Review Grab Bag (10-4-15)

Review Grab Bag 11-4-15

It’s the 11th Edition of the Review Grab Bag, everyone!  Yay!  For something I’ve been doing for a little over 4 years, that’s really not a lot of Grab Bags.  Sure, once or twice there was basically a whole year or more in there where I didn’t post anything… but we don’t like to talk about that.

*Shifts eyes shiftily*

Anyway…  Today, in the Review Grab Bag we’ll find 2 movies, a Graphic Novel and a puzzle that’s from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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In a World… (2013)

In_a_World_poster[1]Somewhere, a while ago, I saw Lake Bell–or maybe Rob Cordry? I don’t know.  I saw someone, damn it–talking about this movie to someone… Conan, Ferguson, Jon Stewart?  Fuckin’ vague memories.  I hate ’em.  Whenever it was, I filed it away in the mental file marked, “That Sounds Interesting To Me, But Not Enough To Ever Seek It Out.”  And that’s why whoever photoshopped the movie poster for this one is a mother fucking genius.

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Snakes on a Plane (2006)

 

Snakes on a Plane 2006Wait… What?  2006?  2006!?  There is no fucking way that this movie is almost 8 years old.  Kids born the year this movie came out are not only in school, but they’re like in their 2nd or 3rd year.  That is messed up.  Time sure does fly.

Like an airplane.

BOOM.  Segue mastered.

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Review Grab Bag (6-15-13)

RGB 6-15-13

So, usually when I haven’t blogged much over a week or two, it’s because I haven’t had much time to consume any media.  This time, it’s because I haven’t happened to consume much media that I could write multiple paragraphs on.  Seriously.  I’ve watched several movies these past weeks… but even though I’ve really enjoyed, or even loved, them… I’ve just got nothing much to say about them.  So I had to save ’em up… and it’s RGB time, bitches.

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Army of Darkness (1993)

Army_of_Darkness_poster (1)Army of Darkness is the final instalment of the original Evil Dead Trilogy.  After being tossed through a portal at the end of Evil Dead 2, Ash finds himself in England, in the year 1300.  At first he’s mistaken for an enemy clansman by Lord Arthur, but Ash quickly and hilariously proves himself to be “The Chosen One”.  He begins a quest to find the Necronomicon, “The Book of the Dead”, that started out all this mess in the first place two movies ago.  It goes about as well as can be expected… terribly.  Ash ends up waking an army of undead, an Army of Darkness, if you will… that leaves Medieval England up shit creek without a paddle…

Army of Darkness ends up completely abandoning whatever semblance of horror and seriousness that could still be found in Evil Dead 2, and instead chooses to go completely over the top with foolishness, camp and cheesey B-Movie greatness.  If Evil Dead 2 is tongue-in-cheek, Army of Darkness’ tongue has pierced through.

Somehow, Raimi and company pull it off again, and create one of the most entertaining, funny, exciting, quotable adventure movies ever made.

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Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Evil Dead 2Evil Dead 2 follows a grand tradition of horror movie sequels.  It has more of almost everything.  It has more blood.  It has more gore.  It has more characters.  It has more Evil-Vision™.  It has more laughs.  About the only thing it doesn’t have more of, is fright.  You see, since The Evil Dead found so much success by not being taken seriously, Raimi directs resident ham Bruce Campbell in a slapstick comedy that features tons of laughs, blood and gore.  This new formula works very well.  The movie is wall to wall cheese, but unlike most intentional cheese, Evil Dead 2 is actually funny.

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The Evil Dead (1981)

tEDThe Evil Dead is the story of 5 University kids who visit a cabin in the woods, find a book bound in flesh and a reel-to-reel, and unleash an unspeakable evil on the world.  There are two young couples, Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Linda (Betsy Baker).  Scotty (Hal Delrich) and Shelly (Theresa Tilly), and Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) comes along as a fifth wheel, because that is required of all Horror Movies.

The characters are archtypical on one hand, but still break the mold a bit.  Scotty is clearly a douche, and Ash is kind of a dork.  None of the women seem to burst out of the gate as whores, virgins or bookworms… but since Cheryl is the fifth wheel, and draws pictures, she’s clearly the bookworm.  She’s also the closest thing to a stick in the mud, so she can claim the Virgin card… until she’s raped by a tree, anyway.

Shortly after listening to the reel-to-reel, the ground starts smoking and possessions start happening, and the world basically turns to shit.  One by one the young college students become possessed by the evil they’ve unleashed, until only Ash remains.  He goes batshit fucking insane, and eventually defeats the demons with the power of Stop-Motion Animation.

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S. G. Browne’s “Breathers”

Breathers by S. G. BrowneAndy Warner lost everything after his car crashed about 5 months ago. He lost his wife, his daughter, his friends, his home, his life. That’s about when his body reanimated.

Breathers tells a story about a world where zombies are real, sentient, and seen as a gross nuisance to those they’ve left behind. They have no purpose, no civil rights, and no means of making any kind of a new life for themselves. If a zombie decides to venture out in the world, they’re mocked and shunned by day, and actively hunted by frat boys by night.

So, Andy spends his days drinking his parents expensive wine and watching terrible daytime TV. He spends most of his nights the same way. Twice a week he meets with his Undead Anonymous support group. Things stay pretty well the same, until Andy meets a new friend, and decides to start encouraging social change.

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Take Me Home Tonight (2011)

Take Me Home Tonight is a quirky romantic comedy starring Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris and Dan Fogler.  It’s the summer of ’88. Token-80s-Smartest-Kid-in-School, Matt Franklin (Grace) has just graduated from MIT and is spending the summer working at a shitty video store in the mall.  When the former Prom Queen, his High School Crush Tori Frederking (Palmer) walks in a well placed string of lies lands him with an opening to see her at a party later.  With the help of his twin sister Wendy (Faris) and comically chubby, recently fired, best friend Barry (Fogler), Matt sets out to achieve that which he never could in High School:  Getting Tori Frederking’s phone number.

Take Me Home Tonight (2011)


The reason I even knew of the existence of this movie is below.  It’s a video for Atomic Tom’s cover of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?”  The cover isn’t very good.  The video is fantastic.  Give it a minute or so for the awesomeness to kick in.

  

I wanted to watch Take Me Home Tonight because of the fun that the cast clearly had making this video, and the obvious love and attention that they had paid to 80s movies.  So, now that you’ve watched that awesomeness…

What we have in Take Me Home Tonight is a 2011 attempt at recapturing the greatness of the John Hughes/Brat Pack era 80s comedies.  Director Michael Dowse (Fubar 1 & 2, It’s All Gone Pete Tong) and company try their hardest to not fall into the trap of making a period comedy that constantly pokes fun at the period.  They clearly didn’t want to make a movie like The Wedding Singer where the film’s jokes are mostly “Ha ha!  Remember the 80s?  That shit was crazy.”

Take Me Home Tonight tries to have “the 80s” just be the film’s setting.  More than that, in my opinion, they really try to just have this be an 80s movie.  They clearly wanted this movie to look and feel like it could have been released in ’88.  The plot is simple, the characters are the same ones you’ve seen a million times, the plot is driven by 2 parts character and 3 parts completely implausible, yet tired, situations.  In a very weird way, it borrows from, pays homage to a laundry list of movies and actors, while never feeling like an outright parody.

The trouble, though, is that the film is trying to do too much.  Sometimes it wants to be an 80s movie, derivative, predictable, but outrageous and funny.  Sometimes it wants to be a goofball romantic comedy, with a not entirely unattractive but awkward and unsure leading man chasing after a hot girl that didn’t know he existed 90 minutes ago.  Sometimes it’s a Transition-Into-Adulthood movie, with all of the characters wondering what they’ve done with their lives, and how they’re going to face the long, confusing, boring rest of it.  It tries very hard to be funny, nostalgic, but relevant to today, all at the same time.

The trouble with trying to be all those things, is that you’re unlikely to pull it off.  Instead of feeling real, the characters feel like cutouts.  Instead of being nostalgic, the 80s setting ends up fading into the background.  Instead of being funny, it feels like it’s trying to be moving or inspiring.  Instead of being inspiring, it feels like it’s trying to be funny or outrageous.  Nothing that this film tries to do ends up being accomplished in the end.  It’s a mishmash of great ideas that aren’t pulled off.

Which is exactly why it ends up being terrific at one thing:  Being an 80s movie.  Seriously.  With only a few notable exceptions, the even the best 80s teen/young adult comedies are fucking terrible.  I love them, but I have to be honest.  They’re unrealistic, cutout characters that don’t come off like real people in the least.  The situations they get themselves into are fucking ludicrous.  (Even the most realistic 80s comedy of all, The Breakfast Club, has the pot scene.)  Once you combine the absolutely fantastic soundtrack with the fact that this movie desperately wants to be more than the sum of its parts, you have possibly the best 1980s comedy to be made in years.

That still only nets it 3 stars.

3/5


Found On the Internet: Community Season 2 Recut Psycho-Romance-Suspense Montage

They might look happy… but they’re all murdererererers.

I enjoy re-cut trailers. I enjoy Community. So when I happened upon a video re-cutting Season 2 of Community into a Fatal Attraction-type Psycho-Romance thing… I was interested.

I came across this link on Community’s Facebook newsfeed… which put me at Entertainment Weekly‘s Inside TV blog. Which had made a post embedding a video from NBC’s website. And in order for you to watch it, you’ll need to click once more. Or look it up for yourself. But that’s seriously much more work. Why would you do that?

We need to go deeper.

Season 3 of Community starts next Thursday, Sept. 22, on NBC. Now with 100% more John Goodman.

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