April 24, 2009, - 1:23 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Hear my reviews every Friday Morning between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Eastern on the Sirius Patriot Channel’s “Mike Church Show.”
It’s ironic that the movie I most expected to hate, “Fighting,” is the one I liked the best of the bunch of new movie releases this weekend, top-heavy with sorry offerings. “Obsessed” was not screened for critics, a sign it’s a dud. But I’ll review it later this afternoon. Here’s what I did see:
* “Fighting“: This movie was far better than I expected. While it’s not a “great” movie (the thin story is predictable, and a good deal of it is schlocky), it’s not bad. It has a “Rocky”-for-the-Ultimate-Fighting-crowd vibe to it. And even though it’s obviously low budget, it had a certain charm to it. The audience at the screening I attended applauded at the end because it turns out to be a feel-good movie. It is what it is–a working-class-guy-struggles-to-make-it fighting movie, starring a very hot-looking actor (the smokin’ hot Channing Tatum) with a love interest story in the background.
Channing Tatum plays a hayseed fighter from the South who is struggling to eke out a living on the streets of New York by selling counterfeit merchandise. When he gets into a fight, a street hustler (Terrence Howard) spies his right hook shot and sees a diamond in the rough–a fighter who can make him some money. Soon, Howard is wheeling and dealing with mobsters to organize private fights at clubs between Tatum and others, and they’re in business in underground, unsanctioned street fighting. Tatum also meets a cute but mysterious Puerto Ricana single mother and tries to romance her.
But can Tatum win the ultimate fight of his life, in which the purse is 100,000? Can he swallow his pride and agree to lose to his hated childhood rival if it will help his friend and patron make money by betting against him?
Like I said, this movie was far above my expectations, even if it seems kind of dated and like something from the ’80s. It’s really a guys’ movie, but with the eye candy of Tatum, it will keep women interested. It’s fine for teens and above. While the fighting was very violent (and there is some blood), there isn’t that much in the way of four letter words, and even the “sex” scene is just a scene of Tatum and the girl sharing a kiss.
* “Anvil!: The Story of Anvil“: Not knowing that there actually was a metal band from the ’80s called “Anvil,” when I saw this movie, I thought it had to be a parody in the vein of “This is Spinal Tap.” But, sadly, it isn’t. It’s a documentary about losers who won’t wake up and won’t grow up, to the total disregard of their families.
These guys are losers. The members of the ’80s band are still–in their mid-fifties–unable to face the fact that they didn’t make it. And they’re still pursuing their dream, even though their style of music long ago became passe. And even though their long lush locks of hair are now scraggly fragments hanging from scalps that are covered with doo-rags, apparently to hide baldness.
I hated these people, and I wanted them to fail. Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow are the original members of Anvil, the rock group that had one hit in the ’80s, “Metal on Metal.” And they just can’t let go of the fact that it didn’t go beyond that. At the beginning, we see disgusting shots of them from their better years: Kudlow playing a guitar with a vibrator (wow, this guy has taste) and another shot of him in complete hairy, gross frontal nudity. Yuck.During the course of this movie, we watch these idiots trudge through Europe on a tour, where they are treated like dirt and, in many cases, no-one (or barely anyone) shows up to their gigs. Still, they don’t get it. They leave their families for months on end and later beg and borrow to get funding for a 13th album, which they must sell on-line and out of their cars.
The best scene in the movie is when “Lips” Kudlow, in a bid to earn money to fund the album, works at the telemarketing firm of one of his superfans. We watch him fail miserably to telemarket sunglasses, as he unconvincingly tells someone on the phone that the sunglasses are the ones worn by Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.” Yes, even “Anvil” superfan geeks have grown up and succeeded in the real world. But not “Anvil” band members, who just can’t get it together.
Most annoying part of this movie–and there are many such parts–when both Kudlow and Reiner tell us how their parents were Holocaust survivors.
They survived the camps and escaped the Nazi ovens so their kids could do this?! Hilarious. And ultimately, very sad.
While I hated these people, the documentary is a great case study in narcissistic losers who don’t grow up, even at age 56. And you gotta watch it that way to enjoy it. Memo to Anvil: Get a haircut. That is, the few hairs you have left.
* “Earth“: While this movie is stunningly beautiful and very entertaining, my biggest beef with it is the same beef I have with every other movie about animals aimed at kids: parts of the narration (in this case, by James Earl Jones) are so annoyingly eco-frightening and meant to scare your kids, it disappointed me. Fortunately, of those movies, this one is the best and the eco-preachy messages in the movie aren’t as obtrusive and frequent as in “Under the Sea 3D” (read my review) and “Arctic Tale” (read my review).
This Disney flick follows a year in the lives of three families of animals–elephants, dolphins, and polar bears–along with assorted scenes of other animal and plant life. It’s fascinating and the imagery is unbelievable. It’s also interesting, too. While the brief environmental messages are there–the animals are always thirsty, hungry, and in desperate struggles to survive because of global warming, we are told–I still recommend this movie highly for your kids. It’s a wonderful portrayal of nature and wildlife and a great way to get kids interested in science and nature. You can explain to them that they should ignore the narrator’s brief hyperbolic interludes on impending disaster.
* “The Soloist“: When will the uber-boring romanticization of the homeless end? I feel bad for those less fortunate, but as the main character in this movie illustrates, some of them are given all the opportunities in the world, but they are down and out anyway, by virtue of their own refusal to get it together.
Jamie Foxx plays a homeless, Juilliard-trained cellist discovered on the streets in L.A. by a Los Angeles Times columnist. It’s based on a true story profiled on “60 Minutes.” But that’s where it should have remained–as a boring 12-minute segment on a news show, instead of an extremely boring two-hour exercise in insomnia cure at the box office.
We’re treated over and over again to scenes of Jamie Foxx acting like a nutty, out-of-touch homeless guy refusing help when it is offered and any chance of making it back to the real world. Some of the scenes are so laughable, I thought it was a flashback to Foxx’s days on the comedy show, “In Living Color.” The arrogant, annoying reporter, Robert Downey, Jr., is equally boring. What’s the point of this movie? That homeless people are people, too? I already knew that. But this repetitive waste of time didn’t help their case. This movie was so fricking slow and boring I fell asleep twice and didn’t miss a thing. Dude, go back to playing Ray Charles.
* “The Informers“: Annoying, has-been novelist of ’80s “excess”-laden angst of the yuppies, Brett Easton Ellis, brings us more. As if we needed it. We didn’t. I already saw this same movie by the same author, back in the ’80s. It was called “Less Than Zero.” (This also copies much of “Bright Lights, Big City.”)
I think the purpose of this movie was to show us ’80s assymetrical hairstyles on men and scene after scene of topless sex orgies. Um, no thanks.
A group of over-privileged, spoiled Hollywood kids party, do drugs, and have bisexual orgies. One of them gets AIDS and dies. An English rock star barely gets to see his son who lives with his estranged wife. In the meantime, he has endless nights of sex with teen boys and girls. A Hollywood studio exec (Billy Bob Thornton) who is estranged from his wife (Kim Basinger) gets back together with her, while he pines for his TV reporter girlfriend (a very old-looking and hardly recognizable Winona Ryder). And a failed actor/doorman who was kidnapped as a kid is visited by his former captor who raised him, who has kidnapped another kid for sale to a pervert. The end.
A horrible, horrible, dreadful movie. Completely vile, disgusting, and pointless. And, oh yeah, there’s no plot. Semi-porn. And complete trash.
FOUR MARXES PLUS