About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

May 2018 - I think of Jason Bateman like I think of whiskey – as an acquired taste. From Arrested Development to The Gift, his characters appear normal yet always seem to be a little "off" in one way or another.

In his latest film, Game Night, Bateman plays a successful man who can't stop being envious of his even more successful brother, played by Kyle Chandler. Rachel McAdams also stars, and Dexter shows up toward the end of this R-rated black comedy that hit theaters in late February.

Bateman and McAdams are Max and Annie, a married couple brought together by their love of games and competition. In life, Max feels his biggest competition is his older brother, Brooks. When Brooks blows into town in his fancy sports car and offers to host a game night, Max feels defeated when his friends immediately say yes.

Max's self-esteem takes another shot when he arrives at Brooks' awesome house and finds out that Brooks has changed the rules. Instead of Pictionary and charades, they'll be following clues in a much more realistic game (think Michael Douglas in 1997's The Game), and the winner gets Brooks' car. When men wearing masks and carrying guns barge into the house, they all believe it's the start of the game. Until, that is, the action gets a little too real.

Overall review: Liked it. Don't let the plot get in the way of a good movie. The humor here is dark and the action is fast. Things happen quickly so there's not a lot of time to consider whether it all makes sense. For this movie, that's probably a good thing. Just sit back and enjoy.

Don't expect quite as much enjoyment from 2013's Identity Thief. Bateman teams up with Melissa McCarthy in this comedy, which gets its R rating from over-the-top raunchiness.

Bateman plays Sandy, an androgenously-named accountant in Colorado. When he's passed over for a promotion, he defects to a start-up firm with some of his co-workers. But, on Day 1, the head of the new firm tells Sandy that his credit rating is so bad that it will scare away clients. Sandy realizes his identity has been stolen. He's given one week to sort things out or lose his new job for good.

McCarthy plays Diana, the identity thief. Sandy tracks her to Florida, where Diana has been charging everything she can think of to his credit cards. Sandy's plan is to go to Florida and bring Diana back to Denver to face justice. But, of course, it's not quite that simple. Sandy and Diana end up in Denver, alright, but not without some obnoxiously wild adventures along the way.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. At just under two hours long, this movie seemed a lot longer. Bateman plays the straight man to McCarthy's funny woman. But, with a few exceptions, I didn't find the crude humor in this movie very funny. Overall, I think the movie suffers from an identity crisis of its own. Is it a revenge movie? A chase movie? A friendship movie? It tries to be all of them and never succeeds at any of them.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert