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.
“This is the End”
This is Seth Rogen’s and writing-partner Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut – a movie about Rogen and all his friends trying to survive the apocalypse. Rogen and Goldberg first started working together on “Da Ali G Show,” and since then they’ve written the scripts for “Superbad,” “Pineapple Express” and “Green Hornet.” But this one is different. Everyone plays a caricature of themselves and they spend two hours riffing off each other and everyone they’ve ever shared the screen with. It’s like the “Comedy Central Roast of James Franco” with demons. But more than that, it’s really a bashing of the Hollywood persona in general. The main cast is Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride. Emma Watson and Michael Cera have some great scenes, and Channing Tatum has the best cameo of the decade. But McBride steals every moment he touches. It’s hilarious to see these guys poking fun at themselves, but it’s also absurd and profane and worth a watch.
“The Kings of Summer”
It’s an old story – teenage boys decide to head out on their own and be the masters of their own journey into manhood. It’s a tried-and-trued coming-of-age tale. But there’s something different about this one. The film is written by newcomer Chris Galletta, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (a veteran of “Funny or Die Presents...”) and stars a bunch of TV sitcom comedians. Even though it is set in the present, it’s filmed in a quirky/retro style. The dialogue is smart, and it’s delivered with snap and verve. The actors fit together nicely, especially the three teenage leads – Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias. It does need to be mentioned that Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” brightly shines in a morose performance as a terse father. There is plenty to look at, laugh at and think about in this exceptional little dramady – worth a watch.
“Pain and Gain”
Some people, critics included, hate action-movie auteur Michael Bay. They hate everything he does, especially his “Transformers” franchise. But we at Weekly Surge think every movie should be treated fairly and equally regardless of genre. With that being said, when Bay took some time off from the “Transformers” every-other-year schedule to make a black comedy based on a true story about three criminal weightlifters in Miami, we did have a moment of glee with thoughts of trashing Bay. But it was not to be. Bay plays at the strengths of his strong cast – Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. And he gets more than an aerobic workout from his supporting cast – Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub and Rob Corddry. The story is set in the mid-‘90s, and it captures the climate of excess boiling over. There’s nothing painful about Bay’s departure from blowing up a bunch of stuff. Maybe even his haters can gain a new perspective on him from this work. That alone makes it worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge