September 21, 2012, - 6:26 pm

UPDATED: Wknd Box Office: End of Watch, Trouble With the Curve, House at the End of the Street, The Possession, Dredd

By Debbie Schlussel

Here are my reviews of the new movies debuting at theaters, this weekend. “Dredd” was not screened for critics, though I may go see it over the weekend and, if so, will post my review, next Friday. I am also posting my review of “The Possession,” which is almost a month old and wasn’t screened for critics. I was asked about it by so many readers that I decided to go see it for myself. *** UPDATE, 09/23/12: My Dredd review is below. ***



* “End of Watch“: I have mixed feelings about this cop buddy movie about two partners who work the beat of South Central Los Angeles. I don’t like Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, and they are even more annoying together. Their characters are also annoying, conceited, and, at least with Gyllenhall, not nearly as smart as they think they are (Gyllenhaal has this problem in real life, too, so not much acting needed). The most likeable character in the movie is the Sarge (Frank Grillo), but the movie’s not about him.


The movie is also extremely violent and bloody, not to mention, filthy (not in images, but in themes, language, and dialogue). There are depictions of dismembered bodies, including limbs and decapitated heads. Why pay to see that (unless you’re a sicko)? Also, I hated the silly herky-jerky video, taken from the cops and gangsters filming themselves and each other. Um, is there some reason any director on earth still thinks they are helping me by doing a “Blair Witch Project” video? It’s been done . . . to death.

On the other hand, the cops in the movie are generally honest, decent, and heroic, unlike the way they are generally portrayed. And they constantly sacrifice themselves for others (all while they face and are soon hunted by cold-blooded, south central members of a drug gang, after the cops’ assassination is ordered by a drug cartel). It’s a nice change to see the police as the good guys (even if they are filthy), especially since the movie is made by the writer of “Training Day,” David Ayers. The cops become more likeable toward the end than they are at the beginning. But the movie seems more like a slice of cop life, rather than anything with a discernible plot or anything of value.

Since the dangers of the lives police live every single day to patrol dangerous urban America are portrayed here well and the police are the “heroes” for a change, I give this a better rating than I would normally give such a graphic, gritty, violent, filthy movie. If you are a cop in the inner city and live this life, you will like it far more than I did. But, then, if that’s your life, why would you pay to relive it in your free time? And if you aren’t a cop like this, I ask the same question: why would you pay to see this?

One other thing: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a couple of cameos, with ICE agents making appearances in one scene and ICE surveillance footage portraying a drug kingpin ordering a hit. The “POLICE ICE” jackets and t-shirts make several appearances, and I get the feeling that ICE brass cooperated in making this movie, but I could be wrong. On the other hand, those shirts have since been changed at great cost to the government, with “HSI” (Homeland Security Investigations) replacing ICE on a good deal of the gear.

HALF A REAGAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Trouble With the Curve“: I had mixed feelings about this movie, too. Clint Eastwood plays an aging Major League Baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves. He has macular degeneration, a debilitating eye condition for which there is no known cure (the movie doesn’t say that, but my late father, an ophthalmologist told me that). A younger Atlanta Braves employee is gunning to have him fired, and his job depends on a scouting trip to see a high school ball player. But with his eyesight severely affected by his condition, he’s in bad shape as far as scouting goes. His hard-charging, ambitious lawyer daughter (Amy Adams) is chasing a partnership at her law firm, to which she devotes her entire life, at the cost of romance and a life. She resents her father and isn’t close with him for reasons we’re not initially told. But she risks her career to accompany her dad on the scouting trip so he can keep his job (or try to).

I liked the fact that, ultimately, the movie shows a very loving father who did the best he knew how to take care of and raise his daughter after his wife/her mother died when the daughter was only six years old. But on the way to learning this, we must endure the insufferable, constant melodrama of the daughter shrieking at her father, accusing him of being a bad, absentee dad. Even after he explains what actually happened and why he did what he did (to protect his daughter), she still shrieks at him. Had no use for that.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice that there is a bigoted juxtaposition between like characters of different ethnicities that goes along with the typical liberal narrative. A high school baseball prospect heavily scouted by Eastwood and other Major League Baseball teams is a complete jerk, and he’s, of course, a White guy with a Southern accent, who is blindly lauded by fellow White Southerners. A Hispanic kid (who is ostensibly the son of Mexican illegal aliens–his mother is a motel maid) is polite, obedient, and constantly berated by the White guy with the Southern accent. When you see what happens between them in the end, it’s quite obvious that the filmmakers wanted to make a statement . . . against Whitey and for the illegal alien Hispanic.

And, finally, I had no use for Justin Timberlake, whose acting is, per usual, awful, and whose presence wasn’t needed. But other than the melodramatics that briefly invade a few unenjoyable scenes, the movie is light and entertaining. And, since it stars Clint Eastwood, the only thing missing is an empty chair.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “House at the End of the Street“: I like a good thriller, a good creep-fest of a movie. This is neither. It was just hilarious. At times that I was supposed to scream, I laughed out loud. And even though the movie is clearly aimed at tweens (unfortunately), teens, and 20-somethings, the many from these age groups that attended the same showing I did just laughed, too. And, as with many horrible thrillers not worth the time or money, the “twist” at the end that explains everything isn’t even hinted at anywhere until the very end. Clumsy.

Jennifer Lawrence of “The Hunger Games” movies plays the 17-year-old daughter of divorcee Elisabeth Shue. They’ve left Chicago to live in a swanky town somewhere in the country. They can afford the rent because the house behind them was the scene of two murders, and that has made the rent cheaper than it normally would have been. A daughter murdered her parents and disappeared. The only surviving member of the family, a son, lives at the house where the murders took place. He spends most of his time at the house because he’s ridiculed and treated like a pariah by the rest of the people in the town, who are upset that the murders lowered their property values. Lawrence befriends him, despite the worries and concerns of her mother, who did not care much about her when they lived in Chicago. Is he what he seems–a misunderstood nice guy, who is unfairly the victim of being the survivor of a family of murder victims? I didn’t really care much because the movie is laughable and its creepiness isn’t creepy in an entertaining way. Just obviously manipulative and stupid. The only exciting parts are toward the end of the movie, but by then, it’s too late.

TWO MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Possession“: Acrimonious divorced parents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick) have two daughters of whom they share custody, though the mom is the neurotic, over-protective one, per usual. One of the daughters buys a mysterious wooden box at a garage sale. It turns out the box is a “dybbuk (Yiddish for “evil spirit”) box,” which the father learns after the daughter becomes possessed. He seeks out Chassidic rabbis to perform an exorcism on his daughter and gets the son of one of them (Matisyahu) to come on the Jewish Sabbath to perform the exorcism. There are a few technical errors regarding Orthodox Jews and the Jewish Sabbath. For example, at first, the movie shows Matisyahu listening to his iPod on the Jewish Sabbath, which is forbidden (something Matisyahu, who is an Orthodox Jew–or was, should know). Also, Matisyahu says, “I can go with you on the Jewish Sabbath because of pikuach nefesh.” But he doesn’t explain what the term means, even though I doubt the many non-Orthodox Jewish moviegoers who see this movie (it was #1 two weekends in a row and has done very well) will know what the term means (it means you are allowed to violate the laws of the Jewish Sabbath and most other Jewish religious laws to save a life.

As exorcism movies go, this wasn’t very scary or thrilling. But it was fine for teens and isn’t dirty.

ONE REAGAN
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Dredd“: This comes in both 2D (regular movie) and 3D. I saw the 3D version, and unlike most movies, the 3D in this is very cool and worthwhile to see. This is yet another movie I had mixed feelings about. It’s incredibly, graphically violent, and unnecessarily so. Human beings are skinned and thrown off the 79th floor of a tall building. And they show the beginning of the skinning. And there is other blood, guts, and gore I didn’t need to see. I abhor that stuff, and we are seeing more and more of it in the movies coming out of Hollywood, these days. On the other hand, there is a clear good-versus-evil narrative in this movie. Unlike in most movies today, we feel for the officers of law and order and definitely are against the criminals, who are cold, unsympathetic, and completely evil. And I like actress Olivia Thirlby, who is up-and-coming and mostly unsung after having been a force in many independent films.

The movie takes place in the future, and I’m told it’s more loyal to the comic books on which it is based than the Sylvester Stallone bomb, “Judge Dredd.” Dredd (Karl Urban) is like all of the judges in the future, the police, the judge, the jury, and the executioner. They keep the streets clean in a post-apocalyptic America in which 800 million people live in the buildings that have emerged from the ruins of a great cataclysm over the world that we know. Dredd is assigned to shepherd a new recruit–a woman, named Anderson (Thirlby), who is substandard and doesn’t meet qualifications. But she’s been given a special exemption because of her unusual psychic abilities, which she has because she’s a mutant, like many who were exposed to the nuclear chemicals, etc. Anderson and Dredd go to the bleak, dark “Peach Trees” housing development, where 96% of the residents are unemployed and living on government assistance and where several of the top floors are ruled by drug kingpin (or is that queenpin?) and former prostitute, “Ma-ma” (Lena Headey). The two judges are there to respond to a report of three skinned bodies having been thrown to their deaths by Ma-ma and her gang. They also learn that Ma-ma and her gang are the exclusive producers of an illegal drug. They capture one of Ma-ma’s top henchmen, and Ma-ma is afraid he will talk, and she will be executed because of it. So, she traps the judges and their prisoner in the Peach Trees project and sends her people to hunt them down. The rest of the movie is the judges trying to escape and out wit Ma-ma.

While the adventure is thrilling and suspenseful, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before–although with far less graphic violence–in such movies as “Escape from New York” and the more recent “Lockout” (read my review). And, as I said, I liked that there a stark good-versus-evil narrative, as well as cool 3D effects. But the movie is yet another push-the-envelope notch in the ever more graphic and, frankly, disgusting violence and torture that we’re served up from Hollywood. Maybe that’s why they didn’t screen this for Detroit-area critics. This movie is a hard “R” rating (and should probably be NC-17). Don’t be a dummy and take or send your kids. It’s not for them. It’s also not for the faint of heart . . . or even those with a pretty tough stomach. And it’s why, while I’d normally give this TWO REAGANS, I will only give it . . .

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

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35 Responses

Populist movements are sweeping the Muslim world and it is led by the wretched, downtrodden and disenfranchised. The more fortunate have no choice but to step aside and make room for the Ummah and Caliphate. Poison gas, nuclear weapons, or Satanic Infidels cannot stop Muhammad’s multitudes from turning the planet into a giant Mosque.

chowching on September 22, 2012 at 7:37 am

As I have always felt and stated, the best comedies are horror movies. Thanks for the reviews.

Pats on September 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

Ugh, Jake Gyllanhaal! I have no idea why some (dopey) chicks go mad about that poncey dweeb. I can’t even look at him. There is no way I would ever think he was a gritty cop. EVER. He’s such a sooky girl. They should have just paired him up with his even more annoying sister and had a go of it (since they made it unwatchable from the start). Either way I would not see him in ANYTHING. Just can’t.

Oh, I see that ugly, curly-haired nerd Justin Timberlake is in the second film. I thank the Lord I am not part of the conspiracy to try to make him “sexy” and “hot”. That ain’t ever gonna happen. I’d go lezzer before I think that fool has it going on. Yuck! All these girly men…no wonder silly women are going mad for Tom Hardy these days. And the Liberal “Hispanic” narrative of the film goes well with the laughable meme that soooooo many Hispanics (legal and illegal) are just good, serious Catholics and “Valedictorians”. My favourite joke these days!

Think I’ll rent one of the films on Netflix someone recommended to me here. Nothing worth seeing this week…

Skunky on September 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hey Debbie, 

    Is there some special reason why my reply to this waste got flagged? And does your site have some kind of tutorial on how to do it – I would like to start flagging all the comments that I disagree with. 

    If the Skuzz has been bombarding you with whiny, complaining entreaties and threats to kill herself, you needn’t be concerned – I swear to God, she never reads a single word that I write, LOL.

    Statusm0nkey on September 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm

All the problems listed in “Trouble With The Curve”, make it far too PC for me,and I won’t even go near it.Earns at least 2 Marxes,based on your own rating system.

Phineas on September 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Re the Eastwood movie – if you want propaganda, tune
into any of the tv networks. They don’t even pretend to be impartial anymore…..

Nir Leiu on September 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

What a snooze/crapfest. The fact that most of these movies ever get made is testament to the pervasiveness of methamphetamine in the film industry.

DS_ROCKS! on September 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm

And I am so sick and tired of every movie giving me a “lesson” in diversity and progressiveness.

DS_ROCKS! on September 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @DSR!,

    Then clearly more lessons are needed – Clockwork Orange style. To tell you the truth, though, I think most of these diversity “lessons” are aimed at a more impressionable (read: younger) audience.

    Statusmonkey on September 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Such as? I see a new movie a week, and if there are any with Leftist diversity lectures I must have missed them. I no more need them than I do long-winded religious sermons.

    Seek on September 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      @Seep,

      Um, did you even read the above column, or do you just go straight to the comments section?

      Statusmonkey on September 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I went to see the Possession because the old worn out Catholic exorcism wasn’t a part of it and because you can’t go wrong with a horror movie. No one is trying to indoctrinate you.

Janis on September 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I can make time for Dredd.

But I’m looking forward to Django Unchained! Let’s see if Tarantino can hit this one out of the park.

The Reverend Jacques on September 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Me too Rev. I bet he does deliver. His films are always so good.

    I personally don’t like him. He’s annoying but I never read about him anymore and he is mainly out of the spotlight these days but man, do I love his films!

    Skunky on September 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I guess I can watch Ben Hur or The Godfather again.

P. Aaron on September 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I always skip gylinshits movies, and after seeing the previews, this critique proves I was right to want to skip that one too. Dredd looks like some nice escapist flick about Good versus evil(cool). Not a gore fan, but seeing bad guys suffer makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Nice to see Clint back to work in a good way.

samurai on September 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I have found a good performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal! She did a nice job in the John Waters movie Cecil be Demented, as a satanist.

skzion on September 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    @Gay Obama, 

    You WOULD like Waters’ movies. Does he want to exterminate everyone who *doesn’t* have AIDS also, or are you going it alone on that cause?

    Statusm0nkey on September 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Skzion, I did not see that John Waters film but I kinda wanna see it.

    For some reason the only film of his I really enjoyed (after “Polyester”…that’s my favourite…) of his is “A Dirty Shame”.
    That movie is sooooo friggen’ funny.

    But I didn’t know that dope was in it. Yuck, maybe I’ll wait even longer to check it out…

    Skunky on September 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Well you see, Skunky, Waters’s films don’t require much in the way of acting, so Maggie does fine.

      I am embarrassed to admit that I rather like most of Waters’s work. Female Trouble was my first exposure to this “aesthetic,” and produced in me a low level nausea from the first few minutes in. I guess I finally decided that this was an accomplishment.

      skzion on September 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        Skzion, I looooooove “Female Trouble” & “Desperate Living”. Oh my goodness those films are CLASSICS (and not for the feint of heart).

        The ones I didn’t like were “Hairspray”, “Cry Baby” and “Serial Mom”. I don’t know why…I do love his early, weirdo works though. They are so over the top I had to love ‘em.

        And “A Dirty Shame” is soooo great. It’s my go-to movie when I need to LMAO!

        Skunky on September 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm

          Believe it or not, I was just going to recommend Desperate Living! It’s not very well known and completely insane. Poor Edith Massey.

          skzion on September 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm

          LOLOL! Sooooooo insane! I do love John Waters even thou’ I don’t believe in his politics. He’s so interesting and funny.

          Skunky on September 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm

          @Skuzzy and @Gay Obama,

          Get a ROOM, you two lovebirds! A private chat room, that is. I’d say you’ve gotten far afield of the original topic. Assuming, that is, that your posts aren’t all coming from the same moron.

          P.S. Tarantino is an unoriginal ripoff artist who regurgitates the work of others. Tell me, does that sound like anyone we know who posts on this board? Anyone watching at home can play, too. Here’s a hint: RAAAWK!

          Statusm0nkey on September 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm

        @Gay Obama,

        John Waters’ movies are garbage. Reviewing “Pink Flamingos,” Ebert hit it out of the park (which is rare for him), saying (paraphrase) “When you review a movie like this, there is a strong temptation to praise it – however grudgingly – just to show that you are strong enough to take it. It’s a temptation I can resist.” Waters’ follow-up work (what little of it I’ve seen) has NOT been an improvement.

        Statusm0nkey on September 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for the movie reviews Debbie. I will not waste my time watching any movie that stars that putz Jake Gyllenhaal. This bozo can’t act but you have to admit he is the better looking one between himself and his fugly sister Maggie. That girl looks like the offspring of a troll and a human. Sadly both of them are dumb as fence posts so it really makes not diference Dredd looks like it will be better that Stallone’s mess a couple of years ago. I might go and see that. I will definitely go see ” Trouble With The Curve”. Clint is the last one of the last of the tough guy actors. He is a far cry from the girly men such as his costar Justin Timberlake. That guy is a no talent douche and is like an older Justin Bieber (same first name, different age, same musical crap). Excure me while I barf. I love Amy Adams and can’t wait until the new Superman movie next year to see her as Lois Lane. Kate Bosworth was to young looking and skinny. Maybe if Adams was in the role of Lane in “Superman Returns” it would’ve been a better movie. Nah it still would’ve sucked. Hopefully “The Man of Steel” will revive the franchise like “Batman Begins” did when George Clooney and the “governator” destroyed Batman’s back in 97 with that dreck “Batman and Robin”. Anyway once again thanks for the reviews Debbie. Keep up the good work. BTW do you still do your reviews on Mike Church’s show? He rocks just like you.

Ken b on September 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    LOL Ken B. I totally agree!

    I had ZERO interest in “Judge Dredd” but saw Karl Urban is playing the lead. I like him…not Australian but close as one could get, I reckon. So I may see that. I like that he is still flying under the radar as an actor. He’s very capable and has charisma.

    I didn’t see those George Clooney Batman films. He sucks. Because he’s a big-mouth POS he gets lots of perks on paltry talent. I can’t stand him. I did see the Tim Burton “Batman Returns” but he is much better at aesthetic than being able to bind a good movie together (“Edward Scissorhands” aside).

    Christopher Nolan did a great job with the last two Batmans. I hate the actresses he casts but his films are good enough that I overlook them.

    I am excited for that new film with Skankelina Jolie’s wife in it…not for him but because Ben Mendolsohn is gonna be in it. Can’t wait…

    Skunky on September 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      @Skuzz,

      Um, HOW is any of your post relevant, again?

      Statusm0nkey on September 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I thought pikuach nefesh was a new Pokemon.

Steve on September 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Looking forward to Dredd. I was a fan of the comics and was glad to hear it’s more faithful to the source material than the Stallone vehicle.

Alan on September 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm

i don’t watch today’s movies because they suck.if i want a good action adventure movie i can watch “the longist day or a bridge to far” because my uncle bob jumped into normandy and holland i have a first hand account of both battles.when bob was pulled out of normandy after the break out he was sent back to england where they lived in 10 man tents.bob was the only one in that tent, all the rest had been killed.bob said the only thing the holland jump did was prolong the war because they took surplies away from g.patton who had the germans back on their heels.if patton had been given the supplies he could have been in berlin by december of 1944.but it all went to montgomery who screwed up the opperation and lost 8,000 british paratroopers.these are two good movies with a clear picture of good vs evil.

BRUCE on September 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Lockout was Escape From NY in Space. Dredd looks exactly like The Raid but with a PC woman as the bad guy and a PC woman sidekick tossed in.

ender on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 am

Gotta say that Maggie was decent in “Secretary,” and had a nice derriere. Other than that, she should take up a different profession, and real soon.
James Spader, of course, “made” that movie (Maggie was kind of an afterthought, the foil, as it were).

jc15 on September 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm

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