The Couch Potato Report

Some good stuff in here this week…which might make great gifts (Ho Ho Ho!!!)!!!

The Couch Potato Report – December 17th, 2011

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is a redneck horror comedy, apes will rise, and the girl with the dragon tattoo is extended.

It is the last weekend before Christmas, when family, trees, candy canes, gifts, and visions of sugar-plums are dancing in our heads….so what better time than now for the release of a made-in-Alberta film about two best friends who are on vacation at their new home in the woods.

Two friends…named Tucker and Dale…who are mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of obnoxious, preppy college kids.

Yes, with just a week left until Christmas, here is a film about love, friendship, life, and occasionally death, called TUCKER AND DALE VERSUS EVIL.

Shot on a private ranch west of Calgary, just outside the town of Cochrane, Alberta, TUCKER AND DALE VERSUS EVIL stars Canadian actor Tyler Labine of the television show REAPER and Alan Tudyk from FIREFLY, SERENITY and DOLLHOUSE.

By no stretch of the imagination is TUCKER AND DALE VERSUS EVIL a good film. The horror stuff isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, the acting isn’t always that good, the comedy is rarely funny, and you can predict most of what is going to happen long before it does.

That said, it is entertaining, odd and horrific enough that it could become a cult classic…one of those movies that finds a devoted and obsessive fan base. So if you usually love comedy horror films like this, search it out.

Otherwise…skip it.

In addition to co-starring in TUCKER AND DALE VERSUS EVIL, Canadian actor Tyler Labine also appeared in another film this year…one that completely works and is really entertaining and enjoyable…one that I will recommend to everyone.

Labine stars as a lab technician in the latest film in the long running PLANET OF THE APES series…this is RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, a prequel to all of the films, television episodes, and stories that we have seen from this franchise over the years…where man is brute and ape intelligent…and it shows how the apes’ dominance over humankind began.

James Franco from the Academy Award winning film MILK as a scientist who – while looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease – ends up giving the chimpanzee he has been testing his work on greater intelligence.

I didn’t expect to like RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, or even mildly enjoy it, but it is much better than I expected.

There is great dialogue and action scenes, the computer generated apes and special effects are mostly seamless and it and will easily end up on my list of the year’s best!!

I can’t wait to see another one!!

The apes, and monkeys, and gorillas and chimpanzees in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES were almost all created by computer.

The chimpanzee featured in the documentary PROJECT NIM is all real…too real at times.

PROJECT NIM is about Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child in the 1970s as a New York City professor wanted to conduct an experiment to see if a baby chimp could be raised like a human baby and learn to communicate with people.

For a time, it did work!! Nim learned sign language, the experiment was going well, and the family who took him in seemed to have been the right choice.

For a time.

But as Nim gets older, he gets bigger and stronger, and his natural wild instincts take over. He becomes difficult to control and is bounced from home to home and person to person at great cost sometimes to the people, and especially Nim.

PROJECT NIM is a fascinating film – from the makers of the Academy Award winning documentary MAN ON WIRE – that looks at the experiment from all sides and costs. It is interesting, engaging, fun, and even shocking at times.

I highly recommend it.

There is monkey in this next release as well, but it is not the star or focus of the film…the monkey plays a supporting role here.

The star of this one is a Panda…a Kung Fu Panda!!

KUNG FU PANDA 2 is the sequel to the 2008 fun, fantastic, family film KUNG FU PANDA and while this one isn’t as good as the original, it is still fun and entertaining, for us adults, and kids will love it!!

In this one Po joins forces with Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon.

Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan and Canada’s own Seth Rogen are back providing the voices in KUNG FU PANDA 2 and Gary Oldman joins the cast as the villain, allowing the film to offer up the back story of where the Kung Fu Panda came from.

I did, I liked it…and I easily recommend it…especially to kids.

It is time now for Season 14 of The Simpsons…one which features guest appearances from Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Tony Hawk, Blink 182, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger!

This is the season when the show started to use digital animation and coloring, abandoning cels, ink and paint, so the overall look of the show is different, it is much better and crisper.

As for the stories, truth be told THE FOURTEENTH SEASON was not THE SIMPSONS strongest season, but it still made me laugh out loud more than a few times, and I enjoyed watching all of the episodes again.

If you need a laugh – or two – this holiday season…or anytime…pick up THE FOURTEENTH SEASON of THE SIMPSONS!!

I still laugh at THE SIMPSONS…and from time to time, I also laugh at FAMILY GUY, although rarely as hard, and not as much.

But…I did laugh, more than a few times…and occasionally even out laugh at VOLUME 9 of FAMILY GUY when I watched the 3-Disc set this week.

This FAMILY GUY set contains 14 episodes…the last 11 episodes of season 8 – not including the Star Wars parody “Something, Something, Something Dark Side” – and the first 3 episodes of season 9.

This set also includes the show’s 150th episode, and even though FAMILY GUY is a show that has been well past its prime for years…with decent episodes few and far between…I do still laugh at it, occasionally.

So, allow me to recommend FAMILY GUY – VOLUME 9 to those who love the show, always have, and always will!!

To the rink we go now for the NHL’s TOP TEN RIVALRIES!

NHL Top 10 Rivalries is an hour long program that takes a look at the league’s fiercest competitors.

Current and former players, coaches, and historians relive memories and go behind the scenes of some of the game’s most unforgettable match-ups.

The rivalries include – without giving you number one – the Rangers and the Islanders, the battle of Alberta, the Canadians and Bruins, the battle of Quebec, the battle of Pennsylvania, and more.

NHL TOP TEN RIVALRIES is a great release, that features some fantastic old time hockey, and the best of the modern game.

I really enjoyed it, and GO LEAFS GO!!!

There is some fighting in NHL TOP TEN RIVALRIES, but it is not about fighting.

The remake…I mean reboot of CONAN THE BARBARIAN is about fighting…nothing but fighting…and I didn’t care at all.

The 1982 version of CONAN THE BARBARIAN is not a true Hollywood classic, but it is – in the very least – an enjoyable action film, one that I have seen many times, and will eventually watch again.

The attempt to reboot the series is one I hope to never watch again. It is just fight after fight after fight after fight after fight after fight, and I just didn’t care.

And when there was a story, and acting…I didn’t care either.

Action film junkies who need to see everything that comes out, and fight film fans…this version of CONAN THE BARBARIAN is for you!!

Everyone else should skip it!!

And everyone…and I mean everyone, kids, teenagers, adults, everyone should skip SPY KIDS – ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD!

This fourth film in the once entertaining SKY KIDS franchise is awful!!

The Spy Kids series is a series of family action adventure films written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez.

The first one – which is still – by far – the most entertaining one – came out in 2001.

The most recent one was released back in August and it isn’t entertaining at all!!

In SPY KIDS – ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD Jessica Alba plays a retired spy who is called back to action when a maniacal villain attempts to take over the world. Her two step kids are also put to work.

The biggest problem with this series is that it has played itself out. There is nothing new, fresh, or even fun about the series anymore…and this new one commits the ultimate sin of movies focussing around kids…it features kids who aren’t likeable.

Plus, there is a villain who is laughable, and he – and all of his sidekicks – are all played – poorly – by Jeremy Piven of ENTOURAGE.

And the great British Comedian Ricky Gervais doesn’t faire much better as the voice of a robotic dog.

Bottom line…blech!!! SPY KIDS – ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD is a waste of time…I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Let’s never speak of it again!!

Out of all of this week’s films, the one that you avoid at all costs is a two year old movie that is only being released because the star is about to hit the big screen in a HUGE Winter blockbuster.

Rooney Mara will soon appear on screens in the Hollywood remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and that is the only reason – the only one – why a boring, predictable, useless film called TANNER HALL is coming out.

This thing is awful!!

TANNER HALL is a film about four teenage girls who go to an all-girls boarding school.

It would like to be a complex, coming of age film…but it isn’t.

It is just a waste of your time!! The only reason I mention it is because no matter how good Rooney Mara is in her big Hollywood film, you must skip TANNER HALL.

It is an awful, boring movie!!

Finally this week is something special!!

Back in May, I gave a glowing review to a collection of three films – STIEG LARSSON’S DRAGON TATTOO TRILOGY – with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST, all based on the best-selling books of the same name.

Right now I want to give higher praise to set that has been released featuring the EXTENDED EDITIONs of all three films!!

This is one of the greatest sets I have ever seen!!

For the uninitiated, the primary characters in this series are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is an intelligent, eccentric woman with a photographic memory and bad social skills. Blomkvist is a well-known investigative journalist.

They work together to solve mysteries, murders and to try and keep each other out of jail.

The film series – like the books – starts off very strong and slows down considerably by the time we get to the end, but there are so many story lines in the books that the last two films couldn’t get as many as they could have in…and thus the films weren’t as compelling.

But the EXTENDED EDITIONS of the films have 55 and 39 minutes of extra footage, respectively and that makes quite a difference!!

The films now have as many great twists and turns as the books, don’t pull any punches, and they are utterly fascinating!!

Due to some very graphic scenes, these movies aren’t for everyone…but if you can stomach some cinematic violence THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO TRILOGY – EXTENDED EDITION is one box set that you should not miss…in fact see all of the films, AND read the books!

This is entertainment at its finest, and this release is superb AND spectacular!!

The spectacular EXTENDED EDITION of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO TRILOGY, the useless TANNER HALL, the awful SPY KIDS – ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, the action packed remake of CONAN THE BARBARIAN, the hockey film NHL TOP TEN RIVALRIES, VOLUME 9 of the occasionally still funny FAMILY GUY, THE FOURTEENTH SEASON of the continually funny show THE SIMPSONS, the entertaining family film KUNG FU PANDA 2, the great documentary PROJECT NIM, the very also great Summer reboot RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and the made-in-Alberta redneck horror comedy TUCKER AND DALE VERSUS EVIL are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The made-in-Toronto film CONDUCT UNBECOMING, the family film DOLPHIN TALE, Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham star in the EXTENDED VERSION of the all-star action film THE EXPENDABLES, and Ontario’s Rachel McAdams co-stars with Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s very entertaining film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.

In the meantime, if you would like to tell me about something you watched, that you’d recommend…or suggest people skip…email me at

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!