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BrandtSponseller

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558 reviews in total 
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King Kong (1976)
5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Like Spielberg leaving milk out for two days in the Sahara, 22 October 2006
3/10

It's always fun to start a review by getting everyone p'ed off so they can get right to their "not helpful" vote and quickly move on, so here it is--if you are a big Steven Spielberg fan, there's a good chance you'll find this John Guillermin-directed version of King Kong entertaining, because all of the flaws typical of Spielberg are present here. In fact, as this Kong progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to believe that this wasn't really directed by Spielberg. You see, I'm not the biggest Spielberg fan. I don't exactly hate his work--heck, he's even produced a decent number of 10s in my book, but more often than not, I find Spielberg annoying. He has good, interesting core ideas--and I'm thinking here of the obvious stylistic hand he has in his film's premises and stories--but he usually ruins them with ham-handed direction. It's common during a Spielberg film that the longer it goes on, the more I can't wait for it to end. That's exactly how I felt with King Kong.

Actually, I was prepared to give this version about a 6 for maybe the first hour or so. As others have noted, the story follows the far superior 1933 King Kong very closely, with some changes to make it more socially relevant and ironic for the mid 1970s. Those aren't bad, and in some cases, they're very good. The mystery of Skull Island, King Kong's native land, is maybe handled even better here than in the original. The "paranormal" fog was a great idea (the "normal" explanations for it a bit more loopy). The Hawaiian location certainly looked impressive. The mystery of the soon-to-be-screaming hot babe--in this case portrayed by Jessica Lange, in her debut as the ridiculously named "Dwan"--was an improvement over the original, too, as in the original, it seemed like maybe not much thought was put into the premise behind getting Fay Wray's character on the ship (even though Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack did marvelous things with the premise later, unlike Guillermin's feat of losing all his potential here).

But the problems begin taking over by the time Kong appears. Kong looks very fake. It's obvious that it's a guy in a monkey suit, aided by an animatronic mask and a giant robot arm and hand. Of course, Ray Harryhausen's stop motion animation in the original is obviously fake, too, but there, Harryhausen's work has a fantastical charm, and more importantly, it never breaks the flow of the film. In this version, it's difficult to watch without thinking about how each Kong shot was done. The film has a very uneven look. Studio shots poorly match the atmosphere of location shots. Rear projection techniques are blatant. Sometimes the foreground action isn't positioned very well relative to the rear projection. The big mechanical hand just looks like a big mechanical hand, and Guillermin milks it until big stinky chunks pour out instead.

Still, that might not have to kill the film. If you know me, you know I don't require realism at all. And I can use my imagination to fill in the blanks and rough edges. But at the same time that the look of the film is going to hell and the seams are beginning to show, two other problems begin appearing. One, what seemed like a slightly cheesy and clunky but still somewhat charming script goes from a semi-polished draft to pages that must have been transcribed straight from barroom napkins to the shooting script. Increasingly, dramatic developments make no sense and the dialogue keeps getting more ridiculous. That never ends. It just keeps getting more problematic until the end of the film. In conjunction with this, the performances begin to go off the rails. Guillermin suddenly has everyone begin overacting. That never ends either.

Just like the seams begin to show on effects shots, the seams begin falling apart more generally on a directorial level. Scenes that have little logical connection to the story are obviously inserted just for "dramatic impact"--things like odd reaction shots, odd behavior, and so on. Guillermin has everyone overact for these, of course, and he seems to have printed rough takes. Adding insult to injury, these are then edited so that they begin too soon and end too late. For scenes that should have had dramatic impact, such as Fred Wilson's (Charles Grodin) final encounter with Kong, we again get stinky chunks of milk, with too many badly edited/timed reaction shots of Grodin, so that most of the audience will be wondering why he wouldn't just get up and run away, given the 3 or 4 minutes that he seems to have.

Far too much of the film is written in one of the more well-defined senses of "contrived"--people end up where they do just so the script can continue. There's little reason to their behavior beyond that. For example, Dwan ends up endangering herself just because that scene needs to be there to create a little tension. Kong finds people in New York City as if they had a huge flashing neon sign advertising their location, just because Kong needs to find them so they can all get to the next scene. Again, these missteps never end until the film does.

Other than those odd folks who think that Spielberg is a consistent genius, it's difficult for me to actually recommend this King Kong to anyone except maybe for huge fans of these actors. Lange is certainly attractive in the film in her various outfits designed to be revealing in very specific ways, but even that is robbed of some of its libidinal value by the "obvious contrivance" factor. Whether you're a big fan of King Kong films or just casually interested, this version is the last place to head for a Kong fix.

Marebito (2004)
12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Voyeuristic Resonant Onion Inferno, 8 September 2006
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On one level, which isn't revealed until nearly the end, you can interpret Marebito as a relatively simple film about a man, Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto), who has had a psychotic break and commits an outrageous, though relatively contained, series of crimes. Just that story, if it were told transparently, would be enough to hold your interest--as it is so twisted and disturbing.

But director Takashi Shimizu, best known for his Juon/Grudge series, typically doesn't want to just relay a simple story. In Marebito, there are deep layers of allusion, metaphor and partially symbolic/partially literal content. In addition to the psychotic madman stuff, at various times the film has elements of, or can be read as, a meditation on obsession, technological (especially video) fetishism, or voyeurism; a skeptical exploration of the attraction of horror and horror as entertainment (the protagonist can't quite grasp the attraction, but sees it in others, and wants to understand and experience it); a Dantean descent into Hell; a ghost story; a vampire story (both literal and psychological); and even a kind of love story with an extremely deviant eroticism. I'm probably forgetting to mention some possibilities, and I probably overlooked others, but that gives you an idea of the complexity of Marebito.

Reading the above, it might sound like the film should be a mess. It would be difficult for most writers and directors to fuse so many different elements together into a cohesive whole. But Shimizu and screenwriter Chiaki Konaka, who also wrote the novel that Marebito is based on, achieve a remarkably natural, ever-shifting flow. The way a viewer contextualizes Marebito will likely continually change all the way to the end of the film, but the shifts are all as slight and smooth, and have all of the mind-bending illusory qualities as well as the interlocking aspects of the typical kinds of M.C. Escher prints.

Shimizu is able to very quickly instantiate a palpable, atmospheric creepiness. There's a very disturbing, somewhat graphic death early in the film, which Masuoka quickly responds to obsessively, and at the same time, we explore voyeurism in other ways, one that's met with the appearance of an eerie, ghostly figure in a neighboring apartment building. The Dantean descent happens not long after, and Marebito takes a dark, fantastical turn. By that time, I was completely engrossed in the film. Shimizu doesn't remain in fantasy territory too long, but the film grows increasingly disturbing--from the images, not so much because of gore, although there is plenty of blood in Marebito, but moreso because of the context and the accompanying, very twisted eroticism. What seems to be really going on will ruffle more than a few ethical feathers of many viewers, and that material will not resolve in a manner they'd expect. At the same time, Shimizu doesn't ever completely abandon the more fantastical material, and to the end, he leaves the film fairly open to a number of alternate interpretations.

Not only for fans of Japanese horror films, Marebito is a "must see" film for anyone who can stomach the disturbing and who is not easily offended. It will reward repeated viewings and contemplation, as you can conceptually peel it like a resonant onion that has no distinct center. This may be Shimizu's best film yet, and I loved a couple of the Ju-On films. Now I just need to track down an English translation of the novel.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
An okay time-passer for "Golden Age" film fanatics, 6 September 2006
4/10

Well, first off, if you're checking out Revolt of the Zombies as some very early Night of the Living Dead (1968)-type film, forget it. This is about "zombies" in a more psychological sense, where that term merely denotes someone who is not in control of their will, but who must instead follow the will of another. The "zombies" here, as little as they are in the film, are largely metaphors for subservience to the state or authority in general, as in wartime. It is quite a stretch to call this a horror film.

The film is set during World War I. A "French Cambodian" contingent had heard strange stories about zombification--supposedly Angkor Wat was built by utilizing zombies--and there are tales of zombie armies easily overcoming foes. Armand Louque (Dean Jagger) brings back a priest who supposedly knows the secret of zombification, but he won't talk. So Louque and an international military contingent head to Angkor Wat on an archaeological expedition designed to discover the secret of zombification and destroy the information before zombies have a chance to "wipe out the white race".

One of the odd things about Revolt of the Zombies is that it seems like maybe writer/director Victor Halperin decided to change his game plan while shooting the script. The film begins as if it will explore the zombie/military metaphor, and maybe even have adventure elements, but after about 15 minutes, it changes gears and becomes more of a love triangle story.

Halperin does stick with a subtext about will and power (and a Nietzschean "will to power"). The film is interesting on that level, but the script and the editing are very choppy. This is yet another older film for which I wouldn't be surprised if there is missing footage, especially since some scenes even fade or cut while a character is uttering dialogue.

Amidst the contrived romance story, Halperin tries to keep referring to the zombie thread, but little of the zombie material makes much sense. Louque discovers the secret of zombification, but it doesn't mean much to the viewer. The mechanics of the zombie material are vague and confusing—Halperin even resorts to using superimposed footage of Bela Lugosi's googly-eyes from his 1932 film, White Zombie, but never explains what it has to do with anything. There are big gaps in the plot, including the love story. Promising, interesting characters from early reels disappear for long periods of time. One potential villain is disposed of unceremoniously before he gets to do much.

If you're a big fan of old, creaky B movies, Revolt of the Zombies may be worth watching at least once--the acting isn't all that bad, and if you've got a good imagination, you can piece together an interesting story in your mind to fill in all of the gaps. But this is the second time I've seen the film, with the first only being about five years ago, and I could barely recall anything about it--so it's not exactly memorable.

8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Chief Kirok Warps the Injuns, 5 September 2006
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Paradise Syndrome begins in a surprising way--instead of space or some obviously alien environment, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves in a lush forest reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. It's a remarkably Earth-like planet "half a galaxy away". The planet is sparsely populated by what appear to be American Indians living in a traditional way. But there are bigger problems--a large, Moon-sized asteroid is headed the planet's way, and if the Enterprise crew doesn't quickly get back to the ship and warp to the asteroid's vicinity to knock it off course, there's a good chance it will completely destroy the "Shangri-La". Of course things can't be even that easy. Kirk goes missing in short order, and Spock and McCoy are left with an even bigger dilemma.

Kirk accidentally ended up inside a large, obviously alien obelisk near the Indian encampment. Spock and McCoy decide to head back to the ship before they can find him to take care of the local Armageddon problem. Meanwhile, Kirk gets zapped and loses his memory while fiddling with the mysterious controls inside the obelisk (I guess he set the controls for the heart of amnesia).

Which finally brings us to the home territory for the episode--Kirk adapting to life in the Indian community as they mistake him for a God, and he tries to remember just who he is. There's a slight Return of the Jedi quality to this. The set-up provides a lot of amusing material, although no Ewoks, as we get to see Kirk running around in various Native American getups, and at one later point, even bellowing out his possible Godhood in a last-ditch attempt to not make a complete ass out of himself. Yes, it's ironic, and it's one of the highlights.

Of course, there's a love interest for Kirk, or "Kirok", as he comes to be known in his deified form, and also a jealous party (an "Indian" who looks oddly like Gene Simmons) so that Shatner gets to do a few of his patented moves in a fight sequence, like his chaotic flying sidekick. The corniness and uniqueness (for "Star Trek", at least) factor arrives strongly with some idyllic, maybe even syrupy, romance film moments, and Kirk's love interest becomes probably his most serious yet. Another campy highlight related to this arrives near the end, when imminent doom is at hand, but Kirk just can't stop staring at his loved one in order to try to prevent everyone's deaths.

The few moments aboard the Enterprise are far from the most exciting and suspenseful material in the series, but we do get some classic Spock/McCoy bickering where they both turn out to be right for once, and in an even more unusual moment, Scotty's Chicken-Littlish cries about the engines prove to be on target for once. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to note that the Enterprise apparently rides through space in reverse for two months just before the climax.

This episode has plenty of corniness, as I mention above, and that's usually enough to push "Star Trek" up a notch for me so it gets a higher score. That's one of the things I love about the show, as I keep mentioning in other reviews. But something about The Paradise Syndrome just doesn't flow right, and it's not just the fact that in spite of "Star Trek's" putative policy of promoting multiethnicity, there's not a Native American actor in sight. The problem is rather that The Paradise Syndrome plays as if most involved parties' minds were elsewhere, from the writers to the director to the cast. This is one of the lesser episodes, but even a lesser episode of "Star Trek" is still fun and entertaining.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not a bad film, but still the weakest of the series, 4 September 2006
6/10

In the context of the Death Wish Series, Death Wish V: The Face of Death is definitely the weakest entry. On its own, this isn't a bad action-thriller, especially if you're a Charles Bronson fan. But it doesn't have the entertainingly squalid gang caricatures or brutality of the first two films, it doesn't have the war-like scale of the third and fourth films, and it doesn't have the tongue in cheek qualities of the third or the playful meta-level irony of the fourth. Bronson also doesn't have the same intensity or charisma here, particularly in the earlier sections of the film, although the final reels are satisfying enough.

This time around, Bronson and crew went for a fairly straightforward action-thriller film in a typical early 1990s style. The basic Death Wish plot elements are still there (see my review of Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987) for a summary), but with respect to those elements, they're a bit bare bones this time. To make things a bit different, Death Wish V is more of a mob film. The threat comes from Bronson's new significant others' ex-husband. Bronson's beau is a famous fashion designer, and her ex worked himself into her businesses to use them as a money-laundering front.

For most viewers, Death Wish V probably unfolds a bit too predictably. You know how Death Wish films tend to go, and you know how action-thrillers and mob films tend to go. There aren't many surprises on any end. Given how straightforward the film is, it may have been a mistake to not give Bronson a larger number of opponents to battle. But the army of thugs thing had been done a couple times previously, and it was probably felt that they had to do something different. When different amounts to pedestrian and formulaic, though, and you can't think of a novel angle instead, it's not a bad idea to give viewers more of the same, as contradictory as that sounds.

Still, there are one or two surprises here, the "set pieces" are all very well constructed, there are a couple pretty brutal scenes, and a few action sequences are intense.

Death Wish V should be watched with lowered expectations, but it should still be watched.

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Playing with our expectations in the cracktown, 31 August 2006
9/10

The Death Wish films strongly follow a formula that was set by the first film: Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), an easygoing architect either in New York City or Los Angeles, at some point with a female significant other and usually some kind of daughter figure, experiences violence towards his loved ones by anarchic gangs. The violence often involves rapes, severe beatings and murders. Fed up, especially since law enforcement can't take care of the problem very efficiently, he goes into a vigilante mode and starts racking up dead punks. He takes on an alternate identity and utilizes impressive armories, all while remaining suave and easygoing. Meanwhile, law enforcement tends to play under-the-table games with him, since the public tends to be sympathetic with vigilantes taking scum off the streets and the police realize that the vigilante can circumvent the system and do the job with no bureaucratic hassles.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown is no exception to using this formula. But new writer Gail Morgan Hickman and new director J. Lee Thompson use the formula in a very creative way for fans of the series--they let it ride along implicitly and then play with our expectations based on it. (By the way, Thompson was new to the Death Wish series, but he had directed Bronson six times previously, beginning with St. Ives (1976), then in The White Buffalo (1977), Caboblanco (1980), 10 to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986). They later went on to work together in Messenger of Death (1988) and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989).)

So we begin with a typical Death Wish scene--an attractive woman ambushed in a lonely parking garage by three thugs and raped, only to be interrupted by Kersey bearing high velocity leaden gifts. But it turns out to be an opening out of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) instead, as Kersey was simply dreaming. Awake, he gets on with his architectural life. We see him with a serious girlfriend who has a daughter, and we figure it spells trouble for their wellbeing. It does, but the trouble begins abruptly, in an unexpected way.

And then, after briefly flirting with the usual Death Wish route of Kersey hitting the streets and seeing what the punks look like for himself so he can mop up the gutters with them, Hickman and Thompson make a left turn, and Death Wish 4 has Kersey functioning something like a mob hit-man instead. He has a mysterious benefactor feeding him with information on crime bigwigs instead of piddly gang members, and in an echo of Death Wish 3, he effectively enters a guerrilla war with them, only this time Kersey has no help; he's a one-man army. Thompson continues to play with our expectations in many ways, including a fairly shocking occurrence near the end of the film (after a very fun scene in a roller disco).

In addition to the clever meta-level stuff, the set-up of the film results in it basically being a series of action vigilante/hit-man set pieces. There are still a number of stories threaded throughout to provide unity, but the set pieces have all of the creativity, uniqueness and thrill of going through the various levels of a great contemporary video game. It wouldn't be surprising if Death Wish 4 were one of the inspirations for a modern game or two (even though the film isn't exactly kind to video games--again, see the roller disco scene).

On the forest level, Death Wish 4 certainly isn't unpredictable, although on the trees level it very often is. But that's not needed in a Death Wish film, anyway. The basic requirement is for Bronson to be able to kick butt in entertaining and suspenseful ways, and Thompson gives you as much or more bang for your buck on that end as any other film in the series.

13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Captain Kirk falls in love . . ., 28 August 2006
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

. . . yet again. He's always falling in love, isn't he? So that doesn't make this episode very special.

What makes it special, though, is the excellent, over-the-top characterization of the Elasians, especially Kirk's (William Shatner) eventually hormonal target, Elaan (France Nuyen). That characterization, and the fantastic interaction it leads to, can be credited both to fine writing by John Meredyth Lucas and fine performances from Nuyen, Shatner, and the rest of the cast.

Elas has been at war with Troyius, a neighboring planet of the Tellun system, for a very long time. In yet another "Star Trek" reflection of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, which was going strong in 1968, Elas and Troyius now have the nuclear capabilities to "blow each other up". So the leaders of each planet came up with a solution--to wed Elaan, the Dohlman (a female royal title similar to a princess) of Elas to the governor of Troyius, thus brokering a union between the planets politically. The problem, however, is that the last thing on Elas or elsewhere that Elaan wants to do is marry the governor of Troyius. The Enterprise's mission is to escort Elaan to the wedding. This is complicated by the presence of a Troyian ambassador on board and the shadowy, then later threatening presence of a Klingon ship in the vicinity. It seems the Klingons have a vested interest in the Tellun system.

The Klingon subplot is good, and neither under nor overwritten, but as I mentioned above, this episode shines for its darkly humorous character dynamics. The Elasians were a wonderful creation, one that it would have been nice to periodically revisit in the "Star Trek" universe. They're amazingly arrogant, domineering, and single-minded, yet somewhat simple and have an odd lack of confidence, expressed sometimes as passiveness and sometimes as frustration that frequently pokes through. That's not an easy combination of qualities to play, but Nuyen does it with style and grace so that she really seems like a member of culturally bizarre alien royalty. The Elasians' disputatious nature, at least barring complete subservience to their customs, provides a lot of entertainment, including Elaan's attempt to murder someone on board and one of my favorite moments--Kirk's admonition that if Elaan doesn't behave, he's going to have to spank her. The reaction of Spock and McCoy when they surprise Elaan and Kirk at one point is priceless, too. Spock and McCoy actually have relatively little to do in this episode, but they do it well and are frequently very funny.

Nuyen is made to look particularly exotic and attractive in an unusual way, with interesting, Egyptian-themed make-up and hair, plus plenty of sexy costumes that it's easy to see Roddenberry's hand in (pun intended, of course). Without the personality, and maybe even with it, Kirk probably wouldn't have needed much assistance in falling head over heels for her. The other Elasian costumes are a hoot, too, their most outstanding features being bright orange pieces of foam that look like, well, bright orange pieces of foam.

Narcotic (1933)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
So-so film that's definitely worth watching at least once, 26 August 2006
5/10

Watching Narcotic as a film for its own sake--as an artwork or a piece of entertainment, that is--at this point in time is not entirely satisfactory. For one, it's very choppy. Scenes are missing or truncated oddly, but this is the best print known at the moment. But even if the missing footage were replaced, the film is still uneven. Director Dwain Esper and his wife, writer Hildegarde Stadie, have a bizarre sense of dramatic construction only rivaled by Ed Wood. Esper inserts odd shots for symbolism (such as poisonous snakes, skunks and such near the end), inserts odd intertitles at odd times, and so on. And a lot of the performances intermittently go off the rails. Yet as a historical and sociological oddity, Narcotic is fascinating. Any film buff worth his or her weight in Fassbinder posters should be familiar with it, as should anyone interested in sociology or cultural theory.

I'm not sure if this is the first paranoid anti-drug film, but it must be one of the earlier ones. It beat Esper's similar and more famous Reefer Madness by three years. Additionally, this is much broader in scope than that later film. It's not quite as black and white or ridiculously propagandistic, and it's supposedly based on a true story--a real equivalent to Dr. William G. Davis (played here by Harry Cording), who went on the road hawking "Tiger Fat" (a name only mentioned in intertitles here as far as I could tell), and who was a drug addict stuck in a depressing downward spiral.

The content, which focuses on explicit drug use (including scenes of drug preparation), violence--both accidental and intentional--that remains morally unrectified, serious relationship problems, drug-induced and illicit sexual behavior, and a fantastic, nihilistic ending, may sound like a perfect recipe for a Cheech and Chong film, but in 1933, it was all very challenging. So challenging that the film was rejected twice (once on appeal) by the New York State Film Board. Documentation about this is an interesting special feature on the Kino DVD.

I certainly do not agree with censorship, but the New York State Film Board was astute in some of its criticism of the film. Although viewers could hardly desire ending up like Dr. Davis in the end, many of the scenes are not clearly anti-drug and debauchery. Many scenes seem pro drug and debauchery instead, especially to someone with a hedonistic, libertarian bent, such as myself. They also show basic preparation and administration techniques for drugs.

Although it doesn't seem consistent with their filmographies, Esper and Stadie seem to show pretty explicitly that they're not clearly anti-drug in the comments from "Chinese" character Gee Wu (J. Stuart Blackton, Jr.). Wu presents a pro-opium view early in the film, and through the character, Esper and Stadie suggest that the problem with drugs lies more with cultural differences than in the drugs themselves, even though they seem to backpeddle a bit further into the film.

It's beneficial to keep these kinds of things in mind while watching Narcotic--they'll keep you interested and help stave off Morpheus.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solved all of the problems with the first film, 26 August 2006
9/10

Perhaps not surprisingly if you're familiar with many of my reviews, I'm going to have to go against the grain here. I think Big Momma's House 2 is a much better film than the first one. There were a number of problems--most related to trying to pull the material in too many directions at once, both in terms of genre and style--that made Big Momma's House uneven and not able to reach its potential. (See my review of that film for more information.) New director John Whitesell and returning writers Don Rhymer and Darryl Quarles have solved or surmounted all of those problems and produced a relatively unique gem in Big Momma's House 2.

The comedy is still frequently of the absurdist variety here, but it's toned down just enough, and the rest of the main characters were made just quirky enough, that the blend is exquisite. Additionally, the problems with Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) playing Big Momma to people who know Big Momma intimately have been eliminated.

Next, unlike the first film, Rhymer and Quarles didn't add crime elements as an underdeveloped afterthought here. Instead, a crime story remains the focus throughout the film. The crime story is well written and contains just enough character development to give it effective dramatic weight and drive. The Big Momma scenes function instead as a necessary satellite around the more serious story, and the film becomes more like the classic Pink Panther films, where we have an interesting crime story being investigated by a buffoonish law enforcement agent. Rhymer and Quarles are even able to work in something of a rom-com subplot (involving an errant assumption about a lover) in a similar naturally flowing way, but they keep it appropriately on the back burner.

Yet, the highlights of the film occur when Big Momma interacts with everyday people. Wisely, the focus is kept narrower in these scenes, and we get much better character development. The Fuller family is full of amusing, slightly absurdist quirks. There are a couple characters from the crime plot who it would have been nice to interact with more--Agent Kennelly (Zachary Levi), Stewart (Josh Flitter), Agent Morales (Marisol Nichols) and so on--but even they are surprisingly well developed for the amount of screen time they receive.

This is also a somewhat sweeter story given the complex, continually developing relationship between Big Momma and the Fuller family. But that doesn't mean it's not outrageously funny, too. I laughed out loud far more consistently here than I did during Big Momma's House 1, and that's because the film is so much more consistent overall, yet Whitesell manages to retain a lot of parallelism with the first film while avoiding simply remaking the same story with different characters and a different setting.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Exploring silliness, 25 August 2006
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love silly, goofy and absurdist humor. That's one of the reasons I love "The Munsters" in general (and many other television comedies of the 1960s). Well, episode 6, "Low-Cal Munster", is even silly for a "Munsters" episode. So much that it almost goes off the rails, but not quite.

The episode is narrowly focused on a single idea--Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) is trying to lose weight. He wants to attend a reunion of his old army buddies (Herman being in the army is a very funny idea in itself), but he can't fit into his military uniform and he doesn't want to go in his civvies, so he decides to shed some pounds. That's a problem, as Herman loves to eat, he only has a week to lose weight, and this just happens to be Thanksgiving week.

There are a number of highlights in this episode: The beginning is one of the best, most extended "Munsters"-as-serious-horror scenes in the series. If someone didn't know about the show and turned it on at the beginning, they'd think they're about to watch a horror film. Herman trying to eat a scant dinner is very funny. A later scene featuring Herman surprising a family becomes close-to-the-edge silliness. And there are two great scenes featuring Paul Lynde as Dr. Dudley, the family doctor. I'm watching "The Munsters" in the airdate order (since that's all the information I have and that's the order of the episodes on DVD), but this episode seems that it was written and maybe produced prior to episode 4, Rock-a-Bye Munster, as this is where the Munsters first meet Dr. Dudley.


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