I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday or Tuesday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it!

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What’s the movie? Columbus Circle (2012) 

What’s it rated? PG-13 for Jason Lee hammily porking it up, Selma Blair’s dead eyes and because movies are still rated that.

Did people make it? Written by George Gallo and Kevin Pollak. Directed by George Gallo. Acted by Selma Blair, Giovanni Ribisi, Amy Smart, Jason Lee, Kevin Pollak, Beau Bridges, Robert Guillaume and Samm Levine.

What’s it like in two sentences? It’s like when you’re 8 years old in Kindergarten (fuck you, I did pre-school a few times) and you do a finger painting of mommy, daddy and that guy with the mustache that comes over when daddy is crying in the garage and the teacher sees it and acts like it’s amazing and tapes that shit to a wall and you’re all proud like you actually did something impressive, when actually you’re 8 years old with a tiny, rat turd sized imagination. It’s like that.  

Why did you watch it? You know, I haven’t had Internets in a minute because of some family shit and when I got back I just wasn’t ready for something as potentially heavy as Hara Kiri, so I went with something filled with actors that I like, hoping it would be a fun diversion from the polyp that is my life.

What’s it about in one paragraph? Selma Blair plays Abigail, an agoraphobic heiress who disappeared from the public spotlight when she was a teenager. Abigail lives in a ritzy apartment building in Columbus Circle, which she hasn’t left in 20 years. When a suspicious death occurs in the building, she’ll be forced to deal with the secret keeping. whip smart detective assigned to the case (Ribisi), the concierge with a secret (Pollak), the secretive new couple across the hall (Smart & Lee) and her trusted adviser who seems like he might possibly have a secret (Bridges). Will Abigail gain the courage to leave Columbus Circle, or will she frown her way into oblivion.

" I don't wanna develop range!"

” I don’t wanna develop range!”

Play or remove from my queue? I would remove this, forthwith. Now, I love me some Kevin Pollak and when I saw that he was one of the writers as well as playing a frigging bellboy in this, I was all eyes (and a little handsy). Pollak just doesn’t do enough anymore, which surprises me because after the one-two nut tap of The Usual Suspects and Canadian Bacon, I always expected him to become not necessarily a leading man (although watch Deterrence to see him absolutely captivate), but a supporting and sometimes leading character actor in the vein of Paul Giamatti or Tom Noonan. Instead, he’s spent the last decade doing one episode guest bits on SVU and blink or you’ll miss ’em cameos in shit like Red State and Entourage. I have not seen Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, but I bet it is amusing and chock full of hilarity. Someone who has seen that show: does it make up for the fact that Pollak is doing his Walken impression to rooms full of strangers instead of being pop culturally synonymous with awesome? All of this is to say: what the hell, Kevin Pollak? I know you probably didn’t write this whole movie and I’mma let you finish, but what the hell? You’re better than this.

There’s lots of twists and turns in Columbus Circle. Some are good, but all of them are bad. There’s a sense of playfulness the film has in its opening minutes that leads the less jaded viewer into thinking that this film is going to go right down that rabbit hole into the land of batshit ridiculousness. You definitely go into a rabbit hole, but it’s not a good one. It’s one filled with questionable life choices and a performance so campy and turrible from Jason Lee that it retroactively made me unwatch 3 seasons of My Name is Earl and focus on Scubs instead. Or keep working on my novel. The twists and turns are bad because the script is first draft ready, at best. The characterizations are pillow mint thin and while Pollak, Blair and (especially) Ribisi are game to try and elevate the material, all they do is escape a disaster relatively unscathed (although I’m watching you, Pollak). Here are a few angry bullet points to illustrate my disappointment in everyone.

  • The mysteries are facile and condescending.
  • The direction from George (Double Take) Gallo is airless. It wants to feel classy, but just feels lazy.
  • The ending feels like it wants to be vintage Twilight Zone, but instead ends up feeling like a Tales from the Crypt movie (Dennis Miller-Crypt not Sadler/Zane-Crypt).
  • Every character has a secret and each secret is either a giant disappointment or instantly predictable.
  • The opening credits spool along as a bunch of puzzle pieces come together and fall through the background. The last movie I can remember doing that is The Game and any comparisons this movie tries to connect with that one will only lead to more disappointment.
  • Amy Smart seems like she doesn’t really know where she is. I worry about that girl.
  • This is a bullet point.
"I don't need you! I've got Earl money!"

“I don’t need you! I’ve got Earl money!”

How’s the music? Another memorable and iconic score from Brian Tyler. After hearing this and soon after seeing Iron Man 3, John Dies at the End and playing the hell out of Far Cry 3, Tyler is becoming one of my favorite composers in the business. He also did the score for Six-String Samurai, which makes him a legend in my book.

What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Margin Call (really been meaning to watch this), Abandoned (Brittany Murphy’s last film), The Whistleblower (Weisz gets this movie my attention), Switchback (I haven’t seen this in a long time, but I remember loving it) and Deadfall (halfway through this as we speak). 

Do you have an interesting fun-fact? Kevin Pollak did “Voice Characterization” for Ewoks: the Battle for Endor!!!! He wasn’t the voice of Wicket, so I got no idea what else he could have done.

What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.6 

What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 1.7

Can you link to the movie? As you wish.

Any last thoughts? I want to see Jason Lee really challenged with something. I like the guy and wish him well, but he hasn’t been impressing me as of late. I want to see him do some Mamet or rock a Malick picture. Let’s stretch this guy and see what comes of it. Also, Ribisi is fucking awesome in this and I’d really love to see him play a grizzled detective on a weekly basis on my television screen. Or in my house while I make us sandwiches.

Did you watch anything else this week? Iron Man 3 (damned good) and Game of Thrones (getting better with each episode).

Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Bindlestiffs? That shit was pretty gross. 

Next Week? Your call, but if no one makes a pick I’m going with either The Awakening or Once Upon a Time in the West.

They're both afraid of Jason Lee in this shot. Jason Lee!!?!!

They’re both afraid of Jason Lee in this shot. Jason Lee!!?!!