FUNNY FARM (1988)

Once upon a time there was no one funnier on this Earth than Chevy Chase.  Feel free to disagree with me, but when you look at his work on Saturday Night Live, Vacation, Caddyshack, etc., he shaped what a lot of people find funny. 

Strictly speaking from my limited point of view.  Maybe you’re slamming your fist into the desk reading this going, “Dammit, Carrot Top was waaaaay funnier.”

To each his own then.

This movie was nothing but empty promises. Not only was it not particularly funny, but at no point is anyone ever on a farm.  Just because you have geese who occasionally break into your place, does not make it a farm.

The premise this movie gives is that Chevy Chase is a sports writer who moves his wife to the country so he can write a novel and get his wife pregnant – not necessarily in that order. They settle into a house in a small town that seems idyllic, BUT YOU GUYS, ITS NOT. That’s where the funny comes in, get it?

Chevy’s character is goofy and affable and not flexible but he pretends to be. His wife is…well, she’s his wife. She reacts appropriately to things.  When he makes a joke, she laughs.  When they look around the house, she smiles.

When she enjoys a banana, we’re given a whole scene to let that happen.

Chevy Chase is someone that you know he’s going to go off the rails at anytime…

Like when he realizes his wife has eaten the last banana.

We’re introduced to all the crazy characters who contribute to Chevy’s steady descent into madness, which has possibly affected modern day Chevy Chase, but results of that theory are still pending.  There’s a crazy mailman who throws mail, a lazy sheriff who’s role in the town I really wasn’t sure about.  Also, there’s this lady…

She’s the town operator and if you want to make a call, you have to have a payphone in your house, where you feed it five cents. If you don’t, she won’t put through the call.  Does this make any sense? Nope. Does the movie’s heroes ever solve this problem or does it shrug and expect us to laugh along? Do we need to ask?

Its one of many things that make no sense and that the screenwriters felt didn’t really deserve a point, just something to say, “Hey, isn’t this crazy?”  There’s a dead body in the house and the town wants to charge our heroes a fee to bury it. Why? Well, its not really explained, but our heroes go along with it. Because that makes comedy?

Seriously, asking for a friend.

 They get a dog. Because that’s a great formula for comedy. He can’t hear or see anything, so the producers had a laugh about that.

The story takes an interesting twist.  Chevy gives Mrs. Chevy the first chapter of his book to read and she hates it. Like, HATES it, hates it.  She cries and its awkward and didn’t think it was funny (perhaps our hero was the author of this movie?)  He tries to take it well, but its eating him alive.  The darkness consumes us all.

To make things worse, not only is the lack of his wife’s approval crippling his mental wellbeing, but she wrote a book on the sly – a kid’s book about a squirrel and it’s getting published. He’s supportive in that he allows her to live in the house, but you get the feeling that this might be the 80s answer to In Cold Blood.

What happens next might surprise you, that is if you walked into a movie expecting a realistic character arc. Chevy Chase loses his mind and becomes obsessed with his own failures at life.

The movie reaches its tipping point, when his publisher stops into town (do publishers really do long distance stop ins? Anyone we can ask for a point of reference?) He’s greeted with Heart of Darkness style Chevy:

…as he’s trying to murder the local mailman.  The publisher ignores this behavior and passes it off as “artistic genius” and says, “Hey, where’s that book you promised us?”  Chevy’s response is hand him his wife’s recent manuscript (possible titles are  Boys and Squirrels, Squirrel with the Dragon Tattoo or Squirrel, Interrupted). Publisher takes it, says good day.

Wife does catch on to the ruse as the publisher can’t wait to send Squirrel on Fire to the presses on Chevy Chase’s name and demands a divorce.  So the baby prospects also get put to a halt.

If they’re going to get a divorce, they have to sell the house and go their separate ways. In any other situation, the couple would sell the house cheap or apply to be on one of those renovation shows on HGTV, just to get away from each other (see also, The Money Pit)

Instead, they go to a Town Hall, and bribe the townspeople to act like a Norman Rockwell painting to help sell the town. Weirdly, everybody’s into it.

This begs the question – no one put up these shenanigans when our heroes bought this house, the house and scenery did the job for them. But, to answer these questions, we would be watching a much better movie starring other people. So, moving on.

A couple comes and looks at the house, has no problem finding the place and automatically falls in love. Our heroes are told, “Tomorrow morning, expect an offer.”

Our heroes could easily smile and say, “Thanks, that’s great,” but no. Instead, they respond with, “You should spend the night and find out why we hate this house.” (Blogger’s paraphrase, not a direct movie quote.)

Oh, is everything going better than expected? Time to quit while you’re ahead.

Our heroes could have saved boatloads of cash by just letting the prospective owners go to a hotel for the night. Also, if you’re not growing crops or raising livestock, then stop calling your property a farm.

In a move that surprises no one on this side of the screen, one of the townspeople goes off the rails and assaults Chevy Chase.  Everyone laughs except for the prospective house buyers, but they’re weirdly still into buying this house.

The next morning, the house buyers have their checkbook out, they’re ready to make a deal, but something in this overly complicated and unnecessary ruse has made our heroes rethink everything and it turns out that not only do they love the house and the town, they’re just in love with each other.

Wife apologizes for overreacting when her husband tried to steal her work and pass it off as his own, sending the fight for equality and dignity for women back about a hundred years.

She’ll keep writing her Squirrel, You Know Its True saga and Chevy’s going to settle for being the towns sports writer, covering the one softball game they have in the summer.  Not the emotional powerpunch ending of Cop and a Half, really more like a shrug from the writer and director alike.

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A Star is Born (1976)

You may find this post controversial and I’ve made my peace with it.  Some view this film as a classic and some hold it proudly in their Barbra Streisand shrine.  However, I recently viewed this film and felt the need to post about it as there were just way too many elements that couldn’t be ignored.

Fact: this is the THIRD remake of this story (a fourth is slowly rolling around in development. You can read about it here).

Fact: this is the first movie I’ve blogged about on this site that’s both a Oscar and a Golden Globe winner for the song “Evergreen”.

Fact: I have long since made fun of the lyrics to the song “Evergreen” without realizing it was a) from this movie and b) a Barbra Streisand song.  You can’t sing a lyric that compares love to a easy chair and not expect me to mock it.

So we meet John Howard Norman, a big rock star who’s late to everything, drinks a lot and has Gary Busey personally shove cocaine up his nose.

No one in this movie ever calls him just “John”.  Its always “John Howard” or “John Howard Norman”. This may have been because the filmmakers felt that no one would accept a hero named John, leading to theater attendees storming out of the theaters in protest.

Fact: John Howard Norman never sings a whole complete song. He starts songs, then always interrupts and we as an audience have no idea why people even bother going to his shows to begin with.

Here’s what someone should have prepared me for. No one knows how to wear shirts in this movie.  Shirts are really more of a suggestion or an opinion.  So as a result, they’re maybe buttoned or worn halfway or in this case, Kris Kristofferson just forwent the shirt entirely and skipped to the vest.  To each his own, I suppose.

After an evening of kind of singing parts of two songs, he leaves his own show and goes to a club where we’re introduced to Barbra Streisand aka “Esther Hoffman”.

She’s in a singing group that call themselves “The Oreos.”  The less said about this, the better.

So they’re singing, and Barbra is being Barbra.  However, every romance movie needs a “meet cute” and we get with this moment…

“John Howard Norman” (I guess we’ll follow the movie’s instructions to always call him this) gets into a shouting match with some bar customers and Barbra gets ticked and confronts him about it. 

Now, lets put this situation in “real life” shall we?  In movie life, Barbra sings at a club and she hears a drunk guy shouting and getting drunker. She confronts him, he’s charmed by it, chases her down and begs to date her.  She kind of plays coy and allows him to bring a pizza to her house at 7am the next day.

In “real life”, Barbra would have finished her set, gone backstage, complained with the rest of The Oreos (sigh). Had “John Howard Norman” come slurring her way, a bouncer would have steered him to his car and he would have woken up ten hours later not remembering anything.  Roll credits!

But they have breakfast and are super cutesy about eating pizza and him guzzling down a whiskey and a few more beers for breakfast, so he invites her to come to his show.

Another show where he starts a song, mumbles through it, then goes and finds Barbra…

…sings from a vantage point where no one can see him…

…takes a fan’s motorcycle (which begs the question, do people still bring a motorcycle inside arenas? Also, where can I get the “I’m Spoiled Rotten” shirt?)

…and this inevitably happens…

…where you know, everyone’s going to have to file back out and spend three hours in their cars wondering what on earth they just saw.

Meanwhile, “John Howard Norman” gets put in an ambulance, everyone takes off, leaving Barbra stranded at a arena.

In “real life”, Esther Hoffman would have been angry and annoyed, spent hundreds of dollars on an Uber getting back to her house and written an interesting op-ed piece to Rolling Stone on what a tool John Howard Norman is.

Instead, she finds it cute that he stalked her at a studio and follows him home to his house where they make sweet music together…

…and then sweet, sweet love.

So many beer cans in this scene.

Naturally, he brings her into the studio and she sings whole and complete songs, which blows everyone away. He realizes that she is a unicorn and they make glorious creative plans.

He does yet another show, where he starts to sing a song and people are into it, but he stops barely into the first chorus and goes, “Hey guys, you paid to see me, but you’ll be fine letting my girlfriend of two days taking over, right?”

So Barbra comes out in an outfit that makes her look like she’s about to do everyone’s taxes and performs two whole songs.  Turns out the crowd loves it when you come out and do a song that has a beginning, middle and end. They go nuts and officially, “a star is born.”

Roll credits.

In the frenzy of the show, Barbra proposes to “John Howard Norman”. JHN gives her a very solid reason why this is a terrible decision. Namely that he’s an awful person who’s life is a total mess. Never mind, she knows what she wants and thats that.

The movie clearly has very little to do between now and JHN’s inevitable death (spoiler alert) so it does that thing that only bad movies do…there’s a montage. And it has everything that a ’70s love montage needs…

 Picture perfect moments in the middle of nowhere. This is always followed by sex in the most uncomfortable setting imaginable.

Being silly in the middle of nowhere.  This movie was made by Warner Bros who also holds the rights to Superman which I guess makes this scene okay.

Wearing Indian blankets as if that counts as clothes.  (Fact: It does not)

Enjoying your ’70s house with more rugs.

Maybe one of you fakes your death?

And at the end of a long day of holding each other and staring into each other’s eyes, you recline on pillows that vaguely look like Swastikas.

At some point, you have to come back to reality.  After all, Esther is a big star now (sure, its been a week maybe) and JHN is dealing with the fact that his career is over. Now this movie gets it into gear.

People are really digging her. She’s up for a Grammy! She shows up to her shows! She finishes songs! She wears shirts!

Speaking of which, she wins a Grammy for Best Female Vocal. She insists JHN go up with her, despite the fact that he almost didn’t make it and that he’s super trashed.  No, no, no, she drags him up there where he slurs something about art, all while Tony Orlando and Rita Coolidge seem horrified.

And, this movie dares to wave its codependency flag again, when Esther goes to calm down in the bathroom and is followed by JHN.

He makes another really good case for why this marriage isn’t going to work out, but she won’t have it.

This movie is begging for the opening credits to Intervention to come on at any moment.  I would have fully welcomed it.

During a photo shoot, he tells her that she’ll have to tour on her own.  She’s horrified.

He doesn’t show up for things when she needs him to, but instead of processing the links between addiction and unhealthy relationships, she puts on more drapey clothes and wonders why as she literally stares at empty glass vessels that used to hold alcohol.

While she’s gone however, a sexy journalist breaks into their home and begs for an interview with Esther.  She’ll do anything.

ANYTHING.

And he obliges.

Of course they’re caught.  The journalist gets huffy and walks out, while Esther thinks things over and has this reaction to the whole situation…

Frankly, at this point, I won’t blame his addiction, I’ll just blame the ’70s. Neither of them are clearly ever going to learn anything at this point.

So the universe takes over. He gets up early, drinks a lot of beer and has a fatal accident.

And Esther gives the performance of a lifetime where she cries and hopes he’s looking down on her.  I’d cry too, but then I remembered he was a reckless and selfish alcoholic who possessed really bad judgement.  The good news is that she got a career out of it and the rest of The Oreos had to find another white lady to lead them.

PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME.

Should you care to delve deeper into this, you can watch this movie on Amazon, HBO GO or in physical disc form from Netflix.

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SIDEKICKS (1992)


Sidekicks is a 1992 movie starring Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris. I remember loving this movie as a kid because I loved anything Jonathan Brandis did. Ladybugs? I’m in. Talking dolphins on Seaquest DSV? You’re selling and I’m buying, Jon. So when a movie combines karate, Asian stereotypes, and Beau Bridges, you’ve got a winner. 

Where do we start? OK, this is Barry, or “Barry Warry” as all the mean kids who are bad at coming up with demeaning nicknames call him. 
Here are two things you should know about Barry: 
First, he has asthma. This is a major plot point because it means he has to sit out of gym class and gets rides to and from school. Basically Barry is lazy, and if I knew all you had to fake was an asthma attack, Beth would have been sitting on the sidelines in gym class too. But I digress. Barry is not the kind of person who could be good at karate, on account of his “asthma”…or is he?
Second things to know about Barry? He has a creepy obsession with Chuck Norris and often imagines fantasy scenarios where they do karate and other assorted badass things together. 

Carrying machine guns through the jungle? Check.

Taking care of business in an old west saloon (where Barry orders milk – C’mon, Barry! Work with me)? Check.

Nice matching mullets, guys. I feel compelled to tell you that the plot of this fantasy is that they are trying to stop some villains from putting ground up razor blades into bubble gum. Barry, I don’t even know how to help you with this. 

And climbing the rope in gym class? Sure, whatever it takes to overcome your debilitating asthma. Can I interject here to say that I think it’s especially sad that even in Barry’s fantasies, he’s the sidekick? Nobody dreams of being Robin. It’s YOUR dream, kid. Be Batman. 
Moving on, Barry’s teacher decides her uncle will teach Barry karate, because he’s Asian and I guess nobody on this movie was aware The Karate Kid had already been made. 

This is Mr. Lee. What’s his answer for getting rid of Barry’s asthma? Running! That’s right, he basically tells him to “walk it off.” Junior High gym teachers around the country are patting themselves on the back for their timeless wisdom.

Stone Dojo doesn’t like Barry’s new non-asthma swagger! 

Good thing ladies are impressed by fighting. I’d like to note here that this movie takes place in Texas, and we’ve yet to hear an accent from ANYONE. 

Now we’re at the Texas Karate Tournament and who’s going to join Barry’s team? Chuck Norris. This is believable because when Chuck isn’t kicking ass he really does seem this nice. What’s not believable is that the people of Texas would get this riled up for a sporting event that wasn’t “wrassling” or Nascar. 

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s lose the big karate tournament when Joe Piscapo runs your dojo. 
Barry and his team have won the big karate tournament. Was there ever any doubt? Here’s some Sidekick Trivia to part with:
  1.   Chuck Norris did this as a favor to his brother, who is the director. Chuck is officially the nicest person in America. 
  2.  Chuck’s son, Eric Norris, plays one of the bikers in the restaurant scene and is listed as Biker #4 in the credits. 
  3.   The writers of the film had no problem including the racial slur “chink” no less than three times in the first scene with Mr. Lee. 
  4.     It is unknown whether Jonathan Brandis really had to learn any karate for this movie.   
  5.  Jonathan Brandis did not have asthma in real life. 
  6.  Beau Bridges doesn’t like to talk about his time on Sidekicks.

 

 
 

1313: Cougar Cult (2012)

Guh…

So, this is what I watched….

Maybe you’re a creative person that’s been discouraged by hearing the word “No” from corporate types who don’t want to invest in your dream. Maybe you’ve worked and honed your craft that you’re just waiting for its moment to shine and take off. Maybe you’re J.K. Rowling.

However, if you’re David deCocteau, you bypass the industry and those stuffy closed minded executives and you make your dreams happen.  Even if those dreams involve shirtless men being terrorized by older women in lingerie. So, if you’re ever in doubt that you’ll never be good enough or people just don’t understand you, please be aware that sometimes those fears are justified and maybe its a good idea to not commit your ideas to tape until you’ve at least done a second draft.

Your first question might be, “Hey, is this porn?” The answer is a reluctant no. Yes, it flirts with the genre, but there’s no actual pornographic activity.

Your next question might be, “What if I don’t enjoy things like watching older women hit on guys or over the top objectification of guys in their underwear?” The answer is, even if you did, I’d still recommend you stay far away from this thing. Frankly, anyone who’s within a arms reach of sharp instruments should probably stay away from it.

For those of you hoping for a movie about actual literal cougars, (as in big cats in the wild) well, you’re really out of luck.But as a consolation prize, here’s some cute cougar kittens who have done no crime in this world other than just being gosh darned adorable.

Now if this movie had just been about someone who was raised by a pack of wild kittens, not only would I have been onboard, but I’m sure it would have won every award ever. Because, kittens.

Moving on…

Here’s what you need to know. And when I say “need” I mean, “here’s what a lazy cliche ridden plot looks like”…

Three college guys – they’re hunky, so they look good in underwear, but they wear glasses so you know they’re smart – they go to a “job interview” for summer jobs.

And three “cougars” as in, well, you know.

There’s lots of bad sexual innuendos, bad sound, bad editing, bad life choices, bad everything.

Does this house look familiar to you? Are you looking at that hideous tree sculpture with the high heels in the background thinking, “Wait, either I’ve seen that before somewhere or I saw that thing in a feverish dream where I took too much Ambien then slept under too many blankets.”

You’re right. We have seen this somewhere. Anyone remember A Talking Cat?!?!?!

I’d like to think that these two movies now exist in the same universe. The Talking Cat murdered the inhabitants, then ran away across state lines, then a stupider movie moved in.

“Look, lets just do the scene and read the lines like we’re actual actors. And then we’ll be in a movie.”

 Surprise, you guys…

Its not an actual job these tipping the scale gay men got hired for. There’s just three women who want to kill them.

…and see them in their underwear.

…and take showers.

No one’s being objectified at all. There is a very clear and indepth character study here and if you can’t see it…

Sigh. I’ve got nothing.

Wait, what’s happening here?

The hell?!?!?

Its the most frighteningly bad case of animation in film since…

…a visionary director just put moving black animation over a cats mouth and willed him to talk.

But in a surprise twist that everyone sees coming, these three now “literal” cougars eat young men and stay kind of sort of young forever.

So maybe a very loose sequel to A Talking Cat?!?!?! which by far, a superior film in every respect.

Do you really care how it ends? The director didn’t, so I’m assuming there was a scene where they all realized that everything is awful and they just left the set with a note. Because that’s what I did.

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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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LAST ACTION HERO (1993)

For years, I have used this title as a punching bag for bad movies that nearly bankrupted studios. But I’ve never seen it.

UNTIL NOW.

Lets take the time machine back to 1993, which was one of those blockbuster years for movies. We got Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tombstone, etc. It was a good time to be a movie going kid. And then there was Last Action Hero, which Schwarzenegger got $15 million to make.

If you haven’t seen this movie, its about an impressionable boy who’s only crime is to love the movies, so much so that he skips school to go, only to be pulled into a level of ultraviolence parading as fun as Schwarzenegger mugs for the camera. He learns a very valuable lesson in that violence always gets you what you want. #murica

I do not doubt the talents of the cast and crew that were hired to make this. As is the usual case with these movies,  I know that hundreds of hours of talented people’s lives went into this and they can’t be at fault. I did pinpoint where this movie goes wrong.

(Yes I know this movie is a parody of action movies – in case you were starting to draft a comment about it)

Here’s the thing that puts a damper on the whole production.

This face:

They put this face near children, folks. A studio put money behind it and that’s what happened.

Our story involves a kid skipping school, going to the movies and getting a golden ticket which allows the creation of worse movie making to enter an already bad movie. Step aside Intersteller – this movie will really scramble your head of space and time.

The star of Touched by an Angel and Lawnmower Man 1 and 2 is a seemingly wide eyed innocent kid who just really loves super violent movies. We also find out he likes to say disturbing things like “Who do I gotta kill around here to get in to see that movie?” His mother lies to cover for his truancy and during a disturbing scene where a meth head (I’m assuming) breaks in, terrorizes this kid, the police just shrug and say, “Tell your mom when she gets off her shift.”

None of this bodes well.

I’m sure this sight gag was pitched as the big joke of the movie. And here it is.

You should also know that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays two characters. One is his movie within a movie character and the other is himself. Sort of a pre-Being John Malkovich. Just without the thoughtful script and without Arnold out mugging himself in every scene.

This movie has probably one of the best lines of dialogue ever written: “What you want a bunch of guys dancing and throwing cocaine at each other? Just kick the door in!”

This child gets to sit and drive through mass explosions and have a gun discharged within inches of his face. Had more people seen this movie, I’m sure the parental outrage would have been through the roof.

Impressionable Child : “Where are you going?”
Arnold “Got to catch the red eye.”

(slow applause)

I realize that this is a parody of action films. I realize that none of it is supposed to be taken seriously. Its just a little trouble how easy this movie hands guns to minors and has them blow groups of people away.

That being said, Arnold and this kid’s negligent Mom really hit it off.

Given that this is the year 2014 and we’ve seen horrific headlines over the past few years, I don’t think I need to describe how unsettling this scene was.
Hilariously (I guess) Arnold 1 and Arnold 2 end up in the same theater together, each one trying to out act the other. Again, a great idea in the pitch room. In practice, its just two hammy guys winking at the camera.

This kid gets put in the most traumatizing circumstances and the movie merely shrugs its shoulders and barrels on into the next action sequence. And don’t tell me since its parody, the kid would be fine because once I dreamt that we had an intruder in our house because my dad didn’t patch up the walls made by the Kool Aid guy breaking through it earlier and I woke up in a cold sweat #truestory

The movie has three factors. Either Schwarzenegger is mugging….

Or this kid is explaining something in a high whiny voice…

Or firearms are being used obscenely inappropriately.

One might argue that that’s pretty much most action movies of the 80s and 90s, but I’ll tell you this. At least Die Hard didn’t ask a child to murder.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page or Twitter.

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.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page or Twitter.

DOLLS (1987)

Its another Halloween – lets find something that tries so hard to chill the inner workings of our soul and fails on every level. So we’re going to talk about the movie Dolls.

You should know this movie holds a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Whaaaaaaaat?!?!?!

Our story involves six people stranded in a creepy mansion in the middle of nowhere  (so far, our story wins originality points). There’s a little girl and her love withholding father and mother,  and two Madonna clones.

Parents, if your child isn’t getting the love and attention they need from home, they will look for it in creepy dolls. Its science.

They end up in the quaintly creepy home of an elderly couple who makes dolls and seems a wee bit too attached to them but still the best example of parenting you’re going to get in this film.

So cruel and uncaring parents have made Judy give up their teddy bear, but Judy gets something waaaaay better – this Punch doll. FACT – Punch dolls are twice as cuddly as teddy bears and kids just can’t get enough of Punch’s violent tendencies.

As you can guess, its a night of terror, with people being picked off. First to go is the Desperately Seeking Susans…

After watching these two try to steal from the elderly couple, and then get beaten up…

…and shot by a firing squad, its not a bad idea to have killer dolls as your house security system.  Lets see that pitch on Shark Tank.

Next up is the cruel mother. The dolls looked for a heart and couldn’t find one. So they attacked her post-shower and sent her out the window. Here’s where I’m really impressed with these killers. No laziness here – they actually bring the body back (cleaned up the mess) and put it back in the bedroom.

Dad runs into the same character flaw that most horror movie characters do. He’s unloving and insensitive  but incredibly bland. Espescially when it comes to the fact there’s a chance homicidal dolls are out for blood.

They’re also the spirits of others, but whatevs. Shrug it off.

As you can imagine, things get a little out of hand.

I used to work at a toy store where we had a whole wall full of Madame Alexander dolls. There is no difference between them and what I just watched.

NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL.

And to the surprise of no one, Punch turns on Judy. There’s a big fight that involves human adults fighting off tiny dolls. Its stupider than it sounds. Also, there’s a lesson…

Its a very serious lesson and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss its subtleness.

The kindly old people explain they have guests over all the time. But they put their guests through a test  to see if you respect childhood and are pure of heart – if you fail, you’re dismembered by a doll. Sort of like Willy Wonka’s less socially acceptable brother.

And we end with another group of terrible people coming to stay at the Doll house ignoring, what I’m assuming is its many negative Yelp reviews.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page. Geena Davis bland face impressions with me on Twitter

CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995)

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on how women are criminally underrepresented at the box office. Men seem to have all the fun when it comes to action hero parts, superhero parts, serial killers, etc, but every now and then, there’s a rush of sort of “girl power” movies that tend to be either hit or miss. Which means in the same year we got Clueless, we also got Cutthroat Island.

I had never seen it before. Like the rest of the Earth’s population, I had missed it, well…much like a ship in the night. but now that almost 20 years has gone by, it still gets talked about. Mostly just about killed a studio (combined efforts with Showgirls, another “girl power” film, if you will). A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that Geena Davis was married to the director at the time, that it cost hundreds of millions of dollars and only took in $11 million while in theaters. It will also tell you that no one wanted to be in it.

So, the prospect for adventure is very high indeed.

The plot is extremely complicated. Its a two hour plus extravaganza that seems to go on for at least a week. Morgan (Davis) has a stellar pirating legacy led by her father but is just waiting for the opportunity to prove her mettle, which she gets when she needs to find a place called Cutthroat Island (whoever named it was not thinking of the tourism industry or possible real estate development for families). There’s treasure, blah blah blah and also one third of a map.

I should mention that this portion of the map she does have was originally tattooed on her father’s head. He dies at the beginning so she scalps him for it and wanders around the rest of the movie carrying it around casually like its a set of keys.

I’d like to back up and just point out that the first major plot point of this film is Geena Davis scalping her father and carrying it around.  Even that would warrant a squeamish look from Quentin Tarantino.

Morgan’s foe is a bad pirate named Dawg.  Yes, you read that right. His name is Dawg and he’s played by classically trained and long respected actor Frank Langella, who also brought Skeletor to life in 1985’s live action spectacle, He-Man: Masters of the Universe. If you haven’t seen that, do yourself a favor, stop reading this and attend to that.  He’s got Map #2, which is carved on a piece of wood, proving that even he has his limits when it comes to using human skin from a loved one.

Lastly is our male romantic lead, played by Matthew Modine. I have chosen to not remember his name. His character is bland that tries really hard to have a personality. He smirks and says cutely sarcastic things, but he doesn’t bring any special skills to the table. Yet, Geena Davis will fall in love with him.

This movie cost over $100 million back in 1995, but you’d never know it. Everything in this film looks like it was done on the cheap. Except for the wigs. Those looked totally legit.

For a movie that boasts a lot of money, this is the cheapest looking treasure I’ve ever seen.

The other highlight of this movie is the ridiculously complicated missions to get simple things. For example – Geena needs to find someone who speaks Latin. So here’s the process…

Dress up like a fancy lady and go to prison.

Instead of having Matthew Modine just translate Dad’s scalp right there in prison, they break him out and cause a town riot which most likely destroys everything.

She also manages to get shot and Modine swoops in for a romantic subplot that comes in out of nowhere.

But hey, they found a Latin translator. So that’s all that matters.

Geena is leading a pirate ship to Cutthroat Island in search of treasure, which is a feel good idea for 20th century feminist America. Before we cheer too loudly, I’d like to point out that she’s a terrible leader.

She consistently leads her team into dangerous situations with no real strategy. There’s always at least one kid involved.

She makes decisions based on conversations with Matthew Modine, who she doesn’t really know all that well.

Matthew Modine’s life skills (as demonstrated by what he does and not what he says) are telling lies, kind of knowing Latin and wearing leather tank tops. Also jabbing Geena Davis with a fake needle.

He just sort of stumbles into getting caught here and there. And yet, Geena Davis’ literal right hand man.

The lesson here is that if you’re looking for adventure, just hire really incompetant people – sit back and let the drama begin. 

Dawg on the other hand has a loyal team of pirates that he treats well, listens to their ideas, unifies forces and does not carry around his father’s scalp. One might argue, he could be the hero of this movie.

Despite all that, Geena and Co. win the day, the treasure, overall life itself and sail into the horizon willing to make all the mistakes all over again.

Not the studio though – they shut down shortly after this movie was released.

However, if you still crave more Geena Davis action, you can play her as a video game…

Anybody got a Super Nintendo and $9.95 I can borrow?

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page. Geena Davis bland face impressions with me on Twitter

FRIENDS TIL THE END (1997)

I’ve dipped my fingers into the made for TV Lifetime cinematic universe and reemerged with a tale of what happens when you push Shannon Daugherty to her mental limit. The answer? A single emotional girl debating a career change (aka any College Girl USA).

Its about to get real in here, so strap in.

Once upon a time, roughly mid-90s, there was a princess of a sorority named Shannen Doherty. Born of pasty white cheekbones, raven hair and a kickin’ band where she dates one of the London twins (Jeremy I want to say) who also plays the bass (they always do).

She unknowingly has a blonde psychotic stalker who has done everything in her power to infiltrate Shannen’s life and then ruin it.  Had Shannen been paying attention, she would have remembered that talent show she competed in when she was seven and beat out that girl as well as everyone else. Since she didn’t keep tabs on it, her life is about to get amazingly complicated.

From there, Blonde Stalker (didn’t bother to remember her name) sneakily joins Shannen’s band, turns Shannen’s sorority friends against her, gets her kicked out of the band and seduces Shannen’s boyfriend.

Why is it called Friends Til the End? Because someone must die. (Spoiler alert: its the blonde crazy girl)

Shannen has a charmed life (pun intended)…

Espescially this girl. This girl who’s name I don’t remember. Not that it matters because her whole goal in this movie is to Single White Female Shannen Doherty. We’ve all been there.

Look at how much she cares. She just wants all things for all people.

Here’s the thing – and this is a Lifetime Cinematic Universe rule. Pretty white girls get stalkers. If you make a new friend and things are really going good – she’s probably planning your murder .

Its always the mousy unspectacular ones…

The one thing you should know about this movie is that Shannen Doherty sings. She sings a lot. She has a band and she wears tiny 90s dresses. Some of them have fruit. Some are made of crushed velvet. All of them took me back to a simpler time when we all thought that was okay.

I know what you’re thinking – but does she have chunky Mary Janes on?

Rest easy, gentle reader. She does.

I’ll say this…should you watch this movie, which you absolutely should (its on YouTube…for FREE), there’s some catchy songs. Like hummable, stuck in your head songs. And had this been the year 1997, I would have gotten the gumption to walk to WalMart or order the Friends Til the End Band’s (not their real name) from BMG as part of my 12 CDs for one cent offer. Sadly, its 2014 and none of those words make sense and I’m forced to move on with my life anyway. Had things been a little bit different,  Apple would have been sneakily putting the Shannen Doherty Experience (again, not the band’s real name) into our iTunes without asking and Bono would’ve been hosting Scare Tactics or doing commercials for Education Connection.

Some movies get college life and some just don’t. Maybe my college experience was unusual, but so many things that happened in this movie I had no recollection of. For example, the women in the sorority house were just genuinely NICE.

It started to feel a little bit more like home when Blonde Stalker overheard Brittany telling Shannen a secret and totally told everyone behind Brittany’s back that Brittany was super super fake and then Blondie blamed Shannen and everyone totally believed it.

Brittany totally thought she was pregnant by the way but it turns out she just can’t do math. Which is a far more dangerous rumor. Then again, I may have had a different college experience than most.

Blonde Stalker knows Rule #1 of gaining your sympathy back – when confronted with something you may or may not have done (ie spilled a friend’s confidential secret, gotten caught going through your personal stuff, killed a guy in an alley) start to act like you are in deep deep pain – either physical or emotional. Its girl catnip.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the acting styles of Shannen Doherty. Actually, she has one style. And its this –

Shannen processes new information onscreen like no one else in the business.

“Shannen, you just learned that your career won’t skyrocket due to badmouthing everyone on Charmed. You’re reaction?”

“…….”

End scene

Speaking of the 90s, you will never see anything that sums up the 90s experience than this screenshot.  Its a music video shoot for one. Jeremy London’s jacket for two…

In case you weren’t sure, Shannen Doherty is pure and blameless. She deserved none of this. See how she flourished in a nest of loving nurturement? You’d think that but then take into account she brought Blonde Stalker friend home, the friend who had no family and then rubbed her face in it.

Blonde Stalker is truly in her element behind a mic and just singing her heart out. Which makes one wonder – if she had just gotten to this point, embraced the friendship and made room for a Shannen, things would be so much different. For example we might all be downloading that one really catchy song of theirs from iTunes.

Sadly, no. Instead, we get this face…

Which I’m not going to lie. This was my face for the whole movie.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page. You can also share your Shannen Doherty impressions with me on Twitter