Aisle Of The Damned Episode VII: Very Bite Sized

Finally A New Episode! After a long hiatus Bryan and Kent return for a bite sized episode! There may be some audio hiccups for which we apologize. First we review the following Blu-Rays: Chasing Amy, Clerks: 15th Anniversary Edition,  Three Outlaw Samurai (Criterion), and The Muppets. Then in our theatrical review Kent reviews 21 Jumpstreet.

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, Cake – Mahna Mahna

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Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: The Cabin in the Woods

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So here’s the straight poop: you probably shouldn’t even be reading this review. Cabin in the Woods is the best kind of surprise. The kind of film you shouldn’t know anything about until you pull the bow on the box and it explodes in your face like one of Jokey Smurf’s boxes o’ sexual metaphor. In fact, even the carefully cut trailer gives away too much. You should pretty much just lock yourself into a bomb shelter with your fingers in your ears screeching “La la la!” at the top of your everloving pink lungs until you get to see it.

If you like horror films (heck, if you’ve even just plain seen a horror film from the last 30 years) than you should appreciate the film’s approach, given you have any kind of sense of humor and enjoyment of film tropes. It is the Community of genre-filmmaking: a brilliant screenwriting exercise that manages to be commentary and parody of something the creators are obviously deeply in love with, while not sacrificing what makes it work as a genuine classic of its genus at the same time. Like Community is to the American sitcom, hence the comparison.

In this case, the target is films about people (usually teens and students) going into the woods and finding something going bump in the night that may be animal, vegetable or mineral. A worthy foe indeed, as it has been well worn since the days that the first couple of Evil Deads were injecting themselves into the veins of midnight moviegoers with an axe.

At its core, this is often a film about the very nature of the viewers of horror films. The cheers at the kills, the obvious hearstring tugs that are attempted by throwing together one-dimensional groups of “identifiable” archtypes… but thankfully the wry observation never gets in the way of telling the story

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the writers and director, respectively, are thankfully up to the task and tear things wide open with an incredibly fun movie. They’ve both been long-time creators of that type of subversion of formula, mixing humor and horror on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Goddard proved himself as a solo writer with a fresh take on giant monster films with Cloverfield. And here they combine their efforts into a take fresh enough that it may make your smelly local cineplex feel like it’s been thoroughly Febreezed. This isn’t just a greatest hits reel of their time on The WB, as nice as that would have been. This is a dark movie that plays dirty and takes advantage of it’s R rating.

Emphasis on dark. Given the cinematography, thank God that the 3D conversion they started on this movie while it was shelved due to the great MGM debacle was nixed. Hopefully someday people in Hollywood will realize that converting stuff that takes place mostly at night is a terrible idea.

The actors in the movie are uniformly great. The kids have been seen in the trailers and they give performances that are so fantastically subtle in the slow transformation that takes place with their characters, that many people probably won’t even realize how good they are. (And of course, Amy Acker continues to be my muse.) But the true MVPs here are Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. They’ve been kept off the ads for the film, but I don’t feel bad about disclosing their involvement due to the fact that theirs are the first characters to appear. In the final cut, they could very well make or break the film and boy, do they make it.

As much fun as it would be to simply rehash the great scenes and fantastic (and often hilarious) ideas, it would simply be a disservice to you, the folks at home. That conversation is something that will take place over many, many midnight screenings, slumber parties and film student dorm rooms to come over the next couple of decades.

(Five out of five stars)

Aisle Of The Damned Episode VI: Grown Men Love Disney And It’s Not At All Creepy

Welcome Back! In our succulent sixth episode Bryan and Kent review Justice League: Doom, Submarine, High Fidelity, Hugo, Tucker and Dave vs. Evil, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and Fistfull of Dollars. We then list our top five Disney/Pixar movies we own on Blu-Ray and reveal which others we want to be released. Finally we review John Carter in our theatrical reviews. BOOYAH! Check out. It’s movies and hilarity and stuff.

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, Dangerdoom – Old School Rules

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Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: Casa de mi Padre

My name Jose Jimanez

And they call Daredevil the man without fear…

Casa de mi Padre finds Will Ferrell not only participating in the worst sex scene in cinema history (and his butt is on display much more than the comely female lead’s is) but he does the entire movie in Spanish.

Yes, like a Conando sketch taken to it’s terrible, yet inevitable conclusion, this is a parody of the type of Mexican soap operas you’d see on Univision or any of the other channels that you tend to skip over if don’t speak the language, and mostly seem to be made up of programming involving puppets and women with large breasts. It’s a ballsy move for one of the biggest comedy stars in America right now. A gamble that does not pay off completely, but is highly laudable for simply having the guts to take it.

Now, obviously, Will Ferrell is not of Mexican descent. Not even close. And that joke is able to sustain a good third of the movie. But it is not able to fill an hour and a half and eventually runs out of steam before picking up again in the third act to finish the movie fairly strongly with a violent ending that is probably about what the Anchorman rumble would have looked like if they’d had guns.

The plot is a fairly simple one; Ferrell plays the simple son of a rancher. He loves the land and his family. But when his brother comes back with his love-triangle inducing fiance and a new way of doing things, it puts both the ranch and the family in danger, leaving Ferrell to rise to the occasion and deal with the drug war that has long ravaged his peaceful existence.

From the opening titles that announce the film is produced in Mexic-o-Scope, it puts out an uneven mix of Black Dynamite-style genre film parody, earnest soap opera and typical Ferrell comedy, the likes of which you would see in his films with Adam McKay. It’s the mix of the first and last parts that work best together, when the film gets supremely silly and at times slides into a surreal stream-of-consciousness that hasn’t been on this scale nearly as often from him since he became a bankable star. One has to wonder if maybe the soap opera part plays better for those that are bilingual since it has been reported that the subtitles are often wrong.

Those looking for his usual gang of costars will be severely disappointed, as with the exception of a cameo or two by American actors, most of the players in the film are actual stars from South of the Border, along with Efran Ramirez of Napoleon Dynamite fame. Everyone does their job well, with special mention to the “real” villain of the piece, Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays the drug trafficking Onza. The look of the film is great, with intentional production errors cropping up and a combination of great and terrible sets providing a fantastic contrast which often proves hilarious. There are portions that are downright Monty Python-esque. It should all add up to an instant classic, but somehow it doesn’t. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the writer or the director that most should shoulder the burden of the film’s ultimate failure that results from the middle dragging the way it does. Or, maybe it’s just that they finally have to put in more exposition and it’s extremely tough to keep the energy of a comedy up in a subtitled film.

Regardless, the film ultimately is well worth a watch. The funny parts outweigh the slow parts and it most likely will have a long, healthy life on disc and cable. Chances are, it may even play better at home. The film gets a middling score, but it’s an enthusiastic middling score.

(Two and a half out of five stars)