The Couch Potato Report

The weekend is here…how about a movie review?!

The Couch Potato Report – November 3rd, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report safety is not guaranteed, but I do guarantee that I’ll recommend THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Sometimes, it is my complete pleasure here on The Report to shine the spotlight on a smaller film, one that you might not even notice and certainly wouldn’t watch unless someone pointed it out to you.

This is one of those times and so, ahead of the big studio comedy THE CAMPAIGN starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, I would like to tell you about a movie called SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.

Aubrey Plaza from the television show PARKS & RECREATION stars here as one of three magazine employees who are assigned to do a story on a man who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.

And safety is not guaranteed.

As I watched SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED I really enjoyed the characters and their backstories, and felt empathy for them…and also had more than a few laughs. I especially enjoyed the fact that the film made it seem as if I was watching real people on screen, and not just movie characters.

I also hoped that the ending would serve the rest of the film well and not be a let down…and I am happy to say that I was not let down at all.

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED isn’t perfect, but it is an odd and quirky and fun little movie that I really enjoyed.

Search it out, I think you’ll enjoy it too.

As is true with big budget films, not all small films are created equal. Sometimes low budget, odd and quirky don’t work. That is the definitely the case with one called RUBY SPARKS.

This is the story of a once successful novelist who has writer’s block and just can’t seem to come up with any ideas for his long overdue second book. He is also struggling with finding love.

One night, after dreaming about a woman in the park, he begins to write about her…and she turns up in his house.

The writer manages to create a character named Ruby Sparks that will love him…thus solving his writer’s block temporarily…and when there is something he doesn’t like about her, he changes her.

Yes, this is a tale about being careful what you wish for…unless you can re-write your wish.

Now everything about RUBY SPARKS, to me, including the fact that it is from the same directors who gave us LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE back in 2006, set it up to be a nice surprise of a film…but it isn’t odd and quirky in a good way. And at one point, the writer is actually mean to Ruby…and that scene didn’t work for me at all.

RUBY SPARKS isn’t a bad movie, but it isn’t necessarily good either. I can’t honestly say I disliked it, so let me give it a very mild recommendation.

I will also give the big-budget comedy THE CAMPAIGN starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis a mild recommendation, because while the film does have some HUGE laughs…it doesn’t have enough of them.

Will Ferrell stars here as a long serving U.S. congressman who is a starting to get too comfortable in his position and is rubbing some of his rich constituents the wrong way, and so they recruit Galifianakis’ naïve man-child – who just wants to make his father proud of him – to run as the opponent.

And as I said, there are some HUGE laughs, especially in the scene where Ferrell is asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Almost every scene that Ferrell and Galifianakis are great, but THE CAMPAIGN doesn’t work as well when they are apart.

This isn’t a classic comedy, but it is worth the price of a rental as you will laugh. I sure did!

I didn’t laugh while watching director Tim Burton’s big screen version of the 1970s soap DARK SHADOWS, starring Johnny Depp.

I also wasn’t scared. I wasn’t anything, for although the film has a spectacular cast and great production values, it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a comedy? A drama? A horror film? A fish-out-of-water tale? It has no idea, and as I result, I just didn’t care.

Depp plays a vampire who is set free after being buried for two-hundred years to discover out that his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. The cast also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee and even Alice Cooper.

Great cast, bad movie.

No, DARK SHADOWS isn’t the worst film that I have seen this year, but it is in the top ten. Skip it, you don’t need to waste your time on it.

So far, the 2012-2013 television season hasn’t provided me with too many new shows to watch, which is too bad as I like to watch television shows, to see how characters and storylines develop over a multi-episode and multi-season arcs.

NASHVILLE is about the only new show that I am hooked on…and that is actually okay as had I had more new stuff to watch, I wouldn’t have been able to re-watch – and completely enjoy – the entire fifth season of MAD MEN over the past couple of weeks.

And enjoy it I did!!

MAD MEN is the Emmy winning show about an advertising agency in the 1960s, and it’s unique cast of characters, most notably the mysterious but extremely talented ad executive Donald Draper.

In SEASON FIVE of MAD MEN, the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency continues to survive, and even thrive at times, as the staff adapt to changing times.

Whenever I watch MAD MEN I constantly wish that all television, all forms of entertainment could be this good. The writing is spectacular, the acting superb, and the attention to detail in the sixties set pieces and props is amazing!!

This world exists, these people exist and if you aren’t watching this show yet, I highly recommend that you do.

MAD MEN – SEASON FIVE is as good as entertainment gets!!

For four of the last five years MAD MEN was named the winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, and going into Emmy Night, back on September 23rd, there was no reason to believe that it wouldn’t win a fifth straight trophy.

Yet, somehow, it didn’t.

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series this year went to a new show called HOMELAND…and while that too is an exceptional show, I don’t think it is anywhere near as good as MAD MEN.

But it is an exceptional show.

HOMELAND is a tense, well written show with some great performances from Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin.

It is about a Marine Sergeant who returns home eight years after going missing in Iraq and the manic, driven and bipolar CIA officer who suspects that this new national hero might actually be plotting an attack on America.

At first her superiors believe her, but then they start to think that maybe she is “working too hard”. Eventually she puts herself in a compromising position and has to be removed from the case…but she never actually gives up.

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of HOMELAND features a tremendous storyline that unfolds over the course of the show’s twelve episodes and I really, really enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.

After re-watching it all again, I still don’t think that it is better than MAD MEN…but they are both exceptional, and that is good enough for me.

Not exceptional is the two part television re-make of the 1978 film COMA…not exceptional in any way…this thing is pointless!!

Even if there had never been that 1978 original – starring Montreal’s Geneviève Bujold and Michael Douglas – this new version would still be boring, I just truly did not care and I wanted it to end!!

COMA is about a young medical student who discovers that something sinister seems to be going on in her hospital.

Healthy patients are slipping into comas on the operating table after routine procedures…and you won’t care.

This new version is slow moving and boring, it is poorly written and the acting is sub-par.

Skip the remake of COMA at all costs…there are better things that originated on television to watch…like HOMELAND or MAD MEN.

Finally this week, let’s go back to September 25th, 1987, for that was the release date of what would become a modern day classic…THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman THE PRINCESS BRIDE combines romance, comedy, adventure, and fantasy with more instantly quotable lines and phrases than you’d expect from one movie.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE is about a kidnapped princess and Westley, her true love, his search to find her, and the people he meets along the way.

The 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION blu-ray of THE PRINCESS BRIDE offers this beautiful film up in a pristine way, and it also has a wealth of special features, new and old. Here’s director Rob Reiner along with stars Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, reunited and in conversation.

I love this movie, and think it is one that should be shared with everyone…young and old alike. So if you have never seen it, that seems:

Pick it up and enjoy!!

THE 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of Rob Reiner’s modern day classic THE PRINCESS BRIDE, the pointless remake of COMA, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the Emmy Award winning series HOMELAND, SEASON FIVE of the still amazing show MAD MEN, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s pointless big screen version of DARK SHADOWS, the not spectacular, but funny enough comedy THE CAMPAIGN, the okay little movie RUBY SPARKS and the very enjoyable small film SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

SEASON ONE of the made-in-Toronto television series BOMB GIRLS, the reboot THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, and I will also talk about the 6 disc set CAROL’S FAVOURITES from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW…including the classic skit WENT WITH THE WIND!

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!