Monday, April 27, 2009

Movies: Vehicular Stupidity Double Feature

Today we're looking at two movies with cars as central characters. Both are poor-to-mediocre outings, but they have some interesting automobile hijinks, so what makes more sense than cobbling them together into a double feature?

Sex Drive

R-rated teen comedies are a dime a dozen. It's easy to make one up on the fly - take a socially hapless but good-hearted protagonist, an outrageous oversexed and/or popular best friend, and attach a youthful premise (road trip, prom night, graduation, etc.), and BOOM, you're done:

Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is a regular-Joe type who's never had much luck with the ladies. But when an anonymous chat room friend offers to "go all the way," Ian's hormones get the best of him. He decides to steal his brother's car, a vintage 1969 GTO, in order to make the trip cross-country to meet the girl...if she's even a girl. His ladykiller friend (played with aplomb by Clark Duke) and his girl-friend-who's-not-a-girlfriend (Amanda Crew) tag along for the ride.

Okay, so director Sean Anders isn't straying very far from the formula here, but it's not really that bad of a movie. The main failing is a lack of laughs, which is a pretty big deal for what's being marketed as a zany comedy. There is plenty of incident, and the GTO eventually plays a big part in the story, but subjectively the movie just wasn't very funny for me.

Rating: 6/10

Death Race

Jason Statham has a peculiar talent - he has starred in some of the most violently nonsensical productions ever filmed. Between "Crank," "In the Name of the King," and "Death Race," he's destined to become a legendary B-movie actor:

Yes, it's a remake of the forgettable Roger Corman cult film "Death Race 2000." That alone should put you on notice that the movie will be absurd, but the slick production values help to hide the cornball cheesiness of the premise. Statham plays former racecar driver Jensen Ames, who is framed for his wife's murder in the opening scenes. He's taken to Terminal Island, where convicts race against each other in armor-plated, machine-gun-equipped vehicles to delight the masses.

Director Paul W. S. Anderson shows his trademark inconsistency here, at times making you cringe at awful dialogue and at times exciting you with good practical effects. This one's not nearly as bad as "Alien vs. Predator," but it doesn't reach the cheesy standard set by "Resident Evil" or "Mortal Kombat," either. I think where "Death Race" stumbles the most is during the final act, which hamhandedly discards all the careful setup explaining why convicts with armor-plated, machine-gun-equipped vehicles don't just, you know, escape the prison. The plot holes here, become, literally, big enough to drive a truck through.

Rating: 4/10

BONUS! Jason Statham's newest movie, "Diabetes":

It's only a joke because it hasn't been filmed yet.


At 9:34 PM, Blogger Home on the Range said...

Death Race 2000 remake! Woo Hoo.

I have to admit, I saw that in a movie theater I snuck out when I was in junior high.

Matilda the Hun: Well, what does she expect? You leave your navigator lying around, naturally somebody is going to run over him.


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