Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Mary-Louise Parker Double Feature!

Now there's a title I never expected to write!  Mary-Louise Parker has had a lengthy career, dating back to the soap opera Ryan's Hope when she was just a teenager and she's best known for her work on the Showtime series Weeds.  Her movie career often gets overlooked, but she's got a respectable filmography. Still, I didn't expect to her in two major releases over the same weekend, but life's a funny thing.  In 2010, she played Sarah Ross in Red, which became an unlikely hit.  Since Hollywood loves a sequel, she reprised the role in Red 2 which has recently hit theaters.  Both films are great fun and you don't need to see the first one to enjoy the second (although I would recommend it - you'll understand a few jokes more if you have seen the original Red).  The humor in Red (which stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous") hinges on the premise that it's hard for a spy to quietly retire.  (In fact, you might wind up on "ICE," a nifty acronym for "Incarcerate, Cannot Execute.")  In addition to Parker, who plays the wide-eyed not-quite-innocent, you have Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and the incomparable Helen Mirren.  It's smart to use an ensemble for this movie - Willis doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting a la Die Hard Umpteen and it's great fun to see these actors, who have honed their craft and timing over decades, tackle these roles with such gusto.  The addition of Korean martial-arts star Byung-hun Lee may have been done as an "easy in" to the ever-more-important Asian market, but it also gives rise to some very energetic fight scenes.  Red 2 is a fun, visually-interesting ensemble action-adventure piece that takes the audience to Paris, London, Moscow, etc. in a very James Bond-ish tale of Cold War weapons, trickery, and shifting allegiances.  Who can you trust?  And should you take relationship advice from a guy who always carries a stick of dynamite in case of emergencies?  Questions that are worth pondering.  Red 2 - Fun, but could be a rental.

Mary-Louise Parker is also a major cast member in the newly-released action flick R.I.P.D. which stars Ryan Reynolds as a recently-deceased cop learning the afterlife ropes from a grizzled Jeff Bridges.  As a member of the "Rest in Peace Department," these cops bring in "bad souls" who won't move on to Judgment.  Now, after The Big Lebowski and Crazy Heart, I'll go see Jeff Bridges in just about anything, and hey, this was a fun one.  It's not great, but there are some good lines and visual gags (turns out that the living can see the R.I.P.D. cops, but we don't see them as they are) and there are worse ways to spend a hot, humid afternoon.  But in the interest of honesty, it's a rental.

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