Welcome to Jesse Hassenger’s New New-Release Round-Up
This March actually has some promising new releases… if you ignore this weekend, which consists mainly of reheated 70s drive-in fodder. Still, there’s some indie stuff you might enjoy…
Last House on the Left: Lucky moviegoers get two Friday the 13ths this year, and with them, an extra horror remake. Based on Wes Craven’s low-budge original, it’s about a family given the opportunity to exact revenge upon their daughter’s killers (or maimers? I’m not really clear on this). It looks like it could actually have tension, which would set it apart from approximately eighty-five percent of all horror remakes, but the odds of it actually being good are slim, and I’m guessing it’ll fall through some box-office cracks: the title doesn’t have the cache of Friday the 13th, the execution lacks an awesome gimmick like 3-D, and the R rating leaves out undemanding thirteen-year-olds.
Race to Witch Mountain: Apparently this is a remake/reboot/whatever of an old Disney live-action franchise from the seventies, at least one movie of which I’m sure I’ve seen and couldn’t tell you anything about. It takes a special kind of Disneyfied perverseness to cast the Rock in an action movie where a couple of kids do all of the actual ass-kicking, though I imagine said Disney perverseness probably figures into enough kids’ daydreams to make some decent coin. It doesn’t look completely unwatchable, but the speed with which The Rock (er, excuse me, Dwayne Johnson) went from chintzy action pictures to image-spoofing family movies is alarming; it took Arnold about a decade, although he did make Terminator 2 after Kindergarten Cop, so maybe ol’ Dwayne will be roughing us up again soon. In related news, I miss Spy Kids.
Miss March: This movie, about a dude who wakes up from a four-year coma to find that his beloved girlfriend has become a Playboy centerfold, is written and directed by its two dude stars, who are guys from The Whitest Kids U Know, which I have never seen, but seriously, guys from a sketch show on IFC or something can get a movie now? What, then, could possibly be holding up a second Kids in the Hall movie? I do like the gag in the trailer involving renegade firemen pursuing the heroes, but the “regular guy plus gregarious, crude sidekick” formula isn’t doing much for me these days; why would sketch comics want to recreate the dynamic of a thousand schlocky studio comedies? In semi-related news, Brain Candy is awesome.
Sunshine Cleaning: I’ve actually seen this one, and kinda liked it, mainly for the easy sisterly chemistry between Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, who play upper-lower-class types who start their own crime scene cleaning business. It’s a bit less cutesy than you might think given that premise and its Sundance-also-ran pedigree — this is a warm-hearted movie, albeit with some storytelling gaps. Though described as a comedy-drama, it’s not particularly funny, maybe because the characters are offbeat in mostly realistic ways; they don’t function as quirk delivery systems. The bottom line is, I could watch Amy Adams do just about anything for ninety-five minutes; Sunshine Cleaning fulfills that requirement and throws in some other likable people, too.