Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Gross Pointe Blanke

1997 80's movie

Rating: 11/20

Plot: Professional assassin John Cusack takes a job in his old hometown. His homecoming is ruined when somebody keeps trying to kill him. But that's not the worst of it; his high school reunion is also going on. Oh, snap!

I don't like John Cusack. The ghost of Gene Siskel, however, is a fan. I don't like Dan Aykroyd either. I just read somewhere that he's got webbed feet, but I disliked him long before I knew about that. I really don't want to write about this movie. I didn't like it. More interesting to me were the goings-on at the dumpiest motel in Indianapolis the night that I watched this movie, a full moon and sinewy clouds. I think I had a sweatshirt with me that night. And I broke my record for prostitutes that night, chasing seven from the premises. One of them told me--after I watched her leave one truck in one truck parking lot, walk to the neighboring Waffle House to clean herself up, and then leave the restaurant and head toward our truck parking lot--that she was looking for a band-aid. And when I approached a truck driver who was illegally parked in our lot, I could see clearly through the flaps that separated his bunk from the rest of his truck that he was watching some pornography. I was so exhausted after watching John Cusack and a bunch of commercials for two hours that I fell asleep right there on the urine couch until Charles, the maintenance man/shuttle driver came in at around five in the morning because he thought there might be some doughnuts. Unfortunately for Charles, there weren't any doughnuts because the guy who was supposed to put them out and make the coffee was sleeping on the couch, spooning with the ghost of Gene Siskel and having a dream about having his way with a totum pole.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Girl 6

1996 Spike Lee joint

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A wannabe actress struggles to find work because she refuses to show her boobs. She needs money and takes a job as a phone sex operator. She ends up being a natural, and the job starts to take over all aspects of her life.

So in this installment of the Urine Couch AM Movie Club, yours truly risks his part-time job by watching something a little raunchy. It was a busy night at Indianapolis's dumpiest motel, and I'm lucky that all of our customers are shady drifters, randy truckers, and filthy whores, I'm sure somebody would have complained that I was watching the sex on the television. Speaking of that, this venue isn't the best place to watch sex on the television. There are a lot of lights in the lobby, and I'm not sure how to turn all of them off. I also don't know how to mop or wash windows or take a reservation. This movie has its moments, including a plethora of quirky cameos and a versatile performance from the titular girl herself, Theresa Randle. Susan Batson's performance as an acting coach is a real wowsers moment while John Turturro's hair gets a chance to sleaze things up. There's a Texan who gets to utter a wonderful bit of poetry about "tits like Hakeem Olajuwon," and there's King Creeper Richard Belzer who goes on and on about linoleum or something. Unfortunately, you've got some stinkers in there, too. Tarantino embarrasses himself in his attempts to prove, apparently, that he should never appear on film. Spike Lee butchers a few lines, including a monologue about autographed baseball cards that could have been nice. This movie just meanders too much with a hodgepodge of the perverse and sidebars about girls falling down elevator shafts. And the biggest question I was left with? How the hell did Prince have enough time to write the five thousand songs featured in this movie? Oh, and Madonna is in this movie, an appearance which, believe it or not, actually managed to make the urine couch even dirtier than it already was.

Weird product placement for Pepsi made me smile and steal a Pepsi from the vending machine stash.

Viva La Muerte

1971 movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: After some war and a little boy's father's arrest for Communist suspicions, the boy tries to make sense of everything and figure out his mother's role in daddy's tribulations.

This odd mix of dream logic and historical happenings has an El Topo texture (indeed, the main character is named Fando like another Jodorowsky character--Fando) but it doesn't quite match the drive and the otherworldly brilliance or spiritual depth. The weirdness comes at you in episodic waves, and after a while, it just collapses under the weight of a bunch of kind of repetitive but nevertheless shocking imagery. A cow is eviscerated quite poetically, about as erotic as I imagine the slaughtering of livestock can be. That scene, falling near the end of Viva La Muerte, manages to stand out as an exclamation point following a series of psychotic fantasy sequences and pseudo-psych shenanigans. The images might be memorable, but I had trouble really absorbing them and couldn't be sure if they really added up to much of anything. I did really like the artwork during the opening credits, surreal Boschian-inspired torture scenes drawn by Roland Topor, a guy who helped make Fantastic Planet, wrote the book that Polanski later made into The Tenant, and had a part in the Werner Herzog vampire movie. I liked the accompanying silly French folk song, too. This is probably worth watching for anybody with an interest in the cinematic ideals of Jodorowsky and his peeps. I've seen it twice now, but I won't be in a hurry to watch it a third time.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: White Men Can't Jump

1992 black supremacy manifesto

Rating: 13/20

Plot: The bartender from Cheers and his annoying girlfriend have built up a serious debt and are each trying to fix their financial woes just like any normal person would. No, they don't get jobs. She studies and dreams of an appearance on Jeopardy while he hustles on the basketball court. He meets the other guy on the poster (the black one) who in the movie is named Black Guy and hustles him out of a little bit of money. Black Guy finds him and persuades him to partner up and split their earnings. Then, there's a bunch of movie problems.

1992. That's when I graduated from high school. I could jump about as well as Woody and even got to the point where I could dunk a volleyball every once in a while which, let me tell you, was impressive for all the ladies. They'd say, "Oh, my! Did you see that skinny guy just strain to dunk that volleyball with one hand on that rim that's a little bent? And now he's clutching his side like he's pulled something. That is so hot!"

Fast forward to 2011. This movie makes me feel old, and the fact that I watched it at this stage in my life while sitting in the lobby of a motel that I'm supposed to be working at should depress the hell out of me. This is what my life has become? I also have serious doubts about my abilities to dunk a volleyball every once in a while and suspect that if I attempted the feat, I would more than likely injure myself and/or others. And break into tears. "Oh, my! Did you see that tubby guy hit the bottom of the rim on that 9-foot goal with a volleyball? And now he's rolling around on the ground crying! That is so hot!"

I like the basketball scenes in the first half of the movie, but by the end of the movie, I'm a little tired of them. I get it. These guys can do fancy basketball moves in slow motion. I also like the two leads--W-squared--and thought they had a nice rapport. Their game looks legit, too. I didn't necessarily like either their characters, however, and Rosie Perez needed her volume turned down a few notches. Wesley played a guy who I just couldn't connect with, probably because I'm a bigot, and I didn't want him succeeding by the end of this movie. And Woody's character (Woody) was so stupid, and not much of his trials and tribulations seemed all that realistic. When he reaches a low point in this movie, it just comes so fast (movie fast!) and since you know he's going to come out the other end alright because that's the type of movie this is, there's almost no tension at all. This whole thing has this Hollywood sheen that makes the screen kind of sticky actually. The Hollywood street ball looks good, but the trash talk seems so scripty a lot of the times. And that's even with me suspecting that a lot of it was improvised. This doesn't really work as a drama or as a comedy (I didn't laugh once although Gene Siskel giggled so much that he started drooling a little bit), but it does have a certain charm and has some fun basketball moments.

I also gave this movie a bonus point right away when I saw the turban-wearing street musician who roller-skates around Venice Beach, a dude I saw during my trip their in 1988 when I bought a pink tie-dyed shirt that looked like something Woody's character (Woody) would have worn. That shirt increased my vertical by 3/4 of an inch!

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: War of the Worlds

2005 H.G. Wells adaptation

Rating: 12/20 (but that could change if I ever saw it again when not being interrupted to actually do the job that I'm paid to do when I watch these Urine Couch movies)

Plot: Al Qaeda's ticked off again and dreams up an elaborate plan to take American lives and knock down our buildings--bury wobbly tripod things and wait subterraneanly for the perfect moment to bust out of the soil, destroy churches, and vaporize some fools. A noted Scientologist tries to keep his mopey son and young Drew Barrymore safe from the death rays and gut-slurping. George W. points to anybody harboring tripod things and promises retaliation.

The idea with the Urine Couch AM Movie Club, in case I haven't made myself completely clear, is that I'm watching a movie I probably wouldn't watch on my own. There's just not much going on at Indianapolis's dumpiest motel in the middle of the night, and after I get my paperwork finished, I can chill on the Urine Couch and watch whatever HBO, the other HBO, TBS, TNT, or USA has to offer.

It sure looks like this movie took a lot of money to make. For one, Tom Cruise costs something like fifty million dollars. And before you ask: Yes, I'm aware that there is a couch connection here. Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch while promoting (I think) this motion picture. He also jumps on a couch and does a triple flip over a tentacle thing to evade harm. That or he trampolines off Oprah. If that's the case, this movie just got more expensive because Oprah wouldn't allow somebody to use her as a trampoline in a film without a hefty fee. So there's a Tom Cruise/Oprah Show couch and the Urine Couch. And to complete the couch trifecta, a customer who had called me the previous day to ask if she could have a working telephone and, you guessed it, a couch moved into her hotel room, came in to ask for toilet paper and then not leave for a while. I couldn't really get a grasp on this movie because the viewing was interrupted multiple times by needy customers and a shady guy in a truck without a license plate that I had to chase off the property a few times.

It's too bad actually because I was kind of liking this movie, especially the first half. The apocalyptic alien attack imagery with the zapping and the flashing storm clouds and the bursting was really impressive. There are a handful of exciting set pieces, and Spielberg shows off his talent for using little things to create big moments and creating tension in unique ways. The scene where the first of the tripod things pops out of the ground in front of a church and starts turning the fleeing citizens into dust is really impressive. There are so many panicking people, and either the computer graphics were seamless or a really immense little neighborhood was constructed and then destroyed. Looked really good to me, and I was watching it all on a cheap little television. I imagine it would have been even more impressive on the big screen. And it was impossible not to think of 9/10 (Wait a second. That date doesn't look right.) while watching some of this. Not sure if that was intentional or not. I also liked the look of a big chunk of the movie that took place in Tim Robbins' basement, too. I liked Tim Robbins' character, too, but this is still where the movie gets a little too silly for me. The suspense is thick throughout most of the first half of this movie while Tom Cruise runs around (I liked him in this movie, by the way) even though you know that Spielberg is not Hitchcock and that the star isn't going to die before the movie reaches its halfway point. A lot of the family stuff gets in the way, and things get really ludicrous near the end. And then mega-ludicrous when Spielberg decides that the big unnecessary tragic moment that is tossed into the middle of the movie was a bad idea and that he still has a chance to wave his magical movie wand and undo things. I might be exaggerating a little, but it might have been the worst ending ever. Only in Hollywood. Another Spielberg mistake: Showing the aliens. It was unnecessary, and they looked pretty silly. Shouldn't they all look like E.T. anyway? That would have made as much sense as the rest of the last third of this movie.

So in summary: War of the Worlds is a pretty bad movie with one really excellent scene (with a solid John Williams score, I should add) and a handful of other OK scenes and one of the worst endings in movie history.

My Dog Tulip

2009 dog porn cartoon

Rating: 12/20

Plot: And old guy talks endlessly about his dog and his attempts to get said dog laid.

Lots and lots of animated dog sex here, so what's not to like? I expected to like this one, and I did kind of like the animation style. At times, it would appear unfinished, and the simple backgrounds and sketchy feel actually did enhance the story. And I suppose if I really dug deep, the tale of the lonely old man (voiced by Christopher Plummer who really seems to get a kick out of the amount of times he gets to say "bitch" throughout this thing) and his best friend (a bitch) is touching without being overly sentimental and clobbering you on the head with how touching it is. But it's just so boring, a ninety minute movie that felt like it was nine hours long. Plummer's narration is constant and grew tiresome pretty quickly, and I just couldn't find enough reason to care about every little minutia of the man/dog relationship. If you really really like dogs, there's all kinds of allusions to Tulip's genitals that will likely turn your crank (so to speak), but I don't think this is the type of thing that would interest anybody else. Well, I take that back. It might be interesting to people who really really like lonely old men. Bland.

The Manitou

1978 manitou movie

Rating: 4/20

Plot: A woman has a tumor on her upper back checked out and discovers that it's actually a fetus. Somehow, Tony Curtis finds out that it's an evil Indian medicine man attempting to come back into the world to probably do evil things. Curtis and that guy who may or may not have been in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest do everything they can to stop it! Based on a chapter in my autobiography.

Well, if nothing else, this movie can teach you what a manitou is. Maybe. I'm not sure the people who wrote this movie did much fact checking actually. Why would they need to? They had star power (Tony Curtis) and dazzling special effects. And a little fellow who looks kind of like an Indian medicine man who's made from caramel. Actually, I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be a cigar store wooden Indian medicine man. This doesn't work as a horror film. Nothing happens for the longest time unless you count a pulsating tumor's out-of-control growth while Tony Curtis runs around trying to figure out what movie he's in as something. Then, the little titular manitou makes his appearance and just kind of stands there looking like something you'd melt and put on your ice cream. And then at the end, there's some movie-makin' magic as things turn completely insane. I don't want to spoil it, but the ending involves outer space, bitchin' lasers, and explosions. It's like the makers of the movie discovered they still had a buttload of money in the special effects budget since they only spent about twenty dollars on generic-brand caramel to dump on a dwarf in order to make their horrifying monster and decided to go nutsy. I saw The Manitou, I figured Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indian perpetually grinning mascot, was as offensive as a pop culture creation could be to Native Americans. I think this might top it though. My favorite part of the movie, by the way, doesn't even have much to do with the medicine man tumor. No, that would be the hilarious scene where a floating old woman takes a tumble down a flight of stairs and smashes the banister like her head's a wrecking ball. That scene would make even that Indian who cries in that pollution public service announcement from the 1970s giggle uncontrollably.

By the way, as big as the manitou tumor gets, I'd like to point out that I've had cysts that are bigger. Not that I'm bragging or anything.

Cold Feet

1989 black comedy

Rating: 10/20

Plot: A couple and a hit man steal some jewels in Mexico and do the only logical thing to transport them back to the states--they surgically implant them inside a horse. Buck decides to abandon his partners and takes off for his brother's ranch in Montana. Or some state like Montana. His jilted lover and the hit man try to chase him down.

I really have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it's really a terrible movie, a Raising Arizona neo-madcap rip-off failure with some truly embarrassing performances. But on the other hand, it actually is very funny. It's a bit unhinged, and it all starts with Tom Waits' performance, the only time I'd describe him as awful. But he's hilariously awful, completely over-the-top as if he took some acting lessons from Nicolas Cage prior to the shoot. It's almost as if he decided that he never wanted to act again and intentionally took the piss to ensure that nobody would ever again offer him a role. But it's pretty cool. He does sit-ups while hanging out the window of a moving truck, all while screaming, "I'm a man!" He delivers wonderfully written gems ("Cowboys!", "I'll shoot you like a rabbit," "You hardly think that you've done anything wrong when you made a mouse fart at a guy's head," "I'd like some cowpoke stuff.") like a lunatic, and has scenes where he cries like no human being would ever cry (Bahuhuhuh. Bahuhuhuh.) and laughs until something (an organ?) falls out of him. Definitely reminiscent of Cage. Oh, and there's a great moment when he hits a golf ball, turns around, and flips somebody off. Awesome. The other actors aren't much better. Sally Kirkland's apparently only in this to wear a variety of tight outfits. Not that I'm complaining. Keith Carradine plays every scene like his character has to pee. And Rip Torn sleazes his way into the story late to say things like, "Just a minute. I'm taking a piss." A real pro. Add a catfight eruption that made me wonder if every single scene in this movie is extraneous, one of the most obvious boom mics I've ever seen, and a movie marquee that advertises a film called Chicks with Zip Guns, and you've got yourself a movie that is kind of a blast while not being very good at all. It's one of the few examples of a 10/20 (or, truthfully, probably a little lower) that I would actually see again.

Tom Waits fans (Matt!) should definitely check it out!

Harlan County, U.S.A.

1976 documentary

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Filmed account of a 1970s strike by miners who aren't allowed to unionize. They're also ticked off that they have a job that gets their clothes and teeth dirty. Well, what little teeth they have anyway. This is Kentucky that we're talking about. The dentists are probably striking, too. Scabs are brought in as the strike threatens to erupt into a fervent tickle fight.

This is a harrowing, objective human interest documentary that's worth your time for a few reasons. Firstly, as a cultural artifact with a glimpse of a segment of society that you just don't get exposure to on a daily basis. It's a hodgepodge of fairly ugly souls living in really ugly shacks that you can't imagine people actually living in. You feel for the people, and you end up liking a lot of them. Not all of them, however. Some of them are loud mouths. Secondly, for a fan of traditional folk music, I enjoyed hearing a lot of the locals singing songs straight from the notebooks of Woody Guthrie (or a Woody clone) with voices shaped by cigarettes and coal dust. Speaking of black lung as an occupational hazard for coal miners--I fear there's a similar danger at the hotel where I work. Knights Inn lung? And speaking of the music, there was a scene where a guy sang one song about "Sam, the Shuttle Drivin' Man" that featured a John Ratzenberger spotting. And let me stop you before you start in with your back talk--it was definitely him. Thirdly, this is a very well-done narrative with a human struggle that seems to get more and more complicated and dangerous as it goes. No narrator, few interview segments. This is just the camera mingling with these people and their situation. The style (or lack of style) puts the viewer right into the heart of the coal miners' struggles, keeping things right in your face the entire time. There are a few slow moments, but for the most part, this is really good stuff.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Seed of Chucky

2004 horror-comedy

Rating: 6/20

Plot: Spawn of demented doll Chucky escapes from the oppressive control of a faux-ventriloquist and brings his parents back to life. They go on a murderous rampage in their attempts to use actress Jennifer Tilly to become human beings.

The worse the movie, the stronger the smell of urine from the couch. This viewing was interrupted three times--twice by customers and once when I had to chase away a prostitute. As I recall, the original Chucky movie was a pretty straight horror movie. This abandons horror altogether and goes straight for laughs. Sure you've got decapitation, victims set on fire, and stabbing, but the tone is a sickly humorous one. It's not good humor though, just a few steps from Scary Movie. I'm not sure what's happened with Jennifer Tilly's career. Roughly three-fourths of this movie just seems to be an excuse to show off her rather glorious cleavage. John Waters makes an appearance as a paparazzo and at one point gets to say "A masturbating midget!" when he peeping-Toms at Tilly's home and spots, you guessed it, Chucky enthusiastically pleasuring himself. Oh, I may have neglected to mention it, but Tilly actually does play herself in this. She's also the voice of Tiffany, bride of Chucky. She's obviously having some fun with the roles. Brad Dourif does the voice of Chucky, and he does it with vigor. There's also a cute nod to Ed Wood with the parents arguing whether or not the titular seed (bet you didn't think I'd work that in!) should be named Glen or Glenda. I did like the effects to make the dolls move around, and I did laugh during a scene where one of them was running. I guess I have to give the makers of this some credit. Seed of Chucky doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't. What it is just isn't very good though.

Tragically, rapper Redman passed away during the filming of Seed of Chucky.


2010 movie about a poem

Rating: 13/20

Plot: It's 1957, and poet/publisher Laurence Ferlinghetti is on trial facing charges of indecency for publishing Allen Ginsberg's lengthy poem Howl. This dramatizes the trial and shows Ginsberg reading the poem and discussing it and his life.

Appropriately, I watched this movie while starving, hysterical, and naked. I wanted to really like it; the subject's interesting and Franco's got Ginsberg's voice and quirky mannerisms down. Mary-Louise Parker's got a small role, and "Funky" Bob Balaban (or, Nabalab Bob backwards) plays a judge. The approach was interesting with all the dialogue coming directly from trial transcripts, interviews, Howl itself, or (I think) letters. There's a mix of poetry reading, the trial stuff, the interview stuff, and animation. Unfortunately, the parts don't really add up to a whole that is all that good. The biggest obstacle for me was the animation of the poem. I thought it was awful, and this is coming from somebody who can appreciate an abundance of phallic symbols. It's got this gross 2-D computer animated thing that just looked cheap. This could have and should have been a lot better, and I know it wouldn't have made much sense, but it wouldn't have hurt to have Mary-Louise Parker naked at some point in the movie. Or Bob Balaban.

Switchblade Sisters

1975 girl gang movie

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Lace, the leader of a gang called the Dagger Debs, has enough problems with rival gangs. Now she's got to worry about the newest recruit Maggie and the love triangle that has developed with John Revolta and the two of them. She's got tough choices ahead of her, but one thing is for sure--somebody's gonna get knifed!

Jack Hill of Spider Baby and The Wasp Woman fame wrote and directed this knifeploitation classic, the type of trash flick that will have you confused enough to dump an entire tub of popcorn down your pants rather than eat it. Ear-biting, crazy shoot-outs at skating rinks, lines like "Hands off the fruit, faggot!", long fart sound effects, lots of weapons. The acting is universally bad, like an ensemble getting together to make fun of acting in the 1970s. Little cutie Robbie Lee (Lace) is likely the worst of the lot, all snarl and toothiness. You'd know her better as the voice of Twink in a bunch of Rainbow Brite cartoons. I liked the character of Crab, leader of a rival gang, played by Chase Newhart, probably because he reminded me of an imaginary friend I had in middle school. This was Chase Newhart's only acting job unfortunately. Kitty Bruce, daughter of Lenny, also has a part as a poor girl who the others ridicule and abuse. The whole thing builds to a fight scene that, if the movie didn't already have the shoot-out in the skating rink, would have been the most ridiculous fight scene I've seen in a long time. Tarantino recommended this to me.

Oprah Movie Club Pick for July: Why We Fight

2005 documentary

Rating: 17/20

Plot: An investigation of American military action in the 20th and 21st Centuries and what really drives the Uncle Sam War Machine.

You know what surprised me most about this whole thing? How reasonable and intelligent John McCain came across. I don't follow politics at all because I'm that type of American citizen. You know, an American citizen. But the snippets of McCain and decisions that he's responsible for (like, say, who his running mate should be) left me questioning the guy's integrity and intelligence. He was a voice of reason on that side of the political fence. My favorite moment in this documentary, by the way, was watching McCain's reaction to news that the vice president was on the phone for him. His eye started twitching, and it looked like he was going to have a heart attack or something.

I blame the Greatest Generation for this whole mess, by the way. I'm also the type of American citizen who, though unapologetically uninformed (probably even misinformed), likes to point fingers.

This is a ton of information, like director Eugene Jarecki backed a dump truck to my lap and unleashed. I thought the structure of it all was pretty complex. That might just be because I wasn't able to turn my mind back on completely after watching Seed of Chucky for the other shane-movies blog movie club--The Urine Couch AM Movie Club--that only the ghost of Gene Siskel, the ghost of Gene Shalit's mustache, and hookers and drug dealers are invited to participate in. And yes, I worry that there are now two too many movie clubs on this blog. Anyway, I ended up liking the structure of this documentary. I think I was expecting chronology when Jarecki was giving me themes. The ideas of revenge, imperialism, government secrecy, oil, and all that are all pretty standard stuff that even a dumb guy like me is aware of. Where this gets really dark and disturbing is when it looks at think tank the propaganda techniques used by politicians to dupe the American people, the propaganda techniques used to get poor or middle-class kids to join that American military machine, and the benefits of war to all those corporations. The idea of America becoming a "New Rome" was mentioned at the beginning and then again at the end, and that's scary. I know as much about history as I do about politics, but I know what happened to Rome--a guy on an elephant burned it down and now nobody dares speak Latin in public venues. Or something like that. So is it inevitable that somebody will burn us down and create a world in which nobody wants to speak American? This also did a good job of explaining the whole Saddam Hussein thing. I knew the bare bones of that situation, but this made it a lot more clear for me. I always suspected that Donald Rumsfeld was more evil than Hussein anyway.

Jarecki keeps returning to Eisenhower's (apparently a president) speech which nicely holds this documentary together. "God help this country when somebody sits at the desk who doesn't know as much about the military as I do." Eerily prophetic, no? And the narrative that surfaces in this flood of information shows that "disastrous rise of misplaced power" that Eisenhower warned against.

Also holding things together in a very touching way: the interviews with the father who lost his son on 9/11. I really felt sorry for that guy, and you can't really blame him for any of the emotions that he had or how he acted upon them in his story. The sad irony that his son's name was on a bomb that essentially did the same thing that tore his heart out has to be something that eats at him every day. The other personal touch this documentary adds is the story of the kid who is joining the air force. I kept waiting for that to end in some big moment, but it never did. He was just absorbed. I don't know. Maybe that is a big moment.

Another irony: We live in a time when technology and the way the media works should make things more transparent to the average Joe, that plumber who Sarah Palin and John McCain kept talking about, but because those average citizens are as apathetic and naive as I am, they are somehow even more in the dark. God help this country when its citizens are too busy watching videos of kitties playing keyboards to care about what is going on with their leaders and our country's international policies.

Speaking of kitten keyboard videos, sorry for the tardiness with this Oprah Movie Club post.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Dinner with Schmucks

2010 comedy

Rating: 10/20

Plot: See The Dinner Game. Except this one has the terminally plain Paul Rudd whose promotion to the seventh floor might depend on how much of an idiot he can find for the dinner party. Plus, he's having problems with his girlfriend.

The Urine Couch A.M. Movie Club...it's just me and the ghost of Gene Siskel! Last night's film: 'Dinner for Schmucks' with one of America's most versatle actors, Paul Rudd.
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Larry: Synchro! I just watched that last night too. I had zero expectations and they were met!
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Shane: but you watched it with the ghost of Gene Shalit's mustache...different Gene=different movie club! How many times did you chortle during the movie? I'd like to compare numbers.
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Larry: I'd say 3 real, and 4 for forced chortles. Disappointed by Zack G's performance, subdued.
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Larry: I also didn't know ZG was in it, and 5 minutes into the movie I wished he was, and lo and behold!
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Shane: ‎5 minutes into the movie, I was hoping something would happen...movie was almost DOA. It picked up a bit with the Schmuck's arrival. Got kind of funny with Jermaine Clement...I like that guy!
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Shane: but yeah, about 3-4 real laughs for me and several because I was watching with Siskel and he kept looking over at me to see if I was having a good time...he picked it, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I tried to make sure my nipples were at least partially erect whenever he'd look over at me
20 hours ago · LikeUnlike · (1 person liked)

Larry: I don't like comedy lesson movies so much. I'd rather it just be mean spirited sometimes.
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Shane: Have you seen the original French version? It's better but probably not by that much. I'm not sure if I want my cliche characters learning lessons or not, by the way...a lot of times it just seems forced. Like they were thinking that if they didn't have Paul Rudd's character learn the predictable lesson that he was going to learn, then it would just be laughing at these unfortunate characters in a mean way. Which is what I do for entertainment nearly every day, by the way.
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Shane: I'm just going to copy/paste this for the blog, by the way...so step up your game!
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Larry: It's like that movie where Gwynth Poultry is friggin' huge yet Jack Black sees her as skinny. 90 minutes of fat jokes disguised as a lesson
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Shane: ‎'Fat Barry'...ok, I don't remember what that movie's called. I saw part of it once when I was in a situation where I could either do that or talk to somebody...I don't think I got to the message in that movie, but I bet it had something to do with inner beauty...that or how fat women are excellent in bed?
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Shane: The lesson should have been that Jack Black should be in less movies.
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Kent: Had hopes, all dashed.
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Kent: I too long for more Jermaine Clement. He's the Kiwi Jeff Goldblum. (I saw Rio, the bird cartoon, and he stole the show via voice)
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Shane: How many laughs?
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Shane: I would like to do some statistical analysis.
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Kent: In Rio, 69.758 percent stolen, not including the musical number
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Kent: in which he sings " I poop on people and I blame it on seagulls"
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Shane: I saw that he was in 'Rio'...no desire to see that one. Kiwi Jeff Goldblum...I can dig it.
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Kent: It was better than I thought it was going to be. Just enough whimsy. Not enough frontal mail nudity.
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Shane: Why do I think you're making fun of my overuse of the word "whimsical" every time you use it...I know "making fun" can't be a possibility.
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Shane: wait...bird frontal nudity?
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Jen: feeling like I must clarify.... the urine couch is not at our house!!!
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Kent: ‎.....anymore.
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Jen: haha... never!
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Summer of Nicolas Cage Movie #17: Astroboy

2009 cartoon

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Robot scientist Nicolas Cage's son dies, so he makes a robot version to replace him. It doesn't work out nearly as well as you would think.

Life is short, and I wasted part of it watching Astroboy. I got really bored early, fought to keep my mind from wandering, and ended up liking next to nothing about this movie. I liked the part where the kid died, I guess. Apologies to anybody who really wants to read my detailed thoughts on Astroboy, but I can't waste any more time with it.

Sins of the Fleshapoids (plus The Secret of Wendel Samson and The Craven Sluck)


Rating: n/r

Plot: Sins of the Fleshapoids takes place in a far distant future after a nuclear holocaust. The titular Fleshapoids are the robot slaves of the survivors. The titular sins involve Fleshapoids falling in love in copulating. In The Secret of Wendel Samson, the titular protagonist struggles with his sexuality. And I don't really know what The Craven Sluck is about.

The Craven Sluck? What a title! These three shorts (they add up to an hour and a half of mayhem) were artfully constructed by the Kuchar twins, writer/director/actor siblings who were apparently an influence on John Waters. They're fascinating little cheapos, like B-movie art films. There's a nifty mix of deranged ideas and the sort of filmmaking where you can sort of see an artistic vision that isn't quite allowed to surface due to the budget constraints or general ineptitude. With Sins, you get the longest title screen I've ever seen and some opening credits with drawings that look like they're straight from Napolean Dynamite's notebook. Then, the movie, and you quickly realize that this movie is going nowhere quickly. There's an enthusiastic narrator who makes the whole thing sound like it's a documentary, but the characters don't talk at all. Well, that's not true. They talk but not audibly. Instead, the Kuchars utilize (first I've ever seen this) talking bubbles! You know, those comic strip bubbles with wonderfully written gems like "Obey me or I'll wet you and make you rust!" Or, check out this great dialogue:

Guy Fleshapoid: We are robots yet we are in love.
Girl Fleshapoid: Let us now make love.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, that's pretty hot on its own. But the ensuing sex scene with finger lightning? Oh, my! The most beautiful bit of narration in this, so poetic that it'll make your heart melt: "Beings of nuts and bolds would feel the pangs of love in their aluminum hearts." The Kuchars sure are good with costumes. I really like the number that a character named Gianbela wore--a woman's bejeweled hat (he's a man, by the way), leather gloves, my grandmother's vest, a flower coming out the side of his head like he's a Dr. Seuss character. There's also a character (an astronaut, I believe) who is wearing a football uniform (an astronaut suit, I believe). There's a great scene with a fruit dump dance and a naked Fleshapoid with Adam and Eve-style giant leaves and paper flowers covering the naughty bits. But my favorite scenes involve Xar (played by the late Bob Cowan who also narrated), the Fleshapoid with helmet who makes these really jerky movements that made me wonder if he was supposed to be broken. I think it was just Cowan doing robot movements. If nothing else, Sins taught me about what paradise is--fruit and fish baskets, Clark bars, and guys eating ice cream without a shirt.

Wendel Samson's tale, after I watched the whole thing, was still a secret to me. The characters do talk in this one although it might be with the worst dubbing I've ever heard. It's like they added reverb for some reason. This has some of the worst dialogue ever, but the editing might be worse. You get a characters inviting each other to have coffee before an abrupt transition and a character saying "Boy, this coffee is great" before an abrupt transition to a scene where there's a guy without a shirt enjoying coffee in a bed. Kuchar's must like filming shirtless men enjoying desserts and beverages. But who doesn't? Speaking of abrupt, the soundtrack to all three of these films are very strange. There are dizzying changes from genre to genre. My favorite bit of music in this was this wildly trippy moog stuff with Superman television samples thrown in. And no, it didn't really match what was going on in the movie, a scene that led up to [Spoiler Alert!] a maddening scene with a firing squad and some cartoon laughter.

The Craven Sluck might be my favorite film title ever. I think I decided that the Kuchars were making a comedy, but I can't be sure. This one has a narrator (also Cowan) who introduces the cast over pictures of a pin-up. I like how he says marmoset. He even spells it for us and lets us it's just like the South American tree monkey. Sluck's got pooping dogs and people drinking out of toilets, and it ends with some bitchin' flying saucer effects that you would not have expected had I not spoiled the whole thing for you. My favorite scene: the main character (the Sluck? What's a sluck?) says, "It's been years since I've had someone I could talk intellitigently [sic] to" with the next shot being her on her hands and knees bouncing up and down and displaying some rather oppressively trembling udders.