Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On DVD/Blu-ray: BACHELORETTE (2012) and THE FACTORY (2013)

(US - 2012)

Though the Will Ferrell-produced BACHELORETTE is based on a play, it's firmly in the post-HANGOVER class of foul-mouthed, raunchy shock comedy.  There's an obvious BRIDESMAIDS comparison to be made--especially with both films featuring Rebel Wilson--but BACHELORETTE really cranks up the hard-R elements, almost to a fault (there's one utterly pointless scene with a character on a plane discussing her blowjob techniques in graphic detail to the passenger next to her, and it seems thrown in just because the overrated BRIDESMAIDS had a talked-about--and endless--scene on a plane).  Oh, there's some laugh-out-loud moments, and the film gets off to a solid start, but eventually just runs out of things to say and feels like it's having a difficult time even getting to 87 minutes.  Now in their 30s, four high-school friends who called themselves "The B-Faces"--type-A control freak Regan (Kirsten Dunst), ditzy Katie (Isla Fisher), perpetually wasted Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and overweight nice girl Becky (Wilson), unaffectionately called "Pigface" behind her back--reunite for Becky's wedding.  Writer-director Leslye Headland does a good job of capturing the spiteful, bitchy cattiness of the three B-Girls' disgust and outrage that the unattractive fat girl they kept around to feel better about themselves has landed a GQ handsome, successful guy like Dale (Hayes MacArthur), and has become the happiest and most well-adjusted of the clique, but once that's established, there's really nowhere to go.  Most of the film focuses on Regan, Katie, and Gena's attempts to fix Becky's wedding dress in the middle of the night after Regan and Katie, coked-up and drunk after everyone else goes to bed, start mocking the size of it and accidentally rip it in half while trying to squeeze into it so they can take a pic to post on Facebook and embarrass Becky.   Besties!

There's an admirable and uncomfortable mean streak to BACHELORETTE and it starts losing its way when Headland goes conventional and redemptive and feels the need to make the three hot B-Girls likable, at which point the film becomes just another standard-issue chick flick.  Maybe it's just me, but I found it much funnier when it focused on jokes like Regan being stored in Gena's phone under the name "Cuntgina."  Though it's a mixed bag overall, there are some bits that are pure gold:  Katie walking into Scores and cooing "This must be what it's like to go to the Oscars!"; dour, depressed Gena's high school boyfriend (Caplan's PARTY DOWN co-star Adam Scott, cast radically against type as "Adam Scott") making her pancakes and saying in a whiny voice, "Yours has a sad face made of chocolate chips because the world is an asshole!"; and an inspired bit of lunacy where Dale's stoner friend Joe (Kyle Bornheimer as Seth Rogen) tries to revive an OD-ing Katie by sprinkling water on her and singing Heart's "These Dreams."  Also with Ann Dowd and James Marsden as the douchebag best man, BACHELORETTE didn't inspire much confidence in the Weinstein Company, who released it on just 60 screens for a $450,000 gross. (R, 87 mins)

(US/France/Germany/Canada - 2013)

Shelved for nearly five years by a rightfully embarrassed Warner Bros., this Dark Castle production was completed in 2008 and fell victim to endless release date shuffles.  After a planned Christmas 2011 release was predictably nixed, it languished for another year before they quit delaying the inevitable and quietly released it straight to DVD a few weeks ago.  The insulting, idiotic, incompetent, and offensive THE FACTORY is a mind-boggling travesty of a thriller featuring another terrible performance by a seriously skidding John Cusack, who's just not having a good run lately between this, THE RAVEN, THE PAPERBOY, and the still-unreleased-in-the-US epic SHANGHAI, which was also shot half a decade ago.  Cusack froths at the mouth as a hot-tempered Buffalo detective obsessively working a case involving missing prostitutes.  The perp is hospital food service worker Dallas Roberts, a twisted psycho who kidnaps streetwalkers and stashes them in his basement, fathering child after child for the baby factory he's running out of his home.  Of course, it gets personal for Cusack when his rebellious 17-year-old daughter (Mae Whitman) is mistaken for a hooker by Roberts and taken back to his dungeon to breed babies for "Daddy."  Cusack can't crack the case, Roberts is always one step ahead and the obligatory twist is pretty obvious five minutes in when--SPOILER--Cusack's wife (Sonya Walger) makes one of the clumsiest exposition drops in film history when, apropos of nothing as she's pulling the turkey out of the oven for Thanksgiving dinner, she shoehorns in a mention of his partner Jennifer Carpenter's infertility, which has nothing to do with anything they're talking about at the time, essentially shining a spotlight on its utter randomness ("You work her all these hours and it's bad enough that she's 30 and can't have children...") and cloddishly demonstrating that writers Morgan O'Neill (who also "directed," and I use the term loosely) and longtime AS THE WORLD TURNS co-star Paul Leydon haven't the faintest idea how to use foreshadowing. (END SPOILER)  Maybe it works if you, like O'Neill and Leydon, have never seen a suspense thriller before, but nothing in this film holds up under any scrutiny, from the implausible set-up to the brain-dead finale.  How is it possible that Cusack--himself a capable screenwriter (GROSSE POINTE BLANK, HIGH FIDELITY) could've read this trashy script, riddled with plot holes, and thought "Yup...looks good.  I'm in!"?  Recommended only for how deliriously awful it is, THE FACTORY, with its ludicrously contrived plot, vein-popping overacting, and amateurish CGI that doesn't look quite finished, will definitely provide some yuks for your next Bad Movie Night gathering, followed by wistful sadness as you ponder why the once-popular Cusack is seemingly hellbent on tanking his career to become the next Nicolas Cage.  (R, 104 mins)

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