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On love and Lego

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How do you feel about Valentine's Day? Contrived pile of consumerism-driven Hallmark bullsh*t? Or is it a day to celebrate and honour that noblest of human emotions—love?

The Whistler Village 8 is placing bets on both options this week and bringing in two special flicks for Valentine's Day (which is Thursday the 14th so set an alarm in your phones).

Isn't It Romantic stars Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect) as a cynical New York professional who suffers a head injury and wakes up in an alternate universe where she is the star of her own romantic comedy. There were no pre-screeners for this one but it looks super meta and comes from the screenwriters of How To Be Single, The Hottie & the Nottie, and a (well-reviewed) matchmaker comedy called Set It Up.

That all sounds discouraging, but director Todd Strauss-Schulson has decent weed-smoker pedigree with A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and directed a decent slasher flick called The Final Girls, which also featured a "trapped in a movie" plotline.

Isn't It Romantic appears to be a mostly snarky look at love and romance, but it's the closest we get to a pro-Valentine's Day option and it plays Feb. 13-14.

The "Valentine's hearts should be bloody" option is Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel you didn't even know you wanted to a 2017 Blumhouse flick about a young woman forced to re-live the same day again and again while a masked slasher stalks and kills her. This time around, there's more at stake, more people dying, and (presumably, there were no pre-screeners) more blood, guts, witticisms, and spine-shuddering deaths.

Like the first outing, this flick will live or die on star Jessica Rothe's performance. She's kick-ass though, so sign me up. Happy Death Day 2U also opens Wednesday, Feb. 13.

On the small screen, the romance gets even grimmer with The Domestics, a terrifying post-apocalyptic love story starring Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush) and Tyler Hoechlin (Hall Pass) as two poor suckers who were in the midst of a divorce when the world ended and now have to try to work things out while driving across America avoiding savage gangs of rapists, murderers and psychopaths.

World-building, creating a unique and interesting reality, is the bread and butter of post-apocalypse flicks and first-time director Mike P. Nelson absolutely slays it with The Domestics, a finely-honed film full of savagery, scares and surrealism that's up there with Mandy as one of the best love stories of 2018. Find this one on Crave/HBO (and thanks to my buddy Tricky for the heads-up on this gem).

For the kids (or people who just want to go to a movie) The Lego Movie 2 opens this week and it has all the zaniness of the first instalment with just a teensy bit more self-congratulation (which is not a good thing but you'll live.) The good news is that even five years after the original Lego Movie, all those flashy colours, overstuffed visuals, nostalgia and pop culture in-jokes still mix well enough to keep you entertained.

This Lego story is dense, and putting Elizabeth Banks' Lucy character front and centre doesn't hurt. There's also an interesting subplot about the actual kids playing with the Lego/Duplo that brings new layers of depth and meaning, thanks to the addition of a younger sister character/storyteller. The danger here is that cramming a double-helix of thematic resonance and high-concept storytelling into a Lego movie might confuse younger audiences.

In any case, you get about what you expect with this one—a kick-ass adventure, voiced by big stars, with some catchy tunes and enough double-sided humour to keep the kiddies (hopefully) enthralled and the adults amused. It's great, but it sticks to the formula and avoids subverting your expectations in any way. On the other hand, few sequels ever do and The Lego Movie 2 would be considered a classic if it didn't come after The Lego Movie.

The final new flick this week is Cold Pursuit, a new Liam Neeson revenge flick about a father out for justice after his son's mysterious death (think Taken in the snow). This one is cold-hearted and finds laughter in bleak pain and black humour. So, probably the best Valentine's movie of the week. Pair it with some chocolate-covered strawberries from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and call it a Valentine's home run.

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