WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 26

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 26th WWW:

1) Road Trip: Beer Pong:
It's a direct-to-DVD sequel made nine years after the original, and the only one to reprise his role is DJ Qualls, now a confident and cool college student taking on the storytelling role filled by Tom Green's character in the first one. Now, if you'd like to see a tired college sex-romp played out by four nobodies while Qualls only narrates, stop reading right now, turn off your computer, and go rent this. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and I think the only reason I considered Danny Pudi to be a bright spot is because I love what he does on Community. Had I seen this “film” before seeing his work on that show, I might have considered him a second-rate Kal Penn doing very little to break Indian stereotypes. Fortunately, the film had a lead character on a quest to cheat on his perfectly fine girlfriend with a hot ex-girlfriend, so you couldn't root for him, and two other kids who were barely distinguishable from one another. I kept thinking of them as Scuzzy Goatee and Stoned Goatee to tell them apart. Pudi went on to do better. Qualls has done better in the past; what happened to that kid from The New Guy? I had high hopes for his career...once.

2) Sex Drive:
I rented this one on the recommendation of a trusted friend who insisted it was good, but I was understandably wary after my bad experience with Beer Pong. And I will say right up front that Sex Drive has nothing we haven't seen before. A kid steals his older brother's car to meet up with a girl he's been chatting with online, in the hopes of losing his virginity. His dorky-looking but suave best friend tags along, as well as his platonic female friend with whom you expect he'll develop chemistry with on the journey. So it loses some points on originality, but gains some in the performances of some genuinely likable young actors. Twenty years ago it would have been John Cusack in the Josh Zuckerman role, and my generation would have fondly remembered the film as a classic. I think Clark Duke is an up-and-coming talent, and I liked his spin on the nerdy friend angle, displaying so much sheer confidence and style that girls didn't seem to notice the glasses or extra pounds. The two that really shone here were supporting roles. Seth Green did a great job doing what Seth Green does, delivering sarcastic remarks with a deadpan expression, this time as a surprisingly worldly amish man. And James Marsden stole the show as the older brother of Zuckerman's character, definitely channeling some of what Bill Paxton did in Weird Science. The film is derivative but not without substance, and it chose its inspiration wisely. I also liked some of the little modern graphic touches, from the floating chat screens to some great cutaway website gags. I think Sex Drive was in theaters, albeit briefly, but I suspect it's the type of film that will develop a word-of-mouth cult following on DVD.

3) The Blues Brothers:
I know what you're thinking. The simple fact is, no matter how many movies I've now seen, there are always going to be a few major stragglers like this one which slipped through the cracks. It came on at a friend's party a few week's back, and Rey was stunned when I admitted I'd never seen it. So I bumped it up, and found there was a lot more to it than I thought. Yes, there were musical numbers, almost non-stop. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd actually spoke in the titular roles; I don't know why I always assumed they were mute. Perhaps whenever I did see a clip, it was of the two dancing during some big musical number with a big-name blues artist, which the film has in abundance(James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, to name the biggest ones). It also has some zany chase scenes, that escalate to levels of sheer insanity by the end of the extended cut's two-and-a-half hour running time. Carrie Fisher does some serious damage as a jilted lover with a rocket launcher, flame thrower and more. John Candy leads the authorities on a chase after the two brothers, who are simply on a “mission from God” to “get the band back together” so they can raise enough money to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised. Nothing else matters but putting on that show, not nazis or country bands or absurd car driving that defies some laws of physics. This one is a classic, and even includes some familiar faces in minor roles, from Paul Reubens as a waiter to veteran character actor Charles Napier as a country western lead singer and winnebago driver. I saw him most recently as the crazy old car salesman in The Goods. And so, my internal trivia database grows even larger with the successful completion of this classic. Now I just need to see a few hundred more movies. I'm on a mission from God; have I mentioned that?

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



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