Priest (2011) – Just awful.
Drive Angry (2011) – A completely successful neo-B movie, with memorable and only sometime predictable violence.
Hobo With a Shotgun (2011) – Canadian Tarantino wannabees win a contest and make a grindhouse splatfest set in Halifax — sorry, “Fucktown.” Some fantastically bad acting and reel after reel of over-the-top violence, starting with a man (Ricky from “Trailer Park Boys”) being decapitated by a truck, razor wire, and a manhole cover, and concluding with a man being stabbed to death by an exposed ulna bone. Good family fun.
This bottled coming of age story set inside a mental hospital rose and sank without a trace. Marketers were unable to translate the new megastardom of Zach Galifinakis into some buzz of their own. Such a shame, because this is a perfectly cute and adequate movie, adapted from a young adult novel and perfect for a certain kind of young adult.
I might have been one of those at one point. My depression, at this point, is gentled and tamed, but on one day in 2002 I cracked under the pressure of school and reporting and girls and (if I remember correctly) a computer error and I checked myself into a Chicago mental hospital. This movie nails it — the patient’s confusion about what he needs is interpreted by specialists as the need to put him up for three or five days. My roommate was a smart guy who slept all day and night; so’s the roommate of our hero, Craig. I didn’t meet any girls, but Craig, the lucky little geek, meets-cute with Noelle, played by the winsomely normal Emma Roberts. They bond over how nice he is (although you could read his behavior as patronizing) to other patients and draw each other pictures of flowers and faces and “brain maps.” Craig bonds and occasionally escapes (to other parts of the hospital, like a gym) with Bob, the Galifinakis character, whose problems are smartly left obscure.
Having revealed too much about myself (although I did write about this nine years ago), I should say whether the movie’s credible. It is. A mental hospital is an easy place for a non-crazy, just depressed person to navigate. When Craig arrives, Bob is a sort of local legend and fixer. In glimpses, we see that this is the only place where he’s not hopeless. He’s interviewing for a spot in a community home, and has a daughter that his wife is trying to protect him from. The saddest moment of the movie comes when Craig, who’s 16 and has no real problems, gives Bob a painting with his number on the back. “We can meet up,” he says, “play some table tennis.” Galifinakis shoots him a look that says this will never happen. Of course it won’t. There is no special rejuvenating power in the hospital. The man with the broken life returns to it, several thousand dollars poorer; the kid with the rich family got a nice girl and a vacation.
Hall Pass (2011) – eponymous
The Bucket List (2009) – eponymous
Pay It Forward (2000) – eponymous
She’s Out of My League (2010) – “Moodle”
Hall Pass (2011)
My obsessive need to see movies that come out in the calender year led me to this, the latest and most mediocre of the Farrelly brother films. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play suburban dads who think they could get some action if they only weren’t TIED DOWN TO THESE BORING WIVES JESUS CHRIST ALREADY. Their wives, inspired by Joy Behar (I’m serious), decide to give them both weeklong “hall passes” to prove that they wouldn’t enjoy single life anymore. They waste half of this time on moronic adventures with their friends (including Stephen Merchant, whom is inexplicably allowed to keep his British accent and wear ascots), then have ONE CRAZY NIGHT of near-sex before realizing their mistakes. The film still finds a way to be incredibly sexist, as the only infidelity occurs when Sudeikis’s wife fucks a baseball player, then gets into a car crash while crying about it. Spoiler, like you care.
Cedar Rapids (2011)
We’ve got ourselves a mini-genre — “one crazy night” films starring middle-aged people instead of sexy teens. In this one, Ed Helms plays a naive moron who’s never left his small Wisconsin town, but has to present his insurance firm’s award submission at a conference after the company’s star kills himself while masturbating. (This is the second-best comedy of the last four years that hinges on a character’s autoerotic asphyxiation, after “World’s Greatest Dad.”) Helms ends up getting corrupted with record speed, before discovering… oh, some lesson or another. Whatever. There’s some amusing “lol, rubes!” comedy featuring John C. Reilly (who is hilariously convincing as an ugly divorcee who thinks he can fuck anything that hovers in his field of vision) and the guy who played Clay Davis on “The Wire.” The movie’s best joke is that he’s a black nerd who’s obsessed with “The HBO program ‘The Wire.'”
Sucker Punch (2011)
If you told me that no one involved with the film’s production had ever seen a movie, but were instead basing their project on what someone described a “movie” to entail, I’d buy it.
It includes this line: “Sweet Pea, Baby Doll is right!”