War is hell, and in the hands of Quentin Tarantino it's also quite talky. His new movie Inglourious Basterds is a strange mix of exploitation flick and cinema discussion.

Towards the end of World War Two, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt, using a comical Southern accent) leads an eight-man squad of Jewish-American soldiers called "the Basterds" out to spread death and fear in Nazi-occupied France. They use what Raine calls "Apache methods" -- scalping their Nazi victims -- and permanently scarring a survivor who is sent to tell the tale of the Basterds.

On the German side, Colonel Hans Landa (a brilliant Christoph Waltz) is seemingly in the middle of everything. Nicknamed "the Jew hunter," Landa is always sophisticated, charming, easily switching back and forth between English, French, and German -- and always menacing.

Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) is a French Jew who Landa let escape after he had her family slaughtered in 1941. Three years later she owns and runs a cinema. She gets the romantic attention of Private Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl), a Nazi war hero made the star of hus upcoming propaganda film. He arranges for the film to be shown at Dreyfus' cinema, and the premiere will include most of the Nazi high command -- including Hitler. This makes it a perfect target for Dreyfus to have her revenge -- a thought shared by German film star and double agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Dianne Kruger), whose mission is to bring the Basterds in to destroy the Nazi leadership. But nothing ever goes right, and Landa is always around...

Inglourious Basterds is an uneven mix of a movie. There are several elements of exploitation cinema -- the early scalping, the fiery finale, an over-the-top telling of one soldier's Nazi-killing exploits -- but the majority of the film consists of people sitting around and talking, often about films. The movie is divided into chapters, showing that Tarantino (who wrote and directed this movie) didn't know how to transition from one part of the movie to another.

As with most ensemble war movies, the actors making up the Basterds are pretty indistinguishable. (The notable exception is director Eli Roth, who as Donny Donowitz likes to beat prisoners to death with a baseball bat.) Brad Pitt has a lot of fun as the laid-back leader of a bunch of soldiers for whom "killin' Nazis" is a lot of fun. Christopher Waltz' role as Landa should make him the villain of the year, and while the women here aren't given a wide range, they are certainly not frail and helpless, waiting for men to rescue them.

Inglorious Basterds isn't trashy enough to be sheer exploitation cinema, nor is it self-analytical enough to explore the themes it presents. (For example, no one ever comments that the American good guys are killing prisoners and torturing survivors.) But while this movie is uneven, there's plenty of dark humor and good acting to keep it entertaining.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

Týr, By the Light of the Northern Star (Napalm Records, 2009)

The Faroese metal band Týr have been very busy lately. In 2008 their album Land came out hard on the heels of the American release of their previous album Ragnarok. Now, less than a year after the release of Land, the Faroese quartet consisting of Heri Joensen (guirar, vocals), Terji Skibenæs (guitar), Gunnar H. Thomsen (bass), and Kári Streymoy are back yet again with a new album called By the Light of the Northern Star. Fortunately, Týr are as interesting and as entertaining as they are prolific.

Understanding the concept behind any of the Týr albums I've listened to requires some background knowledge, and By the Light of the Northern Star is certainly no exception. As the year 1000 A.D. approached, all of continental Europe had converted to Christianity. The descendants of the Vikings had generally embraced the languages, cultures, and customs of the lands they had settled in, and even Norway itself, under king Olaf Tryggvason, had abandoned the pagan religion and traditions. Only in the remote Faroe Islands did Viking mythology and folklore continue to hold prominence. This would not be allowed to last, though. The Færeyinga Saga, dating back to the 13th century, tells the story of Sigmundur Bretisson, usually referred to simply as Sigmund, who was ordered by Olaf to make the Faroe Islands a Christian colony of the kingdom of Norway. As the saga tells it, and as Joensen sings it in the song "By the Sword in My Hand," Sigmund made converts the old fashioned way -- by beheading those who resisted him. (Evidently he had skimmed over the gospel verses about loving your enemies and being merciful to others.) I'm not sure how highly or lowly the Faroese people in general have regarded Sigmund over the centuries, but in the eyes of the Islands' modern-day poets and singers he is unquestionably the villain.

By the Light of the Northern Star is based on the Færeyinga Saga, as Týr pay tribute to what essentially was the last stand of the Vikings against the encroachment of a Christian religion that, with some justification, they did not find sympathetic. "Hold the Heathen Hammer High," the album's opening song, could not be more self-explanatory. (The video is even less subtle, with a scene that would cause a lot of controversy if the band were more widely known.) As with previous albums, Joensen alternates between singing in English and Faroese. While the new album is mostly in English, in contrast to Land, the album's best song is a metal adaptation of the traditional Faroese ballad of "Tróndur í Gøtu." Tróndur í Gøtu was Sigmund's first "convert," whose decision to hold onto his head did not make him suddenly friendly with Sigmund or prevent him from obtaining a small degree of revenge later. The song which bears his name has the kind of insidiously infectious chorus that will have you singing along even if you have no clue what you're saying. The rest of the album follows a similar pattern to Týr's previous efforts. Many of the melodies and guitar riffs are based on the rhythmically complex Faroese folk tunes, with influences from Ireland and Scandinavia added to the mix as well. Týr are a heavy metal band first and foremost, however, and there's no shortage of loud, muscular guitars and pounding drums.

Still, there is more common ground between the music of Týr and traditional Nordic folk music than might be evident at face value. The musical traditions of the Vikings and their descendants are intertwined with their legends and sagas, and much of the music consequently has a dark, primal element with which heavy metal is actually quite compatible. During one of my many happy visits to Minneapolis for the Nordic Roots Festival, I got to interview a number of my fellow attendees for a magazine article. One of the persons I spoke with said she put a high premium on acts that put her "on the tundra." I don't know if putting people on the tundra is necessarily what Týr are aiming for, but if you're looking to be thrust into the middle of a great Norse saga then By the Light of the Northern Star will do quite nicely. By the time the album reaches the song "Ride," you just might find yourself looking for a suit of chain mail and a trusty steed.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Hold the Heathen Hammer High"



To date, the only video game-based movie I've enjoyed was the first Resident Evil movie. I had high hopes for Silent Hill -- filled with creepy atmosphere and strange monsters -- but it turned out to be another disappointment.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) is worried about her young daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), who has been sleepwalking and saying the words "Silent Hill." Using logic only found in horror movies, Rose decides the best way to help her daughter is to drive her to Silent Hill, an abandoned town with a mysterious past.

After a run-in with motorcycle police officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), Rose and Sharon reach Silent Hill, swerve, and are knocked out. When Rose awakens Sharon is gone, so Rose (and later Officer Bennett) go exploring the town to find Sharon. This consists of running after a little girl who looks like Sharon, and fighting or fleeing monsters.

Silent Hill has a subplot where Rose's husband Chris (Sean Bean) learns about the town's history, but the movie is all about monsters and puzzles. I've never played the Silent Hill videogames, but after seeing the movie I feel like I have. The characters find clues, meet other characters who provide handy exposition, and run away from monsters ranging from burning zombie babies to a pyramid-headed creature with massive swords.

Silent Hill would have been better if it didn't feel so artificial. The color scheme of Silent Hill alternates between pale and snowy and rust-red and hellish, but that gets repetitive fast. Rose continually shouts out for her daughter, even when she knows about the town's monsters and spends a lot of time avoiding them. The transitions (usually marked by a loud siren) feel like new levels in a video game, and a plot point involving religious zealots becomes merely another form of monster. Characters are one-dimensional, while some of the creatures are freaky they become repetitive after a while. DVD extras are pretty standard "making-of" features. Silent Hill has a few decent moments but it is ultimately a superficial movie, satisfying only people who want to see the video game brought to life.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch



Thanks to the good people at the USA Network, I received an advance copy of the pilot for their new show White Collar. This is the latest in a series of shows about a colorful outsider who helps the officials solve crimes.

White Collar revolves around two opposites. Neal Caffrey (Matthew Borner) is a con artist, convicted forger, and non-violent criminal who scams his way out of prison four months before his sentence is up after his girlfriend dumps him. Caffrey is pursued and caught by FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), who caught Caffrey the first time. But Burke is having a hard time catching a mysterious criminal called the Dutchman, so he arranges for Caffrey be released into his custody in exchange for helping with cases.

There's nothing new in White Collar. Borner plays the lovable rogue, a fast-talking opportunist (but nice at heart) who in his first day of freedom goes from living in a crummy hotel room to staying at the guest room of a rich woman with a fashionable wardrobe for him to wear, a terrific view of Manhattan, and a beautiful young granddaughter. DeKay is the straight man, the working stiff who has to shake his head and smile at the antics his new partner gets into. The supporting cast is pretty routine, from Tiffani Thiessen as Burke's supportive wife to Alexandra Daddario as Burke's subordinate who's also gay (and not to be seduced by Burke.) The mystery keeps having elements only Burke can figure out -- something I expect will happen in each episode.

Monk has an obsessive-compulsive former police officer helping the police solve crimes. Psych has a fake psychic helping the police solve crimes. And now White Collar gives us a former (current?) criminal helping the FBI solve crimes. This show isn't terrible, but it's neither original nor memorable.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch


Paolo Nutini, Sunny Side Up (Atlantic, 2009)

A native of the city of Paisley, Scotland (near Glasgow), Paolo Nutini was still a teenager when he released his first album These Streets in 2006. I remember commenting at the time that Nutini had some promise as a blue-eyed soul singer, and he happily makes good on the promise with his second album Sunny Side Up.

Nutini is more eclectic on Sunny Side Up than he was on its predecessor, beginning with the fun, ska-influnced opening song "10/10." His next song, "Coming Up Easy," evokes old-school soul, with a horn section reminiscent of the many soul hits produced by Stax Records in Memphis. He spends the rest of the album bouncing around between folk, country, soul, and even dixieland, and has the voice to pull all of it off. As soul singers with brogues go, he blows away Andrew Strong from The Commitments, and I don't know of too many living singers elsewhere who can evoke Otis Redding as well as Nutini does. Besides the first two songs, other highlights include the minor-key ballad "Candy," the joyously bouncy "Pencil Full of Lead," the rockabilly "Simple Things," and the dark folk/gospel song "Worried Man."

Sunny Side Up is a solid effort from a rapidly maturing young performer with a great voice and no small amount of creative talent. Paolo Nutini is unquestionably a performer to watch (and listen to) in the years to come.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Candy," the first single off Sunny Side Up.



In all the movies about aliens landing on earth, few have treated life from other planets as banally as in District 9. This film, produced by Peter Jackson, reduces visitors from the stars to illegal, er, aliens.

District 9 is almost two separate movies: a pseudo-documentary and an action flick. The first half of the movie, shot in documentary style, tells of the aliens' arrival and current state. Twenty years ago a massive spaceship appeared, hovering over Johannesburg. The aliens -- tall, insectiod beings given the nickmame "prawns" -- were removed from the ship and taken down to District 9, little more than a slumtown with Nigerian gangsters, poor living conditions, and military forces keeping them inside. The alien mothership just hovers above the town immobile (speculation is that a command module fell off when the ship arrived), and the lethal alien weaponry only works when held by an alien.

Nerdy bureaucrat Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is in charge of getting the aliens' signatures (or any marking on a paper) to relocate the whole population of District 9 to a new location further away from humans. He happily guides a film crew through the alien world, explaining how the "prawns" love cat food and gleefully torching a building with alien eggs.

District 9 changes direction when, during his tourn, Wikus gets sprayed by a cannister of alien material. This begins transforming Wikus into one of the aliens, especially an inhuman left hand. In almost no time Wikus is experiencing the same prejudice he exhibited, plus both the government and gangsters want to take apart Wikus. There's another storyline about an alien father and son who can get back to the mothership, but only with Wikus' help...

Director Neill Blomkamp does a good job creating a modern slum filled with futuristic beings, and he seamlessly bridges the work between his human actors and the cgi aliens. District 9 does suffer in the shift from social commentary in how the aliens are treated to a straight-up action flick involving running, shooting, robotic body armor and beam weapons that make targets explode in a bloody mess. District 9 has an intriguing premise, but its diverted focus weakens its message and potential.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch


Business can be funny! This can be the lesson of Better Off Ted, a sitcom set in the world of corporate politics, interpersonal dynamics, and suicidal turkeys.

Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) is the head of research and development for Veridian Dynamics, a massive company. A nice guy, Ted is constantly looking out for his research team, led by nerd friends Lem (Malcolm Barrett) and Phil (Jonathan Slavin). On the other side, his boss Veronica (Portia de Rossi) is always keeping the company first. Veronica is impersonal, arrogant, efficient, and she slept with Ted. Then there's Linda (Andrea Anders), an idealist who always wants to do the right thing.

Then there are the products. By leaving the exact nature of Veridian Dymanics open, the show can have them work on anything and everything, from flash-freezing its employees to energy patches and the octo-chicken. Better Off Ted usually doesn't even show these creations, giving us instead the aftermath of the mistakes.

I really like Better Off Ted. The cast is first-rate, from Ted as the straight man in the middle of the insanity to Rossi as the stern, unapologetic corporate shark. The dialogue is sharp and amusing ("You know how when you accidentally dose someone, like with an experimental energy patch, and you hope they'll sit quietly at their desks, but instead they wander around unnecessarily drawing attention to themselves? We've done something eerily similar to that") and the format -- no laugh track, Ted often talks directly to the camera -- is reminiscent of Malcolm in the Middle, another terrific comedy.

The tone of Better Off Ted is pretty goofy. Veridian Dynamics may see all its employees as expendable, covering itself with self-serving commercials ("Veridian Dynamics. Individuals---we believe everyone is special, irreplaceable, and will follow the thing walking in front of it. That's why we celebrate all individuals, even ones going nowhere. Veridian Dynamics--because you can't spell 'individual' without 'Veridian.' And 'U.' And an 'L.'"), but everything always seems to work out for the cast. There's plenty of cynisicm about corporate culture, but it's not as merciless as, say, Dilbert.

I could have lived without the will-they-or-won't-they? romantic tension between Ted and Linda, but otherwise Better Off Ted is tremendously entertaining. This show is silly, it's clever, and it makes me laugh. Consistently.
Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch



There's plenty of drama inherent in the law, and Michael Clayton captures the risks and great dangers of high-stakes legal battles.

George Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a "fixer" for a prestigious law firm. Clayton is the person who always seems to know a guy, who knows how to make a mess go away; as he says early in the film, "I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor." Clayton is also world-weary, in debt for thousands after a restaurant with his brother fell through, concerned about a merger of his firm that could leave him out in the cold, and he has a gambling problem. And at the film's opening, as he wanders the countryside his car explodes.

We then jump back four days earlier. Clayton's latest mess is a big one: Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) had been chief counsel for Clayton's firm representing chemical company United North in a $3 billion class action lawsuit. Apparently Edens stopped taking his mediation, because he stripped down naked during a deposition and went running into the street. As Clayton tries to fix things, he learns that Edens may not be as mad as he seems -- and that makes him more dangerous.

Clayton isn't the only player in this game. Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), the chief counsel for United North, isn't happy with Clayton's handling of the situation -- and she is willing to go outside the law for her resolution. And Clayton's boss Marty (Sydney Pollack) just wants things resolved in his client's favor.

Michael Clayton features a truly superlative cast in a compelling story. While George Clooney is the star (and title character) of this movie, he doesn't overshadow everyone else -- even with his fine performance. Tom Wilkinson is amazing as the attorney whose madness or conscience leads him to revolt against his work -- while proclaiming, "I am Shiva, god of death." Swinton is terrific as a lawyer who seems frail and nervous in private, practicing in front of a mirror to put on a great public face. The movie starts a little slow, but as the different problems and threads come together, Michael Clayton becomes quite gripping. (The dvd extras are pretty basic: two commentaries and a few deleted scenes.)

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch


Les Paul, 1915-2009

Music pioneer Les Paul passed away today at the age of 94. While he was a revered and successful guitarist and performer in his own right, he is at least partly responsible for a number of technical innovations without which the rock era would not have happened. For starters, in the 1930's he was one of the first people to develop a full-body electric guitar. Gibson Guitar Corporation started to build electric guitars based on Paul's design in the early 50's, and the Gibson Les Paul has been used by the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Slash, and The Edge. In the late 40's, Paul developed arguably the most important innovations in music recording technology, multitrack recording and overdubbing. Before him, records were made with one microphone, and if one instrument or voice was unsatisfactory the whole thing had to be redone. Les Paul might not be the most well-known musical figure to pass away so far this summer, but he is clearly the most important and influential.

Les Paul performing on television with his wife Mary Ford in 1953.



When making a game, it's important that a company not duplicate a previous game too closely but rather offer something interesting and new. Successful games that changes and expanded their predecessors include Risk 2210 A.D. and The Starfarers of Catan. A weak example is Martians!!! which almost duplicates Twilight Creations' previous game Zombies!!!

So, what are the similarities? Both games have players whose piece starts on a center tile, and players start with three cards, three bullet tokens, and three life tokens. In both games a player draws and places a tile, then places any monster pieces on street spaces, along with possible tokens in buildings. Both games have players roll to move (though Martians!!! adds spaces based on someone's life tokens), both games have players battle a monster by rolling a six-sided die, winning on a 4-6, losing a life token if rolling too low, and being able to spend bullet tokens to increase a die roll. Both games have the same consequences for dying (losing half of their killed monsters and restarting in the beginning tile). Both games enable a player to win by killing a certain number of monsters. And both games let a player play one card between their current turn and their next turn.

So what does Martians!!! add to the Zombies!!! formula? Not a lot. The four Farm tiles also get a crop circle, which generates a Martian each turn. Also, one crop circle is actually the Martian Mother Ship, and if a player collects three different tokens -- fuel, fertilizer and dynamite -- and reaches the Mother Ship that player wins. There's also a set of rules for a Cooperative game, where players work together destroy the Mother Ship before all 100 Martian pieces are used.

Apart from the amazing closeness to Zombies!!!, Martians!!! has a few other problems. There are three different designs for the Martian pieces, but the differences are pretty insignificant. Worse, the tiles are often unclear which parts are streets, obstacles, or buildings, leading to confusion and disagreement about what can go where.

If you never played Zombies!!! and want a game with a cheesy alien invasion feel, you may like Martians!!! For me, though, this game was too much of a copy of its predecessor.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

So long, Black Lace

Sadly, the Black Lace line of fiction is coming to an end. This long-running British series of novels and short story collections had its ups and downs but was, overall, a very impressive line of erotica.

Black Lace began in 1994 with the goal of creating erotica from female authors that would appeal as much to the female sensibility as to men. (The original books have the tagline "erotic fiction written for women by women" on the back cover.) The books covered a wide range of settings, from historical romances to contemporary adventures to tales with a science-fiction or magical/paranormal setting.

Far from being generic Harlequin-style cookie-cutter bodice rippers or stories of handsome rich men, Black Lace books really pushed the edge when it came to the erotic. There was often a strong element of romance -- even if a heroine didn't meet their true love, they often met a kindred free spirit (a.k.a. fuck buddy) -- but there was also plenty of wild action.

The Black Lace books often included s&m, multiple partners, domination and submission, toys and gear, male-male action, and plenty of very explicit sex. Anyone expecting these books to be tame because they're written by women is in for quite a surprise!

What happened with the line? As an import series, the books sometimes reached American bookstores with an annoying infrequency. Also, after a few years the books became infused with British slang, to the point where it felt like every kiss was a "snog," every friend was a "mate" and every bar was a "pub." And last month Black Lace announced that they wouldn't be printing any new titles in 2010.

Even though Black Lace won't have anything new for a long time (if ever again), their existing catalogue of work is still impressive. Many of their books can be found on the website http://www.blacklace-books.co.uk/ and more can be found on eBay or Amazon.com. Below is a listing of some of my favorite Black Lace novels, in no order except for my favorite being listed first. They're not for the faint of heart, but well worth reading by those who enjoy strong erotica.

White Rose Ensnared by Juliet Hastings
Elena's Conquest by Lisette Allen
Darker Than Love by Kristina Lloyd
Odalisque by Fleur Reynolds
Crash Course by Juliet Hastings
Cassandra's Conflict by Fredrica Alleyn
Gemini Heat by Portia da Costa
The Devil Inside by Portia da Costa
The Stallion by Georgina Brown
Ace of Hearts by Lisette Allen
Gothic Blue by Portia da Costa

Written by James Lynch



Perhaps the summer's one non-romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer is a smart, humorous, and pretty realistic look at the ups and downs of a couple's relationship. And the path of the couple is far from linear.

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young adult who wanted to be an architect but wound up writing greeting cards. He's also something of a hopeless romantic, so it's no surprise that he falls form Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), an assistant at Tom's office. She's adorable, intelligent, likes several of the same things as Tom -- and she doesn't believe in love or want a commitment. As the narrator tells us early on, "This is a boy meets girl story. It is not a love story."

(500) Days of Summer is framed by a picture and a counter. The counter skips forward and back to times in Tom and Summer's relationship, while the brightness of the background and state of the tree reflect how well or poorly things are going. This could have been a cheap gimmick, but it works well as we how things progress and change.

The movie is a guy's movie -- the focus is on Tom, not Summer -- yet it's surprisingly balanced. Tom can be a jerk, several people ovserve that Summer told him what she didn't want, and despite several guy friends helping or consoling Tom, the best advice he gets comes from Rachel (Chloe Moretz), Tom's sister who is still in grammar school. The relationship between Tom and Summer feels real, from the early highs (signing karaoke, playing house in Ikea, Tom's euphoric walk to work turning into a musical number) to crushing lows (long silences, misunderstandings, expectations contrasted with reality (through a split-screen scene)).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific, as always, and Zooey Deschanel matches him well as Summer, the woman who is on a very different wavelength from Tom that he refuses to see. Director Marc Webb treats both sides of this couple evenly, resulting in a smart comedy where, ultimately, no one is to blame. (500) Days of Summer is a step above most cookie-cutter romantic comedies.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch


There are plenty of comic books with dark and dysfunctional superheroes, but none have the wild, zany feel as The Umbrella Academy. Written by Gerard Way (lead singer of My Chemical Romance) and illustrated by Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy, vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite starts the weird, wonderful journey of these superbeings.

The adventure begins when 47 women spontaneously give birth, despite having shown no signs of being pregnant. Seven of these children are adopted by Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.a. The Monocle, a philanthropist, inventor, creator of intelligent chimps, and alien. He trains the children, who have different powers (except the seventh, a girl Hargreeves had no problem telling she isn't special), and at age 10 they defend Paris from a rampaging Eiffel Tower.

Jumping ahead several years, the kids have grown up and apart. Spaceboy watches the stars for threats and has a robot-gorilla body. Kraken is a knife-throwing secret agent. The Rumor -- well, we don't know what her power is. Seance still speaks with the dead, The Boy travelled to the future and is a 60-year-old man in the body of a 10 year old, the Horror died, and Vanya (the powerless one ) plays the violin and wrote a tell-all book about them. And Doctor Pogo, the chimp who helped raise them, is still there.

The kids are reunited by the death of their adopted father -- and the Boy saying that the end of the world happened three days after the Monocle's death. An orchestra made up of villains wants to recruit Vanya to destroy the world.

Apocalypse Suite is a terrifically original work. There is plenty of darkness and violence, but also a funky zaniness that reminds me of some of the psychedelic t.v. shows of the '60s. Way demonstrates that he can write interesting characters and very original plots, and Ba's art style, reminiscent of Mike Mignola, works perfectly for this world. A large cut above standard superhero fare, The Umbrella Academy, vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite is a very entertaining adventure.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch


Going for cheap laughs with porn is easy; getting laughs is much harder, as the British film I Want Candy sadly demonstrates.
Film students Joe (Tom Riley) and Baggy (Tom Burke) have been working on their movie for years when their pretentious film professor Dulberg (Mackenzie Crook) announces that the film for the final will be a short film -- two minutes long. Joe and Baggy decide to get studio backing and make their movie themselves, but no studio shows interest. They finally manage to get backing from porn maker and gangster Doug (Eddie Marsan) after falsely promising that their movie will feature adult star Candy Fiveways (Carmel Electra).
What follows is a mess of comic elements that never work. There's the comedy of Joe, Baggy, and their amateur cast secretly filming the movie in Joe's home when his elderly parents are away (and the inevitable scene when they come home early). There are the Eartern European crew whose accents and poor English are used for cheap laughs. There are several shallow romances, from the unsurprising one between Joe and female friend Lila (Michelle Ryan) to the unbelievable one between shy Baggy and Candy. There are stereotypical gangsters, gross-out gags where Joe's father repeatedly eats foods used in the movie, and a flat adult entertainment award show.
I Want Candy also suffers from juvenile production and writing. There are several shots sped up for no reason, and one scene where two characters talk in sync for several seconds belongs in Hannah Montana more than a comedy for adults. None of the actors stand out -- sorry Carmen -- except for Jimmy Carr who has some great moments as a video store clerk who knows quite a bit about porn. And dvd extras are standard, plus a "How to Make a Porno" that's just clips from the movie.
If you want to see a funny movie about making an adult movie, I'd recommend Zack and Miri Make a Porno or Orgazmo. I don't want I Want Candy.
Overall grade: D-
Reviewed by James Lynch