The Couch Potato Report

Here are some suggestions for the weekend!!

The Couch Potato Report – June 8th, 2013

There is a documentary that takes us from D-Day to Victory inside this week’s Couch Potato Report and a great zombie comedy.

In the military, D-Day is the day on which a combat attack or operation will begin. The best known D-Day is June 6, 1944 — the day of the Normandy landings — initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II.

The six-part Canadian documentary D-DAY TO VICTORY starts there and takes us all the way to the Allies victory over Nazi Germany and it features the stories of the men who did the fighting.

The stories in D-DAY TO VICTORY are full of fear and elation, and there are also some stories of regret as the men look back…and it is their stories that make this series one that is a must see.

What works against D-DAY TO VICTORY is the recreations of the explosions. They have some actual footage of the War, but mostly they recreate what took place, so they could have it all in High Definition for today’s modern audiences. It is all exceptionally done, but I would have preferred more real footage and not the abundance of 3D recreations that are included here.

That negativity aside, the stories here are the reason why I easily and highly recommend this series to everyone, because it has been almost seventy years since D-Day, and some of the men who were there and share their stories in D-DAY TO VICTORY might never appear on film again and their stories need to be told…lest we forget.

Switching gears now, if you find yourself looking for some great television to watch now that the latest television season is over, how about THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON of the television series BREAKING BAD?

Multiple Emmy Award winning actor Bryan Cranston continues to play Walter White, one of the most complex and devious characters on television today!! He is a crystal meth maker who started off just trying to secure his family’s financial future after he was diagnosed with cancer, but five seasons in he’s not only trying to survive his diagnosis, but also the situations he keeps putting himself – and his family – in.

Now, I didn’t really care for the first two seasons of BREAKING BAD, but I really enjoyed SEASONS THREE, FOUR and now FIVE as it has more tension that the other four added together, and also offers up some of this series’ most amazing twists and turns.

BREAKING BAD is a tremendous show, one that I highly recommend. Do not miss the eight episodes in THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON…in fact, if you are looking for a great television series to watch this Summer, go back to SEASON ONE and watch it all and enjoy!

Just about all of the television shows and movies that have come out of late about zombies tell serious stories, very serious stories about life and death trying to survive the walking dead.

But now we have our first zombie comedy…zombie romantic comedy, actually. It is called WARM BODIES and it is based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name.

After a zombie epidemic, a young zombie man decides to save a beautiful young woman from a pack of the undead, including himself. They stay together – so he can protect her – and as the two struggle to survive their bond deepens, and he starts to become more and more human.

As the young zombie becomes human again, that begins to transform the other zombies as well, and through their WARM BODIES the whole lifeless world could be saved….if the humans decide to trust them.

Simply put, I liked WARM BODIES!! Made-in-Montreal, it features zombies with personality, has a great young cast and the special effects and CGI are very well done. It is definitely worth a rental on a rainy night this summer.

If you need a laugh this weekend, I have a few releases here that will – in the very least – give you a few laughs, and one that has been making is laugh for thirty years now!!

The new film IDENTITY THIEF has a few laughs…not many, but a few.

The great Jason Bateman from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT stars here as a mild-mannered businessman who has his identity stolen by Melissa McCarthy of BRIDESMAIDS so he decides to travels from Denver to Miami to bring her back as the police won’t do anything unless she is right in front of them.

As you might expect, things don’t go easily, but what you might not expect is the fact that the film isn’t that funny…in fact, at times Melissa McCarthy is insufferable and not funny at all, and neither is her movie.

Ultimately IDENTITY THIEF does have enough laughs that you’ll enjoy it if you like the cast. Just know that it doesn’t have that many laughs because it piles character on character and action scene on action scene which all adds up to too much that takes away from the road trip that Bateman and McCarthy are on, a trip that promises the most humour and occasionally even delivers.

Not often, but occasionally.

The 2006 film MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND, directed by Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman, also delivers an occasional laugh…but the premise is still the funniest thing about it.

Luke Wilson plays a regular guy who meets and falls for a beautiful woman – played by Uma Thurman – who also happens to be a superhero, and very, very, very needy!!

When he breaks up with her, she uses her powers to make his life a nightmare.

MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND is new on blu-ray, and it does look great in HD, I just wish the jokes in the film were as strong as the premise and the cast, that also includes Rainn Wilson from THE OFFICE and Anna Farris from the SCARY MOVIE films.

This is another comedy, with a few laughs, but for fans of the cast only.

On July 29th, 1983, a small comedy was released in theatres about a regular family man who was taking his family on a road trip across the country to an amusement park called Walley World, driving so they could spend more time together.

Thirty years later, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION is thought of around the world as a comedy classic, and worthy of a new 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION blu-ray!!

Chevy Chase’s performance of Clark W. Griswold was perfect, and the writing and directing was also top notch…and the supporting cast that includes Canadians Eugene Levy and the late great John Candy was amazing!!

In addition to the film, there is also a documentary on the new 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION that shows how hard it was to produce a film as good as this one and features the cast and crew looking back. Here’s director Harold Ramis:

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION also spawned some sequels, the best being CHRISTMAS VACATION and EUROPEAN VACATION is also very good. The least of the follow-ups has been released in HD on blu-ray for the first time, and even though VEGAS VACATION isn’t great – in any way – it does still have a few laughs.

It’s doubtful that there will ever be a 30 ANNIVERSARY EDITION of VEGAS VACATION, it is for completests only, but the original 1983 VACATION remains a comedy for everyone.

It is a true comedy classic and a must see, especially if you are down the holiday road with your loved ones this Summer!!

And there you go, if you need a laugh this weekend, those releases should – in the very least – give you a few laughs.

The final title I have for you this week is a movie that is not only one of the worst and most disappointing films of 2013, but it is also the one that might have killed the DIE HARD action movie franchise.

The first film in the series continues to be one of the greatest action films of all time, but each of the sequels have gone down in quality to the point that we now have the almost unwatchable A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD.

Bruce Willis is back in the role that made him a star and this time John McClane travels to Russia to help get his estranged son Jack out of prison. But instead of merely being the wrong guy in the wrong place in the wrong time – as he’s been in the other four films in the series – he is just a guy caught up in the crossfire of a terrorist plot in a generic action film.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is a complete waste of time on all fronts. The action is all done cheaply using computers and nothing looks or feels remotely plausible, the story is poorly written, and very quickly in you won’t care…I certainly didn’t.

I like these films, I like Bruce Willis, and I like the character of John McClane but this one is so bad that it has me hoping they never make another one.

Skip it, ignore it, don’t bother with it.

The absolutely awful in just about every failure of a sequel A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD; the not great but not quite awful sequel VEGAS VACATION and the 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the still funny original VACATION; Ivan Reitman’s okay but not great comedy MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND; the failed, but occasionally funny IDENTITY THIEF; the very good zombie comedy WARM BODIES; THE FIFTH SEASON of the still great series BREAKING BAD; and the very compelling six part Canadian documentary series D-DAY TO VICTORY are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The drama INCH’ALLAH (INCHallah) about a Canadian doctor working in Palestine, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASONS of great shows THE NEWSROOM and HOUSE OF CARDS, director Sam Raimi’s OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, and the guilty pleasure action flick HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS.

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!