distinguishing feature to mere stunt casting.

Regardless, there isn’t a flaw I’ve illuminated that would hold water if the film was even fun, but “The Expendables” is truthfully one of the most boring of the year. Call me desensitized, but I can only see so many torsos explode, so many fatal stabbings, and so many explosions before I start to yawn and check my watch. Action only works when there’s something at stake, and Stallone does his best Michael Bay impression in his flagrant disregard for that simple storytelling truth.

Nothing is ever at stake in “The Expendables.” Ever. Not one of the many protagonists is placed in even momentarily convincing danger, and with almost no story to back up the dreary killing, the action loses all dramatic impact. Stallone's assembly line slaughter has neither the gravity to make us care nor the creativity to make us squirm—Unless we’re squirming out of anxious impatience.

I’m not an idiot. I realize “The Expendables” is more “Grindhouse” than it is “Rambo,” but it fails even as a disposable homage to eighties action. It might be a class reunion of sorts, but it’s the kind where you end up sitting around talking about expired memories instead of making new ones. In recalling the cheesy charm of the decade that made him famous, Stallone could stand to do far more embellishing. He succeeds in making a film with an eighties mindset, but it’s a hollow, lifeless effort that completely lacks the charisma that makes those films memorable twenty-some years later.

Conversely, “The Expendables” would be forgettable no matter what unfortunate decade birthed it. And yet, here in the year 2010, this is the number one film in America two weeks running—I guess I just don’t get it. Everything I go to the movies for, and not just the frivolous stuff like story and character, is completely and entirely absent here.

Men of the world, if this is really what you find entertaining, then consider this my resignation.


"The Switch" Review

“The Switch” is the kind of film I’ve seen a hundred times, and dread seeing for the hundred-and-first. Admittedly, romantic comedy ain’t my bag, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t sniff out the good, the bad, and the mediocre. “The Switch” has stars Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, and Jeff Goldblum sucking on a script that belongs so completely in the third category that there’s almost nothing else to say.

—Almost. The screenplay by Allan Loeb knocks the three talented performers flat on their asses; watching them chew the lame dialogue to a consistency with which they can expectorate a joke is often more entertaining than the line itself. Goldblum in particular turns up his signature stutter, abstracting sentences to the extent that they often are very funny, no thanks to the words themselves.

Loeb’s script is vanilla, but in the hands of directing duo Josh Gordon and Will Speck (whose previous work includes the Will Ferrell figure skating farce “Blades of Glory” and the short-lived Geico “Cavemen” television series), maybe that’s for the best. The issue is that the pair seem to recede from the picture altogether. Safely lit, with a bland, point-and-shoot aesthetic, Gordon and Speck aren’t minuses in the equation, but because or in spite of them (whichever it is), “The Switch” only ever zeroes out.

Loeb honestly deserves the lion’s share of the blame; when he isn’t crowd surfing on cliché, he takes some ludicrous liberties with reality that do add up—To lazy storytelling. Even the execution of his premise is delivered disingenuously.

Here’s the scenario: Kassie Larson (Aniston), 40 and single, decides to have herself artificially inseminated. Never mind that she chooses to do so amidst some swanky, bizarre fertility party (because I actually kind of like that)—The idea that her donor’s “ingredient” would not be pre-acquired is beyond naive. Logic denotes the party would occur not only after the father-to-be has procured his genetic sample, but also after Kassie has undergone her end of the procedure—“The Switch” presumes neither of these very logical things have happened, and in fact relies upon it.

Instead, it shakes out something like this—After creating what would undoubtedly be a very awkward scenario for Kassie’s donor (sending him into the bathroom while, presumably, the hopeful mommy and her guests literally wait for him to masturbate), Loeb adds insult to injury by expecting us to believe the semen sample would be left unattended on the bathroom shelf. Come on. Enter Jason Bateman as Wally Mars, who, with an utterly prefabricated drunkenness, accidently blows the wad—And whose genius idea for replacing it is to become a sort of secret santa for sperm.

“The Switch” isn’t a terrible film from there on out. It radically changes gears as seven years pass and Wally—Having no memory of the night in question—Reunites with Kassie and his son. Traditional romantic comedy beats ensue. Bateman and Aniston have decent chemistry together, but it’s his relationship with child actor Thomas Robinson that feels most sincere. Pity the kid is written like a precocious android programmed to say the darndest things; Robinson is cute, but he’s reading Loeb’s lines.

If "The Switch" had had an original idea or had taken a single gamble with its storytelling, the cast might really have brought it together—As it stands, they do a good job of not embarrassing themselves. They lend their warmth and expertise to a dead script, but in this case, it's too little too late.

"The Switch" might be a lost cause, but who knows. Maybe the hundred-and-second time’s a charm.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

FARCE/FILM Episode 57: Super Show!

--> Episode 57: 08/22/10 <--
Hosts: Colin George, Brian Crawford, Kevin Mauer, Jon Mauer, Sonic Kim

Intro – 00:00
Top 5 - 8:28
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World – 12:35
The Expendables - 23:21
Eat, Pray, Love - 37:37
The Switch - 40:56
Piranha 3D – 45:58
WMD - 51:10
(Serpico, Life During Wartime, Princess and the Frog, Kill Bill Vol 2, Radio Days)
E-mails and Outro - 1:05:23
(Opinions of trailers vs movies, Maggie’s Philippines update #1)

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World"


"The Expendables"


"Eat, Pray, Love"


"The Switch"


"Piranha 3D"


--Weekly Discussion--

This week, our hosts discuss two of the summer’s most talked about action movies in “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Expendables,” which feature two very distinct action ideologies. Which do you prefer, style and clever staging or all out machismo massacring?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" Review

The levels of unreality are stacked so high in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” that it takes a certain head-in-the-clouds mentality to see over them. Fueled by graphic novel gasoline in a vehicle straight out of “Super Mario Kart,” director Edgar Wright’s third film (following genre parodies “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”) is a roaringly imaginative, high-octane action flick that may send unrepentant adults running—While treating the rest of the audience to a Neo Tokyo monster truck rally they won’t soon forget.

The premise is simple; it’s the lightning-paced editing that’s complex. Canadian slacker Scott Pilgrim (played by an uncommonly curt Michael Cera) meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). However, the scaffolding to her heart is fraught with as many ladders as a game of “Donkey Kong;” he must defeat her seven evil ex-lovers in fight sequences that run a gamut of 16-bit references, from “Street Fighter” to “Mortal Kombat,” or it’s game over for their relationship.

Yet “Scott Pilgrim” isn’t a violent movie. The titular, twitter generation twenty-something bounces back with the resiliency of a Looney Toon after each subsequent pounding. And there isn’t a drop of blood in the picture—Enemies appropriately explode into a shower of coins when slain. It’s a creative decision pulled straight from the pages of the comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley (on which the film is based), but it communicates a poisonous message for advertisers and mainstream audiences with all the subtlety of a flashing neon sign: this is a niche movie if ever there was one.

The box office returns said as much; “Scott Pilgrim” will be best appreciated by those who have played “The Legend of Zelda” and can pick out a stray sound effect from “Sonic the Hedgehog,” but acknowledgement of such esoteric points of reference is entirely nonessential. My instinct is that almost anyone with an open mind will be equally swept up in the white-water current of a very fun film.

The action sequences are a blast. Compared more than once to Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” (in which Uma Thurman stylishly exacts vengeance on five choice acquaintances), Wright’s film is just as successful at innovating action. Each of Scott’s bouts is accentuated by a unique gimmick—Chris Evans plays action star and evil ex Lucas Lee, who beats up on Pilgrim with his entire stunt team in tow; the ruthless Katayanagi Twins are dispatched via sound-wave avatars during a battle of the bands; Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) is a vegan with telekinetic powers—The diversity of these sequences, beautifully, epileptically shot by cinematographer Bill Pope, keeps the premise from ever becoming stale.

Where the film does falter, at least in comparison to books, is in its inability to genuinely evoke audience empathy. Partly, this is because six graphic novels are being sandwiched into a 112-minute film. Trimming the fat, inescapably, means nipping at the arteries of the books’ heart. Wright was right to emphasize the kung fu over the lovey-dovey minutia, and in less altruistic hands, “Scott Pilgrim” might have been pitched as a six-part franchise (God help us).

Ultimately, your ability to connect with “Scott Pilgrim” lies in your ability to detach yourself from emotional expectation. “Cute” might be the best way to describe his relationship with Ramona, and the layers of nuance developed over however many hundreds of pages in the comics is largely absent in this adaptation. Still, it’s not a problem so much as it is a trade-off, and though the balance could be better, Wright improves upon O’Malley’s work just as often.

Know going in that it’s a movie about love, not romance. Know that the experience is more sensory, less sensitive, and you’ll find plenty to marvel at. A kaleidoscope of brilliant brawling with visuals like a laser light show, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is resplendent with newness in an age where comic books films are a dime a dozen and all either look like “Spider-Man” or “300.”

Its wily, unfettered charm will be lost on literalists. Wright’s movie is a gee-whiz-wow-bang fantasy cartoon wrapped tight in hyperbole—And as the unrepentant adults disperse, the kids will rejoice.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The Other Guys" Review

Maybe I’m rebounding off of the mediocre “Dinner for Schmucks,” or maybe I’m rebounding off of an entire season of lackluster comedy; either way, “The Other Guys” is like a breath of fresh air. It feels like eons since anyone’s batted a consistent laugh average—But Adam McKay and Will Ferrell do reliably that. It might seem like a passive aggressive compliment, but in this chortle-starved summer beggars can’t be choosers.

At its most embryonic state, the movie works because it’s built on the solid, if elementary, foundation of pairing Ferrell with Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg has a deft, underexploited comedic potential that he, his agent, or whoever, has critically ignored. Roles like his in “Boogie Nights” and “I Heart Huckabees” make a case for an actor that should lay off the heavy drama every so often and recoil with something silly. I honestly believe Wahlberg is the best part of the epically awful “Happening,” and that there isn’t an ounce of his performance that isn’t calculated—How anyone could read Shyamalan’s script and not burst out laughing is beyond me.

His pairing with Ferrell is a match made in comedy heaven, and the two play off each other well. Of course, this is a more restrained Ferrell than many may have expected, but it’s a role that suits him following his over-the-top performance in “Step Brothers.” Besides, when released from the shackles of his character—Paper-pushing “fake cop” Allen Gamble—Ferrell’s performance is hit and miss. Exploding into a shrieking rage during a ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine gone awry is one of the film’s funniest moments. Revealing his ex-life as a flamboyant pimp? Not so much.

But even with its pecking detractors, “The Other Guys” is never unfunny for long. Once we’ve established our two protagonists—Via a bizarre and amusing lion and tuna metaphor—It is generally fun just to watch them blunder their way through the rest of the movie. Wahlberg’s character is Terry Hoitz, Allen’s partner, and the short-fused catalyst for his first big trip out of the office. Their dynamic warmly satirizes the eighties buddy cop cliché, but more often is a simply a vehicle for short-form character sketches.

If there is a problem with the movie, it’s that the plot is astronomically overcomplicated, neither clever nor compelling. Laughter is usually the only bridge connecting one idea to the next, and the constituent scenes sometimes fail to function as a unit. Worse yet, terrific performers like Steve Coogan are stuffed into straight-man roles, and ought to be espousing humor, not plot.

Regardless, this movie has it where it counts. Its lack of focus may detract slightly from the overall experience, but it only serves to highlight what “The Other Guys” ultimately is—Mindless summer entertainment. My approach to comedy has always been that character is paramount, but when you’re knocking off something like this, the only thing that really matters is its ability to make me laugh. And for the first time in months, I feel like I got my funny bone’s worth.

Ferrell and McKay never pretend to be auteurs of deep or provocative comedy—Jay Roach of “Dinner for Schmucks” didn’t either—But I laughed more. Much more. There’s a reason comedy is called the most subjective genre; a movie like this is dangerous because when you put all your chips on the gags, you’re going all or nothing—Either you’ll find “The Other Guys” funny or you won’t. For me, the film is a return to form for a duo that has disappointed me with their previous two efforts; its no “Anchorman,” but it’s far and away superior to “Talladega Nights” and more consistent than “Step Brothers.”

More importantly, it’s far and away superior to “Dinner for Schmucks” and whatever other marginally amusing film is concurrently playing. In a summer of lackluster comedy, every chortle should be cherished, and “The Other Guys” has them to spare.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

FARCE/Film is on vacation this week!

The Super Mauer Bros are in Disney World, host-Colin is at -the- Jersey Shore (rubbing elbows with the stars, I'm told), Crawford is somewhere in north Philadelphia, Suman is moving back to north Jersey, and Sonic is beginning production on his horror short--needless to say there will be no new episode this week. Tune in next week for a rousing super show containing reviews of (but not limited to):

-Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
-Charlie St. Cloud
-The Expendables
-Piranha 3D
-The Switch

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

FARCE/FILM Episode 56: Step Up 3D, The Other Guys

--> Episode 56: 08/08/10 <--
Hosts: Colin George, Kevin Mauer, Jon Mauer, Laura Rachfalski

Intro – 00:00
Top 5 – 02:07
Step Up 3D – 07:41
The Other Guys (spoilers) – 21:31
WMD – 44:34
(Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans, You Don’t Know Jack, Temple Grandin, Mosters Vs. Aliens, The In-Laws, Jules and Jim, Knife in the Water)
E-mails – 59:42
(Disappointing directors like Shyamalan, Will Smith Love)
Outro – 01:11:41

"Step Up 3D"


"The Other Guys"


-- Weekly Discussion --

This week, our hosts get down with Step Up 3D. What are some of your personal favorite ‘guilty pleasure’ films? Is there anything wrong with enjoying a film ironically?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Step Up 3D" Review

I’m still not certain the “Step Up” films take place in the real world. Dance is so important to the characters that inhabit this plane of reality that I barely recognize it. Is every move a metaphor? “Battling” surely seems a surrogate for a fistfight, while love is manifested with more delicate gymnastics. Context regardless, the seriousness with which they approach their art is unshakable. Conversely, as someone who finds their rhythmic jiving inherently silly—Yes, I saw “Step Up 3D” ironically. My recommendation, however, is anything but.

I honestly can’t imagine it disappointing anyone. If you’re a fan (in any capacity) of the previous two films, well, you’re in for a treat. Part three was shot in 3D (as opposed to converted post-production) and looks terrific. The image depth is deep and convincing, and even when the effect is applied as a gimmick, its exactly what a film like this needs. The plot revolves around a series of escalating dance-offs, and I can’t see the ridiculousness of some of these sequences having the same impact flattened. The cinematography is clearly built with glasses in mind; see it in 3D or don’t see it.

That may seem a rash proclamation, especially for those who really haven’t come around on 3D yet. But as with Cameron’s “Avatar,” the quality differential between those films conceived and designed for the medium and those that tack it on in the eleventh hour is vast. Plus, the “Step Up” films were always sort of a gimmick. Regardless of whether your interest in the franchise is ironic or legitimate, you’re not in the seat for great storytelling—You want to see some suckas shake it out.

A lot of time, that desire is satiated at the expense of clear lapses in logic and tall caricatures—“Step Up 3D” is no exception. The way these bizarre human beings behave is often as crazy as their dance skillz, and to top it off, the film suffers from Dual Protagonist Disorder. It’s a benign case, but there’s really no accounting for it. We’re introduced to “Moose” (Adam G. Sevani), an incoming NYU freshman who gets swept up in the underground dancing scene, and who may be the last hope for a crew known as the Pirates, whose dance dojo (get this) is in danger of being reclaimed by the bank. Ignoring the readymade plot, we then switch gears, following Luke (Rick Malambri), the dojo’s master, in his quest not only to lead his team to victory in “the biggest battle ever” and score $100,000, but to connect with a mysterious, voluptuous stranger, and become a filmmaker (?).

Alternating between the two stories, audience empathy is split, and they each end up with a half share. It works when they’re dancing, or better yet dancing together, but “Step Up 3D” suffers when it tries to bring plot to the forefront. The last half-hour in particular drags when mouths start to move faster than feet. Shut up and dance, you idiots!

Nevertheless, you really can’t lose sight of intention here. Of course the 3D “Step Up” isn’t a great movie. It’s easy to hate for all its flashy vacuity, but like I said, it might very well be impossible to be disappointed by. Going through my checklist, I got exactly what I expected, not the least of which was some truly accomplished (re: ludicrous) dancing photographed impressively in 3D. But the most impressive thing about it is that even in snidely seeking it out for my own derisive enjoyment, it delivered. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why; the point is—It’s fun.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Dinner for Schmucks" Review

A confession: I am not the easiest person to make laugh. I’m like a comedy death-star, sitting impenetrably through most of what loosely passes as humor, but I am vulnerable to a very specific attack pattern. I also habitually see films on weekday afternoons, where it is not uncommon for attendance to be in the single digits. This is not the proper viewing experience for something like “Dinner for Schmucks.”

But be that as it may, its silences hung like ripe fruit throughout the overlong, often laugh-less endeavor. What I found probably most disappointing, though, was that the premise (you know, the title) is crammed into the last thirty minutes of a nearly two-hour film. The other eighty are spent mixing two of my least-favorite sub genres into a sleepy cocktail: workplace humor and romantic comedy.

I understand the former is presently in vogue, and perhaps because I so admire the BBC “Office,” and Mike Judge’s “Office Space,” more recent attempts at satirizing white-collar America have seemed, to me, incapable of pushing the envelope. It’s ironic that Ron Livingston, who played the agnostic hero of Judge’s film, plays his exact opposite in “Schmucks”—An unapologetic businessman. But unlike the corporate lackeys in “Office Space,” he is counterbalanced by a protagonist (Paul Rudd) who wants just as desperately to assimilate himself to that ideal. His character, Tim, is someone for whom promotion is the only worthy goal.

But what’s worse is that he repeatedly fumbles his way toward that goal. He is asked to attend a sort of inaugural dinner party, accompanied, as every guest will be, by a fascinatingly imbecilic personage—Enter Steve Carell as Barry, a bland, dopey catalyst for frustrating, obvious misunderstandings.

Had the plot remained so simple, there’s a good chance I would have enjoyed “Dinner for Schmucks.” The eponymous meal collects a compelling (and funny!) array of oddities, and the prevailing humor is decidedly absurdist. A better film would have built the entire second and third acts around this setting, but for over an hour we’re subjected to the simple ruination of Tim’s life at the hands of his new friend.

For example, by way of an incomprehensible instant message conversation with an overeager ex, Barry leads Tim’s girlfriend to suspect infidelity. Typically, this would be the type of comic scenario to employ double-entendre. Instead, Barry, at Tim’s computer, seems to purposely provide misinformation. He may be a simpleton, but the scene is indicative of a greater problem with his character—We don’t understand his thought process. He seems to be cunning when convenient, and unbelievably stupid when not.

Incident after incident reveals his destructive power over Tim’s life, and it becomes frustrating rather than funny that Tim, a man of some intelligence, is incapable of ridding himself of him. And it’s not just his love life. Through Barry’s aid he is repeatedly put in jeopardy of losing favor with the man that warranted him the promotion in the first place. Getting rid of Barry, by force if necessary, is the omnipresent, painfully obvious answer to each tiresome dilemma.

Then again, who knows. It’s difficult to predict the impact a full, laughing audience would have had on my opinion. I don’t think “Dinner for Schmucks” is an especially bad film as it stands—Just a languidly average one. Based not on humor, but originality, this localized remake of the French film, “The Dinner Game,” carries little merit. It doesn’t live up to its premise, and like Barry himself, quickly overstays its welcome.

It’s hapless, formulaic comedy with all the creativity of a targeting computer. And you don’t need one of those to blow up the death-star.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FARCE/FILM Episode 55: Dinner for Schmucks

--> Episode 55: 08/03/10 <--
Hosts: Colin George, Jon Mauer, Suman Allakki, Laura Rachfalski

Intro – 00:00
Top 5 – 05:07
Dinner for Schmucks (spoilers) - 07:09
WMD - 42:19
(Ruins, Anchorman, Funny People, Stroszek, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Bounty Hunter, Let the Right One In, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
E-mail and outro - 59:22
(Video game references in movies, personal interests in film)

"Dinner for Schmucks"


-- Weekly Discussion --

This week our hosts are sharply divided over the topic of "average films". What makes a film average for you? Does that make it something that should be avoided? Why?