Posts Tagged ‘James Marsden’

This week’s releases include: the tale of a vengeful killer; a political biopic; Woody Allen’s latest picture; a scary Christmas story; a survival narrative; a vampire-werewolf romance; and a family’s struggle worked out in MMA. (more…)

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“There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.”

The first five seasons of the critically-acclaimed and most original series, The Outer Limits, has hit DVD. Like the classic 1960’s series of the same name, each episode is an imaginative exploration of humanity’s greatest hopes and darkest fears. It often pushes the sci-fi envelope, taking you to places, worlds and times you never thought existed.

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There’s a theory that says one must make the choice that benefits the many rather than just one or a few (utilitarianism). It is this same law that is at the centre of The Box.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a suburban couple with a young child. One day a simple wooden box with fatal and irrevocable consequences is left on their doorstep. A mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) informs them that pushing the button in the box will give the possessor $1 million, but pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world – someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to decide, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.

It’s interesting that filmmakers would set the narrative in the 1970’s, choosing to remain true to the period of Richard Matheson’s source material rather than modernize the tale. They do a wonderful job in recreating the look of the decade and the heart of the story is still accessible, but it’s a curious choice nonetheless.

The question underlying the uttered one – would you kill a stranger for a million dollars? – is an intriguing one that is played by people in circles and at parties all the time. Only the fact that the world would benefit from the correct choice is usually more obvious than it is in the movie.

Though Marsden has swum in the superhero pool, he’s always been a great home grown boy next door. His sincerity is never in question. On the other hand, I wonder if it was necessary for Diaz to have an accent and found it somewhat amusing when she would forget her character had a limp.

In the end, the idea takes a different direction than expected and while parts of it are good, most are not.

Special features include: commentary by director Richard Kelly; “The Box: Grounded in Reality,” a featurette about how Kelly’s own experiences helped him adapt the short story; music video prequels; a comprehensive look at the visual effects; “Richard Matheson: In His Own Words”; and digital and DVD copies of the film.


Sex Drive may not be as groundbreaking as its teen sex comedy predecessors, but you will squirm, giggle, and laugh out loud.

Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is at risk of starting college a virgin. His pudgy Casanova friend Lance (Clark Duke) has tried amending the situation but their best gal pal Felicia (Amanda Crew) somehow prevents success at every turn. Ian lives at home, which eventually leads to the revelation that his younger brother has more game than him. Ian’s older brother Rex (James Marsden) torments him every chance he gets. But when Rex leaves town without his vintage Pontiac GTO, Ian grows a set and steals the keys. He and his friends set out on a road trip from Chicago to Knoxville so Ian can lose his virginity to Ms. Tasty, a hot blonde he’s been talking to on the Internet. Of course, they encounter a lot of roadblocks on the way.

The concept of a teenage boy desperate to “visit grandma’s” is not new but the comedy is rescued by the road trip, which affords the writers more opportunity for hilarity. Most notable is Seth Green’s Amish car mechanic Ezekiel. His deadpan sarcasm is priceless, and difficult to respond to as a character. And apparently Amish kids on Ramspringa, a rite of passage spring break-style, really know how to party.

Another character worth mentioning is Señor Donut. By day, it’s just a big rubber donut suit Ian is forced to wear for work; but by night, it’s a fierce crime fighting pastry. He is a very memorable character and a perfect focus for marketing.

Zuckerman, Crew and Duke fit their roles and play well together but they don’t stand out from those that came before them. Marsden, on the other hand, is hilarious as the obnoxious gearhead with a short fuse. This role is unlike any he’s played before and he committed to it fully.

The DVD is on two discs. The first disc contains the theatrical version of the flick, as well as hilarious bonus features. “Sex Drive: Making a Masterpiece” is a making-of featurette spoof, with almost no one sharing a nice word and every member of the cast and crew that appear on-camera in on the joke. “The Marsden Dilemma” and “Clark: Duke of the Internet” focus on each actor and his (fake) inflated ego. “Killing Time in Hollywood (Florida)” is nearly indescribable but two words say a lot: Macho Man. Surprisingly, the audio commentary with director/writer Sean Anders, writer/producer John Morris and producer Bob Levy, is the least comical because the guys learned about filmmaking from other commentary tracks and want to pay it forward.

Disc-two holds the unrated version of the picture. But this is not your typical variation that just includes a little more cursing, or a little more nudity. The unrated edition of Sex Drive is an extra 20 minutes chalk full of random nudity, although the female to male ratio is way out of proportion. In any case, at any given moment, a naked man or woman (yes, naked) can be spotted walking through or decorating a scene. In addition, there are varied scenes included that even the actors couldn’t get through with a straight face and a lot of fart sounds.

American Pie revitalized the teen sex comedy Porky’s-style almost a decade ago. Sex Drive may not be as groundbreaking but you will squirm, giggle, and laugh out loud.

Ian (Josh Zuckerman) is at risk of starting college a virgin. His pudgy Casanova friend Lance (Clark Duke) has tried amending the situation but their best gal pal Felicia (Amanda Crew) somehow prevents success at every turn. Ian lives at home, which eventually leads to the revelation that his younger brother has more game than him. Ian’s older brother Rex (James Marsden) torments him every chance he gets. But when Rex leaves town without his vintage Pontiac GTO, Ian grows a set and steals the keys. He and his friends set out on a road trip from Chicago to Knoxville so Ian can lose his virginity to Ms. Tasty, a hot blonde he’s been talking to on the Internet. Of course, they encounter a lot of roadblocks on the way.

The concept is not new and when the audience was bombarded by a series of dick jokes, my eyes slid into rolling position. But the comedy is rescued by the road trip, which affords the writers more opportunity for hilarity. Most notable is Seth Green’s Amish car mechanic Ezekiel. His deadpan sarcasm is priceless. And apparently Amish kids on Ramspringa, a right of passage spring break-style, really know how to party.

Another character worth mentioning is Señor Donut. By day, it’s just a big rubber donut suit Ian is forced to wear for work; but by night, it’s a fierce crimefighting pastry. He is sure to be found decorating t-shirts shortly.

Zuckerman, Crew and Duke fit their roles and play well together but they don’t standout from those that came before them. Marsden, on the other hand, is hilarious as the obnoxious gearhead with a short fuse. This role is unlike any he’s played before and he committed to it fully.

There is little that separates this film from the many that preceded it but a few great performances make it worthwhile.