The Couch Potato Report

The long weekend is here, and here are some movies for you to watch…or skip.

The Couch Potato Report – May 17th, 2014

There are few directors working today whose films I look forward to more than those of Spike Jonze.

He has a unique vision and voice that was first introduced to the world when he began making music videos in the early 1990s for bands like The Breeders, Sonic Youth, Weezer and the Beastie Boys. His award winning 1994 video for the Beasties song “Sabotage” was both a homage to, and parody of 70’s crime drama shows.

Spike Jonze then debuted in theatres with BEING JOHN MALKOVICH in 1999 and then gave us ADAPTATION in 2002, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in 2009 and his latest is a great movie that is simply called HER.

HER is Spike Jonze’ Academy Award winning story about a lonely divorced writer in the not-too-distant future who falls in love with his newly purchased, personalized operating system, or OS. This OS has been designed to meet his every need.

Yes, to clarify, it’s about a man who falls in love with his computer. She, is HER.

Joaquin Phoenix from WALK THE LINE and GLADIATOR gives a relaxed, calm performance in HER and Scarlett Johansson from THE AVENGERS and LOST IN TRANSLATION gives the computer her voice, and personality. It’s easy to for us viewers to understand how he could fall for HER, but his ex-wife does not understand.

Spike Jonze won Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards and that was the perfect Oscar for him to win as HER is exactly that…original, just like everything he does.

I highly recommend HER, and all of the films he has made. They are just the right combination of odd, quirky and beautiful.

Hey, if you’ve ever sat and watched one of the action fantasy thriller films UNDERWORLD – starring Kate Beckinsale as a beautiful vampire warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races – and thought, they should do something like this with Frankenstein, well you are in luck.

I, FRANKENSTEIN, from the makers of the UNDERWORLD films, is almost exactly that, minus the vampire and werewolves.

Here, Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans – the gargoyles and the demons.

See, no vampires or werewolves here, there are gargoyles and the demons.

I, FRANKENSTEIN isn’t very original – in any way – and the special effects are very low budget, but it isn’t horrible, and the cast including Aaron Eckhart from THE DARK KNIGHT and Yvonne Strahovski of CHUCK is pretty good. All in all, I liked it enough to recommend to fans of this type of films, and fans of the UNDERWORLD series. To you I say enjoy!!

Due to the fact that he is co-starring in theatres right now with Canadian Seth Rogen in the summer box office smash NEIGHBORS, Zac Efron is about to get a whole bunch of new fans. People who don’t know him from the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL films.

Those new fans could do worse than search out a new release called THAT AWKWARD MOMENT, a predictable but not unlikeable romantic comedy about three male best friends in their twenties who don’t necessarily want to be in relationships, yet they are.

See, the guys actually made a bet that they wouldn’t find girlfriends. They made a pact that they would stay single so they could hang out and party and drink and let the good times roll.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT is also about some other things people deal with in relations, like that moment, that awkward moment, when one person asks the other “Where is this going?”, but it’s primarily about the guys.

I am on record as usually always enjoying movies about friends just hanging out, and that is true here as well. Unfortunately there are parts of this movie that just don’t work – for instance – whether you have a pact with your friends or not, if the parent of someone you’ve been spending time with dies, and you’re human at all, you will go to that funeral. You just go.

That awkward moment in THAT AWKWARD MOMENT when Efron doesn’t go, doesn’t ring true and that is one of the reasons the film is not great.

But I liked it enough to recommend it, as long as you go in with low expectations. Low, low, low expectations.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen NEIGHBORS yet, that flick is great!!! Very smart and funny!!

Finally this week, we put to rest the television series EASTBOUND AND DOWN.

When we first meet up with Kenny Powers in this FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON of EASTBOUND AND DOWN he has settled down out of the limelight with the love of his life, but not for long. A chance encounter with an old teammate reminds him how much he loves the high life, how much he loves rich, famous, and arrogant and so he works to get that back.

But once he gets it all again…will he be able to keep it this time?

Don’t bet on it.

I’ve always thought that EASTBOUND AND DOWN should have ended after the second season. The third and this fourth one just haven’t been as good. As much as I love this show – and the character of Kenny Powers, created and portrayed by Danny McBride – a little of him goes a long way sometimes.

But ultimately I still recommend the series as it is laugh out loud funny most of the time. Just know going in that it is very, very profane. Thanks for the memories, Kenny Powers!
THE COMPLETE FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON of the not as funny as it once was – but still laugh out loud funny – series EASTBOUND AND DOWN; the predictable but not unlikeable bromantic comedy THAT AWKWARD MOMENT; the not great but also not awful action sci-fi flick I, FRANKENSTEN; and the quirky, odd and beautiful romantic drama HER, from writer-director-cinematic visionary, Spike Jonze, are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

And that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

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