The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time

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I don’t care what they call that damn movie, I really doubt it’s the last one. (Are you sensing a certain cynicality in me, when it comes to franchises? You’re goddamn right you are!)

As the last film ended, everyone on the planet was dead I think, except Fin. His son showed up with a time machine…and that’s right where Sharknado 6 picked up. Fin ended up in the Jurassic period and oh look! There’s Tara Reid riding a Pterodactyl. Or was it a “Tara-dactyl”?

As the shark-fighting team travels through history fighting Sharknados, they also travel from continent to continent. Not sure where they started in Dinosaur-land, but they make appearances at King Arthur’s Court (Excalibur was really a chainsaw), the American Revolution, wherever Billy the Kid was hanging out at, then San Francisco in 1996, and then…the far off future full of Tara Reid Clones wearing tinfoil hats. We truly had no idea what the fuck was going on. And I don’t mean that in a delightful way.

The cameos were fast and furious this go-round. And weird…very, very weird. Alaska Thunderfuck as Morgana (le Fey?); Deanna Troi; Neil deGrasse Tyson as Merlin; The Offspring (the band), literally telling the American Revolution Cavalry to “Come out and play”; Leslie Jordan as Benjamin Franklin; Darrell Hammond as George Washington (but doing his Bill Clinton impression…so weird); Ben Stein as Alexander Hamilton; Dee Snyder; Murr from Impractical Jokers; Gilbert Gottfried (again); Tori Spelling and her gross cheating/anal sex-obsessed husband as Fin’s parents; Peter Brady as Nova’s grandfather; Doc from The Love Boat; LaToya Jackson as Cleopatra; James Hong as Confucius; and Al Roker (also again).

I take it back, this really has to be the last one. There’s no where else to go, right? RIGHT?

21 Jump Street

All the little teen girls can have Zac Efron. Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautner do nothing for me either. Ryan Gosling…again, not interested. But when it comes to Channing Tatum, I do understand…there’s something about him that makes me want to rip his picture out of magazines and plaster them all over my cubicle.

It’s funny, because all I know of him before seeing him in 21 Jump Street is seeing him host SNL last season. I haven’t seen his dance movies or vacuous romantic movies. (Despite all my talk, I never did get around to seeing Magic Mike in the theater.) Channing Tatum has great comic timing…and abs.

Luckily, I wasn’t subjected to a lot of shirtless Jonah Hill. Blah, blah, blah, weight loss – he is still a goober. I might have appreciated his role more, if I had seen Superbad before 21 Jump Street, if only to have a basis of comparison. He was funny, but not nearly as funny as Channing Tatum.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a funny, funny movie. I watched it on the plane after The Avengers and I was laughing so loud that I annoyed my son and husband sitting behind me…and probably anyone else with 5 or 6 rows. (My son had his revenge during the return trip by laughing his ass off watching The Three Stooges remake while I was trying to sleep. Touche.)

Yes, there’s a Johnny Depp cameo, as well as several other original cast members. I will say no more, as the cameos are so awesome that it would spoil the movie. I will confirm that Richard Grieco does not make an appearance…because he kind of fucking sucks.

Some of you might say that the only reason that I liked this film is because someone gets their junk shot off – I’m not going to deny it, a severed penis improves ANY film – but, 21 Jump Street stands on its own merit. Even without the penile carnage, this is a film worth watching.

  

The A-Team

Hollywood today is obsessed with remakes. It’s an unfortunate fact that the things I loved as a child are going to be trotted out with shiny new duds and flashy special effects, and will be effective or ineffective based entirely on when they are released and what gets thrown into the mix, and not on the qualities that made the originals popular, successful, or special. This is nothing new, Hollywood has always regenerated its signature products. There’s been three versions of A Star Is Born, and there’s another one in the pipe for 2013. John Carpenter’s The Thing was a re-imagining of the Howard Hawks version from 1952, and there’s a prequel in the works (at least its not another remake). But it seems that right now, Hollywood is delving pretty far down the well to remake as much as they possibly can. I’ve come to terms with this, with the acceptance that the quality of the remake is going to have nothing whatsoever to do with my feelings on the source. This helps me lower my expectations considerably. Not everything is going to be as good as Battlestar Galactica or Ocean’s Eleven or The Addams Family. Heck, not everything is even going to be as good as the Beverly Hillbillies movie.

I also have come to terms with the fact that, for the most part, my 10 year old view of what was great is not the same as my 38 year old view of the same thing. When I was 10 years old, I loved four things above all others…. Star Wars, G.I. Joe, The Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-team. Looking back at all of these things today, only Star Wars still holds up to that affection*. The latter two TV shows, watched today, are silly, stupid, often borderline offensive. The Dukes of Hazzard is often only redeemed by James Best and Sorrell Booke, but the A-team still is carried by the great dynamic that was there in the cast, and you can’t deny that the episodes are fun. So going into the recent remake I largely set my expectations to 1) will I like this cast and B) will I enjoy what happens on screen. To my pleasant surprise, the answer to both of those questions is “yes, very much so”. The premise of the original film is somewhat intact, though tweaked. To my knowledge, there was never an origin story on the TV show as to how the four got together, just the show opener saying the familiar “elite team framed for a crime they did not commit”. This movie seeks to put them together, show their “crime”, and put them into a modern context (i.e. Mexico drug wars, Iraq War, etc). Does any of it make a lick of sense? Heck no, but who cares. The vast majority of the movie, naturally, is devoted to elaborate, Rube-Goldbergian stunt/action sequence setups that show exactly how this team, as the Jessica Biel character states, “specializes in the ridiculous”. Bailing out of a C-130 in a parachute equipped tank and dog-fighting with Predator drones is just that, as is the huge action sequence at the end. The main thing is that the movie is fun to watch and doesn’t require too much effort from the old noggin, just like the TV show.

As far as the characters go, casting was mostly good. Liam Neeson is a much better actor really than the part demands, but he’s still great (as usual), and gets some light comedy unlike most of his last few pics. Sharlto Copley (District 9) is good as Murdoch, though he’s a bit more manic than Dwight Schultz ever was. Biel is fine but doesn’t get much to do other than smolder, glower, and look good. Major Dad (Gerald McRaney) has a small part, co-writer Brian Bloom is really good as a Blackwater style merc, and Watchmen’s Patrick Wilson continues to put in enjoyable performances, this time as a smarmy, overconfident CIA operative. Of course the film’s real focus is on Cooper and Jackson, with different results for each. Cooper is rapidly becoming a MOVIE STAR, so he’s given the best lines and the most opportunities to show off his dreamy smile and his hunky chest, and to be fair he carries it off very well. Jackson is cast in the breakout role that made Mr. T a superstar and a cultural icon, and unfortunately doesn’t quite make it. Yes it’s not fair, but you HAVE to make the comparison. He tries, but while he’s got the look, his two tones are growling and mumbling. Whatever you think of Mr. T, he had a level of charisma and real comedic timing that really did make a connection with the audience. I don’t know who should have been cast…maybe Mike Tyson has that IT that would have worked. Who knows…… anyway, other than that, you can just catch Dirk Benedict and Dwight Shultz in walk-through cameos. Mr. T was offered a bit, but he declined due to disliking the script for being too violent. Presumably George Peppard wasn’t approached as he’s been dead for 16 years.

* Some movies still hold up as timeless and I don’t feel they should ever be replicated…. Star Wars, Goonies, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Stand By Me, Back to The Future, Cannonball Run. These movies have stood and should stand the test of time.

 

Scooby-Doo

The latest movie that my children have become addicted to…may well turn them into potheads.

The Luna Ghost looks like the Graffix logo. The scene with smoke coming out of the Mystery Machine (a slow reveal shows sausage cooking), ‘Pass the Dutchie’ playing in the background. Shaggy saying that he stays away from hydroponics. Shaggy tells Mary Jane that ‘Mary Jane’ is his favorite name. They’re ALWAYS hungry…I could go on and on…

I always knew that Scrappy Doo was a fucking asshole and this movie just proves it. I was always annoyed by the Scrappy Doo episodes and now I know why – he was a fucking crazy, soul-stealing, egomaniacal sociopath. I wish Buffy would have fucking staked him.

Sugar Ray? Even my kids think Sugar Ray is lame – they run outside right before they perform.

Daphne and Fred kissing was kind of cool, but kind of gross.

Watching the credits…WHAT THE FUCK! The story was co-written by James Gunn. The same James Gunn that wrote Tromeo and Juliet. I need to go cry now.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Ooh ee ooh ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang.

That is the exact point that I stopped being okay with this film – the remake of my favorite Chipmunk song ever. Do juvenile chipmunks *really* need skanky back-up dancers? I thought that was what The Chipettes were for? Coincidentally, The Chipettes will be featured in the upcoming sequel. Meh.

Jason Lee makes yet another kid-friendly film. Hey – at least it’s better than Underdog, although the Chipmunks are also suspiciously genital-free. Lee was a surprisingly good choice for David Seville. He got the “Alvinnnnnnnnn!” yell just right.

The romance element was stupid. That girl was at least 15 years too young for Jason Lee – did he find her while trolling the high schools? I thought I recognized her, but I couldn’t figure out where from. The only thing that stood out on imdb was Point Pleasant, some godawful FOX show from a few years ago – my husband tried to watch it until it was canceled, it was just pointless.

So what was the point of getting a big name like Justin Long to play Alvin? It’s not like his voice acting is at all recognizable when it’s all speeded (is that even a word?) up like that. He doesn’t have kids to impress or $cientology bills to pay like Jason Lee does, so he must need the money. Maybe he picked up a coke habit from hanging around with Kirsten Drunkst? I suppose Jesse McCartney is a big name with girls that don’t need training bras yet – first I ever saw of him was on Thanksgiving – I don’t remember if it was on a float or during a football game – I just remember everyone trying to figure out who the fuck he was.

So I haven’t decided whether or not the fued between David Cross and Patton Oswalt over this film is real or not. If it is real, I’m torn over who to side with. Patton does have a point – being the bad guy in a kid’s film is a kinda shit role – but then again, his attitude can sometimes be just on the self righteous side of snobby. Sure, Ratatouille is fucking great film and he deserves to be proud of his involvement, but not at the expense of his fellow working comedians. It’s not like he personally won an Oscar for it. Also, being in Chipmunk movie is hardly the most D-list thing that David Cross has been involved in – that would be the Celebrity Poker Tournament. Alvin & The Chipmunks is certainly a step up? Even though Patton clarified and apologized, Team Cross!

As much as I complained about the film, I still bought the soundtrack for my son for Christmas. I’d much rather listen to Alvin & The Chipmunks than Barney, The Wiggles or fucking Elmo Sings the Blues. I’ll just quietly skip over the remake of ‘Witch Doctor’ and he won’t be the wiser. (I also got him an animatronic baby chipmunk. I guess it’s a good thing he can’t read yet, huh? This review sure would ruin Christmas.)

 

Reno 911!: Miami

Strangers with Candy got it all wrong – they should have taken lessons from the folks at Reno 911!

If you’re gonna bother adapting a Basic Cable TV show to fit on the big screen, you gotta make it FIT on the big screen. The jokes have to be bigger, the cameos have to be bigger, the ASSES have to be bigger. Reno 911!: Miami managed to get all three right.

The jokes…let me start off by talking about that whale. Even though it was just a small part of the whole film, it was easily the funniest. Another funny bit is the sex hotel bit. The camera flashes from window to window, catching the force’s sexcapades. Some, I mean most, are not for those with a weak stomach. A few of the jokes were easily anticipated – the guy in Clementine’s tattoo, for example – but I still laughed my ass off.

The cameos…The Rock promptly blows himself within the first fifteen minutes. There are also appearances by Patton Oswalt (one of my two favorite comics) as the Deputy Mayor, Paul Rudd (!!!) as Ethan the Drug Lord and Paul Reubens as Terry’s dad. (Terry, the roller-skating guy who is always getting caught with a dick in his mouth.) Arguably, these are not “bigger” cameos than Strangers with Candy, but they’re cult stars, so bear with me. Sarah Jessica Parker does not put my ass on the couch to watch a movie.

The asses…Niecy Nash wears a big rubber ass throughout most of the film. It looks very similar to the beached whale – maybe the special effects team made it out of the same stuff? The big fake ass in a thong is not something that would fly on regular old Basic Cable – in fact, most of the film wouldn’t fly on Basic Cable. The asses rule holds true for another cable to Big Screen ass-centric hit – South Park. Asses of Fire!

I watched a lot of The State back in college – I think it was the last good thing that MTV put on the air. iTunes is selling downloads, but it’s more likely that I’ll catch it piecemeal on YouTube. $240 worth of pudding!

Fucking hilarious.

Strangers with Candy

Wow, talk about disappointing!

Wait, let me back up just a bit. I heart Amy Sedaris – I really do. I have her cookbook and Wigfield. (I heart the whole damn Sedaris family, although I will never dress my family in corduroy, but maybe denim.) I heart Jerri Blank – I’ve got all of Strangers with Candy the series on DVD. Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed – I was expecting perfection and the film version just fell short.

Jerri Blank debuts on the big screen in a prequel to the TV series. The film covers her first days back at Flatpoint High and her struggle to fit in. Her best friend Tammi Littlenut is still there, as are all the teachers, but the rest of the cast has changed a bit. Orlando is gone, but he’s been replaced with Doppelgänger named Megawatti. Jerri’s dad and brother have also been recast, not a big loss.

The whole thing was downright boring until Jerri’s drug freakout – the pace picked up considerably after that point. Unfortunately, there were only about 20 minutes left in the film after that scene.

There are some impressive cameos – Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick join the teaching staff, while Allison Janney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are on the school board. Most of all, I was surprised to see Ian Holm as the family doctor.

I guess I was just expecting something over the top – scenes and situations that just wouldn’t fly on basic cable. Really, with only a few bleeps, the whole thing could be shown uncut on Comedy Central. I’ve still got high hopes for Reno 911!: Miami though.

The Dukes of Hazzard

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall the Duke Boys getting chased around Hazzard County with shotguns after one of them got caught pants down with a teenage girl. Was that a part of the original TV show that I missed? My memory’s kind of fuzzy…was Boss Hogg after them for a statutory rape conviction?

Memory or not, this abortion of a movie is a looooong way from the original. Truth be told, it took me several viewing sessions to finish this movie. Really, the only thing that kept me coming back was a lingering hope that I would get to see Johnny Knoxville shirtless…and did I get that? Fuck no…he was pantsless at one point, but he has skinny white chicken legs…yuck.

I don’t blame Jay Chandrasekhar – he only had so much to work with. This was his shot at making a big Hollywood movie – what was he supposed to do, pass it up? He was given a shit script and non-actors to work with – what the fuck did you expect him to do? At least I’m beginning to hear whispers about Super Troopers 2…there’s no shame in returning to the characters that made you famous. It’s worked out well for Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriquez, hasn’t it? Actually, the only part of the whole movie that was funny was the Super Troopers Campus Security scene. “Do you know how fast you were going?” Maybe they should have worked “meow’ into the script.

The casting was absolutely HORRIBLE. It’s no surprise to anyone that Jessica Simpson can’t act, but who knew she would be THAT bad? They should have gotten Jessica Biel or even Jessica Alba. Willie Nelson was wasted – I mean that in both sense of the word. Roscoe was cast all wrong – M.C. Gainey just didn’t have that weasily quality that James Best perfected. Burt Reynolds wasn’t a good pick either – what’s the point of having a Boss Hogg that isn’t a hog? No food jokes! Actually, the only GOOD casting in the whole film was David Koechner as Cooter. He actually brought something to the role and made Cooter more realistic.

This movie will forever be known as the movie that broke up the marriage of Newlyweds Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. Johnny Knoxville (and according to some websites, several of his Jackass co-stars) was widely reported to the culprit. Every piece of gossip that I read about the affair between Simpson and Knoxville referred to anal action of some kind, most often salad tossing. What’s funny is that most of the items I read inferred that the affair wasn’t the reason for the divorce, it was the fact that she was demanding that Nick start tossing her salad at home, too….ahhhh, celebrities.

 

Inside the Osmonds

One minute, I’m watching 80s Metal Videos on VH-1 Classic and all of a sudden, I find myself an hour into a made for TV biopic on the Osmonds.

I figured that since I was already halfway through, I might as well keep on watching to see which one of them turns to drugs or starts hiring hookers. I was disappointed to find that none of them did. Go ahead laugh – you obviously know more about the Osmonds than I do.

This has got to be the most boring ‘made for TV’ celebrity biography ever made. Probably because it was produced by an Osmond. No one’s gonna dish nasty dirt about their own family…unless they’re a Jackson, of course. At least the movie Osmonds were more attractive than the real Osmonds. They were a pretty fugly bunch. Maybe it was because the Osmond kids were played almost entirely Canadians?

Coincidentally, I found this yesterday. I wasn’t really familiar with The Osmond Brothers’ music before and now I know why. I’ll be staying away from Jimmy as well.

I wish they would have touched on the disturbing incestual overtones of the Donny and Marie Show. I mean really, what the fuck? As far as Variety Shows go, they DID have more chemistry than Sonny and Cher or Tony Orlando and the Hooker Twins – but that doesn’t mean it’s right to exploit it. Didn’t anyone else think it was weird that a brother and sister act continuously sang love songs to each other?

I hate you, VH-1…oh, I can’t stay mad, VH-1, there’s a new episode of Flavor of Love on tomorrow night.

I Spy

Owen Wilson is the KING of the buddy movie. It doesn’t really matter who his buddy is and although Ben Stiller is definitely best – anyone will do. Owen Wilson can be ANYONE’s buddy. He IS the buddy.

As much as I love the Butterscotch Stallion, his shtick is wearing thin. I know it comes easy to him – but does he have to be so obvious about phoning it in? Eddie Murphy has been phoning it in for years – decades even – and it still feels fresh and new. This performance feels especially fresh and new compared to the Disney crap he’s been churning out recently. Yet barely a decade into Owen’s career, I’m starting to ponder boredom with his performances. How many times can he play the same character? Who am I kidding? He’s like Nicholson – who cares if he is just playing himself – we’ll all still watch.

You know what – almost every single person involved in this flick seemed to be phoning it in. From the writers and director on down to the best boy and key grip – even the extras. Even one of my favorites – Famke Janssen – seemed to be only concerned about getting a paycheck. But you know who wasn’t? Gary Cole. Although I never would have guessed it from his start in cheesy TV movies, Gary Cole is turning into a pretty funny guy. Not only was he Lumbergh and Mike Brady, he’s also Harvey Birdman. His portrayal of Carlos, the Fabio-esque Secret Agent is the most memorable thing about this whole movie.

Malcolm McDowell may very well be inherently evil. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film in which he wasn’t mostly evil, if not all the way evil. And you know what – his hair is even more evil than he is. Look at it – how it glistens and catches the light. Every strand frozen in place – almost as if the sheer force of his evilness is holding his hair a motionless hostage upon his head. Even so, McDowell’s hair phoned in its performance as well.

This would be a good movie to watch when you’re trying to go to sleep at night, because you won’t feel like you missed anything when you fall asleep in the middle of it.