Friday, June 22, 2012
Video on Demand Report: '90s Nostalgia, Chicken Farms, and Something Called 'Bindlestiffs'
By Molly Lambert
I read an interview with Woody Allen recently in which he talked about how he releases his movies during the summer because he thinks big tentpole movies are moronic and smart people need something else to see. Whatever you think about that, it's true that a lot of comic-book movies are targeted at younger kids, and maybe you want something rated a hard R. Something like Woody Allen might make if he'd come up in Gen X. I recommend Wanderlust, David Wain's commune comedy that functions as something of a companion piece to his Wet Hot American Summer and a spiritual successor to Caddyshack and Stripes.
The set pieces don't always work and the third act drags, but there are all kinds of sharp jokes and hilarious improvisation, particularly from Paul Rudd (taking his everyman thing to grotesque places). It's an adult movie in that the jokes are things like a struggling couple sharing a comically small New York apartment or a drunk housewife (Michaela Watkins) slipping "I have mixed feelings about being a parent" into her small talk. It never stops moving, and that famous MTV editing that was going to melt our brains now seems like a razor-sharp way to keep our attention.
Maybe it's Jennifer Aniston, or all the players from The State, but there's a pervasive '90s nostalgia to Wanderlust. It compounds a feeling I've had a lot; that the '90s were our '60s. A dream world where men and women of all kinds worked together, played in bands together, and treated each other like equals for the betterment of relationships between human beings.
The utopian commune that lures in neurotic city couple George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) features hippie weirdos played by the likes of Kathryn Hahn, Joe Lo Truglio, Kerri Kenney, Justin Theroux, Lauren Ambrose, and Jordan Peele. Wanderlust is a love letter to those performers from writers Wain and Ken Marino (killing it in the film as Rudd's suburban dickbag brother). It's an intelligent romantic comedy mixed with Kentucky Fried Movie–type goofs, one that knocks out high and low laughs like a 7-10 split.
New and Notable
A Greek sexual coming-of-age drama from director Athina Rachel Tsangari about a girl obsessed with David Attenborough documentaries.
My Afternoons With Margueritte Harold and Maude meets Tuesdays With Morrie. Gerard Depardieu is an illiterate single man named Germain who strikes up a friendship with elderly literary enthusiast Margueritte over a shared love of pigeons.
A vigilante movie starring Nic Cage and January Jones. What more do you need to know? You're going to love it.
Kiara the Brave
A knockoff of Pixar's Brave direct from the uncanny valley.
The Open Door Pump Up the Volume reimagined as a horror movie.
The Thing '11
I was just rhapsodizing over John Carpenter's The Thing recently. This is actually a prequel setting up the Antarctic isolation horror plotline of the original, much like Prometheus sets up the Alien movies.
The Woman in the Fifth
A sexual thriller starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke (shudder). Based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy.
"In Theaters" VOD Pick
Martin Sheen plays a priest raising money to open a movie theater in an Irish village. Another indie film about the lifesaving power of a love of film!
Weird Indie of the Week
The Love Guide
This is basically The Love Guru, but starring Parker Posey. What? How? I don't know. It involves a reality show set on a chicken farm, with Posey wearing a variety of caftans and jumpsuits. Posey's hair and wardrobe and facial choices are on point as always, but this looks a little bit sad.
Early VOD Premiere of the Week
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Jason Segel and Ed Helms are the two saddest sacks to ever sack sads in this Duplass brothers joint. Nobody does conflicted fraternal bonds like the Duplass brothers. It also stars Judy Greer and Rae Dawn Chong!
"Three high school virgins flee to the inner city to live out The Catcher in the Rye — a book they've never read. Hilarious grossouts abound as they befriend bums, hookers, and crack fiends" in this new comedy from Kevin Smith's SModcast Pictures.