A pair of burnouts try to save the world while magicians duel and Halle Berry answers the phone.

In Theaters

John Dies at the End (Magnet Releasing)
John Dies at the End
(Magnet Releasing)

After months of seeing its trailer before seemingly everything at The Carolina, John Dies at the End at last comes to Hendersonville Road.  Following the exploits of two college dropouts as they try to save humanity from the effects of a time-traveling drug called Soy Sauce, the film is an appealing blend of comedy, sci-fi, and horror with a spoilerific title to match.  Based on the acclaimed novel by David Wong (a.k.a Cracked.com editor Jason Pargin) and adapted for the screen by Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep; Phantasm), the film has consistently won audiences over on the festival circuit.  Will it live up to the underground hype?  Look for my review on Friday.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

In The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi star as once-famous illusionists whose Las Vegas act is threatened by the popularity of Jim Carrey’s street magician.  With Alan Arkin as a retired industry pioneer and James Gandolfini as a casino boss, the cast looks great and the trailer suggests slapstick ridiculousness on par with something like Blades of Glory.  Let that comparison be your guide.  It’s also worth noting that the film is co-written by John Francis Daley, who played Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks, and that it’s not his first screenplay.  Daley was partially responsible for Horrible Bosses and is co-writing/directing a new National Lampoon’s Vacation film starring Ed Helms (Andy Bernard from The Office) as a grown-up Rusty Griswold.

The Call (TriStar Pictures)
The Call
(TriStar Pictures)

Halle Berry plays a 911 operator in The Call, a new thriller from the director of The Machinist (a.k.a the Christian Bale starvation flick) and Transsiberian.  When abducted teen Casey Welson (Little Miss Sunshine‘s Abigail Breslin) phones in from her captor’s trunk, Berry’s Jordan Turner takes charge per usual.  As the day progresses, however, Jordan’s ties to the abductor come to light and she’s forced to confront her demons before it’s too late.  If this one’s even remotely good, I’ll be surprised.

Fleeing the Scene

The movie gods are merciful this week in their smiting of Amour, Safe Haven, 21 & Over, and The Last Exorcism Part II.  Now, if they could take care of Identity Thief and A Good Day to Die Hard, we could all sleep a little safer.

On DVD

The most awarded film at this year’s Oscars, the big-screen grandeur of Life of Pi is homeward bound.  Also worth seeing is the poignant addiction dramedy Smashed; Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock; the imaginative animation of Rise of the Guardians; and the hoax guru documentary Kumare.

As for the unknowns, there’s Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl’s documentary on the legendary L.A. recording studio Sound City; Sean Penn in drag for This Must Be the Place; and the Cirque de Soleil movie Worlds Away.

On Netflix Instant

ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has earned raves from viewers who don’t typically flock to sports, and their Bo Jackson doc, You Don’t Know Bo, covers another interesting figure.  There’s also the much maligned Winona Ryder/James Franco mystery, The Letter, the star-studded vignette comedy A Girl Walks Into a Bar, and the sure-to-be-heartwarming horse drama Amazing Racer.

The week’s most enticing question mark, though, is the first season of Bomb Girls, a Canadian series staring Meg Tilly.  Focusing on a group of women’s exploits at a munitions factory during WWII, the show has garnered a small following and may be another good Downton Abbey/Mad Men view-alike.  As if you weren’t watching enough shows…

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2 Comments

  1. saw John Dies at the End about a month or so ago, maybe rented on Amazon? It was weird…The trailer is better than the film…it was verrry strange. Maybe wait for video or if it’s on somewhere free.

    • Edwin Arnaudin says:

      I like Coscarelli’s sense of humor. Bubba Ho-Tep is still probably my favorite of his, but John is a lot of fun, too.

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