A League of Ordinary Gentlemen

2004 bowling documentary

Rating: 14/2o

Plot: Documentary follows the history of the PBA and attempts by new buyers to bring back its relevency and make people stop either changing the channel whenever the sport comes on or at the very least openly mocking it. We follow four professional bowlers at various stages in their careers--a promising new guy, a struggling veteran, the arrogant and flamboyant son of a legend, and the current number one--as they bowl their way toward the goal of winning the championship.

If nothing else, this documentary should get bonus points for managing to make bowling exciting. It's an entertaining documentary, and although there is a lot that you can mock openly, there are also some fairly somber moments and some genuine suspense at the end. My wife will at least be happy that I've watched this because now I've added the "crotch-chop" to my repertoire. Thanks, Pete Weber!

This was a winter rates' recommendation.

Gumby: The Movie

1995 animated movie

Rating: 11/20 (Dylan: 14/20; Emma: 17/20; Abbey: 20/20)

Plot: Gumby and his friends Pokey, Prickle, and Goo discover that several families are about to lose their farms after entering a book to meet up with Fatbuckle, Thinbuckle, and Nobuckle to rehearse in the Clayboys. They decide to hold a benefit concert to raise money to help the farmers. Meanwhile, the Blockheads discover that Gumby's dog Lowbelly weeps pearls whenever Gumby's band plays. They form a complicated plan involving dognapping and claynapping and robots in order to get the pearls for themselves. None of this makes much sense to anybody not familiar with how Gumby's world works.

I love Gumby. In fifteen minute installments. Stretching this into a feature-length film just doesn't work all that well. Wackiness abounds, and I imagine this is worth watching for fans of the 50's television series. It is, at least, fairly loyal to the original series although a lot cleaner. Turning this into some computer-animated thing would be devastating, and I imagine I would be forced to end my life immediately.

Duck Soup

1933 comedy

Rating: 18/20 (Dylan: 13/20)

Plot: It doesn't really matter. But Rufus Firefly has been put charge of Freedonia, a country with all kinds of financial difficulties. Firefly picks fights with an ambassador from Sylvania over the love of benefactress Mrs. Teasdale. The ambassador uses a pair of inept spies--gregarious Chicolini and mute Pinky--to find out Firefly's secret war plans, and eventually the war begins. It ends, too.

We were playing a game called Apples to Apples after eating at my dad's house yesterday. It's a game that involves matching cards in your hand to adjectives that are turned up. Points are earned if the judge picks your card as the one that fits with the adjective the best. The word was "zany" and I was thrilled to have "The Marx Brothers" as one of my cards. Unfortunately, the judge for that one was Dylan, and some other answer not as good was picked as the winning card. It was arguably the worst moment of my entire life. I stood from the table, threw my cards across the room, and stormed out of the room. A kitten was kicked. Leftover stuffing was hurled. I waved a finger at my family and called them all a "bunch of bitches" who I was "thankful would some day wind up in hell" and ended up chewing up and swallowing the card that said "zany" and hiding the "Marx Brothers" card underneath the couch. When I cooled off a bit, I realized that there was a gap in Dylan's education that needed to be addressed immediately. He thought it was a punishment at first but laughed enough to make me wonder why he only gave it a 13. Is it dated? Of course! It's from 1933. But when this thing is funny, it's funny with the f-word in front of it. The Marx Brothers might not be for everybody (or are they an acquired taste?) but I like 'em and think this is their funniest effort.


2008 animated film

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 17/20; Dylan: 13/20; Emma 18/20; Abbey 20/20)

Plot: The title robot is a sex-starved janitor left on earth after all the people have disembarked. It's lucky that he's a trash collector because there's an excess of it and he really has nothing better to do with his time. Until a hot little robot with a dynamite figure and beautiful blue eyes shows up and rocks his world. Initially, she rejects his awkward sexual advances--at one point, Wall-E tries to offer Eva a Rubik's cube in exchange for sexual favors--but when he helps her find what she was looking for in the first place, she becomes interested and they engage in robot coitus. Then they go to space!

First forty-five minutes: brilliant, funny, touching, poignant. Last forty-five minutes: flawed, forced, overly ambitious, far too action-oriented. The characters, especially Wall-E, are definitely likable enough, and there are some very nice touches (a lot of the stuff Wall-E collects is funny) with more probably likely to reveal themselves during a second viewing. The music's fine, the visuals are often pretty staggering, and a lot of the messages behind the cute little kids' story work well without being at all forced. Some things did annoy me during that second half. The humor doesn't work as well, and the movie seems to lose it's focus and voice. That first half though is about as good as it gets, probably the best 40 minutes Pixar's put together. I was really wavering between 15 and 16 on this one, but given that I'll probably end up liking this better when I see it again. And I also like the social commentary and the homage to Buster Keaton. And watching my kids enjoy it always helps, too. So, 16 it is.

Question: Did they not let black people on the big spaceship? What's with that?

Knives of the Avenger

1966 Italian Viking movie

Rating: 10/20

Plot: Basically, it's Shane but with Vikings.

aka Bladestorm, aka Viking Massacre. I wonder if there's much in the well of the Viking genre. I really would have liked to see more pillaging and raping, not necessarily in that order. I don't want to stereotype Vikings or anything, especially since it seems they can hurl their infinite supply of knives hundreds of yards and never miss. This is the Mario Bava movie that came out right before Kill, Baby...Kill! Actually, they came out the same year, but they couldn't be more different. There are some really cheap-looking scenes that make you think, "Yeah, I guess this is the director of Kill, Baby...Kill! since it's got that cheap atmospheric thing and bad sound quality going for it." Ah, I just looked it up. Apparently, Bava was brought in to replace a director who had already started shooting. He got rid of everything, including the script, and rewrote and shot the thing in a week. That explains a lot. The result is that there isn't much to like about the story, especially a story that seems to rush to a resolution in the last fifteen minutes. And it also results in a film that really has no visual flare or much else of interest. The best thing about this movie is that the Vikings don't wear those silly horn hats. Despite not liking this much, it'll likely be the best Viking movie I see all year.

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

2006 musical comedy

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Jack Black wants to be a rock 'n' roll god. He flees his parents who don't understand or support his dream, and goes to Hollywood where he meets Kyle, a guitar genius. Jack learns from Kyle and the two form a bond as they try to become the greatest band of all time and win an open mic contest at a crummy bar. Those aspirations ultimately lead them on a quest to steal the Pick of Destiny.

Didn't consistently work for me. The music's fine but it wears out its welcome halfway through the movie, about the same time you've realized that the movie has already peaked and really has nowhere else to go. The rest is pretty pedestrian with a script that's begging you to quote it and oddball excursions galore. The special effects (intentionally goofy?) are distracting, and really, so is Jack Black's face. This Tenacious D stuff is much better in small doses. Honestly, reviewing this is unfair since I'm not a stoner and therefore not really the right audience.


1993 comedy

Rating: 10/20

Plot: An arrogant former child actor is hired as a spokesman for a company that produces toxic chemicals. He travels to somewhere in South America to check out the goods and stumbles upon a freak show in the middle of nowhere. The proprietor, Elijah Skuggs, kidnaps the actor, his friend, and a woman they picked up while she was protesting the toxic chemical company and uses a machine and a green slime to turn them into freaks. With sock head, dog boy, a bearded lady, worm man, a guy who farts fire, and some other freaks, they conspire to escape from Skuggs' clutches.

I may have given this 7 bonus points for a Larry "Bud" Melman cameo. There are some humorous moments, but they aren't moments I'm going to remember in a week. A lot of the humor's too cheap or awkward, and the special effects, though occasionally nifty, are often really stupid. An interesting soundtrack with the Butthole Surfers and Blind Idiot God. It's probably not a good thing when the movie that most closely resembles the movie you're watching is UHF.

24: Redemption

2008 television movie

Rating: I don't know. Dylan said 12/20. That seems pretty good. 12/20

Plot: Jack Bauer, in Africa hiding from the feds, needs cash. He decides product placement will do the trick and makes a deal with Nextel. Meanwhile, there are children who need saved.

I wasn't going to count this toward the goal of 365, but as Jack Bauer would say--I'm running out of time! It was fine as a transition between seasons of a television show, but it doesn't work as a stand-alone movie like Fox would want you to believe. It did seem to have less of the flaws of the regular show, and it was good to have the protagonist focused on one thing instead of worrying about his love life. Nothing new, but nothing awful either.

The Triplets of Belleville

2003 French animation

Rating: 18/20

Plot: On the outskirts of Paris, Madame Souza raises her grandson Champion in a house that is taller than it is wide. She searches desperately for a hobby (toy trains, a dog named Bruno) for her grandson and eventually learns of his interest in cycling. She buys him a tricycle and later helps him train for the Tour de France. When he's kidnapped by the French mafia during his race, however, Souza and Bruno have to run off to rescue him. They enlist the helps of the title characters, a now-elderly but once-famous Vaudevillian song-and-dance trio and take on the mafia.

How much do I love this movie? Finding Nemo is my favorite Pixar movie, and I'm not sure I agree that it should have won for best animated feature over Triplets. There are bucketfuls of grotesque brilliance here, a creative fervor that reminds you just how exciting animation can be. Quirky in that French way and with a seemingly misanthropic bent (there are a lot of grotesquely overweight or ugly characters and some blink-and-you-miss-'em details [i.e. Statue of Liberty's holding platters of hamburgers] that border on the satirical), but this still somehow manages to sneak in a little sweetness. I just love how this movie squelches along. With nearly no dialogue (there's actually just a tiny bit at the end; everything else is indiscernible mumblings or grunts or horse noises), it's all about the Hulot-esque sound effects and visuals, so much, in fact, that it's hard to imagine why this isn't really boring. But it's so refreshingly odd that there's no way "boring" can be part of a discussion of this. If I were to describe my favorite scenes to somebody who has never seen this, it'd likely leave them scratching their heads. "And then they bust into this weird little frog song for no reason." "And the dog has this little dream where he's on the train." "And you should see that chase scene--it all seems like it's in slow motion!" Sound like exciting stuff, right? How much do I love this movie? This is my third time seeing it, and I can't think of another example of a movie I rented and watched twice before returning it, but that's exactly what happened when I first saw it in '04.

But where's Chomet's follow-up to this? Five years is too long to wait! Chomet did have one of the more brilliant segments of Paris Je T'aime (not animated but it did have mimes), but other than that, nothin'. Come on, brotha!

The Happening

2008 movie

Rating: 2/20 (or 20/20. . .I just don't know.)

Plot: It all starts happening in Central Park. A contagion in the air makes people freeze, begin acting silly, and take their own lives. Mark Walhberg's a high school science teacher in Philadelphia who, when he hears the news, flees via train with his wife, a colleague, and the colleague's daughter. They look for a safe place to be but find that the toxin is spreading rapidly. And perplexedly.

This movie has to be a joke. That, or M. Night is just experimenting and trying to find out just how bad his own movies can get. This guy's to the point in his career where he should no longer be allowed to make movies. Let's examine that career:

The Sixth Sense: Enjoyable, but I'm guessing it's really overrated garbage. I've yet to see it twice because I just assume it'll not be good.

Unbreakable: Not good.

Signs: Even more not good.

The Village: Embarrassingly awful.

Lady in the Water: Haven't gotten the privilege to see this one yet, but I'm guessing it's slightly worse than "embarrassingly awful" and slightly better than "should end a director's career."

This one: Really feels like one of those parody movies, like the Scary Movie people decided to spoof Shyamalan. I'm not sure I've seen worse acting in a movie. Imagine if you were talking to a buddy about bad acting and your friend said something dramatic like "Look out, Grandma! It's the chicken-suit killer!" and you said, "No, that's too bad. No acting in a movie would ever be that bad." Well, this acting is that bad. There's not one character in this movie who communicates or acts in realistic, natural ways. And when you combine that bad acting with a laughable script and a ludicrous plot, you've got the perfect storm. There's also a message behind the suckage, and that message is completely heavy-handed.

Disclaimer: I did laugh more while watching this than I've laughed during a movie in a long time. If it turns out that Shyamalan intended this as a comedy, the man's an absolute genius and I will reevaluate and make a rating adjustment. Thinking back at some (unintentionally?) hilarious scenes--a scene where Wahlberg's character starts singing in an inexplicable effort to be admitted into a house, an old woman accusing the main characters of stealing, every single line the army guy says, a scene at a zoo, Leguizamo's character giving a minor character a math riddle to solve, when Wahlberg has a conversation with a plant, the guy arguing the virtues of hot dogs--it almost seems impossible that this isn't a comedy. Oh, man. I actually can't wait to see this movie again! Funnier than that remake of The Wicker Man!
Ok, I just watched the deleted scenes and laughed hard enough to produce tears. There's a scene involving a kid playing a violin that has to be seen to be believed. Maybe the best thing I've ever seen in my entire life! There's no way this movie isn't supposed to be funny!

You've Got Mail

1998 romantic comedy

Rating: 11/20 (Jen: 17/20)

Plot: Joe Fox is the "son" of Fox & Son Books, a discount book store chain. Kathleen is the owner of a quaint store for children's books called Shop Around the Corner. Since the former's actions threaten to put the latter out of business, they should be enemies. However, without knowing it, they've been corresponding electronically, smitten with each other despite already being in relationships with douche bags. The relationship between their secret identities grows while their actual physical interactions cause them to hate each other more and more.

Completely harmless. Jen's reasons for wanting to see this also had to do with interior decorating. The movie's sweet enough, but it's simultaneously too long and suffers from a final half hour that seems too rushed and unbelievable. There are also some unforgivably cliched moments--most notably when she's closing up the shop and has some sort of acid flashback--and a soundtrack that is fairly obnoxious except for the Harry Nilsson. By the way, where the hell did Meg Ryan go? And why didn't Tom Hanks go with her?

Practical Magic

1998 romantic comedy

Rating: 5/20 (Jen: 8/20)

Plot: Sally and Gillian come from a long line of witches. As they grow into adulthood, they desire more normal lives with normal loves, but unfortunately a family curse seems to kill off all men who they fall in love with.

This is one of my least favorite movie-watching experiences of the year. Jen had her reasons for watching this (wanting to check out the house or something), and unfortunately for her, I don't think I'll ever forgive her for it. Thing is, this idea could have made for whimsical, funny movie, but the script was so bad and the story was all over the place any potential fun was just sucked out of the thing. Maybe I kept dozing off or something, but it almost seemed like I was watching excerpts from a television series. One that would likely be cancelled after four episodes. The story just didn't make much sense. The acting was also terrible, but that very well could have been because of the script. Well, that and the fact that Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are in it. I've said it before and I'll say it again--Nicole Kidman is nearly completely worthless in films unless she's naked. Aidan Quinn, by the way, was the most terrible at all, but I have no desire to see him naked.

Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away

2006 comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Deadpan comic Steven Wright delivers his one-liners and people laugh.

The live show footage is followed by a short written and directed by Wright called "One Soldier" which is pretty bewildering. It's a poetic look at mortality, both depressing and hilarious. Really cool stuff. I always enjoy seeing Wright, but so many of the jokes are things I've heard on his albums that I didn't find myself laughing much. That might have more to do with my crippling depression though. And I do prefer hearing him over seeing and hearing him for some reason.

Aztec Mummy vs. the Human Robot

  1. 1958 Mexican monster movie

Rating: 2/20

Plot: A crazy scientist who wants to take over the world races against some men of indeterminate profession to grab an Aztec breastplate with matching bracelet that unfortunately unleashes some mummy curse.

If seeing a mummy fight a clunky robot in slow motion is up your alley or anywhere near it, this is the movie for you. The story's ludicrous and the acting and pacing and special effects are arguably worse. The movie is narrated by one of the main characters as he tells his group of friends all about his goofy experiences with this goofy mummy. The movie probably would have worked better without the narrative framing. On second thought, I doubt anything can save a movie like this. There are lags, but this is a pretty entertaining piece of crap. A scene involving a wife who was kidnapped at least three times in the movie, some of the silliest gangsters you'll ever see, a laboratory with beakers filled with what must be acid, and a pissed mummy is a highlight. The main bad guy/evil scientist sort of has an Orson Welles thing going for him. Maybe he was the Mexican Orson Welles or something. His soliloquy when he describes his excitement after creating a "human robot" is exceptionally moving. That "greatest invention" itself is pretty cool. A guy in a clunky metallic costume who moves really slowly? How do they think of these things? There's also one of those wonderful Torgo-esque performances by a guy who plays the night watchman at the cemetery. And there are numerous moments where this looks to be the production of a group of people who have never actually witnessed actual human behavior. Or mummy behavior. Or human robot behavior. I can see the actors and director together on the set.

"Hmm. Now what would an actual person do here?"

"I have no idea. Maybe we should go and find some so that we can ask them."

"Yes. Yes. That just might be the solution. Come on."

"Yes. Come on."

Of course, the dubbing could have a lot to do with the completely unnatural way these characters behave. I'd definitely recommend this one to lovers of really bad movies. And I look forward to seeing more Aztec mummy movies, especially the one where the Aztec mummy fights Mexican women wrestlers.

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

2006 doom 'n' gloom documentary

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Apparently, the world is running out of oil. That probably means I should stop drinking the stuff.

The feel-bad movie of 2006. There was some clunkiness in the editing of this, but surprisingly very few moments that seemed propagandish. A nice mix of history lesson, interviews, and entertaining archival footage. Phillip Glass should probably sue whoever did the music for this. Unless it was him. That lawsuit wouldn't make any sense.
Cory's recommendation.


1992 biopic

Rating: 15/20

Plot: The life of Charlie Chaplin from his impoverished childhood with his older half-brother and mentally ill mother to his life in exile in Switzerland. It's a life of sex with minors, multiple divorces, obsession, accusations of communism, and struggles to find a cane with just the right flexibility.

I saw this in a movie theater at the very beginning of 1993 and then forgot about it. I didn't know anything about Charlie Chaplin, and I think I had only seen one of his movies. Maybe. One or none. As I left the theater, I put my hands in my pockets and walked as slowly as possible to the car. There was a juggler. He wasn't juggling, but he asked me for a quarter anyway. I told him, "I don't have a quarter," and gave him a nod of the head so he'd believe me. As a fellow juggler, I could identify. It was really cold. My nipples were likely erect. Distracted by the gravity of the situation, I ended up accidentally dropping my hat in a mud puddle and not knowing until the next day. But I think I was in love; that, or I had the kind of rash that you just don't want to go away. There was a cemetery with infants' graves and a lake in the shape of America. Somehow, I ended up in a basement, completely confused about why I was there or what I was supposed to do. A quick flash, sort of a lunge, and the promise that when I returned from military school, I would locate and embrace the statue of Athena in the middle of the golf course, the one with the wind-scrambled fragments of paper scattered around her cracking feet. The one with the albatross perched on the shoulder. Earlier, we'd spent what seemed like minutes but was probably hours or days trying to piece the paper back together again, reassembling so-and-so's love for so-and-so or maybe the news that the other shoe had dropped, proverbially. Pondering an end and a ladder without any rungs, I drove over one hundred miles per hour, maybe even one hundred and fifty, and counted every single snow flake. I may have counted some stars, too. The difference between bright stars and snow flakes drifting in front of your headlights on a winter night is barely discernible. The memory is so vivid that I barely remember it. It's when I reach my hand out in my memory that I find another hand forever there. All of my memories are black and white and silent, and the title cards are illegible and the organist has the flu and refuses to take off his mittens. So that explains all that.

The Seventh Seal

1957 comedy

Rating: 18/20

Plot: A knight returning from the Crusades meets up with Death and asks for a reprieve. He challenges Death to a game of chess, a game which continues as he continues his travels back to his home. He meets up with some actors, a priest-turned-thief, a blacksmith and his wife, and a variety of other unfortunate souls facing death and plague. LOL!

Quite possibly the funniest comedy ever made! A hilarious precursor to the works of Benny Hill and the Farrelly Brothers, The Seventh Seal includes a lovable cast of characters delivering lines dripping with both dry wit and bawdy humor, along with slapstick and visual gags. From the uproariously funny dance choreography of the crippled plague victims to the scene where Death's mother catches him pleasuring himself in the laundry room, this one will have you laughing for days. Literally. You'll be sitting at your workplace and then you'll be all like, "LOL!" and everybody will look at you and be like, "What's so funny?" and you'll be like, "OMG! I just saw The Seventh Seal!" and they'll be like, "Bergman? That shiznit is the funnizzle! Damn straight. LMAO!" This is a movie all your pals will be quoting right along with their Simpsons and their Saturday Night Live quotes. You don't want to be the only one not in on the joke when you frat brother says, "Most people think neither of death or nothingness" while your other friend, fighting snickers, answers, "But one day you will stand at the edge of life and face darkness!" LOL!

Gospel According to Harry

1994 pretentious nonsense

Rating: 7/20

Plot: Wes and Karen try to work through their marital problems in the middle of the desert. That's where they live. They've got furniture and stuff. It's pretty artsy.

Thing is, I'm probably the audience for this. In fact, if I became a director, this seems like it could be the exact movie I'd make except for the lack of midgets. There would also be more nudity probably. So the fact that I didn't like it at all is probably not good. This was 80+ minutes that I really had to suffer through. I don't think I ever want to see a movie directed by Lech Majewski.


1992 movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: In the fictional mountain town Tolzbad, residents live in relaxed but constant fear of avalanches. They cover their windows in sheepskin, cut the vocal chords of livestock, and do anything else to prevent any disturbance of the snows. Within Tolzbad lives a mother with her three children, two who are in training to become butlers and one who sits mutely in the attic and occasionally converses with the ghost of his father. That father, an unfortunate soul who lost one eye as a baby when his face was too close to a pin and the other as an adult when he got too close to a cuckoo clock, tries to warn the mute son about the incestuous dreams of his recently-engaged brother and the murderous plans of the other. Love trapezoids!

Man, I love this guy (pun intended). Again, the voice of this Guy Maddin-directed surrealist funk rings loudly and clearly. Still referencing silent films--especially German oddball expressionist stuff with the paper-background sets and facial close-ups and camera angles--this one is in color (albeit it's this weird fuzzy colors, hand-tinted and grainy) and the characters speak. It's a darkly comic visual feast. At the same time, there's this almost agonizing detachment. It's so otherworldly, so blatantly like anything you've ever seen before while at the same time reminding you of so many other things, that it's almost an uncomfortable movie experience. It's almost like you're watching one of David Lynch's nightmares. Which is fine because uncomfortable movie experiences are my favorite movie experiences. Definitely put this in the "not for very many people" category.


1954 Japanese monster movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Those damn nuclear weapons! All that messing around with radioactivity has awakened a rubbery, dinosauric beast from 2,000 fathoms, and now it's rampaging through Tokyo and messing everything up. Can anybody stop Godzilla? The one guy? The other guy with the oxygen-destroying invention? The girl? The other guys?

It's really unfortunate that (spoiler alert!) they kill Godzilla at the end of this because they probably could have made a bunch a sequels and a buttload of money. A Godzilla-buttload of money! This movie is probably more important historically than it is entertaining. It's not a terrible monster movie, and the special effects (puppets, guy-in-suit-stomping-on-miniatures) aren't bad at all for the mid-50's, definitely preferable to the more contemporary stuff that might look more realistic but isn't much fun at all. The Japanese version (the American one has Raymond Burr stuffed in it and loses over ten minutes) also has an anti-war message which straddles that line between movies-whose-messages-take-it-beyond-just-mindless-entertainment and sci-fi cliched junk. There's far too much talking in this, especially since not much at all is actually said, and it (at least the dvd I watched) is really grainy and makes the action difficult to see. I would like to see some of the goofier follow-ups. Anybody know any good ones?


1965 musical comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A religious cult located in the Bahamas can't complete a sacrifice to their octopus god because the sacred ring is missing. Tough break since they'd already painted the woman red and everything! Somehow, Ringo's got that ring on his finger, and he can't get it off. The bad guys nefariously attempt to either get the ring or paint Ringo red to get him all ready to disembowel. Ringo and the other Marx Brothers flee, go skiing, explore a beach, sing some songs, and do other Beatle things.

Very entertaining and deadpanly funny movie although not as accomplished/consistently great as A Hard Day's Night. The story, I guess, doesn't matter a lot as it is just an excuse for numerous sight gags and other bits of nonsense. It is pretty loosey-goosey and chaotic though. The musical parts seem squeezed into the story, but I do really like how "A Hard Day's Night" keeps working its way into the soundtrack. Lester's direction is also pretty loosey-goosey, a good cross between fun and experimental, and there are some nice touches that make this artful nonsense instead of just nonsense. Moments as funny as Monty Python and the aforementioned Marx Brothers make this a movie that will likely still be fun in another forty-odd years. I'm sure this one isn't as good as Yellow Submarine though.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2001 fantasy movie

Rating: 17/20 (Dylan: 15/20)

Plot: A bunch of midgets are fighting over a piece of jewelry, so they hire a grumpy old man named Grumpy to settle the dispute. It's decided that Frodo should travel to a scary place and have the ring sold to a pawn shop called Crap 'n' More. Unfortunately, Crap 'n' More was put out of business after the locals founds out that the soup they served in the pawn shop's concession stand wasn't really cream of mushroom. Why would anybody eat food served at a pawn shop anyway? Another grumpy magical guy named Count Dooku sends some of his friends to warn Frodo and his fellow midgets--Harpo, Blinko, Porno, Zippy--so that they don't waste their time and gas driving all the way to the scary place. Meanwhile, Frodo decides to have himself committed to an asylum run by smug Englishmen with pointy ears. A flaming vagina hallucination keeps him there for several months while the smug Englishmen crack jokes and draw things on his face while he sleeps. "Flaming vagina? Did it belong to my wife? Ha ha ha!" That joke is in the movie seventeen times. Grumpy figures that Frodo needs help, so he recruits some help--Beardo, Lance Spectacular, Big Ears, and Stumpy--to travel with Frodo to find another pawn shop to sell the ring. They decide to take the scenic route through some dark places because Grumpy brought a flashlight and "I ain't carryin' around this flashlight for nothin', bitches! Let's roll!" They have several very expensive adventures.

A great deal of midget action in this one.

Sawdust and Tinsel

1953 movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Darkly almost-comic battle of the sexes within a filthy dilapidated circus. As they pull into a certain town, the ringmaster plans to visit his ex-wife and sons for the first time in three years. Meanwhile, his current love--a Spaniard who rides a horse around and displays bobbing bosoms--sleeps with an actor they met when borrowing clothes from a theater troupe. Problems in their relationship escalate poetically. Nobody lives happily ever after.

Great stuff. It's often amazing what the camera does in this, and although it has a few flaws, this is still a great Bergman flick. A first viewing feels incomplete, but the visuals (especially in an early flashback/dream [?] sequence involving a clown and a naked woman and the thickly tense climactic scenes) are so capable of creating moods. There's a definite and not-very-complex plot, but this still works more as a movie you feel rather than follow. There are strange period details that make this both otherworldly and timeless. Add terrific acting, an interesting score, lighting that even somebody as dumb as me can notice and appreciate, and some close-ups of clowns' faces, and you've got yourself a great movie. Keep in mind, however, that I'm a sucker for circus movies. Usually, they've got both midgets and monkeys just like this one.

Lord of the Flies

1963 novel adaptation

Rating: 17/20

Plot: It's just like a typical day in my 7th grade language arts classroom except that it takes place on an island and all the kids speak proper English.

Fantastically faithful adaptation which seems bizarre considering the way the film was made (60 hours of film, lots improvised, later condensed into the 90 minute movie). The imagery is striking, enhanced by the grainy black and white photography. The setting's about perfect, too. This is really a movie that should have been free of music though. The anarchy provided by the children was soundtrack enough. Great movie with some truly memorable and haunting scenes.

Sergeant York

1941 American propaganda

Rating: 16/20 (Dylan: 11/20)

Plot: All Alvin York wants is a piece of bottom land and a piece of love interest Gracie's bottom. Living in Tennessee with his mother (they don't even have telephones or the Internet there!), he matures from an uneducated hillybilly troublemaker into an uneducated hillybilly pacifist. But the Great War has broken out, and it's the wrong time to be a conscientious objector. Torn between his duty to his country and his devotion to God, York trains and eventually heads off the France so that he can become Forrest Gump. God bless America!

This is a very attractive movie and Gary Cooper is great in it, but it does pour it on pretty thickly. Good script though.

Speed Racer

2008 bomb

Rating: 9/20 (Emma gave it a 0 and Abbey gave it a 1 although neither made it through the entire movie. Dylan's old school and couldn't rate a movie he wasn't able to finish.)

Plot: Speed Racer (apparently his real name) comes from a racing family. His dad John Goodman Racer is a brilliant mechanic/inventor. His brother Rex Racer is a brilliant driver. His mother Mrs. Racer makes one hell of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Speed's dreamt of racing from a very young age, but the death of his brother and pressure from big racing corporations nearly ruins it all for him. In order to bring down one corrupt racing organization, he must compete in a dangerous psychedelic multi-continental race and a psychedelic Grand Prix against enemies Snake Guy and Old Gray-Haired Guy.

There were plans to see this in a theater with my brother, but they fell through because my brother, while ice fishing, fell through. It wouldn't have been the worst movie we ever saw in a theater since we also saw Creepshow II, Ernest Goes to Camp, The Disorderlies (featuring rappers The Fat Boys), Overboard, Ernest Goes to Jail, Toys, and Ernest Meets the Fat Boys on the big screen just the way they were meant to be seen. However, It's probably a good thing we didn't make it because we more than likely would have been surrounded by furiously masturbating Japanese men. I can't imagine a movie like this would have any audience other than furiously masturbating Japanese men. I like the colors a lot, and the action scenes, as expected from the Wafflaski Brothers, were things that I hadn't seen before. There was a scene where everybody was kung-fu fighting, and those cats were fast as lightning. The car racing scenes were also sort of like kung-fu fights in a way. And there was a humorous monkey, in my opinion the best kind of monkey you can have in a movie. But like the Wankerowskis' other movies, there's a lot of mumbo and even more jumbo, and it makes the other stuff a lot less fun and a lot more difficult to sit through. This is, however, twice as good as the third movie in the Wabooskies' Matrix trilogy. I also liked the colors. Oh, I already said that. Seems that the seizures Speed Racer induced have affected my brains.


1995 sequel

Rating: 11/20

Plot: El Mariachi is back and wants revenge against the guy who shot him in the hand and killed the woman he loved for nearly a half an hour in the first movie. Unfortunately, that guy's got an army. Oh, snap! El Mariachi doesn't mind though. He'll just shot 'em or blow 'em up! Kablooey!

Immediate disappointment in realizing that this isn't a movie based on the Eagles' song. This answers the question "What happens when you give Rodriguez a bigger budget and some real actors and equipment to work with?" Seems the answer is that you get a movie that lacks some of the creative energy of the first installment in the trilogy. I do really like the bad guy, and I think Banderas works as an action hero here. There are some moments that stand out, but too much of this seems like a glossier rehash of the first movie. And that gloss doesn't help. Some unexpected cliched moments also don't help. There are tons of inexplicable action sequences throughout, but I'm not sure whether or not that's a positive or negative thing.


2004 artsy-fartsy after-school special

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Aviva is a teenage girl who is sometimes skinny, sometimes fat, sometimes white, and sometimes fat. She really wants to have a baby, and after finding out that the best way to go about that is to have sexual intercourse, she finds a penis belonging to a chubby obnoxious kid and gets busy. And boom-shakalaka, a baby is conceived! Huzzah!Her ultra-religious mother forces her to have an abortion. Later, she runs away, stays with a family of funky Christian musicians with a variety of mental deficiencies and deformities, and hooks up with an old guy. Long before then, however, interest is lost.

Well, I had considered giving this bonus points for audacity and creative effort, but upon completion, I realized that was just crap. There's something that I just can't stand about the work of Todd Solondz, and this one is much worse than the over-hyped Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness and Storytelling. Surely there are less obnoxious ways to show how bleak life sometimes is. Having various actresses playing the protagonist? Borderline fun-poking at the disabled? Shocking twists and shocking turns and shocking shock value? The dipsy soundtrack? The oh-so-clever palindromic structure? Comes across as pretentious, artsy-fartsy crap. I don't really keep track of these things, but I have to believe this movie inspired more actual groans than anything else I've seen this year.

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1953 cowboy

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 18/20)

Plot: The gayest-looking cowboy ever rides into town with a checkered past and an excessive amount of fringe. The Starett family--Joe, Marian, their son Joe, their dog Joe, a horse named Joe, another horse named Joe, a hopping bull named Joe--is trying to live happily on their farm, but some mean bullies are trying to push them off the land. Tensions mount! Joe gets snippy. Shane and Marian probably "do it" more than once. Joe ain't gonna like that. Ohhhhhhhh, snap!

So, I'm named after the gayest-looking cowboy ever. Thanks, Dad! This is a really good traditional western, a little something for the squares. A bit Disney-fied with some oppressive music, but there's also some grittiness, good acting, and dialogue. I'm not sure how the kid playing Joe (not that Joe; the other Joe) didn't completely ruin the movie. I like the underlying sexual tension with the hero and the guy's wife. There's also a great moment during a fist fight that involves a bull trying (successfully, it seems) to jump over a fence. My favorite scene, however, is a funeral scene that works as a turning point in the story.

First time I watched this, by the way, was in my 8th grade English class. I can't remember why. It's odd that my dad didn't force me to watch it since it's what I'm named after. Of course, he never forced me to listen to Bob Dylan either.

El Mariachi

1992 action movie

Rating: 13/20

Plot: All he wants to do is be a mariachi. He's mistaken for another guy, a guy who carries around a guitar case filled with weapons after his escape from jail, and finds himself smack in the middle of a low-budget adventure with condoms filled with fake blood and romance.

I couldn't get the director commentary off because, apparently, I'm a cretin. Rodriguez did manage to convince me that this is probably the greatest 7,000 dollar film ever made. There was so much made for so little. While the story is actually pretty pedestrian, the action scenes are good and the characters are interesting enough. The little happy accidents (like the turtle featured on the movie poster) give this movie a texture, and I had to give the movie a bonus point for the scene with the musician showing off his keyboard skills after the protagonist applies for a job at the place he plays. It might not always look great, but it's an entertaining debut.

Hotel Torgo

2004 documentary

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Filmmaker follows around Bernie Rosenblum who is apparently the only surviving cast or crew member from Manos: The Hands of Fate. He revisits memories and talks about the current interest in the worst movie ever made.

There's some interesting stuff here. The director was a nutcase. Torgo was supposed to be half-goat (that explains his legs) and the actor who played him committed suicide after becoming addicted to pain medication he needed because he wore his goat-man-leg prosthetics wrong. Everybody associated with this thing, in fact, either died or mysteriously vanished. The documentary has a lack of focus, but it's definitely worth seeing (and short enough) for anybody who appreciates the genius of Manos: The Hands of Fate and wants to know more.

Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom

1975 garbage

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Eighteen kids are kidnapped by fascists in Nazi-controlled Italy and treated meanly. There's lots of what can only be described as grotesque sex.

Unless the point is as simple as "People are mean," I'm missing some context here. This is not a good movie. It's not really even an interesting movie. Director Pasolini was murdered after the release of Salo, and although it's not likely that this movie was the reason why he was murdered, it really couldn't have helped. I just had a tough time trying to figure out exactly what this film is--smut, blacker-than-black comedy, dark allegory, perverse crap? Painstaking and dismal and seemingly empty.

Manos: The Hands of Fate

1966 horror movie

Rating: 1/20 (Jen: 0/20 even after she was told she could not give a movie less than a 1/20)

Plot: A family of three vacations with their little dog Peppy. They get lost in the middle of a desert and find themselves at the isolated dwelling place of a deformed man named Torgo and his master who is, according to Torgo, sort of dead and sort of alive. After Peppy is killed, the family decides to leave but can't because of car trouble. Little do they know, their real troubles haven't even begun. Torgo!

This might be the worst movie ever, and Torgo is one of my favorite characters of all time. The guy's deformity (fat legs?), his weird twitching, the way he shuffles about. He's just great. I told Jen that I'm going to be Torgo for Halloween next year , and we've now planned to be the Manos: The Hands of Fate family and try to find somebody for each of the characters. I also told her that Michael J. Fox could play Torgo in a remake of this which, if you ever see this, is an opinion that will either be really hilarious or really offensive. They don't make movies this ineptly anymore! It's hard to fathom what the writer/director/producer spent 19,000 dollars on, but that was apparently the film's budget. If there was an award for the worst editing in the history of cinema, this would win without argument. It would actually likely win a lot of "worst ever" categories. Yep, it's that bad. I'm trying to decide whether my brother or my dad gets this for Christmas this year. Maybe I'll wrap it up and stick it in somebody's mailbox at school and give it to somebody anonymously. If Manos: The Hands of Fate can't spread the Christmas cheer, nothing can!

The Shining

1980 horror movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Jack moves into a scenic hotel with his daughter and son in order to take care of the place in the off-season and do a little writing. While there, he struggles with writer's block. The sight of his son's hideous sweaters also slowly drives him insane.

This movie contains my all-time favorite scene. Anybody want to take a guess? Aside from that scene, lots of classic ones in this. There's almost something about every scene in this movie that just makes you a little uneasy. Unsettling stuff. And I'm not just talking about the kid's sweaters. I especially like the Apollo one. Kubrick was such a perfectionist, and I'm really surprised he didn't say, "Cut! What the hell is that kid wearing? Get wardrobe in here!" That kid, by the way, only acted in one other movie. He played young G. Gordon Liddy. Another trivial note of interest: Kubrick made the cast and crew watch Eraserhead repeatedly to get them in the right mood for filming The Shining.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

2005 science fiction movie

Rating: 15/20 (Dylan: 14/20)

Plot: Anakin's knocked up Queen Armadillo which, along with the blue dress he stained with his midichlorians, has created quite the scandal on the Planet Croissant. He's busy running around with his best friend (a roving trash can) and his homoerotic crush Obi-Wan Kenobi who, after seeing how well-hung he was in that Peter Greenaway movie, could think of nothing else but the Jedi master's junk. Meanwhile, Emperor Saltine is up to no good and midget Yoda and the other good guys have to stop him before he does whatever he's trying to do. The Clone Wars continue, but nobody really knows what side he's on. There seems to be a stalemate. Hands are removed. Anakin wants to be a Jedi master but can't because, according to regulations, he has to be able to grow a "Yoda-approved beard," so he pouts and then starts killing everybody. Armadillo asks him to hold her like he did on Naboo. Tears are shed. More hands are lost. Max Window, the Jackie Robinson of Jedi knights, pops in and says, "Palpatine, shut yo' mouth. I ain't having no mo-fo sith in my mo-fo galaxy." Unfortunately for him and the other good guys, Anakin is confused. Should he stay loyal to the Jedi or should he join the bad guys since his wardrobe seems to fit in more with them? Oh, the suspense!

The things that are really good about this movie outweigh the things that are really bad about this movie.


2007 blockbuster

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Robotic extra-terrestrials come to earth in search of a magic cube. Shooby Leboof helps out when he's not busy masturbating. Hop, hop, hop, Shooby Leboof!

This movie made very little sense. I guess I knew I was in trouble when the movie started out with the line "Before time, there was the cube." What? I didn't understand what was going on with the action scenes, but they, like Madagascar, made me dizzy. And call me a racist, but I couldn't tell the robots apart. Generally, movies like this at least have nostalgia working for them, and I can enjoy myself because I get a chance to be a kid again. I did have some Transformers as a kid! This movie didn't do that. Instead, it made me wish I would have fallen down a well and died at the age of four so that I wouldn't have to waste a little over two hours of my time at the age of thirty-five watching this trash. This movies is apparently why I have the tag "big dumb movies" because this just might be the biggest and dumbest one I've seen all year. If it wasn't for the Shooby Leboof bonus, this movie would have had seven less points than it got.


2005 children's movie

Rating: 9/20 (Emma: 17/20; Dylan 11/20; Abbey 12/20)

Plot: A zebra is bored with life at a big city zoo. He tries to convince his friends--a hypochondriac giraffe, a vain lion, and a hippo without any personality at all--to flee with him to the wild, but they don't like the idea. He manages to escape on his own. They go after him, and an adventure begins!

I hated this. The animation is ugly and strangely flat, the characters are unlikable, the humor wasn't humorous, the attempts to entertain adults with pop culture references were forced, and the story was lame. At times, it seemed like this was written and directed by a child. Not even a very smart child. This never slows down and lets you take a breath, and instead of keeping a pace that is exciting and fun, it actually becomes really boring as a result. Madagascar is a movie that actually made me a little dizzy. I'm not sure how long the Dreamworks people spent on this, but they needed twice as long.