Ivan Reitman is a frustrating director.

For every Stripes he makes, we end up with a Junior.  Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed a number of his movies, but it seems like some suffer some blow along the way to the big screen.  Between 1979 and 1990, it seemed that he could do little wrong.  He directed the following widely loved movies:

  • Meatballs
  • Stripes
  • Ghost Busters
  • Twins
  • Kindergarten Cop

He also directed these less-than-memorable movies:

  • Legal Eagles
  • Ghostbusters II

These lists do not include those that he was involved with as a producer and actor.  But after Kindergarten Cop, he has only directed the following, which have not been met with the same, full love and joy as his earlier works:

  • Dave
  • Junior
  • Fathers’ Day
  • Six Days Seven Nights
  • Evolution
  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend

I am not sure if the difference is a change in taste for the movie-going public or him not being able to adapt his directing style to his producing style, which has a much better track record lately.

Which brings us to Evolution.

I saw this in the theaters when it came out and actually enjoyed myself.  David Duchovney plays a scientist who was discharged from the military and is relegated to teaching at community college.  His best friend is Orlando Jones, somebody who you couldn’t see a movie in the time frame of 2000-2002 without seeing him.  A meteor hits the earth and starts sprouting new alien growth.  Julianne Morre, Sean William Scott, Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs, Monk), Ethan Suplee (Mallrats, My Name Is Earl), and Dan Akroyd join in on the fun.

This is a movie that is right out of the old “B-movie, Sci-Fi” playbook — lots

of cheese and predictability.  The cast is what pulls off this movie, particularly when not worried bout looking foolish.  The main negative is that the movie itself feels oddly edited at times.  Watching the deleted scenes on DVD shows that maybe some of those scenes should not have been cut.

The DVD has the usual extras and the Deleted Scenes are well worth watching.

My advice:  Pop this in the player when you need some cheese and just want to laugh like a 15-year-old…

The American President

In election years like this one, it is easy to get drawn into partisan debates and pointing fingers.  What seems to be lost is the effect of such actions on the participants and how those things interfere with doing the job they were elected to do.

Most everyone who has watched TV over the past 10-15 years is familiar with Aaron Sorkin.  To say he is liberal is an understatement.  As the writer of this movie, did he sprinkle in stereotypical pro-liberal messages? Yes.   Does it really matter?  No.  Like his beliefs or not, Sorkin is a masterful storyteller, and the story he is telling is one of romance.

Michael Douglas plays the widowed US President who was elected without having to go through mudslinging because his wife died about a year before the election.  As he is running the country, he is also raising a daughter.  Annette Bening’s character is a lobbyist trying to get a tougher emissions bill supported by the President.  As they meet, sparks fly and romance ensues.

As the two try to navigate the rough waters of a new relationship, external factors like the re-election campaign, a competing bill, and a military action keep cropping up.  What guides Douglas’s character through is the supporting cast led by Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox.  The relationship between Douglas and Sheen really hits home for me since it is the definition of the one I have with my buddy, Brian (I am Douglas and he is Sheen).

One of the things that I really liked is that Democrat and Republican affiliation was never mentioned for any of the characters; instead it was about the issues and the people.  Very refreshing.

The DVD has few extras.

My advice: See this movie, regardless of which party you belong to; the monologue at the end is hands-down one of the best, if not the best, monologues on film in the past 15 years.

Brain Candy (Kids in the Hall)

Lorne Michaels has that ability to find comedic talent and turn it into gold.  Even in down years, his time with SNL is better than the few years they were without him.  In the 90’s, he challenged himself by taking 5 young men under his wing and forming a new comedy troupe.  This troupe would play all of the parts on the show, including the women.  Thus, Kids in the Hall was born.

After 4-5 seasons and countless reruns on Comedy Central, the Kids made a movie.  The movie is built on the story of a drug being developed that allows you to always be happy.  Over the course of the movie, you also see a tale of power corruption, unrequited love, drug company corruption, and Cancer Boy.  Interwoven with the main story are the little snippets of stories of users of the new drugs.

The DVD had no extras, not even a trailer.

My advice: If you like Kids in the Hall, then you will like this movie.  If not or you have not watched them before, then pick a time when you want to watch something quirky.

Doctor Strange

One of the best partnerships in a while has been the one formed between Marvel and Lionsgate.  It has allowed Marvel to focus on developing animated movies of some of its best heroes.  In previous reviews, I covered the DVDs for Ultimate Avengers and Iron Man.  Doctor Strange now enters the list.

This was a tough one.  Doctor Strange never captured my attention like Spidey or Hulk, so I didn’t know a lot about the character.  I have actually had the DVD for about 6 months and loaded in the player for 5 of them.  Every time I decided to watch it, I fell asleep due to it being late.  I finally chose to watch it one afternoon.

Much like the Iron Man DVD that preceded it, Doctor Strange has a slow pacing.  It is also similar in that it is based in Asian mysticism and an anime drawing style.  There is action, but more of the story is at an intellectual level.

Overall, not a bad DVD. It has the extra features of 5.1 sound, background feature on Doctor Strange, concept art, and a look at the next Marvel animated feature.

My advice: Worth watching — maybe as a double-header with Iron Man. Keep up the good work, Marvel — I can not wait for the next one…

My Fair Lady

So I was headed to Chicago during Super Bowl weekend for a meeting with an organization I am in. I flew up a day early to join Team Disney for a night of dinner and theater. We had planned on seeing My Fair Lady. Well, nature decided that Chicago needed snow and delayed my plane so that I missed everything. Thanks to DKW, MMMD, and SDE for bringing me a playbill.

Well, being bored and wanting to see the show,I did the next best thing — pop in the DVD. Say what you will about movies today; they will never have that magical feel that some from the 60s and 70s have. The picture is brighter; staging elaborate; and more attention to detail is paid. There were no computers to clean things up in post-production, so it had to be right each time. After a film like this has been remastered, it just leaps off of the screen.

The film is wonderful — the songs convey the feelings; the transformation of Audrey Hepburn is the hallmark that all “ugly girl is really pretty after a makeover” movies aspire to be. Superb casting, even for the dubbed singing parts, is on display throughout the 3 hour film. There is even an Intermission and an Entré Act.

The DVD has a 1-hour special that is full of details that I did not know about (dubbed voices) and was as much fun to watch as the film. The other usual suspects for DVD features are on this 2-disc set.

My advice: watch it if you haven’t already and embrace the fact that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.