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Big meets Freaky Friday meets The Butterfly Effect!
12 April 2004
The year was 1987, I was obsessed with Lisa Bonet, David Lee Roth, Friendship Bracelets and Stephen King Novels. Probably everyone else close to my age was too. Debbie Gibson was a biscuit and the concept of a chick leaving the house without Teased Bangs was as shocking as French Kissing a Light Socket. That year at the age of 13 I likely would have given just about anything to be 29 years old and free of all my troubles.

Predictably, now that I actually am 29, I'd probably give anything to be 13 again to do all this over again and, frankly, to be free of all my troubles. That's why this new Teen Comedy 13 Going on 30 actually managed to hit home a little bit. The main difference between Jennifer Garner's wildly attractive turn as a Teenager trapped in the body of a grown hottie and my own plight is, for one thing, I'm quite the dude! For another thing, my near-30 body is more of a double-wide than a Mercedes like Garner!

On her Thirteenth Birthday, young Jenna Rink (newcomer Shana Dowdeswell) wishes to be Thirty and Flirty and to leave this cruel Teen-hood behind. With the help of a little mischievous "Wishing Powder", courtesy of best buddy Matt (Jack Salvatore Jr. from Donnie Darko), she actually wakes up the next morning looking just like Sidney Bristow from Alias, and more confused than Sidney Vicious. Now, instead of trying to fit in to a popularity-cemented Junior High, she's trying to keep a Fashion magazine afloat as a senior editor.

As she adjusts to the fact that this isn't a dream, she looks up Matt, now grown and cool as portrayed by In the Cut's Mark Ruffalo, as well as finding all kinds of things out about the 17 year gap in her head. The 13 year-old innocence that Thirty-ish Jenna now has is causing different decisions to be made, and a much nicer and less Jaded person to emerge!

There's no doubt that this has been done before. Essentially this is mostly a Modern Day and Female Version of Big with Tom Hanks. There's also no question that this is yet another Domino Movie that wouldn't have been made without the remake of Freaky Friday. In the 1980's themselves there were a number of these films that owed the original Freaky Friday a debt from Vice Versa to Like Father, Like Son. Sure, 13 Going on 30 isn't about to win any original plot awards, so let's set aside the repetitive nature for just a sec.

Jennifer Garner is hilarious as the wide-eyed 13/ 30 year old. She pretty well acts 13 the entire time, and doesn't give a range (why should she here), but compared to her other works, this is a completely different role. There are a couple of teary eyed moments that fit, but also seem realistic. Sure she's beautiful here (my glasses melted), but there's no mistaking her dead-on performance. Most of the laughs surround Garner herself bringing the colorful MTV late 1980s to the Jaded and Static year of 2004! Not only does she show up looking like Martha Quinn to a stylish magazine party, but she also leads the crowd in a faithful rendition of the Michael Jackson's Thriller line dance! The temporally displaced decade-dated jokes keep coming, but somehow manage never to overpower the story line or feel cheap. Most of the rest of the cast is called on to look wide-eyed at the change in Jenna Rink, but they all do pretty well at it. Ruffalo in particular is a sympathetic, yet cynical foil (and love interest) for Jenna!

There are a few slow moments noticeable in this otherwise quick paced little movie, and at times it feels like it just needs to burn out. Aside from being done before, 13 Going on 30 also demands that we buy in to the explanation-free magic of the premise. You thought that The Lizzie McGuire Movie was a Fairy Tale, well this is full-on Ripley's Believe it or Not! It also gets sort of predictable in a lot of parts, and while there are some surprises, the main ones are how well this premise is handled, not so many in the sub-plot of magazine industrial espionage. If you can get past these occasional Stretch Armstrong moments, I think you can agree that this is a good and fun little film.

Four Stars out of Five for 13 Going on 30! I know, I was as surprised as you are, but it's actually really good. It's cute for the kids and fun for the adults (especially those who were actually 13 in 1987... Pat Benetar, I love you). This might be a little racy for younger kids with the dialogue and occasional SSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXXXXXX reference, but if you have a teen at home, this is a good one for you to enjoy and giggle with together!

13 Going on 30 reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for his views and his Poison, Kiss, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Steelheart and Lita Ford Posters!
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Now this is PRECICELY what I'm Talking about! I Love this Movie!
21 July 2003
Man, another Disney Tie-In... How remarkably lame. And this time, not only is it a tie-in, but its a tie in for a RIDE at a Theme Park! What an insult! Yeah, yeah, yeah! That's what I thought too... until I saw they bagged both Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush! Not to mention the Director of The Ring, Gore Verbinski! And it didn't hurt that this particular ride is possibly the coolest in Disney History. Just about every guy who has ridden this ride has thought, man, this would make one great movie, man! I'm one of them! And we were all right! This is probably the most fun movie of the whole summer (just about tied with LXG)!

Was a great action movie with intelligence, wit, and good actors too much to ask? Clearly not, as Disney (of all companies) has delivered just that! This is a swashbuckling, rip-roaring riotous assault in the senses with more fun and laughter than you're likely to find in just about any movie! Yeah, it's the sum of its parts, but its parts are very good. Johnny Depp doesn't find himself at the mast of a top-heavy film with only him to rely on! Instead, almost universally you find good actors here to grace the good script and the good directing. It's a good film... choke on it... I'll be at Disneyland... it worked, sue me!

The plot centers around a pair of unlikely lovers in the form of Orlando Bloom (Legolas from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings adaptations) and the mind-shakingly hot Keira Knightley (if you think she looks like Natalie Portman, you're not alone... George Lucas thought so too)! The lovers meet as kids and watch each other from afar for most of their lives, propriety preventing a union, much like the secret love we all know that Tom Daschle and Dick Armey secretly harbor... but I digress! When Knightley's character Elizabeth Swann first meets Bloom's Will Turner she sees an Aztec designed medallion about his neck which reminds her of the pirate mythology she has come to know, so she steals it and spirits it away, never knowing it might have more significance than she thinks!

Though these two are two of the main movers of the plot, it is without question Johnny Depp's movie. Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow a homosexual pirate down on his luck and riding into the same town that Will and Elizabeth live in! Soon after his arrival a ship called The Black Pearl, a sort of legendary Flying Dutchman from Hell, arrives to rape, pillage and burn, not to mention find all the Aztec Gold the crew scattered around which led to their demonic curse causing them to literally exist as the walking dead, led by the maniac captain Barbossa!

What follows is an adventure leading to some amazing team-ups, surprisingly satisfying CGI, hilarious moments, and more underhanded scheming and backstabbing than a convention of Hollywood Producers! Aiding the fun is Depp's well-acted, yet incredibly funny in manner Sparrow, complete with compass that points only to his treasure stash and more secrets than a Linda Tripp phone call! The Animation, when needed is amazing, and pretty much flawless. When the Cursed Pearl Pirates are lit by moonlight they are shown for the undead ghouls they truly are, but only then! During an underground fencing match characters move in and out of lit breaks in the ceiling becoming skeletons, then men, then skeletons, then men! It's seamless to my eyes. The scenery, and the sets (real and animated) are just beautiful to behold, and set the scene perfectly!

Geoffrey Rush is a perfect pirate. Funny at the right times, scary at the right times... and Orlando Bloom has the makings of a great actor. Knightley is not only beautiful but plays her part very well. As do the supporting characters, such as Jack's Crew (featuring the almost equally yummers Zoe Saldana)! I've long been a fan of old Jonathan Pryce in his roles as a brave, yet conflicted character of complexity in Brazil, Tomorrow Never Dies... those... Lexus commercials! Here he plays an aging, sniveling man who is pretty funny in his attempts to raise his daughter and survive disembodied arms fighting with him in his cabins.

Depp steals every scene as Sparrow, and keeps the laughs coming with his daring schemes (that usually work), his insane mannerisms, and his occasional bumbling. Sparrow dresses like "Love in an Elevator" era Steven Tyler, and acts like a Male Ullman Character on Tracy Takes On! Verbinsky never lets you forget that Sparrow is above all other things, a pirate, and not exactly the golden hero one might expect from Errol Flynn or someone. It's not only refreshing to see a dignified gay hero in a major motion picture, but to see this hero not be a stock character in all other ways. It's common to se a cleverer than life Hollywood Hero who sets into motion events that ultimately pay off for him in the end. Sparrow isn't so much a hero as a haplessly goofy Keith Richards, thrust into a leadership role. While his plans commonly work out, he's commonly as surprised as the rest of us that they do, and he's just bumbling enough to not really know what the hell he's doing! He doesn't so much exude confidence as he does an forlorn acceptance of unfortunate events that he's pressed into. Rotten scalawag or not, Sparrow is impossible not to like from his Gold Capped Teeth to his obnoxious swagger, he's as much fun to watch as a J. Edgar Hoover Home Movie!

There are a few nods to the Disney ride, fans of which should giggle with the recognition of these. The film doesn't rely on these little things though, so you who have never been to Orlando or to Anaheim won't be negatively affected. The scenes are clever with or without precedent! There is one truly terrifying scene (at least to me) that takes place on a desert island (there is nothing funny about the mass torching of Spiced Island Rum)! There is also a bit of a curiosity to the method of breaking The Curse of the Black Pearl. Apparently this involves the shedding of the blood of a certain character deceased before the events of this film... but why this is doesn't seem to ever be explained... if I missed it please, tell me why!

There really isn't anything to complain about in this film! It's a heck of a lot of fun, and well worth the ticket price. Therefore, I'm giving it a rare Four and One Half Stars! I'm glad the Pirate Movie is back... I just wish Cutthroat Island hadn't gotten such a bum wrap! So... why not the full five stars for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl? Well... it's not quite Citizen Kane!
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Teen Titans (2003–2006)
My future is coming on it's coming on it's coming on it's coming on...
19 July 2003
DC Versus Marvel! It started as a joke between friends, but eventually became a big rivalry. In the late Seventies, DC decided to compete heavily for the teen market by creating The New Teen Titans written by the incredible Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Gerge Perez the man himself. Originally nothing more than a gathering of sidekicks, Robin, Speedy, and Aqualad, the New group was a gathering of teens now led by a Batman-free Robin, and featured not only kid sidekicks but new additions like Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy (aka Changeling previously of the Doom Patrol)! This winning series was not only a sales boon for the great DC, but introduced some incredible characters in their own right, not the least of which was Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke: The Terminator! After a long successful run and a few spinoffs, the Titans went their separate ways. Naturally there were several attempts to revive the series, most notably by a post-Superman Dan Jurgens, but little fruit was borne.

Luckily the war for popularity between Marvel and DC continues... while in the year of 2003 Marvel unconditionally controls the box office, DC is much more popular on television, from Smallville to Birds of Prey to the Warner Brothers cartoons featuring some of the best from Static Shock to Justice League! Naturally, a revival of Teen Titans by Warner Brothers on the Cartoon Network piqued the collective interest of Comic book fans everywhere. After having viewed the premier episode I have to ask one prime question pertaining to the series as a whole from here on out... why... why... why did it have to be so bad?

Okay, I should be fair here. I mean, it wasn't quite the ingrown toenail that it could be, and surprisingly its fairly accurate to the source material. The series centers, as it should, around Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy, and Starfire (gone are some of the other characters like Aqualad and Speedy, but I imagine that this is due to a professional pass to wait for a superior show). Like the comic they occupy a "T" shaped tower off of Manhattan which simultaneously makes one feel secure that heroes are about, and makes the kids easy to target by just about any villain that wants to find them... hell, just look for the Big T!

This, by the way, is exactly what happens in the debut episode. While out for Pizza fortunately in full costume (!), the kids get attacked by a trio of Marvel rip offs sent by a woman working for a "Mr. Slade." What follows is a plot as "formula" as New Coke in which proverbial clocks are cleaned, characters disappear and miraculously return lamer than Viggo Mortenson in a Tolkein film, and at the last minute the heroes remember they are super powered enough to save the day after all. Where were those powers in the beginning, lame-o? Did you forget those like Ollie North forgot all his Iran/ Contra dealings? (What? What? Too soon?)

It's not that we haven't forgiven formulaic cartoons before, but the issue here is that there is so much here that is just plain silly... and it seems intentional. First off, Ciro Nieli who also directs the Cartoon Network Justice League cartoon either had something to do with the Gorillaz videos, or he's a big enough fan to rip those off. Every character here looks like they're about to do a spin and glare into the camera singing "Finally someone let me out of my cage! Time for me is nothin' 'cause I'm countin' no age!" There is also so many conceits borrowed from the worst of Manga Clichés. For example, any time two characters start to fight the scenery vanishes and is replaced by swooshing lines. Not that every cartoon has to be The Animatrix, but all the characters here look a little one dimensional and rubbery at the same time. Speaking of Rubbery, there is a scene in which the actual "T" tower turns elastic and spits out four of our five Titans out into New York Harbor! Why? If the show's just for kiddies, then why in the heck did it debut at Nine PM? Still, rubbery or not, the animation beats' MTV's Spider-Man hands down!

As alluded to earlier, these kids are pretty tough, and never once would one believe that "The Hive" (a trio consisting of a techno-midget, a Mr. Hyde-like tough guy, and a telekinetic chick who looks like the lead singer of Sunflower Sutra) was much of a threat. When time begins to run out on the show, then suddenly the Titans can kick butt. Again, not sure why... no real change occurred from the first or second meeting, but, hey, it worked this time, I guess, like this last time the Mary and Rhoda got together in spite of earlier failures! (What? What? Too soon?)

Lastly, these characters could use some exposition here. You'd have to have been living under a rock to not know who Robin is, but the rest of these characters are a little obscure, especially in 2003! Maybe a future episode will explain how Cyborg became a cyborg, Raven began to be... whatever she is, Starfire came from her home planet and Beast Boy got his powers to become any animal of any color (as long as its green). The series was hard hitting and dealt with drugs, terrorism and crime, and it's just hard to see this being quite so serious... but then again, Sesame Street did do that Mister Hooper funerary episode... so who knows?

Again, this was fairly accurate, just a little skewed toward the silly, sort of like the Ford Administration. It was nice to see that they were planting the seeds for what could be an interesting future, doubtless featuring Slade Wilson (Deathstroke is seen only in Silhouette, but there's no question who this "Mister Slade" is)! As with the WB's Birds of Prey I have to say this... at least they're trying here. It sure beats some of the pathetic things that have passed for comic entertainment in the past.

Two and One Half Stars for Teen Titans! There's a long way to fall, for sure, but you know, there's a lot more UP they could go for as well! Let's hope like the Gorillaz their future is coming on, it's coming on, it's coming on... Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to write the networks to pass on a proposed Mary, Rhoda and Oliver North Television Special. I'd rather see an All Smurf "Hands Across America" with Cliff Robertson reprising his role as Charley Gordon as narrator of the event all sponsored by AT&T! (What? What? Too soon?)

Argh! Such thoughts I have!
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Harmless Positive Fun Fairy Tale for Teens
2 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Before I begin, I'd like to point out that any good critic knows that all reviews are relative. If both Men In Black II and Lawrence of Arabia manage to capture the same rating does that mean that they're exactly as good as each other? Well, no! But it does mean that MIB2 fairly got its review compared to other movies of its kind, as did L of A! That said, when my wife and I scored advanced preview tickets to The Lizzie McGuire Movie to bring my daughter to, I recognized that this would have to be compared to other movies of its kind, and not to, say, Citizen Kane! (I am not a good critic, but I shall follow the same rules!) That said, how does The Lizzie McGuire Movie rate against other movies of its kind? Quite well actually! This is a fun fairy tale that's definitely worth watching especially if you are a teen girl (or are the parent of a teen girl).

For those of you unfamiliar with Lizzie, or the actress who portrays her (Hilary Duff), I don't blame you! It's a Disney Channel sitcom for teenagers that has a lot of heart, but unless you have a kid, or your finger on the tween fashion industry, the whole phenomena might have passed you by. The television show Lizzie McGuire has been running since 2001, and features a triumvirate of Junior High Students who get into a series of Degrassi-style adventures. Most of the action revolves around Lizzie and her two best friends Miranda and Gordo, not to mention "Little Lizzie" a cartoon representation of Duff who says and does all the things Lizzie herself can't or is to afraid to do. That last addition sort of gives you insight into what Lizzie is thinking, and brings kids into the action.

Apparently it was so successful in bringing the kids into the action that Disney decided to gamble with a big screen version. I've only seen the TV show two or three times, mostly over my daughter's shoulder, so I can honestly say that you don't need to have seen the TV Show to enjoy and to root for Lizzie on the Big Screen. The story begins with Lizzie's Junior High Graduation disaster! I don't want to get into this too much, but let me say that the disaster was big enough to make it onto the international news! It's all in good fun though, and the kids loved it!

The primary plot revolves around a Pre-High School Summer trip to Rome to sight see and to study. There Lizzie is mistaken for the pop star Isabelle (also played by Duff... the second cutest teenager in the world). When Isabella's former partner Paolo (Yani Gellman, painfully unaware that the 1970s have ended) notes Lizzie's similarity to Isabella, he is determined to sweep her away on a tour of Rome, and multiple opportunities to impersonate her alter ego, with the ultimate plan being her substituting for the vanished Isabella on international television. To achieve all this, she has to fake illness to skip her new principal's own tour of the "more Historic" parts of Rome! The Fairy Tale Nature of this movie keeps this from looking like a suggestion for girls to skip school for a romantic getaway with the next euro-trash 17 year old to wear a leisure suit on television!

There are a lot of opportunities for laughs here, primarily with Lizzie's adaptation to the Socialite life while still trying to duck Principal Ungermeyer (Alex Borstein). Ungermeyer herself provides some obnoxious laughter as well (if the voice sounds familiar she was "Lois" on Fox's Family Guy). Paolo's Body Guard Sergei also supplies some laughs as he attempts to protect Lizzie and Paolo from both danger, and faculty alike. (Fans of HBO's Oz might also get an uncomfortable snicker when realizing that Sergei is played by Brendan Kelly, who portrayed sadistic skinhead Wolfgang Cutler in that prison drama.) Lizzie's animated self provides no small amount of laughter herself as she comments on the action, and involves herself in some of the Physical Comedy that most humans can't do. It's Duff herself that steals her own show as both Lizzie and Isabella. Duff, even without her animated cohort, has the physical comedy down and really knows how to deliver her lines with the right timing. She's never afraid to go slapstick, but never seems idiotic doing it. Lizzie the character is a vulnerable, relatively realistic (for a fairy tale) teenager, who really wouldn't be a bad role model for young girls in real life. She's confident, but she makes mistakes! She's pretty, but she's picked on! She is thrust into this roller-coaster celebrity ride, but she never forgets her true friends and is as loyal as they come. Parents and kids alike can't help but root for Lizzie through the end!

This isn't a perfect movie, of course. Fans of the series will notice that best friend Miranda Sanchez (LaLaine Vergas) is conspicuously missing from the script (visiting Mexico City they say). Also there is a continual thread of implausibility in this film. There are several holes in the plot that are easy to forgive knowing that this is a Fairy Tale, and should be viewed as such. None of the improbability is any worse than many of the classics like White Christmas if you view it in those terms. The suggestion of a potential romance between Lizzie and Gordo (who looks like my office mate here without the gray goatee and bad skin) just doesn't seem realistic either. But what can I say? Lizzie's a good kid.

The best way to gauge a film of this kind is by viewing the reaction of the target audience. We saw this at Downtown Disney with free passes handed out to any mom and dad who read the Orange County Register or listened to the Fish 95.9 FM, so you can guess it was packed with teens and tweens. The kids loved it! There were a few lines of "dry humor" that I doubled over at, and most of the younger ones didn't get, but for the most part the kids were clapping and laughing like they were part of the action. Even my own teenage daughter (the 1st cutest teenager in the world) who is just entering the sullen, pensively introspective years, really got into it, and rooted for Lizzie like an old friend. In spite of any implausibility of the ending, I found myself feeling really good too. Kids movie or not, I hate spoilers, so I won't ruin anything for you!

In short The Lizzie McGuire Movie is a fun movie filled with adventure, but it's utterly harmless. There's nothing really for a parent to object to (like Language, or underage experimentation). While much of it is improbable, it's a fairy tale and its all in good fun, with characters you can root for and a positive theme! Three and a half stars for The Lizzie McGuire Movie... it's not The English Patient, but it beats the heck out of There's Something About Mary!
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Sorority Boys (2002)
Michael Rosenbaum is HOT!
27 April 2003
Those of you who have been here before realize I am not anywhere close to being gay (except while Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is on) but Michael Rosenbaum (you know him as Lex Luthor from Smallville) makes a really good looking woman! Sorority Boys is about 20% Tootsie, 30% Animal House, 30% Lame Plug for then WB Stars Rosenbaum and Barry Watson (WB's Baskets Full of Puppies Romp Seventh Heaven), and 20 more percent Lame-Ass Missed Joke "Comedy" in the vein of Tomcats! You can check... it adds up!

Which is more than I can say for the Plot of Sorority Boys, unfortunately!

Barry Watson plays Dave, a Senior in College with a Penchant for using women for sex and superficiality to excel in socitey. Dave heads the Social Comittee (having only 2 other members, Adam (Rosenbaum) and Doofer (Rocketman's Harland Williams) for his Frat Kappa Omicron Kappa (KOK, get it?). Their Frat Parties already include Animal House Style debauchery, group sex, and misogyny, especially culminating in the ejection of "Dogs" (members of the DOG Sorority... How clever!). The entire year is to culminate in a year end frat party with not only the current crop of idiots, but also the alumni (Including Dave's Dad... and some Animal House Alums). Naturally Dave, Adam, and Doofer are in charge of this water-bound Orgy as they are the Society Comittee, and the holder of all the thousands of dollars the KOK Frat has collected for this shindig!

Naturally something goes wrong... in the form of the whiny Chapter President stealing all the cash to frame Doofer, Adam and Dave who are in REAL Control of the group! So the boys flee in the hope of preserving their lives just long enough to prove their innocence in the form of a porn tape that accidentally caught the whiny chapter Pres in the act of ripping off the dough!

Well, they do what any of us guys would do... they dress up like chicks! Yes! Who wouldn't want to prove your worthiness to rule the roost of a top notch Masculine Fraternity by shaving your legs, dressing like your sister and seducing the nerdiest of your frat brothers? I mean... besides me who wouldn't?

So predictably the three new transvestites are forced to join the DOGs to avoid homelessness. The DOGs are ironically led by a Fox named Leah (Melissa Sagemiller). Awkwardness and comedy ensues (especially during some very hott shower scenes in which the near-blind Leah is fooled into believing that Dave is still a woman in spite of the fact that he's poking her in the Butt!)

Along the way Dave in REAL Life falls for Leah in REAL life, while Doofer learns how to relate to women, and Adam starts to realize how rough women have it with men like him around! Look honey, a movie AND Lessons.

I don't want to ruin this for everyone especially because it's really not that bad (especially the aforementioned shower scene), but everything works out in the end, wrapped up in a cute little pink package!

The good in this movie includes the premise. Yeah, like I said, Dustin Hoffman did it first and he did it better (don't even mention Tony Frakin Curtis, Whiners!), but this particular film took time out to attempt to shatter the damaging image College Aged women are forced to live up to along with decrying the Misogyny therein! Too bad it was handled in a Three Stooges Go Gay style film! it was great to see both Stephen Furst and Mark Metcalf in something besides Sci-Fi makeup. Sort of a nod to Animal House albeit a slightly lame one! Also in the good category would be the Brief yet memorable nude scene in the shower. Leah is HOT! Further, Michael Rosenbaum makes the best looking woman since David Foley left the Kids in the Hall! Most of the real laughs are at the hands of Harland Williams' Doofer. He just can't get used to being a woman and talking to women... hearing any woman, even one as ass-ugly as Doofer claim to be addicted to Porn and Masturbation is either HOT or Hilarious! You decide! Lastly, there is some really hot "Lesbian" Kissing that you can enjoy if you don't realize that one of the Lesbians is actually Barry Watson! Really, all in all it's no that bad!

But in the bad category... the plot is a little thin, and you can't help feeling a little set up by the lame sub premeses! Also, Michael Rosenbaum's Adam is consistently referred to as a fat chick. Get real! He looked really hot, and I felt really uncomfortable thinking so. The contrived way that EVERYTHING works out in the end just seems like more of Hollywood's postage stamp cookie cutter endings. I think we're all used to these by now though!

In short Sorority Boys isn't one of those films you should buy on DVD immediately, but passing an evening while watching it on cable can't be bad. It's better than PCU for heaven's sake!

You know what? Maybe we should all get this on DVD! Yeah! Let's collect these from now on! Check it out! This is actually the THIRD movie in which we see a Lex Luthor in Drag! It's true. Gene Hackman dressed in Drag in The Birdcage, Rosenbaum dressed as a woman in Sweet November, and now he reprises that same concept in Sorority Boys! I believe this could be the beginning of a Beautiful Subgenre! Hell, Terrence "General Zod" Stamp was in drag in the Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! Looks like if you cross Clark Kent you wear Lavendar Undies! 3 stars for Sorority Boys (out of 5)... FIVE Stars for the concept of Superman Villains dressing like Women! GIVE ME MORE OF THAT!
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Kangaroo Jack (2003)
Stop that 'Roo! A fun romp without pretense, but lots of laughs!
13 January 2003
I took my daughter to see the Sneak preview showing of this film the week before it came out. I was expecting a fun movie for 12 year olds, heavy on the scatological humor, light on the brains. While some reviewers will say this is exactly what you get with Kangaroo Jack, we were pleasantly surprised by this film.

There is quite a bit of silliness in this movie, and truthfully there are indeed some "poot" jokes. On the other hand, you could tell that the writers actually gave a darn when they were writing this movie. They trust the viewer enough to set something up early on and let it pan out later.

Further, there is a lot of humor in the movie that is above the waistline as well. On a reluctant trip to Australia to deliver Mob Money that they think might save their lives, two best friends accidentally hit and presumably kill a Kangaroo with their rented Jeep. Louis, the joker of the two, decides it would make a hilarious picture to dress up the 'Roo in a Brooklyn Jacket and Sunglasses. Fortunately the 'Roo is alive and hops away. Unfortunately he takes the Jacket with all the Mob Money still in it with him.

The remainder of the movie is a hilarious romp across the outback with the two buddies tripping from scene to scene attempting to get their money, and (they believe) their lives back from Kangaroo "Jackie Legs!"

There are a few twists and turns, some predictable... others, less so, and more than a few "you've got to be kidding" moments. But it's all in good fun!

Jerry O'Connell is better than usual as the protagonist. He manages to gain the viewer's sympathy early on, and doesn't resort to such idiotic conventions as in Tomcats. Anthony Anderson is likewise hilarious as O'Connell's best buddy. This guy is a great physical comedian, and never seems embarrassed about his weight. Together they seem a lot like they're on one of the Road pictures featuring Crosby and Hope. No, they're not as great as Crosby and Hope, but they do pretty well! Estella Warren is lovely as ever and is given a little more to do in this movie than is common for her. Walken plays the same typical Mafioso clown we've seen in a hundred movies with and without Walken in them. He plays a stock character, and plays him as such. His misuse of the English Language and vain attempts to improve upon this obvious misuse does crate a smile or two.

Essentially this is a truly fun movie. By no means is this a contender for nine Oscars, nor will it be on any Critic's top ten list... but, seriously, was that the plan? This movie sets out early on to be a fun ride, and it really delivers. Everyone in the Theatre seemed to be having the fun that was promised in the movie, and at the same time, never did the movie talk down to the viewer.

It may not be Citizen Kane, but if you're looking for a fun ride with more than a few laughs, give this film a chance. It just might surprise you!
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This was a good one, if far too short-lived
3 January 2003
I'm afraid I might be the only kid who remembers this one.

20 years ago this goofy show about a really fat guy (Meatballs) and his incredibly attractive (and thin) wife (Spaghetti) living in a mobile home while their erstwhile best-buddy Woofer (the veteran voice actor Frank Welker) borrowed money and more than a little food from the couple.

Naturally, being an Eighties show, they went on a number of adventures together, and there was always a good laugh.

What set this show apart was the fact that "Domestic Issues" reared their heads very often, especially when Spaghetti would try to get Woofer and Meatballs to help out around the place. In general the only thing that could get them to wake up was a polite "Would you like some food, boys?"

It's also a lot of fun to listen to Frank Welker talk. Whether you know it or not, you've heard his voice in about a thousand cartoons. Probably best known as Fred from Scooby-Doo, he's also one of the guys who played Scooby-Doo himself, he did the voice of Megatron in Transformers, Mr. Mxyzptlk from Superfriends, and Iceman from Spiderman and his Amazing Friends (Just to name a few of the hundreds). Frank is more than up to par here, and it's really funny to hear that voice become that of a "Stoner" right up there with Otto from the Simpsons. You can almost smell the smoke when he screams "PIG OUT!"

If anyone picks up this show for syndication or just a TV Special, you should definitely check it out. It's a big laugh! I just wish it had lasted longer!
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Surprisingly good and satisfying!
15 November 2002
When this movie was in theaters I thought I might watch it because I was a Star Trek Fan, but decided not to put much effort into it because it appeared to be about lonely geeks obsessed with Sci-Fi.

I was wrong.

Free Enterprise is a remarkably funny film featuring interesting, respectable characters who are professionals, AND love Star Trek.

This movie is for all those guys out there who have girlfriends, who don't dress as Mister Spock, or live in their parents' basement amid tons of old comic books, but are still Star Trek fans.

But fans aside, this is a really well crafted comedy. It's not for kids, but just about anyone else will be able to find something to like in it. It's a very atypical screwball comedy with a lot of intelligence within it.

Whether you're a Sci-Fi fan or a Sci-Fi detractor, it makes no difference. This is a smart, funny film with something to love. Give it a shot.
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Point Break (1991)
The Greatest Movie Ever Made!!!
12 November 2002
I curse each and every year of my life that was lived without having seen this masterpiece of Modern Cinema!

After having witnessed this perfect vision of Presidential Satire, Extreme Sporting, and white knuckled mystery I have changed my entire outlook on life!

In fact, after looking at the Oscar Nominations from 1991, I am officially taken aback that Point Break was not nominated for anything! Even Keanu "Whoa" Reeves has raised the water mark for great acting in a thriller (William Shatner notwithstanding).

Each line of dialogue, each gratuitous booby shot, each bullet fired, and each bloodied nose fits together so perfectly, much like a fine Arthurian Tapestry to tell this story worthy not only of an Oscar (or nine) but of true legendary status.

Many will quote Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, My Left Foot, Caveman, or The Godfather as the best films of all time. For me, however, it is unquestionably Point Break!

If I may venture a guess I would state that in years to come audiences will rediscover Point Break, and will embrace it (much as they have rediscovered and embraced Jade starring David Caruso). In the future Point Break will be taught in film schools, and the script will be anthologized in College American Literature surveys. Swayze Hair will come back into style, and kids everywhere will go as FBI Agent Ben Harp to Halloween Parties from coast to coast.

One day, Brian DePalma will make all of his movies into homages to the great Point Break and all of us will see the socio-political ramifications of this brilliant gem of theater.

If you have not yet seen Point Break, do so. Run, do not walk to the finest video store in town, plunk down your $2.99 and be prepared to laugh, to cry, and to long for a sequel ("The Revenge of Bodhi" anyone?).

Point Break is a true American Artifact... now and forever! Thank you and God Bless!
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Oh, I don't know....
7 December 2001
Five years after the last sequel to the original Night of the Living Dead someone decided to have a go at starting the whole thing over again from scratch! Nothing wrong with that... I think we can all name some decent remakes. Unfortunately, this particular remake suffers from two blights upon late-eighties/ early-nineties movie making 1) The need for a happy ending and 2) the need for political correctness.

The original Night of the Living Dead was fascinating because it had at least one person we could identify with no matter who we were, and in many cases we could identify with the entire cast because each represented a part of ourselves. The film was also ahead of it's time because the Hero is African American and befriends the frightened woman and helps to protect everyone involved. The ending isn't a happy one, but it's very realistic.

The remake unfortunately elected to eliminate certain personality traits that we can identify with in favor of more politically correct motifs. For example, the frightened girl who is muted by fear and horror evolves into a female Rambo (played admittedly very well by Babylon 5's Patricia Tallman) who swoops in with the cavalry and saves the day at the last minute. Very PC, not very realistic.

The tone doesn't really promote sympathetic fear at all, and the happy ending where everything is tied up by the 180 shift of Tallman's character doesn't help this problem.

On the other hand the movie is not a total loss. The acting is not bad, and while you're never really scared as you are watching the original you're never moved into the realm of laughter either. Never let anyone tell you that this film is terrible... it isn't, but compared to the original it's not great either. Don't rent them on the same night by any means... rather, buy the original on DVD, and catch this remake on the Superstation. That way you waste nothing either way!
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Gilligan's Planet (1982–1983)
Animated Sci-Fi version of Gilligan's Island
26 November 2001
Okay, who hasn't wondered what a cross between Gilligan's Island and Lost in Space might be like? Me neither.

The whole idea of this show is absolutely baffling! The word "why" comes to mind more often than any other.

It breaks down like this: Gilligan, the skipper, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the professor and Mary Anne get tired of living on that island with or without Richard Hatch on it, so they decide to escape by building a space ship that will carry them to freedom. Instead, predictably, it carries them to a different planet where they are doubly screwed, because as far as their friends and family are concerned they were lost at sea years before. Who would look for them in space? Now they have to find a way to get back to Earth, not to mention the mainland!

So we get to see fun stuff like Gilligan becoming a lieutenant in the military of a star-spanning conqueror and bossing around evil robots (no, Lord help me, I am not kidding!).

Don't get me wrong, the show wasn't that bad. Rather funny at times, but it made about as much sense as, say, Three's Company in Space might! How about Mr. Belvedere's Planet, or Inter-stellar Family Affair? The Beverly Moonbillies maybe?

Rest assured, the idea of building a fully functioning spaceship to get from an island in the South China Sea to San Diego is never looked on as odd at all, nor is the thought that the technology to build a rocket would pretty much suggest the technology to build a boat, or a radio for goodness sake is already existing ever addressed at all.

It is a funny show, though, and certainly was a hit with it's target audience. I suppose it doesn't have to make sense to be a hit! I mean... look at Exorcist II!
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I still like the Movie in spite of the superiority of the TV show!
26 October 2001
The original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie was not quite what the great Joss intended to create. The movie focused on the comedy primarily rather than the Comedy/ Horror/ Action that the series has time to handle. Joss intended this film to be much more than it was and much of the creative control was robbed from him by "suits" who thought they knew better than he did!

I will say that I have become a huge fan of the TV Series as well as its spin-offs. I also think that the TV Show starring Sarah Michelle Gellar is a superior piece of work!

That said, this movie is not bad at all! You have to look at it as what it is: A prequel to the TV Show. If you watch the first episode of the TV Show it references much of what happened in the movie. Much of Joss' original ideas were reworked into the TV show, but the film is where these ideas first came to life.

If you look at the Buffyverse as an evolving entity, it's easy to accept this film as a companion piece to the subsequent representations. If you attempt to compare the TV show to the movie as if they are in competition then you will be disappointed. Try to think of this as the beginning, as the TV show has done. You'll be a happier fan.

I love this movie... not as much as the TV show, but it's still a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and a great intro to the TV Show. This film is to the series what the Hobbit is to the Lord of the Rings.

Man, I'm a nerd!
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Farscape (1999–2003)
In short… Just watch it!
24 October 2001
It's no secret that the Jim Henson Company and the Jim Henson Creature Shop has been providing special effects and aliens and various other vital components for everything from the Star Wars Saga to multiple horror films.

One has to ask, with such talent and ability, why doesn't the Creature Shop just have it's own show to showcase the treasures they are capable of?

Brian Henson and friends have answered that question with FARSCAPE! Farscape has some of the best animatronics, CGI, and, yes, creatures of any television show or theatrical release for that matter.

This alone could make for an incredible show, but they didn't stop there. The episodes are very well written, and just suck you in each week, the acting is unparalleled, and the attention to detail is just admirable.

Where this could have actually succeeded as just a commercial for the Creature Shop (Look what we can do) the producers seem incapable of such cheap vanity. By recruiting Rockne S. O'Bannon (Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, Seaquest DSV), and carefully selecting actors that have the feel of being born to the roles, not to mention hiring some incredible writers, The Jim Henson Company has created a show that could actually survive WITHOUT the special effects they're famous for. Thankfully that's there too!

The best part is that just when you think you have the show down and it's about to get predictable you get surprised again. No cheap shots here... they set up every surprise moths in advance and you get surprised because (like us all) you have been following the wrong clues!

This show works on many levels: Action, Comedy, love story, special effects showcase, and, lest I forget, it is a great suppository of one liners! I love the show, and I think any one who takes the time to watch it will love it just as much!

In short… Just watch it!
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X-Men (2000)
X-Men Reviews (No Spoilers)
29 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I saw the X-Men movie early the night before it debuted in theatres (employee showing at Main Place). I didn't want to say this... I mean I really didn't want to say this... but the X-Men movie is pretty good. Let me clarify that I was expecting a steaming heap of the horrid, and so my expectations were low. I still believe it's pretty good, though! I really only went to see it because my two favorite Actors are in it (McKellan and Stewart) so I couldn't pass it up. I was pleased though! Hugh Jackman did a good job as Wolverine. Now, he is too tall for the role (remember that Wolverine is supposed to be Five feet Two inches tall), but his facial expressions, and his attitude were right on! His martial arts were good, and he held his own acting wise. They never got in to his bezerker rage, and he was cuddly enough to befriend the children (onscreen and in the audience), but that didn't make the character suffer. He was still gruff, and slightly (only slightly) foul-mouthed. Even the hair was close! Many have criticized Rogue, but they did her quite well! The actress (Anna Paquin) is among the youngest Oscar winners ever (The Piano) so naturally her acting was good! I have the first appearance of Rogue, and this was pretty close to the young Rogue. Right down to the green riding hood! They eliminated some elements of her past... but that helped the story stay clear... not convoluted. Patrick Stewart IS Professor X. Perfect! Cerebro was likewise dead-on! Ian McKellen was amazing as Magneto. He was just perfect. I never was comfortable with the bulked up Magneto of the nineties. He's tough, but looks his age! He played the part with dignity, and actually looked right even when flying around. His costume is sort of a combo of the original, and his X-Men Costume (does anyone remember that Magneto was the Headmaster of Xavier's School, and the X-Men's leader for a time back in the '80's?). Even that helmet is practical... it's not a super-villain thing... he uses it to block Professor Xavier's powers. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (SP?) made a good Mystique... I was skeptical, but she was fine! The team is only unofficially called X-Men. Basically they all wear uniforms and battle fatigues with the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters symbol on it. Somewhere along the line the kids started referring to them as "X-Men"... makes it more grown up, no? In fact, these folks are treated like action heroes, not superheroes. They seldom even wear the uniforms.

The story isn't perfect, and won't win any awards for best screenplay, but is pretty tight. There is the occasional scene where I found myself saying "WHY?", or "That was pretty contrived!", but for the most part I was pleased. I won't reveal any details, because I don't want to include any spoilers! I will say that occasionally the slow-mo fight scenes got irritating... luckily this technique was rarely used. Bobby "Iceman" Drake (or should I say "Ice Boy") was ALL wrong... why even have him in the film if he was going to be a bowl of nothing?

The rest of the X-cast (I.E.: Cyclops, Storm and Marvel Girl) was good. They made a fine ensemble without falling behind the main leads. The other villains (Sabretooth, Toad) did well. I liked Sabretooth almost in spite of myself. I didn't like his lion roars, but the presence was there! Toad was pretty funny. It was nice to hear Ray Park's voice for once, and it was cool to know that at least one of the actors did their own stunts! Of course he had in contacts again! Will we ever see his true eye color? The directing was great. It certainly had that Usual Suspects feel without being derivative. I think Singer is another great one. Again, without McKellan and Stewart it might not have been so good! But if you're interested in seeing a good action movie, see this one... hey, it's less comic-bookish than The Patriot!
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My take on POTA
7 August 2001
I think that the best possible review for the latest Tim Burton movie comes directly from the source material, Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel "Planet of the Apes."

"I soon succeeded in convincing myself that well-trained animals might well... become expert in in all the human arts, including the art of cinematography." -Pierre Boulle

Tim Burton was so wrapped up in the idea that this was about the apes, that he apparently was humanitarian enough to let a real live ape write the script.

The film was 15% Planet of the Apes, 15% Tim Burton, and 70% Hollywood Bull Crap.

The plot is thin, the dialogue ridiculous, and the ending a completely predictable insult to viewer intelligence. Fortunately the special effects are perfect... so what you end up with is a lump of coal wrapped in pretty wrapping paper.

A waste of potential!
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The best and the brightest shine again!
11 June 2001
"Sylvester and Tweety, Daffy and Speedy" wasn't much more than an ABC executive's new name for the same cartoons that appeared on "The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show." But what does that matter? If I had my way, these, the finest of all cartoons, would never be off the air!

This culling of some of the funniest, wackiest, and most timeless of the WB cartoons does tend to leave out the WW2 era shorts that you can still find on the Cartoon Network. STDS succeeds in providing an outlet for some of the best shorts that features, Bugs, Pepe, Sam, Elmer, Gossamer, Ralph, Sam, Beep-Beep, Wile E., and (naturally) Sylvester, Tweety, Daffy and Speedy. Don't let the name fool you, the gang's all here!

Watching these greats not only shows how timeless the cartoons are (they're as funny now as they were in 1981, as they were in 1951), but it also shows how complex the writing was. I laughed at so much of these jokes as a little kid, and now I'm getting all the ones that were essentially for the grown-ups!

These shows were always the best that the world of animation has to offer, but if you can find "The Sylvester & Tweety, Daffy & Speedy Show" anywhere, you'll know you are in store for just about the finest culling of Warner Brothers animated excellence ever!
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Fatal Justice (1994 Video)
Bad, but with some redeeming qualities!
1 June 2001
Somehow this film recently was released on DVD with a suggestive box cover. Please don't be fooled. This is not a great action movie or even a sexy movie. In fact the female version of Rambo on the cover scarcely even resembles the female lead.

This film is the only movie I have seen that features a sex scene between two "actors" who are wearing visible Boxer Shorts and are careful to keep their pelvises a full three feet away from each other.

Interestingly enough this film also features a car chase that begins with one set of cars, and ends with a completely different set... No, the characters don't trade cars halfway through, the "producers" couldn't get the same cars on another day, but didn't bother to fix it.

I can say this, the movie was filmed mostly in and around Shreveport, Louisiana, which is a great party town to be in, so if you recognize any parts of the film from your drunken stupor, you're in for that slice of fun. Hey, I gazed up at that building after "last call" at the Kisatchie. Hey, didn't I travel over that bridge after I left the Blind Tiger to head to another bar?

Also, the great stage actor Mr. Richard Folmer does make an appearance in this film, and he far outshines the leads, including Estevez. He gives a great turn as a "Company" bad man, but wasn't given a whole lot to work with unfortunately. It would be a true shame if such a great actor is remembered for a turkey like this rather than his exceptional stage work! It is unfortunate that in spite of the fact that he portrays a villain so well, you find yourself rooting for him much quicker than you would the wholly unsympathetic "heroes."

In short, avoid the movie completely, or, if you wish, rent the film, fast forward to the scenes featuring Richard Folmer, and forget the rest. You won't be missing a thing!
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Ghostbusters (1986–1987)
Believe it or not... these guys were first!
26 February 2001
It's a little known fact but the characters depicted in this series were around long before the movie version was. Back in 1975 there was a short lived TV series called "The Ghost Busters" that featured ghosts being hunted by a trio armed with strange equipment. After the success of the successful film (the title of which had to be paid for by the producers to Filmation who owned the name) they brought the characters back in this series. That's not to say that this show is BETTER than the theatrical Ghost Busters, but it is interesting to note that this isn't the rip off... the theatrical Ghost Busters was the rip off (even if it was a vastly superior rip off!
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Lexx (1997–2002)
Summing up this TV Series in one word:
23 January 2001
Huh? This is a very well done series, but as brilliant as it is, I have no idea what's going on! Lexx makes Twin Peaks look like Mr. Roger's Neighborhood! A good show, but... Huh?
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The New Tom & Jerry Show (1975–1977)
New Tom & Jerry now with 75% Less Violence than the original!
19 January 2001
Okay, so some of the edge of Tom & Jerry playing literal Cat and Mouse games has been lost, but that's not altogether that bad a thing! Most of the old Tom and Jerry cartoons were hilarious, but let's not forget the instances when Tom was blown up or beaten with mallets by white mice or even other cats!

As a child I loved both incarnations of the duo, but somehow this later version was more likeable with Tom and Jerry as best friends. This was handled in such a way that the characters' mannerisms were still intact and recognisable, but the one-gag stories of "I'm gonna get you because you're a mouse and I'm a cat, and that's the way it is!" were eliminated, along with much of the violence! Luckily it was handled so well, that this series opened the door to some really funny adventures with wacky sports episodes ("What a disastah!"), and the rescue of dying, but still witty desert drifters ("Please give me a drink! Anything! Oh, Cherry Lime? I'm not so crazy about Cherry Lime! You got Grape?")

All in all this is a better series and definitely not a kinder-gentler sellout! Spike's still there! The action's still there, but you can let your kids watch without worrying about them spanking your cat with a hammer when you're not looking! In short, a Tom & Jerry without the Itchy and Scratchy in them!
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Same tired old jokes recycled
17 January 2001
Did you like the first Austin Powers movie with it's rip off belaboured jokes and simplistic humour? Did you? Do you want a complete rehash of the first movie lacking any originality and recycling the same tired old jokes for a second go-round? If so, then this is the movie for you! Although your time might be better spent studying for your GED or something, many Genetic Defectives and complete idiots who don't recognise a beaten dead horse when they see it have flocked to this horrible movie, and have laughed because they felt they were supposed to. Be a part of the many faceless Austin Powers imitators out there, and say goodbye to the opposite sex. You are pitied!
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Celebrity (1998)
A waste of Branagh's Incredible Talent!
16 January 2001
This film is pretty bad even by Woody Allen's standards!

I'm not one of those absolute Woody Allen haters. Annie Hall is a good, good film. That said, Celebrity is a summation of the worst of Woody Allen Cliches! The adultery, the whining, the self serving nature, and the feeling that the title character SHOULD have your sympathy even though there's no way he could in a million years earn it are all here!

Basically this feels like a film that Allen wrote 20 years ago and only just recently dusted off to make. By the time the movie got made Allen was far too old to play the libertine leading role. Undaunted he chose the best actor in film today to do a dead on impression of Woody himself. The celebrity cameos and a performance by the incomparable Branagh as the Woody character may cause many to attempt this film. Do not. As a Die-Hard Branagh fan (especially the 1996 HAMLET), I can say I've never been so disappointed in a film of his!

This didn't get my lowest rating, as a few redeeming qualities can be found if you search with a fine tooth comb! Among these are Branagh's dead-on impression of Woody Allen (this is the only film in which I wanted to slap Branagh), Interesting Cameos (which still can't save this film), and the fact that the detestable main character does ultimately lose in the end and all those that he wronged seem to prosper.

Unfortunately the bad far, far outweighs the good. Make no mistake, this is not a Kenneth Branagh film, it's a substandard Woody Allen movie that should be avoided at all costs!
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Pulls the trigger on my Turkey Monitor!
16 January 2001
There's little to redeem this film about Kiss fighting Anthony Zerbe and his evil robot monkeys. As a Kiss fan, I can't even recommend it as a greatest hits package as all the songs are truncated and cut in length. While the "Hotter than Hell" spoof known as "Rip and destroy" has some great comic value the rest of the film falters in the "for laughs only" realm as you just plain feel bad for the super stars landing themselves in a TURKEY like this one!

Let's just be glad that THE WHO never decided to do a TV movie for NBC! I shudder to think on it!
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