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Time Chasers (1994)
On retrospect, it's not that bad
18 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So when I was in high school, I wrote a review of this film for this site when I was well into my die-hard MSTie phase and like many people, just bagged on the film as the worst movie ever made because that would make me "cool." Well, that was a good twelve years ago folks, and really? I've seen a lot of movies since then, and this movie just isn't going to crack the bottom 100 worst movies I've ever sat through. It's not even close to the worst MST3K features ever.

Oh, it's still BAD. Don't get me wrong. It's cheaply made, the plot gets rather silly and filled with holes, and the performances of the principal cast are pretty lousy. The only one approaching actual acting talent is our lead, Matthew Bruch of the Butt Chin, and it's all downhill from there.

But let's be honest guys. For a low-budget sci-fi film, this is practically Shakespeare. David Giancola was clearly aware of how to frame most of his shots, how to hide his low budget wherever possible, and how to string together a screenplay with coherent dialog and a plot you can actually follow.

Can any of us honestly say the same about Monster-A-Go-Go? Red Zone Cuba? Castle of Fu Manchu? Or how about the more recent The Room or Birdemic? Seriously, the hammy, lisping J.K. Robertson is still FAR less painful to watch than Tommy Wisseau.

I can't really hate this movie any more. Sure I can have fun mocking its short-comings and lovingly enjoy Mike and the Bots shredding it into fine confetti. But especially stacked up against other Bottom 100 films here (Daniel der Zauberer? LOOKING AT YOU), it's really got no right to be here. And honestly, I think the fact it's coherent yet silly is part of why the MST3K episode is so memorable.

Oh, 10/10 on the MST3K version and I highly recommend that as well...but I think a lot of folks that watched the MST3K version should watch the full cut of the film as well.
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Evan Almighty (2007)
The world's most bizarre love story
5 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First off, this wasn't necessarily a bad way to kill an evening, and if you want some mostly-clean family entertainment, you could do worse. And it's a lot friendlier as Christian viewing than, say, The Passion of the Christ and it's two hour gore fest.

But, for a movie with God as a main character, I found that the divine intervention aspect was the least improbable part of this film. Far closer to the front of my mind were things like: Do they really think the capital looks like that? Are the filmmakers aware that we possess a bicameral legislative branch, a debate process over the passage of bills, a requirement that bills pass both houses and also pass the approval of the president, and, oh, I dunno, more than one frickin' Congressman that makes all the decisions? I realize Hollywood rarely is a stickler for details, but much of the film hinged on stopping one bill from getting passed by a random Congressman, one that would actually sell national park space to private development. What alternate universe is this movie taking place in where Congress would not be besieged by protests and clear legal hurdles? Also, what alternate universe is one mere Congressman of undetermined status is given the power to suspend Congressman, control the entire D.C. police force, and apparently build dams and dictate their construction himself with absolutely no oversight for personal profit? And aside from the bad politics, what of the hackneyed theology? At one point, God tells Evan that the story of Noah's ark was a love story because all the animals came in pairs. Not, say, for the repopulation of the Earth after a vengeful deity drowned every living thing on the planet. Strangely, Evan Almighty skips over this theme when it's the most prominent theme of the story it is trying to reference. There might have been a really witty, thoughtful film if Evan had ever questioned anything and had some deep dialogs with God. But Hollywood isn't out to make thoughtful films with God, they just want to rope in church goers, so the best we get is God declaring ARK as an anagram, ruining a man's life, flooding an entire housing development for no apparent reason, having birds poop on everything in sight, and smirking the entire way.

The movie is also pretty dead set on sticking to clichés. This movie will never surprise you. There's even a clichéd "Wife loses faith in husband" subplot, which would require an incredibly stupid woman in the first place because she's been around her husband for weeks of him being chased by all sorts of exotic animals and watching his uncontrollable hair growth. There's also the normal "Working person ignores his family and just needs to be shown what matters in life" cliché, which apparently translates to "Construction projects bring families together! Also, natural disasters." Yes, I'm paying attention to things like this because the movie isn't exactly throwing anything else at me to make up for it. Steve Carrel is himself, always funny but not capable of the divine miracle it would take to turn this thing into gold. Wanda Sykes gets a few good one liners, but her character seems to exist entirely as a one-liner machine and nothing else. There's also a scary Congressional aide with a strange potential romantic attraction to our poor Evan, though the movie never does comment on the Bible's attitudes towards homosexuality despite having God wandering around D.C. all day.

The movie just sort of chugs along, you chuckle a little, you try to ignore how progressively stupid it gets, and then it's over. Not bad for a family rental, but not much more than that either.
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Hulk (2003)
The Incredible Nothing
26 January 2006
With the one-two punch of the entertaining Bryan Singer-helmed X-Men films and Sam Raimi's brilliant Spider-Man take, it seemed like comic films had finally found their way. It really WAS possible to tell the deep, moving plot line that has entranced comic readers for decades while including the requisite explosions that have also entranced comic readers for decades. Naturally, when I saw the trailer for the Hulk, I was expecting Bruce Banner to get an equally good treatment. I mean, they brought in Ang Lee, meaning they wanted a more serious exploration into the Hulk's multiple personas, right? And the man knows his wire-fu, so the action sequences would be good too, right?

Wrong. The Hulk was one of the most painful theatrical experiences of my lifetime. It even managed to top Wild Wild West and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman for cinematic torture. Of course, that two hour run time of badness can do anyone in. At least those films were short enough to escape from. The Hulk is not only bad, it's long too. The more recent Batman Begins clocked in ten minutes longer than this and and it just zooms by while achieving everything the Hulk fails at. And that had the Memento guy helming it for crying out loud!

Let's get something straight - many in the media and the internet are under the impression that The Hulk is some grand artistic opus overlooked by dumb theater goers due to lack of explosions. They laud it's artistic vision, it's brilliant insight into Banner's head, and a bunch of other artsy crap. These elements ARE NOT IN THIS FILM. The movie I saw was so caught up in convincing the audience it was smart that I was just waiting for the "Oscar Moment" subtitles to pop up. Sadly, it's hoodwinked quite a few people into its vision. People who should know better. Hence why this review exists.

No, this film is a cinematic Seinfeld. This film is about nothing. On top of the title character not even appearing for the first third of the film - we learn absolutely nothing about Bruce Banner to make us care about him. He is a total blank slate. Eric Bana is a fine actor, but his Bruce is someone I never cared about. And there's plenty of angles they could have used to make Bruce intriguing, all of which Marvel Comics has gone in depth over(Grey Hulk anyone?). There's a lot to the Hulk character but Ang Lee never got it - he just liked making pretty pictures and vague plot points that amounted to nothing.

Then there's the conflict with his father. Namely - his creepy dad is trying to do...something. The film doesn't really tell you what. It does use that clever smokescreen of being vague so you supposedly need to analyze to find the plot, but no, deep analysis reveals dad is nothing but a creepy old guy with mutant poodles. At the end of the film, his showdown with Bruce is nothing but a giant metaphor for...nothing.

We get a lot of flashbacks, supposedly to establish conflict. They add nothing to the film except that Bruce's dad is Not A Good Person. We get shots into Bruce's head that are supposed to show an identity crisis. But since we never get anything resembling an identity from Bruce, there's no involvement in his crisis. And naturally, these scenes are way too long and go nowhere. That's not artistic vision - that's someone stumbling around trying to find something more to do with the concept than "Hulk smash!" There's nothing for the Hulk to define himself against - we are given a few vague sources of antagonism. The military sort of plays a role - nothing like a good cliché in our monster movie. But for a film that's supposed to be innovative in its presentation, how come the best they can up with for the military are nothing but tired clichés? It's as though they exist solely so someone can throw tanks at the Hulk.

Oh, sure, there's action sequences, but those are boring too. The only thing the film gets right is that helicopters are not giant tanks of nitroglycerin waiting to go off at the slightest touch. But we do get a thirty minute or so chase sequence through the desert where Hulk jumps...and jumps...and jumps...and winds up in San Francisco so he can...wind up right back where he started! Oh sure, he overturns some tanks and helicopters on the way, but we just had a thirty minute chase sequence go absolutely nowhere but boy did it buffer that artistic runtime.

Folks - do not be fooled. This film is not an unsung classic. It is undeserved of that praise. Bruce Banner's consciousness has been explored in depth in his comics since the 70's, and Ang Lee couldn't even get close to it in three hours. Even the TV series had a better shot at the character and he wasn't even named Bruce in that one. There are plenty of better three hour films out there, and plenty of better comic films out there.
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A step back...
11 September 2004
Having enjoyed the last several direct-to-video installments of the Scooby Doo franchise, I have always been impressed by the fact that the writers were keen on what made the original series work and how to translate that to film. Oh sure, it was always rather corny entertainment, but you're not expecting high art from Scooby. You're expecting FUN.

And that was what I wanted from this outing, but I was rather disappointed overall. As nice as it was to see the living members of the original cast together again, the writing seemed a little stale. The in-jokes were so thick where they became tiresome by the time the credits rolled. The situations concocted for the cast frequently felt like padding instead of entertainment. Though the real kicker is the fact the conclusion managed to be too unbelievable even by Scooby Doo standards. After the more outrageous events that have transpired, the solution to the mystery of the Yowie Yahooie is far too dull, especially considering the supernatural events the last several films ended with. While it's nice to see the film end in step with the original series (proving the supernatural to be something much more mundane), it feels as though the balance isn't even enough between the supernatural facade and the reality.

However, this installment is not a total loss. Not all the in-jokes are a waste (especially one at Fred's expense when the gang is set to investigate a trailer). The riffs on various genres of music (in particular the KISS-inspired vampires) were appreciated, as was the reappearence of the Hex Girls from the second film (though they've lost a lot of their character now that they're not suspects). The hideously out of date manager inspired quite a few laughs as well.

Unfortunately, this does not take away the rather empty feeling at the end of the film. With a new series running, it's of course possinble this was more of a pilot for than a continuation of the previous films, but it's hoped this is really more of an anomaly in the series of movies and not a trend, lest we return to the likes of the franchise-toppling "Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf".
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Tries to do both, falls flat
26 October 2003
Rob Reiner used to put out some darn funny satires. Unfortunately for this film, he didn't even try. On the one hand is the syrupy, fluff story of a widowed president falling in love with an activist. In other words, a chick flick. Then it switches gears by ramming left-wing rhetoric down your throat and attempting to make itself an "important" film. Not only can the fluffier aspect not mesh well with the "serious" portion, but it also effectively alienates half the audience, as well as everyone else who went in expecting a light romance and got a nice helping of propaganda instead. I'm amazed this later shaped into the West Wing, but at least that series is not hampered by trying to do too many things at once. While still left-wing in rhetoric, the weekly format allows it to switch gears more effectively and thus makes itself more palatable for entertainment. Trying to cram that into a movie fails miserably. If you're looking for a good, light presidential comedy, go rent "Dave." If you're looking for something more meaningful, skip this one.
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The wonders of LSD...
6 June 2003
This film spends a lot of time preaching against marijuana. However, the plot and visuals are so insane that it seems more like the poster-child for LSD.

Plot: The heroic struggle of Michael as he battles his drug addiction while being subjected to the humiliation brought on by the likes of Winnie the Pooh and Papa Smurf.

Yea, yea, there's a good message, but it's obscured by the fact that the writers have taken a rather stale PSA idea and tried stretching it into 30 minutes. This includes a song sequence, where you're told that there's a million, rational ways to say "No!" such as "I can't smoke pot, I have homework!"

The writers can't make up their minds what to do with the characters they've brought in royalty-free. At first we see they all have to hide from the human characters, but within five minutes we see them all running around in plain sight without anyone noticing. Soon they begin interacting with the human cast, and the only one who's even slightly disturbed by this fact is not the drug-abusers, it's the little sister who talks to her teddy bear (Pooh, by the way.) Further, there's the little drug demon floating around. Because you know, pushers don't give kids drugs. He too is ambiguous - while he might be symbolic of Michael's addiction and hence is not supposed to be seen by other people, he laters goes and haunts little Corey to get HER into drugs. So I guess he's...uhhh.....moving on!

The whole plot finally culminates in some insane sequence in which Michael is in what would appear to be the Saturday Morning Carnival of Souls, aka a theme park from hell where the various cartoon characters beat him up and ignore him and stuff. For example, Miss Piggy eats him in a sandwich and spits him out. If the writers were not high when writing this, I must recommend they try getting high because they can't get crazier than this. Of course, the film ignores the fact that Michael's been having highs for two years by this point, so why this tripping sequence would frighten him is beyond me.

I realize I'm completely whaling on this film, but I actually just saw it again because I went through the trouble of tracking it down on eBay because of it's sheer infamy of being a BAD cartoon. The level of unintentional humor is is brilliant. Take this scene for example - Michael's dad is rooting through the fridge for a beer. He notices many of them missing and mentions it to his wife. The ever-observant Mom tells him "Don't worry, you probably just drank them last night watching football." While we're obviously supposed to be learning that Michael is drinking beer (in addition to the pot and crack), we instead read further in and realize - Hey kids, it's okay to have chemical dependencies as long as you're a grown-up! Scenes like this are worth the tiny price tag of this film. Oh yea, and the fact you get to hear Simon the Chipmunk say "Marijuana."
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10 December 2002
On a normal level of cinema, this film is only mediocre. Where it fails is that it is a terrible remake of a well-known, well-loved film. And even worse for this film, it's a lousy remake of a well-known, well-loved film that just happens to be my favorite Christmas film of all time.

It has a few positives. All right, it has one positive, and that is Richard Attenborough. He brings a genuine delight to the role of Saint Nick, and it is not hard to believe this guy could be the genuine article. Unfortunately, his performance highlights the lousy performances of many of the principles.

Dorey Walker is played by Elizabeth Perkins with none of the sympathy given to her by Maureen O'Hara. It's impossible to even dream of her getting married to anyone. Some of this is to be blamed on the script, though, which spends so much time establishing Dorey's cold heart that it forgets she's supposed to be getting our sympathy, not our scorn. Which brings us to the flat performance of Dylan McDermott. He could be replaced with a cardboard cut-out without affecting the flow of the movie. Then we have Mara Wilson. She tends to be more snobby and over-confident than confused, but Wilson is up against Natalie Wood. To be fair, we never get to see Wilson chattering like a monkey for comparison purposes. That delightful scene was excised from the modern version.

A rather ridiculous subplot has been added to this remake with a rival store, Shopper's Express, trying to put Cole's out of business (Macy's refused to have their name put in the film). It is headed by the popular 90's villain of choice, the Greedy Evil Mean CEO, Victor Landbergh. He doesn't play much of a role, yet he is supposed to be the encompassing bad guy, evoking images of Lex Luthor plotting the demise of Superman. He even has his own flunkies who attempt to sabotage the department store, skittering around almost like Boris and Natasha. This subplot tends to weigh down on the film, feeling forced in rather than meshing with the film. The pompous psychiatrist of the original works because it was simply one guy with a chip on his shoulder instead of a wicked retail overlord. The former is funny, while the latter is overkill.

Actually, that addresses another problem with this film - it takes its subject matter far too seriously. The original film was an enjoyable farce. This one is a somber story, filled with the right glurgy turns to renew our souls or something. Basically, it's way too serious considering the subject matter (an old guy who thinks he's really Santa Claus.) The original had some laugh out loud moments of sharp humor - this one instead attempts to force you to shed tears of sadness and joy. It usually just shed tears of boredom from me.

The court decision at the end of the film is not only anti-climactic, but doesn't really address the actual issue - Kris is on trial for lunacy. The only decision to save him is to prove he's REALLY Santa Claus, thus making him sane. This movie can't seem to make up its mind why he's on trial and its ultimate answer for Kris obvious acquittal would fall upon under the lightest of legal scrutiny, where the original film made a compelling legal argument. I can't answer that, but I will say that this film's answer is far off the mark. Please, I beg of you-if you have NOT seen the 1947 Black and White original, then please correct that. This is not an adequate substitute to a film that didn't need one in the first place. They even colorized the old one, so if you hate black and white, then you still have a color option without wasting your time on this.
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Eerily Enchanting...
17 September 2002
It is difficult to place this film into words, because it tends to defy description. It is truly film as Expressionist art-while there is a plotline similar to modern monster movies, it has a strong theme of the evils of those in authority. Even though a framing device was later added to the film to cut back on this theme, it actually makes it even stronger, because it forces the viewer to question everything the film presents.

The film's world is unique, with tilted, abstract settings, gothic characters, and the brooding soundtrack. Though the overuse of irises can be annoying, credit must be given for the fact that the filmmakers actually thought to come up with unique cinematography. The image of Cesare awakening, his eyes slowly opening then suddenly bursting open with fright is quite chilling indeed. Caligari himself is framed in many bizarre shots, giving him a commanding presence in the film.

The haunting aspect of this film is the enigmatic characters. While we are first presented with a typical monster movie, with the evil Caligari sending sleep walker Cesare to murder in the evening, we are thrown a curve when the story teller turns out to be a patient in an asylum, populated both by the film's female lead Jane and Cesare, who died in the plotline, with Caligari as the head doctor. While this was added in later to make sure the movie did not ultimately rebel against authority (censorship still being strong in Germany at the time), this forces us to question-did the events we've been presented with truly happen? If so, did they really happen the way we've been told? Was it all the fantasy of a madman, or was there some truth to it? Though Caligari claims at the end that he can cure the protagonist, we get the feeling that he may not have his best intentions at heart.

It is a shame that many people will avoid this film due to its age and its status as a silent film. I myself would have never heard of it had I not been enrolled in a college film course. It probably would not do well up against films of today with a modern audience-many of my classmates were confused. Though this film is confusing, that's the point-you have to mull this one over in your head and draw your own conclusions. That is the true staying power of this film-it never quite leaves your mind.
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A Wild, Wild, Waste of Time
30 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This film has several strikes against it. I like the actors, several of whom I empathize for having been in so rotten a film. Next, I am a history buff, and while I can take suspension of disbelief, I was livid at the ridiculous historical errors this film made. I was deeply offended by the racial humor. Finally, this film is an insult to the people who paid money to see it.

The actors are fumbling around the picture. Will Smith seems confused about how to play Jim West, Kevin Kline seems almost embarrassed to be in this film (In TWO roles, no less!), Salma Hayek is there to show off her butt crack, but the greatest pain is watching the magnificent Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branaugh playing Arliss Loveless overacting every scene using an atrocious Southern/Western accent. It's hard to believe this guy was such a great Hamlet.

The humor is struggling, and at many times, offensive. The lynching scene made me wonder if African-Americans were just as offended at seeing Will Smith equivocate pounding a woman's breasts with communicating by drum like in Africa. The racial element also took an odd dark turn, which began to confuse me about whether the film was a comedy or a drama.

Now we get into the biggest historical blunder in the film.**POSSIBLE SPOILER(Like you care)*** Arliss's grand plan is to kidnap President Grant and force him to sign a treaty that would divy up the U.S. to it's earlier owners (Britain, France, and Spain) and of course leave some for himself. First, by the time this movie was taking place, not one of these countries would want their old territories back. France, in particular, had given up the purchase because they simply couldn't maintain control there anymore. This plan also ignores the fact that President Grant, as inept a leader as he was, would likely not ignore that several of U.S. trade partners had just conspired against him, evil madman or not.

Enough of that, this movie offends on all levels. I don't blame Robert Conrad for accepting 3 of the Razzies this load of garbage picked up that year. I suggest you avoid this film at all costs, because it's just not worth the pain.
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Snow Dogs (2002)
A good story buried beneath the drek
24 May 2002
As soon as I saw the previews for this movie, I was convinced it was going to be an absolutely horrid film and planned on never seeing it. However, when relatives came over and insisted we watch it, I had no choice and prepared for cinematic horror.

What I got was a bad movie that had a good movie trying to fight it's way out. Yes, there's some rather bad comedy throughout the film. But underneath the terrible comedy is a story about finding oneself that really should have been the focus of the movie. When the movie dropped the more ridiculous "fish out of water" gags it actually had an interesting story going, if not ungodly predictable.

As for performances, I have a message for Hollywood in reference to comedic black actors-Stop having them scream out every single line! It's really annoying to hear Cuba Gooding Jr. shrieking out the majority of his "funny" lines. James Coburn puts in a good performance as Thunder Jack, and I was actually rooting for him during the film.

It's a movie that should have gone back for a rewrite to excise the cheap humor and replace it with more of the dramatic elements that made it more interesting. The kids will love it, it's got an abundance of cute dogs in it. Good for a rent.
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The Mummy (1999)
29 March 2002
I was thoroughly let down by this movie. I couldn't even enjoy it for it's camp value. Campy horror is when you're supposed to be scared by the monster and you can clearly see the zipper on the back of the suit. Once you get computer-generated beetles crawling under people's skin, looking genuinely real, it's not campy, it's just sick.

The plot involves a group of extremely stupid people going into the city of the dead, Hamunaptra. There's semi-geeky Evie, her goofy and greedy brother Jonathan, and there's our "hero" Rick, played by Brendan Fraser. He apparently thinks he's Harrison Ford, because he keeps acting like a rip-off of Indiana Jones, made worse by the fact that Fraser cannot act. Evie despises Rick, which you know means by the end of the film they'll be passionately in love with each other. There's a group of five typically rude and extra stupid Americans that decide to race our heros to the tomb. Between these two groups of stupid people, they unleash Imhotep, a head priest who was mummified alive and cursed so that if he were ever awakened, the world would suffer ten plagues. By now the stupid people are becoming overwhelming, so the movie starts killing them off one by one.

This movie seems to have spent a lot of time plotting gruesome deaths for it's characters. I can just imagine a meeting of the screenwriters, where they're all trying to outdo each other with the most sickening idea that won't go over a PG-13. They probably spent more time on this than the rest of the plot. Well, that and writing aciton sequences that are more laughable than thrilling. Also, hundreds of innocent people are killed or hurt by all these plagues, and while our heros are "good" for going after the mummy, why does the movie never address that their actions had such far-reaching consequences?
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7 October 2001
I remember, as a child, watching this mvie and never really enjoying it. When it didn't scare the living daylights out of me, it bored me. Watching it again for the purpose of doing a direct comparison to the book (which I just finished reading for a British Lit course), I can start to see why. This film decides that a world of nonsense is a horrible, scary place. Also, it really has no plot, though they attempt to make the chasing of the White Rabbit into one, and later escaping the queen. Apparently, they decided to go with the angrier meaning of "mad" and hence all of the creatures Alice meets are either trying to kill her or ar just screaming at her. The book does not do this-while the Mad Hatter and the March Hare are certainly ruder in the book, the caterpillar never started shrieking at her and the Cheshire Cat was never out to get Alice in trouble. The first sequence of the movie, with Alice's sister declaring Alice's world to be ridiculous nonsense, seems to capture the spirit of Carroll's book, which is declaring the adult world to be utter nonsense. After that, the movie takes the direction that nonsense is bad and fantasy is evil. How dreary.

Message aside, this movie is interesting to watch anyway, for some of the moments are lifted from the two Alice books, and if you've read them, you can tell which characters are quoting the book and where the quotes would get moved to. The animation is fantastic, even for the time the movie was made. The story does have it's moments, such as the Caterpillar speaking with smoke and of course, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Overall, though, this is a movie that suffers from the fact that it attempts to make sense out of a book that is all nonsense, a task that is quite impossible (or is it "impassible?").
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They put THIS on DVD?!
6 October 2001
I saw this bomb when it hit theaters. I laughed the whole time. Why? Because the stupidity of it seemed to have made me go insane. I look back on it and realize there was not ONE funny thing in the whole movie. At leat nothing intentional. It IS awfully funny that Lizzie cn chew a piece of Nurplex and become a gigantic, carnivorous demon...yet her itty-bitty little dress is perfectly intact, despite the fact that she is now hundreds of times larger than she was when she first put it on. Or the kind of movie in which a man can be shocked with a defibulator and only fall unconcious, and return to conciousness without ANY medical attention. And don't let me get started on the ridiculous fate of the "villain" that they decided they needed to create "conflict." Uh huh.

To the person complaining about Disney only targetting kids-The raunchy parts of this film seems to disprove that statement. Do we really need Daryl Hannah accusing Jeff Bridges of having kinky video tapes? You do if you're Disney and you're out of ideas for making the movie appeal to the above-8 crowd without writing a more intelligent script! I am thoroughly convinced that Disney pays off the ratings board so it's movies can get away with murder and still get family-friendly ratings.

What a waste of the DVD format.
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A shadow of the original...NOT!
6 August 2001
It doesn't quite live up to the original, but so what? It has the same spirit of goofieness and still left me with a smile on my face when it was all over with.

The plot this time around is that Wayne, after being visited by Jim Morrison and a naked Indian (who's wearing a he's not entirely naked), decides to hold a big music festival, Waynestock. That's about it on plot. So what? It's a riot anyway!

First off, the parodies are still extremely clever. In particular is a scene early in the movie where several workers set up fruit carts in the middle of a street and carry a big pane of glass. I caught why they were doing it, and waited eagerly for the pay-off. It doesn't come till the end of the movie, however, which slightly kills it. Many of the jokes are recycled, but fortunatly, the writers were smart enough to not go into overkill. For example, the ending sequence is very similar to the first movie's ending (in which various different endings are tried), but it's not overly ripped off. However, something that didn't continue was how Wayne and Garth would communicate with the camera, like in the first movie. This was something particularly clever, and it could have worked again. You also see much less of the comaderie of the movie's lead characters, which was something that the first movie had to a tee. I was happy to see that Garth finally got together with a girl like him, however.

This movie makes the best of what it has, and while it's not nearly as good as the first, it is fun in it's own right and is required viewing by everyone who liked the first.
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Something to Sing About (2000 TV Movie)
Something to Forget About
1 August 2001
Man, is this one a turkey. Before I go any further, I suppose I'd better explain that I am a practicing Christian, and the people I watched this with were all Christians in good faith. Therefore, as refreshing as it may be to see a movie teaching about Christ, this movie doesn't cut it.

This movie seems to have been pieced together from various unfinished scenes. Things just happen for no real reason, with little or no explanation. In particular, the romance of the two lead characters never seems to do anything. They are simply declared "in love" and that's that. You will probably start laughing when two guys both well into old age have a "rumble" (That's what they called it!). I guess they were going to throw their dentures at each other or something. Oh, and of course, since this is a movie about "the mean streets," you also have to have the Evil Drug Dealer, who looks more like he's ready to DJ at a night club than bust caps into people. He's there because the script requires a villain.

The cast isn't too bad, though it's interesting to see one of the Mowrey twins in a movie without the other. I liked the actress who played Memaw, but what a waste-she was supposed to be the spirited grandmotherly character, but never really seemed to do much except preach.

The preaching is what gets to me. Now, I'm assuming anyone sitting here is fairly familiar with the Bible and knows about how Jesus told parables to get his big points across. Why do you think he did that? Because he knew that most people wouldn't listen if he just stood there and preached to them. Thus, Jesus' teachings stil exist even today. People who make movies like this would do well to remember that. This movie only gets a 5 out of 10 because I liked Memaw.
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Wayne's World (1992)
A witty, high-brow comedy for the intelligent movie-goer...NOT!
21 July 2001
But who says a movie has to be that smart for it to be funny? Actually, for a "stupid but fun" comedy, it was also fairly intelligent, considering the brilliant parodies and the clever yet stupid jokes.

I knew I missed out when I didn't see this movie back in '92, but seeing as how I was 8, I probably wouldn't have had as much fun. Now that I'm approaching the "party time" of my life, I can appreciate the chemistry of Dana Carvey and Mike Myers. They completely disappear into their respective characters and manage to carry the film well, as a pair of fairly stupid, yet extremely charming cable TV hosts.

The jokes are often unpredictable. You just never know who's going to get a cameo, or what's going to be made fun of next. There's a LITTLE gross-out humor in this, but I've seen more than my fair share of gross-out comedies, and Wayne's World doesn't come close to being sick. It's just plain funny. Many movie conventions are poked fun of, including gratuitous sex scenes, painfully obvious product placements, and melodramatic Oscar-worthy scenes. Alice Cooper makes a very memorable cameo as himself, waxing intellectual with Wayne and Garth while still in full shock-rock gear.

Then there's the two stars themselves. Wayne is certainly the more confident of the pair, but he's never overbearing. Garth is adorable, as he is often extremely shy and keeps wanting to get together with a girl at the donut shop, but doesn't know how to approach her, leading to a hilarious Jimi Hendrix-inspired dream sequence. The leads are endearing, though fortunatly, this film never tries to take itself seriously. The ending sequenece is a perfect example, though I refuse to ruin the hilarity of Wayne's World's final scenes.

I like my fair share of movies where I can turn off my brain and enjoy, but I also hate movies that are stupid to the point of insulting me. Wayne's World is never stupidly insulting. It's just stupidly fun. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!
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Rear Window (1954)
You'll never leave the blinds up again...
21 July 2001
They don't make movies this way anymore. Consider how deceptively simple the plot is-A photographer, confined to a wheelchair until his broken leg heals, is spying on his neighbors in an apartment complex and thinks that he is the only witness to a murder. The movie often seems simple, too-The camera shots are pretty much only what the lead character can see, meaning that you see everyone in the complex from outside their windows. Yet this movie never needs the heart-pounding airplane chase of North by Northwest to build a powerful momentum that hooks you in and never lets you go.

I must be fortunate-I saw this when it was re-released into theaters recently. Twice. I loved it so much the first time that I had to see it again. I've seen the last hour on TV twice since. Even when presented with only that last hour, I still couldn't stop watching until the ending credits rolled. Yes, they don't make movies like this anymore.

The leading players are well-chosen. You've got James Stewart as the wheelchair-bound photographer and Grace Kelly as his rich, fashionable girlfriend who is head-over-heels for him. Theirs is not the only love story-several people in the complex have their own romances to deal with, in particular, the tragic Miss Lonelyheart, who sets dinner for two every night, even though she never has company. The characters we see from a distance are surprisingly well-developed, and live such natural lives, such as a woman who lives on the top floor of the building across from the photographer. She puts her dog in a basket everyday and lowers him down to the ground so that he can play. Such simple traits are also very human.

Then there is the gripping story. You're never given any more information than our protagonist has. Stewart is forced to prove that Mrs. Anna Thorwald was murdered by her husband, Lars, and keeps trying to convince his detective friend (played by Wendall Corey) of her murder. In the meantime, he's also trying to work out his own lovelife, and often what he sees in the windows reflect his mood, particularly a speech delivered by the woman with the dog about how neighbors should treat each other(another example of Hitchcock's masterful use of subtlety).

It's these subtle details and deceptive simplicity that make this movie so fantastic. You just don't see movies like this now-everything must now be explicitly stated to the audience. Hitchcock does not play that game-he expects his audience to be intelligent enough to understand the meaning of every scene and to know what is going on without the characters explaining even the most minute details. This movie should be required viewing for everyone that loves movies.
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Cats & Dogs (2001)
Dear LORD...I worry for the next generation...
20 July 2001
Argh, I don't care that this movie was made for kids. I'm sick of hearing that excuse for covering for a bad movie. Kids are not the morons that the film industry (and the entire population above the age of 13) think they are, and this film is proof that the industry thinks they are dumber than doorknobs.

Okay, let's start off-I LOVE watching really stupid yet still funny movies. I laughed probably once during the entire film (which was when they were dressing up Mr. Tinkles in the goofy outfits). The rest of the time I rolled my eyes.

This movie's biggest problem is that it takes itself too seriously. Yes, we even have a "heart-tugging" scene where the kid is crying and saying "You're not a loser, Lou" and you're supposed to think "Oh no, is he dead?" Look, this is a movie about cats trying to take over the world. They should have just left out the melodrama and just reveled in the sheer insanity of such an idea.

Also, the mom in this movie is an idiot. First off, she brings home a brand new puppy, then keeps scolding it and throwing it outside every time that it goes on the carpet (which is a method used by the cats to stop the dogs). Seeing as how housebreaking a puppy takes a good six months or so, I wonder if the people who wrote this script even know how to take care of pets? Then, later, a cat spy (which is a Russian Blue kitten, complete with a Boris Badinov stereotype voice!) gets snuck in because the mom stops the car and sees the cat. Her reaction? She coos and takes it home. Yea, never MIND that it might have rabies or that it might be someone else's cat. She instantly decides to adopt it. Elizabeth Perkins have must be pretty desperate to play this role. And no need to elaborate how Jeff Goldblum is in yet another really annoying role in a bad movie.

This movie will insult your intelligence, even you have the IQ of a rock. If you got some REAL cats and dogs to make a movie, it would certainly be much better than this sorry excuse for a kiddy flick. I worry about the next generation when every form of entertainment seems geared towards dumbing them down.
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The Jungle Book, minus anything worthwhile
12 July 2001
I'm glad that I only watched this movie via a video tape at a relatives house. I'd have been VERY upset if I'd paid any kind of money to watch it. This is basically a live-action remake of the Jungle Book. More like a live-action Jungle Book which just has some of the characters and nothing to do with the original. I guess in THEORY it could work, but this film bungles THAT in every respect. And what a waste of good talent, too. Cary Elwes and John Cleese are great actors, what in their right minds drove them to do this? The movie's biggest problem is the lack of charm or wit that the animated Jungle Book or the original book had. Also, while the ads marketed it as a cute family film, this is actually very dark and oftentimes very gruesome. What age group were they trying to appeal to? I like a certain amount of dark moments in movies, especially in kids films, but because the movie was so poorly represented, I felt lied to. The story is just about Mowgli and this new girl Kitty as they go hunt down a treasure. Kitty is in the film because now that it's the 90's, there must always be a strong female character in EVERY kids film, no matter how pointless to the film she may be. I'm not trying to be sexist, I AM female, but Kitty is so cliched she doesn't add much. The animals, which were so lively in the old version and the book don't talk or really do much of ANYTHING that makes them worthy of being here. What was the point of including them at all? Oh, that's right, they realized they were making a kid's film. Basically, this movie definitely needed a few more rewrites and a much more clear idea of who it was aimed for. What a waste of a good idea...
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Airplane! (1980)
Rapid-fire laughter
6 July 2001
Ah, the disaster movie genre DID amount to something good-this movie! There were many points in the film where I had to stop laughing just to breath because there was not one wasted opportunity in this film for an insanely funny joke. As soon as I saw the opening spoof of Jaws, I knew I was in for some good laughs. I underestimated this movie-they were some of the best laughs I ever had. It's as though before filming every scene, they went over as many ways as possible to make a joke and chose the funniest way. From the Saturday Night Fever spoof, to Ted's drinking problem, to the subtitled Ebonics, to the inflatable auto pilot, the laughs kept on coming. I particularly liked Leslie Nielson's character, and was not aware that it was his first comedic role. I wonder how many people just seeing the movie now got the Ronald Reagan movie parody running through it? You'd never expect this movie to be so clever...
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Oscar Material...a cinematic masterpiece
5 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers

I went into A.I. not knowing quite what to expect. I had already read the short-story the film was based on and had heard there was controversy about the movie's ending, and I've recently watched several otherwise good films where the ending killed it. This film was simply astounding from beginning to end. Spielburg seemed to have his usual trademarks of cranking up the emotions toned WAY down, and many scenes that could have been overdone were much more subtle. Subtlety is something that one rarely finds in films these days. A.I. takes the viewer on a horrific yet fantastic ride that starts off very Spielburgian and ends up in the bizarre realm of Stanley Kubrick, making the transition very seamlessly. Since this film's story is pretty well-known, I won't waste time by telling it again. But the ending that is causing so much controversy left me in awe of how far I'd come since the beginning of the film. People insist that the movie is asking questions that it can't answer, but that's the point-the answers must lie within ourselves, not the film. Also, some say that it should have ended with David praying to the Blue Fairy and getting no answer. That would have been a cop-out, though, and indeed, it almost seemed as though it WAS going to end there. This would have wrecked the film! There'd have been nothing worth ending with then. However, David's final existence and the fate of the humans 2000 years later seems very Kubrickian. I found that I could keep at least a slight grasp of what was going on, but I believe that because of the territory this film covers, one viewing isn't enough. I'll be watching it again when it comes out on DVD (watching a DVD is much cheaper than paying for another movie ticket). Haley Joel Osment deserves an Oscar for his performance. He is a very talented young actor who carries the entire weight of the film on his shoulders and does so with the skill of actors several times his age. I hope that he does even more wonderful movies as he grows older.
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An underappreciated classic
26 June 2001
First, I won't lie to you. I love Harrison Ford. That doesn't mean that I instantly love everything he does (*cough*SABRINA*cough*). That said, this film really shows him off and also deals with a very real topic.

Many people say this film is manipulative, but I don't see it, and I'm usually the first one to roll my eyes at something being overdone. The characters were believable, though Harrison Ford easily outshines the others. Playing someone with a disability is very, very difficult, yet he does it so flawlessly that you really believe that he is brain-damaged.

The plot: Harrison Ford, as Henry Turner, is a cutt-throat lawyer who seems to have lost sight of life. Yea, he's a total jerk, but this first segment is pretty crucial. This movie has a habit of bringing back seemingly unimportant things (for example, Henry's opinion of the table). However, one night after winning a case defending a hospital in a malpractice suit, Henry is off to buy cigarettes and winds up being shot by a panicked robber at the convenience store (The robber is played by John Leguizamo, by the way-probably jealous that Ford is a much better actor). The bullets hit Henry in the head and he is brain-damaged. Now, he must slowly start his life over again, trying to re-learn speech, tying shoes, and remembering who he used to be. Of course, once he learns what an a**hole he used to be and the rotten people he was associated with, he is forced to make some choices about his life.

There are some really great scenes in here. In particular, the entire mystery of why Henry remembers the word "Ritz" actually plays a major role in the film. Annette Bening is good as the wife who is trying to help her husband regain his own life and aquainting herself with the new Henry. It cannot be stressed enough how stellar Ford's performance is. Even if you hate the script, you'll have to admit that he is completely convincing as Henry. This role is a real change for someone well-known for playing Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

This movie is definetly worth a rental, if just for seeing Harrison Ford's Oscar-worthy acting job.
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Disney wishes they could make movies this good...
25 June 2001
Yes, you read that right. And the irony is that Disney brought it over. It bombed thanks to them, because they realized that the movie was not typical kiddie krap-no songs, the cute creatures don't even talk (they click and fortunatly don't distract), and there's no hit-you-over-the-head moral in it. Simply put, this is the best movie ever made, animation or otherwise, and Disney couldn't handle that.

The characters in this film have incredible depth that even live-action films don't attain. There's no characters that are outright good or bad. Eboshi at first glance would be the haughty villainess, but while she does commit evil by killing the gods, she also does great good by buying up the contracts of women forced to work in brothels and caring for lepers without even fearing for their illness. San, whose name is the "Princess Mononoke" of the title (Trivia: Mononoke means "Ghost" a name that shows the depth that Hayao Miyazaki uses in his films), while she is trying to save the forest, is quite bloodthirsty. The gods, who protect the forest, are also very warlike, and despise humans. The fact that there is no real line of good or evil in the movie is what makes it so powerful.

That is not to say the animation isn't impressive. They pushed the limits with this one-the final sequence with the mutated Deer God is so real you forget that your watching a series of drawings that are only an illusion of motion. The worm demon-gods would be impossible to create in live-action-only the realm of animation make them seem plausible.

This movie proves what animation can do, and also shows a sad fact-while animated films have been around for about a century, their potential has been severely overlooked to the point where the most crude of drawings and pointless of plots are considered to be "art" and are relegated simply to the realm of "mindless kids entertainment" (or worse-EDUtainment:P). Disney would do well to learn, but they haven't-they're still not releasing the other Miyazaki films they bought the rights to. Perhaps they realized that if people saw how bad their own animation hsa become that they'd have to spend the extra time to make GOOD movies instead of the mindless drivel or pathetic made-for-video sequels (Little Mermaid II anyone?) they keep pushing out to us.
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Space Jam (1996)
Simply Fun
23 June 2001
If you're looking for intelligent, high-brow comedy...what is WRONG with you, this is a LOONEY TUNES MOVIE! Sheesh...this film is nothing outstanding, but it is simply fun. I'm sure that Michael Jordan enjoyed star billing, but as is usually the case when your co-star is a cartoon rabbit with more than 50 years of experience behind him (and one of the best catch phrases in cinema), he is up-staged by Bugs Bunny. Oh, not to say that Jordan turned in a poor performance. Thank goodness this guy at least seems to have a good sense of humor.But there's some simple, pure enjoyment in watching this film. I got a kick out of the big basketball game, and found the sequence with Bugs and Daffy retrieving Michael's lucky boxers to be a riot. Yea, the plot is pretty hare-brained ('scuse me,;D), but it's nothing unworthy of Looney Tunes. Don't ever forget that-this is a Looney Tunes film. They got away with using anything for a plot, and this movie is in the same tradition. It's like asking a movie about Beavis and Butthead to be artful and dramatic. Looney Tunes represent the goofy side of animation, and this film adheres well to that philosophy. I recommend this for any fan of Looney Tunes...oh yea, if your a sports fan, you should enjoy it too. I, a mild basketball fan, really enjoyed myself.
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It succeeds at what it sets out to do
23 June 2001
I won't lie to you-this movie is a CHICK FLICK! Though I never saw it with a guy, it is definitely a chick flick. That said, it's a high-end chick flick, which probably a few guys might enjoy, unless they happen to be the exploding helicopter type^^; This movie feels more like a modern day adaptation of the classic romance "An Affair To Remember," and it keeps referencing it too (In fact, the Cary Grant classic is very integral to the plot). Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have great chemistry together, and they both do what they're good at-Tom Hanks portraying the Everyman, and Meg Ryan being cute and innocent. I have to disagree with an earlier comment that this film is unfair to guys-the way the characters are portrayed, I'd have to say that in the reverse situation, I'd still feel the same way. Meg Ryan does not have the "evil woman" syndrome that popped up in later 90's chick flicks (The most notorious of which was "My Best Friend's Wedding"). She is very believable and actually does care about the feelings of her fiance. What I particularly liked is that the fiance was not portrayed as someone who Meg would do well to leave. Most movies fall into this trap-Someone is about to marry someone who is horrible and find that someone else is better, the viewer supposedly not feeling bad because the fiance was a jerk anyway. Tom Hanks really shines here as someone who has lost the most important person in his life and is trying to rebuild again. He always has a knack for easily slipping into the roles he's given and making them really convincing. He does not fail here-you feel for him especially during the sequences where he starts remembering his late wife. The movie's plot starts to stretch plausibility at the end, but not to the point where it destroys the entire film. The ending scene in particular is handled very carefully. You could have had a big, romantic, tear-jerking moment. Instead, the movie takes a more simplistic approach, and it succeeds-it feels much more natural than the alternative. Overall, if you're in for a feel good romance, you should see this. If you happen to be female, this is DEFINITELY worth watching.
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