The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild
Sometimes you just have to admit that you’re in the right frame of mind for an exploitation yarn that leans into everything that’s preposterous and over-the-top about its premise. Adrien Brody (who also produced, wrote the music and co-wrote the script with director Paul Solet) plays Clean, a taciturn, solitary garbageman in New York. But he has a past—the kind of past that starts showing up in flashbacks to life with a daughter, and manifests itself in self-purifying acts like painting the graffiti-covered houses in his blighted neighborhood, and helping out a local teen girl (Chandler Ari DuPont). The movie’s prospects feel pretty grim early on, as the voice-over dialogue includes eye-rollers like “No matter how hard I try, I can’t wash away the past.” Eventually, though, it becomes clear that all the broad material is a feature, not a bug. This is the kind of movie where the gangster that Clean crosses (Glenn Fleshler) leans back in a church service listening to a sermon about the loaves and the fishes while a montage plays about his own fish business serving as the front for a drug operation. In short, it’s B-movie material writ large, even as Brody plays it completely straight in a role that’s part Travis Bickle, part John Wick and part McGyver. Solet waits a while to let loose with the violence, but when he does, you can be confident that Clean isn’t about to pick up a flare gun for his arsenal of righteous vengeance, unless he knows a damn good way to put it to use. Available Jan. 28 in theaters and via VOD.
The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild *1/2
I suppose a spinoff of this 20-year-old franchise made a certain kind of sense, since the main characters in the Ice Age
features were never more than distractions between Scrat’s hijinks. Here, the focus falls on the possum brothers Crash and Eddie (Vincent Tong and Aaron Harris, replacing Seann William Scott and Josh Peck, as nearly every original voice has been replaced), who decide to set off on their own from their adoptive family of Ellie, Manny & Co., and find themselves in the dinosaur-populated underground world introduced in the third Ice Age movie, teamed up with one-eyed swashbuckling weasel Buck Wild (Simon Pegg) against a dinosaur bad guy (Uktarsh Ambudkar). That means an entire feature built around three supporting players, all of whom had been established previously as fairly dumb, requiring the introduction of new character Z (Justina Machado) to offer eye-rolling reactions to the dumbness. There’s a little bit of lively action, but it all feels utterly pointless in its repetition of family-of-choice platitudes, if not necessarily cheap-looking in the style of Disney’s 1990s direct-to-video sequels. There’s just not a single truly funny joke, or creatively staged visual gag. It’s not surprising that the first five minutes are spent essentially recapping the entire unmemorable series; whatever the next movie is, they’ll have to remind people that this one existed, too. Available Jan. 28 via Disney+.
Parallel Mothers **1/2
See feature review
. Available Jan. 28 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
Rifkin's Festival **
See feature review
. Available Jan. 28 via VOD.