On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 4, 2013


It is a tough time for comedies in this critical world. Whereas it seems to be much harder to pull off genuine laughs than it does a satisfying drama it also makes it that much more obvious when people aren't laughing when the complete intention is in fact that. As you've likely heard concerning the latest Jason Bateman vehicle that also features the first headlining act for Bridesmaids breakout star Melissa McCarthy, Identity Thief does a poor job of eliciting as many laughs from its audience as it has the capability to do. Here's the strange thing: I didn't hate it. Call me delusional, but I laughed a few times and had a rather average movie-going experience that dragged a bit, but wasn't unbearable. Both of these lead actors are more than charming, more than able to spin a joke, and are clearly dedicated to the material and making it work. Bateman has a knack for playing the everyman and an ear for how to deliver certain lines with lovely comedic timing. McCarthy is the opposite kind of comedian; she is loud and physical. Her character here is a perfect vehicle for her to exercise her strengths as a leading funny lady and if it weren't for her the film would have no purpose. Good news for us, McCarthy is present in almost every scene of Identity Thief and despite the strong premise (that likely has much more to offer in the way of comedy) the film quickly dissolves into a standard road trip comedy I ultimately didn't mind going along with because I love the people involved. That is my excuse with most comedies that critics tend to bash (The Watch, The Hangover Part II) and yes, I recognize their shortcomings, but I can't say I despised the film or those films for their attempts. I can appreciate Identity Thief for trying and I liked it well enough not to be angry I spent two hours with the characters. C

I've never been one to love the zombie genre and I certainly haven't yet bought into the recent zombie and vampire craze but Warm Bodies might have converted me, at least partially. I was intrigued by this project from the beginning, by its director, its cast, and the way it was going to convey its story. Despite obviously cashing in on the recent rush of these films centering around the undead this one subverts the genre by allowing us a different perspective on the usual story of people running, hoping not to get bit by those already infected from their fellow human beings who've been transformed into the lifeless, soulless zombies that turn out not to be the enemy in Warm Bodies, but the protagonists. There is certainly no lack of invention here as director, Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50) allows the quaintly paced story to unfold with the right amount of smart quips and dialogue as well as strong character development so that when the slightly cheesy, but inevitable conclusion does come around it doesn’t feel quite as cheesy or inevitable as you imagined it might be when you first sat down for the film. This was the first movie of the year I was genuinely excited to see and though I had good to strong expectations it still managed to meet almost all of them as I appreciated the films refreshing take on an extremely tired genre and the directors willingness to not let his film devolve into typical horror movie clich├ęs, and even better, the romantic comedy conundrum of drawing on those romantic moments from overly familiar situations but instead letting his original take on the zombie tale influence an original tale of sweet love. B

A Good Day to Die Hard is not a movie, not really. There literally could not have been a script for this mess, but we are inclined to believe there was. That it was written by the same guy who penned the horrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Hitman makes it easier to see why this latest film in the now twenty-five year old franchise is nothing more than a few action scenes strung together by corny dialogue that hearkens back to milestones from the earlier films and a storyline that means absolutely nothing and makes almost no sense whatsoever. I've never been particularly invested in these films as the first, the one many consider an action classic, was released the year after I was born and so I was late to catch up on the earlier films until just before the 2007 sequel Live Free or Die Hard hit theaters. I enjoyed that film well enough and it was directed by Len Wiseman, the guy in charge of the Underworld series and that rough remake of Total Recall last year whose films always seem more wrapped in style and noise than any type of substance; even that movie had more of a relation to the earlier films than this though. Having given the reigns of the fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise to John Moore (Max Payne, The Omen) he has frantically spliced together all the footage he was able to capture of shoot outs and car chases that were filmed for this movie in hopes that it would turn out to be more than just those sequences. Instead, at a brisk hour and a half the film has three major action pieces that come in 30-minute increments that the director hopes will fool the audience into thinking they've received everything they paid for. In reality, there is absolutely nothing about this film that will stick with you. It will disappear from your memory almost immediately with its generic plot and zero character development. It will leave no impression, and honestly that is the best thing we could ask for from a movie that stinks this bad. D

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