Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
I am a huge fan of Tyler Perry. Not only do his films make me laugh, cry, and, best of all, feel inspired to be a better person, the messages in his films are so important to all walks of life in today’s haggard, careless, lazy society, sweetly delivered with all the crude laughs of your typical Adam Sandler comedy, that you can’t help but walk away feeling something. (I can’t help but feel like a lot of the pop-culture, bandwagon hatred of him and his work is maybe based in gross amounts of racism, but that a discussion for another time, I guess.) As for his latest outing, badass matriarch Madea is back in her broadest comedy yet, taking in a rich white family under witness protection from the mafia, all the while teaching them important life lessons, usually through love of Jesus and the fear of violent threats. I laughed continually through Witness Protection, way more than I did through Larry the Cable Guy’s similarly-themed Witless Protection. Hallaluyer!
While we've all seen flicks about American monsters like Bigfoot, sewer alligators, that thing from Boggy Creek and even the Mothman, one legendary mythical beast of yore that never seems to get his due is the Jersey Devil. Born more than 400 years ago from the union of a witch and Satan himself, the Jersey Devil is said to stalk the forests of southern New Jersey, eviscerating everything unfortunate enough to meet it. Mother’s Day director Darren Lynn Bousman’s latest attempt at a new franchise tries to capture the creepy nature of this folk tale, but with too much of a reliance on psychological terror instead of the freaking monster, the movie’s draggy pace is almost too much for it to ever recover from fully. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) stars as a desperate father who takes his family on a camping trip in an effort to bring them back together only to have the Devil show up and starts killing people left or right. Or does he? The real question, however, is will you still care by the end?
The Starz original series Magic City wants to evoke images of a cooler time, a time when men were men and they strutted around like alpha-peacocks, Rat Pack swagger fully in check. The problem is that, like most recent shows about that era (Mad Men, I’m looking at you), it’s all revisionist style-over-substance, the writer’s idea of what they thought was cool at the time, not what actually was. Magic City is about as authentically cool as watching a Frank Sinatra impersonator in Reno. But, on a purely trashy television level, Magic City is just as good as watching a Frank Sinatra impersonator in Reno! It takes place in the Miami of the late ’50s as hotelier Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes a deal with mobster Danny Huston, causing all kinds of moral crises and the like. But, you know, trashy. It’s pure pulp trying to be something better than it is. Hopefully in the second season they’ll go all Spartacus and embrace the sleaziness of it all.
There is a terrible conservative comedian named Steven Crowder that pretty much epitomizes why the right will never be funny at comedy. All of his jokes are basically insults followed by mugging, all directed at Democrats. Anytime he is taken to task, he goes on the defensive, quoting Scripture and proving that while he can dish it out, he most certainly can’t take it. In other words, too many Republican-leaning “comedians” aren’t able to make fun of themselves, which totally defeats the purpose of comedy in general. This is why Portlandia, starring SNL’s Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, is not only the funniest sketch show on television, but also a prime example as to why the left has a tight-hold on the comedy scene: because they can make fun of themselves and their peccadillos without writing a FoxNews.com blog to apologize for it. Portlandia mocks, quite brutally at times, everyone from hyper-feminists and bike activists, to organic foodies and microbrewing hipsters, all without remorse and justification, knowing full well the most important thing is the laugh, not the proselytizing.
The Finnish sci-fi comedy Iron Sky has perhaps the most niche of all niche markets: It was purely made for science-fiction fans that not only hate Sarah Palin and Republican warmongering, but also have the undying hope that the Nazis and their dreams of racial purity will make a welcomed return. It’s an uncomfortable mixture that is quickly forgotten in a laser beam of “oohs” and “ahhs”. The spectacular steampunk effects start whooshing across the screen as old-school German technology (zeppelins, etc.) travel from the dark side of the moon to destroy New York City, as a nameless Palin-esque president secretly cheers them on as the main component to getting her a second term. Iron Sky, on the outset, looks like a very fun movie, but as it goes on and on, the pace drags. Every single joke is completely worn into the hackiest of grounds faster than you can say “I can see Russia from my house.”