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Archive for the ‘Comedy/Laffs’ Category

Psycho Goreman

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

As you may know, I can sometimes be a grump about horror comedies, because I’d rather be watching a horror movie that’s funny than a funny movie that references horror. But here’s a movie that’s on Shudder and has gore in it that is a straight up comedy and I kinda loved it.

The closest I can come to succinctly describing the vibe of PSYCHO GOREMAN is “that movie STAR KID combined with THE TOXIC AVENGER.” Or “WISHMASTER meets POWER RANGERS but a comedy.” Or “THE GUYVER meets SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER.” It’s about two little kids who find an alien artifact called “The Gem of Praxidike” buried in their backyard and then learn that it gives them power over a murderous alien supervillain the opening narration describes as “a nameless evil” and “ruthless being” that “had amassed power beyond measure, and was preparing to strike down all that was good and just in the universe.” He says he’s called “The Arch-Duke of Nightmares,” but Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) think that’s stupid, so they rename him Psycho Goreman, or P.G. for short. And Mimi treats this hateful monster as her personal play thing, making him do silly things and not really caring when he uses his powers to turn people into goo. (read the rest of this shit…)

Suburban Commando

Monday, June 21st, 2021

According to IMDb, SUBURBAN COMMANDO had a limited release on June 21, 1991, before a wider one in October. Therefore, it is my misfortune to have decided to categorize it as a Summer of ’91 release.

Nah, I’ll be okay, but you will not be surprised to hear that this second Hulk Hogan vehicle from New Line Cinema is even dumber and shittier than NO HOLDS BARRED, and not as entertainingly so since it’s a family comedy instead of a brain damaged underground fighting movie. But I made it through and I know what it is now and at least I was able to see the big screen debut of one of today’s most acclaimed actresses in television and film.

The premise is that you got a bounty hunter guy from a poorly explained, generic bootleg Star Wars rip-off sci-fi universe who lands on earth and lives with a bad movie’s idea of a normal suburban family. ALF with muscles and worse jokes. In the opening you have some cheap looking Star Destroyer knockoff model shots as the great hero (or maybe anti-hero? it’s not really clear) Shep Ramsey (Hulk Hogan, GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH) flies in to save the president (Nick Eldredge, “S.I.D. #1,” Hill Street Blues) from their dollar store Darth Vader, General Suitor (William Ball, one episode of The Streets of San Francisco) who’s just a regular unimpressive dude in a black outfit and cape, no mask. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Boneyard

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

THE BONEYARD is a pretty cool little horror movie that according to IMDb was release direct-to-video on June 12, 1991. I’m not sure if that’s right, because that was a Wednesday, but I’m gonna assume it really was a summer of ’91 release. I’d never seen it before, but if I’d known about it when I was a little bit younger than I was in ’91 I definitely would’ve wanted to see it, because the cover has a demonic poodle monster, and for some reason I thought that type of shit was hilarious when I was young. For example, the poodle with the mohawk was half the reason I liked ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK.

That image made me expect a horror comedy, so when the movie started with a very legitimate horror score (by John Lee Whitener [RAGIN’ CAJUN]) I was impressed because it makes it feel pretty serious. And then I slowly realized that it is mostly serious, so those FRIDAY THE 13TH-esque violins are appropriate.

In the opening sequence, veteran homicide detective Jersey Callum (Ed Nelson, who played Harry S. Truman in BRENDA STARR) and a younger partner Gordon (James Eustermann, later the makeup effects coordinator of SPECIES) come to a house looking for someone in regards to an investigation. No one answers so they go inside to look for her. There’s something very authentic and sad about this big, messy house. Not quite full-on hoarder, but garbage bags all over, pans covering every counter, laundry hanging in the kitchen. (read the rest of this shit…)

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

June 7, 1991

Of the other Summer of ’91 movies so far, DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD is most similar to SWITCH. It’s not nearly as high concept or fantastical, but it’s another comedy about a woman (in this case not a man trapped in a woman’s body, but an actual teenage girl) pretending to be an adult in order to work a fancy office job. I think I saw it back in the day but I had no memory of it, and the title and cover with the babysitter’s dead feet sticking out of the lawn had me thinking it was a dark comedy. I was even thinking “Oh shit, Christina Applegate now stars in Dead To Me, which also involves lying about a death and hiding a dead body.” But that’s not really much of a factor here.

(P.S. – She’s absolutely great on that show.)

The titular mom (Concetta Tomei, Max Headroom) goes on vacation to Australia with her boyfriend, and right when she’s leaving reveals to her five kids that she hired the titular elderly babysitter (Eda Reiss Merin, THE BLACK CAULDRON) to stay with them. I guess it’s a long trip, but this is two 17 year old high school graduates, a 14 year old, a 13 year old and an 11 year old – do they really need a full time paid supervisor? In ’91 no, of course not, you just give the kids a key and pizza money. So I guess this movie was ahead of its time. (read the rest of this shit…)

City Slickers

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

June 7, 1991. Despite the notable release of another odd Spike Lee movie, this week was won by more middle-of-the-road culture. It was the week that the original run of Twin Peaks ended. The #1 and #2 songs on the Billboard charts were “More Than Words” by Extreme and “I Wanna Sex U Up” by Color Me Badd. And the #1 movie was a nice normal comedy about wisecracking Billy Crystal birthing a cow to cope with the boredom of middle aged, middle class existence.

Like JUNGLE FEVER, CITY SLICKERS is about some lives upended and rearranged after a married man has an affair with a subordinate at his workplace. In this case the dude is Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern, C.H.U.D., FRANKENWEENIE), a wet blanket grocery store manager who is very unhappily married to a mean bully (Karla Tamburrelli, “Stewardess [Northeast Plane],” DIE HARD 2) until panicked young clerk Nancy (Yeardley Smith, then in her third season as the voice of Lisa Simpson) finds him outside of work to tell him she thinks she’s pregnant.

“Why is she telling you this?”

The scene goes down at the 39th birthday party of Mitch Robbins (43 year old Billy Crystal, ANIMALYMPICS) and inspires Phil to unleash twelve years of suppressed fury at his wife in front of the Robbins family and all their friends. If this was reality he’d for sure be the bad guy here, but we’ve already been primed to hate how this horrible wife talks to him and feel victory in him telling her off. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Rookies

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

a.k.a. DEADLY FORCE: MISSION BUDAPEST

I’ve been a fan of Milla Jovovich since THE FIFTH ELEMENT, but I think it was when I finally watched her in Paul Whenharrymet Sally Anderson’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS that it occurred to me what a genre icon she’s become playing acrobatic heroes or cool villains in digital age B+ movies like the RESIDENT EVIL series, ULTRAVIOLET and HELLBOY. Then, while researching my review for MONSTER HUNTER, I noticed on IMDb that she’d even had a turn as the American marquee name in a 2019 Chinese-Hungarian movie. Jovovich + crazy international co-production = I want to see that, but it hadn’t made it stateside yet.

Written and directed by Alan Yuen (PRINCESS D, FIRESTORM) with action direction by Stephen Tung Wei (HERO, BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, KUNG FU KILLER), the original title is 素人特工 (AMATEUR AGENT), but the English V.O.D. title is THE ROOKIES, and last Tuesday Shout! Studios released it on DVD and Blu-Ray as DEADLY FORCE: MISSION BUDAPEST. (Yes, that sounds like a joke title I would use for a fake generic action movie, but that’s real.) Jovovich plays a cool supporting role to a younger Taiwanese and Chinese cast in this comedic spy thriller. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hudson Hawk

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

“Certainly I am a lot to blame for the film but I can’t say the alchemy of it was well balanced. What I have always said about my participation in action films in general is that I like to cut the head off of a rhinoceros and put a giraffe’s head on it. For some people, a rhinoceros with a giraffe’s head on it is interesting and something to look at. ‘Wow, you don’t see that every day!’ Other people will say ‘That is wrong! That is an abomination against nature! Kill it now! Get it out of my sight!’”

—HUDSON HAWK screenwriter Daniel Waters to Money Into Light, 2016


May 24, 1991.
Yes, THELMA & LOUISE, BACKDRAFT and HUDSON HAWK were all released on the same day. (Also ONLY THE LONELY and WILD HEARTS CAN’T BE BROKEN.) And cinema was never the same.

I reviewed HUDSON HAWK 11 years ago, and I stand by that review. There are many things about the movie that don’t work, but none of them overshadow how much it makes me laugh or how much I enjoy seeing, as the quote above puts it, “a rhinoceros with a giraffe’s head on it.” So read that review if you’d like to hear more detail, including my theory about its flop status being partly caused by Eddie “Hudson” Hawk being in many ways the opposite of John McClane. But this is so much the type of movie I love to look at in a summer retrospective – an attempted blockbuster, using star power and production value to try to draw normal people into something kinda weird – that I felt I should rewatch it and add further thoughts in the context of the other 1991 releases. (read the rest of this shit…)

Switch

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

May 10, 1991

Okay, I’m looping back a little here. I initially skipped SWITCH because it didn’t look very fun to me. But as I think about MADONNA: TRUTH OR DARE and a couple of the movies coming up later I’m realizing that changes in the portrayal of women in pop culture will be a major theme of this series, so it seems like a mistake not to look at a movie about a sexist guy waking up in the body of a woman. Also, Bryan in the FX2 comments wrote, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to review SWITCH but I was excited to hear your thoughts about it. It seems it could teach us a lot about 1991.” Good point. So I’m doing it.

SWITCH is late period Blake Edwards. That’s not a period held in high regard by anyone I’ve come across, but I did kind of like BLIND DATE (four years and three movies before this), which got terrible reviews. So you never know.

Steve Brooks (Perry King, CLASS OF 1984, MANDINGO) is “one hell of an advertising man,” which of course means he’s introduced in his office putting golf balls into that thing that business assholes putt into in all ‘80s and ‘90s movies. Then he gets an an unexpected call. Three of his ex-girlfriends, Margo (JoBeth Williams, POLTERGEIST), Liz (Lysette Anthony, KRULL, Bryan Adams videos) and Felicia (Victoria Mahoney, Brewster Place) invite him over for “a surprise party.” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Paper Tigers

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

THE PAPER TIGERS is a warm-hearted indie underdog comedy set in the martial arts world. It’s about three former American gung fu (that’s the spelling and pronunciation they use) prodigies now living unremarkable middle aged lives, who reunite after their master is killed. It has a smattering of jokes that are too broad for me, but it takes its characters and its martial arts very seriously, and it’s so full of heart it’s hard not to love. So why fight it?

The goofy thing is I only rented this on VOD because Vyce Victus and Adkins Unleashed’s Michael Scott were separately raving about it on Twitter. Then in the cold open I saw what sure looked like the Smith Tower, and the credits were set to a song by Kid Sensation (beatboxing padawan of Sir Mix-a-Lot), and holy shit, this movie is entirely filmed in Seattle (and nearby Shoreline), how did I not know about it already? I’ll go into some Seattle stuff later, but please accept the praise of the above mentioned as evidence that I’m not just rooting for the local product. (read the rest of this shit…)

What About Bob?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

May 17, 1991

If we agree with director Bill Duke that A RAGE IN HARLEM is “no god damn comedy,” then we have now come to Summer 1991’s first actually funny comedy. WHAT ABOUT BOB? is also the first ’91 release we’ve come to that seems arguably too problematicTM to be made now, at least quite like this.

You see, Bill Murray (following SCROOGED, GHOSTBUSTERS II and QUICK CHANGE) plays a person with multiple debilitating psychological disorders who follows his psychiatrist to his vacation home and, as they say, drives him crazy. Of course this is uncomfortable because we know so many horror stories of stalkers – troubled people crossing boundaries with results that are less hilarious and more tragic. But what really feels of-a-different-time is just how much poor Bob Wiley’s struggles are played for laughs. As he squirms and winces while struggling just to step outside of his apartment or touch a doorknob or get on an elevator, the score by Miles Goodman (TEEN WOLF, K-9) makes sure we know that it’s cute and funny. That seems kind of mean, or just off base when I think about how much Bob reminds me of a much less lovable Bob I dealt with for years at my day job. (read the rest of this shit…)