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Flight 29 Down (2005–2007)
Wholesome and satisfying
24 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not ashamed to admit that as a 40-year-old man, I watched every episode of this series. Sure, it was a tween clone of "Lost," but in some ways it was the superior show. Why?

Because (spoilers) at the end, they get rescued from the island; the audience wasn't left with bunch of unresolved story threads; and the writers didn't Deus Ex Machina their way out of a corner by making the island Purgatory when they explicitly claimed in the first season that it wasn't Purgatory. #NotStillBitterWellMaybeALittle

Also, why isn't Johnny Pacar a huge star by now?
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A loving homage to bad '80s sci-fi
14 May 2014
Forbidden Dimensions is a loving, accomplished (if not entirely period-accurate) homage to '80s straight-to-video science-fiction post-apocalyptic time-traveling rubber-mask monster movies.

Story? Let me give it a shot. Jack Slade is an S.E.K.—a "solar eclipse kid"—who finds himself jumping back and forth in time—from 1998 to 2035 and back again. He works for the Kronos Corporation, which in 1998 creates a "wavelength generator" that brings aliens into our dimension. The maniacal Dr. Schector then uses alien tissue to, um, do some stuff, thereby destroying the world. As the last surviving S.E.K., it's up to Jack to find some chick named Khadija in 2035 and stop Kronos and Schector (who looks and sounds like he's fronting an '80s metal band) in 1998. I think. It's weird in spades right from the get-go, and things get even more confusing near the end. I would have preferred a slightly more linear story with less jumping around. But whatever.

Overly ambitious? Well, define "overly." I am a big supporter of independent filmmaking and I understand how hard it is to even get a movie made, so I will let an indie get away with a lot of things I'd criticize a big-budget movie for. FD is either unintentionally bad or lovingly bad. I prefer to think it's lovingly bad. Do not take this movie seriously. It is what it is, and it knows it. As such, there's no such thing as a goof. Post-2010 cars in 1998? Crew walking around in the background? It's all good.

FD displays all the trappings of a bad '80s movie: shots that last much longer than they should, bordering on indulgent; overly expository, on-the-nose dialog ("I have to save the future!"); actors taking extra time with movements to be sure the camera is seeing it. The dialog is not just unsubtle, but often it seems like characters are having two separate conversations.

I love the total lack of adherence to medical reality (the "reverse embryo" scene in particular); that is, the total impossibility of it. It's as if writer-director Chris J. Miller had a bunch of weird ideas and just decided to cram them all in, whether they made sense or not. Evidently a lot of the budget went to practical makeup effects. The weak-of-stomach should probably avoid this one.

There is a pact between B-movie makers and the audience, and the director knows it: Namely, if we're going to watch your low-budget movie, we want boobies. Miller delivers. He also gets very good performances from most of the rest of his (non-nude) cast, which was unexpected. Detective Giger is a hoot. Based on the trailers on the DVD, I gather he's a recurring character in Miller's movies.

Shot compositions are remarkably good, and there's interesting and clever integration of original footage with "guerrilla" footage shot on location at Wasteland Weekend. There are some interesting real-world locations, and even a pretty cool "sci-fi corridor" set.

If I have one complaint, it would be the overuse of different fonts for super cards and too many modern video effects. That said, there are enough '80s-era video graphics to satisfy purists. FD features great original music, plus an extra bonus: the same music that Epic Meal Time uses!

Is it logical? No. Easy to follow the story? Not really. But is it fun to watch? Absolutely.

Final note: If you pirated this movie and then didn't buy a legit copy, you suck. If you pirated it and then gave it a bad rating, there is a special place in Hell for you.
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UFO (1970–1973)
Kitschy time capsule doesn't quite hold up; still fun, though
19 April 2014
"U.F.O." (pronounced YOU-foe by Ed Straker) was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. I still have my original Dinky Interceptor toy. When the remastered DVD box set was released, I bought it immediately. I finally finished watching the series, and although it brought back fond memories, it struck me how wonderfully inept the show actually was.

Derek Meddings' models were fantastic, of course, and the effects were on par with the other Gerry Anderson shows like "Thunderbirds," but dramatically, technically and logically, it was downright awful. (For example: On Moonbase, you can shut off your roommate's oxygen supply and no alarm will sound. And the best way to deal with an alien-controlled woman who wants to blow up your base is to spend 6 hours falling in love with her and then TAKE HER TO THE BASE.)

It's like it was written by kids and realized by adults. It's a kids' show masquerading as a show for grown-ups. (I'm still fond of it, of course.)
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Not nearly as bad as I'd expected
30 November 2011
The only reason I had to watch this movie was because a friend was on the crew. He told me that it was widely regarded on set as one of the worst productions ever. We watched it together and he gave a running commentary. Despite the low budget, it was actually pretty entertaining. However, instead of relying on primitive CGI to animate their clay demon, the directors should have shot the movie the way Spielberg shot around finicky mechanical sharks for "Jaws." The piñata wasn't bad-looking, but when it transformed via cheesy CGI, it really drew attention to itself. There were some very effective practical gore effects, so it wasn't as if they didn't have options.

The cast was serviceable and the girls were hot (Lara Wickes was adorable and I fell madly in love), but the filmmakers violated the sacred pact between the horror genre and its male viewers—namely, if we're going to watch your no-budget movie, we want some nekkid boobies in return. The single instance of partial boobage from Daphnee Duplaix was pretty weak, and also raised some questions. For one, you can't get a Playboy Playmate to disrobe? And for two, how exactly does a director ask for the shot they used? "OK, guy, pull her top down a little--CUT! Moving on..."

So in the end, not so terrible. Here's a tip, though: Mute the TV and play the soundtrack to "Predator" instead. You'd be surprised at how much better the movie seems.
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Steel Frontier (1995 Video)
Painful to watch
11 April 2009
I made it about 8 minutes into "Steel Frontier" before I turned it off. Then, glutton for punishment that I am, I watched some more the next day. Today I had to iron a pile of clothes, so I decided to finish the movie, and that was its own punishment. Here's what I don't understand: Robert Rodriguez and Shane Carruth each spent $7,000 on their debut features and created two remarkable movies. Yet here we have two directors with arguably way more money, and they churn out a huge, steaming pile of crap. Let me see if I can figure out the logic: "It's 'Road Warrior' but it's like a future Western. We'll get the cheapest 'actors' we can find, we'll have my mentally challenged cousin write the script, and we'll spend the budget on a bunch of explosions. We can't lose!"

Seriously. I don't think even the MST3K guys could improve this. But if you insist on watching it, I recommend getting very drunk first.
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Teenage Caveman (2002 TV Movie)
Not good, but strangely compelling.
10 May 2006
So I was flipping channels one night before bedtime and happened into the middle of some crazy party scene with half-naked girls. Good enough for me. I set the VCR and went to bed, but I was back in front of the TV 10 minutes later. There was just something about this movie that was oddly appealing. And not just Tiffany Limos. Or Andrew Keegan's samurai hair and drag queen outfit with big shoulder pads and peekaboo belly button. Despite the low production values, lack of plot and gaping holes of logic, little gems of brilliance were scattered here and there. Too bad they were too few and too far between.

Having done some reading about "Teenage Caveman" and its director, Larry Clark, I'm reminded of something Ben Stein wrote in his series of articles, "The Diary of a Mad Screenwriter," about a producer friend whose every project could be summed up as: "Teenage girls discovering their bodies as they come of age..." Maybe he was writing about Clark. I certainly can't fault the guy for, as another reviewer suggested, using movies as an excuse to see naked young girls. My only gripe is the buzzkill: When the exotically delicious Tiffany Limos gets naked and then the other half-naked girl EXPLODES...well, that's not the sort of climax I was hoping for. Kind of like in the worthless-except-for-topless-Jeannie- Millar "Starquest II," where instead of getting some more nakedness, we're treated to a rubber head getting a rubber monster finger through its rubber eye. Yeesh. And speaking of that flick, who doesn't notice the amazing similarities between the two movies?

Kudos to Richard Hillman, who was a heck of a lot of fun to watch, even with the sound off. Although not in the same way that Limos was, of course. Please note that I never said that "Teenage Caveman" is actually good. But it was intriguing enough to make me write a review, which says something. There's definitely a rental in my near future. Heck, I might even add this one to my DVD collection. Thanks, Larry!

(I actually did purchase this. Then I traded it away. No regrets.)
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Shh! Don't tell!
18 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It was purely a fluke that I even got a copy of this movie. If "heartbreaking work of staggering genius" hadn't already been used, that's what I'd call it. This movie is simply amazing. It's a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. You'll laugh nervously...then you'll stare, slack-jawed as another twist comes out of left field...and in the end, you'll feel about the same way you did at the end of one of your relationships. It's over, but you're ambivalent. And you won't really know how you feel for some time. The most incredible feat the filmmakers pull off is that at the same time you're starting to fully appreciate what the movie really is, you've bought into it fully. You've identified with Andrew and you've even said some of the things he says. In some ways, it's more real than reality.

This whole movie should require a spoiler. This is not dark humor--it's pitch black. Blacker than black. If you enjoy twisted and unusual movies, and/or you've ever been in love, you're bound to enjoy this movie.
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The joke gets old fast
21 August 2004
The trailer on the Web site--plus the involvement of Paul Zaloom ("Beakman's World")--was enough to convince me to buy the DVD, but I'd have been happier with a rental. The paintings, particularly the pseudo propaganda posters, are interesting and humorous, but the jokes are few and far between. There was nary a real laugh to be found. The voiceover work was either too polished or not polished enough. If Peter Thomas had done the narration, that would have lent a real "straightness" that Zaloom lacks. I appreciate the effort, but it's about 10 minutes' worth of material stretched out to 46 minutes. If you're addicted to The History Channel, you might get a kick out of this flick.
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Torque (2004)
16 July 2004
I watched "Torque" last night (and you should have no sympathy for me). Thoroughly abominable.

In no way did it mimic reality; if anything, it was TV Beer Commercial Reality, where hot chicks dance slo-mo in sprays of water and the camera never stops moving. "Hard-Boiled" (Lashou Shentan) is over-the-top gun fantasy, but it's at least rooted in reality. "Torque" is not rooted in anything but music videos. Bike stunts went way beyond anything possible in real life, even with super top pros. As if the director said, "What's the absolute craziest thing we could do here, no matter what?" It was so over-the-top it wasn't even good enough to be numbing, it was just dumb. Heck, the single best part of the movie was the most understated. Plus it was like all the characters from a really bad straight-to-video low-budget biker movie were transplanted to a movie with a really big budget. So you had the bad girl who was realllly bad...the wisecracking hero who's realllly a wiseacre...

Awful. Truly.
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Daughter of the Mind (1969 TV Movie)
Utterly terrifying!
10 June 2004
I can't tell you a thing about this movie plot-wise, but I can tell you that this was, hands-down, the scariest thing I ever saw on TV as a child. All I had to do was say "wax hand in a fishbowl" to my best friend to freak him out. I remember images, like a ghostly image of the girl floating in air, and someone replicating the effect with mist and a projector, but that's about it. Oh, and that Pam Ferdin was in it. (I feel like I grew up with her, because I kept seeing her in everything.)

Even the odd title still haunts me, 30-something years after first I saw the movie. Would love to see this again...but then, maybe it's better if I didn't. Some things are best left to the (childish) imagination.
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Yeah? So?
23 February 2004
I'd put off watching this movie for several reasons. One was that I absolutely refused to pay for it. Another was that I figured it would just make me angry. I was finally able to see it on cable.

I wasn't particularly angered by the movie, because it was about what I expected from Moore. What I didn't expect was that it would be so utterly BORING.
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Just plain stupid.
4 November 2003
I can't believe a woman wrote this. I would have sworn it was written by a man who thought he was writing a comedy for women. I told my wife at the outset that as soon as there was a synchronized singing/dancing number, I was outta there. I didn't make it that far; I gave it about 20 minutes before I walked out of the room in disgust. Later, from another room, I heard my wife laughing. I'm picking up divorce papers this week.
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Cause for Concern (2002 Video)
Pretty good training film
8 September 2003
Surprisingly, I was not as horrified by BUMFIGHTS as I expected to be. I still haven't quite figured out why that is.

As a training film, however, BUMFIGHTS is invaluable. It's one thing to watch a couple of karate experts demonstrate techniques in a well-lit studio; it's another to watch real people pummel each other on the street. I was very surprised that the fights didn't go to the ground very often, so as long as you can keep from getting tripped or pushed, your ground-fighting skills aren't critical. Yes, a roundhouse kick to the head may work. A full-on punch to the jaw may not. But don't give up.

Which brings me to the most valuable lesson I learned from BUMFIGHTS: If some idiot starts something with you, don't just stand there and wonder why while he starts swinging; take the fight to him and beat the holy living bejeezus out of him as quickly and as brutally as you can. You can think about why later when you're home icing your hands.
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Bully (2001)
Brad Renfro is an ACTOR
8 September 2003
In a nutshell: Disturbing, yet compelling. Should I feel bad about having enjoyed it? I feel like I should. At least I know now without question what Larry Clark is all about (not that I didn't already know after "Teenage Caveman").

While Nick Stahl was convincingly despicable and even Leo Fitzpatrick seemed more real than real, Brad Renfro OWNS his role as Marty. He was just so natural in the part that I can't help but think that, if he keeps making the right choices, he'll one day be considered a "great actor." One can only hope.
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Vice Girls (1997)
8 September 2003
After having read the other reviews, I have to wonder: Is this movie *really* worth spending 83 minutes on? Here's my story: Liat Goodson caught my eye one day from the cover of the "Vice Girls" DVD. Some months later, I found it for a good price and decided to take a chance. I watched most of the movie at 8x speed because the only reason I bought it was to see Goodson. Naked. Which never happened. Sure, she looked fantastic in that red vinyl dress and her accent is killer, but where's the payoff? I guess I should have been more diligent about finding one of those celebrity nudity databases first.

So while I doubt that the comedic value of the movie will offset my disappointment, maybe it's worth another look. Probably not.
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Better than I expected...much better.
7 September 2003
When I first saw the trailer to this movie on some other action DVD, I thought, "You must be kidding me. This has got to be the worst straight-to-video HK-action rip-off ever made." But after watching the first few minutes of it on cable, I knew the trailer was all wrong. They'd focused on all the wrong elements. I found "Love and a Bullet" to be something of a black "Snatch"-type movie (no jokes, now), very tongue-in-cheek and enjoyably self-referential. The final battle, as silly as it was, was easier to swallow after the movie's setup. After all, it's not a straight gangsta-action movie; it's more of a black comedy. In both senses of the word. Definitely worth the 90-minute investment.
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The Omega Man (1971)
Ranks as one of my all-time favorites
5 September 2003
When I was a kid in the early 70s, NBC played "The Omega Man" on TV quite a bit. Unfortunately, I had never seen the entire movie, uncut, from beginning to end until I bought the DVD. And I have to say that I enjoyed it just as much as, if not more than, I did when I was a kid.

The period in which this film was produced was conducive to movies made with an evident passion. This is a movie with more heart than nearly any big modern studio film you'd care to name. Yes, there are some holes (if I had Neville's arsenal and time, I'd sit on my balcony and snipe The Family until they were no more), but the story (and the music) more than makes up for it. Its flaws aside, this is a powerful story about a man under siege who finds a reason to live, and not just to survive.

Certainly there are aspects to the movie that may be off-putting to modern viewers--the early-70s fashions, the too-good in-studio lighting, Neville's insistence on calling his female partner "baby"--but after Beyonce Knowles's "Foxxy Cleopatra," at least Rosalind Cash's "Black Power diva" Lisa is funky fresh again.

I am entirely unapologetic about my love for this movie, and yes, the ending still brings tears. The movies I saw during my formative years will always, no matter how good or bad, be special to me, and "The Omega Man" will forever rank as one of my all-time favorite movies, right up there with "Silent Running" and "Voyage Into Space."
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Good viewing for pretty much anyone
18 August 2003
I'm no surfer, but I appreciate watching people enjoy their own pursuits. "Siestas & Olas" was strangely compelling viewing, even for a non-surfer like me. Part of the appeal was the very Disney travelogue/"60s surf movie" narration (quite humorous), which also led to much confusion on my part, because there was nothing in the movie that really allowed me to peg the year it was made. The warm, orangey color tone of the film said 60s; the checkerboard Vans said 80s; the guys' haircuts (except for the Aussie) said "any time after 1950." And I don't know anything about the surfers themselves, so they were no help. It's good, wholesome, light entertainment. All of which means that "Siestas" will stand the test of time much better than your typically dated enthusiast movie.
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Last Run (2001)
An enjoyable little film that knows what it is
3 August 2003
My best friend kept telling me about this movie he'd seen with his dad recently, "Last Run" with Armand Assante. So I finally rented it, and I'm glad I did. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it "knows what it is." That is, the filmmakers had a strict budget and it appears they worked hard to get everything they could on-screen without over-reaching themselves. The plot is pretty standard spy stuff--the action and Eastern European locations had me thinking of "Ronin" and "The Bourne Identity"--yet it was compelling to watch (the cemetery firefight was a thing of beauty).

Armand Assante chewed the scenery pretty well, which was a good thing--because when he emotes, he enunciates. But when he falls into his calmer, deep-throated growl, he might as well be speaking gibberish, he's so hard to understand. Again, not a perfect movie, but if you like the post-Cold War spy genre, you'll find this one worth a rental.
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The Hunter (1980)
Almost palatable
24 July 2003
I'd have to say, after finally having seen this movie, that the poster was the best thing about it. McQueen does a decent job of playing, well, himself, but the rest of the cast might as well be cardboard cutouts. It plays like a TV movie, so it was no surprise to learn that director Buzz Kulik had a mess of TV credits and few movies. The outdoor scenes were decently shot, but the indoor scenes were lit like an episode of "Adam 12." The thing that had me on the cusp of changing the channel the whole time was the godawful music. It was worse than a 1940s romance, with over-the-top strings swelling to grand crescendos...while nothing was happening! Gads. I'll need to watch "Bullitt" again to cleanse my mind of this tragedy.
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Chopper One (1974)
Fond memories
21 July 2003
If memory serves, "Chopper One" played in the half-hour before ABC's "Firehouse." Those were my two favorite shows at the time. I couldn't tell you whether the show was actually good, but it was probably on par with every other cop show (except maybe "The Rookies"). I was a much less critical viewer at age 9.

Although I haven't seen an episode since they first aired, I still have memories of them: At the beginning of one episode, for example, the chopper lands with a kite tangled in the rotor blades; Mitch calls it a "five-cent disaster" or some such colorful term. In (another?) episode, the chopper is hijacked by bad guys. Foley stays on the ground while Burdick flies the chopper; in an attempt to psyche out the bad guys, one of the cops says, "Engine goes out on a chopper, you drop like a rock." At the climax, the chopper flies behind a hill and there's a huge explosion. Foley subdues his bad guy and it turns out that Burdick cleverly dropped an external fuel tank to fake a crash. Classic.
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I've been scarred for life.
27 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Sometime in the early 80s, I borrowed a copy of this movie, which had been taped from a cable movie channel in the US, and while there was a fair amount of cheese (and too much rear projection), I quite enjoyed it. Sure, it's the same old formula--underdog comes from nowhere to beat the world champion--but the Silver Dream Machine--whatta bike!--made it something special. I mean, Essex whacks the throttle on the last lap, the music swells as he overtakes the champ and crosses the finish line in victory...what could be better? That's how this kind of movie is *supposed* to end.

And up until last night, that's how I thought it ended. Except suddenly, there was more movie where there shouldn't have been...

**EXTREME SPOILER** ...Raines screams, the front wheel wobbles, and Essex goes into the pit wall, crashes and EXPLODES!? Where did this come from? This is not the movie I used to watch! Maybe I saw a sanitized-for-your-enjoyment-on-an-airplane (or cable TV) ending originally, but I have to admit to being very disturbed by the extremely down original ending. It wasn't even bittersweet--it was downright cruel. Now, if Essex had some terminal illness, crossed the finish line and then died in his girlfriend's arms, that's perfectly fair. But to have him crash and burn--literally--at the end? What kind of sick person would write that? (Never mind that most racers walk away from worse get-offs--and do so earlier in the film--and bikes only explode in movies.) Especially surreal and disturbing was watching the other racers riding by, sort of off-handedly glancing at the smoldering wreckage as the movie faded to black. For me, that's easily the most depressing 90 seconds of film ever shot. Are the British pathologically immune to happiness or something?

If you actually watch it, do yourself a favor and hit "STOP" as soon as you see Dad smiling as Essex raises his arms in victory. Otherwise you'll be scarred for life.
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Simple Men (1992)
I didn't want it to end.
11 June 2003
"Trust" was so different from anything I'd ever seen that it just knocked me out--the dialog, the meter, the slightly-affected hyper-reality of the performances. "Simple Men" showcased a refinement of writer/director Hal Hartley's style, and I found myself watching rapt, not wanting it to end, ever. Untouched, unblemished, unstained by Hollywood, Hal Hartley makes his own movies his own way. He takes life's "little problems"--the ones that big Hollywood movies only mention in passing as a cinematic trick to achieve emotional buy-in--and examines them in exquisite detail. Now when is the DVD release!?
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Bloody Friday (1996)
Not earthshaking, but watchable.
31 May 2003
Yam plays--what else?--an on-the-edge Hong Kong CID officer who must find the "Friday Killer"--a dual-sport motorcycle-riding, black leather-clad enigma--before he strikes again. The Friday Killer's victims of choice are HK prostitutes (and the occasional cop's wife who happens to look like one); when a firecracker named Maggie (Lee) is targeted, Yam must protect her.

You'd think it would be pretty easy to knock a guy off a motorcycle, but not when he (or she, hint-hint) possesses physics-defying bike-handling skills that put M:I-2's Ethan Hunt to shame. An interesting diversion with a surprisingly good ending--and a very erotic (if chaste) encounter between Yam and Lee (formerly known as Loletta Lee).
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Star Kid (1997)
A fun little romp.
28 May 2003
I remember seeing the preview to "Star Kid" when it came out in theaters and thinking, "Man, does that look dumb." Last night it came on one of the movie channels--at 10pm, strangely--so I figured I'd let it play in the background while I did some work. I ended up watching the whole thing, and guess what--I really enjoyed it. Sure, there are some inevitably silly scenes, but then, at 37, I'm way out of the target demographic.

I don't want to find fault with the movie because "it is what it is." The actors are all decent, the effects are better than I had expected, and best of all, it has heart. I'm building a library of movies for our kids (when we finally have some), and said movies will need to be wholesome family entertainment that I won't mind watching, too. I will definitely include "Star Kid."
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