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Starship Troopers (1997)
Low-budget and low-brow
I've seen better film on teeth. I was subjected to the dreck recently while hanging without friends and while I can typically enjoy most anything if treated as camp or kitsch, that proved daunting. This movie is unbelievably lunkheaded, rife with insipid dialogue, a kindergarten worldview - does anyone out there still believe that it isn't morally bankrupt to revel in glorifying war? - and an incredibly annoying cast of the worst scenery-chewers from the ranks of Young Hollywood. And the special effects rank with 'Battlestar Gallactica."
As bad, offensive movies go, this is even worse than being subjected to the 'The Replacements' on a long-distance bus trip. At least here I had the option of slipping out for some air, thus relieving me of having to watch the final 40 minutes or so... nevertheless, when I meet my Maker, I expect to be sent to Purgatory to make up for the ~85 minutes I spent watching this... ah, maybe I'm just bitter because Denise Richards is in this movie, but ISN'T in the totally gratuitous coed shower scene.
The Replacements (2000)
Bad Beyond Belief: An artistically and morally repugnant film
Let me preface my remarks by saying I am a huge sports fan and an aficionado of the sports film genre... therein lies the problem... I can't see ANY virtue in a film that attempts to glorify the untalented scabs who were "replacement players" during the 1987 National Football League players' strike, one of the sorriest chapters in the history of a sport full of sorry chapters when it comes to employee relations.
Do we see anything about how labour unions protect the benefits of workers who suffer debilitating injuries on the job -- certainly a reality in a brutal game like football? No - instead we see the self-absorbed millionaire QB, all to make 'The Replacements' all the more endearing and lovable.
Pretty much every scene in the film betrays the director and producer's complete lack of knowledge about the sport (particularly so during the scene where the Washington Sentinels recover an onside kick - uh, you can't advance the ball after recovering it). And cheerleaders don't have unions, so the scenes of Annabelle (Brooke Langton) auditioning for replacement pom-pom girls didn't serve any interest except to laugh at people who don't conform to some Hollywood-homogenized standard of beauty.
Bear Bryant is probably spinning in his grave after seeing Gene Hackman imitate his coaching attire, although Hackman manages to come out of this with his dignity intact, no mean feat. Honestly, both people who enjoyed Rodney Dangerfield's "Ladybugs" can breathe easy, because we have new undisputed champeen for Worst Sports Film Ever.
Perhaps the best late-night offering?
This show got off to a faltering start, but now, after close to two years on the air, I daresay "Craiggers" is developing something of a loyal following. His 12:30 counterpart, Conan O'Brien, probably possesses a greater wit, but the smarmy, irreverent Kilborn has harnessed that particular undefinable quality that makes for a funny late-night talk show. Mixing David Letterman's "ironic detachment" with deliberately lowbrow gags, quirky features like "5 Questions", "Yambo" and "In the News" (a carryover from the host's tenure with 'The Daily Show'), The Late Late Show has become quite funny and certain appeals to the 18-35 demographic... you'll be chagrined when you find yourself laughing at "The Ewok Guy" and goofs like "Craig Says The Wrong Thing To The Fish and Game Warden."
Predictable yet poignant
It's a familiar tale - the underdog rising through sheer determination to overcome adversity and achieve success in sports, or in the case of Rudy, play one down for the fabled Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Modern film-goers are thought to be either too sophisticated and/or cynical to fall for such fare as "Rudy." Nevertheless, this is a film that can be enjoyed by both sporting neophyte and armchair quarterback alike (speaking from personal experience, even football fans who spend autumn Saturdays rooting for the real-life Irish to lose will tear up by the final scene), due to a slew of excellent dramatic performances. Sean Astin is superb at conveying Rudy's undying optimism, while the rest of the cast gives superb performances. Ned Beatty is excellent as Rudy's well-meaning father, who tries to temper his son's delusions, telling him, "Notre Dame is for rich kids, smart kids, great athletes. You're a Reuttiger." While the film dallies somewhat in emotional pandering, it hits harder than some of the first-stringers whose abuse Rudy willingly absorbs in practice with its core message that there is more Rudy than Joe Montana (a freshman QB on the 1975 Notre Dame team that the real-life Reuttiger "played" for) in all of us.
Night Court (1984)
The definitive '80s sitcom...
The Cosby Show and Cheers might have been the heavy hitters in NBC's vaunted Thursday night lineup in the late '80s, but Night Court provided more frequent - and longer - laughs. The charm of the series (which probably ran at least 2 seasons longer than it should have been allowed to) was that the physical comedy was cleverly presented without making any claims on being highbrow, while the actors always seemed comfortable in their admittedly type-cast roles amid farcical surroundings. I'll never forget the episodes where Dan was wired to a bomb, or when the court had to process 207 cases before midnight.
Dave's World (1993)
Straight from the TV sausage factory...
"Dave's World" didn't have much to do with its source material, the work of Pulitzer-winning columnist Dave Barry, whose columns, unlike the series, rarely contain so much sap that people have to blow their noses with a pancake. The poker-table banter between Shel, Kenny and Dave and Patrick Warburton's occasional appearances usually provided a chuckle. Generally speaking, this show strained to stay within its family-fare pretext. Maybe this had to do with the show being broadcast on CBS, which targets an older viewer demographic. Still, it suffices for killing a spare half hour.
The John Larroquette Show (1993)
A vastly underrated series...
I don't think I hardly missed an episode of 'Larroquette' during its all-too-short two-year run. Larroquette was superb as world-weary, wisecracking John Hemingway and the supporting performances were typically strong. This show had its zaniness and a serious element; perhaps it wasn't predictable enough to gain a large and steady viewership that would have ensured its survival.
More than semi-tough to bear
I loved the book, but failed to heed warnings to steer clear of the film. The script is hackneyed. Reynolds, as Billy Clyde Puckett, gives his usual smirking performance, while Kristoffersen devil-may-care mien of his character, split end 'Shake' Tiller, and Dennehy adequate captures the man-child, T.J. Lambert. However, the script does little justice to Clayburgh's character, Barbara Jane, who was the best developed and most interesting character in Jenkins' novel.