The Couch Potato Report

More great documentaries!!!

The Couch Potato Report – January 26th, 2013

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are two fantastic documentaries and horror thriller made in our Nation’s Capital.

Two of the most entertaining documentaries that I have ever seen are coming up, but first, let me quickly get through my review of a made in Ottawa flick that you may think you want to see – as it stars two-time Academy Award nominee – Jennifer Lawrence.

But HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET is so bad that it isn’t even called “The” HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET…it is just HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET.

In this mess Lawrence – for THE HUNGER GAMES and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – is a teenager who moves with her newly divorced Mother to the house of their dreams in a small town.

But all is not what it seems in this amazing house in the idyllic little town as – years ago – a gruesome murder took place in the house next door…and the killer has never been found!!

Yes…that could have made for a pretty good horror thriller…and the cast of Lawrence and former Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue from LEAVING LAS VEGAS bring great casting to the mix…but this movie is so bland and boring and uninteresting that you should skip it at all costs.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET isn’t worthy of any of your time, and that is “the” truth!!

Okay…let’s get to the good stuff!!

When the Academy Award nominated documentary SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN begins, we are quickly told that an American musician named Rodriguez – whose music never caught on at home – was a superstar in South Africa due to a few albums he released in the 1970s.

We are also told that he is dead…having committed suicide on stage in a variety of widely rumoured ways.

We are told those things by two huge fans from Cape Town who have decided to find out if the rumours of Rodriguez’ death are true, because – even though he is a huge star – no one really knows anything about him.

Eventually they find some clues as they are SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, through song lyrics and some of the people they meet in the musician’s hometown, people who knew and worked with Rodriguez. And as the film goes on, maybe they find him, maybe they don’t…I’m certainly not going to give the answer away as I don’t want to rob you of the opportunity to find it out for yourself.

I will say this – by the time this exceptional documentary is over you will want more. More answers, more music, more mystery…more of everything!!

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN has drama, intrigue, an interesting mystery and some great music. It is a fantastic film and I highly recommend it!!

I also highly recommend the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS, which shows us the life and career of the living comedy legend through interviews with the man himself and an all-star group of comedians and movie stars, many icons themselves, including Jerry Seinfeld.

There are also tributes from Alec Baldwin, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Carl Reiner, Quentin Tarantino, Billy Crystal, Carol Burnett and more!

METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS also features clips from his films, an explanation of how he changed the movie industry through his technical innovations…betcha didn’t know about those…and if you have never seen the footage from the Labour Day Telethon where Frank Sinatra reunites Jerry with Dean Martin for the first time in twenty years, it has that too.

METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS is fantastic, it is an absolute love letter to a comedic and cinematic icon, and a true humanitarian.

I laughed, I cried, I reminisced, I even found out a few things I didn’t know…I absolutely loved it!!

Here are five, count ‘em five titles now…ranked in order from best to worst…and let me get to them!

The best of the five, is Liam Neeson’s second turn as a man who must protect another member of his family when she is taken too.

In the original 2008 film Neeson played a retired CIA agent who is forced to travel across Europe and use his training and old skills to save his estranged daughter, who was been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.

That movie had a happy ending and as TAKEN 2 begins, he and his daughter continue to work on their relationship, and we now meet his ex-wife, played by Famke Janssen, from the X-MEN films.

And this time, instead of the daughter getting kidnapped, Neeson and his ex-wife are taken as the father of one of the people Neeson killed in the first film wants revenge.

TAKEN 2 is a very good, if predictable action film with another strong action film performance by Liam Neeson.

It isn’t the greatest action movie you’ll ever see…but it is well made and has mostly top notch acting and so I have no problems recommending it as a good rental for a winter’s night.

As I said, the quality of these five new releases I have for you goes down as I move through them…and this second film is also an action thriller sequel, but it isn’t for everyone…just those who have seen the other five UNIVERSAL SOLDIER films, dating back to 1992.

This sixth one – yes, they have made six of them now of various quality, and this one is called UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING.

The UNIVERSAL SOLIDER films center around dead soldiers who are brought back to life through a secret army project that makes them near-perfect fighting weapons.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren starred in the original, and they have returned for the past two as well.

There are some great action and fight scenes in UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING, but not all of it works. Too often the characters don’t look like they are in real locations, just movie locations set up to be destroyed by their fights.

That said, there is enough here that does work for me to suggest that those who enjoy this series should see this one too.

And that is what I call a mild recommendation.

From a sixth entry in a film series, we have arrived now at the third in the modern day re-imagining of DEATH RACE.

The original film DEATH RACE 2000, was released in 1975 and has become a cult classic over the years.

The newer series started in 2008 with Jason Statham from THE TRANSPORTER films in the lead role. When DEATH RACE 2 debuted direct to DVD in 2010 Statham was long gone…and he remains nowhere to be seen in DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO either.

As the saga of the brutal prison yard demolition derby known as Death Race continues, superstar driver Frankenstein is only one win away from gaining freedom for himself and his pit crew.

But it isn’t the plot that will make you want to see this flick, it is the action, the explosions, the cars, and the men and women driving them…and all of those things are pretty good. Plus, things blow up real good!!

Just go into DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO with low expectations and you’ll enjoy it. It is never great, but it is pretty good.

Here is the second last of the five films I have for you now. This is a crime drama called OFFICER DOWN that stars character actor Stephen Dorff as a bad cop who is trying to go straight…but his past keeps getting in the way.

OFFICER DOWN is occasionally interesting, and it has a pretty good cast, but for the most part it is just boring. It is never awful, and it does have a couple of good twists, but I didn’t like it enough to recommend it.

It wasn’t a waste of my time, because I did want to see it, but you shouldn’t waste your time on it.

Last now, and certainly least, is an unfunny, uninteresting would be/wannabe comedy with the title FOR A GOOD TIME CALL.

I won’t waste your time telling you what the movie is about, or who stars in it, because you have no need to care.

Yes, if you see the trailer or the packaging, it looks like it might be a fun romp starring beautiful people, but it isn’t. It is just a boring, complete waste of your time.

Skip FOR A GOOD TIME CALL, at all costs. It is one of the worst things I have ever had to sit through…ever!!

Finally this week, I have a third very good documentary for you.

This hard to fathom film is about a man from France who is 23-yearsold and convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

It is called THE IMPOSTER.

If you are wondering how a twenty-three year old dark haired French man with a thick accent convince anyone that he is a sixteen year old blonde haired Texan…you’ll have to see this movie to understand.

Sometimes, people just want to believe.

THE IMPOSTER is very interesting as it introduces us to the real people involved, and uses dramatic recreations of scenes to fill in the blanks. It is dramatic and fascinating and heartbreaking.

This is one of those movies that – if it wasn’t true – you wouldn’t believe it.

But it is true, and believe me when I say that I highly recommend it.

The interesting and heartbreaking documentary THE IMPOSTER; the boring and useless FOR A GOOD TIME CALL; the okay drama OFFICER DOWN; the pretty good low budget action flick DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO; the also pretty good fight flick UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING; the very good – but never great sequel TAKEN 2; the fantastic love letter METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS; the exceptional Academy Award nominated documentary SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN; and the complete waste of time Ottawa made HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

SEASON THREE of the global smash DOWNTON ABBEY, the comedic crime flick SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, a look inside the AMAZING OCEAN and the latest in the ongoing found footage series PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

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!