A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
It’s no secret that Nicolas Cage’s taste in movie roles has changed from the days when he starred in A-list films like Raising Arizona, Moonstruck and Leaving Las Vegas. The 54-year-old actor appears to flip a coin when deciding what to make these days. Sometimes he gets lucky — The Croods has a sequel on the way and Joe made some box office bank — while other times he ends up in films like Outcast, a period piece whose outlandish story careens through Europe and Asia like a drunken soldier on shore leave.
It’s trendy to write Cage off as an actor throwing his talent away, more concerned with cash than art. YouTube brims with videos like Crazy Cage Moments and Cage Rage. Between them they’ve racked up millions of views, which is certainly more people — give or take several zeroes — that saw his recent bizarro-world revenge film Mandy or direct-to-oblivion domestic thriller Inconceivable. And yet, no matter how low rent some of his recent output is, he’s usually compelling.
The vids are an eye-opening compendium of Cage’s trademarked brand of extreme acting — a method of over-emoting perfected in the more than 80 movies he’s made since his debut (under his real name Nicolas Coppola) in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Citing The Incredible Hulk star Bill Bixby as a major influence, he has always been, for better and for worse, one of our most completely fearless actors.
This weekend’s Mom and Dad promises an extra helping of full-throttle Cage. He calls it his favourite movie in a decade, while Glen Kenny, writing in the New York Times said, “In this morbid satire about parents trying to kill their kids, Mr. Cage has plenty of opportunity to go full him.” Cage, who forever will be best known for hits like Adaptation, National Treasure and Leaving Las Vegas, has made many other movies that are worth a second look.
One writer called Cage’s work in 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss “a grand stab at all-out, no-holds-barred comic acting or one of the worst dramatic performances in a film this year,” but decades later the movie has earned cult status because of Cage’s edgy work. The story of a man who may — or may not — be turning into a vampire is best remembered as the film in which Cage ate a live cockroach, but also features one of his most unhinged performances.
A few years later, somewhere between Honeymoon in Vegas and Guarding Tess, came Red Rock West, a genre-busting movie — Ebert said it “exists sneakily between a western and a thriller, between a film noir and a black comedy” — that unfairly barely made it to theatres. Cage hands in some of his best work as a broke but honest drifter, but only took the role after Kris Kristofferson turned it down.
Existing at the intersection of Vampire’s Kiss and Red Rock West is Wild at Heart, a film that perfectly showcases Cage’s manic energy. As Sailor, a lover boy on the run from hit men hired by his girlfriend’s mother, he’s a one-of-a-kind, an Elvis wannabe with a snakeskin jacket and an attitude. It’s a bravura performance. Like the jacket, which he says “represents a symbol of my individuality,” Wild at Heart is a symbol of his artistic individuality.
It is a safe bet that you’ve never seen a movie quite like “Mom and Dad.” Starring Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as parents trying to murder their children it is dark yet goofy. It’s trashy with no redeeming qualities and that’s what makes it great… or at least a fun night out at the movies.
Cage and Blair are Brent and Kendall Ryan, the slightly bored suburban parents of Carly (Anne Winters) and Josh (Zackary Arthur). He longs for his wild years, she is a devoted mom, but concerned about aging. When a mysterious plague—or is it mass hysteria?—hits town, turning parents against their kids, Brent and Kendall spend twenty-four-hours trying to trap and kill their kids. Finally they can act on all the resentments they’ve been harbouring against their kids for forcing them to grow up and leave their youth behind.
“Mom and Dad” is the very definition of a midnight movie. Cage, a master at playing heightened reality, has rarely been, well, Cagier and the sight of Blair sizing up tools to kill her daughter—should she use a meat hammer or long kitchen knife—is delightful in the most disturbing of ways.
Director Brian Taylor brings the same wild anarchic spirit he brought to movies like “Crank” and “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.” In a quick 85 minutes he provides set-up, quick character studies and enough twisted action to keep eyeballs dancing and then, as though he ran out of film and couldn’t finish the film, it ends. Cuts to black just as it feels like the story is going to head into even wilder territory. I doubt it’s a cliffhanger to trigger a sequel (the story doesn’t have very far to go) so the suddenness of it comes as a shock—almost as much of a shock as parents trying to gas their own offspring.
I suppose “Mom and Dad” may have a secret agenda, a hidden subtext about filicide and the toxic relationships that push people to do the unthinkable, but if it is there, it is hidden under layers of raucously un-PC humour.
In the hands of anyone but director Guillermo Del Toro Hellboy could have turned out to be just another cinematic superhero. Thankfully Michael Bay and his soulless Hollywood brethren didn’t get their hands on the story of a little demon baby from the dark side who grows up to be a Baby Ruth-loving warrior battling the forces of hell.
Del Toro, the visionary behind a string of beautifully realized fantasy and horror films, including the Oscar nominated Pan’s Labyrinth, first brought Hellboy to the screen four years ago in a film that played up the horror aspects of the character’s comic book roots. This time around he plays on a bigger canvas, adding elements of fantasy and not one, but two love stories.
The action in Hellboy II: The Golden Army begins when an ancient truce between humans and the citizens of the underworld is broken by the ruthless Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) and an array of mythical creatures. “Let this remind you why you once feared the dark,” he says as the quest to reclaim all three pieces of a magical crown that will reunite the mighty Golden Army begins. That’s where Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his colleagues at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense come in. Comprised of Hellboy’s pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), aquatic empath Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and ectoplasmic mystic Johann Krauss (James Dodd), the BPRD are the only government agency who have a chance against the evil netherworld soldiers.
Complicating matters is a PR problem—the public doesn’t take well to the irresponsible knucklehead Hellboy, with his red skin and horns—and matters of the heart as Abe discovers unexpected love in the elf princess Nuala (Anna Walton) and Liz’s relationship with Big Red hits a rough patch.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is one of the rare sequels that is better than the original film. Working with a bigger budget this time around Del Toro has the money to fully realize his vision for the film; and what visions they are. He’s opened up his fertile imagination to create some unforgettable images like a Troll Market underneath the Brooklyn Bridge that rivals the famous Star Wars cantina scene, a new ectoplasmic character and a myriad of strange and wonderful creatures from the underworld.
These stunning images will make your eyeballs dance, but the amazing thing about Hellboy II: The Golden Army isn’t Del Toro’s astonishing visual sense, or his equally impressive way of choreographing large action scenes like the battle between Big Red and a vine creature on the streets of New York. No, it is his ability to balance the two with a really compelling story and not allow his characters to get lost in the din.
Despite setting the film in a fantastic world where mystical creatures interact with humans Del Toro doesn’t skimp on characterization, wit or believable (and in some cases heartbreaking) relationships. Abe Sapien’s amphibian love for a princess he can never have could easily have fallen flat, but Del Toro and actor Doug Jones give Abe enough humanity that even though he’s basically a giant fish with ESP the audience still feels for him when his heart is broken. The kicker comes when he gets drunk and sings Barry Manilow’s Can’t Smile Without You. Who among us hasn’t done that at least once?
At the center of it all is Ron Perlman in the title role. Perfectly cast, he plays the character as an everyman with an attitude to create one of the most fun and entertaining superheroes to come along in a movie summer chock full of beings with extraordinary powers.