Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Babysitter (1995)

The Babysitter (1995)
Rated R
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Jeremy London, Nicky Katt, J.T. Walsh, Lee Garlington, George Segal
Directed by: Guy Ferland
Tagline: It’s all in your mind.
Running time: 90 Minutes
Netflix

Quick summary (from IMDB): A teenage babysitter is the focus of two boys and a man’s separate obsessions.

Have you ever been skimming Netflix and stumbled across a movie that looked so awful that you had to watch it?

That’s essentially what happened with this movie. My wife and I were at the tail-end of our typical movie searching argument when I decided to look up Alicia Silverstone, base on my wife’s love of Clueless. The Babysitter came out the same year as Clueless and was ostensibly Silverstone in her prime, but it just looked terrible. So of course we watched it, and it was just as bad as I expected.

As the movie was starting up, I glanced at the first review I saw on IMDB which said that The Babysitter was basically just soft-core porn, which sounded awesome. But The Babysitter was so much worse than that, because none of the fantasy scenes were even remotely erotic. They would just kind of start randomly and you aren’t really sure if what you’re seeing is real or not. And it never gets any better.  

The Storyline, per IMDB states that “The story basically shows the effects drink has on different people”, which is not at all what I thought this movie was about. I figured it was just about how terrible people in the mid-90s were and that every male just wanted to nail Alicia Silverstone.  

I probably should have looked at a few more reviews from IMDB and Netflix before we actually watched the movie, but it was actually more fun to just watch a terrible movie and MST3K it. We had so much more enjoyment making fun of every little thing about the movie than we ever would have gotten from the movie itself. There are no redeeming qualities about this movie. All of the characters were just terrible, terrible people and I wanted all of them to get hit by a car. Unfortunately, only one of them does.

1995 was Alicia Silverstone at her absolute peak, just a year after the Aerosmith videos came out and three months after Clueless, but not even the success of Clueless or Silverstone’s popularity could save The Babysitter. It was just awful.

0 out of 5 stars

Trailer: 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Yeardley Smith, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille
Directed by: David Silverman
Tagline: For years, lines have been drawn…and colored in yellow.
Running time: 87 Minutes

Quick summary (from IMDB): After Homer accidentally pollutes the town’s water supply, Springfield is encased in a gigantic dome by the EPA and the Simpson family are declared fugitives.

For a solid decade, from about 1992 to 2002, I would have considered The Simpsons as my favorite show. As an eight-year-old kid in ’92, I was far too young to get anything but the most obvious of jokes in any given episode of The Simpsons but I watched with my older brothers anyways. The Simpsons was on the list of shows I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t want us to watch, along with Beavis and Butthead and You Can’t Do That On Television. It was probably because all of the “craps”, “hells” and “damns”, but we watched it anyways. The local Fox affiliate in western PA would show between two and four episodes a day in the afternoon, so my brothers and I watched the crap out of The Simpsons. It went on this way for the majority of the 90s and even continued into college. And then I just stopped watching. I don’t know if it was necessarily that the show went downhill or wasn’t as good as the older stuff, or moving to a different state with different Fox affiliates and different scheduling, but I just stopped watching The Simpsons.  I’d like to think that part of the problem was that I was 18 and my taste in comedy and entertainment had changed. The Simpsons was no longer cutting edge enough; it didn’t really push the envelope anymore. At least not the same way that Family Guy, Futurama, Chappelle’s Show and Aqua Teen Hunger Force were. It wasn’t a gradual shift or a changing of the guard, just an abrupt and reasonless switch. I’d catch the occasional new episode every now and then and enjoyed them, but I never really got back into the show.  

Fast forward ten years and in 2014 FXX announces the Every Simpsons Ever marathon. Evert episode. All 552. Five Hundred Fifty Two over twenty-five years. That’s insane. I was so excited until I remembered that I cut the cord last year and ditched DirecTV. So my dilemma was to sign back up for DirecTV (or Time Warner) for a month or so for $100 plus any set-up fees or to not watch every Simpsons ever and miss out on the greatest thing that’s ever happened on TV this year. I am not made of money, and paying money for TV is something I decided I wouldn’t ever do again, but I still wanted to be a part of the phenomenon, so I was resigned to find ulterior means in order to watch them all.

And it’s going to take forever. I’m already only 72 episodes in, which is about 13% of the way through, but it’s taken me awhile, and with a new season about to begin, there is just no way I’m going to get caught up anytime soon. I don’t really mind though, because having the show on in the background while I blog or clean or do things around the house is totally fine with me.

While I was compiling my spreadsheet to track each episode I watch (because I am an enormous nerd), I came across an interesting conundrum: what to do about The Simpsons Movie from 2007. Unlike The Family Guy or Futurama “movies”, which were either multiple episodes combined into feature-length (a la Family Guy with Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story) or a straight-to-DVD movie chopped up into equal length episodes (a la Futurama with the four times they did it after the show was initially cancelled by Fox), The Simpsons Movie, to my knowledge, has never been split up and treated this way. Much like South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Beavis & Butthead Do America, The Simpsons Movie is treated as a standalone movie and as far as I know, not a part of the (ever-changing) continuity of the show. After consulting my source I decided that the movie wouldn’t be included in my own Every Simpsons Ever mission.

When it came out back in 2007, my wife and went to see it in the theater, even though neither of us had been keeping up with the show. It was kind of a big deal for people our age who grew up with the show. Unlike South Park or Beavis & Butthead, whose movies came out during their respective peaks in popularity, The Simpsons were eighteen seasons in before their movie came out. I was very apprehensive going in. I don’t know why but I was worried they would ruin the characters or do something crazy or stupid like kill them off. That seems kind of stupid now, considering the history and talent the show had at that point in time, but it was a genuine concern of mine going in.

The Simpsons Movie felt like a really long episode, which is really all that you could ask from a movie based on the longest running scripted TV of all time. All of the familiar characters and locations were there, and the plot didn’t feel like a rehashing of old show ideas. And it looked amazing. I had bailed on the show long before they switched over to high-def, before it was even a thing, so I never really got to see it so crisp and bright and great looking. Watching beloved characters on the big screen is almost always fun and I really enjoyed the movie. Watching it again years later, I forgot it wasn’t just another episode once it stretched on passed the regular 22 minutes of an episode.

I still don’t know how necessary The Simpsons Movie really was and nothing that happened had any long term effects on the show overall, but I don’t mind that the movie exists. They really could have done something crazy with it and turned everyone off of the show or ended the show with the movie. I’ve only watched one season since then, Season 21 – which I just finished, so it’s too early for me to tell if they should have ended at the successful high-note (it grossed $575 million at the box office) of the movie or kept it going for another dozen years. Only time will tell.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Don Jon (2013)

Don Jon (2013)
Rated R
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza, Julianne Moore
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Tagline: Everyone loves a happy ending.
Running time: 90 Minutes
Netflix

Quick summary (from IMDB): A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love.

I have a spreadsheet full of potential movies I want to see. I am a gigantic nerd, I know. But this spreadsheet is broken down into four different categories: Must See, Should Probably See, Never Heard Of and Why the Hell Not?. Don Jon fell into that last category.

I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor and was kind of excited to see what he could do as a writer/director. But the more I learned about Don Jon, the less interested I became. A movie about a guy from New Jersey with a porn addiction doesn’t sound that interesting. It just sounds like a movie about any guy from Jersey. Even having Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza (!?!) and Julianne Moore in the cast wasn’t enough for me to bump this one up from Why the Hell Not? to Should Probably Watch or Must Watch. It was destined to be one of those movies I throw on in the background one night while playing Madden after my wife goes to sleep. And that’s exactly what happened once it showed up in my Netflix Queue.

I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about Don Jon. It was funny and better than I was anticipating, but I don’t know that it was actually any good. If Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and starred in this movie as the titular Don Jon as a joke or a statement about people from New Jersey or the whole Jersey Shore phenomenon from a few years ago, then I think it might have actually been alright. If Don Jon is a satire or a mocking of those people, then I like it. If, on the other hand, Don Jon was a serious attempt at filmmaking and storytelling, then I don’t know. It just doesn’t work on that level for me.

The main problem with taking the movie seriously is just how insufferable the characters are. Gordon-Levitt’s character is just awful and the way he and his buddies acted and spoke and treated women was just terrible. It makes since given his character’s addiction, but it just made me cringe every time they said anything about the women they came across at the club. Don Jon was the worst kind of people. He knew he had a problem, and at times he felt bad about it, but he never really made an effort to correct it. Scarlett Johnansson gave him a chance. Her reaction to the discovery of his addiction wasn’t out of the ordinary, and her request wasn’t outlandish. All he had to do was maybe not be such a creep, or at the very least, be honest with her instead of lying and trying to hide it.

Julianne Moore is also in this movie, as an older and more open-minded woman than Scarlett Johansson. I don’t know if she is necessarily better for Don Jon than Johannsson’s character, but I guess because she accepts his problem and doesn’t try to change Jon or make him someone he isn’t, she’s a little better.

Because I like Gordon-Levitt as an actor, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he made this movie as a satire of the Jersey Shore culture that was so prevalent a few years ago. That’s the only way I can convince myself to appreciate or kind of like this movie. Otherwise, the only thing I liked about this movie is the fact that Tony Danza played Gordon-Levitt’s father and was awesome.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer:

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Stepford Wives (2004)

The Stepford Wives (2004)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Bette Midler, Jon Lovitz, Faith Hill
Directed by: Frank Oz
Tagline: The wives of Stepford have a secret.
Running time: 93 Minutes
Netflix

Quick summary (from IMDB): What does it take to become a Stepford wife, a woman perfect beyond belief? Ask the Stepford husbandsm who’ve created this high-tech terrifying little town, in a very modern comedy thriller.

A couple of things:

1. I have never liked Nicole Kidman. I can’t think of a single movie she’s been in where I thought she was good, funny, interesting or anything other than awful. I’ve just never liked her.

2. I also have never liked Bette Midler. It’s not to the same degree as my dislike of Kidman, but I’ve just never found Midler to be all that interesting as an actress or a singer.

3. I’m okay with Glenn Close. I have no problems with her but she’s not going to be my reason for watching something.

4. Outside of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and maybe The Cable Guy, I am thoroughly unimpressed by Matthew Broderick. He gets a lifetime pass for Ferris Bueller, but I don’t think I’ve liked him in anything else since then.

With those four things in mind, I have no idea what possessed me to agree to watch The Stepford Wives. I’d already seen it before, and I don’t think I liked it then, and nothing about it seemed like a second chance was warranted, but I agreed to watch it with my wife.

And it was just as bad as I remembered. The presence of Christopher Walken and Jon Lovitz (where has he been?) wasn’t enough to turn this around and make me get into it even a little bit. Not even Faith Hill as a super hot s robot could save it. And it’s all because of Nicole Kidman. I just really don’t like her or any of the characters she plays. I don’t want her to succeed or be happy or win in movies. She’s always so severe and humorless, and she always seems like such a bitchy woman that I don’t ever feel for her. She was so much better as a blonde Stepford WIfe. Even though her eyebrows didn’t match her hair color and she was ultimately faking it, she seemed so much more interesting to me.
Anytime I watch a bad movie, I usually think of one or two things that could have helped to make it better or at least not as terrible, and the only thing I can think of for The Stepford Wives was to just completely remove Nicole Kidman from the movie. Or to just not re-make the original from 1975.

I also try to find at least one thing or one performance that I like in bad movies, but I don’t know that The Stepford Wives really had one. Much like Kidman, I preferred Bette Midler’s character as a Stepford Wife than her messy, uber-feminist regular version. I didn’t hate Christopher Walken, and I never do, but he was just his regular, weird self. You see Walken’s name in the credits and you know exactly what you’re about to get. It’s good, but not enough to make the rest of the movie palatable.

I should probably not let my wife pick movies anymore. 

1 out of 5 stars

Trailer:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wayne's World (1992)

Wayne’s World (1992)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe,
Directed by: Penelope Spheeris
Tagline: You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl.
Running time: 94 Minutes
Netflix

Quick summary (from IMDB): Two slacker friends try to promote their public-access cable show.

Can we all just agree that Wayne’s World is the best thing that Mike Myers has ever done? Granted, the Shrek franchise probably netted him way more money, the Austin Powers Trilogy was fantastic, his tenure on Saturday Night Live was solid and So I Married An Ax-Murderer remains criminally underrated, but nothing he’s done in his career is better than, or even close to being as awesome as the first Wayne’s World movie.

Of all of the various SNL sketches that have been spun off into their own movies, Wayne’s World is easily the best. I’ll hear a case made for Blues Brothers, but that movie came out when I was xx years old. And I’d also at least consider The Ladies Man, but I’m probably the only person who liked that movie. Wayne’s World hit when I was technically too young to really get most of the humor, but I had an older brother who I looked up to who was really into SNL at the time, so I watched a lot of it back in the early 90s.

Wayne’s World is just about perfect. In addition to Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, you’ve got dirtbag Rob Lowe, Tia Carrerre (still surprisingly hot 20 years later), along with cameos from Chris Farley, Meatloaf  and Alice Cooper.

There are so many great things in Wayne’s World that helped shape my sense of humor and who I am as a person that I could spend thousands of words just recapping every great line and scene. It’d probably be easier just to watch the entire movie over again (and again and again), but I’m going to throw down my top 5 scenes from Wayne’s World. There may be better and more memorable scenes, but these are the top five that come to mind when I think of Wayne’s World:

5.
   
Just such a weird and funny scene. It makes me laugh so much harder than any of the Baberaham Lincoln crap. 
4.
   

I’ve always wanted someone to gift me a gun rack, solely so that I can recite this speech verbatim. It’s (probably) never going to happen, especially since I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do with a gun rack?

3.

No Stairway. It’s impossible to go into a guitar store and touch a guitar without at least one person making this joke.

2. 

Everything about this scene is awesome.

1.

There is no question. Wayne’s World introduced us to the fantastic Bohemian Rhapsody car sing-along. Just a few weeks ago, my wife and I did this on a road trip, and it’s never not fun.

I’m not going to hold it against Wayne’s World for making me like the song “Dream Weaver”. And I won’t even dock points from for the inferior sequel it spawned. Even though it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the original, it was still better than 80% of the sequels that have come out in the last twenty years.

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer: