Daddy Day Camp
There is something about the 2003 Eddie Murphy lead 'Daddy Day Care' that I enjoy. It's a nice, innocent family flick, and while it's nothing amazing, it's cute, fun, and does deliver a few genuine laughs. The film features Murphy as Charlie Hinton; an unemployed but married father of one who decides to start a daycare, along with his friend, Phil (Jeff Garlin), and an extra hire named Marvin (Steve Zahn). By the end, spoiler alert, everything works out despite a bunch of red tape and the threat of their rival daycare, run by Mrs. Harridan (Anjelica Huston).
Fast-forward four years to this film, and everything starts to fall apart, starting with a complete recasting. Now, the roles of Charlie and Phil have been replaced with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Rae, respectively. Anyway, their wives want their children to attend a summer camp. This brings Charlie and Phil to take them to the summer camp of their youth, Camp Driftwood. Since they were young, Driftwood has gone significantly downhill, losing to another camp, Canola, run by Charlie's old rival, Lance (Lochlyn Munro). Once he learns who runs the rival camp, Charlie enlists the helps of his estranged father (Richard Gant) to help restore Camp Driftwood to its former glory.
If there was one word I'd use to describe this movie, its "contradictory". Just one example involves Charlie simultaneously having fond memories of Camp Driftwood's glory days, and horrible memories of being bullied there, thus making him want to deter his son from going. That's just one example. We also have this one kid who plays your average bully. We eventually learn that he has a pretty rough personal problem he's dealing with. As soon as we feel sympathy towards him though, he just keeps unleashing the inner bully, providing absolutely no room for sympathy - I hated the kid! (not the actor, the character).
For as much fun as I tend to have with 'Daddy Day Care', this just changes gears completely, and I can't help but wonder where the hell director Fred Savage went wrong. The guy has an impressive directorial resume when it comes to comedic television. The writers are pretty much the same people who worked on the first film too, so there's no real excuse for this to be as bad as it actually is. I didn't get any sense of charm from this whatsoever. Seeing Cuba Gooding Jr. in one of these "quick paycheck" roles always irks me, too. The man is a brilliant actor, and I do get that he needs to pay the bills like anyone else. But it seems for every 'Jerry Maguire' or 'Boyz n the Hood', there's... well, one of these.
Another thing that gets me about this is just the whole recasting, and the leaving out of essential characters from the first. There's no comeback for Steve Zahn or Anjelica Houston, and every single former character is now a different actor. About the only thing they got right here, and really right, was recasting Ben, the son. His growing up actually fits the four-year gap perfectly, as each actor playing him was born in 1998, and the movies were released in real-time. But if that's the most impressive thing about this movie, that probably says a lot about its quality, doesn't it?
In my humble opinion, this wasn't worth the time, and it offers absolutely nothing over its predecessor. Even the concept of it being day camp is super lame. A good camp movie involving a squad of kids should have that extra impact of a genuine home-sickness, or at least being stuck having to deal with your new situation for the summer. It should be about overcoming your fears going into it, in order to come out the other side feeling good about yourself. This is just Charlie vs Lance, the kids are barely a part of it, and there's just no real fun going on here. Granted, there's a lot of cliches that carry through, like having a rival camp and one big competition at the end, but there are much better examples out there. I say, stick to 'Daddy Day Care', or if you want a GOOD summer camp movie, just Google it - the examples outweigh this in such a way that it doesn't have a leg to stand on.
The late 80s/early 90s ere was an interesting time, to say the least. It was this bizarre moment in history when no one cared about 'Star Wars', but the most "in" things ever happened to be Ninja Turtles and Mario, or indeed, video games in general. In any case, everyone involved is still developing a legacy to this day, in some form or another. One day someone said "Hey look, ninjas and video games are both awesome right now. Let's make a movie about both". Instead of coming up with 'Shinobi' or 'Ninja Gaiden', however, this was born, creating a permanent blotch on Leslie Nielson's resume. More on that, shortly.
The film involves brothers Johnny (Ernie Reyes Jr., fresh of 'Ninja Turtles II') and Adam (Nicolas Cowan, fresh off... 'Alligator II: The Mutation'?... I should bookmark that one for later). The two spend a large part of their spare time surfing, and live with their father, Mac (John Karlen). The boys are one day attacked by ninjas, but the attack is intercepted by Zatch (Ernie Reyes Sr.), a mysterious ninja warrior whose eye patch is the brunt of many bad jokes. Another attack has Mac kidnapped, and Zatch once again helps to protect the boys. Adam even finds that he can conveniently see and somewhat control the outcome of events unfolding around him through his Sega Game Gear.
Zatch finally reveals to the boys their lineage, making them the sons of the king of a once great land called Patusan. The land was overthrown by the mad and half-tin-faced Colonel Chi (Leslie Nielson) when the kids were much younger. In a "destiny" tale that follows, they are to go back to reclaim the throne of Patusan. Along with them tags everyone's favorite character actor, Rob Schneider as "Iggy", meant to be the comedy relief and, to his credit, he's actually okay here. This was back when the only thing we really knew him from was 'Home Alone 2' (unless anyone actually saw 'Martians Go Home'... another bookmark for the future). He was still new, finding his footing, and the only kind of stereotype he played was the geeky, awkward loser type.
As for the rest of the cast, the overall acting and direction is not good here; not even from Leslie Nielson who's honestly just your average, over-the-top cartoon villain. If you wanna see him play a villain and REALLY play a villain, check out 'Creepshow' instead. In truth, the real star of the movie is the martial arts in portrays, and allowing us to see a father/son duo fight, not only side-by-side, but each other at one point. I mean, that part of the movie IS pretty damn cool. All in all, this pulls a 'Space Jam' with me though. In truth, I have very fond memories of it, but to watch it now, I see it as being pretty dumb altogether. I would be lying if I said I never enjoyed it though. Back when it was still pretty new, we recorded it off Movie Network, and it became a "home, sick from school" regular, and I remember enjoying it with several of my friend. So there's a soft spot for it somewhere.
So, personally speaking, when I really look at how dumb and silly this movie is, I can't help but give it a bit more slack than others do. It's light-hearted and silly, and you can tell that it's not something one should take seriously. I mean, look at the title of the movie. If I had never heard of 'Surf Ninjas' before I would want to see it because it sounds so wonderfully awful. And in truth, it kind of is. I realized this time around that though there's a touch of nostalgia there, if you just watch this as a bad movie, it kinda sorta works. I'm probably not going to return to it any time soon, but in all honesty, I'm glad I watched it again, if only for the memories.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
It all starts as we see Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) on the run from Imperials, and evidently trying to get Chewie back to his home planet of Kashyyyk in time to see his family for what they call "Life Day" - so often seen as, essentially, the 'Star Wars' version of Christmas. The special then opens, featuring a look at an all-star returning cast (save for Kenny Baker as R2), with a few new additions.
The camera brings us into the treehouse home of Chewie's family; his wife, Mala; Father, Itchy; and son, Lumpy. It's just a bunch of noise and Lumpy getting in trouble for being a kid followed by Mala and Itchy worrying about Chewie. There's more noise, and then Lumpy watches some holographic circus act. Then there's more noise, and Mala hops on some computer.
Mala tracks down the most blonde-headed, blue-eyed Luke (Mark Hammill) and R2, and tell them how Han and Chewie are missing and it all amounts to Luke saying "it's gonna be okay". Mala tries the computer again and comes across a local trader named Saun Dann (Art Carney) who basically tells her Han and Chewie are on their way. Then it cuts to Vader because... cameo, and back to the treehouse home where Malla tries her hand at cooking, with the aid of the Juila Child-like Chef Gormaanda (Harvey Korman). It's right about here I began to wonder what the hell I was thinking. So far, this isn't just the worst 'Star Wars' thing I've seen, it's one of the worst THINGS I have seen. 'Charlie Brown's Christmas' would have ended by this point, and all we have is "Han and Chewie are on their way". NOTHING has happened!
Carrying on ever-so reluctantly, however... Han and Chewie are still outrunning Imperials and Chewie's family is still worried. An Imperial call comes in, informing them of their planet being put under Marshal Law due to supposed rebel activity. Anyway, Saun Daan comes by, dropping off presents. The most legendary of these, is of course, Itchy's present. He watches some kind of VR helmet deal where Diahann Carroll pops up playing what is credited as a "Mermeia Holographic Wow". In short, one could say this might as well be Itchy watching some porn. She sings a song, and at this point I'm bored as hell AND weirded out... But I press on.
It then cuts to 3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) making contact with the family, and once again the cameo is essentially pointless, because all they do is ask Saun Daan to take care of the family until Han and Chewie arrive. Some imperials storm the house, looking for the rebels (Han and Chewie), and Saun Daan makes the leader sit and watch a Jefferson Starship music video. After this, the imperials continue the search, and Malla has to keep Lumpy busy, so he ends up watching a cartoon of his father's adventure featuring Boba Fett (Gabriel Dell/Don Francks). All we really need to know is that, despite how aged the animation looks, this is about as 'Star Wars' as the special gets. It's also kinda sorta legendary as it's what introduces everyone to Boba Fett, and honestly gives you more reason to like him than 'Empire' or 'Jedi' ever did (which is saying a lot about my general opinion on the character).
Anyway, after he cartoon, more imperial searching (sometimes in bizarre places), and Lumpy is ordered to go clean his room. This leads to what is surprisingly the most boring moment of the film where Lumpy watches a mini transmitter instructional video, hosted by Harvey Korman. There's some "gags" here where the picture and instructor keep glitching, but all it is, is annoying. At this point, it's pulling out hair territory, and if that cartoon didn't exist, I may have given up by now. For the record, we've been at this for one hour and seven minutes, and all that has happened as far as the main plot goes is Chewie and Han are on their way to Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day with Chewies family, and Storm Troopers are looking for them... But I press on.
The next viewing (because this whole special is just characters looking at screens) involves the Cantina, and bartender, Ackmena (Bea Arthur) who... is admittedly likable. She's trying to stave off a creepy stalker type, but does so as only Bea Arthur can. The Empire then imposes a curfew on the Tatooine System, and Ackmena breaks into a song about the Cantina closing, and the song is kind of... meh. But the character is still pretty likable. I mean, how can we not enjoy our favorite Golden Girl (who isn't Betty White) giving us a touch of a Broadway show? It's not spectacular, but a slight breath of fresh air and kind of fun nonetheless.
Anyway, after this, the invading Imperials are still being jerks, but Han and Chewie come in to save the day. Life day gets underway when the Wookies go through some trippy tunnel of light using the Tree of Life, and all of our favorite 'Star Wars' heroes gather in celebration as Princess Leia sings a song. I'm sorry the end part is kind of a rambling on of nonsense, but to be fair, that's exactly what this whole production was. It's just a bunch of Wookies and Imperials looking at screens that feature guest stars combined with noise, and the most simple plot for much longer than it needs to run. The ENTIRE movie is "Han Solo and Chewie are trying to get to Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day, and the Empire chases them along the way, as they are known rebels." The rest is grunting, lazy cameos, noise, and boredom.
I'd probably go so far as to say the messages it's trying to convey are certainly there, but they take far too long to get to, and it's a simplified snooze-fest along the way. Parts of it are oddly uncomfortable, parts are equally irritating, and there were far too many moments I almost pulled the plug on this one. I am happy to say I made it. I am happy to say I saw it for myself at least once. But I'll be damned if this is anything I'll be looking to enjoy ironically in the future. If anything, maybe just a fast-forward to the Boba Fett cartoon that allows me to see what everyone else sees in the character. Other than that, it's pure trash, especially to a 'Star Wars' fan. I'm just glad I'm not surprisingly disappointed, as I expected it to be terrible.
Santa with Muscles
My first Bad Christmas Movie review is here! I'm a touch late on this, so one can expect the Christmas theme to continue a little bit past the holiday. Either way, here we are with a first-time viewing for me. I have heard of this being a fun Christmas watch over the years. People would claim it was "good" or "hilarious", and in many ways it was... hilarious anyway. This definitely belongs in the "bad movie" category for so many different reasons, including the fact that people seem to want to forget about it. It has no RT Critic Rating, you can't find it to rent or stream, but it's openly available on YouTube for free, in shite quality.
Getting to the review at hand, the lead here is a self-made millionaire named Blake Thorn (Hulk Hogan), making his money off his bodybuilding supplements and exercise equipment. He has a handful of houseworkers who attack him out of the blue so he can keep up his skill, much like Peter Sellers does in 'A Shot in the Dark'. Blake's also pretty full of himself, and has fun being reckless, which includes playing an in-car round of paintball, and having to outrun the cops. This event leads him to hide in a mall, where he disguises himself as Santa in order to hide.
Blake's plan works for a short time, until he gets knocked down a garbage chute and suffers some amnesia. A mall "elf" named Lenny (Don Stark) finds him knocked out, and goes through his wallet only to find out who he is before he comes to. Lenny then brings Blake to the Mall Santa Throne, convincing him that he is actually Santa Claus. Eventually, after Blake stops a couple of common crooks in the mall, the pair finds themselves at an orphanage, run by the kindly Leslie (Robin Curtis), and introducing us to a young Mila Kunis as Sarah, in her first "major" film role. Also among the kids are the reluctant Taylor (Adam Wylie) and the innocent Elizabeth (Aria Noelle Curzon) who writes Santa a letter in the beginning of the movie, suggesting some shady people might try something nasty at Christmas. She assumes Santa has come to save them. Despite the fact that it's the assumption of a 5 or 6-year-old's, it ends up being true.
A scientist named Ebner Frost (Ed Begley, Jr.) makes the attempt to take over the same orphanage in order to get to some magical crystals that reside in the catacombs underneath it. He has some Batman-style henchmen to help him out - all very cartoonish, and meant to be a horribly cheap laugh for little kids and no one else. The lead henchman is Dr. Blight (Steve Valentine), a doctor full of puns, and he's followed by irritating geologist, Mr. Flint (Kevin West), "Canadian" chemist, Mr. Vial (Kai Ephron), who loves the effect methane (or "fart") gas has on people, and Ms. Watt (Diane Robin), who might as well just be a female Shocker from 'Spider-Man', but without the coolness. Keeping it simple, it's up to amnesic, muscle-bound Santa to save the orphanage, as well as the magical crystals below it... in the catacombs the kids refer to as their "clubhouse".
They made such weird decisions in making this, but there were three things that stuck out to me more than anything. For one, there's a kidnapping/interrogation scene that involves an ice cream truck, playing, of ALL things to choose from, the 'Alfred Hitchcock' theme. Aside from that, the idea that the kids have made the catacombs their "clubhouse" seems to be one of those things that only makes sense for the Addams Family or the Munsters. Finally... what was WITH those magical crystals in the first place? Sure, Sarah explains what they are, but couldn't they have used something more realistic, or even symbolic for what's in a vault under an orphanage? It was all pretty convenient, but regardless of that - WHY these fancy crystals? By the way, this is a vault that no one can seem to open, although the kids collectively have the first three numbers to the four number combo... somehow.
As one can probably imagine, this is definitely a movie that's fun to watch for all the wrong reasons. Hulk Hogan's acting is just bad here, as though he's constantly talking to little kids, even when he's not. For someone who's supposed to be cocky and full of himself, he's just too innocent, and when he's mean it feels incredibly fake. He's never been the best, but this seemed worse than most of what I've seen him in - that includes 'Mr. Nanny'. Everyone else is kind of just irritating, especially the henchmen. There's not a whole lot to enjoy about this unless you're a little kid, not questioning anything going on. To the average adult, it feels like all sorts of dumb, and it's not genuinely going to appeal to anyone as a good "Christmas Movie". At best, it's a giggle for kids; at worst, it's straight up trash.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror
This is one of those ultra-bad movies that's so delightfully easy to consume, based on the fact that it's so incredibly terrible. 'Birdemic' is another one on the list of movies so bad, they're a ton of fun to watch; 'The Room', 'Troll 2', 'Manos', the list goes on. The super low production value is what makes it so entertaining, along with no-name actors and horrendous writing. In this case, a LOT of the writing is an environmental message with a hand so heavy, it puts the 'Monty Python' foot to shame. Global Warming is our main focus, as it happened to cause the Bird Flu to make these birds go mad.
The general plot is one of the most boring, dragged out, and horribly written things you could ever see. A software salesman named Rod (Alan Bagh - whose last name is also a sound that sums up the quality of this movie) meets an aspiring fashion model named Nathalie (Whitney Moore). They start to date and get to know each other, oblivious of strange things happening around them like bad CG bird deaths. Eventually, the new couple find themselves up against a discount Hitchcock scenario involving killer birds who look like... ass, they just look like ass. There's no other way to describe it. Along the way, they rescue two kids, Susan and Tony, who are just kind of there as part of the altruistic hero scenario these characters make for themselves.
The worst things about this movie that made me cringe are actually the biggest things about the movie. For starters, there's the heavy-handed environmental message. This gets so deep that it has Rod talking about buying a hybrid car because of how great it is; a random old scientist explains away why the birds are attacking due to climate change (it's like an Al Gore lecture); and let's not leave out the messages of peace and love, where we have an American soldier who fought in Iraq and wanted to give peace a chance. This comes across as something like a high school project, where the kid has to make a movie about protecting the environment. As a film, it is 'The Room'-level awful for sure.
Another thing bound to get on the viewers' nerves is the screeching of these "eagles". If there was anything that really grated on me, it was the consistency of that noise, combined with almost non-stop gunfire at times. By the way, they never do run out of ammo in this; it's like an early video game... looks a bit like one too, a lot of the time. The way these birds are animated is hilarious. It's a lot like someone found a couple of animated gifs of a birds, and copied and pasted them to the film. To make it even more hilarious, we have the opening attack about half an hour into the movie. It's absolutely out of nowhere. There's peace and quiet, then suddenly there's a bunch of birds making warplane noises and blowing shit up - I'm not kidding.
So, what can one appreciate about this dumpster fire of a movie? Well, it all comes down the following along with the horrendous dialogue. Sometimes it completely contradicts itself; like a kid who apparently loves seaweed but then turns his nose up at it like it's the grossest thing ever. Other times, it points out the obvious. There's a lot of observation from Rod - he's constantly pointing and saying "look" through this in order to move things along. Most of the time, though, especially through that first half hour or so, it's just one long, uninteresting date between Rod and Nathalie where we don't give a flying rat's ass about what they have to say. None of it has to do with anything; you might as well be on your own date while paying close attention to a different couple the whole time.
With all of that, there's still so much more to talk about, but we can't be here all day either. The bottom line is that this is a fantastic place to look for a movie that's "so bad it's good". It's the nitty-gritty, low budget, awful but hilarious kind of film. The production value is that of a workplace training video, and you'll find yourself laughing out loud for all of the wrong reasons. It can currently be located on Amazon Prime (Canada), but if you want to have a really fun time, you might wanna check out the Rifftrax version, which can also be found there. If you're looking to throw your brain out the window for a couple of hours, look no further than 'Birdemic: Shock and Terror'.... it even got a sequel I may have to throw on the poll some day.
Speed 2: Cruise Control
To start this one off, a quick review for 1994's 'Speed'; it's a fun action movie with a solid sense of humor, Dennis Hopper as the villain and Keanu Reeves as the hero. It's one of the better action flicks of the early 90's, and has its place in the genre's history alongside such gems as 'Lethal Weapon' and 'Die Hard' (it's arguable, but the point I'm trying to make is that it's at least just as recognizable). The film also features Sandra Bullock as a regular passenger who is able to drive the bus, which can't go below 50mph, lest a bomb go boom (that means perpetually having to go about 80k, to us Canadians).
Alas, however, the chemistry between Keanu and Sandra is shot for this second installment. While Bullock comes back to reprise her role as Annie, Reeves' Jack Traven character is replaced with Jason Patric's Alex Shaw. Things open with Annie taking her driving test, only to have a rude awakening about Alex (whom she's dating) being on a SWAT team. He had told her he was just a beach officer, and so for screwing up, he surprises her with tickets for a Caribbean cruise on a fancy ship known as the Seabourn Legend. For the first while things end up going pretty swimmingly for the couple (save for a bit of sea sickness on Shaw's part), but just when they start to really enjoy themselves, the couple find themselves in danger, along with the rest of the ship.
The cause of the trouble is one of the most fun, but corny villains you'll ever come across; John Geiger (Willem Dafoe). In killing off the ship's Captain, he takes control of the ship and steers it to head towards an oil tanker. Geiger had worked aboard the cruise line and designed their systems (making it very convenient for him to be able to hack), but got sick from copper poisoning and, as a result, was fired. So, here he is, twisted and out for revenge, trying to take down everyone with him. As one can imagine, it's up to Alex and Annie to stop him. Where Dennis Hopper was a fun, cocky villain in the first film, there's something so creepily fun about Dafoe's performance here. The madness just pours out of him, and the only thing that might top it is his role as Norman Osbourne in 'Spider-Man'.
There is something stupidly fun about this movie, but it certainly has nothing on its predecessor. I could watch 'Speed' time and time again, but I have to be in a pretty special mood to deal with 'Speed 2'. I really enjoy Dafoe's role here, but for the most part, things do end up going pretty off the wall and you really have to suspend any sort of realistic expectations. On top of that, a lot of the film's humor relies on something I just don't like these days - bickering humor. That's where the couple spends the whole time arguing about petty things and making ti try to seem funny to the audience, while we're actually just kinda bored and want something cool to happen. 'National Treasure 2' may have been the worst for it, but it can be done right from time to time, like with 'True Lies'. This movie isn't awful for it, but it's enough.
While I certainly don't hate the movie, it's still easy to say that it's a far cry from the first one, and just plain less entertaining. One fun fact, however, is that our favorite Clone shows up in this; Temuera Morrison, who we know best as Jango Fett from 'Attack of the Clones'. I just thought that was a neat little Easter Egg to look back on. Otherwise, however, there's not much more interesting to say about it. It's your below-standard action sequel, missing all of the parts that made the first one so good. If you want a good movie where you can have a bit of a laugh at the villain, it's not terrible. But it simply isn't on par with other action movies, like I had mentioned earlier. If the first 'Speed' could be on par with 'Die Hard', then 'Speed 2' is on par with 'Die Hard 4'; it's dumb, but there is a fun aspect to it nonetheless.
Just to put my cards on the table here, I actually enjoyed this back when it was released. But one should also understand that back in '98, this was what a Box Office movie looked like; this particular movie was #8 that year, so it did pretty well for itself, and I was one of those ticket-holders. Speaking for myself, at the time, it was just a lot of fun; a modern take on the Godzilla monster that I honestly wasn't as familiar with at the time. Perhaps it was being out of touch that allowed me to like it a bit more though.
Even now, I take the whole Godzilla thing exactly the same way I take the Jason Voorhees thing - we're there to watch mindless destruction, and to dig too heavily into it seems absurd... but then I re-watched it for the first time in probably about 20 years and managed to draw the conclusion that a reinvention of Godzilla feels like a silly idea. The difference between this reboot and the 'Friday the 13th' reboot, however, is that at least 'Friday the 13th' kept all the stereotypes we loved it for. This kept the bare basics of 'Godzilla' and tried to reinvent things a bit without realizing that what they were working on was not what fans came to see.
We open in the South Pacific Ocean where a Japanese fishing boat is attacked by some mysterious mass, emerging from the ocean, leaving one survivor. When questioned about what he saw, the man replies "Gojira" (the Japanese name for "Godzilla" for those unfamiliar, which is a still a nice touch). In the meantime, Dr. Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) is working away, studying the radioactive effects of the Chernobyl disaster on earthworms. He's reassigned by an official from the U.S. State Department to study a disaster trail that seems to be headed straight for New York City.
The rest of the movie involves Godzilla running wild through New York (because this is the Americanization capital), the U.S. Army trying to bring it down, and Tatopoulos and friends being more curious about the creature, deeming it "harmless" (or at least, it has no ill intentions). Said friends include Nick's TV reporter ex, Audrey (Maria Pitillo) and a small 'Simpsons' gathering that includes Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright. Actually, Azaria is the only real main out of them as Victor, Audrie's cameraman, but the group is certainly worth mentioning. 1998 would have been a good year for a bunch of 'Simpsons' stars to pop up in something too, as this was around the time 'Simpsons' quality started waning (speaking as a mass generalization more than personal opinion).
Two more things that must be covered include Roland Emmerich bringing in Michael Lerner and Lorry Goldman to play (get this) Mayor Ebert and his aide, Gene, respectively. The real-life critics, Siskel and Ebert, weren't altogether kind about 'Independence Day', so this was a jab at them. The problem is, none of it is particularly funny, and even if one does get a laugh from it, these caricatures are a cheap and completely unsubtle shot. I suppose it was Emmerich's way of flipping off critics, but it doesn't land particularly well. Then, if that's not enough, they also straight up rip off 'Jurassic Park' here with how the climax of the film goes down. I won't say much more than that, but check it out for yourself and try telling me you're not immediately reminded of velociraptors.
Upon this viewing, I still can't honestly say that I hate this movie. I'd just consider it a failed attempt at something. Now, with the 2014 film, this one has pretty well been swept under the rug, and it's probably the one 'Godzilla' film where fans claim it just plain doesn't exist (like how 'Star Wars' fans feel about the new trilogy, or how I feel about 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'). I think for me, it's mainly just really dated now, and it's easier for me to pick up on some of the flaws. But I do remember it being a sort of big deal at the time. It was well-marketed, complete with Taco Bell tie-ins, and a lot of people were really looking forward to it. I still don't know what my peers made of it back then, but In any case, it's safe to say one should stick with the new ones if they want a good (or at least half-decent), more modernized 'Godzilla'. This one's good for a laugh, but it's really, truly, no 'Godzilla' movie, and could have worked better if its title was something completely different... like "Nukequana"...
Cabin Fever (2016)
Five young friends, Paul (Samuel Davis), Karen (Gage Golightly), Bert (Dustin Ingram), Jeff (Matthew Daddario) and Marcy (Nadine Crocker) rent a cabin in the woods for a week-long getaway. The teen stereotypes are pretty much the same as usual, involving the sexually passionate Jeff and Marcy, the more innocent Paul and Karen, and the comedy relief, Bert.
While the couples are off being romantic with one another, Bert runs into the woods with a rifle, shooting at nothing, and nails a hermit who has been infected with some sort of flesh-eating disease. Bert tells him to stay while he goes for help, but never reports the encounter with any of his friends. It eventually catches up with them, however, when the hermit comes to the cabin, asking for help, leading to the group of friends fending him off. In the aftermath, Karen starts showing signs of the mysterious disease, and the rest of the film is a teenager cabin in the woods horror where instead of a killer, of zombies, the monster is a deadly infection.
What I found kind of interesting about this was that it kept you guessing as to where exactly this infection could have come from. At one point, a kid bites Paul, at another, you see Karen drinking water, and above all else, you have the infected hermit. It's a movie that manages to highlight some of the most horrific aspects of disease, so it may not be the best place to look for a fun horror movie at this point in time. Indeed, it's movies like this that made me stay away from my job for a little while when Covid started showing rising numbers here in Canada. It's altogether uncomfortable and unpleasant and makes one wince in pain just by looking. And as far as I understand Eli Roth's mentality, he'd be super proud of that, as the film's producer.
So, here's the thing about this movie. As far as a horror movie that makes me uncomfortable at almost every turn, and something that makes me squirm, I have to admit that it succeeds. That said, it may be because I never saw the 2002 version, which is evidently better, as this appears to be a shot-for-shot remake. I believe this one just has a different ending. It seems to me that what happened here was Roth wanting to pull a Lucas and touch up his original artwork. However, it seems evident that it wasn't broke, and didn't really need fixing. This is further proof that sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone, or at least have something alternative on the DVD and/or Blu-ray.
Maybe it's just me, but for what this is, I didn't think it was all that bad. It's gross, it's not my kind of horror, and I feel like I need a hot, thorough shower after watching it. But I might just chalk it up to being "not for me", along with so many other works of Roth's. It makes me wonder if a lot of people who give this a pass only ever saw this version of it, though, much like myself. When all said and done, all I really think is that the 2002 version is something I should probably check out, because if it's the same movie, I'll be able to frown on this one a little harder than I do.
When it comes to bad movies, I find there are essentially three categories - movies that are just plain bad, movies that are bad on purpose, and movies like this; they want to be more than they are, but are so terribly executed that they eventually become cult classics. This is one I hadn't even heard of until about half a year ago, but upon viewing it, I'm so very happy that it was brought to my attention.
When a Japanese gang called The Katana take control of the drug game in LA, the LAPD brings in a Samurai cop named Joe Marshall (Mathew Karedas). Together with his partner, Frank (Mark Frazer), the pair work to take down the leader of the Katana, Fujiyama (Cranston Komuro). That's the plot in a nutshell, but one should know that this is not something you watch for plot at all.
This is one of those movies that's so bad, it's fascinating. YouTube actually provides quite a few clips from it as word has spread about it over the years, and it stands together with films like 'The Room' and 'Troll 2' for the best of the bad. At just about any given moment of this film, there is something to laugh about, knowing that it's trying to be at least a little serious. The funny thing is, when it tries to have a sense of humor, the jokes are so bad they are hilarious. The jokes in this make Dad jokes look like Carlin's best stand-up. Yet you can't help but laugh at how stupid it all is.
Perhaps the biggest thing to point out about this movie is the overabundance of sex. It is just everywhere, to the point that it often feels like a low budget porn flick. It's not quite as ridiculous looking as it is in 'The Room', but it is all drawn out filler that is often seemingly thrown in just because, hey, sex sells. Believe it or not, there are ways to do sex scenes right, developing character and story. This plays like a porn that takes place within a movie - like 'Logjammin' from 'The Big Lebowski'. But even though that's probably the biggest dig I have against this movie, it certainly doesn't stop there.
The main character is absolutely hilarious to watch, as he takes himself so seriously. He executes his lines in such a way that it sounds like he's reading cue cards out loud, or has a voice in his ear telling him to repeat what it says. His partner, Frank is also funny, but not the way he intends to be. He's thrown in for comic relief, but this is were the worse-than-Dad jokes enter into things. On top of all that, our main villain has an English dubbed accent that sounds painfully stereotypically Japanese, and Joe and Frank further team up with a seductress named Jennifer (Janis Farley) whose only job in the film is to be a sex object. They also have a hot-headed Captain (Dale Cummings) who is so stereotypically the angry captain it's practically a farce.
I can't even say what my favorite parts of this movie are because it's just one of those flicks. It's a movie you need to gather some friends together to watch and laugh at, and would play incredibly well for its cult following as a theatrical release. I could probably honestly watch this one more than I could watch something like 'The Room'. Speaking of which, there IS apparently a 'Samurai Cop 2' that is more self-aware, and stars Tommy Wisseau of 'The Room' fame. But I'm also told it's awful and tries too hard, so we'll see if I bring that one up in the near future. But honestly, this works as a stand-alone regardless. Go find it and check it out, based on the highest recommendation from yours truly. It's so very terrible that it's a solid laugh through and through.
Nothing But Trouble
Back in 1991, Dan Aykroyd attempted his directorial debut with this film. It was panned by audiences and critics alike, Aykroyd got nothing but three Razzie nominations for his trouble (directing, writing and acting, which he won), and seemingly, it was enough to have him never make another attempt. Yes folks, believe it or not, this is the only directing credit Dan Aykroyd actually has. He's otherwise known for his great comedic acting and writing, but I guess things just didn't come together with him in the director's chair.
The story opens on a Manhatten penthouse where a financial publisher Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) is throwing a party. He meets a lawyer named Diane Lightson (Demi Moore), and swiftly agrees to drive her to Atlantic City to see a client the next day. This trip is quickly interrupted by a couple of crowbarred in characters who invite themselves along for the ride; siblings Fausto and Renalda Squiriniszu (Taylor Negron and Bertila Damas, respectively). Chris eventually takes a detour that leads them to the super messed up, backwoods village of Valkenvania. Here, he runs a stop sign and is busted by a cop named Dennis Valkenheiser (John Candy), leading the group to meet with Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Dan Aykroyd). To make a long story short, the group soon finds themselves in a captive situation where every attempt at escape leads to something gross, weird or stupid.
One thing I really wanna point out that some may not pick up on right away is that a young Tupac Shakur shows up right around the middle of the movie, along with the rest of Digital Underground - the group that launched his career. Celeb cameos don't end there, either. Daniel Baldwin also makes an appearance as a drug dealer, and Peter Aykroyd (Dan's brother) appears as a doorman. Those are cool little Easter eggs, and though not completely able to save the film, you can't help but feel something towards it. Digital Underground performs their song 'Same Song' here as well; one may recognize it as one of the party songs in 'Casper' (if you're not already familiar with the group).
Back to the actual review, however, allow me to clarify that all in all, it's a bad movie. It's dumb, it's gross, it's unsettling, it's got a very low-brow sense of humor, the list goes on. But there are bits and pieces about it that I couldn't help but appreciate, oddly enough. I look at this, and see satire against the "yuppie" class, along with Aykroyd's imagination. As a fan of 'Ghostbusters', that was an imagination I learned to appreciate at a very early age without even realizing it. The man dabbles in the strange and unusual, and it's tough to get any more strange or unusual than this. It's a bad movie, but I also think it's a somewhat misunderstood movie.
Allow me to make a bizarre comparison. 'Nothing But Trouble' is that nasty brat of a little boy who really likes to gross everyone out with his boogers and fart noises. The thing is, he's trying to convey a message, but he picked a weird and nasty way to convey it, when he could have done so without grossing anyone out. The message, in question, is a somewhat ballsy swipe at the upper class (or in the boy's case, perhaps girls). Chase and Moore (namely Chase) play characters who frown on these sort of hillbilly types, and I think Aykroyd was trying to make the average working joe "ugly", and the idea is that the upper class sees us as almost "gross" or "unacceptable".
IF you are able to look deep within the film like that, it's not quite as horrible as all say. However, on the surface, it really is just a dumb, gross-out humor kind of movie, and that can understandably be very hard to get past. Believe me, I find cheap bathroom humor the lowest form of comedy, so the low ratings on this make perfect sense to me in the long run. But with that said, I think there's still a bizarre, hidden charm to this one - as messed up as that sounds. It's a bit of a nostalgia trip, considering its cast of 80s comedy all-stars (and Demi Moore), and it's the one and only title in Aykroyd's directorial collection, so a hidden gem... covered in earwax and snot.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
This is one of those horror movies that you sort of have to give it up to at least a little tiny bit, but hear me out, because this movie IS still pretty bad. I tend to give a notch of credit to a horror sequel that takes place in a reality outside of its regular canon - the best example is probably 'Wes Craven's New Nightmare', and the worst is... well, maybe this, but I haven't seen (nor do I want to) 'Human Centipede II' because the first one was so dumb (sorry fans but, it's shock value for shock value sake).
Anyway, this one opens up some time in 1999, following the release of 'The Blair Witch Project'. Whether you liked the film or not, one can't really deny that it's pretty much the birthplace of found footage popularity. Yes, some found footage existed before it, but none of it was on the big screen for the public eye. If you understood what it was, you probably didn't get a whole lot more out of it that a little thrill-ride. But some bought into the idea of it actually being a full-fledged incident, considering the unknown actors of the time, and the fact that they were all playing themselves. Things start with news reports all about that, and fans crowding the town of Burkittsville Maryland, featured in the original movie.
An obsessive fan, Jeff, arranges a group tour of locations from the film. He gathers an expecting couple of mythology researchers, Stephen and Tristen; a Wiccan girl named Erica who is so obsessed with her Wiccan kind it's infuriating; and a hardcore goth type named Kim who seems to be psychic. What really gets my goat here is that Jeff is a former psychiatric patient who we clearly see was in rough enough shape to be locked into a padded room, bouncing off the walls in a straight jacket. But I guess he's just okay now - by the way, this is after about a week.
As the film progresses, the group stops at the ruins of Rustin Parr's house (a serial killer from the '40s once found guilty of the murder of seven children, instructed by the Blair Witch). Here, Jeff sets up cameras to try to capture something supernatural. They later review these tapes at Jeff's weird lair; an abandoned factory he got for a dollar somehow (everything in there works, too), but soon strange and even deadly occurrences start up, and we are to question what's real and what isn't, along with what's up with a ritualistic killing we keep seeing pop up out of nowhere. In a word, it's all just very "confusing", and it happens so often you wish things would just focus. The film's like a little, rambunctious kid who won't sit down and shut up - it's all over the place.
To make matters worse than they already are, this group is full of people you just plain can't like. There is no one to route for here; everyone comes with their own set of annoyances, and much of it just comes from either underacting or overacting. I tend to look for that character I'd love to have a conversation with, or have a drink with, but I couldn't see myself hanging out with any of these people. Therefore, I have no one to relate to, and even when we're supposed to empathize with anyone, we don't really know what to think.
Above all else, I just found this movie to be a confusing mess. I may not have liked it much, but I can at least give the original film credit for what it is, as well as its place among horror movies. 'Blair Witch 2' is really just a failed attempt at what might have been something interesting, and is wasted on throwaway characters, terrible dialogue, supernatural scenes that seem to have nothing to do with anything (seriously, what's up with that girl ghost?) and bad editing. I think the one thing I can give this movie is that its soundtrack is actually pretty decent, albeit potentially dated, being from 2000. I saw this one through to the end, but I definitely considered cutting it off half-way, so I can't possibly recommend wasting your time. There are better witch-related movies out there... MUCH better!
Jaws: The Revenge
Back in 1975, director Steven Spielberg made 'Jaws', and it took the world by storm. The film was so iconic that it is widely toted as the beginning of the Summer Blockbuster. An average Summer blockbuster nowadays would be your average 'Avengers' or 'Star Wars' or anything else associated with Disney movie. It's still considered one of the greatest thrillers of all time, and a prime exacmple of a happy accident. Had the shark worked in Spielberg's favor, we may not have the legendary film we have. It's still great fun, and totally holds up.
We are here, however, to start at the bottom of the chum bucket. 'Jaws 4' here is widely considered the worst of the lot, although some may argue it's '3'. But the fact of the matter is the franchise ended after this, and with good reason - they were all pretty much the same to some degree. Even the 'Friday the 13th' franchise had more originality with its repetitive formula. Anyway, this time the famous catch is that the great white shark we all know manages to track a family to their new home, and is out for revenge. That alone is pretty well what makes this a bad movie - the shark is just way too smart. I mean, it doesn't even follow a boat, it follows a damn airplane.
That's the essential plot, but for further detail, we need to go back to the character of Martin Brody in 'Jaws' and 'Jaws 2'; a lead Chief of Police character portrayed by Roy Scheider. Here, he has since died of a heart attack, and the central story focuses on the rest of the family; mainly his widow, Ellen (Lorraine Gary). She still resides in the same town of Amity, and close to her son, Sean (Mitchell Anderson). Even after all of their brutal experiences with shark attacks, they remain in their hometown, but Ellen thinks it would be a good idea to move once Sean is killed by Mr. Sharky-Shark.
Following a funeral, Ellen is convinced to leave town and head to the Bahamas with her remaining her remaining family; older son, Michael (Lance Guest), his wife, Carla (Karen Young) and their 5-year-old daughter, Thea (Judith Barsi). They are flown out by a private pilot named Hoagie (Michael Caine), and there's some new romantic potential with that, brushing our old hero aside. But brushing that aside, to make a long story short, the shark follows them and is out for revenge for... I guess blowing him up three times before? It's a matter of "same shit, different film", and its entertainment value hardly even resides in the "so bad it's good" category; that's really more of a 'Jaws 3D' thing.
This is really just bad altogether. The acting is stilted, even from Michael Caine, and the story is just ludicrous. This is one of those movies that basically insults its audience by trying to make us look at sharks in this new horrific light. But it fails miserably at that, and at the end of the day, it's just way too far-fetched. These sequels sort of get progressively worse, but a "bad shark movie" fan may still get a kick out of them (again, I recommend '3' over '4'). Without much more to say on it, it's pretty well a throw-away altogether, and I dunno if I'd say it's worth anyone's time, even for a bit of silly fun. Not much in it is gonna make you laugh, it'll kinda just make you cringe and shrug your shoulders. It's easy to see why this killed a franchise.
Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood
We've reached a milestone, ladies & gentlemen! Here we have the first 'No-Brainer' review that is the sequel to a former review on the list. By this point, the 'Leprechaun' series has essentially fallen into the comedy/horror subgenre because, honestly, ARE we supposed to take this seriously? The titles of the two 'Leprechaun: Hood' movies are enough to make one wonder if these are meant to be as goofy as they are. All that said, however, it's still a "Hood movie" directed by a white dude named Steven Ayromlooi. So there's also that.
The film opens with an animated prologue that, in all honesty, is actually pretty cool. Revealing the origins of Leprechauns, we find that they were summoned by an ancient king for protection of his gold. When the king one day passed, the Leprechauns all went back to their places of origin except one named Lubdan (Warwick Davis). Through the years of his life, he goes full-Gollum, obsessing about the gold he stayed behind to guard. For the real origins on Leprechauns, look into Irish folklore - things get pretty interesting over there! Anyway, the film then moves to present day where Father Jacob (Willie C. Carpenter) finds the gold, has a struggle with the Leprechaun, and manages to banish him by summoning demonic hands, just before he dies from his injuries in the fight.
Fast-forward one year... what was the point in that last scene? Don't bother asking. We move on to a couple of friends, Emily Woodrow (Tangi Miller) and Lisa Duncan (Sherrie Jackson) who have their fortune told by a psychic named Esmeralda (Donzaleigh Abernathy). She warns them that they will come upon great wealth, but it must be turned away, or else it will summon an ancient evil. The Leprechaun's gold is later found by Emily, and split between four friends; Emily, Lisa, an ex-boyfriend named Rory (Laz Alonso) and stoner, Jamie Davis (Page Kennedy). With the intention to use it for their financial problems, the group finds themselves on the run from the killer Leprechaun. So, same old story, different movie, basically.
Just to take a look at what may perhaps be obvious already, yes, there are plenty of stereotypes going on here. It's often a bit much. But at the same time, I have to admit that most of what the Leprechaun does is actually hilarious at times. The guy smokes a bong and laughs so hard he falls over, and has a funny phone conversation at one point, describing himself to the girl on the other end. The funniest part about it is just how polite he is for such an evil character. It's all so stupid but I can't deny I laughed at that stupidity. I actually almost wanna say that it's worth checking out just for how stupid it is.
I'm not entirely sure if there's really a such thing as a good 'Leprechaun' movie (although I do have a lot of fun with the first one, and some, I haven't seen yet) but there is something fun about... well, parts of this. Other parts that reach for comedy in this, however, are also pretty awkward. As mentioned before, stereotypes do play a big role here, and in the meantime, the plot is the same as ever - just a chase involving a Leprechaun and whoever steels his gold. It's just as silly and stupid and off the wall as it sounds, so take that as you will. It's not a high recommendation for a good-bad movie, but if the curiosity hits you for something this weird, I also say go for it. Just keep in mind, the laughs are mostly for all the wrong reasons.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Okay, hold onto your hats folks, because this one is a doozy. One could likely tell that already by the very title of this schlock-fest, but this is one of those movies you really have to see to believe. It's right up there with the most classic good-bad movies like 'Troll 2' or 'The Room', but this one still floats very much under the radar, and in my humble opinion, it deserves more ironic praise for what it is. Ready for this?
The film hits the ground running, but fo basic background, a demon once falls in love with a woman and conjures up a bed to make love to her on. When the woman dies, the demon cries tears of blood that fall onto the bed, bringing it to life. Once every ten years, the bed comes to life with the capability to eat and drink anything from chicken wings and wine to human flesh and blood. Only one man named Aubrey Beardsley (Dave Marsh) is ever spared, but doomed by the bed to live an immortal life behind a painting while he watched the bed consume all of its victims. The whole movie consists of narration by this character, which sounds a hell of a lot more elegant than the film actually is.
We're divided into different segments, each having to do with a meal of the day. It all begins with breakfast, involving a young couple who find the bed to make whoopie on, and they are the first victims we see, off camera. Aubrey mocks the bed for being stupid and wasting his food, because the bed remains hungry, and as a result, the bed destroys the house it resides in except for its own room. The location seems to be very remote, and a place people go for thrills or something - like a place rumored to be haunted.
Lunch involves three women, Suzan (Julie Ritter), Diane (Demene Hall) and Sharon (Rosa Luxemburg), who come across the ruins of the property, finding the bed to sleep on that night. Suzan takes a nap before the rest, and is eaten by the bed, but we see the bed react very negatively to Sharon, causing its stomach to bleed. And I'm not making this up, the bed even drinks Pepto Bismol to help itself out. We eventually find out that the probability for its stomach upset is that the girl reminds the bed of the woman responsible for its creation.
For dinner, the bed attempts to eat Diane, who nearly escapes in one of the most drawn-out failed escape attempts you'll ever see on screen, last a solid 3 minutes of screen-time at least. Sharon ends up on her own, and in the meantime, her brother is out searching for her. He finds the bed as well, and I don't even wanna spoil his fate because it's actually kind of hilarious. If you just Google the film's title within "Images", you can find it. I think for any "fan" of this movie, it's a relatively iconic image.
It fittingly ends with dessert, and things get weirder than they already are involving a ritual, and even more sex. At this point you pretty much want the movie to end, but much like a horrible car wreck, you can't turn away. The film is just plain weird altogether, and it really feels like it takes itself seriously. This didn't feel like something made bad on purpose in any way, but was actually meant to scare people out of sleep, knowing they have to sleep some time (needless to say, 'Elm Street' did it better). But seriously, get a group of bad movie fans together and check it out if you can find it, because it has the potential to become a new legendarily bad movie.
Hercules in New York
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became the action superstar of the 80s and 90s we all know and love him as, he was first terribly dubbed over, and credited as "Arnold Strong"; aka "Mr. Universe". At the time, this was really just a little indie film, starring someone pretty remarkable. Imagine that; Schwarzenegger before he was famous. Unless you followed the Mr. Universe competition, you'd probably never know who he was.
In the search for bad movies, I did stumble upon this, and its criticisms really speak for themselves. It's #58 on IMDb's bottom 250, has an RT score of 17%, and the only real reason for watching it nowadays is to see it as a bad, low budget Schwarzenegger movie that's poorly put together. More often than not, this ends up in the classic "so bad it's good" category, and I can pretty well vouch for that.
The film opens as we hear voices that sound a lot like narration, but we soon find out it's Hercules (Schwarzenegger) talking to Zeus (Ernest Graves). Hercules is bored and wants to explore Earth, and after much bickering, Zeus sends him down on a bolt of lightning, in a scene that looks very Python-esque. He drops into New York City, and it's the classic fish out of water story as we see a Greek God interact with the normal every day life of the late 60s/early 70s. He befriends a goofy little guy named Pretzie (Arnold Stang - because he sells pretzels), becomes a professional wrestler, and pisses Zeus off with his antics, having him try to interfere with the likes of Pluto (Michael Lipton - or Hades, as he should be here) and Nemesis (a Goddess of Retribution).
There's a bunch of really weird and humorous exchanges and moments here, but none are likely more fondly remembered than the scene where Arnold fights a bear, and it's so horrible, you can't help but laugh out loud. It actually looks like something farcical, and in case you haven't seen it yet, please take a couple of minutes and check it out here. It's a good laugh and a half seeing how insanely obvious the bear costume is. It may be the best-worst part of the movie, but trust me when I say this movie is full of them.
Another major problem this film has is how confused it seems to get with Roman mythology. It seems to split itself down the middle, and though they are basically the same Gods from different cultures, they still ARE Gods from different cultures. I was a little surprised not to see any Norse Gods mixed in here (unless I completely missed it). Other problems involve some ridiculous dialogue, editing and dubbing, followed up with bad acting and direction. It reminds me of some film the teacher would roll into the classroom to entertain young, naive minds that we all actually knew was terrible, so we laughed at it, but not because we were supposed to.
All in all, in my humble opinion, this is a pretty great title to add to your list of must-see bad films. It's not something I can sit here and rip apart completely because it still delivered a lot of unwarranted laughter, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't at least find it entertaining (even if it was for all the wrong reasons). So, if you're curious to see what Arnie looked like in his absolute prime without using his actual voice because apparently no one could understand him, this was him in his early 20s. The oddest thing about this movie, however - it kinda sorta launched Schwarzenegger's movie career. Where would we be without it? In its own way, it has my... respect? An interesting thing to say about a movie so bad.
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
When it comes to the 1994 'Flintstones' film, I have mixed feelings about it. Parts of it are ridiculous, but there's a nostalgic tie in there too. Who remembers the whole McDonalds promo, complete with the Grand Poobah Meal (essentially a McRib) and the Barney Rubble Bacon Double Cheeseburger. Of course there were also plenty of toys for those Happy Meal-craving kids. By this point I was 11, going on 12, so things were just about perfect for my big caveman-like appetite. To this day, I find it a nice enjoyable treat in the same way I find ice cream with a bunch of junk food on top of it a treat.
I never bothered with 'Viva Rock Vegas', however, as I was 17 going on 18, and by this point I just didn't care. Funny story, upon actually watching the film, it left me with the same feeling. This is one of those movies I like to refer to as "just kinda there". It exists, we don't really know why, and it's the viewing equivalent of saying "hello" to some familiar face in the hall you could take or leave as a friend. To put things very basically, it's the story of how Fred (Mark Addy) and Barney (Stephen Baldwin) collectively meet and fall in love with Wilma (Kristen Johnston) and Betty (Jane Krakowski). At least a couple of those casting choices are pretty terrible, and the characters they each bring to the screen are way off.
Fred is probably the closest in relation to the original character, but John Goodman did a way better job; Barney is a complete dope here, but I always got from the cartoon that he was just kinda goofy; They just turned Wilma into Sally from 'Third Rock from the Sun' (Kristen Johnston being her, I guess), which is so far off it's insane; and finally Betty is a complete flirt. I didn't really get that from the cartoon either, but I also suck at telling if someone is flirting with me, so take that however you will.
I suppose at the very least, it's interesting that they are giving an origin story to something... that never needed it. Come to think about it, the first one is also an origin story, so how far back do they need to go? Well, let's go one at a time. Fred is basically Fred as we've always known him. He just gets into his job, working for Slate & Co., alongside best friend Barney Rubble. They have jobs, so now they want to impress some ladies. Enter The Great Gazoo (Alan Cumming) who has been exiled to Earth to study the mating habits of humans, and be relatively unnecessary altogether.
Together, Fred and Barney meet, respectively, Wilma Slaghoople and Betty O'Shale. We don't find too much out about Betty other than her job at the Bronto King diner, but we learn that Wilma has a controlling Mother, Pearl (Joan Collins) who wants her to marry a rich casino-owner named Chip Rockerfeller (Thomas Gibson). Eventually Wilma's appreciation of Fred leads Chip to be jealous and do the whole villainous plot of inviting him to his casino to pull a bunch of strings on him, and take Wilma out from under him, and none of this matters at all. We ALL know that Fred and Wilma end up together, and Barney and Betty end up together. Each couple has their own kid, and they live that caveman life happily ever after, eating Fruity/Coco Pebbles, smoking Winstons and chewing their vitamins.
Anyway, what can I say? This whole movie is just kinda pointless, unless you're one of the probably very few who wondered what the story was behind how the Flintstones and the Rubbles meet. I don't think I'd go so far as to say that there's anything fascinatingly bad about it, it's just a poorly done project. It actually comes to us from Brian Levant, the same guy who directed the first 'Flintstones' movie. It's further surprising to see the writing team behind it. I won't list them all off one by one, and their work isn't usually spectacular, but they all have solid titles under their belts as well as weak ones. In the end, this was a bizarre effort, and I'm not really sure what fueled the decision to make it a thing. But, it's harmless, and at the very least could be entertaining for little kids; y'know, who it's aimed at, so I can't come at it full-force.
Speaking as an adult who remembers the cartoon very fondly, however, it's clear that this is way off, and it shouldn't even be classified as a 'Flintstones' movie. This same story could have been told of just about anyone. It makes me think they had some terrible romantic comedy on their hands and decided to slap the Flintstone name on it because the humor was so lame and childish, it could only work for a young audience. This is one of those movies you'd throw on just to make your rambunctious kid chill out for a little while, nothing more, nothing less. While that first one still holds a weird place in my heart, this is just throwaway material that no one asked for. One of these was probably enough.
Wild Wild West
Back in the late 90s, a summer blockbuster was something very different than the average superhero movie we have today. Will Smith was someone to keep an eye out for, as he had a relatively triumphant career as a blockbuster actor back then. With 'Bad Boys' in '95, 'Independence Day' in '96, 'Men in Black' in '97, and 'Enemy of the State' in '98, he was an unstoppable force every year, putting butts in seats.
As far as 1999 goes, as most know by this point, Will Smith had a choice to make. He could do an action remake of an old hit TV show, or something much more outside the realm of reality. Supposing he probably guessed the first option was the more surefire one, his choice led him to reject 'The Matrix'. Would he have worked as Neo? Maybe at the time, but Keanu just fits that kind of role better.
Smith chose to do 'Wild Wild West' instead, probably having a lot of faith in director Barry Sonnenfeld; the guy who directed him in 'Men in Black' just a couple of years prior. Producer, Jon Peters, however, is a strange, spider-loving producer who is now renowned for putting spiders in everything he touches. If you want a really good laugh, check out Kevin Smith's story about the two of them trying to work on a 'Superman' script. It's some of the best Kevin Smith material out there (it's a two-parter).
Taking place four years after the end of the American Civil War, Army Captain James West (Will Smith) and U.S. Marshal, Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) are assigned to capture and arrest crazed inventor Dr. Arliss Loveless. His crime is conspiracy to commit the assassination of President Ulysses S. Grant (also Kevin Kline). In working together, they have clashing personalities between the brains of Gordon, and the braun of West. They soon find themselves working together with Rita Escobar (Salma Hayek), and facing off against Loveless and his big, stupid mechanical spider.
There's not a whole lot to say about this film that hasn't been said before. It strays significantly enough from the original source material that it's one of those films that would only work for what it is without its title - kinda like 'Super Mario Bros'. Beyond that, the dialogue is cringe-worthy, the special effects are painful, Selma Hayek's character is essentially eye candy, and for some reason there are spiders everywhere. It's bad enough that this is generally considered the beginning of the end of Will Smith's career. Luckily, Smith has had a fair number of hits and misses over the years since, and still remains a popular enough name that can provide a decent balance. It's probably safe to say that this might be his worst.
If you want to get into some of the accolades, it was nominated for 8 Razzies, for which it "won" 5 including worst Director, Sceenplay and Picture. It was further nominated for 10 Stinkers (basically a 'Golden Globes' version of the Razzies, as far as I know) for which it "won" 4, also including Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. It went down as one of the worst movies of the 90s, and there was really nothing at all that saved it... unless you count Will Smith's song, which even I have to admit is pretty damn catchy, albeit kinda lame.
Allow me to preface this review by talking a little bit about the late Harold Ramis; the director and writer of this film, alongside Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. Ramis left a bit of a legacy of hit or miss films, but they were mostly hits when it came to his comedy. He's probably best known for directing 'Caddyshack' and 'Groundhog Day'; two pretty legendary comedies. And speaking from my perspective, the man really help give us the 'Ghostbusters' we grew up with.
Sadly, however, before Ramis passed away, 'Year One' was his last film as a writer, director and actor. He went on to work on some episodes of 'The Office' ('A Benihana Christmas', 'Safety Training', 'Beach Games', and 'The Delivery: Part 2', for those who are curious), but that's about it. With that said, I really wanted to try to find some good in this film, as I've heard it's pretty much a giant, biblical mess.
A hunter named Zed (Jack Black) and a gatherer named Oh (Michael Cera) one day decide to explore the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Zed eats the forbidden fruit, and is banished by the village shaman (Bill Hader) and a muscle-bound bully of a hunter named Marlak (Matthew Willig). Zed makes it tn times worse by accidentally setting the village on fire, which destroys homes, and forces Oh to reluctantly join him on his journey of discovery. Along the way, they meet a selection of biblical figures like Adam (Harold Ramis), Eve (Rhoda Griffis), Cain (David Cross), Abel (Paul Rudd), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to name a few.
They learn that their romantic interests (or girls they want to lay with), Maya (June Diane Raphael) and Eema (Juno Temple) are to be sold into slavery, and soon find themselves stuck as slaves in Sodom, and the whole thing kinda goes from there, delivering laughs not-a-plenty. It's not without a few decent jokes, but so much of the humor here is either reaching for low-hanging fruit or plain and simple toilet humor. For the love of God, there's a scene put in for laughs that literally involved Michael Cera peeing on himself while hanging upside down. That's just one example though, the list goes on. As far as the good jokes go, they are very few and far between, and I even have to admit that it was stuff I may have laughed at while others wouldn't.
As far as the leads go, I'm one of those people who really doesn't mind Jack Black or Michael Cera. Jack Black has always been a dude I'd love to get a beer with, while Michael Cera has this dry, awkward humor with which I can't help but be reminded of my high school days - he just plays a great geek. The problem is, they are both so typecast as those respective types, despite the fact that they can hold their own when it comes to acting, though it's petty well B-list stuff. That's one of the film's greatest weaknesses - it's Jack Black being Jack Black, and Michael Cera being Michael Cera, they're just dressed in cavemen garb this time.
Speaking of which, isn't it kinda weird to have a biblical movie coincide with a caveman movie, considering we're talking about Genesis colliding with evolution? I mean, they even mention that they're cavemen - they use the word. I'm also no expert on the Bible (like, not even close) but I'm pretty sure some of these stories collide with each other. And why is it "Year One" when Cain and Abel are grown men? Shouldn't year one basically just be Adam and Eve? Again, no expert, but the timelines seemed incredibly off here. I know it's just supposed to be a silly comedy about biblical stuff, but 'Life of Brian' is leagues above this. This didn't even feel that edgy for the subject matter, at least not to me. It was pretty bland, and again, the toilet humor denies it major points.
So while it may not be the worst thing I've ever seen, and I do thing that perhaps people have been a little too hard on it for what it is, it's still quite bad. I'd never recommend it to anyone, really, unless the 'Movie 43' vibe of a stacked cast gone wrong interests you. Even beyond the aforementioned names, we also get Olivia Wilde as Princess Inanna, Xander Berkeley as the King, and even Kyle Gas shows up to throw a testicle at the pair during a stoning (indeed, his testicle). It's interesting enough for a single watch-through, and enjoy in an ironic way, but it's nothing to return to either. Personally, I'll be remembering Harold Ramis for his work on 'Ghostbusters' instead.
This chapter of the 'Turtle' saga was released in March of 1993, making me 10 at the time, and still very much into the whole 'TMNT' craze - and what a craze it was, too! The Turtles have never really gone away, but there was once a time when they were once on basically anything you could name, from things like lunchboxes right down to cereal that turned your milk green. So truth be told, when I first saw this, I liked it okay.
Indeed, it was no dancing on stage with Vanilla Ice, and it always sucked that the villain was just some guy. They had a wide range of villains to choose from, and a whole bunch of adventures they could have adapted. I didn't exactly expect Dimension X, but what would have been wrong with a Baxter Stockman story? For that matter, if they planned it out a little, the scientist from 'Secret of the Ooze' could have been Stockman, and carried through to the next movie, which could have still kept Casey Jones for backup against a Stockman as the giant fly (granted, in 1993, the fly could only be awful). But I digress. We're stuck with time travel to feudal Japan with a Walker.... no really, that's his name, Walker.
In present day (1993), the Turtles; Leonardo (Brian Tochi/Mark Caso), Michaelangelo (Robbie Rist/David Fraser), Donatello (Corey Feldman/Jim Raposa) and Raphael (Tim Kelleher/Matt Hill) are partying and training in their train station lair (as introduced in 'Secret of the Ooze') when April (Paige Turco) arrives for a visit. As a quick dies note, it's interesting to note that Feldman comes back to lend his voice to Donatello, Raph's voice is brand new, but Leo and Mikey's voices have been the same through all three films - just a little tidbit of info. Anyway, April arrives with gifts for everyone after shopping at a flea market. One of the gifts, for Splinter (James Murray), is an old Japanese scepter that looks interesting enough to question why anyone would give it over to something like a flea market. She actually has no idea what the hell it is, but it's for Splinter.
Back in feudal Japan, Lord Norinaga (Sab Shimono) makes deals with an English arms trader, Walker (Stuart Wilson), who is there to supply Norinaga with extra manpower and guns for his war. Meanwhile, Norinaga's son, Kenshin (Eidan Hanzei) is brooding after being scolded by his father, and comes across a scepter just like the one April thinks is an egg timer. He activates it, and before you can say "turtle soup", April and Kenshin trade places throughout the timeline. Now it's up to the Turtles to use their scepter to go back in time, rescue April, and come back within 60 hours. Meanwhile Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) is left to babysit the four Japanese priests who trade places with the Turtles. The whole thing is an idea that would have worked a hell of a lot better as a two or three-parter of the cartoon. Speaking for myself, I find it just lacks the theatrical quality of the first two. I came out of them loving them, with this one, I only said it was okay. Remember, I was 10, so I hadn't quite grown out of things quite yet.
Now, even watching it today, it might sound weird, but there actually were aspects about the movie I thought were interesting ideas, just not executed altogether well. For example the idea that a kid named Yoshi (Travis A. Moon) befriends the hot-headed Raphael, and Raph kinda learns through him about his own temper, and he tries to set the kid in the right direction. Sadly, it's executed more like an After School Special, and they miss out on an opportunity to really expand Raph's character. I know some reading this right now are saying "but... it's Ninja Turtles". To some extent, I get that, but the childishness of it all can't be too overlooked with a movie where the Turtles use the 'Wayne's World' "schwing!" joke. With that, the movie doesn't really seem to understand who it's for. Some of the dialogue is so basic, and the jokes are mostly lame, and it leads you to believe that it's for little kids. But then some scenes lend themselves more to a teenage crowd, who are long done with overly kid-friendly dialogue.
I'm not sure I'd agree with the masses that this is one of those movies that needs to be set on fire and forgotten about. It's dumb, not well written, and it's an obvious cash-in, playing with time travel idea that 'Turtles in Time' popularized in 1991. To this day, that is still probably the best of the games, if you can possibly get your hands on it, it's a high recommendation from yours truly, and it definitely plays with time travel much better than this movie did. Back to the movie, however, I have no ties to it like I do the first two. I think for me, this was the beginning of my loss of interest in the Turtles. I came out of it liking it okay when I was a kid, but I was still willing to admit there was a lot that sucked about it. Nowadays, I see it as a neat idea, but a poor execution. With better writers, it could have been a bit more passable. But still... what WAS wrong with a Baxter Stockman story (other than a crap-looking fly)?
Putting my cards on the table, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any fun with this when I was younger. This was 1993, making me at least 11 by the time I saw it, so there was still that part of me that enjoyed movies about kids taking control over the grown-ups. That was kind of a big thing in the early 90's, and a lot of family movies seemed almost "out to get" authority figures by having kids almost literally get away with murder, and this title is no exception.
Don't let all the pink sway you, the whole tutu thing is a brief scene in the film. Otherwise, it's your typical film of its kind. It also follows in the footsteps of things like 'Kindergarten Cop' in that we had a big time muscle-bound action star of some sort taking care of kids. This formula continued with things like 'The Pacifier' (Vin Diesel) and 'The Spy Next Door' (Jackie Chan). Its never really been a great formula, unless you're a kid who may already be looking up to these guys. But to be fair, these are aimed at kids as well, and much of the time, if the adult has a problem with a movie aimed at kids, that makes the adult a bit of an asshole. So I'm about to be seen as a bit of an asshole, because looking back on this, I do not feel quite the same as I used to.
We meet a former wrestler named Sean Armstron (Hulk Hogan) who suffers from nightmares about a wrestling match that went wrong. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and hangs out with his old friend and former manager, Burt Wilson (Sherman Hemsley), who's a bit of a jerk, but he's kind of entertaining in that aspect. Burt is having some financial difficulties with his personal security business, and soon convinces Sean to take a bodyguard job for an Alex Mason Sr. (Austin Pendleton). Mason heads Mason Systems, which is funding the Peacefinder Project; a new anti-missile system. Information about it is stored on a well-hidden microchip, and Sean is hired to protect Mason's two children, Alex Jr. (Robert Gorman) and Kate (Madeline Zima) as such sensitive information could put them in danger from Tommy Thanatos (David Johansen), who will stop at nothing to get the microchip because... reasons?
As one can probably figure out, the whole villain vs Dad thing is more of a lingering plot that goes on while Sean has to deal with these two bratty, but very clever kids. Now, when I was younger, I would just laugh at a lot of the crap they do to Sean in true 'Home Alone' trap fashion. But the thing about watching this as an adult is that you end up pretty well hating these kids. Granted, they lash out largely due to their Dad having no time for them and being pretty ignorant about it, but their motivation is to get rid of whatever nannies come through. They seem out to prove that they can take care of themselves, at least with a bit of help from their maid, Corrine (Mother Love). As for Mom, as with just about anything aimed at kids from the 90's, she's gone and out of the picture.
The thing that really hit me with this viewing is that the more likable characters are anyone not in the family. The kids are little terminator asshole brats who do anything short of murder to get their way, and their attitude is awful. The Dad means well, but you don't like him either 'cause he just comes off as a deadbeat, having absolutely zero time for the kids he's trying to protect. It gets to the point of wondering why you should care about what happens to this family, short of the fallback of putting little kids in some kind of danger - because if you don't care about kids in danger, you're a dink, no matter how asshole-ish they are. Well, that and it's a global defense thing, but we don't fully get why Thanos... sorry, Thanatos is after this microchip. By the way, younger ones, this "microchip" would be more likened to a USB stick nowadays. Anyway, he's there to be a convenience, as he just so happens to be linked to Sean and Burt's past. It works out way too conveniently.
So, is the film completely awful? Well, not entirely. I'd say it's just a product of its time, and dated all to hell. There's not much offensive here that wouldn't fly today, but it deals with pre-internet technologies, and I don't think kids would get much out of it nowadays. It's kinda like how 'Home Alone' is dated because kids today can't fathom why cell phones weren't just used to quickly solve their dilemma... come to think of it, did they even try to call Kevin at their house?... Anyway, back to the movie at hand, it's not awful, but it's lame, and there wasn't any kind of nostalgic tie to it for me, which is sayng a lot because even 'Masters of the Universe' had that, and it was pretty awful. 'Mr. Nanny' is kinda just best left alone. You'd watch it nowadays, shrug it off, and carry on with your life.