The Couch Potato Report

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The Couch Potato Report – June 7th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels two documentaries, two sports related films and The FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD returns!!!
When I first received this week’s first release, or HOT POTATO, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
Was it a drama, a documentry? Did it play in theatres, or on TV? Who made it, was it Canadian?
THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION was it’s title, but I had not heard of it, and the DVD packaging wasn’t very clear.
But now that I have seen it, I know – and can tell you – that it is a documentary that was a National Film Board/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation co-production.
I also know that it is a film that I can recommend to you!
THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION takes place at a prison in an area of the desert near the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
At this prison hard-core criminals are given 90 days to tame and train mustang horses that have been corraled from the wild due to their over population..
Most of the inmates who volunteer for the program have never trained a horse before, ridden one, or even been near one before.
But maybe, just maybe, man and horse can work together to help each other find a better life.
The scenery in THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION is beautiful to look at, the wild mustangs are an incredible sight to see, and the prisoners and guards we meet along the way are all unique people.
The ending isn’t as strong as what preceeds it, but I still recommend the picture…especially if scenery or wild mustangs are things you enjoy watching.
THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION is a very engaging and interesting documentary.
Our next film is also a documentary, and it it succeds at that.
Yes, VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW succeeds at being a documentary about Vaughn and four comedians who go on a 30-city, 30-day, 30-show bus tour from Hollwood to Chicago.
What it doesn’t succeed at is being funny.
The film features footage from the tour’s performances, as well as behind-the-scenes and a host of surprise guests, and while the curiosity about what would happen if you put all of these people together on a bus for a month is assuaged….but you funny bone will barely be tickled.
The film is an hour and forty minutes long, and this is the only joke that made me laugh.
That is it, that is the one time I laughed during VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW.
Maybe you will laugh more than I did, and if you like Vince Vaughan, and are a HUGE fan of his work in OLD SCHOOL, SWINGERS or WEDDING CRASHERS, then maybe you need to see this one.
Otherwise, ignore this movie because you will feel the opposite of the guys on the bus towards the end of the film.
If you watch it, and I don’t think that you should, you will want VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW to come to an end.
However, if you are a fan of baseball and you start watching the television mini-series THE BRONX IS BURNING, even at 360 minutes, or six hours, you will still want more!
I sure did!!
John Turturro and Oliver Platt star in THE BRONX IS BURNING, which was adapted from Jonathan Mahler’s best-selling book, “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning.”
Both focus on baseball’s triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of 1977 New York City as the NYPD pursue the Son of Sam serial killer and the blackout and resultant widespread looting in July, all while the city suffered through financial bankruptcy and massive municipal layoffs.
But in the end, the New York Yankees came to embody all of the hopes and fears of that unforgettable summer in baseball with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson constantly fight, all while under George Steinbrenner’s leadership.
THE BRONX IS BURNING uses actual footage from 1977 and recreates others, putting the actors in the scenes, some with mixed success as it is very obvious the actor isn’t actually in the scenes they are imposed into.
But the real life drama of whether Billy Martin would be fired, whether bringing Reggie Jackson to New York was a mistake, and whether George Steinbrenner would leave all of them alone long enough to focus on playing baseball does allow the show to succeed as a whole.
And if you are like me, and you love the game of baseball, I think you will completely enjoy THE BRONX IS BURNING.
Even though I am a Toronto Blue Jays fan, which means I must hold nothing but complete disdain for the Yankees, I loved this series!
In fact, I loved it so much that I have already seen it twice…this is good stuff!
When Will Ferrell’s new sports comedy SEMI-PRO opened in theatres back in February, I admit that I thought it would be good stuff as well.
That expectation came because Ferrell had succeeded in entertaining us, and making us laugh – many times out loud – with his other sports comedies TALLADEGA NIGHTS and BLADES OF GLORY.
Plus, SEMI-PRO is set in 1976, and Ferrell had also succeeded in mining that forever interesting decade for big laughs in the great film ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY.
Yes, SEMI-PRO had the chance to be great…but there are very few perfect seasons in the sporting world, and there are even fewer perfect careers in the cinematic one.
In the film Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon and he plays that same overconfident guy who shouldn’t be confident at all role that he has mastered in his career. He is Jackie Moon here, the owner, promoter, coach, and star player of the Flint Michigan Tropics of the American Basketball Association.
In 1976 before the ABA collapses, the National Basketball Association agrees to merge with the best four teams at the end of the season.
The Tropics are the worst team in the league, but with a little extra work and dedication, maybe, just maybe they will survive to play another season.
Or maybe not.
Along with Ferrell, the film stars the can-be-funny Woody Harrelson, Andy Richter, and Toronto’s Will Arnett, but the end result is a film that tries hard to succeed, but ultimately doesn’t.
It has some entertaining moments, and so I think SEMI-PRO is a good film to rent on an evening when you need a few laughs, and the 2-DVD UNRATED edition features an extra 9 minutes that weren’t in the theatrical release.
But, know this going in, whatever version you watch, Ferrell has done better,… and here’s hoping he does better again.
Finally this week is the return of something I did last year at this time.
I usually don’t like to repeat myself, but since the action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season is upon us….I’d like to offer up an alternative.
So, each week from now to the end of the summer movie season, I will once again tell you about at least one current release on DVD that you’ll need your brain to enjoy….especially since most of them are subtitled.
Welcome to this year’s FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD!
This week’s film is the Dutch film WAITER, and this is one exceptionally interesting film!!
WAITER is about Edgar, a waiter who has an unfortunate streak of bad luck.
His wife is sick, his girlfriend is overly possessive, customers at work constantly bully him and his neighbours make his life impossible.
Fed up with the way his life is going, Edgar goes to the house of Herman, the scriptwriter who invented Edgar and is currently writing his story…as his story, and the film itself, plays on.
As interesting as WAITER is, I don’t think that it is a great film, but it does have some great twists and turns, and I was fascinated by where it took me.
Search it out, the film is called WAITER, and it is the latest entry in The FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD!!
The interesting, but not great Dutch film WAITER, the not funny except for once VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW, Will Ferrell’s latest sports parody SEMI-PRO, the great baseball mini-series THE BRONX IS BURNING and the unique Canadian documentary THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
If you find yourself in need of a gift idea for Father’s Day or a Graduate, you are in luck as I will tell you about 8 new DVD BOX SETS, including the 5 DVD Set for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, the 9-Disc release of ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, plus CROSSING JORDAN, THE COSBY SHOW, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and the 17 disc set that is THE BBC NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTION.
Plus, our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the film that won the Palm D’Or – the Top Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, the Romanian film 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.