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‘Vicious’ doesn’t live up to lofty expectations

Date: 7/16/2014

I grabbed two DVDs from the screener pile and came up short, so you won’t have to!

I had rather high hopes for a well-written British sitcom starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, two of Great Britain’s most celebrated actors, but I was disappointed.

The two men play a gay couple who have been together nearly 50 years. Freddie (McKellen) is a vain small time actor always willing to regale people with stories of his theatrical triumphs. Stuart (Jacobi) is still in the closet to his aged mother.

They apparently come close to hating one another with near constant fighting and insults.

Essentially, this is a gay version of “The Honeymooners.” Just like the fighting Kramdens, this couple supposedly loves one another despite the conflict. Unlike the Kramdens, I found the affection more difficult to find.

Much of the humor is centered on gay stereotypes, which frankly made me a little uncomfortable. Is this kind of humor politically correct today?

“Vicious” was not my cup of tea.
The Jungle
We’ve all heard that the most sincere form of flattery is imitation. Does imitation include outright theft?

That is the case with this new “found footage” movie titled “The Jungle.” The folks who created “The Blair Witch Project” ought to sue for plagiarism.

Of course, to set the record straight, the gimmick that the audience is watching unedited “real” footage is one the writers and director of “The Last Broadcast” had done prior to “Blair Witch” and there had been films before it that had used the device. 

The brilliance behind the “Blair Witch” movie was its web-based marketing campaign that actually convinced a number of people the footage in the movie was indeed the depiction of actual events. P.T. Barnum and William Castle must have been smiling from heaven at how the filmmakers elevated an independent movie with no stars into the public consciousness.

“The Jungle” will not achieve anywhere near that success.

The film is framed as documentary footage shot for an expedition into the jungles of Indonesia to film rare Java leopards in order to make the point the area should be made into a nature preserve.

The two Indonesian wildlife experts are leading big cat advocate Larry Black (played as an obsessive dolt by Rupert Reid) into the jungle. The set-up takes a long time and I was tempted to use the fast forward button through the boring walking through the jungle footage.

Larry doesn’t want to go back when he’s told there might be some sort of monster lurking in the woods, He doesn’t go back when they find a severed human hand. He doesn’t want to go back when they find black magic charms hanging in the branches deep in the jungle (sound familiar?)

So naturally he doesn’t want to go back when his men are being dragged into the woods screaming.

Like “Blair Witch,” whatever is living in the woods is barely seen by the audience. And like “Blair Witch,” the film simply ends as the monster is destroying the camera.

Writer and director Andrew Traucki should be ashamed.