Partly Cloudy


It’s no time to watch DVDs, but here are some new ones

By Gary Clift

This is not the season for new DVD rentals and sales. Late in the month, some people will begin buying relatively new movies on home viewing media to give as Christmas presents. In December the weather may turn nasty enough that on some nights some of us will wish to stay home and watch something tasty on our TVs.

But right now we’ve got live theater, concerts, bar bands, football, basketball, volleyball, and other entertainments to fill our evenings, and we have good enough weather that we can get to all these events comfortably. Is it next week when K-State and Manhattan High both have productions of stage musicals running? Who wants to stay home to watch “Turbo” (an animated movie about a fast moving snail) or “Man of Steel” (the latest cinematic attempt to tell the story of Superman) given those live, local alternatives?

Who wants to sit in their own living room to watch “Grown-ups 2” when they could be out watching a basketball game or hearing an orchestra? To be fair, “2” is a better movie than the original Adam Sandler mouse pack film. Its subjects are school bullying, that on-going forced craze, and romantic troubles associated with parenthood. There are some funny jokes in the movie and lots of star cameos, including a funny one by Jon Lovitz. But this is still just an Adam Sandler movie. Is it too late to call the McCain office?

I think I liked “White House Down” a little better, and I can recommend the last two-thirds of it to movie buffs who have seen “Dr. Strangelove,” “Seven Days in May,” and some other movies set on the Capitol mall. German director Roland Emmerich has figured out how all the suspense and reversals work, but is tone deaf about his representations of President Obama, Rush Limbaugh, and other form-filling stereotypes. The result is unintentionally comic, but only if the viewer knows the old movies Emmerich is trying to ape.

One can’t even claim that much for the recent comedy “We’re the Millers.” The movie makers have had an odd idea for it—they take deadpan comedy specialist Jason Sedakis and surround him with actors who play their characters as if they’d been bitten by rabies-infected bats. So he states the absurd with a straight face and they react, foaming at the mouth. The result is never funny, but it is sort of odd.  With Ed Helms, Emma Roberts, Molly Quinn, and Jennifer Aniston.

Almost as strange is “2 Guns,” which is part “Training Day” (both feature Denzel Washington and a younger Caucasian, also in law enforcement—in this case it is Marky Mark Wahlberg) and part “No Country for Old Men.” While the movie includes good turns by James Marsden and Fred Ward, it is mostly a vastly confused story about three government agencies trying to grab a drug lord’s money. Several of the players seem to have death wishes.

“Paranoia” is an unsatisfactory movie about industrial espionage, but with good turns by a good cast, led by Liam Hemsworth. “Jobs” is a very unsatisfactory biopic about the unlikable (and, apparently, much over-praised) Steve Jobs of Apple Computers.  “Getaway” is a catalog of all the things we’ve ever seen in movie car chases, including—perhaps especially—all the silly things we’ve ever seen in movie car chases.

And then there’s “RED 2.” The original movie introduced us to a network of retired spies and hit men, including ones played by John Malkovich and Bruce Willis. Willis has a new girlfriend, Mary-Louise Parker, who is excited by all the adventure in the undercover work the boys find themselves unable to escape. In this sequel the action scenes are spiced with lots of comedy, most of which works pretty well. With Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Katherine Zeta-Jones, Tim Pigott-Smith, David Thwelis, and Brian Cox.

If I had to have a recent movie on hand in case a thunderstorm delays a football game, “RED 2”  is the one I’d pick. But the weather isn’t going to stop the musicals and basketball games from starting on time. Maybe you can wait until next month to laugh along with Malkovich and Parker.

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