Movies in Theaters April 13th, 2012
This weekend brings us the return of the kids (now adults) who helped bring back the art of the R-rated comedy (American Reunion); Whit Stillman's first comedy of manners for the 21st century (Damsels in Distress), a rifle-touting Willem Dafoe tracking down a supposedly extinct animal (The Hunter) and an argument for just using your credit card for everything at all times (ATM).
A group of attractive twentysomethings head out to a secluded cabin (so secluded that it's "unworthy of global positioning," a Whedonesque quip if there ever was one) for a weekend of decadent recreation. . . and what you think it going to happen is nowhere near what actually happens. Written by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Joss Whedon with Goddard making his directorial debut, The Cabin in the Woods might very well be meta-horror film to end all meta-horror films, complete with a trailer designed to raise ire as it gives away perhaps one twist too many; never fear, though, as there are still twists on the twists on the twists yet to be revealed. Shot in 2009 (well before star Chris Hemsworth made his iconic superhero turn as Thor) but oft-delayed due to Lionsgate wanting to convert it to 3D; those plans have since been scrapped and the film is finally making its way to theaters just in time for Friday the 13th (and a few weeks before Hemsworth makes his second appearance as the God of Thunder in The Avengers). The film's trailer is also the second in 2012 to feature a Marilyn Manson cover; the fading shock rocker's "I Put a Spell on You" (first featured way back in 1997 in David Lynch's Lost Highway) certainly feels more at home here than his "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" did in Wrath of the Titans.
"I just mean it looks like Clapton is going to ask out Ione, which makes about as much sense as that stupid movie Torque." From the director of Torque comes a bit of cinematic meta-self-hatred, a film that pulls the rug over the Scream franchise's own sense of self-awareness by having a character remark about how the bloody goings-on of the film seem a lot like the events that play out in the movie Scream. Joseph Kahn directs this kooky-looking send-up of teenage slasher movies in which a killer named Cinderhella is stalking the students at a suburban high school, one of which looks a lot like that guy Peeta from The Hunger Games and another of which argues that the death of Heath Ledger is as much a tragedy of his generation as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Detention is either going to be a total blast or tortuously intolerable, though the fact that there appears to be a scene in which a grizzly bear approaches an alien spacecraft (look fast in the trailer and you'll see it) has us thinking that Kahn actually might be delivering something completely and totally unique, a cinematic prank that could maybe give that madman Gregg Araki (Kaboom, The Doom Generation) a run for his money. And, for the record, Torque rules.
The Farrelly Brothers have been wanting to make The Three Stooges since they burst forth from the womb (an action that probably made a really funny sound), so I suppose we should be thankful now that it's out of the way. Actually, there's no reason not to believe this pointless yet affectionate homage to the iconic comedy trio might not be good for some laughs; thankfully, the premise at least plays it straight (such as it is), transplanting Larry (Sean Hayes), Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Curly (Will Sasso) to the 21st century without winking (or poking out) an eye (a plot involving the boys time-traveling from the '60s to 2012 or something would've surely rendered this already on-thin-ice trifle completely intolerable). The three leads most certainly look their parts and appear to be completely dedicated to the slapstick absurdity that must somehow be maintained for a good 90 minutes or so; and, to be fair, sight gags like hot nuns in bathing suits seem not so much desperate as they do good-naturedly inevitable. One thing's for sure: the sound effects team deserves a round of drinks and a long vacation, if not an Oscar.
A humbler variation on Robert Rodriguez's Machete, Bad Ass at least admits that its star is a bit long in the tooth for punching out teeth ("He's mean. He's angry. He's old," claims the trailer), though it has higher aspirations than most B-movie vigilante flicks with it being "Inspired by a True Story." Danny Trejo plays a Vietnam veteran who lays out a punk on a bus, a rousing bit of fisticuffs that makes him an Internet sensation; this smackdown wakes up something in the old man as he soon embarks on dishing out his own brand of street justice with his fists of fury, becoming the "freakin' geriatric" that raises Ron Perlman's ire. This appears to be director Craig Moss' first attempt at a "real" movie (such as it is), having previously only ever indulged in half-assed spoofs like Breaking Wind and The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It (yeah); Trejo and Perlman certainly give it some credibility, even though at this point they'll both do pretty much any script that gets shoved under their door. A side observation: an actress named "Joyful Drake" plays a character named "Amber Lamps" -- that's got to count for something.