Indie director David Gordon Green went to work for the Judd Apatow factory--and produced his best film yet. Seth Rogen (who co-wrote the script) stars as Dale Denton, a stoner who witnesses a murder and winds up being chased by a crazed drug dealer (Gary Cole) and a dirty cop (Rosie Perez--nice casting!).
Rogen delivers his best performance yet, but James Franco--as Saul, the sensitive, clueless pot dealer--outshines everybody in the film. Franco's work surpasses every screen pothead in history, and that includes Sean Penn's legendary Spicoli. This is a great action comedy, but Franco and Rogen also make it a very touching.
Also offering up a fantastic comedic performance is Danny R. McBride as Red, a fellow drug dealer who can take a lot of bullets. Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan are great as a pair of henchmen after the duo, and Ed Begley Jr. has a nice couple of scenes as a concerned dad with a gun and a potty mouth. Bill Hader has some fun moments in the film's black-and-white opening, where his Pvt. Miller character enjoys a big joint under military observation.
The film offers 2008's best car chase, during which Saul's foot gets caught in the windshield as he's driving. It contains some pretty hard-core violence (Red gets shot ... a lot), so that could be a turnoff for those of you who like their action comedies without blood.
Special Features: Apatow comedy DVDs usually come with a nice selection of supplements, and this one delivers the goods, with commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, gag reels, making-of docs and more. You get two versions of the film: the theatrical cut, and an extended cut in which new footage blends right in. It's not like the stuff that was cut was garbage.
Joel Hodgson, formerly of Mystery Science Theater 3000, delivers his first Cinematic Titanic for 2009--and his new project keeps getting better. A few weeks ago, fans could by a new DVD of Joel ripping apart Santa Clause Conquers the Martians (for the second time; he and the robots eviscerated it back on MST3K in 1991). Now, Hodgson and crew get to rip apart possibly the worst Frankenstein movie ever.
Rossano Brazzi, who once starred in the film version of South Pacific, is a long way from his heyday with Mitzi Gaynor in this one. He plays Count Frankenstein; meanwhile, Hodgson and his new crew (including Trace Beaulieu, former voice of Crow T. Robot) contribute their riffing silhouettes.
In addition to the excellent bad-movie riffing, viewers are treated to the Breast Blimp, a flying-machine silhouette that softly floats in front of naked female breasts in order to keep things PG-13. There are obscure references galore (including mentions of Gaynor and Kraftwerk); it's clear the crew is getting more comfortable with their new format. Already-classic riffs include, "Hey Joel Schumacher, ease up on the ass shots!" and, "It's Miller time. Let's go kill somebody at the mill!" When a Neanderthal-looking Frankenstein's monster struggles to break free of his lab table, Joel quips that it reminds him of Penn Jillette on Dancing With the Stars.
The spirit of MST3K is back, for sure. The jokes come one after another, and this one stands up to the best episodes of MST3K. You can order the DVD or download it directly from CinematicTitanic.com.
Special Features: I'm counting the riffing track as one awesome special feature.
Japanese writer-director Takashi Miike delivers a strange tribute to spaghetti Westerns with this visually kinetic, hard-to-follow English-language movie. The film has a revenge subplot, a heroic legendary female fighter, a schizophrenic cowboy and Quentin Tarantino--and none of it makes sense. Still, there are some good laughs, and a couple of the action scenes crackle.
Tarantino gets two interesting scenes. His first is as a Clint Eastwood-like cowboy during the opening sequence, where he delivers a strange monologue while staring at an egg. (Yes, it sounds strange, and yes, it is.) The second features him as an old, wheelchair-bound man flashing back to a funny campfire scene. His performance is appropriately goofy and one of the better things in the movie.
Still, you'll need a scorecard to keep track of the rival-Western-gang stuff, and you never truly get a chance to invest in any of the numerous characters. Gunfighters die like crazy, and as they died, I had no idea who any of them actually were.
There's no denying that Miike knows his way around an action scene, and his cult following is understandable. But this time out, he's delivered a film that is all flash with no real substance.
Special Features: A making-of documentary and some deleted scenes.