ROOMMATE WANTED (2015)
Incredibly boring and amateurish flick has odd couple roommates Janie (Alexa Vega) and Dee (Spencer Grammar) bickering and getting on each other’s nerves for the entire length of the film till their feud goes from vengeful pranks to violence. And it’s no surprise they get on our nerves, too. That’s it story-wise. Written by Aaron Edward and directed by Rob Margolies, this is a tedious flick, despite being less than 90 minutes in length and the throw-down finale is just silly. Sure Alexa Vega has grown up quite nicely since her Spy Kids days, but otherwise there is nothing much to recommend about this grating and annoying indie film except Vega and Grammar show they’re worthy of better material.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015)
Based on the bestselling novel by E.L. James, this is a dull, lifeless and by-the-numbers film about young college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who falls into a sadomasochistic relationship with young billionaire Christian Grey (Jaime Dornan). For a film about a passionate but twisted romance, director Sam Taylor-Johnson delivers a cold and stale telling from Kelly Marcel’s equally bland script. There is no heat, passion or even shock as it plays it’s story as safely as possible considering the fetish elements that made the books so notorious. There is very little heat between it’s stars and the sex scenes are quick and over with before you can feel any impact. Dornan is bland and offers no mystery to his emotionally troubled Christian Grey and only Dakota Johnson really tries hard to give some life to her Anastasia Steele (The phony sounding soap opera character names don’t help either). For a film that tells a story of forbidden passions, it’s like watching 50 shades of grey paint dry.
THE DUFF (2015)
High school comedy, adapted by Josh A. Cagan from Kody Keplinger’s book and directed by Ari Sandel, starts out as another very cliché, ‘hip’ telling of the woes of the high school class system, but as the story progresses, actually evolves into a sweet story of a young girl finding herself. Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is shocked and hurt to find out she is the “DUFF” of her group of friends…the Designated Ugly Fat Friend…whose existence is solely to make the others look better. Bianca then sets out determined to change her status and on the way finds herself and her first love. Despite that girl-next-door Mae Whitman is too cute to really be a DUFF (it is explained, though, that a DUFF merely needs to be the least attractive of the group, not necessarily ugly) and the film starts out echoing every other recent high school flick, a third of the way in it starts to become something with a little more substance. After the generic make-over attempt scene, the film takes a slight turn and becomes a sweet and poignant tale of a young girl who realizes she only needs to change how she looks at herself to change how others see her. And as such, it works quite well and is far more entertaining than we thought it would be at the start. A cute, harmless film with a heart and surprisingly, a little depth, too.