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Notes from the back row

The aliens have arrived



Few things suck/blow/lick as much ass as the first back-to-school sale ads of the summer. Kids everywhere see those and get that sinking feeling — the end is near. If you’re older than school age, however, you might remember the mid-‘90s television hit The X Files. It was a pretty top-notch FBI-slash-sci-fi show (they even had an episode about my favorite animal, the Chupacabra) and creator Chris Carter brings Mulder and Scully back to the big screen this week with The X Files: I Want To Believe.

To believe, or not to believe, that is the question. This show was built on the skeptic versus believer dynamic and X-Philes, as the serious fans are known, won’t be disappointed with the new film. Now retired, Mulder is brought back into the fold by the case of a missing female agent (he’s supposed to be a recluse but you know he enjoys hittin’ the pavement with old Scully) and their best lead is a convicted psychic pedophile priest (is there any other kind?) played excellently by Billy Connolly. It’d be a shame to give away too much plot but this film stands alone enough that even if you aren’t coming in with a TV show history it still entertains as a tight thriller.

Aside from David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, X-Files also stars Amanda Peet and Xibit, Callum Keith Rennie and home grown Pemberton boy Neil Talbot (well, maybe he doesn’t ‘star’ in it so much but Neil gets a shout out anyhow). The even better news is that the film was shot in Vancouver and Pemberton, just like the early (and best) years of the old show. When it comes to The X Files, I believe.

I also believe in John C. Reilly, the guy never disappoints. From Boogie Nights to Criminal to Talladega Nights to Hard Eight, it seems Johnny can’t give a bad performance. This week he re-teams up with Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay ( Talladega Nights) in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy Step Brothers — a film about a couple of middle aged ‘adultescents’ living at home who are forced together when one’s mom marries the other’s dad. The two new brothers share a room, toys, and an initial disliking of each other until they eventually bond over dinosaurs and a pretty funny John Stamos joke. After some pretty awesome anti-job hunting, the situation is complicated when a bullying, more successful third brother and his wife enter the scene, splintering the family until the thankfully not-too-sentimental end.

Ferrell has made a career out of the man-child role and Reilly steps into it again like a favorite t-shirt. The humor here is juvenile and stupid but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of good laughs. Apatow (and Ferrell and McKay when they are on it) have a brand of humour reminiscent of the old Farrelly Brothers movies ( Something about Mary, Stuck on You) and while lots of people might not think it’s hilarious to watch a grown man rub his nutsack on another grown man’s prized possessions, there are a lot of other people who do. This is good, wholesome, R-rated entertainment.

Having said that, it’s time for John C. Reilly to cut himself loose from Ferrell and the comedy genre and go after roles with a bit more punch or dramatic seriousness. Ferrell, more and more, seems to be a one-trick pony but his trick is pretty good. So long as he surrounds himself with top notch staff, I’ll keep watching.

And to all the school kids, don’t worry, we’ve still got The House Bunny, The Rocker and Pineapple Express to keep you laughing until September, and school, rear their ugly heads.