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Half Baked (1998)
a unique reviewing topic for me
Usually, I will select a bad movie that everybody thinks is good to review. The reason: what's the point of airing an opinion that everybody agrees with? Opinions are what lead to arguments, and arguments are fun. Well, they're more than fun to some people, to me it's a hobby. Movies are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Like Freud says: life amounts to nothing but sex and work. Bitching about movies all day is definitely work, and it Definitely doesn't amount to anything - as some of the idiots on this website often come to realize (you'll notice it, like...in a message board thread about...something exceedingly dumb and juvenile like "Who thinks it was really Amanda Bynes in that porno"...and he or she has clearly viewed the porno, and possibly masturbated to it, and is now interested to hear what other people have to say on the subject, so they go to the message board, read something idiotic...I mean so polymorphously retarded that they suddenly realize the banality existence and the fear of death which haunts them every day and they start attacking the "nerds" who frequent the aforementioned message boards (of course, these people are not nerds because...they don't believe in nerds? I don't know, you tell me, Buster Brown) and tell them to go get a life (which they DON'T have) go get laid (which, if they have, it wasn't very good) or go get a job (which is usually a twelve year-old telling another twelve-year old (both with nothing better to do) to seek employment.) Speaking of twelve year-olds with nothing better to do, I was a twelve year-old with nothing better to do once. And a twelve year-old pothead with nothing better to do, at that. So I got my dad to take me and my little stoner friends to go see Half Baked. Dad had to come because, of course, it's rated R...for, I believe excessive stupidity and use of the actors Harland Williams and Jim Breuer? I can't be sure, don't quote me on that. The truth is, I liked it. It was even the first DVD I ever owned. Also, it was the first DVD I ever sold, but that's another story. Flash forward six years. I'm a different man. It's a time a tale were told... Dave Chapelle and Neal Brennan (who went on to see success far greater than that of the video revenue for Half Baked with David's eponymous "Show" on Comedy Central which, miraculously, produced a 2nd "not-horrible" show after the success of South Park (I would include Win Ben Stein's Money because Ben Stein is very funny to watch...even the way he answered questions...so deliciously deadpan - but Jimmy Kimmel is not only unfunny but there's something about his face, I just want to kick it right the hell in. Maybe that's why he and Adam Corrola got along so well. Adam Corrola's voice makes me want to kick his face in too) wrote this here "movie," and I'm sure it took them about half an hour. David Chapelle is, for some reason, very, very funny in concert - but his show, and this movie is...well, I'll put it in the words of an angry fan which Chapelle and Brennan discussed on the Audio Commentary track on the Chapelle's Show Uncensored: Season One DVD: "too white for black people and too black for white people." Half Baked is also too white for black people and too black for white people. It's the Farrelly Brothers meets F. Gary Gray's "Friday."
Dave Chapelle's nasally voice and gangly, lanky body is funny, but his jokes aren't - so he's more or less a black Jim Carrey. Guillermo Diaz is the (second) funniest thing about this movie: he steals every scene as Scarface. Jim Breuer is toxicly annoying and famously stupid. He's stated that he just happened to be born looking stoned. I think he was born looking rather normal, not particularly attractive, but, you know...as normal as normal can get, and he was dropped on his head, then fed into a waffle iron and peed upon repeatedly by a racehorse. I can't tell you how many idiots I've met since 1998 that actually think "Brian" is so cool, they try to emulate his whining voice. He even sort of sounds like a deaf-person. That's some great direction on behalf of Tamra Davis. Harland Williams, I have never liked. I met him once, and I had to interview him for the magazine I was writing for at the time and, unlike most "funnymen" I had met, he wasn't particularly funny. We didn't have the best rapport, I suppose because the idea of a twelve year-old film-critic is just too hilarious to an "artiste" of his "caliber" -- of course, I had just came from seeing his "Rocketman" which, I must admit, was indeed gayer than the song of the same name. Anyway. The gags come every 30 seconds in half baked...only there's nothing funny here. The film has no narrative structure, the story itself is ridiculously stupid, there's no real conflict. The sub-plots are boring. The acting is boring. And, would you believe, there are anti-drug messages littered throughout this movie. I mean, there's the most blatant one which is that the cocaine/heroin dealer is a cold blooded murderer, while the pot dealers are friendly lovable and pussified. But, bare in mind, that any and every minor f-up one may make while under the influence of marijuana is greeted with the stiffest and harshest of reprisal. I mean, it's literally a notch below Requiem For a Dream in terms of brutal consequences to self-destructive seemingly morally reprehensible (in the eyes of Squares) behavior. Harland Williams feeds junk food to a diabetic horse and kills it and goes to the Pokey where the unfathomably hilarious in every way shape and form Tommy Chong (the SINGLE funniest thing about this film in his greatest, soberist performance ever) protects him from the unwanted, mandigo Ape-lovin' of Nasty Nate - all for smoking a little pot? Get the fudd out of here. Who are you kidding? He's an idiot, and idiots do stupid things. Dave Chapelle meets the perfect girlfriend, whose got hang ups about her 30something boyfriend smoking marijuana habitually after a long, hard day of work because she's afraid it's going to lead to harder stuff. What an after-school special trip that would make Nancy Reagan wet (even in 2004, mind you - those apple blossoms haven't been ripe since the turn of 14th century.) Brian loses his job. The world falls apart because of marijuana!
Oh no! Where is the content of this film? Did I smoke it by accident? Also, there are too many cameos, this is like the comedy equivalent of True Romance - they're mostly from people I don't like like political pund-isn't Janeane Garofolofalufallo and Jon Stewart who is not allowed to be in another movie again after appearing in Big Daddy. So sayeth the good book. He and Adam Sandler have got to be the two most unfunny Jewish people on the face of the earth. Wait...Eugene Levy, I forgot.
Is it just me, but does this DreamWorks PIXAR-Rip Off sort of remind you of the whore of babylon? Not a good enough analogy? Okay, I'll expound upon my biliious hatred for this movie. First, a brief tangent about the acting in this film and how it relates to the degradation of the acting craft. Mike Myers is not funny. Cameron Diaz is not funny. One of them is sexy. 'Nuff said. I'll keep this short and sweet. I have an amazing sense of humor. I did not laugh at anything in this movie. It's not funny. It's too sophomoric to even be a children's film. What is the point of parodying the world of Happily Ever Afters? Well, it's an excuse to utilize the Pixar formula (which, as I mentioned in my Finding Nemo review, is creating an anthropomorphic microsociety or microcosm in an inanimate world.) Because clearly there's nothing funnier than the prospect of a whole Faery tale world, right? Where all the retired characters hang out? You know, because this isn't identical to Toon Town from Who Framed Roger Rabbit in every way imaginable, is it? Wait. Yes it is. Perhaps it behooves me to annote that i micturated my pants at the advent of this film. Goodmorning and g'night.
Finding Nemo (2003)
okay, everybody calm down
After a good year has passed (well, it wasn't really a good year in my life, nor was it a good year in the cinema, but it was undoubtedly a long year, allow us all to the calm down. Finding Nemo is a children's movie. It is not an achingly poetic masterwork of biblical proportions. For all its polished aesthetic splendor, it is one of many recent Pixar cuddle-tear smorgasboards that have smack of the Pixar "formula." This is, of course, more multifaceted than you might hope. First, and foremost there is the element of the micro society where one least expects it: the anthropomorphic personification in various aspects of the animal kingdom or underwater or inanimate objects like toys, insects pretty much anything that looks cute. Pixar, which has modeled itself on Disney (for starters...in that, it is trying and succeeding to be the 2nd successful animation studio in the history of the cinema) is taking a page from Herr Walt, but not just simply by making animals...talk. There is the now mandatory wacky assortment of characters in whatever new environment our cutesy little poopy poof protagonist enters: usually an inexplicably dumb character, a hardened, raspy-voiced pessimist who has the seen the outside and yearns for a taste of liberation, a simple character driven mad by the plasticized existence of the microcosm they are confined to, the optimist, completely spiritually and intellectually fulfilled with appeasing the idiotic requests of the master, or overlord or Orwellian gumbent-a-clef, easing into a life of quiet desperation, finding simple pleasures in the banal daily regimen and the emigrant, caught in the middle. Perhaps these scenarios which Pixar seems to be ejaculating in majestic, new colors every few years are truly subversive and anti-American with their One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nestesque allegories...or maybe they're just smoking PCP. Still, they're a whole lot better than the CGA DreamWorks is churning out. Don't believe me? Compare the Incredibles (which is going to rock ass even if it sucks because look at Sam Jackson's character, man is HE black!) to Shrek 2. Shrek 2 sucked. For more on Shrek 2, see Shrek 2. Eddie Murphy needs to quit. C
25th Hour (2002)
Why does it seem to me that every time Spike Lee eats food, the fat goes directly to his hands? Every two years, his hands get heavier and heavier. With She Hate Me, he up and ruined his career. 50,000 dollars on 54 screens? LMAO! Did he commit to the celluloid this whacky comedy/expose on the enron scandal, recouping intolerable losses because he felt the world was in that dire a need for his statement on big business? No, he's a bad businessman. 25th Hour is by far his most sympathetic-to-honkies film ever.
Is this such a good thing? I love the film Crooklyn primarily because it features my favorite Spike Lee whiteman caricature: Tony Eyes. I personally have loved David Patrick Kelly since The Warriors, and Tony Eyes is such a brilliant contrivance. He is the most outrageous white stereotype ever committed to celluloid, possibly because no other black filmmaker is as smart or technically proficient as Spike Lee, and therefore no other black filmmaker has the audacity. And it's warranted audacity. Spike has got to feel special in 2002, since the 20 or 30 critics worldwide who liked Bamboozled also liked 25th Hour. I am not one of them...although...since I don't often happen upon the opportunity to give a movie a good review in exchange for a hummer, I don't technically qualify as a film critic. I'm more of a film cricket, I suppose. There's nothing to like about 25th Hour, except that it bears the distinction of Spike Lee Joints to be racist to multitudinous ethnic groups. It's interesting to see Edward Norton shine in Tony Kaye's American History X only to play Spike's white-negro in 25th Hour. Of course there's nothing wiggerish about Monty, he's very much a white boy with a grey girlfriend (the too sexy to be a good actress Rosario Dawson-anchez?) and red employers. The idea here is that Monty has to do 7 years (which is, apparently, the end of the world for a white guy, since we're all pussies, or something) but he has to have some sort of spiritual awakening first about god knows what. Then Philip Seymour Hoffman is in it.
What I don't get about this marginally talented oafish weirdo is this...he's, purportedly, a staunch believer in "method acting," many of his co-workers have stated that he remains in character then the camera eye is shut...yet he seems to play the same character in every movie. What's that about? Barry Pepper I can never look at again without thinking of Battlefield Earth and Brian Cox sort of p***ed me off. It's always nice to see a dignified English actor stick it to the micks, right, with his shoddy gaelic affection and tired workingman's lament blecch. There's something here about 9/11 but, outside of Monty's tirade where he complains to a mirror about every minority and ethnic grievance he can find (of course, omitting the fact that he's a drug dealer and, by extension, poisoner of children, feeding off the suffering of others and if you really want to take it a step further, starter of wars (th-ecret one-th) that led to the 9/11 he complains about) it's an excuse to abuse. The end montage is the icing on the bitter caca cake that is this Moopie.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Bill gets killed, uma's looming, madsen is got fat-sen and darryl hannah is definitely not hot anymore
As is the case with most directors whose careers, albeit short or long, have seen sharp peaks and abysmal valleys, Tarantino has made his definitive statement with a film that is a far cry in quality from his previous accomplishments. Undoubtedly, his two best films were the first two: PF and RD. Though KB(s 1 'n 2) may be (2) big step(s) (for moviekind) up from the disappointment (yeah, I said it) of the purportedly emotionally mature (*ha*) "Jackie Brown", it's laughable to me that similar qualities have been ascribed to the KB film. This movie is terrific...don't get me wrong! It's unabashedly fun fun fun entertainment...but it's campy..."what is that supposed to mean?" That a little polish and esoteric nods/bites here or there can pass off for style, and the true charm of this movie is the moving, BAFTA-nominated performance of the "great" actress Uma Thurman? Me thinks not. Her spirited performance in "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" did little to assuage the general public's belief that she is selective in her film appearances by choice. She's not F. Murray Abraham, or anything - she's Mia Wallace. KB is a comic-book movie, and its actors are about as under-the-top as Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2 (a bad, but fitting performance for the definitive comic book movie.) After all, Kill Bill, Vol. 2 might just be the definitive comic book movie to never have been based on a comic book. It's got all the fixins. Tarantino is an American filmmaker - his "knowledge" of the techniques utilized in foreign films is not nearly as extensive as the number of films he has watched. Upon seeing his work, a neophyte might make such observations. He loves the moving image. The "neat", "cool-looking" things he can do with a camera, or in post-production. The camera eye, studying arbitrary qualities of a room. He likes talking heads - he likes to hear himself pontificate endlessly about popular culture. He seems to have an obsession with feet. In KB, Vol. 2, he has fallen into self-parody, but it's brilliant. Tarantino has come into his own: he can use the aforementioned bastardized strains of Eurasian film-philosophy to create a moving comic book, tongue-in-cheek references to the film-styles he loves (simply because, after seeing all of his directorial efforts, it seems that Tarantino's sole wish as a filmmaker is to keep alive dead styles of film-making) and, for once, a film that is so inconsistent in style, that it functions as a continuous, running joke completely detached from the proceedings of the film. Of course, part of the reason we love Tarantino so much is that he is the frontrunner of his whole style over substance movement..."it's a good thing." It's a little disconcerting to read a Tarantino script that is devoid of humor. There are far too many straight lines in KB2 (however, not as many as in KB1 - however nothing as funny as: "I beseech you on behalf of my daughter.") The acting is another problem. Uma Thurman, as I mentioned before, gets by on attitude on her physical presence. Michael Madsen is a convincing sadistic hick - but I think I liked him more as a sadistic gangster in Reservoir Dogs...of course, Tarantino also has the unique distinction of being an anomaly of sorts when it comes to working with actors. On the one hand: outside of their work with Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Bridget Fonda, Harvey Keitel, [Madsen], Chris Penn and Pam Grier (and god only knows who else) have delivered nothing but lame-as-lame could ever hope or wish to be perfunct performances with other directors at the helm. One the other hand: he managed to direct Robert DeNiro (one of the greatest actors of all time) to a performance that would rank amongst his 1990s worst. Darryl Hannah is definitely not sexy anymore and (judging by this performance) was never a good actor. Her best performance was, most likely, in Blade Runner (where she plays a robot.) Carradine steals every scene he's in with his creepy presence and menacing lisp. This is an exciting, scary, high-octane adventure/revenge flick with a genuinely crowd-pleasing ending and exploding eyeballs. 'Nuff said. C