Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Monte Carlo made me feel so old and out of touch. I have no idea who Selena Gomez is. I have no clue who Katie Cassidy is. I barely know what a Leighton Meester is. But, for all my ignorance, I’m sure your tween-age daughter does, and that’s great because Monte Carlo was made for her anyway. It’s sweet and poppy and bubble-gummy and filled with goofy romance and all that junk. Gomez is a peppy Texas waitress who travels to France with her stepsister (pathos!) and kinda skanky co-worker. She’s mistaken for a snotty, spoiled princess and uses her newfound skills in international identity theft to open up a school for orphans in Romania; have wacky polo hijinks; and swoon over a prince who, of course, can’t stand her at first. Filled with stomach-tingling innocent puppy-love and minor family drama, Monte Carlo is pretty innocuous entertainment that will leave anyone over 30 questioning their own personal relevance.
Jessica Alba is a math genius. No, it’s not a sci-fi movie, but for the amount of suspended disbelief to accept that idea, it might as well be. It’s in this casting where An Invisible Sign fails mostly, as Alba’s sexpot image has become so ingrained into the popular culture that it’s hard to see her as a dowdy, depressive, self-punishing math whiz slacker. It’s the closest she’ll ever get to a Charlize Theron/Monster moment, but even all that costuming aside, the girl just plain can’t act. Every scene she’s in is so forced and fraudulent, full of “take me serious!” pretension, that it’s distracting. Which works, actually, because a movie like this needs as many distractions as possible to keep our minds off the vapid, pseudo-emotional plot and cookie-cutter quirky supporting characters. It’s Indie Filmmaking 101, following every mistake and cliché possible, delivering a movie that’s only watchable for the most diehard of Alba fans. You’re out there, right?
After watching the fourth installment in the backwoods-hillbilly-cannibal Wrong Turn series, I’m left with one burning question: Who keeps asking for them to be made? Are they really that popular? I have my finger pretty close to the genre community (God, is that an embarrassing admission), and not a single person I know looks forward to them or really even recognizes their presence. Subtitled Bloody Beginnings, this recent effort is a prequel, letting us know how the trio of deformed, brutal inbreds came to be who they are and why. Stuck in a low-rent mental hospital, they institute a gory, face-chomping escape, living off the bodies of passing campers, including our latest batch, a group of super-annoying college kids who might as well just jump into the deep-fat fryer voluntarily. Wrong Turn 4 is OK for what it is — which is cheap junk — but has no lasting entertainment value whatsoever.