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johnston.scot

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9 reviews in total 
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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
So bad, 18 August 2003

This show was so bad it went right past "so bad it's good," and wound up as bad again. Really bad.

It's painful to watch this and consider that the people involved probably had families who loved them and thought highly of them, only to be confronted with the reality of this tragic show.

No one should be forced or permitted to watch this show, even by accident.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Success, 22 April 2003
7/10

This is not your typical sports film, which I think accounts for some of the negative reactions from viewers who expected a rah-rah, underdog-coming-from-behind-to-win tale. It's a dark and ironic story.

Essentially, the movie is a meditation on the "bitch-goddess Success." Redford plays an unlikable character: an overgrown child with no interest in any person or thing other than himself; a taciturn athlete who probably deserves to be called "inarticulate," though it's hard to say, as he clearly has no thoughts to articulate anyway. The dark irony of the film is that he *wins* ... and does so rather more because of, rather than in spite of, his failures as a human being.

As Francis Bacon wrote (400 years ago): "Young men worship the 'bitch-goddess success.' We spend most all of our life pursuing her and only a few succeed in catching her. This goddess demands exclusive worship, and thus, other life pursuits are often left, much to our regret in later life. So, too, this exclusive pursuit can leave us morally flabby."

The movie is also interesting as a reasonably-accurate depiction of the top level of ski racing as it existed in the late '60s. (Incidentally, he's not a professional -- ski racing and, more importantly, the Olympics were amateur at the time; and the event is Downhill (as in the title), not Super-G, which didn't even exist until 20 years later).

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Seconds? No Thanks., 2 April 2002
4/10

I actually found the first movie in the series to be an okay coming-of-age comedy that was mischaracterized by many viewers and reviewers as solely a gross-out piece. The first one wasn't; this one is.

While the first movie featured a set of interacting story lines that complemented each other, this one has no story line at all. What plot there is exists solely for the purpose of stringing together a few random skits. "I'll just pop over to band camp for a few minutes a do some funny business with a trumpet!"

In fairness, some of the skits are amusing. Others remind me of those awful mid-period SNL skits where you could see the actors waiting desperately for the commercial. The twist with the "band camp girl" in the first movie was funny. But somebody on the screenwriting team here doesn't understand the concept of a "joke." You've got your set up, then your punch line. Then you move on to another joke. It's really not that funny to stand around and repeat variations on the punch line (unless your sense of humor is in the "Ha ha! she said f---!" vein).

More fairness: the actors and the director here are capable. For the most part, it's a craftsmanlike piece of work, but an uninspired one.

A year of college hasn't matured any of the characters. One wonders what future sequels will be like. I suspect "American Pie 9" will wind up as something similar to the slide show Jack Nicholson presents near the end of "Carnal Knowledge."

29 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Skip to Fellini, 6 August 2001
8/10

Three separate stories:

- Skip the first one. Just do it. If you really must ogle the young Jane Fonda, get Barbarella.

- Your call on the second one. Okay, but not memorable.

The third story makes the film. It's "Fellini-esque"! Fellini's wild imagery makes narrative sense (well, sort of), when applied to the story of an addled English actor stumbling around Rome at breakneck speed. The segment also features a startlingly original image of evil (an "Anglican devil," I think that's the Terence Stamp character's phrase). Maybe it's just me, but the segment's conception of the devil is among the spookiest things I've ever seen on film; and when you get right down to it, it makes a lot more theological sense then ugly, scaly guys with tails.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Some Smiles, But No Real Laughs, 6 August 2001
4/10

This was a forgettable, mildly amusing movie with a few smiles, but no real out-and-out laughs. It heads down the by now well-trod path of "dumb gross out" humor (e.g. any Adam Sandler movie ... or the far superior "There's Something About Mary" and the like). There are a few moments that verge on comic inspiration (the characters' Neil Diamond obsession, power-lifting nuns), and a few novel bathroom-humor ideas that, unfortunately, don't really make any sense, either in the context of the movie, or real life, or any other context I can think of.

We may have gone about as far as we want to with movies about irresponsible dim-bulb social and intellectual retards (who, in this case, actually manage to be underachievers, which is an accomplishment considering their limitations). I guess the character type has been around for awhile, but I'd place the origin of its recent rise somewhere around the "Bachelor Party" movie. There, though, we understood that the characters were actually somewhat functional in their normal lives, outside the temporary context of the story line. Lately, we've got Adam Sandler and now these doofuses.

Basically, they're 25 (or so) year olds, with the emotional and intellectual capabilities of an 11-year-old. A charming notion, when Tom Hanks did it (expressly) in "Big," but really pretty stupid here.

The cast did what they could. Jack Black and Steve Zahn are capable comic actors; both are intermittently amusing, but neither can do a lot with the material. On the other hand, this was actually a pretty good role for Amanda Peet. In previous appearances, I've found her attractive, but not much of an actress. Her usual "hey, look at me, aren't I cute" manner, usually a distraction, fits the character here. Some may find it unbelievable how hostile she was to the three principal characters, but I don't know ... if I knew idiots like them in real life, I think I'd be pretty hostile too.

Oh ... and if that's Seattle, I must be a Canadian. (Actually, I don't think they ever say where they're supposed to be in the movie, other than a single reference to the State of Washington ... but that sure looked like Vancouver to me).

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Crazy Hilarious, 24 July 2001
10/10

One of the funniest movies ever. It adopts the "more-or-less sane central character(s), surrounded by a grab-bag of loons" approach, and works it perfectly. Sturges deftly takes the characters and dialogue right to that tricky line between "crazy hilarious" and "just crazy" without ever slipping over to the wrong side -- mostly by keeping things moving quickly enough that nothing every gets stale.

Not Only For Teens, 24 July 2001
7/10

Not bad. Actually pretty good.

While it's a "teenager" movie, I don't really think you need to be a teenager, or even particularly young, to appreciate it. (Teenagers who think so should consider that, with the exception of preteens, everyone *was* a teenager at some point in his or her life). The essential nature of the characters and situations are more-or-less historically universal.

The characters had just the right mix of quirkiness and believability for this type of movie. Seth Green, in particular, created a character who hilariously blended the universal (the guy who desperately wants to be *something* instead of the nonentity he fears he really is) with quirky specifics (his own brazen suburban take on "gangsta" culture). Ethan Embry was a moony drip, but a likeable one. Mary Love Hewitt was sort of blandly attractive, which is what the part called for. A good ensemble of smaller characters and cameos complete the picture (I particularly liked the "remember when you threw up on the bus" (etc.) guy).

9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
From the Incompetent School of Filmmaking, 24 July 2001
1/10

An unfunny comedy with a silly premise that moves arbitrarily from situation to situation with little or no regard for narrative sense. In short, a quintessential product of the incompetent school of filmmaking.

I won't bother with the story or character details, since they don't make much sense anyway. At points, the characters suddenly appear in some new setting and situation, with no clue where they are or how they got there. In some cases, the filmmakers apparently tried to correct this after completing the main shooting, adding some voice-over dialogue on top of exterior shots by way of exposition.

The comic and dramatic situations are hackneyed, contrived and unconvincing. The dialogue is uninteresting and unnatural. Some scenes seem to have been improvised (I mean that in a bad way). From time to time, it looks like there was no script for a scene, just "the characters argue about something, then stop."

Conspiracy (2001) (TV)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A "Must See", 24 July 2001
10/10

Can you say "banality of evil"?

This film is a powerful reminder of what that phrase means. The "feel" of the situation and the way the characters interact will be immediately recognizable -- and utterly convincing -- to anyone who has spent much time in typical business meetings and negotiations. The difference is that the "action item" that comes out of this meeting is the murder of millions.

The characters are well-drawn, complex and believable. The dialogue is pointed and genuine.

This film bears repeated viewing, and should leave the thoughtful viewer with a fresh perspective on history, morality, responsibility and human behavior generally.