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Video Store Rental Reviews #1
DVD reviews in the year 2023.
I'm lucky enough to live just a few blocks away from a video rental store*. Yes, in the year 2023, I rent movies every weekend. I put my annual membership to good use, as Letterboxd reports that I've rented (and watched) 175 movies since January 2020. Many of them have been used for The Vince Vaughn-a-thon or Y2Kidz or any column on this site, but sometimes I just like to throw it back and stroll around, browsing with no purpose. Checking out the cover art and reading the back of the box. The following are reviews for my random pickups at the video store:
*I say that as if I didn't choose this apartment based on its walkability to the video store. I suppose the real luck is just that it exists.
Super Troopers (2001)
Five bored, occasionally high and always ineffective Vermont state troopers must prove their worth to the governor or lose their jobs. After stumbling on a drug ring, they plan to make a bust, but a rival police force is out to steal the glory.
Having been born in the late '90s, I was too young for the heyday of Jay Chandrasekhar and the whole Broken Lizard crew (though I do remember Beerfest coming out when I was nine, thanks to the...uh...poster).
That being said, I just don't have any connections with these guys, so it all comes down to the movie. I'm sure that movies about dumb cops were a lot funnier 20 years ago, but it just doesn't play the same way anymore. Don't get me wrong, some of the gags are definitely funny, but there aren't enough of them. The movie needs me to really care about these guys, spending most of its runtime concerned more about the plot than the comedy. That seems like such a rare complaint of silly movies like this one, but I just don't actually care if these guys get shut down - no matter how much I (and we) love Brian Cox.
Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.
section: Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh likes to experiment. He likes to film movies on iPhones and cast an entire town's worth of nonprofessional actors and make secret movies while faking retirement. I'm often torn on his work, loving some (I love Ocean's Eleven - who doesn't?) while feeling distant from others, (why am I the only person on the planet who asks what the hell happened with Ocean's Twelve?) This is his experiment in how little plot can an action film get away with?
He knows that Gina Carano isn't an actress, so he lets her run around and beat people up while surrounding her with a cast full of Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. She does some ass-kicking in Barcelona and some ass-kicking in Dublin and some ass-kicking here and some ass-kicking there, while the guys are there to make it a movie and pretend anything else matters. David Holmes' score is relatively subdued for an action flick and between that and the movie's chill vibe, the whole thing plays like Soderbergh’s lo-fi action to study to.
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
When the girl that detective Joe Hallenback is protecting gets murdered, the boyfriend of the murdered girl attempts to investigate and solve the case. What they discover is that there is deep seated corruption going on between a crooked politician and the owner of a pro football team.
section: Tony Scott
The Last Boy Scout presents itself as a buddy-cop comedy, but its real strength is in being a genre-hyphenate. There's the cop stuff, sure, as Bruce's character may as well be named Jim McClane and there's the buddy stuff, sure, as he and comedian Damon Wayans have great chemistry. But this is no surprise, as Bruce has had chemistry with rocks (he brings his usual wise-ass stuff here) and Damon can handle the heavier dramatic moments with ease.
Above all, however, it's hard-boiled noir. Bruce and Damon team up to solve a pretty legit mystery, screenwriter Shane Black injects a healthy dose of cynicism (remember when sports gambling was just about the worst thing you can possibly imagine? This was so long ago, there's a character who's still upset about the concept of free agency!), and Tony Scott was never one for a two-dimensional genre picture.
Also features Halle Berry in one of her earliest roles, scream queen Danielle Harris in her teenage years between child horror star and adult horror star, and D-Day from Animal House (and the underrated Rizzoli & Isles) gets blown up in the first ten minutes (spoiler).
Unfortunately, it's never as good as its first scene, when a PCP-fueled running back shoots (in the face) every defender in his way.
Credit: Each plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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