December 7, 2012, - 4:37 pm
Nothing spectacular in what’s new at movie theaters this weekend:
* “Playing for Keeps“: This dopey, predictable, cheesy movie starring Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel was the same flat, attempted slapstick comedy you’ve seen a million times before. And despite it’s PG-13 rating, it’s filled with S-words, women in lingerie and sexual situations. The people who do the ratings are asleep on the job and have been for years.
Butler stars as a former soccer star who is now down in the dumps and struggling financially. He doesn’t have a job and is living in someone’s carriage house, the rent of which he’s yet to pay. But he makes some effort at being in the life of his young son by ex-wife Biel. One day, he finds himself recruited to be his son’s new soccer coach. There he has all kinds of parents tugging at him for one thing or another. Dennis Quaid plays a wealthy businessman who wants his daughter to sing the National Anthem before games and his son to play more. He lavishes Butler money and a Ferrari to borrow. His wife, played by Uma Thurman, as well as two other soccer moms–an annoying Judy Greer and a creepy Catherine Zeta-Jones–try to sleep with him (and the latter two succeed at that). But, soon, Butler learns that his ex–with whom he’s still in love–is getting remarried. And, finally, he begins to grow up, just as he’s also on his way to a job with ESPN.
This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and could have been a lot worse. But it’s bad enough. The jokes in this are gross, flat, and stupid. And not funny. And there’s nothing new here. If there is anything redeeming, it’s the relationship between the father and his son, when the father begins to grow up and eventually does the right things. But that wasn’t enough to redeem this disaster which seems like a movie best reserved for the movie pet cemeteries of January and August, not the holiday big movie month of December.
I recently read a Wall Street Journal article about Butler’s role in this movie, which asked, “Can an actor come back from playing a dad?” The question they should have asked: “Can an actor come back from playing crappy roles in crappier movies?” Judging on Butler’s career of dud after dud, the answer seems to be a resounding, “NO.”
HALF A MARX
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Burn“: This documentary about Detroit firemen (I refuse to use the politically correct “firefighters”–there ain’t a single woman in this, either, and she couldn’t do the job, a point that is strangely missing from this flick) has actor Denis Leary connected to it as an executive producer. One the one hand, it is interesting in terms of what firemen go through on a regular basis. For example, it’s quite obvious–but something I never thought of, that firemen regularly get struck with bath tubs that fall through the floors of burning buildings. That’s rough. Also rough is getting hit by falling bricks, as one fireman does, and he loses most mobility in his lower extremities, sentenced to a wheelchair for most of the rest of his life.
That and other sacrifices the firemen make are well portrayed in this film. All of them must take a second job to pay the rent, and in the particular unit that is the focus of this film, many do roofing and construction jobs. And they expose themselves to danger that is unique to Detroit, which has about 80,000 abandoned homes and countless abandoned buildings. These structures are in such bad repair that the firemen are in danger whenever they answer the call to put out one of the many fires there.
Detroit has about 13 fires a night during the summer, according to this movie, and more fires set per night than even New York City, which has ten times Detroit’s population. And, yet, Detroit doesn’t have the money to provide proper equipment and working gear for the firemen. Because of that, sometimes people die, such as a young girl in a burning home who could have been saved, if only they’d had a truck with a working hose. They didn’t have one.
And while this movie makes those points and others familiar to those of us who live near the city and see these stories on the nightly local news regularly, it is a little repetitive. At only 82 minutes, it seems longer and could have been tightened up a bit. (Perhaps it is because I live near the city and am already familiar with some of the stories and tragedies.) But it is a good portrait of how the bankrupt financial condition and conduct of Detroit not only harms its residents, but costs lives unnecessarily.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The House I Live In“: This is your typical, far-left rant against the drug war. Although there are some interesting points to be made, those were drowned by the absurd, including the far-left director and narrator of this movie Eugene Jarecki’s claim that the drug war is the Holocaust and saying “never again” (the emblematic cry of Holocaust survivors) somehow translates to ending the drug war. Huh? The claim that the drug war is “the Second Holocaust” is repeated by “The Wire” creator David Simon. Puh-leeze. I fail to see how people voluntarily doing and pushing illegal drugs is the same as my relatives being forcibly sent to death camps, gassed and cooked in the ovens, and turned into lampshades because they were Jewish. They’re not even in the same universe, nor apparently are the commentators in this movie. And if that weren’t enough, the Holocaust comparison comes in a third time, when we’re introduced to a far-left Lincoln historian with Amish facial hair, whose father, we are told, was one of the investigators and prosecutors of the Nazis at Nuremburg. And this is relevant because . . . ? Oh, yeah, I forgot, the drug war is the “Second Holocaust.” Shaking my head.
Another absurdity in this movie was the usual, predictable claim that the drug war is an attempt by White Americans in power to commit genocide against Blacks. That’s the thesis of this movie, the poster of which bears the tagline, “The war on drugs has never been about drugs.” It’s about all us evil Whiteys wanting to keep a brother down. Yeah, tell it to all the Whites now in prison for cooking meth, a primarily White enterprise. I don’t see the “Whites in power” rushing to make meth cooking and pushing legal. The movie does point out that more White working-class Americans are now in prison for such activity, and seems to go racist on itself by implying that this is the reason we should all rush home and end law enforcement of laws against illegal drugs. Oh, and by the way, our current President–now elected to a second term–is a Black man who headed “The Choom Gang” and also reportedly dealt (and definitely did) cocaine. If we really wanted to “get him,” why was he just elected to a second term? Just sayin’.
You hear the same old stuff here about how much the drug war costs America, about how drugs should be legalized and managed, how most of the prison population are drug users and pushers. Nothing new here. Sure there are a few very sad stories, such as a man who is doing life in prison for 3 ounces of drugs in his possession. He quickly tells us that this is because of a three strikes law, and says he was convicted of two other crimes that were “minor.” Would have helped if we were told what those “minor” crimes were. Instead, we are told how his sister died on her way to visiting him and that his mother spent everything she had to get him out, and she’s still trying. I felt for him and his family, and–assuming his prior crimes really were minor–we shouldn’t be paying to incarcerate this man for life. But movies like this show you the worst luck cases. And for all of those, there are also many that are open and shut cases–career criminals, pushing drugs, involved in murders and organized crime in the drug enterprise and so on.
Those of us who live in the real world know that legalizing drugs won’t end any problems, and will just create more. There will always be a black market for drugs and crime associated with it, legal or not. We will only see a rise in addiction with the ease of availability and lack of penalties. Mending it, not ending it, is the only solution. Drug kingpins and their pushers should never live and breathe easily. And they won’t just close up shop and go out of business if we legalize drugs or lessen penalties for marijuana. It’s simply a slippery slope if we do that.
Whether or not you support the drug war–and some faux-conservatives like Michelle Fraudkin want legalized drug-pushing to your kids (not hers), anyone watching this knows the movie isn’t a documentary. It’s pure advocacy of the worst kind, invoking the Holocaust three times to get us to oppose the drug wars. Sorry, I ain’t buyin’.
Watch the trailer . . .
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