(Beware spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie)
Best Imitation of The Exorcist on Red Bull
Once you’ve seen The Exorcist, no movie featuring an exorcism will ever be that original again. The last half hour of this film about a family moving into a ghost house and demon spirits eventually possessing one of the family members tries to take the wacky shit that happens when the priest is reading the bible to a crackhead demon spirit on meth level. Frankly, someone waving a bible and railing gospel quotes at me would probably trigger the same effect. I feel your pain. But I have to give the director credit for trying to amp down the gore and creep an audience out for most of the movie with simple sounds and movements, such as creaking doors, rustling sheets, clapping hands and jiggling closets. When you find out that the director was responsible for that pinnacle of torture porn, Saw, you just have to give him some props, even if they aren’t the ones that slice your own limbs from your body. Someone no doubt exorcised a few of his demons.
Best Donation to Celebrities’ Private Party
This Is the End, if you like guy humor, can be pretty damn funny. But at some point during this movie about a group of celebrity friends (Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Jay Baruchel) playing themselves hanging out with each other as the rapture and the apocalypse sucks up and destroys everything around them… you realize you just paid for them to hang out, drink, smoke dope and party together at your expense. This realization is only slightly dampened by the fact they portray themselves as self-entitled, narcissistic, clueless douchebags, which may or may not be true (but if that’s where they’re getting their improvisation humor from, it probably must have more than a kernel of truth) who are only left behind from the rapture because they are so uselessly sinful and unworthy. Still, they manage to deliver some of the best laughs of the summer, so maybe we shouldn’t feel so bad about donating at the door to their beer, bong and munchies run.
Best Donation to Celebrities’ Retirement Fund
Red 2 might work as a scenic stock shot travelogue of Moscow, Paris, London, and a promotional tool for wasting ammo as much expensive ammo as possible, but you won’t find any real thrills or suspense here other than wondering just how long these aging actors can keep going to the well and collecting a paycheck for the gimmick of seeing over-the-bankable actors play action heroes. Sure, it was a kick watching first class thespians such as Helen Mirren play a cold-blooded, two-handed hit woman, or John Malkovich look as dopey as possible in nerd hats, but at the end of the day and the machine gun clip, this barely qualifies as a pre-diabetic sugar rush. Anthony Hopkins has gone from such academy award-nominated performances as in The Remains of the Day, to the Remainders Bin, which is no doubt where this DVD will end up one week after release.
Best Movie of the Summer
The Way, Way Back is like a cool, friendly hug in a summer of movies trying to heat up theatres with mountains of money spent on CGI, noise, and meaningless action to bully you into submission. Great characters. Real emotions. Original dialogue. Heart in the right place. What the hell?! is this doing playing during the summer? (Other than the fact it’s about a pivotal summer vacation in the life of a 14 year-old kid trying survive his mother’s new boyfriend). Steve Carrel gives great asshole as the boyfriend. Toni Collete acts more with less than anyone with ten times as much dialogue. Alison Janey as the booze-injected gossipy neighbor in the beach resort town nearly steals the movie. But Sam Rockwell as the world wise water park employee the hero gets all his life lessons from is simply awesome, as usual. Even my 16 year-old son said he wished this movie, like summer itself, would never end.
– A. Wayne Carter