Movies & TV / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction Movies/TV 7.30.10: Week 239

July 30, 2010 | Posted by Ben Piper

Hey there! Welcome back to the 411 column that regularly causes people to shake their fists in the air with anger and frustration, Fact or Fiction. This week, my good friend Rick Tym returns to the fold to help a brother out. Standing opposed is the wrestling zone’s Chad Nevett whom provides everybody insight with his High Road/Low Road column. Let’s get to it!

1. The assembled cast will elevate Dinner For Schmucks to being a lot funnier than it has any right to be.

Rick Tym: Fiction. I’d really like to say Fact here, but after seeing the incessant commercials for this I just can’t. And it’s not because I don’t like the cast involved; on the contrary, I’m a big fan of Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, and especially Paul Rudd. But the whole idea behind the film seems to lend itself to that awkward kind of humor I can only enjoy for 22 minutes or so when I’m watching The Office on my DVR. Here’s hoping I’m wrong, but that feeling — coupled with the fact that I think we’ve seen the funnier parts of the movie in the trailers floating around the web and on TV — have me thinking that Dinner For Schmucks just isn’t going to be a gutbuster. The usual caveat applies here: I hope I’m wrong, because really, who doesn’t like a good comedy?

Chad Nevett: Fiction. Maybe it’s a case of the commercials just not selling a comedy properly, but even with the strength of the cast, the writing on the movie looks to be falling short. I hope I’m wrong and this is simply a movie where the humor comes from the context of situations and what happens, but when Zach Galifianakis isn’t making me laugh, something is seriously wrong.

Score: 1 for 1

2. Amy Adams would be a great choice to the play Janis Joplin in a planned biopic of the iconic 60’s singer.

Rick Tym: Fact. The only real argument that could swing my opinion to Fiction is based on the question that many of you are probably wondering yourselves: Isn’t Amy Adams too darned cute to play Janis Joplin? (No slight intended to the late great singer.) Another question could be: do starring roles in movies like Enchanted (soon to be followed by Enchanted 2, currently in development) qualify Adams to take on the role?

Calm down, people. Of course I remember her great efforts in flicks like Sunshine Cleaning, Junebug and perhaps most importantly Doubt. She’s got the acting chops, that’s for sure. And the makeup folks did a number on Charlize Theron in Monster which, coupled with some amazing acting, netted her some of that sweet Academy gold. Make Adams look a little wearier for the wear, allow that sweet personality to shine through much like Joplin’s herself, and you’ve got another shot at pretty + popular transforming into an awards contender.

Chad Nevett: Fact. Amy Adams is fine with me. No one really jumps out as meant to play Janis Joplin and I’ve enjoyed Adams’s work in everything I’ve seen her in. She’s got a lot of talent and could do Joplin justice. Unless of course the other option is Jane Krakowski…

Score: 2 for 2

3. You agree that the next Saw movie should be the franchise’s last.

Rick Tym: Fact. Fact, fact, a thousand times fact. Listen, anyone who ever read my old column knows that I actually have a special place in my heart for the Saw films — not so much because they’re any good but because I’ll be damned if I can’t admire the gumption it takes to link elements of a large arcing plot over the course of six films. Some aspects of the overall story may be more than a bit farfetched, but efforts were made to keep things at least semi-coherent. Like some, at first I was intrigued by Jigsaw’s traps but what kept me going back to the theater (or Redbox) was simply wanting to see what the crazy bastards behind the series could come up with next — in terms of plot more than killer machines.

However, things got stretched pretty tight by the time numero six rolled around, and I think once we found out what was in the box we could have lived without Jigsaw’s further exploits from beyond the grave. And while I can’t fault the folks behind the Saw films for taking one last swing at box office success (this time with the added revenue resultant from 3D ticket prices), I’m still more interested in (gasp!) Paranormal Activity 2: The Search for More Cash Using More Than One Stationary Camera This Time. This leads me to believe that I, as a viewer, am kind of waiting for the eulogy for this series to finally be delivered.

But man, these guys are crafty, aren’t they? I hear that Cary Elwes is coming back after an extended hiatus. Will we learn the fate of a hobbled Dr. Lawrence Gordon? Son of a…3D and bad subtitle about “traps coming alive” aside, I may need to see how this one turns out now. Still, it should be a amped up sendoff, not just another sequel, but if the numbers are good…well, you know what happens then.

Chad Nevett: Fact. I would have agreed that the last one or two Saw movies should have been the franchise’s last. I’m not a horror fan really, so I’ll admit my knowledge of the Saw movies is limited, but pretty much all of my friends that were into them stopped caring four or five years ago. Now, the Saw franchise has just become a bad joke about not knowing when to call it a day and go out on a high note instead of endlessly pumping out flicks in the hope of a quick buck.

Score: 3 for 3


4. If HBO were to sell its hit vampire show True Blood into syndication for basic cable, the show would not only lose it’s edginess but its charm as well and be a failure as a result.

Chad Nevett: Fact. This is based less on True Blood specifically and more on the track record for HBO shows (and others from similar networks) working in syndication, which isn’t strong. People don’t want to see these shows chopped up and edited, for the most part, since the swearing and nudity is often part of the appeal either because it’s integral to the characters and the world they live in, or because, well, without some f-bombs and naked breasts, there isn’t much else worth tuning into. I’ll leave others to decide which camp True Blood falls into, but I’ll definitely say that syndication won’t work.

Rick Tym: Fact. I agree with a lot of what Chad is laying down. The Sopranos is hit or miss on A&E. Ditto Sex and the City on TBS. Still, cable networks keep trying to take more adult fare and make it “safe” for mass consumption via editing. And of course, they’ll do the same for True Blood. Sookie and Bill’s romance will play to decent audiences at first, but eventually the neutered product will fade into the background much like any other show that has been declawed. Better to stick to DVD, methinks. Of course some could make the argument that syndication could lead to interest which would turn into people running out and buying the box sets, but I would argue against that line of thinking in this case. Too much would be lost in translation.

Like I said, though, that doesn’t mean they (insert non-subscription-fee-needed cable station here) won’t try.

Score: 4 for 4

5. Charlie St. Cloud will successfully propel Zac Efron’s career into that of a leading young actor that can open a movie on his own.

Chad Nevett: Fiction. I’m torn, because the trailer looks like pandering crap to me, it could be the sort of thing that the general public goes wild for. It has a brooding cute guy, the ghost of his younger brother, and an utterly obvious metaphor right at the heart of it. But, something about it doesn’t feel like a movie that will blow up big and launch Zac Efron into that next level. Charlie St. Cloud has the feel of one of those movies that’s trying too hard to be sentimental and touching and fails because it stinks of effort.

Rick Tym: Fact. I’m not torn — I think this movie begins the ascension of Mr. Efron to the type of movie career made possible by those that would choose to pay for such pandering crap. Actually, this trailer played in front of my showing of Inception (and really, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should) and it didn’t look that bad. The supernatural aspect of Zac playing catch with the ghost of his brother is a bit intriguing (is it really the ghost of his brother? Is it all in his mind? Is it a vast conspiracy? Remember: your mind is the scene of the crime…go see it, In Nolan We Trust!) (Sorry.) But the rest of the stuff shown in the preview is your usual romantic save the girl/redemption journey type stuff — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of people like such stuff. What I’d like to see someday is Zac Efron starring in a drama without the predictable high school type storyline to see how if he can hold his own as a, you know, “serious” actor. Still, success will be his (actually it kinda already is his; like it or not, you’ve all heard of High School Musical)…but it’ll be interesting to see what road he takes once it is. Stay high school “dreamy” or get “artsy”? That’s the real interesting question here.

Score: 4 for 5

6. You fail to see the need for Ghost Rider 2.

Chad Nevett: Fiction. I would have answered fact a week or two ago, but it’s since been announced that the fantastic writer/director team of Neveldine/Taylor will be handling this flick. If you’ve seen Crank or Crank 2: High Voltage then you’ll know that these two guys taking on Marvel’s Spirit of Vengeance is a pretty great fit. These guys make fast-paced, over-the-top action flicks and that’s exactly what’s needed for Ghost Rider 2. It’s a guy with a flaming skull on a motorcycle! It should be funny and absurd and balls-to-the-walls and that’s what this duo bring to the table. This is just a case of a creative team and a property fitting perfectly.

Rick Tym: Fiction. I wonder how many comic book geeks are going to rip you a new one, Chad. Those dorks take their funnybooks seriously and are going to rip you to internet shreds because you’re so, so wrong. This sequel should take the source material seriously, it should be dark and gloomy, it should be everything the first film wasn’t…didn’t you know that?

Nah, I’m just bustin’ ya! Not just you, Chad, but my comic book brethren out there as well. The only reason I answered Fiction to this was because I want to see Nic Cage all bug-effin’ crazy. It’s really the only way he’s effective onscreen anymore. Attempts at normality no longer suit him. The wackier the better, and having the team from the Crank movies helm the sequel to Ghost Rider seems to be a step in the right direction. You all saw what Herzog did for him in that new Bad Lieutenant flick, right? This won’t be as good but it could be right up there. If it’s not suitably crazy — if there’s no spectacle present from the best overactor of our generation to behold — then it’ll be as exciting as a champagne flute full of jellybeans. So, Neveldine and Taylor, you’ve got some work to do.

Final Score: 5 for 6


And there you have it. Rick and Chad are in almost perfect agreement all across the board. Many thanks to them both for playing.
See you in seven!



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Ben Piper
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