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Dynamite Fizzles...
15 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I must say that I was very surprised at my reaction to this movie. When it was released in theaters last summer, I read about it and urged all my friends to go see it. No one wanted to. One day, while I was at work, they all went to see it and loved it. I figured it was a movie that I'd want to see with friends so I decided to wait until it came out on video. The wait was not worth it.

I don't consider myself an art-house snob. Nor do I consider myself to be a person who only likes mainstream movies. I am a film lover. Good, bad, and ugly. I love cheesy 80's movies, blow up action 90's flicks, and high concept 21st century movies. Napoleon Dynamite tries hard, and I think that's what I disliked most about it. The opening titles are cute. And the long shots and the forced awkwardness moments...cute. But after awhile, that's all it amounts to. The direction is CONSTANTLY calling attention to itself.

I'm amazed to hear people call this a character driven piece when the director's hand is so evident in every single frame of the movie. However, there is another hand prevalent as well and that is the lead actor. Now, I understand a lot of people have fallen in love with this character he's created. And I will admit to loving some goofy characters in my time, and laughing at anything they do, but I found Napoleon to be lacking what most of them don't.

Napoleon is a mean spirited, angry, hurtful, and disturbed individual. I can relate that people find solace in certain things he does in remembering their own foibles of high school life. But all he does is moan, and complain, and us the same delivery for every GAWD single GAWD line. I don't know about you, but the nerds I knew in high school, and the times I felt like an outcast, I at least had a couple of different deliveries or expressions. I just find the character so unlikeable. And those who call him a hero for anyone who's ever felt like an outcast. What movie were you watching? He doesn't undergo any CHANGE. He just continues to droop his eyes, bitch at people, complain, and act like a moron. Oh, he plays tether ball with the girl. That isn't a change in HIM. She just agrees to play. He has no redeeming quality to make him a hero. god knows I wanted to be an individual, but I'd never wish him on myself...and what's with the time period.

80's all over it, right? But, this isn't the 80's flick everyone makes it out to be. I thought that way too, at first. Then I paid attention. Uncle Rico wants to go BACK in time to 1982. The car is busting hydraulics. I would peg this movie to take place in the 90's somewhere. So why am I to draw 80's nostalgia? because the director has preened it all over the screen.

The film uses set ups, cheap laughs, and over directed camera composition and movement to cover up the fact that it can't decide on a tone, mood, setting, or make any decision at all. The movie is one long failed Mad TV skit, yet even those movies make SOME attempt at a plot and cohesiveness. I have to give this one, a D+
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Top Secret! (1984)
Underrated doesn't even begin to spell it out!
6 June 2002
There are two movies that as a kid I watched endlessly (kid = 8-12 years old) but no one had ever heard of. One was UHF (A movie that I will grant all of the bad reviews on, it's far from perfect, but I love it, what can I say) and Top Secret! When I was about 15 or 16 I decided to have my friends watch them both thinking that I was going to love them and they'd hate them. Well they loved both, but over the years Top Secret! has grown to be one of the funniest, if not THE funniest spoof film ever made. Yes I love the Farrely brothers, and the Coehn Brothers, and even The Brothers Grimm, but the Zucker team outdid themselves on this film. There are so many jokes it's impossible to keep a straight face for more than about 5 seconds. Those who don't get it, I'm convinced are either so highly educated that they've forgotten what funny is, or are so uneducated they don't see the great pains it took these film makers to truly attack the cold war in no way any Bond film could ever do. The cast is superb and just too many lines or scenes but I'll give my top few as others have: The boots on the ground, CLASSIC; the man running to catch the tree, where has a gag like this EVER been done; The Little German, a GREAT one line gag; Playing the scene backwards to make the shopkeeper sound sweedish, I don't think epople understand why that's funny; and probably one of my favorite site gags EVER done in ANY film, the scene at the ballet with the ballerinas jumping on, well, if you've seen it you know what it is and it's unparalleled FUNNY!" Run don't walk to get this movie on DVD on July 16th, outtakes, deleted scenes, and commentary, truly deserved by this FANTASTIC film.
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The 4th Floor (1999)
Strings you along while being a few stories short...
29 April 2000
I was not aware of this film at all when I sat down in bed to view it on HBO. Going in cold, it seemed like a nice little thriller for a Saturday Night while waitng to go out. The film stars Julliette Lewis as the recipient of an apartment due to a realtive's untimely death. She moves in and immediately we see that her neighbors and the building are hiding more than meets the eye. One is a seeminlgy nice gentleman whom she befriends right away, another an unstable woman (Shelly Duval in a roll even stranger than most of the oddbals she usually plays), an elderly couple who is always locking one or the other out, and a mysterious old woman who never leaves her apartment. It is with the latter that Lewis begins to see her nice new diggs sullied by. The film does a decent enough job stringing the audience along to find out who this woman is, why she hates lewis so much, and why she is never seen. However, this is also where the movie becomes disjointed, falling prey to the obvious red hearings of the crazy characters who might be the only sane ones in the movie, and the predictable bad guys behind the whole scheme. WHile I stuck with it to see wher eit was going, and there are some nice gross out surprises and make you think about your neighbor twists, the end tries to tie too many thigns together with enough plot holes to trip up an elephant. I'd say if you're curious to see a nice little thriller, catch this late night on cable, otherwise, skip it because the pay off seems to be decent until they take a bit of the money away from you at the end.
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Wham Bam Bigalow!
11 December 1999
I must admit one thing, this movie made me LAUGH. I had begun to grow tired of the SNLer's movies...I thought TOmmy Boy and Billy Madison were gut busters, but after that, i'd grown tired of Farley's fall down and go boom big guy schtick and Sandler's far too annoying mumble and mug for the girls shtick while acting dumb. And along comes Rob Schneider with a very SNL looking film, and what do I find other than it's HYSTERICAL! Yes, a lot of the film's gags are shown on the trailer, but there are a SLEW of ones not shown that are drop dead funny...and some of the humor isn't your in your face, phywical comedy for laughs's actually WELL WRITTEN! No, I'm not overglamorizing this movie...yes it's sophomoric, and not everyone's cup of tea...but if you liked the randomness of Billy Madison, and the sweetness of TOmmy Boy, and the crudeness of SOmething ABout Mary, then this movie has something for eveeryone willing to go in and have a good gut buster!
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