Before I begin, I decided posts like this could potentially aid me in banging out more reviews in a relatively short amount of time. This in mind, reviews contained within these posts will most likely be shorter than that of others, with some elements typical of my other write-ups having been omitted.
The Chumscrubber (2005)
Directed by: Arie Posin
Starring: Jamie Bell, Camilla Belle, Justin Chatwin
Arie Posin’s The Chumscrubber is neither thoroughly engaging or even plain enjoyable; it’s barely tolerable. I don’t know what it is about filmmakers and their hackneyed attempts at appealing to younger audiences through the use of laughable teen stereotypes, but I’m just about at my wit’s end. First, there’s the typical bully: always irrational and thickheaded to the point where, at least in this case, he learns a valuable lesson as a result of something horrible he’s done and decides to turn over a new leaf. Of course he has his halfwit lackey, always eager to please his master, and his mysterious girlfriend that’s been forced into their current situation against her will. Last, but certainly not least, we have Jamie Bell’s Dean: the brooding loner who’s too smart for his own good and just doesn’t give a gosh darn hoot about what others think of him, his only “true” friend committing suicide at the start of the film. Oh, and don’t forget the parents; the stuck-up middle to upper class folks who are completely oblivious to their kids’ drug-addled lifestyles and constantly succumb to their own vices.
To some extent, I can appreciate what Posin was trying to achieve here, which in my opinion was a run of the mill tale about life in a supposedly perfect suburbia rapidly deteriorating for each family behind closed doors, with a slightly supernatural twist. In fact, it’s this twist that made the film at least mildly appealing, so I won’t ruin it for you, but the rest of the film is so derivative and offbeat that I actually found myself rolling my eyes more often than fixating them on the screen in front of me. Throw in a more or less formulaic, uninteresting script and all you have left are the efforts put forth by the cast, which are actually pretty great in their own right and end up further saving the film from itself in the long run. The up and comer Jamie Bell more or less steals the show in this regard, with Glenn Close and Ralph Fiennes holding their own amongst the rest of the adult characters just fine.
In the end, I found that The Chumscrubber was just another mediocre half comedic, half dramatic approach to a (very) familiar movie formula. With an often convoluted plot, a bland script, and far too many stereotypes, I can say it most definitely falls flat on its face. However, with excellent performances and a few appealing elements strewn throughout the oddball plot including a botched kidnapping attempt, Arie Posin’s second directorial outing managed to not be a complete turnoff by the time the end credits started rolling. All in all, I’d say it’s worth a view, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if it ends up not being your cup of tea.
Powder Blue (2009)
Directed by: Timothy Linh Bui
Starring: Jessica Biel, Eddie Redmayne, Forest Whitaker
Oh really? Another film about the lives of several complete strangers unexpectedly colliding on an important date? Sounds weirdly original, but not really. Seeing as how the plot of Powder Blue is as ridiculous as can be, I’m going to spare you the gory details and just say it’s about a shy, lonely mortician, a struggling single mother who works as a stripper to pay off her only son’s growing heap of hospital bills, an ex-priest who’s lost the will to live, and an ex-con struggling to live a new crime-free life outside of prison all brought together through some pretty uninteresting circumstances. Oh, and Patrick Swayze makes an hilarious appearance as a strip club owner. Rock and roll.
Where should I begin? Well for starters, I found it nearly impossible to sympathize with literally every single character, major or minor. I don’t know if it was the truly abysmal script, or the fact that each character simply couldn’t stop wallowing in a gigantic pool of their own self-pity for over an hour and forty minutes. Or maybe it’s because one of the characters’ names is Qwerty; after a keyboard perhaps. Simply ridiculous. And I’m not kidding when I say the script is abysmal; it’s almost laughably so, and the amount of overacting exhibited by way of pretty much everyone minus Eddie Redmayne’s worthy performance is almost sickening, which is a shame seeing as how the cast is as talented as it is.
Furthermore, several plot points had me shaking my head in response to how stupid they truly are. My favorite is probably Forest Whitaker’s attempt to have someone shoot him directly in the heart after losing his wife in a car accident, for fear of going straight to hell if he takes his own life. How sweet. Why not give the gun to a transsexual hooker though? Very risque, and on that note, great job Mr. Linh Bui, for proving to me and perhaps others that your writing and directorial abilities are virtually nonexistent. Even a smokin’ hot, very, very naked Jessica Biel can’t save this film from itself, and that’s saying something folks. Please go rent something else more worth your time and money.