Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)


Whatta Ya Gonna Do?  Knock My Block Off?

Today’s movie came as a request from friend and coworker Jake.  He seemed to be very surprised that I had somehow neglected to see this cult horror movie, even though I had decided not to watch it because it didn’t seem very good.  But it was requested, and that means I will watch it.  So, I found the movie on Netflix streaming and got to watching a pretty ridiculous movie.  Today’s review is of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, written by Charles Chiodo, directed by Stephen Chiodo, and starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, John Vernon, and Royal Dano.

As is typical in sci-fi, horror, B movies, this movie starts with a bunch of kids up at some various make-out spot.  Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and his girlfriend Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder) are about to get all freaky-naughty when their nookie is interrupted by a shooting star that seems to land nearby.  Debbie wants to go check it out.  They go and find a circus tent in the middle of the woods.  They go inside and eventually stumble upon some giant, cotton candy cocoons with people inside them.  They also see some sinister looking clowns (or Klowns) who seem to be responsible.  The Klowns try to get Mike and Debbie by shooting popcorn at them, but (as with most people) they find the popcorn to be less than fatal.  Mike and Debbie go to talk to Debbie’s ex-boyfriend, Officer Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson), and Officer Curtis Mooney (John Vernon).  They report the happenings, but are met only with mockery.  The mockery begins to lose steam as the Klowns start openly attacking and capturing the townspeople in all kinds of goofy, but brutal, ways.  Mike, Debbie, and Dave have to figure out how to stop them before it’s too late.

I was very surprised to find that this movie was actually about Killer Klowns from Outer Space.  Whoda thunk it?  The movie itself is alright, filled with lots of camp and things that are funny, although the things that are funny are mostly not what they intended to be funny.  It looks pretty mediocre, what little story it has is pretty dumb, but altogether I’d say I found it entertaining.  The story of the movie is super basic and exactly what you expect out of such a movie.  Some creature(s) show(s) up, wreaks some havoc, then gets stopped.  The extra time in the movie is filled with random scenes of the Klowns attacking townspeople.  There were some interesting/goofy ways that they captured people, but some also didn’t work.  I liked the part where the Klown was doing shadow puppets on the wall and turned them into a monster that swallowed them.  The part where they threw a bunch of pies at a security guard and then he was dead did not work as well.  I have no idea what killed him.  They could have been acidic in nature but they couldn’t afford to show the guy melting, but they should have given us a little more of a hint.  Of course, in a movie like this you accept some things not making any sense.  The look of the movie is not particularly good either.  The whole look of the movie reminds me of an episode of Power Rangers from back in the day, sharing a similar color pallet and quality.  I wouldn’t say this is a compliment though.  At one point, when they show that the Klowns are drinking the blood of the townspeople while they’re in the cotton candy cocoons, they use about a minute long pan shot going up the elaborate crazy straw.  How interesting did you think that straw would be to us?  The Klowns themselves look decent, but the faces don’t move particularly well most of the time.  They are creepy though.  Their creepiness is somewhat lessened by the fact that their voices make them sound like Ewoks, though.

One should probably not go into a movie such as this expecting great performances.  And you’d be right.  There are three de facto leads to this movie that are not Klowns, and all of them are pretty mediocre.  Grant Cramer doesn’t do a whole lot in the movie beyond wearing a Cosby sweater, but he is the girl’s boyfriend.  John Allen Nelson does all the heroic work, and I think is the only one that ever actually manages to kill the Klowns.  One thing he did made me wonder how people shoot at something a few times, then lift their gun and lower it slowly to take aim and are instantly much better at shooting.  It’s like a charge move on a plasma gun from a video game or something.  Suzanne Snyder is the girl lead, and plays a girl very convincingly.  It began to bother me towards the end of the movie that she seemed pretty quick to forget which one of the guys was her boyfriend because near the end she would grab onto her ex-boyfriend when scared.  Slut!  The other thing that bothered me was that this was a B movie and there weren’t any boobs!  And this Snyder girl takes a shower that lasts over about 30 minutes of this movie, but nary a boob to be seen.  She takes this shower piece by piece as other things are happening, then we cut back and she gets a little closer to completing her shower, making this probably the longest shower on film.  Also, she gets put into a balloon at one point, remains in it for about 40 minutes of movie-time, and then claims she was unable to breathe in there when she’s released.  I’m pretty sure that means you’d be dead.  This movie also had two annoying and pointless guys that drove an ice cream truck that I thought for a while had DMC on the hood as if it was the Delorean from Back to the Future, but it was GMC.  They were also very desperate poon-hounds that seemed totally willing to ignore the fact that two ladies were actually two hideous lady Klowns just because their boobs could inflate.  That is the answer to the question “How desperate can you get?”

Well, that’s that.  I have now seen Killer Klowns from Outer Space and been completely underwhelmed by it at the same time.  It’s exactly the movie it makes itself out to be: a sci-fi, horror, B movie that includes Klowns that kill people and are also from another planet.  The story exists, but does not impress.  The performances also dip slightly below “whelming” you.  It doesn’t look particularly good and doesn’t make sense, but I found it entertaining enough in it’s goofiness.  You can catch this movie on Netflix streaming as I did, and if you haven’t yet seen the movie, it’s worth a look, but don’t expect too much.  Killer Klowns from Outer Space gets “They took your wife away in a balloon?” out of “What’re ya gonna do with those pies, boys?”

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L.A. Confidential (1997)


Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush-Hush

My roommate and I did two movies back to back, but thankfully the second one originally came out well within our lifetime.  It was one I knew about, but never really found myself that interested in watching.  But he got the movie, so I figured we might as well watch the thing.  While watching it, I found myself completely unable to stop thinking about a certain video game that I really enjoyed last year, but I’ll be mentioning that later.  For now, let’s get into my review of L.A. Confidential, based on a book by James Ellroy, written by Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson, directed by Curtis Hanson, and starring Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, David Strathairn, Danny DeVito, Ron Rifkin, Graham Beckel, and Simon Baker.

Detective Wendell “Bud” White (Russell Crowe) and his partner, Dick Stensland (Graham Beckel), are delivering alcohol to a policeman party, while periodically stopping so Bud can whoop on some guys abusing their ladies, something he has a big problem with.  At the police station, narcotics detective Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) shows up along with a group of Mexican guys rumored to have recently attacked and beaten some police officers, and they get turned over to the night’s watch commander, Sergeant Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce).  Alcohol and rumor make their way quickly around the office, inciting the police officers to go down to the cells and attack the Mexicans.  Reporters get some pictures of it and call it “Bloody Christmas”, which makes the LA Times and tarnishes the reputation of the LAPD.  District Attorney Ellis Loew (Ron Rifkin) and Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) interview officers to figure out who will testify and who will have this pinned on them.  White won’t testify, Exley is totally on board, and even suggests using the TV show that he works on to gain leverage on Vincennes and get his support.  This whole plan gets a couple of officers, including White’s partner Stensland, is expelled.  Exley gets promoted.  Shortly after, Exley is called to the Nite Owl coffee shop and finds a large group of people murdered in the bathroom.  One of these people is Stensland.  For the rest of the movie, we follow Exley, White, and Vincennes as they try to find out what truly happened that night in the Nite Owl, but what they find may go much deeper than they expected.

I really liked LA Noire … I mean Confidential.  This was a really good movie, but all I kept thinking about the entire time is how similar this movie is to LA Noire, which gained respect for this movie, but lost a little for LA Noire.  The movie had a really interesting story, but it was perhaps a bit predictable, and it was elevated by some really good performances and some really good action.  The story of the movie is fairly classic noire movie fare, with corruption and betrayal happening with the police that’s being battled by a few good cops, and there’s a little mob action going on to boot.  You can probably figure out who the bad guy is before the movie tells you, but it’s much harder to figure out why and how.  Either way, having guessed the culprit didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the movie.  A lot of the movie was just back to back intense scenes of puzzle solving.  It could not go without saying that the movie reminds me of LA Noire.  Not just the noire style and the LA setting, but there were some scenes of collecting clues, some pretty intense interrogation scenes, and even some entire plot points that were shared with the game.  They worked really well in both.  The movie is not one that I would call “action packed”, per se, but there’s a couple of scenes with good, solid action.  One in particular that stands out is the one that ends the movie in a giant shootout that was pretty awesome.

The performances are another great part about this movie, and I can scarcely think of one that did not hold up their end of the bargain.  Crowe was the bomb in this movie.  He was a total badass, but also put in some serious acting in parts.  His part of the final shootout in the movie was particularly badass, and a later scene with Basinger was particularly well acted, but he’s pretty great throughout.  Guy Pearce is a good contrast to Crowe in this movie.  As the movie moves along, we find that they’re both good cops, but in different ways.  Pearce is all by the book and Crowe is all about seeing justice served.  Pearce is Superman, Crowe is Batman.  Unfortunately for Pearce, him being the by the books cop made me dislike him until near the end of the movie.  I’m more of a Batman kind of guy.  Spacey is still a good guy, but he’s barely a cop until the end of the movie.  He’s more of a celebrity who does police work on the side.  Kim Basinger puts on a great performance as well, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing this chick looks and she was in her 40’s in this movie.  She’s almost 60 now, and I haven’t seen her in a bit, but I’d wager I would still smash.  James Cromwell did a great job as well, being very charming and likeable for the greater majority of the movie.

LA Confidential is a movie I’m happy that I finally watched.  If you’re not into games, but you heard good things about LA Noire, you can basically just watch this and get the gist of the game because they borrowed so heavily from it.  Good story, great performances, and some intense scenes and action make this a good watch.  I watched my roommate’s copy of the movie, but I would totally buy it myself as well, so it’s at least worth a rental for you.  LA Confidential gets “You look better than Veronica Lake” out of “Lookie here, the great jerkoff case of 1953.”

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Some Like It Hot (1959)


I Always Get the Fuzzy End of the Lollipop

My roommate seems to only be interested in watching movies from right around the time our parents were born recently.  That’s about 90% of what he watches these days.  In fact, the combination of me watching shitty action movies and him watching 60 year old comedies seems to make my Netflix recommendations very confused.  But I’m okay with it, because I do feel like I need to catch up on the old classics as much as I need to watch the new stuff.  Today, he got me to sit down and watch an old comedy classic called Some Like It Hot, written by I. A. L. Diamond and Billy Wilder, directed by Billy Wilder, and starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, George Raft, Joe E. Brown, Pat O’Brien, Joan Shawlee, Billy Gray, Nehemiah Persoff, and George E. Stone.

Two down-on-their-luck musicians named Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a gang hit lead by “Spats” Columbo (George Raft), but narrowly manage to escape.  They concoct a plan to leave town in a group of other musicians.  The problem is: they need to be women.  They become Josephine and Daphne to infiltrate the group.  In the group, they meet Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) and both kind of fall for her.  But, then again, so do we.  They take up a gig playing at a Florida resort.  Joe decides to take on yet another persona to try to woo Sugar, that of a make-believe millionaire named Junior, heir to Shell Oil.  Jerry is not so lucky, getting propositioned by Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).  Joe and Jerry need to work with their double and triple personalities, and I’m guessing their mob problems aren’t over either.

I feel like this is certainly a fine film, but one that has lost it’s luster over the years.  I found it to be a fairly charming film with an interesting story and good performances, but the problem was that it is a comedy that just wasn’t very funny.  There are parts of the movie that are very dark, and the rest is pretty light-hearted.  It starts off with a big car chase and shootout, then goes into Joe and Jerry trying to find a gig, then back into the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, then into cross-dressing.  The middle is all more light-hearted, but it dips back into some darkness near the end, though it leaves us on a cheerful note.  The movie was probably hilarious back when it came out, but I mainly just found it cute.  I didn’t laugh, but I wasn’t bored.  There were jokes that were so old in the movie that I felt I was missing something.  They’d say something that seemed to be in a joke structure, but I had no clue what the punchline was supposed to mean.  That’s the danger, to me, of watching a comedy that’s almost double my age: we just don’t find the same things funny.  But the movie still managed to be endearing, so it wasn’t like it was painful to watch it.  It did strike me as odd that this was supposed to be happening in the prohibition but everyone had boose all the time.  There was hardly a single person in the movie without a boose connection.  The girls were boosing on the train, there was boose on the rich guy’s yacht, boose everywhere.  The cops seemed to be pretty on the ball though.  Except, I guess, for the cop that gives himself away to Joe and Jerry by using his badge to punch a hole in his cigar.  This guy may not have been that bright.  Then again, they were the only people in a crowded club of law-breakers that saw him do it.  What struck me as being even more strange was how men seemingly treated women in the 50’s.  They seemed to always be a short step away from being rapists.  When “Daphne” tells Osgood that he/she’s not interested, he gets into the elevator with her and tries to get frisky.  When the mobsters started coming on to “Josephine” and “Daphne”, and they say it’s none of their business what room they’re staying in, they grab their key to find the room number and say they’ll keep in touch.  That means men of this time were both nearly rapists AND fully willing to ignore very masculine qualities in their women.

The performances would probably have been some of the best at the time, but even now they’re solid.  Marilyn Monroe, of course, was the character that interested me the most.  On top of being pretty gorgeous, she was also a pretty solid actress.  She said some things that were vaguely funny, but a pretty good amount of the things she said was about her not being very bright by her own admission, which is kind of a sign of what they thought about women around that time.  I also found it pretty funny that most of the times she walked in to a scene, she was accompanied by that muffled trumpet “wah WAH wah WAH wah” sound that accompanies voluptuous women walking.  She was very voluptuous too, leading me to think that she might border on being considered fat by today’s standards.  But her weight apparently shifted around, and I still would’ve given it up, so it wasn’t really a negative.  She still struck me more as cute than hot most of the time.  Tony Curtis would be the second most interesting character to me.  First, he actually kind of makes an attractive woman, and I’m not afraid to say it.  He handled his acting scenes very well also, so I really have no complaints about him in this movie.  I thought it was kind of funny that his big ploy to bag Marilyn was to basically act like women didn’t do it for him.  Back then, being gay was so far outside of the culture that no one probably thought of it, but I thought that was what he meant for a little while.  He basically just meant that he had been traumatized so that women didn’t have the desired effect.  Either way, it worked, and Marilyn was all about making out with him to fix it.  I’ll need to try that myself one day.  My roommate raved about Jack Lemmon going into this movie, but I found him to be really irritating when he was acting as Daphne.  It seemed like he was trying too hard and ended up just working on my nerves.  Also, he did a piss poor job impersonating a bass player.  Tony Curtis was fairly convincing as a saxophone player, but Lemmon’s fingers were basically just going wild on the bass aimlessly.  All of the other characters were fairly minor, but I did think it was interesting how they always introduced the character of “Spats” Columbo by showing his shoes (and his spats) first.

Some Like It Hot is a movie that warrants at least one watch.  It’s a pretty good story and a pretty cute movie, with a couple of good performances in it, but don’t go in expecting a comedy if your sense of humor resembles mine.  I just didn’t find it funny at all.  But it was pretty entertaining and worth at least one viewing, if for no reason other than it’s classic status.  Some Like It Hot gets “You must be quite a girl” out of “You tore off one of my chests!”

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American Juggalo (2011)


There is No Bigatory in Juggaloism

Where to even begin?  Well, Fabio had another suggestion for me.  This one probably did not come from the quality film making or the interesting characters, but more as a character study of some people that my own personal biases have lead me to try to avoid for the most part.  Unfortunately for me, I grew up around people like this.  But, this was a short little documentary, so I gave it a watch and will probably write an equally small review on the subject.  This movie is American Juggalo, directed by Sean Dunne, and starring the fans of the Insane Clown Posse, aka the Juggalos.

A bunch of people like a rap group, and get together to be vaguely deplorable.  Woop woop.

I don’t really know how well one can review a documentary.  Dunne just films a bunch of people expressing their appreciation for the way of life that is the ICP.  I don’t know what the director’s perspective is on the ICP or the Juggalos, nor do I really know if he intended anything but to show them.  What he did show did not paint fans of the ICP in the greatest of ways.  I’m not saying it’s not accurate though, from my experience.  I’ve met some Juggalo’s in my time, and not too many of them tended to strike me as being very well educated.  The Juggalo’s portrayed in this movie are big fans of the group, and consider themselves to be part of a family and a distinct way of life, but they also strike me as mostly white trash, fat, and of very limited vocabularies and interests.  If it’s not ICP, drugs, and tits, they’re not particularly interested.  They say often that people hate on them because they’re different, but they all looked pretty similar to me.  And mostly ugly.  They are not a group that makes good decisions, either.  You can see a classic case of a pregnant woman smoking, talking about this being the exact group she wants to help her raise her child (assuming, of course, that it survives having her as a mother long enough to have bad taste in music).  What worried me most of all was that she said she was from Muncie, Indiana, birthplace of the mother of the famous reviewer whose words you are currently reading.  I really hope that this isn’t contagious.  There are fans that say they have quit jobs in order to attend this collection of Juggalos, but I find it hard to believe that their bosses will miss them very much.  They use spray paint to imitate the band that they like, even though they seem to know better and realize almost instantly that spray paint burns and should not be applied to one’s face.  One even claims that he’s met a brain surgeon, high on acid, at the festival.  I tend to have only two questions when I interview a surgeon for a major operation: 1) Do you like the ICP? and 2) Are you, or have you been recently, high on acid?  Both are deal-breakers, but I’m not sure which one is more of a deal-breaker.  Perhaps I’m just not listening to the right music, but I’ve never found any music I’ve listened to that much of an influence on my “way of life”.  I like the music I listen to, but it has not really shaped me as a person.  On the other hand, most of the people in the movie didn’t really talk much about the music of the ICP, just all of the dumb things they did that made them Juggalos.  “Titties, weed and fast food” was the greater majority of conversation.  If you’re so inclined, this movie does have a great deal of titties, but they’re not titties that I found myself particularly interested in looking at.  One girl was more than happy to comply with the message her boyfriend scrawled on her stomach, offering “titties for a dollar”.  I saw them.  They were overpriced.

The movie itself was done well enough, but I cannot in good faith recommend you watch this movie.  It might scare you to find out such people exist in the world.  And, more than that, they get together annually and, were they so inclined, may be able to overthrow the rest of our society with their sheer combined girth and inability to feel pain from the self-inflicted brain damage.  Alternatively, they probably cannot run very long without getting winded (or having to stop to high five someone and yell “Woop Woop”), so we could probably escape and regroup for a counter offensive.  Should you so desire, you can watch the movie at www.americanjuggalo.com.  I cannot give this movie a Woop Woop.  Instead, I’ll give it “I’m gonna start goin’ to college to become a doctor and shit” out of “Woop Woop.”

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50/50 (2011)


I’m Peeing Right Now

I have said that I’m not big on drama before, but I’m definitely a big fan of comedies.  I just prefer a movie that will make me feel better to one that will make me feel worse.  So when I started hearing about today’s movie, I didn’t know whether or not I should actually see it.  It’s a comedy, sure.  But it’s also a pretty heavy drama, and one that’s pretty real and something most people can relate to.  I’ve never been put in the position of dealing with someone with a life threatening disease and I hope to keep it that way, but I can still understand the idea of it.  And that’s exactly what this movie is about.  I didn’t know if I wanted to see it or not, but I did because my roommate made me do it.  So let’s see how it went in my review of 50/50, written by Will Reiser (and based loosely on his life), directed by Jonathan Levine, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston, Serge Houde, Bryce Dallas Howard, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall, and Andrew Airlie.

Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives with his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), and works with his long-time friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who hates Rachael.  Adam starts feeling strange pains in his back and, when he visits the doctor (Andrew Airlie), finds out the pain is caused by a rare cancer in his spine.  He must start chemotherapy right away.  He tells Kyle, who brushes it off, saying Adam’s going to beat this, no problem.  He tells Rachael, who says she’ll be there for him.  He then tells his mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston), who immediately says she’s going to move in and take care of him, but Adam doesn’t allow it because she’s already taking care of his father (Serge Houde), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He also reluctantly starts going to a therapist, Katie McCay (Anna Kendrick), who is taking him as her third patient.  While undergoing chemo, he befriends two old guys, Alan (Philip Baker Hall) and Mitch (Matt Frewer).  The rest of the movie is about Adam dealing with his situation and trying to beat his disease.

This is such a fucking good movie!  There were just as many laugh out loud moments as there were really emotion ones.  I am not ashamed at all to confess to you that I cried during this movie.  I cried even though my roommate was sitting right next to me watching it and I was desperately trying to out-man him.  (It’s okay, that little bitch cried more than me, so I win).  The story is great and instantly real, even if it’s not something you’ve personally dealt with, because the story gives you time to get really close to these people so you feel for everyone.  As much as it’s super real and touching, it’s also really funny.  You never really know what you’re going to feel next.  The best thing about the movie (which could be both a comment on the writing and the performances) is how realistically the people react to the news.  I feel pretty confident that my mom would spaz out and become overbearing like Anjelica Huston did.  I also feel like I would totally react like Seth Rogen did, making jokes and acting like the other person shouldn’t worry about it because they’re totally going to beat it.  I can even understand the Rachael situation.  You know from the start that this relationship may not be going so well, and the news that Adam has cancer would just make you stick with it even if you wouldn’t normally because of how shitty you’d feel for leaving him.  Even though you find out Adam has cancer really early on, the movie doesn’t take it too seriously until around the middle.  That’s when it starts pulling you back and forth violently between emotions.  Seth Rogen says something funny, then Rachael cheats on Adam.  Then more funny stuff, then more sad stuff.  This movie is too good to ruin, but there’s a really sad part in the middle that comes out of nowhere that made my chest feel like my heart literally dropped in my chest.  It wasn’t until the very end that the realism of the drama hit me so hard that the tears started coming.  The stuff at the end was almost too real and caused my brain to insert myself and my nearly-lifetime friend (the crying little bitch) into the roles of Rogen and Levitt, but it was just as sad and real on either side of it.  Whether I had the cancer, or I had to be the friend and he had cancer, it hit me too hard either way and I couldn’t help it.  I cried.  Man Cred gone.  Thankfully, there wasn’t much Man Cred to begin with.  Also thankfully, the movie doesn’t leave you hanging.  The ending is uplifting so that I wouldn’t have to leave it bummed out.

The performances were fantastic all the way around.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so real that I couldn’t help but put myself in his shoes from the very beginning.  He handled cancer in the exact same way I think I would.  He just shut himself off from it, told the people he had to tell, and just kind of hoped he wouldn’t have to talk about it anymore.  Near the end of the movie, when he had a breakdown about it, it cemented that this was exactly what I’d do.  I’d have a tough, “I don’t care about this” facade up, but something would cause me to crack and scream really loudly in a car.  Seth Rogen was better than I’ve ever seen him before.  Yeah, he plays it very similar to most of his other performances, but we find out towards the end that he’s actually thinking a lot more about it than he’s letting on.  The scene between him and Levitt in the car before the surgery near the end of the movie is what finally cracked me.  Anna Kendrick was also amazing.  I’d only seen her in Twilight and (briefly) in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World before this movie, so I had little idea that the girl could act.  She was just really awkward and adorable, but trying too hard to put on a professional demeanor for her patient so they would let her help.  I can relate to that need to prove yourself to a patient/customer so that they’ll listen to you.  The introduction to her character was one of the funniest parts in the movie, but she was also involved in some of the more emotional scenes.  Anjelica Huston made me think a lot about my mom, and Levitt kind of being a distant son made me contemplate on my distance as a son.  I probably won’t change, but I thought about it.  Bryce Dallas Howard performed her role very well, but I hope she takes on a likeable character soon.  The last two movies I’ve seen her in made me hate her, but she also seems so likeable that I don’t want to hate her.  Either way, the way she played her character in this movie actually kind of made me understand her reasoning behind doing something shitty.  I didn’t approve of the characters actions, but Howard made me understand it.  Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer did not have a lot of screen time in the movie, but the scenes were very memorable because one of their scenes was so freaking heavy that I’m still a little bummed out about it.

50/50 was the definition of an “emotional roller-coaster” to me.  So much funny mixed seamlessly into moments so heavy that this movie became either the fourth or fifth movie that was ever able to make me cry.  It lifts you up with some great comedy and laugh out loud moments, and plummets you back to earth with super heavy, super real moments, then goes right back up again.  All of the performances in this movie are the best that I’ve seen out of any of the actors.  Don’t let the drama scare you off, you’ll leave this movie feeling uplifted if you have a pulse.  Check this movie out ASAP.  I’m buying it immediately, and I really can’t foresee someone not liking this.  50/50 gets “I bet you’d be a good girlfriend” out of “I look like Voldemort.”

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Saint’s Row: The Third (2011)


The Last Time a Big Naked Dude Said He Could Help Me, It Did Not End Well.

It’s hard for me to say that I invested a lot of time into a game in the wake of Skyrim.  But, if you forget about that particular game, I have invested a pretty good amount of time in today’s review.  That’s just how it goes for sandbox games.  Today’s sandbox game is the third part in a series the people have (rightly) called somewhat of a ripoff of another game series, one that I tend to call “overrated”.  How could I possibly enjoy this game if it’s a swagger jack of Grand Theft Auto, which I don’t like that much?  We’ll see today, in my review of Saint’s Row: The Third, developed by Volition, Inc., published by THQ, and starring the voices of Daniel Dae Kim, Danielle Nicolet, Hulk Hogan, Sasha Grey, Alex Desert, Tim Thomerson, Andrew Bowen, Rick D. Wasserman, Arif S. Kinchen, and Burt Reynolds.

The Third Street Saints (Lead by us) have kind of turned sellout, putting out energy drinks and movies and other stuff, but they still find the time to rob a bank now and then.  That’s where we start.  We join Johnny Gat (Daniel Dae Kim), Shaundi (Danielle Nicolet), and an actor trying to get into the character of a gangster, Josh Birk (Andrew Bowen), to rob a bank.  Things start to go wrong as we blow a hole in the roof above the safe and try to have it airlifted out, but we get attacked by the Syndicate and get captured.  We wake up on the airplane of the leader of the Syndicate, but we’re quick to escape.  After a battle on the plane, then one off the plane, then one THROUGH the plane, then back off the plane, we are back on the ground, minus one Johnny Gat.  In the new town of Steelport, we find it necessary to get our gang back on it’s feet, and we must go against the Syndicate to do so.

Much like the game series that inspired this one, I feel that Saint’s Row: The Third is a touch overrated, at least from what I’ve seen about it.  It’s a solid game with a lot of fun elements, but it can get a little repetitive and my copy of the game was rife with glitches.  The story is solid and filled with dialogue that is either trying to hard too be controversial and failing to be entertaining and things that are just plain funny.  Not only that, but they pepper in a great deal of pretty solid references that I appreciated.  The game opens up with the familiar Star Wars scroll.  I liked the reference, but the writing it was delivering was a really big failure in the comedy department.  In the taunts you can choose from, one of them is the Daniel-San, where he does an imitation of the Crane style from the movie.  That’s a joke anyone could make, but what got me was that the character yells “I’ll put YOU in a body bag!” while doing it.  THAT’s a solid reference.  The challenge you achieve for completing the Assassination missions is called “Everything is permitted”, which is a reference to Assassin’s Creed.  At one point, your ally wants you to overcome your fears, so he makes you drive a car with a tiger in the passenger’s seat a la Ricky Bobby.  There’s also a mission called “Stop All the Downloading” and an achievement named “Porkchop Sandwiches”, both of which are references to the hilarious Fensler Films GI Joe parodies.  Most of the characters in this game are pretty good and surprisingly well thought out.  Our teammate Kenzie is a cute and highly paranoid hacker that I just found adorable.  Zimos is a pimp with a voice box that auto-tuned everything he said, so pretty much everything he said made me laugh.  Also, Burt fuckin’ Reynolds is the mayor of Steelport.  BURT … FUCKING … REYNOLDS!

The joys and frustrations I had in this game came from the gameplay.  Over the top violence was battling against cars getting stuck in crucial moments to find out whether I would be thoroughly entertained or overly aggravating.  It’s all third-person shooter with the ability to hop into vehicles at random.  The guns are your basic variety that tend to get better as you upgrade them.  Pistols (that turn explosive with upgrades), rifles and shotguns (that can be lasers as you advance), SMGs, Rocket Launchers, etc.  All pretty typical stuff … except for the giant dildo.  Yes, this game allows you to beat down your enemies with a giant purple dildo.  There are also interesting melee things to be found, such as running up and punching an enemy to do a finisher on them, or run up and press the button to enter a vehicle to dive through a window, Bo Duke style.  This stuff all worked for me with little to no complaints.  I did get annoyed with how fast your notoriety could ramp up, sending waves and waves of enemies at you that you couldn’t hold ground against, but this get’s more manageable as you upgrade yourself.  The stuff I typically got annoyed with was the driving.  I’ve never found the driving in these games that well done.  You can drive through almost anything, but randomly there are electrical poles that will stop you in your tracks.  I also found myself getting stuck against walls a few times.  And heaven help you if you get a flat tire.  With as well-polished and fun as the rest of the game was, I found these little mistakes extra annoying.  Occasionally, mouth animations would also not match up to what the people were saying, and I found it extra annoying that the game tips didn’t seem to go away until the final third of the game.  Alright, game, I got it!  They also did a part of the game that I found very entertaining when we were put into a computer game that was being controlled by someone else.  Some parts of it were really cool and funny, but they also made the boss able to cause us to lag.  I know they did this on purpose, but people hate lag in games for a reason, so you probably should put it in your game.  On the other hand, I really liked the look of some of the trailblazer missions that looked like Tron, and I really liked the Insurance Fraud missions that came back from previous games that require you to jump in front of cars for money.  Those were good times.

Music is also a somewhat important part of games like this.  Once the Grand Theft Auto games started putting actual licensed music in their games, it added an extra level of fun.  Now we could do these ridiculous things while listening to music that we like!  This game keeps such an idea going by putting lots of licensed music in their game.  They have a very eclectic selection of music in this game, including rock, techno, reggaeton, and some music from Adult Swim TV shows.  Rap seemed to be the biggest selection (as would be appropriate for this kind of game), but I felt their Metal selection was not to my liking.  I did, however, play their 80’s music on repeat, running people over to what seemed to be the soundtrack to the Rocky movies.  I AM the best … around, and nothings going to ever keep me down.  You may, in fact, need a hero, and I imagine you are holding on for a hero till the end of the night, but you need to relax.  There’s no easy way out, after all.  No shortcut home, whatsoever.

It’s goofy, ridiculous, and bombastic, but it’s a pretty damned good amount of fun.  The glitches I encountered were few and far between, but I found them so annoying it dampened my affections for the game.  The story was nice and fun, and the gameplay was ridiculous and satisfying, but I found that there were a few places that could have used a little more polish.  The achievements will mostly come to you by the time you complete the game with very little mopping up afterwards, but you do need to pay attention to a few things so that you don’t get rid of all the other gangs when you need them for some achievements.  If you love the GTA series, but think they take themselves too seriously, this is the game for you.  Either way, there’s some good fun to be had.  Saint’s Row: The Third gets “It’s like a helicopter fucked a jet!” out of “Oh yeah?  You and how many of your … oh, that many…”

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Demolition Man (1993)


We’re Police Officers!  We’re Not Trained to Handle This Kind of Violence!

When the request for today’s movie came from my friend Loni, I says “Fuck yes.”  I not only know this movie, but I dig on this movie hardcore to the max.  Is this a smart movie?  Hell no!  Is it comprised solely of the greatest actors of our time?  Not by a long shot!  Does it have a good message?  No, not really.  But is it fun?  Shit yes.  A big dumb action movie if there ever was one, I give you my review of Demolition Man, written by Peter M. Lenkov, Robert Scott Reneau, and Daniel Waters, directed by Marco Brambilla, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, Bob Gunton, Denis Leary, Glenn Shadix, Benjamin Bratt, Bill Cobbs, Rob Schneider, Jesse Ventura, and Grand L. Bush.

LA is a pretty shitty place in 1996.  I don’t say “This movie’s version of LA” ’cause LA is still a pretty shitty place.  Either way, violent criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) is holding a bunch of people hostage and only one person is willing to do anything about it.  That man is Detective John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone).  This badass mamma jamma busts in on Phoenix and starts whooping that ass, getting the building completely destroyed in the fray.  Turns out that Phoenix’s hostages were not as dead as he led Spartan to believe, and Spartan is now responsible for their deaths.  Both men get put into cryogenic prison, Spartan for 70 years, Phoenix for life.  Somehow, in 2032, Phoenix comes up for parole first, and uses that (plus some new skills of mysterious origin) to escape.  The world has become such a peaceful place and none of them know how to deal with Phoenix’s level of violence.  Policeman Zachary Lamb (Bill Cobbs) suggests that Spartan be thawed out, being the best person at dealing with Phoenix.  Obsessed with the old days, Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) is totally on board.  Chief George Earle (Bob Gunton) is less enthused.  But the man that saved the world and made it so safe for everyone, Doctor Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), told the Chief he could do anything within his power to stop Phoenix, and so Spartan is revived.  Spartan needs to figure out this new time, while simultaneously trying to stop Phoenix from killing Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), who he feels strangely compelled to kill for some odd reason.

Not a smart movie, but definitely a fun movie.  Many critics would hate on this movie for somewhat predictable story, some pretty awful dialogue, and mediocre performances, but that’s not what I offer you.  I speak for the Every Man, for the working class.  I dig this movie for it’s action and it’s fun.  No one goes into this movie expecting to be blown away, but instead to see lots of people get blown away.  There’s a lot of stuff you expect from this movie, and they don’t shy away from giving it to you.  The characters all have one personality trait because that’s all they need.  They love to throw out one-liners, which are hit and miss, and Bullock is going to throw them out, but get them very wrong.  When Sly says “You’re on TV” before hitting Snipes with a TV set, that’s not a great line.  When Simon says “You’re dead” and Sly says “You forgot to say ‘Simon says'” before electrocuting him, that works.  When Bullock says “Let’s go down there and blow this guy”, apparently having forgotten “away” at the end, I couldn’t help but think the movie would have been more interesting if Bullock and Sly went down their and blew Snipes, Brown Bunny style!  I don’t want to see it, but you couldn’t say the movie didn’t surprise you.  I think Sly may have also responded to “See you in Hell” with a super-stinging “Not” retort.  This was part of the dialogue during the last battle between Phoenix and Spartan, where the dialogue just seemed to have been taken out of a “What you’d expect to hear in an action movie” book and randomly thrown together, with no regard to if they made sense.  I really liked when Sly says “You’re gonna regret this the rest of your life.  Both seconds of it”.  I also thought it was really funny that they were talking about Schwarzenegger having been president, which was such a ridiculous concept in 1993.  Not as ridiculous to us in 2012, especially the ones of us from California.  The story of the movie will not surprise you, but you’ll probably enjoy it.  It’s just a fun movie.  It’s like a classic action movie that was going on in the background of Back to the Future Part 2.  They try to throw a little ill-conceived message in the end about not wanting the world to be so overly safe that you can’t be who you want to be, but there should be SOME control.  It’s a bit “Duh”, but they don’t waste too much of your time beating you over the head with it.  It actually looks pretty good too.  It does look fairly futuristic, and throws a couple of cool ideas in there.  They got a good deal of mileage out of the swear machine, cool stun batons, and self driving cars.  Pretty interesting and good looking.

This movie does not raise many deep, philosophical questions, but one certainly has stuck with me since I first saw the movie: How do the three seashells work?  I have a couple theories.  The first, and most obvious, is that the shells are for scooping.  Scoop once for each cheek, and one right down the middle.  This would seem rather unsanitary, so I would assume they’re replaced into some kind of cleaning apparatus that completely disinfects them.  This doesn’t seem like the best butt-cleaning solution because it’s really not much better than what we do now with toilet paper.  Perhaps better for the environment that we’re not wasting paper, but I assume much worse because they’re reused.  Another solution could be that these seashells weren’t actually seashells.  Spartan could have seen something that resembled seashells and his neanderthal brain turned it into seashells.  Perhaps a series of sponges or (and more hygienically) three seashell-shaped squeeze bottles filled with cleaning and disinfecting solution.  Some theories on the interwebs assume that these seashells could, perhaps, actually be buttons that activate various stages of an elaborate bidet system.  This would be very hygienic, but would probably be something Spartan could have discovered.  There are some questions the world may never know the answer to, but we do have 20 years to figure that out.

Back to the review!  The performances were what you expect out of this movie.  Not great, but entertaining.  Sly is in great shape in the movie, and lays a nice whoopin when it’s called for.  He also pulls off being very puzzled by 2032.  I could’ve done without having to see his ass and nuts when he was getting frozen, though.  Snipes does a good deal of crazy in the movie as well.  Sandra Bullock was the standout performance in the movie for me.  She had a pretty adorable childlike innocence to her that I really liked.  It also helps that she’s pretty.  But she’s also kind of a whore.  I mean, the chick mentally fucks Sly on the first date!  I need a woman that respects herself, not some mind-slut!

Demolition Man definitely holds up for me.  It’s the kind of big stupid fun you need sometimes.  Fine story, hit and miss dialogue, cool action, and exactly the performances the movie calls for.  It doesn’t aim to change the world, and barely tries to mean something.  It just wants to entertain you, and I’m happy to say it does every time.  I haven’t looked into how YOU can watch this movie, because it wasn’t necessary.  It was already in my collection.  Demolition Man gets “Looks like there’s a new shepherd in town” out of “Take this job and shovel it.”

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