How to Spend $20

By David Mumpower

December 15, 2011

I'm going to Toys R Us to buy one right now.

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For Fans of Too-Pretty Vampires: Fright Night

A much better than expected remake of the 1985 “classic,” Fright Night is an odd celebration of star power. Colin Farrell relishes the opportunity to portray his purest villain since Daredevil (don’t even think about mentioning In Bruges to me as an example of villainy). His glee throughout the proceedings infuses Fright Night with the perfect note of B-movie majesty.

Better yet, no-longer-The Doctor David Tennant makes an appearance roughly halfway through the proceedings as a Criss Angel-esque fraud who flees of the face of the true supernatural. Tennant’s character’s interactions with his enemy with benefits magician’s assistant are justification enough to watch the movie.

If you are one of those sad people who only loves sparkly vampires, A) Aim higher and B) Farrell and Tennant are better looking dudes than you ordinarily watch in those unnamed cinematic atrocities. If you are otherwise on the fence about whether you can get past the silly here, I would point out that Fright Night is 75% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and even more impressively 88% fresh among top critics. Fright Night was a huge box office disappointment that deserved a much better fate. In most weeks, this would be choice as selection of the week.

For Doctor Zaius, Doctor Zaius: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If you are anything like me, you now have a Simpsons earworm. Anyway, The Help won the public relations battle at the end of summer, but the movie released the week before won the box office war. Handily. As I referenced last week, The Help earned roughly $200 million worldwide, the overwhelming majority of it from North America. It’s just not a story that translates globally. Talking, belligerent apes on the other hand… Rise of the Planet of the Apes has earned $480 million overall, $176.7 million of that domestic.

The key is that unlike Tim Burton’s disastrous Planet of the Apes, the James Franco update is quite good. Currently 83% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes (80% fresh with top critics), Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a bad-ass action flick the likes of which we rarely see these days. It also features that delicious slice of believability, causing the viewer to worry that maybe just maybe evolution could come back to bite us all in the less hairy butt.

Pick of the week:
For People Who Don’t Need a Laugh: Kung Fu Panda 2

I realize the above sounds indicative of someone who dislikes Kung Fu Panda 2. This is not the case at all. By the time this column is published, I will probably already own the 3D version of the Blu-Ray. I absolutely adore Kung Fu Panda 2, a timeless masterpiece of storytelling that has more heart than anything I’ve seen in 2011. It’s just not very funny. If you watch this film with the expectation of Jack Black making lots of quips about what a fat panda he is, you will be sorely disappointed. DreamWorks Animation got all of those out of the way with the original.

The sequel is a much more mature tale of weapons of mass destruction, oddly enough. The original title was Kaboom of Doom, designating the most destructive cannon in the land. A merchant of death disowned by his people returns from his disgrace to enslave those responsible for his banishing. There is nothing funny about the way this (literally) preening peacock crushes the opposition. The mature themes of death and responsibility permeate throughout the proceedings. Po the hero returns from the original but Po the plucky comic relief is largely absent. The subject matter is serious; as such, DreamWorks Animation does not lessen its impact by stooping to the lowest common denominator.

To the contrary, Po levels up as a paragon of virtue for his people and is rewarded in the end in a profound way that sets up a touching sequel, assuming that Kung Fu Panda 3 is greenlighted. Given its domestic box office of $165 million, that’s not a certainty. Still, the global take of $650+ million more than justifies a sequel, as does the impeccable quality of Kung Fu Panda 2. This is the second straight year where I feel the best DreamWorks Animation title is better than the one from Pixar. I strongly recommend Kung Fu Panda 2 with the caveat that you accept in advance that it is a fairly mature drama, not a comedy. I am not ruling out playing it for your small children, though. The peacock’s animation delivers breathtaking exhibition of colors.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)
Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG)
Fright Night (R)
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (PG-13)
Circumstance (R)
2002-2012: Decade in MotoGP (Not Rated)
2011 U.S. Open Mens Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal (Not Rated)
99 & 44/100% Dead / The Nickel Ride (Not Rated)
Adventure Triple Feature (Not Rated)
Allan "Rocky" Lane Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Ancient Super Ballistics (Not Rated)
The Apocalypse (Not Rated)
Awaking Arthur
Awesome Pawsome: Next Generation (Not Rated)
The Battle of Britian (Not Rated)
The Battle of City Springs (Not Rated)
A Beautiful Life (Not Rated)
Bedroom Tech (Not Rated)
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Not Rated)
Bleach Box Set 11 (Not Rated)
Blood and Iron: The Story of the German War Machine
Bob Steele Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Bomber Boys
The Boot Factory (Not Rated)
Bounty Hunters: Dead or Alive
Buck Jones Western Double Feature Volume 2 (Not Rated)
Buck Jones Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Bully 911: Self-Defense to Prevent Bullying (Not Rated)
Champions (PG)
Charles Starrett Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Children of the Red Cross (Not Rated)
Church: The Movie (PG)
Columbia Struggle for Survival (Not Rated)
Country School (Not Rated)
Crossing The Rhine (Not Rated)
Daddy Longlegs
Daktari: The Complete First Season (Not Rated)
Dead Man's Revenge (Not Rated)
Def-Con 4 / Hell Comes to Frogtown (R)
The Devil's Brigade: The Complete Series (Not Rated)
Drenaje Profundo (Not Rated)
Elusive Justice: Search for Nazi War Criminals (Not Rated)
The Excess of Sexual Tourism (Not Rated)
Extreme Ocean Salvage (Not Rated)
Family Guy: Volume 9 (Not Rated)
Fireman of the Bronx (Not Rated)
Frame 313: JFK Assassination Theories (Not Rated)
Frontline: Anthrax Files (Not Rated)
God Only Knows (Not Rated)
Grupo Mania: Lo Que Gusta A Mi Gente (Not Rated)
Gunsmoke: Seasons 1-5 (Not Rated)
Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2 (Not Rated)
He Would've Rode a Harley (Not Rated)
Heroes on Call (Not Rated)
Hold Your Peace (Not Rated)
How Beer Saved The World (Not Rated)
I Dream of Jodie (Not Rated)
I Want to Get Married (Not Rated)
If You Are The One: Love & Marriage (Not Rated)
Infiltrating Al-Qaeda (Not Rated)
Infinite Justice / My Little Assassin (Not Rated)
Jail In Columbia (Not Rated)
Jessicka Rabid (Not Rated)
Journey to the Center of the World (Not Rated)
Kekkaishi Set 3 (Not Rated)
Ken Leishman: Flying Bandit (Not Rated)
Kill Katie Malone (R)
College students buy a "ghost" in an online auction. (Masiela Lusha, Dean Cain, Stephen Colletti)
Kino's Journey: The Complete Collection Volume 2 (Not Rated)
Kung Fu Panda Collection (Not Rated)
La Otra Victima: Secuestro Por Encargo (Not Rated)
Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square (Not Rated)
A Legend Is Born: Ip Man (Not Rated)
The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp (Not Rated)
The Life & Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season (Not Rated)
Little Deaths (Not Rated)
Live To Tell About It: Self-Defense For Women (Not Rated)
Locked Horns: Fate of Old Crow (Not Rated)
Madagascar: The Last Inheritor of Gondwana (Not Rated)
Malandro (Not Rated)
Meteors: Fire in the Sky (Not Rated)
Monica & David (Not Rated)
Monster Triple Feature (Not Rated)
MotoGP 2011: Official Review (Not Rated)
Mystery Woman Triple Feature (Not Rated)
NHL Top 10 Rivalries (Not Rated)
Nick Di Paolo: Raw Nerve (Not Rated)
Oil Rigs (Not Rated)
Operation Felix Hitler's Key To Victory (Not Rated)
Passion of the Star
Psycho Sleepover (Not Rated)
Real (Not Rated)
Revolutionary Girl Utena: Apocalypse Saga Collection (Not Rated)
Rock Soup: Lech Kowalski Collection (Not Rated)
Rough Riders Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Shame on You (Not Rated)
The Siege of Troy (Not Rated)
Sledge Hammer: The Complete Series (Not Rated)
The Smell of Success (PG-13)
Sniper: Deadliest Missions (Not Rated)
Spin City: The Complete Sixth Season (Not Rated)
Stalin's Supercity (Not Rated)
State Trooper Collection (Not Rated)
Steve Jobs: One Last Thing (Not Rated)
Stranger With My Face / Dead Sleep (Not Rated)
Swamp People: Season 2 (Not Rated)
Switched at Birth: Volume 1 (Not Rated)
Tanner Hall (R)
Taylor Swift: Just For You (Not Rated)
Tet Offensive (Not Rated)
The Three Mesquiteers Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
The Three Mesquiteers Western Double Feature Volume 2 (Not Rated)
Tim McCoy Western Double Feature Volume 1 (Not Rated)
The Transformers Trilogy (Not Rated)
Tuff Turf / Under The Boardwalk (R)
The Undying (Not Rated)
The Untold Christmas Story (Not Rated)
Viking Longboat (Not Rated)
Wade Davis Explorer (Not Rated)
Wilderness Warriors (Not Rated)
Worst in Show (Not Rated)
WWE: The Best of King of the Ring (Not Rated)
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ova / Eizou Hakusho (Not Rated)



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