Weekend Movies: Purge Everything

When one of the biggest movies of the weekend is set in a post-revolution future, it’s my wish that we could band together and revolt against all three of this weekend’s big studio flicks.

Remember that crappy ‘Cars‘ spin-off that Disney put out in theaters last year? You know, the one that was intended for home video until some exec decided to convert it to 3D and push it to the big screen for a more lucrative return? The one that Pixar wouldn’t let its name be attached to – despite ‘Cars’ being a Pixar franchise and merchandise cash cow – simply because it was pure CG feces? You remember how bad ‘Planes‘ was, right? Well, (presumably) that same exec is back at ripping us off with ‘Planes: Fire & Rescue‘, a strung-together sequel to the spin-off. Our boring hero (voiced by Dane “Wore out His Welcome” Cook) has decided to switch careers yet again. He’s left the cropdusting and racing behind for a third job – fighting fires and saving stuff. As with the last ‘Planes’, Disney has spent the minimal budget on voice talent. Joining Cook are Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Brad Garrett, Terri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina King, John Michael Higgins and – the only guy I’d care to hear out of the whole cast – Ed Harris. I’ve banned my kids from the Disney channel for a month because I don’t want them pestering me to see this thing. I sure hope you did the same!

The second widest release surprisingly belongs to the horror thriller sequel to the microbudget hit ‘The Purge‘. The concept for this series is loaded with horrific potential, but the first film collapsed beneath its non-existent budget. One night each year, from sundown to sunrise, people are allowed to do whatever they want. No rules. No legal consequences. Murder. Rape. Steal. Nothing is taboo. Since the majority of the cast died in the first flick, ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ features a new collection of characters on this wild and unpredictably messed-up night. Rising actor Frank Grillo leads a cast of good people trying to survive the annual Purge. While the better budget raised my hopes that ‘Anarchy’ would deliver what first movie failed to, I hear that’s absolutely not the case.

Next is the R-rated comedy ‘Sex Tape‘. Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star as a married couple whose marriage has lost its sexual spark. With the kids staying the night at grandma’s house, they decide to throw back some tequila shots and make a three-hour sex tape. The marketing department at Sony figured out a way to get a hefty paycheck from Apple to pay for all of Cameron Diaz’s sideboob and the inexplicably high $40 million production budget: the characters never stop talking about iPads. Segel’s character buys a pair of new iPads every time the latest edition comes out. What does he do with the old ones? He gives them away to family members, friends, mailmen and a guy who definitely doesn’t need one – his wife’s future boss, the CEO of a major toy company (Rob Lowe). Of course, their computer still syncs to the gifted iPads automatically, so when they shoot their sex tape, it automatically downloads to them. The movie’s plot only gets started at the 25-minute mark, so expect the following two-thirds to be a dumb night of shenanigans as the characters only attempt to retrieve two of the unnumbered quantity of iPads.

Forget about those studio movies. There are better things out there. Also hitting the big screen are two Sundance indie flicks that are far more appealing. First is Zach Braff’s fan-funded dramedy ‘Wish I Was Here‘. If Braff’s ‘Garden State‘ told the tale of the confused fork-in-the-road twenty-something, ‘Wish I Was Here’ tells the tale of that same person ten years later. With a wife and two kids, Aidan (Braff) finds himself at crossroads. This one is not only testing him, but his family too. Still hanging onto the threads of a dream career, he starts to doubt the decisions that he made earlier in life. At the same time, reality catches up with him, forcing him to confront the things that he’s pushed aside and bottled up to come to terms with the real world. If you liked ‘Garden State’, you ought to love ‘Wish I Was Here’. Mandy Patinkin delivers a brilliant performance alongside Kate Hudson (who gives her best performance since ‘Almost Famous‘), Josh Gad and a ton of Braff’s recognizable real-life friends. Although Focus Features is only opening it on 60 screens this weekend, ‘Wish I Was Here’ will expand to more than 800 screens next weekend.

From the writer/director of ‘Another Earth‘ – which is a must-see – ‘I Origins‘ is a science vs. religion tale about a molecular biologist who finds and follows the signs that there might be something more driving life than infinite instances of chance… and he just might have stumbled upon the proof behind it.

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