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Jack Black needs a new act, especially after 'Year One'

Date: 10/13/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

One good movie and two bad ones make up this week's DVD review column.

The Objective

"The Objective" has one of the best trailers I've seen of any recent movie and I'm happy to report this film from writer and director Daniel Myrick, the co-creator of "The Blair Witch Project," lives up to the hype.

Set in November 2001 in Afghanistan, a CIA operative leads a group of Special Forces soldiers into the mountains to supposedly find a Muslim cleric whose support would be valuable to win the hearts and minds of the non-Taliban citizens of the country.

That, of course, is not the real deal. Actually, the agent is pursuing a phenomenon he heard about when he was training Afghans to fight the Soviets. This force is an unstoppable weapon.

There are some familiar themes here. The group of soldiers being picked off by unseen foes harkens all the way back to John Ford's "The Lost Patrol" and continued more recently in a film such as "Southern Comfort." Myrick makes it work, though.

To say much about the film would be a disservice to viewers. It is an extremely solid adult film that delves into the same territory as "Blair Witch" in that people in a natural environment are facing something quite unnatural.

There are some good thrills, but unlike "Blair Witch," which pretty much scared me as no film had done so since I was a kid, "The Objective" filled me with an uneasiness and dread a different reaction but an effective one.

This is definitely a film to see. It's on DVD, so what are you waiting for?

Dead Girl

I received a copy of "Dead Girl" and I had little idea what I was getting into. I hadn't read any buzz about it other than the pitch from the publicist that promised a horror film that was more about a rite of passage of two teenage friends and the testing of their friendship as two high school outsiders.

The word "poignant" was actually used to describe this movie.

After watching the film, I wondered how the heck I was going to write about it in these newspapers. These are family newspapers, so how do I describe a movie in which two high school losers discover a flesh eating zombie in the basement of an abandoned hospital?

Well, I guess I can say the film's events are anything but "poignant."

Apparently someone lost the will to actually sell this movie for what it is. It is an amazingly nasty zombie movie not so by effects or visuals but by idea. I'm sure that would have appealed to a certain audience.

Apparently, according to the "making of" feature, everyone involved wanted to talk about the friendship and teen angst angle. I suspect someone might be just a little guilty about making this movie.

If mean-spirited zombie movies are your cup of tea, grab some "Dead Girl." If you see this movie on the front of the Red Box, consider yourself warned.

Year One

Performer, writer and director Harold Ramis has had a long career in comedy. He has written such hits as "Caddyshack," "Analyze This" and "Groundhog Day," just to name three films.

So you would think that he would understand comedy enough not to lay such a leaden egg as "Year One."

Ramis wrote and directed the film and appears in it as well.

This film takes two stupid cavemen and has them interact with characters from the Old Testament. The mirthless concoction has our heroes Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) meet up with Abraham, Isaac and Cain and Abel and they wind up in Sodom.

Part of the trouble is that Black just recycles his established obnoxious loser character - quickly becoming predictable and boring - and Cera has a mumbling Woody Allen style role. Neither is funny.

The film is quite "adult" for its PG-13 rating with sexual and scatological humor. It's not one to watch with the kids.