Slashers, anorexics, cheerleaders and the perils of smoking
I was initially drawn to the ‘new’ version of Friday the 13th (2009) through a post by Arbogast, who claimed it tasted not like shit, but like ass. Now I understand. The new film, directed by Marcus Nispel, was produced by none other than Michael Bay with Sean Cunningham (the producer and director of the 1980 original) as executive producer. It’s not a terrible movie — in fact, I stayed with it from beginning to end, which makes it an improvement on the original series. (However, I must confess a personal draw to the ludicrous Jason X, in which the lumbering killer is cryogenically frozen and thawed out five hundred years in the future on a space station run by teenage hotties.) The new movie is strictly formula dead teenager stuff, but Nispel keeps it moving and the production is polished. But, yes, it does taste like ass. Very astute, Arbogast.
Speaking of teenagers, I found myself laughing like an idiot through most of Fired Up! (2009), or ‘FU’ for short. The premise here is two high school football players/stud muffins have ‘banged’ all the available cheerleaders, and their hunger for fresh booty takes them to cheerleader camp. From a screenplay by someone claiming to be called Freedom Jones, the movie co-stars Philip Baker Hall as a coach who’s always saying ‘shit.’ Best seen at 2am, preferably while wearing a fez.
From a screenplay co-written by Luc Besson, Taken (2008) finds ex-CIA agent Liam Neeson called out of retirement to retrieve his daughter who’s been kidnapped, drugged and sold for sex by swarthy foreign types. The daughter is played by Maggie Grace, a talented actress who deserves better material. (I first noticed her a year or two ago among the excellent ensemble cast of the tragically overlooked Jane Austen Book Club.) I was a little shaken by Neeson’s appearance. Terrible (and fluctuating) hair dye aside, the guy — sunken, gaunt and sickly — looks positively anemic.
Which reminds me: Helen Hunt, the lively and attractive star of As Good As It Gets and the TV show Mad About You, co-wrote, produced, directed and stars in Then She Found Me (2007). A barely released family dramady, wildly disjointed (it’s something of a train wreck; Hunt’s no filmmaker), the most disturbing scenes involve characters telling Hunt how beautiful she is. But the actress apparently has a branch of anorexia in which cigarettes substitute for food. Forty-four-years-old during filming, the lines on her graying face and emaciated body make her look at least sixty, and ill to boot. I tried watching it again with her DVD audio commentary, but Helen doesn’t address the fact she looks like she just crawled out of a concentration camp.