Lionsgate, Others Offer Solid Alternatives To Hollywood’s Power Five Studios In 2015

Looking at numbers from the box office this year, one would imagine that theaters did quite well. In terms of financial figures, they did. But in terms of really worthwhile offerings, theaters and studios clearly did not do that well. That is because much like 2014 the major theatrical offerings churned out this year were prequels, sequels, and remakes. Next year looks to be sadly much the same in that aspect. Luckily for all of the brainless, unoriginal content churned out by Hollywood’s major studios this year, audiences were offered some viable alternatives. Many of those alternatives came courtesy of Lionsgate and other independent studios. Magnolia Films’ dramedy Life’s A Breeze is just one of the noted films that proved to be one of the year’s best new movies. The independently released buddy flick A Walk in the Woods is another of those great alternatives. IFC’s Match and Manglehorn aso proved to be viable alternatives to all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes churned out by Hollywood’s Power Five Studios. And who would have thought that Shaun The Sheep: The Movie would prove to be so enjoyable, too? There’s no dialogue at all. What’s more it’s a claymation flick. But it has so much heart. It is one that the whole family should see together at least once. It is just one more movie that made it onto this critic’s list of the year’s Top 10 New Movies. Speaking of that list the following collection of titles makes up the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Movies. And as always the top 10 make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention for a total of fifteen titles. Enough rambling. Without any further ado, here for your consideration dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Movies.

















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Phil’s Picks Celebrates The Holidays Again With Annual Holiday Giveaway

It’s time once again, everybody.  The holiday season is officially upon us.  And that means that it is time once again for the annual Phil’s Picks holiday giveaway.  Each Friday in December I will be giving away a prize to one lucky reader from the list below.  Here’s the catch:  YOU the reader get to choose the prize instead of me.  I’m going to sweeten the deal for you, the loyal Phil’s Picks fans this year, too.  I am going to bundle together the standalone season sets of Hey Dude, and The Wild Thornberrys.  This is just the current list.  There’s a chance I could throw in even more prizes as the month goes on.  So if you want a chance to win a prize for yourself or someone you know, make sure that you get your name in now!  Good luck and spread the word!


1. The Aviator (Blu-ray + DVD)

2. Believe Me (Blu-ray)

3. Blancanieves (DVD)

4. Born Yesterday (Blu-ray)

5. The Duellists (DVD)

6. Dying of the Light (Blu-ray + Digital HD)

7. Grizzly Adams (DVD)

8. Jimmy P. (DVD)

9. Liberal Arts (Blu-ray)

10. Life’s A Breeze (Blu-ray)

11. Match (DVD)

12. May in the Summer (Blu-ray)

13. Perfect Understanding (Blu-ray)

14. Premature (DVD)

15. Robot Jox (Blu-ray)

16. Ships (DVD)

17. Shout At The Devil (Blu-ray)

18. Speak No Evil (DVD + Digital)

19. Spike Island (DVD)

20. The Sweeney (DVD)

21. Tooken (DVD)

22. The Voices (Blu-ray + Digital HD)

23. While We’re Young (Blu-ray + Digital HD)


1. Beetleborgs Metallix: Season Two Volume Two (DVD)

2. Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season (DVD)

3. The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes (DVD)

4. CPO Sharkey: Season 1 (DVD)

5. CPO Sharkey: Season 2 (DVD)

6. Cook’s Country: Season Five (PBS DVD)

7. Fireball XL5: The Complete Series (DVD)

8. Halt and Catch Fire: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray + Digital HD)

9. The Hee-Haw Collection (DVD)

10. Hey Dude: Season 3 (DVD)

11. Hey Dude: Season 4 (DVD)

12. Hey Dude: The FInal Season (DVD)

13. I Spy: The Complete Series (DVD)

14. Joe 90: The Complete Series (DVD)

15. Mister Ed: The Final Season (DVD)

16. Mr. Warmth: Don Rickles–The Ultimate Collection (DVD)

17. The Red Skelton Show: The Lost Episodes (DVD)

18. The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years: 1951 – 1955 (DVD)

19. Sapphire And Steel: The Complete Series (DVD)

20. Secret Agent (AKA Danger Man): The Complete Series (DVD)

21. Stingray: The Complete Series (DVD)

22. The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series (DVD)

23. The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 Part 2 (DVD)

24. The Wild thornberrys: Season 2 Part 3 (DVD)

25. The Wild Thornberrys: Season 3 (DVD)


Black Veil Brides (Blu-ray)

Ceelo Green: Loberace–Live in Vegas (Blu-ray)

Concert For Ronnie Montrose (DVD)

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer: Live at Montreux 1997 (2 CD)

Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Live in Hyde Park (DVD)

Jon Lord: Concerto For Group and Orchestra (Blu-ray)

Lord of the Dance (DVD)

Marillion: A Sunday Night Above The Rain (2 CD)

Ministry: Enjoy The Quiet–Live at Wacken 2012 (DVD/2 CD)

Ministry: Last Tangle In Paris–Live 2012 (DVD/2 CD)

Neil Sedaka: The Show Goes On–Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Blu-ray)

Peter Gabriel: Live Blood (2 CD)

The Richard Thompson Band: Live at Celtic Connections (Blu-ray)

Saga: Spin It Again!–Live in Munich (2 CD)

Shania Twain: Still The One–Live in Las Vegas (Blu-ray)

Simply Red: Live at Montreux 2003 (Blu-ray)

1. After Newtown: Guns in America (PBS DVD)

2. The Booker (DVD)

3. Heaven Adores You: A Documentary Film About The Life & Music Of Elliott Smith (Blu-ray)

4. How To Survive A Plague (DVD)

5. Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued (Blu-ray)

6. Produced By George Martin (DVD)

7. Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis? (DVD)


1. Don Rickles: TV Specials Volume 1

2. Highlights of the 2012 Masters Tournament (DVD)

3. Power Rangers: Trickster Treat (DVD)

4. Ruby’s Studio: The Friendship Show (DVD)

5. Transformers Prime: Ultimte Decepticons (DVD)


1. All Time Low–“Dirty Work”

2. Anders & Kendall–“Wild Chorus”

3. Beatallica–“Abbey Load”

4. The Blues Magoos–“Psychedelic Resurrection”

5. Bob Schneider–“A Perfect Day”

6. Breathe Carolina–“Hell Is What You Make It”

7. Buzz Cason–“Troubadour Heart”

8. Buzz Cason–“Record Machine”

9. The Dangerous Summer–“War Paint”

10. Daniel Guaqueta–“Saying Is Only Saying So Much” (EP)

11. Darkest Hour–“The Human Romance”

12. Derek Sherinian–“Black Utopia”

13. Device–“Device” (Clean)

14. Divided By Friday–“Prove It”

15. Empresarios–“The Vibes”

16. Eternal Voyager–“The Battle of Eternity”

17. Francesca Blanchard–“Deux Visions”

18. Glasscloud–“The Royal Thousand”

19. High on Fire–“Snakes for the Divine”

20. James Durbin–“Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”

21. Janus–“Nox Aeris”

22. Jefferson Grizzard–Learning How To Lie (X4)

23. Joe Gruschecky–“Somewhere East of Eden”

24. Kittie–“I’ve Failed You”

25. Laura Wilde–“Sold My Woul”

26. Limp Bizkit–“Three Dollar Bill Y’all”

27. Marillion–“Sounds That Can’t Be Made”

28. Marillion–“Sounds That Can’t Be Made (Special Edition)

29. Matt Skiba and the Sekrets–“Babylon”

30. Permanent Ability–“Bring It On”

31. Rebelution–“Count Me In”

32. Red Hot Chili Peppers–“Blood Sugar Sex Magik”

33. Roy Orbison–“Greatest Hits”

34. Saving Abel–“Bringing Down The Giant”

35. Shahidah Omar–“Freedom”

36. Something Unto Nothing–“Something Unto Nothing”

37. Tempt–“Under My Skin” (EP)

38. There For Tomorrow–“The Verge”

39. Throwdown–“Deathless”

40. Throwdown–“Intolerance”

41. Tim Chaisson–“The Other Side”

42. Uh Huh Her–“Future Souls”

43. Unbreakable–“Knock Out”

44. The Wild Beyond–“The Wild Beyond”

45. The Winery Dogs–The Winery Dogs (Special Edition)

46. Yellowcard–“When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes”


Match Is A Good “Match” For Any Dramaphile

Courtesy:  MPI Home Video/IFC Films

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/IFC Films

The practice of adapting plays to both the small and big screen is nothing new to Hollywood. Film makers have been doing just that as far back as records were first kept. So when it was announced that writer/director Stephen Belber had adapted his own play Match into a feature film last year it should have come as little surprise to most. The story centers on a highly successful dancer named Tobi. Tobi is confronted one day by a young man named Mike Davis and his wife Lisa as Mike suspects that Tobi is his long-lost father. It is not the most original story by any means. There is no denying this. Despite this, Belber’s story still somehow manages to keep audiences fully engaged from the story’s outset to its end. It actually proves to translate quite well from stage to screen, unlike so many other movies adapted from plays. This collectively is the center of the movie’s success. As successful as the play’s small screen adaptation proves to be in its translation, it is sadly not perfect. It does tend to struggle with its pacing at times, slowing things down a bit more than necessary at certain points. Luckily it doesn’t hinder the story to the point that the presentation fails in whole. While the story’s pacing proves to be an unavoidable issue in its overall presentation, the work of Sir Patrick Stewart and Matthew Lillard is to be highly commended. It more than makes up for the story’s pacing problems. Being that it does, it and Belber’s script come together to make Match a movie that is a good *ahem* “match” for any lovers of drama.

IFC Films’ recently released drama Match is a good “match” for any lover of dramas. The main reason for this is its script and said script’s translation from stage to screen. The story behind this movie centers on two men–Tobi (Sir Patrick Stewart–Star Trek: The Next Generation, A Christmas Carol, Blunt Talk) and Mike (Matthew Lillard–Scooy-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Be Cool Scooby-Doo)–connected by Mike’s belief that Tobi is his illegitimate father. Mike and Lisa (Carla Gugino–Watchmen, Night at the Museum, Sin City) try to figure out if Tobi is indeed Mike’s father by having Lisa pretend to be a writer for a famous dance magazine. Given the central plot is not exactly the most original work ever crafted either for stage or screen. But even with that in mind, Belber manages to make his story stand out from other similar stories of its ilk thanks to the story’s execution and its ability to translate so well from stage to screen. As Lisa interviews Tobi and Mike reveals that he’s a police officer, audiences are actually led to believe that there is something more sinister than what is actually revealed to be the pair’s real plan. To that extent, Belber deserves applause for maintaining that element of surprise even early on. As the story progresses, Tobi’s growing relationship of sorts with Lisa will keep viewers just as engaged. That is because it aids in Tobi’s character development. His discussions with Lisa serve to make him a truly sympathetic character. On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily serve Gugino in any way. She remains little more than a foil to Willard and Stewart throughout the course of the movie’s roughly ninety-minute run time. By the story’s final act, audiences will look back and say to themselves that they should have seen the final reveal coming, giving themselves that v-8 moment of sorts. The fact that Belber could keep from making the story predictable all the way to that point makes the script that much more worthy fo applause. Keeping all of this in mind, it makes clear exactly why the script lies at the heart of the overall success of Stephen Belber’s small screen adaptation of his hit stage play. It is just one part of what makes the script so important to the presentation’s success, too. The actual translation of the play from stage to screen is deserving of mention here, too.

Stephen Belber’s script for Match is in itself a solid reason that drama fans will enjoy this presentation. The original play’s translation from stage to screen is just as worth mentioning in its overall success and enjoyment as the script itself. Believe it or not, a play’s translation from stage to screen is very important in how it goes over with audiences. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s take on author Victor Hugo’s beloved novel Les Miserables is a prime example of the importance of a play’s translation from the printed page to the screen. Hugo’s story has been adapted and re-adapted time and again throughout Hollywood’s rich history. This includes both on the big screen and small. Some of those adaptations have translated relatively well while others obviously haven’t done so well. Mel Brooks’ big screen adaptation of his movie The Producers is yet another example of the importance of a play’s translation from stage to screen. The play itself was not that great. And its translation from stage to screen was just as unsuccessful. There was just something about its feel and look that did not work. In the case of Match, quite the opposite can be said of the story. Even those that go into the movie without knowing it was adapted will notice in its minimalist backdrops that it must have come from a play. That is meant in the most complimentary fashion, too. Even with the use of so few sets, it still looks impressive. Belber and the movie’s crew didn’t just try to re-hash the play on screen. They actually made the attempt to make the story look believable. Thanks to those efforts, Belber and company are to be complimented even more. The combination of those efforts to give the story a believable look and to make the story itself one that would keep viewers engaged makes for plenty of reason for dramaphiles to see this movie. Of course for all of the success derived from the movie’s script and its successful adaptation from stage to screen, it is not an entirely perfect presentation. One would be remiss to ignore the story’s occasional pacing issues. Thankfully the issues in question are the movie’s only real cons save perhaps for lacking any bonus commentary. But that’s not necessarily a con in the traditional sense of the word. And it will be discussed at more length shortly.

Match proves in the long run to be a movie that any dramaphile will appreciate. That is thanks in large part to its script and its largely believable look. For all of the success generated by these elements, the movie is not a perfect presentation. It is hindered to a point by its pacing. There are points throughout the course of its roughly ninety-minute run time that it tends to slow down seemingly unnecessarily with the end result being that it loses viewers at least in those moments. Luckily those moments are not so prevalent that they make the movie in whole a fail for Belber and company. But they do happen enough that there is no way that they can be ignored. Thankfully they are the movie’s only con in the more traditional sense of the word. If the movie had come with commentary by perhaps Belber and/or Stewart it would have been a great addition considering minutia such as the framed pictures in Tobi’s apartment, and Stewart and Lillard’s obvious on-screen chemistry. Having no commentary doesn’t take away from the movie by any means. But it would have been a great addition to the overall viewing experience. All things considered here, Matchs’ pacing is a con in the movie’s overall presentation. But it isn’t so overpowering that it makes the movie fail in whole. Neither does its lack of bonus commentary. That lack doesn’t hurt the movie. But this critic personally believes that it would have helped make up for the pacing. Perhaps there could have been commentary on that issue. Regardless, Match still proves in the end to be a movie that any dramaphile will want to see at least once.

The pacing behind Belber’s script for Match is an issue in its overall presentation. While it is an issue that cannot be ignored, it is not so overpowering that it makes the movie a fail. The movie’s script and its successful translation from stage to screen are still enough of a collective success that they make up for the story’s occasional pacing issues. They are not all that make up for those problems, either. Stewart and Lillard’s combined years of experience play just as important of a role in the movie’s success as its look and its script. Stewart shines as he takes over for Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Good Night and Good Luck, Superman Returns), who took on the role in the story’s stage presentation. From the movie’s early moments when Tobi thinks that he is being interviewed to the story’s more emotional moments, Stewart shines. His years of experience both on stage and in front of the camera show through clearly as he makes Tobi a character for whom audiences will root throughout the movie. On the other side of the proverbial coin, Matthew Lillard is just as impressive. most audiences that are familiar with Lillard’s work remember him from movies such as Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2, and some of the most recent animated incarnations of Hanna Barbera’s long-running franchise. That work, along with his work in SLC Punk, Homerun Showdown, and others is completely different from his portrayal here. Considering his past body of work, his portrayal of the emotionally troubled Mike is a massive departure for Lillard. And he is quite convincing, too. It goes to show the diversity of his talents even more. Viewers can’t help but feel some sympathy for Mike as it becomes evident that Mike’s anger issues have arisen from the fact that he did not have a father figure for the majority of his life. Just as interesting is his seeming change in the movie’s final story’s final scene. It’s like a weight has been lifted from him that had weighed with the weight of the world on Atlas’ shoulders. And in turn, it leaves viewers hoping that things will be better between him and Lisa, that weight having been lifted. It is yet one more way in which the work of both Stewart and Lillard presents so much talent and depth. That talent and depth combined with the story’s script and its overall believable look in its adaptation makes for a movie that any dramaphile will want to see at least once. This is despite its occasional pacing issues and regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the work of either Stewart or Lillard. All things considered, Match proves in the end to be a “match” for any dramaphile.

Stephen Belber’s small screen adaptation of his play Match is a movie that is a good “match” for any dramaphile. It takes an all too oft-used plot and gives it new life thanks to its execution. Its translation from stage to screen adds to its enjoyment as it boasts a completely believable look even with the use of minimal sets. The combined efforts of Sir Patrick Stewart and Matthew Lillard are just as impressive in the grand scheme of things. Their efforts combined with the story’s script and its look more than make up for its occasional pacing issues. They do so much good for the movie that even with those pacing issues Match still proves in the end to be a good “match” for any dramaphile and an equally good “match” for any critic’s list of the year’s best new independent movies. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online now at:



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IFC Films Announces Release Date For New Pacino Film

Courtesy:  IFC FIlms

Courtesy: IFC FIlms

Veteran actor Al Pacino is one of the most revered names in the annals of Hollywood’s rich history. Known largely for the likes of Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Godfather (1972), and Scarface (1983) among others, he now has added another new movie to his already extensive resume in the form of Manglehorn.

Manglehorn originally premiered August 30, 2014 at the Venice Film Festival in Italy and made its U.S. debut March 14th, 2015 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX. Now audiences across the country will finally get to see the movie for themselves as IFC Films will release it on DVD and Blu-ray next month. It will be released on Tuesday, October 6th. Pacino stars as the movie’s title character A.J. Manglehorn. Manglehorn is a somewhat eccentric and reclusive figure. This is a result of his having lost the love of his life, Clara a long time ago. He has largely cut himself off from everyone and everything around him, the only real bond that he forms with anyone or anything is his cat. Though, he does have some connection, albeit a tenuous one, with his son Jacob (Chris Messina—The Mindy Project). As the story progresses, A.J. happens to meet Dawn (Holly Hunter–The Incredibles, O BrotherWhere Art Thou?, Raising Arizona) an employee of his town’s local bank. The chance meeting leads to a new, growing relationship and a chance at love for both A.J. and Dawn. This leads A.J. to face the events of the past and decide if he wants to live in the past or move forward and have a second chance at love.

Manglehorn was written by Paul Logan and directed by David Gordon Green. It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, October 6th on DVD and Blu-ray. The DVD will retail for MSRP of $24.98 and the Blu-ray for $29.98. More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online now at:




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Coogan And Brydon’s Second Outing Is Another Entertaining And Delectable Trip

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi Media Group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi Media Group

IFC Films’ latest outing from actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan is one of 2014’s best new independent releases. The “sequel” to the duo’s 2011 feature simply (and aptly) titled The Trip, The Trip To Italy stands out unlike any other production released in 2014. It stands out primarily in its approach. It isn’t necessarily a movie in the most traditional sense. Though there is a sense of a buddy road trip to the story. That buddy comedy element is crossed with something that could almost be considered a reality TV sort of approach. The end result is a presentation that one can’t help but watch if only for that reason. The approach taken by those behind the cameras in presenting The Trip To Italy is just part of the whole that makes this rather intriguing and entertaining work so well worth the watch. Brydon and Coogan’s (sounds like a law firm doesn’t it?) jokes and impersonations throughout the trip make for their own share of entertainment. Nothing is off limits to the pair. No doubt the duo’s comic bits and discussions will have any open-minded viewer laughing uproariously. The last element of The Trip To Italy that makes it such a joy is its backdrops. There is no green screen here. There is no movie magic. Everything that audiences see is really the Italian countryside. In its own way, it could be argued that it is a throwback to the golden era of moviemaking. Together with the movie’s comic element and its overall presentation, all three elements make The Trip To Italy a movie that while not a movie in the traditional sense, a production that still stands firm on its own laurels and is one of the best new independent releases of 2014.

The Trip To Italy is one of the best new independent film releases of 2014. The movie, which ironically enough is itself a sequel, proves to be far better than any of the mass of sequels churned out by Hollywood’s Power Five studios last year. The central reason that it outperforms those movies is the manner in which it is presented. The “movie” isn’t necessarily a movie in the traditional sense. Yet the classic buddy comedy/road trip aspect is there. To be more precise, it blends that element with something along the lines of a reality TV show to make for a production that completely stands out from that mass of major name equels. What’s more, being that Coogan and Brydon spend most of their time either eating and driving, one could even compare it to the likes of PBS’ Rick Steves Europe. Go figure, Coogan and Brydon go after so many pop culture figures, movies, and more. But they don’t poke fun at Rick Steves even being in a setting that only encourages such jabs. That will be discussed later. Getting back to the subject at hand, the duo’s travels through Europe was compltely unscripted. It was just them touring Italy, checking out some of the country’s finest cuisine and taking in the sights all while making jokes and trying out their best impersonations. There’s no scripting. So while yes it is a movie, it also shows to be one third documentary and one third reality TV. That The Trip To Italy comes across as such an intriguing hybrid is plenty of reason within itself for audiences to check out this latest release from IFC Films. It’s just one reason to watch it, too. The jokes and impersonations shared throughout the its near two-hour run time make The Trip To Italy even more worth the watch.

The hybrid presentation of The Trip To Italy offers audiences plenty of reason within itself for audiences to watch the “movie” at least once. The jokes and impersonations that are thrown around throughout the course of its near two-hour run time add even more reason for audiences to check it out. Nothing is off limits to Coogan and Brydon, either. From Alanis Morissette to Sean Connery and Roger Moore to Al Pacino and more, Coogan and Brydon go after everyone that they can think of. There’s even a joke aimed at famed Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor. Speaking of public broadcasting, it is interesting that there was no mention of PBS’ travel series Rick Steves Europe anywhere in this production since the duo spent the length of the movie travelling the Italian countryside. Perhaps that was just too easy and too expected. It’s anyone’s guess. Regardles, the jokes and impersonations that are included throughout the “movie”–including a lighthearted jab at Americans’ tendency to use overblown names for themselves and their posessions–make for plenty of laughs and in turn, just as much entertainment. It’s yet another way in which The Trip To Italy proves itself worth the watch. It still isn’t all that makes the production worth the watch, either. The backdrops throughout the presentation round out the reasons to watch The Trip To Italy.

The comic element of The Trip To Italy and its original hybrid presentation are both key to its enjoyment. Both aspects play their own important role in the production’s enjoyment. While both are equally important, they still are not all that make the presentation worth the watch. The “movie’s” backdrops round out the whole thing and make it all the more enjoyable. As noted previously, it would have been so easy for audiences to make a comparison between The Trip To Italy and PBS’ Rick Steves Europe in watching this work since Coogan and Brydon were travelling the Italian countryside. It would have been just as easy for Coogan and Brydon to make jokes at that show’s expense. Of course that didn’t happen. Perhaps that’s because it would have been too expected and easy. Regardless, the backdrop of the Italian countryside is a major positive to the whole of The Trip To Italy. As subtle as it is and as little as some might think about it, seeing that countryside is just like watching Rick Steves Europe. It’s like watching a video postcard. There is no green screen. There are no special effects. It is really the duo travelling the countryside. It is more proof of the duo’s (and of IFC Films’) dedication to making the experience 100 real and believable for audiences. It is that reality of the “movie” alongside its original hybrid presentation, and its laugh riot jokes and impersonations that makes The Trip To Italy a trip that audiences will want to take more than once.

The Trip To Italy is available online now in stores and online now. It can be downloaded via iTunes now at More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online at:



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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:



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Jimmy P. Not Just Another Movie Based On Actual Events

Courtesy:  IFC Films

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ newly released drama Jimmy P. is one of the more intriguing movies that has been released so far in 2014.  On the surface, it could very easily be argued that the film is just one more piece to toss into the ever-growing pile of movies that are “based on actual events.”  But as audiences will see in watching this story, the script proves it to be more than just another one of those movies.  That is the most important aspect of the whole thing.  Equally important to the movie’s overall success is the acting on the part of both Benicio Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Snatch, Traffic) and Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Quantum of Solace, The Grand Budapest Hotel).  And last but not least, the bonus material included with the DVD brings everything full circle with interviews and discussions centered on the movie’s creation.  All of these noted aspects of Jimmy P. make IFC Films’ latest drama one more work that proves indie flicks are becoming increasingly more worth watching than the glut of prequels, sequels, and remakes that are polluting this nation’s theaters.

The very first shot of IFC Films’ new drama Jimmy P. superimposes the words “This is a true story” over the shot.  Those five words would make it so easy to immediately toss this movie into the ever-growing pile of works that are “based on actual events.”  But those that give the movie a chance will see that it is in fact not just another of that genre of films.  So many movies within that genre are little more than overly embellished tear jerkers about underdog figures overcoming great odds.  Jimmy P. is the polar opposite of those stories.  It is a completely unadorned film that is centered on the relationship between Dr. Georges Devereux and his patient Jimmy Picard, played respectively by Almaric and Del Toro.  It follows Devereux’s personal growth from a man largely considered a quack to a far more respected figure in the psychiatric community thanks to his psychoanalysis of Picard.  At the same time, it also follows Picard’s own personal growth and recovery from what proves to be a lifetime of emotional trauma due to some rather eye opening events. What’s more interesting about the movie is that much of the movie was taken directly from Devereux’s own personal notes from his sessions with Picard. Was there some embellishment with the story? More than likely. But odds are if there were, it would be safe to say that they were far fewer than most movies that are “based on actual events.” And that is always a good thing especially in the case of movies within that genre.

Jimmy P. doesn’t fit nicely into the standard mold of movies that are “based on actual events” is a good starting point for the movie’s script. It isn’t the only positive to note regarding this rather deep story. The acting on the part of co-stars Benicio Dle Toro and Mathieu Almaric is just as impressive. There’s almost something hypnotic about Del Toro’s acting for lack of better wording. His portrayal of Jimmy is so subtle that one can’t help but watch him. And Almaric’s portrayal of Dr. Devereux is just as impressive. It would have been so easy for either of the men to ham it up in their roles. But it’s obvious just how seriously both men took their roles just by watching their acting. This is especially evident late in the story when Devereux confronts the head of the hospital about requesting specific information regarding Jimmy and it being denied. That is one of those moments that could have so easily been pushed over the top. But Almaric didn’t go that route. He showed such depth of emotion in this scene. It’s but one of a number of moments that could serve as examples of the seriousness with which the pair took its roles. That solid acting served to make this latest offering from IFC even more worth the watch.

Both the acting on the part of Del Toro and Almaric, and the story’s relatively original script play equally important roles in the overall success of Jimmy P. As integral as those factors prove to be to the movie’s success, there is still one more factor to the overall presentation that makes it worth checking out. That final factor is the collective bonus material included on the DVD. The DVD’s bonus material is comprised mainly of interviews with the movie’s cast and director. The truly interesting thing of the bonus interviews included with this DVD is that considering the depth of the story, one would actually be encouraged to watch the bonus interviews before watching the movie. It will actually be beneficial in that it will better help to outline exactly the point of the story. That understanding will make for more appreciation of the story in the long run. That being the case, the interviews are less bonus material than necessary additions to the overall presentation. They bring everything full circle and make the presentation that is Jimmy P. complete and completely worth watching at least once.

Jimmy P. is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at