November 23, 2013, - 6:04 pm

Wknd Box Office: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Book Thief, Delivery Man

By Debbie Schlussel

I wasn’t that thrilled with any of this weekend’s new movies, but none of them is particularly terrible, as in many other weeks. I didn’t have time to finish up and post my reviews before the Jewish Sabbath began, so my apologies. Here they are:

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* “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“: While I liked this second installment of “The Hunger Games” movies better than the first (read my review). But it’s basically the same movie, cut in half.

And my objections remain the same: that it’s too violent and bloody for the kids at whom it is aimed, that its anti-capitalist and filled with class warfare–the enemies in the movie are rich people in “The Capitol” (while the oppressed and the heroes are the poor), that it’s a rip-off of other movies, such as “The Condemned” (read my review) and “Battle Royale,” and that it’s simply not believable that a stiletto thin woman can kick butt against males twice her size.










While the first half of this movie is slow and boring, when it finally heats up, it’s very suspenseful, action-packed, and the special effects are better than those in the first movie (the movie includes very cool clothing made of flames). But just as it gets to its most exciting point, the movie ends abruptly, and you have to wait for the next sequel to find out what happens. That’s a rip-off. Also a rip-off is that they merely repeat the same story almost verbatim in this movie as in the original. I felt like the writers phoned it in, and the story’s kinda silly.

The story: it’s a post-apocalyptic world in which there is no longer America, but Panem, a country made up of the rich and gaudy residents of “The Capitol” and several “districts,” which are filled with poor people who are basically enslaved, oppressed, and at the mercy of the President (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol people. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the Hunger Games in the first movie (a teen male and female are chosen at random and forced to compete in a reality show in the wilderness, where they must kill each other and only one winner is supposed to survive).

The President is upset at what he perceives is a growing rebellion against Panem. So, he tells Katniss and Peeta that they must convince the country that they are in love (they aren’t). Since he thinks that Katniss and Peeta are symbols of the rebellion, he decides to do a new Hunger Games, requiring past winners, including Katniss and Peeta, to compete to the death against each other. So the movie from there is really a repeat of the first one.

Also, I felt like I was watching a futuristic version of “The Butler,” when Katniss and Peeta (both White) visit the districts of those who died in their Hunger Games, and the movie only shows the scene when they visit the Black district, showing how oppressed they are and how the families of the two kids who died in the Hunger Games are grieving. But this is the case in every district, so why focus on the Black district? To show us that Blacks are always the victims?

And, finally, when I saw that Katniss’ clothing designer is murdered, I was wondering if we can get rid of Mark Jacobs, too.

HALF A MARX

Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Book Thief“: I was really excited to see this movie . . . and so incredibly disappointed when I did. It soft-peddles the Holocaust and tries to make us sympathetic to Germans who supported the Nazis and their “plight.” Um, no thank you. America doesn’t need a movie from the “German point of view.” The ghost of Leni Riefenstahl is laughing at us.

My late maternal grandparents struggled to survive the Holocaust and nearly died on a daily basis. Both of their families were wiped out, murdered by the Nazis, but you don’t see any of that, just a Jew who hides in a basement, and then miraculously survives at the end despite all odds against him. Yes, one German couple in a fiction movie risks their lives to save a Jew, but they were–in real life–the extreme exception, NOT the rule. I was disgusted at this Whitewash of the German people. Oh, and they show us the German bodies of “innocent victims” of Allied air raids. Guess what? There were plenty of bodies of Jewish Holocaust victims and American and British soldiers. Those they don’t show.

I realize the movie is based on a fiction book for young adults (although I’m told the book is better and the movie screws it up), but come on. The small German town where this takes place is an idyllic German town that reminded me of the “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” set, with gingerbread houses and charming, cute children. Even the townspeople and kids who support Hitler are cute and charming and not at all hateful.

The story: a young girl, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), is the daughter of a Communist. The Nazis take her mother away, and she is adopted by a working class German couple in a small, charming town. Her new adoptive father, Geoffrey Rush, teaches her to read, and she eventually warms to her new parents. They are decent people who are reluctant about the Nazi book-burning rallies and so on. And, as they struggle to survive in meager times, they hide a Jewish boy in their cold basement (he is the son of a Jewish German soldier who saved Rush’s life in World War I).

The Jewish boy gets sick in the cold of the basement, and Sophie reads to him as he is unconscious, hoping this will save him. She “borrows” books by taking them from the Burgermeister’s house. And throughout it all, Liesel has her friend, Rudy, a cute blond friend who is a boy her age. He is a decent kid and helps her keep her secret about the Jew hiding in the basement. And that’s despite Rudy’s Nazi-loving, racist father. That’s not very believable either, as it would be rare for a very young kid to have morally sound views in opposition to those of his Nazi-supporting father.

While the acting is very good–Rush is always masterful and newcomer Nélisse is outstanding, the story is revisionist history. The Nazis came to power because the people in towns like these supported them and their Jew-hatred, but the movie glosses over and soft-peddles most of that. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the movie comes from the film studio owned by Rupert Murdoch and Jew-hating Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal.

Two other things: the movie is very slow and seemed long because of it. And the use of “Death” as the narrator was not that effective.

ONE MARX
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Delivery Man“: This is a remake of a French-language, French Canadian film, and it’s directed by the same guy. I had mixed feelings about this movie. While there are (a very few) moments that are touching and warm and show the importance of a father in kids’ lives, the overall message of the movie is Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” BS. And it’s that old world values and nuclear families with a traditional mother and father are passe. And it’s that men, particularly fathers, are dopes and losers.

This isn’t your typical Vince Vaughn movie, in that it’s more serious and less funny. And the real cut-up in the movie is the fabulously funny Chris Pratt, who plays Vaughn’s lawyer friend.

Vaughn plays a screw-up/loser who works at his Polish immigrant father’s meat business in New York. He is growing marijuana in his apartment, owes tens of thousands of dollars to the mob, and his cop girlfriend is pregnant with his kid (though she wants to raise it alone). He wants to be in his future child’s life, so he sets out to show her he deserves to be in her life. But just as he’s finally starting to realize he needs to shape up, he learns that a sperm bank where he made over 600 donations of sperm gave his sperm to every woman who sought the stuff. Therefore, he now has over 500 children, more than 100 of whom are suing to learn his identity.

Vaughn decides to see some of his sperm bank kids and gets involved in their lives. This is against the repeated advice of Vaughn’s best friend, Chris Pratt, who is a suspended lawyer and a father of four, whose young kids never listen to him. And, of course, Vaughn’s sperm bank kids are completely diverse as you would expect from any politically correct movie. He has Black, Indian, Asian, gay, and drug addict kids.

As I said, there are some touching points in this movie, such as when Vaughn repeatedly goes to visit a developmentally disabled sperm bank kid of his who is in an institution. The kid who does not communicate and is basically a vegetable (a term I hate, but is the best way to describe the situation), and yet Vaughn shows him love and respect for human dignity.

But almost all of the father figures in this movie–including Vaughn and Pratt–are dopes and idiots. And the one father who is decent, Vaughn’s married Polish immigrant father is seen as “backwards” and poor. He cannot afford to take his wife on a dream honeymoon to Italy, and yet later in life, Vaughn pays for the trip. But we later learn, Vaughn got the money to pay for the trip from his many masturbating sessions donating sperm to the sperm bank. Ick.

Eventually, Vaughn takes responsibility for all of his actions, but that doesn’t justify some of the many whacked out messages in the movie.

HALF A MARX

Watch the trailer . . .

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20 Responses

Thank you for reviewing such films. It saves us time, angst, and money.

Worry01 on November 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

“Delivery Man”‘s movie poster alone churns my stomach. I have mo idea how or why Vince Vaughn became a famous actor. I saw him first in “Dodge Ball” several years ago with big-name actors and I wondered then who he was or where he came from. Since then I have avoided any project with him in it like the plague.

He’s flat, boring, uncharismatic and drains the energy from the scenes.

My best guess is that he made a deal with the Devil, so there’s some solace in knowing that he will roast in eternal fire.

DS_ROCKS! on November 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Vaughn is one my favorite actors, funny first and foremost. “Made” was a great movie, as was “Wedding Crashers”. I will wait for Showtime to show it. Bummer he’s getting PC here.

samurai on November 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

ROTFLMAO!!! Worry01 says it all.

Hey Debbie, Wossamotta U.? The whole country thinks Katniss is the cat’s meow. ROTFLMAO!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on November 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm

” . . . it’s simply not believable that a stiletto thin woman can kick butt against males twice her size.”

Especially considering that Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss, tripped and fell on her way to the podium to accept her Best Actress Oscar for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” earlier this year. That alone makes her character in the “Hunger Games” series even less believable, if nothing else.

ConcernedPatriot on November 23, 2013 at 10:12 pm

If Hollyweird was intellectually honest, they would admit that the PATHETIC searches for sperm-donor dads by their”bio” kids proves that Fatherhood is important and people, even from selfish, whack families where the father was NOT revered.

Those freaks are now trying to make a connection with dudes who ejaculated in a cup. If that doesn’t properly illustrate the pathetic MESS progressives made of the family, I don’t know what the eff does.

Just more Libtarded and anti-God ways Libtards have made a mockery of society and old-fashioned AMERICAN values.

I detest it and reject it. The reason has been proven but they will REFUSE to admit it. But I have eyes that see and a brain that screams I am correct…

Skunky on November 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Well Skunky, that’s because you see the truth. But truth has been maligned in our modern society. Even Pontius Pilate, when Jesus told him his beliefs and what he stood for, said “What is truth?” scornfully. That’s the problem we continue to encounter all over the world, and right here on this web site. There is no consensus on what “truth” is. The truth about what? How about God, for example? We can’t even agree on that.

So, here we are at The End of The Age, and we certainly aren’t going to get any truthful admissions from the American left about how they have used their Marxist education to destroy society. Truth is not their friend, which is why they run from it. Truth would spoil their fun.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on November 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm

So I was flying internationally and had little choice of movies. On this looong flight I finally decided to watch a couple of movies that Debbie didn’t like. (I don’t watch what she pans in general.)

My these movies were tedious. (One was Wolverine, the other was Superman, Man of Steel.) The only thing in favor of them was for the latter: at least Superman’s chest wasn’t shaved. But knowing that he’s a crying pussy in real life ruined even that.

Usually I can independently assess Debbie’s reviews because I am guided by them. This time I can.

skzion on November 24, 2013 at 4:29 am

    LOL, Skzion, I totally agree with thee on Henry Cavill.

    That movie was a real stinker but he was very nice to look at.

    DS is a great reviewer. I’m a real movie snob and she’s spot on when it comes to Yank films (that I usually avoid) I have seen. Movie Reviews have always been one of my favourite writing genres and it makes it more pleasurable when the critic knows a good movie from a crap one.

    Skunky on November 24, 2013 at 9:52 am

      You bet, Skunky.

      skzion on November 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

If properly trained, a young, thin woman can destroy any untrained man of any size. But if the man is larger and equally trained, then she better have a weapon. I’ve seen this in action as a martial artist.

fleiter on November 24, 2013 at 5:54 am

The Book thief is the only one that looked even interesting but it’s hard to make a dark historical fairy tale that interesting without any memorable villains so I guess I’ll skip it.
It just doesn’t work and eventually people will tune out but maybe that’s the intention anyway.

Frankz on November 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

One thing we have to credit Vince Vaughn for, is the fact that he’s come out as a conservative in the public eye. I’m sure he does his movies in order to make a living, and isn’t a big enough star to choose and pick yet :)

J: Absolutely WRONG. Vince Vaughn NEVER came out as a conservative. He’s a libertarian and a Ron Paulistinian nut. Hardly the same thing. DS

James on November 24, 2013 at 10:27 am

Deb: Too bad about “The Book Thief,” which could have been great, but as with most, if not all, Hollyweird movies these days, degenerated into an anti-American, left-wing screed, apologizing for the Nazis, lamenting dead Germans (should’ve thought about screwing with the USA before your “Leader” decided to do so). A lot like the idiots who complain every August about dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: guess they would rather have seen 100,000 or more American casualties in an outright invasion of Japan’s home islands, instead of a quick end to the War (maybe the Japanese should have thought a little bit more about what might come their way, before they attacked Pearl Harbor, eh?).
Will skip this one, along with all the rest you’ve reviewed; not even a $1.00 rental at Redbox.

jc15 on November 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm

If you think that Delivery Man is vile and against parenthood, check out the new extreme filth “film” Adore about 2 mothers having affairs with each other’s sons !!!

jimmyPx on November 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I’m tired of Hollywood portraying sperm donation as being somehow equal to fatherhood. They seem to think that merely taking a dip in your gene pool is the same thing as the person who was there from birth, who cared for you and supported you and coached your T-ball team, etc. It’s ridiculous and narcissistic to think that a man who jerked off in a cup and SOLD his DNA would meet the adult result and fall in love. I guess in a way I can understand the longing a fatherless child might have for a dad, but to think suing the sperm bank (who, as I understand it NEVER reveals the donor) is going to give you that father is nuts.

Only in Hollywood.

MIGirl on November 25, 2013 at 9:39 am

Not sure if you read the Hunger Games books, or are just basing it on pure movie (probably are it is a movie review right). But the “government” in the setting is far from capitalist. If anything I would think it compares better to old USSR. Central government controls teh provinces which most produce and send good back to them, they in turn are dependent on the capital for the rest of their needs…ie where katriss in from are coal producers, they get food sent in…hunting and being self suffient is a crime. The only people well off are the “Elite” capital dwellers who produce nothing.

Phil M on November 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Another thing to add about Katniss, she is not really an ass-kicking badass, other than being good with the bow and arrow. My 17 year old son saw the 2nd movie and said she didn’t even kill anyone. In the first movie she wasn’t even the strongest female. So saying she is one of those tiny females that unrealistically overwhelms stronger males (Black Widow, Columbalina, etc.) isn’t quite correct.

Dave on November 25, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Jennifer Lawrence is 5’9″ and a bit slim, especially in the arms and upper body. She’s not exactly a bruiser, but not tiny, either. I don’t recall Debbie ever saying in this or another article I read here about The Hunger games, that J-Law was tiny. Just that Debbie was tired of seeing women like J-Law and Kristen Stewart built up to be the physical equal, or even superior of men much larger than they are.

I believe Debbie is quite right here. There are some pretty silly law and order, government agent, cloak and dagger type shows on TV these days. I enjoy watching them sometimes, but can easily see the campy nature of many scenes, and unrealistic fight sequences, involving some very slightly built women. For example, the show Covert Affairs. The idea that Piper Perabo, at a bony 5’5″ could take on thick gun toting 5’8″ to 6 foot, experienced gangster thugs, in fistfights no less, is beyond ludicrous.

I’m glad Debbie points out stuff like this, because it’s just another example of how ludicrous and twisted our culture has become. There’s nothing wrong with chicks getting physical or participating in sports, or even construction work. I don’t begrudge women their desire to be the best they can be.

But anyone who’s curious about how far America has gone to placate errant activism need only watch Piper Perabo’s character ‘Annie’ in Covert Affairs. This woman kicks the crap out of guys on a regular basis. I know she’s a secret agent with training and all that, but give me a break.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on November 26, 2013 at 1:11 am

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