Drive Angry: The Nicolas Cage grindhouse tour continues, possibly reaches its apex, with this mélange of devil grunge, souped-up muscle cars, and Amber Heard in short-shorts. In a semi-surprising twist, this isn’t directed by a pomo (faux-mo?) Quentin Tarantino cohort like Robert Rodriguez or Eli Roth, but a genuine exploitation filmmaker, or the studio equivalent of same: Patrick Lussier, who directed the 3-D remake of My Bloody Valentine a couple of years ago. I wish I was purist enough to count this as a positive, but even if it winks too much for some tastes, Machete does its job with a lot more fun than the likes of Valentine. Still, the latter was a serviceably silly slasher movie, and maybe Lussier has stepped up his game to snare Cage (as a hell-escaped badass on the hunt for a cult that stole his granddaughter) and William Fichtner (as Satan’s right-hand man).
This is the kind of tongue-in-cheeky horror-goof that actual paying audiences seem to regard with puzzlement at best, superiority at worst; it is also the kind of Cage paycheck I love for him to cash, because he commits to this kind of ludicrousness. Maybe it’ll be like an awesome version of Ghost Rider. If not, we’ve got that Neveldine/Taylor Ghost Rider sequel coming around this time next year, and the souped-up Cagemobile revs on.
Hall Pass: You can read about how this movie fits in with the Farrelly Brothers oeuvre in my review, but let’s talk about Owen Wilson for a minute. It struck me watching Hall Pass, in which Wilson plays an awkward dope on the prowl when given a week off from his marriage, that his insinuating surfer routine is often used for guys who really get around: as the confident rival to Ben Stiller in the Fockers movies; as a tomcatting ballplayer in How Do You Know; and as the slightly more soulful half of those famous wedding crashers. In Wes Anderson world, he’s downright virile: even as the toolish Eli in The Royal Tenenbaums, he successfully woos Margot (at least for a little while), and he forms a gentle romantic bond with Cate Blanchett in The Life Aquatic. In Hall Pass, the Farrellys emphasize the funny-looking side of Wilson: they crop his glorious mane, put him in dorky shirts, and take off those shirts to reveal an average physique. It’s standard procedure for a Farrelly movie, but it’s almost odd to see Wilson play a lovable loser; he’s actually often closer to the lovable-jerk type assayed by Vince Vaughn or Bill Murray, albeit in a different key. I’m not sure what this means for the state of comedy, if anything; maybe Wilson just has that peculiar mojo where he comes off as particularly smooth and sexy in the world of sweaty, needy comedians. In any case, it seems so oddly fitting that Wilson is appearing in this year’s Woody Allen movie that I’m retroactively surprised that it hasn’t happened before.