Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Credentials: 49% Certified Rotten (Rottentomatoes.com) / 6.5 out of 10 (Imdb.com) / 52 out of 100 (Metacritic.com)
Plot: A family of flag-wavin’, god-fearin’ Americans head into the desert looking for a shortcut on their way to California. Our heroes quickly stumble upon a group of irradiated, pissed off cannibal types who don’t take kindly to outsiders. The next 80 minutes or so are dedicated to insane levels of gore, perverse violence and yes even multiple rapes. Hell, if you’re not choking back vomit by the time the opening credits are over, director Alexandre Aja will return your money and make you dinner. It looks like my 8th grade teacher was right when she said: “All of life’s shortcuts are patrolled by blood-thirsty mutants.”
Thoughts: Aside from a lot of atom bomb talk, “The Hills Have Eyes” sticks pretty close to its source material, Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic and that, boys and girls, was its first mistake. Craven’s original wasn’t any good and--- despite the best efforts of the cast--- neither is the remake.

                At the risk of making myself very unpopular with the horror community, allow to make this shocking declaration: Wes Craven is sorta overrated. Sure, the man helped create two of the most iconic movie monsters of all time (Freddy Krueger and Ghostface), but the one thing he never really did was produce a movie with three solid acts. His films tended to bog down near the end with either a lot of mindless talking (“Scream”) or silly booby traps (“Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Last House on the Left”)
                So, I was on board when I heard “Hills Have Eyes” was getting a facelift. And then I actually saw the thing.
                “The Hills Have Eyes” is one of the more joyless, disgusting and depraved movies ever committed to film. And despite what BloodyDisgusting.com may say about the matter, it most certainly IS torture porn.
                Aja’s camera lingers just a little too long on the charred corpses, the deformed mutants and the countless impalings for it to be considered anything else.
                The movie gets off to a pretty good start. The doomed family is actually, shockingly, well-written. They’re not quite real people, but they’re far from hollow vessels with the word “victim” stamped on their foreheads.
                However, at a certain point everyone starts losing their minds. People go off wandering alone into the desert; guns are fired wildly at the wind. One brilliant character decides his wooden baseball bat is a more formidable weapon than a pickax. Are you kidding me!?!?!
                On the acting side of things, the wonderful Ted Levine classes up the joint as the ex-cop patriarch of the family. As always, the man with the golden vocal cords is fantastic. The rest of the cast is mostly solid, except when the screenplay by Aja and Gregory Levasseur forces them to make nonsense decisions.
                Now to the violence. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m no prude when it comes to gory horror movies. I think blood and guts have their place right alongside suspense and tension as staples of the genre. But even I have my limits and there are some things in “Hills Have Eyes” I really don’t want to watch.
Extremely creepy and vicious sex stuff aside (and that’s a hell of an aside), the gore is enough to make even the most ardent gorehound a wee bit uncomfortable. I don’t need to see a guy being burned alive… for a solid five minutes. But Aja’s not a monster. He intercuts the burning with a rape scene. You know, to break things up a little.
                Worst of all: Aja breaks my only unforgivable horror rule--- he messes with animals. Never, EVER allowed.
                The violence is so hard to sit through, that a movie like “The Hills Have Eyes” NEEDS to have a major visceral payoff to send audiences home happy. (Look no further than reigning torture porn king Eli Roth’s “Hostel” for a how-to guide.) There’s a primitive part of the human brain that still delights in seeing evil punished harshly.
                And we almost get it. Several villainous characters are fed their just desserts at the hands of our surviving heroes. But Aja can’t resist the temptation to pull the carpet out from under his audience one last time so he concludes his movie with a shot that makes the payoff seem all for naught.
 Video Evidence
There's nothing in this movie I want to subject you to, dear reader. Enjoy the trailer and steer clear.
                And so there you have it: “The Hills Have Eyes (2006).” There's a lot of good things going on here from a technical standpoint, but they end up getting drowned by a faulty vision.
                Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leprechaun in the Hood

Credentials: 40% Certified Rotten (Rottentomatoes.com)/ 3.3 out of 10 (Imdb.com)
Plot: The fifth (FIFTH!) entry in the “Leprechaun” saga follows the second most famous leprechaun in America (played by Warwick Davis) as he hunts down his missing golden flute. Apparently, said musical device is busy alternating possession between a pimp/record producer (played by Ice-T, talk about range) and a trio of aspiring, yet wholly untalented rappers. While those four geniuses are busy screwing each other over, the Leprechaun drops some rhymes, smokes a little grass and hangs out with his “zombie fly-girls.” Alright, Irish and hip hop communities. The time is yours to debate who is more annoyed by this movie.
Thoughts: The “Leprechaun” franchise was never very good to begin with. However, the one thing it excelled at was coming up with ridiculous gimmicks to hide how long in the tooth it was getting. Heck, without the Leprechaun blazing the trail, Jason Voorhees never would have found his way into space.
                At a certain point, the “Leprechaun” franchise became the “Vacation” of the horror/comedy world. The little green guy traveled to Vegas, space, and finally… the hood. Where ever the producers could send him to keep things interesting.
                And they almost succeeded this time. “In the Hood” is one of the better entries in the series, but as always, the gag wears thin. The fish-out-of-water, “Odd Couple” combo of an ancient Irish demon chilling in Compton is fun for a while, but it’s a one-note joke.
                Screenwriter Doug Hall dragged it out as long as he could, but eventually my attention started to wander.
Much like “Snakes on a Plane,” the best part of “Leprechaun in the Hood” is the moniker. Both movies were blessed/cursed with titles so hilarious they could never be lived up to.
Ice T seems like he’s having a blast playing the evil pimp/producer Mack Daddy. And he should be having a blast, considering he’s being paid to regurgitate the tired persona he spent decades cultivating. I’m pretty sure he could have played that character in his sleep. Honestly, I can't prove he didn't. Like the script, he was fun for a bit, but you get sick of him.
Our three wannabe rapper heroes aren’t really worth mentioning by name, but two of them have huge muscles and the third spends the whole movie talking about being a virgin.
                Fans of horrible rap music rejoice! This is the movie for you! Our trio of not-so-lovable losers frequently breaks into rap tunes so bland and unappealing they wouldn’t even be welcomed on the after midnight rotation of MTV 8: The Ocho.
                Sadly, the movie is in love with these performances and peppers them in as often as possible. Well, either that or Hall and director Rob Spera were really desperate to pad the runtime a bit.
Warwick Davis is a good sport and he dutifully punches the clock on yet another “Leprechaun” sequel. He's got a lot of energy, but most of his lines sound like something Dr. Seuss scribbled on a bar napkin in between tequila shots.
As the leprechaun, Davis sports some pretty sporadic mind-control powers. For example: He can get a character to shoot himself in the head, but he can’t get anyone to hand him his stupid flute back! How does that work!??! (No word on the staus of his Lucky Charms)
                The movie veers headfirst towards the creepy when it introduces a subplot about the leprechaun’s horn dog ways. That little dude gets around! Apparently ancient Irish demons will bang anyone and anything that moves. It gets uncomfortable, especially when the local drag queen gets involved.
             Here’s a rundown of some of the worst lines “Leprechaun in the Hood” has to offer:
  • “Lep in da hood, come to do no good!” (Theme song)
  • “A friend with weed, is a friend indeed.”-Leprechaun
  • “It’s like Robin Hood, only we’ll be robbin’ in da hood!”-One of the idiot rappers
  • “I didn’t come to play with fruit, I just came to find my magic flute!”-Leprechaun to the drag queen)
  • "Free at last, free at last! Thank god almighty, I’m free at last!”-Leprechaun, I’m sure MLK was doing backflips in his grave.
Video Evidence
"A friend with weed, is a friend indeed!"

 
Looney Toons humor...

 
Ice T's fro is the stuff legends and dreams are made of             
So if you like lame sight gags and mind-numbingly bad rap music, this’ll be your “Gone with the Wind.” One last thing: Why couldn’t we have called this “Leprechaun in da Hood?” Why bother with “the?” Food for thought.  Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Freddy Got Fingered

Credentials: 11% Certified Rotten (Rottentomatoes.com)/ 4.0 out of 10 (Imdb.com)/ 13 out of 100 (Metacritic.com)
                Nominated for 8 Razzies, “won” 5 at the 2002 Golden Raspberry Awards (Wins in BOLD)- Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Tom Green), Worst Director, Worst Onscreen Couple (Tom Green and any animal he abuses), Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actress (Drew Barrymore), Worst Supporting Actress (Julie Hagerty), Worst Supporting Actor (Rip Torn)
                Nominated for Worst Comedy of Our First 25 Years at the 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards
                Nominated for Worst Picture of the Decade at the 2010 Golden Raspberry Awards

Plot: A degenerate, psychotic slacker and aspiring cartoonist named Gord (Tom Green) moves back in with his parents (Julie Hagerty and Rip Torn) while he searches for a job. Before long, Gord’s not-so-lovable antics wear thin and his dad demands he seek lodging elsewhere. Gord responds as any 28-year-old man would: by moving out, finding a job and making something of himself… wait that’s not right. No, Gord accuses his father of sexually molesting Freddy, the family’s younger son- he’s 25. Oh yeah, and at some point a beautiful, paralyzed amateur rocket scientist with an S&M fetish (Marisa Coughlan) inexplicably falls madly in love with Gord. Just your average family comedy.

Thoughts: In case you couldn't tell from the plot summary, “Freddy Got Fingered” is a genuinely repulsive movie.
                Now, I’m not one to advocate blacklisting, but I’d seriously look into banning anyone and everyone involved with this movie from ever working in Hollywood again. Except for Harland Williams because he does a delightful Chewbacca impression. And Shaq is always welcome. Still waiting for “Kazaam II” big man. But the rest of the cast and crew… sorry. You need to find employment elsewhere.
                The blame for this affront to nature falls squarely on the shoulders of leading man, writer and director Tom Green, who managed to craft a movie so vile I nearly pressed the stop button for the first time in Cheese List history.
                That tiny little square never looked so good.      
                It isn’t often that topics like bestiality and child molestation find their way into a mainstream comedy. Then again, that’s probably because studios have stopped giving Tom Green money. Consider “Freddy Got Fingered” a huge, embarrassing lesson learned.  
                Also, I’m not going to list the disturbing acts Tom Green perpetrates upon various innocent animals because I don’t want to pollute your mind with that kind of wretched ugliness.
                Green isn’t an actor. Instead of playing a character he resorts to the same juvenile gross out crap he pulled on his MTV show.
                Plus, he makes funny faces, sings stupid songs and turns 2 syllable words into 8 syllable words. Really, Tom Green paved the way for the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians of the world.  He got famous by being extremely annoying.
                And despite the fact that Green’s Gord character is very clearly a raving lunatic in desperate need of medication, no one in the movie seems all that concerned about him. They just go about their lives while he showers in a full SCUBA suit and plays a keyboard while wearing two steaks as earrings. Also, he licks his friend’s compound leg fracture.
                In the real world, Gord would be warehoused in the basement of an asylum with a Hannibal Lecter mask on, not out roaming the streets molesting horses and elephants.
                There are a couple of good laughs to be had, but Green usually steps all over them by pushing things too far. Like the aforementioned compound fracture bit.
                He can’t let a joke breathe. His urge to smother it is just too strong.
                The plot, if you can call it that, wraps up around the 70 minute mark or so, but the movie just keeps right on going. Green tacks on a bizarre Pakistani epilogue that brings nothing relevant to the table.
                Really though, the movie had already overstayed its welcome by that point anyway.
                Any positives? Well, like I said, there are some laughs scattered throughout. Harland Williams is fun in his limited screen time as Gord’s friend. Anthony Michael Hall also has a couple of memorable scenes as an animation studio big wig. I guess since he was in “The Dark Knight” he can remain un-blacklisted too. For now…  
                “Freddy Got Fingered” would make an excellent challenge on “Survivor.” Forget about eating bugs and animal parts. If you can make it all the way through this movie without puking, you’re worthy of a million bucks outright.
                I’ll be waiting by my mailbox Tom.
Video Evidence

                Pictures are worth a thousand words right? Well, I think this one about sums up "Freddy Got Fingered."
Actual Screen Cap from "Freddy Got Fingered"

                Bumblebee tuna.            

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pearl Harbor

Credentials:  5.5 out of 10 (Imdb.com)/ 44 out of 100 (Metacritic.com)/ 25% Certified Rotten (Rottentomatoes.com)
Nominated for six Razzies at the 2001 Golden Rasberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Actor (Ben Affleck), and Worst Remake or Sequel. It didn't win any.  
Plot: A fighter pilot (Ben Affleck) and a military nurse (Kate Beckinsale) fall madly in love as WWII rages in the Pacific and Europe and the good old USA sits idly by on the sidelines. Sadly, the pilot goes away to help the Brits fight the Germans, leaving the nurse all to her lonesome. But don’t feel too sorry for her though, as she gets sent to some navy base of little consequence in beautiful Hawaii. But then tragedy strikes and the pilot is killed in action. The nurse is heartbroken, so heartbroken that she stumbles right into the arms of his best friend (Josh Hartnett) who is also a pilot. Not a bad consolation prize, huh ladies? Anyhow, the nurse and her new pilot fall madly in love and everything is awesome until the original pilot love interest shows up. Apparently he wasn’t dead after all. Drama ensues. Oh yeah and then the Japanese launch a sneak attack that  changes the course of history forever… but that’s not important. What’s important is love triangle drama! JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!
Thoughts:  Now, you would think that a movie called “Pearl Harbor” would focus squarely on the events that forced America into WWII. You would think that, but you’d be wrong.
                This is a Michael Bay-directed movie we’re talking about. Commonsense has no place here.

                Apparently Bay and his screenwriter (Randall Wallace) didn’t think the story of Pearl Harbor was strong enough to carry a movie all by itself. So, they decided to give it some help by shoehorning in a love triangle melodrama so cheesy and clich├ęd that most soap operas would have shied away from it.
 The love story sticks closely to a well-worn path, tossing in a few twists that even the most novice moviegoer would see coming from a mile away.
                But Bay and Wallace stick to their guns, gamely drawing out each not-so shocking twist and turn like they’re reinventing the wheel. For three godless hours.
                I’m not sure who told Michael Bay that movies can’t clock in at under three hours, but that person and I are going to have to throw down.
                The script is almost entirely fluff. The actual attack at Pearl Harbor doesn’t start until the hour and twenty minute mark! Then, it lasts for 40 jaw-dropping and entertaining minutes. The movie’s last hour is reserved for some revisionist history on the aftermath of the attack.
               Somehow Bay has managed to reduce Pearl Harbor to a subplot in a movie called “Pearl Harbor."
                The thing is, the action scenes are extremely well done. The special effects are spectacular and the cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. The aerial dogfights are some of Bay’s best work.
                Michael Bay doesn’t know much, but the man knows action.
                On the acting front, Kate Beckinsale is really more of a plot device than a character, bouncing from one love interest to another.
 Affleck’s pilot is a cocky, headstrong, sort-of d-bag. It’s the same kind of character Affleck rode to huge success and eventually colossal failure. It’s also the same kind of cardboard character he’s been avoiding like the plague lately.  
                Hartnett broods. I like the guy, but that’s all he does here. Oh well, at least he’s got cool hair.
                “Pearl Harbor” doesn’t work as an action movie, because there’s not enough action outside of the middle act. It also doesn’t work as a drama because the writing is too weak and predictable.  
                The most compelling and dramatic parts of “Pearl Harbor” are the ones Bay and co. didn’t manufacture. The confusion and fear caused by the surprise attack and the remarkable acts of heroism that followed.
                One scene that stands out takes place at the base’s hospital. Overwhelmed nurses and doctors rush from patient to patient, making life and death decisions in a split second. It’s absolutely heart breaking to watch.  It also makes you want to strangle Bay for wasting so much time getting to it.
                Someone needs to rein him in because there might just be a talented filmmaker hiding in there somewhere, just waiting to finally hear the phrase: “You should cut this part out.”
                Bumblebee tuna.