Friday, April 03, 2015

Similarly misnamed movies imply a themed double feature: Home & Apartment Troubles

$12 double-feature here, even if it was one constructed out of necessity: Apartment Troubles was only playing at 9:30pm, and I wasn't going to go home and then return to the spot where I switch from the bus to the train on the way home from work a couple hours later. Didn't actually mean to do it on "Super Tuesday", when the regular movies are just $4.75 and the 3D ones are $7 - I wanted to support the indie movie with a little more money - but my schedule didn't work out on Monday. So, cheap night.

Stretched out, though - not much time to get from Alewife to the theater, but then better than an hour and a half to kill between movies. Not a whole lot of great restaurant options in the Fresh Pond area even with that much time; pretty much just the Summer Shack which was a little pricier than I was looking for. I wound up at the Bertucci's in Alewife station, which meant two round trips, and it's a weird hike - it feels like there should be a direct path between the station and the theater through a park, but there really isn't, and you've got to either walk down a hill or go a long way around with how the plaza is landscaped.

Still, going all the way around does let you see this:

It kind of amuses me to see that with all the movies they're cramming on to the marquee, the movie that's only showing twice a day gets a full slot, while others get crammed in awkwardly. I think the one I want to see most out of these mash-ups is "Cinderella Follows", although I gather "Selma Paddington" might be an interesting combo as well.

Interesting, if not well-attended pairing, neither of which has a lot to do with their titles - Home isn't really about finding home - it's kind of stretched even in a methaphorical sense - and Apartment Troubles spends most of its time well away from the apartment (although that name is probably pretty VOD-menu-friendly). Glad to see both, though. I've liked Jess Weixler since Teeth and it's a bit odd that we haven't seen her on The Good Wife more this season, as her part would seem likely to grow next year, and it's kind of cool to see her build a starring role for herself. Home was a pretty good kid's movie that reminded me of my sister-in-law saying it can be kind of tough to find "adventure but not violence" for her girls. I am actually kind of impressed just how aggressively non-violent both Home and Cinderella are, and I wonder if it's a matter of both being marketed more directly toward girls that a lot of the other family movies I see or just a swing that things are taking these days.


* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 31 March 2015 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #9 (first-run, digital 3D)

There seems to be an element of forced whimsy to Home, both as the movie starts and from the advertising that preceded its release, like DreamWorks has gone back to when it was desperately trying to recreate the success of Shrek and throwing any two misfits together in the most calculated way possible. It soon reveals itself as something much better than that, full of entertaining moments, good intentions, and genuine whimsy.

It's a story of alien invasion told from one of the invaders' point of view. That would be Oh (voice of Jim Parsons), disliked by the rest of the Boov for both his clumsiness and enthusiasm. The Boov have taken Earth peacefully, relocating humanity to Australia, although 13-year-old Tip Tucci (voice of Rihanna) has somehow been left behind in New York. After Oh's latest mishap threatens to put the Gorg fleet that the Boov have been fleeing, Oh and Tip wind up on the run together, although they're inclined to go in different directions.

That's the plot of of a thriller, except for one thing: The Boov, by and large, are not very bright, with Captain Smek (voice of Steve Martin) especially dim despite the adulation heaped upon him by his people. Even the ones who prove surprisingly capable are people to stumbling just short of their goal, usually in a way that provides some fine slapstick. Even if they weren't, though, the movie is aggressively non-violent: There is never any malice shown toward humanity by the Boov, and the story is set up so that nobody would actually gain from another person being hurt. Smek and the Boov vandalize the heck out of Earth, but one has to work a bit to find their bubble-based technology particularly ominous; it's all lighter than air.

Full review on EFC.

Apartment Troubles

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 31 March 2015 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #9 (first-run, BD-R)

Screen acting can be such a volatile way of making a living that what is probably the signature absurdity in Apartment Troubles - that a pair of roommates can both be so broke as to face eviction from their New York apartment and whisked away to Los Angeles on a private jet - may not be as far from its makers' reality as it may seem on its face. The only way the movie makes much sense, really, its as a set of anecdotes shaped into a single narrative as best they can be, and that's actually a bit better than one might expect.

Those roommates are Olivia (Jennifer Prediger) and Nicole (Jess Weixler), the first an aspiring actress and the second a would-be artist, both so far beyond on their books that their electricity had been turned off and their landlord (Jeffrey Tambor) is giving them twenty days to get out. One more misfortune is enough to drive them out of town, and while Nicole's wealthy parents have cut her off, the pilot of her father's private jet apparently still l likes her, and her Aunt Kimberly (Megan Mullally) in Los Angeles has said to drop by any time...

Sure, that could happen, and Aunt Kimberly could just happen to be the host of a thinly-veiled copy of America's Got Talent that just happens to be having auditions that weekend. Why not? Prediger & Weixler - credited side-by-side as stars, writers, and directors - do sort of wink at this a little bit, having Kimberly comment that the family is worried that Nicole had grown so eccentric at such a young age, and generally do a fair job of letting things be weird without it becoming something that tries the audience's patience or gets taken for granted. A fair number of their gags are more "off" than funny, but enough work to get more laughter than eye-rolls.

Full review on EFC.

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