GET HIM TO THE GREEK (2010). Not as ambitious or accomplished as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this semi-sequel is a shaggy tale containing a fair number of jokes that miss their intended targets by a wide berth. But the bits that do work — and there are many — are comic gold; fans of raunchy cinema can do far worse. Reprising his Forgetting role, Russell Brand again plays rock star Aldous Snow, whose popularity has chilled following the release of African Child, an album (and title track) so disastrously received that critics claim it’s the worst thing to ever happen to Africa next to war, famine and apartheid. Now a drunken lout, Aldous is still idolized by record label flunky Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), who convinces his boss Sergio (an animated Sean “P. Diddy” Combs) that the fallen rocker is primed for a comeback concert. Sergio agrees and sends Aaron to collect Aldous in London and bring him back to L.A. Of course, nothing goes as planned, with Aldous proving to be a difficult client and Aaron having his hands full trying to keep the self-centered celebrity out of trouble. Hill proves to be a potent fall guy, while Brand again plays Aldous as an airhead who may not be as shallow as everyone believes. The two actors work well together, and the savvy casting extends to the amusing cameo appearances by celebrities from different media (including a Harry Potter actor, a Metallica musician and a New York Times journalist). And if a joke seems forced or not particularly funny, there’s no reason to fret, as another will be momentarily trotted out, eager to bask in the glow of viewer approval.
The DVD contains both the theatrical version and an unrated cut. Extras include audio commentary by Hill, Brand, writer-director Nicholas Stoller and others; four deleted scenes; and seven extended and alternate scenes.
MACGRUBER (2010). Based on the Saturday Night Live skit that was itself a spoof of the hit action series MacGyver, this largely laughless affair finds Will Forte reprising his role as America’s top special operative, here asked to save the country from the machinations of his archenemy, Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer). “I’m going to pound Cunth!” MacGruber declares, just one of the countless times that scripters Forte, Jorma Taccone (who also directed) and John Solomon attempt to wring humor out of this oh-so-naughty name. The first half is especially dreadful, with the filmmakers connecting with so few guffaws that moviegoers will eventually be struck with the realization that Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire contained more belly laughs. The finale, in which MacGruber and his team — longtime friend Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and hotshot military officer Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) — infiltrate Cunth’s headquarters, picks up the pace somewhat, but not enough to really matter. There are admittedly some scattered chuckles (the solitary subtitle is priceless), but too much dead air and inconsistencies in the main character reduce this to just another piece of junk for the SNL scrap heap.
The DVD contains both the theatrical version and an unrated cut. Extras include audio commentary by Forte, Taccone and Solomon; one deleted scene; and an 8-minute gag reel.
ROBIN HOOD (2010). Disregard the folk tales, the ballads and the previous screen versions. Ridley Scott’s prequel Robin Hood purports to take us behind the legend, offering a fanciful look at the people, places and events that shaped the outlaw archer before he made a name for himself foiling the Sheriff of Nottingham, defying Prince John and, of course, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But really, were that many people clamoring to see what’s basically X-Men Origins: Robin Hood? The definitive screen Robin will forever remain Errol Flynn, whose 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood merely ranks among the two or three greatest action-adventure films ever made. Yet even the miscast Kevin Costner (in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) was more fun to watch than Russell Crowe, who gives a technically sound performance that nevertheless is too one-note to stir audiences in the tradition of the best movie heroes. The same fate befalls Cate Blanchett as a humorless Marion. As for the Merry Men, Little John (Kevin Durand), Friar Tuck (Mark Addy) and Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes) are so thinly fleshed out that they might as well be Huey, Dewey and Louie. Dull royal-court scenes and chaotic battle sequences drive the final nails into this dud.
The DVD contains both the theatrical version and an unrated cut. There are no extras.
THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE COLLECTION (1982-1990). Inspired by the massive success of 1978’s Halloween and 1980’s Friday the 13th, slasher flicks were ubiquitous during the 1980s. Many were indistinguishable from one another, but something set apart the pictures in the Slumber Party Massacre franchise: All three films were written, directed and produced by women. Potentially adding a feminist slant to what’s considered a male-dominated genre sounds like an intriguing idea (as when Joan Crawford turned the Western on its head in Nicholas Ray’s 1954 Johnny Guitar), but the sad truth is that this woeful trilogy blows its assignment in a major way.
That perhaps wasn’t the game plan when feminist icon Rita Mae Brown handed in the first draft for what would eventually become The Slumber Party Massacre (1982). Brown’s script was reportedly a spoof of the slasher film, but what finally reached the screen under the auspices of director-producer Amy Jones was merely the same slice’n’dice nonsense, this one centering around an escaped psychopath (Michael Villella) who slaughters folks (mainly women) with his phallic drill. The fact that the ladies fare better than the guys can hardly be deemed a step forward: Even in the traditional slasher flicks, the sole survivor is a woman (and almost always a virginal one, at that). What’s most startling about this film (as well as its sequels) is the frequent lack of female solidarity: More often than not, when the situation turns especially hairy, it’s every woman for herself.
There’s not much that’s noteworthy about the first picture, but it begs comparison to Psycho when placed alongside Slumber Party Massacre II (1987). An excruciating film written, directed and co-produced by Deborah Brock, this finds the heroine (Wings’ Crystal Bernard) being haunted in her dreams by a wisecracking rock star (Atanas Ilitch plays this poor man’s Freddy Krueger) sporting a drill-tipped electric guitar. Even by slasher-film standards, this one’s ineptness makes it unbearable.
Slumber Party Massacre III (1990) ranks below Part I but above Part II, but since my rating system doesn’t include 1/4-stars, this will have to remain in the basement alongside the other sorry sequel. Director Sally Mattison and writer-producer Catherine Cyran try to create a mystery out of the identity of the killer, but it’s not too hard to figure out, and the rest of the movie offers absolutely nothing in the way of wit or imagination.
Extras in the collection include audio commentary on each film with various cast and crew members; the hour-long documentary Sleepless Nights: Revisiting The Slumber Party Massacres; and still galleries.
The Slumber Party Massacre: *1/2
Slumber Party Massacre II: *
Slumber Party Massacre III: *