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Little Fockers: In the 1990’s, Ben Stiller was one of the most talented comedians of his generation. He (along with Judd Apatow) created one of the best sketch shows of the decade (The Ben Stiller Show), directed the first this-is-who-we-are movie for Generation X (Reality Bites), proved he could cut it as a dramatic actor (Permanent Midnight, You Friends and Neighbors) and starred in the only superhero movie to feature both Tom Waits and The Goodie Mob in supporting roles. In the 00’s, the quality of Stiller’s work dropped dramatically. For every The Royal Tenenbaums, there was a Keeping the Faith, a Duplexand most damningly a Meet the Parents. The film and it’s two sequels follow Stiller’s angry and profoundly clumsy Gaylord Focker as he tangles with his perennially disapproving father-in-law Jack played by the legendary Robert DeNiro. Parents, while by no means a high water mark for anyone involved, was mildly amusing. Playing De Niro’s dour intensity against Stiller’s nervous energy is a clever idea but three movies and ten years of in story marriage later? De Niro’s character is a psychotic incapable of letting his daughter live her own life and Stiller’s is a coward unable to protect the life he’s worked hard to build against a man who wears Cosby sweaters regularly. This is the fruition of the promise of Gen X. You always become the thing you hate. Also starring Teri Polo, Dustin Hoffman and Blythe Danner.
Fun Fact: This is the first Focker film not to be directed byAustin Powers mastermind Jay Roach.
True Grit: Newly minted Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) steps into John Wayne’s cowboy boots. The Coen Brother’s claim that their film is actually an independent adaptation of Charlie Portis’s 1968 novel rather than a straight ahead remake which is a very clever rationale for attempting to sandblast over a piece of American film history. Despite the sacrilege, the Coen’s aren’t to be ignored and a cast that features Josh Brolin and Matt Damon does push this film into “only movie worth going to the theater on Christmas” territory. Also starring Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper and Domhall Gleeson.
Fun Fact: The best IMDB Fun Fact ever “The original True Grit (1969 starred)John Wayne in the role of Marshall Reuben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn which is playedby Jeff Bridges in this film. Both actors have very similar nicknames. Wayne is also known as Duke while Bridges is known as The Dude.”
Gulliver’s Travels: Is there anyone who actually missed Jack Black enough to be excited about this film? This painfully unnecessary wacky fat man take on Jonathan Swift’s satire wouldn’t be fun to watch no matter whom it starred in it but casting Black in the lead role is just doubling down on the awful. Not only is America’s Frat boy prat falling his way though this irritation fest, but Ozzy Osborne narrating the piece, which is the laziest, most obvious “remember how much you loved Tenacious D?” nostalgia play imaginable. This isn’t a movie; this is pestilence in audio/visual form. Also starring Catherine Tate, Jason Segal and Emily Blunt.
Fun Fact: Jack Black’s real first name is Thomas.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.