Film Friday: ‘The X-Files’ & ‘Step Brothers’

by W. Andrew Powell

X-Files: I Want To Believe

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in X-Files: I Want To Believe

New arrivals in theatres this week include the latest X-Files movie, I Want To Believe, which comes a mere ten years after the first one hit theatres; the raunchy comedy Step Brothers, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly; and the dark indie comedy, Just Buried.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe
Aliens have been troubling Fox Mulder and Dana Scully for a long time now, but apparently, those days are behind them. X-Files creator Chris Carter breaks from the series’ long-running, and popular I might add, theme involving little green men and malicious oil bent on taking over the world in favour of a story that much more closely resembles the more mundane episodes of the series.

Too bad for Carter and crew that the result is also a bland, boring tale with very little action and only enough chemistry to keep the most hardcore of fans interested.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as supernatural crime fighters, called back into the FBI fold for a case that apparently has everyone else stumped, and may involve a psychic. Billy Connolly co-stars as the obsessed, creepy, and disgraced Father Joseph Crissman who claims to have knowledge of a missing FBI agent. Leading the feds to a lake, Father Crissman somehow knows exactly where to find a severed arm that fits with evidence at the crime scene.

With no idea how to deal with a psychic, Agent Dakota Whitney, played by Amanda Peet, suggests finding infamous X-Files agent Fox Mulder, and the only way the FBI knows how to reach him is through Scully since he went into hiding years ago when the feds went after him for being a fraud.

With Scully by his side, Mulder grudgingly consents to help out the FBI. Once on the scene, the duo work with the disbelieving FBI agents, and the disgraced pedophile priest, to hunt down the missing agent, and find out what is really going on as a second woman goes missing. On top of that, Mulder starts getting back into his grove, which obviously bothers Scully who doesn’t trust Crissman in the least.

After such a long hiatus, Carter manages to bring Mulder and Scully out of mothballs with some style, but I give most of that credit to Duchovny and Anderson’s ability to work with even the most horrible of scripts. Aside from mildly interesting points with their personal lives, the majority of this story is ridiculous and unfulfilling, stumbling along drunkenly and making very little sense as it goes.

But what bothers me most isn’t that the plot is so barren, but that Carter could fail so monumentally at reviving the show’s greatest charm: that anything could be eerie given the right story.

As a fan of the series, it’s hard to watch, especially since at one point this was one of the best shows on television. I can’t help but admit though that I still would like to see future episodes of the X-Files, but after this mess my hope is that Carter is brought in purely as a consultant. He’s aptly proven he no longer has the skill to craft interesting stories, and I don’t think you could drag me to another one of his films.

Step Brothers
Teaming up for the second time in their careers, following Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly co-star in Step Brothers, another Judd Apatow-produced comedy about losers. This time, the losers are Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly), two going-on-forty guys who are living at home when their parents get married. With no jobs, and no prospects, the two men are forced to live together with their parents, and at first the two men can’t stand each other. But, when pushed to find jobs, the duo become fast friends as they hunt for work, and try to keep their antics from tearing the new family apart.

Wirter and director Adam McKay‘s comedies Talladega Nights and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy became hits that spawned huge fan followings. With Ferrell returning again to work with McKay, fans can safely expect more of the same shtick, but it does seem to be getting a bit lame. You can also hardly call Apatow a one-trick producer, but after working on so many films with similar character themes, it seems amazing to me that moviegoers are still paying to see his films.

Maybe a bit surprisingly, Step Brothers has received a fair share of good reviews, which all suggest the film is laugh-out-loud funny. “While your tolerance for Step Brothers will rely upon your willingness to find moronic behaviour and potty-mouthed dialogue funny,” Alonso Duralde of MSNBC said in his review, “I must admit that the film had me laughing consistently almost the entire way through.”

Just Buried
Also open this week in a limited number of theatres is Chaz Thorne‘s grim comedy, Just Buried, about a young man who inherits a funeral home, but can’t find enough business to keep it running. The solution is of course to create a little business and with the help of the local coroner, that shouldn’t be too hard, now should it?

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