WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
At the age of 14 two Canadian buddies Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (ironically no relation to the This Is Spinal Tap director) made a blood pact to rock together for the rest of their lives. And these guys really mean it. Finding early success in 1982 with their highly influential first album Metal On Metal they made an impact on such major names as Metallica Slayer and Anthrax who all went on to superstardom while these guys and their band Anvil sadly went nowhere fast. This documentary picks up their lives now two guys in their fifties who try for one last great shot at eternal fame as they take time off their menial day jobs to go on a disastrous and mis-managed European tour and try and regain the promise they once had in the heavy metal industry.
WHO’S IN IT?
Filmmaker Sacha Gervasi’s enormously entertaining account of the musical struggles of these two rock ‘n’roll dreamers is augmented with interviews with their wives mothers kids additional family members band mates and such “rivals” as Lars Ulrich Lemmy Scott Ian Slash and Tom Araya. Mainly it’s anchored by the energetic and ever-hopeful lead singer “Lips ” whose emotional outburst and undying enthusiasm drive the docu’s heart. The interviews with the women behind their men can be as humorous as they are heartbreaking and say a lot about just what makes these guys keep plugging away against all odds.
Gervasi sets out to show a couple of guys who just won’t give up even though time and the music business have clearly passed them by. What he gets on film is the spirit of some aging rockers who still hear the music and whose lives are still dictated by the desire to get on stage and let it rip. It’s funny sad and revealing — especially in a meeting they manage to wrangle with a major record label executive.
If you are not into metal you might not share the passion of Anvil — so be warned. But even if this kind of music isn’t in your iPod the universal story of a couple of old souls trying to recapture an elusive moment in the sun is irresistible.
A confrontation with the owners of a run-down European bar where Anvil was booked is raw painfully funny and a perfect demonstration of why this band never made it big.
BEST USE OF EXPLETIVES TO SUM UP A DREAM:
Lips: “Here we sit in our f--king fifties and man we’re gonna be f--king rock stars. It’s a f--king dream but I’m gonna make it come true!”
Rexxx is a superstar dog in Hollywood with movies such as Jurassic Bark and The Fast and the Furrious on his plate. On the set of his latest movie he is being a diva refusing to come to the set because one of the spotted coats in his trailer reminds him of a snooty Dalmation who broke his heart. Eventually Rexxx’s people convince him he can outlive the Taco Bell Chihuahua dog's legacy if he performs this one great stunt. But while diving out of an airplane Rexxx forgets his parachute and lands in a truck full of tomatoes. He ends up running into a boy Shane (Josh Hutcherson) who’s really not into dogs. Shane’s dad is a fire captain (Bruce Greenwood) and the boy’s extended family is a group of well-meaning misfit firefighters at the Dogpatch Station. They're in constant competition with their rival fire station and the city manager (Steven Culp) is warning the Dogpatch Station that they will soon be closing down. On top of it all there are lots of mysterious fires breaking out around Dogpatch. Can Rexxx help save the day? Hutcherson is an amiable child star. After his recent dramatic role in Bridge to Terabithia and as the older brother in Zathura it's clear he's got a long career ahead of him. He comes across as clever and sensible while the world around him is often going haywire. And the young actor has a superb connection with Greenwood as his distant father. Also doing a fine job is Culp as the city manager and Greenwood’s best friend. The last time these two veteran character actors starred together was in Thirteen Days. Teddy Sears (TV’s Ugly Betty) is particularly funny and charming as the fireman who keeps sliding on top of his fellow firefighters when going down the pole. But of course this is a dog's movie and the four Irish setters used to play the lead pup do some pretty cool stunts and reaction shots. Rexxx comes across as delightfully personable even though he smells bad. Director Todd Holland certainly knows how to direct family stories after winning three Emmys for Malcolm in the Middle. This father-son story centers on a recent tragedy and neither of them deal well with it instead becoming more and more distant from each other. Of course the dog’s intrusion brings them together but the storyline cleverly dances a fine line between the stereotypical genres. Firehouse Dog has both laugh-out-loud moments as well as warm fuzzy teary-eyed moments that feel very real. Of course some of the absurd facial expressions and Matrix-like moves by the dog are computer generated but it's not distracting--and not too obvious. The movie is fun for kids and parents to see together especially if they have a dog at home.
Well the verdict is in: Jackass: Number Two is not soft-core. In fact the stunts are more vomit inducing than ever before which in the immortal word of Steve-O is rad! All of your favorite Jackasses are back for more um fun. That’s right--Johnny Knoxville Steve-O Bam Margera Chris Pontius Preston Lacy Ryan Dunn Jason 'Wee Man' Acuna and others have returned to again defy death and sober logic as they take on more elaborate stunts. The stunts this time around involve guns rockets ramps terrorism and animals but not to be forgotten are the fail-proof anatomical gags some of which involve said animals and all of which are too vulgar to reference in any way shape or form here. In summation: more of the same tom-Jackass-ery we’ve come to expect out of these borderline-sane skate-punk dudes. A lot’s changed since Jackass’ early days as an MTV show--most of these “actors”/circus freaks have since gone on to stardom--but all the Jackasses still share an undying love for hurting themselves. Aww. With Jackass the secret weapon has always been the disparate personalities: No two of these guys react the same to their own demise and frankly it’s hilarious. Truth is the commentary’s half the fun! Knoxville brims with charisma and pulls off the rare feat of endearing himself to the Jackass faithful even after having become a movie superstar. His drunken (sounding) laugh is infectious and yes the guy with the most to lose takes the biggest beatings and risks in this movie--how can you not love that?! Then there’s Steve-O whose trademark drawl could be mistaken for a stoned Fran Drescher; he’s the resident self-mutilation whiz. And Margera renowned for terrorizing his folks actually displays a soft side in Number Two (to say more would give away the twist). Cameos from directors Spike Jonze and John Waters Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor Dukes of Hazzard director Jay Chandrasekhar and more only add to the fun. Indeed everyone wants to be a Jackass! While hard to pinpoint clearly there is talent necessary somewhere to make Number Two succeed like it does. That talent likely comes from the behind-the-scenes troublemakers like writers Sean Cliver and Preston Lacy and director Jeff Tremaine the latter two of whom appear in Number Two. Neither the reactions of the Jackasses nor their spontaneity during the stunts are choreographed but it does take a lot of advance preparation--i.e. contingency plans a portable hospital and it would seem booze by the boatload to get the mania into full swing--for a single scene to work. Furthermore to think up such absurdly elaborate ideas is either very painstaking and difficult or very easy--as in watching-episodes-of-Tom-and-Jerry-and-Roadrunner easy. Paramount though to pulling off each and every sequence is getting it all in one take for obvious reasons and Tremaine and co. manage to pull that off like they do everything else.