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Notes from the back row

Bad, good and ugly (but good)



This week at the Village 8 we've got a genre-bender, an almost-kinda sequel and a stupid pile of pig dung mixed with vomit and gorilla afterbirth.

The latter is Killers, the latest romantic comedy from failure-expert Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster in Law, The Ugly Truth). Katherine Heigl stars as a freshly dumped chick on a French vacation with her parents when she meets and falls for handsome, dashing, near-perfect Ashton Kutcher.

But of course, it all goes south a few years later when the now-married couple's life is sent into a tailspin courtesy of lots of gunplay and Kutcher's hidden secret - he's a spy, or an assassin or some other secret-identity-meets-suburbia plotline that's been overdone in other flicks like Mr and Mrs Smith or The Whole Nine Yards. I expect this kind of crap from Heigl and Luketic but Kutcher should know better. He just got punked.

It's not Punk but rather Rock and Roll Excess that's on display in Get Him to The Greek, the sort-of sequel spinoff starring Russell Brand's rockstar character Aldous Snow from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (he nearly stole the show in that film by wearing leather pants to the beach).

Directed by Sarah Marshall's Nicholas Stoller and produced by Judd Apatow, Greek also stars Jonah Hill (Superbad) as the low-level music industry kid/fan who has to accompany the depressed, hard-partying Snow from London to New York to L.A. for a reunion concert. Sex, drugs and rock and roll occur all along the way and the flick earns it's R-Rating honestly.

Aldous Snow's fall-from-grace montage really kicks off the comedy and there are good laughs throughout this odd-couple/bromance film but the overall effect is a bit underwhelming. The film expects us to laugh at all the puke and orgies and dildos and self-destructive drug abuse while at the same time condemning it as something bad or less than admirable by the end. Tough to have it both ways though and when the hard-charging Aldous Snow becomes lonely and whiny, unhappy with his celebrity and his rock'n'roll lifestyle the feel-good stuff at the end kind of undermines what the entire film has been based on. Not that it is a bad flick, and for a kind-of sequel it's actually pretty good. Too long, but still decent.

Coming out of nowhere and rounding out the week is Splice, a nifty little genre film directed by French-Canadian Vincenzo Natali (Cube) and starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as a couple of super-duper geneticists who've garnered success combining various animal DNA to produce mutant caterpillars that poop out proteins useful for medicine. The obvious next step is to toss a little human DNA in the mix and after their research is shut down by big business, the duo decide to go for it anyhow and create an amphibian/bird/human hybrid with a deadly scorpion tail that matures incredibly quickly into a hot chick with wings and a bad attitude.

Brody wants to kill Dren (they name the creature) but Polley wants to mother it and the result is a Frankenstein's Monster/Rosemary's Baby remix that's creepy, tense and full of surprises.

Splice is executive produced by mood-genius Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Orphanage) and has a bit of that David Cronenberg chicks-with-dicks horror vibe to it as well. From its epic creepy sci-fi alien sound design to the ooze and incisions of the medical lab, Splice is a well-made cautionary tale about getting cocky and messing with shit you ought not to. As well as how not to raise your kids. Plus it's Canadian, so go see it.