Tuesday Releases: White House Down & Grown Ups 2

NOVEMBER 5TH, 2013

WHITE HOUSE DOWN // As much as “White House Down” resembles “Olympus Has Fallen” from this year, they do carry slight differences that make them both enjoyable. Tatum and Foxx have a much different chemistry than Butler and Eckhardt, plus Tatum has a much more enjoyable screen presence than Butler. However, having two films based around taking out the white house in one year is quite ill-advised and hurts this one for being far too familiar. Channing Tatum has a gift for fitting these pseudo roles. He has the build to be a bad ass, the face to be a charmer, and the voice and execution to be comedic and slightly less masculine. These characteristics all work in favor for Roland Emmerich’s latest blast ’em up thriller. Searching for his daughter in the midst of a war on the white house, Tatum’s John Cale comes across the President (Jamie Foxx) and goes on to help him through the war zone that has begotten at his residence. Leading the pack of villains amongst some not-so-spoilery twists, Jason Clarke proves masterful in his role, becoming one of the only true chameleons in Hollywood today. Although he never fails to wreck havoc on our national monuments, compared to “Th Day After Tomorrow” and “2012” Emmerich actually remains quite tame. However, where the most steam is lost is in the writing, with some haphazard reveals and late-in-the-game twists, by the end of the film, it becomes apparent exactly how cheesy the film actually is. But even despite this, “White House Down” looks great, is acted well enough, and sets itself slightly apart from its feature film twin released earlier this year.

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GIRL MOST LIKELY // Much in the same vein as “Orange County”, where a writer embraces his wacky family and finds true inspiration, “Girl Most Likely” handles the same subject matter. Imogene (Kristen Wiig), a former playwright, is living the stylish life as a debutant in New York City, on the brink of marriage with a Dutch man. But when he leaves her with nothing, her desperate attempt to get him back lands her in the hospital, where her flighty mother, played humorously by Annette Bening, is called in to take her home and watch her. Imogene is taken home to face her mom’s new boyfriend, George (Matt Dillon), a new house guest (Darren Criss), and the fact that her father isn’t actually dead. Kristen Wiig plays this role, like most of her roles, with a deadpan style that causes for many laughs. But this doesn’t change the fact that most of the jokes fall flat or reach a little too “out there” to be funny. Also, having seen the trailer for this, almost the entire film is contained in the trailer, which, as you hit the different moments in the film, you realize you’ve seen almost everything worth a damn in the two-and-a-half minute trailer. The overall arc of the film falls familiarly flat as well, beginning and ending without much of a climax or development, but remaining calm and stagnant most of the run-time. Eventually Imogene finds the inspiration she needs in the people around her, but even this feels slightly unwarranted and maladjusted. Without a seasoned cast, this film would have been completely worthless, but with some life breathed into the characters, it was able to somewhat save itself. The star of the show, for me, was Christopher Fitzgerald as Imogene’s simple brother, Ralph. His relationship with Imogene and his out there ideas, along with some secrets, causes for my favorite portions of the film. In the end, “Girl Most Likely” never quite finds its footing, and although it may be a positive showing for Kristen Wiig, who delivers nicely, the film as a whole just never takes off.

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GROWN UPS 2 // With zero laughs and more bewilderment than anything, “Grown Ups 2″ squanders the first film’s good fortune and makes it absolutely dreadful. Adam Sandler brings back the group of friends from the first film, including Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James, as Sandler’s character Lenny has moved his family back to his hometown. It’s this setting that brings Shaq, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Taylor Lautner into one of the most unfunny films of the year. Facing old bullies from school and new bullies from the college campus near by, the screenplay for this film reads like a mad lib of bad ideas, none of which are executed with any grace or even through-line, leaving this to be one bad joke after another. As none of these comedians are ever very funny, I’m hard pressed to even acknowledge this film as a comedy, with constant dead end story-lines, like Lenny’s son playing football and hurting his leg for no apparent reason whatsoever. Perhaps this is a sign that Sandler is completely out of ideas and is way past his prime, or perhaps its a failed attempt and recreating a mediocre first film at best, but what ever it is, I hope it goes away and never comes back.

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LOVELACE // An entertaining biopic with a strong central performance from Amanda Seyfried, “Lovelace” captures the rise and fall of real-life porn star Linda Lovelace. Beginning as Linda Boreman, living with her strict parents, Dororthy (Sharon Stone) and John (Robert Patrick), it is not until Linda meets and marries suave Chuck Traynor, played completely convincingly by Peter Sarsgaard, that she escapes into a racier world. Taught by her mother to obey her husband’s needs, Linda descends into the rabbit hole pushed, by  her ever-changing husband. Completely victimized and drawing complete shades of black-and-white, Chuck forces Linda to sleep with men for money and eventually to take part in pornography. Impressing porn star producers Butchie and Gerry played wonderfully by Bobby Cannavale and Hank Azaria with her sexual talents, the next step is producing the famous X-rated film “Deep Throat” with co-star Harry Reems (Adam Brody). However informative “Lovelace” is, there’s a lack of distinction between tones. Partly humorous, partly sob story, this adaptation of Linda Lovelace’s story is treated more like a made-for-TV movie than an actual feature film. Although the superb ensemble casting helps keep the film on its feet, Epstein and Friedman’s endeavor never quite feels fully formed. Amanda Seyfried dominates the film, with spot-on expressions and a sexual freedom needed to nail this role. Peter Sarsgaard plays an excellent villain and begins to ascend to great heights with his role. Some supporting roles are squandered, like Wes Bentley’s creepy performance as a monotone photographer or the almost non-existent Chloë Sevigny. Chris Noth as head producer of “Deep Throat” would have benefited from some more screen time as would Juno Temple, whose role as the best friend is swept under the rug. With an emotional performance, Robert Patrick delivers the most heartbreaking breakthrough of the film. Overall, “Lovelace” leans on Seyfried’s performance rather than a strong film and screenplay lifting up her performance, but regardless, it never fails to entertain and simply enough, gets its point across.

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PASSION // Never capitalizing off its strong, power-driven leads, Brian De Palma’s “Passion” is anything but passionate. Remaining surface level for its entire run-time, not only can the film not hold a tone, but often falls into a parody of itself. Part office thriller, part crime drama, part halfhearted expose on sexuality, De Palma fails to ever actually come up with a point. As Christine (Rachel McAdams) and Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) jockey for power within their company, getting close to one another and then pushing each other away, the film rarely holds focus long enough for the audience to care or even grasp what the motives are for the characters. At times convoluting the story with unnecessary plot points, its a surprise that the film never caves in on itself. By the time the film ends, we’re miles away from where we started with no idea how or why we got there. Based off the 2010 film “Love Crime” directed by Alain Corneau, I’d be interested to see whether that does a better job portraying its plot. How a film starring such gorgeous and talented actresses like McAdams and Rapace could drop the ball so far and especially from a director with such a history, I will never know, but “Passion” fails to live up to the bar set by classic like “Scarface” and “The Untouchables” and even fails to live up to anything remotely resembling a thriller.

New Releases
The Attack 2-denied2
Broken
Girl Most Likely
Grown Ups 2
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition
Lovelace
Parkland
Passion (2013)
Renoir
Syrup
Turbo
White House Down

TV Box Set

  •     Beverly Hills 90210: Complete Series
  •     Boy Meets World: Complete Series   
  •     Dexter: Complete Series
  •     Farscape Complete Series 15th Anniversary
  •     The House of Eliott: Complete Collection
  •     Ice Road Truckers: Season Seven
  •     Law & Order: Season Thirteen
  •     Mad Men: Season Six   
  •     Magic City: Season Two  
  •     Naked City: Complete Series
  •     Red vs. Blue: Season Eleven
  •     Saved by the Bell: Complete Series
  •     Under the Dome: Season One   
  •     Weeds: Complete Series

Special Editions/Other Releases

  •     As I Lay Dying   2-denied2
  •     Bell Witch Haunting
  •     Beyond the Heavens
  •     Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia
  •     Bonnie and Clyde: Justified
  •     Bratz Babyz Save Christmas
  •     Clear History
  •     Computer Chess   2-denied2
  •     East of Eden
  •     Fitzgerald Family Christmas   2-denied2
  •     Giant
  •     The Green Wave
  •     Hava Nagila   2-denied2
  •     Home is Where The Heart Is
  •     Hot Space Cowboys
  •     The Last Light
  •     Longing Nights
  •     Mickey’s Christmas Carol 30th Anniversary
  •     Plimpton   2-denied2
  •     Rebel Without a Cause
  •     Scoot and Kassie’s Christmas Adventure
  •     Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga
  •     Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh

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