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.
“The Way, Way Back”
Written and directed by actors-turned-auteur Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, and their debut film is yet another coming-of-age story. But it’s not what it is – it is how it’s done. The film has about 10 subplots going on, and all of them are plumped-up in all the right places. The scenes are flavored with fine acting by Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet and Allison Janney. Steve Carell plays against type in an asshole role. Toni Collette continues to put in textured performances in haggard mom roles. But the star is young Liam James (from A&E’s “The Killing”). Sam Rockwell plays James’ screwed-up role model, and together they shine. AnnaSophia Robb is all the right amounts of cute and quirky as the love interest. “The Way, Way Back” gets it way, way right – worth a watch.
“Girl Most Likely”
Since her early days on “Saturday Night Live,” it was apparent Kristen Wiig was a special performer. Sure, she’s a versed comedian, able to do physical comedy or characters, but now we see her stretching into nuanced comedy. Will Ferrell took the same route when he left SNL, and both of them seem to have not only found their footing, but leaped out in new directions. This understated comedy was directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who have shown they know how to do understated, yet strange in their previous films, “American Splendor” and “The Extra Man.” Wiig’s costars, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon, show they still have gas in the tank. Christopher Fitzgerald does a nice job as a weird dude with a big heart. Darren Criss gets the task of playing normal among the odd, and he pulls it off for the most part. There are moments that miss and bite off more than can be chewed, but most likely, it’s worth a watch.
OK, the premise feels a little familiar – a young stud cop is recruited by a secret agency and gets an old crotchety partner. Together the odd couple must save the world…blah, blah, blah. The bad guys are all freaky effect-laden mutant-types. It’s all so M.I.B. As always, Jeff Bridges is solid in any part, and he owns this role as a dead sheriff from the Old West. Mary-Louise Parker blasts the sarcasm that she’s been working on for years. Kevin Bacon paints by numbers as he slowly becomes a standard movie villain. Director Robert Schwentke adapted the film from the comic book “Rest In Peace Department,” trying to equal the success of his previous comic adaptation, “Red,” and novel adaptation, “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” This is Ryan Reynolds fourth shot at putting the life into animated characters, after his roles in “Blade: Trinity,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Green Lantern.” Reynolds relies on his brooding charisma, which isn’t enough anymore, but Schwentke’s playful direction and the bluster of Bridges save this one, making it barely worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge