IFC Films’ “Premature” Is As Good As Any Big Screen Teen Flick

Courtesy:  IFC FIlms

Courtesy: IFC FIlms

IFC Films’ teen comedy Premature is not only one of the best indie flicks of 2014, but it is one of the best movies of the year overall.  In comparison to the endless stream of prequels, sequels, and remakes churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ studios, this movie is a complete breath of fresh air.  It balances just enough bawdiness and raunch with an equal amount of depth and heart to make it a surprisingly entertaining work.  The central reason for that is the movie’s script.  It isn’t just another standard, formulaic teen romp.  It actually teaches some important lessons; lessons that both male and female audiences will appreciate.  The movie’s script is at the heart of its enjoyment.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this movie is its bonus material.  Included as bonus material on the DVD are a number of interviews with the cast and crew, a fun little behind-the-scenes featurette, and even an alternate ending that proves to be just as good as the ending presented in the final product.  The last aspect of the movie that makes it enjoyable for audiences is the acting on the part of the cast.  The cast isn’t exactly A-listers just yet.  But its members already have quite the chops under their belts thanks to roles on some big movies and TV shows.  It shows quite well in this presentation, too.  It rounds out a movie that while being an indie flick, is one of this year’s best indie flicks and one of the year’s best movies overall.

At first glance, many critics have automatically panned IFC Films’ new teen comedy Premature.  Elizabeth Weitzman, of the New York Daily News, said of the movie that it is “a retreat of every lousy 80s high school comedy you never bothered watching.”  And Variety’s Joe Leydon had one of the harshest comments, attacking not only the movie but those that actually showed any appreciation of the movie.  He noted of the movie and its audiences that “only undiscriminating audiences with a pronounced taste for crotch-centric tomfoolery will sample this goulash.”  Really, Joe?  There was an equally scathing commentary from New York Times writer Nicolas Rapold, equating co-writers Dan Beers and Mathew Harawitz’s script to work from Family Guy head Seth McFarlane.  That is an insult of the highest degree. For all of its naysayers, Premature has also gotten positive marks, too.  Though, even those positive remarks have been tepid at best.  This means that most audiences and critics that saw this movie completely missed the mark in analyzing it.  The script itself does throw back to the teen romps of the 80s.  There’s no denying that.  But it throws back to more than just those movies.  Its script balances the crudeness of those movies with the heart–believe it or not–of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  To a lesser extent, those that are old enough to remember will see a comparison to the likes of Fox’s classic series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, too.  That’s thanks in large part to the work of lead actor John Karna, who plays Rob Crabbe.  The movie sees Rob learn some valuable lessons about both life and love as the story progresses.  He learns about doing what makes him happy versus what makes his father happy through his interactions with his Georgetown recruiter and his father.  The lesson about love just happens to be tied in to Rob’s own full-throttle sex drive.  Audiences need to remember that in our adolescence, the human sex drive is actually much like what is portrayed here.  Hormones are going crazy in the adolescent brain and body.  Beer and Harawitz have just taken that fact and made humorous light of it as part of the bigger picture.  Keeping that in mind makes that aspect of the movie less crude and much funnier.  If audiences can accept that fact and enjoy it for what it is, they will enjoy Premature much more.  They will also enjoy the lessons incorporated into the script, too thus leading to a realization that this movie is far more enjoyable than what some would have others believe.

The script used for Premature is by itself more than enough reason to give this underrated indie flick worth at least one watch.  By itself, it makes Premature one of this year’s best new indie flicks and one of the year’s best new movies overall.  The script is just part of what makes the movie worth watching.  The bonus material included with the movie makes the presentation in whole even more enjoyable.  There are interviews with the cast and crew that will inform and entertain audiences.  There is also a bonus alternate ending that proves to be just as entertaining as the ending presented in the final product if not more so.  And the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette will have audiences just as much in stitches.  [John] Karna takes audiences through the movie’s sets during this segment.  Throughout the featurette, Karna stays somewhat in character holding the same personality as Rob Crabbe without actually trying to portray Rob.  He playfully hits on every female that he finds as if he were Rob.  It really is fun and funny to watch.  Together with the bonus interviews and alternate ending, it shows even more what makes the movie’s bonus features even more important to the presentation in whole. They collectively make Premature that much more of a joy to watch.  They still aren’t the last of the factors that make Premature so enjoyable, either.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important to the movie.  It rounds out the whole that is this surprisingly entertaining indie flick.

The acting on the part of Premature’s cast is one of the most important parts of this movie’s enjoyment.  Most audiences probably don’t know the cast’s names.  But Karna and his cast mates–Katie Findlay (How To Get Away With Murder, The Carrie Diaries, After The Dark), Alan Tudyk (Frozen, Wreck-it-Ralph ,i-Robot) Craig Roberts (Neighbors, 22 Jump Street, Jane Eyre), Steve Coulter (The Hunger Games, Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring) , and Carlson Young (True Blood, The Dog Who Saved Christmas, Pretty Little Liars)–are each fully believable in their roles.  And that is thanks to their work on some rather well-known movies and TV series.  Katie Findlay plays Rob’s best friend Gabrielle.  She does quite the job in her role, although most audiences can tell as the story progresses what will happen between them.  It’s a classic partnering that has been used before.  But it still works quite well even in this case.  Alan tudyk plays the part of Rob’s Georgetown recruiter.  Tudyk is a laugh riot as he breaks down, crying like a little child as he interviews Rob.  His acting will by itself leave audiences laughing uproariously.  Craig Roberts plays Rob’s sex-crazed friend Stanley.  Even in the side-kick role, Roberts offers his own share of laughs.  One could really compare him to Stiffler from the famed American Pie franchise, only younger. Steve Coulter plays a minimal role as Rob’s dad Jim.  But he’s still entertaining as the standard subtly controlling father figure.  And Carlson Young is spot on as the stereotypical blonde sex kitten Angela Yearwood.  Her role is understated as it plays an important part in Rob’s personal development and self-realization.  But just as with her co-stars, Young pulls off her role expertly as do the rest of the cast members.  Their collective experience makes their portrayals here so enjoyable in their own right.  It makes suspension of disbelief so simple in this case.  The end result is a story that will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish, laughing the whole way through.

Whether it be the movie’s script, the bonus features included as part of the whole, or the acting on the part of the cast, Premature proves in the end to have plenty of positives.  It proves to have far more positives than its critics would lead audiences to believe.  It proves to be one of this year’s best new indie flicks and one of the year’s best new movies overall.  It is available in stores and online now.  More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online at:

Website: http://www.ifcfilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial

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Release Date, Product Info Released For Low Winter Sun Box Set

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Officials with Anchor Bay Entertainment announced Monday that the company will release AMC’s Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series this summer.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series will be released Tuesday, August 12, 2014. It will be released on DVD in a 3-disc set containing all ten episodes from the series. The crime drama, which is based on the 2006 award-winning British mini-series, was written by Simon Donald and produced by Tiger Aspect Productions (an Endemol company). The story opens with the murder of a Detroit police officer by a fellow detective from the city. The detective’s crime is anything but the perfect crime as it leads him ever deeper into Detroit’s underworld. Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood), Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Snatch), David Canstabile (Breaking Bad, Side Effects), and Athena Karkanis (Saw IV, V, VI) lead the series’ cast.

The upcoming triple disc box set comes with a handful of bonus features to enhance the viewing experience for audiences. Those bonus features include: A Look at “Low Winter Sun”, Detroit Grit, Designing The Precinct, Episode Featurettes, and Deleted Scenes. The box set will retail at SRP of $49.98.

More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay, http://www.anchorbayent.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Side Effects One Of 2013’s Most Surprising Stories

Courtesy:  Open Road Films

Courtesy: Open Road Films

Side Effects is one of the most surprisingly entertaining movies that has been released in 2013.  This movie is a breath of fresh air in what otherwise feels like an industry that is dead and buried.  Audiences will be surprised at just how easily this almost Hitchcock style story manages to pull viewers into its world and keep them engaged with such little effort.  Script writer Scott Z. Burns is to be commended for having crafted such a solid and original story.  That is the key to the movie’s success.  The acting on the part of Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara also plays a role in the movie’s success.  Together with the writing, the two factors make Side Effects one of the year’s most underrated and underappreciated movies.  As easy as it is to point out everything that makes Side Effects one of the year’s most underrated and underappreciated movies, one would be remiss to ignore its one glaring problem.  That problem is the story’s overall pacing.  Its run time comes in at just under two hours.  But its tendency to drag, that run time tends to feel much longer in the grand scheme of things.  This aside, it still is not enough to make Side Effects unwatchable.  Being the only problematic issue with the story, Side Effects still remains a movie worth at least one watch by those looking for something new and original.

U.S. theaters were top heavy in 2013 with prequels, sequels, and reboots.  In all, the three categories accounted for nearly forty movies this year.  Many of those movies were not worth the price of admission, either.  So when Side Effects was released earlier this year, it didn’t take long for it to get lost in that sea of movies.  Side Effects is a movie deserving of at least one watch, though.  Much like Anchor Bay’s 6 Souls and Dark Skies, the trailers for the movie led viewers and critics alike to think one thing of the movie.  But in watching it, they discover there is something quite different at work.  Far too many critics either missed that something different, or simply refused to acknowledge it.  That is their loss.  To say that the story behind the story is twisted is an understatement.  Burns’ real story won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that have not yet seen this gripping thriller.  But when the story behind the story is revealed, everything will make sense for viewers.  Those that give the movie a chance and discover its surprises will agree that Burns is to be commended for having crafted such a gripping story.

The script developed by Scott Z. Burns is the central point of Side Effects’ success.  Just as worthy of note here, is the acting on the part of both Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara.  Tatum is typically known for roles that are little more than eye candy for female audiences in most of his movies.  So just as this movie was a breath of fresh air overall, it was just as much of a breath of fresh air to see Tatum take a backseat to Mara, who was the real lead in this story.  What’s more, he seemed to actually embrace the role, allowing her to shine as the seemingly emotionally troubled Emily.    It showed that he could potentially have a future as a dramatic actor if he ever decides to stop allowing himself to be pigeonholed into the same eye candy style roles to which he has become so accustomed.  Mara’s acting was just as impressive.  When she sits down with Dr. Banks and tells her story of supposedly having a stillborn child, her sadness is fully believable.  Mara makes Emily a sympathetic character.  She makes her believable, even in her “scarier” moments.  It goes to show both the ability of she herself and of Tatum to interpret their roles.  That ability to interpret their characters ultimately played into the ability to interpret the script, too.  And that combination of factors is what makes this a story that is worth at least one watch.  For all of its successes, Side Effects is not a perfect movie.  There is one glaring issue that holds the movie back.  Luckily for its sake, it doesn’t hold back the story enough to hurt it too badly.  That one glaring issue is the story’s pacing.

Side Effects’ run time comes in at just under two hours.  And its script was written relatively well.  But the story’s pacing is very problematic.  Fingers could easily be pointed at Burns for this.  But they could just as easily be pointed at director Steven Soderbergh.  It could have been a combination of both individuals.  But there are many points throughout the story at which it drags.  There are so many of those moments, in fact, that some viewers might find themselves reaching for their remotes to fast forward.  Luckily, even in fast forwarding, viewers won’t feel that they have missed anything.  There is still enough information in the story for audiences to put two and two together.  And in doing so, they will find themselves having the proverbial “coulda had a V-8 moment.”  That moment in question brings the whole story full circle and makes it clear why this story is worth at least one watch.  It is available now in stores and online.

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Universal Studios Announces Side Effects Home Release Date, Info

Courtesy:  Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the official release date for its new thriller, Side Effects.  Starring Channing Tatum, the movie follows his character, Martin and Martin’s wife, Emily (Rooney Mara).  The couple has a wonderful life.  But when Emily is prescribed a drug by her psychiatrist to treat anxiety, the couple’s life is turned into a nightmare.  The movie will be released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 21st.  It will be available for digital download on May 7th.  The combo pack also includes an Ultraviolet digital copy and digital copy of the movie.

The upcoming home release of Side Effects includes a commercial for the fictitious drug used in the movie as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary and more.   The official Side Effects trailer can be viewed online now at http://youtu.be/Bxy4ThBd1PM.

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