Sunday, June 27, 2004


Now out on DVD:

(Dir. David Koepp, 2004)

Johnny Depp plays a tortured suspense novelist named Mort Rainey (credit there for having a protagonist named Mort) accused of plagiarism in this adaptation of a Stephen King short story. 

A strange hillbilly character (John Turturro) shows up at Depp's door claiming that Mort stole his story and threatens Mort's and his love one's lives if he doesn't change the ending and give him proper credit. Mort (sorry I just love typing that name) is tortured because his wife of 10 years (Maria Bello) left him for a straight laced never smiling Timothy Hutton who himself played a tortured writer in King's THE DARK HALF but I digress.

So Mort's dog is found dead and he goes to the local police who of course are ineffective and he wanders around his cabin in the woods overreacting and over-acting to every startling sound. I'm not going to give anything away but the resolution of this is so contrived and ridiculous that it brought back memories of IDENTITY or as I like to call it, A NIGHT AT THE RED HERRING MOTEL.

It's getting harder and harder to accept movie premises in which any given character may be a figment of someone's imagination and that certain incidents may never have occured at all. "The ending is the most important part" Mort says at one point and he's he right - it surely was important to me when this piece of derivative doggerel was going to end.

Special Features: Commentary by Director Koepp, trailers, deleted scenes, a few featurettes, and storyboards.

(Dir. Terry Zwigoff, 2003)

Director Zwigoff and star Billy Bob Thornton are slumming it here, but, oh, what a glorious slum it is. 

Thornton plays a boozing foul-mouthed department store Santa who with his little person partner in crime (Tony Cox) have a consistent seasonal scam going in which they break into the safes of the stores that employ them. When Thornton befriends a chubby brain-dead rich kid (Brett Kelly out credited as "The Kid") who believes he's the real Kris Kringle, our perpetually pissed-off title character finds that his heart grows a half a size bigger.

John Ritter, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, and an un-credited Cloris Leachman provide ample comic support, in this funny film that shows that Twigoff's  first foray into more commercial territory has just as much edge as his earlier artsier efforts (CRUMB, GHOST WORLD). No doubt the Coen brothers, who executive produced and reportedly did some script doctoring, helped with that transition.

BAD SANTA is good crude stuff that brings to mind other enjoyable lowbrow fare like SHAKES THE CLOWN and RUTHLESS PEOPLE. It's a future cult movie if there ever was one.

The bonus material on the DVD is basic but welcome: a behind-the-scenes feature, deleted & alternate scenes, and outtakes. An "Unrated Edition" is also available.

(Dir. Peter Segel, 2003)

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore try to work their WEDDING SINGER-style magic in this tropical romantic comedy about a guy having to re-win the heart of his love every day as her memory is erased every night while she sleeps. It's a convoluted premise with very little imagination and the usual cheap humor (sloppy scatalogical gags, strained physical antics, Rob Schneider, etc.) found in a Sandler flick. It does have some genuine heart to it so there are people who may like it but to most film buff folks it will be erased from memory while they sleep.

Special features: Gag reel, deleted scenes, "Making of" featurette, music videos, and Talkin' Pidgin featurette (whatever that is).

More later...

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