In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Friday, July 2, 2010

61. MacGruber

Regal Deer Valley Stadium 16

Located at the southern end of Antioch, and just a few major intersections away from the Rave Brentwood, Regal's Deer Valley Stadium 16 is, in fact, no longer operated by Regal Entertainment. This press release details how Regal is swapping two of its theaters and some cash for nine AMC theaters in Illinois, Indiana, and Colorado. Though the press release doesn't mention which two theaters Regal is giving up, the Fandango pages for the Deer Valley Stadium 16 and the Showplace Manteca 16 (south of Stockton) are listed as "Now part of AMC Theatres", so I think we have our winners. Therefore, feast your eyes on what must be one of the last photographs taken during Regal's reign.

I find this transaction unsettling. I mentioned here that AMC was the fight in Emeryville, over Regal's Emery Bay. This latest move suggests that Regal might be readying to concede the Bay Area, as I don't see an effort on their part to update their existing theaters. I'd be most concerned that the beautiful United Artists Berkeley 7 would close, losing out to the stiff competition of the two Landmark theaters in downtown Berkeley.

The auditoriums at Deer Valley range in size from 107 to 388 seats, with a total capacity of 3,077. Quilted scenes of Hollywood hang from the walls. In my auditorium, and awkward handrail bisects the center aisle; this could be functionally useful, but isn't very attractive and makes it difficult to cross the aisle when hunting for the best seat.

A standee, above, shows Fiona at her finest.

Originally I had planned to see four movies this day, beginning with Prince of Persia in Brentwood, and finishing with Robin Hood in Pittsburg. When I planned it all out, I was concerned with having too much downtime between films. As it turned out, though, I just barely made it from theater to theater. Only when I made it to Robin Hood did I have a long time to wait (and finally eat). At that point I was tired, and bleary-eyed, and was looking at getting home past midnight, so instead I sauntered over to Best Buy to get a wi-fi-enabled Blu-ray player so I can have Netflix movies stream wireless to my television. Awesome. And so with that, I gave up on Robin Hood and drove home to play with my shiny new toy. Three movies in one day is enough.


Jason Lee is a detective in a new television show, Memphis Beat. The trailer is fun, because they only waste half the time showing clips from what looks like the first one or two episodes (seldom sufficient to convey the variety of what will be a weekly show), devoting the rest of the time to a performance by the House of Blues band. Here's the problem with writing a television show that emphasizes the idiosyncratic behavior of the locals: the show must constantly contrive ways to bring in outsiders, for the contrast. How else will it make sense for Lee to constantly say, "Well, we do things a bit differently down here in Memphis"?

An awesome ad for the Kia Soul has three rapping hamsters promoting their car over such knockoffs as a cardboard box and a washing machine. The creators of this spot went to incredible lengths to imbue the hamsters with human mannerisms, but without being freakish (like in Cats and Dogs). Entertaining every time, with a large supporting cast.

A live (telecast) performance will feature the "Big Four" of metal: Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer. Not my kind of music, but I enjoyed my share of Anthrax and Metallica way back when. I imagine a concert like this is a dream come true for some die hard fans out there.

I can't get enough of the new Glee-style Sprint ad for silencing our cell phones. Although I was warned away from High School Musical, I'm enamored of the two leads who break into a frenetic duet at the beginning of this spot. They remind me of Taylor Lautner and Rachael Leigh Cook.


Sorcerer's Apprentice (Trailer 2)

(Previously reviewed)

Splice (Trailer 2)
Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody skirt a ban on human cloning by creating a creature who is "not entirely" human. If you're in a movie with a title like Splice, or Species, or Leviathan, you should know that tampering with nature is a bad idea and you might as well put an "all you can eat" sign around your neck. Now, if your movie were called Three Scientists and a Test Tube Baby, or How I Learned to Stop Obeying Scientific Protocol and Love Experimentation, you have about a 70/30 chance in favor of survival. I recently heard some discussion of this film on NPR; though they said the parenting dynamic is interesting between Polley and Brody and their artificial offspring, the movie also delights by pushing boundaries for shock effect. This latter entertainment I can do without. For a more sentimental but also wide-angle view of the implications of creating a new species, see Bicentennial Man. I'd like to see Polley and Brody together, but not in this movie. 128+ cuts (they come so fast, it's possible they just showed me the entire movie at 3000 frames per second).

Grown Ups (Trailer 2)

Expanding on the first trailer, the second reveals that the five friends will stay for the weekend in a cabin, getting to know each others' families. If you picked four other guys from my 6th grade basketball team and made me spend a weekend with them in a cabin in the woods, I think it would create a vacuum in my daily fun so powerful that kids going to Disneyland that day wouldn't have any fun either (and lollipops would taste like salt). One of Adam Sandler's children is the seal boy from the lunchables commercial. The parents try to show their kids "how it's done", i.e. they try to force their children to have fun in the same way that the parents had fun decades ago. That always turns out well. The trailer closes with a great shot of the five in a pool, each exhibiting similar inappropriate behavior, with amusing consequences. 78 cuts.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Michael Cera, playing his usual role, wants to date Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Lucy McClane in Live Free or Die Hard, and Gwen Grayson in Sky High). But first he must "defeat" her "seven evil exes", Mortal Kombat style. When Cera decides to step up to the challenge, all-out brawls ensue. I can't tell if the superpowered combat is what goes on inside his head, or if we are meant to enjoy the fights as if they were really escalating to such absurd levels (getting knocked hundreds of feet into the air, fighting with lightsaber-like swords, etc.). Looks awesome. 72 cuts.

Get Him to the Greek

(Previously reviewed)


There was only one other person in the auditorium with me. Therefore the epidemic that is MacGruber has been almost entirely contained.

Will Forte reprises his Saturday Night Live persona of MacGruber, a MacGyver spoof who takes down the baddies with ad hoc explosive devices rather than employing uncivilized methods, such as guns. When MacGruber's arch-nemisis Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) threatens Washington D.C. with a nuclear weapon, MaGruber's old commanding officer, Colonel Faith (Powers Boothe) comes to South America to re-task MacGruber for one last mission. Happy doing good deeds for the local villagers (a la Rambo rebuilding the monks' temple), MacGruber isn't interested in helping out. Cunth had killed MacGruber's fiance (Maya Rudolph) during their wedding, though, so between that and a few inquiries into what looked like a script, MacGruber eventually changes his mind.

MacGruber is an '80s hero. But I can't tell if he is an anachronism or if the movie is actually set in the '80s. Col. Faith has a portrait of Ronald Reagan on his wall, and MacGruber's sidekick Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) writes terrible synth pop, but otherwise the film looks contemporary. After an abortive attempt to form one crack team (what, a guy who can lift cars but is also gay isn't fit for duty?), MacGruber teams with Vicki and military lackey Lieutenant Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) to track down Cunth and the warhead.

The movie starts out strong with some blunt but funny jokes. (Everyone should have a screeching-guitar theme song that declares, "The guy's a f*cking genius".) But the jokes are repeated, are increasingly crass, and are not supported by a plot of even the slightest creativity. Like many other spy spoofs, the movie can't make up its mind whether MacGruber is incompetent or super-smooth. Thus scenes oscillate between MacGruber successfully distracting guards by walking around nude, and accidentally blowing things up.

Kristen Wiig is wonderful as always, but she can't save this heap of a film. Her Vicki falls for MacGruber, but he needs to have one last fling with his dead wife before he can give in to his feelings for Vicki (the scene isn't quite as gross as that sounds, but it's close enough). Lt. Piper is the straight man to MacGruber's unpredictability. I'm not a Phillippe fan, but he almost comes across as a human being in this movie, which is quite an accomplishment given the context. Powers Boothe was best cast in a voice role as Gorilla Grodd in the animated Justice League. I'd rather listen to Boothe read the MacGruber script aloud than see it enacted. This movie is part of a terrorist plot to make teenaged boys dumber.

1 comment: