Archive for Eugene Levy

American Pie: Beta House

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

It’s pledge time, and as fraternity row becomes rife with eager young freshman looking to make an impression on campus, the stage is set for Greek rivalry so fierce it will resurrect a competition that was previously banned by the administration. Great Falls high school graduates Erik and Cooze are about to become college freshmen, and once they do, the campus of a modest Michigan college will never be the same. Immediately aligning themselves with the notorious Beta Delta Xi house, the boys dive headlong into the party scene while suddenly being swept up in an ongoing rivalry between their new brothers and a rival house with a power-hungry president. Now the only way for the Beta Delta Xi brothers to prove their true worth is to resurrect The Games – a long-banned competition that will discern the true kings of campus once and for all.

What people are saying:

“Raunchy college comedy is sexist, dumb, and boring.” 1 star

“the first three are obviously not much like anything thats come after them but if your a straight guy you’ll probably enjoy this soft core porn comedy.” 3 1/2 stars

“More topless & sex scenes than ever with practically no plot or of the original cast other than (Eugene Levy) Noah Levenstein aka Jim’s father who’s lead quite an interesting life other than being the father to Jim from the first “American Pie”. Not much to tell other than it was frat boys versus the Geek boys all over again…” 3 stars

“…what was once a fresh slice of teen comedy has become a slab of stale crudeness” 2 stars

“Best one so far. Could not stop laughing. The actor that plays Dwight Stifler should get his own spin off movie because he was fantastic in this role and reminded me so much of myself when I was in college. This was a solid step up above The Naked Mile and a lot more out there then the first 3 films.” 5 stars

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Revisited: Heavy Metal

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie’s title sequence story (Soft Landing) begins with an astronaut named Grimaldi descending through Earth’s atmosphere in a 1960 Corvette.

This leads directly into the film’s framing story (Grimaldi) when he arrives at his home, where he is greeted by his daughter. He shows her something he brought back: a crystalline green sphere about the size of a baseball. When he opens the case, the orb rises out of it and painfully melts the astronaut. It introduces itself to the terrified girl as “The sum of all evils.” Looking into it, the girl sees how it has influenced societies through time and space. The orb, known as the Loc-Nar, forces her to watch the following stories (in order):

•Harry Canyon: Written by Juan Gimenez. In a dystopian New York City, cynical taxicab driver Harry Canyon narrates his day in film noir style, grumbling about his fares and the occasional robbery attempt (which he thwarts with a disintegrator installed behind his seat). He stumbles into an incident where a fat gangster and his cyborg henchmen murder an archaeologist. Harry grudgingly allows the murdered man’s daughter into his cab, and she tells him about her father’s discovery: the Loc-Nar, an artifact over which people are killing each other. Harry cannot afford to pay for a police investigation, so he takes the girl back to his apartment. That night, the girl strips, climbs into his bed, and they have sex. Harry awakens alone the next morning when the cops bust into the apartment looking for the girl, whose existence he denies. One of his fares that day is the fat gangster, who threatens Harry if he doesn’t cooperate. Later, the girl contacts Harry and offers to sell the Loc-Nar and split the proceeds with him. He agrees to take her to the exchange. When the gangster gets the Loc-Nar, he takes it out of its isolation case, and he disintegrates. Meanwhile, the girl pulls a gun on Harry, who is forced to use his self-defense ray to evaporate her, after which he keeps the money.

•Den: Based on the original story by Richard Corben. Dan, a nerdy teenager (voiced by John Candy) finds a round “green meteorite” and puts it in his rock collection at home. Weeks later, during a lightning experiment, the orb hurls the boy into the world of Neverwhere, where he changes into a naked bald muscle man called Den. Landing on a giant idol, he witnesses a strange ritual and rescues a nubile young woman who was about to be sacrificed to “Uhluht’c” (“C’thulhu” spelled backwards). Reaching safety, she tells him that she is from the British colony of Gibraltar, on Earth, and that her name is Katherine Wells. While she demonstrates her gratitude with sexual favours, they are interrupted by the minions of Ard, an immortal man who wants to obtain the Loc-Nar and use it to rule the world. He puts Katherine in suspended animation and orders Den to get the Loc-Nar from the Queen (the woman who performed the ritual). Den agrees after Ard tells him “If you refuse, you die, she dies, everybody dies!”, and infiltrates the Queen’s palace with some of Ard’s warriors. He is promptly caught by the Queen’s guard, but she offers leniency if he has sex with her. He complies, while the raiding party steals the Loc-Nar. Den escapes and, with the Queen and her forces in pursuit, races back to the idol, where Ard is attempting to recreate the sacrifice himself. Den rescues Katherine, and the Queen’s arrival sparks a bloody battle between her and Ard (backed by their respective armies). Den ends the battle by recreating the incident that drew him to Neverwhere, banishing Ard and the Queen. Refusing the opportunity to rule, Den and Katherine ride into the sunset, content to remain in Neverwhere as heroes with idealized bodies.

•Captain Sternn: Based on the original story by Bernie Wrightson. On a space station, a square jawed space captain named Lincoln F. Sternn (voice by Eugene Levy) is on trial on numerous serious charges (and one moving violation) presented by the prosecutor (voiced by John Vernon). Pleading “not guilty” against the advice of his rat-faced lawyer (voiced by Joe Flaherty), Sternn explains to his astonished lawyer that he expects to be acquitted because he bribed a witness, Hanover Fiste, to praise his character. Fiste takes the stand, but his perjury is subverted when the Loc-Nar, now the size of a marble, causes him to blurt out the truth about Sternn’s evil deeds until he angrily denounces Sternn to the point of suggesting gruesome execution methods (Sternn is nothin’ but a lyin’, cheatin’, back-stabbin’, double-dealin’, larcenous perverted WORM!! Hanging’s too good for him! Burning’s too good for him! He should be torn into little-bitty pieces and buried alive!). Fiste rants with such fury that he changes into a muscled giant like the Incredible Hulk, and chases Sternn throughout the station, breaking through bulkheads and wreaking havoc. Eventually, Fiste corners Sternn, receives his promised payoff for his part in Sternn’s plan to escape, and promptly shrinks back to his gangly original form (this may indicate that, rather than the Loc-Nar’s prompting, the whole event, complete with Hanover’s ability to grow and go insane, was planned ahead of time, to allow Sternn the chaos necessary to escape or fake his own death. Or, it may have played on Fiste’s suspicion that, having paid only part of the bribe, Sternn would renege on the rest). Sternn then adds a bonus: he pulls a lever opening a trapdoor under Fiste, and the Loc-Nar reenters an atmosphere with Fiste’s bodyless flaming hand still clinging to it.

•B-17: A World War II bomber makes a difficult bombing run with heavy damage and casualties. As the bomber limps home, the Loc-Nar rams itself into the plane, and raises the dead crewmembers as rampaging, flesh-hungry zombies. The pilot is the lone survivor. After the Loc-Nar rams the plane, the pilot puts the plane on auto pilot and leaves the cockpit to survey the damage. While at the rear of the plane, the zombie crew attack the pilot who runs back into the cockpit and locks the door. When it becomes obvious that the zombies will defeat the cockpit door, the pilot dons a parachute and barely escapes through a trap door in the deck of the cockpit. Unfortunately the pilot lands on a desert island populated by more zombified airmen.

•So Beautiful, So Dangerous: Based on the original story by Angus McKie. A scientist (Dr. Anrack) arrives at the Pentagon for a meeting about mysterious mutations that are plaguing the United States. At the meeting, Dr. Anrack tries to dismiss the occurrences, but when he sees the green stone (Loc-Nar) in the buxom stenographer’s (Gloria’s) locket, he starts behaving erratically, goes berserk, and attempts to sexually assault her. In the sky above, a colossal starship with a smiley face design breaks through the roof with a transport tube and sucks up the berserk Dr. Anrack and by accident, Gloria. The ship’s robot is irritated at Anrack, who is actually a malfunctioning android, but his mood changes when Gloria arrives. Supprisingly Gloria is not shocked at being sucked up by the ship and instead is annoyed by the encounter, commenting “who is going to pay for my dry cleaning?” With the help of the ship’s crew of burn-outs (the pilot and co-pilot) the robot convinces Gloria to stay on board and talks her into having “robot” sex. She even reluctanly agrees to marry him (provided they have a Jewish wedding). Meanwhile, the burn-outs snort a massive amount of plutonian nyborg and fly home completely stoned, zoning out on the cosmos and passing space junk. Too stoned to fly straight, they crash land in a huge space station, though they think it was a nice landing.

•Taarna: Inspired by Moebius’ Arzachstories. The Loc-Nar crashes onto a planet and into a volcano. At the base of the volcano, a religious leader and his followers have assembled to worship. The Loc-Nar causes the volcano to erupt a green, foamy substance that flows down volcano and swallows the worshipers and their leader. The leader changes and his followers are corrupted by the green slime and change into mutated murderous barbarians. The leader organizes the mutants into an army who ravage a peaceful, prosperous city. The city elders, who consist of scientists and statesmen and lack an army, desperately try to summon the last of a warrior race, the Taarakians. Taarna, a strong, beautiful warrior maiden (the last of the Taarakians), receives the summons and goes to an ancient temple where she swims across a pool and collects a sword and a tight fitting, revealing leather uniform. She arrives too late to stop the massacre and resolves to avenge the city. After leaving the city, she stops at a tavern and orders a drink. The tavern’s patrons of mostly mutants see her as easy prey and try to gang up on her so they can sexually assault her. She decapitates them with a single swing of her sword, giving the rest of the mutant patrons a message. Her search leads to the barbarians’ stronghold, where she is captured, stripped naked, tortured and left for dead by the leader. With the help of her avian mount, she escapes and confronts the barbarian leader. Though wounded, she defeats him and in one last effort, then flies into the Loc-Nar, destroying it.

As the final story ends, the Loc-Nar terrorizing the girl is similarly destroyed, blowing the mansion to pieces. Taarna’s mount, reborn into a younger form, appears outside and the girl happily flies away on it. It is then revealed that Taarna’s soul has been transferred across the universe and through time to her. This is further signified by the change in hair color the girl now exhibits and the appearance of the Taarakian crest on her skin. Thus the girl is revealed to be the next Taarakian herself.

REVIEW:

Have you ever watched a film and could just tell that it was a product of its time? One that captures the era so well, you wish you could go back in time and really relish in it? I think that is what Heavy Metal tries to do, not necessarily with the “plot”, but more so with the atmosphere it creates, as well as some things that one could only et away with in the early to mid 80s!

What is this about?

A cult classic featuring a thumping metal soundtrack, this animated extravaganza centers on a menacing meteorite thought to be the root of all evil.

What did I like?

Soundtrack. Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Cheap Trick, Stevie Nicks, Nazareth, Devo, Riggs,  Sammy Haggar, Black Sabbath, etc. No, this is not the lineup for some music festival, but rather artists that contributed to the soundtrack. That is an all-star lineup, no matter when you are watching this flick. Aside from the astonishingly great animation, one could just listen to the music and be mesmerized. I know that I often time crank Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)”. I wonder if one can find this soundtrack anywhere. After I post this, I think I’m going to go have a look.

Variation. With anthologies, it is important to note the differences in styles. Take for instance, Fantasia. Not only does each section have a different composer, who had their own style of composition, but the animation for each was totally different, as well. You would never confuse “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with “Rite of Spring”. They were totally different styles of animation. In this film, the styles aren’t that varied, but there is a distinct difference. An example would be the “Captain Sternn” and “So Beautiful…” segments. They have a more, shall we say, Saturday morning cartoon look to them, as opposed to the other segments which have a more theatrical animation (at the time) style to them. Then of course, there is the B-17 segment, which was actually taken from real life ad then turned into animation with the help of rotoscope, much like the animated version of The Lord of the Rings. With all these different styles, an animation student can go to school watching this film.

Dangerous curves. The female body is a thing of beauty. Apparently, the filmmakers and animators think the same way, because in just about every segment, they take the opportunity to draw naked, curvy, voluptuous women, complete with hard nipples and, in one case, matching carpet. They even go so far as to make sure that one of the females dresses very slowly and seductively…if what she is wearing can be called getting dressed. As an adult, I feel I should say that this is sexist, misogynistic, blah, blah, blah. However, I can’t help but revert to the teenage boy who would watch NC-17 (back then, they were X) movies through the scrambled cable. It is that thinking that leads me to believe this was made for a purely male, adolescent audience. Who else would appreciate so much gratuitous boobage?

What didn’t I like?

Loosely connected. Since Loc-Nar is telling this frightened little girl of his exploits throughout the galaxy and whatnot, wouldn’t it serve a purpose for these stories to actually be connected? As it is, the only real connection is that Loc-Nar appears in them. A few happen to transition with him in it, but that isn’t enough of a connection for my taste. I guess I just would have liked it better had there been something saying this evil happened here, so beware, or something along those lines.

Candyman. John Candy has a great voice. As a kid, I enjoyed waking up and watching Camp Candy on Saturday mornings and I still enjoy his movies to this day (good and bad). I’m not sure if there was a budgetary reason behind this, but why must they use Candy for every voice? Ok, I exaggerate. Eugene Levy and a few other no name people provided some other voices, but Candy was at least 4 or 5 characters, if I’m not mistaken. Would it really have been so hard to call someone else in to do some voice work? Again, nothing against Candy, I just don’t think using the same guy to do half the voices like this is a good idea.

5 seconds of realism. With all of the great animation to be seen in this film, as well as techniques that were still finding their footing, it seems odd that at the end, we get this one scene of live action. I question that decision because it didn’t do anything to the “story”. The film starts off with an astronaut dropping from the spaceship in his car. Now, had that been live-action morphing into rotoscope or something along those lines, it would have been cool, but this random scene, which is maybe 5 seconds in length, of live action speaks of laziness on the behalf of the animators, to me.

I’m not sure if it is still published, but if you can believe it, Heavy Metal is actually based on several short stories from the magazine of the same name. Truthfully, there isn’t much else to say about this film. If you’re a fan of 80s rock, animation, and gratuitous boobage, as well as some violent sci-fi, then this is the film for you. Otherwise, you’d be better served moving along to something else. I hear there’s a new Barbie video coming out. Perhaps that would be more to your liking? Ha! Seriously, though, this film does have some issues here and there, such as the size of Taarna’s breasts. In one scene, she looks as if she’s a DDD, and the next she could be down to a B-cup. Small animation errors like that hurt the film, but I still had a good time watching. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give this a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Waiting for Guffman

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is a parody of community theater set in the fictional small town of Blaine, Missouri. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of a handful of utterly delusional residents as they prepare to put on a community theater production led by eccentric director Corky St. Clair, played by Christopher Guest. The show, a musical chronicling the town’s history, titled Red, White and Blaine, is to be performed as part of the town’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Along with Guest, the film stars Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard as Ron and Sheila Albertson, a pair of married travel agents (yet have never traveled outside of Blaine) who are also regular amateur performers, and give their companions a little too much information at a restaurant dinner; Parker Posey as the perpetual Dairy Queen employee Libby Mae Brown; Bob Balaban as Lloyd Miller, the increasingly frustrated musical director who actually possesses some talent; Lewis Arquette as Clifford Wooley, a “long time Blaineian” and retired taxidermist who is Red, White and Blaine’s bean-loving narrator; Matt Keeslar as the handsome and oblivious mechanic Johnny Savage, who Corky goes out of his way to get into the play; and Eugene Levy as Dr. Alan Pearl, a tragically square dentist determined to discover his inner entertainer. Brian Doyle-Murray appears briefly as Savage’s dad and boss, who is immediately suspicious of Corky’s eccentric behavior.

Corky has presumably used connections gained from his “off-off-off-off” Broadway past to invite Mort Guffman, a Broadway producer, to critique Red, White and Blaine. Corky leads the cast to believe that a positive review from Guffman could mean that the group can take their show all the way to Broadway.

The program itself is designed to musically retell the history of Blaine, whose founding father was a buffoon incapable of distinguishing the geography of middle Missouri and the Pacific coastline. We also learn why the town obtusely refers to itself as “the stool capital of the United States”. The music contained within is a series of grating and poorly performed songs such as “Nothing Ever Happens on Mars” (a reference to the town’s supposed visit by a UFO), and “Stool Boom”.

Central to the film are Corky St. Clair’s stereotypically gay mannerisms. He supposedly has a wife called Bonnie, whom no one in Blaine has ever met or seen; he uses her to explain his habit of shopping for women’s clothing and shoes. When Johnny Savage is forced by his suspicious father to quit the show, Corky takes over his roles, which were clearly intended for a young, masculine actor: a lusty young frontiersman, a heartbroken soldier, and a little boy wearing a beanie and shorts. St. Clair never sheds his dainty demeanor, bowl haircut, lisp, or earring in spite of his historical roles, and his face is pasted with an overkill of stage rouge and eyeliner. Corky is also faced with creating his magic on a shoestring budget, and at one point quits the show after storming out of a meeting with the City Council, who turns down his request for $100,000 to finance the production. But the distraught cast and persuasive city fathers convince Corky to return to the show (to the disappointment of Lloyd Miller, who had taken over in Corky’s absence).

At the show’s performance, Guffman’s seat is seen to be empty, much to the dismay of the cast; Corky assures them that Broadway producers always arrive a bit late for the show, and sure enough a man (Paul Benedict) soon takes Guffman’s reserved seat. The show is well received by the audience, and St. Clair invites the assumed Guffman backstage to talk to the actors. Upon arriving, he declares that he is not Guffman and had actually come to Blaine to witness the birth of his niece’s baby — but that he enjoyed the show. Corky then reads a telegram stating that Guffman’s plane was grounded by snowstorms in New York (though it is in the summer).

An epilogue shows the fates of the cast: While Libby Mae has returned yet again to the Dairy Queen, Dr. Pearl and the Albertsons have both pursued their dreams of being entertainers: Ron and Sheila travel to Hollywood to work as extras, and Dr. Pearl now entertains elderly Jews in Florida retirement communities. Corky has returned to New York, where he has opened a Hollywood-themed novelty shop, which includes such items as Brat Pack bobblehead dolls, My Dinner with Andre action figures, and The Remains of the Day lunch boxes. When Corky is showing his collection, a Charlie Weaver doll can be seen. Charlie Weaver a.k.a. Cliff Arquette was Lewis Arquette’s father.

REVIEW:

I have learned that mockumentaries can be funny, but rarely do they make sense. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it is bad. Waiting for Guffman is one of those that I’m not quite sure about. Just when I think it was the most horrible thing ever, it would do something interesting.

What is this about?

Community theater gets spit-roasted in this blistering mockumentary penned by (and starring) Christopher Guest, who plays the ultra-fey Corky St. Clair, a local theater impresario who takes his directing duties a little too close to heart. With Blaine, Mo.’s 150th anniversary looming, St. Clair mounts a mediocre musical tribute to the town. But his hopes of taking the production to Broadway hinge on the attendance of a very important guest.

What did I like?

Mock. There is a sense of irony in how much I seem to like these mockumentaries, because I hate reality TV. If you compare the two, though, they are basically the same thing, with the only difference being these mock films don’t pretend to be real. I appreciate the comedic moments that the cast brings. The whole purpose of this thing is to mock community theater, after all.

MVP. Eugene Levy steals the show, as he does in everything he is in, but what makes it so special is that there really isn’t much focus on his character. For someone who isn’t on the screen for that long to have such an impact is a true testament to the talent of Levy. Fred Willard would be a close runner-up.

What didn’t I like?

Music. When we’re watching the production, there is music that goes along with it. However, they attempt to make the audience believe this is being played by real musicians, when in fact it is computer generated, also known as MIDI. I’m not really sure if this was done for comedic effect, or if they really thought they could pull one over on the audience. Well, it didn’t work!

DQ. Parker Posey was very underused here. As seen with Eugene Levy, screen time doesn’t necessarily equate good or bad, but it is the talent. I am of the belief that she can hold her own if given something to do, as can be seen in Blade: Trinity. As it is, all she really accomplished was give me a craving for a DQ Blizzard.

When the dust settles, Waiting for Guffman was alright, but nothing great. I hear some people rave about this, but I just don’t see the appeal. There are moments here and there that provide a couple of laughs, but nothing that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. I can recommend it, but not highly. Surely, there are some people who would get a kick out of this, but I just wasn’t one of them.

3 out of 5 stars

Splash

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on March 10, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

As an eight year-old boy, Allen Bauer (David Kreps) is vacationing with his family near Cape Cod. While taking a sight-seeing tour on a ferry, he gazes into the ocean and sees something below the surface that fascinates him. Allen jumps into the water, even though he cannot swim. He grasps the hands of a girl who is inexplicably under the water with him and an instant connection forms between the two. Allen is quickly pulled to the surface by the deck hands and the two are separated, though apparently no one else sees the girl. After the ferry moves off, Allen continues to look back at the girl in the water, who cries at their separation. She then dives underwater again, showing her mermaid’s tail. Allen comes to believe the encounter was a near-death vision hallucination, but his bond with the mermaid proves so strong that his subsequent relationships with women invariably fail as he seeks the connection he felt with the mermaid.

Years later, Allen (Tom Hanks) is a co-owner of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York City with his womanizing older brother Freddie (John Candy). Depressed after his latest breakup, Allen returns to Cape Cod, where he briefly encounters eccentric scientist Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy) and again falls into the sea. He wakes up on a beach where he encounters a beautiful naked woman (Daryl Hannah) who, unknown to him, is the mermaid he met as a boy (her tail transforms into legs when it becomes dry). He instantly becomes attracted to her as she had again saved him from drowning. After kissing him, she dives into the sea and leaves Allen to return home. Kornbluth, while diving in order to seek proof of strange sea creatures, also encounters the mermaid in her sea form, causing him to become obsessed with finding her again.

The mermaid finds Allen’s wallet that he dropped in the water and decides to find him in New York. She comes ashore naked at the Statue of Liberty, where she is remanded for indecent exposure much to the dismay of a group of visitors. Gaining information from Allen’s wallet, the mermaid gets released into his care. She picks up English from watching television all day and chooses the name Madison from a Madison Avenue sign. Madison is vague about where she comes from and tries to distract Allen from asking questions about her country of origin. She tells Allen that she will be in New York for “six fun-filled days when the moon is full” and if she stays longer, she can never go home again (the reason for this is unexplained, though in the Special Features of the 2004 DVD edition, there is a reference to a deleted scene in which Madison has visited a sea hag and made some sort of bargain).

Despite Madison’s occasional unusual behavior, she and Allen fall in love. Meanwhile, Kornbluth, realizing that the naked woman at Liberty Island was the mermaid he had encountered, pursues the couple, trying to expose her as a mermaid by splashing her with water. Many attempts are unsuccessful and Kornbluth ends up with multiple injuries, including a badly broken arm and whiplash. When he finally does so, Madison is taken in by government scientists led by Kornbluth’s cold-hearted former colleague and rival Dr. Ross (Richard B. Shull) for examination. However, Kornbluth regrets his actions after he learns that Madison is due to be studied and dissected, as he just wanted to prove that he wasn’t crazy.

Allen is, of course, shocked by Madison’s secret and when he denies his love for her, Freddie lashes out at him, telling his brother how happy he was with her. Finally, Allen confronts a guilt-ridden Kornbluth at the dentist, who agrees to help him.

Impersonating two Swedish scientists, Freddie and Allen enter the lab with Kornbluth and manage to smuggle Madison outside. Madison makes it back to the ocean and tells Allen that he can survive under water as long as he is with her. Allen realizes she was the young mermaid he had met so long before. The United States military arrive to recapture her for research ignoring Allen’s demands to let her be free. Although Madison warns him that if he comes to live in the sea he can’t return, he jumps into the water after her and they elude their pursuers. Together they swim along the ocean floor toward what appears to be an underwater kingdom.

REVIEW:

These days, it seems as if vampires, werewolves, and now zombies are all the rage, but in the 80s, that title belonged to mermaids. Splash was a major reason for that, followed a few years later by The Little Mermaid. Maybe they’ll make a comeback soon, who knows?

What is this about?

In Ron Howard’s first directorial hit, Tom Hanks stars as workaholic Allen Bauer, who’s convinced he can’t fall in love until he’s rescued from a boating accident by the woman of his dreams — a mermaid named Madison (Daryl Hannah). But if the world discovers Madison’s secret, it will be sink or swim for the duo.

What did I like?

Mermaid. Two things about mermaids. First off, the last mermaids I saw in a movie were in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and they weren’t exactly the loving, innocent type, but rather ruthless killing machines, except the one they took into captivity, of course. Second, mermaids are typically beautiful creatures, and a young Daryl Hannah was certainly fitting of that description. In the water, she really did look like a mermaid. I read somewhere that when she was a little girl learning to swim, she learned to do so with her legs together, similar to the way they had to be in the fin. So, one can say, this is a role she’s been groomed for since childhood.

Brothers. Tom Hanks and John Candy play brothers. Hanks is the one who finds himself in love with a vampire, but it is Candy who is a scene stealer. Let’s not overlook that these are both accomplished comedians and that chemistry they have is great. Having said that, I never really bought that they were from the same gene pool, especially looking at their younger versions, but when you have talent, that is something that can be overlooked very easily.

Love story. Make no mistake, for all the comedic moments that this film has, it is first and foremost a love story. Not just any love story, but a pretty good one, at that. I’m sure the more jaded of you out there will say something about how cheesy and cliché’ it is, and that is your opinion. For me, someone who has been known to have a “black hole where my heart is”, it worked.

What didn’t work?

Doctor, Doctor. Eugene Levy plays this rather shady scientist fellow who doesn’t reveal what it is he is looking for. He manages to catch a glimpse of Madison and he begins obsessing over proving that mermaids exist, even risking bodily harm to do so. Levy is a great comedic performer, but I felt like this was a character that should have been played a bit more straight, or if they wanted to go the full-on comedic route, then he should have been that way from the beginning.

Mythology. I’m not really up on my mermaid mythology, but I do know that they weren’t exactly wiped out by anything, which brings to question why it is that we don’t see any other mermaids. Even in the flashback scene at the film’s beginning, she is a little girl mermaid and not an adult mermaid in sight (not to mention the guy that saves Allen somehow doesn’t see her…but that’s a topic for another time). At the end of the film, we do see an underwater city, but that’s it. I don’t know, I just felt as if there should have been maybe a jealous merman chasing her…maybe even a crab, seagull, and flounder watching over her (kudos if you get that reference).

Water. A bit of inconsistency bothered me a bit. When Madison gets in the tub to be a mermaid again, she had to make it salt water, yet when Dr. Kornbluth sprayed her, it was just regular water (we assume). So, the question is, is it the water that makes fin out or does it have to be salt water? My belief is she can survive in salt water, but regular water will eventually kill her, as we see when she’s in the military tanks. I could be way off and/or over thinking it, though.

Splash is a product of its time, and a really good one at that. It is no wonder so many people have such fond memories of watching this. Personally, I prefer my mermaids to be animated, headstrong Disney princesses, but Madison isn’t bad, either. The few problems I have with the film are really nitpicky. I see no reason why you shouldn’t see this as soon as you can. I highly recommend it!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

American Reunion

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

13 years after graduating high school, Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Stifler (Seann William Scott) have gone their separate ways. Jim is married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and they have a 2-year-old son named Evan. Oz is an NFL sportscaster living in Los Angeles with his supermodel girlfriend Mia (Katrina Bowden). Kevin is married to Ellie (Charlene Amoia) and works from home as an architect. Finch has supposedly gone missing. Stifler works as a temp at an investment firm.

When a high school reunion is announced, Jim and Michelle decide to return to East Great Falls for it. They arrive at his old home, where Jim’s dad Noah (Eugene Levy) is still grieving over his wife dying 3 years earlier. Jim also runs into his neighbor Cara (Ali Cobrin) whom he used to babysit and has since grown up. Jim meets up with Oz and Kevin at a bar. Finch also arrives on a motorcycle, telling them he has been traveling the world. In the bar, they meet Selena (Dania Ramirez), who was Michelle’s old band camp friend who used to be ugly but has since grown more attractive. The boys agree not to invite Stifler to any of their festivities, but they reluctantly allow Stifler to join them when he shows up at the bar.

The next day, the guys go to the beach with Michelle, Selena, and Mia. Oz reunites with Heather (Mena Suvari), who is dating a heart surgeon named Ron (Jay Harrington), while Kevin reunites with Vicky (Tara Reid). At night, the guys and girls, minus Michelle, go to the falls where they encounter a high school party celebrating Cara’s 18th birthday. Oz, Heather, Mia, and Ron spend time together, where Mia brags about her adventurousness and promiscuity and Ron secretly tells Oz he’d be willing to trade girlfriends. Kevin spends some time with Vicky, Finch makes out with Selena, and Stifler tries to hook up with high school girls. Jim is forced to drive a drunken Cara home. On the way, Kara tries to seduce Jim. Oz, Finch, and Stifler come help Jim secretly return Cara home, but her boyfriend A.J. (Chuck Hittinger) spots Jim and Stifler sneaking out. Meanwhile, Kevin wakes up in a bed next to Vicky without most of their clothes on and assumes they had sex.

The next day, Jim and Michelle, who have been having a lackluster sex life, decide to do something about it at a party Stifler is hosting. They decide to bring Noah to help him out of his depression. At the party, Noah gets drunk with Stifler and starts spending time with his mom Jeanine (Jennifer Coolidge). Kevin confronts Vicky about what happened the night before. When Vicky says they didn’t have sex, Kevin is relieved, but Vicky gets upset that he would have a low opinion of her. Mia takes ecstasy and shows everyone a video of Oz as a contestant on Celebrity Dance-Off, which shows his embarrassing loss. When Heather goes to comfort Oz, he admits he never should have left her and kisses her, but when she leaves, she returns to find Mia straddling him. Upset with him, she gets into a fight with Mia. Jim and Michelle decide to role play with dominatrix outfits, but Jim is confronted by Cara wanting to seduce him again. They are confronted by A.J. and their two groups of friends get into a fight, which is broken up by the cops, who are there to arrest Finch for stealing the motorcycle.

In the aftermath, Mia breaks up with Oz, Stifler decides to skip the reunion for work, and Michelle, upset with Jim’s behavior, goes to her grandmother’s. When Jim tells his dad about their lack of sex because of their son, his dad says they need to make time for each other. At the reunion, Jim, Oz, Kevin, and Finch, who was bailed out by his mom, meet up. Finch admits that he’s an assistant manager at Staples and stole the motorcycle when his boss didn’t give him a raise. They decide to go get Stifler. Stifler quits his job and accompanies them as they return to the reunion. Kevin makes amends with Vicky, Finch hooks up with Selena, Oz gets back together with Heather, and Jim reconciles with Michelle. Meanwhile Stifler is asked to be a party planner for a wedding and hooks up with Finch’s mom Rachel (Rebecca De Mornay), much to the delight of the finally reunited “MILF Guys”.

The next morning, the five friends gather at a hot dog joint, where Jim encounters Kara and both apologize for their behavior. Oz states he’s staying in town with Heather, Finch states he’s planning a trip with Selena to Europe, and Stifler plays coy about Finch’s mom. They all agree to gather once a year to catch up. Elsewhere, Noah and Jeanine are at a movie where Jeanine performs fellatio on him.

REVIEW:

I’m a pretty big fan on the American Pie franchise. The first 2 are among my favorites, as is American Pie Presents Band Camp. The other straight to DVD abominations, though, we’ll just pretend don’t really exist. Initially, when I heard they were getting the original cast back together for a theater released film, I was skeptical. I mean, the track record hasn’t exactly been the greatest following American Pie 2, which happens to be my favorite entry in the series. As more and more news came out about this, though, I found myself getting a little excited about American Reunion, but was it worth it?

Back in 1999, sex comedies had become almost a taboo thing to do, now in 2012, these things are a dime a dozen. Although, most of them are so bad they end up without even a sniff of the big screen. One thing that they all seem to have in common is they involve teens, so seeing some adults in a sex comedy is a nice change.

These guys have come a long way since those sex crazed horndogs we met in the first American Pie. That’s not to mention how far (some of) their careers have come after all these years.

I bet you’re wondering who has a reunion after 13 years, right? Well, and this is actually touched on in the film, someone screwed up in planning the 10 yr reunion, so they’re a little late in getting things off the ground.

Alright, so what worked for me?

Seeing all of the original cast again. Yes, they’re older (in some cases it really shows), but think about what you looked like 13 ys ago compared to today. Chances are there have been quite a few changes there, as well.

Eugene Levy, as with everything else he’s in, steals the show. Couple that with his hooking up with Jennifer Coolidge, and it is comic gold.

Speaking of Stifler’s mom, she’s still as hot as she was in the first two films. Then again, I’ve always said that about her…sometimes. I also loved how she was about to pop out of her dress. Now that I think about it, her character is not really that much different from the one she plays on Two Broke Girls in some ways.

Dania Ramirez was also a nice addition, especially since she was a band geek (something I know a lot about). A friend of mine who saw this at a midnight screening said it was nice to see that East Great Falls had some color, too.

The 90s music is a great touch here and there, but (not to spoil anything) when Oz and Heather get back together, they play the song that was playing when they hooked up after prom in the first film, which was a nice touch, I thought.

What didn’t work…

I love nudity of the female form. Yes, there are perky breasts to be seen here, not in as much abundance as previous entries, but my qualm is with the fact we had to see Jim’s junk. I know females out there will say that it is a double standard, but I could care less about seeing a guy’s penis, especially one squashed by a glass pot cover!

It has been 13 years and the acting for most of these guys has not gotten any better. Granted, with the exception of Alyson Hannigan, none of them have had steady work. Hell, Thomas Ian Nichols has literally only done these movies, to the best of my knowledge.

While it was good to see everyone again, some of them felt like they were brought in just to say, such as Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) and Jessica (Natasha Lyonne). I can accept the Jessica thing, as she wasn’t really a major part of the films in the first place, contrary to what the posters tell you, but Nadia was the main reason Jim got into all those sexual deviations, such as the pie situation and the infamous video on the net. Yet, for some reason, they brought her in for 2 seconds to say hi at the end, with some Jim look a like, which just made it worse.

If the direct to DVD sequels have taught us anything, it is that there is such a thing as too much Stifler (no matter part of the family they are) , yet this film didn’t seem to get that memo, as it gave a lot of focus on him. The thing is, Stifler is a good comedic supporting character who is different from the leads. When you make him a lead, it ruins the dynamic, as we learned in American Wedding. Now, this is not to say that Seann William Scott did a bad job. It was just the way it was written. 

On top of this, the mental breakdown that happens at the end of these movies, usually done by Kevin, happened to Stifler. What’s up with that?!?

Speaking of breakdown, did we really need to have Michelle running off to her grandmother’s? This is the 21st century, and just judging by her personality and chemistry with Jim, I just see her not getting mad, but taking it out on him in the bedroom. I joked that she may even invite that little 18 yr old to join them, or at least her band geek friend.

So, when all the dust settles, what do I really think of American Reunion? Well, it is a great trip down memory lane. I would wager that when you come out of seeing this, you’ll want to call up some old friends or that one that got away, or even just talk to an old friend who you had a crush on (and still might) but will never tell. I won’t say this is the best entry in the franchise, nor will I say it is a great film, but it is a good flick that can be enjoyed for what it is. I highly recommend it as you’re sure to come out with a smile on your face, especially after the credits scene. While I can’t say you should rush out and see it in theaters, rest assured, when the DVD comes out, I’ll be sure to be getting it…the unrated version, that is.

4 out of 5 stars

Father of the Bride part II

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this sequel to “Father of the Bride”, George Banks must accept the reality of what his daughter’s ascension from daughter to wife, and now, to mother means when placed into perspective against his own stage of life. As the comfortable family unit starts to unravel in his mind, a rapid progression into mid-life crisis is in his future. His journey to regain his youth acts as a catalyst for a kind of “rebirth” of his attitude on life when he and his wife, Nina, find how their lives are about to change as well after the couple unexpectedly becomes pregnant. George must now contend not only with his new status as a grandfather, but to also begin again as a new parent just as he was preparing for retirement and an empty nest for him and Nina.

REVIEW:

This sequel to the hit Father of the Bride picks up a few years later. This time, the blushing bride is now pregnant…and so to is the mother, eventually.

The sad part about all this, though, is that it very well could be that this film has the better plot and may very well may be the superior film, or is it?

Everything that worked in the first film, is back here, with the exception of the  wedding stuff, of course. However, this time, it feels like it is recycled. However, this recycling doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing.

As with many films that deal with pregnancy, it is often time used as a great comedic device. Take for instance the part where the two pregnant women are being taken care of by Steve Martin’s character, but they keep saying it is too hot. Being that it is the middle of the summer, can you blame them? Of course, this also leads to the air conditioner being cranked as low as it can and more or less creating an Arctic-type atmosphere in the house.

Martin Short’s hilariously flamboyant wedding planner character, Franck, returns. This time, he has a much bigger, accepted role, but is still a bit over-the-top, which is what makes his character a breath of fresh air and on of the true reason to watch this flick.

I wish I had more to say about this flick, but there really isn’t much to say. For the most part, it is a rehash of the same formula in the first film, but instead of wedding jokes, we have baby jokes this time. That being said, this is a pretty decent click that pretty much anyone can enjoy. Why not give it a shot?

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

 

Taking Woodstock

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in 1969, the film follows the true story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), an aspiring Greenwich Village interior designer whose parents, Jake (Henry Goodman) and Sonia (Imelda Staunton), own the small dilapidated El Monaco Motel in White Lake, in the town of Bethel, New York The hippie theater troupe The Earthlight Players rents the barn, but can hardly pay any rent. They sometimes run around naked outside, but are then chased back into the barn by Sonia. Due to supposed financial trouble, the motel may have to be closed, but Elliot assists in trying to avoid that.

Elliot plans to hold a small musical festival, and has, for $1, obtained a permit from the town of Bethel. When he hears that the organizers of the Woodstock Festial face opposition against the originally planned location, he offers his permit and the motel accommodations. Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) provides his nearby farm land; first they agree on a fee of $5,000, but after realizing how many people will come Yasgur demands $75,000, which the organizers reluctantly accept. Elliot comes to agreement about the fee for the motel more smoothly. Initial objections by his mother quickly disappear when she sees the cash paid in advance. A transvestite veteran, Vilma (Liev Schreiber), is hired as security guard.

Elliot and Yasgur encounter a little bit of expected opposition. The local diner refuses to serve Elliot anymore, inspectors target the hotel (and only his) for building code violations, and some local boys paint a swastika and hate words on the hotel. However, these things are quickly squelched, and Yasgur doesn’t care because he’s gotten more politeness from everybody that came than he ever got from the locals who oppose it.

The Tiber family works hard and makes much money. Elliot and the viewer do not see the musical performances; on his way to them Elliot takes an LSD trip with a hippie couple (Paul Dano and Kelli Garner), in their VW Bus.

When back Elliot suggests to Sonia that they now have money to hire a worker, so that he can leave, but Sonia apparently prefers Elliot’s free services. However, it turns out that Sonia secretly (without even her husband knowing) saved $97,000, so that even before the festival they were financially fine. Elliot hates it that his mother pretended financial trouble and requested him to help out (unbeknownst to the protagonist, his mother was simply afraid of close contact with Elliot as she had with her daughter shown earlier in the film)

REVIEW:

Ah…the 60s…summer of love. Taking Woodstock is supposedly a film that explores the fun loving, freewheeling music festival known as Woodstock. The problem is, somewhere along the lines, Ang Lee decided it’d be better to make a film (which he calls a comedy) about the people behind the festival.

The good…Liev Schriber as a transvestite. Yes, he’s the best part of the film. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but he is the one thing that is the most memorable in the entire 2 hrs. He’s never gonna pass as a woman or anything, but somehow he makes a convincing tranny. The only other thing that is even worth mentioning is the LSD trip scene. No matter what film, TV show, or what have you that has one of these, they are always fun to watch, if for nothing more than the pretty colors.

The bad…how can you make a film about Woodstock and not have music? Someone please tell me that! It kind of defeats the purpose. Normally, I’m all about naked folks and whatnot, but the nudity in this thing was just…I dunno. It wasn’t done tastefully, but rather felt like it was there just because they could. For such a light hearted time, they sure chose to make this thing heavy in the drama, but then I shouldn’t be surprised. This is also the director that made the Hulk an absolute bore. The story doesn’t really go anywhere, but rather seems to jump around and not lead to any sort of finish. I’m also not really a fan of Demitri Martin. I seriously think the on;y reason he got this role was because he has that 60s look, and is Jewish. Wait…isn’t there a guy on The Big Bang Theory who fits that criteria as well? Not sure if he’s be better or worse, but wouldn’t have hurt, but that personal bias speaking.

Raise you hand if you really care about the people behind Woodstock, or should I say, seeing a film about said people. If you’re like me, you could honestly care less. Not to take anything away from these people, but Woodstock is all about the music, and that is the most glaring omission from this film, and really hurts it, besides the fact that this is a total bore. I’m sure there is an audience for this picture out there somewhere, but it just wasn’t for me. I can’t sit here and say that you shouldn’t see it, but I can say that I won’t be giving it a second thought.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars