Notes from the back row 

Love and Romance

Valentine’s Day is a pain in the ass for movie lovers. It’s romantic comedy season and while every movie studio knows a good romantic comedy can make a lot of money (There’s something about Mary = $160 million) the truth is most of them these days are pretty piss-poor.

That makes Definitely, Maybe, now playing at the Village 8 a little bit more refreshing, a little better than most. Ryan Reynolds (from Vancouver, and Van Wilder) plays an ad-exec who’s just putting the final spit and polish on a divorce when his smart and precocious (is there any other kind of child character?) young daughter starts asking questions about how he fell in love with her mother and how that love fell apart. Sounds pretty gay, but Reynolds tells a tale of three women, all names changed of course, and asks his daughter to figure out which one was her mother. So it’s like a mystery, a romantic who-done-it told mainly through flashbacks. Luckily, the three women are bombshells and fantastic actresses — Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher, and Elizabeth Banks (who is currently shooting the next Kevin Smith movie Zack and Miri make a Porno with Seth Rogen). The daughter is played by Abigail (Little Miss Sunshine) Breslin, and, along with all the characters, she’s given good lines and does a fine job. Fellas, if you get dragged to this one be sure and bask in those life-love messages because this one’s almost two hours long.

Speaking of romantic comedies (RomCom’s if you want to sound like you work in a video store,) The Heartbreak Kid, a Farrelly Brothers remake, is available on DVD. It’s preposterous plot is balanced by an R rating, allowing for Farrelly Brothers trademark humour like donkey-sex shows, deviated septums, dirty talk, nudity, golden showers, clit-ring jokes and a killer bicycle faceplant stunt by ex-Whistler-girl-turned-stuntwoman Sabine Varnes. It’s not the greatest flick, but there are a couple decent chuckles, and it stars Michelle Monaghan who rules.

Michelle Monaghan also rules in Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck and just out on DVD. Monaghan and Casey Affleck play a girlfriend/boyfriend detective team in Boston trying to track down a kidnapped girl. For a long time I’ve been a huge critic of Ben Affleck’s acting (and I still thing he should hang it up), but he’s already won an Oscar for writing (Good Will Hunting) and this, his directorial debut, is an unflashy-yet-competent movie full of grit and a defined sense of right and wrong – all the things that make a good detective flick. Casey Affleck is awesome (he’s up for an Oscar for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James), Amy Ryan (up for an Oscar for her role here) kills it, and Michelle Monaghan, in an underdeveloped role, is great as always. One of top-10 of the last year, I really like this movie.

But I love Chupacabra Terror which is also on DVD but harder to find. It’s a shitty movie with cheap effects (digital and bloody) about a legendary Latin American blood-sucking beast that is unleashed on a cruise ship. That premise alone had me totally sold. Bad writing, acting, effects, and a guy in a rubber costume make this my pick for best movie to just kick it at home with on Valentine’s Day. No love, no gush. Just blood hitting walls and the beast known as the “goat sucker.’ I guarantee your girlfriend will love curling up with you for a late-night viewing of Chupacabra Terror, as long as you take her to the Rim Rock first.

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