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Single, and very likely to stay that way, regardless of social climate and fashion trends.
I consider myself to me a moderate right-winger. Others tend to disagree. I've been accused of being a fascist(mostly by communists and their sympathizers), because I support the war on terror, include nations that sponsor(ed) terrorism and had nothing to do with 9/11(like Iraq), and justify America's past resistance to communist wars. On the same note, I've also been accused by some on the far-right of being a left-wing dupe because I've justified Clinton's sporadic attacks on Serbia's genocidal war against non-Serbs in the Balkans, and have equated Zimbabwe's government as being as racist as the Rhodesians they replaced in 1980. I even took a political survey fairly recently that suggested that I was a moderate left-winger.
I'm for a United Ireland, a United Timor, and a United Korea, but not on North Korea's terms. In fact, since North Korea was created by the USSR for the sole purpose of expanding communism into the rest of the far east, I refuse to recognize their right to exist as a nation.
Israel, on the other hand does have the right to exist as a nation. Palestine can exist too, as long as they're not out to destroy Israel. All these allegations of "Israeli Apartheid," "genocide against Palestinians," "stealing land," and what not are nothing but Arab & Muslim extremist propaganda, further supported by the far-left and the far-right. Peace betweeen Jews & Arabs in the Middle East could've existed if it were not for the Muslim Brotherhood, and their supporters in the Middle East, as well as the Third Reich, before & during World War 2, and the Communist Bloc during much of the cold war.
To me 9/11 conspiracy freaks(I've become tired of referring to them as conspiracy theorists, and refuse to refer to them as their self-proclamed labels like "truth movement" or "critical thinkers") can be and often are as despicable as the jihadists who attacked us on September 11, 2001, whether they're from the far-left, far-right, or self-proclamied independents. In fact I say the whole so-called "9/11 truth movement" is nothing but a cult.
Another view on the far east can be described this way: One China; One Taiwan; One Tibet.
On non-foreign affairs, I'm pro-road, but not anti-mass transit.
Here's a site debunking the myth held by those who believe George Washington had some "special wisdom" about the Jews:
Not my links, but I like them:
Some song parodies I like:
This is funny too:
Now, since this is a movie site, I think I'll point out that my interest in this site came from a failed attempt to become part of the entertainment industry in the past(as a cartoonist in particular), and a general knowledge of trivia and other details involving movies & television. I joined IMDb as a member sometime in the late-1990's, despite the fact that IMDb has my registration date listed as being on February 24, 2000.
Movies & TV Shows I like & hate:
Just read my User Comments for now, at the link below.
More 2 Come.
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Like many of my lists this is incomplete, however I won't add people that I don't think look alike. So if you're going to badger me to add Amy Adams & Isla Fisher, or Victoria Justice & Nina Dobrev, don't waste your time.
Though I don't know when, I will add more movies to this list someday.
NOTE: There has to be something screwed up about people when the idea of an actress playing Bristol Palin gets them all bent out of shape, but to play someone truly evil, like George Wallace, P.W. Botha, Hermann Goering or John Gotti, nobody seems to bat an eye.
See also The Disney Past of Nickelodeon Stars: http://www.imdb.com/list/v9G7NXCraHg/
NOTE: This is not a trashing of the skills of any actors and actresses.
Only Lainey Lewis can do any justice to The Indigo Girls.
When A.J. Michalka's sister Aly was on "Phil of the Future," The Disney Channel decided to promote the two of them as a family-friendly non-lesbian version of The Indigo Girls. I have to admit, their performance on the theme song from "Ice Princess" was as haunting as Amy and Emily's "Prince of Darkness," if not more-so. So it's only fitting that A.J. Michalka gets to do a spot on version of their best known hit. Perhaps it also helps that this episode followed an above average episode of it's prequel "The Goldbergs" on the same night.
The episode doesn't start out like this; It involves our heroine narrating how dress codes at schools were being tested throughout the country during the 1990's, including at William Penn Academy. Principal Glascott (Tim Meadows) isn't standing for any of these violations, and neither is Coach Mellor. In one scene, Glascott spots a girl wearing a skirt that's too short, only to find out it's Miss Lainey Lewis. "You're not a student, you're a Lainey." That line reminds me so much of the scene from "Up the Down Staircase," where Sylvia Barrett is kept from using the school elevator which is reserved only for teachers, despite being a teacher herself. Later on, Glascott finds so many kids violating the dress code they've run out of monogrammed T-Shirts with the school name on it to replace them with. As he discusses the "crisis" with the teachers, he decides not only to ban Lainey's microskirts, but funny ties like those worn by C.B., and T-Shirts with rock band names. If he thinks "The Butthole Surfers" is an offensive name, he hasn't heard of some of the bands I know about.
In some of the more recent episodes, we see Mellor in a relationship with one of the kid's aunts, who is hired as the new school nurse. In this episode he finds out she's not a sports fan! This makes him feel their relationship is threatened. On a day when Mellor wants to go see the Philadelphia Eagles play the "New York" Giants, she wants to go to Lilith Fair. Needless to say, Mellor doesn't understand this, and needs help trying to do so in order to better relate to his girlfriend. So Ms. Wilma Howell (Haneefah Wood) gives him some lessons starting with trying to get him to learn the Indigo Girls' bigger hit "Closer to Fine," claiming it's a siren song among women everywhere. Sure enough, she starts out by singing the song herself, suddenly joined by Ms. Lewis on acoustic guitar and Liz Flemming on tambourine. Unfortunately, Mellor gets spooked by the song, and fears his relationship is doomed. Speaking of Lainey and Liz, it's the issues over the dress code that creates tension between the two teachers. Ms. Flemming has had a long standing grudge against stylish and popular girls like Lainey because she believes that they're also stuck-up b*tches, and Big Tasty's girlfriend is genuinely crushed by this.
Hearing Bryan Callen murder the Indigo's most famous hit in an attempt to woo Nurse Julie is a bit hard to stomach, but A.J. Michalka's cover is worthwhile, with or without Lennon Parham and Haneefah Wood. It's too bad Aly Michalka couldn't be there for this.
And for the record, Lilith Fair came out a decade after The Indigo Girls' first two albums.
Saw this for Anna Kendrick, and got a whole lot more.
There are two words in the universe that would make a straight man want to see this movie; Anna Kendrick. In her autobiography "Scrappy Little Nobody" she originally thought the only people who would've bothered with this movie were closeted homosexuals who believe this movie helped them come out. But if you're not 100% homophobic, there could still be something in the movie you might find worthwhile.
Ahh, life before Camp Ovation; While the campers perform the song "How Shall I See You Through My Tears," we have a montage of some of the other campers before getting the chance to do so. We have Vlad Baumann rehearsing a speech in his mirror, Michael Flores going to the junior prom in drag, and not only having his invitation torn up by the prom committee, but getting the living crap kicked out of him by a bunch of jocks, and Ellen Lucas trying to convince her brother to take her to the junior prom after failing to get a date (although I can't imagine why). But going to this summer camp for the performing arts gives all these kids and more a chance to not only perform, but to be themselves,... or so it may seem that way. Kendrick plays Fritzi Wagner a would-be actress who also tries to be a toadie to the popular Jill Simmons (Alana Allen). Shaun (Steven Cutts) wants to convince his shy little brother Petie (Kahiry Bess) that he can make it as a black man in the performing arts. Another camper named Jenna (Tiffany Taylor) was able to talk her parents into letting her go to Camp Ovation as opposed to a fat camp, on the condition that she goes with her jaws wired shut.
At the first audition, we see Vlad perform a cover of "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones, with the camp background band playing to the very note, and one of the female counselors is convinced he's straight. Evidently the lesson is if you want to be viewed as straight, just perform an old Rolling Stones song during your audition. Even with that, he ends up striking a friendship with Michael. He doesn't insult the guy for being gay, but he does tell him that if he were straight he have girls hitting on him left and right, using his Latino heritage to pass himself off as a Latin Lover. Vlad himself seems to have his heart set on Ellen, and they seem like they're going to hit it off, until Jill swoops in and takes him away from her for a little nookie.
The camp is supposed to be supervised by Bert Hanley, a playwright who had a big hit named "The Children's Crusade," back in the day, and hasn't been able to do anything else but drink ever since. Other counselors include a dance instructor who makes a speech during one of his lessons which is reminiscent of Debbie Allen's speech in Fame, which one of the kids snarks about until that teacher makes him eat his words, and a Cuban refugee director who evidently feared that the avant-garde play "Midnight Sun" would cause reprisals from their "Revolutionary Armed Forces." His maniacal tirades are one of the things that bring Vlad and Ellen closer to one another, and so are Jill's insults over her appearance. But how long can that last?
After Jill chastises Fritzi for washing her underwear, she gets a pep talk from Bert, then sabotages her performance from "Company," by spiking her drinks with a well-known household cleaner. She yanks Jill off-stage in the middle of singing "The Ladies Who Lunch" and makes that song her own! You will forget Elaine Stritch after this, in fact, you'll forget Alana Allen after this! Later when Bert hears Vlad casually perform one of his songs, he interrupts him and the rest of the campers and tells them they're wasting their time trying to make it in show business. After he leaves the porch, Vlad goes into the counselor's office and chastises him for trashing the campers. "They"? Did you think I wasn't talking to you too?" No Mr. Hanley, I think he knew it. But it's after this exchange while the camp administrator is passed out drunk that this golden boy he despises discovers some of his other work, and he rallies the other campers to perform some of it, in order to prove that they and he are both worthy.
The highlight of this movie was Kendrick's show stopping performance of "The Ladies Who Lunch," which she literally steals from Alana Allan. At a close second is the cast's cover of "Century Plant" by Victoria Williams. Others might disagree with me and put Williams' song at the top, and it's hard not to imagine why.
If you grew up in the New York Tri-State area like I did, you've seen as many ads on TV and in newspapers for Broadway plays as you have for movies. So, whether you're straight, gay, or bisexual, you'd be exposed to some of the references to the various plays here. There are some truly funny scenes during the movie. During the auditions, one of the counselors draws a picture of himself committing suicide next to a piano while another anonymous girl sings "Tomorrow" from "Annie." Another is when Ellen is with Petie with her own rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls," and the boy gets spooked and runs off stage. Even Todd Graff, who wrote and directed this movie found the scenario hilarious.
Those who see this movie for Ms. Kendrick should know that it's really not her movie. In fact her part is barely a B-Story, despite her outstanding musical number. The movie itself is based on Graff's own life at a camp known as Stagedoor Manor while he was on a break from his membership in the Short Circus on "The Electric Company." Because of this, it makes me wonder if the gay kids could've been that openly gay in the 1970's. I even thought of making the title of my review "This Movie is So Gay." Regardless, the musical performances are what makes this movie great even if you don't like the story lines. I think there's still a good chance that you will.
The Cool Ones (1967)
I'm not going to lie; I saw it mainly for Teri Garr.
Despite the title, there are other aspects of this movie that got me interested in it. One main reason the movie didn't do so well at the box office was because they were making a 1965 movie in 1967. By the time this movie was released, The Beatles had finished doing official concerts in under a year, the hippies were beginning to organize the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" had pushed sleaze into Oscar territory, and "The Graduate" did more to speak for the kids than any leftover wannabe beach party movie.
Cliff Donner (Gil Peterson) was an early '60's swinging sixties pop singer whose career went into the toilet when some managers suggest he performs some old 1940's music. Think Ricky Nelson going Bing Crosby, and you'll get the idea. Years later Cliff is driving to Palm Springs and stops at a night club owned by Stanley Krumley (Robert Coote), a man he knew from England who ran a club there, and talks him into singing along with The Leaves.
Would-be pop singer Hallie Rodgers (played by the uber-cute Debbie Watson), is struggling to make it big in the music business but has to settle for being a go-go dancer on "Whiz-Bam," an obvious imitation of "Hullaballoo." Frustrated with having the powers that be stall her career, she breaks out of her cage and has an unauthorized duet with the lead signer of Patrick and the East Enders (played by Glen Campbell). The producers are pissed at her, but the kids dig it, and the Whiz-Bam dancers noticed this. Even Patrick notices it, and when a stagehand insults their audience, and the girl is fired, both the Whiz-Bam dancers and the band threaten them "West Side Story-"style (I wish I were kidding!).
Though despondent over being fired, some of her fellow Whiz-Bammers take her to that bar in Palm Springs where Cliff and The Leaves are performing. Suddenly, a guy in his late-20's who looks a lot like Iggy Pop (No, really!) decides he wants to put the moves on her, and he won't take no for an answer. The commotion this guy causes stops the show, Cliff comes to the rescue and throws everybody out, until he recognizes her from the show. He decides he wants get her foot in the door with the dance that everyone on in the audience was doing which he dubbed "The Tantrum." However she wants him to make a comeback in return for his promotion of her.
Then there this whole elaborate number where Gil, Debbie and the Whiz-Bam dancers perform the song "High" in the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Leave it to a non-Californian such as myself to be flabergasted over the fact that such a transit system can exist in Southern California, and with a ski lodge too. After it's all over, Krumley tells them that he's about to give the two of them a big break through his brother Tony Krum, a wannabe Phil Spector played by Roddy McDowall. Naturally as expected from these movies, the two fall in love, but Tony Krum wants to be the one who decides when and how they do so. This creates a major kink in their relationship, but Krum doesn't care, and Donner sees what's going on, and poor Miss Rodgers wants to keep both her man and her career. He even goes so far into getting Gil to get involved in a demoltion derby as part of his promotion. One might think this might be more of an attempt to capitalize on movies such as "Fireball 500."
So who else among the dancers are in this movie besides the lovely Ms. Garr? Well, you have a short guy with a goatee, a guy who looks like Howdy-Doody, another guy with a Peter Tork haircut, an Asian-American woman, one token black guy, some other blondes, including one with roots, and a lot of other extras. Sadly I don't recognize them all, although I've heard some names of a few of those people, so maybe I should.
There's a line from the docudrama on the making of "Sweet Sweetback's Badassssss Song" where Mario Van Peebles (playing his father) claimed that in the late-1960's the times were changing, and Hollywood wasn't. Actually there were movies that reflected what was going on (or what people thought was going on), and how people felt about it, and even if this wasn't one of them, it was still farily enjoyable. Let's be honest though; this movie is not only not cool, it's corny, and doesn't know it's corny, unlike, say for instance, "Enchanted." Incidentally, Garr's career started to take off after this movie when she went from being a nobody dancer to roles in a certain episode of "Star Trek," and the 1968 Monkees movie "Head," and the rest is history. So a little art imitating life gives this movie a couple of extra points.
"Andy Saves History" would've been a good episode title too.
What can possibly be said about this episode that hasn't been said before? Sadly not much, which is kind of disappointing. Oh, but I'm gonna try.
Opie is having a hard time with his history lessons, and seems to blame "Old Lady Crump," who's not really that old (even if she looks that way). Andy replies with sympathy claiming that he had trouble with his schoolwork when he was a kid too. That day at class, he tells her that he doesn't need to learn history, and his friends join in that sentiment. Miss Crump blames Andy for convincing his son and their friends to forgo their schoolwork just because his father is the Sheriff of Mayberry. Both she and the kids have the wrong idea on how Andy feels about the issue.
It's just then that Sheriff Taylor decides he's going to get them interested in history by retelling the start of the American Revolution in his old folksy way, and it works! He even gives the Native Americans credit for helping Paul Revere and the Minutemen at Concord! A surprise for the teacher like this one won't be found again until 1967 with Sylvia Barrett at Calvin Coolidge High School in East Harlem.
As he grows up, Opie and his friends will realize that the "shot heard 'round the world" was only a metaphor, but a good one. They'll also grow up to learn that there are people in his state outside of Mayberry who resent the Emancipation Proclamation, and have been throwing a monkey wrench into it for a whole century. In addition, they'll find out that just five years earlier, 500 modern-day Indians defeated 50 stupid white men in white sheets from his own state. This is an episode that if it doesn't get you into Griffith's old comedy routines, is guaranteed to make you more interested in American History.
The Battle of Birchwood Avenue
In my review of "The Proud Family Movie," I mentioned that I was bummed that Penny Proud and her friends never got to make the Gross Sisters pay for their bullying and extortion. Thankfully, nothing like that has ever happened on "The Middle" when the Hecks deal with the Glossners. In fact in almost every episode involving the Glossners, the Hecks seem to be the only family who are able or willing to deal with them.
Axl seems to be living the kind of life that contradicts what Mike wants to teach him about being a man, and he keep rubbing it in his father's face. Brick is trying to earn his driver's license, but his parents are doing everything he can to prevent him from reaching that point. Sue is about to return to college after Spring Break, and wants to use a snowglobe she found as a device for declaring her love for Sean Donahue. On her way out though, she finds out her car was stolen.
Once Frankie reveals that car was stolen by the Glossner family, she and Sue are convinced there's nothing they can do about it. Mike refuses to give up and calls the police, but even the cop who interviews them thinks getting the car back is a lost cause. Then during a family discussion, Mike decides that the only way to stop them is for the whole family to take matters into their own hands. Unfortunatley, they find that when they go after the Glossners, they have invited a few extra relatives for support, and though most of the Hecks escape, they turn Sue into a prisoner of war.
You know how sometimes they say it's always darkest before the dawn? Just as in the first Glossners episode "The Neighbors" from Season One, the rest of the neighborhood is encouraged to take a stand against them once the Hecks do. Now they know they have a better chance of taking them down. One of the best scenes is when Axl has trouble breaking through the front door and Mike steps in to help. He doesn't just kick the door down, he STOMPS on it! I'm almost afraid to ask if Neil Flynn can do that in real life.
I'm not going to reveal the ending of it, but I will say it's almost as uplifting as the ending of "The Christmas Miracle." Although by referring to that episode, I may have ended it up spoiling it just enough, but you should still watch it anyhow.
Descendants 2 (2017)
Delivers on it's promise to blow the first movie out of the water.
The 2015 DCOM "Descendants" proved to be incredibly popular among the kids, and not without good reason. However I was given some negative responses to my IMDB user review of the movie, which is something all IMDb users are at risk of getting. Just because I didn't feel the same way most people did about it doesn't mean I was unsympathetic towards the main characters. Whatever misgivings I may have had about the previous movie, it had nothing to do with Dove. Before the movie, Cameron herself said this would blow the first movie out of the water, and I have to admit I was impressed.
Mal is on the verge of marrying Prince Ben, and is overwhelmed by the publicity. Before we see what she's living with, we get a fantasy sequence used as the theme song, and I have to admit, no matter who mentions any song called "Ways to be Wicked," I always think of the Lone Justice song from the 1980's. The daughter of Maleficent is caught off guard by the prospects of marriage, as well as the prince showering her with gifts, including a new scooter. She's also facing pressure to turn her spell book over to the "Museum of Cultural History," which she has been reluctant to do. In the meantime, Carlos has been crushing on the fairy godmother's daughter Jane (who looks better in the sequel, BTW), Jay is winning the heart of Lonnie, and trying to get her a spot on the fencing team. Evie is adjusting well to life in Auradon, and even helping those in need. After being caught using her spell book for a date with Ben who chastises her over it, she finally breaks down and is ready to give up and return to the Isle of the Lost.
Certainly no slouch when it comes to talent is China Anne McClain, who plays Uma, the daughter of Ursula from "The Little Mermaid." Disney probably wanted her for a few more projects since she became the third wheel on her own sitcom, and they got their money's worth with McClain. With the sons of Captain Hook, Gaston, and lesser pirates, Uma more or less runs the island, as well as a seafood dive bar and restaurant But seeing Mal on TV apparently living the good life pisses her off.
On the isle, we meet a pre-teen hairdresser named Dizzy Tremaine (Anna Cathcart), who is the granddaughter of one of the evil stepsisters of Cinderella. With her messy pigtails, color-splattered frock, and purple cat-eyeglasses barely hiding her copper eye shadow, Dizzy's true talent as a hairstylist is overlooked by her grandmother, but not by Mal or Evie. Unlike the other kids of the villains, she is anything but evil. Mal also keeps her from being victimized in an extortion racket by one of Uma's gang, which leads to the revelation that she has returned, and so has her purple hair.
Feeling guilty over trying to change his girlfriend and driving her away, he decided to go to follow her to her former prison island, and Evie, Jay, and Carlos know they have to go with the Prince, at least partially for his protection. They eventually find her and he tries to talk her into coming back, through no avail. While Mal loves the Prince, and life on Auradon, she feels she's a liability to her boyfriend, the royal family, and the kingdoms. But then Evie starts off a duet of "The Space Between," and everything seems like it's going to be okay.
Unfortunately Ben gets kidnapped in the process of trying to bring Mal home, she demands that Uma let him loose. Meanwhile Ben tells her abductor that the effort to bring the villain kids away from their evil parents influence was going to be expanded to other kids and could've even included her. The new villain makes a deal with the future princess and demands the fairy godmother's wand. The villain kids return home to make a fake wand with a 3-D printer, and bring it to Uma as a substitute this time with the help of Lonnie. They have a musical number before the exchange, with a bridge where Prince Ben urges the girls not to fight, but they go through with it anyway, and battle each other when Uma finds out it's fake, but not before returning Ben. I smelled a sequel to this the moment that Mal's spell-book was dropped on the Isle of the Lost as they tried to escape, and to be honest, I'm open to the idea. I also wish I was able to say something about the possibility of a third movie in my review before the first promo for it. I won't spoil the ending if you haven't seen it already, but the first four refugees of the Isle of the Lost do defeat the remaining villains. Also the post-credit ending is better than anything Kenny Ortega did with his previous franchise.
Having said that, there are only so many years that the cast can continue to be believable as their characters, and unless I'm mistaken Melissa De La Cruz's books will outnumber the movies that the cast can make. So the idea that the third one could be the last won't surprise me at all.
Sledge: The Untold Story (2005)
Well, at least it's better than "18 Fingers of Death!"
Over-enthusiastic fan Richard Orchid (Holmes Osborne) is making a documentary on the rise, fall and attempted comeback of former 1980's and 1990's action hero movie star Frank Sledge (Richard Leitch), and Sledge is happy to go along with the making of Orchid's movie.
As a child Francis Allen Sledgewick was dumped at a dance studio by his parents in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The head of that studio Samantha Jones (Lin Shaye) takes him as a student, and he proves to be somewhat of a prodigy. So after high school, he leaves home and seeks fame in Hollywood. While he's struggling with that, he gained some notoriety as a Chippendale's dancer thanks to the help of the just gay enough manager Glen Jefferies (Nathan Lee Graham). It was that club that turned him into the main attraction and where he also gets the attention of movie producer Russell Gold (Chris Palermo), who wants to replace the former star of "Bloodfight" for a sequel with none other than him. The studio decided to change his name to Frank Sledge. Do you think it's far-fetched to have a dancer use those moves in on-screen martial arts scenes? You shouldn't. Olivia Holt's dancing skills got her that major starring role in Disney XD's "Kickin' It." Anyway, the producers work around all the inconsistencies, and the movie is a big success, and Frank becomes a big star overnight.
On the set of a spoof of "Above the Law," Frank is injured during the fight scene, and the actor he was supposed to be fighting with convinces him that because he's the star, he should get everything his way, and he takes that advice way too seriously as noted by Eric Roberts who played his character's police chief. It's at this point he starts to become both an ego-maniac on the set and a junkie. Everyone is pissed off by his antics, especially female co-stars like Sean Young, Angelina Jolie, Kelly Hu, etcetera. On the set of "Jimbo," he gets so wasted that they have to rewrite another actor's character as having multiple personality disorder so they can use Frank's lines. It's all downhill from there for the big star, and the only thing left to live for now are acting lectures, pizza delivery jobs, and AA meetings lead by ex-comedian Richard Lewis.
I was interested in 18 Fingers of Death because of two people; the hilarious Lori Beth Denberg, and the late Pat Morita. It wasn't worth it. In this case, I was interested because of Kali Rocha, who has a minor part as a receptionist for a talent agency trying to help restart Frank's career. I say "trying" loosely, because the agent (played by Sam McMurray) doesn't seem to be doing that much to get him any decent roles, and Sledge himself sucks now. Either way, Rocha's character has a crush on him, and her boss teases her over it. Frank is all business though, and he takes a pay-scale gig in a movie that will eventually be rewritten completely as the first of the "Rush Hour" series... without him or his female lead.
The soundtrack is dominated by a bad retooling of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," known as "Dance With the Dragon." It's supposed to be bad, but you don't care that much, because Leitch (who sings the song), tries to make it a little funnier. So groan if you must at the bad puns of existing movie titles. Or Ernie Hudson's attempts to combine one of his lines from "Ghostbusters" with Richard Crenna's speech about how hard it is to kill John Rambo from "First Blood." Or even (God forbid), the musical version of "The Matrix," with Debbie Allen replacing Laurence Fishburne III. This isn't in the same league as "Take the Money and Run," but it's still amusing enough.
One important note; A tagline for this movie was that "America Needed a Hero." At the time this movie focused on the start of Sledge's acting career, America already had Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, and Charles Bronson, and had already failed miserably to turn Barry Bostwick into an action hero. So there were plenty of action movie heroes that existed before the mid-1980s.
The Terrible Truth (1951)
Keep your daughters away from drugs, or else they'll turn into Winona Ryder look-alikes who wear no lipstick!
As condescending and sarcastic as that title sounds, there are certianly better reasons to prevent kids from using drugs, but sadly movies like this tend to backfire with their message as badly as Reefer Madness and Cocaine Fiends did in the 1930's.
Judge William B. McKesson narrates and appears in this movie. He speaks to us in a Broken English accent, aghast that there are headlines in the newspapers related to crimes involving drug addicted teens. He's shocked that this could happen so often in the mid-20th Century USA, as if it's something you might expect at another time in another country. Of course the judge mentions that at the time there were only two hospitals in the entire nation that specialized in the treatment of drug addiction. If this is true, then most junkies were probably dumped in mental hospitals and given treatment that never worked for them, including lobotomies.
To emphasize his case, he brings up one addict he knows of named Phyllis Howard, agreeing with her parents to let (or perhaps coerce) her into telling the world how she got into smoking pot and shooting heroin. The judge picks up a photo of young woman from her senior high school year and describes her as being "pretty as a picture." She looked like a damn '30's girl! Somebody on the Internet Archives website actually thought it was the girl's mother!
As one might expect, she and the rest of society has the wrong idea about what kinds of kids end up on dope. She learned about them in junior high, and believes that only the kids who "couldn't get along," "were afraid of everything" and "have no backbone." This is an idea that more or less lasted well into the 1980's, sadly. The same year that Molly Ringwald said "only burnouts like you get high" to Judd Nelson in "The Breakfast Club," a doped up New York City preppie killed his girlfriend in Central Park, supposedly during rough sex. Anyway, Phyllis tried pot on a double date because her first boyfriend and the boyfriend of a friend of hers were on it and got high right away, and evidently too high for even her junkie friends. Then she crashes when the date is over, but now spends her young life living for the next fix. She stops wearing make-up and let's her hair flop down.
Then she meets a well-dressed heroin addict and dealer named "Chuck," and in her effort to get a better high, buys some heroin from the guy, and marries him just so they can both get wasted with one another 24/7. Until one day, Chuck gets busted by the LAPD and she struggles to find all the stash that he dumped. Eventually she tries to get her fixes the same way as Chuck and she ends up with the same fate, although she could've ended up on a robbery spree or selling her body. After getting busted by the cops, she ends up spending five days in jail undergoing painful withdrawal from her addiction in the detox unit. And I don't care what anyone says. Phyllis looked better when she was strung-out and detoxing.
The judge suddenly mentions the possibility of communist involvement with dope trade, which might seem like nothing more than knee-jerk McCarthyist hysteria, until he cites the fact that the so-called "People's Liberation Army" sold opium to the people of China to ruin the Nationalist government's efforts to win the war, then shot addicts where they stood. Regardless of this, the truth was that drug dealers, including the Mafia, sold them strictly to make money for themselves. No matter how good the intentions of the makers of this movie were, it's attempts to keep kids from using drugs proved to be a dismal failure.
Karen Rooney is right; Mama's still got it!
With Season four being the last season for Liv and Maddie, it's a safe bet, that the staff of the show wanted to allow one last chance for Kali Rocha and her writing partner Jonathan McClain to write an episode.
Liv is at the local mall that they call "The Cove" with some fans, while Karen helps take some pictures with them on their cell phones. Just then a modeling agent and photographer spots the two women, and wants to use one of them in a photo-shoot. But instead of seeking Liv, it's Karen that she wants to take pictures of. Liv is convinced this is some kind of scam, but as soon as she rebuffs the idea of her mother being discovered by a modeling agency, Karen is quick to talk her out of it, and let's her starlet daughter know in no uncertain terms that "Momma's still got it." And that's absolutely true. Now, some people may find it creepy to get all hot and bothered over Rooney family matriarch, but remember that I'm 52 years old, which means not only do I have the right to view the woman as a sex symbol, but it's actually more appropriate for me to do so. Anyway, Karen anticipates an upcoming photo-shoot at Dena's household, yet Liv still tries to convince her mother that the woman is a scam-artist. When the photographer finally arrives at the house and takes pics, Liv is almost ready to catch her in the act of getting a check from her, when she finds the woman was actually going to give her a check. So while the Rooney matriarch doesn't lose money on the deal, the gig may not turn out as glamorous as she expects.
Maddie and Willow are jogging through the same mall as part of their basketball training, when they stumble upon a local young musician making up a song about them. The two ex-Ridgewood High School jock girls are big fans of this kid, and naturally throw money in his guitar case. Unfortunately, Willow accidentally threw a punch card for a juice bar in there and tries to get it back, and that's when they both discover that their favorite local musician is a homeless runaway. This story-line is the reason for the title, and that's when they decided they're going to raise some money so they can find this kid a place to live. First they decide to build a booth where people can shoot a basketball to help them raise money. Suddenly, Parker's would-be girlfriend Val comes over to visit him and notices some structural deficiencies in the booth, which neither of the two girls buy until Maddie shoots a ball, causing it to collapse. That's when they decide to get help from the teenage Einstein, and use a classroom at her school. But rather than build a booth to raise money for the house, Maddie suggests that they should build one themselves.
Joey and Parker are all psyched up for an upcoming movie called "Custodians of the Cosmos 2," which is shown in 5-D. Because the movie is in 5-D it's ridiculously expensive, so the two boys try to sneak into the movie theater at a lower price. As part of their attempt to do so, they meet a ticket counter girl at the theater named Daria, and before you get on my case about the classic MTV cartoon, this Daria played by Ashley Fuss, is not a brunette and does not wear glasses, but still has the same sullen, sarcastic attitude that those of us loved from the protagonist of the Beavis and Butt-head spin-off. She's not buying Parker's crappy attempts to impersonate a 4-year-old, or Joey's attempt to hide Parker in his jumpsuit and pretend to be an big fat man.
Disney's promotional department tried to plug this as a "very special episode," and while it's not hard to understand why, the "That's So Raven" episode "True Colors" was a lot more heavy-handed, and the "Austin & Ally" episode "Beauties & Bullies" was heavier than both of them. Additionally, Ms. Rocha once reminded us in an interview that Disney tends to make things cheap, but in some cases it works, because it gives cast-members the chance to perform other tasks behind the scenes, like write some episodes. Nevertheless, this gave the team of Rocha and McClain a chance to write something true to their hearts, and like in "BFF-A-Rooney," also give Ms. Rocha a chance to boost her own ego, which is well-deserved.
I will never think of the word "paradiddle" the same way again!
And actually, that might be a good thing, although I don't use it regularly in conversations anyhow. As I mentioned in my comment on the series finale, the series itself changed, even if the main characters didn't change that much. Lindy still gets over-excited over the littlest things, Delia is still a weirdo, even with her new look, Garrett is still an uptight germophobe, and most importantly, Logan and Jasmine are still in love with each other, despite the fact that Jasmine is with someone else.
Like episodes such as "Lindy Nose Best," "Next of Pumpkin," "Logan Finds Out!," and "Falling for... Who?," this episode focuses heavily on the unrequited love between Logan and Jasmine. In this case the catalyst is Jasmine seeking a favor from Logan, but instead of the obvious fantasy he has about her breaking up with her boyfriend and promising to be his forever, she requests drum lessons. Needless to say the first day of the lessons fuel some sparks between the two unrequited lovers. The barely contained reaction on Lindy Watson's face in the background when she saw Logan teaching Jasmine about the concept of a paradiddle has to be seen to be believed, if you haven't seen it already. I wanted to squeal with all the 14-year-old girls this show is targeted at,... and I'm a 51-year-old man.
The "B stories" are a toss-up. One story seems to involve Garrett training a new Rumble Juice employee named Shelley played by "Sonny With a Chance's" Allisyn Ashley Arm. The girl seems quite eager to learn, specifically from him. When Garrett lets one kid who can't pay for a smoothie get one for free, his new trainee tries to use the incident to get him fired. This doesn't necessarily work so well, because when Betty LeBow confronts him on it, he reveals that he took some money out of his own paycheck.
The other one involves Delia recruiting Lindy to help her in a puppet show for some kids, but both of them have creative differences, mostly spurred by Lindy. The play is supposed to be on getting along with one another, but Lindy wants to try to add the concept of conflict for emphasis, thereby adding some real conflict between the two members of the "Fab 5." And of course, this conflict gets solved in the usual sitcom-allotted time. Honestly, deciding which is the B-story and which is the C-story is a little difficult.
Getting back to the "A-story," one of Logan's lessons ends up inadvertently causing Jasmine to wind up in his arms, just before her Owen arrives, which makes him question the brainy fashion plate about her relationship with him. The girl reveals that he's just a friend, but we all know better.
In real life, Piper Curda does not need drum lessons from Austin North, or vice versa. The Curda family has a YouTube demo video of Piper on the drums at 13 with a medley of beats from classic rock tunes. Thankfully, North and Curda's own real life musical abilities gave the writers fodder for their characters' musical abilities, and therefore the chance to get a little closer. Whatever you might say about the changes in the writing for the second season, you have to admit they knew how to turn up the heat between the two of them, even if they don't end up with more heat between them than the Disney censors will allow. You've got to give them some credit for that.
I Didn't Do It: The Rescuers (2015)
Low ratings and moderate reformatting brought the show into the toilet.
The first season of sitcom "I Didn't Do It" had unique characters and settings, and until the series finale could be considered a non-musical. This made it stand out among the usual formula for Disney Channel sitcoms. What it didn't do was bring high ratings, however. The second season brought the writing staff from "Good Luck Charlie" in, and they changed aspects of the show that shouldn't have been changed. Besides the removal of the disaster of the week, the show was no longer set in the northern suburbs of Chicago, but in Chicago itself, in spite of the same sets and B-Rolls as in Season One. Then there's Delia, who's more made up than she was in Season 1, and not as a joke this time. At the same time, while she once had a mother who forced her into child and teen beauty pageants, suddenly she has two gay fathers. And yet, it could've been worse; They could kept the characters in name only and given them each drastically different personalities and backstories.
For the time being, let's focus on the series finale. The animal shelter that Lindy has been helping out since "Lindy Goes to the Dogs," is facing the threat of being closed unless they can get $5000. After trying to find various ways of raising money, Logan suggests trying to get the band "The Weasels" to perform a charity concert, since he met the band's drummer in "Logan and Lindy's Brrrrthday." Later on the three girls are drinking coffee on the porch at Lindy's house, and Jasmine reveals that she's still torn about her feelings for Logan despite dating Owen. Delia insists she should flat out dump the guy, and we eventually find that her relationship with Brandon isn't so wonderful either. Then when Garrett is taking a break from his job at Rumble Juice where he previously tricked his boss into letting the band perform at the smoothie joint, Delia approaches him and hires him to help her break up with her boyfriend. This is one of many aspects of the show that makes it appear that a potential romance between Delia and Garrett is possible, but then again there have been a few where the possibility of Lindy becoming Garrett's boyfriend could've happened as well. Either way, Lindy runs to Logan and tells him that Jasmine still loves him, and he should prepare to move in on her if she breaks up with Owen. Later on Keith Edwards the drummer for the Weasels stops by the Watson household, and tells the twins that the band broke up, because some of the members accused the others of flirting with their respective girlfriends. That's when Lindy decides they should form a band of their own.
As for the relationships, Jasmine admits her desire for Logan and she and Owen break up, but it's not a messy break up at all. In fact just as the two are discussing their prospects for relationships, another random brunette flirts with the guy. Garrett isn't having that much luck splitting Brandon up with Delia, because her ex-beau is now spending too much time crying on his shoulder. Thankfully, Betty LeBow saves the day for both of them. The yet to be named band of main characters performs at Rumble Juice, and they succeed in raising the money. And yes, after the show Jasmine and Logan finally become girlfriend and boyfriend, as fans had been waiting for since mid-Season One.
Somewhere it has been said that "The Doris Day Show" was the only sitcom to change it's format in all five seasons. Judging by this episode, one can only speculate that the remote possibility of a third season would have involved the "fab five" performing around the country in a band to raise money for animal shelters and other charities, which would've meant another change in format. Also, I still think there are people who haven't forgiven Olivia Holt for leaving "Kickin' It." A few months after the show ended, I got some spam about Olivia's style which identifies her as "Kickin' It's Olivia Holt," not IDDI's Olivia Holt. I liked her and the rest of the cast, the uniqueness of the characters, and the far-flung chaos of Season One. The reformatting in Season Two was moderate, but still drastic enough to make the show look too much like yet another standard generic Disney Channel kid-com. As sad as it is to see the show go, I think it'd probably be better off that it did. The problem was never that there weren't any good episodes, because there were. The fact is, that the creators of the series wanted to make something that was a little different, and too many people just weren't used to it.
Good show, but should try harder to convince viewers it's not an iCarly clone.
Two early-teenage girls make it big with funny videos for the internet. That plot outline might seem a little too familiar for some people and rightly so. There are some notable differences between this show and Nickelodeon's now classic sitcom "iCarly." The girls of Bizaardvark are the little sisters and cousins of the kids who watched iCarly, the members of Carly Shay's presumed nation who she urged to give her their best stuff and leave the rest to her, who are now possibly college students and graduates. Carly Shay and Sam Puckett were dedicating to cracking jokes, vlogging, and inviting talented and weird people on their show. Paige Olvera and Frankie Wong are a pair of wannabe "Weird Al" Yankovics, if Weird Al only did style parodies. There were no makeover videos like "Perfect Perfection with Amelia" on iCarly. There were also no stunt-related videos like "Dare-Me Bro," on iCarly. There were also no video channels devoted to pranks like "Prank Town," on iCarly. Carly and Sam used to play the occasional prank on people ranging from Spencer to Lewbert, but it wasn't the main theme of that channel. Carly and Sam also never worked at the offices of a web service similar to YouTube or Google.
The series takes place in the Tarzana section of Los Angeles, which according to the b-rolls is quite suburban. Paige Olvera (Olivia Rodrigo) and Frankie Wong ("Best Friends Whenever's" Madison Hu) are two girls at a stuffy prep school, who had already been making these comedy music videos for the past three years or so, when suddenly they seek 10,000 subscribers so they can work at the Vuuugle Studio, which will give them access to better props and costumes and the like. Well, they succeed and they run into the stars of "Perfect Perection with Amelia" and "Dare-Me Bro," as well as other weirdos. The studio is supervised by an Oxford-educated snob named Liam, played by Kali Rocha's former "Liv and Maddie" writing partner, Jonathan McClain. Liam is the son of the owner, and patrols the studio with a group of robots. He also thinks the internet should have better use than what it has, including some of the crap that winds up on Vuuugle, and sometimes it's hard not to agree with him.
As I mentioned, Bizaardvark is a channel devoted to novelty music videos, and Olivia Rodrigo is actually quite a talented singer. Not on the level of Dove Cameron or even Laura Marano, but still impressive. If and when this show goes off the air, she should actually consider a genuine musical side career. Jake Paul, already had his own real life YouTube Channel with his twin brother Logan, who had a guest appearance in the episode "The First Law of Dirk."
Now the bad news. Some of the story lines and characters seem to similar to the former hit Nickelodeon sitcom. Belissa (Mary Jade Frank) is a lot like Mandy Valdez, albeit with her own videos worshiping Paige and Frankie. Victor, played by Austin & Ally's Calum Worthy runs the previously mentioned "Prank Town" channel while scheming to destroy any other video channel he thinks might be funnier than his, including Bizaardvark. In that sense he's a bit like Nevel Papperman, although much older, without the channel dedicated to reviewing other websites, and without the crush on either Paige or Frankie (let's face it; that would be creepy as hell). The episode "Control+Alt+Escape," is a bit like "iPsycho," if Nora Dirshlit were rich and a boy, instead of a girl. Then again, maybe there's a little more distinction that you might expect.
The show already has an upcoming second season, but judging by the reactions on IMDb, I'm not 100% sure it's going to get a third. One way they could increase their chances of getting one is by emphasizing the distinctions of the main characters from that of the show it's being accused of ripping off. Keep this one fact in mind however; When iCarly aired, the concept of two young people making their own videos was a fairly unique premise. Now, it's a relatively common activity. At least the characters on this show have something interesting about themselves, that would justify the collective attention of the viewers.
Liv and Maddie: End-A-Rooney (2017)
When Dove Cameron leaves the Disney Channel, it will be a huge loss.
Dove Cameron is without a doubt, the most talented singing actress that the Disney Channel has ever had, or will ever have. That's why when she's finally done with this show, the sequel to "Descendants," and all the promotional work involved, the loss to them will be as devastating as the murder of Phil Hartman and it's impact on the industry at large.
This episode is the third part to the series finale, which began with Liv Rooney suffering from vocal nodes that threatened not only her career but her very health, all while she is preparing to perform a torch song in a live episode of "Sing It Louder!!!" The second involves her recovery from nearly on the spot emergency surgery and her fears that she may never get a chance to sing again despite being wanted for a Broadway production. This also has a B-Story involving Parker and Val in a competition to stay in a bio-dome in preparation for a future Martian colony, and a C-Story where Joey finally takes in a stray cat. Which leads to the episode this review is for.
The Rooney's former Stevens Point, Wisconsin household has finally been rebuilt, and Karen wants to celebrate one last family summer in California, which she has hyped up as "The Summer of Rooney," much like Sue Heck did at the end of that one season of "The Middle." Liv is finally about to to get her Broadway debut, in a show about a European princess who sneaks out of her castle, hangs out in Brooklyn, and becomes a double dutch phenom. The trouble is, she's going to have to fly to NYC a bit sooner than expected. Maddie's about to get a visit from Diggie, who wants to go to the same college as her in order to train for a career as a sports announcer, but Maddie herself is being offered money from New Orleans to help the homeless by building one of those tiny houses she built in "Tiny Houses-A-Rooney" with Val and Willow. But from what I recall, she actually needed Val's help to build them to the necessary standards. Speaking of which, Parker and Val are on the verge of being relocated with each other into a bio-dome with the hope of studying life on Mars. However, Parker finds out this bio-dome project is going to be relocated to Brazil. But regardless, he's going to be with the girl he loves, so to be honest, he shouldn't be so afraid.
John Beck and Ron Hart tried to wrap the series up as quickly as possible, by adding a few secrets we've never known about the characters. Many fans are disappointed that they never got to learn Parker's middle name. I'm more disappointed that we don't learn Karen's maiden name, and for that matter whether that name is shared by Great Aunt Hilary, Aunt Dena, and Ruby. There doesn't seem to be a man (or woman) in Aunt Dena's life, so I've always been convinced that some guy impregnated her and left her to raise Ruby alone until Liv was sent off to Hollywood to star in "Sing It Loud!" Evidently, there were five other episodes that couldn't be made, because Dove was too busy making "Descendants 2." Perhaps some of those secrets are in those episodes. The only thing more devastating that this can be compared to is the death of Phil Hartman. Having said that, just as Hollywood still survived that catastrophe, the Disney Channel will survive the loss of Miss Cameron. But they will never be the same after she's gone.
Habit Patterns (1954)
Rigid high-school conformity isn't bad enough without a bitchy narrator lady following you around.
Whatever you may have to say about the majority of the ephemeral films made between the 1930's and 1960's, believe it or not, they actually had good intentions. Even if the messages they tried to convey were complete loads of garbage, they actually meant well. This is not one of them. In fact, it's so repulsive, it might even make a good argument for book and film burning.
We open in a typical 1950's teenage girl's bedroom, to see our young damsel in distress sobbing uncontrollably. All of the sudden a voice speaks to her from out of nowhere with condescending scorn and says, "It's a little late for tears, isn't it, Barbara?" What could be so horrible to make this poor girl in tears leaning against her closet door with her room all messed up? Was she duped into a gang-bang by a gang of greasers? Did she get wait-listed for the college of her choice? Is she being forced into an arranged marriage? No, according to the narrator, she had a bad time a party because she was "unprepared."
The movie flashes back to when she had trouble getting up for school, and compares her to her neighbor Helen, who woke up on time with no trouble, had all the clothes and stuff she was going to wear planned since at least last night. Barbara on the other hand struggles to find the clothes she wanted, and deals with her stained sweater by wrapping a scarf around her neck to cover it up. Then we're back to Helen, with her father, Mr. Elliot, and her unnamed mother, all three of them having a peaceful breakfast together. "All three enjoy Mr. Elliot's comments on the news." Well, good for Helen. Maybe Barbara's not as lucky. Maybe her dad is a communist sympathizer, or a blowhard segregationist, and she has no desire to listen to his crap in the morning. This leads to another issue; The movie praises Helen for making plans around her day, but blasts Barbara for not doing it, without considering the possibility that she may have learned not to make plans because her plans might've been constantly squashed by the ones made by the adults in her life. Later, Helen's dad drives her to school, while Barbara's dad only drives her little brother. "You used to enjoy that drive too." Well, what changed, lady? Was it Barbara? Was it her dad? Or did she somehow start to think it was embarrassing having your dad drive her to school? Of course, it doesn't matter, because she rushes to eat whatever breakfast she can before running out the door to school. "You made a pretty picture with your rumpled skirt, your spotted sweater, and your hair in a tizzy," the narrator says as she runs from the breakfast table. Well, believe it or not Mrs. Stuck-Up, I LIKE her hair. If you think it's "in a tizzy," you'll hate the 1980's.
Late for school, she sits next to Helen, and gets a little too self-conscious. Worse than that, she drums her fingers on the desk! OH NO! In spite of all that both girls are invited to a party by some girl named Ann. Barbara hopes that party will be the path to social acceptance, but when she's there, she's left out of every conversation, and our narrator is quick to blame her. "You never got into the habit of reading books?" Or maybe she just wasn't into the same kinds of books her peers were reading. "You added nothing to the conversation." Really, narrator? Or is it that they just didn't want what she had to add? Then she hears another pair of girls, talking about a concert. One girl even says she likes the music, but finds the concert "too long-haired." Didn't they say that about the greasers? Too long haired, you say? I've got four names for you, girl; Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. "You've never taken an interest in music or politics or art." Ever think that maybe she might not have had THE SAME musical, artistic, or political interests? And then when she tries to join the conversation, the narrator berates her for interrupting. "Conversation is a two-way street. But for you, it's either one way or a dead end." Hey lady, how do you know Barbara didn't WANT IT to be a two way street?! I didn't call that narrator a bitch for no reason! I called her one because she's mean-spirited, condescending, ignorant, stuck-up, and ultimately full of herself! If you didn't hate these kinds of movies before, you will. Of course none of that matters, because the movie returns to the present with Barbara crying in her messy bedroom, and phony and unrealistic advice on how she can live better, assuming it'll actually do her any good after that disaster of a party.
As repulsive as this film may seem, I actually wouldn't mind seeing a parody of it. I'd go so far as to recommend Kali Rocha playing this universally hated narrator, and I like Kali Rocha! Hell, maybe Dove Cameron could even play "Barbara," or someone like her.
In the meantime, cheer up, Barbara. Because about ten years after you graduate from high school, you will enter a world where it doesn't really matter if you're as prim and proper as Helen. You can let your hair droop around your shoulders like you have now, go outside without being excessively made-up and still be recognized as a woman, have a wrinkle or two in your blouse without feeling bad about yourself, and you can throw a middle finger at the voice of the woman who chastises you for not being like your neighbor.
Fun in Balloon Land (1965)
Holy crap! I think I found something worse than "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny!"
***SPOILERS, WITHOUT A DOUBT!***
"This movie is a whole bunch of f***ing NOPE!" --Brad Jones
Brad "Cinema Snob" Jones, the former MST3K cast from RiffTrax, and I'm sure plenty of other people have trashed this movie royally, and for good reason. It's unbelievably horrible, repulsive, and creepy as hell beyond all possible belief, and that's being KIND! You have to have a strong tolerance for bad movies to put up with crappy attempt at a kids movie. I once said that I'd rather see preschool shows on the Disney Channel and Nickelodoeon than so-called "reality TV," but after seeing this, perhaps I'd be better off with "reality TV."
You had to have read enough of the descriptions here to know what goes on. A boy named Sonny wearing gold lame underwear is being read a bedtime story by his mother, who suddenly starts to fall asleep. Suddenly he wakes up in some warehouse full of parade balloons, and meets a prince who needs to awaken a princess, a child ballerina troop, a creepy King Neptune, a murderous octopus that he wants to befriend, a pair of mermaids, milks a cow that's smaller than the farmers, three other kids, a bunch of racially offensive Native American stereotypes, and an inflated Western Stagecoach scene.
Later on he somehow ends up in a parade, which I later learned was on the streets of Philadelphia. For some unexplained reason, I thought this might've taken place somewhere in the south. Anyway, the parade has both balloon and non-balloon floats, and is narrated by some middle-aged past-her-prime lady who somebody else described as being from New Jersey, but I think went on to narrate the Pirates World production of "Thumbelina." Or maybe it was my old first grade teacher before I met her. Who knows? Nobody is credited for this damn thing, and it's not hard to understand why. This semi-demented woman's description of what's happening in the parade is something only she seems to see. She also uses the word "gay" to mean "happy" rather than "homosexual" which EVERYBODY in modern times can easily make fun of her over. Most of the time when she's not getting sexually aroused by the footage of the parade, it seems like she's just making stuff up as she goes along. Consider the scene where "Mr. Frog" passes by. Somehow, she's convinced the frog gave this advice; "Speak rudely to your little boy, and beat him when he sneezes." Listen, if my parents beat me every time I caught a cold, not only would I kill them, but I'd spend as much of my free time as I can hunting down "Mr. Frog," so I can blow his brains out too! Later on, she mentions something else about another balloon that she calls "Miss Hippo," who blew away one time. "It's no joke," she says. Really, lady? Because now you actually made me want to look up this incident.
Among the people who aren't handling the balloons, you've got a bunch of cute mid-1960's majorettes twirling flaming batons. Now I've been a sucker for girls with flip hairdos before I even entered puberty, but I also know that women used to use a lot of hair spray to get that look, and it's amazing none of them ever became human torches during that parade. Plus, you have your share of marching bands, clowns, 1965 Plymouths, and of course tons of balloons. Some of them goofy, some of them creepy, and some of them... ARRRGH! This doped up old lady is getting to me!!! She would be a clear example of why The Rolling Stones wrote "Mother's Little Helper," if her kids weren't already in college.
By the end of the movie, she wants the kids to interact with this cinematic garbage. If we know what kinds of balloons are in front of us, we're supposed to clap. If we don't, we're supposed to say "Yay-Yay." Then along the way, she changes the rules. As if the bad acting, rotten plot line, poor film quality, and senseless narration wasn't bad enough! Now she attaches a "guessing game" that none of the kids are able to follow.
I'm going to do something most people wouldn't expect; I'm going to DEFEND some aspects of the movie. I'm sure the people who made this never intended it to be a movie that child molesters use to lure kids into their basements, or garages, or wherever their lairs are, but looking at it from any time since 1967, it's hard not to believe that it is one. Next, everybody likes to make fun of it and reference Abraham Zapruder, because the thing looks like it was shot on something worse than 8mm film, despite the apparent insistence that it was shot on 35 mm film. Low quality film doesn't automatically make movies bad. Pink Flamingos was shot in 16mm, and it's a masterpiece compared to this thing. So I can understand if they plead poverty and use it as an excuse for the poor film quality, but not much else. Remember, boys and girls, if you want to have some fun, stay the hell away from Balloon Land U.S.A., unless you're on drugs, are emotionally disturbed, or just have a really twisted side to your personality that will help you make fun of it!
Cops and Robbers (1973)
Dig it, man! The crooked cops are the heroes... well, sort of.
One night a New York City cop on the beat (Joe Bologna) goes into a liquor store and holds it up just to see if he could get away with it, and he does. The next day while caught in a traffic jam at the Long Island Expressway/Cross Island Parkway interchange, he brags to his partner (Cliff Gorman) about it, and from that point on, it's all about the money for the two of them. All to the cool mellow '70's soundtrack by Michael LeGrande, Jacques Wilson and Candy Tate.
Using a cops standard salary, and the economy as an excuse to justify it, they decide that if they're going to end their crime spree, they should make a hit so big, they won't have to rob anyone anymore. But the question is who? And the answer comes in the form of a round-up of some mobsters from New Jersey lead by crime family boss Pasquale Aniello (John P. Ryan). After they make bail, the two cops decide to approach the boss under the guise of an offer to pull a job for them. As it turns out, the mob wants to get them to rob some bearer bonds from a financial firm on Wall Street during a parade for the Apollo 11 Astronauts, then make an exchange with the mobsters in Central Park. The firm they rob cooperates with them, but as it turns out, they're not entirely so squeaky clean either.
This movie was released in 1973, but was shot in 1972 and evidently takes place in 1969. This skewed time-line seems to be the biggest flaw on the movie, not to mention a 1972 Plymouth Fury NYPD Special suddenly becoming another car a couple of times. The familiar landscape to those of us from the New York Tri-State area especially during that era, makes it worth seeing. I actually remember catching the end of this on some weekend afternoon on WNEW Channel 5 during the scene where Joe Bolonga and Cliff Gorman are hassled by a bunch of bicyclists in Central Park and Joe throws a middle finger at them... UNCENSORED!! This was from back in the day when local TV stations existed and were willing to show obscure movies at odd hours. The movie has been on my mind from time to time ever since. I'm glad I got myself a copy.
Space Station 76 (2014)
Admittedly, it took a while to appreciate this.
Believe it or not, this movie has a lot in common with the Beach Party Movies of the 1960's, in the sense that only certain people born in a specific era will get it. Fortunatley, having been born in the 1960's, I'm one of those people. The fact that it was co-written by many of the cast-members, most of them from the same generation probably has an affect on it's quality. Having said that, once I saw it it took some time for me to get into the movie. Contrary to what you may have read, this movie doesn't take place in the 1970's, but is instead a representation of the future that we thought would take place in the 1970's. It contains futuristic space travel with home appliances that pre-date the election of Ronald Reagan.
Jessica Marlowe (Liv Tyler) is a Lieutenant who has just arrived on a refueling station in space named Omega 76. She has been assigned to co-pilot the station along with Captain Glenn Terry (Patrick Wilson), who seems a little too uncomfortable around the opposite sex. This is because he's not a male chauvinist, but a closeted homosexual who spends much of the movie trying to commit suicide rather than deal with a fling he had with one of his crew members. Among them are Ted (Matt Bowman) and Misty (Marisa Coughlan), who have a lonely little daughter named "Sunshine" (Kylie Rogers). Ted is a mechanic who has what is considered an old-fashioned mechanical hand and smokes a lot of pot, which at one point makes him see a naked woman floating outside of the window of the station who's face morphs into Lt. Marlowe. Misty is the nutritionist who spends most of her time getting Valium from a robot shrink named "Dr. Bot," who spends much of its time spouting psycho babble and random catch-phrases. Poor little Sunshine just wants a friend she can play with, whether it's a pet or another kid. She tries a pregnant gerbil, but the gerbil eats her babies. She tries to spend time with the baby of another couple, but they won't let her. Jennifer gives her a cryogenically frozen puppy, but her pill-popping mommy screws that up too.
Then there's Steve (Jerry O'Connell) and Donna ("Liv and Maddie's" Kali Rocha). Steve is the ship sex fiend who would screw anything with two legs and a vagina. He's not only doing his wife (Lucky bastard!), but also Misty, and would take Jennifer to the bedroom if he had the chance. We can only hope that he won't be around when Sunshine finishes going through puberty. Donna is pretty, but is selfish and materialistic as she neglects her newborn baby, and at the same time keeps Sunshine from visiting her out of fear that she'll give the kid germs. The crew is all loaded with their own neuroses, and their own selfish interests... so much so that they don't even realize a meteor is heading towards the station. The same meteor that the captain's ex-lover could've prevented them from encountering.
The soundtrack is primarily filled with the mellow hits of Todd Rundgren, but also has some late Neil Sedaka and leftover Spanky and Our Gang. It's typical of the existentialist sci-fi of movies like "Silent Running," the kind of sci-fi movies after "2001: A Space Odyssey" and before "Star Wars." It even has Keir Dullea as Jessica's dad. The movie is also an example of why many people wanted to get away from the 1970's. It was a decade that spent so much time trying to deal with it's feelings that it never dealt with real problems. In a sense, it's the reason movies ranging from "Star Wars" to "National Lampoon's Animal House" had to happen. It was a representation of a time when we were afraid to take action against real dangers because we were conditioned to believe the dangers only existed in our minds. Think of the Saturday Night Live skit where John Belushi played a mobster in group therapy, and you'll get the idea. It's the kind of mentality that kept us from defending ourselves and our friends against bullies on the school playground, building the highways that would've reduced our traffic jams, prevented us from facing the fact that we were right about the communist threat in Korea, Indochina, and elsewhere, and kept us from taking action against the People's Temple in Jonestown, and the jihadists in Iran when they took over the U.S. Embassy.
Adventures in Babysitting (2016)
Almost on par with the original version
Some might find it shocking to believe that it's possible to like both the original movie, and the remake. As the days approaching the release of this DCOM were fading away, I read posts by people who thought this was an attack on their childhood memories of the original, as well as those who were against all remakes no matter what. My childhood was long over when this came out, so that didn't bother me, and even if it wasn't I wouldn't have taken any offense to the remake's existence.
Sabrina Carpenter plays the new version of Chris Parker, named Jenny. She and Lola Perez (Sofia Carson), are artistic photographers competing for an apparently exclusive internship. During this interview both girls bump into each other and get their cell phones mixed-up, in a scene right out of "Stuck in the Suburbs." After they're done, Lola gets a parking ticket (one of many), from a rookie traffic cop who she develops a crush on. Desperate for cash to pay for that ticket, she accepts a babysitting job that was supposed to be offered to Jenny. Lola's charges turn out to be roller derby fan AJ Anderson, would-be pre-teen chef Bobby Anderson, and unknowingly teenage would be rebel Trey Anderson.
Former Miranda Cosgrove look-alike Nikki Hahn plays Emily Cooper, a 14-year-old emo girl who is determined to either shave her hair off or dye it green just to be noticed. She's the complete polar opposite of her 7-year-old sister Katy, who makes Quinn Morgendorffer look like the biggest bull dyke in the Bedford Hills Women's Prison. These two end up with Jenny as their babysitter, and when she calls up Lola's kids to check on her phone just as chaos is breaking out there, she drives the Cooper kids to the Anderson house hoping to intervene.
The runaway here is not frantic nerdy friend Brenda, but semi-cool rebellious teen Trey, who escapes from his room just as Jenny and her charges arrive, and unlike Penelope Ann Miller's character just wants to score some concert tickets. The girls look at his laptop and find out he was getting them from a pawn shop in the "big bad city," and decide to drive off in the GMC Yukon XL owned by the Anderson matriarch. When they arrive at the pawn shop, they find the owner is dealing with a stolen rare Saphire Ferrett, which Bobby Anderson spooks and accidentally lets loose in the store. Lola loves the commotion and takes pictures of the incident leading to a big chase in the city which is compromised by having that SUV towed away. Most of the chases with the bad guys have been compared to "Home Alone," and justifiably so. When they finally arrive at the pizza restaurant Trey loves, Lola talks him into giving away his tickets so she can scalp it and use the money to get Mrs. Anderson's SUV out of the impound. Emily isn't so happy when she finds that Trey and her friends are all ga-ga over Jenny. From this we can conclude that Trey Anderson is a combination of both Keith Coogan's character and Penelope Ann Miller's. After another chase, Lola tries to scalp the tickets but gets caught by the cops. A.J. Anderson's "Thor" is Roller Derby girl "Jailer Swift," and she meets her idol while her team and their rivals get busted for fighting outside of the rink. When they finally let Lola go, and the two roller derby teams get into another fight, the cops send them outside, right into the hands of the crooked pawn shop employees, and another chase begins.
Instead of stumbling into a blues night club and being forced to sing the blues, Jenny is forced to rap at a night club by a DJ, and Emily encourages Lola to turn it into a rap battle. Despite the fact that they both trash each other on stage (although the trashing is nowhere near as fierce as in "Let it Shine"), they actually bond with each other. Between the two of them Sofia Carson is the better dancer. Is it because she's older, taller, and more developed than Sabrina Carpenter? Maybe... or maybe not. Either way, most of the kids are impressed with both of them, except for Emily, who Jenny tries to cheer up before they finally find a way to get the money for the same towing company (albeit different driver), that towed the Anderson's SUV to the impound in this movie, as the one that towed the Buick Electra Estate Station Wagon through Chicago in 1987.
Fans of the original SHOULD see the remake. They should look for every contemporary version of the original scenes, and not just the rap battle between Carpenter and Carson replacing the Albert Collins-Elizabeth Shue concert. None of the girls are mistaken for playboy models, but horny guys will enjoy Sofia Carson in a one-piece bathing suit to make up for it. Nobody gets stuck on the ledge of a building or gets sidelined to the friend zone at least for that long. There's also no "Lords of Hell," to mess with, or any cheating boyfriends. Likewise, kids who would only know of the remake should see the original, if they haven't already. I almost considered listing scene comparisons and contrasts between the two versions as my review, but I changed my mind. Though it's more adventure than comedy, I got a big kick out of it, and I just think purists who are fans of the original shouldn't be dissuaded to see the new version due to a knee-jerk aversion to remakes and give it a break.
Liv and Maddie: Grandma-A-Rooney (2015)
The episode that we old folks have been waiting for.
In my review of the series at large, I called "Liv and Maddie" a contemporary, Disney version of "The Patty Duke Show," and dismissed the comparison to all other twin-coms. I still do, and as I've mentioned in the past the cast and crew did as well. Thankfully, they got her a guest spot in an episode that was intended for the second season, but wasn't released until the third.
The twins' grandmother Janice is supposed to be coming to Stevens Point to present Liv Rooney with a local award. And we find out that Janice has a twin named Hilary, who is also their great aunt... and both are on Karen's side of the family, who shows us a picture of Patty and Cathy Lane during one of those confessional scenes. Grandma Janice used to be an Olympic Diver back in the day, and now is a globe-trotting photographer. Maddie is convinced that Grandma Janice is her favorite grandchild, simply because they're both athletic and wore glasses, and Parker loves her because she always slips him $20 just because he's the baby of the family. However, when Grandma starts hanging out with Liv more often than Maddie, and Parker's cutesy act doesn't seem to get much of a profit, both suspect something is wrong, and Maddie believes that Great Aunt Hilary is masquerading as Grandma Janice.
Meanwhile, Joey wants to start a party for watching a local comet passing over town, and Artie invites himself and his minions over to try to get him to invite some girls to this party revolving around the comet, partially because he has a more sophisticated telescope. According to Oops Donuts-related legend, the comet they planned to watch is nicknamed the "Lover's Comet," because once that comet reaches it's apex, whoever you're with at the time will be your soulmate. So, Artie forces Joey to invite two girls he dated in the past, and one who partially invites herself. Of these three girls, the most interesting was Samantha, played by Gatlin Green. Even if you're not heavily into Shakespeare as her character was, her use of 16th Century English will charm the living daylights out of you. Brianne Tju and Joey Bragg's real-life girlfriend Audrey Whitby aren't worth ignoring in this episode either.
What we don't find out is Grandma Janice's surname, or for that matter Great-Aunt Hilary's. Perhaps Karen's maiden name will be revealed in the fourth and last season. I conceived this review before Duke's death, and I remember message boards claiming she didn't look like she was in the best shape. John Beck and Ron Hart must've been glad they gave Ms. Duke the chance to twin-it-up again. I think the only thing that could've possibly been bigger is if Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau got together in something with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Short of raising the dead bodies of Hollywood greats, there's not much you can do in order to make something like this happen. So we should be glad we got a chance to see this episode while she was still alive. I'm not going to turn this review into a memorial for Patty Duke, but I will say we should be glad that the star of the technical inspiration for this sitcom got to return to a new version in a decent episode, with a B-Story that's as good if not better.
Liv and Maddie: Song-A-Rooney (2014)
Sorry, but that music video was just a little creepy.
And yes, I realize the fact that the video wasn't supposed to be great, but it doesn't make that much of a difference. Since I already covered one episode leading to the first season finale, I had to take on another.
Liv gets a new manager as she's on the verge of starring in the movie "Space Werewolves," and though her music has nothing to do with the upcoming movie, newly hired manage Becki Bickelhoff (Rena Strober) recommends a standard pop-tune about frozen yogurt. The Rooney parents who are always supportive of their twin daughters admit that the last record they bought was a non-descript record. Whether LP, EP, or 45 RPM, it's still funny.
Admittedly, the tune is rather catchy, but the video is as weird as all hell, mainly at the end. Actually, the first IMDb user reviewer already posted the influences of that music video, so I wasn't I wasn't as weirded out or dumbfounded by it as the characters on the show were, or for that matter anyone in real life was until the end. Despite Liv's objections, the video has made her popular, as well as the yogurt shop where the video was shot. In fact it's so popular, that Diggie who works as the manager of the same yogurt shop hires Maddie not only for an extra hand at the job, but so that they can spend more time together before she takes off to the Junior Olympics basketball team, and he heads off to become a foreign exchange student, in what we later learn in Season Two is a fictional arctic country. The only trouble is Maddie is not as peppy as the job requires her to be, a fact that both she and her boyfriend/manager aren't too pleased about.
Meanwhile, Becki Bicklehoff wants to get Liv to sing the song on a live video stream from the same yogurt shop where that video was filmed, but she want's to sing a song that's a little more honest. Unable to come up with one, she finds out that Maddie has a journal... and it's covered in GLITTER! Naturally, Liv wants to turn her twin sister's journal into another catchy song instead of the crap she's being forced to sing at the live-stream. This desire creates some tensions between the two sisters, reminiscent of the pilot episode.
The C-Story is equally as good. I say "c-story" because the B-Story is actually Maddie at work in the local FroYo shop. Pete decides to write love notes for Karen every day for a month. But as it turns out, the source of those little quips of affection turns out to be a childhood toy that Parker used to play with when he was a toddler. Pete is actually paying his youngest son for them, but has no idea where they come from. Seeing Parker act like a rich gangsta from the ghetto during some of his confessions is hilarious. I don't really want to spoil too much of it, since Disney Channel practically did it themselves by airing the music video for "Count Me In," before the episode aired, but I will say it had a sweet ending for all involved.
Mr. Stache (2011)
Kali Rocha is what got me into this mega-sweet short film
How often do you find people who see movies just for the narrator? As rare as that may be, the act of doing just that isn't so original. In this case it's for that delightful brunette Kali Rocha, best known as of this writing for playing the matriarch of the Rooney family on "Liv and Maddie," especially by the tween set.
Judging by the narration, this under 10 minute movie looks more like a pitch reel for studio heads than anything else. The narrator tells the tale of a man (Richard Sommer) who wanted to grow the perfect mustache throughout his life, but once he finally does so, doesn't exactly get the social acceptance he was looking for. When his old friends reject him over it, he tries to get new friends, and they all snub him for their own reasons. Then just as he's about to throw in the towel and shave it off, he meets a girl who likes him for it, played by Amy Smart. They fall in love and get married, but things don't work out as well as the man hoped, and the reasons why play an important role in the movie, which I won't spoil.
Rocha claims at various points in the film that it's a very serious and dramatic story, which couldn't be further from the truth. But honestly, anyone who sees movies like this would never be bothered by such a lie. It would be easier to believe that "Take the Money and Run" and "Zelig" were real documentaries.
The story was pitched to the Tribeca Film Festival by somebody named John Nash, written, directed and co-produced by Jac Schaeffer, and sprinkled like sugar all over YouTube. Almost as unorthodox as it is sweet, and not to be missed.
Yes, Virginia. This piece of cinematic crap really existed.
If you told me this movie existed before December 2014, I might find it hard to believe you. I say "might," because I can look it up on IMDb like anybody else. Regardless, it was a thread on an IMDb message board over a new Rifftrax version of the 1959 Mexican movie about Santa Claus where I learned of this movie. Much to my stunned and almost terrified surprise, I realized it does exist. So after the 2014 Christmas season, and a few YouTube clips of Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy making fun of this movie, I finally got a DVD of this, and let's just say that I don't think I could've survived without them. This movie is living proof that there were far worse things on screen in 1972 than news footage of the Vietnam War, the troubles in British-Occupied Ireland and the Palestinian terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics.
You don't even have to see the movie to know the story. Santa gets his sleigh stuck on the beaches of South Florida, and calls kids from the region to help him out, including of all people Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. They try to pull him out with various animals, and apparently one guy in a gorilla suit. Suddenly Santa decides to tell them the story of Thumbelina, and the movie is cut to that 1970 version of Thumbelina, which was also produced by Pirate's World. And both movies are narrated by some old lady, who in the Thumbelina movie was the voice of a old female mole. The girl playing Thumbelina is very pretty, but she can't sing to save her life. Nevertheless, she goes through the expected routine and lives happily ever after. But even that doesn't do squat to get Santa back to his usual Christmastime deliveries. Then suddenly off in the distance, the "Ice Cream Bunny" arrives on a 1920's Ford Model T fire truck and Christmas is saved... except for the audience, and the kids who were in this movie. For them, Christmas is ruined.
Oh, but wait: There's ANOTHER version of this, and it's just as horrid. Instead of telling the story of Thumbelina, you've got Santa telling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and Jack looks a lot like Adam Lamberg from "Lizzie McGuire." The Giant's songs are equally intolerable as well. This story was made in the same year, and yes, this was made at Pirate's World too. This movie makes that K. Gordon Murray movie about Santa Claus look like the great Rankin-Bass Christmas specials of the 1960's, and that movie made "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" look like one of those Rankin-Bass masterpieces. The movie is so whacked out and stupid, that if any kid who saw it went to a therapist later on in life and mentioned it's existence, the shrink would have them committed to the nearest mental institution. In fact, if any psychiatrists are reading this and they had patients who mentioned seeing this movie, they should get those patients released from the funny farms right away.
Believe it or not, I was also going to mention a GOOD movie that added one story to another in order to extend it, but I changed my mind. This movie is so bad, it's guaranteed to make even the most devoted, clean-cut, God-fearing Fundamentalist Christians say to themselves "What the f*ck did I just watch?" Finally, I don't think any review can be written without asking the question of why THIS bunny is specifically "the ice cream bunny." Did he hand out ice cream at Pirate's World? Was he some corporate mascot for a local dairy company that sold ice cream and sponsored a portion of the park? Nobody knows, except the former owners of that amusement park, and they're probably too embarrassed to be associated with the place, let alone answer any questions about it.
The secrets of Farkle revealed, and best of all, CYRINA FIALLO!
Cory is teaching a lesson on the dangers of disrupting people's nature, but all Farkle seems interested in is the never finished lesson about the Belgian Revolution. Suddenly, the school guidance counselor walks in, and this counselor is named Miss Oben played by the irresistible Cyrina Fiallo, who just two years earlier played Teddy Duncan's awkward sad-sack friend Vonnie on "Good Luck Charlie." Isadora Smackle comes to visit the "Farkle Genius Party" organized by Stuart Minkus and his wife who is revealed to be Jennifer "Monster" Bassett (Kristanna Loken), and who also reveals evidence that he was born through conventional means, rather than being a test tube baby or a clone, or something of that nature. Smackle spends much of the episode trying to persuade Farkle into transferring to her school, Einstein Academy, partially to develop his mind, and partially so she can spend more time with him.
A second visit from Miss Oben seems a little more ominous, because she reveals that he may suffer from Asperger's Syndrome. This scares him, because he fears it may be true. First because he's convinced he has all the standard traits, and second because he has passed every test he's ever taken, and is worried this may be no exception. In fact, he's so worried he calls his parents and all his friends to the Matthews house about it. Clearly the Minkuses trust Cory and Topanga a lot!
After Smackle reveals that Farkle spent the day on a tour of her school, she invites him on a date, which Riley and Maya push him into going along with. Earlier he urged them not to let him not understand love, and while on this date, it seems like the two geniuses might hit it off. But after the third meeting with the guidance counselor, when Smackle finds that her would-be suitor isn't in the slightest bit autistic, she suddenly becomes disappointed. My original plan for this review was to name it "Girl meets Farkle... and a heartbroken Smackle." And I could've gotten away with it too, because that disappointment IS heartbreaking. However, though I won't give away any spoilers, let's just say that things might not work out so poorly for the former academic rivals after all.
Corey Fogelmanis wanted the audience to see this as something other than a shipping episode. Unfortunately, as understandable as his sentiment is, that aspect is kid of hard to ignore. Cecelia Balagot's character has been know to have a crush on the little Minkus as far back as "Girl Meets Popular," even if she can't find a way to get him to reciprocate those feelings. And the two have far too much in common. One notable trait is that they both end their grandiose speeches with catch phrases. Farkle tends to end his with "Thank you! I am Farkle!," although this time it's a little more toned down, while Isadora Smackle ends hers with "Smackle, the one and only, out." I could just as easily end this review by writing "Farkle and Smackle sitting in a tree,..." On second thought, I won't go that far, because they're in middle school and for someone my age to finish the rest the way I want would be kind of creepy. However, I really hope that Michael Jacobs and April Kelly find some excuse to bring Cyrina Fiallo back to play Miss Oben.
What is beauty, who decides, and is there an alternative?
There was a scene from the 1996 female Cyrano de Bergerac remake known as "The Truth About Cats & Dogs," where Uma Thurman takes Janeane Garafolo out for a makeover to give her the look of the '90's, and she becomes so horrified by it she bursts into tears at a water fountain near the mall food court. I'm with her on this, but that's another story.
Cory tries to teach his class the meaning behind the Trojan Horse, by using a fake presents with disappointing surprises. Just after the opening theme we get a debate competition between John Quincy Adams Middle School, and some nearby prep school for genius kids named "Einstein Academy." A girl from that school named Isadora Smackle (Cecelia Balgot), who we saw in the episode "Girl Meets Popular," straight up trounces Farkle in the debate over whether school uniforms should be mandatory, and he's devastated. However she's also madly in love with him, but can't get him to reciprocate the affection. Noticing that he has a crush on Riley and Maya, she requests a makeover from them.
Meanwhile, Lucas wants to join the debate team too, although the other nerds reject him at first, convinced that he's too much of a pretty-boy/jock to have anything to do with them, but Farkle talks them into letting him in. Later they set Farkle up on a date with Smackle at "Svorski's Bakery," however he knows that her request for a makeover is an attempt to win an upcoming debate over whether or not beauty is skin deep. In spite of this, Smackle is still willing to discuss their makeover on her and can't seem to make heads or tails behind the existing beauty standards. "Four red nails and one blue one. I don't know why." When new debate team member Lucas Friar casually walks in, suddenly his arch-nemesis is on the verge of getting as hormonal as a fangirl for boybands, and he tries to use Lucas against Smackle. Both debate captains realize she is too distracted by the cute boy who just joined Farkle's team, but we may find out she's not as distracted as the nerds of John Quincy Adams hopes.
The B-story involves Auggie and his childhood crush on Ava Morgenstern. He barges into the Matthews apartment like a G-rated version of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and grieves over the fear that they may not be together forever. He seems to think that just because Cory and Topanga were childhood sweethearts, that he should have the same destiny, and is devastated when he realizes that may not happen. I don't know how many people can relate to that, but I can. I always thought that there should be a girl in my life that I should've known from childhood, officially dated when I was old enough to do so, and marry when I reach legal age. It never happened, but that doesn't mean there aren't real-life couples who grew up that way.
Either way, Smackle's impassioned speech recognizing how superficial our world is, and urging us to look beneath the surface is a decent message that few of us truly live by, and admittedly, I'm not that much of an exception. Finally, there's Farkle's reply to whether he would be in love with the two main characters of this show if they weren't attractive. It was sweet, it was heartwarming,... but it wasn't true. Riley and Maya are polar opposites, and Farkle knows this. So, while the previous user has an interesting theory, I'm still convinced his crush on the two of them is primarily over their appearance.
Better in small doses.
When kids reach a certain age, they tend to think of the standard classic fairy tales as being something beneath them. It takes revisionists ranging from Jay Ward to Melissa De La Cruz to give them a shot in the arm to make them more amusing and appealing to older audiences.
Before the movie, I saw the promo and it looked like it had a few obvious clichés. The kids are so deliciously bad, they're good. I get it, but that never really stopped me from wanting to see it. And after the equally overly-hyped "Teen Beach 2," this seemed like it might be a little more worthwhile.
The son of Beauty and the Beast who is next in line to becoming King of Auradon, makes his first decree, which is to allow the kids of the most notorious Disney Villains to go to their boarding school. Never mind the fact that Maleficent and Grimhilde are products of Central Europe during the Renaisannce, Jafar was from the pre-Islamic Middle East, or Cruella DeVille was from early-20th Century England. Somehow, all these people are alive today, and have kids that are living in the 21st Century.
The kids all go rampaging through the Isle of the Lost trashing everything and singing about how bad they are, like the Jets and the Sharks from "West Side Story." Maleficent, Grimhilde, Jafar, and Cruella tell these kids they're being transferred, and Maleficent uses this as an opportunity to send her daughter Mal on a mission to steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand.
When they arrive at the boarding school run by the monarchy, there's some slight tension between Mal, and the Prince's current girlfriend Audrey, who is the daughter of Aurora and Prince Phillip. They also find that their headmistress/teacher is none other than the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella played by none other than Melanie Paxson. I know she's a lot younger than the fairy godmother from the original movie, but let's face it - Paxson is too cutesy NOT to be in a movie like this.
All four main characters seem to face a crisis of consciousness, as they realize everything their parents taught them about life and how to live it was a lie. Cruella's son Carlos realizes that dogs make better pets than fur coats. Grimhilde's daughter Evie realizes she doesn't have to manipulate people with her looks. Jafar's son Jay realizes there are other ways of getting ahead besides being a vicious thief. But Mal is hit hardest by this revelation, because while she puts a spell on the prince to get him to fall in love with her so she can grab the magic wand, she starts falling in love with him.
Like a lot of other viewers, I really wasn't expecting a musical. But if you put it into perspective, many of the characters that the kids were descended from were seen in partial musicals too, so I let that issue slide. Dove Cameron's musical numbers are a little too over the top and overly emotional for my tastes, even though they're appropriate. It should be obvious I'm talking about "If Only," but "Evil Like Me" starts out that way too. And it's not like I hate her singing, in fact if you've seen my reviews I've stated that I love her voice on quite a few occasions. Also since Dove has always been a fan of Kristin Chenoweth, the chance to sing with her in a duet has to be both a career and personal highlight.
Many fans weren't to willing to accept the hip-hop version of "Be Our Guest," but I liked it. Even the villain kids are invited despite the fact that it was part of the parents day celebration, and their parents are uninvited. And for these kids, that party seems to be going okay, until Audrey's grandmother discovers Mal's connection to Princess Aurora, and takes her anger out on her instead.
Before the movie aired, Disney was pushing promos for Melissa De La Cruz's young adult novel about The Isle of the Lost. I suppose it would've helped if I had read the book too, since it might make sense of a few things here.