The Couch Potato Report

If you need a gift idea this Easter long weekend, or a warning of what not to buy, here you go!!

The Couch Potato Report – March 30th, 2013

We visit a futuristic Montreal inside this week’s edition of The Couch Potato Report and Daniel Day-Lewis is Lincoln.

We have a Canadian science-fiction film to start things off with this Easter Weekend.

MARS ET AVRIL – or Mars and April – is based on the graphic novels of the same name. It is about an elderly musician and his instrument maker who both become obsessed with the same woman and is set in a futuristic Montreal, in a world that is about to set foot on Mars.

The beautiful and talented Caroline Dhavernas from the film PASSCHENDAELE and the television series WONDERFALLS plays the woman…Avril.

Shot almost entirely on green screen, with real Montreal settings such as the Habitat ’67 block apartments and the Montreal Biosphère in Parc Jean-Drapeau included to make the future more recognizable, MARS ET AVRIL is a visually interesting film from start to finish, especially for those who know the city well.

MARS ET AVRIL is an odd film, but I was interested in where it was going the whole time…even when it got boring, and it was boring at times…but ultimately I enjoyed it. It isn’t the greatest sci-fi film you’ll ever see, but I did enjoy it.

I also enjoyed Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award winning film LINCOLN, primarily because of Daniel Day-Lewis’ amazing performance.

LINCOLN is about the 16th President of the United States and covers the final four months of his life, focusing his efforts in January of 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the House of Representatives, an Amendment that would outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

The movie itself is only very good, it’s basically a by-the-book history lesson, but what elevates it above many other historical dramas is Daniel Day-Lewis. As I said, he is amazing and so is Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. They are the reason I recommend LINCOLN to you…and I do recommend it

Hey…do you like your movies pandering, predictable and insufferable at times? Have you been waiting for a modern day remake of UNCLE BUCK with not one, but now two people who don’t really know how to take care of kids put in charge when their parents are left with no other options?

Well if the answer to either of those questions was yes, you are in luck!!

PARENTAL GUIDANCE is all of those things!!

This movie stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents who rarely see their daughter or her husband and three young kids, even though everyone does actually love each other.

When the parents leave town and they are forced to leave their kids with Grandma and Grandpa, problems arise as parenting in the 21st century collides with how it was done in the old days…and hilarity ensues…or at least it is supposed to. Mostly it does not.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE just tries too hard, and ultimately it doesn’t work. I didn’t find it funny or heartwarming…although, I must admit, I did like the ending. If the rest of the film was as good as the ending, I could easily recommend this would be family comedy.

As it is, I do not. You should just skip it, you have better things to do this long weekend.

Another family flick that doesn’t work at all – at all – in any way – is the animated movie RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.

Based on William Joyce’s “The Guardians of Childhood” book series and his “The Man in the Moon” short film this is the story about the Guardians – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman – who ask Jack Frost to help them stop the villain Pitch Black, who wants to take over the world with darkness….and you won’t care at all.

By the way, yes, you heard me right… RISE OF THE GUARDIANS features Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman as superheroes who have to save the world, and that didn’t work for me, and neither did the crude animation style.

What did work is the voice cast. The film features the great voices of Chris Pine from STAR TREK, Alec Baldwin of 30 ROCK, Hugh Jackman from X-MEN and Isla Fisher and Jude Law, but they can’t save it.

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS might be bright and colourful enough to appeal to very young kids, but not older ones. Skip this one, it just isn’t good at all.

Now, if you want something good, actually something great for the whole family…search for the nature documentary TO THE ARCTIC, narrated by Meryl Streep.

TO THE ARCTIC also features music by Paul McCartney as it shows up the travels and tribulations of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home, sometimes spending days at a time just trying to survive.

As I have said many times over the years, I love nature documentaries and TO THE ARCTIC is no exception. The visuals here are spectacular, the narration interesting and playful, and it doesn’t get too preachy about how everything we are seeing needs to be saved. It is preachy at times, but never too preachy.

Bottom line is, I really enjoyed it…and highly recommend it to the whole family.

Finally this week is the blu-ray release of a show that some Trekkies have been dying for, yet others – even those who have to own absolutely everything connected to the franchise – can live without.


ENTERPRISE – as it was actually known for the first two seasons – takes place 100 years before the adventures of James T. Kirk and Spock in the original television series.

Scott Bakula from QUANTUM LEAP plays Captain Jonathan Archer of Earth’s first Warp 5 starship, the Enterprise….picking up, actually beginning STAR TREK’s adventures.

Of all the STAR TREK shows, ENTERPRISE has always been my least favourite, but I admit that I did really enjoy watching the series this week on blu-ray. The show hasn’t been remastered, like the previous TREK shows have, but it is in HD and features a wealth of brand new retrospective features.

Huge fans…don’t miss STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON on blu-ray. Casual fans, I’d wait until the price goes down in a few months.

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, the entertaining nature documentary TO THE ARCTIC, the boring animated family film RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, the pandering and predictable would-be family comedy PARENTAL GUIDANCE, Steven Spielberg’s very good LINCOLN, featuring an amazing performance from Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis and MARS ET AVRIL, the very interesting sci-fi drama set in a futuristic Montreal, are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The likeable made-in-Quebec movie ESIMESAC, the very good British film THE SWEENEY, Brad Pitt stars in KILLING THEM SOFTLY, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from SEINFELD plays the Vice President of the United States in the very entertaining show VEEP.

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!