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And Then There Were None (1945)
It settles; that's the problem.
Itty-bitty SPOILERS. Deal with it.
Christie's "Ten Little Indians" (republished under the stronger title "And Then There Were None") was an outstanding book with a precariously well-structured ending. For reasons obvious to anyone who's read the book, that ending cannot be performed on stage....at least not without some OUTSTANDING technical tricks. It makes perfect sense to have a different ending in the play version. But film is not stage. In the movies anything is possible, and through a simple camera maneuver, the novel's brilliant conclusion would become child's play for any competent filmmaker (This includes the final chapter in the police station and Wargrave's letter). The only reason I can think of to tamper with the book's conclusion for the movie is to satisfy Hollywood's requirement of whitewashed images of life back in the time this film was made.
Agatha's characters are also precariously well-designed in order to fit the story properly. There is no reason for the perfectly named Judge Wargrave to adopt the laughable moniker of Quinncannon or for the referential McArthur to become the irrelevant Mandrake. NO reason for playboy Anthony Marston to become a foreign prince. And ABSOLUTELY NO reason for Lombard's "secret identity". I have no idea what the motive was behind these changes. That's the basic old-school Hollywood playbook in action, I guess.
Unfortunately, René Clair was daring in neither technical nor artistic areas, and we are stuck with a film featuring contrived/awkward characters and a cop-out ending. Add in the mediocre performances of most of the cast, and it all combines to form a pathetically weak self-contained film, and an even weaker literary adaptation.
It could've been wonderful, but it settled for mediocrity.
This Is the Army (1943)
This Is The....worst movie I've ever seen.
I love my country, which is why I sincerely hope This Is The Army never had a foreign release. Because if it did, then someone would certainly declare war on us for torturing them with this flick. I mean, this thing makes "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" look good by comparison.
There are maybe two or three actors of note in this masterpiece of mediocrity (one of which is Reagan), but the rest of the cast was just plain bad. I mean just plain bad. Those who weren't too stiff were too silly in their parts to be even close to entertaining.
The premise itself is completely unrealistic. Like any army division would let a bunch of new draftees rehearse for a show instead of going though training IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR! And I highly doubt that a single base could come up with that many performers & stage crew and still get all of its daily duties done. This Is The Army is such a poor portrayal of army life that I'm surprised so many military personnel agreed to be in it. Let's face it, this movie screams "PROPAGANDA FILM" loud enough to drown out the atom bomb explosion at Hiroshima.
Besides that, many of the songs aren't even good, whether due to pathetic writing ("Oh woe is me, I'm on KP") or pathetic singing (the lady in the street band at the beginning).
Go ahead and yell at me if you will, all I know is that this was one of the extremely few films I've ever given up on before they were over. This was one of the insanely few times I've ever stopped watching halfway through. And this was one of the extraordinarily few movies I've ever been unable to find a good point to.
Further proof of my "Trailers Mean Nothing" theory.
Time and time again, I've seen trailers for movies that look absolutely awful, but then when I saw the movie itself I saw that the trailer had mislead me completely. Such is the case of Loser. Although promoted as a simple 'two misfits meet & fall in love' story, this film actually has a far more involved plot than that. It's also not a straight light comedy, contrary to popular belief. Loser is a semi-serious dramedy, and it functions incredibly well that way. It also has one of the best romance developments of any movie I've seen. It's a heck of a lot more realistic than the cheese-fests of several decades ago.
I normally don't think much of Jason Biggs. Basically all he's good for is teen comedies, or so I thought until I saw him as Paul in Loser. We finally get a performance out of him that actually has some merit to it. Plus, he has great chemistry with his leading lady.
I also am not a fan of Mena Suvari. Most of her roles lack any depth of character portrayal, and the fact that she usually looks pretty bad doesn't help an actress who often plays "hotties". But as Dora, I see the first Suvari part I've ever actually liked. She really does convey the character superbly, and for once she really looks as cute as the rest of the cast says.
Greg Kinnear pulls off his usual fine portrayal of the sleazy, conceited guy, in this case a professor named Alcott.
Assorted cameos (Dan Aykroyd, David Spade, etc.) fit the situations like gloves and never seem forced like they do in other movies. These were cameos because the actors wanted to do it, not because the director wanted them. The supporting parts, like the roommates, were done well as well. Yes, I realize I just said "well as well".
*small spoilers ahead. very small.*
I hear people complain that the underplot about the drugs was too funny. But those people failed to notice that the plan DIDN'T WORK, which is the reason that the story could be handled so lightly. And I hear people complain about the fates of the 3 roomies. But those people failed to see the comedy at play. For some reason, they have trouble comprehending that Loser is both serious and funny.
Loser is a good movie. No great classic, but enjoyable, worthwhile, and well-presented. Go check it out. But make sure you rent the tape BEFORE you pick up the pizza.
I loved the hole thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, never let it be said that there are no good book adaptations. Because there is Holes.
Louis Sachar's excellent book was well-translated into script form by....Louis Sachar. No wonder it worked so well.
Shia LeBeouf works his wonders as Stanley Yelnats IV, despite the physical discrepancy, bringing the Caveman to life like no one else could. The Shi-ster has never let me down before, and this is no exception.
Khleo Thomas is probably best known as the kid in the Hormel Pepperoni commercials, but after this, people are gonna be calling him Zero on the streets everyday. He was just that good.
Then you have your big-name vets, Weaver, Voight, Arquette, Kitt, Winkler, and Nelson, all of whom execute their roles perfectly, as well as the assorted inmates of the camp.
The imagery, settings, flashbacks, narration, everything about this movie is incredible. Just about everybody should be able to appreciate, if not enjoy, this movie. Go see it. Thank you.
What a Girl Wants (2003)
Trailers stank, Movie shines
I went into the theater today expecting a good movie. I was wrong. Why was I wrong? Because this was a GREAT movie!!!
The trailers made this film look INSANELY cheesy. Since I know from experience that trailers are highly inaccurate, I was expecting a PARTIALLY cheesy flick. But what I saw had almost no cheese to it at all. What A Girl Wants, despite its unfortunate title, is what a LOT of people want, combining drama, comedy, romance, and self-discovery in an hour and 45 minutes of enjoyment.
I didn't say insight, mind you, I said self-discovery. This is purely a narrative, not a deep thought movie, and it wouldn't have worked any other way. Kudos to Dennie Gordon for not trying to accent a theme that we're already familiar with, rather, she just throws it into the story, almost casually, so that we see the message of individuality but aren't repulsed by an overly blatant moral.
Many of this film's detractors say that it's a rip of The Princess Diaries. Not true. Yes, it's an adaptation, but it's based on "The Reluctant Debutante", which was around for DECADES before Diaries was even conceived. Besides, while it is a little formulaic, there are a few twists.
Many say it portrays inaccurate American/British stereotypes. Not true. Daphne and her mother are CLEARLY presented to be NOTHING like the average American, and Lord Dashwood only behaves so properly because of his political position.
Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds finally gets a chance to show of her incredible dramatic skills. (Moody's Point had too much of a satirical tone to properly show this.) Bynes has her glory moments of comedy alongside her touching moments as the girl who wants to understand who she is.
Colin Firth as Henry Dashwood. Come on, who didn't already know Firth kicks butt? He is the center of every scene Bynes isn't in, and he carries that weight well.
Eileen Atkins as Lady Dashwood does a tremendous job with her supporting role, who is far more crucial to the plot than anyone expected.
Oliver James handles his theatrical debut well, showing much more emotion than the previews indicated. Libby Reynolds isn't a fully round character, but that's the script's fault, not Kelly Preston's. Both are capable singers, and considering that Bynes's one major performance flaw is lack of musical ability, I'm glad these two sang instead of her.
In fact, basically the entire cast here was superb.
See it, you'll be glad you did. Fine entertainment for almost everybody.
The Nick Cannon Show (2002)
"We're takin' over."
Funny stuff, good for the whole family.
Nick Cannon, a very funny guy, plays a plethora of recurring characters, including himself and LaTanya (one of his old "All That" characters) as he takes over whatever he sees, bringing a brilliant comedic touch to everything from a hospital to a household to a small town to Hollywood to the music industry to London!
Also, the theme song is one of the few rap tunes I've ever liked!
Truly, there ain't no party like a Nick Cannon party. However, with Cannon's budding movie career, this show may end its run after this season. No great loss, but a loss nonetheless.
It's rather strange... (or "Hey smilin' strange", or however the song goes...)
This is one of the greatest television shows ever made. It just has that special...something, know what I mean?
A strange, but original premise revolving around two brothers named Pete Wrigley was the basis of this show, and it worked amazingly well, starting out as a series of shorts, then a handful of specials, and finally a series that ran for 3 wonderful seasons.
The cast was awesome. Michael Maronna (Pete), Danny Tamberelli (Pete), Allison Fanelli (Ellen), Hardy Rawls (Dad), Judy Grafe (Mom), Mom's Plate (itself), Michelle Tractenberg (Nona), Petunia (herself), and TOBY HUSS as ARTIE!!! All were simply amazing, as were the many supporting roles, like Pit Stain, Endless Mike, Wayne, Monica, Driver Stu, etc.
Each episode was both classic and unique at the same time. Don't ask me what that means, I really don't know. I just know that it fits. Every story had its own life lesson to tell, but without the sappiness of other programs that tried to do the same thing, thus providing semi-educational entertainment that thoroughly entertained.
Brilliant usage of satire, dark humor, subtlety, and understatement, especially from a "kid" show. Someone was definitely thinking of the parents when they wrote these episodes.
Kick-butt, incomprehensible theme song, too. Whatever happened to Polaris, anyway?
It's on Noggin now, so if you live in one of the 20 households worldwide that gets Noggin, you can enjoy this television gem.
Good Burger (1997)
Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?
This is is one of the 3 great movies Nickelodeon made. (the other two are "Harriet the Spy" and "Rugrats the Movie")
Kel Mitchell plays what probably his most famous role ever, Ed. And he plays the part of the idiot counter guy perfectly. "Uhh,....no?"
Kenan Thompson does quite well as Dexter Reed, a character who was probably created simply to provide a movie-length plot to what's usually a 5-minute sketch.
The rest of the cast is great too, such as Otis, the world's oldest fry cook (Abe Vigoda), Mr. Bailey, the world's most panicky manager (Dan Schnider), and Fizz, the world's most peppy drive-thru guy (Josh Server).
Funny movie, decent plot, great comedy, great acting. Check it out.
And remember, "I'm a dude, he's a dude, she's a dude, 'cause we're all dudes, hey!..."
Los nuevos extraterrestres (1983)
"Idiot control, bees on pot, burning rubber tires!"
(I just know I'm gonna acidentally spoil. Consider yourself warned.)
Wow. Pod People is bad. "It has nothing to do with pods, it has nothing to do with people, it has everything to do...with hurting" is a very accurate description.
So, um,...what's the deal with the monster in the opening/closing credits? Really unfortunate skin, yes, but that swamp thing has absolutely NO relation to the actual movie, and neither do its sweet thing & other victims.
That song...was so bad...it was funny. "Lyrics by Mrs. Gready's kindergarten class!"
Also, why on earth did that house have a door that went straight outside from the bathroom? The girl was "Zest-fully dead", then the alien went straight outside! It was ludicrous!
And of course, the many pointless cut-aways. ("Hi, God."..."It's Julie Andrews, and she's on fire! Sorry, Jules."..."Ya know, this scene wasn't originally in the movie, but the restored it. Aren't you glad?")
And also the stupid trailer scenes. ("Let's fold her!"..."Kooky radio, huh?" "Yeah, it goes in my ear."..."Hey, we paid for the van, we're gonna film it!"..."Paid for the song too, we're gonna use it all."..."Ram a sandwich down her throat!")
And the terrible soundtrack/score. ("Yanni, with Snoremaster of Trafalgar"..."Techno-birds." "Casio forest." "Data stream."...."Music. From. Some guys. In. Space."...etc.).........And so much more.
Definitely un-viewable without the Hodgson treatment. And I ain't just a MSTie talking, either. 'Cause that Trumpy was one bad--"Shut your mouth!"--Hey, I'm just talkin' bout Trumpy, can you dig it?
Just remember, "Pod people got no reason to live."
"What do you think?"......."It STINKS!" Bwah-bwah-bwah!
All That (1994)
"How many socks?"
There were/are good All That cast members, and there were/are bad All That cast members.
The good ones were/are: Amanda Bynes, Josh Server, Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Danny Tamberelli, Lori Beth Denberg, Katrina Johnson, Alisa Reyes, Nick Cannon, Mark Saul, Leon Frieson, Gabriel Iglesias, Angelique Bates, Chelsea Brummet, Jack DeSena, Lisa Foiles, Kyle Sullivan, and Bryan Hearne.
The bad ones were/are: Tricia Dickson, Zack McLemore, Christy Knowings, Shane Lyons, Giovannie Samuels, and Jamie Spears.
Similarly, there have been good and bad episodes of All That, as is the nature of any show with this format. However, in the 2001-2002 season, the quality of the writing dropped through the floor. It's slowly working its way upward, but the burden of little Spears's lack of talent and the overdependence on adults in sketches will keep the show from reaching the greatness it once had. Such a shame.
There were some truly funny moments on this show, and there probably will be a few more before it tanks, but unfortunately, it's gonna tank pretty soon.
And remember, "I'm...Repairman-man-man-man!" -Kel as Repairmanman
"I got 4 billion dollars, Earboy!" Katrina as Ross Perot
"Superdude is lactose-intolerant!" -Katrina (& later Amanda), appearing from inside of something.
"Hey, Clavis, wake up, the show's over." -Kenan as Mavis
"Thaaaaaaaat's me!" -Amanda as Ashley
"I'm just a guy named Stuart. But if I was the real (insert job), I'd be the best (insert job) in ALL THE LAND!!!" -Mark as Stuart
"Chocolate!" -Kenan as Randy and Angelique as Mandy
"I'm Detective Dan!" -Josh as Detective Dan
"I'm a dude, he's a dude, she's a dude, 'cause we're all dudes, hey!" -Kel as Ed ...and so many more immortal quotes!
And finally, "The correct answer was nine. Nine socks." -Josh as the host of 'You Can't Win'