As a species, we’ve always been fascinated with Space. From Star Trek to Star Wars, we’ve always wondered about what is out there. That’s a big part of how the Apollo missions got off the ground (terrible pun intended), but did you know about the secret 18th expedition to the moon?
That is basically the premise of Apollo 18, a movie that is presented as if it were recovered archival footage. The presentation style gave a good sense of (false) authenticity and the premise of the story held a fair bit of promise too, but the plot development of some sort of evil alien beings on the dark side of the moon didn’t quite pan out as strongly as it could have. We don’t learn enough and we don’t get enough gruesome gore either.
We almost get the same kind of sensation as Paranormal Activity, watching those monitors for the tiniest of movements, but we never get that visceral satisfaction of a genuinely good scare. While this isn’t really a bad movie, I really feel like they could have done a lot more with the basic premise.
Bad Teacher (2011)
She’s a teacher who doesn’t play by the rules, but she’s not as hard-edged as Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds either. She’s just there for the money, so that she can buy herself some breast augmentation and woo a wealthy bachelor. Cameron Diaz is the Bad Teacher. That sounds like simple enough a concept for a basic comedy, right?
Unfortunately, the jokes here just aren’t all that funny. It almost feels like Diaz, along with co-stars Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel, are trying too hard. They’ve all done better work and everything just feels forced here. It got an R rating from the MPAA, but Bad Teacher doesn’t have the same kind of panache as Hangover or Harold and Kumar. Despite a handful of sight gags that almost work, this movie is probably better described simply as “bad.”
The Change-Up (2011)
Freaky Friday is a movie where a mother and daughter unexpectedly swap bodies. The Change-Up is sort of the same idea, except it’s a couple of best friends. One is the married lawyer with a family and the other is the charismatic bachelor with no real direction in life. I’ll let you guess which one is played by Ryan Reynolds.
Yes, the body-swapping is a little weird for a setting that is otherwise quite normal, but I actually found some entertainment here. The situations are highly contrived — Jason Bateman somehow finds himself participating in a “lorno” (light porn) — but they work and they had me laughing. I wouldn’t put this on the same comedic shelf as 40 Year Old Virgin or even Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but this largely forgettable and remarkably corny flick is worth a couple hours of distraction.
The Hangover: Part II (2011)
After the resounding success of the first Hangover movie, you knew they were going to make a sequel. And while it doesn’t quite live up to the magic of the original, The Hangover: Part II is still a wildly hilarious and outrageous jaunt into the world of immature humor.
No, it’s not sophisticated. Yes, Ed Helms gets a Mike Tyson style face tattoo. Yes, there’s plenty of slapstick and bathroom humor, but that’s the point. It’s almost like they took the Vegas plotline, relocated it to Bangkok, and worked to one-up its own depravity. There’s not much in terms of originality, but at least there’s a monkey. Who smokes. And sells drugs.
I heard about Super in passing from Stephen Fung. In our discussion, I effectively learned that it was like Kick-Ass, but with
Dwight Shrute Rainn Wilson as the main crime-fighting masked superhero. And then there’s Ellen Page as his strange sidekick. Go figure.
There are so many moments in this movie where you laugh at “the Crimson Bolt,” but you immediately start to feel bad. His tale is a sad one, but that’s the beauty of the dark humor. The scene involving the movie theatre lineup is a prime example of this, where our so-called superhero tells someone not to butt in line and goes much too far to enforce that rule.
It’s all unnecessarily violent and inexplicably weird. This is low budget and low brow, but Super is beautifully done and I’m confident it’ll become a strange cult classic in the years to come.