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A confused little movie
26 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While not a really bad movie, 'Babysitter' has a few issues that make me wonder if anybody making it knew what a depressing film they were making. The idea of a woman having to work to support her overpriviliged brat siblings is an interesting one, but really doesn't mesh with the way this film is promoted. And the promoted version seems a lot more fun than what turns out to be a very stupid Afterschool Special mixed with an abandoned whodunit combined with a coming-of-age story that really falls flat.

What was the original point of this film? Did anybody really think that making a film aimed at teenagers in 1991 wanted to see someone from Married with Children slowly turn into Al Bundy live on the screen? Or that changing your stoner brother was the way to live life? I can understand what the movie wants to say--that you change into adulthood in ways you never thought possible--but it does so badly. The movie works when it's about the family dealing with their own issues. It fails when it tries to be Kelly Bundy's Smarter Twin Being All Career Woman.

A quick look at the Trivia section of this fine website shows that this movie once had the loaded title 'The Real World.' Was this even supposed to be a comedy? Regardless, everybody in it does a good job. But I wonder what kind of movie they would have made if they tossed the preachy blue-collar indoctrination out the window and just had fun with it. The movie, as it stands, really seems like it's talking down to you right before it goes on about the four touchdowns it made in a single game. And it's quite sad to see what could have been.
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A very touching film about love
25 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is possibly one of the most engrossing love films I have ever seen. I won't attempt to deny the detractors who say it's mostly about Genesis, but it is his/her story and it is a fascinating and engrossing one about the power of love, art, and how they are essentially one and the same. I call it a love film, but it really captures the feelings of connection and loss that Genesis dealt with. It's a fascinating look at two fascinating individuals who took life by the balls and yanked.

It made me smile, it made me laugh, and it made me feel how love can conquer death. The only complaint was that the behind-the-scenes footage was inserted to pump up the running time. But I can't complain because it shows Genesis as she truly is: fun-loving, full of mischief, and someone who is mourning for a loss that translates very well. It's a surprising powerful film, and I'm very glad I had the chance to see it.
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The Big Year (2011)
Boooooooring and long.
3 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The worst thing a movie can be is uninteresting and long. And this movie has that in spades. There isn't really any plot or reason to care. You want to be beaten over the head with how the characters you don't care about are 'suffering?' Welcome to it. You'll get that impression over and over and over again. And over.

The movie is over two hours long, and could have been forty-five minutes long without losing absolutely anything. Narrated by Black's character because the studio suddenly had doubts about people caring, it keeps going on and on about bird sightings. Couldn't someone cheat? Yes. Does this change anything about the movie? No, you still won't care. This is watching paint dry. I wish I were joking.

The only reason this was labeled 'dramedy' or 'drama/comedy' is because it wasn't as funny to anybody besides those getting paid to make it. Avoid like the plague. Don't even bother with a rental. A good movie will make you care about the characters, or relate to them, or at least draw you along with the story. There is absolutely no story here. You. Will. Be. Bored.
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Devil (2010)
Trite and a waste of time
7 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ignoring M. Night's reputation for throwing subtlety out the window, the movie still fails on many levels. The writing is pathetically awful, the plot fits perfectly with the 'what a twist' that M. Night can never escape, and the acting and direction turn this into amateur hour. In the end, you don't see a movie, you see how bad writing can be masked with production value. This movie is what happens when you take a professional crew and have them make a direct-to-video movie from the '90s: it won't distract you with obvious production flaws, but the real pain comes from what they're filming.

M. Night simply does not know how to make a movie. We can safely say that his fame from 'The Sixth Sense' comes from the audience suddenly remembering they like the Twilight Zone. He could have had a better career if 'Unbreakable' was better made, but in the end we all have 'Devil' to show exactly how much of a filmmaker M. Night isn't. This movie isn't 'Beast of Yucca Flats' bad, but it shows that M. Night's fame and talent is vastly overrated. This film might make a taut episode of a horror anthology if it was fifteen minutes long. But as a real movie, it comes off as stagey, stupid, and full of horrid plotting that shows M. Night's talent is vastly, vastly overrated.
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Funny but uneven
14 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't expect much going into this film--mostly because it was direct to video--but I was pleasantly surprised. Broken Lizard always put on a good show and this was no different. Michael Clarke Duncan is the standout of this movie, and his confused malapropisms and general insanity is the brightest point of the film.

But the script is a bit hazy, to say the least. The script needed a few more rewrites because the plot just isn't there. It's a big jumbled and changes randomly that, while it doesn't really matter at the end of the movie, it just ends up being strange for the sake of setting up the various bits. They are funny bits, but the plot holding them together (is this really a movie about some manager finally taking a stand? Really??) is worthless. A few rewrites could resolve this with no issue, and could have helped immensely. I'm not asking for a taut plot, but I am asking for one that compliments the funny bits a little more.

But the funny bits are classic Broken Lizard. You will not be disappointed at the humor in this film. You need to watch it. Right now.
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Dirty Harry (1971)
A classic
8 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
There are mountains of praise for Dirty Harry, and all of them are deserved. But one thing that gets me is the justification of freeing Scorpio for the third act that comes off as pure propaganda: would any police department really free someone in a mask who shot at them so freely? The story swerves into a bit of disbelief when Scorpio, after injuring a few police officers and is in turn injured, is suddenly let go after being shot in the leg. To add insult to injury, the whole thing is turned into a right-wing nonsensefest where Harry goes on about victim's right (a valid concern) but is shot down by the personification of a smug liberal (from Berkeley, no less!) simply to get us to the third act. Even then, it's a bit hard to take seriously since they did have something to hang Scorpio on: shooting a police officer.

This is a classic movie that deserves its fame. But the one flaw is that instead of writing a segue into the third act, they decided to go into an unrealistic rant that demonizes one half of the political spectrum for absolutely no real reason. It just seems a bit silly, but don't let this ruin the movie for you. Eastwood's always good, Siegel is at the top of his game, and maybe you can get a chuckle out of seeing their attempts to push the movie to the end by pathetic political doublethink.
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An interesting curio of America in the '90s right after the LA Riots.
20 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Having over fifteen years of space away from this film, watching it again makes me realize how utterly disconnected from reality this film is. The characters are stereotypes, the college campus is nothing like reality, and the whole affair screams 'Do the Right Thing' but without any real understanding about what that really entails. Spike Lee's film had a lot of valid points and understood the nature of racism and portrayed it brilliantly. This film just takes pleasure in reducing everybody to stereotypes, tossing in an education spiel that would make Bill Cosby roll his eyes, and basically just waste the audience's time and money.

But it does have value. The movie attempts to portray America as a land seething with anxiety and bitterness over social norms breaking and bursting. But it's a childish movie in that it wants to be revolutionary without really knowing what it's trying to do. Why does rape equal becoming a lesbian? How does being dismissed by a bunch of black men immediately follow into racism? Huh? What is going on in this movie? And we'll never know. Higher Learning is a product of the '90s. If anything, it shows how we cannot judge history while we are living it. It's a bad clone of Do The Right Thing and is ultimately pointless and meaningless. If anything, it serves as a very good warning about moralizing in cinema: you better be damn sure you make something that, even if proved wrong, proves a point. If not, you're just making Sid Davis films with better stock.
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The original title was 'Death Fart of the Baby Boomers.'
9 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Robert DeNiro IS Robert DeNiro playing Al Bundy. Seriously: right down to the brown slacks and jacket, DeNiro channels Al Bundy as he hunts down his four grown children to ask them why they didn't bother living up to high standards. In their place he finds several depressed people, several depressing situations, and a lot of acting that would be outclassed by anybody at an amateur acting troupe with far more subtlety and grace. This movie doesn't just give you the jest of the situations, it's amateurish and trite. It's a budgeted version of a student film where the professor stresses 'use the scenery to show isolation. And be overly aware of it.' A good film does things without being apparent. But this film is so overt with its themes of isolation and failure that it becomes ridiculous. It's hard to watch not only because it's depressing, slow, and odiously obvious, but because there's no real point to it. You see DeNiro becoming a parody of himself, you see Beckinsale mentally deciding to do Underworld 4, and you see a bunch of secondary characters excited to be meeting THE DeNiro and trying to be quirky so they can stand out. In short, you have a film that was made cheaply and looks it. It tries to be a slice of life and turns out to be a slice of film school. The bad slice, the slice that ends up working at a Target.

Save your time, money, and effort. If you rented it, go back to the store and tell them it won't play on your machine and get something worthwhile.
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Date Night (2010)
A definite misfire
9 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are several ingredients in this film that should work but don't. The casting is pretty good but nothing about the movie really says 'comedy' as much as 'action comedy.' I'm not splitting hairs, but it seems this movie's main problem was its marketing.

When the movie isn't being suspenseful or dramatic (the main idea of a married couple being bored with their lives is one of the few things the movie portrays well), it then falls to comedy. A couple steals a reservation and gets caught up in a pseudo-Hitchcockian plot that defies explanation. Honestly, the plot is the MacGuffin in this movie that presumably allows Tina Fey and Steve Carell to lay down the comedy. But the true tragedy is that the outtakes are funnier than the rest of the movie, showing the film's main flaw.

This isn't really a comedy. It has the insight but none of the outright humor. The plot doesn't really exist and it's insane how this movie attempts to tie together. The movie needed a few more rewrites and a decision if it was going to be an action-comedy, an action-drama about married life, or if it was going to be an outright comedy. Something failed to click here and it's easy to see that even at its fairly short running time that the movie was too long as it was. That's a sign that you're running on fumes and need something else to make the movie go.

In short? Misfire. The movie has some serious problems that should have been ironed out before it went into production. The movie doesn't know what it is at heart and neither does the audience. To see everybody having a blast at the end of the film (spliced between a baffling make out session in the front yard of a suburban New Jersey home that really makes the audience wonder if anybody directing this film had a clue) is insult upon injury.

Honestly? It may be worth a rental, but not if you're expecting to laugh. The moral has to be 'make sure you know what kind of movie you're making.' It's a drama that works at being a comedy and almost works as a fairly decent thriller. It's nothing to anybody, and it needs more work. The only thing it ends up being is a confusing mix set pieces and improv bits. Sad.
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Possibly the most hilariously stupid movie of all time
24 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'm sure Jack Warner was a good man, but why he let Ayn Rand have carte blanche over this film defies logic. Her writing--essentially a linear series of dialogue that supposedly makes sense when seen in order--is so hamfisted that it staggers belief. The only way to describe it is to imagine a badly-made parody of a popular film that a younger relative has made and spent time on that you're forced to watch, only with some real Hollywood actors. This isn't a movie as much as it's philosophy porn for dummies.

And it's hard to excuse Rand for this since she was handed an obscene amount of power to bring this to film. King Vidor, the, this falls at the feet of Rand. Many other reviewers here will go on about her philosophy but the only thing I see when I see this movie is how badly it is written. 'Romantic Realism?' Give me a break. Rand's writing is Harlequin posing as actual literature. Rod Serling has a lighter touch. Yes, Rod freaking Serling. Rand beats him by a clear country mile.

I wish there was something redeeming about this film but I fear the only thing I can come up with is a possible Rifftrax. Dramatically this is stilted so far that it's damn near horizontal. And the blame falls on the writer who had enough power to get her words onto the screen. Pity that a woman who pushed a philosophy of elites being held down by the mass ends up showing everybody in the world just how elite she isn't. With one horrifically bad movie, Rand could be shown to show how utterly silly her philosophy is: she may have been good in some respects that I'm unaware of, but as a screenwriter she ranks below Ed Wood. And Ed Wood was entertaining.
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Zombieland (2009)
Could have been more, and a bit of a letdown afterwards
24 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The problem with Zombieland is that the movie has nothing really to offer. The beginning promises a lot of gore, humor, and action that the movie never lives up to. What we have here is a coming-of-age movie that has nothing to offer except some occasional gore, a few good half-crafted ideas, and a lot of filler that's interrupted by an amusing cameo by Bill Murray. The cameo's appeal is how it comes completely out of nowhere and works, but you have to slog through a lot of exposition about the characters that is occasionally interrupted by zombies.

And that's the problem: this movie attempts to do Shaun of the Dead but replaces the characterization within that with one-dimensional Hollywood cutouts. This is the fatal flaw: we are then stuck with these characters driving through massive areas of empty space interacting with each other and the audience yawning, kicking back, and trying to stay awake towards some sort of action-packed finale. The pacing is awful in this film and the movie could be cut by half an hour and not miss anything. Also, the lead character is essentially worthless and annoying. The last thing a zombie movie needs is a nebbishy loser type who claims some experience as a zombie fighter yet wields the worst sort of weapon to fight legions of zombies with. The ironic attempt to speak to the audience is possibly one of the most annoying things I've ever seen in film and should have been cut out of the script immediately.

If you want a good zombie action movie, you won't find it here but you'll find some good gore effects and Woody Harrelson actually works on a good level here. It might make for a good intermission in a zombie marathon, but the movie won't stick with you. Outside of the Murray cameo and the gore effects, the movie is essentially forgettable and that's really a shame.
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One of the best syndicated shows ever (and that's not faint praise)!
26 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the somewhat misleading title, this show is probably one of the best shows ever made in the late '80s syndicated TV boom. The story of two cursed cousins and their late uncle's adventurer friend still holds a great impact twenty years later. The rest of the comments here will fill you into the premise, the effective gore effects, and the dynamite stories. But it must be restated: this is a show you must watch. It stands up, far beyond its spiritual cousins 'Freddy's Nightmares' and 'Tales from the Darkside/Monsters' both in cinematography, plot, budget, and action. This is what all horror shows should aspire to.

You are missing out if you don't have these on DVD. They are well worth the money.
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Not too bad, but easy to see why it's direct to DVD.
2 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Most movies about ghosts are pretty lame and without drama. While 'Haunting' could fall easily into this, it does have its moments but doesn't know what to do with them. It's a very boring film that starts off with sound-based jumpscares but then leans into its story a whole forty-eight minutes in.

The acting isn't horrible, and the movie itself could have been something interesting with a bigger budget and better editing. Instead, we get a movie that only seems half there. We get some idea on interfamily strife, but we barely know who is who and why this family with a cancer-ridden son be supporting three children who are not their own. Or if they even rent or buy their Connecticut home.

And, truth be told, some of the effects at the very end reveal the cheapness of the production. While impressive enough to destroy a house, there are some moments that are unintentionally funny and should have been edited better.

But it's worth your time to watch. Compared to its brethren, it's not a horrifically bad film, but it is lacking. And the cover art featuring a zero-gravity loogie should have been better thought out despite being a graphic image. The CGI in this movie is restrained for the most part and effective.
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The art of traveling is to get the studio to pay for your vacation and make a horrible movie out of it.
17 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Trite. Clichéd. Awful. And this ignores the film is written as some wish fulfillment fantasy. Ignoring the strangeness of the main character as some bland and psychotic looking teenager who decides to get drunk and travel anywhere--literally, anywhere--after his failed wedding (to lose his virginity, nevertheless), the audience is subjected to a pointless movie that flip-flops between numerous clichés and blatant ripoff of more superior films.

The acting is poor, the script is poor, and the film work is done completely on digital video which makes it look even cheesier than it is. There's no idea of a plot, dramatic elements, or anything to keep your interest. On top of that, the film actually ends twenty minutes before the movie stops. The jokes fall flat (especially the ending one), and it's simply a waste of time. This will be the longest hour and a half of your life, and you will not get it back.

Previous arguments about the main character being an irresponsible man-child is dead-on accurate. I suspect the movie was financed so the director and actors could have an 'adventurous' vacation and make a movie while they were at it. I hope they had a good time because the 'movie' they made is more boring than a fistful of slides narrated by your monotone aunt. No wonder it went direct-to-DVD.
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30 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This has been regarded as Sam Raimi's triumphant return to horror, but the only thing that this movie has in spades is a high degree of ripping off Raimi's previous hits and using the sound system to create cheap scares. While the movie has a lot of Raimi's classic camera work and a few good performances (ignoring Justin Long, who seems grossly miscast), the movie itself seems like it should be more but isn't. Raimi can and should do better than this, and should focus his trademark dark humor on a project that has more to offer than a combination of 'Thinner' and a standard EC Comic tale.

All and all, I wanted to go in and be impressed. I came out partially deaf and wondering where Sam Raimi had gone wrong with the film. The conclusion I came to is that the script was just not up to snuff. The boasting of Raimi's name alongside of the film makes me wonder if the movie's uneven tone and execution was a cunning way to disguise a bad film.

A real shame. Hopefully next time he'll get it right. But right now, I just feel cheated out of a ticket and a lack of faith in a good director.
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Death Race (2008)
A very interesting failure
28 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard not to compare and contrast this film with Paul Bartel's original effort, but the latter actually was a better made film. The premise of both movies--bread and circuses for a bloodthirsty populace via Authority--is a fascinating subject. With the original movie, this became a very brightly colored and violent cross-country chase. With this film, you get a NASCAR version of Gitmo where a big budget offers a very slow and boring film compared to Corman and Bartel's much-cheaper and much more fun effort.

This Death Race is boring as hell. The movie ping-pongs between three action sequences and a ton of character development so poorly written that it has to be seen to be believed. With ideas openly stolen from Rollerball, Escape from New York, and even B-fests like The Last Chase, one would think that Paul W.S. Anderson would make a film that took all of those concepts and bundled them into the ultimate action film. A fun film that would keep people involved.

Yet this does not happen. Statham tries his best with what he has, along with McShane. But they are not given much to work with. The film fails to even delight the gorehound by having approximately three gore shots throughout the film. The film fails the action fan by being so poorly edited that interest is lost during the action sequences. And sometimes the acting of Joan Allen is so awful that the extreme lack of characterization that she has makes it hard to take her character seriously. It's hard to see exactly how a movie made today's technology could manage to be so utterly boring. It is beaten by the gore and the nudity of the original that is nearly forty years old at this point.

And in the end, that's all that can be said. When your $45 million movie is outclassed by a smaller and more graphic movie that had the guts to run down children and old people, then you know you have failed. This could have been something special.

Truly tragic on how this movie utterly fails.
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She-Devil (1989)
Bad movie that negates itself in the long run
8 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a fan of Roseanne Barr (or whatever she calls herself now), but this movie was a definite misfire. While the casting is awful--Ed Begley Jr. as anybody but a nebbish is simply wrong and Meryl Streep makes you wonder why she won anything related to an award for her acting--the film's overtones are very strange.

On the gender side, this movie attempts to make itself into a moralistic feminist play about how women are always mistreated by men. Unfortunately, the character of Ruth negates this by being more manipulative than her husband, especially in regards to using his second mistress to help frame him for fraud. Also, she takes on a very strange attitude towards revenge by attempting to destroy Meryl Streep before going after her husband. While her list notes that her husband is her focus, the movie takes an odd turn by seeking out Meryl's character as a moral lesson while destroying her husband. The film can never really rectify why Ruth hates her husband so much that she's going after the woman who supposedly lured him away. The film's ending takes some satisfaction in changing Mary into a more bitter and 'learned' woman but doesn't really offer a real solution. Is Ruth going after her husband through this woman? And if she blames her husband for this, why is she going to such great lengths to destroy Mary since her husband is simply the kind of jerk who uses and then leaves women? Shouldn't have Ruth found more common ground with Mary after a while? And if one sees this through a class sensibility, Ruth's whole mission becomes pointlessly sadistic. Mary is of a higher-class and is rich to an extent. Ruth is a poor and ugly housewife with limited means. At the end, Ruth raises in class while Mary remains the same. Hence, Ruth could be seen as using her husband's infidelity as a means to rise above her own station. While Ruth's narrative diatribes about Mary 'learning' about being a wife are meant to be seen as some kind of validation for the troubles of a housewife who has to deal with various troubles to keep a family intact, it's hard not to notice that Ruth at the end will not go back to being the very housewife she supports. By rising herself out of revenge, she in fact becomes an image of Mary but causes her whole actions throughout the movie to be negated. Her whole character's motivation hinges on being an abused lower-class housewife who is going to knock down the higher-class woman down for stealing her man and at the end becomes exactly the same: successful in her own right. This is hypocrisy at its finest. And the dumping of her own children as some sort of object on their father completes the hypocrisy. The image of a housewife is something to be shown on a pedestal, but isn't recommended for a way of living. While this could mirror the life of Roseanne, it simply does not fit. How can you support a woman who is supposed to be an everyday woman (as the conceit goes) fighting for a sense of justice when she turns out to be the same as the woman who stole her man? This whole angle of thinking is what sinks the movie. Are we seeing revenge for Ruth, or are we seeing her fight back over the loss of property in the form of a husband which she doesn't want back anyway? And the movie cannot resolve this because then we get into weighty issues about what being a housewife truly is. By marketing itself as some sort of comical Lifetime Movie of the Week, the movie supports a position as the housewife/mother being some sort of holy figure to be supported and idealized. But with the ending showcasing a housewife 'evolved' into a businesswoman who joins the kids she abandoned as a part of her revenge to the husband she doesn't want back, this negates the whole plot. Why didn't she just dump her kids on the husband and forget about them all? The point of the revenge was to assuage her ego, which then marks the housewife/mother/Jesus figure as some sort of prison which one must escape since it was formed by a man. But since without the man this illusion breaks down, the movie instead becomes the story of a woman who seeks to better herself after a horrible betrayal and instead dwells in the past for petty revenge, hence sinking her moral high ground for absolutely nothing.
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Everybody Loves Raymond (1996–2005)
Possibly the most misogynistic sitcom ever
21 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This has to be the first 'popular' sitcom in history that appeals only to bitter old people who got conned into a marriage before the dawn of birth control. The utter hatred of people is apparent in this homage to 'classic sitcoms' which mean that people now refer to Married with Children as 'classic.' Which it is, but this show's hatred of women is much, much deeper, and reveals much more about America's increasingly pathetic ideas of marriage as an unavoidable part of society. Ray himself plays his obviously dysfunctional family--complete with overbearing mother and his wife which is her mirror image--for laughs. But when examined closely, this is a sitcom full of bitterness and hatred. Ray is a milquetoast to an extreme that has been castrated by his overbearing bitch of a wife to such an extent that his only release is to become a mentally retarded man child. His brother is Ray's double to showcase that Ray has been built this way since birth: the dominant mother has crushed any semblance of male freedom and identity and replaced it with one that is wholly dependent on her, possibly to make up for her own failed life that was 'ruined' due to incredibly restrictive sexual politics in her day. What we see in the show is the true American tragedy: women destroying men through marriage just as they see men destroying them by taking their sexuality away from them. The only reason anybody stays together is simply because of inertia. They don't really love each other, they simply stay because leaving would mean having to take responsibility for something they are not mentally mature enough to do. While this could say a lot about the whole pathetic idea of marriage as a stabilizing force in American society, what it really reveals is that women are to blame for ruining a male idealistic fantasy of what the 'classic' male sitcom truly represents and reveals that the whole myth of the nuclear family is a pathetic joke that merely restricts sexual freedom into a package which destroys all within. What we have here is not a family sitcom, but a fable in which we see the modern American family as a forced contract that is based on women being objects for male ownership and vice versa under the guise of marriage. If this was intentional, it would be brilliant. Instead, it comes off as vapidly depressing that this is being marketed as a 'classic' sitcom without the irony and venom that the show gives to the American audience.

And given the female lead's political stance, the irony is probably not supposed to be taken as anything other than gospel truth.

In short, this show is possibly the worst thing on the air because it mirrors an American institution that is, in short, a forcible rape of the senses. No other word accurately describes what this program showcases. If this is marriage and religion writ large, it's no shock most of America is swinging away from the repression.
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Pathetically Executed
28 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
To be fair, this movie could have been something strange but interesting. Here we have a director who was going to take the TCM franchise in strange new directions: a new family which Leatherface has been adopted into, still full of strange freaks that blast their way through Texas devouring people, possibly controlled by some 'Illuminati' type organization for reasons unknown. At the very least, it would be the best of both worlds of gore and human deviants mated perfectly with the X-Files that was popular around this time. It could almost work.

Sadly, Henkel seemingly has never made a film before.

All of these elements are thrown into the mix willy-nilly which give it the luster of a book report written a few hours before the class and without any knowledge of the book included within it. We get a solid unintelligible mish-mash of convenient plot twists and bad acting that can only be defined as utterly pathetic. It's impossible to say if this was the fault of a difficult shoot, a badly written script, or a horrible directorial job, but all it adds up to is failure. The secondary title of "The Next Generation" just adds another dose of hilarity to the mix as it definitely refers to the famous Star Trek show and adds more hilarity, given the out-of-the-blue aspect of the Illuminati that seems tossed in their, a red sock amidst the white wash.

All and all, you can see where this could have been made into something different in several spots but is let down by incompetence on every conceivable level. In a way, it tries to be Halloween 3 and Halloween 6 and ends up being too much like them to the point of failure. Well, except both Halloween sequels are more entertaining than this.

Watch it, but don't expect anything other than a superbly awful film.
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Beer League (2006)
Lange is good but deserves a better editor
8 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Artie Lange has talent. If it's one thing someone can walk away from this film with, it's that Lange is a funny man and has a real ability to portray a realistic human being and a damn funny one. The movie is pretty solid from a creative viewpoint and Artie himself is classic. He's truly in comedic form and simply outpaces everybody else in this movie. The supporting cast is sweet--through I didn't recognize Ralph Macchio until the credits--and there's nothing wrong there. I'm not damning with false praise when I think that Lange's performance in 'Dirty Work' is surpassed here with this film. It's raunchy without apology, and it works very well.

The only problem is the film seems to be made on the cheap and the plot development was a bit rough. Not bad like they hired a pizza boy to do the editing, but it was noticeable enough to distract. The film quality itself is perfect and it's a damn shame this film didn't get a better word of mouth. While this is a gem, it shouldn't be found in a Wal-Mart bargain bin for $5.

All and all, if you are a big Artie Lange fan, this is the movie where he returns to the brilliant guy we know from MadTV when he was propping that show up and Dirty Work. Now if he would only do a few more and get his life back into order, the world would be a better place.
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Code Monkeys (2007–2008)
More of the same from De La Pena?
10 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The works of Adam De La Pena--excusing the dreadful Jackass-style 'I'm With Busey'--seem to be one of toilet humor and a unique style of artistic rendering. While 'Minoriteam' had some serious conceptual issues that were easily overcome with the Jack Kirby style, 'Code Monkeys' at least does the '80s 8-bit mockery effectively. Not to damn with faint praise, but Adam De La Pena does seem to have a grasp on how to market his brand of humor effectively and towards a genre audience in a faithful manner.

Unfortunately, De La Pena's sense of humor seems too jaded. While humor is an art that relies on subtlety to an excessive manner (especially in these sensitive times) and the opposite of this can be used effectively as humor--Reno 911 being an adequate example--De La Pena seems not to care about the humor as much as the shock of his video game creations just being dirty. While this works, there seems to be nothing else to it. Video game characters are dirty, and there's nothing else besides that. Considering De La Pena's other creations having a short lifespan, this indeed comes off as a flaw that he hasn't been able to overcome. He starts well, but cannot maintain it.

Besides that, it's a funny show for what it is. Let's hope it breaks the problem of only lasting a season.
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The Cosby Show (1984–1992)
Look back at it all, it's very bland.
8 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Most of the shows during the '80s often have an unfair nostalgic bias. As they were considered so well done then, the memory cheats and realizes that they couldn't have been that well made. Sadly, this is an unfair conceit. Most of the shows that were well-liked do have an unmistakable charm to them. The Cosby Show, however, is not one of them.

While this could be mistakenly attributed to the last seasons of the show where the wheels fell of the premise and it started relying on its laurels, the real truth is that the Cosby Show had no real bite to it. As TV, it seemed to work because it was on every week and in the same spot so you could set your watch by it. But if one catches a few reruns in which the show is aired twice or more, the holes start showing. The Cosby Show doesn't have humor as much as it's a kickback to the pseudo-moralistic 1950s bland television in which something happens, someone finds out, and a moral is shot out. While a common criticism of this show is that it does not accurate represent race, the real truth is that the show doesn't represent human beings in any way, shape, or form. There are no real issues handled in a realistic manner. There are no real characterization outside of archetypes that date back to "Leave It To Beaver." Theo could be interchanged with Wally Cleaver or Eddie Haskell at various points in the show's run. Bill Cosby's character could be Gomez Addams mixed with the ghost of Dick Van Dyke. The lack of true characterization is what dooms this show. If anything, the Cosby Show was able to be a classic because it was right on the precipice of the old sitcom mold and what was to come but not yet formed style of television making. It did what it did well, but what it did wasn't anything groundbreaking. The Cosby Show could have been about homosexual Martian plumbers who collected Spawn figures, and the archetypes would have been exactly the same from every sitcom that came before it. Race wasn't a factor outside of publicity. Anybody could have inhabited those roles and made a classic. They did: it was a mold used for various sitcoms since the rise of popular television.

That said, the show just isn't interesting anymore. Now that Cosby's best-known show has faded into the ether for fifteen-plus years, its lack of characterization really plays against it. While most people alive and watching then could easily recognize the plot of the show, the fun is just no longer there. Outside of the new and the generally accepted opinion that the show was funny at parts, the show just has nothing to it. Most of the actors on it have faded into the ether along with the show or have done nothing of real consequence since then. They're not untalented, but the show gave them nothing to stand out with. With archetypes for characters, nobody stands out unless the plot directs them to.

In short, the show that represented the best years NBC has ever had is now just a forgotten relic without any punch in a world full of more interesting programming. While it is a piece of the past, there's nothing to recommend it outside of nostalgia. While this is unfortunate, it was the same fate that befell most of the shows that it based off of. Considering the fate of that sitcom mold, perhaps the Cosby Show can claim some sort of victory. At least it used the mold when it was somewhat respectable, and not tarnished by has-beens with the last names of Belushi and Sheen.

Not a good ending, but not as bad as it could have been. Too bad the DVDs haven't been given any respect.
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Grizzly Man (2005)
Possibly the greatest dark comedy of all time.
6 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Herzog certainly found a lot of material in pathetic loser Timothy Treadwell and his mad delusions of grandeur. While the movie serves to show the man in a fair light, one of the flaws is Herzog trying to justify Timothy's love of nature but really not giving enough time to Timothy's need for nature as a backdrop for his own personal fulfillment. This isn't a slam on Herzog: he does manage to make a few canny statements about the nature of celebrity and its relationship to the myth and romanticized idea of nature that people have gotten from Thoreau. And underneath this, we examine a man who knows nothing of nature, gleefully pals around with bears, and makes up fantasies which nobody can refute due to solitude. Treadwell, for all his friends and people who just put up with him, is a man who wouldn't be out of place in a pathetic reality show. The only difference is that the man himself is so utterly pathetic that the movie eventually becomes a comedy.

It's hard to watch the film and not mock Treadwell, despite Herzog's valiant attempts to stop the man from sabotaging himself. Treadwell comes off, after all is said and done, as a man who is in love with himself more than his 'passion' or anything else. He was a charismatic man who, despite having people who cared for him, was only focused on himself. While this kind of honesty would be admired in today's world, Treadwell had no idea what he was doing. He was a failed actor who couldn't even bother pulling his life together after being one-upped by Woody Harrelson. After this, he decided to make nature his unwilling backdrop and was so in love with this that he was more than willing to put people in danger. And now he lives in infamy, part of a documentary that will serve to underline his character flaws and selfishness, forever part of a documentary where his greatest achievement is acting as a key ingredient in bear dung. While Herzog attempts to find a middle ground to give Timothy some credit, it's a losing battle. Timothy dooms himself, his failure to face his problems, and his own ignorance about the very world he inhabits by living in his own pathetic dream world where he 'fights' 'injustice' by doing nothing for his cause that would involve real work and not placing his pathetic self in front of a camera. This is not a documentary about a man and his 'passion' for nature, this is a man defying human civilization by creating his own within his mind and destroying himself when his fantasies meet up with reality and he is not capable of dealing with it.

Herzog did a great job at this. Treadwell also did, although he basically assassinated his own character in front of a camera and ended up as fertilizer for his trouble.
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Drop Squad (1994)
Spike Lee Strikes (Out) Again
28 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
You know, I want to like Lee. One of the great things about movies and literature is the ability to shock people. It's a childish impulse at heart, but great when you're deconstructing philosophies. In satirical cases, the childish impulse is justified by the purpose of the deconstruction. The need to expose the hypocrisy is much more than the jollies of the person doing the ripping.

Unfortunately for Lee, satire requires a deft touch. Being too coy and the satire fails as a justification for the subject of the satire in the first place. Being too blunt and the satire comes off as preachy and self-serving. Lee and his work fall into the latter; he does not have the touch to do effective satire because he is too close to the subject matter. Lee has some valuable insight into matters of race (in that he never fails to remind us) and we take him at his word. Sadly, he is so bitterly one-sided that his preaching. Given his lust to bash all sides as a battle between him and THE WORLD, his movies often come off as diatribes that are disconnected from reality. The power of cinema is to put a person in a differing standpoint through prospective, and Lee doesn't grasp that. To him, it's a bigger stage for his ego and himself and we are 'fortunate' enough to pay only a meager fee to finance his house to hear this Great Oracle of the Nike Commercials speak his wisdom..which is about as intelligent as a thirteen-year old Goth girl talking about death and cutting herself.

The racial politics behind Drop Squad are so pathetic--rich equals white and poor equals black--is that it makes a mockery out of Lee's MLK love. Lee never really grasps the idea of racism has a solid element of class-ism behind it. If you're black, you're poor yet humble. If you're white, you're rich and morally bankrupt. And if you're black and rich, then you're white and need to be knocked back down into being black. And with this, Lee's world of racism is complete according to this movie. And that idea is so self-hating and overly simplified that it defies logic. Are we watching an examination of race relations, or are we watching a poor little rich boy deal with his unresolved racial/class issues by endorsing the same idea of Crab Theory--see "The Corner" for more on this in a much more mature way then Lee could ever imagine or wants to--that tortured him as he was growing up? In fact, why doesn't Lee grow up and make movies a bit more textured instead of playing the game he was forced to as he was growing up? In short, Lee's "Do the Right Thing" was the alpha and omega of his career. He would never show the same maturity or grow above it ever again. In a sense, he sold out himself, and the world is lesser for it.
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Bamboozled (2000)
I don't think Spike Lee knows how to actually make a film.
28 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think Spike Lee wasted his money and his time getting a film degree because the only thing he has learned--as seen with Bamboozled--is that if you put enough 'controversy' (which does not age well) into a film, you can skip on the writing and the plotting. Lee's films aren't linear films in any sense of the word: you can break them up into "plot point" and "annoying spiel between two characters." The crappy DV cinematography of this only underlines how amateurish Lee's film-making...sorry, I almost said style....methods are. Who needs to craft a movie into making anybody with an opposing view step into another's shoes to understand the point when you can just throw the LA Riots, 9/11, or the Million Man March and get some attention from that? Hence we come to the great problem with Bamboozled. We are being told--since Lee doesn't have the ingenuity to allow a bit of ambiguity in his films--by a man who made Nike commercials with Michael Jordan that all of us are racist because we indulge in stereotypes. But not like the stereotypes that Lee uses in every single one of his movies to shove his points. No, stereotypes are bad until the filmmaker latches onto something very public and fills his script with them in order to make a movie which all of us are supposed to pay for so we can hear what he thinks. Does Spike Lee want to make movies, or does he want attention so he can speak out about something that happened? One can't imagine but think that Lee just wants the respect of being paid attention to, but can't muster the talent that he had once to make it worth our time. In short, Lee had a good idea for a movie. And then he threw it away because he simply doesn't have any idea on how to make an effective movie and wants the easy way out of speaking his mind and letting it end at that. Any doubters? Well, they're not there. Introspection is only reserved after one side has walked away in Spike Lee's world, and only allowed when you're pondering how wrong you are and how right the director seems to think he is all the time.

Damon Wayans is awful in whatever accent he was trying to do, Jada Pinkett is woefully miscast, Michael Rappaport is probably regretting how he played a rich white stereotype, and everybody else is probably glad that they did a better job than the higher paid leads. And Spike Lee can fill his hubris tank up all the way and pretend he's still relevant to a world that has forgotten Do the Right Thing and is now waiting for something else to happen so he can leech on that pity train as well. Too bad he isn't taking the time to watch how a film is constructed. Nah, there might be another Nike commercial to do. For Lee, commercials are as deep as he can get.
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