Wow, Oscar nominations, a Presidential address and 4 more Sundance movies ... all in one day! I can't freakin' believe an Adam Sandler movie is now an Oscar nominee, so let's just focus on the fest flicks and have some fun...
FINISHING THE GAME
From Justin Lin (director of the very fine Better Luck Tomorrow, the very silly Tokyo Drift and the very painful Annapolis) comes a surprisingly funny mockumentary that pokes fun at all those silly Asian stereotypes you used to find in so many movies and TV shows. (OK, the stereotypes you STILL find in so many movies and TV shows.) The gimmick here is that, following the untimely death of Bruce Lee, the GAME OF DEATH producers decide to hold an open casting call to see if they can't find a body double to stand in for the legendary martial artist. Has a few dry spots, but is generally pretty consistent with the chuckles. The cast is mostly unknowns, but you'll catch a few kooky cameos if you keep your eyes peeled.
YEAR OF THE DOG
From writer/director Mike White (The Good Girl, School of Rock) comes a tale of canine affection that goes way too far. (No, not THAT far; you're thinking of that ZOO movie.) Saturday Night Live's Molly Shannon stars as a sweet-natured nobody who spins into a spiral of misery when her beloved doggy passes away ... and so she decides to get a new one (or two or fifteen). Admirable for the way in which it both mocks and admires its silly main character, DOG boasts a rather solid cast. John C. Reilly, Regina King, Laura Dern and Peter Sarsgaard contribute some fine screwball work.
Fantastic screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Go, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) makes his directorial debut in this entirely strange, yet truly fascinating comedy/drama... Y'know, I'm still not entirely sure I know what the movie's about, but if I gave you my analysis, it might spoil the ride, so let's just say it's a three-part satire of Hollywood in which Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and the excellent Melissa McCarthy do a fine job of keeping August's high-concept experiment moving along slickly and smoothly. This one's a bit on the eccentric side, but I mean that as a compliment.
The late Adrienne Shelly wrote and directed this wonderful little sweetheart of a comedy, and frankly I think it's one of the warmest, wittiest and most lovable movies I've seen in years. It's about an adorable pie-makin' waitress who has two loyal pals (Cheryl Hines and Ms. Shelly), a rotten jerk of a husband (Jeremy Sisto), and a dreamy new gynecologist (Nathan Fillion). Yeah, poor Jenna is unexpectedly pregnant, and her state causes all sorts of angst, stress and heartache. Packed with very sweet moments, truly amusing dialogue and a palpable sense of affection for its characters, Waitress is a seriously lovable flick, and one I can't wait to see again soon. (Rest in peace, Ms. Shelly) :(