November 23rd, 2014

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (2014) ***

At first glance, The Fault in Our Stars looks like your average Chick Flick, except… you know… with cancer. That right there sounds like you’re in for a downbeat bummer of a movie. The surprising thing about it is that it’s actually pretty hilarious. The film is brimming with gallows humor that helps ingratiates the characters to the audience. They all know they’re going to bite the dust, but they keep quipping away at a steady clip.

Y’all know me well enough by now. You know I’m not the kind of guy who watches, let alone endorses this type of thing. So trust me when I say The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best Chick Flicks since Say Anything.

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl whose lungs are so ravaged by cancer that she’s permanently breathing through a tube up her nose. She meets Gus (Ansel Elgort) at a support group meeting and even though he’s lost a leg to cancer, he is full of life and high spirits. They become friends, fall in love, and venture to Amsterdam to visit Hazel’s idol, a reclusive author who turns out to be an asshole (played note-perfectly by Willem Dafoe).

Let me get this out of the way. The Fault in Our Stars is a tearjerker. Just be glad that it waits a long time before getting to the mushy stuff. For a good hour or so, it’s really funny and full of black humor. I particularly liked the scene where Gus chastises Hazel for wasting her Make-a-Wish on a trip to Disney World. Gus is pretty funny, but it’s his buddy Isaac (Nat Wolff), who loses both eyes to cancer, that steals the movie and gets all the best lines.

Sure, it gets weepy at the end. Sure, it runs on about 20 minutes longer than necessary. The good news is that it’s an honest, funny, and surprising movie. I would’ve never dreamed to give it *** when I sat down to watch it, but I have to admit, it won me over.

THANKSKILLING (2009) **

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so I figured I might as well give this a go, seeing how Thanksgiving-themed horror movies are few and far between. There’s the immortal Blood Freak and the trailer for Thanksgiving in Grindhouse, but that’s about it. Luckily, Thankskilling is here to fill the void.

The opening scene is pretty funny. A bare-breasted Pilgrim babe (porn star Wanda Lust) runs through the woods before being killed by a foulmouthed (no pun intended… wait, this is a review of Thankskilling, of course the pun is intended) turkey. We then flash forward to present day. A bunch of college kids go into the woods to party during Thanksgiving Break. Pretty soon, the killer turkey is resurrected and starts slicing and dicing (or should I say carving?) his way through the cast.

The scene where the turkey is resurrected by dog urine (an obvious nod to A Nightmare on Elm Street 4) is good for a laugh, as is the aforementioned opening sequence. However, the flick runs out of steam about 45 minutes in. (Either that, or that’s when my patience ran out.) Thank God it’s only 66 minutes.

The acting, humor, and gore is sub-Troma quality, which I guess is to be expected. The problem is that the killer turkey is pretty lame. He just hurls a bunch of insults at his victims while murdering them, and none of them are particularly funny. I mean there are only so many times you can hear a rubber turkey call someone “bitch” before it loses its charm. I did like the scene where the turkey has sex with the slut of the group and says, “You just got stuffed!”