If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for filmmaker Michel Gondry to wow you after his messy miscalculation known as The Green Hornet. In Gondry’s defence, The Green Hornet played as a film where its “it” star and successful producers had more creative control than its masterful director. Gondry’s visions work better when he’s given a fair bit of leeway and trust, and The Green Hornet didn’t allow this for the Oscar winner.
The We and the I is supposed to act as a progressive return to form for the director – and it is. The low budget high school flick is an offbeat hybrid of Kids and Dazed and Confused if Spike Lee served as a creative consultant.
The We and the I is more than fitting for Michel Gondry’s directorial style, writing, and creative mind. It features the best qualities from his more well known work that made him a standout, and he’s able to adapt those strengths in this story about a bus ride home after the last day of school.
The film and its cast have a communal feel which is similar to the movie loving community we watched in 2006′s Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and 2007′s Be Kind Rewind. The amateur actors – who all take on characters who have the same name as them – are likeable and are almost always yapping. Surprisingly, this non-stop jibber-jabber is endearing, honest and adds to the fly-on-the-wall nature of this slice of urban life in New York City. The film has the power to transport you back to when you were in high school eagerly listening – or contributing – to the rumour mill.
The actors may be likeable, but we feel by a few individuals; you’ll know who when you watch the movie. It’s easy to use the “they’re not professional actors” excuse, but that song can be played only so many times. Some students lack so much comfortability in front of the camera that one wonders why Gondry and his casting crew didn’t search for more natural actors who are equally authentic.
Gondry’s storytelling trickery that we saw in 2004′s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is also at play. Many stories are told on this long bus ride home. At one point, three of them overlap. Instead of using split screen techniques, Gondry blends in his settings. When a girl is explaining to her girlfriends about a late night hook-up in a car, the car is seamlessly integrated into another story taking place at a party. The camera pans over to the passenger side window and we’re seeing another wild memory take place. It’s a very cool effect and effectively displays how our ears can wander in and out of multiple stories we hear.
The flashbacks are shot on camera phones and more consumer-based cameras. Again, this adds to the fly-on-the-wall perspective but it also conveys that this is probably how other students would’ve seen this event take place if someone was shooting it. All that’s missing is a YouTube engine, but that would’ve been too much excessive product placement – though Blackberry can consider The We and the I as a subtle commercial for their sleek smartphones.
If you took away the smartphones and any mention of technology, The We and the I would be a product of the 90′s even more so with its older hip-hop soundtrack and the lack of heavy modern politically correctness. The kids are pervasively bullying, yet there’s no message that what their doing is considered tasteless. Upbeat music even plays over top of most of these gags. It’s not that Gondry and his team are insensitive. They just want to playfully show that this is what kids might do to amuse themselves amongst their friends. And I dare you not to laugh during a scene when a misplaced cigarette is spotted by the bus driver after the more intimidating bullies are caught smoking at the back of the bus.
It’s all in good fun and we find ourselves having a ball and drinking in the style the film takes on. Even then, the film wears thin as friends gradually get off the bus leading to the material getting more serious. The We and the I has the mentality of a really good party. It’s exciting and joyous when everyone is together and having a great time. But when the party starts to diminish, you soon have a scattered group of people who feel tired and burnt out. Audiences will feel the same.
While The We and the I may still be inferior to Gondry’s past work and music videos, it’s a confident sign that this filmmaker hasn’t lost his touch. It’s an exciting reminder mixed with touching nostalgia that runs a wee bit too long.
Horror movies usually guarantee fun at the movie theatre. Whether the quality of the movie is good or not, experiencing an eerie and tense film with a group of mostly strangers – who hopefully aren’t too gabby – is a riot. Everyone is witnessing the disturbing visuals and the scares for the first time making the overall vibe very exciting and relentlessly uneasy.
However, some horrors have a hard time making that jump to DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD because the in-theatre experience plays crucial. Some frightful flicks hold up tremendously – and even look better on your HD television – but not all scary movies can be so lucky.
With this webisode of Does It Float?, I wanted to see if that was the case with 2013′s Texas Chainsaw 3D. I absolutely dug it in theatres and really enjoyed how director John Luessenhop handled the popular franchise. But, I wanted to know if this love for the 3D film could carry over to the small screen on Blu-Ray in 2D. And, do the twists, the turns, and the unsettling sequences float on a second viewing?
Webisode two, coming right up!
To read my original review, click here!
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Set against a bluegrass backdrop, Ellis and his best friend Neckbone (both played exceptionally by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) scavenge through their surroundings to help a wayward, disheveled man named Mud find tools to rescue a tattered boat from out of a towering tree. As they travel back to the island where Mud (played by a striking Matthew McConaughey) roams and hides, the three work together to carry out this seemingly doubtful task.
This is just one of the many moments in Jeff Nichols’ Mud where it appears our three leads are living in a Neverland of sorts. Not worrying about distressed parents, heartbrokenness, or any of that other “real world” junk. Ellis and Neckbone are lost boys and a raggedy man named Mud is Peter Pan. Just imagine those ripped jeans as green leggings.
The plan the three are devising revolves around Mud’s lost love. A love that never feels concrete but is worth fighting for in these guys’ eyes. The problem is Mud’s damsel in distress Juniper (played by a subdued and defeated Reese Witherspoon) is always falling out. She’s getting involved with the wrong company and getting herself into all sorts of trouble – at least, according to Mud.
What starts as a small curiosity pining on a shady homeless individual escalates to a secretive operation as Ellis starts to see more of himself in this enigmatic man. The same can be said both figuratively and, at one point, said quite literally about Mud’s admiration for these inquisitive kids.
Nichols’ film may sound like a mystery for reasons that are insinuated by the young curiosity found in Ellis and Neckbone – and it is – but Mud is much more. It’s an immensely effective movie about developing masculinity as these three main characters learn to grow up in one way or another. It’s a gripping, fantastic watch and you walk away from Nichols’ film having witnessed something incredible with its small scale story and amongst the acting, which includes star making performances from Sheridan and Lofland and a career high for McConaughey.
These performances are so quietly powerful, that they may make some overlook the greatness in other side roles. For instance, the grizzly hard-shelled Tom “the Assassin” Blankenship (played by Sam Shepard) is certainly a memorable portrayal that is as adequate as McConaughey’s role and as distraught as Mud.
Ray McKinnon is very good as Ellis’ father. While playing off a seemingly stereotypical redneck outer layer, McKinnon has the difficult task of being a dislikable hard ass, but also showing a more sympathetic side when he’s emasculated by his wife after he’s fittingly put into place.
Women aren’t represented as the source of all of man’s problems. It’s the refusal and stubbornness of a man that becomes his own worst enemy. Mud, without being heavy-handed, tells a terrific story abut this struggle and how a young mind can realize this apparent pitfall yet still find himself walking in those same footprints. Nichols can be sure he’ll find his outstanding film on many top ten lists come the end of this year.
Baz Luhrmann’s flashy adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby is a “production” in every sense of the word – as many of us expect it to be. In fact, the film evoked the same reaction I had when I watched Luhrmann’s much loved Oscar winner Moulin Rouge! in 2001.
Judging from these two examples, I find Baz Luhrmann likes to scream and shout during the first thirty minutes or so of his spectacles. It’s pretty to look at but especially alarming because it’s during these initial scenes when key characters and environments are introduced to us.
During this first leg of The Great Gatsby, audiences receive a lot of loud colours, a bombastic array of sounds, jarring and ridiculous modern day musical remixes, and quick cuts galore. The editing gets so speedy that characters aren’t even allowed to finish some single actions before Luhrmann and his editor decide to focus on something else.
Characters are also presented to us in no other way than to focus on the celebrity playing the role. When the mysterious Gatsby makes his way onto the screen, he’s presented in a way that makes it impossible for us not to see him as any other person than Leonardo DiCaprio. The same goes for a tired Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s soon-to-be best bud played by Tobey Maguire.
With all this razzle-dazzle and chaos, Baz Luhrmann is trying to emphasize and focus solely on the extravagance of Gatsby’s eventful parties, the high class, and the confusion and hysteria that occurs when one is settling in to a lifestyle. As Luhrmann has a ball behind the camera and the cast of well dressed attractive actors are consistently active dancing and talking with wide eyes, we sit in the audience questioning if we’ll be able to take the film seriously and be able to believe anything we’re seeing – as I did during the first thirty minutes of Moulin Rouge!.
However, we find ourselves allured and captured by Luhrmann’s style and his theatrics. It completely sucks us in to this tale of romance and tragedy – two familiar territories for the director.
The story about Gatsby’s endless love for Nick’s cousin Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) and his hard-wired devotion to persuade Daisy to leave her husband Tom (played by Joel Edgerton) is very entertaining as we watch Gatsby’s charisma and imagination act as tracks possibly leading to a messy train wreck.
We forget about which actor is playing who. The performances from Marguire and DiCaprio are enjoyable and the two leads work very well off of one another, making a great team. Mulligan, Edgerton, and other members of this ensemble are just as pleasant.
The Great Gatsby may translate to the screen as a flashy “production” but, as Baz Luhrmann has the ability to do, the film turns into an event – as if we’re watching a really well done and attractive stage play. The 3D may seem as if its there to throw confetti at moviegoers, but it’s also clearly there to add to the interactivity of the film – making us further believe we’re sitting front row centre at a delectable stage play and the actors are within reach.
I do wish Luhrmann finds a more successful way to be spectacular during cinematic introductions while not pushing his audience to squint and flinch. But for now, it’s that chaotic hysteria that leads to a consistently energetic and throughly pleasurable “production”. You win again, Baz.
Shawn Linden’s The Good Lie is good looking and straightforward with its premise that instantly hooks you.
A normal high schooler named Cullen (played by Thomas Dekker) is devastated after being pulled out of class to find out his mother Doris (played by Julie LeBreton) has died in a car accident. He’s even more upset after learning he’s the product of a horrific rape. Furious and upset, Cullen sets out to find his mother’s rapist with revenge and justice on his mind.
The film’s good ole’ revenge plot has enough risks and raised stakes to satisfy a moviegoer’s expectations. The emotional and well-qualified lead performance by Dekker adds to the engagingness of The Good Lie.
Dekker’s Cullen is constantly put in conundrums and exchanges that challenge his integrity while twisting and tugging on his heartstrings. It’s a role where an audience will question whether the actor is over doing it with the contorted facial expressions and the furrowed brows, but we realize the actor is nailing it as he’s being put into these troublesome situations written by Linden. Dekker has a captivating screen presence and we want to see how our hero gives this villain his well-deserved comeuppance.
Sadly, while the film is interesting for the first half, Linden gets carried away with his own noir style and characters that turns The Good Lie into a snake eating its own tail – offering a lot of the same and wringing all it can out of its eager snarling actors.
Linden has Cullen searching for people who are key in his search for the evil-doer. When Cullen finds who he’s looking for, they send him off in the right direction to find someone else. While Cullen’s mystery is carrying out, Doris’ husband Richard (played competently by Matt Craven) hunts for Cullen in order to track his son’s footprints – giving Richard his own mystery.
Linden’s storytelling method is greatly affecting having his script jump around to different points in the narrative providing lots of clever and cunning reveals that will dazzle any moviegoer. His continuity among the stories that play and the stories that follow that may have taken place before those prior events is pitch perfect. I would love to see this creative writer/director tackle time travel in his developing film career.
But, as The Good Lie’s surprises and innovativeness turn into the film’s formulaic routine, it’s hard to stay impressed. More characters give Cullen attitude and after the umpteenth baddie who gives Cullen a stunned snarl after the mention of who he’s looking for, it’s hard to take their roughness seriously as they growl lines out of this Tarantino lite screenplay.
Did I mention Cullen is planning on telling his story to friends around a campfire? At the beginning of The Good Lie, we understand that Cullen and his buddies escape to the woods to tell each other urban legends and other off-putting stories.
These moments with these younger characters are obviously here to break up the tension in this taut storyline, but does it have to be so obvious? As Linden hits pause on his more interesting storyline, the audience is transported back to the campfire to watch these annoying actors (sans Dekker) play obnoxious roles and tell their tale that I’m sure will be used as a monologuing staple in each of their demo reels.
They kid around with each other, swear, and remind us that they’re all just a group of hooligans wanting to hang out with the bro’s and drink some brews. But, again, do these brash beats in Linden’s script have to be so broad?
Unfortunately for The Good Lie, a pivotal jolt in the lead’s story is anticlimactic and goes against the satisfying nature that hooked us at the beginning – finishing the film on a humdrum note. If only Shawn Linden wasn’t too busy leading audiences on for too long, maybe then he could’ve thought of a striking way to maintain that buzz he established so well during the film’s initial build-up leading to a conclusion that snaps like a campfire’s blazing licks.
With his latest feature film, writer/director Derek Cianfrance has already made his Magnolia with The Place Beyond the Pines, an excellent and expansive drama intertwining complex characters and haunting pasts with a twist of fate.
This is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction for Cianfrance who made a name for himself rather quickly with 2010′s Blue Valentine. I was a fan of the tightly wound performances in Blue Valentine, but found the film to be an annoyingly negative experience having little to nothing to say about relationships other than,”hey, some of them start strong and end in dysfunction”.
While the impact of The Place Beyond the Pines depends on a moviegoers’ ability to believe in coincidences, its story is far more rounded and mature than what we saw in Blue Valentine. Whether you were a fan of his breakout film or not, the agreement that this latest crime drama is a sign of a creative storyteller aging like a fine wine should be universal.
Cianfrance and his co-writers Ben Coccio and Darius Marder deliver us three stories that are seamlessly woven into an elaborate story. The first leg focuses on Ryan Gosling’s Luke as he tries to mend ties with Romina (played by Eva Mendes) who is parenting their son without his help. Luke then gets caught up in an addiction of robbing banks in order to provide for their son – something he’s dropped the ball on.
The film then switches over to Bradley Cooper’s character, Avery. Avery is a do-gooder rookie cop who gets caught up in Luke’s scamming ways which leads to Avery’s personal tell-tale heart story as he wrestles with knowledge that could potentially cause his family and his career harm.
The final act is a story of redemption that ties the prior two stories together making the stakes even higher. For me to go into detail about this flawless and impressive finale would be spoiling a large portion of enjoyment and fulfilment Cianfrance and his co-writers set up.
Recounting the film’s timeline, there were at least three times where I doubted the movie. Much like Luke’s daredevil motorbike spectacles, Cianfrance was going to try a stunt that could rarely be pulled of by the most skilled professionals.
All three times I was taken back by how the talent in front of and behind the camera were able to enthral audiences and stick their landings. Cooper and Gosling share the screen for a limited amount of time, but both are riveting in their roles with broken pasts. Cianfrance is using the same quiet character development techniques he used in Blue Valentine and it’s very effective; especially since the film takes a slow burn approach and lets each character – big and small – flesh themselves out patiently.
The Place Beyond the Pines takes full advantage of its settings, making its characters embrace Schenectady, NY – the film’s central setting – while also breathing a dark underworld beneath the neighbourhoods. Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography doesn’t have to manipulate the settings to capture the ever-changing atmosphere successfully and his ability to shoot these scenarios can offer that much more intensity or heartbrokenness to a scene or confrontation. Audibly speaking, the same can be said about the nuanced score provided by Faith No More’s Mike Patton.
The Place Beyond the Pines never leaves your head. Thinking abut my experience watching Cianfrance’s film, I loved how everything unfolded for me. Moviegoers are always taken on several paths – all different but all having some sort of relation to characters or past events, which also has help from the film’s sharp eye for aging detail. Pay attention to those props and locations peppered throughout.
Cianfrance pulls some punches and not everything may not sit well at first. I urge you to go with the film. If you’re rubbed the wrong way, stick with it a little bit further. The payoffs contribute to an end product that is surely in the running for the best film of 2013.
Now that this year’s Hot Docs coverage has come to an end, it’s time to introduce my new video segment to you all.
Does It Float? will have me revisiting films I gave positive reviews to and seeing if they hold up on a second viewing. Sometimes, a film can be heightened by the experience or with a certain type of crowd. With Does It Float?, I plan to give you both sides of movie watching – my initial view and a more familiarized viewing of the film.
My first webisode is focusing on Michael Tiddes’ send-up to Paranormal Activity. A Haunted House has earned a small audience that considers it a guilty pleasure – and I considered myself part of that merry bunch.
Unfortunately, it isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea. The comedy sits at an embarrassing 6% on Rotten Tomatoes with print critics and online critics calling it a dud.
Has my opinion changed? Does the immaturity and juvenile comedy not sit well during round two? Watch the premiere of Does It Float? and find out!
To read my original review, click here!
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I could say that Sam Raimi’s OZ: The Great and Powerful puts the ‘Z’ in OZ because of how sluggish and boring it is, but that wouldn’t make for much of a review.
Instead, OZ: The Great and Powerful can be compared to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, another big budget fairy tale that shares the same strengths and weaknesses as OZ.
Like Tim Burton’s hit, Raimi’s family film is far more interesting before it steps into the surreal fantasy land of OZ. Audiences are shown through old fashioned, black-and-white fairgrounds where we’re introduced to Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco. He’s ruthless but charming and rude yet funny. Moviegoers are yanked in two different directions, but this wrestle is what makes Diggs a compelling character.
At the carnival, he works as a magician. He uses several tricks of the trade to entertain patrons and uses other tricks to fool the hearts of attractive assistants. He has a rough relationship with Frank, a stage hand played by Zach Braff, and a romance with an alluring lady named Annie, played by Michelle Williams. These encounters and dialogues between these carnival folk are the types we’d like to know more of, but their appearances are fleeting. Even the carnival setting is comforting, but doesn’t stay for long.
A storm hits, and Oscar is carried away in a hot air balloon to the magical world of OZ. Black-and-white turns to colour and the 4:3 fullscreen look transforms into a 2:35:1 widescreen presentation. This is a neat and clever modern day nod to the colour change that shocked and awed people in 1939′s Wizard of Oz.
After some other character introductions and talky exposition, Oscar meets up with a flying monkey named Finley (voiced fittingly by Braff) and a cute, china doll (voiced by Joey King who we see earlier as a young magic show viewer at the aforementioned carnival) and they set off on a quest to seek the Wicked WItch, destroy her wand, and rid of the evil that lurks in OZ.
OZ may be a pretty sight – especially as we take in the well executed 3D effects – but Raimi’s film hits the same bumps Burton met in Wonderland. OZ: The Great and Powerful relies too heavily on its costuming, its innovative make-up, and flashy special effects, and expects all three of those qualities to send the film through to its finish line.
Moviegoers can marvel at the shiny, pretty things, but it’s not enough to forgive the movie for it’s draggy story. That allure Diggs had at the carnival starts to disappear as the character turns into a clichéd hero seeking a rather typical objective. Even Diggs’ cutesy sidekicks and other comic relief he meets up with look and feel ordinary in a film that’s supposed to be brimming with originality.
OZ: The Great and Powerful has a witty conclusion ending in climactic, loud and flashy action – which is a feast for the eyes and ears. But before the satisfying wrap-up and as each talky piece of exposition rolled along with uninteresting back-and-forths to boot, I remember sitting in my seat and fidgeting as quietly as possible. I was keeping myself subtlety and slightly active because I was afraid that if I had stopped, Raimi’s movie would’ve put me to sleep. Looking back on the viewing, maybe I should’ve fallen asleep. Maybe I would’ve been whisked away to a land far more fascinating and lively than cinema #13.
For audiences needing a psychological horror fix, Derek Franson’s Comforting Skin may do just the trick. It certainly did for me.
It’s a film that starts unsteadily as our main lead is introduced to us. Koffie (yes, that’s her name, and she’s played terrifically by Victoria Bidewell) is down and out and feeling as if no one wants anything to do with her. She’s dishevelled, has a past that hasn’t been bright, and hangs around people who are as self-loathing or hampered as she is.
She decides one night to let loose and take a chance on a wildcard decision – to get a tattoo. Nothing changes, her new artistic add-on is brushed off by others, and Koffie has just about had it.
Events take a turn for the supernatural and the unexplainable when Koffie begins to hear voices in her head. Her tattoo moves from her upper back all the way down to her toes. Understandably frightened, Koffie is convinced she’s losing her mind, just to be convinced that maybe these voices are not so bad. Maybe these voices are just what she needed to find her importance.
Comforting Skin is not just a low budget, slow burn creep-show, but a story about finding confidence and maintaining it – even though the people around you may not be up for the same task. These voices fill Koffie with energy and a breath of freshness. It’s never false and these voices are never using her for alternative purposes. These hidden whispers want to convince Koffie that life is worth living.
Inevitably though – as this is a horror – the voices take a turn for the worse as we hear them becoming jealous of those around Koffie and the more stabilized relationships that happen because of her rising confidence. Close friends like Nathan (played by Tygh Runyan) are targeted as threats. These voices helped Koffie and as far as their concerned, they will be the only friends that exist in her closed off world.
Franson handles the slow burn structure and formatting well in his direction and in his script. He doesn’t over glamorize the world Bidewell’s character sees bright light in her life, and he certainly keeps her shut in life seem very realistic. By executing the story like this, we see that even though Koffie may have taken on a new attitude, it’s only slightly infectious to her environment. It may sound drab and suggest that little changes, but I appreciate that in a cynical way. It shows that Franson’s writing and direction won’t be highjacked by a smiley mainstream glaze.
A large part of Comforting Skin does feel too theatrical though – as if Franson’s story was originally a stage play and is now being lifted for a cinematic adaptation and no adjustments were made. The acting looks and feels stagey and the writer/director uses a fair number of one-shot takes as we follow the characters through obvious sets. It even comes down to how the scene is shot like a television sitcom.
When the voices join Koffie, the movie takes on the mould of something we’d see in a movie theatre. The shooting and the editing becomes more innovative and the actors step up their game. The supporting cast have their own secured backstories and the performers have done a solid job at building their characters and making them believable – even if it sounds like they’re projecting their lines from the stage in an amphitheatre occasionally. Actress Jane Sowerby is guilty of this as she makes it thuddingly clear that Synthia, the local floozy, has a broken past and isn’t willing to let go of her partying ways.
Bidewell makes a great leading lady, taking her character through a rainbow of different emotions. Her internal struggle with the voices while also growing used to this strange occurrence is done with a straight face, proving her to be a more than competent actress to make this fantastical material authentic. However, even though she can properly make the cracked-out side of Koffie as equally believable as the enlightened side of her, she has the slight tendency to overact as she snaps at people under the full wash of these voices.
There’s a final punch in Comforting Skin that feels out of place – which says a lot in a surreal movie such as this. Other people get pulled in to Koffie’s situation with results that feel as if they’re only there to add that extra off-putting fingerprint to make you leave the theatre having the heebie-jeebies.
However, a lot of great things go on in Comforting Skin and it’s consistently interesting and thought provoking. Bidewell’s stripped down performance (sometimes literally) is enough of a resonation and when it’s mixed with the concepts Franson excels at, you have the ingredients of a well admired creepy flick.
First and foremost: Scary Movie 5 is not a funny movie. I know I usually state in my reviews that humour is subjective, but finding a joke or sight gag in Malcolm D. Lee’s comedy that could be deemed as hilarious or clever would be like sifting through the Pacific Ocean to find a sliver of gold.
It’s a bizarre comedy that forces the audience to wonder about who thought these jokes and slapstick routines would hit the right notes for moviegoers thirteen and up. Malcolm D. Lee and his unruly writers (Pat Proft and ex-spoof master David Zucker) write jokes that feel as stale and cheap as they look on screen being acted by less than enthused actors.
It’s a movie that thinks everything is funnier when it’s sped up. People running, people falling down, people mugging at the camera. This was funny when comedian Benny Hill was doing this in the 70′s – and even that is debatable. But nowadays, moviegoers need more than just watching someone fall twice as fast. There needs to be timing, rhythm, and talent on both sides of the camera for the best slapstick to be pulled off and Scary Movie 5 has none of these traits from what I can see.
Second of all: Scary Movie 5 is not a movie – at least, my definition of a movie. It’s a movie in the same sense as Movie 43 and InAPPropriate Comedy were movies. Hell, it’s a movie in the same sense that Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans were movies. It’s more of a cash-in.
Scary Movie 5 has more of a story than those aforementioned disappointments, but the barrage of references to random pop culture peppered throughout these extended sketches are very loosely threaded together.
The trailers and TV spots for Scary Movie 5 sell this instalment as a send-up to Paranormal Activity, but what moviegoers end up getting is a story that pokes fun at this year’s earlier chiller Mama. Along with the spoof of Mama, moviegoers also get two other prominent spoofs wringing out Black Swan and this year’s Evil Dead remake.
The majority of online sources tracking Scary Movie 5′s haphazardly lethargic development state that the film was completed in 2012 with some re-shoots occurring in early 2013 – I don’t buy it. With recent spoof movies, filmmakers glance at upcoming movies and try to synchronize the release of their comedy with these blockbusters so the relevancy stays fresh.
Paranormal Activity is an easy and expected target for this franchise, but the Mama jabs are peculiar. It’s as if Lee and his team of stale writers saw the trailer for Mama and predicted that it would become a hit. The problem with writing with this mentality is that no one can predict the future. Mama received mixed but mostly favourable reviews (including mine), but was no way demanding the spoofing treatment.
To make matters worse, Scary Movie 5 almost reenacts Mama beat for beat, signalling to me that Lee and his writers actually watched the original film before shooting theirs. If the filmmakers watched Mama before shooting their spoof, that means that this pivotal plot was filmed less than three months ago before being thrown into theatres. The same can be said about the head-scratching placement of the Evil Dead scenarios. These can’t be considered re-shoots. This is building the movie from the ground up while balancing extremely poor and rushed time management.
That is too fast of a turnaround time to ensue smart writing or correct promotion. I wouldn’t be proposing this would-be schedule if I didn’t feel confident that this was true. It adds to the slapdash nature of this terrible movie. It looks and feels thrown together without a care in the world; as if everything was conceived in a matter of weeks. Why? Because the relevancy has taken seniority over thought out and well calculated comedy.
If I was the editor of this colossal stinker, I’d be running to the hills or at least trying to remove my credit from this film. I’ve never seen editing that has looked and felt so lazy. Then again, when Lee and his crew are giving editor Sam Seig this footage to work with, as well as poorly executed ADR, it’s inevitable the results wouldn’t fare well.
There are moments where an actor is saying one thing while a superimposed audio clip is trying to cover up what they’re really saying. It may be a swear being covered to maintain a PG-13 rating or a detail that is irrelevant to the movie after multiple edits. Either way, these are awful mistakes.
And for those who are nitpickey with their dosage of found footage, prepare for the frustration. The film makes use of the aforementioned sped up footage with the addition of the camera’s time code, but forgets to slow the time back down when characters are moving at a normal pace. Strike two, Seig…
Additionally, these three main spoofs read as extended bits for the MTV Movie Awards that need crucial editing to pin down the timing. Flatlining jokes are repeated over and over again hoping to breathe life into the material, but Seig as well as Lee need to know when to move on to the next attempt to make audiences laugh instead of trying the same unfunny trick ad nauseam.
Scary Movie 5 is embarrassing for the actors and embarrassing for the team who stitched this cruddy production together from scratch, hoping to conduct electricity through this tired baked potato of a franchise.