Here’s to the Underachievers

Wait, you have an Oscar nomination? For reals?“The Help” opened earlier in the week, but even counting that, we’re still looking at just six new releases jockeying for your attention, all of which seem oddly nichey in their potential audience. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you; next week’s going to be insane, so I’ll take whatever lulls I can get.

Final Destination 5“: After a couple of disappointing installments, the series recovers its sadistic mojo with this enthusiastic go-round, featuring the guy from “Heroes”, the girl from “Frozen” and the guy from “Anchorman”. Oh, and the girl from “The Bold and the Beautiful”. Also, it’s in 3D, but I managed to see it projected flat. Score!

“Glee: The 3D Concert Movie”: Well, it has “movie” in the title, so I acknowledge its existence, but that’s all I’m prepared to do. Glenn saw it; his review will be up later today, I think. Not that this is the sort of thing that requires a review to validate its existence.

A Gun to the Head“: New Pornographers keyboardist Blaine Thurier makes movies in his off-hours — movies like “Low Self-Esteem Girl”, which had its moments, and this one, which does not. Really, it’s terrible, and I’d bet that’s why it’s been on the shelf for nearly two years.

30 Minutes or Less“: Ruben Fleischer, director of the disposable “Zombieland”, finally realizes the threat of death is actually a pretty good comic engine with this action farce in which pizza boy Jesse Eisenberg is rigged up with a bomb and ordered to rob a bank by thugs Danny McBride and Nick Swardson — while Aziz Ansari and Michael Pena are locked in a death-match to see who can run off with the picture.

“The Whistleblower”: Larysa Kondracki’s docu-thriller, starring Rachel Weisz as Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop turned UN peacekeeper who exposed a massive sex-slavery ring — finally lands in theatres after its big bow at last year’s TIFF. Rad finds it gripping, though he allows there are a couple of wobbly bits.

There, that’s everything. Well, almost everything; TIFF Cinematheque has started into its Norman Jewison retrospective, so if your parents want to see something over the weekend, point them towards the Lightbox.

7 thoughts on “Here’s to the Underachievers”

  1. I still don’t understand why you disliked Zombieland so much.

    Saw The Whistleblower at TIFF last year. It’s very wobbly. It was probably the least interesting of all the movies we saw that year. It’s terribly self-important and, for a Canadian production, awfully Hollywoodized. The real woman the story is based on joined the Q&A afterwards. Not only does she look not one iota like Rachel Weisz, she more-or-less outright said that the movie was a laughably simplified version of the story – which you can totally tell, even without being familiar with the story beforehand.

  2. Norm continues to hold a grudge against “Zombieland” because it received more attention than his beloved “Shaun of the Dead”. I would be the first to admit that “Shaun” is the superior (and more original) movie, but “Zombieland” is still good fun. I think Norm even gave it 3 stars if I’m not mistaken.
    The bigger question is, if Catherine Hardwicke actually directed a great film, would Norm acknowledge it?

  3. @ Jeff — actually, I didn’t like “Zombieland” because it’s an empty ripoff of a whole bunch of zombie movies that mindlessly riffs on its predecessors without adding a single new idea or flourish. I made the point at length in this NOW piece:

    Also, I gave it two Ns, not three; the review’s right here:,5,2009

    Facts. Gotta love ’em.

    I don’t hold a grudge against “Zombieland”. I don’t like it, because I didn’t like it two years ago and it hasn’t magically improved with time. And yes, it got more attention than my beloved “Shaun of the Dead”, but if that was a reason to hold a grudge against a movie, I’d be holding ’em against virtually every American studio picture released in the last seven years.

    And to address “the bigger question”, if Catherine Hardwicke actually directed a great film, I would certainly acknowledge it. In fact, I would _love_ to be in that position, because it would get us one step closer to the second coming.

  4. Sorry Norm. I didn’t mean for my comment to come across as bitchy. I must be getting my period or something. Plus, NOW’s site is not the most user-friendly for looking up past reviews. Lastly, I’m incredibly lazy.

    I am no Hardwicke apologist, as most of her output has been crap. I will say that “Lords of Dogtown” is severely underrated. I hate skateboarding culture, yet I was really invested in that film for some reason. Plus, it was the first time I really noticed that Heath Ledger was, in fact, a great actor.

  5. Aw, that’s okay — I overreacted a little myself, it’s been a particularly trying day.

    I wanted to like “Lords of Dogtown”, but the first hour of skating and hanging out just wore me down. I did like Ledger in it, though — he’s channeling Val Kilmer so well that it doesn’t even feel like an impersonation.

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