Sherlock Gnomes

 

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Shhhhh, no one tell my kids that I watched this without them.

Will someone PLEASE explain to me what the concept behind this film is? I mean, I understand that the yard statues come to life and have little adventures and shit…but WHAT is Sherlock Gnomes? He doesn’t appear to be yard art, so is he an action figure? A leprechaun or something? I don’t understand why he is tasked with keeping track of London’s gnome population. I mean, I guess he is a gnome, too? But why?

I also don’t understand why Johnny Depp was cast as Sherlock Gnomes. Why do children need to be subjected to his lame fake British accent, when they could’ve just hired a British actor?

And what was the point of Mary J. Blige? Why?

The only part that truly made me smile was the scene in the Chinese knick knack shop, because I have most of the tchotchkes depicted there.

This was not a very good film, utterly lacking the heart of the original. The message was supposed to be about taking people for granted, but the message was too ham-handed for a child to really understand.

The Frighteners

 

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I love introducing the kids to my favorite horror films. I love introducing the kids to my favorite directors. The Frighteners is a horror film by one of my favorite directors – Peter Jackson. What’s not to love?

I’m fairly certain that I saw The Frighteners in the theater. Or maybe I didn’t? I’ve seen it so many times since then though, it’s kind of blurry. At the time though, the special effects were cutting edge. Unlike lots of 90s films, the effects still hold up. Bless you, Peter Jackson.

There’s so much to love about The Frighteners. Michael J. Fox in his last major film role. Jeffrey Combs being creepy as fuck. Jake Busey, also being creepy as fuck. John Astin, father of the future Hobbit. R. Lee Ermey as…R. Lee Ermey. My daughter was excited about Dee Wallace Stone, who is apparently starring in some Disney Chanbel Show she watches. Whatever happened to Trini Alvarado, AKA young Andi McDowell?

I also think that this film continued my obsession with ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper.’ For sure, it started with the miniseries of The Stand, but then this film ended with it…and wasn’t it in Scream? And then ‘More Cowbell’ and then Six Feet Under…that song can do no wrong.

I love the contours of Peter Jackson’s career. From his start with Feebles, through the camp horror of Bad Taste and Dead Alive and then the ethereal beauty of Heavenly Creatures, Jackson makes a pit stop here in big budget horror before his forays into the Tolkien universe. I’m really intrigued by his newest project, a 3D documentary of WWI.

Gnomeo & Juliet

You may not know this, but my backyard is full of garden gnomes. The pink flamingos are packed away in the garage, as the evil HOA guidelines specifically prohibits plastic lawn ornaments. But there’s also a gargoyle on the birdbath and a three foot tall lady statue. Needless to say, if all the statues in my backyard came to life at night, I would shit my pants.

Yet this horrifying premise is the basis for a children’s movie. As disturbing as that sounds, don’t forget that it is also based on Romeo & Juliet, a violent tragedy that includes underage sex, murder and suicide. In addition, the soundtrack is entirely composed of old Elton John songs (doesn’t he LOOK like a garden gnome), barring a new duet with Lady Fucking Gaga. Keeping all this in mind, this should be the most disturbing and utterly depraved film ever made. I was completely shocked that I found Gnomeo & Juliet to be utterly charming.

Charming is not a word I use a lot. In fact, only once before have I ever referred to a film as charming. Charming is for Pottery Barn catalogues and seersucker suits on toddlers…not Knobby’s universe. But once in a while, I get charmed and I like it.

James McAvoy is sexier as a garden gnome than as the founder of the fucking X-Men. How’s that?

Did I need to see a garden gnome in a Borat man-thong? Yeah, I kinda did.

The obvious question is whether or not this tragic tale has a happy ending. It’s rated G, so what the fuck do you think happens? Of course, they live happily ever after. They just don’t make movies like Old Yeller anymore.

So yeah, happy ending and all, I totally liked this movie. I’m not embarrassed about it either. It’s no Tromeo & Juliet, but maybe it’s the second best adaptation out there? (No, I’ve never seen the Leonardo DiCrapio version and it’s not on my “to watch” list in the foreseeable future.) A sequel is in production – Sherlock Gnomes. Why the hell not?

Dead Alive

Before there were hobbits…there were garden gnomes.

There’s an uncanny resemblance between garden gnomes and hobbits – admit it. And before gaining fame with hobbits, Peter Jackson had a little fun with garden gnomes. There’s a zombie with a garden gnome for a head in Dead Alive and Michael J. Fox runs over the Lynskeys’ garden gnome in The Frighteners. I’ll have to check his other films more closely for garden gnome appearances…

There’s more to love in this film than just the garden gnome. There’s blood, there’s gore, there’s sex…zombie sex! There’s dancing, there’s romancing, there’s a murder mystery. And did I forget the Sumatran Rat Monkey? The Sumatran Rat Monkey starts it all. One bite from the Rat Monkey starts a chain reaction of hard-core zombie action.

Scream is widely hailed as the beginning of the self-reflexive movement in modern horror films, but I beg to differ. Four years before and a continent away, Peter Jackson beat Wes Craven to the punch with Dead Alive. Unlike the more popular Scream, Dead Alive realizes the joke without poking the viewer in the ribs and saying “Gee, I’m referencing every horror movie that was ever made – see how clever I am?” Lionel’s mother is more evil than Norman Bates’, the zombies are more bloodthirsty than in Night of the Living Dead and Baby Selwyn is a lot scarier than Chucky ever was. I’d have to admit that Ash’s chainsaw kicks more ass than Lionel’s lawnmower, but it’s a helluva lot more practical.

There are several different cuts of Dead Alive floating around. I’ve seen the US rated and unrated editions, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of the longer, gorier overseas release, entitled Braindead. As far as I’ve seen, it’s only been available in Region 2 format. Bitches.