playing catch-up

I missed a lot of movies in 2009 and I’m playing catch-up. Here are some worth seeing:

Milky brought this one over; I’d wanted to see it, but he got it first. This is perhaps one of the best science fiction films of the last decade. Written and directed by Duncan Jones, it tells the story of Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell, Choke) an astronaut who works for Lunar Corp, managing their mining operations on the lunar surface. It of course recalls 2001 but also the ’70s cult classic Silent Running, because he is alone with his robot Gerty on the barren moon. The movie has a fantastic tone of solitude and agoraphobia; Sam has a 3 year contract, but seems to be going a little stir crazy. He starts seeing things; or does he? Is the man on the moon not alone? It’s a great story, and I won’t spoil it for you. This one’s a winner, and Rockwell deserves a nomination for his role. Milky and I both give it:

5 bare-assed moons out of 5.

Julie & Julia
Nora Ephron is hit or miss with me; I loved When Harry Met Sally… but much of her recent work has felt formulaic, so I skipped Julie & Julia in theaters last year when reviews felt that one half of the film was lackluster. And it is, but only compared to the other half. As a whole, the film is quite enjoyable and doesn’t feel 2 hours long. As a food blogger, I should have given this movie more respect. Amy Adams plays the food blogger, who decides to cook every recipe in Julia’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking to bring some meaning to her life. She works for the 9/11 recovery office, and feels helpless as she tries to assist people whose lives were thrown asunder by the attacks. Thankfully, the story is intertwined with Julia Child’s life in France, where after working as a file clerk for the O.S.S. in WW2, she feels empty returning to home life. But she loves French cooking, so she learns how to cook- a decidedly male profession at the time- and then decides she has to introduce America to it. We know her story is a success, but the script manages to convey just how unlikely that was.

Much has been said of Streep’s excellent portrayal, which goes beyond impersonation and makes a lively character of the younger Julia Child based on her memoirs. She says things we would never expect, comparing a hot cannelloni to a stiff cock. (Remind me to read her memoirs –ed.) Stanley Tucci is also perfect as her loving and supportive husband, showing the man’s true range- he’s getting a lot of respect for playing a twisted murderer in The Lovely Bones, but this role shouldn’t be overlooked. Contrast him with Julie’s husband, who seems to be suffering her obsession with cooking. What the film lacks is a love of food, and a bit too much time spent on the mundane and self-absorbed act of blogging. It might be fun to read, but if you watched me type this stuff or fiddle with layouts, you’d rather watch paint dry; and we’re subjected to too much of it, even if it’s only a little. Amy Adams does what she can with the Julie character, but there’s not enough there; it was brave, positioning herself across from Meryl Streep, but unfortunately, she’s not ready yet. If this had been all about Julia Child, it could have been fantastic.

3.5 slabs of butter out of 5

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Andersen does it again. I’m not his biggest fan, but I admire his work, and he makes a wonderful story for both children and adults here. As much as I liked Where the Wild Things Are (full review) I think this is even better. It’s not as wacky as a Wallace & Gromit cartoon, but the stop-motion fuzzy figures are easily as emotive and endearing. And the story works for kids and adults, generating chuckles and grins from all directions, without trying too hard. I had a blast, and Firecracker did too. Like Andersen’s live action films, every moment has little details, the characters all have their little motivations and issues, but it’s all kept lively and fun.

5 Fox Force 5’s out of 5.

Sherlock Holmes
I had reservations about Guy Ritchie turning the world’s most famous detective into an action hero, but if you put expectations aside, this is a blast. Sure, it’s more like Young Sherlock Holmes– complete with cultists operating in the middle of London- but it grabs you early on, introducing Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes the bare-knuckle pugilist. He’s excellent as usual, toning down his twitchy mannerisms and slipping into Sherlock’s pipe and muttonchops with ease. Jude Law is Watson, Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky) has a delightful role as the harried police chief who needs the duo’s deductive powers, and the plot- revolving around an Aleister Crowley-esque magician with plans for Parliament- has twists and turns, but in the end, unravels to rational deduction, as it should. The weak spot is Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, who just doesn’t seem wily enough to be the only person to outwit Holmes. There’s plenty of good fun with set pieces in a shipyard, and a hulking giant that the duo bests with cattle prods and ju jitsu. Looking forward to the inevitable sequel, hoping someone says “no shit, Sherlock.”

4 deductions out of 5

A Single Man
Saw this with Firecracker because it is a rare starring role for Colin Firth in a film of substance, when he’s languished a bit lately. Set in the early ’60s, he plays a British college professor in California, suffering the loss of his lover of 16 years. During a time of red-baiting and nuclear paranoia, he contemplates suicide after losing the love of his life, because nothing else seems to matter. He sees minute details, like his students’ eyes glazing over; he feels like he is drowning, in a repetitive art-house sequence where he flails underwater naked in a back-lit swimming pool. Directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, the film looks beautiful, with stunning sets and some spectacular shots, making 1963 feel even more real and alive than a “Mad Men” episode. However, the story lacks focus and the film rests on the shoulders of Firth’s excellent performance. When a recognizable actor disappears into a role without extensive make-up, it is worthy of note. Also memorable is Julianne Moore as his friend Charlie, looking a bit haggard but also building a fully fleshed character with motives of her own. I felt the ending was a bit of a cop-out, perhaps cautionary, but it’s an enjoyable if morose character study of an invisible man suffering the loss of a love that at the time, still dared not speak its name. Expect an Oscar nom for Firth.

3.5 Calvin Klein commercials out of 5

What’s Wrong with the ’90s: Chaplin

What’s Wrong With the ’90s?

And yes, one more feature is born: What’s Wrong with the ’90s. I started thinking about it when I popped in Men at Work, that somewhat enjoyable garbage man comedy with Keith David, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez for an ’80s Trash of the Week. It felt … off. And I realized why. And this minor feature came to be. There are plenty of great movies from the ’90s, but the early part of the decade embraced the smarminess born in the reaction to Reaganomics, and the movies all had to be mini Comic Relief-a-thons, where it was only okay to laugh if 10% of someone’s profits were going to help the homeless.
Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin starring Robert Downey Jr. made a big splash and then disappeared, perhaps because the media was more interested in Downey’s drug problems at the time. This review has been sitting around since June, waiting for me to be inspired to write more about this movie, but unfortunately it deserves to be remembered only for Downey’s performance. It really is a bit of a mess, and epitomizes that early ’90s fear of offending anybody, love of madcap nostalgia without understanding why we loved it, and so on.

It plays like a much older film, and I’m sure that’s the intention. The credits open over Downey removing the famous Tramp make-up slowly, to show us the legend of Charlie Chaplin being unmasked. The rest of the script is just as clumsy, and Downey’s performance is the real meat of the film. In the first few minutes we see young Charlie outshine his mother at a stage show, which breaks her spirit so she never sings again; this leads to eviction and the boys being sent to workhouses (England has always been rather barbaric) where Charlie evades the guards in a Keystone Kops style chase, and digs a boot out of the muck, foreshadowing the famous scene in The Gold Rush. All voiced over by George Hayden (Anthony Hopkins) as he works with Chaplin on his autobiography.

We don’t see Downey’s excellent performance until 18 minutes in, when his brother gets him a job doing slapstick in a burlesque show. And finally, the film draws us in. Most memorable is Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks, falling from grace as former partner Mary Pickford becomes the richest woman in America; less appealing are sloppy subplots where Chaplin insults J. Edgar Hoover, inspiring the man’s vendetta against him, Charlie saying that talkies “will never catch on” while he and Fairbanks play on the Hollywood(land) sign, his first divorce inspiring his first hit The Kid with Jackie Cooper. The movie lingers on his young skirt-chasing habits, and Milla Jovovich plays one of them in an early role.
The film is really a big mess held together by Downey’s excellent performance and that of several supporting players. The bookends of Charlie dictating his biography, leaving out things he feels are uninteresting, is simply bad screenwriting. Attenborough repeatedly mimics Chaplin’s slapstick to add some liveliness to a dreary long film where he stumbles from one underage ingenue to another, while his brother continually warns him to be a good Jew and not anger the gentiles during America’s early flirtations with fascism before WW2. It’s very episodic and seems made by committee, and never captures the sentimentality of the man’s great films. Instead, it gives us brief snippets of moments in his life that supposedly inspired his films.
I expected to love this and write a huge glowing review of an underappreciated ’90s gem, but watching made me realize why it was forgotten. It fails as an epic, and Downey’s excellent performance would have been better served in a much smaller film that didn’t re-enact Chaplin’s classics, but tried to show us the man, or concentrated on just part of his life. His influence on film and popular culture is incalculable, and his courage in spitting in Hitler’s eye and that of the Red Scare witch hunts was heroic; sure he liked young tail, but that doesn’t make him a tragic hero. This is a movie best viewed with a stack of Chaplin DVDs afterward.

To give an idea of how popular Fairbanks and Chaplin were, this is a photo of them shilling for war bonds during the Great War.

Tropic Thunder

Well, I finally got around to seeing Tropic Thunder, and I was not disappointed. Sadly the hype machine took the juice out of many of the best scenes by putting them on heavy rotation, but the movie is a lot of fun and a good way to bounce back from the gut-wrenching thrills of The Dark Knight, which it neatly knocked out of the #1 spot, at least for now.
By now even the isolated Yanomamo tribe of the Amazon knows that Tropic Thunder is about what happens when a bunch of actors making a big-budget Vietnam War movie get lost in the jungle and have to fight actual bad guys. It is directed by and stars Ben Stiller, who when he’s not being hit by whale penises and bumbling his way through formulaic romantic comedies, actually makes some funny movies. The Cable Guy was hilarious, and flopped because people didn’t want to see Jim Carrey’s obnoxious persona from “In Living Colour” turn into what it would be in reality- horrifying. I haven’t seen Zoolander, but if it’s anything like his underrated “Ben Stiller Show,” where he mastered the art of mocking Hollywood movies, I’ll be renting it. For example, check out his trailer for Die Hard 12: Die Hungry, which is actually better than the fake trailer he introduces his character with in this new movie.

After seeing Meet the Fockers on cable a billion times, it’s hard to want to see Stiller on the big screen again and actually pay for it. But let me assure you, this new movie may not be better than Pineapple Express, but it’s as least as good as Get Smart with three Steve Carells would be. The movie begins with three fake trailers and a commercial that introduce us to the big-name stars who collide in this spoof of the typical bloated Hollywood epic turned money pit. There’s Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson, Roll Bounce) the young rapper of the minute who sells his own energy drink called Booty Sweat; Tugg Speedman the action hero of the “Scorcher” series, now in the double digits, whom Stiller plays using his familar action-hero parody schtick; Jeff Portnoy, played by Jack Black as a poke at Eddie Murphy, the great comic who’s stooped to playing a family of fat farty fucks; and of course, Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus, the method actor who undergoes a “contoversial medical procedure” when he finds out his character was supposed to be black. I won’t spoil the trailers for you, because they are some of the best laughs of the film.

From there the movie dumps us on the set, which seems modeled on the production of Apocalypse Now as depicted in the documentary Hearts of Darkness. Steve Coogan (A Cock and Bull Story, 24 Hour Party People, Hamlet 2) plays director Damien Cockburn, who can’t wrangle his 3 bad boy actors and is risking losing the production. After an argument that messes up an expensive explosion scene, he gets chewed out on a video conference by hirsute, intense producer Les Grossman, played by Tom Cruise in a fat suit. I’m sure there will be comparisons to the last time Cruise tried acting in Magnolia, but I found this the most distracting part of the film. I’m sure he took the role to draw attention away from his psychotic outings on youtube and show him as a self-effacing guy who doesn’t think he can fly or cure you with B-12, but it doesn’t really ring true, and the joke wears thin very quickly, especially when they try to play it up by having him dance whenever a joke deflates.

“So this is what extra body thetans feel like”

Thankfully the rest of the cast picks up the slack. Director Cockburn (hurrrr) is at the end of his rope when the author of the book his movie is based on, Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte) takes him aside with a proposition- drag these prima donnas out to the jungle, and have Cody the one-eared pyrotechnician (Danny McBride, Pineapple Express, Hot Rod) play some pranks on them so they get a taste for what it’s like to shit your pants in the jungle. It’s too bad Nolte couldn’t smack some acting chops into Cruise, because he’s pitch perfect here. It’s not much of a stretch for him to play the Scary Vietnam Vet, a role he mastered way back in Who’ll Stop the Rain, but when things fall apart, we see nuances to the character that amp up the comedic energy exponentially. He really adds something to every scene he’s in.

Once they’re in the jungle everything goes pear-shaped, and they have to try to survive. Robert Downey Jr. steals the show, refusing to break character “until the DVD commentary,” and trying to grab the reins from “the Tugger,” who expectedly refuses to believe that it’s not still being filmed, and that everything’s okay. Stiller playing someone stupider than Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin’s love child isn’t anything new, but thankfully the other characters play off him well, and also reduce his screen time. Jack Black manages to come up with a new character to play, as fart-boy Portnoy starts getting withdrawal symptoms. It was quite refreshing to see JB slip into a gruff fat GI character and then become a trembling addict, without doing any of his trademark wild-eyed manic persona. The big surprise was from Brandon T. Jackson as the rapper- he plays the straight man most of the time, but fits right in among the 3 big stars and doesn’t get lost, unlike Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up, Almost Famous) who’s good, but sort of melds into the background scenery.

From Iron Man to cast iron

They bumble their way into a heroin processing plant, and have to fight their way out- with blanks, mind you. We’re never expected to believe it’s realistic, and when it gets over the top ridiculous, Stiller wisely makes it just absurd enough that we’re laughing and don’t care. There’s a great gag on the action movie cliche of the little kid who befriends the hero that takes a long time to pay off, but when it does, I hope you don’t have to pee. You’re likely to do it in your 128oz. Medium soft drink cup. There’s a side plot with Tugg Speedman’s agent (Matthew McConaughey) that seems poised to sink the picture with unnecessary drama, and that gets torpedoed with a great gag too. The screenplay, penned by Stiller, Justin Theroux (The Baxter, Mulholland Dr.) and Etan Cohen– not Ethan Cohen– manages to avoid being episodic and the expected cliches. It also lets the actors infuse their roles with enough character that we never think they’re just delivering jokes.

Only slightly less embarrassing than Envy

There’s an apparent controversy over the use of the word “retard” in this movie. While it is certainly a hurtful word to call someone with a learning or mental disability, here it serves another purpose- skewering the Hollywood Oscar train for anyone who portrays a mentally challenged person on screen.  The joke here is that Tugg Speedman tried to be taken seriously by starring in a movie called Simple Jack that parodies these Hollywood feelgood movies and fails, but it keeps coming back to haunt him. If people want to protest, why not picket the next movie where Sean Penn gets the part instead of Chris Burke (Corky from “Life Goes On”). According to his IMDb resume he can use some work right about now. And even he calls himself retarded!

People said I could never become an actor because I’m retarded. It goes to show you that anyone can make their dreams a reality… unless they’re brain dead.

I worked with “Special Young Adults” in high school as part of community service– no, not for carrying a bushel of knives to school, either– and I think Stiller did a great job mocking the Hollywood cliche, and was not making the joke at the expense of the mentally handicapped.

Anyway enough about this controversy. Tropic Thunder may be a bit overhyped but it’s a refreshing big-budget comedy where Hollywood pokes fun at their own. Of course it falls flat when they try to mock the money men- after all, a bunch of Les Grossmans probably financed this. I hope Cruise sends a royalty check to Saul Rubinek, who played the hyperactive asshole producer to perfection in True Romance, and was so funny he didn’t need to dance to get laughs. If Cruise ever puts down the cock and the e-meter, we might see him act again- if he gets away from his handlers.

I am Iron Man

Me and the Firecracker went to see Iron Man this weekend at a matinée, and were not disappointed. This is my favorite Marvel superhero movie since the first Spider-Man, which I regard to be the best of the bunch. Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect and inspired casting choice, and lives up to, and beyond the task.

Gwyneth Paltrow does an excellent job as his assistant Pepper Potts, and I like to think she got comfortable with this sort of role in the underrated Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Jeff Bridges plays business associate Obediah Stane, with a beard and a shaved head, looking entirely different and fitting once again perfectly as the embodiment of elder power-broker machismo. Terence Howard plays Rhodes, a military man who works closely with Stark industries.

It’s a terrific cast, and Jon Favreau directs them with aplomb. He’s come a long way since the indulgent film Made, which I found tedious. He plays a small role and thankfully sticks to the sidelines, and redeems himself for appearing in Daredevil with this excellent superhero film. The plot is sufficiently ridiculous without straining our disbelief. Arms broker, genius inventor, and womanizing playboy Tony Stark is captured by opposing forces while doing a weapons demo in Afghanistan, and creates a “primitive” power armor suit to escape; he undergoes a deep change after being tortured and held captive, and makes enemies when he wants to shift business toward power generation.
He builds a new suit to take care of the people who captured him, and gets into shenanigans. I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but having heard a little comic book nerd lore, I was able to figure out who the bad guy was early on. The effects are stunning, and the animatronic bad guy armor is pretty amazing, done by Stan Winston of course. And it doesn’t even look like the Terminator endoskeleton in any way shape or form. Favreau used a mix of live action and CG, and I wasn’t able to pick out any bad CGI, and I’m usually really picky.

What makes this movie, seriously, are the characters and how they’re played. We’ve seen superheroes fly around and blow shit up before, and we’ve seen the playboy millionaire who fights by night before. Iron Man has his demons, but he’s very different from Batman, despite the similarities in the latest incarnation of the Dark Knight. The film has a lot of enthusiasm and it’s infectious, without diving into cheese territory like the X-Men movies or Daredevil. It’s a lot of fun, and while there’s some good action, the end fight is a little lackluster, and it’s really telling when you’re watching a superhero version of Monster Garage and enjoying the hell out of it.

Great job Mr. Downey and company. Make sure you sit through the credits for a great Easter egg at the end. Also, they set themselves up for a sequel long before this, with a perfect little nod to War Machine showing up sometime. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s the best entertainment in a theater I’ve had in a long time. Its weaknesses are easily forgivable, but I was a little miffed that the Black Sabbath song so prominently featured in the teasers was relegated to a partial play in the end credits. Here’s hoping the sequels are as strong as this one, because I want to see more of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, and hopefully some more Iron Man regulars.

The previews are also a complete and total nerdgasm: Indiana Jones and the Unwieldy Title, The Dark Knight, and The Incredible Hulk (which I’m not too thrilled about, but what the hell). Also Mike Myer’s latest character The Love Guru, and Adam Sandler in what looks to be a genuinely funny film and not just fan service, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s latest twist flick, The Happening. The internet already ruined the ending of that to me, so it’s as transparent as The Village to me.

80’s Trash of the Week – Weird Science

Okay, this one’s not obscure at all and just happened to be on cable in HD, so I decided to watch it again. For some reason it only gets one star in the cable guide. It’s definitely worth 2, maybe not 3 but Ebert thought otherwise. Even if you watch it for Kelly LeBrock, whose lips should have a tag-team deathmatch with Angelia Jolie’s, or for the excellent soundtrack with Oingo Boingo, once you get past the tedious beginning.

A high-yield note in Anthony Michael Hall’s spank bank.

Seriously, before Kelly LeBrock shows up, the movie is almost painful. Anthony Michael Hall (Gary) and Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Wyatt), two guys whose careers fizzled after their braces came off, are the school nerds. Robert Downey Jr with his frightening hair and his nondescript douchebag pal are their tormentors. The story begins with our nerds drooling over the girls’ gym class, then getting pantsed in front of them- the iconic nightmare of being in class in your tighty whities realized. By the end of the film they recover from this humiliation, drive Porsches and Ferraris, befriend bluesmen and fight off biker hordes.

The nerds’ nemeses.

All thanks to Kelly LeBrock. She was a young model who got into movies when she married a producer. At least that saves you from the indignity of the casting couch. Not endowed with much range, she parlayed her slinky bod and sardonic attitude into a small but memorable Hollywood career. From there she hooked up with elbow-destroyer Steven Seagal, and they both got fat and had a few kids. I wish more Hollywood people would do that. It takes pressure off us normal folks.

A bra on your head and a martini. The good life.

Anyway, the boys get bored one night when The Bride of Frankenstein is on, and Gary gets the idea to build a girl using Wyatt’s home computer, a Memotech MTX. This leads to an amusing and embarrassing montage of computer graphics involving 3-D boobie models, Playboy pages, downloading Einstein’s brain from a government mainframe, and security involving a rent-a-cop at the other end typing “Access Denied.” It’s not meant to be serious, like say the infamous Jurassic Park stuff, so you have to give it a pass. It looks a lot better than Lawnmower Man, for Gibson’s sake. As the world goes haywire when a freak lightning storm sends Wyatt’s computer into overload, they sit with bras on their heads with a Barbie doll connected to it with alligator clips.

Even hot in b/w.

Thankfully “Lisa,” named after the short-lived Apple machine, is not the bimbo you’d expect. She takes control from the second she blasts out of the closet, taking a shower with them to show them who’s boss. “That triangle has the strength of 40 horses,” my great-grandmother supposedly used to say (Unfortunately she looked nothing like Kelly LeBrock). She then drags them to a Blues club in a pink Cadillac, which is one of my favorite scenes from the movie. Stealing a cue from Animal House, as soon as the honky cracker peckerwood ofays walk in, the music abruptly halts and they are under the simmering glare of angry n-n-negroes.

If you bend over, I’ll shove the bottle up yo’ ass!

Thankfully the blues club folks make Gary lighten up with some hooch, and Anthony Michael Hall shows his comic chops by trying to fit in with them. “This chick wit da big titties kicked me right in my nuts in fronna the whole class!” Now, them’s the blues, my young Caucasian friend. When they drag Gary home, we are introduced to the film’s other saving grace– Bill Paxton as Chet the assoholic older brother. His performance is truly inspired, but wouldn’t be perfected until he was Hudson in Aliens. We must remember that he was also the genius who directed Fish Heads. His varied career also includes a revolting garbageman in The Dark Backward, the slimy car salesman in True Lies, and more serious work like Frailty and A Simple Plan. So don’t write off Chet, butthead.

Sir Chet, the Duke of Douche

As Lisa continues her quest to make the guys grow some balls and stop being doormats for the jocks, she takes them to the mall. Almost immediately, they get humiliated once again by Robert Downey. He’s actually pretty funny in this. The film rides on LeBrock (just as I’d like to, even if I have to beat up Steven Seagal first) and the douchery of Bill Paxton’s excellent Chet character, with a dash of Robert Downey Jr.’s idiocy. Downey dumps slurpees on the poor fellows, but then leaves a drool trail following Lisa out to her car. She tells him she’s with Gary… but to come to his party that night.

Turned into human tampons by Robert Downey Jr.

The party is the major set piece of the movie and the most memorable part. Everyone in the area shows up, even the douche duo, who want to trade their girlfriends for Lisa. The boys hide in the bathroom from the scary g-g-girls, who seem to like them, but think they’re in love with Lisa. Instead of trading, the guys try to create another Lisa with the computer. This of course gives us another freakshow as wild stuff starts happening all over the house, such as pianos flying out windows, following by naked pianesses (a female pianist –ed.), people in photos dancing, kitchens turning blue, dogs barking on the ceiling, and other tomfoolery. They even put bras on their heads again, but they forget to hook up the Barbie doll. Oops. It creates a nuclear warhead instead, and a layer of semiotic subtext involving fear of nuclear war and a Freudian meat missile in the bedroom.

The lengths young men will go for punani.

This pisses off Lisa, not because she might have competition, but because her boys don’t have the balls to tell their tormentors to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. So she pulls out all the stops and summons a bunch of classic 80’s villains to contend with. First we get a Terminator-alike biker, who also resembles the “Metal Health” guy from that Quiet Riot album,

Wez from the Road Warrior, played by the same actor in the same make-up,
then Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes,
and Wez’s girlfriend who looks like the chick from Bow Wow Wow.

They romp through the house and tell everyone about the boobie hats the boys like to wear. But then Wez crosses the line, by manhandling some of the girls. Thankfully, Gary has a water pistol to scare off the baddies with. Once you show them you have balls, these subhuman monsters are surprisingly tame. Probably the scene I remember most fondly is when the metalface guy says “Call me…. we’ll do lunch.”

Assisted Living at Affordable Prices

John Hughes not only has a touch for humor, having earned his chops at National Lampoon, but also knows how to pace his movies well. After the party we still have Chet to contend with. When he comes home from the wholesome activity of duck hunting, he finds the house in a shambles and demands retribution on Wyatt. Thankfully Lisa comes to the final rescue, robbing Wyatt of the chance of finding his balls. Instead they take the girls home while she turns Chet into a living, oozing frog scrotum.

Doc, I have this burning sensation…

From then on it’s a repeat of the end of Risky Business, without the eye-to-eye between father and son. It’s a lot of fun as a fantasy, but tries too hard. “Float an air biscuit?” Really, Mr. Hughes. This is no Sixteen Candles or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s still a classic of sorts. It owes a lot to Oingo Boingo’s excellent title song, and the performances I’ve already gushed over. While it’s not heavily quotable, it has iconic, memorable characters and a kickass soundtrack to make up for it.

Quotability Rating: Low
Cheese Factor: Medium-Well
Could it be made today? No fucking way.
Gratuitous Boobs: The piano lady’s boobs are quite nice, yet fleeting.
High Points: Oingo Boingo, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, Robert Downey Jr.
Low Points: Slow start, Robert Downey Jr.’s hair.

I leave you with the ultimate Weird Science collectible, the desktop Chet.