Mr. Bean's Holiday

2007 comedy

Rating: 12/20

Plot: An idiot wins a vacation to Cannes and separates a child from his father on the way.

I don't know. If I'm not the audience for Mr. Bean, I'm not sure who is exactly. As a fan of silent comedy and Tati, I like this kind of physical comedy. The visual humor is really good in this. It's not exactly subtle or artistic, but it's always fun and lighthearted. Rowan Atkinson is such a funny-looking person that he stands out no matter where he is on the screen, for better or worse. He's gifted, mostly with the talent for looking very strange, and this movie works best when he doesn't have much to do or is engaged in pedestrian activities that have nothing to do with the overall plot I so competently described above. The problem is that this movie has Mr. Bean doing way too much. I just want to see the guy eat seafood, pose for a picture, dance a little bit (the street performer scene featuring loads of dancing was one of the best), and chase around the occasional chicken. I don't care about all this father-son nonsense. So this is a really hit 'n' miss affair, and since the hits aren't anything I'd describe as hysterical or especially memorable, the whole thing just isn't worth it. Rowan Atkinson is really good at what he does, and the character should be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to be in a very good movie. One characteristic of Mr. Bean's I don't like at all: all the grunting noises that he makes.


1940 cartoon

Rating: 16/20 (Emma: 1/20; Abbey: 15/20; Buster: ?/20)

Plot: Classical music and colorful animation collide! Dinosaurs, sorcerers, demons, naked fairies, flowers, hippopotomi, and mushrooms dance around. Especially mushrooms!

This ranges from undeniably brilliant and impressive and unforgettable to dated and completely forgettable. I hadn't seen this in a while, and there was an entire segment that I had forgotten even existed. As a kid, I actually liked the stuff with the orchestra silhouetted against those different colors. The introductions and orchestral shenanigans get tiresome after a while though as this movie creeps into what seems like it's fourth or fifth hour. I really like the first abstract piece, and I think it's actually impossible for anybody not to enjoy the fish, flowers, bubbles, fairies, glistening webs, leaves, foliage, flakes, and mushrooms with movements that so perfectly compliment the Tchaikovsky. It drew a lot of "wows" from Buster which made me happy. Then, there's Mickey (he's the mouse on the poster up there) in another bit of whimsical storytelling and cartoon choreography. Then, it's kind of downhill. The big creation thing, after the tickling of the senses the other pieces offered, is just kind of blah, and the dinosaurs in there aren't animated very well. Well, maybe they are for a 1940's cartoon. The mythology thing has far too many fairy baby asses and plastic centaurs. The crocodile/ostrich/elephant/hippo ballet never really did it for me, an almost-fun and harmless little excursion more than anything else. And then there's the "Night on Bald Mountain" bit that ends this that is damn near a religious experience and one of the most daring things that Disney's ever thrown at us. As an adult, you just say, "Geez, this shit really isn't for kids." As a kid, I remember being terrified of all the creepy imagery with the flabby warted demons and skeletal figures floating into town. I also always wondered as a kid why there wasn't more Satan in movies. The winged demon on top of that mountain (the guy on the poster up there who isn't the mouse) really deserves to be in some "Best Disney Villain" list, doesn't he? And it all ends beautifully with Schubert and lightbulb-headed walkers, a scene that should make us all feel that the Star Wars franchise is in really good hands.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

2011 sequel to what I assume are movies that are just as bad as this one

Rating: 3/20 (Dallas: 5/20; Rodrigo: 15/20; Osni: 17/20; Melany: 16/20; Dutch: 18/20; Lance: 15/20; Drake: 1/20; Ig'Enid: 5/20; Kimberly: 11/20; Mary: 16/20; Jaidah: 16/20; Breona: 17/20; Adrian: 19/20; Kuenton: 17/20; Justin: 10/20; Cierra: 1/20; Matthew: 1/20; Danel: 19/20; Sarah: 2/20; Tyler: 13/20)

Plot: Talking chipmunks fall off a boat and Jason Lee ruins his career looking for them.

So this is the complete bullshit they're forcing me to watch at school now? I saw the terrible and terrible-unfunny punny title of this and said to myself, "This thing loses points just for the title." And then the chipmunks started talking and singing, and there went the rest of the points. Speaking of their voices, here's a question: Why do they need famous people--Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Justin Long, Jesse McCartney, Chritina Applegate (some of them are famous, right?)--to do the voices for the chipmunks? Their voices are speeded-up and unrecognizable anyway! You know what I think? I think they're doing it just to screw with me. That's right. Director Mike Mitchell, who after this and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo should probably never be allowed to work again, cast Justin Long as Alvin just to screw with me. Well played, jackass! Jason Lee looks really uncomfortable here, and I'm not sure if it's because he has to talk to himself (well, imaginary chipmunks) the whole time or if he's upset that his career has come to this. And what's David Cross doing? His appearance actually makes me a little angry because there are a lot of things that David Cross could be doing with his time that doesn't involve him walking around in a chicken suit in this movie. This is annoying on more levels than I knew a movie could be annoying on. The chipmunks rap, sing, sing some more, rap again, and sing. And gyrate. There are way too many songs, and I was really close to sending one of my students out to pull the fire alarm so that I could a) hear something more pleasant and b) have a reason to go outside for a while. There are also all kinds of awkward references to much better works of art--Cast Away, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, television commercials, and Internet memes. All of them seem tired, and some of them won't make any sense in a few years. Hopefully, nobody's being subjected to this trash in a few years though. This movie really loses steam when they run out of things to do on the island, and it really didn't have any steam to begin with. I will say this, however: the chipmunk animation works well with the animals blending in with their surroundings perfectly. Unfortunately, they must have run out of special effects dough before making the volcano. I think this completes a "bad volcano trifecta" actually.

There was a movie that the chipmunks watched on the boat that had this monster that could shoot lasers out of its mouth. I really wanted to watch that movie instead. Hell, I really wanted to watch any other movie ever made instead!

Yes, I lowered the grades of any student who gave this above a 5/20. It makes me tremble when I think of our country's future.

And really. This and Deuce Bigelow? Blacklist this fiend!

The Spy Who Loved Me

1977 James Bond movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: It's just like the plot of the last James Bond movie I watched except with boats instead of spaceships and an indestructible guy with metal teeth.

Call me a blasphemer, but I really might like Roger Moore as Bond as much as I like Sean Connery. The movies I've seen and remember with Roger Moore are at least a little more fun. I think I prefer my Bond to be a little goofy. A good Bond movie needs a good villain, and this one's got a couple--a dude who has webbed fingers for absolutely no good reason and Jaws with those metal teeth. And Richard Kiel's character really is indestructible. He is pinned against a wall with an SUV, he has a bunch of heavy shit dropped on him, survives a car crash through the roof of a house, and [SPOILER ALERT] ludicrously bites a shark to death. I just love the way Kiel dwarfs Roger Moore in these scenes. Curt Jurgens plays an interesting enough villain--still can't figure out why he they needed to give him webbed fingers--but the henchman definitely overshadows him here. He probably needs a new dentist though. This entry's stuffed with great action, from more blue-screen skiing scenes with disco accompaniment to explosions/magnets/sharks hooey at the end. In between, you get trampolining and gymnastics backed by "Nobody Does It Better;" a great obvious dummy falling off a cliff; a thrilling chase sequence featuring a motorcycle, a helicopter, and a fly submarine-car; and a nearly pornographic shark attack with some soothing classical music behind it. Since this is a Bond movie, he travels around a lot, and here, he gets to see pyramids. That's a terrific scene, and I loved how music and color was used there. There's also another cool bad guy base, the Atlantis, although I'd argue that a villain who once again has a perfect opportunity to kill the protagonist and refuses to take it probably doesn't deserve a cool base. And then there's Barbara Bach, the titular spy who loved him unless I'm confused and he's the titular spy who loved her. If one of them has to be titular, I'm going to go with Bach though. Indeed, there's some side boob in a shower scene. Bach's easy on the spy's eyes, but either her accent or her lack of acting ability makes it seem like she's a terrible actress. I do love the play between her and Bond though. The wonderfully leggy Caroline Munro (Mrs. Phibes herself) is also in this, and my favorite moment in any James Bond movie just might be when she winks in this movie. Needless to say, I'm putting that toward the front of my masturbation rolodex. Throw in plenty of double entendre ("Let him pull out immediately," "Delve deeply into Egypt's treasures," and Bach's character called Agent Triple X) and some camel noises that I'm pretty sure came straight out of Star Wars. One gripe: There are a lot of similarities between this and You Only Live Twice. Boats eating boats in a serpentine effort to start World War III isn't that far off from the spaceship eating spaceships thing in that movie.

You Only Live Twice

1967 James Bond movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: The villainous Blofeld is back, this time with a spaceship that eats spaceships and a bitchin' evil base inside of a volcano. James Bond has to stop him in order to stop World War III.

Confusing story here, and Roald Dahl's probably to blame. I didn't know he wrote a James Bond. Although there's a lot of coolness here--an autogyro, a mostly-faceless Blofeld with a kitty, ninjas, the evil lair inside of a volcano--it's probably a good thing he didn't write more of these. Of course, I should give him credit for a line like this one: "The firing power inside my small crater has enough fire power to annihilate a small army." If I had a dime for every time I heard that! That volcano, by the way, is really dopey looking, slightly more impressive than the one from that Beast from a Prehistoric Planet movie I watched a few weeks ago. There is a really great ninja vs. guys-who-aren't-ninjas battle scene at the volcano base with all kinds of action, the kind of action where you just know there are extras who are dying multiple times. Bond seems in peril for the duration of the movie, almost dying more than twice, and there's one time when he should have died but the villain doesn't take advantage of a golden opportunity to off him. That's not the biggest issue I had with this though. No, that would be the whole "I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese" silliness. Despite some lulls, this is an exciting James Bond entry. Oh, and Nancy Sinatra did the theme song which is a definite bonus.

The Old Dark House

1932 haunted house horror-comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: On a dark and stormy night, some travelers get stuck at a house inhabited by lunatics, pyromaniacs, drunkards, and bearded ladies.

Is it just me or is this a really weird movie, especially for 1932? It's got a weird rhythm that is that 2930's rhythm but different. It's a lot of fun when stuff's going on, but the character development and the interactions between the characters are useless. It was hard not to turn this off during an opening scene with a car in the storm. The overacting and dialogue are both excruciating. There's also barely a story here, and it's not told very well. Still, just the odd flavor of this thing makes it worth checking out. You get to see Boris Karloff as the drunk butler, scar-faced and mute. His "speaking" cracked me up every time, and I'm still wondering what that coming-down-the-stairs-hand-trick thing was. You also get to see Gloria Stuart before she got really old and ruined Titanic with her wrinkles. She looks much better here, especially when changing into a nightgown during a scene which would probably give Leonardo DiCaprio the strangest erection he's ever had. Charles Laughton's odd here, too, with a big movie laugh and a melodic ode to roast beef. There's Raymond Massey imploring everybody to "Have a potato" and Lillian Bond cackling, "No beds! You can't have beds!" Loved watching Bond eat in this, by the way. There's "Are you interested in flame?" followed by storytelling session oddness, a character making shadow finger puppets, and, of course, the old lady with hair glued on her face (Elspeth Dudgeon) playing an old man and saying gems like "At any moment, you might die if you're as old as I am" before laughing maniacally. Everything in this movie--the acting, the dialogue, the characters' movements--is completely unnatural, and as one of the first attempts to mix horror and comedy, it really isn't humorous or scary. Still, it's a pretty nifty early-30s oddball of a film that is worth seeing. The house is cool, too, if you're into movie architecture.

Safety Not Guaranteed

2012 romantic time-travel comedy

Rating: 15/20 (Jen: 15/20)

Plot: A magazine investigates a weirdo who places a classified ad looking for a time-traveling companion.

I am still laughing at a scene with an ear, probably my favorite ear scene in any movie ever. I thought this was a very cute and offbeat little romantic comedy. There's some ambivalence that will befuddle some, but I really liked it. Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Recreation and Mark Duplass from various things Mark Duplass has done are not your typical leading people for a romantic comedy, and for whatever reason, I think that makes it work better. Karan Soni nearly steals the show as nerdy Indian guy Arnau. The film works well as a clumsy metaphor for love although the more you think about that, the more it falls to pieces. Worth checking out if you normally like comedies that I normally like. Inspired by a real 1997 classified advertisement that turned out to not be real at all.

Best line: "Was there something wrong with Einstein or David Bowie?"

Casino Royale

2006 James Bond reboot

Rating: 15/20

Plot: James Bond has to beat a guy at poker in order to save the world!

I don't know if I'd expect James Bond enthusiasts to really dig this one. It's a James Bond movie and all, but there's an awful lot of poker in it. The poker is exciting and almost realistic, like ESPN poker, and if there's one person I'd rather not slow-roll during a poker game more than Christopher Lee, it'd be James Bond. License to kill and all. But it happens here which might make terrorist-funder Le Chiffre (that's "the fart" in French, I think) a really nasty villain. Being slow-rolled is more excruciating than the testicle torture that happens later in the movie. Le Chiffre isn't a classic Bond villain though he does weep blood. The poker's fun and all, but there are plenty of action sequences including an intensely choreographed round of fisticuffs in a bathroom that actually made me grunt a few times prior to the really cool opening credits that suffered from a really-not-cool Chris Cornell theme song (all Bond movies should have loungy female vocals for the theme song, right?) and a climactic set piece with a sinking building that is equally cool and ludicrous. The best scene of the movie is a foot-chase through a construction sites that is one of the most thrilling things I've seen in a while, party-Chan and part-parkour. Wowser, does this stuff look dangerous! Daniel Craig is a fine James Bond. I like the ruggedness although I'm not sure Craig's acting is very good. But he can handle the action hero parts of the role adequately, and his Bond is one who gets hurt quite a bit and is in very real peril throughout the adventure. He also screws up, and this story is a real learning process for him. He's humanized, kind of artificially. A shower cuddling finger-lickin' scene seems almost tacky, especially with the gross piano music. I'm really unsure if I want my Bond to be this human actually. I do like the rapport between Craig/Bond and Eva Green's Vesper Lynd. Cool movie even if it feels like something more modern than a James Bond movie. I look forward to finding out where Craig takes this character.

The Uninvited

2009 horror remake

Rating: 9/20

Plot: A crazy girl returns home from the mental institution. She and her sister start to suspect that their step-mother is up to no good. Boo!

Random creeps, artificial insanity, characters who just don't feel like real people at all, plenty of creepy imagery, lots and lots of gimmicks, and a story that is fairly predictable make this an all-too-typical and kind of boring horror movie. I'd never heard of it and had no reason to watch it except Indianapolis television personality Sammy Terry wanted to show it to me. Well, his son anyway. And I have to assume that the rubber spider George isn't the original rubber spider either, more likely a great-great-grandson of George or something. Sammy Terry's name isn't the only bad pun you're likely to hear during a broadcast. I have good memories of watching the purple-cloaked and pale-faced ghoul with his Vincent Price laugh during sleepovers with friends, so when somebody told me that there was a Sammy Terry special on Halloween, I was all over it. Unfortunately, The Uninvited was the movie that I had to watch. It made me look forward to commercials.

Sammy Terry:


1964 James Bond movie

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Bond has to stop the titular villain who plans on contaminating the world's gold supply. Oddjob has a dangerous hat. Pussy Galore has a dangerous name.

You think Connery takes great pleasure in saying that first name? Poosy, he says. His expression after Pussy Galore introduces herself is my favorite thing in this movie with a lot of favorite things in it--the cool car with its ejector seat, cute Jill Masterson covered in gold paint for what has to be one of the sexiest deaths in movie history, the delivery of a "What's with that trick pool table?" line, a whole laser-to-the-crotch sequence, scores of extras collapsing from nerve gas like they're in a B-movie (how many extras, do you reckon, fell down more than once?). No, wait. My favorite thing about this is a shot of this old lady with a machine gun. This has everything you'd expect from a James Bond movie but a much better henchman, the mute Oddball. Yes, there are villains who are as iconic, but you can't have a conversation about iconic villains without mentioning him. That first appearance--a shadow with that hat of his--is terrific, and then you get to see him vandalize statues, smash golf balls in his bare hand, and help his boss cheat, all the things you hope to see from a criminal mastermind's henchman. So good. Add in the typical Bond fun dialogue ("You expect me to talk?" "No, Bond, I expect you to die."), double entendre ("Positively shocking" will make you groan.), a car chase or three, some gadgets, a great pre-credit action sequence involving confined fisticuffs, and a ridiculous Shirley Bassey title song, and you've got yourself a Bond film, probably one of the best.

Bonus points for slipping the name Pussy Galore in there. Seriously, how'd that happen?

Assault on Precinct 13

1976 action movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Various gang members align to titularily assault the titular precinct, and the inhabitants try to survive.

I love it when writers/directors insert these really goofy moments in the middle of gritty movies like this. Here, it's impossible not to love the scene where they play "One Potato, Two Potato" to decide who has to go outside. That's just beautiful.

Some observations/questions about the action that takes place early in this movie around an ice cream truck.

1) That ice cream man is really good without saying a single word. He's played by Peter Bruni who doesn't have a very long filmography. I was secretly hoping that he'd have about fifteen movie credits, and I really hoped that he had an entire career playing ice cream men. This conversation I had in my head while watching this made the movie better:

Peter Bruni's agent: I have another role for you to audition for. I think you're perfect for it.
Peter Bruni: Ok, let's here about it.
Agent: Well, in this one, you'll be playing an ice cream man.
Peter Bruni: Again?

2) Unfortunately, Peter Bruni was shot with Han Solo's gun. Now, I'm not exactly a gun guy. In fact, I'm about as far away from "gun guy" as you can possibly get. Are there real guns like this though?

3) This movie shows you what it's all about when they kill off a little girl. And dead little girls are sad an all, but you know what's even sadder? "I wanted vanilla twist!" being somebody's last words. What a great scene this ice cream truck one is. Shit gets real early in this flick!

4) And you know what's even sadder than the "vanilla twist" thing? Dying with that shirt that the ice cream man is wearing.

This is good, gritty fun with enough shooting to please any fan of shooting. Of course, there's plenty of silliness in here, too. Those people who keep trying to come through the windows and getting stuck in the blinds like they're dogs? It's like Night of the Living Dead only these gang members aren't as smart as the zombies. Obviously, that's not working, fellows. It reminded me of the old saying: Shoot me while I'm trying to come through the window once, shame on you. Shoot me while I'm trying to come through the window twice, shame on me. One wish I would have for a remake to this movie: It should be in real-time like 24. And no, I have not seen the remake of this. I already know that Bruni doesn't reprise his role as the ice cream man with the ugly shirt, and I imagine there would be a lack of "One Potato, Two Potato" that would also disappoint me.


1996 bowling comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A former prospective bowling superstar whose career was cut short--or more accurately, mangled short--after a hustle-gone-wrong gets a chance at redemption after he meets an Amish bowling phenom.

Penalties incurred for both an unfortunate cameo by the ever-annoying Chris Berman and Blues Traveler. Not even a Jonathan Richman appearance and the great Chris Eliott ("Look at George and Wheezy go!") can make one forget Berman and that damn harmonica-happy fat man. This might be the second best bowling comedy with a few good individual lines (liked "Nasty cheese-grating accident" with that nodding bearded woman and "You're on a gravy train with biscuit wheels" would be something I'd add to my own repertoire if I had a better memory) and some fun characters but with a deluge of potty humor and kick-in-the-groin jokes that don't really work, too much meandering, and too many montages. That ridiculous rubber hand is a nice prop which is utilized just the right amount for a comedy like this. And by that, I mean it's used way too much. Woody Harrelson's funny enough, more as the straight man, and although the character is arguably in poor taste--the right kind of taste for a movie like this--Quaid's also good. Bill Murray's appearances which bookend the off-kilter buddy movie outshine the stars though. He's such a nonchalantly terrible character and plays sleazy perfectly here. Early scenes in a restaurant where Murray's character just says hi to somebody or throws a rude request at the waitress let you know all you need to know about Ernie right away. And his hair and his bowling style are hilarious. Lin Shaye's good as the disgusting landlady, but it's almost too good because the thought of the character makes me sick to my stomach. This is an uneven comedy with a too-predictable storyline, but there are enough laughs to make it worth the time. I'm giving a bonus point for the "Attaboy, Luther!" which was a clever little movie allusion and reminded me of Don Knotts.


2010 comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Frank's having trouble with his girlfriend who has begun to doubt his abilities to be a father. A few other ill-timed mistakes (for example, jizzing on his mother-in-law's face) also threaten to end their relationship. To prove that he can be a good father, he kidnaps his nephew for a perverse camping trip. Things don't go very well.

These characters are from a Danish television show that was compared to Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I decided to check it out. The comparisons are apt ones. This finds humor in awkwardness and rude behavior. There's not a lot here that you'd feel all that comfortable watching with your mother. The "pearl necklace" advice and execution that I referenced above (yes, only for the jizz variation) is just one example of how this movie just doesn't understand boundaries. The characters, the kind who you like to watch on the screen even though they're not the least bit likable, sort of unapologetically and lackadaisically venture through taboo land. You can maybe believe that they're doing some of these things in a movie because they're the kinds of things you might see American movie characters. What you can't believe is that they're doing these things so casually. It's gross-out comedy but with subtitles which makes it perfectly ok for a movie snob like me to enjoy. I don't want to go into details too much because like the best comedies, this works because of its surprises. I'd hate to ruin that. Be warned though--you'll probably be offended. There's a quick Chaplin reference in this, a poster of The Kid. This movie has a kid, too. Of course, I don't believe Chaplin ever ejaculated on anybody in any of his movies. Maybe in The Gold Rush?

Trip with the Teacher

1975 field trip

Rating: 5/20

Plot: While on a field trip, a teacher and her students are assaulted by malicious motorcycle-riding brothers and another guy.

This was the last movie for Jack Driscoll, a definite candidate for my annual Torgo award. He only appeared in four movies, and it doesn't seem like any of them were very big parts unless "Liquor Store Rowdy" is a big part. Here, he's Marvin the bus driver, and he's so good. His reaction to a cat fight that erupted after some Bible quoting had me rewinding to get a screen shot. Even the motorcycle ruffians start laughing during a scene where he's discussing his bus problems ("The bus chugga-chugged.), and I'm honestly not sure if they're laughing because the script told them to or because of his acting. And director Earl Barton knew what he was doing when he decided to include a bunch of close-ups of Driscoll squinting and parting his lips indecisively. The rest of the acting is about as good. A gas station attendant is like a grumpy Don Knotts. The girls are about the same as they are in 1970's movies like this--mildy attractive and scantilly clad. The real star of the show, other than the underutilized Jack Driscoll, is Zalman King, the main villain. This is slow going at first with teen girls reading about Navajos (even her friends seem bored by the movie at this point) and guys pumping air into their motorcycle tires, but at least there's some funky music to accompany it all. But then there's Zalman King doing his Zalman King thing. It's never clear what's wrong with his character or why he would wear sunglasses like he does which make him look like a big-haired insect. His behavior is completely unnatural. He hugs Marvin for no reason at all and tweaks nipples. And then, of course, there's the whole murder thing. He can't seem to stop giggling and seems sleepy. If there's such thing as Giggling Narcolepsy, he's probably got it. Or maybe he's just a tweaker. The action scenes with King are really awkward. Now, I've never been in a knife fight (Note: I've been in a hatchet fight though.), but the way people in movies fight with knives always seems really goofy to me. My favorite Zalman King action move is when he gets in a fight with Marvin the bus driver and head-butts him in the butt. A head-butt in the butt. That's got to have another name. A butt-head-butt? There's a thrilling motorcycle chase or two and an absolutely ridiculous ending that you would almost have predicted if the whole thing wasn't so preposterous. Oh, and I just love how they all can still joke about the whole thing at the end, just hours after they watched a crazy insect-man rape and murder people. There's a good message there, I think. One more odd little thing about this movie: There's a weird humming that pops up every once in a while, but it doesn't seem to be coming from any of the characters. I assumed that it was the score, maybe the cheapest score in movie history. Director Barton is credited with "The Hummer's Theme," so there you go.

Tromeo and Juliet

1996 Shakespeare adaptation

Rating: 13/20

Plot: See Romeo and Juliet but with more perversity. Or maybe less. Shakespeare was a pretty randy fellow.

 A first shot of what I believe was a hanged squirrel, Lemmy from Motorhead reciting the bard, nipple piercing, severed wiggling fingers, comical fart sounds, the "king of cold cuts," comical spousal abuse, lesbian cooks, outlandish dream sequences with penis monsters going "Rarr!", crossbow grenades, punk rockers, heads meeting fire hydrants, people carrying lizards inexplicably, guys in cow costumes, a meat factory, glass time-out rooms, bread thieves, pink bondage devices, meat hook suicide attempts, Hitler head bludgeons, guys pissing on other guys, car accidents, more severed limbs, more comical fart sounds, opium dens, hermaphroditic pig people, projectile vomit, exploding heads, incest, and a dream sequence with a spontaneous pregnancy featuring popcorn and rats that is the nuttiest thing I've seen in a long while. This ain't your English teacher's Shakespeare. There is some Shakespearean dialogue juxtaposed with the modern (well, then modern) urban slang, and that's pretty jarring. There are some lines that could be from the play. It's been a while since I read it.

"My name is Capulet. I got a corn nut for a dick. My name is Capulet. My asshole's full of worms."
"What do you think about my milkman costume, Juliet?"
"Get ready to die!" "It happens to everyone sooner or ladder." (Context is probably important for this one.)
"Now you've gone too far! Goddamn heads bouncing off of cars while families are singing 'Found a Peanut'!"
"I'm going to wipe you off the face of the earth like a piece of shit from God's ass."

A couple of those could be straight from Big Willie. That Lloyd Kaufman--independent film production company Troma's version of Shakespeare--sure is a goofball, and the ratio of gags that work and those that don't probably isn't all that good. However, there are so many ideas here that there is enough that works, and if you like John Waters or his imitators (like Lloyd Kaufman, for example), this might appeal to you. Troma fan will recognize a lot of the company's movie posters and a few costumes at a party which is either a nice touch or really cheap. If it's the latter, it matches the rest of the movie. This is not a great movie and feels much longer than it actually is, but it's kind of a cute bit of filth if you're into that sort of thing.

I might never hear "Found a Peanut" the same way again.


2003 fairy tale

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A garbage dump employee is directed to escort his boss's daughter to meet her husband, and a bunch of strange things happen.

Throw this in the fascinating failure category, and then almost immediately forget about it. There are some neat ideas, but this is ultimately more irritating than anything else. First, it's got a one-named director (Florian), and that's just annoying. Then, there's the dubbing thing. The dialogue is very obviously recorded separately from what we're seeing, and I'm fairly positive that the dialogue was actually written after the filming. It's sometimes humorous, but like everything else in this movie, it's more weird than meaningful. The whole movie challenges you to adjust to this bizarre flow, and I doubt most people are going to be able to do it. There are weirdo circus moves, a great dance scene between Gert and the gal, and a moment where the screen goes completely black for over a minute. And those intermittent throat gargle sounds and a sound effect that sounded like an electric razor. This is a worthy effort made on what was obviously a very limited budget. Florian throws a lot of ideas at the viewer and either dares to be different or dares to be a guy trying to remake Fando and Lis. Woodenhead just fails to deliver anything memorable or meaningful and never really develops a confident voice. I didn't hate the movie at all and would definitely watch something else by Florian, especially if he gets himself another name, but this just didn't feel complete.

I looked this up and was completely wrong. Not wrong enough to go back and edit this or anything though. Apparently, all of the sound was recorded before the film was shot. From Wikipedia:

"[Florian] Habicht [He does have another name!] states on the DVD that the film was inspired by a dream in which two angels appearing as Milli Vanilli fly into a stadium and tell him that the band lip-synched their music, apparently unaware that this is common knowledge. They then tell him to make a film where the sound is recorded before the visuals."

That almost makes me want to bump this up to a 14/20.

Shane trivia: Shane is married to a person who went to a Milli Vanilli concert.

Atomic Cafe

1982 documentary

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A compilation of bomb testing footage, important people saying things, propaganda films, and atomic bomb survival videos from the 40s-60s. Uncle Sam's message was very clear: American citizens don't really have to worry about the atomic bomb, especially if they happen to be turtles.

When I was a kid, nuclear war was on my mind all the time, so a lot of this footage is kind of terrifying. A lot more of it is disgusting or creepy, and a lot of it is hilarious, and that's what makes this such an enjoyable movie experience. All of this sans narration makes it work so much better. It's there, objectively, and although what the filmmakers have chosen to give us might be subjective, the chronological look at the history of the big bomb is really just there for the viewer to put the pieces together on their own. The propaganda films seem so tasteless sixty years after. Blowing up Statues of Liberty, small Wisconsin town exploitation, island natives near bomb testing sites completely understanding exactly what is going on while "You Are My Sunshine" is used in the background. It's enough to make any freedom-loving American sick to his stomach. And then you add a shot of a giggling Truman right before his "two billion dollar gamble" announcement or a crowd laughing after Nagasaki's described as looking "like Ebbet's Field after a double header with the Giants," and it makes you wonder who the bad guys really were. It definitely makes one feel really good about our government. Luckily, there's no dishonesty in our present times. As I mentioned, this isn't all gloomy. The nuclear protection get-ups are often hilarious, and that "God Will Hit Like an Atomic Bomb" song is about the catchiest thing you'll ever hear. "Everybody's worried about the atomic bomb, but nobody's worried about the day my lord will come." This is just stuffed with images that will forever be tattoed in the mind. I don't think I'll ever forget that testing video footage that showed soldiers running toward a mushroom cloud.

How dumb were kids growing up in the 50s and 60s, by the way? Duck and cover? I can imagine what my smartass middle schoolers would say to something like that. And I know how dumb they are!

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

1969 James Bond movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Annie's adoptive father is at it again, this time putting out an advertisement for "Hot Chicks with Allergies" in order to create an army of hypnotized women to help him kill everybody. James Bond is sent to stop him.

I'm not exactly a James Bond expert, but I'm pretty sure George Lazenby is universally considered the best 007. This entry suffers a bit from some dated special effects and general silliness, both exemplified in some exciting skiing scenes featuring obvious blue screens and a plummeting dummy. Still, they're thrilling scenes.  There's also a pretty bitchin' icy car chase. Aside from some effects, this also suffers from a few cliches, including the whole bad-guy-giving-away-all-his-plans-and-refusing-to-instantly-dispose-of-the-good-guy thing. You know, like in almost every episode of the Batman television show. But I imagine people don't really watch James Bond movies for the realism. This movie does have some nice stylistic touches--there's a whistling midget (what they were called back in '69), some cool colors and the CASINO reflected in a pool near the beginning, great music enhancing beach fisticuffs, dizzying jump cuts and weird angles and close-ups during other brawling scenes, and one great death featuring pink snow that might rival Fargo's woodchipper scene. You even get to see chunks if you're into that sort of thing. Of course, the subsequent "He had lots of guts" is the kind of brilliantly stupid line that makes you want to high-five somebody. And James Bond movies really need a director who knows how to properly display a woman, and Peter Hunt does a good job with showing us Blofield's brainwashed beauties. I hope that doesn't sound too chauvinistic. I really do like Lazenby. There's a bit of meta-humor with a line about "the other guy," and I like how he steals a Playboy. He's suave, and the dialogue's got all those double entendre you'd normally expect along with some fun dramatic irony. The Alpine setting is cool, and Savalas's Blofied, seemingly not all that popular, is a worthy adversary up until the end when a chase scene gets way too stupid. I think I might just like Savalas because of the way he smokes his cigarette here. I also liked how Blofield was using cassettes to brainwash the women. It just seemed so quaint--"Do you remember when you were allergic to chickens?" I can imagine Savalas saying, "Is that really what you want me to read here?" I'm really not sure how I feel about the wedding and honeymoon that follows, a marriage that is only slightly longer than a Kardashian's. It humanizes the character a bit, but it all seems so cheap.

Death Wish

1974 gritty urban Western

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Jeff Goldblum and some other dangerous weirdos murder the wife of a guy with a mustache. Both the guy and the mustache decide to get revenge, take the law into his own hands, and become a vigilante killing machine.

It's ludicrous how many times this guy is the target of these thugs in this movie. Out of all the people (heck, out of all the architects) in New York City, they attempt over and over to mug this one architect who's carrying around a gun for purposes of shooting people just like them. What are the chances? I mean, what makes Bronson look like such an easy target? I never really bought him as an action hero when I was a kid. I maybe could have seen him playing Mario in a game based on the video game. Still, I don't see Charles Bronson and think, "There's a guy who'll be easy to mug. Let's get him, boys!" And it probably would be the mustache that would keep me away. When you're out there mugging with your posse, a mustache is usually a sign to steer clear, right? Am I wrong here? I think, by the way, that this movie is the reason why I always assumed New York City was the most dangerous place on earth when I was a kid. You've got people like Jeff Goldblum running around painting swastikas on people's walls and guys being attacked on the streets and subways every single night. I used to have nightmares about New York when I was a kid.

After some weird opening credits with a lengthy returning-home-from-vacation montage and a shot of Bronson's wife picking her ear backed by some Herbie Hancock noodling (I loved Bronson's "What's wrong with right here on the beach?" line and tried to fit similar lines into the rest of the movie--"What's wrong with right here in the taxi?" "What's wrong with right here in the bread aisle?" I've tried it in my personal life, too. "Jennifer, what's wrong with right here at the soccer game?" She doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about though.) Things really pick up once Jeff Goldblum shows up. He's so awesome and completely believable as a thug, just this raw physicality. He and his freaks--they're Freak 1, Freak 2, etc. in the credits--are such immature criminals. Of course, I'd probably wag my tongue at grocery store shoppers and throw turkeys around if I were a 1970's thug, too. And if attacking women (hypothetically, of course), I'd probably spend the majority of my time painting them instead of the traditional hooligan activities like raping and stealing stuff. I really like all the bad guys in this. Like a lot of 70's movies, they're all just so sleazy and obvious, the type of people who would likely be arrested just for looking the way they do. And only some of them are black! They're just all so jittery and cocky, throwing out mo-fos and spontaneously rhyming ("Throw us the money, honey!" The lesson I learned is that thuggery might not be the worst career choice if this teaching thing doesn't work out. No, maybe the lesson learned is that I could easily get over my wife's murder by shooting thugs, repainting my living room to cover up swastikas, and blasting game show music. No, hold up. The lesson is obviously that America needs to loosen up its gun laws because it's our second amendment right to have any kind of gun we want to and liberals have made it far too difficult for guys with mustaches to purchase firearms. Yeah, that's it. The pro-gun propaganda here did make my teeth hurt a little bit, but the random little person, the guy with an artist dog at the precinct, and a bum's hat error made up for it. This is an entertaining enough bit of 70's stink with about the right mix of grit and goof, but I never had any desire to see any of the numerous sequels and still don't. I imagine I'm missing more of the same but with a lot less Goldblum. Doesn't somebody kill his daughter in the second one? Maybe I did see that. What happens in the third one? Does somebody run over his dog or something?

Her Master's Voice

2012 ventriloquist bereavement documentary

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Nina Conti and her little monkey travel to a a place called Venthaven which is like a cemetery for ventriloquist dummies whose owners have died. She takes along a few of her mentor's puppet's, first spending some time at a ventriloquist convention. And I believe she and one of the puppets (the one sporting wood throughout the trip) actually "do it."

There's a "Distant Voice Expert" in this named Nacho Estrada. Seriously, how badass a name is that? If my name was Nacho Estrada, I wouldn't spend any time at all with puppets. I'd just walk around referring to myself in the third person, often in a menacing way.

As tempted as you might be to see this movie based on the poster, believing that there really might be some girl-on-puppet action, I don't recall anything like that happening. But there is a very strange scene where she disrobes the old lady puppet and takes it with her into the hotel pool. That's the kind of people you're dealing with here--these ventriloquists. I enjoy puppets more than most adult, but I'm pretty sure I'd be uncomfortable hanging around with a ventriloquist. Can they be trusted? Do I dare look at the human mouth while the puppet is talking? If insulted, do I take a swing at the puppet or the ventriloquist? It's just too much to think about.

I liked Conti fine. She's maybe one of the cutest female ventriloquists out there, and she's really good at her craft. Her main puppet--a monkey--is about the most boring ventriloquist dummies that I've ever seen. It looks like something you could buy at a dollar store or something. Conti's funny enough with her monkey, but I liked her versatility with the other puppets more, a kind of exploration as she tried to find their individual voices and personalities. And there was this idea running throughout the movie, from the work of Conti's mentor to all the other ventriloquists, that these dummies are really a device to make the complete insanity of the artist acceptable. I liked that. There was even a quote--"Creation and insanity are almost the same thing." Of course, the stuff at the ventriloquist convention was fun for me. Like most Americans, I'm easily amused, and watching the creativity and trickery of a lot of those artists was great. And you just know they're all checking out each other's mouths. The whole thing builds to the trip to puppet heaven with all those sad-looking dummies without voices. There was something touching about the whole thing.

Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion

2006 comedy film

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A comedian tells some jokes, plays the piano, and messes with his hair. Sometimes, distractions.

I like the comedy of Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg, and Galifianakis, with his odd stage presence and one-liner delivery, fits in with those guys. I thought the material was very funny although a lot of people might watch this, think, "About 1/3 of this is him staring into the camera or being mad at himself," and be turned off. You really don't know where this is going most of the time, and I'm not totally sure he does either which makes it a little more fun. It's possible that inebriation is involved or it might just all be part of the act. But whatever it is, it works. Galifianakis has a little Kaufman in him for better or for worse, especially at the end when he uses some handwritten jokes and a children's choir. Like most comedy routines, it's not all going to work ("funny" mispronunciations seemed like something I'd do to try to make people laugh), and I'm not sure how much I liked the intervening interview snippets with his "twin brother" Seth. Not a bad way to pass the time though.

Shane Reviews the Greatest Movies Ever Made: Citizen Kane

1941 movie

Rating: 20/20

Plot: A rich guy dies, and newspapermen investigate why he would have said "Rosebud" as he passed away and broke his snow globe.

It's hard to believe that this could be anybody's directorial debut. It's also hard to believe that anybody can roll into the movie game and be this pretentious, and if one isn't in the right mood, this would seem bloated and empty. The visuals and fragmented story-telling technique are way ahead of his time, predicting so many other pretentious masterpieces that would follow this. The death montage at the beginning of all this (or the end depending on how you look at it) sets up all of this so nicely, and if that was the only thing that survived from Orson Welles' career as a director, it'd be enough to make cinemaphiliac snobs jizz into their popcorn buckets. Actually, forget I typed that because a movie snob isn't going to lower himself to holding greasy popcorn buckets in their laps. This movie actually does feel a lot like a warm--but not excruciating--metallic popcorn bucket pressed right up against the junk. And there are some people who like that kind of thing a lot, probably too much, while others would rather do something else with both their time and junk. There's no way I was mature enough to grasp this the first time I watched it at my dad's house when I was six, but even then, the look of this thing floored me. You get jaw-dropping visual flair around each black and white corner, and while it often feels like a pointless exercise, the camera tricks and angles are always more interesting than the film's plot, often overshadowing it. I love the way the camera captures these characters; they're filmed in a way that adds as much to the characterization as the dialogue does. I don't think that's a problem at all. The acting's phenomenal, Welles especially. I especially love the scene where he destroys a room like a rock star in a hotel and an extended shot of his face while he watches his wife butcher music on the stage. The physical changes the character goes through are also impressive. This might be a movie that I admire way more than I feel, but that's not stopping me from giving it a 20/20.

Jen fell asleep during this. She claims she saw it in high school, but she also claims that she read Moby Dick.