Daniel Radcliffe & Evan Rachel Wood dare to be stupid in the Weird trailer!

That might sound like a rude title, but it’s not.

Most people who know Weird Al Yankovic’s music are aware of Dare to be Stupid, off The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack. If not that, then songs like Eat it! or the equally epic Trapped at the Drive Thru quickly come to mind. Though I don’t own a Roku (yet!), I’m kind of excited for this. The movie covers Weird Al’s humble beginnings and rise to accordion superstar. Daniel Radcliffe (Horns, Swiss Army Man) and Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s Westworld, Kajillionaire) seem perfectly cast as Weird Al and Madonna here.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story will be available on November 4 on The Roku Channel.

Here’s The Trailer For Blackbird!

I had totally forgotten that this film was coming out so I’m glad that this trailer dropped today and reminded me.  This film has got an amazing cast and a story that, if told correctly, should generate a lot of tears.

Here’s the trailer for Blackbird, which is due to be released on September 18th.

The Meg, Review By Case Wright

The Meg1.jpg

Yes, I know The Meg came out a while ago, but I just got it on Netflix and had a pretty good date night watching it; so, you’re going to learn about too.  The press was not kind to this film.  They used words like dumbed down, boring, and bland.  I wouldn’t put The Meg in any of those categories.  This was a high budget SyFy movie like Sharknado, but less self-aware.  As for the film, there were some legit scare moments.  My general beef is that it acted as a Chinese propaganda film.  Jason…Buddy…you don’t have to pander like that.  You’ve got abs and monster shark eating people.  Really.  Even if you want to pander, showing the Chinese flag waving gloriously not once, but twice was just over the top ass-kissing.  Just stop.

The Meg, directed by Jon Turtletaub (Jericho, Rush Hour) and written by Joe Hoeber (Battleship), is a straightforward monster movie.  A Jerk Billionaire (Rainn Wilson) funds and exploration of a deepsea cave.  The dive team investigates and voila there be dino-sharks swimmin in thar and they get trapped in the land of the lost in the briny deep. *Pirate Voice*  Hmmm, maybe this entire article should be read in a pirate voice.  Think of it as your innarrrrrrrrr monologue.  A couple of megalodons get out and only Jason Statham and his abs can stop them.  Side Note on abs: I’ve lost 65Lbs and nearly have Statham Abs.  This doesn’t really add to the review, but come on abs really didn’t add anything to stopping the megalodon, but if Statham hadn’t shown his abs you’re telling me no one would’ve been disappointed?! Really?!  REALLY?! You’re sticking with that?! Fine!

Jason (Just calling him Jason, again, come on…is anyone remembering the character’s name?!!!  You went to see it because Jason was in it…..ughhhh… Fine) ….

Jonas (Jason Statham) is down and out because he had a run in with a Kaiju earlier in his career and now he drinks beer all the time that give him abs….THAT is the only part of the movie I don’t buy and irritated me.  He should’ve been doing crossfit! I’m sorry if you have even one lousy Heineken, you are not going to look like this:


IT’S NOT POSSIBLE! I bust my hump 6-7 days a week in the gym to get the above results and boozing is not possible if you want Statham abs!  He should be doing burpees and drinking green juice!

Anywho, Jonas decides to rescue the yellow submarine and then kill the not one, but two Megs.  There a quite a few Jaws-like death scenes.  There is even a beach scene where The Meg chows down on Chinese beach goers AND when The Meg comes in for seconds, you can see wee swimsuits in his jaws (nice touch Turtletaub, nice touch). Jonas has to pursue the Meg into the beach and kill it.  This is not a spoiler! What else would he do?!  Jonas uses some weird looking submarine and kills it with some sort of submarine knife; I honestly couldn’t tell.  It was kind of a darkly lit scene.

Addendum: There is also a minor subplot with Jonas and Suyin, but it’s too dull to discuss.  I would’ve edited her and her overly cute kid out the movie entirely.

Is The Meg worth Netflixing? Yes! It’s a monster movie. The mainstream press is just too snobby to enjoy a Sharknado or unironically watch a Lifetime MOW.  But not me! I can enjoy a creature feature!


This Trailer Has Cooties


Every year there’s always a few horror films that seem to come out of nowhere that everyone ends up getting hyped for by word of mouth. Zombieland from several years back was one such horror film that worked both as horror and comedy.

This year it looks like Cooties may just be that one horror-comedy that has a chance to surprise an audience that’s become jaded when it comes to their horror entertainment. It definitely wears it’s comedic side on it’s sleeve in the trailer. Now whether it succeeds as a horror-comedy we shall soon find out when it comes out on Sept. 18, 2015.

Back to School #68: Juno (dir by Jason Reitman)



Even though he’s a likable actor and has appeared in several films that I enjoyed, I am always a little bit uneasy whenever I see Jason Bateman on screen.  To me, he will always be Mark, the seemingly perfect husband from the 2007 best picture nominee Juno.  Mark and his wife Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) are unable to conceive so they agree to adopt the unborn child of pregnant teenager Juno (Ellen Page).

At first, Mark seems like the nicest guy on the planet.  Unlike his wife, Mark appears to be laid back and friendly.  Whereas Vanessa tries to maintain a polite distance between herself and Juno, Mark quickly befriends her.  It’s a familiar dynamic.  Vanessa is the one who keeps the household running.  Mark is the one who keeps the household fun.  Vanessa is the adult and Mark is the guy who is young at heart.  It’s not surprising that Juno finds herself feeling closer to Mark than to his wife.

Much like Juno, those of us in the audience are initially fooled into preferring Mark to his wife.  For me, the first indication that Mark was not quite the great guy he seemed to be came when he attempted to convince Juno that Herschell Gordon Lewis was a better director than Dario Argento.  But even that could be forgiven because, as Mark made his arguments, he revealed that he had a pretty good library of DVDs from Something Weird Video.

(Seriously, at that moment, I really hoped that the movie would just spend five minutes letting us see every title in Mark’s movie collection.)

But then there was that moment.  After telling Juno that he was planning on leaving his wife, he looked at her and asked, “How do you think of me?”  And I have to give Jason Bateman a lot of credit.  He delivered that line with just the right amount of needy selfishness.  It’s rare that you see an actor — especially one who has essentially built a career out of being likable — so fully commit to playing a reprehensible character.  When Mark reveals his true nature, it’s shocking because we were so ready to like Mark.  With that one line, we’re forced to re-examine the entire film and we realize that, much like Juno, we allowed ourselves to be fooled by Mark.

Juno is a film about growing up.  Vanessa is a grown up.  Mark refuses to grow up.  And, by the end of the film, Juno has grown up enough to know that she’s not ready to be a mother but Vanessa is.  Juno has grown up enough that she can allow herself to get close to the baby’s father, sweet-natured track star Paulie (played by Michael Cera).

For many people, Juno seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it type of movie.  There rarely seems to be a middle ground.  It seems that for every person who appreciates Ellen Page’s sardonic line readings, there’s another one who finds her character to be abrasive.  For every one who enjoys Diablo Cody’s script, there seems to be another one who finds it to be overwritten.  The same holds true for Jason Reitman’s direction.  Viewers either respond to his quirky vision or else they dismiss him as being far too showy for the film’s own good.

As for me, I’m firmly and unapologetically pro-Juno.  I think Juno is one of the best films of the past ten years and I think that, eventually, both the character of Juno and Ellen Page’s performance will be viewed as being iconic.  When future historians are watching movies for clues as to what it was like to be alive during the first decade of the 21st Century, Juno is one of the films that they will watch.

And when they do, hopefully, they will understand that Jason Bateman was just an actor giving a good performance as a bad person.

If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees….

The Oscar nominations are due to be announced on Tuesday morning so I figured now would be a good time to play a little game that I like to call: “What if Lisa had all the power?”  Below, you will find my personal Oscar nominations.  These are the films and the performers that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for selecting the nominees and the winners. 

For those who are interested, you can check out my picks for last year by clicking on this sentence.

Please understand, as you look over this lengthy list of deserving films and performers, that these are not necessarily the films I expect to see nominated on Tuesday morning.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a year in which I have disagreed more with the critical establishment than I have this year.  For whatever reason, the films that truly touched and moved me in 2011 appear to be the films that are totally and completely off the Academy’s radar.  These are not my predictions.  Instead, they are my personal choices and they should not be interpreted as representing the opinion on anyone else affiliated with this site.  So, if you’re angry that David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo didn’t receive a single imaginary nomination, direct your anger at me and me alone. 

Best Picture

The Artist


The Guard


Higher Ground



Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Young Adult

Best Actor

Michael Fassbender for Shame

Brendan Gleeson for The Guard

Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Michael Shannon for Take Shelter

Rainn Wilson for Super

Best Actress

Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia

Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground

Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene

Saoirse Ronan for Hanna

Charlize Theron for Young Adult

Best Supporting Actor

Albert Brooks for Drive

Bobby Cannivale for Win Win

Jonah Hill for Moneyball

Patton Oswalt for Young Adult

Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Supporting Actress

Anna Kendrick for 50/50

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids

Carey Mulligan for Shame

Ellen Page for Super

Amy Ryan for Win Win

Best Director

Vera Farminga for Higher Ground

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Steve McQueen for Shame

Martin Scorsese for Hugo

Joe Wright for Hanna

Best Original Sreenplay


The Guard



Young Adult

Best Adapted Screenplay

Higher Ground



One Day

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Animated Feature

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots



Winnie the Pooh

Best Foreign Language Film

(Please note that I do this category a bit differently than the Academy.  Whereas the Academy asks nations across the world to submit a nominee, I’m simply nominating the best foreign language films that I saw in a theater last year.  Those who follow the Oscars will note that I’ve both nominated and awarded the brilliant Canadian films Incendies, which actually was nominated for a real Oscar in this same category last year.)

The Double Hour


Of Gods and Men

The Skin I Live In

13 Assassins

Best Documentary Feature

Bill Cunningham New York


The Cave of Forgotten Dreams


Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Best Original Score

The Artist

A Better Life

The Guard


The Tree Of Life

Best Original Song

“The Star-Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger

“Mujhe Chod Ke” from DAM999

“The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

“Pop” from White Irish Drinkers

Best Sound Editing


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Sound Mixing


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Art Direction


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Cinematography

The Artist




The Tree of Life

Best Makeup


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Sucker Punch

X-Men: First Class

Best Costume Design


The Help


Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Editing

The Artist

The Guard




Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2


Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

List of Films By Number of Nominations:

10 Nominations – Hugo

7 Nominations – Shame, Sucker Punch

6 Nominations – Hanna

5 Nominations – The Artist; The Guard; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy; The Tree of Life

4 Nominations – Higher Ground, Young Adult

3 Nominations – Bridesmaids, Drive

2 Nominations – Bunraku, Incendies, Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Win Win

1 Nomination – Beastly, A Better Life, Bill Cunningham New York, Buck, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, DAM999, The Double Hour, 50/50, The Help, Insidious, Jig, Kung Fu Panda 2, Machine Gun Preacher, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Moneyball, The Muppets, Of Gods and Men, One Day, Puss in Boots, Rango, Ressurect Dead, Rio, The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter, 13 Assassins, X-Men: First Class, White Irish Drinkers, Winnie the Pooh

List of Films By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Hanna

2 Oscars – Bunraku, Shame, Sucker Punch

1 Oscar – Beastly, Bridesmaids, The Cave of Forgotten Deams, Dam999, Higher Ground, Hugo Incendies, Melancholia, Puss in Boots, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Young Adult

So, will the Academy agree with my picks?  Well, probably not.  Indeed, it’s probable that they won’t agree at all.  And to that, I say, “Oh well.” 

The Academy Award nominations will be announced Tuesday morning.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: The Office Episode 0102 — Diversity Day

Last night, I watched a classic episode of the Office: Diversity Day!

Why Was I Watching It:

Down here in Dallas, they show reruns of The Office twice a day on Channel 27.  I can literally say that I’ve probably seen every episode about 20 times at this point and now, if I’m home at night with nothing to do, I’m more likely to see what’s on LMN.  However, Diversity Day remains like one of my favorite episodes of the Office ever so, when I saw it was going to be on, I had to watch it.

What Was It About:

As the show begins, we find ourselves in the familiar offices of Dunder Mifflin Scranton.  However, things are slightly different from the office we force ourselves to watch today.  Kelly Kapoor is dressed conservatively.  Michael Scott, with his thinning hair slicked back, is still in the manager’s office and, as opposed to being a somewhat docile idiot manchild, is just kind of a jerk.  Jim and Pam are still cute and flirty (and Pam is still dressing like someone who actually works in an office).  Robert California is nowhere to be seen and, for that matter, neither is Andy Bernard.  In fact, we manage to get through this entire episode without anyone breaking out into song.  Dwight’s pretty much the same, though.

Basically, Michael has offended just about everyone in the office by performing  the infamous “Chris Rock Routine.”  Corporate has responded by sending down Mr. Brown (a hilarious Larry Wilmore) from Diversity Today who leads the entire office through “sensitivity training.”  Naturally, Michael feels threatened by this and so he decides to form his own company (which he calls Diversity Tomorrow because “…(T)oday is almost over.”) and leads his own sensitivity training workshop.  This, of course, leads to Michael eventually getting slapped by Kelly when Michael asks her if she wants to step into his convenience shop and sample his “cookie cookie.”

What Worked?

Yes, Diversity Day is old school Office, back when the show was both incredibly funny and achingly sad too.  It was also the first episode to be broadcast after the pilot and it remains one of the best episode of the Office ever.  Whenever I catch these old episode of The Office in syndication, I’m always surprised to discover just how sweet and oddly poignant these shows were.  Michael is truly a bad boss, the characters are clearly coworkers as opposed to being friends, and there’s none of the silliness that has come to dominate the show after the third season.  One reason why the relationship between Jim and Pam was so special in those early episodes is because its made clear that both of them would spend their entire workday miserable if not for the time they spend talking to each other.

I think the main difference between these old episodes and the new episodes is that, if someone had suggested everyone who works at Office spend the weekend together at a Garden Party during the first three seasons, no one would have shown up.  That is perfectly epitomized in this episode as all the characters find themselves forced to interact in an awkward attempt to celebrate diversity and mutual respect.  The show works because Michael is so hilariously clueless to the fact that most of his employees would just rather work until five and then go home.

(If this episode was made today, Andy would end up pulling out his guitar and leading everyone in a sing along.)

This episode is also full of wonderful little moments and an observant eye for the details that distinguish a good show from a great one.  Among my favorite moments: Dwight’s explanation of what a hero truly is (and Mr. Brown’s patient response of, “You’re thinking of a superhero.”), Michael’s cheaply done Diversity Tomorrow Video, and Pam finally falling asleep on Jim’s shoulder.

What Didn’t Work:

The episode itself was about as perfect as perfect can be but as I watched it, it was hard for me not to think about how different The Office is today as compared to what it once was.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments:

I’ve always enjoyed talking about diversity training because it gives me an excuse to mention that I’m an Italian-Spanish-German-Irish American.

Lessons Learned:

Reruns are always better.  Plus, if you are a racist, I will attack you with the north…

2011: The Year In Film So Far

Greetings from the former home of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Crossville, Tennessee!  Yes, Jeff and I are on our way back to Texas.  It’s been a wonderful vacation but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to seeing a movie at the Plano (or Dallas) Angelika on Sunday.  I’m not sure which movie but, as long as it’s a movie, I’ll be a happy girl.

That’s because I love movies.  Movies are what I schedule my life around.  My birth certificate says I was born in 1985 but I know that I was born in the year of Brazil, Prizzi’s Honor, Blood Simple, and After Hours.  If each year can be judged by the quality of the films then how is 2011 looking now that we’ve reached (and passed) the halfway mark?

Right now, as I sit here in this hotel room in my panties and my beloved Pirates shirt, I’d say 2011 is shaping up to be an average year.  There’s been a few films that I loved and there’s been a few that I’ve absolutely despised but for the most part, this year is shaping up to be comfortable and rather bland. 

Much as I did last year at this time, I’m going to take a few minutes to mention a few high points (and low points) of 2011 so far.  Agree?  Disagree?  Make your opinion known.

Best Film (So Far): Hanna, without a doubt.  Joe Wright’s stylish thriller hasn’t gotten half the acclaim that it deserves.  Runners-ups: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Incendies, Jane Eyre, Kill The Irishman, Of Gods and Men, Red Riding Hood, Sucker Punch, The Source Code, Super, 13 Assassins, The Tree of Life, Win Win, X-Men: First Class

Best Male Performance of the Year (so far): Paul Giamatti in Win Win.  Runners up: Bobby Cannavale in Win Win, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Hesher, Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer, and Rainn Wilson in Super.

Best Female Performance Of The Year (so far): Sairose Ronan in Hanna. Runners up: Lubna Azabal for Incendies, Ellen Page for Super, Amy Ryan for Win Win, and Mia Wasikowska for Jane Eyre.

Best Ending (so far): The charmingly low budget zombie film that runs over the end credits of Super 8.

Best Horror Film (so far): Insidious.

Most Underrated Film Of The Year (so far): A tie, between Sucker Punch and Red Riding HoodRed Riding Hood, as a matter of fact, was so underrated that I had to see it a second time before I really appreciated it.

Best Bad Film: Beastly.  Silly but kinda fun in a really, really odd sort of way.

Worst Film of The Year (so far): The Conspirator, a bore of a movie that was apparently filmed through a filter of grime.  Runners up: Priest, The Beaver, Battle L.A. (sorry Arleigh, Leonard, and Erin), Season of the Witch, Your Highness, and The Green Lantern.

Biggest Example of A Missed Opportunity This Year (So Far): The Adjustment Bureau, which could have been a great Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-type of film but instead, turned out to be just another predictable and shallow example of new age triteness.

The Get-Over-It Award For The First Half Of 2011: The Conspirator, a film that attempts to be relavent by using the 19th Century to comment on political issues from 2006.

My Prediction For Which Film Will Be The Most Overrated Of 2011: Last year, I predicted The Social Network and, surprise surprise, I was right.  In fact, the folks at AwardsDaily.com are still bitching about how The Social Network lost best picture to The King’s Speech.  (By the way, a few other choice pieces of wisdom from Awards Daily: The Beaver is Jodie Foster’s best film ever and only elitists should be allowed to comment on film.)  This year, I’m going to predict that the most overrated film of 2011 will be the unnecessary remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

My Prediction For What Will Be The Worst Film Of 2011: The winner here is another remake — Rod Lurie is remaking Straw Dogs and this time, he’s setting it in the South.  You know what?  Go back to Vermont and fuck yourself ragged, you dumbass, blue state elitist.  

So, that’s 2011 so far.  There’s still quite a few films that I’m looking forward to seeing: Another Earth, The Debt, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Hugo, and most of all, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Hesher (dir. by Spencer Susser)

I’ve been told that guys don’t seem to appreciate being called “adorable” by girls.  They consider it a back-handed compliment and seriously, how insecure can you be?  Okay, I understand that most guys want to us to think that they’re dangerous and I’ll admit right now that all that stuff you’ve heard about girls liking bad boys — well, it’s true.  But adorable is no longer just a back-handed compliment.  Why?  Because Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made adorable sexy.

I first really noticed Joseph Gordon-Levitt when I saw him as the lead in 2007’s overlooked crime thriller The Lookout but he truly won my heart when I first saw him dancing to You Make My Dreams in (500) Days of Summer.  And then came Inception.  Some people will tell you that film was about Leonardo DiCaprio entering other people’s dreams to find himself.  Nope, sorry, not true.  As far as I’m concerned, Inception was a movie about Joseph Gordon-Levitt getting all dressed up and floating through the halls of that dream hotel and beating up every single person who tried to get in his way.    What did all three of these roles have in common?  Nothing except for the utterly adorable hotness of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

It was this adorable hotness that led me to see Gordon-Levitt’s latest film, Hesher.  Despite the fact that the film is massively (perhaps fatally) flawed, this is also the film that proves that, as an actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt can be something more than just an adorable fantasy boyfriend.

Directed by Spencer Sussman and co-written by Animal Kingdom director David Michod, Hesher opens with 12 year-old T.J. (Devin Brochu) struggling to come to terms with the tragic death of his mother and his family’s subsequent collapse.  T.J. and his father (a bear-like Rainn Wilson) have moved in with their grandmother (a perfectly poignant performance from Piper Laurie) who is showing the beginning signs of senility.  T.J. spends his days obsessing on the remains of the family car (which was totaled in the accident that killed his mother), trying to avoid local bullies, and dealing with a hopeless crush that he’s developed on a cashier (Natalie Portman) at the local grocery store.

When T.J. first meets Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Hesher is squatting in an abandoned construction site.  T.J. accidentally leads a security guard to Hesher’s temporary home.  Hesher responds by lighting a molotov cocktail and blowing the place up while T.J. runs away.  Suddenly, T.J. starts to see Hesher wandering around the hallways of his school.  Walking home from school, T.J. sees Hesher following behind him in what can only be described as a “rape van.”  And then, just as suddenly, Hesher has moved in to T.J.;s house and made himself into a part of the family.  Hesher quickly becomes a mentor of sorts to T.J. though his lessons primarily consist of doing things like blowing up a bully’s car and then running off, leaving T.J. to deal with the consequences.

Hesher is hardly a role that you’d expect to find Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing.  With long, unwashed hair and an extended middle finger tattooed across his back, Hesher isn’t so much an outsider as he’s just a sociopath, the type of guy who you try not to make eye contact out of fear that he’ll respond by shooting you first.  How scary a guy is Hesher?  He’s so scary that just saying his name causes the film’s soundtrack to explode with a burst of heavy metal.  That’s how scary he is.  The Joseph Gordon-Levitt that we all know and love (or at least the one that I know and love) is pretty much impossible to find and yet, Gordon-Levitt still gives a great performance here.  Without ignoring any of Hesher’s rough edges or trying to reveal any sort of inner decency, both the film and Gordon-Levitt make Hesher into a frustratingly attractive character.  This is probably the best performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career so far.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t really live up to Gordon-Levitt’s performance.  It starts out well and, for quite some time, we’re encouraged to believe that Hesher might just be a product of T.J.’s imagination, a projection of his own anger and depression.  That’s an interesting idea and would have made for a far more effective film.  Unfortunately, Hesher then suddenly moves in wit T.J. and suddenly, he’s interacting with Wilson and befriending Piper Laurie and, worst of all, he starts to reveal a little bit about his past.  In other words, he goes from being a symbol of unrestrained ID to just being another white trash rapist.  Once the film makes it clear that Hesher is an actual character then suddenly, you realize that the filmmakers haven’t given you any credible reason why both Wilson and Laurie (not to mention the cops who start to regularly drop by the house as Hesher blows stuff up around the neighborhood) would so easily accept the idea of living with him.  Finally, the movie concludes with a sequence at a funeral that just feels so simultaneously wrong, heavy-handed, and maudlin that, at first, I was convinced that it had to be some sort of satirical comment on the clichéd nature of the scene.  But no, the rest of the film makes clear that we’re supposed to take this sequence seriously.  It’s such a wrong-headed move that it cheapens everything that came before it.  The movie ends with a lot of loud music and the credits are decorated with obscene graffiti but it doesn’t make any difference.  The film has already revealed that, at heart, it’s hardly rebellious enough to be worthy of a character like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hesher.

In the end, Hesher fails as a movie but its partially redeemed for revealing that there’s more to Joseph Gordon-Levitt than just adorable cuteness.

Lisa Marie Gets Super (dir. by James Gunn)

Super, a very dark and very Catholic comedy that pretends to just be your standard issue super hero movie, played for about three weeks down here in Dallas.  Despite a cast that included Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler, Ellen Page, and Rainn Wilson, it kinda came and went like a ship in the night.  It got a few vaguely confused reviews from the local critics and the audience that I saw the film with seemed to be pretty confused as to what they were watching.  Which is a shame because if you give the film a chance, you’ll discover one of the best films of 2011.

In Super, Rainn Wilson plays a short order cook who, at various points in his life, has had visions in which he believes God has spoken to him.  When his wife, an ex-drug addict played by Liv Tyler, leaves him for a sleazy club owner and low-level drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), Wilson sinks into a deep depression until finally he has a vision in which God sends a bunch of hentai-style tentacles to cut off the top of Wilson’s head and literally place an idea in there.  That idea is for Wilson to become a costumed super hero and fight “evil.”

So, that’s what Wilson does, dressing up in what looks like a low-rent Halloween costume, and taking on all those who he considers to be evil and/or doing the wrong thing.  This could be anything from dealing drugs to cutting in line at the movies.  (And this is a big reason why I loved Super because it asked the same question that I always wonder when I see a super hero movie — i.e., who is to say what’s wrong and what’s right?)  Calling himself The Crimson Bolt, Wilson soon becomes a cult figure in the city but he still finds himself incapable of getting Tyler away from Bacon. 

Eventually, he finds himself saddled with a sidekick.  Ellen Page, giving a performance just as award-worthy as her more acclaimed role in Juno, plays Libby, who works in the local comic book store.  She is the only person who figures out that Wilson is actually the Crimson Bolt and she quickly decides that they should work together.  Calling herself Boltie, Page quickly turns out to be just as zealous in the pursuit of “justice” as Wilson.  Unlike Wilson, who sees himself as being on a holy mission, Page appears to just be happy to have an excuse to kill people.

It all leads to the expected final confrontation with the bad guys and a surprisingly poignant ending which forces the viewer to reconsider what they thought they knew about every character in the film.

Super’s low-budget is obvious in almost every frame of the film but it works to the movie’s advantage, creating an almost defiantly gritty atmosphere.  The film is also full of good performances.  I already mentioned Page but, in the lead role, Rainn Wilson is perfectly cast.  For those of us who love him on The Office, it’s sometimes hard to realize that Wilson is not Dwight Shrute, he’s just an actor playing a role.  However, with Super, Wilson proves himself to be a charismatic actor who, if given the right role, can easily carry the film.  Towards the end of the film, one of the bad guys taunts Wilson for concerning himself with seemingly minor things like people cutting in line.  Wilson shouts, “You shouldn’t cut!” with such righteous fury that it becomes clear  that he’s not talking about cutting in line as much as he talks about living in a world where people just no longer seem to care about doing the right thing.  It’s an unexpectedly effective scene and line and Wilson handles it perfectly.

Super is the latest film from a genius named James Gunn.  Now, I should admit that I am like crazy in lust with James Gunn.  Seriously, he’s handsome, he’s funny, he’s talented, he’s hot, he’s vulnerable, he’s dangerous, he’s Irish, and he comes from a Catholic background, which is pretty much a perfect description of my dream man.  Plus, he talked to me once on twitter and as a result, I got all giggly and red-faced and I sent him all of these gushy tweets which he never responded to, probably because I was like totally coming across like some sort of psycho stalker type.  So, some people are probably saying, “Well, gee, Lisa Marie, are you sure you’re not just letting your damp panties review this film as opposed to your unbiased judgment as a film watcher?”  And to those people, I say, “Shame on you and watch your mouth.  And speaking of mouths, guess where my mouth would be if I ever met James Gunn…”

Mon amour James Gunn

But let’s get back SuperSuper has been frequently compared to Kick-Ass (even though Super actually went into production first) and, on the surface, they do appear similar.  It’s only when you dig and look under the surface that you discover that Super and Kick-Ass have about as much in common as I do with that overly friendly girl who always takes our tickets at the Angelika.  (She’s the same girl who needs to stop smiling so much at Jeff every time we try to get popcorn.  Seriously, not kidding.)  While Kick-Ass was undeniably violent, it was also one of those films where the violence was rarely lingered over.  Super is not only incredibly violent but it’s also incredibly bloody.  Gunn doesn’t just show us the violence but he shows us the end results of the violence as well and, as a result, the audience is forced to consider how much we love to see people getting shot in the head just as long as we don’t have to worry about seeing the body afterwards.  Whereas Kick-Ass’s Aaron Johnson was portrayed as being a comic book fan who got to live out his fantasy, Rainn Wilson in Super is specifically portrayed as not being a comic book fan as much as he’s just a genuinely unstable guy who becomes a super hero in order to maintain the delusional black-and-white morality of his worldview.  Whereas Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit Girl was portrayed as having been raised to kill, Ellen Page’s Boltie kills simply because she now suddenly has the opportunity to do so.  Finally, Kick-Ass actually ended up fighting true evil doers whereas the villains played by Kevin Bacon and Michael Rooker, in Super, are probably the most stable and sensible characters in the entire film.

In short, Super is that perfect rarity — a truly transgressive work of popular entertainment.

Yes, Super is one of those films that delights in challenging and even ticking off the audience.   The common filmgoer watches and asks, “If it’s a drama, then why is it so funny?  If it’s a comedy, then why does Rainn Wilson’s heartbreak seem so real and sincere?  If Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page are the good guys, why does the film suggest that they both might be sociopathic?  If Kevin Bacon’s the bad guy, why is he so likable here?”  As a result, the common filmgoer probably walked out of Super feeling confused and slightly annoyed that things didn’t work out the way they were expecting. 

Well, you know what?  The common filmgoer sucks.  The common filmgoer is responsible for every bad thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.  The common filmgoer is wasting oxygen that you, my deeply enlightened friends, could make much better use of.  This is not the site for the common filmgoer and if you’re still reading, then you’re not a common filmgoer either.

Super was made with you in mind.