The Couch Potato Report

Surely, I can be serious!!

The Couch Potato Report – October 15th, 2011

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is the birth of Canada, a bad superhero movie, and some fiction, of the pulp variety.

Our country, our home and native land…came into being on July 1st, 1967, after many disagreements, fights and arguments.

Some of those many disagreements, fights and arguments are featured in the made-in-Toronto television movie JOHN A – BIRTH OF A COUNTRY – which takes place from 1856 to 1864 and shows us the passionate struggle between John A. Macdonald and the Conservative Party and George Brown, the leader of what would become the Liberal Party.

Both have dramatically different visions for Canada – and a deep hatred for each other – but they realize that in order to create our country, they must put their differences aside.

JOHN A – BIRTH OF A COUNTRY satisfied both my love of my country, our history and my love of films. It also challenged me to remember some of the things I learned in Canadian History class in High School. It is insightful, informative and entertaining and is a great re-telling of our country’s origin story, without being too heavy handed about it.

I really enjoyed it!!

And I wanted to enjoy the big screen version of GREEN LANTERN, based on the DC Comics character of the same name, and starring Vancouver’s Ryan Reynolds – from THE PROPOSAL and X-MEN – WOLVERINE – but there isn’t much here to enjoy…unfortunately.

I like movies based on comic books, I even tend to enjoy the bad ones like DAREDEVIL, FANTASTIC FOUR and HOWARD THE DUCK, but GREEN LANTERN is worse than all of those.

The computer graphics and animation are not done well, there are too many story lines, and we meet too many characters who don’t get enough screen time, the tone of the film doesn’t work – Reynolds is too confident one minute, and then questioning everything the next – and too often GREEN LANTERN is just boring!

There have been many great Green Lantern comics – stories about a power ring and power lantern that give the user great control over the physical world as long as the wielder has sufficient willpower and strength to wield it – but there has yet to be a great movie.

And this one certainly isn’t it!!

Many people…mainly professional film critics and people studying film…will – and have – referred to this next movie as great. In fact, when the lists of the top ten films of the year start to appear in about eight weeks, THE TREE OF LIFE will likely appear on many of them.

It was already awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival and it may even get an Academy Award nomination or two.

But I think that THE TREE OF LIFE is boring and a complete waste of your time.

Oh sure, it is beautiful to look at and features some great performances – but you won’t care.

If THE TREE OF LIFE had come from any other filmmaker, it would have been dismissed as a noble failure, but since it is was written and directed by Terrence Malick – the man who also gave us 1973’s Badlands, Days of Heaven in 1978, 1998’s The Thin Red Line, and The New World in 2005 – it is being praised as a masterpiece.

But it isn’t one…it could be, but instead of just telling us the story of a family in the 1950s, the father’s efforts to give his three sons a better life, and the eldest one’s loss of innocence…THE TREE OF LIFE includes that story as part of what it presents…in addition to offering up a look at the creation of the universe. It also goes on for minutes at times with absolutely no dialogue…or dialogue you can’t hear….and, did I mention the dinosaurs?!? Yes, it even has dinosaurs!!!

THE TREE OF LIFE stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and some great young actors and they are very good at times…but the film itself is a waste of your time…unless you are a professional film critic or film student.

I have seen it twice now and even though I respect the fact that it tries to be something special, I hope I never have to see it again.

Never, ever!!

While I was very disappointed in THE TREE OF LIFE, I wanted to see it and I am glad that I did.

And that is also true with the very dramatic BEAUTIFUL BOY.

I don’t recommend it either, but again…I am glad that I’ve seen it.

BEAUTIFUL BOY is about a married couple who are trying to salvage their marriage, but seem headed toward a divorce.

Then their lives truly fall apart when their eighteen-year-old college freshman son goes on a shooting spree, killing several people, before turning the gun on himself.

BEAUTIFUL BOY stars character actors Michael Sheen and Maria Bello and it is well made and extremely well acted, and I like how it takes it time…moving slowly…to get where it’s going…but the subject matter is very intense, and as such this isn’t a film for everyone.

Again, I’m glad I’ve seen BEAUTIFUL BOY…but I can’t recommend that you do.

Once again, my friend, it is time to talk about television shows that have debuted on disc…and first out of the gate is the made-in-New Minas and Wolfville, Nova Scotia comedy CALL ME FITZ, starring BEVERLY HILLS 90120’s Jason Priestley as a morally bankrupt car salesman who reluctantly agrees to become business partners with an odd do-gooder, who also says that he is Priestley’s inner conscience.

SEASON ONE of CALL ME FITZ is a profane and blunt comedy where nothing is off limits and while it is not great, it is very entertaining at times.

I liked it!

From Nova Scotia and a morally bankrupt car salesman, we head now to Winnipeg to meet Todd Smith, a high school stoner headbanger who – along with his would be girlfriend Jenny, his best friend Curtis, and the geeky Hannah – search their high school for The Book Of Pure Evil, which grants the wishes of those who hold it in dark and sinister ways they didn’t intend.


SEASON ONE of this show is odd…and because it is odd and done with evil tongue planted firmly in cheek, it will not be for everyone. TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL is very cheesy at times, and it could be better – sadly it is never great…but it is fun and very clever at times, and I liked it. I really did like it!

A non-Canadian made show that is now out on disc is THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of CHUCK, the action, drama, comedy, and romance series about an “average computer-whiz-next-door” who has become a spy for the government.

And in THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON Chuck goes on a season long search for his mother and her redemption – and she is exceptionally well played by Linda Hamilton from THE TERMINATOR films.

CHUCK is one of those shows that I really like. It is smart, features a great cast, has some great spies, spy gear and stories. Plus, it is fun and funny and even features a nice love story.

If you have never seen CHUCK, I easily recommend it…all four seasons of it so far, and I am looking forward to the upcoming fifth and final season too!!

CHUCK is always full of pop culture references, like this one quoting STAR WARS

And there is a new STAR WARS release to tell you about this week as well…okay, it is a new LEGO STAR WARS release, I should say.

LEGO STAR WARS: THE PADAWAN MENACE is a fun animated film for the whole family that incorporates two things kids of all ages love, the building blocks game and George Lucas’ space adventure as Tour guide Master Yoda leads a group of rambunctious Jedi younglings through Senate chambers when he senses a disturbance in the Force.

The result is a blast!!

There is a very good story here…and the jokes fly from every direction…plus, there are no continuity rules, so don’t go in expecting something serious…it is just lighthearted fun!

But know this…at only 22 minutes long, LEGO STAR WARS: THE PADAWAN MENACE will leave you wanting more, so make sure the kids know it won’t last forever.

And may the force be with you.

Jokes…I love them!!…and one film full of them has kept me laughing for over thirty years now.

I am serious when I say that AIRPLANE is a classic film, and that it has repeatedly made me laugh, and I am also serious when I tell you that you can now enjoy it in High Definition on Blu-ray!!

AIRPLANE’s story is a parody of cinematic disaster films and the new Blu-ray comes with some great extras and features a crisp and great looking print. I just watched it, and I am looking forward to finding time to watch it – and laugh at it again!!

And yes…I am serious, Shirley!!

The final two titles I have for you this October morning are both tremendous films from writer director Quentin Tarantino, and both look and sound amazing in their new Blu-ray incarnations.

PULP FICTION is up first!

Released in 1994 PULP FICTION’s rich, eclectic dialogue, ironic mix of humour and violence, nonlinear storyline, and host of cinematic allusions and pop culture references changed cinema and movies. It was a deserving winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and Tarantino and co-writer Roger Avary deserved their Oscars for Best Original Screenplay.

PULP FICTION is about two hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits whose lives intertwine during four stories of violence and redemption and the blu-ray comes with a wealth of Special Features, old and brand spanking new!

Tarantino’s follow-up to PULP FICTION was the smaller, and more mature JACKIE BROWN – based on the novel by Elmore Leonard – about an aging female flight attendant who is put in between the police and an arms dealer in a fight for her freedom.

The great seventies action star Pam Grier stars as the title character.

JACKIE BROWN doesn’t offer up as much new materials as PULP FICTION on Blu-ray, but the film itself is still an understated masterpiece.

It might not have changed movies the way PULP did, but it is still a fantastic film in its own right!!

I admire, respect, enjoy and highly recommend them both.

Quentin Tarantino’s JACKIE BROWN and PULP FICTION, the classic comedy AIRPLANE, the animated LEGO STAR WARS: THE PADAWAN MENACE, the dramatic BEAUTIFUL BOY, THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of CHUCK, SEASON ONE of the made-in-Winnipeg TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL, SEASON ONE of the made in New Minas and Wolfville, Nova Scotia series CALL ME FITZ, Terence Malick’s not-a-classic THE TREE OF LIFE, the definitely not-a-classic GREEN LANTERN, and the great Canadian history film JOHN A – BIRTH OF A COUNTRY are all available now in stores and online.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

SEASON THREE of the CBC series BEING ERICA, every single episode of THE TRAILER PARK BOYS, Cameron Diaz stars in the too tame comedy BAD TEACHER, and the super cool eighties comedy PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE debuts on blu-ray.

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!