McG’s newest film tries to be everything for everyone. And while it doesn’t always work, I loved “The Babysitter” for being so self aware most of the time. It’s not just a horror comedy about a really hot babysitter who turns out to be a Satanist, but it’s also a film packed with heart. It’s about growing up, learning to conquer your fears and insecurities, and learning that in life you have to take your lumps instead of finding the easy way out. Don’t get me wrong, “The Babysitter” is a fun and demented horror comedy, but it’s also a stellar coming of age film, as well. Writer Brian Duffield successfully conceives a slew of characters that learn something about each other and come to some kind of self realization.
Andrés Muschietti’s “It” has proven in a year of really bad Stephen King adaptations, that it is very possible to put one of King’s most popular novels on screen and remind us once again why King is King. Muschietti, like Tommy Lee Wallace before him, has the daunting task of compressing an eleven hundred page novel in to what will end up being a five hour epic. Yet, “It” manages to come out mostly unscathed as a film that is both a spooky horror film and a stellar coming of age drama. Much like “Mama,” Muschietti’s work on “It” ends in a film that can be appreciated as a human drama and a pure horror movie packed with heart, scares, insight in to growing up in an unforgiving, cruel world.
There’s a considerable drop off in quality with “Teen Wolf Too” with what is essentially the same movie with a premise that was cut and pasted. Michael J. Fox opted out of this follow up, setting the stage for the film debut of Jason Bateman, who took the first and last sequel of this oddly popular series. I remember watching this movie as a kid quite often, since the channel I always watched never had the original. Years later, “Teen Wolf Too” isn’t a very good movie, and as a follow up should be watched by fans that are either Jason Bateman fanatics, or absolutely have to watch every sequel of a movie series. Hey, it’s not as bad as any of “The Howling” sequels. That’s about as big an endorsement I’m wiling to give it.
Before it became a homoerotic horror series on MTV, “Teen Wolf” was the epitome of eighties cheese that mixed a teen coming of age comedy with horror tropes. The idea of being a werewolf is of course a metaphor for puberty, as Michael J. Fox takes a baffling but oddly fun turn in his career after the success of “Back to the Future.” The 1985 “Teen Wolf” hasn’t aged very well, but it’s still a fun novelty of the decade where almost nothing was off limits it meant possibly drawing a laugh. Surely, the idea of a werewolf becoming a star basketball player is absurd, but not offensive as a comedy based around a corpse, or a college student wearing black face. But I digress.
For folks experiencing zombie fatigue, “Dead Shack” might be the small movie that cures your unrest for the sub-genre. Director-writer Peter Ricq and co-writers Philippe Ivanusic, Davila LeBlanc twist conventions rather well while also introducing a dashing but complex horror villain to boot. “Dead Shack” is a fun and very funny mix of genres that has a good time implementing the zombie sub-genre without bogging the entire movie down in typical cinematic tropes and heavy handed overtones. The zombies here are more devious plot devices that allow for a ton of gore and splatter, and director Ricq never shies away from the gooey and red stuff.
Director Jon Watts handles the element of Peter Parker’s life that the previous “Spider-Man” iterations didn’t, offering a compelling coming of age high school drama, whose main character is a super powered being trying to live up to impossible standards. When we meet Peter Parker, he’s a typical teenager vlogging his experience in “Civil War” where he brushed up against a slew of heavy hitting superheroes in an effort to help Tony Stark. When the movie begins Peter is returned to Queens to go back to being just a teenager who happens to be Spider-Man. Peter is a young man always trying to do what’s right and noble, he’s the true underdog of the Marvel Universe.
Dean Israelite’s reboot of “Power Rangers” is meant to be a reboot for a new generation. It has diversity, and vision, and works well in making sense of a lot of the concepts presented in the original series. Fans didn’t need all of the ideas to make sense, hence the rabid popularity in the nineties, but “Power Rangers” offers a sincerity that undercuts the obvious need for the studio to refurbish the Power Rangers for a new generation of fans and potential toy customers. I, for one, really enjoy what Israelite does with his vision of the “Power Rangers” providing minute cosmetic alterations and some big changes in mythos that are hit or miss most times.
Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of Daniel Clowe’s iconic coming of age tale “Ghost World” gets its due from Criterion for hardcore fans alike. Criterion tastefully disregards Scarlett Johansson’s mega star status in favor of advertising the essence of the very weird and unusual tale of a young girl learning about growing up and moving on. In one of her finest roles, Thora Birch stars as the odd Enid, a girl with peculiar taste for Bollywood musicals and off beat culture who is experiencing the end of high school with her best friend Rebecca (Johansson). Enid finds solace with her life through her unusual art where she draws colorful locals in her town.