Random Reviews 3

More goodies from Netflix that don’t quite deserve a full post.

Tommy Boy & Black Sheep – Watching these were like taking a trip back through time.  I never got to see them when they were new but I feel like I did with the incessant quoting in the school halls.  While I’ve always appreciated Chris Farley and thought he had a lot of talent, the way comedy has evolved in the years since (or my own tastes been spoiled by Britain and internet writers) has really lessened the laughs.  They still had some great moments, though I think Black Sheep has held up better through the years.

Snakes on a Plane – This was such a silly, stupid movie (and the more you know about snakes the worse it is).  It really hits that B-movie spot of So Bad its Good (and if it’s on tropes, you know it’s true).  It wanted to hit that perfect zone of serious fun like Cowboys & Aliens did, but failed spectacularly.  Still, it’s an entertaining fail – recommended for nights when you & your significant other aren’t really going to “watch” the movie. *nudge nudge wink wink*

Gremlins 1 & 2 – Confession time: I saw Gremlins around the time I was 5 or 6 years old, and it gave me recurring nightmares for years.  I eventually conquered them with a combination of lucid dreaming & Batman but that’s another story.  So, many decades later, how did I make it through?  Quite well, and I was able to appreciate more humor in the first one that my scared youth-mind missed (though I still can’t believe anyone would show that film to 5 year olds – seriously, it’s a movie where monsters, their size, take out adults – it’s a perfect combination of nightmare fuel).  Then I watched Gremlins 2, and felt angry my parents never let me watch it as it probably would have been the perfect antiseptic.  With far more humor, pop culture jokes and just general wackiness, Gremlins 2 nearly put me in the floor with laughter and is definitely one of my [personal] favorite 100 movies of all time.  The older you get and the more references you can spot: the better it gets.  Definitely a top source for a drinking game among geeks.

The Wire 1.1 – Yeah… I’m not a fan of police procedural shows.  However great it may be, it’s not really my thing.  To quote a commentator on John C Wright’s blog (who made a very good point about reviewers in general): “Blind spots restrict one’s vision, but they do not necessarily ruin everything you do see — as long as whoever you’re talking to knows you have that blind spot.”  This show hits one of my “blind spots” or “tone deafness” so I’ll just have to pass. (though I do hear the X-Files is involved somehow…)

Coraline – So Mr Neil Gaiman… can you try and soothe any of my wrath once I heard about your little Narnia fan fic?  Well I won’t hold it against him and I am a sucker for claymation so all in all, I rather enjoyed this movie.  It has a good structure and atmosphere, though at times it seems easier to remember the visuals than the story itself.

Top Secret! – A classic spoof movie that I’ve been meaning to catch up on for years (as I’ve only seen bits & pieces of it).  I can see why it is considered one of the best of all spoofs though I still don’t care for musical numbers.  Still, more than a few great sight gags and word play make this movie enjoyable even for younger people who might not know the “ancient” pop culture knowledge this movie references.

Unknown – …Adequate.  See, this is one of those films where you start to realize that you might be losing touch as a critic with ordinary folks (or you’re just getting old).  I’ve seen enough thrillers & mysteries by now that I could guess where the film was going.  However, if you haven’t seen many thrillers & mysteries yourself, this film wouldn’t be a bad introduction to the genre.  Still, the best review I can give it (and this might be the definition of damning with faint praise) can be highlighted here: It’s Total Recall with Liam Neeson replacing ‘Ahnold’ and all sci-fi elements removed.

the Nude BombGet Smart was a classic spoof TV show.  This movie?  Not as much.  I’d really advise skipping this unless you’re a real hardcore GS fan.  Otherwise, please avoid and turn to the classic series to learn why it was so great.

the Tick (Live TV) – Ever wonder what it would be like if Seinfeld and Smallville had a twisted lovechild?  It may have had only 13 episodes, but man did I love all 13 of them.  It’s a shame this show was on Fox and didn’t get a chance on USA or SyFy or some other cable show that could give it more appreciation.  Patrick Warburton is so perfect in the lead role.  Fans of the Tick cartoon show might not enjoy this as much since the action is lighter, but if you enjoyed the Tick for its quirkiness and examinations of general insanity, you’ll love it.

Craig Ferguson: Does this Need to be Said? – I like Craig Ferguson.  Thought this stand up wasn’t too bad.

From Dusk till Dawn – Heard about this film for years among vampire aficionados and finally got around to watching it.  Started watching it and kept wondering when Dennis Miller was going to show up.  That when I realized that I had been confusing this for years with Bordello of Blood which came out the same year and also had trailers on TV.  So… this film contains two things I generally hate: Quentin Tarantino’s writing & George Clooney.  But Quentin dies a horrible death in the film and George gets beat up a lot so it wasn’t all bad.  Really, part of me wonders how much the fame of this movie rests on its closing shot (which I admit is impressive).  Still, it’s a more interesting vampire film than Twilight, and I’m sure QT fans will enjoy it.  Hopefully someday Netflix will get BoB in their queue and I can then do a compare/contrast between them.

Alice in Wonderland – Oh Tim Burton… Tim.  Tim Burton.  Every time I find your visuals great… and everything else severely lacking.  Of course, it isn’t helped that I’ve 1) Read the actual Alice in Wonderland (unabridged) and 2) saw the movie soon after reading this article (and yes, the film hits #4 & 3 so damn hard I’m surprised it didn’t warp time & space to retroactively put a footnote in the credits).  By all means, if you’re a Burton fan (and I can’t scold you for that), check it out, but the guy just never “clicks” for me.

Spy Hard – Another classic spoof movie, this time staring Leslie Nielsen and… Andy Griffith?  With Weird Al doing the theme song?  It’s like I’m being pandered to by…

Written by Jason Friedberg?  And Aaron Seltzer?  Yes – THAT Seltzerberg.  Really.  REALLY!  That’s… even Satan’s going “That’s an impressive fall from grace.”  Pardon me.  I… I need to go lay down.

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10 thoughts on “Random Reviews 3

  1. Lucid dreaming involving Batman to conquer your fears? That is pretty awesome, I have to admit. Almost makes me wish I could start developing nightmares so I could try that trick. 😛

    And I’m going to continue to pretend Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movie doesn’t exist. I read the books (both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) when I was pretty young, and I’ve reread both several times since then, and I still love them. Seeing them ripped apart would not be an enjoyable experience for me, so I’m just going to avoid it.

    And for what it’s worth, the originals aren’t that hard to get through. So today’s kids are probably just being whiny if they say they need an abridged version.

  2. Snakes on a Plane was kinda like Gnomeo and Juliet: someone invented the name (probably by paging through a dictionary while blindfolded), and thought it sounded awesome and promising. Then they wrote the film around the name. Recipe for a massive fail, but, like you said – it’s entertaining.

    Re: Quentin Tarantino – Y U no like him, dawg? Have you ever seen Pulp Fiction, or Reservoir Dogs (Inglorious Basterds can also count in there)?

    • “Re: Quentin Tarantino – Y U no like him, dawg? Have you ever seen Pulp Fiction, or Reservoir Dogs (Inglorious Basterds can also count in there)?”

      Oh, he has, I made him watch them 🙂

      I’ll let Nate speak for himself, but even as a fan of Tarantino, I’ll admit that he’s just not for everybody. Pulp Fiction in particular is one of my favorite movies, but lots of people REALLY don’t like that movie, and I totally understand why. Any one scene from that movie can work as a short film, but the whole thing put together can feel really awkward.

      Inglorious Basterds is probably his best film; the biggest problem with that one is that it wasn’t at all what anyone was expecting, and I think that really affected the reviews. And because it’s not modern times, it doesn’t “feel” as much like a Tarantino movie.

      In short, Tarantino is a lot like anime. If you don’t “get” it, then even the best ones just seem like incomprehensible garbage. Not that people who don’t “get” it are stupid or wrong, it just takes a certain mindset to enjoy.

      P.S. LOL Spellcheck wants me to change “Basterds”. Silly spellcheck.

  3. I’ll admit that, too, Miles. I’ve heard QT being described as a DJ of movies: he takes snippets, scenes, moments, themes, etc. out of other people’s films and wraps it all up in his own personal flavour. I myself love him for it, but like you said – you have to “get” him.
    Still, he’s not just a Blood n Guts-director in the way that Michael Bay is a Lots of Explosions-director… his stuff is very deep and contains tons upon tons of fridge brilliance and keen psychological insight.

    Like the scene in IB where Hitler and his cronies are watching Nation’s Pride (before everything goes kablooey) – subtle, but very clever.

    So yeah, I guess this is a classic case of YMMV. To each his own and all that. Also, congrats on successfully making someone watch something that you yourself like; I’ve tried shilling Being Human to three people now, and only one of them bit. 😉

    • I could maybe do a whole post on Quentin Tarantino…

      He has good… moments. Certain snips and clips I like – even enjoy – but the whole appeals far less to me. I won’t say he’s as bad as Lucas (who is?) but he’s another example IMHO of how editors/restraints/challenges can make artists better.

      And a lot of his stuff I only watch because I’m a pretty solid Michael Madsen fan.

      (and do I detect an effort to get me to watch Being Human?)

      Actually, Nate’s circle of friends is based on forcing each other to watch movies and Youtube videos. That may give you some insight into why he writes what he does.

      That’s what my therapist said. 😀 This might be of interest to REALLY bored future historians.

  4. “And a lot of his stuff I only watch because I’m a pretty solid Michael Madsen fan.”

    Wait, where was MM in a Tarantino work other than Reservoir Dogs (or did I miss something again)?
    Did you know that MM even freaked *himself* out during the torture scene in RD? That’s a pretty solid indicator of his talent, I’d say.

    “I could maybe do a whole post on Quentin Tarantino…”

    Now that’d be cool.

    “and do I detect an effort to get me to watch Being Human?”

    Possibly. 😉
    But you must watch the original UK version – the US remake isn’t worth it. (no offense meant!)

    Also quoting myself, for no reason whatsoever:

    “Hey Nate – have you checked out where I’m sporking myself on II yet?”

    Heeheehee.

  5. “Wait, where was MM in a Tarantino work other than Reservoir Dogs (or did I miss something again)?”

    Yes, he was Budd, Bill’s brother, in Kill Bill. He’s the one who buries the Bride alive and gets bitten by a snake.

    “Did you know that MM even freaked *himself* out during the torture scene in RD? That’s a pretty solid indicator of his talent, I’d say.”

    The way I heard it, the actor playing the cop adlib’d the line “Please, I have a son!” during the torture scene. This upset MM because he actually has 2 sons irl, and refused to finish the scene for awhile.

    “Hey Nate – have you checked out where I’m sporking myself on II yet?”

    And this is why I stay away from II. Ya’ll are weird.

  6. Oh okay.

    “This upset MM because he actually has 2 sons irl, and refused to finish the scene for awhile.”

    Yeah, that’s what I meant. I think I read that on both wikipedia and tvtropes. This makes the fact that MM is mostly known as Mr. Blonde – and got several other villain roles because of that – even weirder, because IRL he’s such a nice and sensitive guy.

    “And this is why I stay away from II. Ya’ll are weird.”

    Lmao. It’s not that bad – I wrote a horrible piece of shit when I was 13, and now I’m sporking it and commenting in detail on what went wrong. If I may be so bold: I think it’s a rather neat analysis of How Not to Write. 😉

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