The Couch Potato Report – March 26th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report reboots, takes in the last play at Shea, and 25 years later, still stands by you.
REBOOT is a Canadian CGI-animated action-adventure cartoon series that originally aired from 1994 to 2001. Produced in Vancouver it was the very first half-hour, completely computer-animated television series and it is set in the inner world of a computer system known by its inhabitants as Mainframe.
If you used to watch REBOOT every week and think how cool it was ñ like I did ñ you can now enjoy it once again with the release of the nine disc DEFINITIVE MAINFRAME EDITION Box Set, or the four disc set that houses SEASONS 1 & 2.
No, the computer animation doesnít hold up in this day and age, there are dozens of glitches in each episode, but REBOOT is still fun to watchÖjust as it was all those years ago.
This weekís second release will also primarily be enjoyed by people who have past memories of the man or stadium at its centerÖbut I think it is also a film that will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good documentary.
This is BILLY JOEL ñ LAST PLAY AT SHEA!
Now, before you dismiss it as just a Billy Joel concert film, let me tell you that LAST PLAY AT SHEA is so much more than that. For me, a Billy Joel concert film about the last concerts ever played at Shea Stadium in New York City would be more than enough, but this documentary also offers up a look at the many people who have played there over the years ñ athletes, singers, and even a certain Fab Four From England.
LAST PLAY AT SHEA remembers The Beatlesí appearance at the Stadium as it chronicles the intersecting histories of the legendary building along with Billy Joelís career AND the city of New York…and even if you think that none of that sounds interestingÖpick this up!! BILLY JOEL ñ LAST PLAY AT SHEA is a fantastic film!!!
Somewhere, someday, inevitably, someone will refer to THE TOURIST as fantastic, but it wonít happen right here, today, and that praise will never come from me.
THE TOURIST stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and while it is not a complete waste of time, it is very, very close.
Depp is a seemingly heartbroken man on vacation in Venice, Italy, who is randomly befriended by Jolie, a woman with a mysterious secret.
Sounds interestingÖyes it doesÖbut the ensuing web of dangerous deceit the script puts them in to is anything but interestingÖyes, they look beautiful, Venice looks beautifulÖbut you wonít care!!
THE TOURIST is for fans of Depp and Jolie only!!
HOW DO YOU KNOW is also a film for fans onlyÖfans of Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd or Owen Wilson, who all star in the pictureÖand fans of the movieís director ñ one Mr. James L. Brooks, who also gave the world the films TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, BROADCAST NEWS, and AS GOOD AS IT GETS, and was part of the creative team behind the television shows TAXI, THE SIMPSONS and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.
His work is so good, that even his worst is better than most peopleís bestÖand HOW DO YOU KNOW is certainly one of his worst.
Reese Witherspoon plays a woman who is evaluating her life, and who is caught and in the middle of a love triangle, with corporate guy Paul Rudd, and baseball player Owen Wilson.
As I said HOW DO YOU KNOW is for fans only, and I love James L. Brooksí work, AND Reese Witherspoon, so I liked it, but it is in no way greatÖin absolutely no way!
The skyline is our next topic, and this science-fiction action film wannabe ñ called SKYLINE ñ is a laughably bad action movie about some old friends who get together to celebrate a birthday, but when strange lights start to fall on Los Angeles from the sky, it is really an extraterrestrial force that threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the EarthÖand youÖwonít care!
SKYLINE has some okay effects and action, but it isnít worthy of your timeÖUNLESS, you love science fiction films and like to watch them all, good and bad.
Otherwise, skip it!
We have arrived now at ST. TRINIANíS II ñ THE LEGEND OF FRITTONíS GOLD, the seventh in the long-running series of films based on the works of cartoonist Ronald Searle. The first four films form a series, starting with The Belles of St Trinian’s in 1954, with sequels in 1957, 1960, 1966. The Wildcats of St Trinian’s came out in 1980, the last one debuted in 2007, and now there is a new one.
The films are about St. Trinians – a school for of “young ladies” ñ and in this one, set in the modern day, they are on the hunt for buried treasure.
Plain and simply, ST. TRINIAN’S II ñ THE LEGEND OF FRITTONíS GOLD is fun at times, but ultimately nothing special. Some teenage girls and anyone who enjoyed David Tennantís turn as DOCTOR WHO might enjoy parts of it…but to me ñ just like the last one – it is just trying too hard to be hip, cool and funny, but since it fails more than it succeeds, I just canít recommend it.
I also donít recommend the mostly live-action film based on the classic cartoon Yogi Bear, but young kids might get something out of it.
Not much, but something.
Canadian Dan Aykroyd does the voice of Yogi Bear and musician Justin Timberlake plays his buddy Boo Boo, and they are the only two animated characters in the filmÖeveryone else is real, not believably real, but real in a movie based on a cartoon sort of way.
The story here is about a documentary filmmaker who travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a movie about the park, and Yogi, and about Ranger Smithís plans to save the Park.
Ultimately, this version of YOGI BEAR is not completely awful, but it comes close. Yes, young kids might get something out of itÖbut not much.
I donít recommend the YOGI BEAR film, but I will always recommend the original cartoons, now that is entertainment!!
It is BLU-RAY BEACON time now, time for me to talk about the latest releases that are new in High Definition.
The made-in-Toronto-starring Toronto-as-Toronto film CHLOE is up first.
Julianne Moore stars as a doctor who suspects her husband ñ played by Liam Neeson ñ is cheating, so she hires an escort to seduce him.
The young actress Amanda Seyfried from LETTERS TO JULIET and DEAR JOHN stars as the escort, and she ñ and the entire cast ñ are great but this movie is so predictable that youíll be able to figure out whatís going to happen very early on.
Also working against it is the fact that there are too many things left unexplainedÖnamely some of the characterís motivations and decisions. Some of them are explained in the director Atom Egoyanís commentaryÖbut I donít think we should have to listen to a commentary to get the answers to a filmís questionsÖa good film provides them for us.
CHLOE is not a good film, and I donít like saying that as I am a huge fan of Atom Egoyan.
HOWEVERÖeven though I donít love the film, I do love the new Blu-ray of it. The movie has been out on DVD before, with only a few bonus features, but new feature that can only be found on the new Blur-ray makes this disc one that you should pick up!!
That extra is a 90 minute documentary on the Toronto based director, and his career, called THE STRANGE CASE OF ATOM EGOYAN.
This documentary is so insightful as it covers Egoyanís career from its beginnings in the early eighties, to his Academy Award nominated work in 1997ís THE SWEET HEREAFTER, right up to CHLOE. He appears, his wife offers her thoughts, and so do many of the actors who he has worked with over the years.
But most it offers a look behind the scenes of his filmsÖand that is the main reason I highly recommend THE STRANGE CASE OF ATOM EGOYANÖwhich you will find on the blu-ray for his film CHLOE.
Do not miss it!!
I have a trio of double features that are new together on Blu-ray for you now, and all of them are available for about twenty bucks eachÖyes, two movies on for $20!
The first set has a pair of spy thrillers ñ SPY GAME starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt and STATE OF PLAY with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Canadaís own Rachel McAdams.
Neither SPY GAME nor STATE OF PLAY are great films, but they are both very entertainingÖand for this price, you could do worse.
Like, if you had a disc that featured two late nineties Bruce Willis films, and neither one of them is named THE SIXTH SENSE or TWELVE MONKEYSÖyou would be doing worse.
This Bruce Willis Double Feature has his 1997 film THE JACKAL ñco-starring Ricahrd Gere ñ where he plays an assassin ñ and the 1998 non-classic MERCURY RISING, which also features Alec Baldwin as a bad guy.
I love Bruce Willis, he is one of my favourite action stars of all time, but MERCURY RISING and THE JACKAL are not two of his bestÖeven when paired together at a low price.
I watched both of them again this week, but I probably wonít ever sit through them again.
Two films I will watch again ñ one day ñ are also two films that I have seen several times since they both came out, but never back to back are the ELIZABETH films, starring Cate Blanchett in her Academy Award nominated roles as Elizabeth I of England.
Cate was nominated each time she has played ELIZABETH and both movies are fantastic. They are engaging and entertaining and on blu-ray, they look amazing!!
Do not miss this economically priced two blu-ray set!
Finally this week, THE BLU-RAY BEACON shines on a film that I think is one of the greatest of all timeÖRob Reinerís 1986 classic STAND BY ME.
It has been twenty-five years since the release of this story about four friends in the 1950s who take a two-day summer hike to see a dead body. They walk along, telling tall tales, cuss ’cause it’s cool and share a smoke after a meal, and they soon learn that ñ for the moment ñ that can count on each otherÖeven when the going gets tough
This blu-ray of STAND BY ME is a 25th Anniversary Edition and it offers a brand new feature, a picture in picture commentary with Reiner and co-stars Corey Feldman and Will Wheaton discussing the film.
When they get to the scene with River Phoenix, who died at the age of 23 of a drug overdose, talking about life letting him down, it provides a poignant moment as you can see the sorrow in their eyes for an actor ñ and friend ñ who died too young.
STAND BY ME is a true classic, and this 25th Anniversary Edition is must own, and would make a wonderful addition to your film library!
STAND BY ME, the double feature sets for ELIZABETH I/ELIZABETH ñ THE GOLDEN AGE, MERCURY RISING/THE JACKAL, SPY GAME/STATE OF PLAY, Atom Egoyanís film CHLOE, the mostly live-action version of YOGI BEAR, ST. TRINIANíS II ñ THE LEGEND OF FRITTONíS GOLD, SKYLINE, the likeable HOW DO YOU KNOW, the not very good THE TOURIST, BILLY JOELís very good LAST PLAY AT SHEA, and SEASONS 1 & 2 of the very first half-hour, completely computer-animated ñ Canadian television series REBOOT are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Quebec film THE BAIT, the animated Disney film TANGLED, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND starring Canadian Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, and the Academy Award winning film BLACK SWAN, with Natalie Portman.
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 again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – March 26th, 2011