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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Spoof > Sex > Musical > Drama > Ireland > Teens > Vampires > Music > Barry Munday (2009/Magnolia Blu-ray) + A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures (2007/IFC/MPI DVD) + Madea’s Big Happy Family – The Play (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray) + Turning Green (2005/Image DVD) + Vam

Barry Munday (2009/Magnolia Blu-ray) + A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures (2007/IFC/MPI DVD) + Madea’s Big Happy Family – The Play (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray) + Turning Green (2005/Image DVD) + Vampires Suck (2010/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: C/C/C+/C/B-     Sound: C+/C+/C+/C+/B-     Extras: C-     Features: C- (Green: C)



Castration anxiety and comedy are always a bad mix, never really saying anything (rare exception, Martin Scorsese’s After Hours), but it informs more product than you might think and too often seems to backfire in various narrative films and various genres.  We recently ran into five releases that repeated the theme in some way or another, with poor results in all cases.



Patrick Wilson is a really good actor, but plays it dorky as Barry Munday (2009), a man who is unhappy with his life, wants to meet women, then has an accident where he looses his male organ, yet is sued for impregnating another woman!  Its starts as a bad comedy, becomes worse, then tries to be a feel good film (!!!), so you know you’ve got issues in the script by Writer/Director Chris D’Arienzo, but it also wastes its cast (including Judy Greer, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd and Chloe Sevigny) and our time.  It is one of those projects where only those who were doing pre-production thought it would work.  Wow, were they wrong, but this could have worked if they scrapped the approach and tried again… maybe.


As silly as Chris Waitt’s supposed confessional A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures (2007) about what a wacky love life he has had and all his many regrets.  He is burned out and has decided to regress to find some kind of closure by contacting all the girls he loved (or something like that) before.  Is it a diary, wallowing in pity or even believable?  Any so-called surprises are nonexistent as anything bad is obvious and that many of these women have moved on is expected, so he is a buffoon in some hip way and we are supposed to sympathize?  Some of the new wacky moments seem forced and that makes this a reality TV variant, but the idea could have worked if it was not so self-absorbed and play like every cheap video project of the last 15 years.


Then there is Tyler Perry’s latest cross-dressing comedy, Madea’s Big Happy Family – The Play (2010) which has the contradiction of Perry playing a woman and therefore cross-dressing in another formula comedy that is also a musical and more of that preaching-to-the-choir Religious Left material he made his name on, as this DVD set of his early plays will show:





This time however, we get a script that is much more homophobic than his previous work (the audience cheers when a female character talks about finding a “real” man in a way that is left unchallenged), then you have Madea, who (so those Christians out there are guarded from a gay discourse) a “tough broad” who knows it all and is crazy enough to get sent to jail to stop certain things from happening.  What was implicit and not a problem in earlier Madea appearances starts to fall apart here and no new ground is broken either.  The character is getting worn out and so is this work.


Michael Aimette and John Hofmann made Turning Green back in 2005 and it is the most watchable work here by default, yet the tale of a 16-year-old (Donal Gallery) trying to escape Ireland so he can grow and have a life is not exactly the most pro-Irish film in recent years and he lands up crossing paths with criminals to get money, though the story starts with his inabilities to have sex (or even relief of any kind) in the oppressive situation he is in.  To further this theme (but with hardly any irony) he sells XXX magazines to make money to escape, but that is not enough.  The character also does constant voice over about his thoughts and situation, but this can run on more than it should and does not help the narrative.  I also thought the ending was not one that worked, though co-stars Timothy Hutton, Colm Meaney and Alessandro Nivola are a plus.


The last of our releases to fit the castration theme is the latest in the endlessly tired series of generic spoof films anyone can produce (so generic they are) of the latest hits films and whatever else they can throw in.  Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have co-written and co-directed Vampires Suck (2010), which leads us to ask, it took two guys to make this mess?


To its credit, it has the nerve to send-up the somewhat sacred Twilight franchise, but they mock anything else they can to add filler to an 82 minutes (with credits) non-laugh fest, as is usual for these throw-together releases, including a dig at Lady Gaga that does not help.  Its sense of humor about vampires is at least consistent, but cannot save one restricted to a single film as Mel Brooks learned with Dracula – Dead & Loving It.  This is as bad and as worth skipping, though these comedies always work on the premise of a certain sexlessness that is often of male sexuality, even when young female suddenly go semi-naked.



All the Blu-rays offer 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers and all the DVD anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 presentations, but all tend to look on the cheap side.  The DVDs are average at best, but Munday is surprisingly bad looking throughout and should probably not have been issued on Blu-ray to begin with.  This is one of the weakest HD images we have seen of late.  Madea is almost as bad as Perry has converted to HD production and (as a recent slate of dramatic theatrical releases on Blu-ray showed) tends to have more motion blur than current HD productions should.  That leaves Vampires the only release looking good enough (here in an AVC @ 18 MBPS presentation) in part because it has to look good enough to look like the Twilight films.


All the Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound mixes and all but Vampires is surprisingly weak, though the others are dialogue-based in fairness to them.  Vampires at least has some fun with its fairly good soundmix.  The DVDs have Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes, but they are both really stretching out sound that is stereo at best.


Extras on all include trailers, save Madea, with two behind the scenes featurettes.  Munday adds Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Outtakes, its own making of featurette, an HDNet episode promoting its release and a feature length audio commentary by the Director, Wilson and Greer.  Failures also has a feature length audio commentary by the Director, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Photographs and Short Films.  Finally, Vampires (here in R and Uncut versions) has Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel.  Most of this stretches things out a good bit.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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