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