Hot, wild, summer vacation 

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Summer's half over so get your lake days while you can. The August long weekend marks the mid-point of summer holidays, but it's also a time when yoga mats suddenly outnumber bicycles in Whistler Village and all the Fraggles come out of the forest to shower in our public sinks.

Of course, this is a town built on wandering (and lusting) so we are happy to have them all (especially if it means another amazing free Michael Franti concert — see interview on page 72).

I read somewhere that Wanderlust also has a cinematic component called Soulful Cinema, but 15 minutes of scanning their website and schedule turned up exactly zero leads as to where or when that is.

Maybe they want it like that, a refreshing opposite to the oversaturation of information we get prior to most Hollywood movies. Either way, there's a part of me that hopes Soulful Cinema is a Blacksploitation fest screening Coffee, Blacula, and Hell Up in Harlem in the back room of the Forlise store — and if not, those titles are the Downloads of the Week.

Speaking of Hollywood, the Village 8 is opening two new flicks this week and only one of them is a remake of a classic (the other is the fifth in a franchise). Vacation is, sadly, a remake of the Chevy Chase classic National Lampoon's Vacation. This time out Ed Helms stars as a grown-up "Rusty" from the original who dreams of following in his father's footsteps to the mythical Walley's World in hopes of fixing all his own family's problems.

If only he could fix the script. Amidst all the crass sewage swimming and cow bisecting, Christina Applegate's talent is all but wasted and the Griswold sons, the nerd and the sociopath, are so equally unlikeable that you get sick of them almost before the trip begins (I guess the sociopath does have his moments). Certainly, Lampoon's flicks aren't supposed to be Birdman and the humour here certainly ups the gross-out ante, but in the end this (30 minutes too long) episode of nostalgia mining is much too predictable. Dumb fun works when you don't see it coming, otherwise it's just dumb.

Also opening this week we have Tom Cruise's latest, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and the 19-year-old franchise seems to be holding up at least as well as its batshit-weird star. Cruise turned 53 this month and he can still hold onto a moving airplane with the best of them.

This time out, his indestructible Ethan Hunt is back in action right from the start, even as his super-duper team (Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner) risks being absorbed into commonplace CIA ops or disbanded altogether. The bad guy is a terrorist and the set pieces span multiple countries, all kinds of technology, some explosions and splendid locales.

There are plot twists out the wazoo, but in the end the stunts, intrigue and balls-out action carry the show, with lots of help of femme-fatale double (triple?) agent Ilsa Faust (Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson).

At two hours and 10 minutes, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation undoubtedly could have used a tighter edit, but time is important here because the flick mirrors Cruise's own personal conflicts (his team is being unfairly picked on) and Hunt's dogged, "by any means necessary" manhunt to kill an older, blonder evil doppelganger of himself could be seen as a battle against old age. Like the tick-tocking crocodile in Peter Pan, time chases all of us.

Say what you want, Tom Cruise is killing middle age compared to Adam Sandler. His latest, Pixels, released with no pre-screenings last week and is a frontrunner for the laziest and crappiest movie of all time. I still haven't checked it out, but word is it's essentially a Ghostbusters rip-off with really unlikeable characters (and actors) in the roles of all those awesome characters from Ghostbusters. Having said that, "shittiest movie ever" is actually a decent marketing campaign — if you're near the bottom you may as well go for the bottom, right? And how many people will suffer through it just to see how bad it really is? I probably will.

If not, you can stay home and stream 2001's Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix. As far as mindless summer comedies go this one is decent and chock full of now-big-name stars like Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo and Paul Rudd. Rudd especially rules in it, and also, he doesn't seem to age — neither does my cousin Elizabeth Banks. This flick is 14 years old and they look the same, eat it Cruise!

All this is important because Netflix is launching all the episodes of season one of a new Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp show on Friday, July 31. So in that sense, summer's just beginning!

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