Monday, August 25, 2014

To Be Takei - 2014

"To Be Takei" - 2014
Dir. by Jennifer M. Kroot - 1 hr. 34 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There are a few different kinds of documentaries.  There's the "something interesting happened," the "something interesting happens," the tell-all biography, the hatchet-job biography, and then there's the ones like "To Be Takei," where it's a favorable autobiography, made with the cooperation of those involved.  The main question with films in this genre is whether or not the subject of the film is a worthy one.  If not, you have a puff-piece about someone who basically feels the need to have a puff-piece done about them.  In this case, George Takei has been in the center of a lot of interesting, historically important events, which makes this a celebration of the man.

It's difficult to imagine that you would want to see "To Be Takei" if you didn't have at least a cursory familiarity with him and his life, even if that just meant that you liked him in "Star Trek."  As it turns out, there's been a lot more to his path.  As a very young child, his family was removed from their Los Angeles home and placed in internment camps during World War II.  He knew early on that he wanted to be an actor, which would be a difficult path to travel, as there weren't many Asian actors on TV or in movies at the time.  He was also forced to cover up his sexual orientation for years, until he finally came out later in life, and was a visible face in the fight for gay marriage and equal rights, as well as having actually gotten involved in government, trying to help build public transit in Los Angeles.

"To Be Takei" really is a celebration of all the things that George Takei has accomplished during his life.  This isn't a dirt-dishing kind of movie (other than touching on his sort-of feud with William Shatner), and if you expect much of that, you'll be disappointed.  Probably the most interesting theme of the film is the disconnect between the darkness of his early life (and the discrimination he faced all along the way) and his current public image, which is mostly due to his comedic work and appearances.  When discussion a musical that Takei is part of (on the subject of the internment camps), he brings up the Japanese notion of bearing burdens without losing one's composure (there is a specific word that explains this, which I can't recall at the moment); it's clear that George Takei's entire career has been built around this notion (there's a clip from a Jerry Lewis movie that Takei was in that shows the sort of work that he was allowed to do at the beginning of his career, that serves as an excellent illustration of the point, even if the notion is never explicitly tied to Takei's work).

The biggest asset that "To Be Takei" has is Takei himself.  He's effortlessly funny, his soothing voice a welcome companion for an hour and a half.  There's a peek into his relationship with his husband, Brad, and the little things that they fight over, and, interestingly enough, how many creative people need someone to play the bad guy on their behalf.  It's an odd dynamic, but since a lot of creative work is tied to a person's likability, and it's exceedingly difficult to stay likable and negotiate for the things that one needs out of life, having a hired asshole (my words, not theirs) becomes essential.  Brad slips into that role easily in public, and much of the movie has him operating in that vein.  There are only momentary peeks behind that role, and they're invariably funny when they pop up.

On the whole, "To Be Takei" is a really enjoyable ride.  This is the sort of documentary that you're probably not going to check out if you're not already into the subject, and that's fine.  I didn't feel that the movie fell into hero worship - Takei has accomplished real things during his life that have benefited many people, and he deserves acknowledgment for that.  Beyond that, this is probably a better biography than a book would be; in a book, you'd just be imagining Takei's voice in your head.  Here, you actually get the real deal, with all the charisma and humor that you'd hope for.  So if you're favorably inclined to spending 90 minutes with George Takei, by all means, check out "To Be Takei."  If nothing else, you'll get some good laughs, and probably a couple of things that you'll want to research on Wikipedia when you're done.

3.5 / 5 - Theatre

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd - 2003

"Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" - 2003
Dir. by Troy Miller - 1 hr. 26 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I don't want to sidestep the fundamental issues surrounding "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd."  This is not a good movie.  This is nothing compared to it's predecessor.  Everything about this film screams "straight-to-video" so loudly that it's difficult to remember that it was, in fact, a theatrical release.  Having said all of that, it's also not nearly as bad as you'd have every right to think it ought to be.  I laughed, dammit, I laughed.

What we've got here is a prequel to the Farrelly brothers' smash hit, "Dumb and Dumber."  Whereas the original starred Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and was riotously funny, I'm not sure there are any holdover actors from that film to this one.  This is a high-school movie, where Harry (Derek Richardson) meets Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen), and are immediately recognized as the dolts that they are.  Principal Collins (Eugene Levy) and lunch-lady Ms. Heller (Cheri Oteri) hatch a plot to defraud the school district of $100k, which requires creating a "special needs class."  Resident smart hottie Jessica (Rachel Nichols) is on the hunt for a big story for the school newspaper, and smells something off about the special needs class.  Meanwhile, Harry mistakes Jessica's interest in his involvement in the class for genuine interest in him.

Shia LeBeouf may not be famous anymore, but he surely cashed his paycheck for his work on this film.  And, in fact, there are a bunch of people that you might recognize in this film, which is kind of weird.  Aside from Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri, Mimi Rogers, Luis Guzman, Brian Posehn (for you comedian nerds out there) and Bob Saget all have small roles.  None of that adds up to a good reason to check "Dumb and Dumberer" out, but it's a nice bonus if you're already strapped in for the ride.  What there is here is a ton of really dumb humor, and if that's your cup of tea (admittedly, it is sometimes mine), there's some good material here.  The two stars do a decent job of aping the characters they're supposed to be, and their idiotic dialogue is decent.  But what the whole thing comes down to is this: I can't entirely hate a movie with this vehicle in it:

from the IMCDB

It's not just a short bus, it's the shortest bus!  And there's even a car chase involving it!  Look, this bus is far too awesome of an idea for a movie like this, and yet here it is, just sitting around being awesome in something that should have been a direct-to-video movie that everyone forgot about two days later.  It kind of makes me mad that such an awesome car is wasted on a project that's ceiling is honestly pretty low.  And, at the same time, should I find myself the recipient of a large jackpot, I'm getting one of these bad boys custom made, and driving the hell out of it.

There are other jokes that land in "Dumb and Dumberer," as well.  Again, I'm not going to pretend it's a good movie; it isn't.  But it seems to be more a victim of being a terrible idea (ie, a sequel in name only, including none of the talent that made the franchise's name in the first place) than being terribly executed, because it isn't that, either.  It's a solid dumb comedy, which isn't an oxymoron (you're an oxymoron!), there are some familiar faces, and if you don't hold it to the standard of "Dumb and Dumber," you might laugh, too.
2 / 5 - TV (HD)

The Expendables 3 - 2014

"The Expendables 3" - 2014
Dir. by Patrick Hughes - 2 hrs. 6 min.

Official Trailer #1

by Clayton Hollifield

It's time to blow some stuff up!  Why?  Sylvester Stallone says so!

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his crew of Expendables (which is down to five) break a prisoner out of a train-car prison.  This prisoner, Doc (Wesley Snipes), is a former (and soon to be current) member of the Expendables, and is not only a doctor, but trained with knives.  With the roster up to six, (Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Dolph Lundgren's characters round out the crew), they head off to another job, to capture some arms dealer in Somalia.  Things go sideways, someone gets hurt badly, and the target turns out not to be a nobody, but a somebody, somebody who was supposed to be dead.  This forces Barney to confront the fact that he's old as balls, and so is his crew, so he abruptly fires them, enlists Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to help him round up some new talent, and then they attempt to do the job right.  Which, of course, is exactly how it goes.

I did enjoy "The Expendables 3," maybe more than the last installment.  I didn't have that feeling that something great was just out of grasp; instead, I just kicked back with my popcorn and enjoyed what there was to enjoy.  The action was fairly good; I don't know how much of that had to do with stunt actors or if the director just did a great job of misdirection.  The story itself was kind of predictable, but that in itself isn't always a problem.  I mean, I don't derive any less satisfaction from watching giant guns blow thing up just because I know it's coming.  Once a situation is set up, there's only so many ways that the story can go.  That's life.  I'm not sure if I'd even watched the trailer for this film ahead of time, so more than half of the fun is seeing who showed up this time around.  I had no idea Mel Gibson had a substantial role, nor Kelsey Grammer, nor Antonio Banderas, who really stole the movie with his scenes.

As for the negatives, a lot of people might point towards the shift from an R-rated franchise to a PG-13 one, and I have no idea why the decision to make that shift occurred.  It didn't really affect anything in the story, other than I'm sure that Stallone had to bellow "shit" instead of "fuck" when things went awry.  It seems disingenuous to make any kind of a war/mercenary film that's anything less than an R-rating; why is murder-for-hire an acceptable topic for a movie for teenagers?  Even if you avoid boobies and bad words and dude ass and excessive blood, I feel like the profession itself is unacceptable to present to kids.  If Joe Camel being a cartoon isn't acceptable, why can a thirteen year-old watch movies about arms dealers?  The whole thing just seems weird to me, as does the desire to sell this material to the underage set.  I feel like the notion that being a mercenary is an acceptable way to earn a living is far more damaging than a string of muttered obscenities.  But I'm an adult, and I don't have any children, so who cares?

The main difference here is a shift from dark comedy to lighter comedy.  Part of that is the inevitable "you're old/you're young" generational nonsense between the old crew and the new crew, and part of that is how awesome Antonio Banderas' was.  He's so much fun, it would have been a shame to cut any of his material.  But one of the main points of the film was Barney not wanting to cost people lives by misjudging when he was over the hill, which is a fairly serious point, and a real moral conundrum.  Barney broods over it, but light-hearted banter doesn't go well with that message.  And out of all of the new crew, I'd really only want to watch a couple of them again (Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, for the record), should a fourth installment materialize.

It feels like this franchise has reached it's conclusion with "The Expendables 3."  I'm okay with that; I had to go back and read my review of the second installment to remember what I thought of it.  That (fairly) indicates that these films have been something pretty far from memorable.  Enjoyable, surely, and a surprisingly good idea, also, check.  It takes a certain amount of ingenuity to get good action films out of a cast that really has no business doing action films.  The last time around, I felt like there was a legitimately great film possible with this premise and these actors, and rather than pursuing that, the third installment goes down the road of navel-gazing and torch-passing.  That's a dramatic shift in tone from the second "Expendables," where it was so completely over-blown and cameo-riddled that the notion of looking forward instead of backward seemed impossible.  The idea that the old guard needs some new blood to move forward is pretty contrary to the idea of seeing all of your favorite old action stars in one film.  After "The Expendables 2," I was game to see a third.  After "The Expendables 3," there's a good chance that I would need to know who's in it, and be sold on the story a little bit to turn back up at the theatre for a fourth "Expendables."

2.5 / 5 - Theatre

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Popeye - 1980

"Popeye" - 1980
Dir. by Robert Altman - 1 hr. 54 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

When a beloved actor or director passes away, I'm hardly the only one who wants to delve back into more pleasant memories of their work.  But, hilariously, the move to cloud media means that you're never going to get to watch the movie that you really want to watch, in order to pay proper homage to the deceased.  Robin Williams was a ferociously talented comedian and dramatic actor, with probably half a dozen movies that instantly pop into mind.  But does Netflix or Hulu have "Good Will Hunting" available?  Or "Aladdin?"  "Good Morning, Vietnam?"  Even "The World According to Garp?"  "Popeye," however, was available, and that's what I decided to watch.

Popeye (Robin Williams), who is a deformed sailor with a speech impediment, has arrived in a coastal town called Sweethaven, in search of his father, who stepped out on him at a very young age.  So far, the search hasn't been going well, but Popeye stays upbeat.  Eventually, the townspeople stop cowering from the outsider, and Popeye is able to rent a room in a boarding house, where he meets Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall), who looks like a pipe cleaner in a dress.  Olive's fella, Bluto (Paul L. Smith), is a huge, blustery sort prone to violence, and doesn't much like Popeye.  Eventually, a random baby pops up, and Olive and Popeye take responsibility for it, which also makes Bluto mad.

If you take this film completely out of any context, there's nearly nothing that makes any sense whatsoever.  Every single decision as to the creation of "Popeye" seems as if it was drawn out of a hat full of really bad ideas.  And it didn't have to be that way; watching the intro credits, and seeing names like director Robert Altman, screenwriter Jules Pfeiffer, and musician Harry Nilsson being involved, it's clear that it's not a bunch of bums who have cobbled together a movie.  And that doesn't even take into account Robin Williams (although he wasn't Robin Williams at this point) and Shelley Duvall.  There is genuine talent here, and it's invariably pointed in the wrongest direction possible, every single time.

I have a difficult time wrapping my head around the notion of making an adaptation of a comic strip (by E.C. Segar, to give due), and doing so in the one method that cartooning can't imply: a musical.  According to the WikiGodHead, "Popeye" was sort of a consolation prize after Paramount lost the bidding war to adapt a Broadway version of "Annie."  They already had the rights to "Popeye," and wanted to do something in the same vein (which is still psychotically stupid).  I am very aware that there wasn't a deep playbook on how to successfully adapt comics characters to the screen at this point in time, but turning comics into a musical...  I don't even know.  What's even more bizarre is that the characters are costumed like the strips were drawn.

Popeye (and all of the characters) have bell-bottomed legs and enormous shoes, a look the movie duplicated!

When comics fans want to complain about a somewhat unfaithful adaptation of their favorite characters, keep in mind that this is what can happen when you hew too closely to the original designs (and the quirks of whichever cartoonist created the stuff in the first place, which in this case would have to do with the "bigfoot" style of cartooning that quickly fell out of favor in the intervening years between the strips and the film).

There is also the issue of having a lead character that mumbles constantly, the heavy reliance of slapstick humor (although this was also faithful to the original, spirited comic strips), and Vaudeville-style verbal humor.  This is a mountain of weird decisions!!!  I will admit freely that I'm not much of a fan of musicals (at least ones that Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren't responsible for creating), but I also didn't care for most of the song and dance numbers.  There is one exception to this, the beautiful, charming, "He Needs Me."

That song captures the giddy silliness of being gobsmacked by love, and it's even better being performed by a character that's always trying to keep people at arm's length for the course of the film.  It's also the one triumph of the film, the one that makes me not want to judge the rest of it so harshly.

But all in all, "Popeye" is just weird.  It doesn't make any sense, even when you can make sense of the dialogue, it's not that funny, the songs are mostly not that great.  It seems like the product of a conscious decision on the part of the film-makers' to screw everything up as hard as they possibly can.  I couldn't make heads nor tails of the vast majority of it.  Robin Williams worked very hard to pull off something that was doomed to failure (possibly in spite of that fact), and his energy (along with the "He Needs Me" segment) are the sole reasons I can think of to recommend "Popeye."  Otherwise, I think literally everyone involved here did drastically better work, and if Netflix or Hulu had been more cooperative, that's the stuff I would have been watching instead.

1.5 / 5 - Streaming

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy" - 2014
Dir. by James Gunn - 2 hrs. 1 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

By now, I have a good expectation for what I want to get out of a "Marvel Movie."  I mean, after three Iron Mans, two Captain Americas and two Thors, and the best of the lot, "The Avengers," there's a certain approach, charm, and skill that are an expected part of the package.  Thankfully, the first movie since the first "Iron Man" that doesn't have any real continuity propping it up completely fulfills that promise.  "Guardians of the Galaxy" is a little funnier, a little weirder than the "Avengers" line of films, but still has the familiar banter set against people in very tight outfits punching the crap out of everything in sight.

Peter Quill, you may know him by his other name, Star Lord (Chris Pratt), is abducted from Earth as a child, and has grown into something of an a-hole (the film's words, to be clear).  He's like a younger Han Solo, looting everything he can get his hands on (including, and especially women).  One of his jobs involves retrieving an orb from a desolate, formerly populated planet, but it turns out that he's not the only person interested in it, nor the only person on the planet.  A lot people are very focused on this orb, which eventually lands Star Lord, a pair of bounty hunters in the form of a very unpleasant intelligent raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a giant tree person named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and a cosmic deity's adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in the slammer together.  With Drax's (Dave Bautista) help, they all break out of this space prison, with the goal of selling the orb, getting rich, and heading their different ways.  Which is, of course, exactly how things play out.

On one hand, I kind of envy people who are introduced to material like this for the first time, and through film.  Being a long-time comics reader, a talking raccoon bounty-hunter and his tree-based Chewbacca is the sort of thing that you just take for granted in comics.  That's not to say that it doesn't come across as weird when you're reading it, but it's there in ink just like everything else, and you accept that things like this are part of the deal.  But if you don't have that background, a film like "Guardians of the Galaxy" might come off like a surrealist action film, where insanity is the rule, and nothing makes any sense.  It would be awesome to see "Guardians" under those circumstances.  But I knew about Rocket and Groot way before the film, so I wasn't really struck by the weirdness of them.  They're just characters, albeit ones you might not run across in real life.  One of the achievements of "Guardians" is that both characters (well, all of the Guardians, really) are well-rounded enough that you can just take them as characters, and not have their very existence be a hit-or-miss joke.

Visually, there's plenty to feast on.  The cosmic backgrounds that are a part of the Thor films are everywhere here (and so much fun to look at).  There are tie-fighter...  I mean spaceship shoot-outs, there's hand-to-hand combat, there's chases, there's escapes...  I know that I keep making "Star Wars" references here, but "Guardians" really feels like a film made in the Cantina, in a world made up solely of Cantinas.  Only instead of the Cantina band, we've got Star Lord's mix tape of '70s and '80s soft-rock hits.  Normally, I'd instinctively hate anything that borrows so heavily from "Star Wars," but it works here.  "Guardians" is tight, action-filled, clever, and layered with great dialogue (there are at least a couple of instances of people misunderstanding Star Lord's colloquialisms, to great effect).  It's also been cast extremely well; Pratt is a great lead character, because he's able to be crude and awful at times, but with a lack of malice that suits the movie well.  Dave Bautista (WWE's Batista) does a great job playing a straight man, and also seems comfortable spending an entire film with no shirt on.  Rocket and Groot are fun together, and are integrated into the live-action material seamlessly.

In a broader sense, the one thing that I hate about the Marvel movies is that they've applied the "Fantastic Four" bickering-family dynamic to every team, and every interaction, and yet we still don't have a good FF movie, and even if they completely nail it next time around, the dynamic will seem old, or at least familiar.  Each of the teams (at least in the comics world) have their own personality, but the Guardians interact in pretty much the same way that the Avengers do.  And both teams act the way that the Fantastic Four do/did originally.  That's perhaps my only complaint about "Guardians," that there's a plug-and-play element to the interaction between the characters, even if the details do keep the characters distinct.  Also, in "Guardians'" favor, Gamora used the phrase "pelvic sorcery," which goes a long way with me.

I think there's almost no way anyone's going to be disappointed with "Guardians of the Galaxy."  If you've been on the "Avengers" ride since "Iron Man," no problem.  If this is the first "Marvel Movie" you've seen, probably even better!  "Guardians" is a fun ride, tonally consistent with the films that have preceded it, and has a lot of familiar faces in it.  I was happy to see the bit on the credits that said the Guardians would return.  I'm not sure what that means - another film, or being incorporated into an Avengers sequel - and I'm not going to research to figure it out.  I'll be happy to see them show up again in whatever form.  Any complaints that I have with "Guardians" is pretty much down to having seen enough movies in this series to start seeing duplication in structure and approach, and that I was never a fan of the comics, but I still enjoyed the film, and I'm pretty sure everyone else will, too.  It's a crowd-pleaser, not a challenging art film, and it delivers completely on that front.

3.5 / 5 - Theatre (3D)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mahapurush (The Holy Man) - 1965

"Mahapurush (The Holy Man)" - 1965
Dir. by Satyajit Ray - 1 hr. 5 min.

Full Movie (no subtitles)

by Clayton Hollifield

My ignorance of Indian cinema is nearly entire.  I've seen spoofs of Bollywood dance numbers, and whatever is playing on the TV of my local Indian buffet while I'm happily munching on samosas.  It's not that I'm anti-Indian cinema, but I just don't even know where to start.  I've heard of "The Holy Man" director Satyajit Ray only because some of his songs were included on the soundtrack to "The Darjeeling Limited."  Still, that fact, combined with the short run time, and this film's availability on Hulu's Criterion Collection films seems as good as any place to start.

Birinchi Baba (Charuprakash Ghosh) is a round-faced guru who throws cookies into crowds and lets people touch his feet for good luck.  He, and his dim-witted assistant (Robi Ghosh) are travelling via train, and their cabin-mate, Gurupada Mitter (Prasad Mukherjee) begs for help, as the death of his wife has left him distraught.  The Baba basically installs himself in Gurupada's house, orating to ever-larger audiences, who are wooed by his tales of interacting with everyone from Jesus to Einstein.  A few of the locals see through Baba's act, and plot to drive him out of the town before he ruins his host financially.

One of the things that I found fascinating about "The Holy Man" is that it wasn't off-putting at all.  Again, in all of my ignorance, I kept half-expecting a song-and-dance number to break out, but "The Holy Man" was more in line with some of Akira Kurosawa's lower-key work (like parts of "High and Low"), or something like Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing."  The visuals weren't fanciful (other than being a glimpse into a completely different culture, which was fun), but "The Holy Man" was approached in a matter-of-fact, low-key manner, which felt very familiar to me (I consider that a positive).  The plot was very relatable, as well; it's easy to understand how desperate, troubled people might fall for what appears to be the answer to their prayers, and the notion of using religion as a cloak for criminal ulterior motives is universal.

There were a lot of things that I liked about "The Holy Man."  First, the technical aspects were all handled well, and the film is in great shape.  I've seen enough foreign films to know that sometimes you have to trade technical smoothness to get at something different; no trade-off was required here.  It looks like a film made in the '60s, not a low-budget indie film that was strung together.  Secondly, the acting was good all the way around, and Charuprakash Ghosh was really good as a charismatic holy con-man.  He has a unique, expressive face, and a sense of flamboyance that befits someone putting on a show for the locals.  The cast, on the whole, were enjoyable (and represented an array of general types of people - it's not like a Hollywood film, where everyone can appear to have arrived on-set directly from the same gym and same hair-stylists).

"The Holy Man" was a comfortable introduction to Satyajit Ray's work, at the least.  I wouldn't hesitate to watch another film by him; perhaps a little research will yield what is considered his best handful of films - there's no point in dancing around the periphery of someone's creative output until you know whether or not you really dig the work.  The plot was tight, and the short run-time made this really easy to get through (I will sometimes hedge my bets with unknown material and choose whatever's shortest, just in case I really don't like it).  I don't know where this films falls in Ray's work, but you could do a lot worse than to spend roughly an hour taking in "The Holy Man."

3.5 / 5 -  Streaming

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blue Sunshine - 1978

"Blue Sunshine" - 1978
Dir. by Jeff Lieberman - 1 hr. 34 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I'm not even going to pretend "Blue Sunshine" held my attention.  The description of the film sounded like it might be some oddball, weird fun, but that was intermittent, at best.  It leaned too heavily in the direction of horror and not enough on the weird, for my tastes.

During a dinner party, one of the guests freaks out, loses his hair (and this is what I don't understand - the hair comes off in one piece, as if it was a toupee, but I think the idea is that it was supposed to be the contents of someone's scalp, but there's no blood or anything like that), and starts chucking the women into the fireplace.  One of the other party-goers chases the freakazoid out into the night, eventually pushing him in front of a semi.  But the drivers only see that part of the proceedings, and blame Jerry (Zalman King) for all of the murders.  On the lam, Jerry tries to figure out what caused the freak-out, but it keep happening with different people.  It seems that a type of LSD called Blue Sunshine, which Jerry's doctor dealt in college (to pay for school, of course, he never touched the stuff himself), has a ten-year surprise in store for whomever indulged in their youth: they're going to lose their hair and kill whomever is handy.

First caveat: I'm not partial to horror films.  Horror filmmakers frequently use smoke and mirrors to keep non-horror fans interested when things get too stupid, things like nudity and absurd violence, an abundance of swearing and jiggling.  None of that was present in "Blue Sunshine."  I suppose there will be a movie in ten years trying to spook EDM fans about something in their Molly that's going to make them go crazy (although we needn't wait - too many dance events have a death and injured toll appended to their write-ups), but it didn't feel like a very strong basis for a film.  There were a handful of interesting things going on, even if they were momentary.  I did love the part where a babysitter got the tell-tale strong headache while the kids were being particularly annoying, and ended up getting chased around by the babysitter, who was wielding a giant kitchen knife.  The children complained that it was scaring them, but maybe if they hadn't behaved like such little shits, they wouldn't get chased around at the wrong end of a chef's knife, being waved around by a woman with a migraine!

There was a segment towards the end of the film that seemed genuinely horrific.  An ex-footballer named Wayne Mulligan (Ray Young) was trying to make time with a little cutie pie named Alicia (Deborah Winters), who was coincidentally trying to help Jerry clear his name.  And where did Wayne want to take her?  A discotheque in the local mall!  There's two things about this that I find to represent Hell on Earth.  First:

And I will bear no argument on this subject.  Secondly, a discotheque in a mall?!?  Are you kidding me?  I can't say that the proliferation of chain restaurants and Claire's that litter every mall in America represent a step forward for American culture.  At least I couldn't, before I realized that beneath every Applebee's and every Outback Steakhouse might lay the rubble of a freaking mall discotheque!  That's progress I can get behind.

Anyhow, of course Wayne was a total balls-tripper during his college days, and freaks out at the disco.  Like ninety-percent of the one star I give this film is due to his military pressing some dude Ultimate Warrior-style (because, as I've said before, there is literally nothing I love more than someone using a professional wrestling move in the middle of a movie fight.  Not cupcakes, not walking hand-in-hand with my sweetie on a boardwalk during sunset, not even Cap'n Yoby's tartar sauce), before the segue into the big mall showdown between Jerry and Wayne, where Jerry plugs Wayne with a tranquilizer dart, solving nothing beyond subduing the big guy who's wrecking everything.  But what about all those other hits of acid?!?

I guess everyone's just out of luck, then!  That what you get for being dirty hippies, you dirty hippies!  Maybe I should have paid better attention to "Blue Sunshine," but maybe it should have been a more interesting movie.  The only thing that really stuck with me was Wayne's discotheque hellworld freak-out, and that I can't figure out what was supposed to be up with everyone's hair when it fell out, but stayed one piece.  The hair should have either just fell apart all over the place, or the scalp needed to come off with it (which is reasonable, considering this is a horror film).  Otherwise, it suggests that each of these unwashed philistines were covering up for previous hair-loss with a bad wig, but that would detract from the suddenness of their respective murderous freak-outs.  And when the biggest impression a movie makes on me is the awkwardness of an effect, we have a bit of a problem.

1 / 5 - TV (HD)