Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
How about this for timing – releasing a comedy about political campaigning a week before Election Day – but this is no Romney/Obama face-off. This is the battle royale of Ferrell/Galifianakis. At first glance, it would appear to be Will Ferrell doing his tired George W. Bush impression but as you get into the meat of the film, you start to see it’s more. It’s Zach Galifianakis breathing fresh air into the material – granted, it’s a weird-acquired-taste kind of air. But he’s downright hilarious and Ferrell’s shtick is renewed in the process of delivering one of the raunchiest, over-the-top movies this year. Plus these filmmakers know their terrain – the story takes place in North Carolina. Galifianakis is from N.C. and the writers are both alumni of “Eastbound and Down,” based in the Carolinas. Bring in Jay Roach, the director responsible for a couple of successful comedy franchises, “Meet the Parents” and “Austin Powers.” What you have is essential entertainment to add some comic relief to the drama unfolding in the other campaigns – a must- watch for this season of discontent.
“Safety Not Guaranteed”
There are a million different directions the filmmakers could’ve gone with this film based on a want-ad from 1997, which was seeking a partner to travel in time with. The results seem to be representative of a shift a few filmmakers are making when dealing with sci-fi topics. They’ve been searching for the human side of the story and writing about relationships that happen around the science-fiction aspects – think “E.T.” or “Close Encounters.” We’ll call it the Spielberg Approach. This film brings in current TV personalities and allows them to play to their strengths – Aubrey Plaza of “Parks and Recreation,” Mark Duplass of “The League,” and Jake Johnson of “New Girl.” We don’t want to give away too much of the plot because it’s not a movie that amazes, it charms instead, and it’s better if you discover for yourself how it charms – worth a watch.
You have to admit; lately it seems like Nicolas Cage is watching his old movies and just decided to do an impression of himself. It happens a lot these days with some of our favorites – Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have both had trouble aging and acting their age. Cage seems to be locked in the same arrested development. What’s hard to watch is when veteran director Roger Donaldson tries to pull Cage into relevancy with this vigilante tale and Cage stubbornly drags along his overacting. What’s infuriating is we’ve seen Cage give subtle, outstanding performances and he chooses to be a cartoon version of his past roles. And it only makes it worse when he’s next to the ultra-professional, Guy Pearce. We know there are great movies still in the tank for Nic, but he has to break out of this Cage and be himself or someone else, whatever works. Sad to say, on another Cage flop – pass.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge