Sunday, May 29, 2011

Howard the Duck

Credentials: 4.1 out of 10 (, 16% Certified Rotten (
Plot: A long, long time ago a giant duck was transported from his home, an all-duck planet in a galaxy far, far away, to Earth. Once gets here, he plods around a cliché 80’s movie aimlessly for about 50 minutes until the actual plot gets going. By the time an intergalactic demon shows up to do battle with him/help him occasionally, you just might be asleep. If you’re lucky.
Thoughts: There are so many things I don’t understand about “Howard the Duck.” I can’t fathom why anyone thought it would be a good idea to make a movie about a foul-mouthed… errr… fowl with a script composed almost entirely of duck puns.
                Another thing, why the heck is “Howard the Duck” TWO HOURS LONG!?! There aren’t enough capital letters in the world to properly express how dumbfounded I am by that runtime. Two hours for a movie about a giant duck. Two hours and nothing happens until the 50 minute mark!

                I’m not even sure who the target audience for this movie is. It’s way too stupid to be marketed to anyone over 12, but it’s entirely too creepy to be meant for anyone under it.
                I can say, without the slightest fear of exaggeration, that “Howard the Duck” is one of the 10 creepiest movies ever made.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “How could a movie about a goofy looking space duck be creepy? That day in New York has made you soft you fool!”
I’ve got two words. Duck boobies. And that’s only like 30 seconds into the movie.
Once the real “plot” kicks in, so does the creepy. We’re talking interspecies romance between the space duck and an adorable 80’s rocker chick played by Lea Thompson.
There are all sorts of insane sexual undertones between those two. Undertones so loud they can’t really even be called undertones. More like raging solos.  
                 Watching Lea Thompson hop into bed with a duck and then lovingly caress him… dear god. I like to think I’m an open minded man, but no one should be forced to endure that kind of degenerate craziness.
                So I don’t have a clue who’s supposed to enjoy this movie. As I mentioned, if you took all the duck puns out of the script, you’d be left with about 3 pages.
                In addition to puns, “Howard the Duck” is also jam-packed with 80’s movie clichés.
                There’s an obligatory guitar solo at one point. Jeffrey Jones plays a villain.  You know, the usual.
                The story is an unmitigated disaster and it meanders along at a snail’s pace, but the effects are pretty good. Sound familiar? It should. George Lucas served as the film’s Exec. Producer.
                Any positives? Two.
                Tim Robbins does a delightful Rick Moranis, mad scientist impression. Sadly, he’s not in enough of the movie to make a huge impact.
                The other positive is the painfully lovely Lea Thompson. When she’s not trying to bed a water fowl that is.
                She’s a ball of energy and gives it her all in every scene despite the DOA material she has to work with. If it wasn’t for the bestiality stuff, she might have been good enough to make “Howard the Duck” watchable.
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.
And then I'm going to invent a shrink ray! And then I'm gonna fight ghosts! You just wait!
Where have I seen this before?
Oh that's right. "Star Wars."
Did every 80's movie really HAVE to have a guitar solo in it? Really? 
And now for the Five Creepiest Moments from 'Howard the Duck'!

Working in a brothel. Awesome setting for a PG movie.
Duck condum humor... classy?
No words... there are simply no words.

There's no way this movie could get any weirder...

And it gets weirder! Erection gag! Incredible...

                So there you have it. One of George Lucas’ bigger epic fails. How bad is it? We’re talking Jar-Jar Binks level.
                Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Live Free or Goddammit You're Right

Credentials: N/A

Plot: Oh boy. This is going to be tough. Let’s see… Hollywood super star Kurt Russell teams up with Quentin Tarantino and Jimmy Stewart to save a former body builder named Lil’ Jimmy from the clutches of an army of stuffed animals. Led by a massive stuffed gorilla, the animals hole up in the home of noted sex fiend and scholar Lye Pegg to await a final epic battle. Willy Wonka, Jesus and a vacuum cleaner also show up for various reasons.

Thoughts: After seeing “Grindhouse,” myself and a group of friends were inspired to try our hand at exploitation filmmaking and double features. What followed were some of the most bizarre and disturbing images ever captured on tape.
                “Live Free or Goddammit You’re Right” is the third, most epic and arguably worst (or best) film in the five-part “Goddammit You’re Right” saga. It runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 minutes and once was featured on, when the site was still cool.
                I’ll spare you any more of the backstory and get right to the business at hand.
                How bad is “Live Free?” From a technical standpoint, it’s a cinematic disaster the likes of which has never been seen before or since.      
                The acting is cringe-worthy, there’s no real script to speak of and the movie is full of enough jump cuts to bring down a medium-sized rhino. The camera-work is shaky, people can be heard laughing off screen and occasionally you’ll get a glimpse of the camera man’s finger or leg.
                As for the story? Well, the main plot of the movie, which I described above, doesn’t actually get wrapped up until the end credits. Not through a hidden scene or anything either. No, a credit pops up and says, “By the way, lil’ Jimmy was fine.”
                I imagine these points, along with several others, would make “Live Free” one of the most frustrating movies for an audience to sit through.
The real Kurt Russell would never stop vomiting if he ever saw my beyond wooden impression of him. I make Steven R. McQueen look like Lawrence Olivier. It’s not even an impression. I just walk around spouting lines from famous Kurt Russell movies and occasionally refer to myself in the third person.
The Pegg character, while entertaining, really doesn’t fit into the plot in any meaningful way. Nor does his brother Gepp. A great number of characters actually seem to be there just to be there. The seductress, the corner, Senor Rapise.
And if the audience wasn’t already confused enough. Several actors play multiple characters. Often times, the only way to tell the characters apart is a baseball hat. No other costuming effort was made. If you don’t watch closely, there’s a good chance your head will explode trying to keep track of it all.
             Actually, if you follow along too closely, there’s a good chance your head will also explode.
             The lesson? Pay only a medium amount of attention to this movie if you ever get the chance to watch it. For your own safety.
             The movie’s props were all purchased in dollar stores or borrowed from the younger sisters of crewmembers.
 Jesus shows up and his only costume is a sign taped to his chest that says Jesus.
             The height of the movie’s special effects is a sword fight between Kurt Russell and the stuffed monkey. This sequence was accomplished using puppetry techniques so amateur they’d make Jim Henson do back flips in his grave.
             And yet, for its abundant and glaring faults, “Live Free” is very entertaining. And I’m not just saying that because I was in it, either.
                Where else could you find such classic lines as:
                “No I did not bang her blind!”-Pegg
                “There was a vacuum and a green monkey. Unfortunately, I may have cheated on you with both. And an additional vacuum that I’d never mentioned to you before.”- Kurt Russell
                “It’s bad enough you’re having sex with my vacuum, got (expletive deleted) fur in there all the time. Can’t even clean my own house.”- Pegg to stuffed monkey
                Or the all time classic:
                “Shoot ‘em Quentin… shoot ‘em Kurt! Quentin says so!”- Quentin Tarantino to Kurt Russell after accidentally confusing who was playing who
                We had no budget whatsoever and this is what we came up with. What’s your excuse Michael Bay?
                “Live Free” is nothing more than a group of people who love movies getting together and having some fun. In this case, that fun happened to translate into a grievous crime against cinema, but heck. We still had a blast doing it.
                Whether you’re laughing with it or at it, I can promise you “Live Free” will have you in stiches.


There are two legs in this shot. That's one more than there should be...
Woah! What happened here?

Eat your heart out Jim Henson

If you only see one movie where a stuffed gorilla seduces a vacuum cleaner...

The action hero shot...

Does that guy in the background not notice the
stuffed animal massacre taking place all around him?

Hey it's Jesus!

Look at that effects work!

Man versus stuffed beast

How many movies can boast a credit like that
                So there it is, a little bit of self-promotion. Surely, you won’t hold that against me? After all, if it wasn’t for shameless self-promotion, how would anyone know who anyone else is? Think about that… go on, I dare you.
                Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Happening

Credentials: 18% Certified Rotten ( / 5.2 out of 10 ( / 34 out of 100 (
Plot: A high school science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) and his painfully uninteresting lady friend (Zooey Deschanel) watch as all around them people start offing themselves in increasingly outlandish and cartoonish ways. Is it the end of days? Who’s causing it--- our government, terrorists or even more terrifying: plants? What’s… happening? Better question: What happened to the guy who directed such films as “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and “Unbreakable?” Can we have that guy back because this other one sucks.
Thoughts: Ladies and gentlemen, “The Happening” represents what I believe to be a first in the history of Hollywood: the unintentional self-parody.
              If you gave Trey Parker and Matt Stone a bazillion dollars, they couldn't do a better job of making fun of "Happening" writer / director M. Night Shyamalan than Shyamalan himself does by accident.

                The horrible writing, the goofy twists, the wooden characters. All Shyamalan staples since “Signs.”
                And I don’t just pull Parker and Stone’s names out of the blue either.
                Anyone who has seen an episode of “South Park,” is well versed in the pair’s penchant for finding morbid yet side-splitting humor in extreme, over-the-top violence.
                For his first ever R-rated film, Shyamalan seems to key in on that, only he doesn’t realize that on “South Park,” the violence is played for laughs.
                Forgive me, but the scene where people are shown falling off a roof top was intense for maybe the first half dozen or so victims. But once the jumper count starts nearing twenty, you can’t help but laugh.
                Shyamalan has one guy do an impression of Monty Python’s Black Knight with a bunch of tigers, while another decides to start up a lawnmower and then take a nap in front of it.
                Actually, that second one is really good because no one was steering the lawnmower. That has to be the least effective method ever devised to take yourself out with. What’s to say the lawnmower doesn’t promptly make a hard left, hit a tree and stall? Then what do you do?   
                 All of that kind of cartoon violence is just too silly to be taken seriously. It’s the same reason we used to watch horrible things happen to Wile E. Coyote every week and laugh. Or we could watch the “Three Stooges” beat each other with wrenches. At a certain point a line gets crossed and our brains switch over from being appalled by something to being amused by it.
                Shyamalan, if you’ll look behind you, you’ll see that line.
                And it’s not just Shyamalan accidentally making fun of himself either.
                Mark Wahlberg, in an effort to prove his worth as a multidimensional actor, ends up coming across more one dimensional than ever. You’ll pine for just one wise-crack. Or at least one scene where he goes shirtless. Either would be preferable to his mild mannered turn as a science teacher.
                I found myself wondering if his whole performance was the result of a lost bet. I could see Wahlberg on the set of “The Departed” getting triple dog dared by Alec Baldwin to whisper for an entire movie.
                And of course, no one walks away from a triple dog dare. Not even Marky Mark.
                Zooey Deshcanel does everything in her power to burn through all of her indie street cred by turning in a performance so overdone, not even the Disney Channel would accept it.
                But “The Happening” is not all bad.
                Shyamalan manages to elicit some genuine suspense early on, when his characters think they’re facing some sort of terrorist attack. Maybe it’s all the recent talk about bin Laden, but the idea of being stuck in a strange place, while the world falls apart around you is pretty terrifying.
                Sure, he promptly ruins that by throwing in an epic speech on the benefits of hot dogs and endless shots of characters trembling in fear at the sight of trees blowing in the wind. No one’s perfect.
                At least Al Gore would be proud of the ham-handed eco-crusader message Shyamalan wedges into the movie.
The first of many shots depicting the horrors of nature!
I'm not kidding, the ego manic actually gave himself credit for playing the unintelligible voice on the phone.

I'm not sure you've beaten me over the head with your point enough Shyamalan.
Maybe try a little harder next time?

Behold: The only R-rated movie to ever feature the phrase cheese and crackers uttered as a curse!
Forget film school, how about we raise money to buy Shyamalan a
dictionary so he can look up the meaning of the word subtlety?
               And because there are some things that mere screen caps can't do justice:

                So there it is, If you see just one movie where Mark Wahlberg has a conversation with a house plant, make it “The Happening.”
                Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hercules in New York

Credentials: 2.8 out of 10 ( / 20% Certified Rotten (
Plot: Hercules (Arnold Schwarzenegger) gets bored with his humdrum existence among the gods on Mount Olympus and decides to head to Earth to begin a career as a professional wrassler and bodybuilder. Zeus (SNL’s goatboy) is none too pleased with this turn of events and schemes to get Herc back where he belongs. While on Earth, Herc embarrasses a bunch of college kids, befriends a dorky tiny guy (not Danny Devito) and beats up a bear with his bare hands--- get it?
Thoughts: Ladies, if you’re tired of men objectifying you, “Hercules in New York” is your revenge. 
            As much as female types get objectified on the big screen, I guarantee you no one has ever been treated more like a piece of meat than Arnie in this movie.
“Hercules in New York” isn’t really a movie, but rather a random collection of scenes, most of which culminate in Arnie taking off his shirt for some reason.

Occasionally he’ll just announce out of the blue: “I’m taking a shower” and poof! Off goes the shirt. Throwing a javelin? Can’t have that shirt getting in the way. Looking at a movie poster? All that reading must have made him sweaty because guess where that shirt went? If you answered on his body, you were wrong. The correct answer was on the ground.
                Not enough objectification for you?
                How about the fact that Arnie’s voice was dubbed over? That’s right! His trademarked delightful Austrian accent is nowhere to be found. Instead we get some unimpressive, unoriginal schmuck blandly delivering all the lines.
                Basically, Arnie was told to stand there, move his mouth and look pretty. Even McConaughey gets to read his own lines for Zeus’ sake!
                I can’t help but wonder how much better the movie would have been with Arnie’s actual voice in it. Because as it stands, “Hercules in New York” is a decidedly unfunny, cheap and illogical comedy.
                Ironically, the Hercules character type, a muscle-bound fish-out-of-water, is one that Arnie would later ride to dizzying success in “Kindergarten Cop,” among other comedy classics.  
                The movie defies logic, haphazardly blending Ancient Greek and Roman mythologies with a dash of Old Testament thrown in there at the end.
                As for being cheap, look no further than the Hercules vs. bear matchup for proof of that. It’s clearly a guy in a costume, so much so at one point the bear appears to be wearing sneakers. The costume didn’t come with feet? You couldn’t have told the guy to wear brown shoes at least?
                Like I said earlier, the story is driven mostly by the need to get Arnie topless. Except, during the climactic weight lifting scene. He can’t walk down the street without stripping, but he keeps everything on when he’s deadlifting 1000 lbs? What gives?
                The rest of the movie follows Zeus and his wife plotting uninteresting revenge schemes and Arnie seducing a gal by the name of… wait for it… Helen! I know! Hi-larious!
Herc’s mortal pal Pretzie (named after his occupation: pretzel seller and played by Arnold Stang) with his nasally, New York accent, humongous classes and slight stature, is the typical Schwarzenegger foil. The two actual have a mildly endearing quasi-chemistry and they earn the occasional chuckle or two. But not many.                  
Wow. Zeus' lightning bolts are... unimpressive.

I can see  lighting rigs in that crystal ball! I wonder what that means?

"Twins" sequel? Err... prequel?
Now that's better. Just can't throw a javelin with all that fabric in the way.
What did the bear do? Pick the lock?

No, don't look at my feet, eyes up here thank you.
Speaking of "Twins," it's Zeus and Goat Boy! Guess which is which!

So many words on poster... so sweaty... must take off shirt...
So there it is: “Hercules in New York.”
I’ve heard rumors you can actually track down copies of this movie with Arnold’s original dialogue track. If you’re that desperate to watch it, go with that version. At least you can get some laughs as the 22-year-old one day Governator badly mispronounces words.
They don't just give away that Mr. Universe title...

Bumblebee tuna.