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Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

The Wizard

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Ever since 1989 I have been curious what the deal is with this “THE WIZARD” Nintendosploitation movie starring Fred Savage. But back then I was pretty busy having Batmania, so I remember I said “I better wait for Shout Factory to release a remastered 2-disc collector’s edition Blu-Ray.” And now that day has come.

The movie opens with Jimmy (Luke Edwards, I KNOW MY FIRST NAME IS STEVEN, NEWSIES, LITTLE BIG LEAGUE, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2), a seemingly autistic boy, walking along a desert highway. He must’ve been walking for a while, because there’s a small plane looking for him. When a cop comes and gets him, all the poor kid will say is “California.”

His motives are mysterious, but we’re told he’s been horribly traumatized, so it must have something to do with that. That doesn’t make his jerky stepdad (Sam McMurray, C.H.U.D., STONE COLD, CLASS ACT) any more patient with his wandering, so he decides to put Jimmy in what everyone keeps referring to as “a home.” That especially pisses off Jimmy’s brother or half-brother or whatever, Corey (Savage, director of DADDY DAY CAMP), who lives with his older brother Nick (Christian Slater, HE WAS A QUIET MAN) and drunk loser dad (Beau Bridges, MAX PAYNE). (read the rest of this shit…)

Charlie’s Angels

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) continues the concept of the original Charlie’s Angels tv series and previous movies: some guy named Charlie (now the voice of Robert Clotworthy, who was in both WHO’S THAT GIRL and HE’S MY GIRL in 1987) who you only hear over a speaker runs The Townsend Agency, which originally was a private detective agency but now seems to be an international spy organization? Its agents are all beautiful, glamorous women who are martial artists, masters of disguise, etc.

Since their helper “Bosley” has been played by many different actors throughout the franchise, this one explains that “Bosley” is a rank, like General, and we meet Bosleys played by Patrick Stewart (GUNMEN), Djimon Hounsou (ELEPHANT WHITE) and Elizabeth Banks (SLITHER), the latter of whom also directed and wrote the screenplay (story by Evan Spiliotopoulos [BATTLE FOR TERRA] and David Auburn [Tony and Pulitzer winner for the 2000 play Proof]. They bring together wild American Angel Sabina (Kristen Stewart, PANIC ROOM) and former MI-6 Angel Jane (Ella Balinska) to protect engineer Elena (Naomi Scott, Jasmine from live action ALADDIN, Pink Ranger from POWER RANGERS movie). Having created a vaguely defined clean energy device called Calisto for her employer, Elena has gone whistleblower after learning that it can be used to give people strokes, and now some tattooed hipster assassin asshole named Hodak (Jonathan Tucker, who played Boon, the last guy Raylan killed on Justified) is trying to kill her. (read the rest of this shit…)

In Fabric

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

IN FABRIC is a unique little movie – a horror film that’s not exactly serious, but not adverse to making its absurd premise work; a comedy too, but dry as freshly folded laundry. It’s primarily an exercise in style, a period piece exalting the golden era of Italian horror with its slender beauties and very good retro score – more proggy than the synthy stuff everybody is doing now – by somebody called “Cavern of Anti-Matter.” It fetishizes retail fashion, taking place in and around the women’s department at a ritzy London department store, frequently featuring montages of (and a nightmare about) catalog models, having its characters repeatedly make small talk about “the sales,” and whether each other found anything good to buy. And of course mannequins. Lots of mannequins the look like people and people that look like mannequins.

And it’s about a killer dress. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tiger On Beat

Monday, February 10th, 2020

TIGER ON BEAT is a 1988 Chow Yun Fat cop movie that’s not an untouchable masterpiece like HARD BOILED, but a goofy ‘80s time capsule sort of in the tradition of Hollywood buddy cop action comedies of the era. It opens and closes with an appropriately cheesy hard rock theme song.
Chow’s character Francis Li is that type of cop we’re supposed to be charmed by for his careless attitude (until he gets serious about a case) and his relentless hitting on every woman he meets.

We first meet him in bed with a woman, their ankles handcuffed together, when her husband gets home. Somehow he convinces the husband that he’s a good samaritan doing CPR on her as a favor to him while he goes out drinking. Because he’s this smooth-talking, crazy-lying guy I thought for a minute it was gonna be his BEVERLY HILLS COP. There’s even a pretty great synth tune, but unfortunately it doesn’t turn out to be as prevalent in the movie as “Axel F. Theme” was. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jojo Rabbit

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Shortly after Taika Waititi’s JOJO RABBIT was nominated for best picture I started to see people cast aspersions. Before that I had mostly heard that it was only okay. And that was kind of what I expected, because I first knew Waititi from WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, and that’s one of those movies that I saw and thought was pretty funny but when five years passed and people were still talking about it like it was the first time they fell in love I couldn’t relate.

That was a stupid thing to get hung up on. Since then Waititi had become better known for injecting the THOR series with life, color and humor, and more importantly he’d made THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. I loved that movie, and JOJO is in a similar vein: a funny, clever story with deep emotions bubbling up from beneath its quirky surface. Which admittedly feels weird to say, because it’s about, uh, Nazi Germany.

Johannes (Roman Griffin Davis, his first movie) and his friend Yorki (Archie Yates, UNTITLED HOME ALONE REBOOT) are enthusiastic participants at a sort of MOONRISE-KINGDOM-looking Hitler Youth summer camp. They’re big nerds taking great pride in learning all the normal boy scout camping shit, and they look like they could be in a live action Peanuts movie, but they’ve also been convinced it’s their patriotic duty to spout all the nonsense they’ve been taught about Nazis being the good guys and Jews being monsters. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tammy and the T-Rex

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Everybody has that list of the movies they know they should’ve seen but just haven’t yet for some reason. For me right now it includes BARRY LYNDON, THE DEER HUNTER, the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, KUNDUN, MASTER AND COMMANDER, THE INSIDER, and others. But it no longer includes TAMMY AND THE T-REX. Progress.

TAMMY is a movie from 1994 that I was vaguely aware of as a cheesy family comedy only released on VHS. I definitely confused it with THEODORE REX at times, but I knew it had young Denise Richards (her first starring role) and Paul Walker (his third movie, after MONSTER IN THE CLOSET and PROGRAMMED TO KILL) and was supposed to be pretty crazy. Then last year there was an important new development in film scholarship: somebody discovered a print of a “gory cut” of TAMMY. Turns out before it was released straight to video it was edited down from a very R-rated horror comedy (both terms used loosely). So it played Fantastic Fest and Vinegar Syndrome released a beautiful Blu-Ray special edition and now it’s playing on Shudder. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Art of Self-Defense

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE is an odd little indie comedy about karate. I wondered if it would be too similar to THE FOOT FIST WAY, the early Danny McBride movie that jibed so well with my sense of humor that when I first rented it I watched it two times in a row. Come to think of it, this movie’s sensei (Alessandro Nivola, AMERICAN HUSTLE) has a philosophy of punching like a kick and kicking like a punch, whatever that means, and that could be called a “foot fist way.” But this is a very different movie. The humor is very dry, the dialogue seems precise as opposed to improvised, and the protagonist is a timid nerd who transforms rather than a blowhard who is just a total asshole from the beginning.

The timid nerd is Casey Davies (Jesse Eisenberg, CURSED), an awkward accountant for an unnamed company. The bros in the break room don’t appreciate him trying to join their conversations, his best friend is his dachshund, and he gets stomped by random motorcyclists while trying to buy dog food. I love the slightly surreal touches that convey his loneliness: the news report that describes him as “a 35 year old dog owner,” the robotic answering machine voice that says “you have only 1 message.” (Though not obviously tied to a specific time period, it’s one with audio cassettes, fat-ass analog TVs and large camcorders with carrying bags.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost 2

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, by which I mean I finally watched JACK FROST and wrote about it. This year, I wouldn’t say I was in tears, but JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN wasn’t as special.

I mean… they tried. Writer/director Michael Cooney returned in the year 2000 (three years after the original) with another scrappy low budget bag of silliness. This one does not have a fancy Vinegar Syndrome special edition, because it was shot in shiny ugly digital video, so what would be the point? There are a couple obvious stock footage shots and I thought “Oh, that’s what a real movie looks like.” On his commentary track (respect for including that), Cooney says he hopes people don’t notice that the stock footage looks different. Whoops. (read the rest of this shit…)

Once Upon a Time in Venice

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

About 12 miles and 48 years from ONCE UPON A TIME …IN HOLLYWOOD lies ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE. In this 2017 DTV joint, Bruce Willis is the center of a sunny, quirky, comedic crime tale ensemble. Though the story is narrated by his dorky new assistant John (Thomas Middleditch, THE KINGS OF SUMMER), it revolves around Bruce’s low-life private eye Steve Ford. As you do in these movies, a pan through his office shows us some of his history through the medium of props. For example, some photos and a surfboard tell us he’s a surfer. There’s one touch that made me laugh, but maybe wasn’t supposed to: we learn he’s a disgraced ex-cop from an article that calls him “disgraced” in the headline. Why would he frame that and put it on his wall? It’s not even an important piece of exposition.

Anyway, Steve has two small time cases:

1. Find a missing woman named Nola (Jessica Gomes, “KSI Spokesmodel,” TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION)

2. Find the graffiti artist painting obscene murals of real estate developer Lou the Jew (Adam Goldberg, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, voice of Flealick in BABE: PIG IN THE CITY) on his buildings (read the rest of this shit…)

Blood Paradise

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

BLOOD PARADISE is a 2018 independent horror film that was released in July by Artsploitation on disc and digital – they must’ve sent it to me because I was on their list from reviewing RONDO. Like that one it’s a low budget movie from some hard working unknowns, but it gets huge mileage out of a great cast, some good cinematography and nice scenery. It’s simple, but it’s slick and has a distinct oddness and humor, and it’s over in 84 minutes without feeling rushed. Not bad.

Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) is a rich and world famous author of what I gather to be the type of novels that sell alot of hard cover copies at airports. But the latest in her once popular Blood Paradise series is a flop, so her agent convinces her to go on a retreat. Why not stop all this laying around in the sun at her picturesque Italian villa when she could rent a small cottage on a farm in Sweden and get started on the next book?

The accommodations turn out to be less than luxurious, and she’s not the kind of person who enjoys seeing farm animals slaughtered outside her window. As if that’s not bad enough, it quickly becomes clear that she’s surrounded by potential creepos. Whether they are just weird or worthy of fearing remains to be seen. (read the rest of this shit…)