Friday, August 13, 2010

Your Expendable Weekend at the Movies

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 8:55 AM

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This weekend, everything, basically, is The Expendables.

The Expendables: Normally, I would've pursued an actually-screened-for-critics Jason Statham movie for actual review, but I've been saving this movie for my bachelor party. Yes, rather than the traditional accessories of strippers and blow, I'm getting a bunch of dudes to go see The Expendables on Saturday. I wonder if this is going to be like a Tom Petty show or something, where we could easily make it into the youngest percentile. Hey, whatever makes me feel young—like the fact that I'm less excited for the gathering of eighties titans than the reteaming of Jason Statham and Jet Li in a movie that one hopes would be much better than War. I'm not that big of a Stallone fan, and in fact his last foray into old-school eighties-style machismo, his Rambo revisitation, actually managed to turn me off with its excessive violence. Yes, a committed Jason Statham/Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino/horror movie fan felt kinda disgusted by the level of violence in a Rambo movie, which does make me feel old, but if that's what being old feels like, I guess that's fine by me. By making a dudes-on-a-mission movie, Stallone has hopefully caught on that break-ins, fights, and battles are way more interesting than an old man mowing people down with a gattling gun, which is basically my entire memory of Rambo. Hopefully this one will get me more psyched up and less vaguely depressed, maybe to the point where my buddies and I will leave the Kips Bay movie theater and engage in a violent siege of the Rite Aid next door, lobbing those cheap juice grenades you can buy at some gas stations upstate and liberating a bunch of mistreated candy while one of the single gents falls in love with and rescues a beautiful cashier.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Instead of stars, Edgar Wright rolls together indie rock, anime, comics, alt-comedy, and videogames; so basically this is the Expendables of ten or twenty years from now, today! I've only read one volume of the popular manga-by-way-of-Canada book series; what's really got me excited for the movie version is the way the visuals seem to recall the live-action Speed Racer movie nobody liked but was amazing. MJR makes the Speed Racer connection in his review, and throws in High Fidelity, too, although I was surprised to learn that both of those movies are apparently "sarcasm fests" (I don't recall any sarcasm in the earnestly insane Speed Racer, and there's little precious or self-satisfied about the misery of Cusack's Rob). Like a lot of good reviews, though, Rowin's comparison and accompanying assessment give me a good idea of whether I'd personally want to see this movie, regardless of the verdict.

Eat Pray Love: And here's The Expendables for the stereotypical lady audience, by which I mean instead of most cheesy B-movie action stars of the past invading and presumably destroying another country, Julia Roberts and, by audience-identification extension, a whole bunch of ladies, invade and find spirituality/love/food in a series of countries. I actually feel bad for these ladies, not because ladies shouldn't go see movies about self-involved ladies where no one kills anyone at all, but because this movie will turn your girls' night out, or older-couples' night out, or movies-about-actual-humans night out, into a slog. I mean, those Sex and the City movies are pretty bad, but at least they have a few jokes. This one devotes a similar 130 minutes and change to even less happening. I spent a good deal of it wondering why Ryan Murphy keeps cutting to establishing and/or overhead shots in the middle of his scenes. I have no idea what general audiences are going to make of this; one woman sitting near me at the screening definitely cried and "mm-hmm"'d her way through it, but much of the audience seemed quite ready to leave by the time it finally wrapped up.

Animal Kingdom: The misleading title of this Australian crime thriller reminds me that I never saw Steve Buscemi's similarly titled second directorial effort, Animal Factory, which I can't help but picture as being about a delightful Buscemi-run animal crackers business, when in fact it is about prison. For lack of knowing much about this movie, I am going to call it the Australian Expendables.

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