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Mad Max's Weekend Movie Guide: 'The Croods' and More

MadMaxCroods
"I am not a demon. I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther. I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion." –Nicolas Cage

Greetings from the apocalypse! The spring equinox is upon us, and even though we know what it looks like from space what's more important is how it looks from Miami, Florida … bikinis and big booties, yo! This weekend there's lots in store for all my party peeps, unless you're on the east coast, in which case it might snow again. SPRING BREAK, Y'ALL!

Friday, March 22

Olympus Has Fallen FilmDistrict

POW! IN THEATERS
There's a cinematic grudge match happening this year between Roland Emmerich's big budget "White House Down" and this week's solid B-movie rip-off "Olympus Has Fallen," which is somehow hitting screens first. Despite a bravura attack sequence that will leave you genuinely shaken (and possibly xenophobic towards North Koreans), "Olympus" eventually descends into another carbon copy of the "Die Hard in a ____________" Mad Libs formula (fill in the blank with bus, boat, train, plane, White House). Gerard Butler makes no bones about his badassitude while rescuing the President (Aaron Eckhart), and gets off a great catch phrase to the terrorists: "Let's play a game of 'Go F**k Yourself.' You go first."

LOCAL EVENTURES
Tommy Wiseau's crap magnum opus "The Room" has emerged as the new "Rocky Horror"-type audience experience, allowing snarky hipsters a film so preposterously sh***y they can condescend to it without guilt. Chicago's Music Box Theatre is presenting this cult classic in all its bizarre ineptitude today, tomorrow and Sunday at 10:30 p.m. as part of "The Room: The Love is Blind Blu 2013 Tour." You can even throw plastic spoons at long-locked mastermind Tommy Wiseau and his co-star Greg Sestero (as in "Oh, hi Mark.") in person!

CONVENTION ALERT!
Ever wanted to meet the guy in the Godzilla costume (Haruo Nakajima) and shake his scaly green hand? Well now you can if you haul ass to Charlotte, North Carolina for Mad Monster Party. Friday-through-Sunday you can glory in The World's Largest Collection of "Jaws" Memorabilia, ogle the ladies' sores in the Miss Horrorlina Pageant or partake in speed dating and Scaraoke. You want movie stars? How about Bruce 'The Chin' Campbell of "Evil Dead" fame, a "Predator 2" reunion of Danny Glover/Gary Busey and — because someone needs to watch papa — Jake Busey of "Starship Troopers" and "The Frighteners."

HULU HEAVEN
"There's the stink of hell on this train, even the dog knows it." That's just one of the many dialogue gems you'll find hidden in every compartment aboard the "Horror Express," a 1972 cheesefest starring the greatest B-movie team of the '60s and '70s, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Cueball charmer Telly Savalas is also along for the ride, as is a patently unique monster: a two-million-year-old frozen caveman that's basically a psychic brain vampire that drains memories out of people's eyesockets. YUM! HULU is offering up Trans-Siberian terror fo free, yo, so why not watch it right here:

 

Saturday, March 23

POW! IN THEATERS
This week's much-recommended "Survivor of Thunderdome" is "The Croods," the latest animated flick from DreamWorks, who have been outpacing Pixar lately in the creativity department. Shocking, no? Its story follows a clan of cave-bound Neanderthals in a kind of alternate Paleolithic era filled with creatures both dangerous and benign, but all ridiculously cute. The Crood family, led by Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), are hellbent on avoiding any kind of danger, even if it means holing themselves up in their cave forever. Spunky daughter Eep (Emma Stone) gets her wish to see the world when a natural calamity forces them on an adventure that serves as a metaphor for broadening one's horizons to new ideas.

ODDITIES
The very talented co-director of "The Croods" is Chris Sanders (along with Kirk DeMicco), who may be familiar as the creator of Disney's "Lilo & Stitch." What you may not know is Sanders also published a web comic between projects called "Kiskaloo," a wackypants strip that harkens back to the boundlessly imaginative spirit of Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes." It revolves around a former movie star cat with an eye patch named Ogo, whose shenanigans include kidnapping Baby New Year and stealing holy water from a mortician. There's only a handful, so enjoy them for God's sake!
2008-2-18

BASIC CABLE BLUES
We're going with a Stone Age theme today, and the best thing I can say about 2009's "Year One" on Comedy Central at 3:24 p.m. is that if you like cave man comedies, this is one. Jack Black and Michael Cera play a couple of loincloth-wearing lunkheads who venture outside their tribe and wind up crossing paths with Biblical figures like Cain and Abel and Abraham and Isaac. With comedy filmmaking legend Harold Ramis ("Animal House," "Vacation," "Groundhog Day," "Ghostbusters," etc.) you'd think it would be comedy gold, but you'll have to settle for a couple of mild chuckles.

NETFLIX RECOMMENDS WITH A VENGEANCE
There's even fewer laughs to be had in Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" on Netflix Instant, but there's a helluva lot more awe. Herzog was given unprecedented access by the French government to take his cameras deep into the limestone Chauvet Cave where some of the earliest (and coolest) known cave paintings are carefully preserved. It's particularly interesting how some of these Upper Paleolithic artists depicted animals like horses and bulls by drawing multiple movement lines, essentially the first animation. So if you think about it this is almost a prequel to "The Croods," although I can't imagine a Werner Herzog movie with a Happy Meal tie-in.

Sunday, March 24

New Line New Line

NEW ON BLU
Pack your bags for the Misty Mountains, because the "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has arrived on Blu-ray/DVD. Peter Jackson's prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" is true to its J.R.R. Tolkien source … unless you count a homeless-looking Radagast the Brown, the White Council or a seemingly hour-long battle sequence between Stone Giants. All of these additions are awesome but add little to a narrative that could have easily fit into one film but has been bloated to three. Still, we can now enjoy the Goblin King played by Dame Edna with a ball sack for a chin.

PAY CHANNEL PAYBACK
I know you enjoyed the hell out of "The Croods" yesterday and are just aching for more Crazy Cage action. Look no further than "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" on Encore at 12:20 p.m. and 8 p.m. Rollerblading director team Neveldine/Taylor take the Ghost Rider in a gritter, grungier direction than its 2007 predecessor and allow Cage to unleash the (hammy) acting beast within. The story involves some hokum about Mephistopheles doing a soul exchange with a pint-sized Antichrist, but it's all about the Rider turning machines into flaming implements of destruction.

BASIC CABLE BLUES
Another repeat offender this week is Two-Face himself, Aaron Eckhart, who leads a team of science geeks to 2003's "The Core" at 5:30 p.m. on IFC. Their mission? Set off a bunch of nuclear bombs to jumpstart the Earth into rotating again. Sounds simple enough. Hilary Swank and Bruce Greenwood pilot the drill ship, but no one really gets to distinguish this as anything but an utterly competent sci-fi romp with some boss special effects. If you've got two hours to burn, though, why not do it with some hot lava?

As I ride off into the distant horizon, here's wishing you fellow weekend road warriors the best outing possible from this burnt-out, blighted wasteland. Enjoy your fast Internet, clean-ish movie theaters, plentiful gasoline and all the comforts of home, for this world lives now only in my memories …

You can follow renegade movie journo and filmmaker Max Evry on Twitter, and check out his bitchin' DeviantArt gallery while you're at it.

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