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Alcatrash!

Delta Farce
Lionsgate

The most generous thing you can say about a military comedy that stars Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engwall is that they play to their audience the way Bill Murray did in Stripes. The most damning thing you can say is that when the sleeveless blue-collar audience that this flick is intended for laughs because the guys on screen can't tell Mexicans from Iraqis for 20 minutes, they're probably only 10 minutes behind. The most conciliatory thing you could say is that the same namby-pamby folks who intercede and make other films you watch a lot less funnier than they might otherwise be have interceded here and made this a far less prosecutable hate crime. But you may still be offended when the needle scratching across vinyl sound effect that every brain-dead comedy movie trailer uses is featured in the first five minutes of Delta Farce. You might also want to check your LCD (lowest common denominator) watch for when the establishing shot of Larry the Cable Guy uttering his "Geet 'er done" catchphrase comes and wonder how much more of your life you're willing to waste. The most time-saving advice you probably won't need is that the "Widescreen Edition" doesn't add any more depth and the "Blu-Ray Edition" doesn't contain any additional material blue states might find funny. —Serene Dominic

 

The Doom Generation
Lionsgate

Before Mysterious SKIN hailed his return as a leader of gay cinema, director Greg Araki was being lashed by critics for The Doom Generation. (Rodger Ebert gave it no stars on a scale of one to four — ouch!) This flick was almost unanimously dismissed for its glib and nihilistic view of soulless teens and the America they where raised in. It didn't help that Natural Born Killers and Kalifornia had already mined the notion of media-hyped serial killers on the lam. At the time of its 1995 release, Araki's darkly comic view of suburban America may have seemed cruel and unwarranted. Now his vision seems almost prophetic considering "No Child Left Behind," the Columbine shootings and Matthew Shepard's gay bashing. His casting of pop culture icons and celebrity has-beens seems visionary too. Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch), Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street), Lauren Tewes (The Love Boat), Heidi Fleiss and Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell are just some of the cameos. It's like Araki was casting a future episode VH1's The Surreal Life. But The Doom Generation lacks consistency. The plots of Araki's films occasionally are light of narrative thrust. There's no arc to the story, which leaves us to focus on dialogue that sounds either obviously hip or downright juvenile. He could have also laid off a bit on the metaphors here — the last names of his characters are, uh, Red, White and Blue. If for no other reason rent The Doom Generation to see the great performance by Rose McGowan (Grindhouse) before she cashed in her indie cred and ruined her face with plastic surgery. —Paul Knoll

 

Curse of Alcatraz
Lionsgate

Since the famed cell house is still open to tourists, you wonder how the filmmakers can definitively claim that this is "The very last film shot within the walls of the infamous Alcatraz prison." Are they just waiting for somebody to say "... until somebody else does"? Or were the patrons of the facility so incensed about the copious amount of strawberry syrup and stage blood this crew smeared all over its historic walls that they just said, "That's it! No more show people unless it's the Discovery Channel with some decent catering!"

That said, for a low-budget film populated with actors who seem almost uncomfortable passing sound out of their mouths, this scare thriller about a group of archeologists terrorized by an Indian, excuse me, Native American curse buried inside the prison will hold your attention like a good Saturday afternoon horror movie should. It has the aforementioned wooden actors incapable of emoting unless it's screaming and panicking, dialogue littered with "interesting facts about Alcatraz" likely lifted from a tour-guide cassette, a guy in a wheelchair who's doomed to be mercilessly tormented in a dark room without an exit ramp, and at least one good actor whose ease in front of the camera only elevates the Jack Webb monotone of everyone around him. In this case it's a Ralph Fiennes look-alike named Joe Jones whose creepy resemblance to The English Patient might actually convince viewers here that Fiennes' price has bottomed out since Maid in Manhattan. So, it's no Birdman or even The Rock. It's just real good Alcatrash! —Serene Dominic

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