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.
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.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
When I was a kid, I HATED this movie. That’s right, I’ve always been a bitter old asshole. However, I think in this case the main reason I didn’t like it was because a friend and I always tried to play the tie-in NES game and god damn is that the most frustrating thing you can possibly try to do when you’re seven. Anyway, I figured I’d give it another chance now that I’m nearly 30 and I haven’t played that game in, oh, about a year or so. Still can’t beat the damn thing.
An alcoholic detective down on his luck (Hoskins) gets embroiled in a scheme way over his head, a la Chinatown. Only this scandal is about Christopher Lloyd wanting to build a highway through the town where cartoon characters live, and oh yes also cartoon characters are real and they live on Earth and nobody minds that it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Okay, here’s the reason this movie exists in the pop culture conciousness at all: Technically speaking, the way they combined live action and animation is amazing. It’s still clearly very rough, but this is 1988 we’re talking about here. And hell, they do a better job in Roger Rabbit than they do in The Phantom Menace. Also, Bob Hoskins plays the role of the loser detective/ex-circus clown to a T, and it’s hard to imagine many other people being able to pull of an oddball character like that. The faults are a little more major, in my opinion. With all the effort spent on the effects, the story takes a far back seat, and it reads like the most generic possible detective story you can imagine. It’s like an episode of Police Squad! without the comedy. Also, Roger Rabbit is the most fucking obnoxious character and you can’t help but root for his death in every scene. But maybe that’s just me, I know I have a much lower tolerance for the “funny” annoying guy archetype than most.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)
Directed by: Crispian Mills, Chris Hopewell
Starring: Simon Pegg, Paul Freeman, Amara Karan
I guess I don’t keep up very well with Simon Pegg movies, even though I kinda sorta try to. You know how it is when there’s an actor that you like but you don’t really have the energy to look up what they’re always working on? Or is that just the way life is for you normal people?
Pegg is a writer working on a series about Victorian era serial killers who believes that he himself is the target of a serial killer. Without giving too much away, it leads him down a path to one of his darkest moments as a child in a laundromat, an old fear he’ll have to face before he can move on… OR SURVIVE!!! I’ll write really bad copy for any movie, only $1.99 (US money please).
This is kind of a horror/comedy, but it’s also just pretty weird and it doesn’t sit well being identified as one or other, or even really both. There are moments that are pure suspense horror with slapstick routines following not ten minutes later. I don’t mean this in a bad way, necessarily, but the film never really gives you a chance to get a grip on it, and that’s something that’s crucial for a suspenseful horror flick. My biggest complaint was the scenes where Simon Pegg raps, which is not only completely terrible, but grinds all the audience involvement to a screeching halt in two different sequences where you should feel at your most compelled. So, it’s a fine B-grade movie. Could definitely have been a lot worse.
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)
Directed by: Dick Lowry
Starring: Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Paul Williams
Apparently the original subtitle of this movie was going to be “Smokey IS the Bandit,” and the concept was going to be that Jackie Gleason was going to play both the bandit transporting illegal goods across state lines and the small-town sheriff chasing after him. I have no idea how that would’ve worked out, but I can tell you that there’s no way it could’ve been worse than this gigantic mountain of horseshit Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 turned out to be.
Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Gleason) finally retires after two movies of chasing Burt Reynolds around the American south. He immediately comes out of retirement to race from Florida to Texas against nobody. The two weird rich guys who promise to give him a quarter of a million dollars instead just try to kill or distract the sheriff and his idiot son with a plethora of car chases and disguises, and they even hire Jerry Reed to… dress up like Burt Reynolds and pretend to be him? What the fuck?
If you like watching cars jumping over nonexistent jumps into other cars and hearing nonstop racist jokes, then boy howdy is this the movie for you! In the first Smokey and the Bandit, the bits with Jackie Gleason are okay, but mostly because he’s just an incompetent bumbler who’s in very little of the film. Now he’s the main character and all we do is watch him be angry with his son and spout ignorant garbage for an hour and a half. If only Gleason had died a couple years earlier…