"ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Steve “Lips” Kudlow as HIMSELF
    Robb Reiner as HIMSELF

    Not Rated
    Studio: VH1 Films
    Directed by: Sacha Gervasi

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We all have our dreams, and some of us dream really big. Those who dare to dream big are faced with certain failure, but few of us get so close to achieving our dreams and fall short. This is exactly what happened to the Canadian metal band Anvil. They came on strong in the 1980s and even toured with some of the greats like the Scorpions, Whitesnake and Bon Jovi.

But where these others made it big, Anvil disappeared into obscurity... until Sacha Gervasi decided to profile them in the documentary “Anvil: The Story of Anvil.”

The movie takes a contemporary look at the greatest metal band that never was. In a way, the film is like a real-life “This Is Spinal Tap” without the mega-success in the beginning. Here we see a group of musicians that have a story which breaks your heart. But give them credit: they keep trying and trying and trying.

“Anvil: The Story of Anvil” reminds me of the cinematic profile “American Movie” more than it does “Spinal Tap.” It features similar larger-than-life characters who are fighting to make the dream but keep falling short. As much as “Anvil” is heartbreaking, it is also inspiring because finally these guys are getting some recognition.

The movie is as lighthearted as you can make a rockumentary about a metal band. While they have intimidating stage presence, these guys are sweet and loveable behind the scenes. They’re teddy bears, which might explain their inability to crack the acerbic nut of the music industry.

I’ve never been a huge fan of documentaries, but when a good one comes around, I will sing its praises, and “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” is one of those movies. It’s worth seeing because it’s as dramatic as movies come, and the characters are more real than anything you’ll see in a work of fiction. God love these guys, and I hope they keep trying.

The DVD comes with a commentary track featuring director Gervasi, along with Anvil veterans Lips Kudlow and Robb Reiner. There’s also an extended interview with Metallica’s Lars Ulrich about the band as well as some deleted scenes.



"WEDDING BROS."
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Dan Fogler as CARMINE MARCONI
    Brendan Sexton III as ANTHONY MARCONI
    Jon Polito as LOU BURNS
    Patti D’Arbanville as SONYA WEITZMAN
    Steven Randazzo as MR. MARCONI
    Marcia Jean Kurtz as ANNETTE MARCONI
    Zoe Lister Jones as LAUREN MCSHERRY

    Rated R
    Studio: Screen Media Films
    Directed by: Michael Canzoniero & Marco Ricci

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It was only after I watched “Wedding Bros.” that I learned the film was originally called “The Marconi Bros.” This makes sense considering it seems the only way to really get someone to rent or buy this flick is to make them think that it’s a rip-off of “Wedding Crashers.” (This is supported by the cover-box tag-line “The Original Crashers.”)

But don’t be fooled. “Wedding Crashers” this is not. “Bride Wars” this is not. “Hardware Wars” this is not.

“Wedding Bros.” follows two bumbling brothers who want bigger and better things than working in their family’s carpet business. When they stumble upon a wealthy wedding videographer who needs help, the brothers are bitten by the filmmaking buzz. They struggle with a new business of wedding videography and find love with a cute wedding photographer.

If you’re watching an art film made by a foreign genius, it makes sense that you’d have to pay strict attention and still risk losing track of the story. However, when it’s a low-rent independent romantic comedy, this is unacceptable. It’s not that the story is hard to fathom. Rather, the movie plods through its scenes and never really finds a track, let alone stays on it.

“Wedding Bros.” reminds me of the DVD flop “Everybody Wants to Be Italian,” which featured an irritating and abrasive lead character trying to fall in love with a woman who has no depth but it just pretty enough to commit to celluloid. I really didn’t care about the characters, or the comedy. Dying is easy; comedy is hard. And “Wedding Bros.” died.

The DVD comes with an extended scene along with the director’s commentary.



"SEX POT"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Rollin Perry as SPANKY
    Seth Adam Cassell as MERT
    Michelle Penick as PRINCESS
    Rana Davis as STRAWBERRY
    Christine Nguyen as CINDY

    Not Rated
    Studio: The Asylum
    Directed by: Eric Forsberg

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Low budget films can be hard to do at a level of quality that can live up to the big studio releases. The Asylum has made a cottage industry out of knocking off big name releases. In some cases, these film are good fun, and others are misses. But those are the odds with studio releases as well.

“Sex Pot” diverges from the big-budget rip-off to tell as relatively low-budget story of a couple guys trying to get high and get laid. Basically the plot of any given Cheech & Chong movie.

The story, if you can call it that, follows two clueless stoners who get their hands on magical marijuana that gets the smoker all hot and horny. They strike out to go to a party and reap the benefits of the sex pot but fall into a series of misadventures along the way.

“Sex Pot” is the kind of film that dares to ask which prostitutes have penises and how foul a hot chick’s bowel movement is... and whether a horny guy could still want to have sex with her if she didn’t wipe.

If you like that sort of humor and contemplation, “Sex Pot” is right up your ally. It’s cast is brimming with hot chicks – ranging from “serious” actresses to nude models (like Christine Nguyen) to full-on porno stars (like Rebecca Blue... and don’t ask me how I know this).

I will give the movie credit. It delivers in the departments that you’d expect. There’s plenty of bare breasts and a fair amount of girl-on-girl make-out action. It also has its gross-out moments (like the aforementioned bowel movement scene), but the movie serves to titillate the horny teenage boy rather than entice the gorehound.

“Sex Pot” comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette “Bonds of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apotcalypse,” talking about how the film is in 3D, which is news to anyone watching it. The production problems make sense when the crew and braintrust keep professing their love of the bud, though. Additional features include bloopers and trailers.

I can’t say this is a great film, but it fits the mold and is unashamed of this. For that matter, I have a twisted amount of respect for it.



"LYMELIFE"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Alec Baldwin as MICKEY BARTLETT
    Kieran Culkin as JIMMY BARTLETT
    Rory Culkin as SCOTT BARTLETT
    Jill Hennessy as BRENDA BARTLETT
    Timothy Hutton as CHARLIE BRAGG
    Cynthia Nixon as MELISSA BRAGG
    Emma Roberts as ADRIANNA BRAGG

    Rated R
    Studio: Screen Media Films
    Directed by: Derick Martini

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One of the most terrifying things to encounter in independent cinema is the movie based on the coming-of-age experiences of the director. The reason for this is, with very few exceptions, no one’s life is really all that interesting to warrant its own feature film. In the end, films like “Lymelife” turn into masturbatory pieces driven by a director’s ego.

“Lymelife” tells the story of 15-year-old Scott (Rory Culkin) in the 1970s as he watches his family – and those around him – implode. His dad is having an affair with the mother of his first love, and her father has been stricken with the then-mysterious Lyme disease. These separate storylines twist around each other to a final, tragic conclusion.

I’m sure the bizarre and trashy relationships of the people in this film are interesting to director Derick Martini because he lived through them, in a way. But for me, they were just boring. Nothing happens in the film, except for Scott running into minor conflicts throughout the film.

The film was meant to be a tear-jerker, but the only tears I encountered were the ones that I was bored to. Sure, the film has a great cast – featuring Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Timothy Hutton, a budding Emma Roberts and the non-arrested Culkin boys – and they do raise the quality of the feature to a certain degree. However, for a film that promises to be a comedy, it is alarmingly flat.

The DVD comes with deleted scenes and an alternate ending, as well as a commentary track by the director.

After watching the special features, I am convinced that “Lymelife” partially suffered from its own success. I worked on a movie almost ten years ago that had a key yet disturbing scene tempered for general release. And while I don’t think the loss of this scene was even a major reason in the film’s failure, it didn’t help. Likewise, director Derick Martini admits in the commentary over the alternate ending that he changed things for the release, even though it wasn’t the movie he intended to make. This may have softened things a bit and lost some of the payoff... or the movie failed to find a wider audience because it was strictly a film for the festival crowd.



"GOOD DICK"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Marianna Palka as WOMAN
    Jason Ritter as MAN

    Rated R
    Studio: Phase 4 Films
    Directed by: Marianna Palka

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If I were still actively making independent films, watching “Good Dick” would make me want to kill myself. This wouldn’t be because the film would send me into a depression. Nor would it be because I connected so well with the characters that I would fall in line with their suicidal tendency. Instead, it would make me want to kill myself because I would feel like a failure if this movie could get into the Sundance Film Festival, and mine couldn’t.

“Good Dick” is the epitome of the angst-ridden, forever-striving-to-be-different independent romantic comedy. Instead of embodying the fun and spirited fluff that a rom com should be, this film just grinds its teeth through the process.

It’s a non-love story between a Man (Jason Ritter) and a Woman (Marianna Palka). The Man works in a video story and begins stalking the Woman when he discovers her cinematic taste for erotica. She reluctantly lets him into her life, into her apartment and eventually into her bed. Not that anyone really cares about it.

“Good Dick” is deliberately obtuse and forcefully annoying. The characters are so riddled with hang-ups and dysfunction that I felt no sympathy for them. The basis of the story is the creepy Man stalking the Woman, and eventually having them fall into some twisted form of love. However, this is such a far-fetched and ridiculous story that it becomes more irritating than magical.

Palka pulls triple duty as writer, director and actress, but she misses the mark on all fronts, being her own triple threat against her career. I’m sure she’s trying to say something significant before wallowing in cliche with a non-twist at the end (featuring a decent cameo by Tom Arnold), but I didn’t have the interest to try and figure it out.

The special features includes a gag reel, which isn’t that funny, and a featurette “Good Dick Goes to Sundance” which is even more dull than the movie.



    

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