FILM REVIEWS: Act of Valour and Wanderlust

Flop Gun in Act of Valour and Crazies on the Commune in Wanderlust

Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd star in Wanderlust.

 

Act of Valour

 

Where Top Gun was a super-slick recruitment vehicle for the Air Force, Act of Valor is a notably less successful ad for the Navy SEAL program. It is also a unique hybrid of a movie, one that combines aspects of reality TV with a slam-bang plot that might get a B+ in a first-year screenwriting course at a community college. Valor features a posse of genuine SEALS, which presumably gives lots of authenticity to the jargon-slinging and testosteronized buddy banter. It also saddles the movie with guys who can’t act but are fearless about standing in front of the camera and making heroic speeches that seem scripted by the military wing of Hallmark Greeting Cards.

The plot starts with the rescue of an undercover CIA agent from some particularly nasty narco-terrorists hiding out in the jungles of Costa Rica. They get the poor gal out while leaving heaps of just-deceased bad guys in their wake, only to discover that there is a Truly Terrifying Threat To The American Way Of Life in the offing. An unconvincing alliance between high-end smugglers and a jihadist suicide cult must be stopped, and there are several globe-spanning action scenes that culminate with a protracted firefight in Mexico, gateway to juicy civilian target-cities all throughout the United States. Sure, a few good men die along the way, but American consumer culture is free to shop another day at the sad but heroic conclusion of this wooden shoot-em-up.

The action scenes in Valor are well staged, in a rudimentary way, and the plot has crude momentum. But one of the unexpected consequences of using real soldiers who never took drama class in school is that the villains – who can act – are much more charismatic than the good guys trying to take them down. M

Act of Valor ★★

Directed by Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh

Starring Alexander Asefa, Timothy Gibbs

R – 111 minutes

Continues at the Capitol & SilverCity

 

 

Wanderlust

 

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston have shown good comedic timing in the past (The Object of My Affection) and their easy-going chemistry is the saving grace of Wanderlust, a lazy but fitfully entertaining fish-out-of-water comedy about a Manhattan couple that ends up at a rural commune.

George and Linda are high-stress over-achievers who suddenly find themselves out of work and homeless. Thanks to the sorts of odd circumstances that happen in Hollywood movies they end up at Elysium, a ‘60s-style hippie hangout where free love and a groovy vibe reign beneath a thick cloud of marijuana smoke. An overnight layover turns into a two-week trial run as George and Linda find themselves drawn into a happy world of spontaneity and pleasure. But this cosmic paradise has a dark side, ranging from passive-aggressive vegans and a complete lack of privacy to a resident guru with a sinister agenda. By the time their marriage is unraveling it’s time to ladle on the sentimentality and some out-of-left-field plot developments to produce the requisite happy ending.

Heavy is the hand that wrote most of the jokes for Wanderlust. Happily, there are a lot of them: the 25% that do work carry you over the gratuitously vulgar and repetitiously unfunny sections. This is really just a second-rate renter at heart, but Rudd and Aniston (and a few others in the cast) are appealing enough that you won’t hate yourself in the morning. M

Wanderlust ★★

Directed by David Wain

Starring Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston

R – 98 minutes

Continues at the Odeon, Uni 4 & Westshore

 

 

 

Perfectly Potable

After all those manly heroics (and an over-exposure to veganism), it’s time for a thick, juicy New York strip loin. And that means a thick, juicy Cabernet to go with it. It’s impossible to go wrong with the J Lohr “Seven Oaks” Cab Sauv from California, a consistent performer year after year. Plummy and rich with notes of currant and black cherry, this intensely-flavoured palate pleaser represents great value at $22.

 

 

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