"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't daddy's little boy no more."

Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

Kenny & Company

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

tn_kennyBefore he did PHANTASM, a 22 year old Don Coscarelli wasn’t even looking to be a horror director. He got together the people he knew and filmed in his neighborhood and made this sweet coming-of-age type comedy about growing up in the California suburbs of the ’70s. Kenny (Dan McCann) is a kid about 12 or 13, his company is Doug (PHANTASM star A. Michael Baldwin) and Sherman (Jeff Roth), a goofy younger kid from across the street who they pick on but start becoming real friends with when they see him getting beat up by Johnny Hoffman (Willy Masterson), the same neighborhood bully they live in terror of.
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Machete Kills

Monday, October 14th, 2013

tn_machetekillsThere are lots of funny things in MACHETE KILLS. For a while it coasts on enjoyably stupid jokes, like the ridiculous trailer for part 3 of the series that it opens with. Early on it has a little faux-serious melodrama, playing it almost straight when a clash with rogue soldiers, a Mexican drug cartel and an army in lucha libre masks leads to the death of Machete (Danny Trejo, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN, MARKED FOR DEATH)’s partner. I like the setup, with a redneck Arizona sheriff (William Sadler, DIE HARD 2) failing to hang Machete before he gets called in by the president (Charlie Sheen, NAVY SEALS, credited as Carlos Estevez) who offers him citizenship in exchange for doing a dangerous mission. I thought the joke of casting him was to have a guy as crazy as Sheen as the president, like wasn’t Mickey Rourke the president in MASKED AND ANONYMOUS? It honestly didn’t occur to me until seeing him on a White House set that his dad played the president in The West Wing (not to mention playing Kennedy). Anyway, the best part is the idea that this unsavory slasher/wife-and-daughter-fucker/assassin gets to sit in the White House and hear his offer.

Trejo’s face is even more rugged than ever, if possible, and he doesn’t have to joke around. He’s fun to watch just being that same character, but now equipped with various high-tech variations on machetes to chop people up with. Robert Rodriguez (credited as sole director this time, and also with his name above the title, but only a co-story credit) once again fills the movie with a huge, unlikely cast, mostly playing colorful gimmicky characters: Mel Gibson (PAPARAZZI) as a weapon inventor/space cultist planning to blow up the world, Demian Bichir (2012 best actor nominee for A BETTER LIFE) as a revolutionary/terrorist/something, Amber Heard (DRIVE ANGRY) as a government agent undercover as a beauty queen, Walton Goggins/Cuba Gooding Jr./Lady Gaga/Antonio Banderas all playing the same assassin called El Camaleon, Vanessa Hudgens (SPRING BREAKERS) as a girl that’s in one part, Sofia Vergara allowing Salma Hayek some dignity by stepping in to play the deadly Madam character with army of killer prostitutes (see also Lucy Liu in THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, Zoe Bell in BAYTOWN OUTLAWS, etc.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

tn_mrandmrssmith

2005
2005

MR. & MRS. SMITH is an action comedy from Doug Liman, the director of THE BOURNE IDENTITY and JUMPER.  It has had a bigger imprint on pop culture than JUMPER because it caused Brad Pitt to ditch the lady he was with at the time and stick with his wife in the movie, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER THE CRADLE OF LIFE star Angelina Jolie. The two play John and Jane Smith (of course), who have been married for “5 or 6 years” without knowing that each other are highly skilled assassins for rival secret organizations. It’s kind of like TRUE LIES I guess but less hateful, more equal (though also the action, like the movie in general, is not as huge).

John works out of a cluttered headquarters like a construction office, his partner a misogynist loser who lives in his Mom’s basement (Vince Vaughn, his shtick already pretty worn out by that point). John keeps his weapons in a secret bunker under the tool shed. Jane’s firm is a high tech MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type joint in a high rise. She seems to be the boss, pampered by an all female, all model staff including Kerry Washington. At one point she tells two of them to make her coffee. Her weapons, of course, are in a secret compartment under the oven.
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Hit & Run

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

tn_hitandrunHere’s how I know marketing failed HIT & RUN: I was one of its test subjects. Some time last year I was at the multiplex picking up tickets for later in the day. In the lobby sometimes they have these survey people showing trailers on little monitors and asking focus group type questions. I always wondered what that was about, and I had some time to kill, so when they asked me to do it I said yes.

I saw other people being tested on THE EXPENDABLES 2, which at the time seemed exciting. But too my disappointment the survey focused on HIT & RUN, which I learned was a comedy starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold and Bradley Cooper as the bad guy. They showed me variations of different commercials, mainly consisting of Arnold yelling, Shepard getting hit in the face with a golf club, a car going off a jump, and the various actors in cars looking scared like they’re gonna crash. Some had a heavy emphasis on a scene where squeaky-voiced Kristen Chenoweth talks about taking Xanex. I struggled to answer questions like “What do you think the movie is about?” and “What is your favorite part?” (Answers: 1. “Well, they said he was a bank robber, so they’re after him? I don’t know.” 2. “I guess Bradley Cooper in dreadlocks looks funny.”) In the end I had to answer that no, I did not think there was any chance that I would see this movie, because it doesn’t look funny at all.
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The Kings of Summer

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

tn_kingsofsummerTHE KINGS OF SUMMER is a real good indie movie about teenagers, around 15 years old I believe, an emotional age. Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso from SUPER 8) don’t seem to be the popular kids, but they’re not “geeks” either. Their parents aren’t bad people, but they can’t get along with them. They’re old enough to sneak out and go to keggers, to get embarrassed talking to girls, but also they can’t drive, they gotta ride bikes. They’ve got a little bit of kid still in them, enough that it seems like a good idea when Joe convinces Patrick (and Biaggio [Moises Arias], a weird kid that just starts following them around) that they should ditch their parents and build themselves a house out in the woods.
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SIFF 2013 review: Much Ado About Nothing

Friday, May 17th, 2013

tn_muchadoI got a ticket to the opening film of this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, a movie called MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, from the director of THE AVENGERS and the writer of HAMLET. Yes, idolized big brother of the internet Joss Whedon had some time off after directing the highest grossing non-James-Cameron movie of all time so he invited all his actor friends to his house to do a low budget William Shakespeare movie. It was so low budget he had to do it in black and white even though it was on a RED camera.

The cast includes Reed Diamond from Homicide: Life On the Street, the younger sister that was added later on in Growing Pains, two people from the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake, and nobody else you ever heard of except for like ten or fifteen people that starred in Joss Whedon’s TV shows. A couple of them got intrusive applause when they showed up on screen or after their scenes were over, and to be fair at least nobody in the audience was dressed up like Firefly characters, but come on people, it’s called self control, and it can be yours. I believe in you. (read the rest of this shit…)

Death Race 2000

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

tn_deathrace2000I’ve enjoyed DEATH RACE 2000 a few times over the years, but not since before I found myself actually liking P.W.S. Anderson’s remabootquel DEATH REACE and its two DTV prequels by Roel Reine, so this was strange to revisit it again. The new DEATH RACE is a fun macho b-movie, the original DEATH RACE 2000 is a different animal. It’s colorful, satirical, goofy and off-handedly brutal. It’s as cheap as other Roger Corman productions, but less serious. It seems like the template for the tone of all the best Troma films, and they even borrowed the rules of the Death Race for use as a fun game for teens in THE TOXIC AVENGER. (read the rest of this shit…)

Spring Breakers

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

tn_springbreakersI have this dumb joke that always amuses me: whenever they’re looking for a director to do a new MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE or a Marvel Comics movie or something I suggest Harmony Korine. It’s funny to picture the director of GUMMO and TRASH HUMPERS selling out or deciding to do a normal mainstream movie, because it just seems like something he would never be interested in. I picture him as a smartass New York art kid for life.

So it was pretty funny to see his new one at a multiplex with an IRON MAN 3 trailer playing before it. I think this was by accident. In style and substance it’s not that much more normal than MISTER LONELY (the one about the commune of celebrity impersonators), it just happens that it focuses on a topic that can be very commercial: young girls in bikinis spraying beer on each other and jumping up and down and sometimes they have guns. And one of the stars is James Franco, who seems to have alot of interests in common with Korine, but is also the star of a $215 million Disney 3D fantasy movie that was #1 at the box office just last week. (read the rest of this shit…)

Freaky Deaky

Monday, March 11th, 2013

tn_freakydeakyI guess different people are free to interpret Elmore Leonard different ways, but to me he writes serious stories that are funny. As far as this movie is concerned he writes comedies. I guess that’s the GET SHORTY approach as opposed to the OUT OF SIGHT/JACKIE BROWN/Justified one. Too bad this isn’t as good as GET SHORTY.

It’s been years since I read the book, but I think this is fairly faithful. In my memory Skip (Christian Slater) is one of the main characters, which is not really the case here (despite the terrible cover making him way bigger than everybody else). But the basic storyline I think is intact and the movie’s biggest strength is lots of funny dialogue, largely from the book I believe. (read the rest of this shit…)

John Dies At the End

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

tn_johndiesDon Coscarelli is really underappreciated. Including by me. Everything he’s done is good, right? I haven’t seen his first two, but one (JIM, THE WORLD’S GREATEST) is not on video and the other (KENNY & COMPANY) I’ve heard nothing but good things about. All four PHANTASM movies are pretty great. I like THE BEASTMASTER. I like SURVIVAL QUEST. But he’s a low budget independent guy who wants to do his own thing, so he takes a while. It’s been 10 years since his last movie, the one-of-a-kind BUBBA HO-TEP. It’s been 7 years just since his last TV work, INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD, easily the best Masters of Horror episode I’ve seen.

So he’ll be out of sight for years and then he’ll travel through the portal of time to bring us one of these distinctive sort of fringe horror-ish movies. This time he brought us JOHN DIES AT THE END, probly the closest thing he’s done to an actual comedy. You could compare it to something like JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER or maybe CABIN IN THE WOODS or TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL, but still with enough weird, non-jokey horror in its guts to keep me satisfied. It arguably leans a little bit more to the left on the horror-to-comedy spectrum than those ones, but not by a huge amount. (read the rest of this shit…)