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SHREK: THE FINAL CHAPTER 3D

Studio: DreamWorks

Rated: PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas and Julie Andrews

Directed by: Mike Mitchell

What it’s about: In this fourth installment of the popular animated franchise, Shrek longs for his days as an ogre bachelor. He crosses paths with Rumpelstiltskin, who offers to let him live a day in his past. However, Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek and changes the past. Facing a darker future with Rumple as king, Shrek must change things back to the way it was before he disappears forever.

What I liked: After the catastrophe that was Shrek the Third, there really was no way to go but up in a film like this. We’ve seen this sort of story before in kids’ sequels with films like The Santa Clause 3 and the direct-to-video Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a decent way of refreshing the characters.

A lot of the twisted fairy tale jokes have been taken out, which is great since those jokes got old after movies like Ella Enchanted and Hoodwinked ran them into the ground. Similarly, the creepy-looking humans that populate the Shrek universe have been taken out of the story for the most part, leaving ogres, animals and witches.

Overall, I didn’t hate Shrek: The Final Chapter, and it was pretty neat to watch in 3D (as long as you’re not a 3D hater, that is). There were some funny moments, particularly from Craig Robinson in a bit part as an ogre cook, but you could do worse if you head to the theaters to see a kids’ movie.

What I didn’t: By the fourth film, you should know what you’re not going to like about a Shrek movie. It’s got bathroom humor, Eddie Murphy with his obnoxious voice as the Donkey and that teeth-grindingly bad Scottish accent from Mike Myers. If you don’t like the Shrek series, you won’t like this movie. It’s really more of the same… though better than the last one.

Who is gonna like this movie: Kids and families.

Grade: B-

MACGRUBER

Studio: Rogue Pictures

Rated: R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity

Starring: Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillipe, Kristen Wiig, Will Forte and Powers Boothe

Directed by: Jorma Taccone

What it’s about: The Saturday Night Live MacGruber sketch is stretched into a full-length feature film. After a decade of faking his own death, MacGruber is tapped to help the U.S. military take down a psychotic terrorist who plans to blow the crap out of Washington D.C. with a nuclear bomb.

What I liked: I haven’t watched much Saturday Night Live over the past ten years, so I’m not too familiar with the MacGruber sketch. I’ve seen a couple, and I get the joke, but I haven’t been overwhelmed with the character.

But that really doesn’t matter. The film version of MacGruber is more than just stretching one joke into a full film. Instead, it sends up the crappy 80s action movies on HBO that I remember so fondly. Fans of this genre will be closest to the jokes. The plot isn’t great, but neither were said crappy 80s action movies on HBO. And this movie is a lot funnier.

MacGruber is pretty raunchy, and it revels in inappropriate and awkward humor. It plays to sophomoric butt jokes, but that’s my kind of humor, man. The movie commits to its own silliness and doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. Plus, it has some great straight men played by Ryan Phillipe and Powers Booth.

What I didn’t: not that I don’t think the movie could have been improved, and it’s not that I think it’s high art. But it’s exactly what it needs to be…

…though I would have liked a gratuitous boob shot in the film. But that’s just me.

Who is gonna like this movie: Guys who grew up watching crappy 80s action films on HBO.

Grade: A-

HUMAN CENTIPEDE

Studio: IFC Films

Rated: Not rated

Starring: Ashley C. Williams, Dieter Laser, Akihiro Kitamura, Ashlynn Yennie and Andreas Leupold

Directed by: Tom Six

What it’s about: A crazy German scientist kidnaps a handful of tourists to make his medical masterpiece – a human centipede, that is to say, three people attached mouth-to-anus. It reminds us we all have to dream.

What I liked: Human Centipede is one of those movies that needs to be experienced if you have the constitution to do so. It’s not just a batch of torture porn, but it explores some more unique angles of the horror genre. It’s not overtly scary, but rather disturbing. It’s also not terribly gory, but the what-if-it-happened-to-you factor is off the charts.

I think the concept is sound, and it accomplishes everything it sets out to do in terms of making the audience squirm and feel uncomfortable. From a suspense angle, it works the best, considering the film sets up these miles stones, like when and if the doctor is ever going to sew everyone together and what’s going to happen when someone finally has to poop.

The best part about the film, though, is the fantastic performance of Dieter Laser as the crazy doctor who is obsessed with having three of everything. His intense and creepy performance against the relatively mundane and ditzy performances of his victims is what gives Human Centipede its power and bite.

What I didn’t: As I was watching the film, I couldn’t help but analyze whether this experiment would be medically possible. I know the director has stated that he did research and assures his audience that this could be done, I kept finding problems… like what to do about the massive risk of infection, the physiology of regurgitation, how to resolve certain breathing issues and whether a home operating room could handle this major surgery.

Then I reminded myself I’m watching a movie called Human Centipede, and those questions disappeared.

The only other aspect of this movie that bothers me is that rumor has it director Tom Six is working on a sequel. Human Centipede was an interesting movie, but I really don’t know how much more there is to say about people attached mouth-to-anus in a line. I don’t see Human Centipede: Part III in 3D any time in the near future, and I hope that Six takes what he learned with this film to grow as a director rather than slum in his lone good idea.

Who is gonna like this movie: People morbidly curious about the experience of a human centipede.

Grade: B

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


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