A Manly Xmas List
By Leigh Wood
Well, while the ladies celebrate their Fassbender Festivus (You know who you are, biznitches!) what are the gentleman of the season to do? Here’s a list of flicks for the dudes to gather around the tele and toast their egg nogs. Cheers!
Half Baked – Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer (Saturday Night Live) have some ‘weed for a good cause’ fun, i.e. raising enough money to save Harland Williams’ (Employee of the Month) virgin ass and get him out of prison. Some of the gags are crude and stale, but director Tamra Davis (Billy Madison) and Chappelle’s witty writing with Neal Brennan (Chappelle’s Show) keep the amusing and lighthearted sequences coming. A few great pothead cameos and unexpected guest stars also keep a mellow viewer on his toes. I don’t think this is a bad movie, but obviously, it has a very limited audience demographic, doesn’t it?
The Hangover – Oh, the absurd things that can go wrong in Vegas and how effing funny they can be! This 2009 comedy starring Bradley Cooper (Alias, Wedding Crashers), Ed Helms (The Office), and Zach Galifianakis (Due Date) has just the right amount of gags and stupidity to be a modern classic. In addition to the similar but far superior reverse memory storyline like Dude, Where’s My Car?, director Todd Phillips (Old School) makes room for honest male bonding and even some fun sentiment. But, let’s not get too crazy now, because this is a dude’s list. The Hangover is strangely touching, hysterical, and some how both preposterous and realistic at the same time. I’m really looking forward to The Hangover Part II.
Inglourious Basterds – Okay, so this is actually a Michael Fassbender (Hunger) movie, too, but this is one the guys can enjoy. (If you’re gal is one of the Fassinator obsessed, you’ll be pleased by his fate here- or, you might even think he’s pretty cool, “There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch” and all that.) Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 alternative World War II romp looks the period perfection and has plenty of fine irony about how film can save the world. However, I’ve seen this one a couple of times and I still can’t decide if I like it or not. Some sequences are a little too clever and full of themselves, and though he’s supposed to be an over the top send up, sometimes I just hate Brad Pitt’s (He’s Brad %^&*# Pitt I don’t need to refer to another movie!) stupid accent here. Thankfully, Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz (The Three Musketeers) adds serious charm and weight. Even if you’re not a Tarantino fan, this one deserves at least one viewing, and obsessive fans can eat this one up with plenty of multiple watches.
(I respect all holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, and even the %^&$#% Fassbender Festivus!)
The Men Who Stare At Goats – I really don’t like George Clooney. In fact, I generally hate George Clooney (Michael Clayton, Syriana). However, the delightful Ewan McGregor (Revenge of the Sith, Moulin Rouge!) and wonderful Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) make up the slack in this 2009 adaptation of author Jon Ronson’s book from director Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck- I guess he really likes Clooney then). The tongue and cheek brilliance of casting an actor who has played a Jedi in a comedy about a New Age and Jedi-esque military project gone humorously awry is worth at least one helping of ironic viewing. The fact that McGregor is so believable as the straight man for most of the picture makes this stupidity all the more fun. Bridges is a little too much like The Big Lebowski sometimes, but seeing The Dude put the army on its LSD ear is also a great trip. Again, perhaps you either get this one or you don’t, but with some spiked cider and a group of friends, one can certainly have some fun here.
Zombieland – I don’t know that I would call this 2009 zombie road trip movie truly horror, as the primary bits are not about how gory and badass said zombies could be. Thankfully, the coming of age humor amid those meddling undead makes for great fun and gags. Director Ruben Fleischer (Fantasy Factory) and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (The Joe Schmo Show) have some apocalyptic seriousness, but the onscreen zombie survival rules are sweet. Woody Harrelson (The People Versus Larry Flint) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) seem like a seriously unlikely pair, but both have a lot of fun here and give it their all. Naturally, I’m not a Jewish guy, so some of Eisenberg’s too similar to Michael Cera charm gets lost on me, but Bill Murray (again, no reference needed) is just gold. I really hope the formula isn’t screwed for the sequel, but as Rule #32 reminds us, “Enjoy the little things.”
So hug your bro briefly and not too closely, have a shot, and get those Fassy girls away from the TV and under the mistletoe ASAP.