Rental Roundup: 21 & Over; Drug War; Mud; Olympus Has Fallen; Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
I've seen a few 2013 movies over the past couple weeks that have been available through Netflix, Amazon Instant, RedBox, etc... So, I thought I'd just write up some quick reviews just in time for Thanksgiving, in case you had any plans on watching a movie with your family over the holiday, because no one really wants to watch the Raiders play the Cowboys, right?
21 & Over
OK, I'm gonna try one of those "this meets this" kind of reviews for this one. 21 & Over is like Superbad meets The Hangover meets Van Wilder meets American Pie 4 meets Animal House meets Harold and Kumar; all written by a screenwriter who doesn't quite grasp any of those films. But to be fair, I was expecting this movie to be REALLY bad, and it ended up only being PRETTY bad. I saw it around the beginning of November, and I only remember probably two specific jokes from the entire film. Not a great sign of brilliant comedy. It's got that Miles Teller kid in it though; he's a rising star. I'm sure once he's a huge talent in 2018, people will look back at 21 & Over and be like "Whoa, is that Miles Teller?!"
Should you watch this film with your family on Thanksgiving? Only if your family wants to get really drunk playing the Jeff Chang drinking game; which is that you take a shot every time the characters in this movie refer to the protagonist as "Jeff Chang." Seriously, they never call him Jeff a single time. Always Jeff Chang. I'm pretty sure Jeff Chang's dad even calls him Jeff Chang. Jeff Chang. Jeff Chang. JEFF CHANG. [falls through coffee table]
5 out of 10
Drug War is a Hong Kong action/crime film about a government agency tracking down and stopping a big drug deal. It very much has a feel like The Wire. I loved how every scene kept the story flowing, there's rarely (or never) a scene that doesn't pertain directly to the drug plot. I got a little tired halfway through it, though, and watched it over the course of two days, if that says anything. It might just say that I missed my nap that day? Anyway, Drug War is totally worth watching for two reasons. The first is that the main character is played by an awesome actor (Sun Honglei), and he destroys every scene he's in (the drug tripping/purging scene should automatically give him an Oscar). The second is that the film ends with a really long chase/gunfight scene that's one of the best chase/gunfights I've ever seen. Seriously, it was awesome.
Should you watch this film with your family on Thanksgiving? Is your family cool with watching Hong Kong action films on Thanksgiving? Really? Can I come over?
8.5 out of 10
Mud is the story of a guy named Mud (Matthew McCouunghnnehhhey [I give up]), who killed some other guy over his girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon), and now Johnny Law is looking for him. But some backwater Arkansas kids named Ellis and Neckbone ("That's a good handle" - probably my favorite line in the movie) stumble across Mud first, and form a pact with him to help him get a boat out of a tree so he can drive it down the river and get away. I loved the first half of this movie, and then only kind of liked the second half, but then loved the very end again. The first half moves things along with great momentum and mystery, and then at a certain point it just stalls at the same plot point for like 40 minutes, and it kind of drags on. It's still pretty good overall though.
Should you watch this film with your family on Thanksgiving? Hey, it's the only PG-13 movie on this list... Plus, your Aunt Veronica gets to see shirtless McConaughey while riding a steady wine buzz. Let's see if she starts yelling "Wooooo! Take it off!" at the TV screen.
8 out of 10
Olympus Has Fallen
Here are the reasons why this isn't as good as White House Down:
1. C-Tates is a more charismatic protagonist than Gerard Butler. Obviously.
2. I prefer my fictional presidents to shoot bazookas out of car windows, not just be taken hostage the whole time. Grow some balls, President Eckhart.
3. Doesn't have any memorable lines, let alone the line "Get. your. hands. off. my. Jordans!"
4. Olympus Has Fallen is WAY too overly serious. To quote Mr. Burns' critique of Martin's power plant design. "It's so cold and sterile... Where's the heart...?" Both of these movies are about terrorists TAKING OVER THE WHITE HOUSE, which is pretty much the dumbest idea ever, so why not have a little fun with it?
5. Explosions not as good.
Should you watch this film with your family on Thanksgiving? I don't know, is White House Down not available? I'm sure your Grandma Ethel doesn't want to watch Gerard Butler stabbing people in the neck anyway.
6 out of 10
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
This movie stars Michael Cera as a... Well, I'm not really sure what he actually does... I guess he's just like a rich kid (?), who is spending some time in Chile looking for a hallucinogenic cactus that reportedly gives people an eight-hour high or something? Before he and his Chilean friends depart on their journey, he accidentally invites along a bizarre hippy girl who calls herself Crystal Fairy. She's annoying, but nice; and Michael Cera is annoying, but mean. So they learn lessons from each other. I think. This seems like one of those movies that's better as a two sentence synopsis than it is as a fully fleshed-out film.
I'm gonna be honest, I can't recall the last time I've come across a movie that has as little actual conflict or plot as this film. It's just kind of a 90 minute fart noise about some jerks driving to the desert to get high, then they do, then it ends. That's not to say that it's completely devoid of interesting moments. I mean, I made it all the way through it without being *completely* bored, but it's still a movie I don't think I'd recommend to a single person I know. There must be an audience somewhere for Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus, but I'm not entirely sure who that would be? I assume it would probably be visually uninteresting to someone who was *actually* high while watching it? I don't know. I guess I'll say that this movie is kind of like the equivalent of running into five hippies in the desert eating a hallucinogenic cactus, you just kind of don't make eye contact and keep on walking.
Should you watch this film with your family on Thanksgiving? Just watch the Cowboys game.
5 out of 10