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Drive-in Saturday night


Hot Rod
Paramount Home Entertainment

Someone named Carrie Keagen who works for something called had this to say about Hot Rod, words that appear on the DVD case: "The funniest film I've seen in years!"

If that's an honest statement, one has to assume that the only "films" Carrie sees are Holocaust documentaries. Yet another turd in the vast bowl of Saturday Night Live alum comedy features, Hot Rod weaves the story of a discount Knievel-esque daredevil, played annoyingly by Andy "Dick in a Box" Samberg. In fact, Rod's late father used to work for the late Evel (a dated gag reference at best), and now — guess what? — he's gonna prove his worth and follow in the old man's footsteps.

His bully of a stepfather, portrayed by Deadwood's great Ian McShane, needs a $50,000 heart transplant, so Rod decides to pull a big stunt to earn the bread, thus keeping stepdad alive so Rod can finally kick his ass. Hooked yet?

The film borrows heavily (or attempts to) from Napoleon Dynamite, but fails miserably. Scripted by Pam Brady, the brain behind the Web's questionably humorous Mr. Wong show, Rod comes off as a sad rip of Jackass, minus the funny parts. —Peter Gilstrap

The Method
Palm Pictures

Going on job interviews sucks. With the work force as it is, many folks will find themselves sweating it out in front of a potential employer. The Method, a Spanish film by Marcelo Piñeyro, has seven employment-hungry candidates vying for a job at the Dekia Corporation. At the final interview they square off in an ultra-modern conference room equipped with flat screen monitors explaining that the person hired will be decided using the Grönholm Method. This caliper test proves to be a brutally psychological one. The group is given tasks designed to uncover the weaknesses in each until only one is left — think Survivor with acerbic verbal sparring. The candidates scratch and claw their way to corporate employment while outside they're reminded of a huge demonstration taking place. The anti-globalization rally makes for an ironic backdrop that elevates The Method from petty to perceptive. There are lots of themes at work here; corporate responsibility, workplace ambition, gender bias, office politics, etc. Based on the stage play, The Method is a sobering and chilly experience littered with unlikable characters, which makes rooting for anyone impossible. But that's the point. There are no good guys in a weasel-y corporate world, only employees who're expendable cogs in the machine. —Paul Knoll

Day Watch
20th Century Fox

Riding the post-Matrix popularity wave, 2004's Night Watch was, to say the least, an unusual hit from Russia. Many who saw it reveled in the slick CGI and rapid-fire action sequences. But its modern epic take on a mythic battle between the forces of light and dark was largely incoherent. Lighting-fast subtitles that left most of the dialogue half-read didn't help the obtuse plot.

So it is that our sullen, chain-smoking hero Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) returns in Day Watch and he's still ticked off about losing his son who came under the control of the dark forces in the first flick. He and new recruit — and potential love interest — Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) find themselves on a quest for an ancient artifact known as the "Chalk of Fate." The person with the chalk can return to a fateful moment in history to change it. Anton's been framed for the death of a Dark One and he hopes to use the chalk to undo his impending doom. Sounds pretty simple, right? It's not.

Trying to understand the plot of Day Watch is akin to watching a sporting event in which you don't know the rules or the teams. Everything about the two battling sides seems arbitrary, including the special powers possessed by each of the menagerie of characters. The subtext of Day Watch — the struggle everyone has between doing what's right and wrong — gets lost in a silly mix of witches, vampires, shape shifters and cutting-edge special effects. The only consistency is the costuming, which was apparently influenced by Hot Topic and International Male. And that ain't nice. —Paul Knoll

Little Erin Merryweather
Indican Pictures

When Erin Merryweather was a little girl her dad would read her fairy tales. And then he'd molest her. Now, the all-grown-up Erin dons a long, red-hooded cape and prowls the woods and her college campus looking for dudes to kill. Not just any guy will do. Erin kills those with dirty hands — just like Daddy had. And there the film is, in a nutshell.

Little Erin Merryweather has neither red herrings nor mistaken identities to screw with your head — or keep your interest. This is just one screwed-up girl playing Little Red Riding Hood and cutting up collegiate big bad wolves. Someone forgot to tell writer-director-actor-editor David Morwick that what he had wasn't actually a plot for a movie but a premise. His has the makings of interesting slasher homage but that's it. He even seems to have missed the irony that his victims are all male — it's a welcome change and a rarity in slashers, which usually see women as the objects of hate. Morwick does earn style points for getting the most out of the wintry setting as well as using some meticulous illustrations by Kelly Murphy that show Erin's "Grimm" inner turmoil. —Paul Knoll

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