Friday, March 28, 2014

Down Periscope - 1996

"Down Periscope" - 1996
Dir. by David S. Ward - 1 hr. 32 min.


by Clayton Hollifield

"Down Periscope" is the kind of movie that spends the first five minutes hammering home over and over again that the main character has a tattoo on his dick.  It's not mentioned in passing, but hit upon over and over again, and is a main motivation for how people treat the character.  And this is also the kind of movie that wants you to believe that Kelsey Grammer is the kind of guy who would get drunk enough to get a tattoo on his junk.  And then, that everyone would know about it, including his superiors in the Navy, and that it would affect how he was treated.  This film feels like it was written in the early '80s (I mean, tattoos in general were fairly mainstream by the mid-'90s), but couldn't get made until a ton of people who should have known better needed the work.

Tom Dodge (Grammer) is a man in search of a boat - he's been repeatedly passed over to command a submarine, and is considered a degenerate and generally irresponsible.  For some reason, Yancy Graham (Bruce Dern) hates Dodge, and decides to give him a promotion to helm a rustbucket diesel-powered sub and a rag-tag crew, to be used in a wargame scenario that will probably lead to Dodge losing, and the end of his career.  But, if you know anything about save-the-house comedies, you know what's going to happen.

"Down Periscope" isn't really a good movie.  It's funny at times, and the cast is littered with people who you will possibly recognize.  And as bad as it is, it's still pretty watchable.  There's not a ton at stake, and it has the sophistication of a mainstream sitcom, and is as formula as it could possibly be, but it's still pretty watchable.  Part of that is that Kelsey Grammer is an absurd choice for the role - he's too stuffy and Frasier-y, but why not?  There are fart jokes, general stupidity, and everyone learns a lesson by the end of the film (including me, because pretty much everything I know about submarines comes from watching "Down Periscope").

So let's get back to the cast, which is the main reason to watch, and an illuminating lesson in the importance of having a good idea before making a movie.  If you said that you had a film that had Kelsey Grammer, Bruce Dern, William H. Macy, Lauren Holly, Harry Dean Stanton, and Rip Torn in it, among others, it's not impossible that the result could be pretty decent.  In fact, Macy made both "Down Periscope" and "Fargo" in the same year, which is also a lesson to creative types that the line between genius and (admittedly watchable) dreck can be very thin indeed.  In this case, a matter of months.  In general, the cast here doesn't have much to latch onto, since most of them are playing broad caricatures, so no one really excels.  Since there is a bit of talent, everyone keeps things afloat, but there's just not much that can be done beyond that.

But then, this is also a movie that has Rob Schneider in a prominent role, and has the cast included in an updated video for the Village People's "In the Navy."  "Down Periscope" is what it is; a really dumb movie that means well, and has faces you'll recognize, and maybe you saw it when you were younger and don't mind sitting through it again on a WTF Thursday night, when everything's re-runs and you just need to kill an hour and a half because it's way too early to go to bed yet.  And there's that part where Harland Williams pretends to speak whale, and that scene where Lauren Holly's uniform is three sizes too small (although still fitting with the mid-'90s comedy need for women to be largely asexual), so grab a beer or two and melt into your couch.

1.5 / 5 - TV

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) - 2013

"The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)" - 2013
Dir. by Hayao Miyazaki - 2 hrs. 6 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"The Wind Rises" is a real accomplishment in film, the kind of movie that probably shouldn't exist, and I can't think of anything like it (particularly in animation).  I found it to be staggeringly beautiful and bittersweet, the type of thing that sticks with you for a while, even after the credits have rolled and the house lights come on.

The story of "The Wind Rises" follows Jiro Hirokoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from his childhood obsession with airplanes, to adulthood, when he becomes a respected engineer, designing new planes and pushing the Japanese aviation industry forward.  The backdrop to the story is the run-up to World War II, and at least from an American perspective, this is from the unusual viewpoint of Japanese engineers, at times trying to glean technical know-how from the Germans.  While Jiro is struggling to get his ideas to work in the real world, he falls in love with a girl, Nahomo (Emily Blunt) at a mountain retreat.

One of the beautiful things about "The Wind Rises" is that it's tough to explain the story.  I feel that a rough sketch of what's going on is sufficient; as a viewer, you're going to have to put enough trust in Director Hayao Miyazaki (who has also made films like "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke") to know that what might sound militaristic or propagandistic doesn't come off that way.  Instead, this is a film of great intimacy, and lets viewers inside the characters' heads in a real, detailed way.  Jiro has dreams, and they frequently bleed between reality and imagination.  But we are also admitted to his actual nighttime dreams, which are shared with Count Caproni (Stanley Tucci), a famous Italian plane designer.  It might be more accurate to say that Jiro has been allowed to see Caproni's dreams, which fuel his own imagination.  But there are other small, quiet moments that are more emotionally devastating than any of the explosions or chaos that also populate this film (and you'll recognize at least two of them, upon watching).

The actual animation in "The Wind Rises" is a blend of traditional and computer techniques, but it feels like it's been drawn by hand all the way through.  Machines wobble and vibrate and appear to live, instead of being hunks of pixels that stay 100% on-model at all times.  The characters move distinctly and interestingly, the backgrounds are detailed, fascinating, and drawn beautifully.  One of the things that I immediately noticed about the direction of this film was the confident use of quiet, and even of silence.  Sometimes it's a matter of knowing that it's better not to say anything at a particular moment, sometimes it's an invitation to take in one's surroundings.  From frame one, "The Wind Rises" is filled with stunning drawings, and I can't count the number of times I stared up at the screen, in awe at how things were being depicted, and the skill with which it was done.

To balance the beauty (and yes, I keep coming back to that word for a reason), there is a healthy dose of bittersweet within the story.  Part of the deal, when you decide to watch this movie, is that you're going to be asked to sympathize with people who were, at one point in history, the enemy to Americans.  The work that Jiro is doing ends up being for fighter planes which would be used against the United States in World War II, although that's clearly never his intention.  If you can divorce yourself from national loyalty, you can see the similarities that all people face.  Jiro's aim is to make beautiful dreams (how he and Caproni refer to planes in their shared dreams), and he has the skill, but the only people who have the money to make his dreams reality is the government, who will use whatever he can come up with in order to kill.  In one of the dreams, Caproni point blank asks him if he wants to live in a world with or without pyramids - meaning that in order to accomplish anything at all, one has to recognize that both the path there and what comes out of his inventions is completely out of one man's control.  An individual has the choice to act or not act, but not acting isn't going to prevent bad things from happening.  It's a sobering look, an assertion that there is nothing in the world that is purely good.

Even the romance portion of the film, which fulfills Jiro, and allows him to add something new and more refined to the world around him, is still in service to the march to war.  The less I say about the relationship between Jiro and Nahomo is probably better; "The Wind Rises" is the rare film that needs to be experienced in order to understand it.  That in itself is an accomplishment, in a film that's filled with things that don't add up to what we might think of as any of the words that we might use to describe it.  Miyazaki is playing jazz here, and most everyone else is writing dog food jingles.  In terms of animation, it's unusual to have adult main characters, to maintain a hand-drawn look (as opposed to CGI creations), to crack two hours long, to make a visually-sophisticated and accomplished movie that is emphatically not for children (not that children couldn't watch it, the emotionally difficult parts are largely implied).  As a film, it's unhurried, has a complicated, long-term story, and dares to look at the sky instead of at one's shoes.  As an experience, it's one of the finest films I've had experience of watching.

5 / 5 - Theatre

Monday, March 10, 2014

Valley Girl - 1983

"Valley Girl" - 1983
Dir. by Martha Coolidge - 1 hr. 39 min.


by Clayton Hollifield

There are some stories that get told over and over again, partly because the intended audience will be too young to know that this story has been told before.  The surface may be different, but the essential plot is the same.  In the case of "Valley Girl," this is an '80s Los Angeles take on "Romeo and Juliet."  It's not an insult to say that "Valley Girl" draws on the same story that Baz Luhrmann would about a decade later (and it's not an insult to any of the other teen dramas that draw on other Shakespeare plays, like "10 Things I Hate About You), but you should know by now whether or not a story's heritage is going to make it feel comfortably familiar or boringly derivative.

When you think of a "valley girl," you are thinking of Julie (Deborah Foreman), who is popular, communicates only in slang, hangs out at the mall with her other popular friends, and dates a popular guy.  Well, to start with, anyways.  Julie dumps Tommy (Michael Bowen) because he kind of looks like Will Forte...  no, that's not it.  He's kind of an ass, and she's tired of it, and there's a huge house party that night anyways.  Fred (Cameron Dye) overhears about the party on the beach, so he and Randy (Nicolas Cage) decide to crash it.  Problem is, Fred and Randy are punks, and everyone else at the party have popped collars and poofed hair.  They get thrown out, but not before Randy and Julie share a moment, which evolves into something more, something that Julie's friends can't wrap their heads around.  Because Randy's a weirdo who goes to a different high school anyways, Julie's friends put pressure on her to ditch Randy and return to Tommy's condescending clutch.

I've got to admit, I've got a soft spot in my heart for films from the '80s that also show off the contemporary music scene, particularly ones set in Los Angeles.  I listened to a ton of west coast punk music, and it's fun to see that represented in film, in a way that seems not to happen as frequently any more.  It was a huge music scene, and perhaps MTV wasn't that open to what was being produced in L.A. at the time, and there seem to have been quite a few people in that music scene that were making films as well as enjoying the music.  In general, the soundtrack is pretty amazing (although there wasn't really an official soundtrack release, which is another, longer story), and there are scenes in the film showing the Plimsouls performing, whom you might know from their smash hit, "A Million Miles Away."

This movie is also notable for being a very early Nicolas Cage movie.  Yes, he's pretty weird here, but he's supposed to be a punk rocker, which were regarded as aliens at the time.  It's interesting watching movies of this vintage, as the dynamic seems to have flipped.  If you made this film today, the popped collar crew would have been the villains (instead of merely being the normal, popular kids), and the punks would be the heroes, instead of the weirdos that the normal kid will have to learn to accept.  Or not.  It's really up to them whether or not the punks are going to be allowed to survive, or are just going to be the recipients of repeated beatings by the football team.  But at least "Valley Girl" is honest.  When Julie asks her dad for advice about which boy she ought to be with, she asserts that popularity does matter, even if her heart doesn't feel that way, and that her friends can't be persuaded otherwise, and that she's jeopardizing her future by not trying to "marry up," in a way.

I really enjoyed "Valley Girl."  It hits some sweet spots - the '80s punk/new wave music, the driving tour of Hollywood at nighttime, and gonzo Nic Cage.  The plot is time-tested and box office approved, and still works, even under a new coat of paint.  Part of the appeal here is nostalgia, part is time-travelling into a weird world where Cage is considered hunky, and part is just laughing at vapid valley-speak.  But "Valley Girl" hums along, and is a pretty tight film.  You could do worse if you were digging through your lost collection of VHS tapes and stumbled across this one.

3.5 / 5 - TV (HD)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Jaws - 1975

"Jaws" - 1975
Dir. by Steven Spielberg - 2 hrs. 4 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I'm almost more familiar with the shark through the Universal Studios theme park bit on the tour than I am from the movie itself.  I'm pretty sure I'd seen it before, although it's entirely possible that I've experienced pretty much everything big that "Jaws" has to offer via parodies and references, and literally everyone knows the ominous score from this film.  Movies like this are hard to evaluate because of how much of the material has been absorbed into popular culture, and it's a minor victory if any suspense survives the piecing out of the film.  Fortunately, "Jaws" holds up pretty well.

The story is straightforward: a New England beach town called Amity Island is preparing for tourist season, when a local girl goes missing from a bonfire party.  She'd wandered off with a guy and headed into the ocean, and some of her remains were found washed up on the shore.  Big City Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is alarmed, wants to shut down the beach, and calls in a marine biologist to confirm his idea that it's a man-eating shark who is responsible for the carnage.  The Mayor, Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), shoots this down on the grounds that it would be a large financial hit for the tourist town.  Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) comes in, confirms that it was indeed a GIANT man-eating shark that had munched the girl.  When the big Fourth of July beach bash is interrupted by the hungry shark, Brody, Hooper, and grizzled Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) head out on the seas to hunt the shark.

One aspect about this film is that the characters themselves have become stock characters.  Any kind of movie in this vein REQUIRES the rich dilettante (Hooper), the authority figure that no one really respects (Brody), the grizzled veteran (Quint), the real authority figure that underestimates the situation (Mayor Vaughn), and a steady supply of supple, young meat for the monster to dine upon.  If there is a man-eating monster on the loose, this is the crew that will have to deal with it.  And if these weren't stock characters already by the time "Jaws" was made, "Jaws" is the film that made these characters stock (by showing how this formula works - a blueprint for future tales in this vein).  Filmmakers and writers are still trying to wring juice from this formula.

And, of course, there is something inherently satisfying about watching a shark chomping down on clueless people.  You don't go see a movie called "Jaws" to watch idiots delicately and deftly deflect death, you want to see carnage and the visceral thrill that comes with it.  Beyond that, this is a brilliantly executed film, there are several legitimately great shots here.  You can start with the severed leg floating downward, showing what the shark can do but not showing how the shark does it, or the reaction shot on the beach with Brody, or the entire final battle on the sea.  It's a master class in how to extend suspense and tension, and includes a lesson that sharks don't take downtime to chill out and sing drinking songs for a while.

There have been a ton of shark films after "Jaws," and I'm sure there must have been one or two beforehand.  But the way you know that "Jaws" nailed it is that I've never seen a shark film afterwards that added anything new to the formula.  Most approach this material in a deliberately cheesy or ironic manner, which is because no one's come up with a way to actually improve on what's done here.  The suspense is top-notch, the setting is serene and peaceful and jubilant, and the various main characters fill all the roles that you need to tell a satisfying suspense story.  Richard Dreyfuss, in particular, is a hoot here, and a very necessary contrast to Quint, who seems to have a callous over his entire body and personality, and Brody, who seems haunted and wary.  Dreyfuss' Hooper is a live wire, not at all restrained, and brings a particular energy to a film and setting where people seem content to relax and not think about things.

But most importantly, just keep in mind the next time you head to a beach for a day of rest and relaxation, you should keep an eye out for fins.

4 / 5 - TV (HD)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - 2013

"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" - 2013
Dir. by Justin Chadwick - 2 hrs. 21 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

It feels bad to not have really enjoyed this movie.  I was bummed out more by the fact that it wasn't enthralling and uplifting than by the things that Nelson Mandela himself had to endure and overcome during his life.  My ambivalence about this film was complicated by the fact that this was based on his autobiography (which I have not read), and there were some elements of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" that I wasn't sure if I ought to chalk up to Mandela's version of events, or to the adaptation process of his book.  It's unfortunate; the failings of the film introduce doubt to Mandela himself, and I'd kind of like to know if those were his own, or were the result of parsing and editing.  Having said that, I'm not hugely likely to read his autobiography to find out (this is just a matter of time, it's unlikely I will get around to reading even a fraction of the books that I'd like to in my lifetime).

I also, in the course of light conversation with a cashier at a store, had to explain who Nelson Mandela was, after saying that I'd seen the movie.  Sigh.  So we'll keep this brief.  Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) was a South African lawyer, then activist, then prisoner, then head of state.  He was a crucial figure in the anti-Apartheid movement, was imprisoned for twenty-seven years for some things he did, and was released partially to help quell race-related violence during 1990.  I mean, if you didn't know that much about him, take ten minutes and hit up his Wikipedia entry, he was kind of a big deal.

Good stuff first.  Idris Elba was a good choice to play the role, as was his co-star, Naomie Harris, who played Mandela's second (and most famous) wife, Winnie.  And the South African setting was a gorgeous backdrop, both it's rural settings and it's cities.  Mandela's life was eventful enough to make sure that there weren't any lulls, and I feel like the big things that needed to be covered were mostly covered.  For the most part, though, I didn't feel like the events were covered in the way that I wanted to see.  That's at least partly a matter of taste and storytelling style, but I'll dig in a little more to explain what I mean.

To my mind, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" portrays Mandela as someone whom things happen to.  The quick narrative about his life backs this up; what people know about Mandela is that he was put in prison for twenty-seven years.  How this is explained depends heavily on one's politics, and it's often spun as being a political move that resulted in him having nearly a third of his life taken from him.  Mandela (and his ANC peers) pled guilty to what amounts to terrorist acts against a racist government, that had broken the largely non-violent tension by gunning down unarmed protesters.  Mandela left South Africa (which is glossed over in this film) to learn how to fight back, and did so, engaging in sabotage.  I'm not condemning Mandela's actions, even resorting to violent means to defend himself (and others) against violent, racially-motivated aggression.  This is more a case of not winning the fight (at least not immediately), and then being at the mercy of the victor.  But Mandela was not a man of inaction.

So there's some things that I would want to know out of a story about Mandela.  First, a good accounting of exactly how he "went rogue," and exactly what that meant.  This portion of his life is essentially told in montage - it's not even clear that he left South Africa at any point, and the consequences of the bombings of municipal buildings don't have clear consequences.  Once, they knock the power out for a city, and one of the ANC rebels doesn't make it out of one of the bombings alive.  But it's established earlier in the film that the law didn't really care that much about dead South African blacks, and that can't realistically be the motive behind the hunt for Mandela and his trial.  I'm left to assume that there were more casualties than were admitted to, or that Mandela was a very big deal and was up to more than mischief, which wasn't properly shown.  There are scenes of him addressing crowds, but there doesn't seem to be much organization behind what he's doing, which makes it seem weird that the South African government would be so wound up about a random rabble-rouser.

His time in prison is fairly well-accounted for, as it should be.  One of the most difficult things to do creatively is to convey emotions like tedium and boredom, because you can't provide a visceral experience of those emotions and expect your audience to stick around.  This film sidesteps that issue by concentrating on the things that Mandela missed out on, like deaths in the family, children growing up, the progression of his movement, his inability to help protect his wife from her own brushes with the law.  There was one exchange that ended up being baffling, though, where the warden seems to either not have his complete faculties, or is a habitual liar who can't remember what he has told people.  The third main thing that I'd want to know about is his relationship with Winnie, which is covered well, but ends up throwing her under the bus so badly that it feels like that can't possibly be what the source material had to say about her.  But maybe I'm wrong about that, their union did end in divorce, and those things are sometimes fairly acrimonious.  Also, curiously, they briefly cover Mandela's first marriage, but never admit that there was a third, after Winnie.

The last main thing that I would want covered is Mandela's path from prisoner to Head of State.  Events are shown, but with little explanation as to the logic behind them.  The biggest moment comes when Mandela is put on live TV (at least that's how it was portrayed), ostensibly to condemn retaliation after another massacre from the slightly less-racist government.  Mandela seizes the opportunity, basically declaring that he's right, everyone who is angry is wrong, and that he'll be running for President shortly.  It was a ballsy move.  Imagine if Kanye West had followed up his assertion that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by declaring he was running for President, and that you could donate to his campaign at once everyone was done donating to the Red Cross for hurricane relief, and then he won and actually was the first black President of the United States of America.  That's what we're talking about here.  Once you step back, Mandela's path is so insane and improbable that I feel that it requires some understanding of what was going on in his head, and throughout "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," we rarely get any indication of that.

Maybe that's the biggest gripe I have with this film, that we never get inside of Nelson Mandela's head, even in a film made from his very own words.  The way things are presented, there's no other way that he could have reacted to them.  When he meets Winnie, he's smitten.  When one of his children dies, he cries.  When he's told that he's not worth anything, he rejects that.  Why not just tell us that after he eats dinner, he eventually poops, and when he takes a shower, he tends to get wet?  If the truth of the matter is that he didn't have much of a life or many interests outside of his activism, then this film falls into the trap of conveying boredom by being boring.  If that wasn't the case, this film misses any insight entirely.  "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" isn't a bad film, it's an underachieving one that doesn't leave me that much more well-informed about his life than I was when I went into it.  I almost never advocate films being longer, but if Mandela's life isn't worth three hours to tell, with proper context and insight into his personality, I don't know whose is.

2 / 5 - Theatre

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No Holds Barred - 1989

"No Holds Barred" - 1989
Dir. by Thomas J. Wright - 1 hr. 33 min.

Home Video Re-Release Trailer (2012)

by Clayton Hollifield

You know how there are bad movies?  Well, "No Holds Barred" certainly qualifies.  It's so bad that it crosses into the double negative zone where it actually becomes somewhat enjoyable again.  Not by design of course; this film was a shot at turning star Hulk Hogan into a legit bad-ass crossover star, which is the same impulse that has yielded such films as "Spice World" and "Cool as Ice."  And I can't even blame the awful action on "Hollywood" not getting it; the executive producers were Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon.  But 1989 was a really weird time for the then-WWF and professional wrestling, in general, which is part of the reason for the tortured logic of the plot here (which I'll get to in a few sentences here), which is part of why "No Holds Barred" is such a bizarre film.

Rip (Hulk Hogan) is king of the world, A-number-one.  He's the champ of the WWF, and disposes with his opponents with ease (including Bill Eadie, better known as part of the tag team Demolition) with his brother Randy (Mark Pellegrino), who got all the lovely feathered blond hair and none of the muscles in the family, by his side.  In fact, Rip is such a success that a rival network owner, Brell (Kurt Fuller) decides that Rip must on his network instead, contracts be damned.  Rip doesn't like the smell of what Brell is cooking, and turns him down by jamming a blank check into Brell's mouth and storming out.  Brell decides instead to hold a tough-man competition after visiting a sleazy bar that features random brutes fighting in a makeshift ring (plus some dude giving tattoos in the background), with a cash prize of $100,000.  Brell has also sent a spy, the lovely Samantha (Joan Severance), who is confusingly also seemingly in charge of Rip at the network he's contracted to.  Hulk likey.  In the tournament, a random giant dude named Zeus ("Tiny" Lister) shows up out of nowhere, and starts beating the hell out of everyone.  Since Rip's trainer used to train Zeus before Zeus went all loco, and Brell still wants Rip on his network, Brell starts tormenting Rip, goading him into a giant fight with Zeus.

There's a lot that's really silly about this movie, but let's do the good stuff first.  First off, there is literally nothing in the world that I love more than seeing actors pull off wrestling moves in the middle of movie fights.  Hulk never drops a leg on anyone, but his character's finisher is a double axe-handle, which he dishes out liberally.  Secondly, there is one thing that Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan were ahead of the curve on: muscles.  Specifically, muscles in action movies.  Even the guys of that era who were pretty muscly still would be put to shame by Hugh Jackman in any of the Wolverine movies.  There was pretty much Arnold, Sly, and then everyone else.  It may have seemed weird at the time to fetishize the male physique in such a blatant way (Hulk appears in running shorts, sleeveless spandex outfits, bikini briefs, and is frequently shirtless), but twenty-five years later, you literally cannot have an action movie without a chemically-enhanced, kettle-bell built star.  I'm not saying that Hulk and Vince pioneered that, I'm saying they were way ahead of the curve on this front.

But this movie comes from the kayfabe era, and that means that the whole plot is based on a shaky foundation.  Since they couldn't really admit the action was staged, but most of the people involved weren't capable of convincing stage combat, they just did wrestling stuff and assumed the audience would be fine with it.  Since they couldn't reveal the actual structure of how wrestling promotions were run (I mean, how would you explain someone who was in charge of booking matches without also explaining that they needed someone to make sure the stories made sense, without also explaining that they were creating stories?), we get an evil network executive, and the plot in general seems to be a take-off on "The Running Man."  The bad guys in "No Holds Barred" do illegal stuff all the time (like Brell back-handing Samantha, or roughing up Rip's brother, Randy), but the police don't seem to exist, or at least they're not interested in any of it.  And maybe the worst part (at least for anyone who's familiar with Hulk Hogan's career) is that Rip isn't allowed to show any weaknesses at all, and the only hope for Zeus (who is portrayed as an unstoppable monster heel) to defeat Rip is to mess with his brother, which bums out the Hulkster something awful, and to kidnap his girl, which bums him out even worse.  Otherwise, he's the kind of guy who beats everyone, stops robberies by hurling pies at the stick-up men, is conversant in both French and French cuisine, and donates his time liberally to charity.

I'm pretty sure that no one figured that "No Holds Barred" was going to be aimed at a discerning audience, and sure enough, me and my sister did go see it in the theatre when it came out.  But I was in middle school at the time, so I'm claiming an asterisk on that one.  This is by no means a good movie.  It's an absurd movie, one that couldn't have happened even a couple of years later (Vince McMahon admitting wrestling was predetermined for a tax break, a looming steroid trial that involved both McMahon and Hogan, and the periodic downturn of the wrestling industry were factors that would soon come into play), it's goofy and cartoony as hell.  But I did laugh, over and over again.  I'm sure I didn't react the way everyone hoped audiences would react, and if you don't have any affinity for pro wrestling or nostalgia for this era, your mileage is definitely going to vary.

"What's that smell?"

That smell is dookie, in case you were wondering.

1 / 5 - Streaming