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!”

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!

Surf’s Up (2007)

A real man is strong enough to admit when he’s wrong. Now, I don’t know if I’d say I was wrong, per se, but … oh wait. Never mind, I was totally wrong. So, in my previous review I revealed that I had rented 2 computer animated movies about birds, and that I had decided one would be crap and the other one would be alright (which was revealed yesterday to be Rio). What I was wrong about was that today’s movie, Surf’s Up (with the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder, Diedrich Bader, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, and Brian Posehn), would be crap.

Cody Maverick (okay, we can knock a few points off for giving TheBeef that name) is an aspiring surfing penguin living in Antarctica with his mother and his brother (Brian Posehn). A bird of some kind rides a whale up to Antarctica looking for surfer’s for a yearly contest held in tribute to Big Z, a famous surfing penguin who died some years back while surfing, and also happens to be TheBeef’s inspiration. Cody begs his way onto the whale and catches a trip down to … wherever the Hell it took place. It’s not important, okay?! On the whale, he meets a surfing chicken, name Chicken Joe (voiced by Napoleon Dynamite himself, Jon Heder) who is on his way to the competition and seems to be either constantly stoned or brain damaged. They reach the contest and meet the douchey contest manager, Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), the much more douchey previous year’s champion, Tank Evans (the amazing Deidrich Bader, who had never let me down in a movie until I sat through Meet the Spartans), and the love interest, Lani (Zooey Deschanel, whose name I really resent having to type). Anyway, TheBeef challenges Tank because Tank was douching it up to Chicken Joe, but TheBeef is not that good of a surfer and crashes, gets pummeled by waves, and inevitably gets knocked out by hitting his head against a rock. Lani rescues him and takes him back to her house for treatment from her uncle, Geek (The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges). Can TheBeef learn to surf and win the competition? Tune in to the movie to find out! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

I completely went in to this movie with low expectations and this movie was able to blow those expectations out of the water (pun intended). The voice acting really suited their parts. You need a kind of annoying teenage sounding person? TheBeef! You need three people that can act (?) stoned and loopy? Bridges, Heder, and Zooey! I mean, with a name like Zooey, how can you not be interested in mind-altering substances? Need two douchebags? Woods and Bader can play that! And you need a sarcastic older brother type? Well I WISH Posehn was my older brother! Completely perfect cast. Although this movie does make me wonder about Bridges in a way I may have mentioned on my review of the Big Lebowski. Had I not seen True Grit, I would think Bridges is a fantastic actor … while playing characters that are basically The Dude. Both Tron’s, Surf’s Up, and of course Big Lebowski; all of them The Dude. Thankfully I have seen True Grit so I know the man has range. I need to see more Jeff Bridges movies to either solidify or destroy the idea that he can only do one character really well. I don’t want to start thinking he’s Danny McBride or something. OH! Low blow?

Anyway, just like Rio and completely opposite Alpha and Omega, this movie is really well animated. Just having seen the few trailers I had, I also would not have realized that the movie was meant to look like someone was filming a documentary, but it was and this was used well in the movie. Not too much so that it’d be annoying, but also using that to comic effect in itself. The animation was also great. The animation gave a lot of personality to the characters and, most importantly, had really beautiful and realistic water effects. Non-gamers may not realize how important water effects can be. When you see a game whose animation cannot pull off water, it’s bothersome, but if it does it right, you notice it. I feel like I pay attention to water in video games a lot because it can be quite the sign of the dedication of the programmers. One problem with the animation is that sometimes you’d lose track of the characters because there’s not a whole lot you can do with penguins to individualize them.

The story was fine, but as is pretty usual in movies, it’s not entirely original. I guess you could say it’s original in that it’s a competition where the main character learns how to win and also learns about himself, but then make them penguins. And I wouldn’t say that the movie is laugh out loud funny either, as I don’t recall laughing myself. The jokes and comedy of the movie were just kind of there. I noticed them, they waved, but they never ran over and raped me into laughter. Wow that’s an awful metaphor. One thing I did think about the story is that, being animated, it seemed more for kids, but I don’t know that a kid would enjoy this beyond seeing penguins. So, whereas Rio was probably more enjoyable to kids than adults, I would say this one would be more for adults but the kids probably wouldn’t think much of it. Maybe I just don’t know what kids think. If I did, I probably wouldn’t hate them so much.

So there you have it, I sometimes assume incorrectly. But, I may also have been thinking this was Happy Feet when I rented it. Thankfully, it wasn’t. But when I eventually see Happy Feet, we shall see if that movie can overcome my pessimism as Surf’s Up did. I give this movie “Give it a look-see” out of “TACOS!!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.