BAD MOVIES

A sarcastic look at some of our finest crappy films

Thursday, April 14, 2005

THE CUTTING EDGE

I can’t lie, this movie is one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. D.B. Sweeney is just WAY too cute in it. I can’t even begin to imagine how laid D.B. got after this flick came out, because I totally would have done him if I hadn’t been like twelve at the time. Because he’s about the best romantic lead in a crappy film EVER. (And he played a fucking figure skater, for God’s sake – which doesn’t exactly scream ‘stud heartthrob’. But he sold it, man.) The fact that he never did another one only shows how often Hollywood misses the boat.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104040/

D.B. plays tough guy hockey player Doug Dorsey, who’s lifelong sports hero dreams are seemingly dashed after an eye injury. No hockey team wants to recruit a guy that can’t see! After significant brooding and fate bemoaning, he gets an offer to partner a figure skater bound for the Olympics. (Because obviously in Olympic figure skating, seeing isn’t that big a deal – it’s much less stringent than say, HOCKEY. Jesus.) Being the bad macho stereotype he is, D.B. isn’t exactly jumping at the figure skating gig. He does agree to meet the skater, Kate Mosely, who turns out to be a rich, spoiled brat who hates hockey and finds him repellant – because uptight rich girls just never go for the really hot poor guys. That’s preposterous! D.B. takes the gig anyway, because it’s in the script, and Kate gets her rocks off watching him struggle. Seriously, he’s got no training and a bum eye and he’s going to the Olympics? I’m thinking they might have found a more competent skater hanging around in front of Target.

Luckily there’s an endless supply of sarcastic ‘we hate each other but we’re just destined to fall in love’ zingers to keep our minds off the fact that neither of them are doing the actual skating. Oh, they get a few good shots of their faces while they’re doing easy stuff - like going straight - then suddenly D.B. loses fifteen pounds and Kate grows four inches before they go into that fancy spin. (It’s not as obvious or laughable as say, ‘Center Stage’ – where the only time you saw any of the actresses dancing they were just shown from the chest up. Hilarious.)

Their coach is a burly Russian guy who yells adverbs at them a lot (“Faster!”, “Higher!”), but is really just a vodka swilling teddy bear. (You don’t actually see him swilling vodka, but since everyone else in this movie is a stereotype I figure he’s just a cut scene away from wearing a babushka and doing that folded arm kick dance.) Kate’s overbearing father is played by Locke from ‘Lost’ – who will always be ‘The Stepfather’ to me, and I keep expecting him to smash her face in with a phone receiver. Kate also has a rich, boring fiancée with one of those snob names like Blake or Clay, who in one scene enters in pajamas and complains because they’re playing loud music and ‘it’s after midnight!’ He’s just a wild man, that Blake or Clay. There’s no way the really hot poor guy could steal her away from him! No, siree.

D.B. and Kate get to the nationals and (by default) make the Olympic team. Kate has already dumped Blake or Clay because she realized she’s in her early twenties and he’s beyond boring - so she and D.B. get drunk on Tequila shots and go dancing. Kate has major dance confidence. She shouldn’t. Back at the hotel, Kate makes a pass at D.B. but he’s too in love with her to take her up on it. So he screws some slag redhead instead. Seriously, this chick looks 48. Kate finds out, of course, and Drama!

The Russian coach decides they need to do a special routine he designed (while drinking all that vodka), which is guaranteed to knock the Olympic judges on their asses. It involves D.B. swinging Kate around by her feet until he can chuck her high enough to flip her and then catch her. Don’t try this at home. Why? Because it’s fucking impossible! Someone would totally die. It’s like the Triple Lindy from ‘Back To School’. They never actually show them doing it - because they CAN’T! It’s humanly and physically impossible dammit! Not to mention D.B. has that fucked up eye and no real training so in reality Kate would be ice pizza in no time. Not that this film is in any way a serious portrayal of the figure skating world, but pigs flying is more plausible than this shit. Okay, let’s move on.

They get to the Olympics and blow their short program, getting really low scores. Kate then wisely refuses to do the impossible routine. This brings on a big fight and Kate finally realizes that she’s an unbearable bitch from Hell and sad music plays. Blah, blah, blah – D.B. Sweeney is really cute. The night of the long program, D.B. finally breaks down and tells Kate he loves her and in return she agrees to do the impossible routine. Which they don’t show. Because they CAN’T! DAMMIT! But the judges reaction shots are hilarious and D.B. Sweeney is really cute. Since Kate isn’t dead or anything, you just assume they did it right and won the Gold medal, so all that’s left is the big kiss finale. Which we get as the crowd cheers. Ah, totally unrealistic love – ain’t it grand?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

LOOKER

Does anyone remember the movie ‘Looker’? Early 80’s? Albert Finney? Lori from ‘The Partridge Family’?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/

Albert Finney plays a plastic surgeon that stumbles on the plot of an evil corporation that’s trying to use subliminal messages is their television ads to brainwash the public – you know, back in the 80’s when people still cared about that kind of thing. It says a lot about a movie if it shares a major plot line with ‘Josie and the Pussycats’. But it’s Albert Finney! There’s one scene where Lori from ‘The Partridge Family’ accidentally looks at a subliminal commercial of a girl yelling, “I want it!” and immediately starts repeating it like a defective robot: “I. Want. It.” Albert has to shake her out of it. Damn those advertising bastards! They’re messing with our MINDS!

There’s also this hilarious subplot about the commercial models needing to be ‘perfect’ looking – and getting plastic surgery (enter Albert) to alter them to the millimeter so they will be the ultimate tool for brain washing the consumer masses. It’s ridiculous. The greatest part is when one of Albert’s model patients visits him to ask for help. “You don’t understand! They’re killing all the girls that are perfect!” Hee.

But the most memorable thing was the ‘Looker’ gun. It was a strobe light gun that put you in a trance for hours. Depending on how many times you got shot with it. It’s just a bright flash a of light and then you’re sitting there staring into space and drooling like “Hey, what happened? It’s dark out!” I wanted a ‘Looker’ gun. Instead, I have the all natural version – marijuana.

COCKTAIL

When I first saw ‘Cocktail’ as a kid I loved it. At the time I was blind to the lasting horror inflicted by the soundtrack - releasing ‘Kokomo’ and ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ on an unsuspecting public, not to mention that ‘Hippy-Hippy Shake’ song – but I learned that lesson, hard. Now I’m an adult and can clearly see that the film is awful, but gee whiz, Tom Cruise sure looks cute.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094889/

Tom plays the ridiculously over enunciating Brian Flanagan, just back from a stint in the military and ready to take New York by storm doing... well, something. He hasn’t really figured that out yet, but it’s the 80’s and being rich for doing nothing is the new black. But poor Tom gets rejected by every prospective employer in New York City because he’s lacking a college degree, work experience, emotional depth as an actor – pretty much everything but hair mousse, which he seems to have in abundance because he’s sporting a hairstyle scarily close to that Flock of Seagulls cut. Luckily, this look doesn’t stick around very long - because if ‘Cocktail’ is famous for anything it’s the utter lack of hair continuity. Because Tom Cruise has about twenty-five different haircuts through the course of it, sometimes as many as three in a single scene. He’ll walk into the room with a side part, sit down with bangs and then leave with a mullet – it’s amazing. Maybe it’s how he showed his acting range in those days. “Damn it! When I’m sad, give me bangs!”

Tom takes a job as a bartender, because after CEO and entrepreneur, bartending is the next obvious choice on the road to fame and fortune. Just ask any out of work actor. There he meets mentor bartender Bryan Brown, who spouts endless (and pointless) booze wisdom and takes dumb as a rock Tom under his wing. Bryan proceeds to teach Tom everything he knows, which sadly amounts to flipping liquor bottles and dancing awkwardly to Robert Palmer songs.

(I can imagine the press interviews Tom Cruise had while promoting this film. “Did you ever bartend, Tom?” “Well, back when I was a struggling actor... oh wait, I was NEVER a struggling actor... HAHAHAHAHAHA...” – insert signature creepy Tom Cruise laugh here.)

Of course Tom and Bryan are soon the hippest bartenders in New York City, even getting a gig at the old Palladium, until Gina Gershon shows up and throws a fish lipped monkey wrench in the operation. Bryan thinks Gina is a dirty tramp and all but screens ‘Showgirls’ to prove it – but Tom’s in LOVE. So to make his point, Bryan sleeps with her. Tom gets really mad and blinks a lot, before moving to Jamaica for a brand new haircut... uh, START. There he meets a sweet faced Elisabeth Shue, fresh from ‘Adventures In Babysitting’ and awesome because she’s not the tiny, skin and bones actress you expect to be playing opposite Lord Cruise. They spend a romantic week talking about him and then screw in a waterfall before she catches him with a sugar mama one night and takes off back to New York. Bryan is now in his life again, having shown up with his rich new wife - a barely dressed Kelly Lynch - and he tells Tom he should hook up with the sugar mama. Since Tom is dumb as a rock and can’t make a decision on his own, he does. Later, when it turns out the sugar mama is just using him - even though he’s just using her too - Tom suddenly gets all indignant about it and leaves. He turns up at Elisabeth’s place, where she throws food on him and informs him that she’s carrying his Jamaican love baby. He reacts all wrong (because there’s no one there to tell him what to do), and Elisabeth kicks him out. He later tries to find her at her parent’s house and discovers she’s really rich. Oops! Dumbass. Bet he wishes he were nicer to her in Jamaica now.

Her father is not amused and tries to buy him off, but somewhere in the last fifteen minutes Tom’s gotten integrity and turns it down. He goes to find Bryan, who now owns a chic bar thanks to his rich, always half naked wife, but he’s also deeply depressed and in debt. Tom offers to take the always half naked wife home, where she proceeds to get fully naked and make a pass at him, but his newfound integrity is still holding (good thing he got that newfound integrity Crazy Glue!) and he turns her down. He goes back to get Bryan and finds him dead, his throat cut with a liquor bottle. How symbolic. Good thing he didn’t work at McDonalds or he might have had to throw himself in the deep fryer.

Tom then sees the light, but instead of hitting on Bryan’s rich always nearly naked widow he goes back to fight for Elisabeth. Fight being a very loosely used term - because he gets in a ridiculous scuffle with the doorman and butler that is laughable, as are all the fight scenes in this stupid movie. Somehow Elisabeth still agrees to marry him even after seeing him fight like a girl, and they huddle out the door like naughty children. Cut to their hillbilly wedding in a dirty Queens bar, and we’re up to haircut #24.

Next it’s months later and we see Tom’s thriving new bar, that appears to be the size of a NYC studio apartment. Elisabeth sits smiling at him, her pregnant belly huge – because a smoky, crowded bar is exactly where a pregnant woman should be hanging out late at night. Then she informs Tom she’s carrying twin Jamaican love babies and everyone cheers. Bar’s open!

Man, this movie sucks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN

Fair is fair! Mix a young Christian Slater, Lisa Simpson, the guy from ‘Christine’, and Supergirl with a really bad haircut - and you’ve got the recipe for an instant teen classic.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089470/

Billie Jean is just an average gal with a borderline creepy Joan of Arc fetish, who finds herself at the center of a really dumb media circus when her younger brother accidentally shoots a horny old guy that’s trying to molest her. Since Billie Jean and her clan are ‘trailer people’ and therefore instantly guilty of all charges against them, they have no choice but to hop in the Vista Cruiser and go on the lam. They almost instantly become local heroes/villains, prompting Billie Jean to hack off all her hair and don a ripped up diving suit (complete with heroin-chic arm tie) because damn it, she’s a martyr! Or maybe just really, really overreacting. During a taped message to the press she coins the catchphrase ‘Fair is fair!’ concerning the $600 owed to fix Christian’s busted scooter - because somehow all the shooting and molesting stuff has been forgotten and she feels no need to set that story straight or even mention it at all. It’s more about showing off her nifty new Joan of Arc look than any actual plot resolution. During one stop they save an abused kid from his drunken stepfather, who gets scared when he sees Christian Slater and the ‘Christine’ guy outside his window. I’m not sure the vision of a 15 year old Christian and ‘Arnie Cunningham’ would make me shake in my boots, but if Christian was still on coke it might. Their teen fan base only grows from there and girls everywhere start hacking off their hair and wearing that ‘one long earring’ look and a WHOLE lot of blush. The silliest scene is when Billie Jean gets separated from the others and finds a teen underground railroad that whisks her from car to car while Pat Benatar wails about being invincible. At one point she ends up in a teen filled basement/crack den (well, that’s what it looked like!) where she’s met with cult-like clapping and cheering and all but takes a bow. The true saving grace of this far fetched fantasy is when Billie Jean sees that her ‘legend’ has only made the horny old guy rich, and realizes her ‘fans’ are only buying into her image and not her message. But since she doesn’t actually HAVE a message, it’s sort of okay. The movie ends with a huge paper mache statue of Billie Jean burning (just like Joan of Arc!), while she watches entranced. This would all be moving and symbolic except she has absolutely nothing in common with Joan of Arc – nada, nil, NOTHING - save for the bad hairdo. Unless disembodied voices told her to cut off all her hair, in which case this would probably be a very different movie and star Angelina Jolie. This is the kind of flick that is awesome when you’re 14 and just preposterous when you watch it as an adult. And I also got a really short haircut once and everyone called me ‘Billie Jean’ for months, so maybe I’m just bitter.

BEAT STREET

Come on, you know you cried when Ramo died.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086946/

Or when they redid that abandoned apartment for him and his bastard baby and girlfriend to live in. You know, where they graffiti painted cartoon furniture and pictures on the walls and lit it with Christmas lights? All so Ramo could get away from his strict oppressive father who wanted him to do crazy things like get a job and marry the mother of his kid. But feeding and properly sheltering his love child were minor concerns compared to finding that elusive white subway train. Because Ramo was an artist, dammit. A graffiti artist. His spray paint masterpieces of big Adidas sneakers were ART, not like, a felony or anything. He graffiti tags his name all over town and wants it to ‘mean something someday’. (He’s Basqui-not) But since his artistic ambitions don’t seem to go beyond defacing building walls and subway trains, you do kind of see his father’s point. Ramo does finally reach the level of other great artists when he dies in obscurity. He meets his shocking (heh) demise chasing down the evil bastard 'SPIT' who dared to put graffiti on top of HIS graffiti. Ramo died for the art, man. The other storylines involve an up and coming DJ and his younger brother, a break dancer in the fictional 'Rock Steady' crew. Then there’s Rae Dawn Chong as the wealthy outsider getting ‘hip’ to the street scene. There are some great rap songs and musical cameos, and they hired all the best NYC break dancers for the battle sequences. As far as the break dance/graffiti movies in the 80’s go, this is the best one. It’s not as cheesy and plot-less as ‘Breakin’ (or it’s hilarious sequel, the infamous ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’) or as laughably bad as that Lorenzo Lamas movie ‘Rappin’ (I think ending any movie title in an apostrophe is probably a bad idea) – but ‘Beat Street’ was made in New York, so maybe I’m just biased.

MAN ON FIRE

Ah, Denzel. Denzel is always the good guy. Denzel has rock solid morals at all times, even when he’s killing people and stuff. In fact, Denzel’s so good and noble that the whole time I watched ‘Training Day’ I was trying to see things from his side. Mostly though, Denzel has made a career of playing the hard working Everyguy put in a bad situation and taking on the corrupt MAN for the greater good, so if he’s going to keep making films they needed to spice up that tired old recipe. This time they added a small blonde child and lots of bloodshed, and it almost worked.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328107/

In ‘Man On Fire’ Denzel plays a man with a tortured past who becomes a bodyguard for the adorable Dakota Fanning – the poor man’s Shirley Temple – who has probably been cast in every child role available for the last five years. Seriously, that brat works more than Jude Law. She’s probably had a SAG card since she was a zygote. Anyway, somehow cutie pie Dakota is playing the offspring of Latino man-zombie Marc Anthony and some tired blonde, which is entirely possible because in real life Marc Anthony seems to have kids all over the place in an array of ages. Of course Denzel almost immediately falls in non-creepy love with the kid, who worships him as a father figure because let’s be honest - anyone’s better than Marc Anthony. But before this platonic love gets too annoying, Dakota is brutally kidnapped and killed by corrupt cops or homicidal J. Lo fans (it’s never made exactly clear who they are) and Denzel completely loses his shit and decides to kill everyone in Mexico. Well, pretty much. The rest of the movie is basically Denzel moralistically killing people. In lots of fun and interesting ways. There’s one part where he puts a bomb up this guy’s ass and blows it up - which has got to be some kind of movie first, and let's hope, last. He kills a bunch of official type people too, but because it’s Mexico no one cares. The police never try to arrest him or stop him, even though he’s seemingly the only vigilante black guy in the entire country and therefore somewhat easy to find. Denzel also manages to get shot like ten times over the course of the film but it never slows him down (during the kidnapping he gets shot in the chest five or six times and is out of the hospital in TWO days) – so a more fitting movie title might have been ‘Man On PCP’. Even though there’s a little bit of a twist at the end, I wish I could say it was more than just Denzel Washington killing people – but it’s not.

There's also the requisite Christopher Walken supporting role, which every bad movie needs, but Walken should never, ever act with children. His scenes with Dakota Fanning are disturbingly creepy. Tell me I'm wrong.

Monday, March 14, 2005

RED DRAGON

Brett Ratner must be stopped. I will say here and now that ‘Red Dragon’ is officially the least needed remake ever in the history of remakes.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289765/

(It’s actually neck and neck with ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ which is also being remade, because obviously nothing is fucking sacred anymore. Does Tim Burton really have to drag a classic down into his career nightmare? Didn’t he do enough damage with ‘Planet of the Apes’ – starring that genius thespian Marky Mark? Worse than that, Burton says he hated the original ‘Willy Wonka’. Who hates the original? That does NOT bode well at all. Only the presence of Johnny Depp is keeping that ship afloat. Barely.)

Back to ‘Red Dragon’. I’m sorry, but Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ bordered on masterpiece and cannot be bested, especially by a Hollywood hack like Brett Ratner. Hence, ‘Red Dragon’ sucked hard. And it took so much effort on everyone’s part to make it suck hard because the cast and plot were stellar. Kind of a hard formula to screw up - but Brett Ratner found a way, by God. He added a bunch of unneeded (and long winded) backstory for each character but still managed to make us not care about a single one of them. At all. He also pulled off the amazing feat of getting the absolute worst performances out of his cast. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that cast included Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Harvey Keitel, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Louise Parker, Ralph Fiennes, and Emily Watson. Pretty much a casting director’s wet dream, right? How do you mess that up? But Brett Ratner found a way, by God. Everything that made the original film so cool was left... in the original. Congratulations, Brett – you officially suck.

See ‘Manhunter’, besides having an extremely cheesy ‘Miami Vice’ soundtrack and a very pastel 80’s look to it, was a near perfect film.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091474/

A young William Peterson plays Will Graham with a tortured intensity that Edward Norton completely lacks in the remake. One of the great things about ‘Manhunter’ was that it let you follow the thought process of the detective as he worked on the case – there was no last minute ‘easy out’ case solving information or new lead (which EVERY cop movie has these days), only the same bare boned clues he had from the very beginning - so when he finally figures out THE BIG CLUE you’re yelling “Shit! Of course!” because you know exactly how he got there and why. Which is so much cooler than having it handed to you. Awesome Brian Cox plays Hannibal Lecter (long before Anthony Hopkins took over the role in ‘Silence of the Lambs’) and made him a completely different kind of scary. Cox plays him like an insane intellectual – not all nutty, fava bean weird like Hopkins. The part where he jimmies the prison phone to dial out and gets Graham’s home address is just chilling because he’s so delighted. You feel how much he enjoys emotionally torturing the man that caught him. But the best thing about ‘Manhunter’ is the killer. The Tooth Fairy. He’s scary as shit. Sorry, but Ralph Fiennes was not scary. The guy in ‘Manhunter’ was just the epitome of what your nightmare serial killer looks like. But that isn’t what made him so great. Mann actually humanized him. When he hooks up with blind Joan Allen and starts weeping in bed beside her, you only see a hurt little boy that wants so badly to be loved – and you actually feel BAD for him. I have never seen a serial killer movie and felt BAD for the killer. But in that moment you almost want it to work out for the creepy bastard, of course it doesn’t because he’s insane and all, but you almost want it to. All the backstory they gave the character in ‘Red Dragon’ – diaries, the abusive childhood, no affection or nurturing - but the guy in ‘Manhunter’ got all of that across in a two minute scene and without a single word.

‘Manhunter’ was all about subtlety, while ‘Red Dragon’ was a flashy Hollywood circus. Tacky and loud, wearing sequins and playing a hurdy-gurdy song.

I just hate the ego of directors that remake classic films. Find your own classic, don’t step on someone else’s. If you have to remake something, make it something not so good and improve on it. But leave the beloved stuff alone. The day they remake ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ or ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – I’m wiping Hollywood off the map. Fin.

For example, the ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ remake is in theaters now, but besides the shoot ‘em up stuff how does that story even work now? In the age of cell phones? And now it’s rogue cops attacking them and not gang members? Do they still shoot the little girl in the head at the beginning? Because that’s what you remember most about the original, the little girl getting shot and just laying there on the sidewalk for the whole movie. That, and that it starred an actual black man as the HERO (“And this was the 70’s when a black hero had to be like, Shaft or Blackula.” - Dottie) and the white guy was the big criminal. I know that got switched around in the sequel – I guess Lawrence Fishburne looked cooler in the ‘gangsta’ wear than Ethan Hawke – but right there the coolest thing about the original was lost. And rogue cops? Come on. That’s just sad.