Directed by: Christopher Livingston
Starring: Brian Drolet, Hoyt Richards, Taylor Cole
Well, it’s almost the end of November, and you know what that means! It’s time for me to try hastily to watch a few movies made this year so I can seem even the slightest bit relevant! It’s just so hard to want to watch new movies when you get shit like Dumbbells as the status quo. I don’t want to sound old, but everything new is bad and the neighbor kids won’t stop smoking the dope on my lawn.
A once-promising basketball star ends up working at a gym after an injury that ends his career before it begins. When the failing gym is taken over by “the world’s first male supermodel”, the two get to know each other and become good friends who try to save the business together. Also, by complete coincidence, the actors who play those lead roles are also the writers and producers of the film. Anyway, there’s some stuff about a cult led by Urkel and Fabio is there… oh, and this is one of the most misogynist movies I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t think there’s a single instance where they could have called women “bitches” and they didn’t do it excitedly, laughing as they splash wiggling butts and boobs all over the place in a vain attempt to make the film even the least bit watchable.
The main characters in Dumbbells are the biggest pair of Mary Sues you could come up with. They’re both amazingly attractive and smart and athletic and they get the girls and make millions by the end of the movie, etc etc. The film just feels like an excuse for these two douchebags to fulfill their sad little fantasies of being constantly surrounded by hot half-naked cheerleaders. The plot is as fragile as it is predictable and every character has exactly one personality trait. And here’s a fun fact: the trait of every woman in the movie is “sexy”. The cast lists FORTY-FIVE female characters who’s names are some slight modification off of “Hot Girl” or “Sexy Girl”, not to mention the half dozen or so which have names in the credits but were never mentioned int he film. It’s fucking disgusting.
The only other thing I want to mention about this movie before I finish writing this and hopefully never think of it again is the plethora of guest stars who pop in for a scene, tell no jokes, and leave. Fabio is a fairly major part of the plot, but you’ve also got Jaleel White, Tom Arnold, Jay Mohr, and Carl Reiner, for fuck’s sake. Carl Reiner?! How could he not have known better than to appear in someone’s complicated masturbatory fantasy? He’s 92, for fuck’s sake. If Dumbbells is the last thing he’s in, it’ll be a serious disservice to an actual comedian’s career.
Dear Mr. Watterson (2013)
Directed by: Joel Allen Schroeder
Starring: Berkeley Breathed, Jef Mallett, Stephan Pastis
I guess it’s time for me to reveal that I’m a huge nerd. No wait, I’m not done yet: I’m a huge nerd who reads a lot of comic strips and who is very interested in the history and world of comic strips. Okay, now you can reel back in shock, clutching your heart, telling ‘Lizbeth that you’re comin’. Was growing up reading Calvin & Hobbes a big part of this? I dunno, maybe. It’s certainly an amazing comic strip, and one of the few that genuinely qualifies as art. So when I saw a documentary about it on Netflix, I just couldn’t resist, even knowing how much damage it might do to my image as a super-cool bad boy on a motorcycle wearing a jean jacket and smoking a corncob pipe or whatever it is you kids think is cool nowadays. I’m cool.
Dear Mr. Watterson is a documentary where the filmmaker explores the affect Calvin & Hobbes had on his childhood and on the newspaper comic industry. He talks to a bunch of contemporary comic authors and artists about Bill Watterson and his work and visits the town that could have conceivably been the inspiration for the strip. However, since Watterson himself has been living in seclusion since the strip ended in 1995 and he also didn’t show up for this documentary, it’s pretty light on information and just kinda wanders around in search of content. It didn’t really have a set goal in mind, but I think the eventual end message of the film is that Watterson was constrained by his publishers and fellow artists, made very few changes which only affected his own work, and after he left things went back to the way they were before, if not worse. Uplifting.
The biggest failing of this documentary is not the lack of information, that was pretty much going to happen no matter what, given the source material. The problem is that it’s so unfocused and spends way too much time about the filmmaker’s own personal experiences than I personally think is appropriate for a documentary. If it was about something that really affected this guy’s life in a major way, I could understand… I guess. Basically he’s just saying, “I liked Calvin & Hobbes when I was a kid, so I made a movie about me liking it.” I appreciate the sentiment, but the movie could’ve really benefited from a more in-depth look into the reclusive artist’s work.
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Max Ryan
Remember that movie Taken with Liam Neeson where his daughter gets taken and he has to go save her? Well, WHAT IF! You had that exact same movie only it was Nicolas Cage instead of Neeson and there was a lot of pointless torture sequences? Good thing Rage exists so you don’t have to tax your imagination coming up with that far-fetched scenario!
Cage is an ex-con who’s teenage daughter gets killed and he suspect an old rival gang of taking her out in revenge for an old hit. He gathers his old gang buddies, who are all super amazing commandos for some reason, and they single-handedly take out the evil gang which, as it turns out, had absolutely nothing to do with his daughter. She was killed on accident because she and her teen friends were playing with a gun they found in a scene taken straight out of an after-school special. Joke’s on Cage and all those people he murdered, I guess!
Nicolas Cage is one of those guys like William Shatner who’s just become a parody of himself because that’s how the public perceives them. The result is that he just gets worse and more skull-poppingly insane with every new movie that comes out. We can only hope that he pops a vein in his neck and is put on permanent hiatus from screaming in front of a camera sometime soon or we’re going to have to deal with a 70 year old Cage frothing in rage over a dog crapping on his yard in some Gran Turino ripoff down the line. I don’t want that. I don’t.
Red Riding Hood XXX (2010)
Directed by: Ashlynn Brooke
Starring: Lexi Belle, James Franko, Danny Mountain
Red Riding Hood is such an old fairy tale, and one we all hear when we’re kids, it’s not surprising at all that there are a million porn versions of it out there. I think this one is specifically “parodying” a more recent film version of the story, but I haven’t seen it. Still, it’s very obvious to see how the situation of an innocent young girl being prayed on by an evil older man with questionable motives can be sexualized. And yet they still fucked it up big time.
You know the story of Red Riding Hood, right? Well, this is the same thing, except the “big, bad wolf” is played by some loser in a black wifebeater and really terrible fake sideburns that keep almost falling off. I know you don’t expect good production values from porn, and I am quite thankful they decided on that over a dude in a fursuit or something horrifying like that, but… come on.
When I sat down to watch a Red Riding Hood porn parody, I told myself the one and only criteria it would need to meet would be if it included the line, “My, what a big cock you have!” and this movie did not. So I give this movie an F-.
The Producers (1967)
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn
Man, I hadn’t seen this movie in forever, and it’s really funny. Not one of Mel Brooks’ best necessarily, but it was his directorial debut and he won an Oscar for the screenplay, so it’s not too shabby either. And no, I haven’t seen the remake because I hate both Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
A scumbag producer (Mostel) teams up with a nervous accountant (Wilder) to engineer a Broadway play that will be sure to close on opening day so they can scam a bunch of old ladies out of their money. The scheme they use doesn’t hold up to a whole lot of strict scrutiny, but that’s not what the movie’s about. They recruit a Nazi playwright (Kenneth Mars) and put on a show called ‘Springtime for Hitler,’ a rosy-colored musical about WWII from the German side.
The real beauty of this film, from the perspective of someone who grew up on MST3K and who loves watching terrible movies, is that it shows exactly what happens when you try really hard to make something as bad as you possibly can: it becomes hilarious. The Producers is a bit of a thesis statement for my entertainment viewing habits, and because of that it’ll always have a soft spot in my heart. Also, of course, is the performance of Gene Wilder, who is such a phenomenally scary actor at times you worry for the guy. When Gene Wilder flips out, it touches a primitive part of your brain where you can clearly see another human in serious distress and you just don’t know what to do about it.