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.
“Trouble with the Curve”
Clint Eastwood’s comeback from retirement as an actor – in 2008 he said “Gran Torino” was his last acting gig. It’s also the first time in 19 years he’s appeared in a film he didn’t direct. At 82, with his career and recent activities with empty chairs, you’d think Clint only does what Clint wants to do. So what made him do this? It would seem loyalty. This film was directed by Robert Lorenz, who has been Eastwood’s assistant director since 1995. The film feels like an answer to 2011’s “Moneyball” – a rebuttal about humanity and personality not being replaced in sports by stats sheets. Two pitfalls, however – all the other characters not in Eastwood’s inner circle are arrogant assholes and every problem has an easy, predictable answer. That’s not all bad. Sometimes you want a movie where everything falls into place perfectly. Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake do their jobs and their interaction makes a multilayered plot. But there’s no complication here – it’s a simple baseball/family movie, if you’re in the mood, it’s worth a watch.
This film was built from the ground up to be funny, being co-written by Seth Rogen, directed by a “Saturday Night Live” veteran and member of comedy/rap group, The Lonely Island, starring a collection of comedy all-stars – Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Will Forte and Jonah Hill. How can this not be great? There are moments when the actors are firing on all cylinders and they hammer home some great laughs. But most of the movie seems like more of a conceit than a comedy concept. It’s almost like these guys sat around talking about movie projects and someone said to Stiller, “Hey, you’ve never done an alien movie…let’s do one.” Whenever the movie doesn’t deal with an alien invasion, the chemistry works well and the scenes roll naturally. The problem is the movie is about an alien invasion. The addition of the British comedic actor Richard Ayoade is a real plus, because he does a great job blending with these filmmakers who have so much history with each other. But it’s not enough to raise this movie out of mediocrity. Let’s keep an eye out for these guys making something better together in the future but look away from this one – pass.
This movie moves fast – wo will we – an action writer, David Koepp, writes and directs and it features the hot/new hero of action movies, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the hot/new villain of action movies, Michael Shannon. There are bikes moving fast through New York City traffic at rush hour. There’s a nice supporting cast. There’s a badass female character. There’s jealousy and rivalry. There are a few plot holes and a few potholes that slow you down. But the soundtrack rocks, propels the action – Gordon-Levitt is as credible as ever as a bike messenger and continues to be fun to watch. He puts this film in the top-five of American films related to bicycles along with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “Breaking Away,” “American Flyers,” and “E.T.” – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge