comedy, movie, movie review, musical

November 1st, 2018 Movie – The Producers (2005)

the producers 2005

You know, I never saw the original version of this movie. That is kind of a shame as I love Mel Brooks films but then again, if it is a musical, I might not have enjoyed it as much. Anyways, the 2000’s brought a bunch of Hollywood remakes to the big screen. This movie was one of those remakes but I honestly had no interest in seeing it. Unfortunately, Vudu decided that I needed to own this movie so let’s see if The Producers (2005) is any good.

The plot: [Long and exhausting day at work really has me drained so I am just copying the plot summary from Wikipedia. My apologies for the laziness]
Following the flop of theater musical Funny Boy (based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet) (“Opening Night”), the show’s washed-up producer, Max Bialystock, hires the neurotic Leo Bloom as his accountant. While studying Max’s books, Leo notes that as a flop is expected to lose money, the IRS will not investigate the finances of failed productions. Leo jests that by selling an excess of shares and embezzling the funds, a flop could generate up to $2 million. Max asks for Leo’s help with the scheme, only for the latter to refuse (“We Can Do It”). Returning to his old accounting firm, Leo starts fantasizing about being a Broadway producer (“I Wanna Be a Producer”). Leo quits his job and forms “Bialystock & Bloom” with Max. Searching for the worst play ever written, the duo finds Springtime for Hitler, a musical written by an ex-Nazi named Franz Liebkind. Max and Leo, in order to acquire Franz’s rights to the musical, perform Hitler’s favorite song and swear the sacred “Siegfried Oath” to him (“Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop”). In order to ensure the play’s failure, Max and Leo meet failing, flamboyant director Roger De Bris and his assistant Carmen Ghia. Roger is reluctant to direct, but when Max and Leo suggest he could win a Tony Award, he agrees on the condition that the play be more “gay” (“Keep It Gay”). Back at their office, a Swedish woman named Ulla appears to audition. Although Leo points out that they have not started casting, Max hires her as their secretary until they audition her later (“When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It”). To gain backers to fund the musical, Max has dalliances with several elderly women (“Along Came Bialy”), allowing him to raise the $2 million. Leo laments about the dangers of sex distracting him from his work, and shares a kiss with Ulla (“That Face”). At auditions for the role of Hitler, Franz, angered at a performer’s rendition of a German song, storms the stage and performs it himself (“Haben Sie gehört das Deutsche Band?”). Based on the performance, Max hires Franz to play Hitler. On opening night, as the cast and crew prepare to go on stage, Leo wishes everyone good luck, to which everyone warns it is bad luck to say “good luck” on opening night, and that the correct phrase is to say “break a leg” (“You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night”). Franz leaves to prepare and literally breaks his leg in a fall. Max enlists Roger to perform the role in his place, and Roger accepts. As the show opens, the audience is horrified at the first song (“Springtime for Hitler”), and people begin leaving out of disgust until Roger enters as Hitler. Roger, playing Hitler very flamboyantly, causes the audience to misinterpret the play as satire, resulting in the show becoming a smash. Terrified the IRS will learn of their crimes, a dispute breaks out between Max and Leo, but stops when Roger and Carmen come into the office to congratulate them. Furious at Roger for making the play successful, Max angrily confronts Roger for his actions, and even goes as far to physically torture Carmen when he tries to defend Roger. Franz then appears and attempts to shoot all four of them for breaking the Siegfried Oath by mocking Hitler, only to attract the police. As Max and Franz attempt to evade the police, Franz breaks his other leg. Arrested for his tax fraud, Max is imprisoned while Leo elopes with Ulla to Rio de Janeiro (“Betrayed”). About to be sentenced, Max is saved by Leo, who returns to defend him (“Til Him”). The judge, realizing Max and Leo are inseparable, sentences them both to five years at Sing Sing Prison with Franz. Writing and producing a new musical in prison (“Prisoners of Love”), Leo, Max, and Franz are pardoned by the governor for their work, allowing them to collaborate with Roger and Ulla and release Prisoners of Love. The play’s success means Max and Leo go on to become successful Broadway producers. In a post-credits scene, the cast sings “Goodbye!”, telling the audience to leave the theater.

The Producers (2005) met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Despite the rich source material, The Producers has a stale, stagy feel more suited to the theater than the big screen.” The phrase “It was shocking, outrageous, insulting… and I loved every minute of it!” from a supposed review of “Springtime for Hitler”, was a rewording of a review by Peter Sellers written about The Producers (1967).The movie was a box office flop, earning $38.1 million off of a $45 million budget.

Still not really a fan of musicals but I have to admit that this was pretty funny. The acting was good, with Nathan Lane (Max) and Matthew Broderick (Leo) had some fantastic chemistry together as well as some great comedic timing. Uma Thurman (Ulla), Will Ferrell (Franz), and Gary Beach (Roger) were also great in their roles. The story was interesting as it is basically an embezzlement scheme using theater as the way to earn the money. The singing and dancing numbers were well coordinated and I will admit that some of them were kind of catchy. I can’t say how it compares to the original but I do have more of a desire to watch it now. On it’s own, it is a funny movie but there are better musicals to watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review, musical

Flashback Review: May 5th, 2014 Movie – Black Snake Moan

black snake moan

Now this is one of those movies that when you first saw the trailer for it, you didn’t quite know what you were going to get. I mean, is this a racially charged drama or some sort of a soft core porn disguised as a big budget picture. I have to be honest, nothing about this movie really enticed me into seeing this movie in theaters when it first came out. About a year later, during a dark time in my life, I wound up renting it from Blockbuster only to have the copy I rented be damaged and unable to play. I took it back and tried to grab another copy only to find they were all out. Well, this just served to make me want to watch it even more and I ended up just buying a used copy, because at the time it made sense. So that, dear readers, is how I ended up with a copy of Black Snake Moan, yet another of my random Blockbuster purchases.

The plot: In a small, rural Tennessee town, Lazarus Redd meets with his wife Rose, who had been having an affair with his brother, and he tries to convince her to come to church for counselling but she refuses, saying she doesn’t love him anymore. As she goes to leave, Lazarus grabs her hand and tells her he will pray for her over what she did to him and she yells at him before storming out of the diner. Meanwhile, Rae Doole and her boyfriend, Ronnie Morgan, are having sex before Ronnie begins packing to leave for deployment with the National Guard, though he suffers from severe anxiety disorder. As he goes to leave, he gives Rae a watch that is synchronized to his, so that when the alarm goes off, they will know the other is thinking of them. As Ronnie gets his friend Gill to give him a lift, Rae chases after Gills truck before falling to the ground.She then starts moaning to herself and rubbing her legs before succumbing to her nyphomaniac tendencies and ends up sleeping with a man named Tehronne. Afterwards, she asks him for money and a ride into town and as she walks to the store, she is shocked to see her mom working there and quickly leaves. Elsewhere, Lazarus gets some supplies for his farm and heads home to begin working the yard when he ends up running over his wife’s flower beds with his tractor. That night, Lazarus is having a beer at the bar as a woman starts flirting with him but Lazarus is currently sour on women after what his wife did to him. When Lazarus’ brother enters the bar, the bartender warns Lazarus to keep his cool. Lazarus’ brother tries to apologize for hurting him and as they start to argue, Lazarus breaks a bottle and threatens to use it on him before leaving the bar and returning home, where he begins playing the guitar and singing a blues song about his cheating wife. Elsewhere, Rae is at a party with some friends when she takes some drugs and ends up having sex with a random guy at the party. As she stumbles around in a pair of panties and some shoulder pads, Gill walks up to her and takes the pads off before taking her home. Along the way, he pulls over and comments about her cheating on Ronnie all the time and tries to have sex with her but when she laughs at him, he gets mad and starts beating her. When he stops, Rae isn’t moving and, thinking he killed her, he dumps her out of her truck and drives off, leaving her on the side of the road in her panties and a skimpy t-shirt. The next morning, Lazarus is taking some trash to the side of the road for pick-up when he sees Rae on the side of the road. He goes to check on her and when she begins coughing, he brings her to his house to tend to her. As Lazarus tries to talk to her, Rae incoherently mutters Tehronne’s name and Lazarus thinks he did this to her and heads out to town to get some medicine for her and speaks with Angela, the local pharmacist, who talks briefly with her before going to get some medicine for him. After getting his medicine, Lazarus leaves and starts to head home when he sees Tehronne’s car and heads to the nearby pool hall to talk with him. Lazarus talks with Tehronne about Rae, thinking he is the one to beat her, but Tehronne denies it and simply says that she is a freak who has sex with anyone when her boyfriend isn’t around, calling it a sickness. At Lazarus’ house, Rae continues to have hallucinations and ends up falling to the floor, where Lazarus finds her. As he tries to help her up, she kisses him and then begins writhing on the floor, disturbing Lazarus and causing him to rush out of the house before running a cold bath to try and break Rae’s fever. Later that night, Rae, still in a delirium, ends up running through Lazarus’ vegetable garden looking for Ronnie when Lazarus finds her. He brings her back inside and helps her get back to sleep, then heads out to his barn and grabs a length of chain that he has in there. The next morning, Rae wakes up and is apparently feeling better, but is somewhat leery of Lazarus. She goes to leave when she discovers that Lazarus has chained her to his radiator and Lazarus tries to explain the chain but Rae refuses to listen and starts screaming for help as she runs outside. The chain prevents her from getting far and as she scream for help, Lazarus tells her that nobody is coming and when she refuses to come inside, he uses the chain to drag her inside. Lazarus tells her it is his spiritual duty to cure her of her sinful ways, which he feels is why she was left for dead by his house and tries his best to tend to her but she doesn’t seem overly receptive to his help. The next day, Lazarus heads into town to get some clothes for Rae and while he is gone, she wakes up and begins snooping around his house. Eventually, a young teenage boy named Lincoln shows up, as he had promised to help Lazarus on his farm and when Lazarus returns some time later, he chases Lincoln out of his house, as he had been having sex with Rae. As Lincoln runs off, Lazarus’ pastor R.L. shows up and Lazarus tells him to leave, as he doesn’t want anyone around and R.L. takes offense to Lazarus’ attitude.  When Lazarus threatens to shoot him, R.L. grabs the gun and points it at his chest, then grabs the gun from Lazarus when he refuses to pull the trigger, then asks him what is the problem. When R.L. sees Rae chained to the radiator, he yells at Lazarus and asks what he is thinking and Lazarus tells him he hasn’t touched her and found her on the road by his house and was trying to care for her. R.L. asks about the chain and Lazarus tries to explain it, then asks that R.L. talk to her while he goes and talks with Lincoln, who was hiding in his barn. Later, Lazarus is fixing dinner and Rae, who puts on one of the dresses that Lazarus bought her, helps out, then sits at the table with Lazarus, R.L., and Lincoln as they eat dinner. Meanwhile, Ronnie has returned to town, having been discharged by the army for his anxiety, and he runs into Gill at the bar. Lazarus asks Gill if he has seen Rae and Gill lies about her at first, saying she is probably around somewhere, but eventually tells him the truth about Rae’s antics when he is gone. Ronnie doesn’t believe him and the two end up fighting before Ronnie steals Gill’s truck and goes looking for Rae. Back at Lazarus’ house, Lazarus and Rae are sharing some moonshine when Lazarus unlocks the chain, saying that he doesn’t have the right to judge her or try to change her life. Rae asks Lazarus to play a song for her and as he plays, a storm starts brewing outside and a scared Rae asks that he keep playing and singing. The next day, Lazarus takes Rae into town with him so she can confront her mother about their past while he sells his vegetables. While Rae is gone, Angela approaches Lazarus and invites him to a picnic lunch with her and the two sit on a bench and talk. Meanwhile, Rae approaches her mother and confronts her about how her mother’s boyfriend had sexually abused her as a kid while she was in the next room and did nothing to stop it. Rae gets upset when her mother denies anything happened and attacks her, causing a commotion that attracts Lazarus’ attention and he rushes into the store and helps her out, awkwardly refusing to meet Angela’s stare when she sees him with Rae. Back at his house, Lazarus works on comforting Rae and then decides they should go out for the night. As they head to the bar, where Lazarus is going to play with his old band, Rae’s alarm goes off on her watch and as she turns it off, she hears the alarm going off nearby and looks around but when she doesn’t see anything, she heads inside with Lazarus. Lazarus is surprised to see the place jam packed with people and he tells Rae to get a seat near the corner of the stage while he performs but soon Rae is dancing and having a good time, unaware that Ronnie is watching them through the window. The next morning, Lazarus is woken up by Rae trying to play one of his guitars and he sits down with her and plays while she sings when Ronnie sneaks into the room and strikes Lazarus. Pointing his pistol at Lazarus, he starts at yelling at them for what he believes she was doing and Lazarus taunts him about wanting to kill him. Lazarus’s taunting eventually overwhelms Ronnie, who collapses to the ground, and as Rae goes to comfort him, Lazarus hooks his phone up and calls R.L. and asks him to come over to talk to them. As R.L. talks with them and tries to help them through their issues, Lazarus heads over to Angela’s house to apologize and asks her a favor. Back at Lazarus’ house, Rae and Ronnie have decided to get married and Lazarus, who has become a father figure to Rae, gives her away. As the two drive off, Lazarus and Angela hold each other’s hands as they watch them leave. Rae and Ronnie are driving down the highway and when they become boxed in by some tractor trailers, Ronnie suffers another anxiety attack and has to pull over. As he is trying to deal with it, Rae starts feeling the effects of another episode but she is able to overcome it and helps Ronnie out, saying they will be ok.

Black Snake Moan met with positive results from the critics, holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Uninhibited performances, skillful direction, and a killer blues soundtrack elevate Black Snake Moan beyond its outlandish premise.” In the party scene, a guy suggests getting high on Coricidin. The pharmacist in the movie, is the spokesperson in the Coricidin HBP commercials. The same year, Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci co-starred in Home of the Brave (2006), which also starred Justin Timberlake’s wife Jessica Biel. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $10.9 million off of a $15 million budget.

Well, it wasn’t quite what I expected, which is actually a good thing. This is a slow paced movie but is actually pretty decent. Samuel L Jackson (Lazarus) and Christina Ricci (Rae) did great jobs in their roles and I liked the interaction they had with each other; especially towards the end when they started treating each other as a sort of surrogate family. The story was a little disturbing to be honest, as I feel like it was intentionally made to make people feel uncomfortable. Seeing how it was set in the South, there was a bit of a racial overtone, one which Lazarus commented on when he told R.L. about what would have happened had he gone to the police with Rae when she was beat up. The sexual drama seemed rather over the top, even the times Rae was drugged up. I don’t know if this is going to be one of those cult cinematic movies that will be looked at favorably years later, but I can say that it is at least worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

drama, horror, movie, movie review, musical

December 23rd, 2017 Movie – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

sweeney todd

My apologies for the lateness of today’s post as, due to the holiday craziness, I had to go into work today. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I honestly wasn’t all that interested in seeing. Now, that may come as a surprise to most people because this seems like it would be right up my alley and normally you would be right. However, I am not really much of a fan of musicals in general and have to be in the right frame of mind to want to watch one. Still, I had several friends telling me that this was a good movie and I would enjoy it so I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of it during the Blockbuster binge. Now let’s see if they were right as I watch today’s movie, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

The plot: In Victorian London, Sweeney Todd arrives in town, accompanied by a young sailor named Anthony Hope. Anthony is excited about being in London but Todd is more melancholy about it and warns Anthony that London can be a treacherous place; telling him a story about a man named Benjamin Barker, who had been falsely accused of a crime by a judge so that the judge could seduce Barker’s wife Lucy. The two soon part ways and Todd makes his way down Fleet Street to Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie shop, where he used to have his shop on the second floor. When Todd enters the shop, Mrs. Lovett gives him a meat pie, warning him that they are “the worst meat pies in London”, then has him follow her to get a drink to wash the taste out of his mouth. Todd asks about the shop up the stairs and Mrs. Lovett tells him that it is empty, as most people say it is haunted. She tells him that after Barker was exiled, Judge Turpin continuously came round the shop to try and woo Lucy but she refused him. One day, Turpin sent his henchman, Beadle Bamford, to bring Lucy to him, under the pretense of their being a mistake in Barker’s case and he might be set free. When Lucy arrives at Turpin’s house, she finds a party going on and is given a drink and Turpin proceeds to rape her as the other party-goers laugh. Hearing this, Todd gets enraged and Mrs. Lovett recognizes him as Barker. When Todd asks about Lucy, Mrs. Lovett says she drank arsenic and killed herself after the rape and that Barker’s daughter, Johanna, was adopted and raised by Turpin, prompting Todd to swear revenge on those that wronged him. Mrs. Lovett takes Todd upstairs to his old shop, which Todd hesitantly enters, and gives him his old straight razors, which she had hidden underneath the floorboards as she has long felt an unrequited love for Barker. Meanwhile, Anthony is wandering around London when he sees Johanna sitting at her window sill and becomes enamored with her. As he stares up at her, a homeless woman asks him for some change and he hands her some, then asks about the house and the woman inside. The woman quickly leaves as Turpin opens the door and invites Anthony inside, where he threatens Anthony and warns him to stay away from Johanna before having Bamford throw Anthony out of the house. The next day, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd to a market, where an Italian barber by the name of Adolfo Pirelli is selling hair tonic with the help of his assistant Tobias “Toby” Ragg. When Todd calls the tonic a fake and challenges Adolfo to a shaving contest, asking Bamford, who had been wandering the market, to serve as judge. Todd wins the contest and as he thanks Bamford, he invites him to his shop, offering a free shave when he visits. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to watch Johanna from the street and Johanna appears to return his interest, unaware that Turpin is watching Johanna from secret spy holes in the house. As Todd gets impatient for Bamford to show up, and makes his plans for Turpin, Anthony shows up and asks Todd for his help. Anthony explains that he has fallen for Johanna and wishes to save her from the man that keeps her and tells them that Johanna had dropped a key out her window so he can help her escape. Since he doesn’t know anybody in town except for Todd, he asks if he can bring Johanna here for a a few hours while he arranges transport out of the city, not knowing that Johanna is Todd’s daughter, and Todd says yes. After Anthony leaves, Todd and Mrs. Lovett see Adolfo and Toby approaching the shop and Mrs. Lovett heads down to head them off, then invites Toby to have a meat pie while Adolfo speaks with Todd. Inside Todd’s shop, Adolfo reveals that his name is really Davy Collins and he threatens to reveal to Bamford that Todd is really Barker, as Davy used to be Todd’s assistant when he was a boy. As Davy continues to threaten to blackmail Todd, Todd knocks him unconscious with a tea kettle, then hides the body in his trunk when Toby goes to check on him. After Toby leaves, Todd opens the trunk and as Davy starts to climb out, Todd quickly slits his throat with a razor. Meanwhile, Turpin has finished court and as he is walking home, he tells Bamford that he plans on marrying Johanna. Bamford congratulates him and after commenting on Turpin’s stubble, recommends he go see Todd for a shave. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett goes to check on Todd and is shocked to learn that he killed Adolfo but when she learns that he tried to blackmail Todd, she is ok with it. Todd wants to kill Toby as well but Mrs. Lovett convinces him to let Toby help her in the shop. Suddenly, Todd sees Turpin and Bamford approaching the shop and he has Mrs. Lovett quickly leave while he makes sure to hide any evidence of Davy’s murder before Turpin walks in. Turpin is not impressed with Todd’s shop but as Bamford recommended him, asks Todd to give him a shave, then tells Todd that he plans to marry his ward. Todd proceeds to shave Turpin but as he prepares to slit his throat, Anthony bursts in and tells Todd that Johanna has agreed to elope with him, not realizing Turpin was sitting there. Turpin angrily tells Anthony that he will never see Johanna again before telling Todd he will never enter his shop again. An enraged Todd yells at Anthony to get out of his shop, then rants to Mrs. Lovett about going on a killing spree when Mrs. Lovett asks what they should do about Gary’s body. Todd says they should wait until it is late and go bury the body but Mrs. Lovett suddenly thinks it is a waste of good meat and they decide to use the bodies as part of her pies. Back at Turpin’s home, Turpin confronts Johanna, who is packing a bag to elope with Anthony, and has Bamford send her away. Anthony sees Johanna being forced into a carriage and yells at Turpin to tell him where she is going before he chases off after it. Back at his shop, Todd fashions a swivel chair connected to a trap door, so that after he kills his victims, they can be dropped down into the basement, where Mrs. Lovett proceeds to place them in her meat furnace. With the influx of fresh meat, Mrs. Lovett’s shop begins to prosper but she is constantly throwing the homeless woman out, who has taken a serious interest in the shop. Sometime later, Mrs. Lovett takes Todd on a picnic and explains her wish to take him away to the seaside and get married but Todd is still focused on getting his revenge on Turpin. Meanwhile, Anthony has discovered Johanna has been placed in an insane asylum and goes to Todd to ask for his help in getting her out. Todd tells Anthony to pose as a wig-maker’s assistant in order to get access, as wigs are made from the hair shaved off the inmates, and Anthony happily leaves. Todd then writes a letter to Turpin, telling him that Johanna will be at his shop that night and asks Toby to deliver it to Turpin. Toby does so and when he returns, he voices his suspicions of Todd to Mrs. Lovett and promises to protect her. When he sees that Mrs. Lovett has Pirelli’s purse, he tells her they have to leave, as he believes Todd is dangerous, but she calms him down and says she won’t let anything happen to him. Mrs. Lovett then tells Toby that she will show him how to ake the meat pies and takes him down to the basement. Down there, she explains the smell away as coming from the sewers, then shows him how to use the oven and operate the grinder and leaves him down there before heading back upstairs. She tells Todd about Toby but before they can head downstairs, they are confronted by Bamford, who is there due to complaints about the smell coming from Mrs. Lovett’s chimney. Todd convinces Bamford to go upstairs with him to get cleaned up, unaware that the homeless woman is watching him. In the basement, Toby discovers the bodies and is shocked when Bamford’s corpse falls from the trap door so he hides as Todd and Mrs. Lovett enter the basement looking for him. Meanwhile, Anthony had used Todd’s idea and is able to free Johanna and they head back to the shop, with Johanna disguised as a sailor. Finding the shop empty, Anthony has Johanna wait there while he goes to get a coach and after he leaves, Johanna begins examining the Todd’s pictures and razors. When the homeless woman enters the shop, Johanna quickly hides in Todd’s chest to avoid being seen. Todd finds the woman in his shop and asks who she is and the woman asks if she knows him when Tod hears Turpin’s voice calling out to him from below. Todd quickly kills the woman and dumps her body down the trap door before Turpin enters. Todd then tells Turpin that Johanna has seen the error of her ways and will be there to go home with him. Todd then convinces Turpin to let him shave him and once he has Turpin in his chair, he reveals his identity to him before stabbing him repeatedly in the throat and sending him down the trap door. As Todd feels his task is finished, he hears the chest open and he sees the disguised Johanna staring at him. Todd grabs her and, not recognizing his daughter, is about to kill her when he hears Mrs. Lovett scream and he tells her to forget his face before heading downstairs. When he enters the basement, he goes to help Mrs. Lovett deal with the bodies but as she opens the bakehouse oven, the light from the fire falls onto the body of the homeless woman. Todd stares at her and realizes the homeless woman was Lucy, and Mrs. Lovett had lied about her being dead in order to keep Todd to herself. Todd pretends to forgive her and asks her to dance with him but as they dance, he throws her into the over and burns her alive. Todd then goes to Lucy’s body and cradles her as he weeps when Toby, who had been hiding in the sewers, emerges and quickly slits Todd’s throat before leaving, leaving Todd to bleed to death over Lucy’s body.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Full of pith and Grand Guignol grossness, this macabre musical is perfectly helmed and highly entertaining. Tim Burton masterfully stages the musical in a way that will make you think he has done this many times before.” Helena Bonham Carter was pregnant with her and Tim Burton’s second child while filming this and complained about how the size of her breasts noticeably changes during the movie, as the filming was done out of sequence. The movie was a box office success, earning $152.5 million off of a $50 million budget and garnered several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as a Best Actor nomination for Johnny Depp.

My friends were right, this was a good movie. The acting/singing was really good, with Johnny Depp (Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Lovett), Alan Rickman (Turpin), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony) all did a good job in both their roles and their singing. I really liked the story as it did a good job of explaining everyone’s character and motivations for their actions. The special effects regarding the blood and deaths were a little over the top but I felt like that was a good thing in keeping with the musical aspect of the movie. Meanwhile, the dark lighting, set designs, and costumes only made the contrast of the blood (and there was a lot of blood) that much sharper, which added more of an impact to the deaths themselves. I know musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and neither are horror movies, but this is a pretty good combination of both that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

adventure, movie, movie review, musical, sci-fi, tv episodes

November 17th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars Holiday Special

star wars holiday special

Happy Life Day everyone and if you haven’t figured it out by now, today’s movie is the reason for my buying a ton of movies at the beginning of the year. So 39 years ago today, a television event occurred that has since become legendary for how absolutely terrible it was. CBS had approached George Lucas about doing a TV special featuring the characters from Star Wars, as the recent re-release of the movie in theaters showed that the movie’s popularity had not waned in the least. Well, George Lucas agreed and the end result ended up being a train wreck of such epic proportions, that it was never rebroadcast after the initial airing, nor did it receive an official release on home video,  so the only way you could obtain a copy was through a bootleg copy of an original recording or, in more recent times, off of the internet. George Lucas has never considered the special to be part of the Star wars canon and, in regards to the bootleg copies, has stated that “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootleg copy of that program and smash it (with a couple of profanities thrown in there).”

Fast forward a few decades, and I managed to pick up a copy of the special at DragonCon. Some time later, my friends and I decided to watch it one night while watching a slew of “bad” movies and thought it was absolutely hysterical. Since then, some of my friends and I will wish each other a Happy Life Day on this day. Last year, I wished my friend Paula a Happy Life Day and she said I should review this special since it was “Life Day”. Well, at this point last year I was only in the “P’s” so that wasn’t going to happen but I looked at where it fell on the schedule and realized I could quite easily make it happen this year. Thus, 150 some odd movies later (mostly off of the two box sets I bought) I am able to watch today’s movie, The Star Wars Holiday Special, on the anniversary of when it first debuted.

The plot: Han Solo and Chewbacca are heading to Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk when they are attacked by two Imperial Star Destroyers. Han wants to turn back but Chewie convinces him to continue as the day is important so Han makes the jump to light speed. On Kashyyyk, Chewie’s son Lumpy is playing with a wooden X-wing while his grandfather, Itchy, sits in a chair carving a second one. When Lumpy gets on Itchy’s nerves, Chewie’s wife Malla has him take out the garbage, admonishing him when he tries to steal a cookie that she baked, though he quickly takes another one when her back is turned. Malla and Itchy are starting to get worried that Chewie isn’t there yet and Itchy lets Lumpy watch a holovid of some acrobats and jugglers in order to keep him entertained. Malla checks a scanner for approaching ships but finds nothing in the area. She then contacts the rebel base and reaches Luke Skywalker, who is working on his X-wing with R2-D2, and when Luke learns that Chewie and Han haven’t reached Kashyyyk yet, he tells them he doesn’t know where they are but is sure they will be there soon. Malla then contacts Saun Dann, a local trader, to ask if he has heard from Chewie but Suan’s shop is being searched by Imperial troops so he has to give Malla a coded message telling her that Han and Chewie are on their way while on board one of the Star Destroyers, Vader tells his officers to search every house on the planet for the Rebels. Malla works on cooking a meal when a message comes through the view screen announcing an Imperial blockade around the planet. Just as the message ends, someone knocks on the door and the wookies fear it is Imperial troops but it is only Saun, who had brought them all some Life Day gifts. Lumpy grabs his gift and quickly takes it up to his room while Saun gives Itchy a holotape, which he claims is “Wow”, and puts it in for Itchy, who uses the privacy viewer to watch it. Princess Leia and C-3P0 contact Malla and when they learn that Han and Chewie haven’t arrived yet, Leia worries that the Imperial blockade might be more of a problem for them and asks Saun to stay with Malla and the others until they get there. Han and Chewie arrive at Kashyyyk but when they notice they blockade, they decide to enter in the Northern area where they have less of a chance of being spotted. Malla, Lumpy, and the others hear the Millennium Falcon’s engines and they rush to the door to greet them only to find Imperial troops outside. As the Imperials begin searching the house for any signs of the Rebels or Rebellion contraband, Saun tries to distract them, showing one of the officers a holovid of a band singing but the officer in charge forces him to leave. As the Imperials continue searching the house, Lumpy starts watching an animated adventure of the Rebel Alliance. In the cartoon, Han Solo and Chewie had gone to fetch an ancient talisman but Han falls victim to a sleeping sickness attached to the talisman and they end up crashing on a planet close to the hidden Rebel base. Luke, R2, and 3P0 head to the planet but they end up stuck in the planet’s surface and a creature begins attacking their ship before they are rescued by a man named Boba Fett. Boba Fett offers to help them and takes them to the Millennium Falcon but as Luke enters, he falls victim to the sleeping sickness just as Chewie gets rid of the talisman. Boba Fett thinks Chewie did something to them but 3P0 translates that it was the talisman that caused them to fall asleep, though it only affects humans. Boba Fett says he recognizes the virus and offers to go into town to get the cure but Chewie demands to go with him. When they get to town, Boba Fett has Chewie wait while he gets the cure but as he does, he secretly contacts Darth Vader, who had hired Boba Fett to locate the Rebel base. After returning to the Falcon and administering the cure, Luke thanks Boba Fett but R2, who had intercepted Boba Fett’s transmission, informs Luke of Boba Fett’s deceit and Boba Fett uses his rocket pack to fly away. The Imperials finish searching Lumpy’s room and order him to clean it up but Lumpy uses the time to work on building a transmitter. Back downstairs, a live video, which is required viewing for all Imperial soldiers, tells of Tatooine having a curfew placed on it and watch as the bartender, Ackmena, tries to kick everyone out and eventually does so by singing a song and leading them in a dance. Lump gets his transmitter working and fakes an Imperial transmission telling the soldiers to return to base. The Imperial officer orders one stormtrooper to stay behind while the others leave but the stormtrooper hears the repeated message coming from Lumpy’s room. The stormtrooper smashes the device and chase Lumpy outside but Han and Chewie arrive and as Chewie moves to protect Lumpy, Han manages to trick the stormtrooper into falling off the deck and into the jungle below. Han and Chewie enter the house and after making sure everyone is ok, Han leaves, wishing them all a Happy Life Day. Saun returns to the house just as the Imperials try contacting the stormtrooper but Saun convinces the Imperials that the stormtrooper had deserted and they agree to send a search party to look for him. After Saun leaves, Chewie and his family each hold up a globe and they end up wearing red robes as they are transported into space, where they join a procession of other aliens walking into a star. They arrive at the Tree of Life, where they are joined by Han, Leia, Luke, R2, and 3P0. Leia greets everyone and sings a song to celebrate Life Day, as Chewie thinks back to how he met all of his new friends, before heading home with his family and having dinner.

Everything you heard about this special is true, but that actually makes it fun to watch because it is such a train wreck. The acting from the main Star Wars cast (Hamill, Ford, and Fisher) felt pretty stifled and nowhere near as crisp as it was in the original film. Art Carney did a good job as Saun while Bea Arthur (Ackmena) made for a funny twist as the bartender and Harvey Korman was hysterical as the alien chef and the instruction manual for the communicator. The base story was honestly a little weak and they tried too hard to stretch it out for a 2 hour special. Some of the side bits to help stretch things out were pretty good; such as the cartoon, which was the first appearance of Boba Fett, and the scenes with Harvey Korman were funny as hell. The scene with Itchy watching the holovid of the woman is a little disturbing, as it was more or less implied that he was essentially watching porn. Equally as disturbing was the scene with Jefferson Starship and I know that it was supposed to be a lightsaber but it honestly looked like Marty Balin looked like he was singing into a glowing dildo (my apologies if the description offends you). This is not good in any sense of the word, but it can entertaining in the whole “so bad, it’s good” style of enjoyment.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 (but the entertainment value could bump this to a 2 1/2)

comedy, horror, movie, movie review, musical

September 29th, 2017 Movie – Slumber Party Massacre II

slumber party massacre 2

I might have said it before on here, and if I have then I apologize, but kids today have no idea of the magic of going to a video store and looking at all the cases for movies on the shelves. Back before the internet was widespread, and Netflix and streaming services were everywhere, studios relied on the video packaging to entice people to wanting to rent their movies. Now I guarantee that there were plenty of kids, teenagers, and even some adults who probably never saw this movie but they at least remember the case for the video, due to the giant guitar drill on it. I don’t know if it worked for anyone else but my interest was piqued enough to rent it back in the day. Now let’s see if this movie is as ridiculous as I vaguely remember it being as I watch Slumber Party Massacre II.

The plot: Courtney, one of the survivors of Russ Thorn’s massacre in the original movie, has grown up but suffers from nightmares of the events. As she talks with her mother the next morning, it is revealed that Valerie had been committed in a mental institution as she couldn’t cope with what happened. As she is walking to meet her friend Amy to get a ride to school, she sees a dead bird that looked like something from her dream and stops to stare at it. While they are driving to school, they see Matt Abicost, a boy that Courtney has a crush on, and at Amy’s urging, Courtney invites him to come listen to her band practice at their friend’s garage. Later that day, Courtney, Amy, Shelia Barrington, and Sally Burns are practicing and during a break in practice, Courtney and Matt go off alone to talk. Courtney tells Matt that Shelia’s parents bought a new condo and the band is heading up their that weekend and invites him to go, which he accepts and the two kiss. That night, Courtney’s mom talks about going to see Valerie that weekend but Courtney says she doesn’t want to go to a mental institution on her birthday and she convinces her mom to let her go with her friends. That night, Courtney has nightmares about Valerie warning her not to go all the way, while an evil rocker appears to haunt her. The next day, the girls leave for the trip but Courtney is still haunted by the nightmare and starts suffering some hallucinations during the day. The girls arrive at the condo and begin having fun, unaware that TJ and Jeff, two of the girls’ boyfriends, show up a day early and play a prank on the girls. That night, she has another nightmare of the rocker, who has killed Valerie and says he is coming for her. The next day, Courtney is nursing a hangover and tells Amy about the nightmares she has been having recently but Amy thinks that it was probably brought on by all of the alcohol. As Shelia and the others wake up and join them by the pool, Courtney complains about her head hurting and TJ jokingly says he will help her and ends up throwing her in the pool, forcing Jeff to dive in and save her before she drowns. As the day commences, everyone is having fun but Courtney is still having hallucinations; at one point imagining she is eating a severed hand while later she believes a dead chicken attacks her when she opens the fridge. After another hallucination where she thinks that the tub is filling with blood, Courtney goes to get Sally to check it out and Sally finds the tub about to overflow and asks Courtney what is going on. As the two talk, Sally complains about a zit on her face and Courtney hallucinates that it is growing until it covers half of Sally’s face before exploding. Courtney runs from the bathroom and runs into Matt, telling him that Sally is dead. Matt, TJ, and Jeff go into the bathroom but find no sign of Sally and as they all gather in the kitchen, they hear the trash compactor running and Courtney faints, thinking Sally might be in there. They call the police but as Officers Kreuger and Voorhies question Courtney, Sally appears, having gone to the store, and the officers warn the kids not to waste their time again. Amy, Jeff, Sally, Shelia, and TJ head out to get some food while Matt stays with Courtney and he brings her a birthday cake he brought for her. As the two start making out, Courtney has another hallucination about the killer and leaps off the bed, only for the Driller Killer to appear and kill Matt with his giant guitar-shaped drill. Courtney thinks it is still a dream but when the Driller Killer rips off Matt’s arm and throws it onto the cake, she runs from the room. Amy and the others have come back to the house and are fooling around downstairs when a blood covered Courtney appears at the bottom of the stairs, followed by the Driller Killer. The Driller Killer attacks TJ, injuring his leg, then goes after Sally while Shelia helps TJ up and they run out the front door. Meanwhile, Courtney, Amy, and Jeff head into the kitchen to try and call the police but when the Driller Killer kills Sally, he also drills through the phone and they run out the back door. They decide to leave in Jeff’s car but his keys are in the house so they sneak back in to get them, finding Sally’s dead body, and quickly leave. The get in the car and start to drive away, hoping to find Shelia and TJ along the way but the Driller Killer appears in the back seat and kills Jeff while Courtney and Amy run back to the condo when the car stops. Meanwhile, Shelia and TJ head to a neighbor’s house to try and get help but when they get no response, they go to leave only for the Driller Killer to appear and injure Shelia while killing TJ. Back at the condo, Courtney and Amy barricade themselves in one of the bedrooms and then try calling the police but Officer Kreuger thinks they are pulling another prank on him and hangs up on them. Shelia returns to the condo and makes her way up the stairs but the Driller Killer follows her and kills her, then starts drilling through the door to get to Courtney and Amy. The two make their way out onto the balcony and down the house but the Driller Killer follows them, injuring Amy, and they are forced to hide in an unfinished building. As the Driller Killer follows and attacks them, Amy ends up falling off of the building and landing on the ground below, seemingly dead. The Driller Killer continues to chase after Courtney, who heads to the roof and finds a blowtorch, which she uses to set the Driller Killer on fire and he falls off of the roof. The next morning, as the police and paramedics arrive, Amy is seen to be still alive and being carried off on a stretcher but when Courtney goes to check on her, Amy begins laughing like the killer. Courtney wakes up in bed with Matt and thinks that the whole thing was a dream but as she snuggles up to him, Matt suddenly transforms into the killer and hugs her. Courtney starts screaming and is shown to be in a mental institution and as a drill emerges from the floor, you are left wondering if Courtney had been stuck in the institution ever since the incident and she hallucinated the whole things.

This movie is honestly kind of a mess. The acting was ok, with Crystal Bernard doing a good job playing Courtney but several of the other characters just came off as overly annoying, especially TJ (who I honestly wanted to reach through the TV and strangle myself). The story was pretty confusing, as the open ending left you unsure about what all had happened. The actual horror aspects themselves didn’t really start until the latter half of the movie, and it honestly didn’t really start getting, arguably, scary until maybe 25 minutes where left in the movie. The special effects were honestly a little weak and didn’t help make the movie any scarier, while the hallucinations (not to mention the bizare “stage lights” for when the Driller Killer is singing) simply make things more confusing. A pretty poor sequel to be honest but memorable for the props at the very least.

Rating: 2 out of 5

comedy, movie, movie review, musical

July 12th, 2017 Movie – School Of Rock

school of rock

I know plenty of people have at one time or another had a dream of being in a band. It is one of the American Dreams that people strive for. The downside though is that the music business is a tough world to break into and not that many people are actually able to make their dreams come true. For those who don’t make it, it can be hard to get over the disappointment and they have to either keep living in denial, or try to do something different. Today’s movie is pretty much that very story and I though I am not the biggest Jack Black fan, I thought it was hilarious. So let’s all get our groove on as I watch today’s movie, School Of Rock.

The plot: At a nightclub, a band called No Vacancy is performing but the performance comes to an end when their guitarist, Dewey Finn, attempts a stage dive and knocks himself out. The next morning, Dewey is woken up by Ned Schneebly, his best friend whose apartment he has been crashing at, and Ned’s girlfriend Patty. Ned asks Dewey for his share of the rent and when Dewey says that he doesn’t have it, Patti tells him to sell some of his guitars to get it. After she goes to work, Dewey tries to convince Ned he should dump Patti but Ned refuses and tells Dewey he has till the end of the week to get the money or he is being kicked out of the apartment. When Dewey goes to band practice, he learns that they have voted him out of the band and replaced him with a guitarist named Spider. Dewey gets mad, as he put the band together, and says that he will form his own band and beat them at the upcoming Battle of the Bands competition. Dewey returns home and tries to sell one of his guitars to get Ned’s money when he answers a phone call from Rosalie Mullins, the principal of Horace Green Prep School. Rosalie is trying to find out if Ned is available for a job as a substitute teacher starting immediately and Dewey pretends he is Ned and takes the job. When Dewey arrives at the school, Rosalie shows him to his class and introduces him and asks that he write his name on the board for the kids but Dewey can’t spell Schneebly and tells them to just call him Mr. S. When Rosalie leaves, Dewey ends up telling the class to just go to recess, as he has a hangover, and when school lets out, he quickly heads home. Dewey starts putting up fliers to find a new band but he hears people talking bad about him when they don’t know he is listening. The next day, he hears the kids at their music class and quickly grabs several instruments from his van and when the kids return to class, he starts assigning several of them to various instruments. After having them play some basics, he assigns some other kids to various positions, saying it is a class project but they have to keep it secret so that they don’t get disqualified. The next day, Dewey is met by one of the students, Summer, as he pulls up and she says she is upset about being made a groupie and he tells her she is the band manager, which makes her happy. When they get to class, Dewey asks them about what their musical influences are and then decides to start a rock schedule. At lunch, several students approach Dewey about ideas for the band but he tells them they will talk later, as he is trying to keep it a secret from Rosalie. As time goes on, Dewey starts caring about the kids and helping them out, giving Tamika confidence in singing as well as Zack trying to stand up to his father. When auditions are being held for the Battle of the Bands, Dewey sneaks the students in the band out of school to audition, leaving the other students to help pretend that he is there in case Rosalie checks on them. When they get there, Tamika is nervous about singing, worried that people will laugh at her for being fat but Dewey helps her gain confidence. He then has to go find Freddy, who had wandered off to hang out with another band. When they get inside, the learn that the slots have all been filled and Dewey gets upset but Summer tells him she has an idea. Dewey approaches the man in charge and convinces him that the kids were terminally ill and wanted to perform at the Battle of the Bands and he allows them to perform. The next day, Rosalie shows up at the class and sits in, forcing Dewey to actually teach their normal lessons. After school, Dewey invites Rosalie for coffee but ends up taking her to a bar to get her drunk. While she is drunk, Dewey asks her about bending the rules for a class field trip, so he can take the kids to the competition, and she says she will think about it. The next day, the groupies show Dewey their idea for the bands name, The School Of Rock, and he loves it. He then overhears Zack playing a song he wrote and asks Zack to sing it. Loving how it sounds, he has the other band members learn it as well. Later, Dewey approaches Rosalie about the field trip but she has forgotten about it and is unsure if it will be ok. She then asks Dewey to accompany her to the Parent’s Night and he tries to get out of it at first but then agrees. As Dewey is getting ready, Ned is opening the mail and sees a check from the school and Dewey confesses to what he did and asks that Ned keep it a secret for one more day and then dewy will come clean. After picking up Rosalie and arriving at the school, Dewey tries to tell her that he is a fake but she thinks that he is just nervous and convinces him to go in there. As Dewey is talking to the parents, he sees the cops show up with Ned and Patti and he is forced to come clean about not being a real teacher. At the apartment, Ned talks with Dewey about the situation and suggests he move out. The next day, all of the parents are meeting at Rosalie’s office to complain about what happened. Meanwhile, the kids decide that they worked too hard to give up on this and decide to go to the competition. They get on the bus for the field trip, then head to Dewey’s apartment, where Freddy and Lawrence go wake Dewey up and show him that they are all there. At the school, the students are discovered to be missing and Rosalie and the parents head to the competition to find them. Dewey and the kids get on stage and proceed to amaze the audience, as well as the kids parents by how well they perform. Dewey’s old band ends up winning the competition, which upsets Dewey, but the parents and audience start chanting for School of Rock, and so Dewey and the kids go back on stage and perform an encore to the delight of the crowd. Dewey ends up teaching an after school program called School of Rock, where he is able to keep performing with his students, while Ned teaches beginning rock to younger kids.

School Of Rock met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Black’s exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time.” All of the kids performed their own instruments and sang the vocals in the movie, as did Jack Black, though he didn’t perform the guitar solos. The movie was a box office hit, earning $131.3 million off of a $35 million budget and became a cult hit, inspiring a Broadway musical and a television series.

For those about to rock, you really should watch this movie. This is a great comedy and a really good “feel good” movie. Jack Black (Dewey) was his usually energetic, spastic self, and Joan Cusack was also good as the somewhat uptight Rosalie. The kids were all great in their performance and I loved the interaction between them and JAck Black throughout the film. The story was great, essentially a man trying to live out his dream at any cost. I did love how Dewey’s relationship with the students changed and he started caring more about helping them than himself as the movie went on. As a rock fan, the music for this was a lot of fun and I liked how Dewey was giving the kids specific CD’s and telling them songs to pay attention too in order to help the individual band members improve their skills. A fantastic movie that is definitely something that should be watched.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

comedy, movie, movie review, musical

June 9th, 2017 Movie – Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever

rock n roll high school forever

For every awesome movie, there will almost always be a sequel. And for every cult classic, there will be an ill-advised sequel. Now this is one of those movies that I remember seeing time and time again on Comedy Central years ago. I would always catch bits and pieces of it and wound up buying it on VHS just so I could watch the whole movie. When I bought Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, I remembered this movie and decided to get it on DVD so let’s see if it is as funny as I remember as I watch Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever.

The plot: At Ronald Reagan High School, the Board of Trustees and Principal McGree are meeting with the committee to discuss the school getting it’s accreditation back. Meanwhile, Jesse Davis, frontman and lead singer for a band called the Eradicator, organizes a large group of students to all flush the toilets at the same time, causing several of the pipes to burst from the water pressure. He then runs out into the hall, declaring it to be “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Day”, and the majority of the students all begin to cause havoc in their classes and throughout the school. When McGree is unable to regain control of things, the Board of Trustees believe he is too soft for the job so they make plans to hire someone to help discipline the students. The next day, Jesse is riding on his skateboard through the hallway when he runs into Rita, a new substitute teacher, and becomes infatuated with her. During chemistry class, Jesse is going through the newspaper and finds an ad for a Frigidaire for sale and so he and the rest of the Eradicators (Jones, Mag, Namrock, and Stella) cut class and head to the house, where they pretend to worship the refrigerator. While they are gone, the students are introduced to Dr. Vader, the new vice principal in charge of discipline, who institutes a strict discipline system in the school. Later that day, Jones sets up an auto dialer to call the local radio station and nominate The Eradicators as the caller’s favorite band in order to win free tickets to a concert. That night, The Eradicators are playing the Honor Society’s dance at the school but Whitney, the snobbish student organizer for the dance, yells at them for not playing the songs she selected for the dance and tells them they won’t get payed if they don’t play what she selected before going back to her boyfriend Bob and their friends Donovan and Margaret. In retaliation, Jesse and Mag swallow some antacid tablets and green liquid in order to spray green foam on the crowd, which ends up causing a food fight to erupt. The band decides to leave but they are grabbed by Vader’s two henchmen and taken to Vader’s office. Vader tells them that their band will no longer be able to play any school function. To further torment them, Vader rearranges their schedules, with Stella being placed in a class with Whitney and Margaret while Jesse and Mag are assigned to third period lunch, where they meet a girl named Tabitha who is rumored to be the daughter of a witch. After lunch, Jesse passes by Rita’s music class and decides to head inside and watches as she is able to get the students interested in classical music by comparing it to a football game. Meanwhile, Mag is supposed to give a book report but instead, causes the teacher to have a breakdown when he fakes having a heart attack. That night, Dr. Vader decides to surround the school with an electric fence and security cameras, turning it into a giant detention hall. Meanwhile, Jesse, Mag, Jones, and Stella drive over to see Tabitha’s house only to have Tabitha and her mother attack them with brooms. As Jesse drives off, Mag manages to grab Tabitha’s broom from her but he goes back to return it the next day and after commenting that he likes their yard, she starts to become friendly with him. Later, Jesse and the others arrive at school and are greeted by Screamin Steve, who says they won the contest but Vader cuts the tickets in half and then has Screamin Steve kicked off campus while she gives Jesse and the other Eradicators detention for four days. Declaring war on Vader, Jesse tells the band that they need to play the prom, and they head to Eaglebauer’s office to enlist his help. Eaglebauer, whose business has suffered since Vader was employed, agrees to help them and says that auditions are being held for a prom band and that if they can get Vader out of the room, 3 of the 5 remaining judges will vote for them. Eaglebauer registers the Eradicators into the audition under a fake name while the Eradicators lay some traps and distractions in order to get Vader out of the room. Meanwhile, Eaglebauer shorts out the electric fence around the school and when Vader goes to check on it, she ends up tripping over some tripwire and injuring her neck. The Eradicators win the audition and Jesse thanks Rita, who was one of the judges, and asks her out on a date but she turns him down as she is a teacher. Later, Whitney and Bob go to see Vader and tell her about the Eradicators managing to play the prom and she gets enraged and tells them to meet her at the school that night. The next day, the Eradicators arrive at school and find the front door area covered in red paint, blood, and various meat products. As the enter the school, they are stopped by Vader’s goons and discover that there is more stuff in their lockers. Jesse knows that they are being framed but Vader gives them detention for the rest of the school year, orders them to clean up the mess outside, and tells them they will not play the prom. When Stella takes a break from cleaning the school, she sees Whitney and the others watching and laughing at them and learns that they were the ones that framed them. When she tells the others, everyone else is dejected and decides to just finish out school and leave but Jesse is upset that they want to give up. That night, Jesse is visited by the Spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll and told that he has to play the prom in order to keep the school from becoming “uncool”. Jesse convinces the others to help them and they plan their revenge on Vader, as well as Whitney and her friends. During biology as they are dissecting frogs, Stella sneaks in some sushi and eats it in front of Whitney, pretending it is the frog she is dissecting, which causes Whitney to get sick and she ends up throwing up on a teacher while trying to reach the bathroom, which Jesse films. Donovan’s locker is filled with lingerie and he is filmed modeling it while Bob and Margaret are caught fooling around at a local makeout point, as their respective partners don’t seem interested in sex, and Jesse and Mag film them as the police bust them and they are forced to exit the car without their clothes. The night of the prom, Eaglebauer lures the band that was scheduled to play into an empty gym and traps them inside. Meanwhile, Vader’s goons are given a bottle of alcohol and they end up getting drunk while Jesse hires a male escort to distract Vader. The band then heads to the prom and gets set up but when Rita sees them, she worries about Vader catching them but Jesse assures her Vader won’t be a problem. As they start playing, Jesse sees Whitney and her clic show up and before they can do anything, Jesse plays the video of all of them on the monitor, causing the 4 “yuppettes” to fight among themselves. Meanwhile, Eaglebauer is videotaping Vader with the escort and when she sees him, she chases after him, enlisting Bob and Donovan to help her. Eaglebauer makes it to the prom and tries to pass the tape the Jesse and though Vader, Bob, and Donovan try to stop him, he manages to get it and puts it in the monitor, showing the class what she was doing. Enraged at being mocked, Vader gets in her car and proceeds to drive into the prom, crashing through the decorations and stage. When Vader goes after Rita, Jesse smashes her rear windshield and makes her chase after him, then leads her towards the school, where Jones, Mag, and Namrock have sprayed fire extinguisher foam along the corridor, and Vader ends up crashing into the school and causing it to explode. As the boys make it outside ok, Tabitha embraces Mag while Rita embraces Jesse and kisses him. As the school continues to burn, with Vader’s prosthetic hand being thrown from the explosion indicating that she died in the explosion, Mag approaches McGree and apologizes for what happened to the school but says it was Vader’s fault. McGree says they needed a new school anyways and Mag agrees, saying the plumbing was all screwed up.

This is a silly 90’s comedy that does have some good moments but honestly doesn’t hold up to the test of time. The acting was ok, with Mary Woronov honestly being the best actor in the cast, doing a great job as Dr. Vader and really over dramatizing her character to some great comedic effect. The story tried to copy the original movie but really didn’t capture the whole “Youth vs Adult” feel that the original movie had. Corey Feldman’s constant 4th wall breaks were also a little annoying. The comedy was very juvenile and honestly a little weak while the editing and pacing of the movie just felt out of sync and really hurt the flow of the movie. While it may be good for a few laughs, this is still a pale imitation and nor worth hunting down to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

comedy, movie, movie review, musical

June 8th, 2017 Movie – Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

rock n roll high school

YAY! I get to watch a Roger Corman film today and not just any film, but one of his more influential movies. Movies about high school tend to fall into two categories; either the usual teenage sex comedy or the teens rebelling against authority figures. Today’s movie is definitely the latter of those. Now there were a number of reasons why I watched this movie; it’s a Roger Corman movie, I like the Ramones, P.J. Soles. Those reasons are also why I bought today’s movie, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.

The plot: At Vince Lombardi High School, the school board has grown tired of their students being considered the worst due to their disregard of education so they hire Evelyn Togar as the new principal after the last principal suffered a nervous breakdown from dealing with the students. Meanwhile, Riff Randall, the rebellious lead troublemaker at the school, has stolen the turn table from the music class and uses it to play The Ramones outside so the kids can have fun. Her friend Kate Rambeau patches the music into the schools PA system, causing all the kids to start dancing in the classes and hallways. Togar, accompanied by her two student minions (Fritz Hansel and Fritz Gretel), heads outside and cuts the power cord to the turn table. Togar then introduces herself to the students and sends them back to their class, while giving Riff and Kate detention for starting the ruckus. Tom Roberts, the captain of the football team, is wondering why he can’t seem to talk to girls and becomes infatuated with Riff after she dances by him in the hallway. Tom heads to the bathroom that serves as the office for Eaglebauer, a businessman that sells students test answers, hall passes, and fake ID’s. After Eaglebauer complains about his business being down since Togar started, Tom tells him he wants his help in getting a girl. Eaglebauer recommends Kate, who has a crush on Tom, saying that she would be perfect for him but Tom says he wants to hook up with Riff Randall and Eaglebauer says he will try to make it happen. Togar tries to figure out ways to keep the students in line and has Hansel and Gretel bring Mr. McGree, the music teacher, and Coach Steroid, the women’s gym teacher, to the science lab. While there, Togar tries showing them experiments she has done with lab mice to show the dangers of rock and roll music, especially The Ramones, to children. While Coach Steroid is gone, Riff switches out the tape that was playing for their exercises to one she made for McGree’s class, where she has written a song called “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” that she hopes to give to The Ramones. Hansel and Gretel see the girls dancing and rush to report what is happening to Togar but by the time she gets there, the girls have switched the tape back and are doing their normal stretches. Later, Riff is talking about cutting class for three days so she can be first in line to buy tickets to The Ramones concert and asks Kate to help cover for her. Meanwhile, Kate goes to see Eaglebauer and asks him to help her get together with Tom and he happily accepts. Eagle takes Kate up to Lover’s Leap, where Tom is waiting for them and when Tom asks why Riff isn’t there, Eaglebauer tells him that Kate is there to help him practice for what to do with Riff. As Riff waits in line, she suddenly finds a woman had jumped in front of her and when she confronts her, the woman introduces herself as Angel Dust, the Ramones’ number 1 fan. As the two argue over who is the bigger fan, The Ramones arrive at the concert hall to the delight of the crowd and when the band’s manager sees Angel, he leads her inside with him and Angel smirks at Riff as she leaves. Riff manages to get tickets for the kids at school and hands them out to everyone, even giving one to MR. McGree, but Togar confiscates Riff adn Kate’s ticket due to Riff skipping class and Kate covering for her. Kate heads to Riff’s house to study and talk about Tom when Tom calls and invites Riff to listen to the concert in his van and agrees to find a date for Kate when Riff says ok. Kate gets upset with Riff but Riff says she wouldn’t hurt Kate and tells her that she will keep Eaglebauer occupied while Kate can spend time with Tom. As they are driving to meet Tom, they hear a contest for two free tickets to the concert and Riff calls in and wins them. When Riff calls Tom and makes up an excuse for not meeting him, Eaglebauer tells Tom to just crash the concert and see Riff. At the concert, the radio DJ, Screamin Steve Stevens, introduces Riff and Kate to the crowd and Riff calls out Togar, who hears her on the radio. Togar sends Hansel and Gretel to the concert to bring Riff and Kate back to the school, then calls all of the parents and tells them there will be a special assembly at the school the next day. Screamin Steve takes Riff and Kate backstage to meet the band but Angel prevents them from entering the dressing room and when the manager shows up, Riff and Kate reluctantly head back to their seats. As the Ramones start playing, Angel grabs Riff’s song from her and heads backstage but Riff and Kate follow her, along with Tom and Eaglebauer when they get there. Tom manages to overtake Angel, who had tripped over another concert goer, and recovers Riff’s song. Riff thanks him and heads back to the show while Kate stays to check on Tom. The two start talking and when he learns that she went to Eaglebauer to get with him, Tom decides to start over with Kate and get to know her. Riff manages to get the Ramones to dedicate a song to Kate and Tom and later, makes it backstage with them. She gives Joey Ramone her song and the Ramones say they will be in town one more day and if they like her song, they will drop by the school. The next day, Togar calls out Riff for turning the students against her and reveals to the students that she has collected all of their Ramones records and proceeds to burn them. The parents try to stop the kids but Riff throws a punch bowl at Togar while Kate and Tom put out the fire, then the students proceed to take over the school. When the Ramones show up at the school, Togar accuses them of being responsible for what is happening but they ignore and head inside the school. The Ramones tell Riff that they like her song and plan on putting it on their next album, then make her an honorary Ramone. Accompanied by the police, Togar calls out to Riff and tries to get the students to come out peacefully or else the police will storm the school. Kate makes a bomb in the chemistry lab and takes the plunger with her as the students all exit the building. Togar thinks she has won but the Ramones begin playing Riff’s song and while they play, Riff uses the plunger to blow up the school. Togar is shown suffering a nervous breakdown of her own as Screamin Steve Steven reports on the incident.

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School met with mostly praise from the critics, holding an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, The majority of critics felt that the movies pacing and energy was a mirror to the musical styles of the Ramones themselves. Roger Corman originally wanted either Cheap Trick or Todd Rundgren to play the band in the movie but due to scheduling conflicts, they could not work the schedule so Paul Bartel, who played Mr. McGree, suggested the Ramones. The movie would become a cult classic and a sequel was filmed in 1991.

This is a great movie to watch, especially if you like the Ramones. The acting was great all around, with P.J. Soles (Riff), Mary Woronov (Togar), Dey Young (Kate), and Paul Bartel (McGree) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was great and did a good job of somewhat capturing the punk culture and showing how most parents didn’t just didn’t understand it. The romance angle between Kate and Tom was honestly not that interesting but for the most part, it didn’t really take away from the movie. There comedy in the movie was mostly a mixture of sight gags, which mixed very well in the scenes they were used in, and the music definitely fit in with the story they were telling. One of Corman’s best movies and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, musical

June 2nd, 2017 Movie – Robin Hood: Men In Tights

robin hood men in tights

Ahh, it has been a while since I have watched a Mel Brooks movie for this blog. Come to think of it, it has been almost 3 years since I watched one. Well obviously that can only mean one thing; I need to get with it an buy some more Mel Brooks movies. Back in the day, Mel Brooks was pretty much the man you wanted to spoof your movies because they are always incredibly funny. Say what you will, but the man was a comic genius, and one of the few people to win all four major awards (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony). So lets have some laughs with one of his last movies, Robin Hood: Men In Tights.

The plot: Robin of Loxley has been captured during the Crusades and taken to Khalil Prison in Jerusalem. The prison guards question him as to the whereabouts of King Richard but when he refuses to answer, he is chained to a bench next to another prisoner, Asneeze. When Robin says it will take a great feat of strength to free themselves, Asneeze says that they now have a great strength of feet, and with Robin’s help, they are able to kick the bar free that holds their chains. The guard hears the commotion and questions them about it and they manage to convince him that Robin is going to reveal where the king is. When the guard leaves, Robin and Asneeze quickly free the other prisoners and they all escape out a nearby window. As they are standing on the coast, Robin thanks Asneeze and says he is in his debt and Asneeze asks that Robin find his son Ahchoo, who is an exchange student in England, and look after him. Robin agrees and after starting to make a long winded speech, which Asneeze interrupts and tells him he must leave, Robin begins swimming towards England. When he reaches England, Robin changes clothes and heads towards his family’s castle when he runs into Ahchoo being assaulted by some soldiers. Robin steps in and with Ahchoo’s help, he beats the soldiers and sends them running. Robin and Ahchoo head towards Loxley Castle, arriving there just as it is being repossessed for back taxes. Seeing his family’s blind servant Blinkin amid the debris, Robin questions him about what happened and learned that his entire family is dead. Suddenly, a young boy runs screaming towards them, being chased by the Sheriff of Rottingham and his men. When Rottingham learns who Robin is, he moves to confront him but his sword breaks at the hilt and Robin easily cuts part of the Rottingham’s saddle, causing Rottingham to slide underneath the horse, then Robin sends the horse off, with the Rottingham’s men following after it. Rottingham goes to the castle to see Prince John and tell him the news about Robin, which upsets Prince John. Prince John decides to go and see Latrine to see if she can predict his future but she tells him he is merely his cook. Latrine offers to whip up a potion that would make Robin unable to perform the simplest of tasks in exchange for his putting in a good word with Rottingham, as she is in love with him. Prince John refuses at first but quickly changes his mind and recommends they get Rottingham really drunk. Back in the forest, Robin, Ahchoo, and Blinkin come to a bridge guarded by a man named Little John. When Robin accepts his challenge to a fight, Ahchoo tries to talk him out of it, showing that the stream is not that big, but Robin insists it is the principle of the matter. As the two men fight, the repeatedly break their staffs in half and Robin eventually wins, then saves Little John from drowning in the puddle of water he fell into. Little John introduces them to Will Scarlet O’Hara, who is skilled with a pair of knives. Robin tells them that he plans to end Prince John and Rottingham’s reign of terror, then goes alone to a party that they are having at the castle. At the castle, Robin crashes the party, dropping a wild pig onto the table in front of Prince John. His actions attract the attention of Maid Marian and Robin starts to flirt with her, which angers Rottingham as he also has romantic intentions towards her. When Rottingham challenges Robin to a duel, Robin accepts but Rottingham quickly brings out his men to start fighting. When they get the upper hand after Robin accidentally drops a chandelier on his head, he is saved by the arrival of Ahchoo and the others. During the fight, Robin ducks under a table to avoid some arrows and finds Marian under there as well and the two are about to kiss when they are interrupted. Rottingham orders the door barred and has a horde of knights surround the room, trapping Robin and his men inside but Robin swings down from a rope and proceeds to knock down the knights like dominoes, then has Little John take care of the door and they quickly make their escape. Little John sent word to have the villages send their best men to join the cause and Robin tries to inspire them but ends up putting them to sleep so Ahchoo, mimicking Malcolm X, speaks to them and is able to get them inspired to fight. Robin begins training them to fight but is worried when they show no progress. Some time later, Robin and his Merry Men encounter Rabbi Tuckman, a purveyor of sacramental wine and mohel extraordinaire, who tries to convince the men to get a circumcision but when they find out what it entails, they quickly decline. When Robin asks if he will join them, Tuckman agrees and the Merry Men all cheer when he lets them have the wine. Back at the castle, Rottingham is meeting with Don Giovanni and his associates, Dirty Ezio and Filthy Luca, and they come up with a plan to lure Robin to the fair with an archery contest, where Don Giovanni says that Luca will win and after Robin loses, Ezio will kill Robin with his crossbow. As they laugh in celebration of their plan, Marian overhears them and leaves with her lady-in-waiting, Broomhilde, and they head off to Sherwood Forest to warn Robin. When they reach Robin’s camp, Marian warns Robin about the assassination plot and he agrees not to go until he hears about the archery contest. Robin and Marian go for a walk, where Robin serenades Marian, much to the amusement of the Merry Men, and the talk some, where Marian reveals to him that she is wearing a chastity belt but says the one intended for her will have the key to “unlock her virginity.” The next day, Robin disguises himself as an old man while Ahchoo, Blinkin, Little John, and Will Scarlet are disguised as women. Robin enters the archery contest and winds up in the finals against Filthy Luca. When Robin makes his shot, Rottingham calls him out and Robin reveals himself to the delight of the crowd. Filthy Luca takes his shot and splits Robin’s arrow in two, causing the crowd to turn against Robin as Robin stares in disbelief. Ahchoo and the others head to Robin’s side, where Robin quickly grabs the script and reveals that he gets another shot. Prince John and Rottingham pull out their own copies and confirm that Robin gets another shot and Rottingham quickly signals Ezio, who is up in the Royal Folio Depository, to take his shot but Blinkin miraculously plucks the crossbow bolt out of the air before it hits Robin, saying “I heard that coming a mile away.” Robin pulls out a Patriot Arrow and gets ready to take his shot but Luca uses his bow to hit Robin in the back of the knee, causing the arrow to fire straight up. As Little John knocks out Luca, the arrow comes down and, after passing underneath the stands (and making everyone inadvertently do the wave), it circles around the target before smashing through the bullseye. Robin is declared the winner but Rottingham quickly orders him to be arrested. Marian begs Rottingham to spare Robin, saying she will marry him if he lets Robin live. The Merry Men realize they are outnumbered and send word via fox to the villagers, then quickly change into their tights. As Prince John escorts Marian down for the ceremony, she is horrified to find that Rottingham has Robin set to be hanged if she changes her mind. The Abbot proceeds with the ceremony but when he asks Marian if she takes Rottingham as her husband, Ahchoo fires and arrow that severs the noose and she says no. The villagers arrive to help fight Rottingham’s men but Rottingham grabs Marian and takes her up to the tower. Inside, he prepares to ravish her but is stopped by her chastity belt. Robin shows up as Rottingham is trying to remove the belt and the two proceed to fight. During the fight, Rottingham uses a dagger to try and stab Robin but it ends up ripping his locket off. The locket breaks open on the ceiling, revealing a key, which falls into the lock of the chastity belt. Marian exclaims that this means he was always her one true love because it’s just the right size. Robin and Rottingham continue their fight and Robin wins, then accidentally impales Rottingham when Rottingham attempts to stab him in the back. As Rottingham lies dying on the floor, Latrine rushes in and says she has a magic pill that will save his life and Rottingham reluctantly accepts but after he is healed, he regrets his decision. Robin leads Marian back to the bed and, with her guiding his hand, prepares to unlock the chastity belt but Broomhilde bursts into the tower and yells at them to stop, saying they can’t do it until they are married. Robin and Marian quickly find Rabbi Tuckman to perform the ceremony but before he can finish, King Richard arrives and tells them to stop. Richard first addresses Prince John, telling him he is unfit to wear the crown and, due to his surrounding his given name with a foul stench, orders all the toilets in the name to be called Johns before ordering Prince John to be taken to the tower. Richard then thanks Robin for all that he has done and restores his family name, title, and lands before he knights him. When Tuckman asks why Richard doesn’t want Robin to marry Marian, Richard exclaims that he hasn’t kissed the bride yet, as it is his right, and proceeds to give Marian a deep kiss. Tuckman marries Robin and Marian and after they kiss in front of the crowd, Robin names Ahchoo the new sheriff of Rottingham and when the crowd reacts in shock at a black sheriff, Ahchoo tells them that it worked in Blazing Saddles. Robin and Marian head off to Locksley Hall and prepare to consummate their marriage but Robin says they key won’t turn, much to Marian’s displeasure, but Robin gets an idea and calls out for a locksmith.

Robin Hood: Men In Tights met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics that liked it praised Cary Elwes performance and thought it was a worthy entry into Brook’s repertoire while those that hated it felt like it was one of his worst entries. While the movie was mainly a spoof of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, it also borrowed some elements from Disney’s Robin Hood as well as Errol Flynn’s The Adventures Of Robin Hood. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $35.7 million off of a $20 million budget, but Mel Brooks has said that it is one of his two top selling DVD’s, with the other one being Spaceballs.

This is such a funny movie to watch and one of my favorite Mel Brook’s parodies. The acting was great, with Cary Elwes doing a good job as Robin while a debuting Dave Chappelle (Ahchoo) gave everyone a preview of the comedic timing he would later be known for. The story was good, with a great mixture of comedy and musical bits to make for some entertaining viewing. The spoofing of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was great, especially Cary Elwes calling out the lack of an accent in Kevin Costner’s portrayal, and I thought it was even funnier because Elwes was offered the part in Prince Of Thieves and turned it down. The comedy was a great mixture of slapstick and play on words and had me laughing almost the entire movie. Definitely one of Mel Brook’s greats and well worth watching if you ever need a laugh.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5