The Couch Potato Report

There are a few things worth watching this week! Enjoy!!

The Couch Potato Report – April 19th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels one film that you have heard of, and three you might not have.
It is inevitable when a film does well at the box office, receives critical acclaim, AND garners multiple Academy Award nominations, that there will be at least one person who says they don’t like it, or that they have problems with it.
Well, when it comes to this week’s Hot Potato – the four-time Oscar nominated, $140 million box office success, made in British Columbia film JUNO – on this day, that one person is me.
Admittedly, I am a huge fan of the last 38 minutes of the movieƖbut with few exceptions, the first 58 minutes just didn’t work for me.
And I attribute that to two things – the lead actress, Oscar nominee Ellen Page – and the majority of the dialogue, which even Diablo Cody won an Oscar for it, just seems fake.
Now I know that people who are very close friends sometimes talk to each other in shorthand,…we all use slang in our daily conversations, and that is true whether you are a teenager, or haven’t been in years, so I could have been able to cut the film some slack for that, but that slack goes out the window when our lead character – a 16 year old who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy and decides to give it up for adoption – meets the people she is going to give the baby to, and their lawyer, and she talks to them the same way she talks to her friends.
It was at moments such as those that I actually found the lead character unlikeable.
No, the dialogue in the first 58 minutes of JUNO did not ring true, or appeal to me, even though it won an Oscar. It is self indulgent, not very witty, and I think it hurts the movie.
The other reason I had a problem with The first 58 minutes of JUNO, and I also just didn’t care for the actress who plays Juno, Halifax’s Ellen Page – who received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress for her work.
The problem that I have with Page is the fact that she plays the same character in every film….she always plays the “I’m smarter than you, know it all teen.” She did it in this film, she did it in the film HARD CANDY in 2005, and if you go to see the film SMART PEOPLE, which is in theatres right now, she is playing the same character again!!
Alright, enough negativity…that is what I didn’t like about JUNO…let me get to what I liked, because even with a self-indulgent first hour, there is a lot to like in this film…and it all starts when Juno runs into Jennifer Garner’s Vanessa, the woman she is giving her baby to, in the mall and Vanessa puts her hands on Juno’s very pregnant stomach.
That scene is magic, and at that point of the movie, even the filmmakers seem to realize that the forced and indulgent dialogue, and the fact that Page is playing Juno as the “I’m smarter than you, know it all teen.” has to end, and it becomes a very entertaining film.
One with real people, in real situations, dealing with the problems they encounter – however unfortunate – the way that you and I might, and I think that is why it struck a chord with audiences the way it has.
I loved the last 38 minutes of JUNO…however, the film has to be looked at as an entire 96 minute piece…so would I recommend it to you?
I would…even with all of it’s flaws in the first two-thirds, there are still some entertaining and funny moments, and the script allows Juno’s parents to seem like real people, not movie people…so I happily tell you that this is a film that I think you should see.
And if you don’t care for the film at the start, just know that it builds to a beautiful conclusion!
Okay, four other films to get to this week, and I will start with BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, the latest from the director who gave us TWELVE ANGRY MEN, SEPRICO, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK and THE VERDICT.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD is a great, tension filled heist picture about two down-on-their-luck brothers who organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelery store, but the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that change the lives of everyone around them.
This film has a tremendous cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney and Marissa Tomei, and it is very well written, but it starts off so stong that just can’t maintain it’s frantic and unique pace for the entire film…in fact it really slows down toward the end, but it is still very interesting and engaging, and you will definitely want to see how it all wraps up.
That is not the case with RESERVATION ROAD, as tragic as the story is at the centre of this picture, you might not care how it ends.
One night, a family stops at a gas station and their young son Josh wanders off toward the road.
Dwight is driving past the same station with his son in the SUV when he accidentally swerves over to the other lane and hits Josh.
He knows he has hit a kid, he is the only witness, but he doesn’t stop.
Haunted by the tragedy, both fathers – Dwight and Ethan – wrestle with their new lives and their new realities.
Will Dwight turn himself in?
Will Ethan find his son’s killer before he goes insane?
RESERVATION ROAD features Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo as the fathers, and has Oscar winners Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino in supporting roles as their wives, but while the cast is great, and the script has a few unique twists and turns, ultimately this is not a film that I can recommend. It is just too slow, and takes waaay too long to get to it’s conclusion.
Now, the suspence thriller P2 is a film that I recommend…especially if you you enjoy smart and interesting films with a horrific twist, no matter how uncomfortable they make you while you watch them!
Filmed in Toronto, P2 is about a businesswoman who is being pursued by a pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.
Yes, there are some very predictable moments in this film, but there are also more than a few plot elements and twists that we haven’t seen before, plus there are several horrific scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart.
If you enjoy suspence thriller or horror films, then P2 is a must see!
And if you do enjoy those types of movies, then perhaps you were part of the audience that made the remake of the 1980 film PROM NIGHT number one at the Box Office last weekend.
The first PROM NIGHT film came out in 1980, and it was a very original horror film, in it’s day, and a huge success, spawning three sequels, which each had less and less in common with the original, and each were less and less worthy of your time.
However, in the unique first one, a masked killer stalks four teens responsible for the accidential death of a child six years earlier at their high school’s senior prom.
THE PROM NIGHT COLLECTION contains the original four films in the series, and if you are fans of them, then this box set is for you.
Plus, it contains one of the last serious roles that Saskatchewan’s own Leslie Nielsen did before he became a comedic actor with the release of AIRPLANE!
THE PROM NIGHT COLLECTION, the interesting suspence thriller P2, the not great film RESERVATION ROAD, the tension filled BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, and JUNO – the Academy Award winning film that has a great final 38 minutes, but a not-as-great first hour – are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling stars as a man who falls in love with a life size mannequin in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
And the made-in-Calgary film RESURRECTING THE CHAMP is about a reporter who meets a homeless man who may just be a former boxing champion.
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!