Mike McCoy

Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr fights a battle of wits between the stuffy and overly dramatic Oscar contenders that will be buzzing through the weekend and the genre-specific schlock that is being released with no hope of winning any sort of award at all. Before hunkering down on the couch to watch Billy Crystal time warp back into the mid-90s on Sunday, Kevin skydives into the multiplex to check out Act of Valor. Then he joins a commune to be a modern hippie while watching Wanderlust. Finally, he leaves the multiplex to stalk Amanda Seyfried and her on-screen sister because he believes he’s at least as creepy as the legions of creepy guys in Gone. Oh, and that Tyler Perry movie? He skips that with a wave of the hand and a snap of the fingers. If it ain’t got Madea in it, it ain’t worth watching!

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If you’ve been paying attention to Act of Valor’s aggressive marketing campaign, you’re aware that it’s a fictional film starring real-life active-duty Navy SEALs that aims for as much realism as possible in its depiction of their tactics and missions. That’s a fascinating concept and it’s been seamlessly executed by filmmakers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh. Initially conceived as a training film, the picture gradually evolved into the hybrid that it is once the co-directors sold the SEALs on the project, proposing to “take Top Gun, pull Maverick out and put in the real Maverick,” as Waugh told the Los Angeles Times. But at the end of the day, this is a long-winded SEALs recruitment tool, a noble gesture that’s just not sufficient basis for a feature film. The usual cynicism with which one would greet a feature-length ad doesn’t apply because, obviously, if there’s any group that deserves this sort of heroic treatment, the SEALs are it. The worldview on display here is aggressively simplistic, of course, but the essential, elemental purpose behind the picture is a noble one — paying tribute to these soldiers who put themselves in extreme harm’s way for the rest of us.

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The last time the country was (for the most part) united was when an idiot called a movie theater to complain about being kicked out for being an idiot. The time before that, it’s because we killed a guy watching a grainy television on his couch just a few miles away from a police station. Relativity Media is gambling $13m on the unifying power of the latter (and hopefully audiences will benefit from the unifying force of the former), because they’ve paid that hefty sum (plus $30m in advertising) to distribute Act of Valor – a high concept action flick featuring Navy SEALs playing Navy SEALs. According to Deadline Abbottabad, the film was scripted by 300 writer Kurt Johnstad with stunt coordinators Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh taking the reins as co-directors. So what’s it about? A group of Navy SEALs heading into enemy territory to save a CIA agent. There’s nothing wrong with high concept, especially since they had intense cooperation with the government and military. Expect this film to show off some heavy action and some taken-from-real-life mission sequences. The wild card here is the untrained actors. Audie Murphy played himself, and it worked out really well. However, taking pure amateurs and placing them into leading roles is always a gamble. Sure, they’re uniquely qualified for the action sequences, but that doesn’t mean the dialogue won’t go down with a chunk of salt. Then again, an action film like this doesn’t need to be Shakespeare. Or so […]

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