The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage

Once upon a time, many months ago, I posted a entry about my experience watching Battle for Endor. Since its been so long since my last entry, I thought I’d pick things up and visit the previous chapter to the Ewok saga – sort of the Attack of the Clones to A New Hope, if you will.

The last time I watched a movie for you, was Last Action Hero which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger doing his Arnold Schwarzeneggingist to portray a human actor, which as we all know, he failed on all fronts. This time I around, I watched a film where the majority of the actors are fuzzy bears with spears (and they say there’s no diversity in Hollywood), all displaying more emotion, and more depth of character.

So lets begin…

I’d imagine the pitch for this made for TV epic began with a producer and a network executive in a office somewhere:

Producer: “So our writers have a couple of storylines they’d like to share with you–“
Executives: One of them better be about Ewoks. Kids love ewoks.”
(Producer furiously starts scribbling notes one of the scripts)
Producer: Yep, got one right here. Its about a ewok and definitely not a jedi on a quest.
Executive: You know whats hot right now? That kid from E.T.
Producer: The boy who played Elliot? Don’t remember his name but I guess we could…
Executive: Sure, get him too if you can get the girl.
Producer: Drew Barrymore?
Executive: Is that her name?

And so on from there.  Basically try to imagine if Cindy and Peter Brady got marooned on Endor, and that one Ewok you remember from Return of the Jedi spent the whole movie flailing around and screwing everything up, you basically have a Caravan of Courage…

Which I can say there is a caravan, but there’s very little courage.  Mr. and Mrs Brady get lost while trying to find their kids, leaving their jobs to the figment of George Lucas’ imagination.

The kids wander into the Ewok village where Cindy, sorry “Cyndal” gets sick, blows their cover and throws the whole village in danger of contracting whatever virus she has but is foreign to them.

It should come as no surprise that this little angel is the best actor in the whole production. She cries real tears, she shows concern at the scene she’s in and she speaks her lines as opposed to shouting them like Peter Brady-Kenobi.

Before all this started, we were introduced to Wicket, aka, the only Ewok you remembered distinctively from Return of the Jedi, sets the precedent for what he’ll be doing for the rest of the movie: Flailing his arms like a mutant panda and screwing everything up. Like this scene where he nearly sends his father (? I think. Relationships among Ewoks aren’t clearly outlined) to a free fall of a death.

In a decision that required no deliberation, no planning and no forthought, the Ewoks decide to help the Brady kids find their parents. Probably because no one wants human kids around with free floating viruses that would no doubt be fatal to a fragile immune system.

Regardless, they head out on their “caravan of courage” which really is just 60 minutes of them wandering all over various landscapes, stumbling into dangerous situations either caused by Wicket or Peter Brady.

Awwwww…..

Look, I realize that Star Wars was ahead of its time with its special effects and there are just some things that you can’t do for television in the early ’80s. Which can be the only explanation for why a monster made of Play-doh comes out and tries to kill everyone.

Apparently it was terrifying, even though you could see the fingerprints on the clay.

 For those of you concerned with your childhood being killed at this point, may I remind you that that time has long past and I’m just here cleaning it up.

Most of this movie is narrated by a burly voiced narrator who reads it the same way one might read a childrens book.

“And so the children walked from dense forest to desert, back to dense forest where something jumped out at them and back into desert where Peter Brady complained the whole time.”

“Peter had a lot of unresolved anger issues which led him to threaten forest creatures with firearms at the drop of a hat. But they pressed on, hoping he would snap out of it.”

Lets go back into the forest, where the childrens’ minds are open just long enough to come face to face with this horrible demon possesed dried apple head.

And Peter Brady kind of sort of uses the “force.” Which he only does once and never does again when bigger things happen. Why? you ask. Its a good question, but it seems the movie quickly said, “Hey, what’s that over there!” which we then did and the movie quickly ran out of the room, jumped into its car and we didn’t hear from it again.

“So the children and the Ewoks wandered into this cave, and thought it’d be fun to climb this spiderweb. It was kind of dangerous when a spider was dangled down on a string and victoriously swatted away.

But they pressed on and made it to the other side, which they happened to realize led to where their parents were held hostage. They weren’t expecting that.”

I don’t know what this thing is, all we know that it grabbed Mr. and Mrs Brady, stuck them in a tiny cage. I also know it has a disproportionately small mouth that an Ewok couldn’t fit through. But hey, its George Lucas’ universe, we’re just stuck wondering what on earth he’s doing.

 I’m not defending the actions of kidnapping and terror but you have to admit this thing is probably just really lonely and wanted something to take care of. He lives in a cave that’s really hard to get to and hygiene is not a priority. People don’t come around and he’s not getting invited to any book clubs.

In the end, they rescue Mr. and Mrs. Brady, push the monster off a cliff and get one of their own killed. All three of these events were done with very little excitement, and there was some dull surprise at losing their fellow Ewok brother. Cyndal cried a little, but the important lesson  here is that when someone close to you dies in a horribly tragic way (say, falling to their death by rock slide and/or monster) its best to move on as quickly as possible. According to these Ewoks, they just forgot about the entire incident completely…

…and then they wrote a happy song about it. Because it was indeed a caravan chock full of courage (courage being dull surprise as you wander through one someone dangerous incident after the other)

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INFERNO (1999)

I think the movie’s tagline says it all…

“Left for Dead. Burning for Revenge…”

I get chills just thinking about it. That and the fact this was brought to us by the same guy who made a squeaky voiced Ralph Macchio roar.

This is how we meet our hero…

Drunk and passed out. You can’t see it, but his motorcycle is crumpled up in a heap somewhere off in the distance. Maybe it was written in the script but something tells me this is just JCVD being JCVD.

Its now occured to me that the movie’s tagline “Left for dead…” isn’t exactly true. More like “Wasted Loser Life, Might Get Up Later.”

The other thing we establish very quickly is that JCVD’s best friend is a guy named Johnny Sixtoes. No one questions this last name, they just plow into the story as if we all didn’t just hear one of the silliest names in movie history.

As the movie will explain to you (through the ramblings of a drunk JCVD) he’s here in the middle of nowhere to drink himself to death over his actions while serving in the Army. Honoring his Army training, he recklessly fires shots in the air, which makes Johnny Sixtoes disappear (the name stays though) and a group of guys in a truck appears upset about JCVD’s inability to understand gun safety.

What follows is flareups of tempers and conflict that could have easily been avoided had these guys just driven away from the gunfire. But that would have been a blissfully short movie and we would have watched another 75 minutes of JCVD slobbering unconsciously.

If there’s one thing this movie has that other Van Damme movies don’t is that Jean-Claude is rocking a cowboy hat for most of it. He clearly really likes himself in said hat, because once its on, he seems reluctant to be without it.

Guns, grenades and cowboy hats….Van Damme for President 2016.

It should be mentioned…

Mr. Miyagi is in this. His role in this movie is useless, which is fantastic because its long been forgotten and he can remain a cherished icon of our childhoods. Instead, he works at a dumpy diner with this little love interest (van DAMN!)

Her acting is genuine – it says, “I’m playing a character that doesn’t know she’s supposed to kiss Jean Claude Van Damme later.”

Johnny Sixtoes comes back. He’s also Danny Trejo, pretending we don’t remember his name is actually Johnny Sixtoes.

He hangs out, soothes Jean Claude’s ego and then disappears into the night. God bless you Johnny Sixtoes. I’m hoping for the sequel where we meet his wife, Susie Fourthumbs.

You would think this movie would be about JCVD overcoming his suicidal guilt Army thoughts, but no, its just about him getting back at the guys who got mad at him for almost shooting them. So his plan of attack is, kill the guys and have Hot Waitress and Mr. Miyagi help dispose of the bodies, making this one of the darkest movies I’ve watched for this blog (please keep in mind I sat through two Insane Clown Posse productions).

I realize JCVD wants us to know that he’s a formidable force for good, but when you garble out dialog and insist on wearing cowboy hats that are too big for your head, it just defeats the purpose.

Man loves his hat. Not much else you can say about it.

He does take it off from time to time though…

Because its extremely hard to do a roundhouse kick in one. If Chuck Norris has mastered it, then he’s not showing it nor talking about it.

The lesson we learn from this is that if you’re depressed, do whatever makes you feel better. If someone has a problem with it, feel free to introduce them to Sonny & Cher (aka your fists).

“You guys, I’m really working my way through the grumpies. Thanks!”

Better than therapy, albeit way more messy. No word on how Mr. Miyagi and Johnny Sixtoes coping skills have held up.

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OVER THE TOP (1987)

 Because I have humble Midwest roots, I searched for a film this week that was a true representation of what that means.

There’s a lot out there – so I just watched Over the Top instead.

For those of you who don’t know – Over the Top is all about sweaty man trends…like arm wrestling…and trucks…and parental visitation rights.  This movie really is a triple threat (of things that I really know nothing about…)

What you should know is that Sylvester Stallone plays a deadbeat dad who gets stuck with his kid for a weekend despite needing money and a new truck that helps him avoid things like stability and responsibility.

 His ex wife is dying and insists that he spend some time with his kid, which he begrudgingly does, and then makes grunty arguments with the kid’s wealthy grandfather. Grandpa understandably hires people to kidnap the kid.

When you’re learning how to be a father and struggling to build a dream, that usually costs money. Thankfully, there’s a arm wrestling competition – winner gets $100,000 AND a brand new truck.  Its a big enough deal where there’s a hefty prize, but niche enough to ensure truckers flock from everywhere to join.

I’d also like to point out Stallone’s affinity for girl cut scoop neck shirts. Flattering and gives just the right amount of edge.

Over the Top is an experiment in the Stallone Acting Method – behind those eyes, its all seriousness. Even if there’s something lighthearted going on – he’s like an animal watching his prey.  DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF HIS EMOTING.

Even when he’s making bad parenting choices (like putting your underage son behind the wheel of a large, unwieldy truck), he’s all business under those dark brown eyes.

Here we have the kid’s grandfather as the main villain of our story. According to him, Stallone is an unfit father because he hasn’t been around until now when his ex wife made him, he’s not financially stable and he’s only going to drag him to a arm wrestling tournament.

Solid reasoning so far.

You can also tell his classic ’80s villain – rich white guy, red faced yelling about business in his crisp white shirt. This is a standard if you’re playing 80s Movie Bingo.

Here we have emerging Father of Year, shoving his child into hand to hand combat. Grandpa is so close minded.

Fell the moist Stallone rage. Just staring at you through your soul and your white Brooks Brother shirt. Take that corporate paternal greed!

Lets talk about what’s important, which is the actual arm wrestling competition.

Most of the participants are giant slabs of man pecs on legs. Some of them understand the point of wearing a shirt. Some don’t.

And then some of the guys are just your dad who got super bulked up just for this.

There was this moment where Valvoline got an unexpected product placement opportunity. Note to readers – drinking motor oil will not help you in athletics or really any endeavor that you pursue. This man probably collapsed within minutes of shooting this scene.

“Where’s your Valvoline now?”

Brace yourself for Stallone’s  “Straining for Victory” Face…

Straining….

STRAINING…

Victory!

 And in case this movie wasn’t enough for you to feel good about yourself and your own life decisions, you can always play Over the Top: The Home Game

My hat is now officially on backwards.

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PURPLE PEOPLE EATER (1988)

Its guest blog time – and our friends at First World Failure came back with this…


The year was 1988. I wasn’t old enough to watch PG-13 movies. Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t the household name “Dougie Howser M.D.” Dustin Diamond wasn’t Screech in “Saved By the Bell.” Throw in a post-Deliverance, pre-HomicideNed Beatty, Little Richard, and an oversized muppet that will give you nightmares, and what do you get? The movie inspired by the 1958 novelty song, “Purple People Eater.”
Purple People Eater is billed as sci-fi, comedy, family film and was written and directed by Linda Shayne. You may know Linda better from such roles as “band member” in Munchie and “Bootsie Goodhead” in Screwballs (which she also wrote). What I’m saying is, when studio execs wondered who they could trust with such a radical idea, they got the best.
This is Billy. He collects stray animals, which is important to remember because when he sees a huge space alien his first thought isn’t “BURN IT WITH FIRE!” it’s “yeah, you should come live in my garage.”

Billy is being taken care of by his Grandfather this summer, and Grandpa isn’t what we call “competent.” Veiled in the guise of seizing the day, Grandpa dupes Billy into helping him paint his apartment. 

What Grandpa doesn’t have in children supervising skills or money, he makes up for in old records. One night, Billy plays Sheb Wooley’s only hit, and the Purple People Eater appears from outer space
Instead of running for help, Billy’s all “move in to my garage. My parents are gone for the summer.” 

When Gramps finds out, he’s not the least bit alarmed. He’s all, “You should start a band with the space alien. Don’t worry about being EATEN.” 
Is anyone else noticing the HUGE plot holes in this movie? Over Billy’s right shoulder? That’s Screech.
Also, perhaps the Purple People Eater is an allegory for how we exploit immigrant workers in this country. Yes, Linda Shayne was way ahead of her time. 
 


Billy, unaware that he’s letting aliens take all the good jobs from American band members, plays with his new band all over town. It should be noted that their first gig is a wedding and nobody is put out that an alien who plays music through his horn is taking center stage. Then again, Chubby Checker was there…


Really? Nobody is worried that young Thora Birch is going to be murdered by a Purple People Eater? Oh, the main antagonist is a landlord named Mr. Noodle? Sure, sounds plausible. 

Gramps has a bee in his bonnet because Mr. Noodle is selling his apartment building and all the old people will need to find a new home! Could someone introduce him to the computer and show him what Craigslist is? Problem solved. There’s about 50 minutes you can cut from this movie. 
 
 

Guess it’s easy to get the laws changed and save Grandpa’s apartment when Little Richard is the mayor. Way to fight against GREED Billy!
 

And the townspeople still refuse to treat the monster from outer space as the threat he is because he can play music and hasn’t eating anyone yet. A likely story.
  
This movie has a 63% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which can only mean that 63% of people are idiots. 

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Caveman (1981)

As long as there’s been an influx of pop stars who have been marketed above us mere mortals, there have been pop stars who feel they can act. Sometimes they actually can (say what you want, Dolly Parton made a 9 to 5 world plausible…) and there are those who can’t.

That’s my way of saying, I watched “Caveman”. Ringo Starr is in it.

Ringo Starr, commonly thought of as the luckiest man alive (also see my post on William Shatner’s tour de force performance in 80’s TV paranoia The Babysitter), stars in this story of a budding civilization faced with the conflict and trials of battling evolution and discovering one’s theological center.  Just kidding. Its the story of a drummer who put on skins, mugs a lot and occasionally gets farted on while walking into scenes with claymation dinosaurs.

Best actor in this whole movie was the hand supplied to this puppet.

I will say this – the monsters in this were kind of cute.

If you enjoy your movies with lots of grunting, and a tuba heavy soundtrack that never lets up, then by all means, throw this on. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, watch this….without paying attention the action on screen. Unless you enjoy 90s minutes of moaning and groaning.

It should be noted…

This is meant to be Ringo’s show, and it is – but Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long are along for the ride. Its probably best that this movie rarely comes up in conversations about them.  Until now.
Its almost painful how seriously Dennis took this role.

Dear sweet Shelley Long – she played this the same as if Cheers was set in the Fertile Crescent. Diane Chambers of today, Diane Chambers of the yesterday.

There’s a bit of love triangle in that Ringo hits on the sister of Daisy Duke, but she’s not interested. Then he’s no longer interested (when Shelley Long’s in the house, you tend to rethink these things) she changes her mind. Women, amirte?!?!?

 I just posted the screenshot because it was kind of a cool shot. Even if clay is the biggest thing used in the scene.

Lets talk about Shelley Long – she has her Diane Chambers hair, her words are garbled, but there’s a faux-college snobbish tone involved even when she leads a blind man next to a large pool of water (spoiler alert: he still falls in).

This movie is clearly a fantasy – not because there’s cavemen and dinosaurs but because this is a universe where time after time, Ringo keeps saving the day. I’m pretty sure there’s three Beatles who would beg to differ.

Also, if you thought to yourself, “Its been so long since I’ve had to think about what it would look like for Ringo Starr to squat…” then by all means throw this on. Its 90 minutes of that, but, another spoiler alert, he does learn to walk upright.

Usually I stay away from writing about movies that are intentional comedies (I was burned and burned badly by the cinematic offerings of the Insane Clown Posse). But I went into this one just out of the sheer earnestness that the actors. They gave it their all despite a screenplay with only grunts and moans, and being required to walk around like auditioning dancers on So You Think You Can Dance.

There are moments, slight glimmers in Shelley Long’s eyes that say, “Please let Cheers be a hit. Please let Cheers be a hit…”

Meanwhile, Ringo’s just passing time until the next Sgt Peppers rerelease. Also, we learn that the cavemen don’t walk upright, but there’s no real consistency in how they walk. Some drag their arms on the ground, some are just bent slightly, as if carrying Target shopping bags filled with candy. Others, like this larger gentlemen, just aren’t trying at all. #evolution.

At one point, Ringo invents music, which I have to say, falls enthusiastically under the file “RINGO’S IMAGINATION”

No one can resist the charm of Shelley Long.  I know I can’t.

And in the end, Ringo has a difficult decision to make, one that’s been universal since the begining of time. Brunette vs blonde?

And he goes with Shelley Long. Because you do not..repeat, DO NOT say no to Shelley Long.

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SPICE WORLD (1998)

Netflixers, rejoice… the Spice Girls will forever be around with just a touch of your remote.  Or at least until Sony decides to pull it from the queue.

I’ll admit something to you. I had never seen this movie. It just never happened.

I remember the Spice Girls, as we all do. As much as I downplayed their style, I secretly admired it and wished I could wad my Irish frizzy hair into kicky hornbuns. And secretly, I hummed those songs and stole my friend’s boyfriend’s copy of their first album and didn’t give it back until months and months later. But that’s another story for another blog (tentatively titled Things I Liked Born Out of Practical Jokes)

Here’s what I discovered from watching this movie. You don’t need a plot – just lots of ideas strung together, complete with the Spice Girls in different outfits in every scene.  This makes a difference in some movies. This was the one movie where I didn’t mind it.

 

Possibly because this movie was based on an idea and they just ran with it.  The movie told me so.

 

 

The only purpose I had for posting this picture is because it made Victoria Beckham look like even more of an alien than she already does.

Here’s what this movie truly excels at – showing us a disproportionately huge living area that’s bigger than my apartment — inside a double decker bus.

There’s a living room that comfortably sits every you know and possibly ever met….

Also a swing set and room for any size platform you’d want on your shoes.

Maybe on the buses you grew up with, they had one of those pesky “No horseplay” rules. Not for the Spice Girls. When designing the bus they stayed on the concept of horseplay and just built up from there.

There’s also a minor subplot about a documentary crew trying to find the essence of what makes the Spice Girls the Spice Girls. Frankly, he could have saved himself a lot of time and trouble just by watching ABBA: The Movie (those in the know can tell you that that had the exact same plot).

Unrelated, but the chairs are pretty awesome.

And lest you think the Spice Girls are too self involved, here they are rousing a teenage boy from a coma.

The other thing this movie has? Cameos. Spades of cameos from famous British people.

Like Bob Geldof!

And Elton John!

Stephen Fry! He condemns them to a lifetime of reality shows and non charting singles (strangely

Dr. House!

Jennifer Saunders!

Meatloaf!

NORM!!

The distinctive thing about the Spice Girls is not only their fierce girl power cry but they truly want equal rights for everyone.  So when they notice that their backup dancers aren’t wearing enough, they make a stand….

Remember kids. Speak out for what’s right. Sometimes The Man tries to fix it for you.

Sometimes.

That being said, I am fully onboard with the fashion but have minor qualms about this weird astronaut jacket that Scary Spice wears during rehearsals.

…not to mention the color vomited sheets she put on to do their weird WWII bootcamp class.

I’m calling this out though – women dressing and acting like children. Its creepy and I just don’t get it.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Hey Netflix subscriber! I’ve never seen this movie. You haven’t said what its about!”

Gentle movie watcher – know this when I say, it doesn’t matter. You will sit through 90 minutes of heavily made up mugging, women playing dress up and things like aliens showing up for their autograph and you will realize….

It doesn’t matter. Seriously.

And they have no problem taunting you with movies that did have actual plots.

In case you missed it…the Spice Girls were visited by aliens. They got an autograph and left.

Now back to our “story”…

SERIOUS FACE – we are ACTING…

Sometimes the movie makes a quick detour into another possible movie and then we get back to what we do best…

…which is pondering whatever question the movie gets ready to pose.

At that point in the movie, a man broke into their stately manor through the toilet. Maybe an homage to Trainspotting?

And Roger Moore plotted their demise. But will they make it to the big show in time?

Its iffy, especially with so much zaniness.

There was a bomb on the bus. It was kind of a high tension moment.

And their untalented friend who tags along, had a baby. They helped and it was a girl, ensuring that their brand of girl power extends among the generations. In case you’re wondering, the baby was not a famous baby cameo.

They make it to the show and sing “Spice Up Your Life”, which is ironic because THEY JUST DID.

Even more ironic…

We weren’t watching a movie, we were watching the brainstorming session between the Spice Girls’ manager, a big time Hollywood guy and a screenwriter. TWIST.

Sadly, very realistic to most pitch meetings.

We’re left with the Spice Girls peering into our souls and asking the important question of “Who’s really watching us? Who is truly entertained?” and “Will Ginger Spice ever wear actual pants?”

All in all, I totally recommend. I’ll warn you though…

The book is way better than the movie.

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The Pregnancy Pact (2010)

 

We’ve been doing a lot of “Troubled Teens” movies lately. No real reason – they just seem to be a prevelant theme in storytelling with cheap production value. To me, no story begged for the cheap movie treatment more than the news story that broke a few years back about a couple of teen girls who decided to all get pregnant together. Ah, 2010 – back when Lady Gaga and getting knocked up was all the cool kids were doing.

We open on this tight shot – ITS A PREGNANCY TEST. Let the pact begin…

What we get from here is a girl about to be handed even more disappointing news that her life is now ruined due to the fact she’s not pregnant and therefore has ruined pacts for teenage girls everywhere.

The school nurse, played with wide eyes and judgey tones is none other than Cameryn Manheim. I’m told she was on a TV show. I refuse to remember her from anything except Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. In a disappointing plot move, her character here is not in charge of the yearbook. Just handing out pregnancy tests.

Remember folks: when women get together, they’re either plotting about shoes or syncing up their menstrual cycles. Teenage boys have no idea.

Enter Thora Birch from American Beauty and Ghost World fame – we learn that she’s from Gloucster, has just learned about pacts involving pregnancy and has a lucrative job talking about teenagers into a webcam.

Lets focus on this ginger pact-candidate. She has a boyfriend, her friends are all pregnant and her boyfriend has no idea that his future is about to go skidding off a cliff.  Maybe I’m old, but I couldn’t watch her act without wanting a delicious juicy Wendy’s hamburger.

The only thing you’ll get with a pact from this lady is a late night Frosty…

It also be noted that our story’s setting is Massachusetts. While we see a number of exterior shots of docks and the state flag, the filmmakers felt this was not enough to convince us thats where we were, so every now and then we were treated to characters intercepting the word “Wicked” as a speech accoutrement.

Wendy (not her characters name but its too late now) comes from caring parents, who’s mother, Nancy Travis is a strong advocate of teaching abstinence in schools but completely fine with her daughter having sleepovers at her boyfriends. After all, “He’s a good kid. He plays baseball!”

The jokes are way too easy. WAY TOO EASY.

Enter Thora Birch, last seen in Dungeons and Dragons, setting up a camera and doing hard nose reporting to her tens of viewers.

Good news – that pregnant glow means you have successfully completed your pact. Enjoy the rest of your ruined life.

Its hard being the odd one out of the group. Sure you’re all in third period English and sure you all shop at Forever 21. But when you’re left out of conversations about breast soreness and frequent urination, its hard. #ItGetsBetter

A face off between PTA and School Health Administrators (aka Mom vs Nurse) where one says, “Abstinence!” and the others like “Even though there’s a pregnancy pact, we should stock up on condoms.”  Surprisingly, the debate goes nowhere.

Little Wendy discovers she’s going from a Single to a Double (it was either this or how that small fry she ordered joke.)

About the time Wendy finds out she’s pregnant, the media has swarmed in to find out about how girls are keeping pacts these days. Nancy Travis does not handle it well and immediately demands to be taken for a walk on the dock to remind everyone that they are still in Massachusetts.

The girls are handed another cold dose of reality – in the form of a chain smoking grandmother staring off into some half forgotten nightmare while completely forgetting that there’s a ripe watermelon just sitting there on the table.

Like all good things, sometimes pacts come to an end. And the first of the girls gives birth and realizes the hard truth of what happens when you have a baby, which is Cameryn Manheim not being there to say, “Are you sure?”

Nancy Travis is now demanding answers after almost an hour’s worth of bad parenting decisions and shrugging. Wendy would rather not speak about whether or not the words, “Hey, lets form a pact and get pregnant!” ever got uttered. Nancy stays bland and backs off the subject.

Wendy’s boyfriend is not so lucky…

“Just had to get a girl pregnant, didn’t you? Couldn’t wait until you were a famous baseball player and had more resources to make these things go away, could you?”

 

Meanwhile another guy figures out there was a pact and his seed fueled it all.  Surprisingly, he’d like to take the relationship in the more “casual friends” territory.

 

Finally, the Mayor holds a press conference about it. The basic gist is “We should have been better parents.”
Meanwhile…

Friends forever. Pregnancy pacts have a way of bonding for life. FOR LIFE.

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THE BABYSITTER (1980)

We’re deviating slightly and going to the treasure trove of ’80s made for TV movies – the kind that would take something you just assumed was safe and then terrified you to no end.  Sort of like what plays on Lifetime at any given moment.

You may ask – “What sets this apart from any of the other things I can find on Lifetime at any minute?”

This:

That’s right.  You’re all about to get Shatner’d.

The plot is right there – Mom’s going to go nuts, and Shatner’s going to venture into undiscovered country – which is being seduced by underaged girls.  Strap in.

Behold Tara, all-American girl. That is, if you’re definition of a all American girl is middle class with a inattentive father and expressing her emotions to a doll. But lets face facts- if a evil babysitter hadn’t infiltrated their way into the house, she may have been on her way to becoming one.

Like most made for TV situations, this family lives near a quaint dock, far from questioning eyes. Just serene upper middle class heaven – the kind of environment where the girl from nowhere doesn’t get questioned and is automatically offered free room and board in exchange for babysitting services.

 

 

Every Star Trek enthusiast (I’ll throw in the TJ Hooker fanset too) know that.

How did you meet your babysitter? Craigslist? Friend referral? Did you almost hit her with your car and feel bad about, and THEN offer her a job? One of these options applies to this movie and therefore the most reliable.

In case you’re wondering, “I don’t know. This family clearly would have been okay had it not been for a crazy babysitter”, let me put it to you. This movie opens with Tara, the 13 year old girl talking to dolls and then trying to steal her parents car.

“Do you always walk in front of passing cars? Your boldness would be a good match for my daughter’s mousiness and budding mental problems. Which she gets from me.”

This horrifyingly bad decision signifies that Mom has some mental instability. Not that the movie caught on.

This movie stops at nothing to show us this family is so incredibly close to domestic perfection.  So close.  As long as no one’s talking, then perfection is achieved

And as this movie cannot stress enough – MOM IS HANGING BY A MENTAL THREAD.

We should probably talk about how Tara dresses like she’s late for her shift at Alice’s Diner while complaining about oatmeal. The fact she never says “Kiss my grits” is the biggest missed opportunity.

 

Let’s talk about the babysitter.  She’s lovely in a 70s made for TV way. She had nothing going on in life but is a fantastic housekeeper and cook and enjoys talking to people from her past when there’s no one in the room. Also, when the camera does one of these tight close ups on her face, you will be treated to the sounds of a creepy moog synthesizer, which represents the tortured state of her mind. Also, she’s single.

It was mentioned that due to the Babysitter’s positive influence, Tara is not watching as much television and is no longer afraid of the outdoors.

HANGING BY A THREAD.

“I think my husband’s having an affair.”

“Do you mind if I take your car and go to a movie?”

“Sure.”

The tension in this film is through the roof.

Now this movie starts getting interesting….the Babysitter tries on a fairly modest looking nightgown and waits for William Shatner to walk in on her.

Which he does….

The spiral of destruction is in full force. The head of the house, William Shatner is a man of action. He was the Captain of the Enterprise and yelled at people to do his bidding….

 

…but in this case he stares at her and speaks in whispered tones for her to get out.

Naturally, she doesn’t, but she does say, “Fine. I’ll put it back.”

She comes back to him the next day with these words of comfort, “You had sex with your wife last night, didn’t you?”

No one plays it more mild than Shatner.  They don’t call it Shatnering for nothing.

“Whatever you do, stay bland.”

This kid let all of his emotions show through – even the ones where he was casually enjoying a boat ride with a sexy babysitter.

Know where it got him?

His only crime was loving too much. By loving I mean, sort of hitting on the Babysitter during a casual boat ride and saying, “Hey, can I see you later?”
William Shatner stays bland at all costs.
 “You take me to your parties, and if I want to drink, I’ll drink! Because you love your job too much!”
 “Shut up about my job! She loves me in more ways than you’ll ever understand!”

We get a small glimpse of his emotional threshold when she accuses him of being to judgey. Then he springs to action. Kind of. His face muscles still remain slightly rested.

 

“Hey Mom – I think the babysitter is doing a lousy job of taking care of the house. Should we fire her? Plus, why are you drinking at 9am in your slip?”

“Hello? Am I alone in here?”

Poor Tara. She’s one more traumatic incident short of becoming her own manipulative babysitter.

When the Babysitter REALLY snaps, we are treated to a all out monologue, one that I suspect was used in an audition. It has everything – a tragic backstory about being a foster child, the desire for love and belonging, and she throws in a little, “No one understands me”. Its amazing – so much so that she snaps, espescially when talking about all those other families she murdered.

The bland arms of William Shatner cannot save her from herself. Drastic measures are taken…

She goes on a murderous rampage for Tara who cleverly hid herself in a room with glass windows.

It all comes crashing down – the friendly neighborhood police take a break from cracking the case of missing bicycles and issuing citations for dogs without licenses and take the Babysitter away. Presumably to sit in jail and clean and cook for the inmates there, where she’ll convince them all that they’re alcoholics that should just give up on life all together.

On second thought, this is TV. She’ll get out and prey on a TV family, hopefully starring Heather Locklear.

My Netflix adventures are on Facebook, so take a moment to “Like” it or whatever it is the kids do there. Also you can find me on Twitter – I talk about food there too.

 

 

 

 

 

The Initiation (1984)

This week’s post, I’ve handed over the reigns  to my brilliant partner in crime over at First World Failure, Beth Seaver to do her own exploring. Strap in…

 

 

 

OK, I’ll be honest. I’ve been through sorority initiation and I thought that this movie would just be a fun opportunity to relive the passive aggressive mental abuse minus the tears and secret eating. Sadly, the sense train jumps the track early in this film, and all we can do is survey the wreckage looking for meaning that isn’t really there. Fans of Halloween will be happy to know that The Initiation steals plot points with abandon, whether it makes sense or not. 
We open with a little girl sleeping. She wakes up and walks down the hall to find her mother and a man having sex. Unlike the rest of us (who would still be washing our eyes to this day), this little gal takes a page from the Michael Meyers handbook and…