WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 62

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 62nd WWW:

1) Youth in Revolt:
While at first glance, this seems to be Michael Cera doing his usual routine, an awkward intelligent guy trying to impress his dream girl, there are a few things which set it apart from his usual fare. When Cera's Nick Twisp goes on a camping trip with his mother(Jean Smart) and her dirtbag boyfriend(Zach Galifianakis), he meets and falls for a girl named Sheemi(Portia Doubleday). Sheemi has a love of all things French and speaks with the same pretend pretentious air about things well before her generation as Nick does. The two seem to have that in common, escaping their trailer park lives by elevating themselves. Sheemi is already dating Trent, the most popular guy at her school who writes her some truly terrible poetry, and when Nick's trip comes to an end, he realizes he needs to step up his game. The kids work out a plan in which Sheemi helps Nick's dad(Steve Buscemi in a great but all-too brief role) get a job near where she lives. But convincing his mom to let him move in with his dad will require the docile teen to dig deep and find his bad side. This is where the movie had the potential to separate itself from other Cera films. He creates an alternate imaginary persona named “Francois Dillinger”. The 20-something actor ditches his slight falsetto, and adds a mustache, cigarette, and blue contact lenses. This aspect was what appealed to me in the trailers, and I wish the film spent more time with Francois, a far more interesting character. Obviously no one else sees him, but they do some clever things with split screen or simply having the “evil” twin interact when Nick is acting out. Overall, there's an independent film vibe to the piece, and its definitely a coming-of-age story. Sheemi's Christian parents catch wind of some of the things Nick-as-Francois has done, and end up sending her away to school. This leads to some standard teen sex comedy hijinks with Fred Willard as an eventual accomplice. Justin Long also has a great part as Sheemi's drug-addled older brother. He's definitely an actor who sinks his teeth into cameos extremely different from the starring roles he usually takes. In addition to some of the split screen stuff, there are a few interesting animated interludes. I've since read that this movie was based on a series of books about the Twisp character, and in light of that it comes in at a remarkably short running time of about an hour-and-a-half. With the exception of Year One(which was just awful), this is probably my least favorite Cera movie, even though I did like it(just not as wholeheartedly as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Superbad, or Nick and Norah's infinite Playlist). They definitely could have had more fun with the alter-ego persona, but it does end on a great note, particularly the last line of the film which was excellent.

2) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril:
Four movies in to the manga-based series, and ronin Ogami Itto is still wandering with his son Daigoro. Some key things happen in this one beyond his pursuit of a topless tattooed female warrior. He's finally separated from the kid for a while, and we get to see what Daigoro is turning into. Another warrior notes the lack of fear in the eyes of the child, even when he finds himself trapped in a burning field. He has seen death; he has walked the path of the warrior. Ogami's son is well on his way to following in his father's footsteps. Meanwhile, we finally learn the reason why Ogami was framed and disgraced by his enemies, and his usual one man vs. an army sequence ends with a confrontation with his greatest enemy Retsudo. Before he gets there, he resolves the situation with the tattooed lady as well as her father, and we get more insight into the notion of dying with honor in this culture. And after his big confrontation, we end on the most uncertain note of all in the series. More than ever, we see that Ogami is human, not the demon he has always proclaimed himself to be. He acknowledges that he and his son walk on the crossroads to hell, and when ninjas continue to crawl over and bite him even after losing their limbs, one can understand his sentiment. He bleeds, but he's not dead yet, for when he dies, the boy will die. Their fates are linked, so he keeps going through sheer force of will. The fights are bloodier, the music is seventies-ier, and the stakes are higher than ever. I like the continuity between the movies, as Ogami still bears a scar down his back from a fight in the previous film against an honorable foe, so it’s a safe bet that the unfinished business with Retsudo and a few other foes will come back to haunt him in the final two installments.

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




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