The Couch Potato Report

In case you need something to watch (or avoid) this weekend.

THE COUCH POTATO REPORT – August 18th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a Manitoba made lookout, some wild hogs and Welcome Home!
Up first this week is a great little thriller called THE LOOKOUT
In THE LOOKOUT Joseph Gordon-Levitt – who played the kid, Tommy, on the TV show THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN is Chris, a star high school hockey player with a bright future and a gorgeous girlfriend.
One night, on a back country road, everything changes.
An accident leaves him with a brain injury, and he now needs notes to remind him to do simple things, like to grind the coffee beans before trying to make a pot of coffee, to take a shower when he wakes up, and such.
The film primarily focusses on the time four years after the accident, when Chris is as recovered as he is likely to be.
All he wants is to lead a normal life, but he has no girlfriend, he works as a night janitor in a bank, and his only real buddy is his blind, older roommate, Lewis.
Then, one day at a bar, he meets Gary and the two become friends.
They two hang out and play pool together, Gary introduces him to a woman, and everything appears to be going well …until the day that Gary asks for Chris’s help….to rob the bank.
And that is about all I am going to tell you about this film, because any more details might ruin it for you, and I do not want to do that. I want you to see it!
Screenwriter Scott Frank – who gave us LITTLE MAN TATE, MALICE, OUT OF SIGHT and GET SHORTY has given us another well-written film with real-life characters.
He also makes his directorial debut with THE LOOKOUT…a film shot in and around Winnipeg.
THE LOOKOUT is one of those films that most people would probably skip over at the store, it was bypassed by almost everyone it when it played in theatres back in March, but you should not miss this film.
It is full of grit, has a great deal of tension, and is always interesting.
THE LOOKOUT is a film I highly recommend.
Now…on the other side of that coin, the polar opposite if you will, is our next film this week.
A film I disliked, dispised…actually, let me be blunt…this next title is a film that I absolutely hated!
That film is WILD HOGS, and it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
Four actors I really like, respect, and usually enjoy star in WILD HOGS – John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence.
They play four middle aged men who ride their motorcycles after work and on weekends.
It is something they do as a group for fun and relaxation, but then one day they decide to take it to the next level.
They plan to take a road trip from their home in Cincinnati to the Pacific, in order to get away from their lives which – they feel – are leading them nowhere.
Now let me stop there and remind you of the plot of the 1991 film CITY SLICKERS – Mitch and his friends Ed and Phil are having mid-life crisis. They decide to go on a two week holiday in the wild west driving cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. There they become real cowboys, and find out one or two other things about life in the open air of the west.
Sound familiar? Well it is…but that is where the similarities end. CITY SLICKERS is a classic, WILD HOGS is awful!!
The main problems I have with WILD HOGS is that it doesn’t seem to give any respect to the very talented actors it has playing the leads.
The script never allows them to act, and thus, inhabit their characters.
Had they done that, this could have been a pretty good movie.
Now, I usually don’t sit here and tell you how a movie could have been better, but this week I will make an exception.
Had WILD HOGS followed it’s premise of just sending their characters on a road trip, and let time, the guys’ egos, the elements and the things that actually happen along the road take their course, this could have been a great film.
But instead of letting life be the antagonist, the filmmakers had to include a biker gang as the Wild Hogs’ enemies.
The minute we meet this gang is when the film loses any momentum it had built up, and instead of being entertained, we get Ray Liotta – as the lead bad guy – yelling.
And then he yells some more.
Now I know my dislike and disdain for WILD HOGS isn’t shared by the majority of people who have seen it.
After all, it made over 168 million dollars at the box office since it debuted last March, and within a few days an announcement will come that it is the best selling DVD of the past week in North America.
So the film has found an audience…but I don’t know why…this movie just doesn’t work.
The screenplay isn’t funny, the actors spend so much time trying to outdo each other on screen that they aren’t believable as friends, much less comrades, and…I…can’t be bothered talking about this movie anymore.
If you decide to see it, go ahead, maybe you will like it better than I did.
But to be clear, I did not like WILD HOGS at all.
It is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
Okay, from the awful, lets get back to some good.
And we will cleanse ourselves from the stench of WILD HOGS with Jim Henson’s classic television program THE MUPPET SHOW, because SEASON TWO of the show is now available on DVD!!
All 24 episodes from the show’s second season are included on this digitally remastered and restored 4-disc DVD set.
The set also includes THE MUPPETS VALENTINE SPECIAL, rare archival footage and more.
But mostly, it features the classic characters we grew up with, doing what we best remember them for.
SEASON TWO of the show saw Jim Henson and crew win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Program, and the guest stars included Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Elton John, Julie Andrews, Don Knotts, Bernadette Peters, George Burns, John Cleese, Bob Hope, and many others.
I loved THE MUPPET SHOW when I watched it as a kid and a teenager, and I also enjoy watching it now on DVD, as an adult. I think you will too!!
Finally this week, our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the very entertaining Spanish Film WELCOME HOME.
Out of all of the foreign films I have told you about this summer, this is one of my favourites!
WELCOME HOME is about Samuel and Eva, a young couple, who move to Madrid after she is hired to play viola in the orchestra.
The two have been dating for a while, but had been living apart, and now Samuel is very nervous because they are moving in together.
However, Eva has an even bigger bit of news for him. News that will worry him even more…and make him reconsider everything he thinks he knows…she is pregnant.
In addition to the relationship side of WELCOME HOME, we meet the interesting people that Samuel works with and runs in to, including a movie critic who is blind, and an old friend who never got over the crush she had on him.
WELCOME HOME isn’t spectacular, in fact it isn’t really even all that unique a relationship movie.
But Pilar LĂ›pez de Ayala – the actress who plays Eva – and Alejo Sauras – who is Samuel – are just so believeable as these people, that the film works, perhaps in spite of itself.
It is an enjoyable way to spend two hours, and it is the third last selection in the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD.
The very enjoyable WELCOME HOME, SEASON TWO of the classic televison program THE MUPPET SHOW, the absolutely awful WILD HOGS, and the made-in-Manitoba thriller THE LOOKOUT are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Canadian Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling takes on manipulative criminal Anthony Hopkins in FRACTURE; and GOD GREW TIRED OF US is an utterly fascinating documentary about a group of Sudanese refugees granted asylum into the USA after wandering around Africa for years having been displaced by the wars in the 1990s.
Also next week, THE EX is an awful film about a slacker who is forced to work for his father-in-law; SEASON THREE of the superb TV series HOUSE debuts on DVD and our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the British film I FOR INDIA.
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!