The Lane Train

News and Pop Culture for the Blog Generation

Weekend Movie Preview: Immature, Paranormal, and Some Teenagers

Posted by thelanetrain on July 25, 2008

Three brand new movies out this weekend for your viewing pleasure.  First, there’s Step Brothers, the latest Will Ferrell comedy that proves there’s no limit to how stupid you can be (on film, at least).  Also, sci-fi freaks and die-hards will be most likely flocking to The X-Files: I Want To Believe, which marks the first time Agents Scully and Mulder have reunited since the series’ end.  And finally, for those who favor more non-commercial fare, the documentary American Teen, which shadows the lives of five Indiana high schoolers in their senior year, is sure to please your palate.  I’ll just assume anyone who goes and see one of these three movies has probably seen The Dark Knight already.

After The Jump: Plot Details and Reviews

Step Brothers is the latest film from director Adam McKay and stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly (last seen together in Talladega Nights) as Brennan Huff and Dale Doback, two unemployed adults who live with their single mom (Brennan) or dad (Dale).  When Brennan’s mom meets and falls in love with Dales dad, the two are forced to move in with one another and virulently hate each other.  The hatred eventually turns to unabashed adoration and the parents soon realize that their sons need to get jobs in order for their romance to move on and their offspring to be productive members of society.  What ensues throughout the whole movie is a series of slapstick jokes, fratboy humor, and inappropriate one (and two) liners.  Mary Steenburgen and Rob Riggle also star.

The film, which is also produced by Judd Apatow (he directed The 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad), has received mixed reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, garnering a 52% rating.  The movie relies heavily on the farce that Brennan and Dale, both in their early 40s, act like middle schoolers, and the family is forced into situations that exploit this (in one promo scene, Dale’s father, a doctor, is called home in the middle of work by his new wife because Dale and Brennan are having a full on fight on the front lawn using crude weapons).  Claudia Puig of USA Today writes:

“The concept is inherently funny, but the plot grows thin and the laughs grow fewer once the premise is established.”

Which, for a Ferrell comedy, is par for the course.  Personally, I think he peaked at Anchorman, and the last movie in this series that I saw, Walk Hard, was middling.  Die-hard fans will love it and quote it incessantly for the next two weeks, but I’m unsure how the mainstream audience will react to this film.  Whatever, you get to see Ferrell crushed by a crudely made bunk bed.  Cue laugh.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe will be the first time that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny team up to play their iconic roles at Dana Scully and Fox Mulder since the hit TV series ended back in 2002.  Plot details are strictly under wraps, with no real clues as to the movie’s story, but according to online sources, the movie will be a stand-alone episode (i.e, not tied to the “alien abduction” theme that the TV series relied on), and may or may not feature a romantic subplot between Scully and Mulder (although in a recent interview, Duchovny denied such plotlines).  All I can say is that it’s nice to see Gillian Anderson in the public eye again, because lately, I feel she’s gone all Joyce DeWitt on us.  The film is directed by series creator Chris Carter and also stars Amanda Peet and X-Zibit.

As much of a success the series was, sadly, critics have not been too impressed by the film (I’m guessing because they’re all still hung up on the brilliance of the small screen version).  Rotten Tomatoes has given it a 29% rating, with most critics saying how the film alienates both series newbies and die-hards and that the film is at best, nonsensical and abstreuse.  This review by James Bernardinelli of ReelViews perplexes me:

“Rather than providing a springboard to a movie franchise, this film puts the final nail in The X-Files‘ coffin. Mulder and Scully can now fade into pop culture history.”

Everyone knows that there is no way for The X-Files to make a comeback (Duchovny now has his own series on Showtime, and Anderson is a familywoman).  Making a sequel to a movie like this would be a terrible idea, even if the film did well.  Why sully up a good TV franchise with a bunch of mediocre movies?  It’s unfortunate that the series ends up with a wreck like this, but at least it provides the much needed closure fans were seeking.  Regardless, one can expect that somewhere, a line of diehards will be vigilantly waiting for the doors to open with those same nerdy body lusting after Scully onscreen.

Finally, American Teen is so honest, hypereal, and inexplicably heartwarming that I would feel bad writing any negative press, especially since they’re all teenagers.  The documentary, which received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, focuses on the lives of five teenagers completing high school in a small Indiana town.  Interestingly enough, each student fulfills a classic stereotype role, such as the mean girl, the jock, the nerd, the artsy kid, and the popular guy.  Ultimatley, the film adequately displays a slice of life not often seen in mainstream America.  Why the director chose this town in Indiana beats me, but the kids appear to be anything like the well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky American teenagers our society dotes so fondly on.

Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 61% rating, and critics have responded fairly postively or negatively towards the doc.  The positive critics agree that the film gives audience members a good reminder of those fond high school memories and reminds them of the struggles they went through, while negative reviewers cite a lack of reason or purpose for the film, and accuse the director of creating such an invasion of people’s privacy (despite signing release forms, as one reviewer said).  Moreover, the film looks like it could be a hit or miss.  Generally, documentaries with kids or teens have been seen as positive successes (like Spellbound), because these two age groups never really know how to react and usually provide more earnest emotions.  However, it could just be a small window into the lives of inane, mindless (and perhaps unimportant) teenage affairs, but without a doubt, lots more intelligent and mindful than this.

As for who wins this weekend?  With this competition, The Dark Knight should easily finish at #1 for the second week in a row.  Expect Step Brothers to premiere at #2.


One Response to “Weekend Movie Preview: Immature, Paranormal, and Some Teenagers”

  1. BigBan said

    Oh, Thanks! Really funny. Greets.

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