Movie Review: The Last Exorcism [2010, Stamm]

The Last Exorcism [2010, Stamm]

The Last Exorcism [2010]
Director: Daniel Stamm
Genre: Drama/Horror/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

Not afraid to ride the coattails of The Blair Witch Project or even Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism is one of the more recent titles in the increasingly popular “mockumentary horror” genre. Filmed as if it were a documentary, the movie follows Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a Louisiana man of the Lord who casually admits to faking his way through a bunch of exorcisms. He has an elaborate setup for the process, complete with electronic props and ominous sound effects (from an iPod) to try to make the experience authentic. Reverend Marcus has decided to expose the exorcism business (hence the documentary crew) and he decides to do one last ritual to prove that this is all bullshit. He randomly selects one letter request that takes him to a rural farm where the family’s teenage daughter, Nell (Ashley Bell), is seemingly possessed. It doesn’t take long for Marcus and crew to realize that something is seriously wrong at the farm.

I greatly enjoyed the premise of the movie, and the opening scenes of the Reverend exposing his religious “services” were nothing short of brilliant. I loved the idea of seeing a religious con man on film, as well as the subtle shots related to this (such as Marcus slapping a Jesus Fish magnet on the back of his car before hitting the road). The back story provided is entertaining, and it is aided by a charismatic performance from Fabian.

The Last Exorcism [2010]

When the documentary crew hits the farm, the movie takes a startling turn and shows its horror chops. Something is definitely not right with Nell, and the “mockumentary” camerawork shows a first hand account of how messed up she is. Relative newcomer Ashley Bell delivers a stirring performance, showing off a character who can be both sweet and nasty with equal ability. There are a number of jump-inducing moments on the farm and the atmosphere is tense upon arrival, where the crew is greeted by Nell’s rock-throwing brother (Caleb Landry Jones).

The Last Exorcism is good enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, but it has one major problem that is directly related to its faux-documentary style: its abrupt, cheesy ending. Obviously I can’t get into details here, but the ending is unbelievably over-the-top and seems out of place compared to the previous 80 minutes. It’s unfortunate that a better ending could not have been used, as what they came up with is really weak and is bound to infuriate many (or even most) viewers.

The Last Exorcism [2010, Stamm]

Still, even with the lackluster finale, The Last Exorcism is one of the better American horror offerings to come out in the last couple years. Strong performances from Fabian and Bell add some personality to the film, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the nerve-wracking atmosphere. The Last Exorcism is ultimately a good film that could have been even better with a more satisfying ending.

7/10

ESPN 30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks [2010]

ESPN 30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks [2010]

ESPN 30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks [2010]
Director: Dan Klores
Genre: Documentary/Sports
Language: English
Country: USA

A couple of weeks ago Amazon had an awesome Father’s Day sale going on for the ESPN Films 30 for 30 Limited Edition Collector Set. Basically the set was on sale for 1/3 of the regular price, and it included all 30 documentaries as well as a vintage ESPN hat. It was a hell of a deal, and I couldn’t help but treat myself to it.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, 30 for 30 is a collection of 30 documentaries that aired on ESPN and its sister networks from 2009 to 2010. Sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with the idea to have a wide variety of filmmakers reflect on the sports stories/events/people that mattered to them, and had them create an hour long documentary about them. There are some pretty big names attached to the project, including Spike Jonze, NBA star Steve Nash and Steve James (“Hoop Dreams“), and the various films cover a number of different sports.

The first feature I decided to watch was Dan Klores’ “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks”, partly because I had heard nothing but good things about it, and also because I grew up watching 1990s NBA basketball. I remember the epic rivalries back then, including the Pacers vs. the Knicks. This is a rivalry that heated up and kicked into high gear during the two years Michael Jordan was on hiatus playing baseball. Without the Bulls dominating the league, there was a huge opportunity open for another team to take their place. Both Indiana and New York felt they could be the best, and they met in the playoffs both years.

While the documentary is entirely about the rivalry, it focuses heavily on Reggie Miller and the memorable moments involving him in their battles. These are truly classic moments from 90s basketball:

1) John Starks’ infamous headbutt and Miller’s dramatic overselling of it. Miller is a notorious trash talker and it grew to be too much for his New York arch rival, who attacked Reggie and got himself kicked out of the game. Looking back at the footage, it looked like teammates Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing were going to beat the shit out of Starks, and that’s a scary sight.

2) Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Diehard Knicks fan Spike Lee was sitting courtside and kept antagonizing Reggie as the Knicks were in control of the game. All of a sudden, something clicked with Miller and he went nuts and started draining shot after shot, eventually ending the game with 39 points (24 in the 4th quarter) and leading the Pacers to victory. Spike Lee was immediately chosen as the scapegoat for his team’s loss.

3) Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. One of the most incredible feats ever accomplished in NBA history. The Pacers were down by six points with 18.7 seconds left. Miller hits a 3, steals the inbound pass, dribbles back and hits another 3, then seals the game with two free throws. Eight points in nine seconds. It’s remarkable to see this, even to this day.

ESPN 30 for 30: Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks [2010]

The documentary touches on all three of these classic moments, and includes some awesome rare footage including a lot of the trash talk between Miller and Lee. There are also details of other elements of the rivalry including the whole “Hicks vs. Knicks” region battle, and issues with racism. Klores really does a great job piecing everything together and getting input from all of those involved, even getting soundbites from Patrick Ewing and John Starks about their devastating last-second shot misses.

You don’t have to be a Knicks or Pacers fan to enjoy Winning Time. NBA fans will get the most out of this, but even non-fans can appreciate the story behind this rivalry. Hell, my girlfriend who can’t stand professional basketball even got a kick out of the little bit she saw. Winning Time is an excellent documentary that had me feeling nostalgic for the days of my youth. I can only hope that all of the 30 for 30 documentaries are even half this good.

9/10

Movie Review: Rabbit Hole [2010]

Rabbit Hole [2010]

Rabbit Hole [2010]
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Country: USA

Feeling down in the dumps? Then you may want to steer clear of Rabbit Hole, an extremely depressing film that follows the lives of a grieving couple eight months after their 4-year-old son was tragically killed. The parents, Becca and Howie (played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart), are desperately trying to get their lives back on track. They try going to support groups, but Becca has issues with how other couples turn to religion for healing. They entertain thoughts of selling the house, getting rid of their child’s belongings and thinking of everything they can to distance themselves from the situation. Nothing seems to work.

It doesn’t help that there are signs of their child everywhere. Becca’s sister (Tammy Blanchard) announces that she’s pregnant, which brings out natural feelings of jealousy. The family’s dog brings back memories; after all, it was this dog that their son was chasing after when he was tragically hit by a car. Even seeing mothers with their children in a grocery store raises signs of grief in Becca. She is considerably worse off than Howie, who deals with his issues in more subdued ways.

Rabbit Hole [2010]

As you can expect, this is all pretty brutal stuff. Watching the parents fight with each other while trying to obtain some resemblance of the life they used to have can be really hard to watch. This is because of incredibly powerful performances from Kidman and Eckhart, who together have fantastic chemistry. Their roles in Rabbit Hole rank among their career best, and they take a seemingly basic plot and push it to another level. The movie seems like something that has been seen and heard before, but it rises a step above others thanks to its magnificent acting.

Thankfully, director John Cameron Mitchell found a way to squeeze in some bits of humor to try to occasionally lighten the mood. One scene in particular had me busting up when Howie and an acquaintance (Sandra Oh) at the support group enter the meeting while stoned out of their minds. These moments of laughter are few and far in between, but they are very welcome when they appear.

Rabbit Hole requires one to be in the right mood upon watching, and tissues should definitely be on hand while doing so. This is a movie that is oftentimes uncomfortable, but it is a very well told story aided by great performances. It’s a shame that this slipped under the radar last year, as it is one of the better 2010 releases I have seen.

8/10

Video Game Review: Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

Singularity
System: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Release Date: June 29, 2010

Take a large heaping of Bioshock and sprinkle in elements of Half-Life and F.E.A.R. and you have a pretty good idea of what Singularity is all about. A much overlooked first person shooter, Raven Software’s Singularity is something that I would have known nothing about if a friend of mine had not brought up his love for the game. While its influences are readily noticeable, Singularity is able to mold them all together into its own unique adventure.

The game takes place on Katorga-12, a fictional Russian island that served as the breeding grounds for a bizarre experimentation during the Cold War. You play as Nathan Renko, a soldier sent to the island to investigate a recent mysterious blast that damaged an American spy satellite. After a rude helicopter landing, Renko discovers that things are very, very wrong there, and he begins slipping through time between the years 1955 and 2010. It turns out that the Russians were messing around with the powerful Element 99, with their master plan being world domination. As is expected with any good-natured protagonist, Renko sets out to end all of this madness.

Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

While the story isn’t going to win any awards for creativity, it is deep enough to maintain interest, and the frequent jumps from past to present day keep things fresh. In order to actually do the time traveling, Renko is equipped with the TMD (Time Manipulation Device), a badass weapon that is the game’s major selling point. Not only can the TMD propel Renko through time, but it can also turn enemies to dust — a very handy trick, no doubt. The TMD allows Nate to have objects sent to him (a la Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun) and it can send massive pulses of energy that maim enemies. When I say “maim”, I mean it. There are some pretty gruesome deaths in this game, and shooting enemies can lead to limbs flying everywhere. Outside of the impressive TMD, there are standard weapons available, including assault rifles and rocket launchers, as well as an awesome Seeker rifle that lets you control its bullets in slow motion. Needless to say, there are a lot of cool toys available.

The sheer amount of weapon choices makes combat a blast. There’s nothing like shooting an enemy with the TMD, then quickly reverting it into a mutant which in turn starts attacking anything around it (i.e. the bad guys). There are two main types of enemies to slaughter: evil Russian soldiers from 1955 and then their disgusting mutated counterparts from 2010. A handful of exciting boss battles and some clever puzzles also keep things rolling throughout the roughly ten hour single player campaign.

Singularity [Xbox 360, 2010]

Singularity has the added bonus of a surprisingly great online multiplayer mode. Drawing heavily from Left 4 Dead (in the form of humans vs. mutants), the multiplayer allows you to choose the type of character you want to be, as well as their special abilities. I wasn’t expecting much from the online portion, but I quickly got sucked into the experience. Unfortunately, the game itself wasn’t a big seller and therefore the online community is fairly small one year later. If you can get a good game going, however, it’s a lot of fun.

The overall game isn’t without its faults. There are some annoying moments (most of which involve Phase Ticks, equivalent to Gears of War’s ticker enemies), and it can take a little while to learn all of the TMD controls. There are also some laughably Russian accents used by the handful of recurring characters. Still, these are all minor blips on what is a surprisingly engaging experience.

Singularity doesn’t really try anything new, but as a compilation of excellent aspects from various other games, it certainly succeeds. This is a bargain bin title these days, and it is a steal at $20 or less. It’s a shame that this wasn’t the big seller Activision was hoping it would be, because this is one of the most interesting first person shooters to come out in recent years.

8/10

Movie Review: Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]
Director: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Drama
Language: English/Italian
Country: USA

Somewhere opens with a shot of a black Ferrari aimlessly driving around in circles in an open area. This goes on for a few minutes, after which popular actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) steps out and gazes into the horizon. End scene. This minimalistic shot sets the stage for the rest of the movie, one that most either seem to love or hate, with very few settling somewhere in between.

Johnny Marco is an apathetic actor who shows little emotion to what surrounds his life. Twin strippers, hotel parties, movie press conferences — he seems disillusioned by it all. As he inches through his life, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is left to live with him for an undetermined amount of time by his ex-wife. This brings a sense of change to Johnny’s life, and now he has no choice but to begin to show some signs of responsibility.

Somewhere [2010]

Not a lot happens in Somewhere. The movie focuses on Johnny’s life outside of the movies and it shows the strain of his relationship with his daughter, but there are no major events that take place. We are merely taken in on a period of this movie star’s life, one who is marred with some sort of depression. Director Sofia Coppola lets the film crawl along, often invoking the use of extended scenes, many of which will leave some people scratching their heads in bewilderment. Occasional quirks are brought up but never resolved. I found these traits to be enjoyable and oftentimes humorous, but it’s easy to see how they could bother certain audiences.

The best moments in Somewhere happen when both Johnny and Cleo are on screen together. Their relationship is simplistic, but there is noticeable chemistry between the two. This is helped by strong performances from the two leads. Stephen Dorff is effective at showing minimal emotion, and Elle Fanning’s acting feels natural and authentic. Since the movie is strictly about these two characters, there aren’t many noteworthy roles played by others. A seemingly random selection of Chris Pontius (of Jackass fame) plays Johnny’s friend and roommate, Michelle Monaghan plays an actress that he has worked with before, and Ellie Kemper (The Office) briefly escorts Johnny around in Italy.

Somewhere [2010]

While Somewhere’s slow pace sometimes works against itself, I found the movie to be a very interesting character study overall. It requires a fair amount of patience and the right mindset, but if you are willing to stick with it you should be able to get something out of it. While not up to the level of Lost In Translation, Somewhere is still an involving experience that can be utterly compelling at times.

7.5/10

Movie Review: 13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins [2010]
Director: Takashi Miike
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

Total massacre.

Those two words are the catalyst for 13 Assassins, foreshadowing of the bloodbath to come. Takashi Miike’s latest directorial effort is a throwback to the old samurai epics of yore, updated for the 21st century.

Set in Feudal Japan, the movie introduces us to a disgusting and despicable young man, Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki). Naritsugu is the brother of the current Shogun and therefore has free reign to do whatever he pleases. In his case, he uses this freedom to rape, murder and generally terrorize the common public. After someone publicly commits seppuku in protest of the Lord’s actions, a group of samurais is secretly assembled to put a stop to his terror. Led by the veteran Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), this collection of “13 assassins” begins preparing for battle against what they expect to be Naritsugu and 200 of his henchmen.

13 Assassins [2010]

Much has been made of this epic battle, of which the final 40 minutes of the movie are comprised of. Folks, this fight sequence is every bit as good as everyone says, and it is an amazing cinematic achievement. There is non-stop carnage involving brutal sword battles, strategic traps, unique weapons and just all-around mayhem. It is utter chaos, and this scene is easily one of the best battles I have ever seen on the big screen. Seriously, it is that good.

Outside of the epic action, there is a lot to like here. The acting is phenomenal, and fans of Japanese cinema will recognize much of the cast. The Feudal Japan setting is perfectly recreated and the movie does an excellent job of transporting viewers into that time period. There are also bits of humor scattered throughout that lighten the mood — definitely a welcome addition considering the eventual massacre.

13 Assassins [2010]

13 Assassins starts off a little slow, which might throw off some, and there are a few moments during the elongated battle where I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit. However, I greatly enjoyed the movie overall. Lord Naritsugu is a perfect villain, and it’s very easy to get behind the thirteen hired assassins (especially one who is a bit of bumbling fool, channeling Kikuchiyo from Seven Samurai). This is a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen, and it is a must-see for fans of the genre.

8.5/10

Movie Review: Everything Must Go [2010]

Everything Must Go [2010]

Everything Must Go [2010]
Director: Dan Rush
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Language: English
Country: USA

Will Ferrell is back in a much-welcomed dramatic role.

Everything Must Go, based on Raymond Carver’s (very) short story “Why Don’t You Dance?“, is a moving character study that gives Ferrell a chance to show off his improved dramatic chops. Ferrell plays the character of Nick Halsey, an alcoholic whose world has just crumbled all around him. After getting fired from his job for a drinking-related incident, Nick comes home to find all of his belongings scattered across the front lawn. His wife, who is nowhere to be found, has kicked him out of the house and even changed the locks on him. With nowhere else to go and nothing to do, Halsey takes up residence on his lawn.

Although he seems perfectly content to spend the foreseeable future on his front lawn while drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, Nick’s neighbors don’t have the same idea. The police visit his house to warn him that he is breaking the law, but a friend of Nick’s on the force (and also his AA sponsor, played by Michael Pena) grants him a temporary reprieve if he agrees to have a yard sale. Facing the prospect of jail time if he doesn’t, Halsey is forced to agree.

Everything Must Go [2010]

In the midst of his life being in total disarray, Nick forges two unlikely relationships. One is with Kenny, a pudgy teenager (Christopher Jordan Wallace, aka Biggie’s son) who he teaches about sales and baseball in exchange for helping him with his yard sale. The other is with Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a lonely pregnant neighbor across the street who feels sympathy for Nick and is one of few who shows common decency toward him. In a time of need, these are the only people who are even giving him the time of day, as unlikely of “friends” as they might be.

On paper this sounds pretty depressing. And, in some instances, it is. Those expecting a typical Will Ferrell effort will be disappointed, but I believe this is his finest role yet. It is absolutely refreshing to see Ferrell play a different type of drunk — one who is subdued and functional rather than over-the-top and obnoxious. His character is a seemingly good man who has a serious addiction, and Ferrell’s performance really drives this home.

Everything Must Go [2010]

Everything Must Go focuses on the dramatic side of things, although there are hints of sly humor from time to time. The film has a bit of a slow pace that might turn off some, but I found it to be engaging throughout. This is definitely a one-man show complemented by some admirable performances from the supporting cast (including some nice bit roles from Laura Dern and Stephen Root). Hopefully this is the beginning of more similar roles from Will Ferrell; in Everything Must Go, he shows he is certainly up to the task of carrying this type of film.

7.5/10

Movie Review: Machete [2010]

Machete [2010]

Machete [2010]
Directors: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

Originally introduced via a fake trailer for the 2007 double feature, Grindhouse, Machete was turned into a full-length film last year. With Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis at the helm, this had all the makings for a riotous throwback to the old-school exploitation flicks.

Machete stars the always badass Danny Trejo as Machete Cortez, a former Mexican Federale who has been double-crossed by corrupt politicians while working as a hitman. In his quest to get revenge, he becomes entangled in an intense conflict involving illegal immigration. The whole storyline is pretty ridiculous and probably too spread-out for its own good, but it sets the tone for gratuitous violence and all-around trashiness.

Machete [2010]

If you’re offended by gory deaths, excessive blood spray, and full-frontal female nudity, then obviously Machete is not for you. This is a film that revels in its excess, and loves every second of it.

For an exploitation flick, Machete has a pretty impressive cast. Steven Seagal is a brutal drug lord who killed Machete’s wife three years before the film’s events. Robert De Niro plays Senator McLaughlin, a corrupt politician who is vehemently against illegal immigration, often resorting to violence against those trying to cross the border. Jeff Fahey is his right hand man, filling in with the same role he had in the faux trailer. Jessica Alba is an Immigrations Officer who is trying to crack the underground immigration network. Michelle Rodriguez probably does the best job overall as the sexy “taco truck lady” who also happens to be leading the revolution. Throw in some hilarious bit roles from Cheech Marin (Machete’s priest brother), Don Johnson (a border vigilante) and even Lindsay Lohan (a junkie rich girl, not far from Lohan’s reality), and you have quite the eclectic cast.

And of course, it’s good to see Danny Trejo get his first lead role after countless small parts over the years.

Machete [2010]

Machete is good for what it is, no doubt, but it felt like something was missing overall. It almost seemed like the movie tried to do too much at once, and lacked some overall cohesion. It’s still a lot of fun with some great action scenes and hilarious one-liners, but I can’t help but feel it could have been even better. It will be interesting to see what Rodriguez comes up with for Machete Kills, the inevitable sequel.

7/10

Video Game Review: Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Unbound Saga
System: Xbox 360 [Xbox Live Arcade]
Publisher: Vogster Entertainment, LLC
Developer: Vogster
Release Date: December 1, 2010

Originally a downloadable PSP title, Unbound Saga was ported over to Xbox Live a year later with a few differences (most notably the addition of a co-op mode). The game is a simple, mindless side-scrolling beat ’em up that draws heavily from the classic 1995 Sega Genesis title, Comix Zone. You play as either Rick Ajax, a juiced-up musclehead, or Lori Machete, a mysterious woman, both of whom are aware that they are in a comic book (kind of like the great Duck Amuck cartoon). Your job is to brawl your way through ten stages in order to meet “The Maker” – the guy who is drawing the enemies on screen.

Unbound Saga bares more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Comix Zone. In fact, this almost feels like a full-on tribute. There are obstacles that need to be kicked and punched in order to move to the next panel (thankfully this doesn’t hurt your character this time), and there’s even a rat running around during loading screens. The game also has a lackadaisical sense of humor throughout, which is refreshing. This humor is most prevalent in the handful of enemies thrown at you, whether they are homeless people who think you stole someone’s liver or bears wearing aprons. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the game is genuinely funny, but its lighter tone is appreciated.

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

Although the basic gameplay is the same as most beat ’em up titles, Unbound Saga has a certain amount of depth that helps it stand out. Strong in-game performances will earn you skill points which in turn can be used to learn new combos and improve the overall attributes for both characters. This sort of leveling up system is a nice addition, and it adds to the replay value since it encourages multiple playthroughs.

Unfortunately, while the overall gameplay style is tried and true, there are some problems. For one, the controls are often sluggish. Rick, in particular, is difficult to move around, and he sometimes struggles to make contact with what is seemingly right in front of him. There were also times when I would have the analog stick pointed in one direction while spamming the attack buttons, yet Rick would remain facing the opposite way. This type of issue allows the enemies (and there are lots of ’em later on) to get in some cheap shots, and this gets very frustrating. The controls could have really been fine-tuned some more.

Repetition is also an issue, although that is somewhat expected with the genre. The game is pretty much the same from beginning to end, with little in the way of surprises. A bit disappointing, but not out of the ordinary.

Unbound Saga [Xbox 360, 2010]

In essence, Unbound Saga is what it is. This is a mindless brawler with a fun comic book setting that borrows heavily from an even better game, Comix Zone. Some control and repetition issues keep the game from realizing its potential, but it is still worth playing through on a lazy afternoon. If you are a fan of the genre and see the game on sale, it is worth a look. It is difficult to recommend it at its current price (800 MSP), however.

6/10

Movie Review: Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]

Due Date [2010]
Director: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Due Date is a haphazard road comedy starring two unlikeable characters, a film that could have been far greater than its outcome. Robert Downey Jr. is Peter Highman, a high strung businessman who is trying to make it from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to be there for the birth of his first child. At the Atlanta airport, he runs into Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), an annoying aspiring actor who inadvertantly causes a scene and causes both men to be put on the no-fly list. The moment that allows this to happen is not as funny as you would expect. With his bags (and wallet) still on the plane, Peter has no way to rent a car and drive to LA so he begrudgingly rides along with Ethan. Yes, this is a road trip movie.

I had fairly high expectations for this film, especially considering director Todd Phillips had a major comedy hit immediately before this in the form of The Hangover. I like Downey and Galifianakis, and the trailer made this look pretty funny. While Due Date has a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, it tends to rely too heavily on its weak script and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny scenes. It doesn’t help that both of the main characters are just so unlikeable. Zach G. is a very funny guy, but he isn’t given anything to work with here. His character, Ethan, is an annoying little twat who has nary a likeable trait. Downey’s character isn’t much better due to his holier-than-thou asshole tendencies, although he does provide the “best” moment in the movie when he knocks out a child.

Due Date [2010]

A big problem is that the obligatory “gross out” scenes are stupid and unnecessary. Who thought including a random segment with a masturbating dog would be funny? Apparently the dog learned this from Ethan, who has to masturbate at night in order for him to be able to fall asleep. WTF? I don’t get how someone thought this was a good idea.

What helps keep the movie watchable is its assortment of random cameos. RZA, Danny McBride, Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx all have bit roles in the movie, and they do their best to keep things fresh at crucial times in the movie.

It’s unfortunate that such a talented cast was given a poor script to work with. This is a fairly simple concept — two guys with opposite personalities taking a cross country road trip — and it is a premise that could easily provide hilarious obstacles along the way. Yet it is hard to get behind the unlikeable main characters that Due Date throws at us. Still, this isn’t a terrible movie, or even a bad one. It’s just that it could have been so much more.

6/10