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The Underground Comedy Movie (1999)
This is the worst movie I've ever seen in my life. This is saying quite a bit, considering some of the choices I've made in film rentals.
I got this on netflix based entirely on the fact that someone I went to high school with is topless in it. The topless scene lasted all of about 5 seconds and the rest of the movie was about as much fun as having pungee sticks driven underneath my toenails whilst being forced to listen to Roseanne sing Big Spender.
The "skits" are stupid and consist of the worst kind of juvenile bathroom humor and locker-room gags, and it's such a blatant (and poor) rip-off of The Kentucky Fried Movie that you'll be begging for Big Jim Slade to crash through the wall and save us from the stupidity of "Vince Offer" (whoever that is).
Unless you are a masochist, avoid this pile of rubbish.
Cause for Concern (2002)
Bumfights is a "direct to video" DVD that showcases staged fights between homeless people. The homeless are baited with promises of some food or cheap prizes and goaded into pummelling each other into bloody pulp.
The makers of this disgusting tripe should be taken to Cabrini Green in Chicago and made to go toe to toe with hordes of bums. They should get beaten up, allowed to rest, then beaten again. By the most psychotic bums available. Payback galore.
People who take advantage of others who suffer from mental disorders, drug/alcohol addiction and who have no money should not be allowed to market this kind of garbage. It's capitalistc opportunism at its worst.
Bumfights is the most vile, contemptible thing I've ever seen. The makers should be in prison.
Good on some levels, not on others
Spartan is a very well made film, and is that rare film in which the protagonist whom we are supposed to identify with is a flawed hero. He seems to have a genuine concern for the girl he is supposed to save from the international prostitution/slave trade, but his behavior otherwise, particularly in his interrogation style, is appalling.
Spartan has some great suspense scenes, good action without any silly effects or unrealistic dance-fighting, and everyone does a good job in their roles. Kristen Bell adds some sensuality to her character and does a great job of playing the neglected president's daughter.
There are other films that do a much better job of working the dark element, but as a whole, this is worth watching.
Krtek: Krtek fotografem (1975)
Clever, well made, cute characters, wonderful!
I had never heard of "The Mole" until I happened to watch a collection of shorts on a videotape my girlfriend has. I was suitably impressed.
It's a wonderful, sweet cartoon that entertains without being patronizing. The Mole (the main character) has various little adventures, in this particular case with a camera. His friend the Mouse has the camera and the Mole trades him something for it.
The Mole tends to have some minor misadventures along the way, and here he develops problems with his camera while he's photographing various animals. His solution is that he draws pictures instead.
The Mole is a very cute, lovable character, without being sappy and overdone. Perhaps the best feature of the Mole cartoons is that very little or no dialogue is used (which is helpful as they come to us from the Czech Republic), so any child from any country will be able to understand what is going on and relate to and like the Mole. Characters mostly communicate through actions, gestures and basic sounds. Also a well considered idea is using animal characters in lieu of humans (much like Richard Scarry did in his famously brilliant children's books), meaning that anyone will be able to relate to them, regardless of where they come from or what they look like.
If someone is looking for a fun, harmless show for their young ones to watch, this is a great choice. Actually, I'm 28 and I loved it too! Heartily recommended to everyone.
Here's Boomer (1980)
A wonderful show for people of all ages
I adored this show when I was a little kid. Contrary to the review by "Robert Morgan", I recall that Boomer didn't look anything like Benji, but was actually a rather large, shaggy mongrel. I clearly remember an intro/opening credits with this large dog placing mail in a mailbox and raising the red "collect" flag on the side, and a Benji sized dog couldn't do that. I was 6 years old when the show was on though, so it's possible I've forgotten.
This show did borrow the premise of Benji (which I also loved), involving a very bright dog who goes around helping people. It capitalized on the popularity of "smarter than the average dog" shows, and was great for parents to watch with their children, to learn about compassion and humanize animals a little bit, hopefully teaching children that animals deserve our respect and love.
Could this be one of the longest running concepts on TV?
The origin of "Svengoolie" is in a show called "Screaming Yellow Theatre" with Jerry Bishop as the Svengoolie character. When this show was cancelled, his young writer Rich Koz took up the mantle and "Son of Svengoolie" began airing on UHF channel WFLD-32 in Chicago. When WFLD became part of the FOX network in 1986, Son of Svengoolie was deemed "not suitable" and promptly discarded.
Finally, in 1993, after 7 years with FOX (with "The Koz Zone" and in other capacities) Koz resurrected the Svengoolie character and found a new home for the series on WCIU (a small local Chicago cable channel). Now simply called "Svengoolie", the show airs to this day, showing a long list of old science fiction and horror movies (mostly low budget) with gags, cheesy effects and skits thrown in during the segue to and from commercial.
Very funny and original idea which was a major influence on things like Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
Typical 1970s garbage
This is a moderately entertaining movie and has a good cast, but is so unbelievable and silly that it's painful to watch.
The premise involves a "working class hero", a truck driver to be precise, who has some kind of run in with a corrupt sheriff and responds with vigilante road rage on a grand scale. Redneck truck drivers from all over the place join the "convoy", and they keep driving and driving, with news reporters following them and the police after them. Supposedly they're fighting for their right to "keep on truckin" or something like that.
*SPOILERS, DON'T READ ANY MORE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE END*
At the end, good ol' boy the "Rubber Duck" drives his big rig off a bridge into a river. Throughout the movie, he and Ali McGraw's character had been talking about the meaning of his nickname "Rubber Duck" (some kind of backwoods advice his father gave him) and I vaguely recall some irony because he couldn't actually swim. So the silly nickname has a dual meaning, the metaphorical one being that you can't sink him and the literal one being foreshadowing his demise by plunging cab first into a huge river.
At the end, the "governor" gives a big speech praising good old Rubber Duck as a hero who opened the world's eyes to the plight of truck drivers who have to contend with all kinds of annoyances like laws and regulations. He's going to tell the U.S. Senate about Rubber Duck.
You'd think the trucking company and the customers they were delivering to would have got the feds all over that sheriff after he messed with enough truck drivers and cost them profits.
Cruise Ship (2002)
Like Airport or Airline, but on a ship
Although the show "Airline" is described as a "reality show" by A&E, it's nothing like reality shows. Neither is Cruise Ship, which is basically a mini-series documentary.
The show follows several ship's crew members around while they work and play, showing how much work goes into everything that goes on during a cruise. We see arguments, happiness, sadness, comedy and someone getting fired for being drunk on duty.
If you like Airport or Airline, you'll probably like this as well. Interesting and entertaining. It originally aired a couple years ago, but is rerun from time to time in various parts of Europe.
D.C. Follies (1987)
Genius, way ahead of its time
If this was on today, it would probably be the most popular show on TV. The humor was as witty and sharp as anything by the South Park guys. Well known US politicians would appear as Kroft puppets, along with many famous Hollywood people (Cher was always on, speaking in a creaky old lady voice) also in Kroft puppet form. The show was only 30 minutes, I always wished it had been an hour long.
Ex presidents like Ford, Carter and Nixon along with then president Reagan and first lady Nancy were regulars. Fred Willard was the only living person on the show, appearing as a bartender and playing a kind of straight man to the comedy of Nixon's harebrained schemes and other hilarious skits with the puppets. Absolute genius. They should rerun this on Comedy Central!
A great documentary about a great lunatic
Anyone who knows of Hasil Adkins knows he's one unique guy. Some say he's even completely bonkers. That said, this short documentary does a great job of portraying Hasil in a good light - as an oddball but also as a friendly, harmless guy and a truly unique musician.
Adkins lives in a shack in the hills of West Virginia someplace, with an old bus and a car with polka dots painted on it in the yard. He's been playing and recording music since the 1950s and has released so many albums that it's hard to keep track of them all. He plays regular shows near his home and has a huge following among the rockabilly scene. He's toured all over the U.S.
His most unique feature is his "one man band" approach, which has him playing guitar, drums and singing all at once.
A short film well worth watching if you're a fan. Actually, chances are you'll get a kick out of this even if you've never heard of Hasil Adkins: nobody can say he's not entertaining.
SLC Punk! (1998)
Annoying, unrealistic, boring.
I can't believe this movie got a "7" rating. I couldn't even finish watching it, it was so annoying.
"Stevo" is played by Matthew Lillard, who pretty much plays the same role in every film he's done: obnoxious dude. Here, he combines his character from Hackers with his character from Scream and is simply obnoxious and vaguely weird.
This movie should have been developed as presenting a bunch of posers, because that's what the "punks" in this movie are. Frauds. The "Mod" character is the most ridiculous though: There weren't any mods in Salt Lake City in the 1980s! What were they thinking???
17 year olds with leather jackets and spiked purple hair will probably love this. That's all well and good, but if you want to see something realistic, look elsewhere.
The Mangler (1995)
Ill conceived, ill made, boring
Watching paint dry is more exciting than The Mangler.
In college, a friend and I enjoyed renting low budget horror movies and making fun of them. When we saw a poster for "The Mangler" at the cheapo video store, the machine looked cool and it had a dark element to it. We though this was going to be cool!
So, what a disappointment. I dozed off and my friend finally just shut it off and started playing Tecmo Bowl. Robert Englund looked like he didn't want to be there, and most of the acting was tepid and lifeless. The story was hackneyed and slapdash.
Really, it's NOT worth watching, unless you want to fall asleep.
Family Classics (1962)
Well made showcase for classic films
Family Classics aired on WGN Chicago for many years. It was originally hosted by Frazier Thomas (who is probably best known for his children's shows and for his part on the legendary Bozo's Circus). Thomas himself chose films to air and oversaw length and content editing so that they would be appropriate for people of all ages. Movies like "Robin Hood" were very common (and Errol Flynn movies in general seemed popular with Thomas). It aired on Sunday afternoons and was great viewing, especially on rainy days when you couldn't go outside.
After Thomas suddenly passed away in 1985, local Chicago radio legend Roy Leonard assumed hosting duties, and Family Classics continued to air well into the 90s.
Clever premise, recycled from UK show "Airport"
This is very similar to the UK tv show "Airport", and is actually made by the same production company and film crews. The main difference is that Airline concentrates on a single airline (that being Southwest), while Airport was about Heathrow Airport itself.
Airline is at various times: fascinating, boring, hilarious, etc. The vast majority of the time, it is well worth watching, if only for the seeming endless ignorance of so many of today's air passengers. People claiming racism because security won't let them bring more than one person to a gate to meet a friend on arrival, people loudly protesting when desk agents want to inspect a competition firearm, people getting completely belligerent drunk and then complaining when they're thrown off the plane. You really come to sympathize with the poor airline employees who deal with a seemingly endless stream of abuse and stupidity from all kinds of people.
Plenty of nice moments as well, and a great deal of light-hearted humor.
Caution: this show is ADDICTIVE!
An experiment gone wrong
While the first Halloween movie was a real horror masterpiece and the second was a moderately entertaining follow up, Halloween 3 was a mistake.
The idea was that the Halloween series would be about Halloween itself, telling a new creepy story each year, rather than centering around the characters of Michael Myers, Dr. Loomis and any number of hapless victms. Unfortunately, the original story was so entrenched in people's minds that Halloween 3 failed miserably. Most people didn't understand Carpenter's premise at all, and although it was a very unique and clever idea, it was doomed to failure.
Halloween 3 centers around a rogue corporation called "Silver Shamrock" that makes Halloween masks. The masks control the minds of the people wearing them when they view a weird psychedelic commercial on TV.
As a whole, the idea behind Halloween 3 isn't bad at all, and although it could have been a much better movie, it suffers mainly from its title and the audience's expectations that go along with that title.
Carpenter's idea to make each movie about a different Halloween ghost story probably would have worked out if he had not made Halloween 2 as a sequel to the first Halloween, but instead used the Halloween 3 story and left the original alone, or perhaps revisited it years later and made Halloween 5 or 6 show how Dr. Loomis kills Myers (and then left it at that). But the way things worked out, people associated Halloween with Myers and Loomis and that particular story too much for the idea to work.
Son of Svengoolie (1978)
Oddball humor, sci-fi and Horror B-movies, coolness!
A quirky, oddball Chicago area TV show incorporating local guy Rich Koz as the "Svengoolie" character who hosts a series of (mostly) low budget horror and sci-fi movies. The series was originally called "Son of Svengoolie", now simply "Svengoolie", and was actually spun off from a previous series (which Koz was a writer for) called "Screaming Yellow Theatre". Much of the humor is self-deprecating and admittedly cheesy, but is usually funny for just this reason. Koz, in full makeup and costume, opens the show with some slapstick humor and then inbetween the show and commercial breaks, jumps in with more, often with his buddy "Doug Graves" who plays ditties on the piano. The show usually ends with Koz standing in an upright coffin and making a series of jokes so lame that the cameramen start pelting him with rubber chickens. Some low-grade special effects often make an appearance in the form of a moustacioed talking skull and other oddities.
I grew up watching this. It was on once a week, in the evening, after The Incredible Hulk. This show was a major precursor to shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, so if you're a fan of that you might get a kick out of this as well.
Cool old movies you don't see very often on TV (if at all!), silly slapstick humor that borrows a lot from The Three Stooges and such. Lots of fun!
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
Dark, disturbing, and outstanding
For the 1980s, this is a very dark movie. At this point, filmmakers were beginning to operate under the assumption that all films require smarmy comic relief (which, of course, is taken to the extreme today), flashy action scenes (even more overdone today), or steamy sex scenes.
Hutton and Penn are stupendous in their roles as childhood friends turned Soviet spies. Penn in particular is brilliant as hapless drug dealer Daulton Lee.
What you have here is a true thriller/drama. There is no eye candy to speak of, but the story is so compelling and the acting so superb that (hopefully) most people wouldn't miss it. There are a couple amusing scenes, in particular the one where Penn tries to get his Soviet benefactors involved in a major drugrunning deal.
Well worth watching.
Pacific Heights (1990)
A masterpiece of suspense, despite some problems
The key to this movie is the viewer's ability to overlook technicalities and appreciate the story itself.
Keaton is superb as sociopathic "Carter Hayes". Initially, he is charming and convincing as a well-heeled business guy. He talks his way into Patty and Drake's rental apartment and then takes it over, sans credit check or invitation by a series of lies and mild trickery. Once he's in, he's not getting out either.
There are some excellent camera shots, especially one of Griffith (or Modine, can't recall which) in their garage, while the shape of Keaton appears from the shadows behind, staring blankly at the back of the protagonist.
The power of the story lies in the long setup of frustration. Griffith and Modine represent the "everyman" middle class couple who don't really mean any harm and have a pretty good life together. When their life is more or less ruined by Keaton, completely unprovoked, and they are continually tormented and screwed over by the police and legal system, the viewer gets a blood lust for "an eye for and eye" revenge.
The subsequent screwjob that Griffith unleashes on Keaton is thoroughly satisfying.
There are some weak points in the plot.
When Griffith is on her revenge quest, she walks up to the front desk at the hotel where Keaton (who has, by now, assumed the identity of Modine complete with personal documents and social security card) and asks out of the blue if there is a Drake Goodman staying there. The desk attendant readily complies. It seems extremely unlikely that any hotel, particularly one that caters to the obviously rich, would give out information to someone just in off the street. The weak explanation given is that she claims to be returning Keaton's wallet, however it seems like they would want more information and at least check the ID in the wallet.
Also during the revenge sequence, Griffith gains access to Keaton's hotel room simply by claiming to be his wife and asking the cleaning woman to let her in. The cleaning woman readily complies, even though she has never seen this woman before in her life. A little later, when Griffith finds documents in Keaton's room that tell her that Keaton somehow obtained all of her's and Modine's personal information and has completely assumed Modine's identity, she throws a major fit screaming and throwing items around the room. The cleaning woman who unlocked the door for her knocks and mildly asks, "Is everything okay?"
However, if you can overlook things like this, Pacific Heights is a great movie.
Wesley Willis (2003)
A real hidden gem
Wesley Willis was a very unique person from Chicago, who grew up poor in the notorious housing projects, was a victim of violent abuse, and developed a mental illness (he was diagnosed with schizophrenia). He was homeless for a while, supporting himself by selling drawings of various places in Chicago, until he discovered his musical side and began performing spoken word poetry to the accompanyment of an inexpensive canned-music keyboard. Eventually, he made some very good friends who began to look out for him and make sure he took his medication and had a decent place to sleep. Perhaps the high point of his musical career was the forming of his noise-punk band "Wesley Willis Fiasco", which recorded on Jello Biafra's "Alternative Tentacles" label. Sadly, Willis passed away in 2003 after a battle with lukemia.
The DVD is great if you are a Wesley Willis fan. It's well made in a film school kind of way, including interviews with many of Willis' friends, as well as a huge amount of discussions with Willis himself. Viewers get to experience first hand the kind of meanness Willis would have to endure from time to time, as well as see how kind people can be with someone who just needs a little extra bit of patience and understanding. A full Los Angeles "Wesley Willis Fiasco" concert is included as well.
Friday the 13th: The Series (1987)
Very clever and original, despite poor title choice
The choice of "Friday the 13th" as the title for this show was probably a major downfall, as a huge number of people (myself included) tuned in to the first show of the series expecting it to be based on the low budget slasher films of the same name. Unfortunately, at that time I was so disappointed and confused to find that it had nothing at all to do with the movies, I turned it off and didn't watch it again for a couple years. (Hey, I was 12 years old)
That said, beyond the title, this was a very good TV show, and very much a predecessor to things like The X Files. It had a similar tone to a lot of the horror/oddball shows of the day (like Tales from the Crypt, Tales From the Darkside, Monsters, etc.), but was the darkest and creepiest of all of them. The main characters, cousins Ryan and Micki played by John D. LeMay and the gorgeous and buxom Louise Robey, don't have any special magic powers or any of that nonsense. In fact, they are quite often frightened themselves when they get in over their heads.
The idea of searching for cursed items and getting them back safely from unsuspecting people is a very original and clever one.
If you manage to see this at some point, look for the first three seasons before LeMay's character was killed off, as Steve Monarque isn't as good and the writing started to go a little downhill as well.
Spice World (1997)
The movie you love to hate. So quit hating!
This movie is not nearly as bad as people would have you think. Instead, it's a victim of the huge Spice Girls backlash of the late 1990s, when the market was saturated with Spice Girls this and that.
Basically, a copycat of "A Hard Days Night" with the Beatles, the movie does what it was intended to do: appeal to 11 year old girls. Other people, particularly adults, who so violently HATE this are a little disturbed, in my opinion. It's not supposed to be shakespeare and the girls never claimed to be Lawrence Olivier. It's silly, dumb and sugary sweet, and there's nothing wrong with that at all.
When I was in college, this was the weekly free movie (we got to see one movie of their choosing a week for free if we showed our student ID at the door). People hooted and hollered and derided it to no end, but secretly I'm sure they all liked it on some level, just like I did. See, it's not COOL to like the Spice Girls.
A harmless family movie that you can rent and enjoy with your young daughters, without worrying about foul language, violence and sexual innuendo.
What began as an outstanding updated version of the classic cop/detective show was picked and hacked at by TV executive dolts until it finally bore little or no resemblance to the original, and did away with a central character.
TV executives are absolutely clueless. The show did not instantly get top rating, and therefore Mr. Moneybags or Mr. Big Cigar or whoever over at the network called up and said, "Change it so we get more sponsorship and I can afford to put another wing on my chalet in the south of France. Oh, and my wife wants a solid gold Maserati for her birthday."
If they had left the show alone, it would have gained steam and become a very successful series. Instead, they ruined it and then threw it away.
Ed O'Neil was excellent as Joe Friday.
Jenny Jones (1991)
Silly, but who cares?
As far as talk shows go, this is probably towards the bottom of the pile, but then I don't think it was developed as a medium for curing the ills of society. Instead, it exploits trash culture and provides some great guilty pleasure fun. The show is so bad that it's obviously meant to be that way.
And it didn't hurt that at least one show per week was devoted to "13 year old girls obsessed with sex".
Uncle Buck (1990)
The Uncle Buck television series is a testament to the TV of the late 80s - early 90s, in which networks appeared to completely lose what little creative talent they had. Instead, they chose to spin-off any movie that had any kind of popular following.
Uncle Buck the TV show was, of course, shamelessly copied from the John Hughes film of the same name, which starred John Candy in the title role.
Shows like this should be utterly forgotten. Fortunately for the TV viewing public, this and other lame spin-off attempts (Ferris Bueller, to name another), very quickly sank into the abyss of useless cast-off shows that not even a mother could love.
For a hilarious, touching film, rent Uncle Buck starring John Candy. If some TV station decides to show episodes of Uncle Buck the TV show, I suggest you pawn your TV and take up Greenlandic throat singing.
Ask This Old House (2002)
A great idea!
A brand new show in 2003, Ask This Old House gave a lot of us what we wanted: a show dedicated to helping all kinds of people with their individual home maintenance issues.
The guys cover everything from the simplest of tasks (putting a deadbolt lock on a door) to the complex installing a toilet in a basement bathroom, complete with drains and pumpout system).
There's a little light humor and good camaraderie, and the segment they call "What is it?" is particularly amusing and informative. It's incredible that they can keep coming up with so many obscure and weird tools.