Archive for June, 2013

World War Z (2013) – Marc Forster (Dir.), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Danielle Kertesz, and a whole lot of unfortunate, expendable bastards. Also Malcolm Tucker, for some reason.

Either it's the zombie apocalypse, or the Red Sox won another world series.

Either it’s the zombie apocalypse, or the Red Sox won another world series.

Alright. I don’t think I’m going to win any friends with this post. In fact, after this devastating first paragraph, I’m probably going to have to spend the rest of it backpedaling, explaining and apologizing faster than a senator who’s just been asked why there is a hooker in his trunk and why in god’s name would you use a sailor hat that way. To add insult to injury, unlike most of my other summer films, I have scoured reviews of this movie for the past two weeks begging the gods of cinematic art that there is a shred of dignity left in this mangled corpse of a summer blockbuster (no coincidental metaphor intended). It had everything working against it. A director responsible for the worst Bond sequel since someone said, “You know where Bond hasn’t been? The fucking moon.” It’s an adaptation so far from its source material, a book that I have an undying love for (stop it with the undead puns, Andrew), that it might as well have been made by Baz Luhrmann (BOOM, Gatsby burn). There were reshoots, delays, rewrites, spit takes, facepalms, big meetings with men with massive cigars (which totally isn’t a dick, it’s just a cigar, Freud) using words like ‘synergy’ and making sure that Pepsi products are used as plot points. It had more fiction writers working on this than on a Sarah Palin memoir. And one of those mutherfuckers was Damen “I Am Slowly Hunting Down Your Dreams And Murdering Them in Front of Your Weeping Eyes Like the Guy Who Killed Bambi’s Mom” Lindelof. It had a purported budget of upwards of $200 million. This thing was whirling itself into a shitstorm more rancid than that time a tornado hit Mr. Magorium’s Feces Emporium. A cock-up of biblical proportions…and none of that wimpy New Testament BS. I’m talking ‘don’t screw with the jews’ angel of death levels of terrible.

Well, that being said…I think this is might my favorite movie of the summer so far.

Okay, okay, boo all you want. Go ahead, throw your popcorn at me, your rotten tomatoes and, was that a wrench? Is Rip Torn in the audience? Is Rip Torn still alive? If not…RIP (sorry. I couldn’t help myself). No, honestly, I have not been more glued to the screen this summer. It’s not the greatest movie. It’s not necessarily even a good movie. All I know is that I didn’t just have to change my underwear, I had to change the theater’s seat (for some reason, the manager did not accept my ‘I was marking my territory’ argument. Racist). Quickly, for those of you who don’t know, World War Z is a brilliant novel by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks’ alter ego after sucking out the souls of the innocent), examining the history, the terror, and the ramifications, social, emotional and militaristic, of a zombie uprising. Through oral essays told by a cast of colorful, sometimes horrifically stereotyped, characters, we see the initial infection, the spread, the survival, and the fight back. On the other hand, World War Z: The Movie tells the tale of a mildly invincible UN investigator sent to find a cure for the zombie menace while the entire world collapses under the onslaught of the swarming undead. Like humans and monkeys, the book and the movie share similar DNA. However, while one is intellectual, expansive, and imaginative…the other occasionally pees into its own mouth (no prizes for guessing which one is which). The movie is kinda dumb, but there is never a boring moment. We leap from Philly, to Newark (which looks largely the same as usual just with slightly more looting), to the ocean (less exciting), to South Korea, to Israel, to…Cardiff? Sure. Why not? All the way, Gerry Lane (Mr. Pitt) is racing to save his own skin more than looking for a handy cure-all. Its scope is impressive, if reductive in places, and a few of Brooks’ best lines are stolen in placed in the mouths of excellent actors offered little more than five minutes of screen time before turning into zombie chow.

Did anyone order the Starship Troopers rip-off? Anyone?

Did anyone order the Starship Troopers rip-off? Anyone?

But, that all said, I really enjoyed this movie. Instead of being a frankenstein’s monster made of dead dicks (I stole that from Veep), this was a solid blockbuster, weaving set-pieces with talky scenes that hold a little more water than your average bear. Forster is shockingly deft at juxtaposing the widespread panic with the one-on-one horrors. It’s clear that the zombie genre works best in close quarters, though it’s novel to actually see, for once, what is usually left to expository dialogue in any other film. What brought me to this positive conclusion was a long, arduous process usually experienced by bereaving family members. And so, because I’m a melodramatic ass, I am going to denigrate every grieving member of the populace by appropriating their sadness for the purpose of my summer filmic entertainment. Due to my rabid (stop it with the metaphors, Mooney) adoration of the source material, I followed the life of this project from its cradle, to its sickly adolescence as a proposed miniseries, to its untimely death at the hands of studio execs and its subsequent resurrection. Who was the messianic figure who raised this Lazarus? Why none other than a man who seems to attempting a fairly convincing Jesus impression himself, Mr. Brad Pitt. He fought to keep this thing alive and, by golly, it is…well, coughing up blood a little, but it seems okay! However, when the trailer was released, my horror was almost more suffocating than when I saw Phantom Menace for the first time.

First, I denied it. I assumed the trailer didn’t exist. Such a choice was simpler than accepting that some studio big wig had slobbered all over my love with his herpes-infected mustache. Second: I was furious. I was ready to burn my laptop in effigy…and then I realized I was about to burn my laptop, my divine portal to the infinite god that is the Internet, and hugged it instead. We cuddled for a while and, after apologizing to Andrew’s Little Helper (no joke, that’s my computer’s actual name), I shifted into the third: bargaining. I wanted to start a Kickstarter to maybe shift the movie towards my tastes. Perhaps an Upworthy campaign? What about an online petition; people listen to those, right? When that inevitably failed, I just got depressed. I watched Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later on a loop while force feeding myself Americone Dream, wishing I could awaken from this living nightmare of a world with a terrible WWZ adaptation. And, finally, I reached acceptance. I knew it would be more ghastly than a pustule on the tongue. It would be a hemorrhoid of a movie-watching experience. Knowing that kept me safe from harm.

But then that fucking trailer with the attack on the plane appeared and my hope was reignited.

A horde of ultra-violent undead is the second most terrifying thing for a Pitt-family to see coming down the street. The first is Jennifer Aniston.

A horde of ultra-violent undead is the second most terrifying thing for a Pitt-family to see coming down the street. The first is Jennifer Aniston.

Why did I like this movie? Well, the most terrifying moments of most zombie tales occur in the first act. Its the panic that spreads through the crowd where suddenly human beings become stampeding cattle with no way to tell the infected from the healthy that unnerve me to the core. While 28 Days Later forgoes this stomach-churning, seat-wetting, calling-for-mommy insanity, World War Z sticks you in the shit. Also, Pitt’s adorable daughters are on the fucking menu. I don’t want to see a little girl zombie. Do you? Shit is fucked up. Anyhoo, the movie skillfully slips from tension to tension, offering us more suspense than murder mystery night at the Hitchcocks. 90% of the time, it’s the moments before the zombie attack that keep you nibbling your nails. P.S. by the end of this movie, I’d chewed them down so far, I now need artificial fingers. I’m typing this with gnawed stumps. Forster, who’s resume consists largely of that 2 hour exercise in utter ineptitude that was Quantum of Solace, knows what this story is about. It’s about Brad Fucking Pitt. And I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew, didn’t an entire planet get destroyed by a plague? Aren’t billions dead?” to which I say, “His daughters aren’t. So go fuck your billions. HE’S FIGHTING FOR HIS FAMILY.” And you all agree with me because he is Brad “Golden Ray of Sunshine if It was Super Stoned” Pitt. Much like Will Smith before him, Pitt can carry a picture in which he fights obscene numbers of awfully CGIed beasties. Luckily, Pitt has a decent enough script on his side. In favor of immediate drama, it pretty much glosses over every astute implication set forth by its source novel. We barely hear any word about the corners of the globe untrotted by Pitt. There is no attempt at existential conversation. This thing is a freight trail headed off the rails and it will run down your ‘humanistic examination of a world dragged into chaos’ like the wimpy intellectualism it is. But goddamnit it’s exciting.

I think I reached a point of diminishing returns on the stress front when they reach Israel because, of course, the zombies break into the heavily fortified Jerusalem and, of course, it happens at the exact moment Pitt is hanging out at the main gates and, OF COURSE, it’s because of muslims. At that point, the movie devolves into an underpaid CGI minion’s worst nightmare…so they shaky cam the fuck out of it and try to get Pitt out of the chaos as soon as possible. This leads to what could have been an iconic moment in zombie movie history, the plane attack…though anyone who has seen the trailer knows that it’s coming and all suspense goes the way of the dodo. The ending, however, takes a bizarre tonal shift. But not in a bad way. Usually all zombie movies fall apart at the seams in the final act. From the ‘greatest overreaction to attempted execution’ in 28 Days Later, to the ‘Zombie Doom-Mobile’ in Dawn of the Dead, to the…whatever happened at the end of Land of the Dead, I don’t give a flying pig’s anus. However, Forster brings the action to a quiet, vicious simmer, having already proven that a full boil would result in EVERYONE’S death. We have a few nice narrative shifts and the final moments wrap the whole thing up in a messy ‘We really thought we were going to have sequels’ kind of way. But as the red-headed-stepchild-of-the-studio it redeems itself to earn a place on the ongoing and sacred hierarchy. It may not be the Bodhisattva of the genre like its literary counterpart or Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, nor is it on the level around the redefining zombie-Ghandi of 28 Days Later. It does carve out a space slightly higher than Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake (which dipped into zombie-Hitler territory with that stupid undead baby section) as a sort of shambling, moaning life-challenged Winston Churchill. It did great things during the war, but it ain’t sticking around for peacetime.

Danielle Kertesz, like Sinead O'Connor, but more badass by about fifteen orders of magnitude

Danielle Kertesz, like Sinead O’Connor, but more badass by about fifteen orders of magnitude

Honestly, the most enjoyable additions to World War Z come from the supporting cast, who, on average, last about five minutes each. From James Badge Dale, who has recently recovered from his Extremis treatment in Iron Man 3, to an inexplicably non-swearing Malcolm Tucker (watch The Thick of It or In the Loop right now, plebs), to David Morse, who when reading this script apparently ordered the ham with a side of ham all wrapped in more ham, to the obligatory skin-headed Israeli badass lady warrior, Danielle Kertesz. Also, if you look veeeeeery closely, you can see Matthew Fox fire his agent for getting him a role usually reserved for the dude helping with Kraft services who happened to be around when they needed someone to stand in for a minute. Dude is in the movie for a collective ten seconds. No joke.

Is World War Z great? Not by a long shot. Is it an adaptation of the novel? Don’t make me laugh. I still need to cry a little. But it’s solid. Shockingly so. Anyone who expected a hot mess on par with the Melanie Griffith Botox accident that was Man of Steel will be disappointed. Also, scared shitless. You will be. Sanatoriums will use this bad boy as a non-invasive enema, you mark my words. Go see it. You will not regret it. Unless you don’t like having minor heart attacks for 2 hours…then you probably shouldn’t.

"Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to discuss our lord and savior Jesus Christ?" ~ Zombie Mormon struggles to find converts.

“Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to discuss our lord and savior Jesus Christ?” ~ Zombie Mormon struggles to find converts.

Does this obliterate my hope for an actual adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel? Luckily, we live in the age where we had two separate Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies in three years. Hopefully this mess will earn its money back and then some and Pitt can fulfill his dream of a miniseries. I mean, honestly, AMC has the still lumbering Walking Dead, which seems to be mentally decaying faster than most of its characters; and Game of Thrones can’t last forever, HBO. I mean, come on; George R.R. Martin is old and looks as though he probably ate Paula Dean. Option it and make what we all know will be the Band of Brothers of zombie tales. You know you want to…

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Man of Steel (2013) – Zack Snyder (Dir.), Henry “The Howitzer Show” Cavill, Amy “More Pantsuit Than a Hilary Clinton Cosplay Convention” Adams, Michael “I’M NOT YELLING, THIS IS THE WAY I TALK” Shannon, Russell “Fuck That Guy” Crowe, Diane “Silver Fox” Lane, Kevin “The Silverier Foxier, Well More of a Possum” Kostner and Laurence Fishburne.

It seems as though Snyder signed up for JJ Abrams's master class, "Lens Flare and You: How to Give Your Audience Epilepsy"

It seems as though Snyder signed up for JJ Abrams’s master class, “Lens Flare and You: How to Give Your Audience Epilepsy”

Here we are. Finally Chicago has figured out it’s insufferable mood swings and delivered us some weather worthy of the word ‘Summer’. And, as every Chicagoan is like to do, I have begun complaining about the heat and the sweat-where-sweat-shouldn’t-be almost immediately. So, instead of delving into my fickle meteorological tastes, let’s complain about something else. As the perturbed (and probably pretty drunk) carnie says, “Oh look, another fucking tentpole”. Yes! Tis the season for a metaphorical filmic circus. What kind of tentpole is Man of Steel? Is it the big ring? The freak hut? Where they store the elephant dung? Keep reading, because the answer might surprise you!

Or the answer might not! It probably won’t. Let’s get that out of the way. This movie was quite safely on the “Movies I will See and Hate Myself” list for good reason. For every excellent sign of its quality, there was an equal and opposite red flag. This thing is the Newton’s Third Law of films. Every point counting in its favor has an exact opposite measure pulling it inexorably into the harsh no man’s land of bland BS. It becomes the worst possible thing a summer blockbuster can be: boring.

Alright, the basics. Our director treats us to an absurdly overlong prologue in which we learn far more about Kryptonian politics than anyone has ever wanted. Jor-El (Russell “The Muscle” Crowe) and his wife Lara give birth to the only naturally born Kryptonian in hundreds of years (well, the wife gives birth, he just creepily watches. Because, you know, Russell Crowe). Oh, and the world is falling apart due to energy harvesting. Oh, and it’s also apparently Pandora after the humans win in Avatar 2 and strip it of all its resources. Oh, and there’s a council with more funny hats than a Tarsem hat-a-thon. Then, Michael Shannon enters, without any insane yelling or creepy laughs, as the curiously monikered ‘Zod’. He, in the essence of some kind of space Hitler, wants to eradicate the weaker Kryptonian bloodlines by way of a thing called a Codex…a knock off of the Crystal Skull that can be read by a computer with…um… And there’s a fight… And he’s arrested or…uh…well…

I imagine this is the contraption Dick Cheney uses to suck the youth out of virgins.

I imagine this is the contraption Dick Cheney uses to suck the youth out of virgins.

Bored yet? That’s only the first twenty fucking minutes. In all seriousness, there seems to have been a great effort to realize Krypton to the fullest degree, from the organic Dune-esque costume design to a Game of Thrones-ian definition of the Krypton Houses. I have no doubt that one day a Krypton Wiki will find its way into existence and we’ll be able to examine every inch and frame of the homeworld in the way that only single people who are more connected to their ISP than to any other hum-on beings can do so. Here’s the problem: everything gets fucking destroyed. All of that detail is adorable and all…but we are fine with it in the background and not chewing up precious screen time. The kicker is that the entire prologue is retold by Russell Crowe in a later scene. It was reminiscent of the infamous “Underwears” story from Tommy Wiseau’s shitter-piece The Room. But I’ll return to that gripe later.

The rest of this 2.5 hour behemoth follows the more-ripped-than-my-curtains-after-pissing-off-my-cat Henry Cavill as the titular Man of Really Difficult to Kill Stuff. He wanders through this feature a removed observer, keeping his cool better than a bored jedi. By way of increasingly redundant flashbacks, we get to see the man find his way through these powers that, at first, scare the ever loving shit out of him. Finally, he finds an old ship haunted by the electronic ghost of Russell Crowe (who found the wrong end of a sword when Michael Shannon fulfilled the dream of everyone who saw Les Miserables). From there, he gets his shiny mesh suit and begins just kinda flying around and not giving a fuck about anything. I appreciated that. Seriously, if I could fly, that’s all I would do. Ever. It would never get boring. Ever. But then, Zod comes looking for the Gentleman of a Hardened Exterior and then the movie begins the grandest exercise in tedium since I downed too much pinot noir and decided to organize a ten-year collection of random change.

Is it weird that I find this actress incredibly attractive in a Joan of Arc of Satan kind of way?

Is it weird that I find this actress incredibly attractive in a Joan of Arc of Satan kind of way?

Firstly, let’s be clear, I had a number of overwhelming prejudices when waltzing into this particular multiplex. Zack Snyder is at the helm, a man who, like Achilles as a child, was dipped into a steaming vat of liquid testosterone to the point that his brain is more testicular than neurological. He is a walking, breathing example of why you can’t leave AndroGel around your children. He gave us the delightful, yet hollow Dawn of the Dead, the my-homophobia-radar-is-going-haywire-yet-my-eyes-are-bleeding 300, the horrific letdown of a comic ‘masterpiece’ Watchmen and, the pies de resistance, the spine-tinglingly, mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly horrendous excuse for a waste of megabytes that was Sucker Punch. However, here Mr. Snyder has an unseen hand guiding his work. Mr. Christopher “Buzzkill” Nolan watches over this movie like some kind of dark knight, making sure that dick-for-brains Snyder doesn’t hurt his loose plans for the Justice League and topple his attempt to show Joss Whedon that there can be two versions of The Avengers, except in his, nobody will have any fun whatsoever. We have a darker Superman. One with ‘feelings’. This movie is dotted with some incredibly tender moments, all carried by that muscly machine of stoicism Henry “Dreamboat” Cavill. His relationships to his earth ‘parents’ and his budding love with the heavily pantsuited and thankfully likable Amy Adams are legitimately compelling. They lay a groundwork from which some true character development can occur. Much like X2 and The Dark Knight considered the ramifications of these superheroes in the real world, a dose of needed humanity is offered to this alien immigrant.

But then…Zod arrives.

It was as though, during this process, Nolan was the Miyagi to Snyder’s Ralph Maccio. The wizened filmmaker is constantly correcting form and style, helping the arrogant young student through the pitfalls of blockbuster storytelling…until he looks away for one fucking second and turns back to see Snyder punching himself in the face. The pair get so much of the movie right and yet Snyder ruins it with his constant “More is Awesome” mentality. From the get go, we are offered too much. From the extended prologue to the gratuitous shots of Cavill’s finger-lickingly good ab muscles to the why-is-this-here demonstrations of the hefty CGI budget. Nothing compares, however, to the drawn-out and exhausting fight scenes that make up the last hour of the film. The second Cavill punches Shannon in his inexplicable goatee (it wasn’t there at the beginning of the film, where the fuck did it come from?) I knew I was in trouble. And here we arrive at the problem with Superman. Our heroes in this, I think we’re at the Bronze Age of comic books, are a darker sort. They are vulnerable. They have weaknesses. You know who doesn’t have any weaknesses? The Man of Invincibility. While Bryan Singer tried (and failed miserably) to craft a Superman with some level of killability, Snyder, in his style, decides to amp up the competition. We won’t have Lex Luther and his intelligence; we’ll just have another Superman. Thusly, the end result is a game of human ping pong, just with buildings in the way. People punch and punch and punch and yet do no damage. And it goes on forever.

Like, seriously, did he look in the mirror and think, 'Mustaches are silly. But half-bleached chin pubes are seriously thug'?

I believe he looked in the mirror and said to himself, ‘Mustaches are silly. But half-bleached chin pubes are totes thug’.

I think I finally realized what bugs me so deeply about Snyder’s excess-ad-extremum style. Watching his fight scenes is like watching porn. At the beginning, everyone is having fun. But then, it keeps going. You get the same shots of the same body parts. You finish, but it keeps going. You sit there, on your couch/desk chair/bed/bouncy castle with your tissues filled. You’re done. You got what you wanted…but it keeps going. Suddenly that initial excitement transforms into shameful fatigue and moral introspection. How many times do I need to see someone fly through a building before they finally decide to end the movie? How many trains can be thrown at one person? We all know what’s going to happen. There are no twists or turns. The novelty wears off and we, the audience, are left waiting for Snyder to stop punching himself in the face and finish off that asshole from Cobra Kai.

Even his actors, save for Cavill, seem ready for the film to be over. While Shannon, who is so delightfully bat-shit in every movie in which he appears (everyone needs to see Premium Rush or “JGL Rides a Bike” RIGHT NOW), looks bored. It’s as though he’s been directed to death. Every inevitable insane impulse he had during rehearsal was evidently left on the cutting room floor and all we have as a signifier of his mental instability is that ridiculously stupid goatee. Also, there needs to be a shout-out to Mr. Laurence Fishburne who I don’t think finished reading the script before signing up. He starts as his no-BS, strong CEO character he honed in Mission: Impossible 3 and ends as some poor human guinea pig caught in a sadistic Roland Emmerich wet dream. Every scene with him, the guy from House of Cards and the crying lady caught amongst the rubble as Metropolis is transformed into urban mulch made me want to personally apologize on behalf of their agents.

Lawrence: "Hey Amy, I didn't finish reading the script. What happens to my character?" Amy: "Um, oh, nothing much. Just some mild, you know, pulverizing."

Lawrence: “Hey Amy, I didn’t finish reading the script. What happens to my character?”
Amy: “Um, oh, nothing much. Just some mild, you know, pulverizing.”

Perhaps, one day, they will figure out a way to make Superman vulnerable. Perhaps one day we will see a sequel. Perhaps the “Man of It’s Like Iron, But Less Rusty” is destined for relegation to the back of the Justice League along with Wonder Woman (you know, because she’s a woman and absolutely NO GIRLS watch comic book movies). I give Snyder and Nolan credit for honestly trying, but all good will they build in the first half is utterly obliterated in the second. That is, in essence, what made this movie so painful. It gave the promise of potential and then shot itself in the foot. It seemed, if momentarily, like this could have been Snyder’s redemption and reprieve from the dark side of misogynistic inanity. But then things go boom and the AndroGel claims its victim once more. *Le sigh*. There might be talent hiding deep down in that shell of a creepster and its waiting to break out and bloom. This is a marked and great improvement over his recent forays. Let’s hope Snyder continues down the road of Nolan and stops the self-inflicted facial malefaction.

Also, I’m suffering from a severe lack of Michael Shann-sanity. I need my fix. I think I’m going to watch Premium Rush again. AND NOBODY CAN STOP ME.

This is the End (2013) – Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg (Dir.), Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera (for like 2 minutes), and everyone who has ever been in a Judd Apatow movie ever

They all look upset, but I bet Craig Robinson just wanted to snuggle and they all took it the wrong way.

Ah yes, after all my caterwauling (fuck yeah, that’s a real word) about the lack of decent scripts in Hollywood, a nascent inability to imbue anything popular with any more depth than a corgi’s paddling pool, and the general dumbing of the American mind and soul, this little ditty came along. Before I will say anything, I giggled my ass off for probably 90% of this 107 min gross-out, Left Behind Satan-penis fest. I don’t mean I LOLed, as we tend to when reading a text that we find mildly amusing. I mean, full body, foaming at the mouth, I-thought-I-was-going-to-have-a-seizure belly-aching. I turned into my dad watching the fart scene from Blazing Saddles. I was that absurd. However, that being said, was the movie good? I think this one will go down with 81/2 and Citizen Kane for its subtlety and all-encompassing examination of the human condition. I mean, Satan’s penis is amputated by a shaft of god’s grace. That shit is Chekovian.

Alright, alright. So, this little celebrity reach-around of a movie begins with Jay Baruchel, the now distant friend of Seth Rogen, coming to tinsel town for a weekend of fun. During which, against his wishes, Jay finds himself at James Franco’s self-aggrandizing compound, surrounded by coke-powered, blow-job having, ass-slapping yobos such as Michael Cera (no joke, he does all of those things). It is a panoply of pointless excess and it allows every one of Rogen’s friends to either poke fun of themselves or have Michael Cera blow cocaine in their face (poor, poor McLovin’). Well, after an extended stint in this Sodom and butt-buddy Gomorrah, the Rapture occurs. Yes, the actual fucking Rapture. Like, Left Behind if every other word in the book was ‘penis’. Of course, none of the actors nor their vapid friends get the express route into heaven and are stuck fighting an increasing number of demons and other hellish beasts until they either make the transition through the pearly gates…or they eat people’s faces off.

I imagine this is what the Rugrats reunion would look like. But with more bar tar heroine.

I imagine this is what the Rugrats reunion would look like. But with more black tar heroine.

Okay. A comedy’s first job is to make people laugh. This one succeeds. From the severed head accidental soccer to The Exorcist parody, this movie is filled with funny. Everybody is doing their thing, but in a slightly exaggerated skin. We’ve got James “I Wish I Could Perform Self-Felatio” Franco, Craig “The Snuggles” Robinson, Seth “Yes, His Laugh Happens and it Makes You Want to Die” Rogen, a disarmingly subdued performance from Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride as possibly the most detestable creature since your cousin came to town unannounced and ate ALL OF YOUR MAC AND CHEESE and the point isn’t that mac and cheese is expensive, it’s just the complete assholishness of eating it without asking AND THEN NOT BUYING MORE (I’m looking at you, Allen). Sorry about that. Anyway, at the center of this thinly veiled Jacobean comedy is Jay Baruchel who, against all odds, makes you want him to live. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. Ever since She’s Out of Your League and the few episodes of Undeclared I could stomach, I wanted him to have an unfortunate weedwacking incident. But here, he keeps the film centered, the preachy and vulnerable one, while the others flail about in the ensuing deluge of cum jokes.

However, after I left the theater, savoring a few of the classier gags (one involves McBride’s buttsex gimp), I found myself lacking. Yes, of course this is a dumb stoner comedy in it’s essence. But it didn’t feel like a comedy. It felt like a fucking apocalypse movie (with perhaps the lowest budget known to man). Maybe I wanted more famous people to have survived the initial slaughter and later find themselves torn to pieces by a hell hound or something. At it’s center, the film was surprisingly compelling. In a gore comedy (a subgenre I just invented) everyone is expendable. Who knows? Everyone could fucking die at the drop of the hat because they ran out of one-liners. After a while, this stopped feeling like Pineapple Express and more like Game of Thrones. You’re just waiting for the next Red Wedding and a blood orgy with James Franco’s stupid fucking face in the center. I found myself fighting the urge to care about these douchebags as the final act lumbered along and the crew finds themselves caught in the midst of a Hollywood hellscape. And no, I’m not talking about rush hour on the 1 (OH! GEOGRAPHICAL REFERENCE BURN! Yeah, full disclosure, I know nothing about LA). But, this was all pretty much ruined by the cheap ‘redemptions’ that happen faster than a Brittany Spears divorce agreement. Perhaps this is a commentary on God’s shallowness. All it takes is saying you’ll die for your friends, or maybe a really big hug, and St. Peter nods and goes, “Eh, good enough.” Perhaps it’s a tacked on emotional ending because the rest of this thing is about as hollow as Donald Trump’s soul.

That looks incredibly sweaty.

That looks incredibly sweaty.

It reminded me of the other ‘end of the world’ comedy coming out this year from the holy trinity of British genre comedy, World’s End. You know, it’s the one with Scotty from Star Trek and, well, Nick Frost. Both the Pegg/Frost/Wright crew and the Rogen-ites/Apatostles settle on the same themes when it comes to their comedy arcs. We almost always see a bromance in danger or rekindled under great duress, all leading to an explosion of third-act bear hugs. However, it seems that Pegg et al manage to really get to the core of their characters, be they idiotic or arrogant, and push them to the limits. From Shaun and his inability to grow up to Nicholas Angel is his difficulty with letting loose a little. With the Rogen crew, the movies act as an excuse for them to wax poetic on the finer points of explosive ejaculation before some sorry fellow has to edit it into something coherent (you have my respect, Mr. Goldberg). This movie is simply the final solution to their problem that has been growing since The 40-Year Old Virgin…well, they finally dropped the act and just played themselves instead of troubling with ‘chaarcters’. Now what? There are only so many bromantic avenues down which we can travel. And shit, this one was hilarious. Especially Jonah Hill as the Patrick Bateman/Linda Blair of comedy. Will I see it again? Probably. If only for Channing Tatum (SPOILERS). Will it be remembered? Probably not. For a movie whose only card to play is how gross it can be there wasn’t enough. Yes, there was a severed head, but what about disembowelments? Yes we had cannibals, but where were the uncomfortable shots of them munching on some testes Apocalypto-style? Am I simply insatiable? Are my standards for horrific violence and vulgarity simply too high? Is there not enough Satan Penis to leave me satisfied?

Wait…I should cut out that last sentence. Eh, fuck it. We’ll do it live.

This is their audition tape for Ghostbusters: The New Class

This is their audition tape for Ghostbusters: The New Class

Go see this movie. You will turn into a gigglesaurus. Also, The Backstreet Boys. I’VE SAID TOO MUCH!