Archive for August, 2013

1776

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2013 by Mystery Man

1776

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

While General George Washington is conducting the struggle against the British Empire on the battlefield, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia piddles away its time over trivial matters and cannot begin debating the question of American independence. The leader of the independence faction is the abrasive John Adams of Massachusetts, whose continuous pushing of the issue has brought their cause to a complete standstill. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania leads the opposition that hopes for reconciliation with England. During his quieter moments, Adams calls up the image of his wife Abigail Adams who resides in Massachusetts and gives him insight and encouragement. Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania suggests another colony that supports independence should submit a proposal.

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia is sent off to Williamsburg to get authorization from the Virginia Colony to propose independence. Dr. Lyman Hall arrives to represent Georgia, and immediately, he is interrogated by his fellow delegates regarding his views on independence (with Dickinson framing it as “treason”). Weeks later, Lee returns with the resolution, and debate on the question begins. The New Jersey delegation, led by Reverend John Witherspoon arrives just in time to provide a vote supporting independence. However, in the midst of debate, Caesar Rodney falters because of his cancer and is taken back to Delaware by fellow delegate Thomas McKean, leaving the anti-independence George Read to represent Delaware.

After heated discussions, the question is called without a majority of positive votes present. In a move intended to defeat the resolution, Dickinson calls for a vote requiring unanimity for passage, and the vote ends in a tie between the colonies which is ultimately decided in favor of unanimity by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, who argues that any objecting colony would fight for England against independence. Stalling for time to rally support for the resolution, Adams and Franklin call again for a postponement, justifying their call by stating the need for a declaration describing their grievances. Once again tied and ultimately decided by Hancock, the vote is successfully postponed until such a document can be written.

Hancock appoints a committee that includes Adams, Franklin, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson (after Lee declined due to an appointment to serve as governor of Virginia). Jefferson resists participation because he desires to return home to Virginia to see his wife, Martha, but is left with the task when all other members of the committee present more compelling reasons to avoid the responsibility. Adams sends for Martha so that Jefferson can remain in Philadelphia; the rest of the committee opine that Jefferson’s diplomatic nature and superior writing skill are required to draft the declaration. Both Adams and Franklin are quite taken with Martha. While maneuvering to get the required unanimity for the vote on independence, Adams, Franklin and Samuel Chase of Maryland visit the Colonial Army encamped in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at the request of General Washington to help convince Maryland.

When they return to Philadelphia, the declaration is read and then subsequently debated and amended. Jefferson agrees to most alterations to the document, much to Adams’ consternation. The debate reaches a head when the Southern delegates, led by Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, walk out of Congress when a clause opposing slavery is not removed. Adams remains adamant that the clause remain, but Franklin appeals to him to allow the passage to be removed so that they can first achieve the vote on independence and the formation of the nation and defer the fight on slavery to a later time. Adams defers the final decision on the passage to Jefferson, who agrees to its removal. After removing that clause, 11 colonies are in favor, but New York continues to abstain.

The question is up to the Colony of Pennsylvania, whose delegation is polled at Franklin’s request. Franklin votes for the declaration, but Dickinson votes against. The outcome is now in the hands of their fellow Pennsylvanian, Judge James Wilson. Wilson has always followed Dickinson’s lead, but in this case Wilson votes in favor of the declaration, securing its passage, so that he would not be remembered by history as the man who voted to prevent American independence. After receiving word of the destruction of his property from General Washington, Lewis Morris finally withdraws New York’s abstention and agrees to sign the document. Finally, with the Declaration of Independence ready to be signed, each colony (including New York) affixes their signature to the Declaration, establishing the United States on July 4, 1776.

REVIEW:

The other day I was looking through some material at work that was related to musicals and 1776 came up, probably because of its educational leanings, even if it does veer off quite a bit from the actual historical events. I’m always up for a musical, and if some history can be learned in the process, I’ll give it a shot, as long as it doesn’t put me to sleep.

What is this about?

Peter Stone’s Pultizer Prize-winning musical (starring much of the original Broadway cast) about the internecine congressional squabbling that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence makes a glorious transition to the big screen. A very funny — and poignant — history lesson.

What did I like?

Subject matter. There are books, movies, plays, and even a couple of video games about this era is history, but I do believe that this is the only musical on the subject. is it because this is a particular hard era to write music and lyrics for? No, I wouldn’t say that, I just think there is a tremendous amount of respect, especially in the US, for this period of time and no American really wants to be the one that skewers our history if the production is no good. At least, that’s my theory.

Serious-lee. With the exception of a few comedic moments thrown in here and there, some shoved in, this is a film that seems like it is a lot more serious than it really should be. Enter Richard Henry Lee, a man who finds a way to end every sentence with Lee or -ly, rather. He is quite the character aside from this little quirk and we get just enough of him to satisfy our need for some humor, without him being shoved down out throats, which was a good decision on the part of the playwright and/or screenwriter.

Fenney. I grew up hearing William Daniels’ voice every week as KITT on Knight Rider, then I would see him every week on Boy Meets World (I still ponder how he conveniently managed to follow them up from 6th grade to college graduation). Some of the same mannerisms that he displayed as Mr. Feeney, I noticed he did as John Adams, most notably the talkative nature, but given that Adams is supposed to be convincing the Congress that the Colonies need to break from England, I think that’s understandable.

What didn’t I like?

South. As we are nearing the last act of the film, there is a vote to rebel against England and accept the Declaration of Independence. Because of some writing that was put in there involving slavery, Edward Rutledge, the delegate from South Carolina makes an impassioned speech leading to a fire and brimstone song about how they need slaves for their way of living and it is their right to own people. It really is a disgusting display of human behavior, but perhaps one of the best performances of the film. It is just a shame that it nearly stopped the picture in its tracks, or come close to it.

Red Herring. Of all the fathers of our country, the one that we never see is George Washington. He is mentioned quite a few times as a downer with the letters he sends, but for the most part he is used just as a red herring, as we never see him actually make an appearance. Given the period of history this is from, I can excuse not seeing Washington, but it still would have been nice, at least at the beginning. Hell, this is a movie, not a stage production, they could have cut to him at any time and had him read his own letters. They did something similar with John Adams and his wife, and it was quite effective.

Music. Long have I said that the biggest flaw a musical can have is to not have music that the audience will be singing long after the final credits have rolled. Well, its been about 30 minutes and I can’t remember a single song from this film. I remember that there were some in there and that the best were sung by the aforementioned Sen. Rutledge and a nice little jaunt by Blythe Danner and Martha Jefferson, but everything else is forgettable. It is no wonder no one knows anything about this film. The music is unmemorable!

What can I say about 1776? Well, for starters, it is in the same vein as Amadeus in terms of historical accuracy, but nowhere near as good. Come to think of it, I believe this film would have worked better as a straight up drama, rather than a musical. They did seem to forget the musical part for about an hour, anyway. Do I recommend this? As I was telling my friend a little while ago, I felt that this isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t anything to write home about, either. I guess if you’re into forgotten musicals, give this a shot, or just need something patriotic to watch. Otherwise, it is best to bypass this one.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Portugal, James Bond – agent 007, sometimes referred to simply as ‘007’ – saves a woman on the beach from committing suicide by drowning, and later meets her again in a casino. The woman, Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, invites Bond to her hotel room to thank him. The next morning, Bond is kidnapped by several men while leaving the hotel, who take him to meet Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse. Draco reveals that Tracy is his only daughter and tells Bond of her troubled past, offering Bond a personal dowry of one million pounds if he will marry her. Bond refuses, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy under the agreement that Draco reveals the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.

Bond returns to London, and after a brief argument with M at MI6 headquarters, heads for Draco’s birthday party in Portugal. There, Bond and Tracy begin a whirlwind romance, and Draco directs the agent to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. In Bern, Bond investigates the office of Swiss lawyer Gumbold, and learns that Blofeld is corresponding with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, attempting to claim the title ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’.

Posing as Bray, Bond goes to meet Blofeld, who has established a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. There Bond meets ten young women, the “Angels of Death”, who are patients at the institute’s clinic, apparently cured of their allergies. At night Bond goes to the room of one patient, Ruby, for a romantic encounter. At midnight Bond sees that Ruby, apparently along with each of the other ladies, goes into a sleep-induced trance while Blofeld gives them audio instructions for when they are discharged and return home. In fact, the women are being brainwashed to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout various parts of the world.

Bond tries to trick Blofeld into leaving Switzerland, so the British Secret Service can arrest him without violating Swiss sovereignty; Blofeld refuses, and Bond is eventually caught by henchwoman Irma Bunt. Blofeld reveals that he identified Bond after his attempt to lure him out of Switzerland, and tells his henchmen to take the agent away. Bond eventually makes his escape by skiing down Piz Gloria while Blofeld and many of his men give chase. Arriving at the village of Lauterbrunnen, Bond finds Tracy and they escape Bunt and her men after a car chase. A blizzard forces them to a remote barn, where Bond professes his love to Tracy and proposes marriage to her, which she accepts. The next morning, Blofeld attempts to kill Bond by causing an avalanche and captures Tracy.

Back in London at M’s office, Bond is informed that Blofeld intends to hold the world at ransom by threatening to destroy its agriculture using his brainwashed women, demanding amnesty for all past crimes, and that he be recognised as the current Count de Bleuchamp. M tells 007 that the ransom will be paid and forbids him to mount a rescue mission. Bond then enlists Draco and his forces to attack Blofeld’s headquarters, while also rescuing Tracy from Blofeld’s captivity. The facility is destroyed, and Blofeld escapes the destruction alone in a bobsled, with Bond pursuing him. The chase ends when Blofeld becomes snared in a tree branch and injures his neck.

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, then drive away in Bond’s Aston Martin. When Bond pulls over to the roadside to remove flowers from the car, Blofeld (wearing a neck brace) and Bunt commit a drive-by shooting of the couple’s car that kills Tracy. A police officer pulls over to inspect the bullet-riddled car, prompting a tear-filled Bond to mutter that there is no need to hurry to call for help by saying, “We have all the time in the world”, as he cradles Tracy’s lifeless body

REVIEW:

Netflix and I are about to have some words. About a month or two ago, they put many of the Bond films back on instant streaming. I’ve been a bit busy the last few weeks and haven’t had time to get to them. Well, guess what is about to go away come Monday. Yes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the rest of the Bond flicks they had available. Oh well, eventually, I’ll get them in the mail. In the meantime, let’s get to my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

George Lazenby takes over the role of 007 as James Bond tracks archnemesis Ernst Blofeld to a Swiss mountaintop retreat, where he’s brainwashing a bevy of beautiful women to do his bidding. Along the way, Bond falls for an Italian contessa.

What did I like?

Tone. Coming soon with these Bond films are the cheesy ones, so it was a nice change of pace to get this more serious take on Bond that what we were getting from the Connery version, and what will come from future versions. I’m not sure which will be more my speed, but I appreciate mixing things up.

He’s back. Blofeld returns, this time played by Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. Savalas just seems to have that look that screams villain, especially one in the vein of Blofeld. Why did he replace the previous actor? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with this being a more physical role. I didn’t see it, but perhaps those scenes got cut or it was an exaggeration.

Doce. The thought of having a brainwashed army of 12 beautiful women appeals to me immensely. I believe that they could have been put to better use either as part f the master plan or as a way to get to Bond. His libido is perhaps his greatest weakness, after all. That being said, Blofeld knew what he was doing when he came up with this nefarious plot.

What didn’t I like?

Downgrade. Maybe it is because of the familiarity with Sean Connery as Bond, but George Lazenby did not work as Bond for me. He doesn’t possess the charm and charisma required to portray this complex character. When the film started, it seemed like he would have done a decent job, but that just crashed and burned. The fact that they didn’t let him do his own impression of another character should have been a sign. There was a good thing, though. At the beginning of the picture, after the fight, he makes the comment to the camera, “this never happened to the other guy”. A nice bit of a self-effacing humor, just not enough to redeem his take on 007.

Green screen. I love the cheesy effects in most films from this era, however, during the skiing scene it is so obviously green screened that it was sickening to watch. I’m not sure if the technology was around back then to film a scene like tis actually happening on the slopes, but it would have been so much better, than this. Cheesy effects have a place, and this wasn’t one of them.

Girls. No offense to Diana Rigg or the 12 deadly angels, but there wasn’t that one Bond girl in this film whose beauty and/or body stops traffic. Perhaps that has something to do with the winter setting as opposed to the tropical locations that were prevalent in the previous films. Personally, I was missing them this time around, but every now and then you need a change of pace.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a rather weak entry into the Bond franchise, if you ask me, but I’m not sure if it is the film, or the new Bond that is the cause of its mediocrity. Perhaps I was just so frustrated with Netflix that I couldn’t get into the film. That being said, this isn’t a horrible film by any stretch of the imagination. It just doesn’t stack up to its predecessors. I recommend this to anyone trying to get into Bond, but not as the one to start with. Give it a shot!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Detention of the Dead

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

Detention of the Dead

PLOT:

Comedy and Horror unite in this “The Breakfast Club” meets “Shaun of the Dead” tale about a group of oddball high school students who find themselves trapped in detention with their classmates having turned into a horde of Zombies. Can they put their differences aside and work together to survive the night? Fat chance! This is High School after all.

REVIEW:

What is it abut zombies and high schools? It almost seems as if there is some kind of zombie magnet there. Just wait, even the zombies on The Walking Dead will be seeking out a ihgh school soon enough. Well, you can thank one of the random podcasts I listen to for bringing Detention of the Dead to my attention. I’m quite so sure I’m going to be thanking them, though.

What is this about?

A group of teenagers trapped in detention fight for survival after their classmates turn into a ravenous zombie horde. Can a stoner, a jock, a bully, a goth and a nerd put aside their differences for one night to take on the undead?

What did I like?

Nod. There are subtle nods to other zombie films, directors, etc. all throughout this film. Well, I shouldn’t say just zombie, but rather horror in general. For instance, one of the main characters is named Willow (a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), another is named Ash (Bruce Campbell’s character from Evil Dead, if I’m not mistaken, and then we have Brad and Janet (Rocky Horror Picture Showyour guess is as good as mine as to what that has to do with zombies or horror.

Death…by clarinet. The gore in this film is about as bloody as can be expected from a zombie flick, albeit a bit more fake looking. Without all the blood, though, I just don’t think this would have worked at all. One scene in particular made the entire film worthwhile for me. Near the end, the main character Eddie, goes back into the school and runs into this zombie with a clarinet. He defeats her by taking the clarinet and jamming it in her head. After a couple of seconds, the horn gushes. Did I mention that they play a small clarinet riff during the gushing scene?!?

Goth. Alexa Nikolas, who plays the goth chick, hopefully goes on to bigger and much better things because she was the best thing about this cast. It seemed like she was the only one who knew how to actually act and also didn’t look, well…let’s just say “wise beyond her years”. Did I mention she’s a quite the cutie. She could pass for Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s little sister.

What didn’t I like?

Origin. Zombie outbreaks don’t just happen. Something causes them, be it the end f the world, radiation, the Book of Pure Evil, etc. It is never revealed to us what started this zombie outbreak, other than one of the kids in detention got bit by one. Would it really have been so hard to take a couple of extra minutes to explain where this all started?

Effects. For some reason the pothead decides t keep the decapitated head of the English teacher and play with it. That isn’t the worst looking thing in the picture, though. For that, you have to see the zombie rat. Yes, I said zombie rat! If you’ve ever seen Spaceballs, and can remember the alien that pops out of the guy’s stomach at the end, that is what these rats resemble. Why are they zombies? I don’t rightly know, but they are, much to our dismay.

Comedy. For some reason, the horror comedy genre just doesn’t seem to gel with people. I guess folks want their horror pure and undiluted with bad comedy. Of course, it might help if there actually was comedy involved and not just bad puns and lame jokes akin to what we seem to get with this picture. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a successful, funny, horror-comedy film. Maybe Beetlejuice, but that was more of a comedy than horror comedy.

Hughes. I’m guessing whoever it was that wrote this has to sit down and watch a lot of John Hughes films because the whole film has this The Breakfast Club vibe to it and there is a scene later n that is reminiscent of 16 Candles. I’m sure there are other references, but those were the ones that stuck out to me.

Age. Will there ever come a day when we actually see actors the right age playing high school roles? This cast all look like they are at least in college. When they first show Eddie, I thought he was some kind of faculty member, rather than a student. Oh, and the jocks…well, they always look ld. I didn’t buy that one guy on Glee before I stopped watching and he’s just as unbelievable here, not to mention he look like he’s at least 30!

Detention of the Dead is one of those films that was made just for the sake of cashing in on the zombie craze. It is obviously cheap and makes no apologies for it. However, just because you’re cheap does not mean you have to be subpar “entertainment”, which is what this is ultimately. I would have loved to write a glowing review of this film, but it doesn’t deserve it. As a matter of fact, there isn’t much t recommend here, so perhaps it is best if you just avoid it like the plague.

1 3/4 out of 5 stars

Queen of Outer Space

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Capt. Patterson (Eric Fleming) and his space crew (Dave Willock, Patrick Waltz, and Paul Birch) crash land on Venus and are captured. They learn the planet is under the dictatorship of cruel Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell), a masked woman who has banished men from the planet. In the palace, the astronauts are aided by a beautiful courtier named Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and her friends (Lisa Davis, Barbara Darrow, and Marilyn Buferd). The women long for the love of men again and plot to overthrow the evil Queen. When Patterson has the opportunity to remove the Queen’s mask, he discovers she has been horribly disfigured by radiation burns caused by men and their wars. In a fury, the Queen decides to destroy Earth and its warlike peoples but she dies in the attempt. The Venusians are free again to enjoy the love of men.

REVIEW:

Some of you may recall that last year I was doing a project that required me to watch classic sci-fi films. Queen of Outer Space is one of those that I never got around to watching. I can’t really say that was an oversight after sitting through this, though.

What is this about?

A space mission to Venus encounters a population of sexy women led by the evil Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell). All of Venus’s men have been wiped out, and now that’s she met Earth men, Yllana wants all them dead, too. Only Venusian scientist Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) helps the crew attempt to defeat the wicked queen and restore men to her planet.

What did I like?

Flat. Just about everyone these days has a flat screen TV. It may seem like we’ve had them forever, but they haven’t been around that long, if you recall. Well, apparently, on Venus in 1958, they had them already. The evil queen has one in her room that she uses to look in on things happening on the planet and elsewhere. I just found it interesting that this little piece of technology, like many of our gadgets today, actually debuted in sci-fi media decades before it was actually invented.

Women. A planet with nothing but beautiful women in miniskirts? I would be in heaven! Granted, as many sci-fi/fantasy films have shown us, female societies aren’t exactly male friendly. Just think back to Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, also set on Venus, for an example.

Cast. Let’s not kid ourselves. When Zsa Zsa Gabor is the strongest part of your cast, there are some issues. Having said that, I think it should be noted that the actors do wonders with what they have to work with. No, it isn’t anything spectacular, but at least it is somewhat bearable to watch them, so kudos are in order.

What didn’t I like?

Burn, baby, burn. The evil queen was apparently burned by some radiation, which she blamed on Earth men. This causes her and her flunkies to wear masks. When one of the astronauts manages to get it off of her, it is revealed that she is “horribly disfigured”. In all truthfulness, it look like she is just wearing another mask. Given the state of special effects and make-up at the time, I should give this a pass, but I don’t think they even tried to make it look more authentic.

The times they are a-changin’. I’ve become a pretty big fan of Mad Men. Back in those days, everybody wasn’t walking on eggshells. That being said, there certain things that I don’t agree with, such as taking women for granted. The astronauts in this film, order these women around and make disparaging remarks like it is no one’s business. It was a different era, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it…unless one of them is Don Draper, then they can get away with it. Ha!

Ending. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that is very convenient, especially considering the circumstances. I’m not advocating this should have been a depressing ending, just maybe better thought out. As it plays out, it seems as if they thought it up on the fly. I don’t know, it worked for me on some levels and on others not so much.

Queen of Outer Space is not a good film. It is one of those pictures that appears to be bad on purpose. The camp factor is so high that even I had trouble stomaching this picture. So, would I recommend it? If you’re a fan of campy shows such as the 60s Batman series, then this should be an easy pill to swallow. Personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t mind watching it in some kind of classic sci-fi party or if they used it in Mystery Science Theater episode.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

 

A Night at the Roxbury

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wealthy Yemeni-American brothers Steve (Will Ferrell) and Doug Butabi (Chris Kattan) enjoy frequenting nightclubs, where they bob their heads in unison to dance music (specifically Haddaway’s hit song “What Is Love”) and fail miserably at picking up women. Their dream is to party at the famous L.A. nightclub The Roxbury, a fabled nightclub where they are continually denied entrance by a hulking bouncer (Michael Clarke Duncan). By day, the brothers work at an artificial plant store owned by their wealthy father, Kamehl Butabi (Dan Hedaya). They spend most of their time goofing off, daydreaming about opening a club as cool as the Roxbury together, and Doug using credit card transactions as an excuse to hit on a phone approval operator. The store shares a wall with a lighting emporium owned by Fred Sanderson (Dwayne Hickman). Mr. Butabi and Mr. Sanderson hope that Steve and Emily (Molly Shannon), Sanderson’s daughter, will marry, uniting the families and the businesses to form the first plant-lamp emporium.

After a day at the beach the brothers decide that tonight is the night they will finally get into the Roxbury. Returning home, Doug gets into a heated argument with their father about going out clubbing instead of staying home. Their father has planned a dinner party with Emily and her parents. The angered Mr. Butabi then denies them access to their BMW car and their cell phones. They are given enormous cell phones by their mother (Loni Anderson) and allowed use of the fake-plant store’s delivery van, they are quickly rejected by the doorman (Michael Clarke Duncan). After discovering they might bribe their way into the club, the brothers drive around looking for an ATM. They get into a fender-bender with Richard Grieco (playing himself) and to avoid a lawsuit, Grieco uses his fame to get them into the popular club. There they meet the owner of the Roxbury, Benny Zadir (Chazz Palminteri), who listens to their idea for a nightclub of their own. He likes them and sets up a meeting with them for the next day. The brothers also meet a pair of women at the Roxbury: Vivica (Gigi Rice) and Cambi (Elisa Donovan), who see them talking to Zadir and think that the brothers are rich.

On the way to the afterparty at Mr. Zadir’s house, the brothers annoy his driver and bodyguard Dooey (Colin Quinn) by making him stop to buy fluffy whip and making jokes about sleeping with his parents. As revenge, the next day Dooey denies them entry into Zadir’s office for their meeting. He tells the brothers that Zadir was drunk out of his mind last night and does not know who they are. In reality, Zadir really wants to see them, but does not have their contact information. The girls break up with the Butabi brothers after realizing they are not really wealthy. The brothers fight and Doug moves out of their shared bedroom and into the guest house. Meanwhile Steve is forced into an engagement with Emily. The wedding is held in the backyard of the Butabi residence, but is interrupted by Doug. Having gone on a fluffy-whip-fueled bender, he interrupts the wedding, reconciles with his brother, and the wedding is called off. Afterwards, Richard Grieco (a guest at the wedding) talks to Mr. Butabi to help him understand that Steve was not ready for marriage, and that Butabi is too hard on Doug.

The movie ends as the Butabi brothers happen upon a hot new club. The building is unique in that the exterior is constructed to resemble the interior of a nightclub, and the interior resembles a street — this was an idea pitched by Doug and Steve to Zadir earlier in the movie. Attempting to enter, they are surprised to find their names on the VIP list. In addition, Zadir reveals that to reward their idea, he has made them part-owners of the club. Their new-found success comes full circle when they meet two women in the club: Doug’s phone representative from the credit card company (Meredith Scott Lynn) and a police officer (Jennifer Coolidge) whom Steve earlier flirted with while getting a ticket.

REVIEW:

In the late 90s, after the “frat pack” days of Saturday Night Live consisting of Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Farley, etc., we came across a nice little era that brought us a nice little sketch about a couple of brothers that were always in the club bobbing their heads to Haddaway’s “What is Love”. Who knew that this little sketch would turn into a pretty big film, A Night at the Roxbury.

What is this about?

Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell extend their “Saturday Night Live” skit about dimwit club-goers Doug and Steve Butabi, who gain entry to the swanky Roxbury nightclub after a run-in with Richard Grieco.

What did I like?

They live. If I recall, these guys didn’t speak in their sketch, but instead just made some noises when they were sandwich dry-humping some chick. It makes you wonder how they could even warrant having a full-length film. Well, someone had the idea that these are real guys with real lives and real problems. Wile it may not have been the best, it was better than what we already knew. Unlike The Coneheads and Wayne’s World, where we knew at least a little about the characters, more so with the Coneheads, these guys were just random barfly creeps., if you will.

Cast and cameos. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bring their characters to the big screen and give “life”, but it is the cameos from the likes of Richard Greico, Michael Clarke Duncan, Chazz Palminteri, and Loni Anderson that stood out to me. Not to mention a cast that brought in SNL darling Molly Shannon, fellow cast member Colin Quinn, character actors Dan Heyda, Lochlyn Munro, and a very young Jennifer Coolidge. They really keep this film rolling along, if you ask me. I kind of wish they would have found a way to bring in some of the guys that were with them in the sketches, though, specifically Jim Carrey or Sylvester Stallone.

Song. Ah, the late 90s…when total crap music could still make you get up and hit the dance floor….maybe with a little help from some drinks and a pretty girl *AHEM* Sorry, that’s a story for another time. I do recall hearing Haddaway’s “What is Love” over and over and over again. I think that just about the time it had died out, I seem to remember it being replaced by the “Macarena”, this sketch started and it was brought back to prominence. Now, 15 yrs later, I had nearly forgotten that it existed, but appreciate the cheesiness that it had, as well as the memories associated with it, both personally and involving the Roxbury Guys.

What didn’t I like?

Flimsy. The so-called “plot” is so flimsy, that I’m surprised the whole picture didn’t fly away when some walked by. My goodness gracious, I don’t believe these people thought to do anything with these characters other than bring them to the big screen. Also, it is quite predictable with the whole brothers splitting up only to be reunited at the wedding and meet up with the club owner at the club they told him about, and they just happen to find their dream girls there. It was way too easy to see that coming, at least for me.

Jump. Earlier I mentioned how I appreciated the cameos in this flick, and I really did. However, I have to wonder what rock they dug Richard Greico out from under to stick him in this. Granted he is playing himself and serves only to get the brothers in the Roxbury and set things right at the end. Considering how they idolized the guy, it seems he would have worked better as a guardian angel who just happened to take the form of Richard Greico.

Stretch. Of all the SNL films, this isn’t the worst, but it makes you come to the realization as to one of the reasons we don’t see anymore sketches brought to the big screen. Stretching these characters out to this point in order to force a film into production serves no real purpose. Making matters worse, The Blues Brothers are similar characters in terms of how much we know about them from the sketch, but the film version is regarded as on of the best SNL films. It just goes to show how far things have fallen, and don’t forget how horrible MacGruber  the latest from the studio, which was horrible, as well.

What can I say about A Night at the Roxbury? This is one of those films that appeals to some and appalls others. For me, it has moments, but is nothing special. I would watch it again and again, but that is more for nostalgia reasons. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only half-heartedly. Not everyone will like this. If you are a fan of the late 90s SNL sketches, then you’re more than likely love this. Otherwise, take your best guess as to whether or not you should check it out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Bullet to the Head

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New Orleans, hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) kill a corrupt policeman, Hank Greely (Holt McCallany), although Bobo leaves a prostitute, Lola, alive. Later, at a bar, Blanchard is murdered by Keegan (Jason Momoa), who also attempts to kill Bobo, but fails.

Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in New Orleans to investigate Greely’s death and meets Lieutenant Lebreton, who informs him Lola confirmed Greely was assassinated. Kwon goes to the morgue, and, after seeing Blanchard’s body and finding out who he is, he deduces that Blanchard and Bobo killed Greely. Meanwhile, Keegan meets with his employer, Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Morel’s lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater). Baptiste reveals that Greely tried to blackmail Morel, and provided local mobster Baby Jack (Douglas M. Griffin) with a file detailing Morel’s illegal operations. Keegan later kills Baby Jack and his men and retrieves the file.

Kwon meets Bobo in a bar and informs him that he knows Bobo and Blanchard killed Greely. Bobo leaves, and when Kwon tries to follow him, he is attacked by corrupt cops who were ordered by Morel to prevent Kwon from further investigating about Greely. Bobo rescues Kwon and takes him to a tattoo parlor, where Bobo’s daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi), treats Kwon’s wounds. They later go to a massage parlor where Bobo interrogates Ronnie Earl (Brian Van Holt), the middleman who hired Bobo and Blanchard on Morel’s behalf. Ronnie Earl tries to kill Bobo, but Bobo manages to kill him, although his gun jams. Bobo later confronts Kwon, who admits to having tampered with Bobo’s gun, nearly causing his death. Bobo and Kwon agree to work together.

Bobo and Kwon kidnap Baptiste and take him to Bobo’s house, where he is forced to give them a flash drive detailing Morel’s plans to acquire housing projects and demolish them to build office buildings and reveals Keegan is an ex-mercenary hired to be Morel’s enforcer. Afterwards, Bobo shoots him in the head. Keegan and his men trace Baptiste’s cellphone to Bobo’s house, but Bobo and Kwon are able to escape and detonate a bomb, killing Keegan’s men. Keegan then becomes obsessed with killing Bobo.

Kwon meets with Lieutenant Lebreton to ask for his help, but Lebreton tries to kill him, as he is also on Morel’s payroll, but Bobo kills him and saves Kwon. Meanwhile, Keegan learns about Lisa and kidnaps her. Morel then calls Bobo and offers to trade Lisa for the flash drive. Bobo agrees, and meets with Morel in an abandoned warehouse, where he delivers the flash drive to him and rescues Lisa, while Kwon infiltrates the building to arrest Morel. Keegan becomes furious when Bobo is allowed to leave and kills Morel and his men before going after Bobo.

Keegan confronts Bobo and they have an axe fight, which ends with Bobo slashing Keegan’s throat with Blanchard’s knife, followed by Kwon shooting Keegan in the head. Kwon retrieves the flash drive and Bobo shoots him in the shoulder to make it appear as if Kwon failed to capture him. Lisa decides to stay with Kwon, with whom she initiates a romantic relationship, and Bobo leaves. He later meets Kwon at a bar, where Kwon tells him he did not mention Bobo’s existence to the police this time, but if Bobo continues in the business, Kwon will take him down. Bobo welcomes him to try and drives off into the night.

REVIEW:

The two biggest action stars of the 80s are now trying to capture a new generation of audiences with new action flicks. Arnold Schwarzenegger had The Last Stand and now Stallone brings us Bullet to the Head. I’ll try not to compare the two, because it is like apples and oranges, but one has to wonder which is the better film.

What is this about?

Justice and revenge go hand in hand in this thriller, which follows a young New York cop and an experienced hit man as they team up to track down and take out an enemy they have in common — the person responsible for slaying their partners.

What did I like?

Throwback. This films takes us back to the gritty buddy cops genre that was prevalent in the 70s as well as just straight up actin films from the 80s. For me, as someone who grew up watching the action from the 80s, I was eating this stuff up. As far as the cop stuff, I wasn’t hating it, as it was nice temporary respite between action scenes. I realize there are folks out there who would have preferred more character development and such, but seriously, if you’re coming into a film like this look for some deep meaning, then you really need to have your head examined!

Sleek sly. It is kind of funny that this is set in New Orleans because obviously, Stallone has been doing some kind of voodoo to have a body like that as his age (no comment about is face). Perhaps that is what happens when you’re not governor of California. I should also mention that his character has a very, very, VERY hot semi-estranged daughter. I wonder if she’ll be doing the taking up the family voodoo practice.

Conan. There are some actors that are just meant to do one thing and one thing alone. Jason Momoa is one of those guys. Aside from being a remake, one of the things that I couldn’t really get into in Conan the Barbarian (2011) was his acting. This director was smart enough to give him very few lines. All the guy has to do is stand there and look intimidating and spout off a few cliché’ lines until it is time for him to actually do something. I’d say that was good use of the guy, wouldn’t you?

What didn’t I like?

Narration. I think we have all been spoiled by the golden voiced narrations of Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, James Earl Jones, and more recently Bill Nighy, Jeff Bridges and John Corbett. The thing about all these guys is that they have clear enunciation. In a bad narrating decision that rivals having Blake Lively do the narrating in Savages, someone had the brilliant idea for Sylvester Stallone to narrate this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but should narration fill you in on what is going on with clear and precise thoughts, not mumblings?

Evil plot? Mayhaps I missed something or got confused, but what exactly is the evil plot here? Best I can tell is that is has something to do with real estate, but I’m not sure. I’m also not real clear on why this led to the murders and double-crossing and how Christian Slater’s character factors into everything. Could they not have thrown the audience a bone with all this?

Punk. As is often the case when we see differing generations team up, the more youthful has no respect for is elder, has a smart mouth, and seems like they’ll die if they don’t have their electronic device. This detective that was brought in fits that bill to a ‘T’. Did I mention they cast him instead of Thomas Jane to make the cast more “ethnic”? So, he’s brought in to fill a quota, if you will, and is just an unlikable guy.

If I don’t say anything else about Bullet to the Head, I really should mention that 99.9% of the people who are shot in this film, and there are quite a few, all get bullets through their skulls. So, at least this film isn’t guilty of false advertising, but is it worth watching? Well, there’s blood, violence, gratuitous nudity early on, and an axe fight between Stallone and Momoa…hmm…sure! This is one of those films that is fast paced and fun from start to finish and I say you should most definitely check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Splitting Heirs

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The movie centres on the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Bournemouth (England), upon which misfortune has befallen throughout history, leading it to believe itself cursed. The most recent heir, Thomas Henry Butterfly Rainbow Peace, was left in a restaurant as an infant in the 1960s, by the time his parents remembered him, he had disappeared. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, Tommy Patel (Eric Idle) has grown up in an Asian/Indian family in Southall, never doubting his ethnicity despite being taller than anyone else in the house, fair-haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned – and not liking curry. From the family corner-shop he commutes to the City, where he works for the Bournemouth family’s stockbroking firm, handling multimillion-pound deals.

He is given the job of acting as host to the visiting American representative of the firm, Henry Bullock (Rick Moranis), who turns out to be the son of the head of the firm, the present Duke; they become friends, and the friendship survives Henry’s becoming the new Duke when his father dies. Circumstantial evidence shows that the true Bournemouth heir is actually Tommy, we see a series of family portraits each of which captures something of Tommy’s facial characteristics, and his Indian mother tells him the story of his adoption. He consults the lawyer who dealt with his adoption, Raoul P. Shadgrind (John Cleese), who says Tommy has no hope of proving his claim, but plants the idea of him obtaining his rightful place in the family by getting Henry out of the way; Shadgrind himself then engineers a variety of ‘accidents’ in the belief that he will share in the spoils as Tommy’s partner. The delightfully complicated love interest comes with Tommy’s and Henry’s (shared at the same time) lover, later the new Duchess (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and their (shared at different times) mother, the dowager Duchess (Barbara Hershey). As befits a classic comedy of errors, the final resolution of everyone’s doubts and misconceptions leaves everyone living “happily ever after – well, for a bit, at least…”

REVIEW:

As a lover of the Monty Python comedy troupe, I’m always looking for other works they’ve done, if for no other reason than to see how they have grown as entertainers since those days. With Splitting Heirs, there is a chance to see Eric Idle (and a little bit of John Cleese) do a little comedic film on their own.

What is this about?

Eric Idle and John Cleese team up in this farce about a lowly bank employee who tries to claim the noble title that is his birthright. Seems there was a switcheroo when Tommy was born, and Tommy was inadvertently substituted with an American baby by his drug-addled mom, the Duchess of Bournemouth. What’s worse, the would-be duke just happens to be Tommy’s best friend, and the Duchess (who’s clueless about Tommy’s real identity) is hot for him!

What did I like?

Brothers. I have to give props to the casting director. Eric Idle and Rick Moranis could pass for long-lost brothers that grew up in different environments. Sure, no one would mistake them for real-life brothers, but remember that this is just a film. The chemistry between the two of them is also something to behold. Sometimes we forget how much of a funnyman Rick Moranis is, I think, since he usually plays lovable losers and sometimes the straight man.

Funny ha ha. As you can imagine when you have a cast of comedians, there are quite a few funny moments. The first half of this film, as well as the scenes with John Cleese are sure to have you rolling on the floor laughing and asking for more. That is not to deny the women in this film, either. Barbara Hershey’s overly slutty character will have you chuckling and/or feeling uncomfortable as you watch her seduce her son.

What didn’t I like?

Forgettable. I hate to say this, but there just is nothing memorable about this film. By the time the credits finish rolling, then you’ll be wondering what happened 10 minutes ago in what you just watched, which is really a shame, but blame the fact that so many similar (and better executed) films have been released that make this seem just plain and humdrum.

Curse. In the opening, we get some info on the Bournemouth curse but, for the rest of the film, it is all but forgotten, save for a couple of mentions in passing. Now, personally, I feel that they could have done more with the curse, both in terms of plot and comedy. Why they didn’t explore it a bit more, is beyond me, other than maybe they didn’t want to turn this into some sort of horror/thriller, perhaps.

Splitting Heirs is a film I selected because I just wanted something funny. Certain people in this house prefer the heavy dramas, so it is nice to get an escape into hilarity. This could have been funnier, yes, but it accomplished what I got it for. Now, having said that, I won’t go so far as to say it is a good film, but there are so many things that it could have done worse and made itself into a bad film. So, do I recommend this? Not really, I found this to be average at best, but it does have some moments. Unfortunately, there are also plot pints that were merely touched on and never expanded upon and that is what hurts this more than anything. So, check this out if you want, but don’t expect greatness.

3 out of 5 stars