Nick’s Picks 07/25/12
The only things more dangerous than the threat facing the good citizens of suburban Glenview, are the four guys who’ve come together to save them. Meet the Neighborhood Watch: civic-minded Evan (Ben Stiller), fun-loving family guy Bob (Vince Vaughn), tough-talking “wild card” Franklin (Jonah Hill) and the looking-for-love divorcé Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). In this seemingly serene enclave and safe haven, Evan Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus have decided to join forces to safeguard their community. In addition, they’re enjoying some of the perks that come with being a “Watcher”… like drinking beer, shooting the shit, and just being guys. Even with – or maybe because of – their spiffy new “Watch” jackets, which are emblazoned with fiery wings and a tiger head (don’t ask), the not-so-fearsome foursome initially gets no respect from the residents they’re supposedly looking out for. A group of kids plaster them with eggs, and the local cops think they’re a joke: the Hardy Boys…only far less savvy. But when the guys’ patrol vehicle hits something that leaves behind a trail of green goo and a tentacle of some sort, and they find a strange, bowling ball-like device that emits a concentrated beam of energy – they realize that their little group has stumbled onto something bigger than a prowler on the loose. “When they formed this ‘band of brothers’, the guys thought, sure, they might encounter some weird neighborhood stuff – maybe a burglar here, or peeping tom there – but suddenly they realize they’ve facing something extraordinary,” says producer Shawn Levy. “And The Watch is not just unprepared or unqualified, it’s not remotely equipped to deal with this problem; yet it’s all on them to stop it.”
To play the four members of “The Watch,” Levy and director Akiva Schaffer (a creative force on several famed “Saturday Night Live” short films) tapped three comedy icons and a fast-rising talent. “We wanted the best,” says Levy,” and so we went out and got the best – three titans …together in the same movie! And then we threw in the ‘grenade’ of ‘what the hell are you going to get with Richard Ayoade?’” Ben Stiller’s Evan is a senior manager at the superstore Costco, having made a not-so-lightning-fast ascent to that position from assistant manager. Evan is a dedicated employee, but his heart is with the Glenview Neighborhood Watch, of which he is the founder and CEO. Evan’s latest endeavor fits nicely within his wheelhouse of facilitating civic-minded endeavors; he’s also organized the Glenview Running Club, Recycling Team, and even a Spanish table at the community center. “Evan is very community-oriented,” says Stiller, “because he has so few friends, and these clubs give him the opportunity to meet new people.” Adds Akiva Schaffer: “Evan is a Good Samaritan, a perfectionist, and a control freak – but in a good way.” Evan’s straight-laced, buttoned-down personality is a perfect fit for organizing clubs, but it’s not paying off socially. Stiller says he found it challenging to figure out the mindset of a man whose life is defined by a relentless pursuit of order. “I’m not very orderly,” explains the actor, who is currently starring in and directing “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” “It wasn’t easy getting inside the mind of a meticulous, stoic and organized guy.”
Regarding the role’s more physical requirements, Stiller was comfortable with the fight scenes, where The Watch takes on the would-be conquerors from a distant world, but less so with a scene that required him to drive a forklift during a climactic battle. “There was lots of action captured on camera, but driving the forklift made for some of the most frightening times on the set – for the crew,” says the actor. Evan’s polar opposite is Vince Vaughn’s Bob, who is the id to Evan’s superego, the yang to his yin, and, says Schaffer, “a fun loving family man – to the max.” For Bob, The Watch is his fraternal Shangri-La – an escape from the everyday responsibilities of family life. The Watch means hanging with his new friends; enjoying some titty magazines, dirty jokes, and beers; and saying things like, “We’re gonna tear up shit, boys.” “Bob is longing to hang out with the guys, have some drinks, talk about guy stuff, and let off some steam,” says Vaughn. And ground zero for all the raucous fun is Bob’s tricked-out garage/man-cave and its wet bar, massage chairs, widescreen TV, and pool table. “Bob is a big Teddy bear of a guy,” says Levy, who is currently directing Vaughn, along with Owen Wilson, in the comedy “The Internship.” “He’s boisterous and gregarious and in The Watch as much for the bromance as for the responsibilities of ensuring his neighbors’ safety.”
Still, the responsibilities of family do weigh heavily on Bob, who loves his wife and teenage daughter; the latter’s blossoming attributes are capturing the attentions of the opposite sex, and dad is not happy about it. “She’s growing up faster than Bob would like, so he’s trying to keep her under lockdown,” says Vaughn. The youngest member of the team is Franklin (Jonah Hill), a twentysomething, militant looking tough guy with, notes Schaffer “a sweetness just underneath.” (He still lives at home with his mom.) Franklin has a planet-size chip on his shoulder because he’s been rejected as a candidate for the police force and all other law enforcement organizations. (Failing every entrance exam didn’t help.) So for Franklin, The Watch is the only way he can legally kick ass and take names. “Franklin is alienated from, well everything,” says Hill. “He’s very strange and very funny.” Coming off his Oscar®-nominated performance in the drama “Moneyball,” and executive producing and starring in the critically-hailed hit “21 Jump Street,” Hill was not looking to return to the kind of raucous comedy that had propelled him to superstardom (like “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express”), but he “couldn’t resist the chance to perform opposite alongside Ben, Vince and Richard,” notes the actor. “It was something I had to do.” Moreover, “if I was going to do another broad comedy, I wanted it to have no basis in reality, and portray a character that could say or do anything. Plus, anytime you put an extreme amount of danger in the hands of irresponsible people, you know the results are going to be really wild.”
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn & Jonah Hill
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Now Showing: In Local Area Theatres
MPAA Rating: R
FREE DVD GIVEAWAY
We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of The Big Bang Theory: Season 1, 2, 3 or 4, Story of England, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, Why Ships Sink, River of No Return, Deadliest Tornadoes, Mannix: Season 7, The Flowers of War, Father Dowling Mysteries: Season 2 or Sarah Jane Adventures: Season 5, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!
THE BIG BANG THEORY: Season 1 – 4 – Warner
The delightful sitcom The Big Bang Theory revolves around a character type rarely seen on television: The alpha geek. Physicists Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) get their lives shaken up when an attractive young woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in to the apartment across from theirs. The key to the show, though, is not that they both fall haplessly in love–Leonard does, but Sheldon remains impermeably aloof and caustic about anything resembling romance or human relationships in general. While the push and pull of Leonard’s yearning for Penny motivates much of the series’ ongoing plot, the show’s real drive comes from Sheldon’s fantastic combination of obsessive-compulsive neurosis and grandiose obliviousness. He’s a brilliant comic creation, imperious and dorky, a seamless collaboration of clever writing and an inspired performance by Parsons. Whether Sheldon loses his job for insulting his new boss, or finds his ego bruised by a child prodigy, or finds himself unable to bear being part of a lie that Leonard has told, he attacks the world with a relentless need to assert his supremacy–and the results are deeply funny.
STORY OF ENGLAND – BBC
In this groundbreaking series, charismatic presenter Michael Wood tells the story of one place – the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire – throughout the whole of English history. Located in the very heart of England, Kibworth has lived through the Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution, and was even bombed in World War II. With the help of the local people and using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA, Michael Wood uncovers the lost history of this village from the Roman era to the present day. Intertwining the local and national narratives, he creates a moving and informative picture of one local community throughout history.
JOHNNY CARSON: King of Late Night – PBS
Quite possibly the biggest star that television has ever produced Johnny Carson was seen by more people on more occasions than anyone else in American history. Over the course of his 30-year run on The Tonight Show Carson interviewed 23000 guests in 4531 episodes. Watch as the life and career of one of the most beloved yet enigmatic icons in American entertainment history is explored.
WHY SHIPS SINK – PBS
Picking up from this winter’s Costa Concordia disaster and looking both back to the Titanic disaster a century ago and into the future of sea travel NOVA looks at questions about cruise ship safety and the science of the ships’ buoyancy.
RIVER OF NO RETURN – PBS
Deep in the untamed heart of Idaho lies the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, part of the largest roadless areas left in the lower 48 States. Named in honor of Idaho Senator Frank Church, and for the rugged Salmon River that flows through it, the vast 2.5 million-acre wilderness is larger than Yellowstone, yet most people have never even heard of it. Defined by deep canyons and mountain forests, it is a perfect habitat for abundant animal life, including wolves that are being restored to the area after an absence of 50 years. This is the place where a young couple, Isaac and Bjornen Babcock, choose to spend a year-long honeymoon. But what begins as a romantic adventure becomes something of much greater consequence for both of them a story that will change their lives.
DEADLIEST TORNADOES – PBS
Deadliest Tornado looks at the scientists striving to understand the forces at work behind last year’s tornado outbreak. Could their work improve tornado prediction in the future? NOVA also talks to people whose lives have been upended by these extreme weather events in an effort to learn how we all can protect ourselves and our communities for the future.
MANNIX: Season 7 – CBS Paramount
Mannix, the action-packed detective drama about a tough and cynical private investigator stars Golden Globe winner Mike Connors stars as the title character. Mannix is a hard-boiled and gritty detective who constantly defies rules and regulations and is able to take a flurry of fist fights, high-speed car chases and bullet wounds in stride.
THE FLOWERS OF WAR – LIONSGATE
From internationally celebrated director Zhang Yimou comes a story of love and war. The dangerous streets of Nanjing throw together a group of opposites – a flock of shell-shocked schoolchildren, a dozen seductive courtesans, and a renegade American (Christian Bale) posing as a priest to save his own skin, or so he thinks – all seeking safety behind a walled cathedral. Trapped by marauding soldiers, over the next few days the prejudices and divides between them will fall away as they unite around a last-ditch plan to protect the children from impending catastrophe.
FATHER DOWLING MYSTERIES: Season 2 – CBS Paramount
Tom Bosley stars as the enigmatic Father Frank Dowling, the priest of a Chicago church. His counterpart is Sister Stephanie Oskowski (Tracy Nelson) who is brilliant at picking locks and recognizing the ways of the streets. Together, they work to solve murders and fight other heinous crimes oftentimes outsmarting the authorities and criminals in the process. A groundbreaking show with wonderful writing, Father Dowling Mysteries represents brilliant television of yesteryear.
SARAH JANE ADVENTURES: Season 5 – BBC
Created by Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, Season Five sees the bubbly Sky, the Starchild given to Sarah Jane by the Doctor to look after, settle into Bannerman Road and discover she has telekinetic powers… although she has no idea how to use them! Her loveable enthusiasm and zest for life combined with her natural curiosity give Sarah Jane more than one heart-stopping moment. A fast and funny mix of action, drama and special effects, Sarah Jane’s adventures grip young audiences across the world.
HEY ARNOLD: Season 2, Part 2 – Shout Factory
Come hang out with Arnold, Gerald and the gang for more adventure-filled fun in the big city! Season Two, Part 2 delivers some of the best moments yet when Arnold enters an eating contest, Rhonda gets glasses, Phoebe becomes a power-hungry hall monitor, Helga uses Stinky to make Arnold jealous and more! So grab some friends, head out to the stoop and settle in for the conclusion of Hey Arnold! Season Two, now on DVD!
FOOTNOTE – Sony
The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious national award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation.
DYNASTY: Season 6 – CBS Paramount
This hugely popular prime-time soap opera follows the exploits of the Carringtons and Colbys, both “oilrich” family dynasties in Denver, CO, as they accrue and manipulate power and wealth.
BITCH SLAP – Fox
A modern throwback to the “B” movie exploitation films of the 50′s-70′s, mixing beautiful women, fast cars, big guns, nasty tongues, outrageous action, and jaw-dropping eye candy. The movie follows three bad girls, a down-and-out stripper, a drug running killer, and a corporate power broker as they arrive at a remote desert hideaway to extort massive booty from an underworld kingpin.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN – Warner
Decades before the Hollywood film industry became famous for megabudget disaster and science fiction spectaculars, the studios of Southern California (and particularly Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) were renowned for a uniquely American (and nearly extinct) kind of picture known as The Musical. Indeed, when the prestigious British film magazine Sight & Sound conducts its international critics poll in the second year of every decade, this 1952 MGM picture is the American musical that consistently ranks among the 10 best movies ever made. It’s not only a great song-and-dance piece starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and a sprightly Debbie Reynolds; it’s also an affectionately funny insider spoof about the film industry’s uneasy transition from silent pictures to “talkies.”
THE GLADES: Season 2 – Fox
Matt Passmore is back as Jim Longworth – a Chicago detective who relocates to South Florida – in the compelling and wryly humorous second season of The Glades. When he’s not hitting the links, Longworth is haunted by old ghosts, facing an intriguing caseload of baffling homicides. Amid mobsters, NASCAR drivers, bootleggers, and sideshow freaks, everyone is a suspect. Meanwhile, Jim and Callie’s fledgling relationship is threatened when her husband is released from prison and an old flame reappears. And Jim will need a lot more than good looks and devilish charm when a final standoff leaves Callie’s life in jeopardy.
MY WAY – WellGo USA
Korea’s largest production ever and inspired by a true story. Jun Shik works for Tatsuo’s grandfather’s farm while Korea is colonized by Japan, but he has a dream to participate in Tokyo Olympics as a marathon runner. Tatsuo also aims to become a marathon runner, so the two are in rivalry. But war breaks out and they both are forced to enlist in the army. Tatsuo becomes the head of defense in Jun Shik’s unit and he devises a scheme but fails. Jun Shik and Tatsuo are captured by the Soviets. They run away but soon are captured by Germans and forced to separate. In 1944, they meet again at the shores of Normandy.
TREASURE ISLAND – Vivendi
Young Jim Hawkins is the only one who can successfully get a schooner to a legendary Island known for buried treasure. But aboard the ship is a mysterious cook named John Silver (Emmy winner Eddie Izzard, The Riches ), whose true motivation on the journey challenges Jim s trust in the entire crew. This is an exciting and atmospheric new take on the definitive pirate action adventure of reckless buccaneers, buried fortunes and a friendship forged in peril on the high seas.
TEAM UMIZOOMI – Nickelodeon
Join Team Umizoomi on four mighty math missions filled with exciting games, including the biggest sports event around – the Umi Games!
ICARLY: iFight Shelby Marx – Nickelodeon
Join Carly, Sam, Spencer and Freddie as they help Carly prepare for the scariest fight of her life in the iFight Shelby Marx TV Special, the most watched iCarly special to date, along with the iDate a Bad Boy TV Special and more all on one DVD.
DOCTOR WHO: Seeds of Death – BBC
By the late 21st century, mankind has become totally dependent on T-Mat to transport people, food and medicines around the world. When the system breaks down, Earth is soon crippled by global shortages. Traveling to the relay station on the moon, the Doctor and his companions discover the horrific truth: the Ice Warriors have hijacked T-Mat, and intend to claim the planet for themselves. Can the Doctor defeat the Martians before Earth is smothered in deadly fungus, and the human race is condemned to extinction?
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