2 items from 2004
"Double Dare" very entertainingly takes us into the world of stuntwomen, a male-dominated world full of the same dangers faced by men but one that only now is grudgingly giving women their due. The film, winner of the Documentary Audience Award at the recent AFI Fest, makes a perfect festival entry and has potential as a theatrical release.
Director Amanda Micheli follows two stuntwomen at opposite ends of the world and their careers. Jeannie Epper is a familiar name to all industry insiders as she is the first lady of the first family of stunt people. Trained by a father who once doubled for Errol Flynn and Gary Cooper, Epper not only became a top stuntwoman but has seen her brother, sister, daughter and grandkids all excel in the profession. At 62, she sees no reason to quit even though she struggles against the aging process, weight gain and the frustration of not being able to advance to stunt coordinator or second unit director as do male colleagues.
Zoe Bell, a native of New Zealand, was the primary double for Lucy Lawless on "Xena: Warrior Princess" when that show shot in that country. Finding herself out of work once "Xena" wraps, Bell decides to go to Los Angeles to attend the 2001 World Stunt Awards. There she meets Epper, who becomes a mentor to the young woman. Teaching Bell the ropes of Hollywood stunt casting and how to create a good resume, Epper is near the telephone when Bell lands her biggest gig to date, doubling for Uma Thurman on "Kill Bill".
Interspersed with interviews with Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Lynda Carter (whom Epper doubled on "Wonder Woman") and Lawless, the film watches the women train, go to auditions, perform stunts and deal with rejection. For all their differences, these two women are cut from the same cloth. Both love the challenges; neither can imagine any other sort of life. "I don't think I could be a waitress," muses Epper. »
Friday, Feb. 20
Just as National Lampoon's Vacation begat "National Lampoon's European Vacation," so, too, has 2000's hit Road Trip paved the way for Eurotrip. And while it might have been tempting to this dismiss teen comedy as Eurotrash, it really isn't that bad, sophomorically speaking.
Although a number of the gags fall flatter than a crepe, the accent is on the charmingly juvenile as opposed to the purely puerile, with a fresh-faced cast of amiable young performers on hand to make the trek relatively painless.
Obviously DreamWorks, which is giving the picture the slot occupied this time last year by Old School (also from the Road Trip producing team), is looking to capture some of that boxoffice magic, and while Eurotrip isn't nearly as comically inspired, it should still play well with young male-skewing audiences.
Back when Road Trip hit the streets, the gross-out comedy was in full American Pie-fertilized bloom, but with the subgenre having thankfully bottomed out, the new breed likes to mix a little more naivete in with the naughty bits.
Hence the central character of Scotty, played by newcomer Scott Mechlowicz with the same sort of Jason Biggs nice-guy goofiness, a high school grad who finds himself en route to Europe to hook up with his German Internet pen pal Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) shortly after he was very publicly dumped by his girlfriend Fiona (Kristin Kreuk).
But before he gets to Berlin, Scotty and his sex-obsessed Buddy Cooper (Jacob Pitts) make pit stops in London and Paris -- where they hook up with friends Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) and her Frommer's Guide-wielding twin brother Jamie (Travis Wester) -- before moving on to Amsterdam, Bratislava, Rome and Vatican City.
Along the way they must deal with British soccer hooligans, annoying French human robots, a merciless Dutch dominatrix (Lucy Lawless) and a creepy, lascivious Italian guy on the train (Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen).
Not all of it works, but the bright cast makes it mainly agreeable, as do the supporting players, including Matt Damon in a cameo as a tattooed rocker who performs (courtesy of the band Lustra) the very funny and very catchy Scotty Doesn't Know, which takes stock of Scotty's ex-girlfriend's various infidelities.
Making his directorial debut is Jeff Schaffer, who, along with fellow scripters Alec Berg and David Mandel, were former editors of the Harvard Lampoon before graduating to Seinfeld and more recently collaborated on Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.
Their gently risque style seems better suited to the teen sex comedy than to Dr. Seuss, but the most impressive work here is done by production designer Allan Starski (Schindler's List) and visual effects supervisor Kevin Blank, who manage to create reasonable facsimiles of all the above-mentioned destinations without ever setting foot off of the production's Prague home base.
DreamWorks Pictures presentsa Montecito Picture Co. productionA Berg/Mandel/Schaffer film
Director: Jeff Schaffer
Screenwriters: Alec Berg & David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Executive producers: Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollick, Joe Medjuck
Director of photography: David Eggby
Production designer: Allan Starski
Editor: Roger Bondelli
Costume designer: Julia Caston
Music: James L. Venable
Scotty Thomas: Scott Mechlowicz
Jenny: Michelle Trachtenberg
Cooper Harris: Jacob Pitts
Jamie: Travis Wester
Mieke: Jessica Boehrs
Madame Vandersexxx: Lucy Lawless
Mad Maynard: Vinnie Jones
Creepy Italian Guy: Fred Armisen
Donny: Matt Damon
Fiona: Kristin Kreuk
Running time -- 92 minutes
MPAA rating: R »
2 items from 2004
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