Archive for November, 2008

So, with the Thanksgiving holidays and everything, my Netflix shipments have been backed up.  This is actually pretty good, because it’s been giving my brain a break from all those awful, awful movies I’ve been watching (I feel a little fried, I can’t lie), so tonight I’m making hot chocolate and tucking in with Witness, which I have not seen in approximately ten years and eight days.  Viggo Mortensen’s first film role and all that.   Plus, Amish people! Who doesn’t love the Amish?  I hear they make fantastic quilts…and friendship bread.

And any thoughts of forming coherent thoughts about any movies whatsoever flew out the window when I saw this … first pictures of Bale and Depp in Public Enemies. Michael Mann, you have just put my rear end in a theater seat.

So that’s all for now.  Once my new movies get here, I guess I’ll have something more, although I suspect I’ll need to dig out the thesaurus I haven’t used in ages.   I’m getting sick of using the word “awful” over and over and over again.

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Piggly Wiggly checkout girl Rosalee is Tad Hamilton’s biggest fan, much to the delight of her best friend Cathy, who is equally Hamilton-obsessed, and much to the irritation of her best friend/boss Pete, who can’t stand Tad.   When Rosalee enters and wins a contest called ‘Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!’ which has been designed to rectify negative publicity from Hamilton’s party-boy actions, Pete begins to act out.   He’s long loved Rosalee but said nothing along the way.  After Tad and Rosalee’s date, Tad tags along with Rosalee back to West Virginia, where he faces new competition for Rosalee from Pete.

Win A Date With Tad Hamilton is awful.  If a nurse were to ask me on the pain scale where this movie was, I’d give it a 7.   For starters, it’s poorly acted.   Topher Grace can’t even seem to muster anything other than an eyebrow raise every so often, and Josh Duhamel and Kate Bosworth might as well be replaced by cardboard cutouts.   Remember the good old days when Kate Bosworth looked like she was remotely healthy?   It’s weird to see her in this movie looking so unlike her current self, where she resembles a human lollipop.

More than anything, Tad Hamilton is hackneyed and cliché to the extreme.  No one got the memo to the writers of this one that punchlines for jokes shouldn’t be seen miles away, or perhaps, maybe, that this story had been tread and retread in different variations over years and years of cinema.  Perhaps it was too much to ask for a little credit for the audience to do more than slurp down whatever sugar-coated slop Hollywood threw in the trough in front of them.   Perhaps it was too much to ask for these people to make a good movie.

There is a scene in this movie where I finally gave up on ever finding something remotely likable in this one, and that is a scene where Rosalee’s West Virginia town realizes Tad Hamilton has come to town for her – and that she’s dating him.   She enters the Piggly Wiggly and all of the shoppers and cashiers, save for brooding manager Pete, stop and applaud her.

…For what?   For getting it on with a Hollywood star?

That’s pretty much why they’re clapping for her.

This movie isn’t actually a movie.  It’s recycling of the very worst kind, by people involved taking every romantic comedy cliché and adding a dash of the kind of story they think people want to see (real-life person gets to date a celebrity!  Who doesn’t want that, huh?) and then vomiting it up onto the written page.  The movie doesn’t even give the viewer a smidgen of credibility; they follow the plot you expect but they don’t build it up like they should.   Ebert says it better than I do, of course.

It is considered a flop and rightly so.   Nothing of this movie is deserving of anyone’s time.   It certainly wasn’t deserving of mine.

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High School Musical isn’t actually bad.


That’s not to say that it’s entirely good, either.

The main problem with High School Musical is that it is so completely bland.  Every character is like a overly simplified stereotype.   The music is instantly forgettable and there’s not a memorable moment in the whole movie.   The only bad part I can think of for High School Musical is having to stare at Zac Efron for an hour plus, who I find pretty much disgusting.

Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) meet at a ski resort on vacation and sing karaoke together.   Upon returning to school, Troy discovers Vanessa has transferred into his school in New Mexico and he begins to wonder if he can be both the school basketball star and try out for the musical.  Unfortunately for him and math whiz-kid Gabriella, everyone in their school seems stringently devoted to staying in their own little cliques and never “bending the rules” for anyone to break outside said cliques.  Troy and Gabriella must fight for acceptance and fight to win the leads in the school musical.

Honestly, the yawn factor on this one was high.   It wasn’t that it was so bad that I wanted to turn it off; it was just that I had to fight really hard to keep my attention focused on the screen and not get up and go do something else.   I inadvertently bought this movie a long time ago (it’s a long, long story) and I honestly wish I didn’t own it because I’ll never watch it again.

It’s nowhere near the worst, but it’s also nowhere remotely near the best.   It’s not even interesting enough to claim the title of mediocre; it’s like a perfectly slick storm of tween marketing and PR come to life.

Right now?   I’m using it as a coaster.

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There is a problem with your movie if the title translates to “Hands:  Hands of Fate”.


Confession:  I had to cheat just a little bit on this one.   Netflix doesn’t offer the regular version of Manos:  The Hands of Fate, so I had to “settle” for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.   All in all, I’m sure it saved me a lot more grief than normal, but even with the MST3K overlay, Manos:  The Hands of Fate is just a wretched, lumbering monstrosity.

It’s widely believed to be one of the worst movies of all time, a fact which I cannot repudiate.   It is one of the worst of the worst.  In fact, the only movie that I’ve seen that edges out Manos is Ax ‘Em, but that’s mainly because of the technical screw-ups (like no sound, for example) in Ax ‘Em.   They’re both equally sophisticated in their storytelling.

HANDS:  The Hands of Fate begins with a family traveling to some vacation spot.   Before they really can kick the movie into gear, you’re treated to fifteen minutes of repetitive scenery.



It’s strikingly clear from the first minute of the movie that the person who directed this had no idea what in God’s name they were doing and refused any sort of help, psychiatric or otherwise.   It should be noted, friends, that this is essentially the best part of the movie.


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#1484: Twilight

There’s not much more I can say about Twilight.   The best part of the movie for me personally was people-watching.   Twilight fandom is about as fan-wanky as you can get, and our audience clearly aimed to please.

The girl next to me in line, for example, uttered this finery right before entering the theater:  “And then I made my boyfriend put on body glitter so he would be JUST. LIKE. EDWARD.  EEEE!”

If that’s not terrifying, I don’t know what is.    Look, if you like the books, you’ll like the movie.   And if you don’t like the books or don’t care, guess what?   You won’t like it, probably.   I’ll just put it this way.

Twilight is the best comedy I’ve seen all year!    No…seriously.   It’s laugh out loud hilarious.   I have not laughed that hard in a theater since I saw Team America.


The lady next to me got all peeved and everything!   But I couldn’t help it.  You know how you laugh so hard you start to shake?

That’s what I did for 75% of this movie.

(Wait for it on DVD, trust me.   You’ll love it!  In an awesomely bad sort of fashion.)

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Entertain Me, Yo!

Oh my god, y’all. I have been waiting in the world’s most boring line for Twilight and I am surrounded by some hardcore fangirls. Please send a hug and some Stoli my way, dearests.

All I can say is that this line is more epic than my line for The Dark Knight and that I fear the girl sitting next to me did not appreciate my sparkle joke and may, in fact, wait to jump me when reach the safety of the dark.

Until then, any entertainment would be much obliged.

Thank heavens for PDAs.

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So…I’m partially alive, I promise.   Real life events have been crazy here at 1,416 and Counting headquarters!   And I’m still trying to fully process Manos:  Hands of Fate…because…well…I think it might have lowered my IQ about eighty-five points.   (I only had 100 points to start with too, so, drats!)

However, I AM attending a fantabulously glittery sparkly screening of Twilight tomorrow, so I guess you’ll know soon if the LULZ are worth it or not.

But, I did have to share this with you.   Coraline is a new stop-motion film coming out and by all accounts, it looks fantastic.   Take note, viral marketers of movies, because this is wise:   Check out what Cleolinda and Despoiler got for Coraline.   Now that is a ton of awesome and a half.    (Me?  Envious.  Of course.   That way beats the nine thousand promotional e-mails I get from PR firms promoting movies that um….I will probably never see.   Sorry, random PR firms that e-mail me often.   It’s just…I’m not fond of romantic comedies, you see, if you…you know…read my blog.)

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It’s hard for me to hate on Nic Cage.

Seriously, I have a lot of love for the man.   I think it stems from the fact that Cage wasn’t going to settle for a merely mediocre film career; goddammit, if he was going to be bad, he was going to be the worst of the very worst.   He would make movies like Bangkok Dangerous and Next sheerly for the awful factor because he already got his damn Academy Award, so why not excel in the other direction?   (This, at least, is what I tell myself when I curl up with a Nicolas Cage movie on a Saturday night.)

There is something intangible, something nominally endearing about Cage that I just can’t shake.  Even when he’s at his worst, I just kind of shake my head.  “Oh, Nicolas,” I mentally say and I carry on.  Any other actor would cause a disgusting stream of invective to exit my mouth, but not Cage.   Oh, no.   And why, I’ve never really become quite certain.   Cage just makes bad movies, and I just watch them and giggle, and we both carry on like things are right in the world.

You know.

So The Wicker Man is no exception.   I know I should be RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT that they remade this one.  The original was uber-cool and featured bad-ass Christopher Lee, so remaking it – the sense it does not make.   But this is Nicolas Cage World and we don’t ask questions there, because the answers we would get in Nicolas Cage World make little to no sense.

The movie itself is somewhat faithful to the original; man gets on this creepy island, searching for a lost little girl and at the end discovers he’s intended for a ritual sacrifice because the island’s inhabitants follow some old-school pagan religion.   Did I spoil you?   Oops.   Oh, well.


It’s hard for me to lump this in the same category as Ax ‘Em or Midnight Skater simply because this movie brings horrible, disgusting, unintentional hilarity at every turn.  And thanks to YouTube, you can see them all compiled here:


I’d say the only thing that kind of disturbs me about this version of The Wicker Man is the change made to make the society a “Celtic pagan” community where women are the utter psychos, rather than an island of women and men.   It makes my feminist-ire bone tickle in a funny way, to tell you the truth.

Cage is a fount of hysterics.   He’s a master of awful cinema.   And so, while I admit The Wicker Man is truly horrific, while it’s nothing like the original, while it is nothing like what it set out to be…I laughed far more than I have at other straight-up comedies.

And for all you Cage haters?  The ending scenes are worth it for you.   Watching Cage’s bones get shattered and then, presumably, watching him burn to death will more than satisfy your vengeful bloodlust for movies like Guarding Tess and Con Air.

If you’re renting the DVD, be aware; the filmmakers did away with the original ending and tacked on an “alternate ending”.  I spent my final viewing experience pissed off because you have no option to view the original theatrical ending like you do on most DVDs.  Why am I pissed?   Because apparently I missed thirty or so seconds of James Franco, who was in the original theatrical ending.  NOW THAT would’ve made The Wicker Man infinitely better, because James Franco is hot and I am nothing if not terrifically shallow.

Oh, Nicolas.  What WON’T you do?

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I present to you the IMDB summary for reasons that will become clearer later:

A weekend retreat at a remote cabin in the woods for a group of childhood pals turns into a terrifying fight for survival, as a former friend whose family was killed years earlier comes along looking for revenge.

Tonight, Younger Sister joined me for this viewing…and I hate to say it, but I think it broke her.   It broke me, just a little, so I present to you a review consisting of snippets of our conversation during the movie.


Younger Sister: What the hell is this?

Me:  Ax ‘Em.

YS: …Two words.   Sony.  Camcorder.

Me: You should’ve seen Midnight Skater.

YS: What the hell have you been watching lately?


YS: 2 Smooth Film?    Jesus.    And why are we watching a step team?

Me: I don’t know.   Really, I don’t.

YS: Uh…this is going to get better, right?

Me: *stony silence*


Me: WOW.    Oh….God.

YS: They spent two dollars on this film, didn’t they?

Me: I just…there are no words.

YS: This movie blows.   This is the worst movie ever.

Me: I’m not quite entirely sure on that, but it is in the running for first place, yeah.


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Normally I can find some measure of sympathy in my heart for even the worst movie. Oftentimes I find myself weighing the sadly few pros to the vast amount of cons, looking for good in even the worst piles of steaming crap.

There is but one, solitary pro to the ocean of cons in Grizzly Rage: unintentional, full-on humor.

To be fair, I am biased against animal-attack movies. I view them much in the same way I view something like Sex and the City; boring, vapid, and at times somewhat watchable but utterly forgettable. And both tend to feature soulless beasts stalking prey. (Sorry, Sex and the City fans.)

Grizzly Rage is probably the standard bearer for such flicks; it is soul-crushingly awful.

The only way to keep yourself from nodding off is to laugh.

I don’t even need to find a poster for this one. I just need to show you the DVD menu and the title cards, really.


Notice that masterful Photoshopping! They gave the bear red-eye! They took MS Paint and spray painted blood on to the bear! Magnificent, I say.


It was at this point that I began to question what I had done with this latest installment of Reader’s Choice and whether I was going to end up like Sam Neill in In The Mouth of Madness, crazed, babbling and unsure of where reality and insanity met and separated.

And verily, I felt kind of heartened. I’ve seen a lot of awful things in my time. For goodness sakes, I am a person who professes an enormous amount of love for Spice World. Some people have a high pain threshold; I seem to have a high awful threshold.

Grizzly Rage seemed determined to call my hand, I think.

The movie begins with four friends embarking on a road trip, complete with car dancing and music that can best be described as Nickelback-lite (eww!). There is an unspoken rule of horror/gore flicks that I’m sure has an applicable mathematic equation. The more jerkfaced you are, the more likely you are to die. In a group of total assholes, the alpha asshole will most likely bite the dust far before the other, lesser jerkfaces. And if you’re having sex? God. You just punched your own ticket to the sweet hereafter, friend. If we are following this standard, then you will not be surprised…


…that I immediately wondered to myself when the Hand of God was going to come down and smite these X-TREME individuals before the movie really got up and running.

The foursome are en route to a camping trip in a park when they decide to deviate from their original plan and instead decide to go to a different park, one that’s been gated up and locked for a long time. That’s okay, they decide – they’ll just break in and not tell anyone where they’re going! Well, super!

So they do just that, but they don’t make it far inside the gated up park before they totally screw everything up by running over and killing a bear cub. The campers aren’t as dumb as I originally believed, as they bicker amongst themselves for seconds before deciding to hightail it out of there because the momma bear? Probably nearby.


Being X-TREME has its consequences.

It’s quickly thereafter that Momma Bear appears as the friends kick their nice sport utility vehicle into high gear and haul ass the other direction.   It’s too bad that they crash into a tree, doing something funky to their radiator.   Oops!    I bet AAA doesn’t do car repairs in locked-up parks with raging grizzly bears on the loose, hmm?


If you’re Stephen Colbert, you’re peeing your pants in fright right now.

If you’re everyone else?   Meh.


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