'Wanted' is for your eyes, not your mind

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008

'Wanted: 2-Disc Special Edition'

Cube rat and lifelong doormat Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is actually an inhumanly gifted assassin. He just doesn't know it yet. "Wanted" explains the how and why of Wesley's heretofore-hidden talents, and it's pretty interesting in an entirely implausible way, but it's completely your call whether to care about Wesley's dad, his powers, and this mysterious fraternity of assassins (Angelina Jolie, Common and Morgan Freeman, among others) and to which he appears destined to belong. Like "Shoot 'em Up" earlier this year, "Wanted" exists primarily to entertain by whatever violent and flashy means it can, and the ridiculous, special-effects-laden and sometimes hilarious results it delivers are done so with tongue lodged deeply in cheek. Take it too seriously, and you might as well not bother: Between the absurd script, convenient twists and logic holes large enough to swallow us all, "Wanted's" cracks are deep and omnipresent. But if that reads like a recipe for possibility rather than disaster - and if a tragicomic opera about superhuman humans and bullets that curve around corners sounds like your idea of a good time - "Wanted" might be some of the most fun your movie-watching eyes have all year.

'Garbage Warrior'

It's easy to feel humbled by and jealous of Michael Reynolds during the first act of "Garbage Warrior." Yes, his housing development literally is made of soil and other people's trash. But the world he and his fellow dwellers designed also made him a completely independent man - able to eat, live, play and even enjoy the latest in electronic convenience without any need to make a dime or lean on the government. Naturally, that's all the powers that be need to hear in order to begin the process of pulling Reynolds' dream down an undertow of paperwork, filibusters and absurd legalese. As documentaries go, "Warrior" doesn't pull any fancy tricks, but it doesn't really need to. Reynolds' story is inspiring at first and aggravating shortly after, but what happens in act three - when the issue becomes bigger than all the players combined - is what really makes it interesting. Your preconceived beliefs likely will dictate whether you're rooting for or against him by this point, but Reynolds makes a case for changing minds by establishing himself as a practical, accessible component of an issue often begging for just such a thing. "Warrior" does engage the global warming dialogue - it'd look silly ignoring it - but this is Reynolds' film, and those ideals expressed in act one remain the film's indisputable point of attraction.

'Step Brothers: 2-Disc Unrated Edition'

Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) is a middle-aged manchild who still lives at home with his mom (Mary Steenburgen). Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) is pretty much the same thing, but living at home with his dad (Richard Jenkins). Given the title of the film, you probably can see where this is going, and "Step Brothers," for its part, doesn't disappoint in the predictability department. But if you're a fan of Ferrell's starring roles, then this, too, comes as no surprise. "Step Brothers" is about laughs first and everything else a distant second, and those who enjoy the dry, funny, sometimes-gross stupidity that happens when Ferrell and Reilly get together likely won't be disappointed here.

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