Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: August 13, 2010

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr takes a gander at the demographically delineated movie selection this weekend. The ladies have Julia Roberts finding herself in Eat Pray Love. The dudes have Sly and the action family Stallone with the much anticipated The Expendables. And the fanboys fresh from Comic-Con have the high-concept slug-fest Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Sorry to all the teenage girls out there. You’ll just have to go see Eclipse at the dollar theater this weekend.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin and FSR Executive Editor Neil Miller meet up in the Magical Studio in the Sky to take a look at this week’s slate of new releases.


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Studio: Universal Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Rated: PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans and Anna Kendrick

Directed by: Edgar Wright

What it’s about: Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, the slacker hero of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s cult comic hit. Pilgrim plays in an indie band and has fallen in love with the literal girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers. However, to be with Ramona, he must fight her seven evil exes in hyper-realistic kung fu video game style.

What I liked: I do like Edgar Wright’s movies quite a bit. They show a real passion for cinema and the material’s source, be it the script, a comic book or a series of movies to which he is paying homage. Having had a chance to read some of the original graphic novels but not being a big fan of them, I found Wright’s vision to be probably the best cinematic version of Scott Pilgrim you could ever hope for.

The movie’s got an energy that does not let up, from the opening seizure-inducing title sequence. Wright really captures the essence of the comics, not just in the design of the film and the comic book art elements, but with the winks and nods to the video game and pop culture backdrop, and sometimes finding gags to include that aren’t even in the books.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is made for the fans of the books. It’s made for people who read them religiously and were giddy when the sixth one dropped right on the eve of Comic-Con. This may not be the movie for everyone, but damn if I don’t respect it for being made for its own fans.

What I didn’t: Although some will take my criticisms here to be a result of my age (which is 38 if you must ask), I can honestly say that I got the film. I just wasn’t wild about it. You don’t have to be young or heavy into video games to get the movie. Honestly, it’s no more complex than Inception. However, you have to have a certain taste for the type of story it tells.

It’s a love story the likes of (500) Days of Summer, which is a film I found overly wishy-washy and whiney. It’s also grounded in the love of the indie music scene more than the video game scene, and that’s something I never got into.

Overall, the idea is simple, and the movie does a whiz-bang job of being quirky and cool. But after an hour of it, I was bored. The schtick is simple but gets tedious to the point that I found myself counting off the defeated exes and more than a little grateful that the movie lumped two of them together in one fight.

Give me a 40-minute Scott Pilgrim film, and I’d be so there. But near two hours of it just made me antsy.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the books.

Grade: C


Studio: Lionsgate The Expendables

Rated: R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

What it’s about: So Sylvester Stallone and a bunch of other 80s and 90s action stars are mercenaries who are sent to a South American island to assassinate a dictator. They get hooked up with the dictator’s pretty daughter, whom they want to save, and soon find themselves mixed up with an ex-CIA agent who has his hand in the country’s drug trade. There’s money involved. Oh, and planes. And some drugs too. But really this movie is just about blowing a lot of shit up.

What I liked: I grew up in the 80s, so I have a great fondness for the nostalgia of films like the Rambo series and the many other testosterone flicks that the stars in this movie have made. Even though these guys are oddly lumpy and sometimes look like their legs might snap like a twig, it’s fun to watch this ensemble cast on the big screen.

There are plenty of flaws in The Expendables, but when the big guns come out and shit starts blowing up, I was happy as a clam. Stallone doesn’t quite top his glorious jungle explosion from the last Rambo film, but he lets off some pretty amazing explosions in this movie.

The Expendables delivers on exactly what the macho movie watcher wants. If you’ve got a Y chromosome in your body, you’ll find something to love about the many fireballs, penis-envy weapons and massive body count that this movie has to offer.

What I didn’t: There’s a plot to this movie, and a seemingly endless supply of unnecessary dialogue in this movie. That can be handled by quality actors, but no one in this movie is going to be taking home a statuette for this movie come award season. Stallone could have used an editor from the script stage for many scenes… in particular one with Mickey Rourke, who is given a criminally long soliloquy.

Sure, there are some funny lines in the film, but the story is loaded with cliches (from an abused ex-girlfriend to a bad guy in a suit) that overstep the bounds of homage and reverence.

Who is gonna like this movie: Dudes, dude.

Grade: B


Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity (yeah, that’s a category now)

Starring: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis and Billy Crudup

Directed by: Ryan Murphy

What it’s about: As much as I wanted this to be a cannibal love story, it’s really about a woman in her 40s who gets divorced, then spends a year traveling in order to stuff her face and find herself.

What I liked: Ummm… it was in focus.

What I didn’t: I know there’s a ton of women out there that have read this book in their Oprah-style book clubs, and I will be the first to admit that those stories just aren’t my cup of tea. However, I find it hard to like any aspect of this movie.

First, I’m so tired of whining in movies… from Twilight to this. I just can’t get behind a character who is rich, successful and has a great life but needs to find herself in her 40s. Get your shit together, woman! And the hypocrisy of Julia Roberts preaching in this film about how women should eat what they want and not worry about gaining some weight is enough to make my stomach turn. You don’t see her letting a muffin top hang out on the red carpet anywhere.

Ultimately, Eat Pray Love is a movie that taps into the regrets one might have in their own midlife crisis. I haven’t hit mine yet (and I’m not sure if I will), so maybe that’s why I just didn’t have the patience to watch a woman wallow in her own insecurities for 135 minutes.

With such a long, drawn-out story that goes nowhere and everywhere, a better title would be either Whine Bitch Moan.

Who is gonna like this movie: Women in their 40s who feel unfulfilled.

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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