Here is a story written 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs (he also wrote the “Tarzan” stories). A movie 80 years in the making, it’s been attached to a half-dozen directors. Finally, it gets made and it bombs big time at theaters. Why did this mega-budget film tank? You could say lead actor Taylor Kitsch wasn’t a big enough name – but Kitsch does more than a decent job. You could say Disney hiring a director with no live-action experience was a mistake. Andrew Stanton is a product of Pixar, but has only directed animated hits – “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E.” But Stanton makes a dazzling spectacle of a film. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not that it’s a bad film. It’s just been seen before. The story follows every other sci-fi, stranger-in-a-strange-land plot line. Sure, there are differences. But there’s not enough edginess or newness to earn back the quarter of a million dollars it took to make it. The title alone is a dud – what elicits excitement about a dude named John? The good news is…it’s a safe action film the whole family can watch at home. For that reason alone, it nets a worth-a-watch endorsement.
From the guys who brought you the ‘90s MTV sketch-comedy show, “The State.” More recently, they’ve developed the Adult Swim show “Children’s Hospital” and the Paul Rudd vehicle, “Role Models.” They continue to let the raunchy roll in this film – starring everyone’s favorite boy next door, Rudd, and Jennifer Aniston, who attempts with every film choice to shed her squeaky-clean image. It is obvious all the bit players are veterans of comedy troupes and improv. There’s funny naked men, there’s buckets of dirty hippie humor, there’s Rudd riffing out hilarious lines, there’s even a little Alan Alda in the mix. The one thing that’s missing is the Aniston topless scene that was cut from the final version of the film. But hey, you can’t have everything. “Wanderlust” isn’t beginning-to-end funny and it doesn’t reshape the wheel of comedy. But it is a raunchy romp that’s worth a watch.
“We Need to Talk about Kevin”
This movie teaches us three things. One, Tilda Swinton is a phenomenal actress. Two, John C. Reilly is as effective as a dramatic actor as he is as a comedic actor. And three, there’s nothing quite as creepy as a kid doing creepy things. Based on the novel by the same name, it’s hard to watch at times. Director Lynne Ramsay seems to enjoy making her audience squirm. She even structures the scenes out of temporal order, leaving you to put the puzzle together as you go. You’ll want to look away from the finished product but you won’t be able to. This group of talented contributors will make you ask the question, “What would I do if I were in a similar situation?” A daring, haunting film and if you don’t mind fidgeting nervously, it’s worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge