Time to give you my take on what you might want to rent this week… here we go!
Precious – Since I have many friends who fear they’ll be upset by this movie and are therefore avoiding it, let me be honest: I, too, waited a long time before I could bring myself to push “Play.” I knew its story focused on an abused girl and was consequently very, very nervous about the possibility of horribly violent scenes. And while there are sequences that are uncomfortable to watch, they make up such a small percentage of the film that it would be a crying shame for someone to steer clear of Precious for that reason. Because it’s really, and ironically, a story about hope against all hope, and it has some of the best acting and most unique filmmaking I’ve come across in a while. I urge you to give it a chance.
2012 - The world is ending — again! I went into 2012 expecting the worst, which is probably why I ended up being pleasantly surprised. You know the story: the Mayan calendar predicts the end of days on December 21, 2012. John Cusack realizes what’s happening and attempts to save his family by way of car, plane, RV, a foot race against an earthquake, a crazy-huge ship, et cetera. Pretty much every major landmark on the planet is destroyed, and there’s no way 98% of this film could ever happen. It’s got some horrible dialogue and laughable acting. BUT, it also has a few touching moments and glimpses of great acting, especially from Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays a scientific advisor to the President with deep regrets about his relationship with his father. What was strange about this film for me was that — amidst all of the explosions and CGI mayhem — it actually made me think. What would I do if I were in the situations some of the characters faced? Popcorn movies aren’t supposed to be deep, and make no mistake, 2012 is NOT DEEP, but something about it moved me enough to feel that it’s worth your hard-earned $1. I just wish it hadn’t been so long — two hours and forty minutes is rough no matter what way you slice it.
Observe & Report – Seth Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the not-quite-all-there security guard at the Forest Ridge Mall who finally gets his break at REAL police work when a flasher starts stalking his turf. Let’s just say that his “investigation” does not go smoothly, or as anyone might predict. Strangely enough, this was a film Locke and I agreed on. I said “strangely” because I’m usually not a fan of especially dark humor, out-of-nowhere violence, drug-fueled rages, etc… and of course Locke IS. I kid. What I’m trying and failing to say is that since I’m the chick who would usually choose to watch a kid’s movie (see my next two picks) or a happy happy joy joy comedy over a film about the nastier side of human nature, I didn’t think I would be able to handle this one. But it SO weird, so different, and had such a great cast (especially the supporting players) that it won me over. Not for the faint of heart or easily offended, though… you’ve been warned!
Benji – Enough with sadness, violence and destruction! Those of you who took my advice a few weeks ago and rented Puppy Party but are still in need of more doggie hijinks might want to check out Benji. Yes, that Benji, the 1974 film directed by Joe Camp about a stray pup who makes his way around a small Texas community and eventually helps to rescue two kidnapped kids. Not everything about this film stands the tests of time, and it might make children a little scared or weepy in parts, but hey, it’s still Benji and he still rocks! I would take Benji over Lassie any day — yeah, I said it.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail – YES! We’ve got the original 1971 stop-motion classic for ya, just in time for the Easter holiday. All you really need to know is that the narrator of this one is: 1) named Seymour S. Sassafrass, which is quite possibly the coolest moniker of all time, and 2) given a voice by Danny Kaye, aka “Walter Mitty.” The story is loosely based on Thornton W. Burgess’ children’s books, and follows a competition for the title of Chief Easter Bunny between Peter Cottontail (voiced by — wait for it — CASEY KASEM) and the trickster January Q. Irontail (another great name and another awesome voice provided by Vincent Price). As with all of these old animated classics, HCPC is a bit strange in parts, but it still has its charms and is the perfect complement to any egg-dyeing that may be taking place in your household in the coming weeks.