This week, the Movie Man brings you an oddball triple feature that includes an HBO comedy, a sci-fi schlockfest and a ’70s cop comedy. Dim the lights and let’s get started!
This week, the Movie Man brings you an oddball triple feature that includes an HBO comedy, a sci-fi schlockfest and a ’70s cop comedy. Dim the lights, and let’s get started!
‘Bored to Death’
“True Blood” and “Game of Thrones” get more attention, but one of HBO’s best shows is this sly half-hour comedy that returns for its third season Oct. 10. It focuses on a struggling writer (Jason Schwartzman) who becomes a private eye despite the fact that he lacks (a) experience and (b) a license. This, of course, gets him in all sorts of trouble, which usually involves his friends, a goofy cartoonist (Zack Galifianakis) and a rich publisher (Ted Danson).
The best thing about “Bored to Death” is how it balances the silly and the sophisticated while allowing just enough heart to make us care about these characters. The second season (just out on DVD) offers plenty of all those elements, with a kinky cop, a Kevin Bacon cameo, a comic book convention and a touching pre-surgery moment between Schwartzman and Danson. At the very least, I can never predict where this show is going to go next — which, these days, is a very good thing.
Not many movies dare to combine half-baked theories about global warming with abominable snowman lore and an alien invasion scenario. In fact, there’s only one I know of — 1967’s “The Snow Devils.” And for that, we can be thankful.
An Italian-American co-production that unites the worst each nation has to offer cinematically, “The Snow Devils” brings its strange story to life through a mind-numbing combination of wooden acting, inane dubbing, crude models and even cruder stock footage.
The movie barely makes a lick of sense as it follows its square-jawed, mountain-haired hero Captain Harris (Renato Baldini) up the Himalayas, through deep space and back home to Earth, but I had a swell time anyway. Maybe that’s because I focused on the cheap ways the film tries to convince us it takes place in “the future” (Look! They’re playing checkers — and they’re cone-shaped!), or maybe it’s because I’m a bad-movie masochist. Either way, I can’t really recommend it to the average viewer. But if the idea of superintelligent yetis from space sounds intriguing, maybe you should give it a shot.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
‘The Super Cops’
Based on the real-life exploits of a couple of New York police officers, “The Super Cops” is a fascinating time capsule from 1974. The Big Apple was arguably at its grimy, gritty low point back then, and seeing the city looking like the apocalypse hit is as much fun as watching our heroes in action.
Those heroes, by the way, are David Greenberg (Rob Leibman) and Robert Hantz (David Selby), a couple of hotshot rookies who can’t resist breaking the rules to bring in the badguys. Most of their adventures — even the dangerous ones — are played for laughs, and it’s fun to see how far over-the-top they’re willing to go to collar someone. What’s not so much fun is enduring Liebman’s performance. He’s so self-consciously wacky and pleased with himself that you keep hoping one of the criminals will have better aim. Still, as annoying as Liebman’s acting is, he fits in perfectly with the rest of the craziness.
Keep an eye out for the late Pat Hingle, here playing a role similar to Commissioner Gordon, whom he played in the “Batman films.” And marvel at the fact that “The Super Cops” was directed by Gordon Parks, the same guy who brought us “Shaft” three years earlier.
Both “The Snow Devils” and “The Super Cops” are available via warnerarchive.com, by the way.
Will Pfeifer writes about DVDs and movies. Contact him at email@example.com or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/willpfeifer/.