The Couch Potato Report – February 1st, 2014
We’re off to Amsterdam to get things started this week, for that is where three buddies from small-town Quebec head for a weekend of partying and fun.
But they tell their wives and girlfriends that they’re going fishing deep in the woods, and they cover their tracks so elaborately as they head to the lake first to take pictures of themselves fishing and with fish before heading to Montreal to get on the plane overseas.
However, once the boys get to the city where just about anything goes, the movie changes from the light hearted comedy it started out as, to a pretty serious drama when one of the guys decides to stay in the Dutch capital because he needs some time to process the fact that his girlfriend is pregnant.
We soon find out why he needs that time…the baby isn’t his.
Once they return to La Belle Province the guys need to prevent their wives from finding out they went to Amsterdam and not fishing, so they tell them – and their friend’s girlfriend – that their buddy just wandered off in the woods and they expect him to come home when he’s ready.
That isn’t acceptable to the worried women, and they arrange for a police search of the area, to no avail.
They don’t find him, and he doesn’t come back…not for a long time.
What starts as a comedy ends as a suspenseful drama and I really enjoyed this film, called AMSTERDAM.
Yes, it’s representation of Amsterdam as the planet’s party palace is a bit cliché, the fact that the police would organize such an exhaustive search without questioning the guys thoroughly is a stretch, and there are a few scenes that don’t quite pay off, but the characters are multi-layered and the film kept me guessing right up until the end.
Search this one out, AMSTERDAM is Canadian cinema at its finest.
RUSH may not be director Ron Howard at his finest, but with films like SPLASH, PARENTHOOD, APOLLO 13 and the Academy Award winning A BEAUTIFUL MIND on his resume, it can be tough to be that great all the time.
And RUSH is great as it shows us the merciless rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda that existed in the 1970s.
Chris Hemsworth from THOR and THE AVENGERS stars as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl of INGLORIOUS BASTERDS is Niki Lauda and both of them fully embody these great drivers through their performances.
RUSH also features some tremendously staged racing scenes and a great supporting cast. I’m not 100% sure that people who don’t care for auto racing will get into it, but those who enjoy biographies definitely will.
I really enjoyed it, and can easily recommend it.
When I mentioned Daniel Brühl a moment ago and the films he starred in, I only mentioned INGLORIOUS BASTERDS as I wasn’t sure if you’d heard of THE FIFTH ESTATE. This film about Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks website debuted in theatres last fall and didn’t do that well.
And now that it is available for home viewing, it probably won’t do that well either, but it does give me another film to mention now when I talk about German Spanish actor Daniel Brühl, who has starred in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, RUSH and THE FIFTH ESTATE.
THE FIFTH ESTATE is a look at the website that was created to allow whistle-blowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes, but turned into so much more.
Benedict Cumberbatch from SHERLOCK plays Julian Assange and Daniel Brühl his partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
I like biopics, and Cumberbatch and Brühl are actors whose work I usually admire, but THE FIFTH ESTATE is not great…and it thinks that it’s a thriller, when it really isn’t.
Just skip it.
Oh, and also, absolutely, positively, without a question of a doubt, absolutely skip the remake of BONNIE & CLYDE .
I can’t say that strongly enough…skip it!!
BONNIE & CLYDE – the original – the classic – is a 1967 crime film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.
Based on the real life pair of outlaws and robbers from the Dallas area who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression, it won Academy Awards and is a classic. It was among the first 100 films selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
For some financial, certainly not artistic reason, BONNIE & CLYDE was remade as a two part television movie and it is a complete waste of three hours of your time.
BONNIE & CLYDE (2013) is poorly cast, too long with too many excess characters and backstory, and it is so boring.
Skip it, ignore it, do not waste your time on it.
I highly recommend the original, very highly, that is a true cinematic classic, but skip the remake.
It’s so bad!!
I wouldn’t call CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 bad, but it is nowhere near as great as the original. I loved the original, this second one was only okay.
In MEATBALLS 2, our hero Flint Lockwood and his friends are forced to return to the hometown they left in the 2009 original. Their return to Swallow Falls is caused by the fact that Flint’s most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.
And it is the names of those hybrids that was the most clever thing about the film…cucumbirds, sasquash, watermelophant, wildebeest, shrimpanzees and more. I love these food-i-mals!!
The rest of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 is fun and funny, but never as good as the original.
That original was so amazing, so it isn’t surprising the second one can’t live up, but it is still very good.
Kids will love it, and parents should get more than a few laughs out of it as well.
So consider that my recommendation.
Now, the final film I have for you this week is also one that I will recommend…but definitely not to everyone.
If you tend to dislike lewd, crude, rude, juvenile, sophomoric humour, then BAD GRANDPA is not for you.
If you like, or even love that sort of stuff…do not miss it!!
Brought to us by Johnny Knoxville and the makers of the JACKASS films and television series, BAD GRANDPA stars Knoxville in makeup as 86-year-old Irving Zisman who takes a road trip from Nebraska to North Carolina to leave his 8 year-old grandson, Billy, back to his real father…and hilarity ensues along the way.
Unlike the other JACKASS films, BAD GRANDPA has a loose plot that connects the stunts and pranks that the series is known for.
And it is those stunts and pranks that make the movie laugh out loud funny…if you like this sort of stuff, which I do, so I can easily recommend BAD GRANDPA.
I was actually in pain from laughing so hard at a few scenes in it.
The guilty pleasure BAD GRANDPA; the good, never great, and certainly not as good as the original, sequel CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2; the poorly cast, too long, boring remake BONNIE AND CLYDE; the not very good would be thriller THE FIFTH ESTATE; Ron Howard’s great racing biopic RUSH and the very good Quebec made dramatic comedy AMSTERDAM are all available now, either on disc or on demand.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report, the Academy Award nominated film DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB, from Canadian Director Jean-Marc Vallée.
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!