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4/10
Wes Anderson has gotten too impressed with himself
4 November 2006
I might not be the best judge for this movie. I fell asleep from boredom and never really figured out what was going on during this one. I hadn't heard good things about this flick. However, I've been a fan of Wes Anderson ever since Bottlerocket came out (that film has proved to be his best). I didn't bother when it was in theaters. Recently I saw it at the video store so I paid my $4, got home and popped it in.

A cousin of mine described this movie as Wes Anderson imitating Wes Anderson. I didn't get the same notion, yet I will say this. Anderson hinted at pretentious indulgence with Rushmore, upped the ante with The Royal Tenenbaums, now he's created an entire movie out of it. What do I mean by pretentious indulgence? Well, in Bottlerocket you had a movie dominated by interesting characters. The story was solid as well. You combined the two and the result was an unforgettable classic (according to me at least).

But with each followup film Anderson has forgotten to create vivid characters. Only Gene Hackmans character from Tenenbaums was a character with any life. His films now consist of mopey duds that stare blankly into space. His characters don't speak as much because not much is going on -- there's no script to work with. Does he want the viewer to figure out everything? He's forgotten that his job is to entertain and maybe getting us to think. He certainly didn't entertain and the only thoughts I had were how dull this movie was.

The characters of this film also had a major flaw -- they were imperfect people but you despised them. At least Hackmans character from Tenenbaums and the morons from Bottlerocket (especially Dignan) were likable. Despite their weaknesses (and recklessness) you couldn't help but warm up to them. The characters in Life Aquatic (aside from Wilson) were cold, cruel, and not the slightest bit charming. Not only that but the overwrought atmosphere made it impossible for one of them to stand out. Anderson was obviously going for subtle humor. The characters were always subdued -- even when hijacked by pirates. Deadpan humor worked in Airplane but not here. Instead the humor seemed calculated and mean spirited. The blaze attitude also seemed apathetic, as if the characters themselves were about to yawn.

I also found the profanity in this movie untimely. Foul language can add humor but it can also debase a film. Yes, it debased it this time around. And when Goldblum's character smacked the dog, I wanted to smack him. Here Anderson had a dead scene so he went for shock value. He's never had to rely on shock until now. This dog slapping, an obvious attempt at humor, reinforced what was apparent throughout the film -- none of the characters were likable. If Goldblums character had stood out and we actually liked his sleaziness maybe this cheap gimmick would have worked.

Sadly Anderson's career path is headed to the ash heap. Tenebaums seemed like a breakout and luckily he still packs his movies with good tunes. But his movies have become slow, weary, overblown affairs. I know the artsy fartsy crowd loves Anderson's fascination with his own so-called genius. I hate to offend the urban snob community but this movie lacked substance and style and it shows that Anderson isn't living up to the potential he displayed in Bottlerocket. Hope he can awake from the hypnosis that is destroying his films.
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Duets (2000)
9/10
Can you make a touching movie about karaoke? They did with Duets
27 August 2006
This is a movie I had walked past in the movie aisle for years. It always thought it looked intriguing. The cover along had the look of an independent film. However, independent can often mean independent of entertainment -- just watch 200 Cigarettes, abhor. I knew it'd be risk watching this flick but I was up to the challenge.

Labeled as a laugh out loud comedy (though I found it in the drama section), Bruce Paltrow crafted a very touching flick. Here you have a full-time karaoke wise guy who is reconnected to his long lost daughter --a corporate slave who goes overboard and meets a stranger in the middle of nowhere -- a sensitive taxi driver (a Patrick Dempsey clone) who meets a bimbo who thinks she's all that.

These 3 sets of people are all on different paths. But they're all on a path to nowhere. Whether they have family or not, a strong emptiness exists in each character. This could be an excuse to get overly gloomy as Hollywood is often keen to do. Not quite the case.

I don't want to comment on the individual performances -- none of them stood out. They were all real, believable, and you could feel compassion for each of them (even the bimbo). Each person has their own demons that may or may not be obvious to themselves. That's not to say the characters aren't strong -- they all have a distinct personality. But all of them mold perfectly into the comforting feel of the movie.

This movie isn't trying to make any grandiose statements. It's really a tale about 6 lost souls that take a liking to karaoke. Despite their separate journeys they all meet one in Ohama for an event nobody will forget.

I'm struggling to get in depth about this movie so I'll leave it here. You won't be blown away but you will walk away feeling very satisfied. Despite some sadness the movie ends on a good note. Hollywood told a good story here. Highly Recommended.
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Caddyshack (1980)
6/10
It pains me to say it but this film is dated
28 May 2006
I recently watched Caddyshack for the first time in years. I loved it years ago and still quote it today. Before viewing, I told my brother I was gonna rent it. After all, I hadn't seen it since college. He said "dude, this movie hasn't aged well." I retorted with a quick "you're crazy." This is Caddyshack, one of THE all time great comedies. A modern day comedic masterpiece according to everyone, including myself. In a past review about Used Cars, I even marveled about how it's jokes had aged well, whereas UC had lost it's edge.

About an hour into it, I realized "oh my God, my brother is right." The film isn't just dated because of the polyester, unkempt hair and short shorts. The jokes simply aren't as funny. Lines that I regularly quote didn't hold up. I can't tell you the disappointment I experienced in learning this. First of all, I'm a huge fan of Rodney Dangerfield. And some of his lines are quotable, even from this movie. But many of his antics simply haven't held up. Other Dangerfiled films like Back to School have aged much better. Then again, I haven't watched it in a few years, maybe it's lost it's humor. It did have William Zabka, the poster child of 80s blond haired goons. So who knows.

I never cared about the plot of this movie. Neither did Harold Ramis. It's basically about the vastly different members at a country club. It's character driven, not plot based, and gag ridden. And some of the jokes are fun to quote with friends. But hearing them during the movie will not make you laugh. Even on DVD, the film just hasn't aged well. It really feels low budget.

I don't want to get in depth about this movie. Nearly everyone on earth has seen it. The writing is good, Harold Ramis knew what he was doing. And watching it, I could see the similarities with this and Animal House. Ramis didn't direct AH but the music in each was similar. And each movie really had no plot. But whereas Animal House still gets the party going, Caddyshack seems hopelessly antiquated. Seriously, picking your boogers and eating em? The Baby Ruth in a swimming pool? That was funny when everyone was saying "sike."

Having said that, there's no denying Caddyshacks place in film history. It showed the screen talent of Dangerfield to a new generation. It catapulted the careers of Chevy Chase and Bill Murray (who supposedly disliked each other). Plus some of the one liners, though a bit mean-spirited, are still being quoted by the kids. But watching the film, it's just not as captivating. I don't know if there's really a way of preventing that. You make a movie with material that's funny at the time. Styles and humor are gonna change, so it's hard to know what will be funny in 10, 20, 30 years.

I'll always have a special place in my heart for Caddyshack. I spent many nights watching it with friends, so it has nostalgic value. And I'll forever love Dangerfield, Murray and Chase (until he became unfunny). Yet after seeing how dated it is, I'll never watch it again. I'm simply gonna remember Caddyshack for what it was years ago. Not how it looks today.
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Take the Lead (2006)
7/10
Not original but has good life lessons
25 April 2006
The first time I heard about this movie was on IMDb. I've learned how to dance salsa and swing in the past year, so when I heard about this movie, I was more interested in watching professional dancers on screen. Dancing is intoxicating to me, so the idea of watching pro dancers strut their stuff is very satisfying.

I've read the comments here and even pointed out myself that this movie isn't original at all. You have a do-gooder in Pierre Dulaine (Antonio Banderas) working with troubled inner city kids, taking them away from their hip-hop culture and helping them learn ballroom dancing. Sounds like a lofty proposition, but does it work? Watch the movie and find out.

Pierre is an interesting fellow because he truly has nothing to gain. He has nice upscale dancing studio, it's apparent it generates a nice income for him. But after a chance encounter with a hoodlum high schooler, he realizes the power dancing can have on people. He takes it upon himself to teach ballroom dancing to the most troubled kids in an inner city public school.

That's pretty much the focus of the movie. These kids find a new focus that takes them away from their crime ridden and troubled home lives. You don't really get too much into character development of each kid, you just see how they are forced to open their minds to something new. So what's lacking in character development is made up in the dance sequences. The dance moves these people perform is amazing and I found those sequences absolutely breathtaking.

The one scene that jumps out is when Pierre is forced into a parent teacher conference to explain what he's doing. Parents and teachers think these kids should be spending detention doing homework, tutoring, anything but dancing. The scene does a good job of showing the power of dancing. To avoid being general, when you learn how to dance, you learn how to communicate with your partner, you develop an unspoken bond. You learn "respect" for your partner and if you respect your partner, you're less likely to get them pregnant, abandon them, and you'll learn how to properly treat them as a human being. When you're able to dance well with someone else, it's amazing what kind of a bond you can create with them, even if this bond is unspoken.

I think it shows how "manly" dancing actually is. For some reason, many men believe that dancing is girly and almost feminine. Somehow knowing how to dance, in the eyes of some men, is deemed as tough as learning ballet. Tell you what, there is nothing more manly and assertive than knowing how to guide a woman on the dance floor. You don't have to mashing heads with another guy or destroying things to prove you have a ton of testosterone. This movie does a great job of illustrating how "manly" and powerful dancing can be.

This movie is focused on the dance sequences rather than the characters. Though the movie is decently acted, the plot is nothing great and I have no problem with that. So many reviewers believe a movie has to have outstanding characters and an original plot to be effective. This movie lacks those elements and the focus is on the power of dancing and that spoke volumes to me.
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6/10
Not a bad flick but falsely advertised
12 January 2006
Must say this movie let me down. The way it was marketed, it was billed as being another Old School, another sophomoric raunchfest. It was, for about 15 minutes.

So I heard about a movie starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (spoiler, Will Ferrell is in it as well). These guys have been part of some of the funnier movies of the past five years. So why would this one be any different? You have three of the fab five (Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller being the others). and more often than not, these guys hit the mark. With movies such as Bottlerocket, Starsky and Hutch, Dodgeball, Zoolander, and the aforementioned Old School, any movie that has at least two of these guys is usually a winner. They stay away from that Hollywood sentimentality and just have some good old fashioned fun. Not the case this time.

Here, you see two wedding crashers, crashing weddings, then they go for the ultimate crash; going after the daughter of the Treasury Secretary. (By the way, you don't see the married couple much after the wedding). Sounds like it'd be a good time. The actual wedding scene, specifically the toast by the maid of honor, was very discomforting. Were they trying to make a statement there, it seemed legless.

So after the marriage, the crashers are loved by the secretary's family (mainly the can't get enough lovin daughter), so off they go for a weekend getaway. The football scene, though kind of cheesy, was funny, due in large part to Zack, played by Bradley Cooper. He's great as the arrogant boyfriend of the knock em dead gorgeous Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams). And the nymph daughter Gloria (Isla Fisher) was fun as well, though she looked like she should be wearing a cap and gown for her high school graduation (can't believe she's nearly 30).

But this movie really became mopey after a while. The whole time Owen Wilsons character grew more and more irritating. "Oh, I've known this girl for three days and now I'm in love with her." Please, you're a gigolo, go get girls. I wanted to see the party antics of a wedding crasher, I didn't care to witness him finding out that he's errored in his past ways. But that's what I got.

Might I add that Jane Seymour has aged like fine wine. Her character is rather naughty throughout and to see her look that way in her mid 50s, wow, she's been counting her carbs since being a Bond girl. Sadly, Christopher Walken is a non factor in this movie. He's actually a very good comedic actor when he's not acting like Beelzebub. His lines were limited and he lacked the presence that he normally has. And frankly, playing a major US secretary, you'd think the guy would stand out a little bit more. Somehow he gets upstaged by two party crashers, no wait, make that one, one of them became a total sap.

The movie certainly started with potential. The beginning party scenes were a good time but they jumped back and forth so much that you missed the fun and they were over entirely too quickly. So yes, I must say it again, I was a bit let down by this movie. Even the ending credits had loud party music that would have been fitting for a party movie. And Vince Vaughn didn't seem as Vaughnesque this time. He was pretty funny but his acting got really campy at times (especially during the "bedroom" scene). He usually plays a wisecracker, and he had his moments, but I wouldn't classify this role as vintage.

This movie could be a breakout role for Rachel McAdams. I don't know how good of a comedic actress she actually is, you don't see that from her in this flick, but she has a face and presence that lights up the screen. I'm sure she'll be relegated to romantic comedies (which this film essentially became) but nevertheless, she has a bright future ahead. Will Ferrell added some spark to the movie but his character seemed like a self-parody. He's a guy that's at the top of his game but he's running the risk of becoming clichéd. True, it's made him a rich man, but I do see signs of his gimmick growing tiresome.

POSSIBLE SPOILER

I think my biggest problem with this flick is that it has an identity crisis. At times, like the first 15 minutes, it's a party movie. The guys are drinking, dancing, sleeping around, and throughout the movie, you see the party side come up. But somewhere during this project, a Hollywood exec got the idea that one of the crashers had to see his errors and meet a woman that would change him. And please, would any decent girl want a guy after finding out he's a fraud? (Well, maybe they would). The meltdown of Wilson's character before that was somewhat believable, it's easy to go insane over a girl, but I found it kind of disturbing. The final scene summed up the movie; awkward, confused, and in the end, unsatisfying.

So I don't think the movie knew its audience. It was marketed as a party movie but grew into a frustrated love story that couples could enjoy. I don't mind love stories but that certainly wasn't what I expected watching this flick. There was a fair amount of T&A mixed in and since this is the 21st century, some homosexuality had to be mixed in (that scene was pretty funny, though it didn't completely hit the mark). I hope the next time Vaughn and Wilson collaborate, they remember their audience. Some of the movies I mentioned at the start were funny because they didn't get sidetracked by a hokey love story. They were films that were meant to entertain. This movie could have been that, should have been that, but in the end, it wasn't.
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King Kong (2005)
7/10
Tremendous action but it left me unsatisfied
1 January 2006
I can't recall a movie that was as hyped as King Kong. I heard one day that it was going to be the biggest box office disaster of all time, it was running over budget and behind schedule. Then when the release date approached, there was talk of this being the biggest box office smash of all time. Journalists certainly do a good job of peaking our interest. So needless to say, after attempting to see this film on Christmas and seeing the SOLD OUT sign pulled down in front of me, I got my chance on the first day of 2006. Here is what I thought.

Peter Jackson is not solid at filming dialog. I remember that from the Lord of the Rings trilogy I always wanted to next action sequence to occur because the dialog was so overwrought. The first hour centers around the characters that aren't named Kong, and I supposed it was necessary to acquaint ourselves with these folks. Naomi Watts gives a sweet performance as actress Ann Darrow. She's certainly struggling but not willing to denigrate herself to land a job. Her life is forever changed, though, when she meets Mr Jack Black.

Jack Black as Carl Denham was perfect casting, what a wonderful sleaze bag. I found his obnoxiousness and unadulterated ambition very believable and it served as a good lambasting of Hollywood and greed in general. "You can trust me, I'm a movie producer" pretty much sums up those thoughts. Adrian Brody is likable as good guy screenwriter Jack Driscoll. He really gets screwed but works on his craft anyway, even when it requires him to be caged. The chemistry that developed between him and Watts was all right, didn't sizzle and it happened pretty quickly.

So okay, they finally wind up on the island, and boy, they run into some crazy natives. These people were frightening and you got a sense of hopelessness when everyone was attacked. Good thing for firearms or else this crew wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting Mr Kong. But this crew was adventurous, daring to a point of stupidity, and most of them didn't survive. Though they proved fearless, this crew was ready to hang it up until Ann was taken hostage by the beast. You can attribute this bravery to Driscoll, as he proves to be a true man, doing whatever it takes to rescue his woman.

I've given away too much plot, so let's get to the good stuff. Peter Jackson is the messiah of action. King Kong vs the dinosaur stampede, the bats, every action sequence was gripping, relentless, it's staggering the way they made Kong move (the somersault in particular was awesome). Jacksons action scenes are so over the top, yet he's cognizant enough to point out subtle movements of characters.

So now we must delve into Mr Kong. He is actually a complex character. He is a savage beast, killing dinosaurs, people, and basically anything he doesn't like. Kind of a temperamental brat, just a bit stronger. It's amazing how realistic he looked, certainly an upgrade from the '33 version. A savage beast but wow, his weakness for beauty was his absolute unraveling. Ann should have talked to Kong and gotten him into anger management. Better yet, if he and the National Guard could have seen eye to eye, he could have served as a great weapon during World War II. If only.

Back to New York. The performance scene when Kong escapes is disturbing. You see a hapless Kong in captivity and this is where Jackson shows disdain for greed. The talk of a "ticket" was kind of silly because I had to pay a ticket to see this movie. We are a culture of greed and Jackson elaborates on this topic. But the man vs beast war makes man look like the beast. True, mankind didn't understand the monsters powers and didn't realize they could be tamed by one woman. Yet when set loose, he's a monster, causing mass carnage when he can't find his woman. Killer action scenes occur (no pun intended) and I couldn't help but think how much it cost to make those old cars, there's no way those cars were all computer generated.

This film didn't need to be 187 minutes. As mentioned earlier, Jackson is not good at dialog, as it was either preachy or dull. His saving grace is his talent for action scenes, and he is getting better. It's amazing that he's same man that created the gory camp fest Bad Taste. So I recommend this movie without remorse. I just found it lengthy, lecturesome (that's a new word as of this writing) but the characters were strong, the story is high quality but this film will not rank with the all time greats. See it anyway
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10/10
This movie is magical
24 December 2005
I caught this movie on TV last night after not seeing it for many years. Intending to watch a few minutes, I watched the entire thing and remembered how wonderful this movie truly is. You can watch it on a date, with kids, with friends, it fits any viewing audience. Without a doubt, it is the perfect movie.

Cary Elwes is perfectly cast as the brave, witty Westley. He's daring, bold, knows how to charm the ladies, and not bad with a sword. The bad guys, Andre the Giant and company, all give fun performances. Somehow whenever these guys are fighting with Westley, there's friendly, humorous dialog taking place. It's done in a charming way that keeps the viewed engaged but disappointed that someone has to lose the fight. Worth mentioning Rob Wright (Penn). Her character is kind of bratty but engaging and absolutely glamorous. You can't tell this was her first feature flick, good work on her part.

On the flip side, you have Peter Falk and Fred Savage. Falk is just cool, there's nobody quite like him. He may always be known as Columbo but his voice is perfect for the narration and adds so much to an already stellar film. And it's too bad Savage had to grow up. It's strange that he was a has been at what, 15? Good casting on both parts, you had the sense that those two really had a close relationship.

I don't know want to go on too much more about the individual characters because nobody gives a dull performance. Christopher Guest as the six fingered man, Billy Crystals cameo as Miracle Max, there's no mistaking that New York accent. Every person added a little something and deserves credit. The set design was magnificent, the music added to the playfulness and helps create a world of it's own. This movie is the perfect fantasy tale and Rob Reiner gets high accolades in my book. I doubt there's a person alive over 10 and under 50 that hasn't seen this one. This movie is absolutely stunning and it sets a bar that other directors should reach. One of the best feel good movies of all time and absolutely timeless. This one will hold up until the end of time.
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Scanners (1981)
5/10
Slow moving horror film but great ending
15 December 2005
I saw this movie on the shelf at the videostore, liked the cover, and rented it. Knowing it was from the 80s, I wasn't sure if this would be a classic horror flick or typical trash from that era. After watching, I think this movie fits somewhere in between.

If you don't know what scanners are, basically scanners have telepathic powers and are able to cause an excruciating ringing in people's heads or they can completely control what the person does. Basically scanners can control people's minds and cause them sensational pain at will. I envy scanners.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ***

The beginning sequence, with Cameron (Stephen Lack of talent) scanning the older woman in the mall, is a frighteningly great way to start the movie. It's also a great way for Cameron to get pummeled, as he's quickly taken away by authority figures, locked up for observation and then used as a ploy by Dr Ruth (Paul McGoohan) to attract other like minded creatures. Along the way a more demonic scanner named Revok (Michael Ironside) comes along, sneaks into a demonstration, uses his awesome powers to blow a guys head up (money shot) and successfully kills 5 other people shortly afterwords. Can't say this guy is short on ambition.

Meanwhile, Cameron keeps trying to find other scanners but I don't know why, guess he's just following Dr Ruth's orders. He keeps getting followed, bounty hunters repeatedly go after him and kill those around him, yet somehow miss him every time. Cameron is mostly peaceful and only uses his scanning powers when completely necessary, which is often, since people want him dead. Watch out for the acid influenced scene when all the scanners come together and use their powers on each other, quite chilling.

To be honest, the plot is hard to follow. I know Scanners is partial social commentary, as the scanners are misunderstood and unfairly casted as outcasts (even though they cause pain and can easily murder). Luckily this preaching didn't go too far and cut into the movie enjoyability, good thing. But these people have amazing powers and whenever the scanning powers are used, this movie is pretty menacing. The loud ringing is quite agonizing and I can see how it could drive a person mad (or make their head blow up).

This movie, though, isn't a true classic, maybe a cult classic. The pace is tedious throughout, the acting is subdued and lifeless, and it screams of late 70s, early 80s. When Cronenberg used classical music (like in the grisly final scene), the movie was pretty good. But many scenes used cheesy synth music, instantly dating them. And the dubbing, why, why does it exist? The characters aren't dubbed, then they are dubbed, then they do back to non-dubbing, truly unnecessary and unfortunate, for it makes many scenes very cheesy.

As a whole, I enjoyed the movie. One thing that stood out were the special effects. Being made in 1980, the filmmakers couldn't rely on computer technology, the effects had to be done by hand. The bloody sequences are well done, I'd like to see how they made people's veins burst and look like they're on fire. Not a spectacular film but if you're a horror buff, check it out.
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Crimewave (1985)
5/10
Not very good but shows the potential of Raimi and the Coens
3 December 2005
One of the many Raimi cult films from the 80s, this movie is not very good. Canned acting, obvious dubbing, and isn't Yosemite Sams voice in there? It' been a while since I've seen Crimewave, so the precise elements may not be completely accurate. But since it had the names Raimi and Coen attached to it, there was no choice, I had to see it.

This flick contains good slapstick, though the timing is s bit off, and the cartoonish pace of the movie makes everything pass at lightning speed. The bad guys were especially zany but it's normal for Raimi and the Coens to have not-so-subtle characters. Good thing they had life because the main character (don't recall his name) was hopelessly bad, as was the lifeless Mr Trend (Edward Pressman). No wonder his career was in producing.

So why did I even bother with this movie? Well, it's always good to see a successful director (or in this case directors) before he had a Hollywood budget. I've come to love Raimi and the Coens over the years, so it was compelling to see these cinematic geniuses working at a young age. The frantic camera work (Raimi), the emphasis on mood and characters, not storyline (the Coens) show what these guys were doing before striking it big time. I don't know if this was an 8MM film but I bet a few fathers were opening their wallets to finance this project. Essentially, the film is the result of what an old crime film directed by Friz Freleng would get you. Somewhat of an old school feel but definite amphetamine influence. An absolute cult film, yet somehow forecasting things that lay ahead for it's creators.

Can't forget to mention Bruce Campbell, the "heel who hates guys that hate heels." Not only are his lines delivered in signature cheese ball fashion, it's done with the utmost glee. Whenever Bruce speaks, it's obvious the movie didn't have much of a sound crew. I wonder if they had one at all, the audibility of his lines do not rate high. But his character, though used sporadically, is so hammy that after he speaks, you'll pump your fist and say "you rock Bruce." What a guy!!

Anyway, for most of you trendy movie goers, you'll be bored to tears with this wacky comedy. It's over-the-top, fun, horribly acted, and quite patchy, so film critics of the Ivy League persuasion need not observe. But those of you that LOVE Sam Raimi and the Coens should watch. This was one of Raimi's projects in between the Evil Dead 1 and 2, so you can see the man has been deranged for a long time. But I wish the 3 of these guys would collaborate again. They did with Hudsucker Proxy but the Coens have slipped a notch and Raimi is busy working with Tobey McQuire, so who knows what the future holds. Maybe their minds will mesh when Evil Dead 4 gets written. I can only dream.
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3/10
So clichéd, so 80s, so awesome
11 November 2005
My friend and I got together and we were looking for a movie on satellite. Return of the Sith? Nah, too long. Sideways? Nope, too heady. Sorority House Massacre? Charge my card immediately!! Throw this movie in with cheesy, 80s horror flicks. Other films like "Slumber Party" Massacre come to mind. All are pretty much knockoffs of Halloween, the godfather of modern slasher flicks (I don't think Psycho was, for it was of an earlier generation). But it's all there, the bad 80s hair and outfits, actors that can't annunciate, and a killer that doesn't die, even after repeatedly being stabbed, punched, and hit with a shovel. This guy must be made of steel.

If the girl having visions about murders in her dream isn't a complete ripoff from Nightmare on Elm Street, nothing is. True, this freakish girl doesn't die in her dreams but everyone around her goes by the wayside. I'm surprised she wasn't subjected to more abuse, as she really was weird and had an eerie resemblance to Kyle McLaughlin.

Not to say I expected Shakespeare when I watched this rubbish. Bad acting was expected, some mindless T&A to go with several dead bodies, and that's what I received. The money shot occurs when the murderer is coming after the sorority girls, falls two stories off a ladder, then is able to spontaneously crash through the window minutes later. Even Altman couldn't pull that one off.

So ya, this is your basic 80s slasher flick. Not necessarily funny but mildly amusing. Make sure you watch it with a friend and crack jokes through it's entirety. And if somehow this movie scares you, get a cigarette and a shrink.
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4/10
Well done but a typical anti-McCarthy diatribe
4 November 2005
Going into Good Night, and Good Luck, I pretty much knew what to expect. George Clooney is one of Hollywoods most outspoken liberals and aside from abusive males and Christians, the favorite target of Tinseltown is Joe McCarthy. Lately, he's become a hot topic, due to the invasion of Iraq. Clearly this movie is capitalizing on the mood of the times.

Let me start off with something good to say about this film. George Clooney actually is a talented director. His use of lighting was great, good all around acting, and mixing jazz into scenes really grips you. This movie took you back in time and made you feel like a part of an era. I guess Clooney has learned a few tricks since Red Surf.

However, this portrayal of history, though accurate on many counts, delivers a rather slanted view of history, leaving out facts that don't support the argument. Take the clips of the Annie Lee Moss hearings. Clearly this scene portrays McCarthy as a raving nut, going after a supposed innocent woman who was just minding her own business being a wash woman until the bogeyman McCarthy came.

I can't explain the reason McCarthy leaves the hearing, I don't know the context of that particular incident, but what's troubling is the omission that Moss 1) had her name in Communist Party records 2) she had the Daily Worker delivered to her house, even though she switched addresses several times. The Daily Worker was a Communist paper, as admitted by Whitaker Chambers (I'll mention him later) in his testimony before the House on Un-American Activities Committee. He would know, as he edited the paper for years. Might I add that at the time the army, which was employing Moss, had instances of keeping suspected communists on their payroll, men such as Irving Peress. The army showed this negligence even after the Rosenbergs, people that helped Stalin get our nuclear secrets, had been tried and executed. So going after the army for harboring communists was not completely preposterous.

The whole time I watched this movie, I waited for Alger Hiss to be mentioned. This State Department official not only was convicted of perjury but also wrote the UN charter. When the movie mentions that he was convicted of perjury, not espionage, I realized that Hollywood is clearly behind the times. As a fellow IMDb reviewer stated, the Venona Papers released in the mid 90s produced cables proving that he was a Soviet spy. It's not even debatable anymore. I know this movie is a period piece, so Ed Murrow and others weren't privy to this information. But mentioning this truly weakens the movie's credibility. Why use an argument that's been proved wrong?

The main thing that bugged me was the sensationalizing of journalists. These poor reporters were just trying to tell the American people the truth, perhaps that's why they smoked so much. But these underdogs, valiantly going against the wishes of their boss, took on McCarthy anyway. Frankly, when have journalists ever been scared of anything? They spewed the same rhetoric when they took down Nixon. And Murrow went after McCarthy when his career was already headed for the ash heap, Murrow didn't cause McCarthy's downfall.

All and all, the movie was well done but had an obvious agenda. Personally, I think McCarthy was behind the curve, so I don't know why he had such an impact on America. The aforementioned Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss, plus other high level government officials like Harry Dexter White, had already been convicted of espionage. The late 40s and early 50s was really the heyday for catching these American traitors, so McCarthy was late to the party. He wasn't the first to mention communists in our government. He may have been flamboyant but many people he accused of being communists in fact were. And sorry Sean Penn, he didn't hurt anyone in your family, Hollywood was dealt with by the House, not the Senate.

Attribute my low ranking of this film to my political and historic views. Clooney did a pretty good job of saying what he wanted to say but like Michael Moore, he leaves out facts that don't support his message. The characters, though I credited them with being well acted, were sort of undefined. Even Murrows character didn't go too in depth. Every character was overshadowed by the ominous presence of McCarthy. A little melodramatic in my humble opinion.

I think Hollywood should produce a movie about a communist defector that spoke out against Soviet atrocities, like Elizabeth Bentley. A woman like her was far more courageous and risked her life by speaking out against communism, a much braver act than going after a US senator. Going after McCarthy has been done so many times it's become redundant. Sorry George.
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10/10
This show is laugh out loud funny
28 September 2005
Wow, if you haven't watched this show, you are missing one of the funniest shows of the past generation. To be honest, I have watched all of Season 1, only part of Season 2, so most of my comments will be directed towards the premier season.

I can't really do justice to this show, so bear with me and we'll get through this together. Essentially, a successful family business is thrown into turmoil when the father/owner George Bluth I (Jeffrey Tambor) is thrown into jail for making one too many fraudulent business deals (including deals with Saddam Hussein). Up to the plate steps Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only Bluth family member that isn't, well, crazy.

Enter the rest of the cast. His brother Jobe (Will Arnett) is a party-going magician that is a mouthy troublemaker, absolutely shameless, at least until he needs money. Brother Buster (Tony Hale) is funny as the pathetic mama's boy, Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) is the hoity-toity alcoholic mother with nothing good to say about anyone. Let's see, there's sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi, playing a NON lesbian), a clueless liberal that likes to get involved with the latest cause (but not the latest line of work) and her husband Tabias (David Cross), the arrogant ex-doctor/aspiring actor. I won't get into the kids, I've wasted enough time talking about characters. Each character is so funny that you could write a review about each one of them. I'll spare you the agony.

Every episode starts off with a normal premise. Some kind of family crisis is involved. About 4 minutes into each episode, things really start to take off. Whether it's Jobe making the family yacht disappear, or Lindsay finding out a war has been taking place for the past two years, this show is great. Ever character is wacky in their own regard, but somehow, each is done in it's own understated manner. Not too much bathroom humor, no Farley-like antics, just good story lines to go with the way-out characters.

A big part of this shows success is the quick sequencing. They'll jump into a flashback for a second, go back to the original scene, then 5 minutes later, jump back to that flashback. Very tight editing. Each episode goes by quickly because the storyline always gets completely absurd, but with the great writing, the antics never get stale. I must say, Ron Howard has created a masterpiece. And bringing back Henry Winkler was a great touch, he plays Barry Zuckerman, the worlds most unprofessional lawyer. I think his only client is the Bluth family. Even though he just makes guest appearances, his character adds so much to the show cause he's a moron trying to hide the fact that he's a moron.

I can't recommend this show highly enough. Like I said, I haven't watched season 2, so I can't say whether it matched the brilliance of Season 1, and with Season 3 coming soon, we'll see what happens. The bar was set very high with Season 1, so hopefully this show didn't peak too soon. Luckily, there are enough strong characters driving this show that it should carry on for a few more years. But wow, I tip my cap to Ron Howard and company, they have created a comedic gem.
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Polyester (1981)
8/10
I don't care if John Waters is tamed down here, this movie is funny
24 September 2005
As many of the readers saw on this site, I wrote a rather scathing review of John Waters' Desperate Living. "A desperate cry for attention" is what I called it. However, I also mentioned in that review that I enjoyed Polyester. After recently seeing Cry-Baby, I've come to a conclusion. Even though he's sick and twisted, when he wants to be, John Waters is actually a good director.

Polyester certainly doesn't have much of a plot and is more concerned about the characters, a trait which I find admirable (that's what the Coens do). All of the characters are laugh out loud funny. The pushy husband, the cross dressing Divine, Lulu, the foot fetishist son (and thank God this movie doesn't have too much Edith Massey, that woman looks like she was dug up from the grave). Every character is so wacky in this wild ride that you can't help but laugh.

I won't get too detailed about the plot because it's essentially about a neurotic housewife (Divine) whose marriage and kids are out of control. Her porno theater owning husband is having an affair with his secretary and unafraid to show it, the daughter hangs out with the bad boys, and as I mentioned earlier, the son is a foot fetishist (I think it'd be funny as hell to smash random people's feet). All of this leads her heavy boozing and pill popping. Thank God Tab Hunter comes along, he cheers her up, at least for awhile.

One example of Waters pulling off good directing. Even though I'm a pro-lifer, I thought the scene when Lulu is attacked by pro-lifers, tries to punch her own baby, and is finally being taken away by nuns, was hilarious. I know Waters is a fan of abortion but in this scene, the zany pace made everything so ridiculous and as a result, it was funny. Everything was exaggerated to the nth degree, so I found it hard to be offended. The pace gets so frantic that you can't help but jump on for the ride.

Overall, I liked this movie. Despite the fact that these actors won't be hitting Broadway anytime soon, the sheer enthusiasm of every character made their performances enjoyable. You could tell that they had a lot of fun making this gross out farce. It certainly isn't as offensive as past Waters vehicles, and that's fine. His characters were great and the hyper camera work shows that Waters knew what he was doing. I think Waters is actually pretty talented when he's not just grossing you out, and this movie showcases his skills.
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Movie Madness (1982)
1/10
Yep, it's that bad
9 August 2005
Wow. I read about this movie and it sounded so awful that I had to see it, and my gosh, I can smell it in St Louis. Where do I start? National Lampoons was trying to follow up 5 years later on the success of Animal House, but they completely missed the mark. I'll go chronologically with these short flicks.

Short Film #1

Poor Peter Riegert (Boon from Animal House). Apparently, he wasn't working back then, so the boys at National Lampoons probably called and said "hey, we're making a c**ppy movie, wanna be in it?" Peter was like "well, I'm not doing much these days, why not?" He was a great side character in Animal House, but he couldn't carry this sorry short flop for 5 minutes.

POSSIBLE SPOILER The premise is funny enough, with Jason Cooper (Riegert) telling his wife to leave him, she needs to find herself. It's too weird that they're actually in a happy marriage. So he chases her off, there she goes, and Cooper is in charge of the kids. This, off course, leads to him burning the house down, losing several of the kids, and sleeping with an assortment of New York bimbos (including an ever so young Diane Lane). Then the wife comes back, wants the kids, and the film ends with a coin flip that'll decide the fate of the children. The idea was actually somewhat clever, but the director stunk. The characters all seem like they're falling asleep, they HAD to be doped up. Sorry Boon, your legacy was tarnished with this flop.

Short Film #2

MORE SPOILERS

Enter Dominique Corsaire. Pretty girl, recently finished college, not sure what to do with her life. So she becomes a slut, starts sleeping around with some mega rich guys, takes their money when they die, and she doesn't stop until she beds the most powerful man in the world, Fred Willard (Ooops, I mean the president of the United States). Once again, it could have been funny, and though I was happy that Corsaire (Ann Dusenberry in real life) wasn't afraid to bare all, her acting was horrible. What a waste of time.

Short Film #3

I can't believe I made it this far. Here's the rookie cop Brent Falcone (Robby Benson) with veteran Stan Nagurski (Richard Widmark). Falcone is young, naive, thinks he can really help people, though he becomes cynical after being shot several thousand times. Nagurski, really, has just given up caring. He watches muggings, assaults, you name it, and never intervenes. He figures the world is lawless and he'll probably get sued if he does anything. Even Christopher Lloyd (at the end of Taxi's run) gets in on the action, getting the police called on him, committing a crime, but having his lawyer there to protect him. God bless America!!

Once again, could have been funny, the performances were intentionally campy, but goodness, no energy whatsoever. Henry Jaglom and Bob Giraldi should be ashamed of having their names on this schlock. I think the writing wasn't bad, the ideas were there, but the execution was pulled off as well as the rescue attempt in the Iranian hostage crisis. If I had been a part of this film, I would want my name removed, it's horrible. Then again, that's why I watched it.

The only good thing about this garbage is that Dr John did the film score (repeating "Going to the Movies" over and over again) and the film isn't much longer than an hour and a half. Show this one in film classes with the heading "what you should NEVER do in film-making." This script should have been left on the shelf because yep, it's that bad.
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Fantastic Four (I) (2005)
8/10
Nothing original but an enjoyable flick
23 July 2005
I have to say, I usually don't read Stan Lee comics. Nothing against them, just never got into them. So, for me, this movie going experience was my first trip into the world of the Fantastic Four, and it was a good time. Chris Evans, playing Johnny Storm, is superb as the cocky flamethrower and manages to steal just about every scene with his over-the-top flamboyance. Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba display good tension and chemistry from the moment they share a scene. No need to delve too much into the drama of their relationship, you see the way the two look at each other and you know there's a past. Gruffudd's performance is convincing (though it's obvious this guy is English, trying to use an American accent) and Alba, wow, what a sweet presence she adds to the screen. Obviously, she isn't hard on the eyes, but she carries herself in such a sensual way that you can't help but fall in love with her.

I must say, the biggest disappointment I had was with Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom. He played his part well, but like the villains in Daredevil, he wasn't shown enough. He does play a great bad guy (of course, he is an evil businessman) but I didn't think they had enough tension build up between him and the FF. You knew he was gonna be po'ed about his business going under, so there was no chance for hostility to build, it was pretty much there once the failed experiment took place. And for a bad guy, he didn't have much of an agenda. He basically was trying to get back at the Fantastic Four, turn them against each other, but no bold plans for overtaking Manhattan, holding the world hostage, nothing. For an evil guy, he certainly didn't have many evil ambitions, which I find ironic, since he had been an adventurous entrepreneur. Makes you wonder.

Michael Chiklis does a good job of playing a tormented thug. Man, if I had strength like that, I wouldn't be mopey, I'd be out there kicking the crud out of people, just for the fun of it. Chiklis was perfectly cast as The Thing, though I found it rather crass that his wife left him because he was deformed. I guess love doesn't last forever if your spouse becomes a mutant.

As a whole, I pretty much got what I expected from this movie. Great special effects, good action (though not enough of it), believable interaction between the characters, I give this one high marks. Not a bad movie to show to kids either (though it does show Alba briefly in her undergarments, oh ya). Just do yourself a favor: when you're watching it, suspend your disbelief, just for a short time. Let the special effects and the fun carry the way and don't over analyze things too much. No, seriously, don't do it.
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6/10
Annoying social commentary throughout but great gore
28 June 2005
Not that I'm the most astute political mind, but I must throw in my two cents. From reading other viewers comments about the social underpinnings and the symbolism that permeates throughout the movie, I want to say GIVE IT A REST. The symbols of this movie, if you can even call them that, are clichéd and have been told time after time. The evil businessman, the revolution led by the black man, Big Brother in a world gone astray, these are not new ideas. Frankly, it's rather obvious that George Romero is stuck in the 60s. George, the Revolution never came and it isn't coming anytime soon, so lighten up.

I'm sure people were cheering in their seats as the zombies took over the "fascist" armed forces to lead mankind towards complete anarchy. I guess the underlying premise is that our capitalism is awful and it needs to be immediately overthrown. Never mind what happens after that coup d'etat occurs, the system sucks and it has to go. Just don't overthrow the government, for it's evil businesses that control the powers that be, so just go straight for corporate America. Then again, the zombies initially pass through the underprivileged people on the street as the corporate fat cats sit in their paradise-like seclusion. Notice how the oppressed humans, though they've done no wrong, are still murdered. Apparently, the zombies will attack anything, for they have no soul. The zombies don't stand for anything on their own merit, their so-called value lies only in battling the system. Excuse me, but should I laugh or yawn at this ridiculous social commentary?

Having already examined this movie way too much and alienated plenty of my fellow IMDb colleagues, I will say, I found this movie amusing. Not much of a plot, other than zombies taking over the world. Poor character development, and though the acting was uninspired by basically everyone, I found it fitting. I mean, would you be amped up if your world was being invaded by zombies? I didn't think so. Also, this movie is graphic as heck. Belly button rings getting yanked out, decapitation, an esophagus getting ripped out, you name it. Then again, if you're watching a zombie movie, you know to expect this type of action. Don't be a fool, leave the parents and kids at home, it's not for them, and expect nightmares after viewing.

One thing this film had going was some mad flesh eating, it's definitely stomach turning. Most of the time, you knew when the zombie was coming, but they're still creepy, just look at them. Tense mood throughout, a post-apocalyptic feel, this movie is certainly nothing original but I got what I expected. Still don't understand why the humans stick around and fight the zombies. Couldn't they journey off to a remote island? Or when zombies are crossing the river, couldn't sharks eat them? Or would the animal kingdom join forces with the zombies to fight mankind? Hmmmm. Delectable zombie film as a whole, I just found the social undertones annoying and so in your face that it took away from good zombie fun. Block that out and enjoy yourself as the dead fight the living.
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Red Dawn (1984)
10/10
8 kids taking on half of the red army, oh ya
1 June 2005
Are there eight kids fighting or six? I can't remember. Either way, this flick rocks (I'll even say it RAWKS). I guess the "Soviets" knew they couldn't take on the US armed forces, so they decided to take on soft targets, like public schools. Little did they know that this particular junior college was Swayze Crazy.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS *************

Oh man, where do we begin with this one? I guess you could say it's a tale of survival, as the Commies try to penetrate into the heart of the fine US public school system. Of course, this flick was made a few years before it was common to have firearms in schools, so these kids were totally defenseless against this surprise attack. Good thing they outsmarted the Ruskies and confiscated some of their munitions , which they in turn successfully used against them. Maybe kids are learning something in the public schools after all.

MORE SPOILERS **********

Not only did these teens (or in Swayzes case, 30 year high schoolers) fight valiantly, they fought victoriously. There were some losses along the way, but hey, you're gonna take some hits when you're taking on half the Red Army. This however, begs a peculiar question: why was our country so scared of the Soviet Union if they couldn't even take over a high school? They conquered the actual building, but they let some of the students slip away, which ultimately did them in. These kids truly were heroes, as they fled into the woods, stayed the course, and fought back, even as the Soviets exported the fine art of the firing squad onto US soil, taking out Harry Dean Stanton along the way. Quite harrowing.

I know I'm taking a sardonic tone, but this film's premise, though timely in 1984, is so ridiculous. It may hit home to some, especially when the US and Russia were a click of a button away from going nuclear (not pronounced NUKE YU LIR). But this film has to be taken for what it is, pure drivel. Yes, quite enjoyable, but so many of these reviewers took the movie seriously, gimme a break!!!

I absolutely love this movie, it's completely over-the-top, great Cold War propaganda and unintentionally hysterical. It's almost as ridiculous as the later Death Wish films, 3-5 to be exact, though I think Charles Bronson may have had a higher body count. There is plenty of violence and gun-play to go around, so it may be too strong for the faint of heart. However, this movie has aged like white bread, so some of the excess shooting and fighting seems tame by todays standards. And frankly, if you find the fighting disturbing, you're either a peacenik or a plain coward. The director of this flick is a gun lover (God bless him), so expect to see plenty of firearms.
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10/10
Make sure you watch this while you're in a good mood
30 May 2005
You, the reader, are currently asking yourself "self, why should I watch this movie while I'm in a good mood?" No worries, I'll provide the answer for you. You should watch this movie while in a good mood because as a whole, it passes at a rather deadening pace. If you're in a good mood, you're more apt to laugh at scenes that actually are chucklesome, like when Napolean feeds his lama and keeps saying "eat the food." Such scenes are not overabundant in their hilarity and may be slightly strange, but you can't help but laugh. If you're in a good mood, you'll notice what a complete anti-social jerk Napolean is and be howling in laughter at his poor social skills. If you're in a good mood, you'll realize that there actually are people out there that are this strange and thank the good Lord that you aren't one of them.

Jon Heder is hysterical as Napolean, an outcast teenager with few friends, a screwy family life, and very little excitement. It helps when he meets the new kid Pedro, the two barely speak in their conversations, but become friends because all they really have is each other, at least until Deb (Tina Majorino) enters the fold. Adding to the absurdity is Uncle Rico, an aging ex-high school quarterback whose life would have been SO different if he'd just taken state. Too bad he didn't play in the 4th quarter of that game, and more importantly, too bad that game took place in 1982. Jon Gries is absolutely perfect as this middle aged burnout/sleazy salesman who not only comes to live with Napolean but also lives in the past and literally tries to get back there. As the tension escalates between him and Napolean, the movie gets funnier, as the two try to slime each others reputations. Even though Kip (Aaron Ruell) tends to side with Uncle Rico through the squabbles, he's more interested in "chatting with babes" online, what a pimp. Man, these people are offbeat.

I also must point out the small role by Diedrich Bader as Rex, the martial arts instructor, his scene is nothing short of priceless. Like in Office Space, this guy has a knack for perfectly capturing way-out characters. I wonder how many times they had to re shoot this scene, I'm sure everyone was just dying when this was being filmed. Humanity may have regressed due to this character, but there's no doubt in my mind, Rex Kwon Do is the way to go.

Overall, this movie is nothing spectacular. It's a simple tale about going to high school in a small town and the slow life that it breeds. No plot twists or anything, it's a rather straightforward story. Geeks, jocks, hotties, this high school is pretty typical. Not a wacky, over-the-top comedy but very amusing. I must say, though, that wherever Jon Heder (Napolean) took dance lessons, sign me up. I was laughing my rump off and thinking "wow, that guy can really dance." You know what, now that I think of it, this movie is better with repeated viewings. It may seem kind of banal and eldritch the first time around, but hopefully you'll see just how wacky these characters truly are. This movie may be geared towards younger audiences but anyone that is over the hill and over the fact that Bosom Buddies got canceled should find this movie worthwhile. I know plenty of you out there are only capable of laughing at something as over-the-top as a Farrelly brothers vehicle, but have a heart and go see this movie anyway. Just make sure you're in a good mood.
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Valley Girl (1983)
4/10
Had it's moments but, like, totally weak as a whole
26 May 2005
I can't believe that I didn't see this 80s flick until 2005, what is wrong with me? Certainly went into this one with high expectations, meaning, hoping it that it would join the upper echelon of 80s teen classics like Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Nope, not the case. This movie, though funny at times, is slow, uninspired, and simply not that much fun. Even the crucial house party scene (required in teen flick from the 80s-present) overstayed it's welcome, and lacked the zaniness that other teen flick gems possess.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS *********

I hate to say it but the character development was horrific. I know you have to judge these movies in a different way, can't take them too seriously, but the movie was about an hour old until you got a feel for any of the characters, aside from Randy and Julie (Cage and Foreman). None of Julie's friends showed any personality till the film was 60 minutes old, they barely made a peep about Randy, then all of the sudden, Julie dumps him because her friends supposedly loathe him, though they didn't explicitly say that, it's merely implied. Teen comedies usually have some melodrama to go along with their silliness but there was no tension between the friends, hence no reason for the breakup. Also, the Valley Girl, as well as her friends, was not nearly as valley as I had hoped. Maybe that passed for "valley" back in the 80s but it certainly wasn't as exaggerated as this viewer hoped.

MORE SPOILERS *******

There were some enjoyable moments to VG. Julie's parents, a couple of 60s leftovers (surprised it didn't show them smoking grass with their daughter), and the prurient mother (who houses the BIG party) add some fun to the mix. The bad 80s hair and attire, the fact that I Melt With You plays not once but twice, and that nightclub band plays a song I know (refrain goes "A Million Miles Away," you've heard the song, a classic bad new wave song). Then again, this dingy club may have been "edgy" back in the times of the Evil Empire, but now it serves as comic relief. But Randy cares not, as he frequents this place often, but one must ask themselves, does Randy exist outside of the establishment? Whether he's playing the role of the bad boy or acting like he's been shot by Cupids arrow, he's just kind of there. Now that I think of it, I guess he does go to the beach and he's a party crasher. He had no connection at the party, so I'm assuming intuition told him damn the torpedoes, go anyway, for inside lies the girl of your dreams. Also, make sure to throw the F bomb out as often as possible to exude the maximum amount of testosterone.

So overall, this movie had all the necessary ingredients to be a classic teen movie and to some people it may be that, especially if you were in high school at the time. However, the shoddy character development, the lack of campy inspiration and just the sheer stupidity of movies from this genre was lacking. The low budget didn't bug me but this movie was rather comatose at times. Can't really see how this movie spawned the whole Valley Girl image but the caveat is that I was 3 when this film was made, so what do I know? In the end I found myself yawning more than I was giggling.
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7/10
Good movie but not up to par with other Coen Brother movies
29 April 2005
Intolerable Cruelty is undoubtedly a hilarious, screwball comedic antic. As with most Coen Brother films, it's not the plot that we're concerned about, it's the characters, and this film is no exception. George Clooney is excellent as divorce lawyer Miles Massey (only the Coens would come up with a name like that), as his character will do whatever it takes to make a buck (or several hundred thousand of them). He meets his match with gold diggin Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones), who successfully turns the tables on him. The plot isn't terribly original, but as I said, the Coens are more concerned with how the character experiences the adventure, rather than centering on the actual escapade.

The pace of the entire movie is frantic and zany, most notably the courtroom scene with Edward Hermann (this guy is great in everything he does). The other supporting characters, namely Billy Bob and Cedric (representing St Louis, oh ya) are engaging and give the whole movie strength (also watch for a cameo by B-movie God Bruce Campbell). Of course, the overrated Catherine Zeta-Jones "Douglas" gives a remarkably flat performance. She shows no energy throughout, always has that cutesy twinkle in her eye and simply coasts on her good looks. Yes, she is eye candy, but please, you're working with the Coens, show some life!!

As enjoyable as this film is, it is a step down for the Coens. Personally, I think they have done some of the best movies of the past 20 years, specifically Raising Arizona, Fargo and Oh Brother Where Art Thou (Big Lebowski is great but more of a party movie). However, the commonality of all those films is the wonderfully developed characters (HI from Raising Arizona, Everett from Oh Brother) and the rapid fire dialog that stereotypes parts of America without ever being derisive. Nobody out there can create as quirky a persona as the Coens nor can many other movie makers boast of creating so many hilarious one liners. That was sadly lacking in this movie.

Intolerable Cruelty, for the most part, got by with its sheer silliness and over the top performances, specifically by Clooney. With this approach to the movie, the Coens did themselves an injustice, for they failed to delve beneath the surface of any of their characters. The whole feel of the movie was rather clichéd, as it didn't have the unique "Coenesqueness" of prior films, this flick could have been done by anyone. You don't witness any of the inner torment of shoddy individuals like you do in Raising Arizona or Fargo, and really, you don't see the human side of any of the films characters, they're so busy exaggerating every movement that they're bouncing off the ceiling (hopefully not dancing on it!!).

So overall, I had a great time watching this film but it is not a masterpiece like almost every other Coen brother movie. Would be quite a feat for another writer/director, but I hold the Coens to higher standards. Unfortunately, this one is too dependent on wacky gimmicks and cheap yuks. The Coens have been going strong for 20 years, but after seeing this and the deplorable Ladykillers, they seem to have slipped a notch. Hopefully they'll get back on track because when they're on, nobody is better.
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1/10
Arguably the worst movie I've ever seen
23 April 2005
Having been a huge fan of "cult flicks and trash pics" (to quote the book title), I knew it was time to watch John Waters. I started with Polyester, considered one of his more "mainstream" movies, and thought hey, let's try an earlier one.

Okay, I can usually handle disgusting stuff, but I have never seen a movie that not only is as flat out sick as this one, but one that is so annoying. Many of the comments I read about this flick said it was funny, offensive, even "artistic." Of course, I knew it'd be repulsive, it's John Waters. But wow, the incessant screaming of EVERY character made the viewing experience about as enjoyable as fingernails to a chalkboard. Maybe it'd be funny here and there, but non-stop, oh the agony. To add to the misery, none of the characters were even the slightest bit charming, making the movie going experience that much more excruciating.

I know Waters prides himself on making movies that have no engaging qualities, which begs the question, why did he make this junk in the first place? Is he "pushing boundaries?" I guess when you have no movie-making ability and want to offend everyone, you want people to remember you for something, so why not show a naked 400 pound fat chick? Better yet, let's take every sick thought and image that comes to mind and actually film it while we have every character shriek their lines rather than speak them. What an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers without talent, with David Lynch being the notable exception, he at least develops strong characters when he's not showing fat chicks go au naturalle.

In Polyester the zaniness of the movie made it somewhat amusing, I found myself laughing at the non-stop wackiness. Nothing worthwhile came in watching this movie and I truly don't understand how anyone could find any redeeming qualities in it. At least schlock like Ed Wood productions are funny due to their thorough ineptness. This flick consciously wanted to be dreadful, and yes, it did succeed in that.

I know tons of cult flick fans out there love John Waters' unrepentant attitude and his fearlessness in showing humanity at it's worst. But at the same time, you really have to wonder what goes on in a directors head when he makes something as awful as this. Bad film-making can be so much fun to watch but this film was not entertaining at all and makes me wish I weren't into B-movies. Many people call this movie groundbreaking and shocking, but frankly, I think it's a desperate cry for attention.
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7/10
This movie should offend just about everyone
22 March 2005
For some reason, when I first heard about this movie, I made the blind assumption that it was a kids action movie. I mean, a nerdy guy gets turned into a crime fighting action hero, so I assumed it may be some kind of family friendly fun, good triumphing over bad, blah blah blah. After reading more about it, I heard Troma made it, plus it had plenty of blood, gore, and of course, nudity. To heck with a PG rating, this movie sounded great, I had to see it.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS *****

Premise is basic enough, with the nerdy mop boy at the Tromaville health club getting picked on by everyone (honestly, I would have decked that guy), and when a prank goes haywire, he winds up tumbling out of a window and into a bucket of toxic waste (logical, no, entertaining, yes). He transforms into a serious butt kicking monster that fights bad and also comes after those that have personally done him wrong. Oh ya, he also falls in love with a blind chick along the way.

I enjoyed this movie tremendously. While the running time was just under an hour and a half, I think music was playing for about an hour and ten minutes, it rarely stopped. About 1/75 of the music was good but the majority of it was synth laden 80s schlock that you would have heard in a Heather Locklear workout video. So this movie is obviously from the Reagan years, but the satanic acts that take place will still make you go "oh my God, I can't believe they actually filmed that." Whether people are running over kids on bikes, beating up old ladies for their car, having their eyeballs gouged out or shooting a seeing eye dog, this movie has no respect for anyone.

I can't competently explain the this movie's madness. It should anger people on the right, as it shows irreverence towards human life, as well as those on the left, as a dog gets killed by a firearm. Except for Peter Jacksons Bad Taste, I never witnessed anything that displays more excessive blood and guts. Even though the gore and blood are obviously fake, it's so graphic that it'll make you squirm. The movie should also offend anyone that enjoys quality film-making, I bet this film was budgeted around $10,000.

Frantically paced throughout, this movie has tons of cheesy dialogue, horrible acting, 80s hair and attire, as well as characters that are so over the top that they're obviously ironic. Either way, the creators of this film were seriously sadistic, but that's what makes it so much fun. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommend for fans of splattered brains and spilling guts.
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Rear Window (1954)
10/10
Great thriller
2 March 2005
Alfred Hitchcock is without a doubt the king of suspense. I have been a fan of his for many years, so I knew I had to see this movie. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS ********

Jimmy Stewart is great as LB Jefferies, the cranky photographer who's wheelchair bound in his apartment with a broken leg. To pass the time, he begins playing Peeping Tom on his neighbors. Good thing there are some interesting characters around. There's the gorgeous ballerina, who loves prancing around in her undergarments, the party hardy pianist, the couple that sleeps on their fire escape (I love when it rains on them) and the volatile salesman with a bed stricken wife. Things get even more interesting when Jefferies starts to think the salesman has murdered his wife. He's going in and out of his place on a cold, rainy night, and the wife is no longer in bed, where did she go?

Jefferies asks for the assistance of friend and former Air Force buddy Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey), who unfortunately, thinks he's crazy. Not to worry. Even though he won't fully commit to her, Jefferies is able to enlist his beautiful, sociable, and all around perfect girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) to do his dirty work. Being the fearless type, she's willing to take more risks than Jefferies imagines, a move that almost gets her killed and lands her in jail. Of course, Jefferies soon puts his own life at risk, which leads to the one action sequence in the movie (which is kind of cheesy and dated).

One thing that was unique about Rear Window is that the whole film was shot in the same location, from Stewart's apartment. Hitchcock, not only good with suspense, is also able to do some fascinating camera work. Those shots of Stewart holding his camera are innovative and show how talented he was. I have to say, I don't think movies like this could be made anymore, for it isn't action packed. The mood slowly builds up until you have the final confrontation. No high speed chases, explosions, anything of that nature, just old fashioned suspense. The acting by Stewart and Kelly is wonderful and they had a great on screen relationship, even if Stewart's character is oblivious to the idea of love (how could you be if you had a woman like Grace Kelly)?

If you're a person that loves blood and guts, plot twists, fast paced action, then do not see this movie. Many from Generation X and Y (which I am a part of) would be bored by this flick, but if you appreciate good film making and suspense, go see it, and you'll understand why Hitchcock gets so many accolades to this very day.
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Summer Job (1989)
3/10
The cover says it all
23 February 2005
This movie had everything I hoped for, bad acting, cheesy 80s music, big hair, exquisite mullets, rampant nudity and mindless fun. I honestly can't say that there is much of a premise to this movie, a plot would have killed this joyride. To best summarize this Z flick, it's about a bunch of kids from around the country spending the summer working, well, a summer job.

This group of kids (or in reality, adults in their mid to late 20s) included a cowboy, a spastic geek, a fat guy, a jock, a princess, and a couple of mega hotties with mega big hair. This privileged bunch were picked from over 600 applicants for the job of a lifetime, they should have felt so fortunate. This group learns all about heartbreak, sex, voyeurism, dirty old men, psychotic cooks, you name it, all in one short summer. T&A galore, painfully bad dialogue and a gut wrenching performance by Orkestra, which features members of Electric Light Orchestra all decked out in white suits, oh ya!! I had too much fun watching this schlock fest. My friend said it best when he said this movie has aged like milk, it has the 80s written all over it from the second it starts.

I can't believe I've already devoted this many words to describe this rubbish but I will say I'm not surprised that all of the members of this movie's cast never developed an acting career, not even George O!! This is the kind of garbage that you used to see on USA Up All Night, so if you're a fan of trashy 80s beach films, then by all means, go see it. Just accept it for what it is.
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9/10
Kind of a homage to Risky Business but much more than that
13 February 2005
I did not see this movie in theaters. I usually wait for teen films to come out on video before viewing them. I must say, the way this movie was marketed, one would figure that this flick is along the lines of such classics as Bring It On and Can't Hardly Wait. Though this movie definitely is now part of the illustrious teen film library, it runs a little bit deeper than the average adolescent flick.

As the title suggest, this movie does have Risky Business written all over it. The characters (the pimp vs the adult film director) the props (glass egg vs the golden "trophy") as well as the music and language definitely give this film an updated twist on RB. However, it would be erroneous to write this film off as a rip-off, it just isn't afraid to show it's influence.

Emile Hirsch is great as Matthew Kidman, the ambitious high school senior (who actually looks like he's in high school) with an Ivy League future. Straight and narrow, his life is spun on it's head once Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) enters the picture. Cuthbert, playing a free-spirited porn star, actually gives a rather understated performance that is sincere and sweet. Matthew's once planned out life is now lived more on the edge, and with that, he encounters some interesting characters, such as Kelly, the shady porn director, played flawlessly by Timothy Olyphant.

However, as the film progresses, the movie didn't delve as deeply into Cuthbert's character as it should have. No insight into her background, how did she get to where she is right now, etc. She also takes a back seat to the growing tension between the Matthew and the sleazebag Kelly. I must say, Olyphant is great in this film. He goes from being hilarious to charming to scary in the span of about five minutes and steals almost every scene he's in. The other supporting characters are great. Chris Marquette (Eli) and Paul Dano (Klitz) are funny as Hirsch's dorky friends, and hopefully Marquette will land more roles like this. They too seem to become more adventurous once Danielle enters the picture, what an influence one person can have.

So in the end, this does have a lot of the typical teen flick campiness. There are jocks, hot chicks on campus, geeks, and the movie itself has plenty of swearing, bathroom humor, slapstick, you name it. There is a sweetness to the movie, as it's amazing what a person will do when they fall in love. This movie has plenty of twists and turns, so come along for the ride and have some fun.
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