Movies in Theaters March 2nd, 2012
This weekend brings us the candid account of a beyond decadent high school bacchanal (Project X), the comedy duo “Tim & Eric” making the jump from the World Wide Web to the Big Screen (Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie), a Chinese period “comedy thriller” starring the always-awesome Chow Yun-Fat (Let the Bullets Fly) and what could be the long-awaited return to form for Robert De Niro (Being Flynn). Get our pre-show thoughts.
No, this isn’t a remake of the 1987 movie starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt and a super-smart chimp (though that would be awesome, and ten points if you wondered that without us mentioning it). Project X ’12 is rated R for “reckless behavior and mayhem” as producer and The Hangover maestro Todd Phillips brings us the story of three high school seniors who attempt to throw the party to end all parties — and, judging by the trailers (which spotlight much of the aforementioned reckless behavior and mayhem), it looks like they may have succeeded. Cast mostly with young unknowns and hosted by a first-time feature film director (Nima Nourizadeh, who has an amusingly contemplative headshot on his IMDB page), Project X will probably bring it in ways that similar teen party movies with bigger stars and budgets have only dreamed of; like 2010’s sorely underrated DIY raunch-fest, The Virginity Hit, it has a brazen sense of “What have we got to lose?” that guarantees one hell of a hangover the morning after, though whether it’s just a collection of bad behavior sketches or an insightful portrait of youth in existential crisis like Superbad (or at least an attempt at one) remains to be seen.
The somewhat surprising and yet still probably inevitable feature film debut of celebrated web comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie follows the stars of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Tim and Eric Nite Live as they blow a billion bucks on a movie and look to revitalize the flailing S’wallow Valley Mall to get the money back. At least, that’s according to the film’s official summary — the trailer gives no clue as to what’s supposed to be going on as it barrages you with a rapid-fire series of celebrity cameos, loud noises and gags/scenarios that probably mean more to fans of Tim & Eric than those uninitiated (not quite sure what that whole “Shrim” thing is all about, but we bet some people do). Even if it should’ve been called Tim and Eric’s Feature-Length Inside Joke, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie has nothing if not, well, energy, and it’s not like we’re going to miss a flick that somehow managed to gather the likes of Robert Loggia, Jeff Goldblum, Will Ferrell, William Atherton, John C. Reilly and Zach Galifianakis under one roof. Narrated by Michael Gross of Family Ties and Tremors — okay, that’s pretty awesome, too.
Rarely have we so wholeheartedly agreed with a film’s title. The 1920s-set Let the Bullets Fly looks like China’s answer to Korea’s recent bugged-out “comedy-thriller,” The Good, the Bad, the Weird, as it follows a notorious bandit (Wen Jiang, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay) as he rides into a remote small town posing as its new mayor, a title he usurped from a small-time con artist (Xiaogang Feng); he soon finds himself challenged by the local crime boss (Chow Yun-Fat) and a battle of wits n’ fists ensues. Asian action films are usually deadly serious affairs, so any one with a goofy kind of Robert Rodriguez-ish flair is a rare and welcome treat — as is, for the most part, any movie starring John Woo’s former muse, Chow Yun-Fat, whom we really haven’t seen enough of these days (though we’re still trying to figure out who managed to talk him into appearing in the disastrous live-action Dragonball movie). Let the Bullets Fly is already a big hit overseas — in fact, as of October 2011, it’s the highest grossing domestic Chinese release ever.
Remember back when Robert De Niro starring in a movie was actually a cause for celebration? The man who gave such powerful (and, in some cases, award-winning) performances in films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Godfather Part II has been flailing about in lazy, wretched self-parody for the past decade or so with projects that the De Niro in his prime wouldn’t have given a second glance (such as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and the increasingly intolerable Meet the Parents movies); even his reunion with Al Pacino, Righteous Kill, ended up being a depressingly mediocre undertaking. Being Flynn, which follows a wandering youth as he attempts to reconnect with his eccentric ne’er-do-well father, might ultimately be too small and slight to really qualify as a true “comeback,” but it looks like a step in the right direction; De Niro actually seems to be trying in the film’s trailer as he takes on an interesting and complex character, something the veteran actor hasn’t played since‚ well, maybe since his excellent turn as career criminal Neil McCauley in Michael Mann’s Heat (1995). Being Flynn might also help put co-star Paul Dano on a clear career track as well; he hasn’t quite known what to do with himself since his amazing performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.