September 29, 2006, - 11:27 am
By Debbie Schlussel
This weekend, the main offerings are both re-takes on movies from the ’80s:
* “The Guardian“–You’ve seen this movie before in a million incarnations. First, it was “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Then it was “Top Gun.” And now, it’s “The Guardian,” the Lite Beer version.
In this case, the military organization is the U.S. Coast Guard, but not the guys guarding the shores on ships. This one focuses on the little-known elite swimmer’s unit of the Coast Guard, in which rescuers perform amazing, death-defying feats in stormy seas to rescue Americans about to drown in the great hydro-abyss.
And in the case Ashton Kutcher is the Richard Gere/Tom Cruise lite. Kevin Costner plays the Louis Gossett, Jr./Kelly McGillis tough-teacher role (though, thankfully, unlike McGillis and Cruise, he doesn’t sleep with his student, Kutcher).
Costner plays an elite Coast Guard swimmer who loses one of his rescue team and those he’s trying to save. So, he takes a break from swimming in swirling seas to become an instructor for those who vie to replenish the ranks. His arrogant, conceited, but most promising student is the smart aleck played by Kutcher. Just like “Officer,” he, too, has a local yokel-ette as his girlfriend, etc. And like “Top Gun,” there is the standard bar scene, complete with dare and pick-up of a female.
Not a great–or even good–movie by any stretch, but entertaining enough, if you want an escapist swimming adventure. Some of the rescue scenes in the water–which are far too few–are exciting. The Coast Guard swimmers do important rescue work, and the heroics come through. Still, it’s doubtful they’d want it reduced to this lame and cheesy flick.
Much of the movie consists of training scenes featuring Kutcher and other males without their shirts on–clearly orchestrated for his teen girl fan set.
* “School for Scoundrels“–This movie was hilarious. Absolutely funny. It’s basically a “Revenge of the Nerds” for the ’00s, when the nerds graduate from college and are still . . . nerds.
Jon Heder of “Napoleon Dynamite” plays a similarly geeky loser. A New York City meter maid, he gets less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. As a Big Brother volunteer, even his “Little Brother” wants a new Big Brother. He is in love with his kind, cute Australian neighbor Amanda (Jacinda Barrett, who once played herself, a mean Australian model in MTV’s “The Real World–London”). But he is clumsy and weird around her.
A friend sends him to the School for Scoundrels–a Tom Leykis-style school that teaches loser guys how to be pick up women and be winners (and not in a nice way). The school is taught by “Dr. P” (Billy Bob Thornton), who soon decides to compete with the hapless Heder for Amanda’s affection.
The scene stealer in this movie is Sarah Silverman, who is a riot as Amanda’s obnoxious, sneering, whining roommate. Also co-stars other comedians like Ben Stiller and Saturday Night Live’s Horatio Sanz (who just left the show) in smaller roles. Lots of frat-boy humor, bathroom humor, sex jokes–not for kids.
* “Jesus Camp“–In nationwide release, this weekend, see my review, last week, of this horrid, anti-Christian propaganda. The few portrayed in this biased “documentary” do not represent mainstream Christian America. Skip it.
Tags: Amanda, An Officer and a Gentleman, Ashton Kutcher, Ben Stiller, Billy Bob Thornton, Coast Guard, Debbie Schlussel, elite Coast Guard swimmer, Horatio Sanz, instructor, Jacinda Barrett, Jesus Camp, Jon Heder, Kelly McGillis, Kevin Costner, little-known elite swimmer, London, meter maid, MTV, Napoleon Dynamite, officer, Rodney Dangerfield, Sarah Silverman, School for Scoundrels, swimming, The Guardian, The Real World, Top Gun, U.S. Coast Guard