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…




 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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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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CYBORG 2 (1993)

I had heard of Cyborg, the quiet underappreciated performance of Jean Claude Van Damme. I had NOT heard of Cyborg 2, which is beyond me given that Angelina Jolie stars in it. Why doesn’t she talk about it?

Oh, there’s a reason. A big stinky messy reason why….

The good news about Cyborg 2 is that you can watch it without having seen Cyborg. That’s right – the rare sequel that shrugs when you ask about the plot or the Cyborg canon. It doesn’t matter. Cue it up…

JCVD doesn’t mind at all

Since I can’t give a simple explanation of the plot, I’ll let Wikipedia do the work for me….

“In the year 2074, the cybernetics market is dominated by two rival companies: USA’s Pinwheel Robotics and Japan’s Kobayashi Electronics. Cyborgs are commonplace, used for anything from soldiers to prostitutes.
Casella Reese is a prototype cyborg developed for corporate espionage and assassination. She is filled with a liquid explosive called Glass Shadow. Pinwheel plans to eliminate the entire Kobayashi board of directors by using Casella.
Casella is programmed to mimic human senses and emotions such as fear, love, pain and hate. Guided by the renegade prototype cyborg Mercy, who can communicate through any electronic device, she and her combat trainer Colton Ricks escape the Pinwheel facility so she can avoid self-destruction, something that most corporate espionage cyborgs face. They’re relentlessly pursued by Pinwheel’s hired killer, Daniel Bench.”

None of those words made any sense to me before I saw the movie. Then I saw the movie. These words still do not make sense.  So if any of you stop me on the street and ask me what Cyborg 2 was about, I’m just going to give you the plot synopsis for Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life.

I’m not saying Angelina Jolie isn’t a good actress – she is. She also has something I don’t which is a few Academy Award nominations and the ability to look good in a pair of horns. This film seemed to be her finding her way, deciding on her style.

Which was to make this face the whole time…

and this…


You can’t accuse Angelina of not trying. She clearly is.

This is the other main character of this film. The casting call read “A Jean Claude Van Damme type. If Jean Claude doesn’t show up, then someone with the similar hairline.”

Clearly, this guy was the first to show up in the casting office.

His acting style said “Women are generally very impressed with me. I think.”

Look, I know by this point, you’re asking, “What about the hot cyborg action?”


There’s not much.

Angelina Jolie trusts Hairline McTanktop to save her from self destruction. People are mildly concerned about it.

Although this explosion does happen.

And Angelina still gets to make this face….

Especially when she’s being manhandled…

Seeing this never made me wish for a big musical number to break out more.

Lets talk about the best part of this movie.

You’d think it was the endless board meetings this movie schedules us in for, but you’d be wrong. Although, in the future, things actually get done during meetings.

You might also think it was one of the times (there wasn’t many) when Angelina did spring into action and lightly graze a guy in the upper chest. The sound effect it made was way worse.

You might also think it was one of the many times this movie liberally borrowed from The Terminator, but you would be wrong.

Here is the best thing about this movie….

Jack Palance doing his best to out Jack Palance himself. Which he succeeds gloriously.

This screenshot of Jack Palance standing next to the Mona Lisa makes me want to frame it, then hang it up next to the actual Mona Lisa. That’s how much of a treasure he and his performance in Cyborg 2 is.

Once you introduce Jack Palance in a scene, every scene that doesn’t feature him, makes you miss him.

You know how I know that the future is in good hands? Because Jack Palance is handling it.

Because of him, Angelina takes a moment, and breaks out of pretty face and gives it her all.

Meanwhile, Rogaine McManCleavage tries to save the world. He’s kind of successful.

Not successful enough though…

Try all you want, Malcolm McDowell, you’re no match for this face…

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For Your Consideration – KILLER MOUNTAIN (2010)

I’ve learned this was originally released as a SyFy original movie.  It should also be noted that the only two things that the monster in the movie and the monster in the poster have in common are they both have mouths and they both live on mountains.
Quick synopsis – a scientist/mountain climber/overall bland human being named Ward is hired by a seemingly benevolent financier to go on a expedition to find another team that got lost on a expedition (already this movie is like the packaging on a Land o’ Lakes tub of butter). Naturally, there’s some horror to be uncovered, which isn’t just limited to the fact that Ward’s ex wife is out there somewhere (BAM! Thank you, I’ll be here all week).
It should also be noted that this movie has the sparsest Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen.
Let’s begin, shall we?
We meet our hero doing some rock climbing/interpretive dance moves. He’s found immediately by this financier…
Apparently if you have money you can find where people spend their weekends.
This is Ward’s 12 year old son.  Get a good look at him now because he looks nothing like Dad and he will never be seen again.
“You should just send my ex wife.”
“Oh did I not mention that we lost her? So naturally, we came to you to reopen old wounds and pad out the film with a love subplot.”
This is her. For a moment, I thought it was a 12 year old boy.

Lets meet Ward’s crew of misfit toys, shall we?

He has earbuds in. I’m guessing he’s the reckless rebel of the group.
She has a computer, so naturally she’s the smart one.
This guy is the standard issue asshole.
Want some backstory? You’re going to have to read it about it yourself.
Wait a second…are these two going to fall in love? Movie, you are impish….
I realize special effects are expensive. That’s no excuse to have 12 year old Billy do them for you.
The helicopter is piloted by this guy who looks so familiar and I can’t place him. Is it the guy from Lost?
“Hey, wait a minute? Medical supplies? What’s that about?”
This guy is also on the team. He’s concerned.
Thanks for the clarification, movie.
“Guys, I’m just going to throw these valuable drugs that battle altitude sickness and possible death  in my bag. Its next to the Clif bars if you get hungry.”
“Dude, I’m going to give you important information about this area, but I dare you not to get distracted by the hat.”
I like how this guy is just willing to touch anything.  Even if its red and dripping.
Also, I enjoy how there was a dead body on top of a tent which was eye level. AND NO ONE NOTICED until someone put there hand in some blood.
This is apparently how you do mountain climbing.
Ex wife Kate is just chillin’
The first real golden moment in this movie when she sees the rescue helicopter and she starts waving her hands and yelling, “No! Don’t come here!’
Maybe you are stranded on a mountain with a large scaley monster, but if it were me, I’d be jumping for joy at the sight of a helicopter. To each his own, apparently.
Seriously, why be left alone with that? I’m guessing she fears that no one will understand  their love.
Um…Benicio Del Toro?
Michael Pena?
The guy from Breaking Bad?
The monster can wait, I need to know who this guy is before he gets written out of the movie!
Meanwhile, back on Fail Mountain…
Some helicopter wreckage is about to do some damage…
And we see a pensive Financier…
Until the Bhutan army shows up.
“Wait! You can’t just go through my stuff!”
“Welcome to Bhutan…” (so far, best line in the movie.)
I have no idea what this is. I ran the movie back about three times and can’t figure it out. I’d like to figure its important, but we’ll see.
But she’s going to touch it.
Thankfully, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea to wander off and start touching things.
Okay, last chance – Adam Carolla?
Ex wife Kate goes in to a precariously hanging helicopter and stares at him. Probably figuring out where she’s seen him.
Army’s doing more searching in the homefront.
“Don’t mind me…just signing out of Facebook. Clearly not doing any to inform you or the audience of what we’ve been doing here the whole time.”
Just noting where the director got artsy.
“Should we take the phone with us? In case we need to call for help?”
 “Just leave it!”
In the five minutes that Kate has been stuck in this helicopter,  she’s been joined by an entire monster family reunion.  Just like when you offer free food in a office.
I don’t think the special effects team was overly sure of what size these monsters are.
“So it turns out, I brought you all out here to look for Shangri La. I would have mentioned it earlier, but we were all busy with other stuff.”
At this point, they leave their camp because some rumbling and shaking happens. So naturally, go outside and be in the center of it….
Or just wait for death to come upon you.
I just like this look on Ward’s face. It says either a) I just figured out why they call it Killer Mountain or b) people might actually see me in this movie.
To look at things, you only need your eyes and a flashlight. You can put your teeth away.

And before we could really know her, the Only Girl in the expedition says goodbye.

Meanwhile at headquarters, the Financier hides behind boxes that are too short for him and many windows.

“Yes! If I take pills then I won’t know I’m in this movie!”

This guy has had to answer a lot of questions under duress today.

So much duress.

Really doesn’t look that threatening.

If I’ve learned anything important in this movie its that when you’re out hiking, just DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING.

This guy is a more tactile learner of this lesson.

Nope.  Put it back.


For some reason, the director thought it’d be a good idea for the actors to shine lights directly into the viewers eyes. Perhaps to distract them from the boredom happening on screen.

Their friend has fallen ill. So naturally….

“Accept your fate, Steve!”

The woolen hat industry is really going to miss Steve.

“Hey, lets just blow the whole mountain up!” #AMERICA


Since the Financier is the one with the money, Ward and Kate go back to rescue him, only to find that negotians with the Bhutan army have not gone as well as one would think.

Just a lot of roughhousing, if anything.

“Look, we just want to know where Shangri La is…”

Seems reasonable.

Hey, if the Bhutan army doesn’t come to the Killer Mountain, the Killer Mountain comes to the Bhutan army.

With no thoughts of processing the horrors that they’ve seen today, Ward and Kate venture off hand in hand to contemplate a future in Colorado.
Someone will be by to clean this up, right?

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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For Your Consideration: LADY DANGER!

This week’s post, I’ve given the reigns over to my good friend over at First World Failure, who’s shaking up the format a bit and giving us a compilation of movies meant to inspire us to safety…
Summer’s almost over gang, and it’s time to think about “back to school.” For ladies, whether you’re in high school or college, this means a number of things: Deciding which ankle length skirt is your go to first day of school skirt. Buying all the school supplies so you can highlight your notes in three different colors. Trying not to get raped/murdered. Wait…what!?!  
It’s true. The world is a dangerous place, and there was nothing like made for TV movies from the 90s to make us aware of it. High school and college are dangerous places (unless you’re homeschooled), and we’ve put together a wonderful collection of cautionary tales to keep you safe from the prom to the frat party and everywhere in between.  
1.       A Friend to Die Foraka Death of a Cheerleader (1994) – We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re not the prettiest girl in school. Maybe your family doesn’t buy you a new car to drive. Maybe you become obsessed with a popular girl and then try to fly too close to the sun with your wax wings. All Kellie Martin wanted to be was to be one of the popular girls and Tori Spelling just won’t let her. Maybe if Tori was raised to have better manners she wouldn’t be getting the business end of a butcher knife. I think that’s a lesson we can all get behind – don’t be a megabitch who throws around the insult “freak” like it was going out of fashion.  
      Fun Fact: The highest rated TV movie of 1994.
          Co-ed Call Girl aka Her Deadly Secret (1996) – College is expensive. From meal plans to off campus apartments near the beach, the college experience isn’t something we can buy with savings bonds gifted from Grandma anymore. The first step to enjoying this movie is buying that Tori is poor. The second step is buying that Tori is a “bookish” college student. If anything, she’s “magazine-ish”. Tori just wants a little spending money as a college student, and thanks to a practical joke we find her at a Malibu-based escort service.   
      Casting Gold: Keep your eyes peeled for Barry Watson of 7th Heaven fame and Jeri Ryan of Star Trek: Voyager.  

  No One Would Tell (1996) – This is a great movie that shows what happens when a woman Just. Won’t. Listen. Fred Savage attempts to distance himself from Kevin Arnold and toward “serious actor” by playing an abusive boyfriend. It’s not too much of a leap for the audience, because Fred is the nicest kind of abuser. You know, the kind who makes you want to look the other way while he drags Candace Cameron into the locker room to change into some modest track pants. The title doesn’t lie – literally nobody has a problem with Fred’s anger problems. No one, that is, except for Sally Jessie Raphael who plays a judge and sets everyone straight in the end.

Fun Fact: SJR was on fire for acting in 1996, appearing in episodes of Touched by an Angel and Diagnosis Murder. 

4.       She Cried No (1996) – Why Mark-Paul Gosselaar, WHY!?! In an attempt to distance himself from his Saved By The Bell persona who was merely “mischievous”, MPG takes a role as a frat boy rapist (because thanks to Fred Savage, “murderer” was taken). Is there anything that Candace Cameron couldn’t do in 1996? She can’t get MPG convicted in court, but she’ able to put him in his place in math class AND by defaming him on television.  
        I like how this TV movie expands her role of “rape victim” by giving her characteristics such as “good at math” and “amateur detective.”  Amateur detective? YES. She tracks down video footage of MPG being a douchy date rapist and broadcasts it on television. AKA: This movie was also called “Freshman Fall”.
       Fun Fact: Kathleen Rowell, writer of She Cried No, also penned the teen drama favorite “The Outsiders”. 
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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!



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.


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”…


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?