Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Not Another Teen Movie

Category : Movie Review

Director: Joel Gallen

Starring: Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Mia Kirshner

Year: 2001

If you didn’t live through the American Pie era, you just won’t understand; Not Another Teen Movie might make fun of the 80s too, sure, and of 90s chick flicks too, yeah, but the main target is definitely teen romps where every joke is sexual, every character ridiculous, every problem imaginary, and every house party a chance to chug beer, jump in a pool, and see someone’s boobs.  I graduated high school the same year this movie was released, so I feel its point very deeply; I not only watched the films it mocks but I also lived the lives it generalizes so fluidly, until you can’t tell whether it’s exposing or spoofing; maybe a little bit of both.  If it seems like I’m gearing up to call Not Another Teen Movie a surprisingly cerebral representation of the times, pump the brakes, because it’s really mostly stupid.  But it does get a lot right about both teenage cinema of this time and what it meant to be a teenager of this time, so, hey, credit where credit is due.

At John Hughes High School, you stick with your clique and you don’t throw a fit.  Life is about being the stereotype that you were born to be, and that should be enough for any pubescent, stop your belly aching.  Janey is the artistic, liberated, intelligent loser, who is also really, really ugly; she not only has a pony tail, but she also wears glasses!  Jake is the popular quarterback with the letter jacket and the trophies who can get any girl he wants, especially now that the ultra-princess Priscilla has dumped him for the weird, edgy kid with the handheld camera and the floating bag.  Jake thinks he could get any new girl he chooses, making her instant Prom Queen material, but his friends think otherwise; they challenge him to turn Janey into a popular goddess and to get her to go out with him, a seemingly impossible task that just might lead to true love.

Not Another Teen Movie spoofs often and it spoofs hard; think Scary Movie, but for coming-of-age flicks, especially of the 80s & 90s.  I’m sure there are a thousand more, but the ones that stand out to me or are just plain obvious are She’s All That, American Pie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Breakfast Club, Varsity Blues, Pretty in Pink, Bring it On, Cruel Intentions, Never Been Kissed, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Lucas, Can’t Hardly Wait, Grease, and more beyond count.  It’s a goofy gaff of insults and insinuations, a comedy that’s mostly funny because of the films we’ve already seen, but with a few real humorous moments that do make the movie something of a stupid gem.  Priscilla is my favorite, so perfect, and I also love Ox because his impression is so spot on.  I could do without the character who wants to be Asian, the “token black guy”, the naked foreign exchange student, and other references like that which might not fly the same today as they did almost 20 years ago.  But the rumpus as a whole is at least memorable, and so is the cast: Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Lacey Chabet, Ed Lauter, Paul Gleason, Mr T, Randy Quaid, Molly Ringwald, Josh Radnor.  It’s silly, it’s sloppy, it’s dumb, but you don’t much mind; Not Another Teen Movie is fun for those who understand the inside jokes, and holds up fairly well, if a little more insensitive then I remember and perhaps with too many poop jokes.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Sports – 2020 Fantasy Football: TEs, Ks, & DEFs

Category : Sports

With the season soon beginning and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few days, it’s time to prep for your 2020 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to tight ends, kickers, and defenses:

TEs

  • Obviously, the other skill positions are the sexier in fantasy football, but having an elite (or at least solid) tight end can be the difference between a championship and a consolation prize.  One year I won the league because Jason Witten threw a touchdown, no joke, it happens, so don’t forget about this position come draft day.  Travis Kelce is the undisputed #1 TE and the only one that should be drafted at all high.  The Chiefs will score, he’ll be the recipient often, and you should try to pair him with Mahomes if you can, that would be pleasant.  After Kelce, the Tier Two guys can sure help, but aren’t worth as much of a reach: Andrews, Kittle, Ertz, and Cook.  I really like Cook again with his new-ish team and I think Drew Brees will throw to him a lot; he won’t put up Jimmy Graham In New Orleans numbers, but he could still help your team immensely.  If you don’t get someone from those groups, try your luck at the next bunch of serviceable options: Waller, Gronkowski, Henry, Fant, and Engram.  Olsen, Eifert, Rudolph, and Fells have become a little old & unreliable, so avoid those guys unless you want to take a chance at having them as backup in case they still have some surprises left.

Ks

  • Again, pulling from personal experience, a kicker has saved my bacon more than once, and Justin Tucker has turned my mediocrity into a championship a few times.  I’ve had him five or six years in a row now, in my book he’s the absolute best, and I wouldn’t pick any kicker over him.  Still, there are some guys who might be projected to score more points: Prater, Butker, maybe Lutz.  You can’t go wrong with that first tier, and those guys could really make a huge difference, so don’t wait too long to get your franchise kicker.  The next tier you can wait a while for: McManus, Koo, McLaughlin, Gay, Elliott.  These are solid, week-in-week-out kickers, so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.  After that, wait till your final pick to choose anyone else: Gould, Zuerlein, Myers, Fairbairn, Gonzalez, Crosby.  Just don’t undervalue the position; it’s more important that most amateurs would think.  Nab a great kicker before anyone else has even thought about it, and rest easy the rest of the season knowing that you have guaranteed points for every matchup.

DEFs

  • Defense seems to be a position that can be picked up in free agency later in the season, but the flip side philosophy is to be the first team to select one, that way you get the absolute best.  Buffalo is at the top of the list, then Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Fran, and New England.  Get one of those teams before other people think about defenses and you’ll be set for the season.  Otherwise, you can wait a while or even simply pick one up in free agency after teams show their true colors.  Still, there is a solid group after the first tier, and they are worth consideration.  New Orleans, Minnesota, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago; can’t go wrong with those solid teams, they will (probably) not let you down.  After that, the third group might be the last to really even consider: Indianapolis, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Philadelphia, Tennessee.  The other teams just pick who you like and hope for the best, replacing them as you need.  Defenses shift in power throughout the year, so keep an eye on the waiver wire.

 


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Movie Review – The Arena

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steve Carver

Starring: Margaret Markov, Pam Grier, Lucretia Love

Year: 1974

Steve Carver may have directed The Arena, but it is known as a Roger Corman film, and it sure shows his true colors.  Corman was a pulp director in the 50s and 60s, but his production of hundreds of b-movies is his real legacy; exploitation, sexploitation, blaxploitation, low budget, independent, just plain bad, you name it.  His films are legendary for being terrible, and it’s up to audiences to decide whether they’re truly experimental or simply degrading, but that’s what you’re gonna get if you dive too deep into exploitation flicks.  Actresses like Pam Grier made their careers off of these ridiculous movies, but what else was available to them at this time, and what else were they to do?  Can’t blame them, gotta blame the men who would cast them in nothing else but what amount to peep shows, and here we are in 2020, still trying to look back and understand.

The Ancient Roman Empire, stretching from Britannia to Nubia, conquering all who stand in its way of greatness, killing those who resist and enslaving those are too weak to die fighting.  Two women find themselves captured by the Romans and taken to a Roman city: Bodicia the Briton and Mamawi the Nubian, two women who were once free but now serve Rome.  They are part of a group of server slaves who only exist to please the citizens of the local arena, where gladiators die fighting for the entertainment of the aristocracy.  But when the men fail to impress the crowds, perhaps the women will do in their stead, and so our heroines prepare to meet their doom upon the sand of the arena; unless they can band together, take a stand, and fight a force which seems so mighty and unbeatable.

OK.  This is hard.  Because on one hand, you have the history of sexploitation and these women who were just trying to have careers, but they had to show their boobs off in order to have them.  That’s something worth investigating because it’s important to understand how far we’ve come in some ways and how little has changed in others, and to appreciate these women who were taking advantage of a system that only cared about their bodies.  On the other hand, it feels bad to support these films in any way, even to look back, both because they were so exploitative and because they were so absolutely god-awful.  It’s a conversation that could go on & on, but no one has time for that; The Arena is complete garbage, obviously, but there are history lessons (not Roman) to glean from this, and that make the film worth something.  Cinematically though, my god; the worst acting and writing you will ever see, with blood & boobs enough only to keep our attention from wandering away when we realize what the hell we’re watching and want to turn it off as fast as possible.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Breakfast Club

Category : Movie Review

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez

Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Paul Gleason, John Kapelos

Year: 1985

The only reason I haven’t listed John Hughes among my Top 5 favorite directors is that he simply didn’t make many movies; he did write some as well, but his career was cut short, he died at the the age of 59.  And, of course, my Top 5 is pretty competitive anyway, it was hard to get in, he probably would have made #6 if I had thought that far down.  But, you know, Woody Allen is kind of a creep, so with all due respect and with how much I’ll always love his movies, he’s someone I could drop off if I needed to.  So here it is, my revised Top 5 favorite directors: Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, Christopher Guest, John Hughes.  I don’t feel like that will be changing any time soon, and I’m glad Hughes is now represented, because wow do I love his movies, and boy did he impact the man/father/critic I would become.

The Breakfast Club is a group of five delinquents of varying degrees who all come together from all walks of life to submit to a day-long detention one spring day in 1984 in Shermer, Illinois.  Though they seem to have nothing in common, they will learn just how similar they really are, when they are given all day to ponder their crimes, and to write a report on just who they think they are as people.  Andrew is a wrestling jock who feels the constant pressure of his coaches and his parents.  Brian is a nerd who has been told that grades are all the matter.  John is a loser who will never be known as anything but a bum.  Claire is a richie who has been popular all her life.  And Allison is a weirdo who has no friends and who no one has ever tried to understand.  Together they’ll make it through Saturday School, and perhaps learn the most they’ve ever learned about life in the process.

If John Hughes knows one thing, it’s how to capture teenage angst, but not even in a whiny way; he can somhow paint a really dark picture that’s at the same time full of life, heart, and brilliant humor.  That’s exactly what he does here, and it’s exactly his style; no one has ever done it better.  And he inspired so many other directors, guys who went a step further maybe, a step more adult, but didn’t lose sight of the dude who set the stage: Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, just to name a couple.  But Breakfast Club will always stand out due to its simplicity and its raw honesty, and because it brought this brilliant cast together to start the golden age of the Brat Pack.  With great music, real emotion, solid acting, cool characters, and Hughes’ patented touch, this film is not only a legend of its time but a story we can still appreciate now, since it has lost none of its potency or its importance.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Jungle Book

Category : Movie Review

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Starring: Bruce Reitherman, Sebastian Cabot, Phil Harris

Year: 1967

I don’t know how this movie has slipped my review, I’ve seen it a million times, and it’s among my absolute favorite Disney classics.  So let’s remedy that mistake and make an official critique, which will probably amount to “this movie is lovely and if you don’t think so I mourn for your childhood.”  You know what haven’t been lovely; all the Jungle Book remakes, even when they were kinda good they were kinda bad, because we never really needed them, since the original is so great.  We could say that about all the Disney remakes, probably, and we should, because they need to just stop already, but that’s neither here nor there.  Let’s just enjoy this magical musical; its like will most likely never come again.

Mowgli is a boy raised by the jungle, since he was found alone by a panther named Bagheera, who gave him to the wolves for safe keeping, not being able to bring himself to abandon this tiny little Man Cub.  Humans mean danger, but Mowgli was just a baby, and he grew to be a friend to all creatures, learning the ways of the jungle just like any other animal.  But he’s not any other animal, he will some day be a Man, and the fierce tiger Shere Khan wants him dead before he can come of age and enter a life of violence.  So Bagheera begins a journey to take Mowgli to a nearby Man village, whereupon he meets the irascible Baloo, the always-hungry Kaa, and the frivolous King Louie, showing that, while the jungle can be treacherous, it can also be a place of laughter and of friendship.

The Jungle Book is so spectacular you’ll need to watch it a dozen times just to get enough of into your veins that you feel satisfied.  I guess that’s why it’s been remade so often, mimicry is a form of flattery after all, but no one has been able to capture the magic quite as wonderfully as the original did with seeming ease.  It’s just so smooth and relaxing, a classic that doesn’t need to dumb down to entertain, but at the same time is filled with fun and frolic, with joyous scenes that have become the stuff of legends.  And, of course, the music: the jungle theme, Trust in Me, The Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like You, That’s What Friends Are For, the beautiful My Own Home.  It’s a great soundtrack, has great characters, such colorful animation, and real heart, that stands out clearly against a backdrop of pure beauty and timeless enjoyment.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Vivarium

Category : Movie Review

Director: Lorcan Finnegan

Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Senan Jennings

Year: 2019

I was expecting great things from Vivarium, and I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get them.  If you’ve seen The Art of Self-Defense, you know how Poots & Eisenberg can pair in an alternate reality story, how she can be strong and he a weirdo, how they both have talent to spare, and can pull off these wacky sorts of roles.  That film is bonkers, so is this one, but I expected there to be similarities in style; what I got was something completely different and much, much weaker.  Finnegan goes down a path I wouldn’t have advised, leaving the absurd behind for the conventional, and that’s simply a mistake.

Gemma is a teacher, Tom is a gardener, they are a young couple in love, and are looking for their first house together.  Nothing seems to be the right fit, especially not the cookie-cutter development they stumble upon, but the salesman at the office is very convincing, and all three drive out to the new plot of suburbia to check out a model home.  It’s literally perfect, as is the neighborhood and the clouds, but Gemma and Tom are creeped out nonetheless, so decide to boogie.  But when they attempt to find their way out of the labyrinth of cul-de-sacs, they can’t seem to find the exit; every house looks just the same, and somehow they keep coming back to #9, the home that the salesman said he could imagine them living in forever.

This is Finnegan’s second film, his first with real names attached, and it’s obvious that he’s not quite where he needs to be yet to make the big splash that he has the potential for.  Because the story is solid from the beginning; the couple, the weird houses, how they become trapped there, how their lives become meaningless, the deeper meanings behind the facades.  There’s a lot being said about modern existence, families, marriage, having kids, making sacrifices, settling down & settling for less.  But that doesn’t last until the end, I’m sad to say, the cool, bizarre, whack-a-doo plot becomes a complete cop out toward the finale, and I was shocked with the way they decided to, in my mind at least, ruin what they had built so well.  I won’t give the reveal away, but it’s normal, it’s uninspired, it’s not left up to us to interpret, and that bothered me.  Poots is still great, Eisenberg is an undervalued talent, there’s nothing wrong with the acting, and there’s nothing wrong with a film that keeps to genre standards.  It simply wasn’t the film it seemed to be, instead turning into something like Under the Skin instead of Art of Self-Defense, which are both better movies any way.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Sports – 2020 Fantasy Football: RBs & WRs

Category : Sports

With the season beginning soon and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2020 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to running backs and wide receivers:

RBs

  • CMC – Christian McCaffrey fell to me somehow last season, and that was a huge mistake on the part of everyone who, for some reason, didn’t take him.  He is a spectacular running back, almost as good a wide receiver, and can take your fantasy team to the playoffs almost single-handedly.  There is no better option this year for the first pick; not just first RB picked but also the first pick over all.  This is it, this is as easy as it gets, just draft CMac, don’t over-think it.
  • Second Tier – If CMC is on a level all his own, then the group right behind him aren’t that far behind.  If you can’t get the best in the game, grab a guy from the next best bunch as soon as you possibly can.  Barkley, Henry, Kamara, Cook, Elliott; you’d be lucky to have any from this group on your team, and I think they’re capable of leading your club, assuming you can give them some support.  If you miss out, grab Chubb, Jones, Jacobs, or Drake, and you’ll still have a solid back to build a team on the back of.
  • Middle of the Pack – There is a great group of young RBs right in the middle of the pack that could be incredible assets this year, so grab one or two and thank me later.  Especially for the value, because they aren’t super high up the list, these guys will be killer picks if they work out the way they’re capable of.  Miles Sanders, Chris Carson, Austin Akeler, Jonathan Taylor, Raheem Mostert; this is a value group, because they all have great potential and they won’t cost you an arm & a leg.  Last but not least, try out Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the rookie back for KC; who knows how well he’ll actually do, but the ceiling is extremely high.
  • New Teams – Then there’s a group that have new teams to play for, whether by free agency or the draft, so their value is questionable, and I wouldn’t pick them as more than backups.  Melvin Gordon (Den), David Johnson (Hou), Cam Akers (LAR), D’Andre Swift (Det); it’s anyone’s guess how these dudes will do, but they have potential to be impact players on their teams, as well as part of your fantasy squad.  If Lindsay ever gets hurt, Gordon could be a steal, and if Akers can win the Rams job, he could get tons of points.
  • Deep Dives – If you want to take a bigger chance, go down the list and nab some backs who won’t be on many radars and just might prove to be diamonds in the rough.  JK Dobbins as a handcuff for Mark Ingram in Baltimore, Jordan Howard if Miami’s offense can wake up under Fitz or Tua, Kareem Hunt if Chubb ever gets hurt in Cleveland; if you’re willing to roll the dice in a later round one of these guys might just come up a winner, just don’t reach too early because there will be safer bets available.

WRs

  • Nuk – If you’re lucky enough to get DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray on your team, I think you’ve got a winning pair that might take you all the way to the championship.  Hopkins is by far the best receiver in the league, and he could be the top fantasy wideout as well.  He is incredible, off the charts, so good, and could catapult you toward a trophy.  I also think he works even better as a companion piece to Murray in Arizona, so try to get ’em both if you can; you won’t regret it.
  • The Chefs – Two years ago it was a surprise, but this year don’t be caught without players from Kansas City, because that team scores.  Mahomes & Kelce & whatever running back they throw in there (Clyde E-H) we know about, but don’t forget about Tyreek Hill, as much as his off-the-field problems might turn you away.  This is fantasy football, I try to keep that stuff separate, I’m just picking statistics, and if other owners are willing to let Hill slide that’s just a bonus for you, because he’s the KC WR that you should have.
  • Pair Up – I’m a big believer in pairing a QB with the WR; I understand that having too many players from one team on your fantasy team can lead to let downs if that one team has a bad day, but I don’t think one QB/WR combo is too much; if your QB has a bad day you’re in for trouble anyway.  So pick one of these top duos: Mahomes/Hill, Murray/Hopkins, Rodgers/Adams, Brady/Godwin, Ryan/Jones, Ben/JuJu, Brees/Thomas, Mayfield/Beckham, Dak/Cooper, maybe even Stafford/Golladay.
  • Unpaired – The good thing about getting a top wideout is that, when you play a team with your WR’s QB, you have them blocked, like playing a team with Brees you know he’s gonna throw to your Thomas, so you don’t have as much to worry about.  The opposite is true about the Ravens, the Seahawks, the Eagles, the Giants, the Rams; they have two or three receivers who all rank the same, and not extremely high, so you have no idea which one will score and block a team who trots out their QB.  That’s a good reason to get a passer who you can’t predict, but it’s a bad reason to get one of a group of receivers who might score or get blanked on any given day.
  • Avoidance – And now for some team’s receivers to avoid, for various reasons.  Courtland Sutton has emerged for Denver, but it’s hard to trust the two rookies the Broncos drafted, at least not yet.  Bengals WRs are just too inconsistent because so is the team, and I don’t trust AJ anymore, but I wouldn’t trust Boyd either.  Same for the Pats, who will run more than they ever have before, with Gronk gone and Brady gone.  Ten, Min, Jax, SF, NYJ; just not enough passing offense to warrant high WR picks, so steer clear until later rounds.


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Movie Review – A Knight’s Tale

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Rufus Sewell

Year: 2001

People don’t like when you combine past events with modern music, but in 2001 directors did it any way, and somehow Moulin Rouge and A Knight’s Tale were still big hits.  I think that’s, in part, because people understand that they’re being ridiculous when they complain about Nirvana being in a film set a hundred years ago.  They understand that it simply doesn’t matter, that art can be expressed through music you didn’t expect, that it really takes away from the quality not at all to surprise you with a juxtaposed moment.  Moulin Rogue is great, and so is Knight’s Tale, two movies that chose to use a gimmick; judge them for that if you must, but not for the results, which are better than you’re willing to admit.

William Thatcher is a young, penniless squire who works alongside Roland and Wat in aid to the knight Sir Ector, an aged jousting participant who roams the countryside making a living on tournaments.  When Ector dies suddenly, it leaves his crew with nothing to work for and no way to make money; that is, unless one of them were to don his armor, pretend to be noble, and win some tilting matches.  William is very skilled for his low birth and tender age, but with a visor down and a fake document that says he’s royalty, Will gets along just fine.  Soon, his name is known all over Europe, or at least his false name, Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein, and the challenges he’ll face grow larger as well, especially when he attempts to win the hand of the fair Jocelyn, who is also the target of the evil Count Adhemar, who will stop at nothing to see Will unhorsed, uncovered, and destroyed.

The modern music is just a small part of this presentation; it’s fun, but it’s in no way the main reason to watch, as it is also no reason to turn up your nose.  It’s cool to hear new tunes in these ancient times, it works perfectly well, and it only sends the entertainment value shooting skyward, you boring old farts.  Aside from that, there’s a main plot about jousting and fighting just waiting to be unearthed and appreciated, because wow is it fun.  The matches are shot excellently, you feel every blow, and it really turns into a rousing sports movie like any other, just with the added elements of beating the bad guy and wooing the lovely maiden.  Ledger was a superstar like none other, it’s so sad that he’s not with us, and the rest of the cast was also shockingly good: Sossamon, Sewell, Paul Bettany, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Berenice Nejo, James Purefoy.  Knight’s Tale has all you need, wrapped up with a nice bow, and we should be more appreciative that it was made at all.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Book Review – Christine

Category : Book Review

Author: Stephen King

Year: 1983

As I continue my quarantine quest to read through the entire King bibliography, I come to one of his sillier ideas; a killer car that’s cursed to have a murderous life all its own.  It’s not the coolest plot, much like the aliens in Tommyknockers or the grim reapers in Insomnia, but, you know, maybe he just runs out of ideas sometimes, and, to his credit, he usually finds a way to make them work anyway.  That’s the way it is with Christine; it really shouldn’t work, it kinda doesn’t for a while, but King saves his own bacon by wrapping it up quite nicely.  This book slides into the category of ‘quite good’ without making a very large splash, and probably without my remembering it too fondly a few years hence.

Four main characters are central to this story: Dennis, Arnie, Leigh, and Christine.  Dennis and Arnie are best friends, have been for years, and even the politics of high school won’t keep them apart.  Dennis has always stood up for Arnie, who is nerdy, pimply, a little odd, but a good friend, and Dennis has never wanted to be “popular”, although his looks and his place on the football team could take him there.  Leigh is the girl Arnie falls hard for when his confidence starts coming in and his acne starts clearing, a process of growing up that comes on quickly, mysteriously, right after Arnie buys his first car.  Which brings us to Christine, a she not an it, a car with a life of her own.  She has the ability to fix herself and to fix her owner, but at what cost, and who will be run over along the way?

King imbues this tale with teenage angst, car talk, rock music, awkward juvenility; some of the things some of us experienced, but perhaps not widely enough to warrant an entire story about growing up in way that can seem universal but at times comes across as too specific and too fictional.  The horror part aside, this is simply a hard plot to get into, it’s broken up strangely between characters, and then the “scary” element does start feeling a little forced when you meet the darker pieces.  It’s the end that gets you and makes you enjoy the entire package, but even a good wrap up can’t save the day completely.  Arnie is a hard role to really appreciate, Dennis is not around enough, Leigh is obviously a fantasy, and Christine just isn’t that terrifying.  That sounds like a lot of problems for a 4/5 star rating, but the end really did tip the scales, the end third maybe, and when you look back you think to yourself “OK that was kinda neat.”  Christine won’t go down as a King classic in my book, but that’s OK, they can’t all be home runs, sometimes you just get a base hit and call it a day.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Emperor’s New Groove

Category : Movie Review

Director: Mark Dindal

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton

Year: 2000

A lesser-known Disney Animation Studios film, The Emperor’s New Groove might help mark the beginning of Disney’s post-Renaissance slump, but it’s also the best among that ill-fated group, and should be considered a comedy classic that gets almost none of the respect it rightfully deserves.  That might all sound a little dramatic for a review of a silly kids’ movie about a talking llama, but I assure you this is a film to be a taken seriously.  Well, no, strike that, it’s goofy as all get out, but, in this case, that’s a good thing, a great thing, and should only help to convince you that TENG is an under-valued gem that only the deepest divers know about and know to love.

Kuzco is the selfish, young emperor of an Incan-like civilization in the mountains, where llamas are tame, jungles are wild, and no one dares throw off their touchy leader’s delicate “groove”.  You make Kuzco mad one time and you’re out on the seat of your pants looking for somewhere else to live, which is the exact situation Yzma finds herself in; the emperor’s chief advisor one day, homeless the next.  But she’s not leaving without a fight, or at least without revenge, and she attempts to poison Kuzco on the eve of her departure.  But instead of dead, he turns into a llama, which is weird, and Yzma becomes empress, which is weirder.  Now the unbearable Kuzco will have to enlist the aid of a commoner named Pacha, who he has already treated poorly, if he ever wants to be ruler, and human, again.  He has a lot to learn about fairness and friendship, but maybe llamas are better at picking up those lessons than people.

That you can buy this DVD for $4 is both a steal and a travesty; some times you see those prices and think “yeah that makes sense”, but I swear to you, in this instance, even Disney doesn’t know what value it has on its hands with this movie.  It’s worth so much more than a few bucks, because it has so much more to give than a few chuckles; there’s real humor here and real heart, if anyone would take the time to notice it.  I first watched this movie with a group of friends when I was a teen, kind of as a joke, but we all just adored it so much, for some inexplicable reason, and now, more recently, I’ve shared it with my kids, who had the same opinion of it as I did.  It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s smart and at the same time ridiculous, it’s a ‘wow’ of a good time, and the fact that no one seems to know about it only fuels my desire to tell people that it exists.  The voices are great: Spade, Goodman, Warburton (who really steals the show), the multi-talented Eartha Kitt, Wendie Malick.  All combined, TENG is a fun-sized bit of charming entertainment that will surprise with quality; how’s that for a ringing endorsement?

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆