by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
I am an unabashed Adam Sandler/Happy Madison apologist. I enjoy his movies (Billy Madison is a comedy classic) on a regular basis, and I say this without the shame we’re supposedly required to have. (Since when did it become hipster de rigueur to hate the guy for providing Americans with goofy comedy anyway? I never got the memo.) That said, I really enjoy the non-Sandler comedies quite a bit more —Joe Dirt, Grandma’s Boy and now Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. Comedian Nick Swardson takes the title role, complete with bowl haircut, big bucked teeth and a charmingly dumb demeanor. After discovering his parents were 1970s porn stars, he heads to Hollywood with the same goal in mind, never mind the fact he has an incredibly small phallus and a propensity for extreme premature ejaculation. You know, call me lame, call me uncultured, call me a cinematic imbecile, but don’t call me a dishonest critic, because I was laughing my ass off throughout the whole thing.
Actor-director Robert Townsend hit the scene in the late 80s with Hollywood Shuffle, a hilarious send-up of racial mores in the film industry. But then something happened, and he became a watered-down version of his former self, delivering unwatchable garbage like The Meteor Man and BAPS. Basically, he became the very thing he was making fun of in Shuffle. His latest project, the straight-to-DVD dramady Diary of Single Mom finds him in Tyler Perry territory, doing his best to deliver an inspiring message of hope that gets bogged down in too much overacted melodrama and forced pathos to really elicit anything more than a concerned glance. The women are all the archetypal strong women, standing up to the adversity that no-good men (most are deadbeats and abusive jerks) have placed in their way. It’s by-the-book Oprah-sploitation, masquerading as girl-power inspirational nonsense. Even Billy Dee Williams can’t save it, and he was Lando Calrissian.
Heavy Metal meets Speed Racer in Redline, a high-octane sci-fi anime that, if you’re not paying attention, will zoom right by you. In the far future, cars can fly, leaving wheeled vehicles a bit of a novelty and leading to the popularity of a reckless road race called the Redline. As drivers Sweet JP and Cherryboy Hunter Sonoshee head to the fascistic planet of Roboworld for the biggest race of their careers, an evil general will stop at nothing to make sure the tournament doesn’t happen, even if it means unleashing a giant destructive force known as “Funkyboy”. Filled with Jack Kirby-inspired art, amazing race sequences, colorful aliens and an insane plot that demands constant attention, Redline transcends anime stereotypes and enters into a whole other realm of entertainment; it’s actually a fantastic movie, period, a sci-fi work of art that should be touted as the new Akira, taking the art form above and beyond the typical otaku geekery. In addition to Redline, Anchor Bay has also released First Squad: The Moment of Truth, a World War II revisionist tale of Russian psychic warriors battling grotesque occult Nazis. Why not, right?