Video games, weed, Kung fu monkeys, lions, immature man children, sweet old ladies, topless chicks, toilet humour, Grandma’s Boy has it all and has to be one of the funniest films ever made, provided all that and more is your thing. Produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison label and starring many of his seemingly inexhaustible entourage, this is one comedy that knows how to cut loose, party the fuck up and kick back for ninety minutes of stoned, drunken, nerdy blissful mayhem. Allen Covert (he was the homeless bum turned caddy in Happy Gilmore) is 35 year old video game tester Alex, who hits rock bottom after being evicted by his asshole landlord (Rob Schneider in Eastern European mode). With nowhere to go he moves in with his lovable grandma (Doris Roberts) and her two friends, potty mouthed tart Shirley Jones and drugged out kook Shirley Knight. The plot here is pretty loose and that kind of leaves breathing room for various set pieces, comedic bits and one massive house party where grandma gets royally stoned. The cast is stacked with recognizable talent including the always lovely Linda Cardellini as a foxy new colleague Alex crushes on, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, Kevin Nealon, Peter Dante, Joel David Moore as a terminally awkward video game coder and David Spade as the world’s sassiest vegan restaurant waiter. I mean some would call this lowbrow trash and I won’t argue but if your brain is in the right spot it’s a relentlessly funny film that hardly lets you breathe between laughing. Doris Roberts has so much fun in the role and knows how to send up her own image, Cardellini is just so damn adorable in anything, Nealon has a blast as their hippy dippy CEO and the whole thing is packed with inspiration, from chimpanzee karate fights to dance dance revolution showdowns to a thirteen hour titty sucking marathon that serves as Jonah Hill’s initiation into the industry of sorts. Don’t bring your brain to this one, just come ready to chill with these childish video game stoner idiots for a while and you’ll be hugely rewarded.
So imagine The Crow but like… based around Aztec/Day of the dead style mythology and starring Fez from That 70’s Show as a young man brought back from the dead as a supernatural zombie. Sounds to random to actually exist, right? Well it’s out there, it’s called The Dead One in some regions and El Muerto in others and… it’s something. I can’t quite say that as a compliment because it’s so goddamn low budget and cheesy, but I will say that a valiant effort is made, there’s a lot of heart behind it, plus some terrific actors having fun too.
Unfortunately Wilmer Valderrama will forever and always be known as Fez no matter what else he does and will never live that character down, but he does his best to be dark, smouldering and edgy here as Diego De La Muerte, who is killed in a car crash one night and resurrected as a badass monster with face paint and superpowers by the Mayan god of death. He’s marked as a boy in an opening flashback by a spooky Old Indian shaman (the great Billy Drago, who passed a few days ago) but what he doesn’t read in the fine print is that the God basically owns his soul and commands his every move once he’s undead. This leads to a fight for freedom and the love of his life (Angie Cepeda) who he left behind.
Soon the God manifests in reality as a creepy old witch type thing (again played by Drago, really outdoing himself with the scenery chewing here, as he was always famous for) and he has to fight the thing as well as evade a suspicious county Sheriff played by the legendary Michael Parks, who is also no longer with us. Other appearances are noted from Tony Plana as a priest, Joel David Moore’s as his best friend and the iconic Maria Conchita Alonso.
Man I really want to recommend this because I’m a lot more generous than most with this type of fare but I can’t because it’s essentially a pretty fucking awful film, not gonna lie. Shoddy special effects, cheesy dialogue, cheap looking cinematography, this one has it all. But hey, if you give it a go you’ll always be able to say that you saw a movie where Fez from That 70’s Show plays an Aztec zombie, so there’s that. Plus the thing is kinda fun in its own lovable horror flick way. It’s based on some cult comic series which I’ve never read but if anyone has, let me know how this holds up against the source material.
I’ve never understood the dislike or lacklustre reception for Gone, a moody, propulsive suspense thriller starring Amanda Seyfried. It’s not especially groundbreaking or crazy in any way but it’s a solid genre piece with a lead performance that proves once again what kind of pure star-power she has, enough to carry a film and then some. She plays a girl that allegedly escaped the clutches of a serial kidnapper/killer who tossed her down a hole somewhere way out in the wilderness. The cops never really believed her as there was no actual proof and their searches turned up fuck all, but she won’t be deterred, especially when her older sister (Emily Wickersham) seems to vanish into thin air one night and she’s convinced the guy has returned. Once again the lead detectives on her case (Daniel Sunjata and Ray Donovan’s Katherine Moennig) give her the skeptics eye and she has no choice but to launch her own solo investigation, a dangerous option but the girl has no shortage of bravery. Inherently creepy looking Wes Bentley plays another cop who is decidedly more helpful for his own reasons, but he exists mainly as a red herring and ultimately doesn’t do much of anything useful. This film is about her journey and not so much her destination, as it’s essentially a heightened Nancy Drew yarn fuelled by a constant vibe of suspense and blanketed in the thick atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest region where it was filmed. When her eventual confrontation with the killer does come, it seems a bit after the fact and even rushed, but it was never the point anyways, as the story’s effectiveness lies in her relentless search and resilient, charismatic tactics to discern each clue along the way. The cast here is full of gems, including Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter as her waitress boss, Joel David Moore, a very young Sebastian ‘Bucky Barnes’ Stan, Nick Searcy, Socratis Otto and legendary tough guy Michael Paré as the Lieutenant of the local precinct who is helpful but stern and concerned about Seyfried’s seemingly drastic actions. Don’t let any negativity spoil a fun evening in with this one, there’s really nothing to hate about it. Tightly wound, nicely acted by everyone, and shot with the benefit of the Northern locale. Admittedly broad and farfetched in terms of plotting, but what thriller isn’t here and there anyways, get over it. Mainly it worked so well for me because Amanda is such a vivid, present actress who can hold a scene like nobody’s business and really commits to her craft. A diamond of a flick in my books.