Evil Alien Conquerors (2002)


I Had No Dream!

Another request of a movie I had never heard of, but this time it came from my friend Gristle.  With no clue what I was getting myself into, I first went to Netflix and was happy to find this movie available for Netflix streaming, keeping me from having to get out of my chair to find it.  And when I started watching it, I found myself even more delighted to find out this movie stars a great many people that I find hilarious, but who have not necessarily made it in the mainstream.  I was excited to see what the combination of a large number of funny people might bring me.  What they brought me was Evil Alien Conquerors, written and directed by Chris Matheson, and starring Diedrich Bader, Chris Parnell, Mike McShane, Tyler Labine, Michael Weston, Tori Spelling, Nicole Robinson, Elden Henson, Beth Grant, Phil LaMarr, and Martin Spanjers.

It may surprise you to find out that this movie is about two aliens who are evil and are attempting to conquer Earth.  These two aliens, My-ik (Diedrich Bader) and Du-ug (Chris Parnell), are sent to Earth by their leader, the mighty Rabirr (Mike McShane), and his emissary Vel-Dan (Phil LaMarr) and ordered to behead all of the Earthlings in two days, in preparation for the coming of the 100 foot tall Croker (Tyler Labine).  They are the second group to be sent to Earth, since the first group disappeared after a teleporter failure.  But that has been fixed … mostly … probably.  They’re sent to Earth, but their powerful swords are accidentally turned into swords the size of toothpicks by the teleporter.  This does not matter, because they are so much more powerful than the weak Earthlings.  They quickly meet Kenny (Michael Weston), who takes them in and offers them shelter and help in taking over the world.  But the two aliens quickly find that they are pretty ineffectual when it comes to conquering planets.  Can they accomplish their mission in time, or will they too face the wrath of the mighty Croker?

This movie takes a potentially funny premise and some usually funny actors and make a fairly lackluster film.  It’s a comedy, but it seems to just take a fairly thin premise and stretch it very thin, without actually doing that much funny stuff in between.  I’m sure we’ve all seen a film or two about aliens coming to Earth, and the hilarious contrast between the two cultures.  The aliens in this movie introduce themselves as evil alien conquerors and quickly decide what manner of death that person will meet.  They also quickly become infatuated with Smirnoff Ice, Sun Chips, and the band Supertramp.  Take these jokes, rince and repeat, and keep doing so for about 50 minutes.  When at that point you decide the audience is bored, reintroduce the giant Croker, but have him be shrunk down to regular human size, but have him refuse to admit that he’s now smaller.  That will fill the rest of the movie.  They try to get a lot of mileage out of absurdity and quirkiness, but none of it ever reached a point that made me laugh.  I didn’t hate watching it, I just didn’t laugh.

I like the greater majority of the actors in this movie, but I feel like they just didn’t have that much to work with.  Either that, or most of them were just let off the leash and needed to be corralled into funniness a little better.  I’m a huge Diedrich Bader fan.  He’s made a misstep or two (Meet the Spartans), but I generally at least like him in everything I see him in.  Office Space, Jay and Silent Bob Stirke Back, even the Beverly Hillbillies movie.  In this movie, he didn’t do much for me.  Chris Parnell suffers from the same perception from me as does Bader: I’m just not convinced that they should be leads in a movie.  Both are awesome as background comic relief.  Remember Parnell in Anchorman?  Hilarious!  I first fell in love with Tyler Labine when I saw him in Zack and Miri Make a Porno as the drunk guy that walks into the middle of a porno shoot.  I liked that whole movie, but that one small part sticks in my mind as the funniest part.  In this movie, however, he was just way over the top as Croker, which can work sometimes, but in this instance just worked on my nerves.  Sadly, the same stuff can be said about most of the cast.  I thought they were hilarious in other things.  What happened here?

I don’t mean to beat up on this movie too much.  It’s not a horrible movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it did not connect with my sense of humor at all.  I thought it was quirky, but a little boring and they stretched the premise way too thin.  It’s available on Netflix streaming, so you can give it a shot yourself if you like.  My friend Jesse generally has a good sense of humor, and I assume he liked this movie if he recommended it to me, so maybe it will connect with you better than it did with me.  A lot of people liked Napoleon Dynamite, after all, but I despise that movie.  Give it a go sometime, see if you like it.  But, for me, Evil Alien Conquerors gets “You will die painlessly!” out of “They are imbued with Kabijjian magnificence!”

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Hot Rod (2007)


The Movie Brave Enough to be Viciously Unfunny

This movie definitely came as a punishment for having the gall to do something creative and productive. My involvement with this movie started when my friend Robert reported to his brother Phil and the rest of my group that this movie was the funniest movie ever. He talked it up so much that my group met up to watch this movie. We were almost the only people in the theater, but it had been out for a bit so we didn’t think that was unusual. What we did think was unusual was the fact that we wanted to kill ourselves while watching it. Bring us up into the present and the first movie requested by one of my best friends, Phil, is this movie again. It makes me wonder if he thinks he’s in my will or something. Well, enough pussyfooting around the issue. This movie is Hot Rod, directed by Akiva Schaffer and starring Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone, Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek, Will Arnett, and Chris Parnell.

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) has tried to emulate his deceased father for his entire life by trying to be a stuntman. Problem is, he sucks at it. Every time he tries to jump something he crashes and injures himself. It’s partially due to his stupidity, but one could also blame his ramp builder Rico (Danny McBride) for his shoddy craftsmanship. Rod lives at home with his mom (Sissy Spacek) and his stepfather (Ian McShane), as well as his little half brother/team manager Kevin (Jorma Taccone). For nearly inexplicable reasons, Rod is constantly trying to beat his stepfather in a fist fight, but is never able. His stepfather has apparently had a heart condition for a long time and it is revealed to Rod that his step father doesn’t have long to live. Unless, of course, he’s able to accomplish the highly unlikely task of raising $50,000 for his heart transplant. A good portion of the rest of the movie is basically a really long montage of Rod preparing for a gigantic jump to make the money. There’s also a pretty typical love interest thing in there between Rod and Denise (Isla Fisher), but she has a boyfriend (Will Arnett). Kevin makes a video of Rod crashing a lot that makes Rod doubt his abilities, but also makes people interested in watching him jump. His team convinces him to go through with the jump, an AM radio station sponsor’s it, he fails the jump but makes the money, and gets Denise. At the end, he finally beats his stepfather in combat.

Expectations are a really important thing when it comes to movies. If you go in to see a move you’ve heard is awful and it turns out to be mediocre, you come out pleasantly surprised with positive memories in your brain. If you’ve heard that a movie is hilarious and you spend the entire movie waiting for a time when you will laugh, you will want to kill yourself. The best thing I can say about Hot Rod is that, this time, I went in knowing it was awful so it was nowhere near as painful as it was the first time. Is it good? Hell no! Is it funny? Not even remotely. But, I didn’t kill myself. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Let’s talk story and laughs. …Okay, there aren’t any. The story is pretty typical and one I’m sure we’ve all seen in better movies before. Someone needs an operation that costs a certain amount of money, something comes along that will pay exactly the amount needed, everything works out. Also you have love interest, problem, resolution. And, just for good measure, throw in some of the old “guy with a passion for something, doubts himself, begins to believe in himself again”. All very typical. What could set that apart in a comedy is some good laughs. Should’ve told them that before they made the movie, I guess. The jokes in this movie span from trying to be funny but failing to epically unfunny. The greater majority of their jokes are slapstick jokes of people falling down a hill for about 5 minutes or so. This came right after – and subsequently ruined – one of the closest parts in the movie to amusing, when Rod gets angry and has to go to the woods to dance it out, doing a parody of Footloose. This is cute for a while, then they ruin it with slapstick humor again. And, if they’re not that, they’re strange jokes that I’m sure someone thought was humorous when they were writing it, but I just found pointless and annoying. Examples of this is when Rod rang a bell and they went around their group trying to imitate the tone with their voice. …Funny, right? Or how about when Rod and Frank were reconciling after a fight and they ended it with “Cool beans”, and then took that and cut it up so they were almost making a rap out of cool beans. I can’t really explain it, and I don’t want to. Rod also tends to be unable to keep his thoughts in his head and so he says most of them out loud. Also, for some reason, he tries to call upon the spirit of random animals before he attempts a jump. There was also a joke about the pronunciation of “whiskey” and “what” in the movie that you may remember from an episode of Family Guy when Stewie over-pronounces the “h” in Cool Whip. And yes, I did do the research. That episode of Family Guy came out a year before this movie. It was in the episode Barely Legal from 2006. I’m not saying that the makers of Hot Rod are unfunny people that copied Family Guy, I’m just saying they’re unfunny.

I feel like I can describe my thoughts about the performances in this movie in once sentence: “I normally like *blank*, but they did nothing to elevate this movie above crap.” That will pretty much cover it. Andy Samberg’s crew all have roughly the same cocky idiot persona in the movie. Danny McBride plays every other Danny McBride character minus the funny things to say, though he is probably the one that comes the closest to being funny. Isla Fisher does a fine job, but I admittedly mostly liked her because she’s cute. She pretty obviously wants Rod (pun intended), but he’d rather ruin it for most of the movie by being a cocky idiot. Will Arnett’s performance was interesting because he seemed to be the one person in the movie who realized the events of the movie were stupid and unfunny, so I was able to relate to him. Sissy Spacek was the mother in this movie, and the performance she put on when she had to confess to Rod that his father wasn’t actually a daredevil was way too good for this movie.

Beyond the somewhat enjoyable, 80’s rock soundtrack, there’s nothing in this movie that makes it worth watching. It takes a bunch of overused premises and mixes them in to a bunch of stupid slapstick jokes and non sequitars. I like almost every person that acted in this movie, but the movie was so bad that this didn’t matter. If you think America’s Funniest Home Videos is the funniest thing on television (as long as you think that solely because of the videos of people getting hit in the groin), then this may be a movie you’ll enjoy. Everyone else, I wouldn’t bother. And I would just like to say that you are all welcome for me lowering your expectations about this movie so you don’t have the same problem my friends and I had. I give Hot Rod “I said you look shitty” out of “I owe you a shot in the nuts.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!