//TCFF DOUBLE: ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ and ‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’

TCFF DOUBLE: ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ and ‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’

Machine Gun Preacher is playing as part of the Twin Cities Film Festival, which runs from September 20-25, 2011.

Grade: D+

Marc Forster’s film Machine Gun Preacher is based on the true story of a racist ex-con who finds Jesus and decides to open a church and dedicate his life to helping African children who are orphaned by the war. The preacher is named Sam Childers he is not only still alive, but based on real-life footage during the credits it appears that he was consulted for this film. Perhaps the desire to make this such a true life retelling of Childers’ bizarre approach to African aid is what resulted in a film that just lays out the facts and takes no time to investigate their cause.

Gerard Butler stars as Childers, a man torn between his new found life as a business owner and devoted family man and his new found passion for bringing justice to children in Sudan. Unlike the typical aid workers in movies, Childers is not afraid to take matters into his own hands, often confronting members of the Lord’s Resistance Army and mercilessly killing them before they can do harm to the children. This is a man with such power that he is able to un-brainwash children with a mere glance (“it’s the white preacher” the boys say while dropping their guns and instantly switching sides).

There is a lot going on in the movie, but not very much goes below the surface. It is hard to tell if the movie is about Childers’ overcoming his own prejudices, the effects of violence on him and his family, the power that faith has to redeem, or any of the other myriads of possibilities the movie presents. The script by Jason Keller seems to float around ambiguously presenting numerous themes without ever landing to drive home any of them.

Personally I would have liked to see more thought put into the effects that choosing violence has on Childers and the people he is trying to save. Part of the reason this goes nowhere is because Gerard Butler exhibits the emotional range that is about equivalent to his King Leonidas in 300 with feelings that range from grumpy to fuming. He is outmatched in every scene by co-stars Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, and even 15-year old Madeline Carrol.

Bottom Line: Machine Gun Preacher is an unfocused retelling of a potentially interesting true story.

Machine Gun Preacher opened in New York and L.A. on Friday and will be expanding to additional cities on September 30.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is playing as part of the Twin Cities Film Festival, which runs from September 20-25, 2011.

Grade: B-

Director Eli Craig turns the horror genre on its head with his newest film Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Well meaning Appalachian hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) run into a group of paranoid college students while on a road trip to their run-down vacation home. A series of misinterpreted gestures leads the college students, who are lead by the particularly sadistic Chad (Jesse Moss), to believe that Tucker and Dale are murderous hillbillies. They launch an attack mission on the vacation home, which they think is to save their friend Allison (Katrina Bowden), but they end up accidentally killing themselves in the process, causing confusion and hilarity.

There are some pacing issues at the beginning and ending of the film, but in the middle it moves along brusquely provides some of the best laughs of the film. Most of the impending doom that the characters suffer is predictable, but hilarious nonetheless because of the complete absurdity. When Tucker & Dale vs. Evil fully embraces its horror-parody concept, it is very funny, and when it abandons that concept to tell its own story, it is slightly less effective. The third act was far too straight forward and lacks the same shocking silliness that is so well done by filmmakers like Edgar Wright.

Bottom Line: An excellent late-night option, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has enough laughs to remain entertaining, but it lacks the boldness of an Edgar Wright film.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil will be in theatres in the U.S. on September 30, 2011.

Alex started Film Misery in early 2009 after living the site’s title for many years. His film obsession began in high school when he and his friends would see all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees and try to make predictions...Full Bio.