November 22nd, 2014

THE PURGE: ANARCHY (2014) **

The politics behind The Purge have always been murky to me. In The Purge: Anarchy, they’re even murkier. We’re supposed to believe that unemployment is only 5% just because one night out of the year people can dress up like members of Slipknot and kill each other. How does that even help you on a job interview? And are we really supposed to buy that the crime rate would virtually disappear because psychos, hooligans, and morons get all their ya-yas out on Purge Night? I honestly don’t think deranged minds could keep their bloodlust at bay for a whole year.

There’s an unbelievable plot twist at the end when we learn that the government has found that less and less people are purging, so agents have to go around in bread trucks wearing body armor killing people. If it is true, and less people are purging, wouldn’t all those low crime and unemployment statistics suggest that all the dregs of society have already been killed off? And because of that, maybe you should pack it in and call it a day on that whole Purge thing? I understand; it’s the government we are talking about here. Once they get their hands on something, they don’t let go. Still, that bit of information doesn’t jibe with everything else in the film; particularly the Black Panther wannabes that are trying to rise up against the rich folks.

We also learn in this one that The Purge has become something of a holiday. It’s kind of like Halloween. People go door to door dressed up in stupid costumes and act like hoodlums, but there is less candy involved.

If we’re calling The Purge a holiday like Christmas, it’s going to get even murkier. I don’t know about you, but in my household we were always allowed to open up one present on Christmas Eve. So if that’s the case, does that mean you can commit one murder the night before The Purge and it’s okay?

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I have to say that The Purge: Anarchy is a marginally better film than the original. That’s mostly because it’s a survival flick with a touch of Death Wish thrown in for good measure. Frank (The Grey) Grillo stars as a guy who rides around the city in his armor-plated muscle car looking for the man who killed his son. Along the way, he rescues four people who had the misfortune to be unprepared on Purge Night. Together, they try to get out of the city and pray dawn comes quickly.

There are some good moments sprinkled here and there. I liked the part where a bunch of rich people shanghaied our heroes and held a silent auction for the privilege of killing them. They are then dumped into what looks like an old Photon range where the rich folks hunt them down The Most Dangerous Game-style. Had the filmmakers milked this scene for all it was worth, the flick might’ve worked.

If anything, this is a good vehicle for Grillo. He’s easily the best thing about the flick. If they ever decide to do a Netflix TV show of The Punisher, I think they found their guy. He shows that he can wear black and mow down scum with the best of them. Too bad the head-scratching politics of the whole thing all but derail the narrative.

DUMB AND DUMBER TO (2014) ***

I liked the original Dumb and Dumber. I’m not one of those die-hard fans that can endlessly quote it though. In fact, I don’t even think I’ve seen it all the way through since seeing it opening night in the theater. I’ve heard rumblings from die-hard fans that Dumb and Dumber To didn’t live up to their 20-years-in-the-making expectations, but for me, I enjoyed it about as much as the original.

Lloyd (Jim Carrey) spends twenty years pretending to be an invalid to prank Harry (Jeff Daniels) into wiping his ass for two decades. He finally snaps out of it when Harry tells him he needs a kidney transplant. The duo then goes on a road trip looking for Harry’s long-lost daughter, the only person who could be a successful donor.

The only proper way to gauge a movie like Dumb and Dumber To is by how much it makes you laugh, and I laughed a good deal. We get as many poop, fart, and fingering jokes as you’d expect from a Farrelly Brothers film, as well as a bunch of callbacks from the original. There are plenty of gags that don’t fly, but it hits more often than it misses.

Of course, the best joke of all is the title. We’ve seen a lot of sequels try to be cute and use the word “Too” instead of “2”. What makes the joke even funnier is that this is actually the third Dumb and Dumber movie (after Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd). Oh, and if you stick around after the credits, you’ll be treated to a trailer for Dumb and Dumber For (which is appropriately coming out in 2034).

A lot of the fun comes just from seeing Carrey and Daniels together again. Carrey in particular seems to be having a blast at letting loose and allowing himself to be Jim Carrey again. Rob Riggle (in a dual role) proves to be a good straight man for the two, and it’s fun watching Kathleen Turner playing her age. And if you blink, you’ll miss Bill Murray.

Best dialogue exchange:

Harry: “My parents haven’t talked to me since I told them I was gay.”

Lloyd: “Why did you tell them that?”

Harry: “I got tired of mowing the lawn.”