VIDIOT: FEBRUARY 2014

vidiot_stockphotoCaptain Phillips

The best part of being a sea captain is getting to preside over all those same-sex marriages between crew members.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any ceremonies aboard the container ship in this thriller.

After navigating the Horn of Africa, a U.S. cargo ship is attacked by a Somali pirate (Barkhad Abdi) and his posse.

Ordering his crew (David Warshofsky, Michael Chernus, Chris Mulkey, Corey Johnson) into hiding, Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) leads the thieves on a wild goose chase.

Eventually, the pirates set adrift in a lifeboat with Phillips as their hostage. But a no-nonsense Navy SEAL (Max Martini) is steadfast they’ll never reach the shore.

Based on true events, Captain Phillips is an edge-of-your-seat adaptation of the real captain’s harrowing account that delivers both credible performances and white-knuckle excitement.

Incidentally, to deal with Somali pirates just airdrop a dead Beluga on the ship’s bow and let Green Peace loose.

Machete Kills

The inspiration for the Piñata was likely the first Mexican drug mule beaten to death by U.S. border patrol.

And while we’ll never know the truth, cartels are still rampant as this action movie denotes.

To gain American citizenship, Machete (Danny Trejo) must kill a schizophrenic drug lord (Demián Bichir) with access to nuclear missiles.

As he hacks through cronies, Machete learns his target is only a pawn. The real puppet-master is a fan-boy businessman (Mel Gibson) with plans to nuke Earth after fleeing to his space station.

The first sequel to the movie based on the fake trailer from Grindhouse, Machete Kills has overstayed its one-off welcome.

With pointless Star Wars references, endless/useless cameos and a puerile script littered with intentionally bad humour, this mess never stops winking at the audience.

As for Mexicans in space, racist astronauts would delegate them to pruning the shrubs in the space terrarium.

Blue Jasmine

The saddest part of going from riches to rags is cutting your expensive clothes up and rolling in dirt until you look destitute.

Not so for the urbane ex-socialite in this dramedy, however.

When Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) businessman husband (Alec Baldwin) is busted for stealing from his clients – including Jasmine’s sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her now ex-husband (Andrew Dice Clay) – she has no choice but to move in with Ginger and her sons.

Unable to adjust to blue-collar living, or Ginger’s boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale), Jasmine wrangles a rich widower (Peter Sarsgaard) with a cavalcade of untruths, like her estranged son’s existence or her husband’s true fate.

The latest offering from Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine is a well-paced class struggle mystery of sorts that elegantly unravels itself as the lead’s graceful facade turns frantic.

Incidentally, an excellent career option for the nouveau poor is becoming their butler’s butler.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

The key to raising a well-behaved grandparent is crate training.

Unfortunately, the elderly gentleman in this comedy is permitted to roam around on his own – for the time being.

Ecstatic over his wife’s passing, Irving’s (Johnny Knoxville) celebration is short lived when his jailbird daughter drops his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) off.

Unwilling to wean the eight-year-old, Irving makes a deal with Billy’s deadbeat dad to deliver him to North Carolina.

Along the way, the two are embroiled in an array of uncomfortable and uncouth vignettes involving exposed genitals, bodily functions and public mischief.

Part road movie, part hidden camera concoction, this Jackass offshoot lacks the physicality of the brand but still manages to induce wincing via awkward situations.

While Knoxville’s improvisational skills are wholly lacking, his pint-sized sidekick’s are finely honed.

The worst part of travelling with a senior, however, is they never have to stop driving to pee.

Riddick

The best thing about being marooned on a human-less planet is you can walk around without your space trousers on.

Mind you, with all of the freakish fauna in this sci-fi movie, you may want to keep them on.

When a failed assassination strands him on an inhabitable world infested with scorpion-type creatures, Riddick (Vin Diesel), the leader of the Necromongers, must activate a homing beacon that will bring mercenaries (Matthew Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Batista) there.

Hoping to escape in one of their ships before a storm arrives, Riddick jury-rigs booby-traps to ensnare his pursuers.

The second sequel to Pitch Black, Riddick returns the anti-hero to familiar territory, accessible to newcomers.

However, the slapdash dialogue, the derivative space-monsters and the lackluster script will disappoint them just as much as longtime fans.

To eliminate the arachnids, Riddick should’ve done like European explorers and gave them smallpox-infested blankets.

The Butler

Before affirmative action, White House butlers weren’t hired because they were African American, they were hired because they were black.

The domestic servant in this drama was employed under the latter.

Starting as a servant on a Georgia plantation, Cecil (Forest Whitaker) graduates to a Washington, D.C. hotel and then the White House during the Eisenhower (Robin Williams) presidency.

On the home front, Cecil’s wife (Oprah Winfrey) raises two sons, Charlie (Elijah Kelley) and Louis (David Oyelowo).

However, Louis’ sitting in and marching for the Civil Rights Movement conflicts with his father’s kowtowing to a procession of Presidents (James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, John Cusack, Alan Rickman).

An expansive account of black history from both the people’s and the presidents’ points-of-view, this inspired account of Eugene Allen’s life is rooted in great performances and poignancy.

And now that there’s a black president, all White House servants are now Hispanic.

Fruitvale Station

A sure sign of equality in America is African Americans being able to sit on any urine-stained bus seat they wish.

While transit vehicles have abolished Jim Crow, the transit cops in this drama haven’t.

Riding Oakland’s rapid transit system on New Year’s Day, Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan) gets into a tussle with another passenger.

Transit police (Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray) are alerted but during the melee a handcuffed Oscar is shot.

A former felon trying to turn his life around for his daughter, Oscar’s death leaves his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and mother (Octavia Spencer) mourning, and Bay Area residents outraged.

Based on real events, Fruitvale Station is an emotional piece with a plausible performance from its lead.

However, the random events from Oscar’s past that culminate on the train seem more fiction than fact.

Incidentally, I thought train bulls were only permitted to murder tramps?

Carrie

Getting your period is a magical time in a girl’s life because it means she can be excused from gym class once a month.

However, the menstruating student in this horror movie would prefer a permanent absence.

Tormented by her peers (Portia Doubleday, Gabriella Wilde) after getting her first period, Carrie (Chloe Moretz) later discovers the crimson curse also unleashed her latent powers of telekinesis.

Despite her mother’s (Julianne Moore) misgivings, Carrie attends the prom with a boyfriend (Ansel Elgort) of one of her bullies.

When her mother’s warning turns out to be true, Carrie uses her twisted mind to massacre the student body.

Despite sanguinary scenes at the end and contemporary special effects, this adaptation of the Stephen King novel is sluggish and superfluous when compared to the 1976 version.

Thankfully, the only power women derive from menstruation is the ability to continue advancing their career unimpeded by children.

Runner Runner

Online gambling is superior to real world betting because when you cheat, the digital pit boss only breaks your avatar’s legs.

Case in point, the fully functional bipedal gambler in this thriller.

Losing his college tuition to a corrupt online poker site, Richie (Justin Timberlake) heads to Costa Rica to address the site’s owner, Ivan (Ben Affleck), face to face.

As reparation for his loss, Ivan offers Richie the opportunity to work for him.

Overtime, Richie learns his big break is nothing but a long con that could cost him his girl (Gemma Arterton), his father (Richard Dreyfuss), and send him to prison – unless he turns FBI informant.

An obvious hustle from the get-go, Runner Runner does little to conceal its boilerplate Ponzi scheme plot and even less to camouflage its standard “switcheroo” ending and talentless leading man.

Unfortunately, unlike real poker, wearing sunglasses doesn’t help your online game.

Don Jon

To never get caught browsing porn on the Internet again, simply conditions your body to become aroused by auto-part websites.

However, the addict in this drama prefers websites with fake headlights.

Despite getting plenty of female attention, Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) continually revisits the effortless orifice of Internet pornography.

Even after landing the perfect ten (Scarlett Johansson), he still satisfies himself via visual stimuli.

It’s not until Jon meets the bereft, and more mature, Esther (Julianne Moore) that he learns to lose himself in the sexual experience.

An astute commentary on modern male masturbator habits, this directorial debut from the film’s writer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, shows great potential.

The dialogue is sharp yet sincere, the characters are developed and relatable, and its message is a meaningful one for today’s stunted man.

Incidentally, when they put something other than porn on the Internet, men will stop looking at porn on the Internet.

He’s Syncing to New Lows. He’s the…
Vidiot

By Shane Sellar
Photo: STOCK.XCHNG

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