The Couch Potato Report – January 1st, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report hangs out with a pair of Calgary head-bangers and weíll wake up a Sleeping Beauty.
The entertaining, low budget mockumentary FUBAR was released in 2002. Set in Calgary, the film is about Terry and Dead, two lifelong head-banger friends who both sport mullets, love hard rock and roll and they especially enjoy drinking beer, of the Pil variety.
The guys are just trying to live out their lives, and the film about them is about friendship, cancer, the fragility of life, growing up gracefully, and the art and science of drinking beer.
FUBAR is the type of film that if you love it, you love itÖand if you donít, you donít. I have always liked, but not loved it, and so it was with a little bit of excitement that I greeted FUBAR II.
In this one, Terry and Dean have no jobs and no place to live, so they head to Fort McMurray when their friend Tron says he can get them high-paying jobs laying oil pipeline.
Once there, Dean decides to injure himself to try and get Workersí Compensation and Terry gets a local waitress pregnant.
Oh, and there is also a suicide pact.
Much like the fist film, the dialogue in FUBAR II is primarily improvised, and just like the original, this one is profane, but fun. Terry and Dean are idiots, but they make me laugh, and so I like their films.
Party on, boys!!
The FUBAR movies are fun, however they are quite profaneÖin fact The ìFî Word is said 274 times in the first movie, and just as many times in the secondÖso they are not for everyone.
On the other hand, the great Disney animated films THE LITTE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN and THE LION KING are for everyone!!
All of those classic animated movies came out between 1989 and 1994, during the midst of the so-called Disney Renaissance, and they are featured in the spectacular documentary WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY.
In the years after Walt Disney’s death in December of 1966, it seemed as if the studio had lost itís way as they were producing well-animated films ñ like THE ARISTOCATS, THE FOX AND THE HOUND, THE BLACK CALDRON, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE ñ that were well made, but all of them were lacking that Disney magic.
Then, in 1984, a revolt by stockholders brought in a new management team, including Jeffrey Katzenberg ñ who took over the animation division ñ and we film lovers were the main benefactors as the glory days were back!!
Plus, some of the business deals that took place during this time would pay off for everyone down the road.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is a documentary about the period at Disney animation from the less than successful early 1980s through the return of the glory days of 1989 to 1994.
The films takes us behind the scenes during the down days, and we meet the people responsible ñ the people who had the ideas and created the songs and characters ñ the folks responsible for THE LITTE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, THE LION KING ñ and others ñ being the classic films we regard to this day.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is insightful, engaging, informative, interesting and very entertaining. It is a must see for all movie fans!!
And so is THE BOYS ñ THE SHERMAN BROTHERS STORY!!
The brothers are Richard and Robert Sherman, and together they wrote songs for MARY POPPINS, THE JUNGLE BOOK, WINNIE THE POOH, and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG ñ among many others ñ they wrote hits like ìYou’re Sixteenî ñ among others ñ and together they also wrote songs for Disneyís Theme Parks, such as ìTiki Roomî and ìIts a Small World (After All)î ñ among others.
These two guys alone are responsible for many of the songs from my childhood ñ and yours ñ songs that are sung the world over, to this day, four plus decades after they were writtenÖand guess what? The two brothers who wrote them, didnít like each other all that much.
No, Richard and Robert Sherman didnít enjoy being together, but once they were in the same roomÖmagic happened.
THE BOYS ñ THE SHERMAN BROTHERS STORY is a documentary that was made by the sons of Richard and Robert, and it is fantastic and insightful.
I highly, highly recommend it!!
As it turns out, I actually have a third documentary for you know about Walt Disney. This one is about the ten weeks in 1941 when Walt, his wife Lilly, and sixteen of his staff visited Latin America to gather story material for a series of films, after being asked to do so by the government.
This film is called WALT & EL GRUPO.
WALT & EL GRUPO takes us to Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile and uses letters, photographs, new footage of places the artists visited, and interviews with people who welcomed Disney and his teamÖincluding journalists.
Like THE BOYS ñ THE SHERMAN BROTHERS STORY and WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY, WALT & EL GRUPO is insightful, informative and interesting ñ at times, but unlike those two other films, this one runs way too long, and while it presents a unique look at this trip, it isnít a must see.
WALT & EL GRUPO is for Disney aficionados only.
Walt Disney lived his whole life in the United States of America. When he was a little boy he and his family lived on a farm in Missouri. Then once he was older he moved to California in hopes of starting his own business.
However, his father, Elias Disney, grew up in CanadaÖhe was born in the rural village of Bluevale, Ontario. He was a farmer and a businessman, before moving to California with his father in 1878 in hopes of finding gold.
Bluevale is located in South Western Ontario, about 189 kilometres or two hours and sixteen minutes from Toronto, where this weekís next film was filmed.
RESIDENT EVIL ñ AFTERLIFE is the fourth film that is based loosely on the horror video game series Resident Evil. It stars Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter from HEROES, Wentworth Miller of PRISON BREAK and Saskatoon born actor Kim Coates.
In the film Milla Jovovichís Alice searches for and rescues remaining survivors in Los Angeles, and they team up against the Umbrella Corporation, who created the T-virus outbreak.
Much like the other three RESIDENT EVIL films, AFTERLIFE is not greatÖbut it does feature some very good action scenes, computer graphics and special effects.
If you are in the mood for some cinematic action this holiday season, check it out.
Now, if you are in the mood for a European style thrillerÖand note that I said ìEuropean StyleîÖwhich is a type of film that movies a bit slower than North American action thrillersÖif that is what you are in the mood for, than check out THE AMERICAN, starring George Clooney.
THE AMERICAN is an adaptation of the 1990 novel ìA Very Private Gentlemanî by Martin Booth and it is about an assassin and gun maker who heads to a small town in the Italian countryside, after a job goes wrong in Sweden.
He is hired to make a weapon for a client, and he tells his employer that this assignment will be his last.
And it might even be his last ever.
If THE AMERICAN sounds like a film from a couple of years ago called IN BRUGES, well the two films are very similar. I think IN BRUGES is a better all round film, and if you havenít seen it I still highly recommend that one, and I liked THE AMERICAN as well.
But as I said, it is a European style thriller, where nothing happens on screen sometimes for minutes on end. Instead, the movie takes itís time to get where its goingÖand I liked THE AMERICAN because of that.
Another American is the focus of this next film ñ a former American President, in fact.
THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP is about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his working relationship with Bill Clinton…his ìspecial relationshipî
Michael Sheen has now played Tony Blair in three films ñ THE DEAL and THE QUEEN being the other two ñ and he offers his usual very reliable performance, Hope Davis is dead on as Hilary, Dennis Quaid is surprisingly good as Bill Clinton and as a resultÖTHE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP is a very engaging, very good film that is well told and acted.
Up next are two releases that were filmed in and around Vancouver. THE BLU-RAY BEACON will shine on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR in just a moment, but firstÖthis is CAPRICA.
For the non-science fiction fans out there, CAPRICA was a spin-off prequel series of the remade Battlestar Galactica television series, taking place about 58 years prior to the events of Battlestar Galactica.
CAPRICA worked best when it foreshadowed event sthat would later take place in GALACTICA, including an in-depth look at how humanity first created the robotic Cylons who would later plot to destroy humans in retaliation for their enslavement.
However, there werenít enough of those scenes, plot lines and stories, and ñ on itís own ñ CAPRICA wasnít a strong enough show to survive and it has now been cancelled after one season.
CAPRICA ñ SEASON 1.5 is a three-disc set featuring the second half of that ill-fated lone season, and if you are like me ñ and you love BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or youíll watch absolutely any science fiction shows or films that come out ñ then you should see it, otherwiseÖdonít.
CAPRICA is a series that didnít work, there wasnít enough going on to keep viewers interested. In Battlestar Galactica the writers always had a wealth of interesting scenes, storylines and characters for us to enjoy.
However, at one point there was a 12 month period ñ between seasons 3 and 4 ñ when there were no Battlestar Galactica stories being toldÖand that was an awful time as we waited for what became the fourth and final season.
However, in November of 2007 a movie called RAZOR debuted on TV and DVD, and it is now available on Blu-ray as a stand-alone release as well!!
RAZOR sets up some of the events that were to take place in Season 4, but when you look at BATTLESTAR GALACTICA as a whole, chronologically it is actually a prequel that takes place during Season 2, when Galactica had unexpectedly met up with a fellow Battlestar, Pegasus.
Now, if that explanation doesnít mean anything to you, you should skip RAZORÖeven though I continue to HIGHLY recommend the re-imagined series as fantastic ñ even for those who donít usually watch science-fiction.
But if you are a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fan, and you donít already own RAZOR as part of the fourth series on Blu-rayÖthen donít miss it!!
This is good stuff!!
The final title I have for you this week is all about a TEENAGE PAPARAZZOÖin fact, that is the name of it.
TEENAGE PAPARAZZO is a documentary made by Adrien Grenier ñ of the television show ENTOURAGE ñ all about a 13-year-old kid who is a paparazzi photographer in Hollywood.
In addition to just being about the kid, TEENAGE PAPARAZZO also looks at the sliding slope relationship that exists between celebrity and the media, as well as society itself.
TEENAGE PAPARAZZO is very interesting at times, but as it goes on the kid ñ who seems charming and interesting at the beginning of the film ñ becomes annoying and kind of a jerkÖand the film suffers when he becomes unlikeable.
Still ñ that said ñ I think there is enough here to recommendÖespecially if you like celebrities, and celebrity culture.
TEENAGE PAPPARAZZO, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR, CAPRICA ñ SEASON 1.5, THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP, THE AMERICAN, RESIDENT EVIL ñ AFTERLIFE, WALT & EL GRUPO, the amazing documentaries THE BOYS ñ THE SHERMAN BROTHERS STORY, WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY and the Canadian head-banger comedy FUBAR II are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The fun films MACHETE and DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, the horror films THE LAST EXORCISM and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, MAOíS LAST DANCER and an internet thriller called CATFISH.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, HAPPY NEW YEAR and that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – January 1st, 2010