The Purge: Election Year **1/2
Undoubtedly some will see this third film in The Purge series, as a metaphor and/or a foreshadowing of America to come in our not too distant future. Certainly its election year premise, with a male and female presidential candidate, does have a ring of familiarity, buts that’s about as far as it goes. Even with the all too real chaos in the U.S. streets over this particularly brutal summer, The Purge and its government-sanctioned 12 hour annual crime spree is, thankfully, far from realized in actuality. Other than the ridiculous premise of the film, the aforementioned annual holiday homicidal crime wave, which is its biggest problem, The Purge shines briefly with moments of good filmmaking; creepy characters, great fight scenes and plenty of smash-‘em up car and truck pandemonium on the deserted Washington D.C. streets keep the action moving. Already earning nearly $100-million at the box office, the producers know they’re on to a formula that resonates with some moviegoers, but the film won’t be for everyone. While not plummeting to the level of depravity found in torture porn horror flicks such as The Saw, Hostel and other gorno fare, The Purge comes dangerously close a few times, but instead opts for at least some semblance of a plot, and it stars our favorite doc from Lost, Elizabeth Mitchell, as the good, progressive senator trying to defend the nation against her evil rightwing opponent. Hmmmm….
Bad Moms **1/2
Despite its great cast featuring Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn and Jada Pinket Smith all in starring roles, Bad Moms never quite lives up to its potential as a raw, modern comedy about motherhood and its trials, tribulations and joys. Instead it relies too heavily on forced gags and vulgarities that seem out of step with the characters, and are there for shock value. Some of the film’s settings and concepts don’t match up to modern-day realities, giving it an uneven and odd pallor. Sure, domineering Parent Teacher Association leaders were common fodder and fair game for comedies and sitcoms of the 60s and 70s, but does the PTA still have the same relevance today? Or is it an old, lazy cliché? Applegate as the PTA dictator Gwendolyn, along with her subservient minions, played her Stepford Mom role well, but her talents and those of the rest of the cast seem unfortunately wasted in a mostly unfunny comedy that had the potential to be really good. A handful of original, laugh-out-loud moments, one in particular surrounding circumcision, make Bad Moms almost worth the price of the ticket. Almost.