Film Review: Going the Distance

Going the Distance
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate
Director: Nanette Burstein
New Line Cinema
Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity

Going the Distance isn’t your standard cookie-cutter romantic comedy—and that’s a good thing. It’s full of adult content and language that is usually censored from romantic comedies. The inclusion of this kind of content speaks to a new generation of movie goers, and adds a new kind of realism that many couples deal with. Of course, they go to the extreme in some cases, but overall, the relationships in Going the Distance are more believable than what most films portray. Unfortunately, Going the Distance came and went from movie theaters so quickly that few people got the chance to see it, as box office results show. It’s a shame, too, because this quirky and offbeat romantic comedy is a welcome and fresh addition to the genre. Now Going the Distance is available to own on VUDU for under $10, and is available to rent in SD, HD, and HDX.

Going the Distance stars Drew Barrymore as Erin, a grad student hoping to make it in the world of print journalism. Justin Long is Garret, a talent manager at a small record label. Erin and Garret have a chance meet up at a New York area bar where they discover a mutual attraction to each other. They hook up back at Garret’s apartment, but the following morning, Erin reveals she wants to keep things casual. She’s only in New York for six weeks while she interns at a newspaper before she has to go back to school in California. However, their relationship over the next six weeks gets more serious than either of them thought it would. They are both heartbroken on the day Erin has to leave, but rather than giving up on a good thing, they agree to try a long distance relationship. With a country between them, they do everything they can to stay in touch, but each other’s respective profession keeps getting in the way of them being together. Now, they have to decide if they should take the risk of sacrificing their jobs for love.

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have amazing chemistry that is reminiscent of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan films of the 90s and the Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn films of the 40s and 50s. They play off each other so well that it adds a layer of believability to their relationship. The cast and crew and both said there was a heavy amount of improvisation that went into filming the movie, but because they play off each other so well, it comes off as seamless and natural. Improvisation requires a great deal of trust for it to be convincing. Their improvisation is flawless, making their emotional highs and lows that much more impactful on the audience.

The supporting cast features up-and-coming comedy stars Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as Dan and Box, Garret’s best friends, as well as comedy veterans Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan as Corinne and Phil, Erin’s sister and brother-in-law. The scenes featuring them offer great wacky and awkward humor, including a great scene where Garret first “meets” Corinne and Phil during an amorous encounter with Erin. The scenes featuring the supporting cast may seem tangential at times, but they provide a deeper look into the lives of Garret and Erin. They also help ease (and sometimes amplify!) the anguish Garret and Erin feel when they are apart from each other.

Drew Barrymore is quickly becoming Hollywood’s go-to actress for romantic comedies. Having starred alongside a long list of A-list actors (e.g. Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates, Hugh Grant in Music and Lyrics, Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch), Barrymore has more than proven she has the comedic chops to hold her own with them. Going the Distance is further proof that Barrymore is destined for comedic greatness. Justin Long is finally getting his due as the funny leading man, having previously mostly taken supporting roles. Here’s hoping that more films featuring the tandem of Barrymore-Long are in store for the future.

DID YOU KNOW?

The indie band featured in the film, The Boxer Rebellion, is a real band based out of London. The band got the movie gig after a performance at Hollywood’s famous Troubadour club caught the attention of director Nanette Burstein. They have already promised to be in the sequel, should there be one.

The Dependable “Expendables”

The Expendables
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Lionsgate
Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language

The Expendables is the movie that action fans have been waiting for for almost 40 years. For the first time ever, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and more share the screen in a star-studded adventure that unites many of the big name action stars from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. The Expendables is an action-packed thriller with a healthy dose of guns, knives, and explosions, enough to tide over any fan of the genre. Now The Expendables is available on VUDU to own or to rent in SD, HD, and HDX.

Sylvester Stallone is Barney Ross, leader of a ragtag group of mercenaries dubbed The Expendables who have the skill and proficiency needed to solve any crisis—as long as the money’s right. Ross meets up with the mysterious “Mr. Church” (Bruce Willis) to accept a job of overthrowing General Garza (David Zayas), the corrupt dictator of the island of Vilena. With his second-in-command Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Ross heads to Vilena to do reconnaissance on General Garza and his army. They meet their contact, Sandra (Giselle Itie), who gives them intel to take down Garza. During the mission, however, Ross and Christmas discover that the true threat to Vilena is ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts), the mastermind behind Garza’s evil doings. Things go wrong, and Ross and Christmas are forced to make an explosive escape. They try to bring Sandra with them, but she chooses to stay behind to fight for her people. Guilt-ridden over leaving her behind, Ross and the rest of The Expendables set off to Vilena to rescue Sandra and take down Garza and Munroe.

Another entry in the “aging action stars” genre, The Expendables doesn’t play off the fact that the heroes are past their prime. In fact, there is little (if anything) that can stop The Expendables from carrying out a successful mission. They are more “seasoned veterans” than “aging action stars” which makes it even more impressive during all the fight and action scenes. Stallone, pulling triple duty as actor-writer-director, has crafted an excellent film that keeps the viewer craving for more. As people saw in his last directorial effort, Rambo, Stallone isn’t afraid to play things down to appeal to a wider and younger audience. Like Rambo, The Expendables is full of blood, gore, and what has to be one of the highest body counts in cinema history. It is a welcome throwback to the action films of the 70s and 80s where muscle men with big guns and bigger attitudes didn’t let anything get in their way.

Other big name action stars were approached to be in The Expendables, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t be in the film. Had they been able to, then The Expendables would have also included Steven Seagal, Wesley Snipes, Kurt Russell, and Jean-Claude Van Damme to name a few. When The Expendables premiered in August 2010, audiences flocked to the theaters, eventually contributing to over a $100 million domestic box office. Jean-Claude Van Damme immediately stated his regret for turning down the movie, but he is hoping to rectify this, as he is in early negotiations to appear in the sequel. Other action stars said to be interested in the sequel include Wesley Snipes, Bruce Willis (this time in an expanded role), and Mr. T, though it is less likely that Snipes will appear given his recent legal troubles. As long as The Expendables can continue to unite the greatest action stars of the silver screen, then it has the potential to be a very successful film franchise.

The Expendables doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It is an action film, plain and simple, full of explosions, car chases, gun fights, explosions, knife fights, fist fights, and explosions. The stunts and action sequences that are pulled off are remarkable and definitely get the adrenaline pumping. The seaplane escape sequence alone is well-worth the price of viewing, but thankfully, there are so many amazing moments that The Expendables in its entirety is worth it. Don’t miss The Expendables, as action movies like these only come along once in a great while.

DID YOU KNOW?

Plans for a sequel to The Expendables were put in place seven months before the movie even premiered in theaters! It is rumored the Bruce Willis’s “Mr. Church” character will be expanded, and will potentially serve as the film’s villain.

What’s Missing from Your Black Friday Shopping List? VUDU!

As you prepare your assault on retail this Friday, make sure you check out the amazing deals from Walmart and VUDU.  Don’t  keep waiting to buy yourself a new Sony PlayStation®3, especially when you can receive $10 in free movie credits on us with purchase.

As of today VUDU is available on all PS3™s, streaming HD and 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound for an optimum in-home cinema experience. If you already have a PS3™, click here to find out how to download the VUDU application and add the PS3™ to your VUDU device list (then run out to Walmart & pick up another one for that special someone). You can also receive $10 in free movie credit with the purchase of select Blu-ray player and Wi-Fi adapters. See all the VUDU holiday specials here.*

VUDU brings you (and everyone on your gift list) the best HD movie experiences, direct to your living room. So get ready for that 5 am wakeup call on Black Friday 2010!

*All Items are available in limited quantities, with no rain checks.

No Sleep ’till VUDU Is in Everyone’s Living Room!

Today we announced that VUDU is soon to be live on Panasonic VIERA CAST™-enabled Blu-ray Disc players. Beginning November 24th owners of Panasonic’s premium Home Theater devices will be able to access VUDU from their living rooms (just in time to stream Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the whole family).

With the addition of Panasonic, you can now find VUDU streaming the best in HD movies on TVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio, and on entertainment systems from with our first console partner, the Sony PlayStation 3.

We’ve been pretty busy at VUDU these past few weeks: introducing thousands of titles available for $2 for 2 nights, a Toy Story 3 digital copy with physical purchase, VUDU availability on Boxee and the Boxee Box, the upcoming VUDU 2.0 interface and the VUDU application on Sony PlayStation 3! Stay tuned — we’re not slowing down! We’re going to continue to bring you our top quality service on your favorite connected device. Now pass the turkey.

Panasonic VIERA CAST™ Home Screen

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Now Available in All Its Geeky Goodness

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick
Director: Edgar Wright
Universal Studios
Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the kind of great film that is every fanboy’s dream come true. It’s a science fiction-fantasy-action-comedy-romance full of rock ‘n’ roll, video games, fighting, animation sequences, pop culture references, and 8-bit goodness. There’s so much awesomeness going on in this movie, it’s hard to even classify it under any specific genre. But perhaps it’s the blending of genres that makes this movie so amazing. It defies all conventions and lives in its own world. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is not to be missed, and now it is available on VUDU to own or to rent for 2 days in SD, HD, and HDX.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is your average twentysomething rock and roll bassist who just wants his band to make the big time. While dating high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), he meets the girl of his dreams (literally) in Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Conflicted over which girl to be with, Scott eventually chooses Ramona, but in doing so, he unleashes her seven evil exes. Now, with the help of his roommate (Kieran Culkin), his bandmates (Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons), and Ramona, he must face off against the seven evil exes in a series of video game-style combat scenarios in order to win the right to be with Ramona.

This movie is chock full of geekery that is the epitome of every fanboy’s deepest desires. It’s everything one could ever want out of Comic-Con rolled up into one great movie. Writer and artist Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novel series is so beloved by fans and critics alike, that when it was announced a movie adaptation was in the works, it lit up the Internet in a flurry of excitement. In July 2010, at San Diego’s Comic-Con, the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World panel performed to a standing room only audience. After the panel, some fans were invited to a sneak peek of the entire film. When it ended, word spread quickly that the film was pure genius, quickly becoming one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. Several Comic-Con friendly directors such as Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Guillermo Del Toro praised and lauded the film as one of the most creative and original movies ever to come from a major Hollywood studio. But then something happened. When the movie premiered, very few people went to see it. To say the opening weekend box office was underwhelming would be an understatement.

Many people scratched their heads as to what went wrong. It was certainly no fault of Universal Studios, who spent a reported $20-40 million on marketing. They did everything they could to promote the movie, but in the end, very few showed up. At a special screening of the movie, director Guillermo Del Toro had some rather harsh and colorful remarks to the movie going public, stating that people shouldn’t complain when Hollywood puts out bad movies, because when they put out good movies (like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), no one goes to see them.

It’s a shame this gem of movie didn’t get the love and attention it deserved during its theatrical run, but thankfully, many fans are coming out in full force to support the home video release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Michael Cera is proving to be Hollywood’s go-to guy for roles that call for young men who are nerdy, socially awkward, insecure, and incompetent when it comes to dating. He does it so effortlessly that he’s quickly becoming typecast in that role. But if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Cera pulls off his role with perfection, as his mopped-topped Scott ambles and stumbles with pure comic timing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s quirky Ramona oozes with cuteness and charm. Kieran Culkin, now well out of the shadow of his older brother, is a consummate scene stealer. He shines in his egotistical portrayal of Wallace, Scott’s roommate, with his snarky and pithy dialogue and wit. The movies is full of welcome cameos, particularly from Chris Evans and Brandon Routh (each playing an evil ex), typically cast as Hollywood pretty boys and action stars who here play on those roles with added elements of smugness and vanity to complete their villainous personae.

It is the overall look and sound of the movie that is the really eye and ear candy. The intentional use of 8-bit special effects and music are some of the highlights that bring out the inner geek in all of us. The Street Fighter-esque battle scenes and video game voice-overs truly make this movie one of a kind. This is the first great film to convincingly bring both a comic book and video game sensibility to a movie. Where countless other films have tried and failed, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is now the benchmark of how to adapt comics and video games for the big screen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Blink and you’ll miss him, but thankfully with VUDU, you can pause without loss of image clarity. At the 1 hour, 1 minute, and 7 second mark, “Scott Pilgrim” creator Bryan Lee O’Malley makes a brief cameo as the man on the far left, chatting up the blond-haired woman.