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Notes from the back row

Family-friendly fun



The new Conan movie sounds like it is becoming a rush job. Reports claim endless script re-writes and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, City of Lost Children) apparently just stepped in at the last moment before shooting starts to replace Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Barfly) in the role of Conan's father.  The film, directed by Marcus Nispel (the guy who did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes) is set to be released in 2011.

Conan's dad apparently has to cut fetal Conan out of his dying mother's womb to fulfill her last wish- to see her child. Pretty savage, but what's a father to do?

Actually, the role of "Father" can be hard on actors the first time around. Not every Dad is as memorable as Eugene Levy in American Pie or Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation. Sometimes it comes off shitty, like Ice Cube's Are we Done Yet? or Steve Zahn in Daddy Day Care.

Zahn is usually pretty good but that flick was worse than winning a "balls-n-all" session at the budget waxing joint. Luckily, Steve gets another crack at the Father role in Diary of Wimpy Kid, opening Friday at the Village 8.

Based on a popular book, Wimpy Kid follows a pre-growth spurt kid named Greg as he navigates his way through the perils of middle school - bullies, legendary cheese cooties and the shame of being outwrestled by a girl on the front page of the school newspaper. Greg's adventures are cute and look pretty funny (there were no advance screenings of this one) but this is directed by the guy who made Hotel for Dogs so don't go in with too high expectations. Even Steve Zahn can't elevate this beyond kiddie fare but your kids will probably like it.

Moms, on the other hand, are more likely to get into The Bounty Hunter, the latest Jennifer Aniston flick where hot-but-useless Jen plays the bail-jumping ex-wife of Gerard Butler (300), the bounty hunter hired to track her down. It's a love/hate Venus/Mars crapfest and hey, do you think they patch things up in the end? This movie is playing all-day everyday on every screen in Hell right now.

Dads fare a bit better this week with Repo Men, a dystopian health-care-gone-wrong flick about a near-future where a company called The Union will sell you mechanized organs to fix any ailment. The only catch is they are damn expensive and if you miss a few payments the repo men come calling with their scalpels.

Jude Law stars as the mercenary who gets a change of heart about his job after receiving his own mechanical organ. Pretty soon his ex-partner (Forrest Whittaker) is hunting Jude down to bring him back into the fold.

RepoMen is long, full of ultra-violence (wound-fisting anyone?) and derives a lot from other corrupt-inhumane-corporation-of-the-future films, but since the real world seems to be heading in this direction it's probably wise for fathers to watch flicks like this so they can prepare their families for the upcoming Police State-Big Brother future or the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

The best flick out this week is not playing in Whistler - The Runaways, a loose re-telling of the groundbreaking all-chick rock band of the same name. Starring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett (yes, they make out at one point) the flick rides the cliché rock-film route but mixes in decent socio-sexual themes and the contradictions of hyper-sexed teen imagery in popular culture. Unfortunately, the film's conclusion seems to be simply that nothing has changed in over 30 years. True that - young girls still sell and Conan is still awesome.



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