The Couch Potato Report

Need a last minute gift idea for the movie fan on your list? Here are some!!

The Couch Potato Report – December 22nd, 2012

Yes, inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are some last minute gift ideas for the movie fans on your list.

With Christmas now just a few days away, I have some new releases that might make great gifts for the movie fans on your nice AND naughty lists. Or, they just might provide a few hours of entertainment – or peace and quiet – while your friends and family are visiting.

In a moment, suggestions for people who love critically acclaimed films, action flicks, and comedic Christmas Vacations.

Up first, is a baseball movie, and with the Toronto Blue Jays signing R.A. Dickey this week, and several key players this off-season as they re-load for 2013, Clint Eastwood’s TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE comes just in the nick of time for fans needing a fix.

Clint stars here as an aging and ailing baseball scout with the Atlanta Braves who is starting to lose his sight, but one of the most important trips of his career is coming up as the team needs to decide whether to draft a talented young player, or not.

Amy Adams from THE MUPPETS and THE FIGHTER plays his occasionally estranged daughter and she is working toward becoming a Partner in her law firm, but when she hears about her Dad’s condition, she decides to go along and help…whether he wants her to or not.

And music superstar turned actor Justin Timberlake also stars as former player Clint once scouted. He is a friend to Clint, and a potential love interest for Amy.

I love baseball, and I am a huge fan of both Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams, so I loved TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE…but it is not perfect.

Clint is just playing the same curmudgeon that he has played in the last few films he’s done, and the movie is too melodramatic at times and too perfect at other times.

So, let’s call that a mild recommendation for the movie fan on your list, but a last minute gift idea for the baseball fan you know.

And in 2013, GO JAYS GO!!

If there is a movie fan on your list, who only loves movies that are critically acclaimed and tend to win at the Academy Awards, you absolutely must get them a movie called BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD!

This is a movie about a strong six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy living in an isolated bayou community known as the Bathtub who has to fight for life, limb and love as her father, and those who live around them, suffer from health issues and flooding.

Hushpuppy live in what she calls a “busted” universe, one that that melts the ice caps and unleashes an army of prehistoric beasts.

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and it is likely to be nominated for several Academy Awards, including one for little Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy.

It is very interesting and well-acted, and in many ways unlike anything that you’ve ever seen before…but it isn’t for everyone, I didn’t love it…but it is the type of movie that critics love, wins Awards, and appeals to people who study film and tend to enjoy films that are critically acclaimed.

So, if you know someone like that, get them BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD! They will not be disappointed!!

When I saw the remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger action film TOTAL RECALL in theatres this summer, I thought that it was a pointless waste of time. I understood why they would want to re-do it for today’s audiences, but what they made was a film that wasn’t very good, didn’t make smart choices and was – ultimately – pointless.

But now that I have watched the much longer Director’s Cut, I liked it.

Made in and around Toronto, this version stars Colin Ferrell from IN BRUGES as Douglas Quaid, a man who may be a spy, or a double agent, or a member of the rebellion…or all of the above.

The beautiful Kate Beckinsale plays his wife, and the person hunting him down, and Jessica Biel is the possible love of his life, and the person helping him get away.

TOTAL RECALL 2012 is a mindless action film, and you will enjoy it if you shut off your brain and just watch things blow up real good.

I never loved it, either version of it that I’ve seen, but I enjoyed it enough to mildly recommend it, especially to the action film fan on your last minute gift list.

That said…I prefer the original and still enjoy that each and every time I watch it!!

There are four new releases that I am going to talk about right now, none of them great, but there are reasons that you might want to see them.

The final film featuring Whitney Houston leads things off. She plays the Mother of three sisters who form a girl group behind their Mother’s back and soon become local sensations.

But fame becomes a challenge as the close-knit sisters start to drift apart, and everything looks to be over when their Mother finds out.

SPARKLE is a remake of a 1976 film starring Philip Michael Thomas – before he was on MIAMI VICE and Irene Cara – before she starred in FAME and it wasn’t a great film either.

This is a mediocre musical melodrama that doesn’t have any memorable songs and is predictable from start to finish…even if you’ve never seen the original.

SPARKLE doesn’t sparkle…and you should skip it. You have better things to do – and watch – this Holiday Season.

And as far as Whitney Houston is concerned, she deserved to leave this world in a better film that this. May she rest in peace.

The premise of this next film is so stupid that I thought the movie had the potential to be amazing!!! Not an Academy Award winner or anything like that, just a good, cheesy fun time at the movies.

The story here centers on a woman named Dusty who is on a rescue mission to save her brother Derek, a conspiracy theorist who is convinced Osama bin Laden is still alive, despite having been buried at sea.

It turns out that Derek was right as Osama has returned from his watery grave and is making an army of zombie terrorists.

I did say it was stupid.

What I have yet to say is the name of the movie. This is OSOMBIE!!

Dusty and her brother team up with a team of Special Forces Soliders to try and find and destroy the root of the zombie insurgency before it infests the rest of the world…and doesn’t that sound like it had the chance to be a good, cheesy fun time at the movies?!

It did, but it doesn’t all add up.

OSOMBIE is actually an okay zombie movie, and it has a few really good action scenes and some fun stuff, but there is some really awful stuff in it as well, and the CGI was done with a very low budget.

Now if zombies are your thing, don’t miss it, otherwise skip it. This is not a good, cheesy fun time at the movies!

TALES OF MASKED MEN – A JOURNEY THROUGH LUCHA LIBRE is up next. This is a 55-minute documentary that looks at the world of Mexican wrestling and the tradition of the masked Mexican wrestler.

I didn’t know that much about Mexican wrestling, or its history and many traditions, before watching TALES OF MASKED MEN, but I got caught up in this very interesting and informative PBS documentary.

TALES OF MASKED MEN – A JOURNEY THROUGH LUCHA LIBRE isn’t great and it will primarily appeal to wrestling fans, but I would also recommend it to anyone who has even been curious about Mexican wrestling as well.

The final of the four that are not great this week, but there are reasons that you might want to see them, is THE FIFTH SEASON of the television series CALIFORNICATION, starring David Duchovny as a writer from New York who – five seasons later – is still living life in California and missing the city that never sleeps.

And – five seasons later – he is also still trying to maintain his career, all while having a relationship with the women who he still thinks is his soul-mate, all while unable to deny his appetite for other beautiful women.

Five seasons later CALIFORNICATION is still exactly the same…with one HUGE exception…it is no longer entertaining.

I don’t care of Duchovny’s Hank Moody grows at all, let him be a man-child for as long as the writers want him to be, for everyone around keeps forgiving him and enabling his behaviour and the show’s writers during this season seem to be struggling to find good storylines and things for him and his friends to do.

I used to love…absolutely love CALIFORNICATION…but THE FIFTH SEASON isn’t good at all.

I still like the characters, but the time has come to end this show that is now about two seasons past its prime.

Finally this week is a new feature here on The Couch Potato Report. From time to time I will dig into the vast film library of titles that have been released throughout the years for a Catalogue Classic.

And with it being so close to the arrival of Santa Claus, the very first Catalogue Classic is NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION.

CHRISTMAS VACATION is the 1989 comedy that was the third installment in National Lampoon’s Vacation film series starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and a wide array of up and coming young actors…including Anthony Michael Hall, Jane Krakowski, and in this one Academy Award nominee Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki from THE BIG BANG THEORY.

And who could ever forget Randy Quaid, as Cousin Eddie?

In CHRISTMAS VACATION, Clark W. Griswold’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Written by the late, great John Hughes, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION is still hilarious and if you and your loved ones need something to watch together, I highly recommend this CATALOGUE CLASSIC.

The still hilarious NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION; THE FIFTH SEASON of the two-years past its prime CALIFORNICATION; the interesting documentary TALES OF MASKED MEN – A JOURNEY THROUGH LUCHA LIBRE; the okay zombie flick OSOMBIE; the mediocre musical melodrama SPARKLE; the well-made, if unnecessary action remake TOTAL RECALL; the very interesting critically acclaimed BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, and the not great, but likeable baseball movie TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

And there are some last minute gift ideas for the Catalogue, Action, Critically Acclaimed and Baseball movie fans on your list!!

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Couch Potato Report!!

I’ll be back with an all-new Couch Potato Report next week, and at that time I will talk about

The singing comedy PITCH PERFECT; the comedy BUTTER starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone and Ty Burrell from MODERN FAMILY; plus the next Catalogue Classic – just in time for New Year’s Eve – is WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.

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

For now, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!! That’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!