The Couch Potato Report

“Boy, does this guy love cartoons or what?!?!?”

The Couch Potato Report – October 17th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on Niagara Falls, a break-up, a little mermaid and a hedge.
One of the greatest things about movies is the fact that they take us places that we might not get to in our everyday lives.
Another great things about the celluloid art form is the fact that it can also just make you think that you are being taken to a different place.
For instance, the film NIAGARA MOTEL mainly focuses on a group of struggling individuals who cross paths at a low-rent motel in Niagara Falls.
But the film was shot in and around Winnipeg, a place with no natural waterfalls, let alone the worldís best known one.
So if you like to be cinematically taken away to a different place that is far away, even if it was filmed less than 6 hours from Saskatchewan, check in to NIAGARA MOTEL.
The guests of this low-rent motel on the Canadian side of the tourist haven are not your typical tourists.
There is a young couple who both have a criminal past that are attempting to get their child back, a middle class husband with no job and a rapidly disintegrating marriage, and a waitress who is being recruited to star in some low budget adult films.
Plus, there is the perpetually drunk motel manager who has some sorrow of his own, a small time hustler who is always looking for a quick buck, and an underachieving staple salesman.
NIAGARA MOTEL has comedy, drama, tragedy and lots of interesting characters. It even has a few scenes that take place in Niagara Falls.
The large and very talented cast includes Craig Ferguson from TVís ìThe Late, Late Showî and ìThe Drew Carrey Showî, Kevin Pollak from A FEW GOOD MEN and the lovely and talented Caroline Dhavernas, from the short-lived series ìWonderfalls.î
Due to itís dark sense of humour NIAGARA FALLS isnít a film that I would recommend to everyone, but if you like to see places – and people – in films that you wonít see ñ or meet ñ every day, then it is a movie I think you will enjoy.
And even though I did enjoy it, Iím not sure that everyone will enjoy THE BREAK-UP, the Vince Vaughan/Jennifer Aniston movie about a couple whoÖbreak up.
You know Vaughn from WEDDING CRASHERS and SWINGERS and while Aniston has been in good movies like BRUCE ALMIGHTY and THE GOOD GIRL, she will always be known as Rachel from TVís ìFriends.î
The combined star power of these two gave the film a higher profile than it should have had because if it wasnít promoted as such a huge film, and as Vaughn’s follow-up to the uber-successful WEDDING CRASHERS, then I think it could have existed as a unique character study, with a few funny moments thrown in.
But instead, with the star power it has, THE BREAK-UP is a failed romantic comedy.
And that is because all our two main characters do is fight and fight and fight and fight and fight.
Whereís the love I ask? Whereís the love?
Vaughn is Gary and Aniston is Brooke and once theyÖbreak up, neither one is willing to give up the condo they co-own.
As they continue to fight, and that fighting grows increasingly bitter, they start to wonder if they are trying to save the relationship, or just end it.
Due to all of the aforementioned fighting, I didnít care for the romantic part of THE BREAK-UP, but I did enjoy the comedy.
That comes courtesy of Jon Favreau, Vaughnís buddy from SWINGERS, John Michael Higgins from A MIGHTY WIND, Justin Long from DODGEBALL, Jason Bateman of TVís ìArrested Developmentî and the incredibly funny Judy Davis.
Each one of these actors bring an extra energy to the scenes they are in.
As a whole THE BREAK-UP is not an enjoyable movie, but a few of its parts do rank as some of the best of the year.
Now, as for the best of the year, well the best film I have seen so far this year, the film that entertained me that most and the one that I could recommend to anyone ñ young or old – who asked me ìWhatís out there that is worth seeing?î the best film for me thus far this year was OVER THE HEDGE.
And yes, I know it is a cartoon, but when something is this good, this funny, and this interesting to watch, I have no problems with recommending a cartoon.
Bruce Willis provides the voice for a fast-talking hustler raccoon named RJ, who has to replace the entire food supply for a bear he stole from.
RJ meets a group of animals and soon takes over from the hesitant turtle Verne as the leader of the group.
“The Larry Sanders Show”‘s Gary Shandling is the turtle, Steve Carell from THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN is Hammy the squirrel and some of the other voices come from William Shatner, Allison Janney from ìThe West Wingî, the great Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara from SCTV and even Canadian pop princess Avril Lavigne, who does a very good job in her first film role.
OVER THE HEDGE is funny, well written, and is full of jabs at modern day society and consumerism.
If anyone ñ young or old – asked me ìWhatís out there that is worth seeing?î, the best film for me thus far this year was OVER THE HEDGE.
One of my favourite films in the year 1989 was THE LITTLE MERMAID.
The classic Disney cartoon was loosely based upon the story by Hans Christian Andersen as Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, is dissatisfied with life in the sea and longs to be with the humans above the surface.
It was fun touching and enjoyable in 1989, and it still is today!
Now, there is a tow-disc special edition of the film available with an incredible line-up of bonus features that show you how the film was made, and how it could have turned out, had they included some of the deleted scenes that are on the disc.
This animation is gorgeous, the story is timeless, and the classic songs including ìKiss the Girlî and the Academy Award winning ìUnder the Seaî will still have you singing along, despite yourself.
So, I guess, if anyone ñ young or old – asked me ìWhatís out there that is worth seeing?î, I would also say THE LITTLE MERMAID ñ TWO DISC SPECIAL EDITION, along with OVER THE HEDGE.
They are both available now on DVD along with THE BREAK-UP and the mostly-made-in-Manitoba movie NIAGARA FALLS.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
LUCID is the story of a psychotherapist, who has been having trouble sleeping ever since his wife left.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANTARCTICA is the latest release from the filmmakers who made the Oscar winning documentary MARCH OF THE PENGUINS.
And the new Platinum Edition of the 1983 classic SCARFACE takes a look back on the making of the film, and allows you to count how many bullets are fired during the movie.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!