We're huge fans of the 2004 comedy Mean Girls, so we were as alarmed as anybody to hear that Paramount is developing a straight-to-DVD sequel to Tina Fey's exposé of high-school demagoguery. No plot or production details have been offered, save the studio's promise that it's "reaching out" to the original creative team.
Reaching out? Try "reach around." Fey's too busy collecting Emmys to bother, Rachel McAdams has a nice little career going for herself in films you don't have to break open a shrink wrap to see, and Amanda Seyfried should be able to parlay all that Mamma Mia! moolah into something comparable. As for Lindsay Lohan — yeah, you could probably get Lindsay Lohan. But that's not the point.
The point is that some things are sacred, no matter how trivial they might seem. But that concept seems less than sacrosanct to Louis Feola, chieftain of the new Paramount Famous division that'll be marketing the disc. "The `direct-to-DVD` business at retail, that's about $2.5 to $3 billion in the U.S.," Feola told MTV.com. "So someone is having a good time."
In other words, merit is relative, but crap sells forever. Who needs Tina Fey? He sounds like he does a pretty good Sarah Palin himself.
Opening Friday, Sept. 26
Choke Movies based on Chuck Palahniuk novels allow us to tsk-tsk modern society's surfeit of sex, violence and alienation while getting our full daily dose of those same luscious nutrients. Is there anybody who saw Fight Club more than once who didn't find the prospect of a viciously cold-cocked Brad Pitt as alluring as it was disturbing? It sounds as if we'll get to have it both ways yet again in Choke, the story of a con man (Sam Rockwell) whose gig is feigning public asphyxiation, and whose social scene is a whirl of titty bars, masturbation and dementia. Uncommonly for a limited release, the movie is hitting Orlando as early as anywhere else — which could be interpreted as saying several things, all of them wonderful. (at Enzian Theater, Maitland; R)
Nights in Rodanthe Five years ago, Diane Lane taught women of a certain age that they were entitled to nothing less than a villa in Tuscany and Raoul Bova. Now, the big prize has been downgraded to a stay in a North Carolina inn with Richard Gere. Who says mainstream cinema can't reflect recessionary pressures? (PG-13)
Eagle Eye Steven Spielberg came up with the story concept for this techno-thriller about a vast conspiracy furthered via cell phones and other usually reliable devices. Star Shia LaBeouf's DUI antics have distracted from the real mystery of his swift rise: why action-hero status has been conferred on a nebbish whose name is French-Yiddish for "We are currently out of corned beef." (PG-13)
Miracle at St. Anna After taking on Clint Eastwood over the dearth of black faces in Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, aging enfant terrible Spike Lee rights the balance with this paean to the African-American soldiers who helped hit Hitler where he lived. In the story, our heroes become stranded in a Tuscan village — six decades before everybody who did so got to hook up with Diane Lane as a consolation prize. (R)
National Lampoon Presents RoboDoc Back in May, when this locally shot health-industry satire had its world premiere at Hard Rock Live, we implied that the movie was unlikely to show up on any other screens that weren't equipped with TiVo. Well, here comes a "limited release" to throw our pathetic snark back in our faces. Emboldened by his impending rendezvous with at least a few crumbling auditoria, co-writer Scott Gordon (an M.D. in real life) had this to say: "Perhaps laughter really could be the best medicine for our broken health-care system. I am honored National Lampoon will be prescribing this movie to the public." And then God smote him! (R)
Available Tuesday, Sept. 30
Lou Reed's Berlin If you managed to get through Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man without mentally composing a suicide note, you may be a hardy enough soul to survive the less-than-cheery song cycle of Reed's fabled concept album, as performed live in its entirety for the first time and directed by Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Available Tuesday, Sept. 30
Hamlet 2 With the Oscar campaign for "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" heating up, reacquaint yourself with the Best Original Song contender that's a true underdog — because, y'know, there are so many born-again Christians on that voting panel.
What We Do Is Secret Shane West and a bunch of fellow actors run through the Germs catalog they learned for a recent biopic. Musical director and former Germ Pat Smear called the onscreen version of his old outfit "as good as we were when we were bad." How punk rock: sucking by the transitive firstname.lastname@example.org