First off I should probably apologize for spelling 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown winner Conrad Schapansky's name wrong last week (I've only known the guy for 10 years). Also, the People's Choice-winning Adventures in Loonie Land was actually co-directed/written/produced by Angie Nolan and Katie Schaitel and I forgot to give Katie her due. Apologies to everyone, I'm still reeling from the last two weeks of WSSF radness.
As things quiet down around town the Whistler Village 8 is the perfect way to ease into slow season (they even have pinball in there). The obvious top flick this week is the Evil Dead remake — not because it's a sphincter-tightening, gore-splattered update of a freaky, blood-soaked classic, but also because the other options this week look to be about as appealing as passing a gall stone.
The Big Wedding had no pre-screenings but the trailer is bad enough. Written and directed by Justin Zackham (screenwriter on The Bucket List) this one wants to lure you in with a cast of names you recognize but it's a trick. If The Big Wedding seems oddly familiar it's because all those name actors do is reprise roles from other (better) wedding disaster movies they've already been in — De Niro does his Meet the Fockers bit, Robin Williams recycles his pushy, hip minister act from 2007's License to Wed (with a random hint of Aladdin tossed in) and Diane Keaton has been-there-done-that alongside Steve Martin in the highly superior 1991 flick Father of the Bride.
Even a creamy Amanda Seyfried playing the bride can't hide the fact that The Big Wedding is actually a big waste of time. Besides the fact that many of us are already losing precious weekends this summer by being sucked into friends' and relatives' actual weddings, now we have to ruin our evenings at the movies too? No thanks.
Michael Bay's Pain and Gain, the body builder criminal movie starring The Rock and Mark Walberg ought to at least be mindlessly entertaining, but if that's too jock for you perhaps an inspirational baseball movie will do the trick.
42 takes a swing at the story of Jackie Robinson as he rises from the minors to make it with the Brooklyn Dodgers and thus becomes the first "coloured" baseball player to hit the big leagues. Post WWII America, needless to say, was not entirely ready for this type of integration and Robinson has a few extra bases to run before he's home safe.
Written and Directed by Brian Helgeland, 42 is not a great movie but it's a pretty epic story. As a writer Helgeland has many victories (LA Confidential, Mystic River, Salt) but as a director his record is a bit less stable (Payback was pretty good though). There's no denying Robinson was a real American hero but Helgeland tries a little too hard with this one while simultaneously playing it safe — like bunting for the fences. His glossy take on a less-perfect era combined with one-note characters and easily tied up conflicts makes the film feel faker than it needed to be. Still a decent watch, but Robinson's real story was probably much more interesting.
New this week on legal download, Gangster Squad is another stylized flick set in the 1940s. Sean Penn hams it up as LA gangster Mickey Cohen while a crack team of "non-cops" (including Ryan Gosling) break all the rules to bring him down. Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) brings the zing and blood (and Emma Stone) but this one doesn't really even chart as far as the genre is concerned. LA Confidential is still the champ of West Coast Gangsterism films. And so it's the Download of the Week.