(July 12) $10 or Less


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In Hollywood, everyone knows that two is better than one. With TV, movies, and even recording artists, the appeal of more is far more enticing than less. What would Stan Laurel be without Oliver Hardy? Just another name. Ginger Rogers without Fred Astaire? Certainly not the ballroom queen of the old screen. Hall without Oats? A sad solo artist. Even Meat Loaf knows what’s up–listen to “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” and your heart will surely feel it. So, in honor of all of life’s finer pairs, this week, “$10 or Less” is about dynamic duos.

One dynamic duo I’d been hoping to create, a rented video and a promotional screening, didn’t go as well as planned. Free is free, and I’m not complaining about that. My local video store may not have as great a selection base as something like, say Netflix, but it’s an oasis compared to any promotional screening. Just think about it. Surely, at one point in time, you’ve all come across free movie screening tickets. Free is a wonderful word. In fact, I’ll say it again. Free. It gives chills down the spine.

But think a bit harder. Do you remember what those tickets were for? Probably something like “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” or “Willard,” and you couldn’t even pawn them off to your friends who were looking for cheap date alternatives, right? My point: be wary of what movies promotional companies push to you. Such tactics are used to spread word of mouth about mediocre movies, getting bigger box office sales. After all, the words “financial” and “jam” aren’t a tasty combination.

Place: Hollywood Video, San Bruno
Movies: 1
Days per film: 5
Cost: $4.30
Place: AMC 1000 Van Ness, San Francisco
Movies: 1
Days per film: 1
Cost: FREE (thanks AJ!)
Total Cost: $4.30

Duo: Chow Yun-Fat and two guns.
“Hard Boiled” (1992) – While it’s nice to see foreign dramas or comedies, foreign action films get the largest draw–and for good reason. It’s hard to resist a movie that makes a plot out of blowing stuff up. And this is where Chow Yun-Fat comes in. In any John Woo film, Yun-Fat is untouchably good. He doesn’t have to resort to the age-old tactic of whipping out some fancy-schmancy Karate moves either. Nope. Chow Yun-Fat will take the gun instead. No, make that two guns, a toothpick and a trench coat. In Hong Kong, they called his gunning style “spicy handed.” How cool is that? While “A Better Tomorrow,” it’s sequel, and “The Killer” are jaw-droppingly good, “Hard Boiled” is the great, last-hurrah Woo made with Yun-Fat before he went on to make silly Jean-Claude Van Damme and John Travolta movies. Tony Leung also gets props for his spicy-handedness and the crazy look in his eyes. And speaking of eyes, keep them open for the awesome “flour” and “mourge” scenes.

Duo: Owen Wilson and another man.
“The Wedding Crashers” (2005) – The collective filmography of the thinking girl’s heartthrob, Owen Wilson, is a bit hit-and-miss. On one hand, you have a history of shame (“Anaconda,” “The Haunting,” “The Big Bounce,” and “Behind Enemy Lines”), on the other, a hall of fame (“Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Knights,” “Starsky & Hutch,” and “Zoolander”). What it ultimately boils down to is that Wilson works best with another man. Call him King of the Buddy Film, because when he works without a comedic foil, the trouble starts.

There’s no disputing that Wilson’s finest work has been as a writer, co-writing several films with director and buddy Wes Anderson (for example “Rushmore”). You can dispute, however, anyone who thinks “The Wedding Crashers” is good. Chalk one up in the “miss” column. For those who absolutely have to see it, “Crashers” centers around two good buddies, John Beckwith (Wilson) and Jeremy Klein (the creepy Vince Vaughn), who crash weddings to pick up on chicks. Women eventually get in the way, and Jeremy and John find their friendship on the rocks.

Not even a cameo by a certain member of the Frat Pack (the aforementioned gentlemen plus Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Jack Black, and Will Ferrell) saves the film from its lame jokes and length. After all, if a film has to have Christopher Walken playing the normal guy, you know something isn’t right. Wait until your clueless friends rent this movie, then watch it for free at your own risk, but do not, repeat, do not see this at a first-run theater. You will be out $10 and one and a half hours older than you were when you first went to the theater. Do something more productive with your time.

More Duos: Due to time constraints, only two films made it here this week. To say that these were the only two would be like saying spinach is the only vegetable on the face of the planet–it’s simply not true. Check out these titles when you get the chance:

“Joe Versus the Volcano” (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan)
“Queen Christina” (Greta Garbo and John Gilbert)
“Big Business” (Laurel and Hardy)
“The Odd Couple” (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon)
Any Johnny Depp and Tim Burton feature

Feel free to add your own to the forum posted below!