As this generation’s Ed Wood, Uwe Boll has made some truly terrible films. So how does the German director fare when he’s not making a movie based on a video game? A little better, but not as much as you’d hope. With “Tunnel Rats,” a Vietnam War flick about a group of U.S. soldiers sent to kill Viet Cong resistance fighters hiding in the jungles and tunnels of Cu Chi, Boll has proven that he isn’t quite as clueless behind the camera as he appears. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his screenwriting skills. I’m not exactly sure who this movie is supposed to be meant for, but the Vietnamese are depicted as bloodthirsty savages and the Americans as scared morons. They act like morons, too, as they’re all systematically killed off like a bunch of teenagers in a slasher flick. I mean, if the tunnels were causing the U.S. Army so much trouble, why didn’t they just drop a couple of grenades down them instead of sending soldiers in one at a time to be brutally murdered? Boll is clearly a fan of the genre – he crams as many Vietnam War clichés into the first 20 minutes as humanely possible – but that doesn’t make him any more qualified for the job. “Tunnel Rats” may have sounded great on paper (it’s certainly an original idea for an overdone topic), but with Boll in charge, it never had a chance to succeed.
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Okay, so a lot of things have changed in this country with regards to attitudes towards gays, but just how will America deal with the envelope-pushing antics of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest creation? “Brüno” has already offended a few in the gay community, but is also certain to be utterly avoided by America’s sadly larger homophobic community. As far as I’m concerned, just how this obviously risky material will fare is anyone’s guess, since from all accounts “Brüno” is no cuddly “Will and Grace” or “The Birdcage” and really puts its confrontational money where it’s transgressive mouth is, however comically presented. It’s R-rating has been deemed by Roger Ebert and many others as “very, very hard.”
Reviews are positive, more or less, but critics are somewhat divided. Ebert liked it a lot. Owen Glieberman awarded it a fairly rare A-. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, however, was less amused and trotted out a variation of the “queerface” meme some were concerned with a few weeks back. On the other hand, as I’ve discussed at my other blog home in another context, Lane’s statements are often, to be extremely easy on him, ill-informed. Joe Morgenstern, on the other hand, makes his point simply enough: he doesn’t think it’s funny, just kind of gross.
Hollywood Reporter box office prognosticator Carl DiOrio is fairly high on the film regardless, calling about $30 million or more for the Larry Charles directed stunt comedy. Pamela McClintock, his opposite number at Variety is saying it should debut in vicinity of Baron Cohen’s prior out of the box hit, “Borat,” at somewhere near $28.5 million. Apparently, the logic here is that Cohen’s now far greater fame will be canceled out by subject matter/content that some audience members who liked the earlier film may just want to avoid this time around. There’s obviously general agreement about the numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one proved the prognosticators wrong either by making a lot less or a lot more money than expected.
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The last person that should be making political satires is Uwe Boll, a man that doesn’t even understand the concept of failure, let alone the lines that can and should be crossed in political incorrectness. Loosely based on the video game of the same name, “Postal” opens with the most inappropriate joke of the 21st Century: a view from within the World Trade Center as a plane crashes into it. That image alone is enough to guarantee an immediate boycott by most Americans, and it’s probably a good place to stop watching the film. In fact, even though the scene leading up to the crash is actually quite funny (two Islamic hijackers discuss the veracity of the 100 virgins theory, only to discover it’s not true), the rest of the movie is so amateurishly incoherent that the joke would have been better left to someone who could actually pull it off in good taste. Starring Zack Ward as the nameless protagonist, the movie follows the down-on-his-luck loser as he teams up with his cult leader uncle (Dave Foley) to rob a German-themed amusement park before Osama Bin Laden gets there first. One is looking to steal a shipment of hard-to-find plush dolls, while the other wants the vials of avian flu concealed within them. Can you guess which is which? It doesn’t really matter, since Boll is less concerned about a story than he is with jokes about Verne Troyer getting gang-raped by monkeys and Dave Foley showing his junk. You heard right, and that’s not even the worst of it. Just wait until he takes a dump with his junk still exposed…
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