The Couch Potato Report

Happy Holidays…need some gift ideas?

The Couch Potato Report – December 15th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is a great love story, a foul mouthed teddy bear and Tom Hanks chases Leonardo DiCaprio.

Leading off is a mostly-made-in-Montreal, beautiful love story called LAURENCE ANYWAYS about two soul mates who – over the course of a decade – struggle to maintain an intimate relationship as society and almost all of their friends turn against them.

Occasionally, they even turn against each other.

When we first meet Laurence and his girlfriend Fred, they are very much in love, and very much in sync with each other’s needs, wants and desires.

But we are shown that Laurence is occasionally unhappy, with no explanation, until he breaks down and confesses to the love of his life that he feels he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body.

His girlfriend is initially shocked, but decides to stay and fight for their love as if nothing has happened, because no matter what, he is LAURENCE ANYWAYS.

LAURENCE ANYWAYS features some tremendous performances and a great love story, and I really liked and rooted for the characters.

It isn’t perfect though, it is almost three hours long and gets a bit too artistic at times when a less is more approach might have served the film better.

But none of the negatives took that much away from LAURENCE ANYWAYS for me as I really enjoyed the movie and easily recommend it.

Remember when you were a kid, and you made a wish? Whether it was to play in the NHL, be rich, or have Jodie Foster fall in love with you…which would have happened if you’d only met…we all made wishes as kids.

Well in the movie TED, a lonely little boy wishes that the teddy bear he received for Christmas would come to life and be his best friend…and his wish comes true!

TED is the feature-length directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, who has also given the world the television series FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD, and it stars Mark Wahlberg as the grown-up boy, who is still best friends with his bear, named Ted.

Mila Kunis – also from FAMILY GUY and the films BLACK SWAN and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS – co-stars as Wahlberg’s love interest, his long suffering girlfriend of four years, who wants more from their relationship…and less from the also now adult, but also rude and profane Ted.

TED is easily the funniest movie of 2012, and it features one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a movie…ever…when Wahlberg and Ted are fighting in a hotel room.

The downside of TED, however, is the same thing that it benefits from… Seth MacFarlane. Occasionally, much like his work on television, the writing doesn’t strive to be great…it is just lazy and even racist. And there is a whole sub-plot that doesn’t really work, with the exception of giving the film a villain.

But that said, as I said, this is easily the funniest film of the year…with some great cameos and computer animation…and while I don’t think everyone will appreciate its juvenile, sophomoric humour, I loved it!

TED is laugh out loud funny!!

Hey…imagine if they made a sequel to TED…but instead of featuring the same bear, and Seth MacFarlane to provide the voice, they replaced him…but kept referring to him and talking about him over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Now imagine, instead of that sequel to TED, imagine they made a fourth film in the JASON BOURNE series, and replaced Matt Damon…but kept referring to him, ad nauseum.

Well, you don’t have to imagine that, my friend…they have done it!! Jeremy Renner from THE AVENGERS and THE HURT LOCKER is the new man on the run in THE BOURNE LEGACY.

THE BOURNE LEGACY was partially filmed in Alberta and it all takes place around the same time that the events in the third and final Matt Damon film, which allows the filmmakers to mention Jason Bourne so much.

This is not a bad film, Jeremy Renner is a great actor, the action scenes here are very well done, the supporting cast including Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are very good and the story is interesting enough, but with a different director and star, this is just a wannabe BOURNE movie that doesn’t have the look or feel of the previous three…plus it can’t go ten minutes without referencing Jason Bourne and that is a huge distraction.

I liked THE BOURNE LEGACY, but I loved the Matt Damon Trilogy. Call that a mild recommendation…and a hope that Matt Damon decides to return to the series, or they move on from his character altogether, should the studio decide to make another one.

The Holiday Season is well underway, which means family and friends will soon be getting together, and maybe even watching a movie or two, so here are two movies for families and one for friends…and I really hope that you don’t get them mixed up.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN is one of the family films and it stars the great Jennifer Garner from ALIAS and JUNO and Joel Edgerton of WARRIOR. They are a beautiful couple who desperately want a child, but can’t have one of their own and aren’t having any luck finding one to adopt either.

Before emotionally moving on, they decide to write down their dreams and hopes for the child they want and put their notes in a box, which they bury in their backyard.

And the next morning, a child appears…but he may not be all that he seems.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN is a nice movie, with a good cast, and it has its heart in the right place…but it is almost completely devoid of emotion.

A childless couple, a kid comes along, their wishes and dreams appear to be coming true…yet there is no emotion in the film, which is why I ultimately feel that it is nothing special.

However, at times it is interesting and even fun…so it might provide a good distraction if your own family needs one over the next few weeks.

So call that a mild recommendation for THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN. Very mild.

Another family film that may offer some distractions for kids, but not many for adults at all, is the fourth film in the ICE AGE series about Sid, Manny, Diego and a group of mammals surviving the Paleolithic ice age.

In ICE AGE – CONTINENTAL DRIFT the guys are trying to get back home, after their continent is set adrift.

Along the way they share yet another adventure and meet a wealth of new friends.

I do like the characters in these ICE AGE films, especially Scrat,and this time around the regular voice cast of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary are joined by Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Drake and Nicki Minaj.

ICE AGE – CONTINENTAL DRIFT is not the best film in the series…but it isn’t awful either.

I hope they don’t make too many more of them…but I enjoyed this fourth one enough to recommend it to the young, and young at heart. Adults, and non-animation fans, you won’t get much from it, so you should probably skip it.

Press play when you are cooking, or if you just need some alone time over the Holidays.

Here now is the release that you absolutely should not mistake for a family film…and if you read the description on the Internet Movie Data Base, you won’t.

This is what it says about the horror film VHS:

“When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.”

Nope…not a family film at all!

VHS is an out and out horror film, and a very gross and gory one at times, and fans of the genre – whether it is the Holiday Season or not – will love this film as it has some great twists and turns and some HUGE jumps.

People who are not fans of the genre should stay away from it…as far away as possible as VHS will offend and repulse you.

Finally this week is the debut on blu-ray of director Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, starring Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio and a quartet of young and up and coming actresses who would go on to bigger and better things…Jennifer Garner, Ellen Pompeo, Amy Adams, and Elizabeth Banks from THE HUNGER GAMES .

The young, then mostly unknown cast is great to watch, but the primary reason for seeing this film are the performances of DiCaprio and Hanks.

Leo plays Frank Abagnale Jr., who – before his 19th birthday – managed to cash over four million dollars’ worth of counterfeit cheques while pretending to be a pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor.

Hanks is the FBI agent who is hunting him down.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN has always been a good looking movie, and that is especially true in HD. It looks amazing in this format.

As for the movie itself…I have always really liked, enjoyed and respected it, and the majority of the performances are great, but I’ve never loved the movie…and still don’t. It is very good, but isn’t the best work of anyone involved.

I do love the cast though, and the abundance of special features, where we get to hear both Leo and the real Frank Abagnale Jr. talk about life as a con-man.

Now that stuff I love!!

The entertaining – if not great – CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the twisted and occasionally entertaining horror film VHS, the okay – but never great – sequel ICE AGE – CONTINENTAL DRIFT, the okay – but somehow emotion free family film THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, the very good but missing Matt Damon sequel THE BOURNE LEGACY, the very entertaining buddy comedy TED, and the great Montreal-made love story LAURENCE ANYWAYS are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

One of the most acclaimed films of 2012, the dramatic fantasy BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD; the made-in-Ontario remake of TOTAL RECALL – starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel; and the Clint Eastwood baseball movie TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, co-starring Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams.

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!