Top One Movie of the Week: The Other Guys, Middle Men, Step Up 3D, Flipped, and Twelve

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Our critics choose between The Other Guys, Middle Men, Step Up 3D, Flipped, and Twelve.

Twelve, 50 Cent

The Other Guys

SCOTT: When last I saw Will Ferrell, he was embarrassing himself and everyone who paid to see him in Land of the Lost, one of the most misbegotten movies of the century so far. What I'm getting at here is that my good will towards Mr. Ferrell is in short supply these days, so although I'll give him points for showing up to send off the Conan O'Brien Tonight Show in style, I can't say I have high hopes for this buddy comedy featuring him and Mark Wahlberg as deskbound cops who get the chance to show off their stuff in the field. Hilarity no doubt ensues, and with Ferrell's favorite director Adam McKay (Anchorman, HBO's Eastbound and Down) at the helm, maybe some of it will actually be, you know, hilarious… but I'm mighty skeptical about this one.

ANDREW: If possible, I might actually have less interest in this film than Land of the Lost — and I've already seen Ferrell's… uh… peculiar version of the old Sid & Marty stoner classic. But at least Land had dinosaurs and Sleestak. The Other Guys just has a tired "loser cops make good" premise that was already decades old back when Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd botched Dragnet in the '80s, plus a "joke" in the trailer about a suicidal man falling to his death (whoops!) that irritates the hell out of my wife every time she sees it ("Why is that funny?"). Sure, Ferrell can be the best thing in otherwise terrible movies — but only if you're unwise enough to see the terrible movies in the first place. So let's turn our attention instead to some other other guys…

Middle Men

ANDREW: I've heard from… uh… reliable sources that trailers for director George Gallo's crime-dramedy have been playing on "adult content" sites, which is not only an amusing marketing concept, but also entirely appropriate because the true-ish story of Middle Men is about Jack Harris (Luke Wilson, notably less bloated than his recent TV-pitchman incarnation), one of the guys who made online commerce (i.e. porn and, you know, whatever else they sell on the interweb) possible. Middle Men also features James Caan in a welcome big-screen return, presumably in the role of some kind of perfectly respectable Sicilian-American businessman. I guess it could work in a pinch if nothing else strikes my fancy this week.

SCOTT: I'm all for commemorating the life of the man who figured out how to make money from the internet — without whom we'd be writing this column for our own mimeographed newsletter — but I can't say writer/director George Gallo's track record has me fired up for this one. True, he did write Midnight Run, but that was more than two decades ago, and since then it's been nothing but multiplex filler like Trapped in Paradise and The Whole Ten Yards. So I'll pencil this in as a remote possibility for this week's honors.

Step Up 3D

SCOTT: I suspect it won't surprise you to hear that I don't consider myself part of the target audience for this "comin' at ya" hip-hop dance-athon, though it may surprise you to learn that I did see its predecessor, Step Up 2 the Streets, albeit on a reviewing assignment. As far as I can tell, this is nearly the exact same movie with a different cast (although presumable fan-favorite Adam G. Sevani returns as geektastic dance savant, Moose), as two rival teams of street dancers battle for supremacy in a 3D showdown. Are you ready to bust a move?

ANDREW: Bust a move? More like bust a gut! (Did you like my Gene Shalit impression?) But seriously: you're telling me that trailer wasn't a parody from Mr. Show? You're saying there's actually a hip-hop movie about the world's blandest white man (Rick Malambri) living Monkees-style in a big warehouse with his globe-trotting dance battle crew?  And they seemingly compete with dudes from Tron and attend Eyes Wide Shuttype masquerades while saying painfully earnest things like "one move can set a whole generation free"? And there's a female character with the awesomely terrible name "Anala"? And it's all in glorious 3-D? If only Ed Wood, Jr. had lived long enough to direct for the Step Up franchise: just add Vampira and some paper-plate spaceships and this one might have achieved true camp-classic status (instead of a spot in the Blockbuster bargain bin about two months from now).


ANDREW: Boy, we're pretty far into this article and I still have no idea what I'm going to pick for Top One Movie… but I'm comfortably certain it won't be this gee-whiz junior-high love story because, well, I'm a grown-ass man. And even if I weren't, Rob Reiner's shmaltzy mash-up of his own When Harry Met Sally and Stand By Me looks to lack the wit of the former and the drama of the latter, resulting in, at best, a supersize Wonder Years episode with less compelling characters. Any interest?

SCOTT: I share your certainty that Reiner's latest nostalgic wallow in his idealized American past (the trailer for which is packed with an entire K-Tel album's worth of moldy golden oldies) is unlikely to bubble up to the top of the hit parade this week, no matter how beloved the young-adult novel by Wendelin Van Draanen may be. It's nice to see Penelope Ann Miller getting work again, though. I was worried about her.


SCOTT: Sadly, our options don't improve significantly with the latest from Joel "Batman and Robin" Schumacher, at least judging from the decidedly negative buzz it generated in its Sundance debut earlier this year. Maybe you care about the problems of wealthy young New Yorkers who dabble in drug dealing and abuse just for kicks more than I do (although I seriously doubt it), but this just looks like Bright Lights, Big City for the Jersey Shore generation to me. And even if I did have interest in the subject matter, Schumacher's track record of schlock (from his Batman movies and John Grisham adaptations to Jim Carrey's unintentional comedy The Number 23) would be enough to scare me away.

ANDREW: Bright Lights, Big City at least had Michael J. Fox's sympathetic protagonist going for it, and even St. Elmo's Fire (Schumacher's previous salute to overprivileged young assholes) had some laughs and a (relatively) charismatic cast ("ah-boogedah-boogedah-boogedah-ha-ha-ha!" — yes, I'll admit I'm a closet Elmo-head, as embarrassing as that is to type out loud). But Twelve just seems like an overproduced, big-screen version of The Hills, infested with all the vapid trust-fund weasels I try so hard to avoid in real (and reel) life. And besides, if I wanted to see a movie about a soulful drug dealer interacting with Manhattan rich kids, I'd just rent The Wackness again… which actually sounds like a better option than watching any of this week's weak field of contenders. However, as a film professional, I'm paid to make the tough decisions, and so I suppose I could do worse than picking Middle Men as my Top One Movie. Should I save you a seat?

SCOTT: I can't say I'm thrilled about it, but Middle Men does look to be the best of an uninspiring bunch here in the dog days of summer. I'll get the popcorn.

The Top One Movie of the Week: Middle Men