Tom Selleck vs. the Daughters of Satan!

A friend of mine asked me to find this movie. His wife is Filipino, and because this was filmed in the Philippines and stars Tom Selleck- who he has a man crush on- he wanted to see it. Let me tell you, James, this is no Jesse Stone movie. It’s pretty bad, but in a good, witch-sploitation way. They get the titillation out of the way in shot one, frame one, as we see a Filipino witch suspended topless over bamboo stakes by her evil coven, who demand she renew her vows with El Diablo. She is whipped by a witch with crazy eyes, who we later learn is named Kitty Duarte, and finally gives in… we see a rogue’s gallery of obvious baddies, including a guy with a witch’s peak doing down to the bridge of his nose, and a skeletal cackling fellow… we’ll see them all again.

We immediately cut to Tom Selleck, resplendent in a perfectly trimmed porn ‘stache, as he goes into a creepy little antique shop run by Mr. Widow’s Peak, who is selling a clueless tourist a witch’s knife. It’s a huge dagger with a serpentine handle, and the tourist is buying it “for luck.” I’m a knife nut and even I don’t have a Lucky Sacrificial Dagger… maybe I should get one? If I go to the Philippines, I’ll look for one. Maybe I’ll be attacked by titwitches. That would be awesome, except for the sacrificing me to the devil part. At the shop, Selleck sees a painting of witches being burned at the stake, where the lead witch is a dead ringer for his wife. Horror movie rule #43: Never buy a painting of a dead person that resembles you or your loved ones. It is haunted, you dumbass.

Even Tom’s hairy chest cannot protect him from what is to come. He looks like he rolled around on a barber shop floor, doesn’t he? (Thanks to Milky for that one.) His wife is played by Barra Grant, a hottie best known for being Miss America Bess Myerson’s daughter, and starring in the Bill Cosby flick MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED before giving up on film. She is immediately freaked out by the painting, and who wouldn’t be? There are two witches, a black dog, and a mustached Spaniard in conquistador gear in the painting, who looks like Selleck, of course. Even though she’s playing the Typical 70’s Housewife, who jumps on chairs when mice attack, and still faints at the sound of a dog fart, it’s pretty creepy for your husband to come home and say “Hey, I bought this painting of a woman being burned alive because SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU!”

Lies. He never fights Satan.

I mean, if Firecracker came home with a photo of a guy being hanged who looked like me, I’d hide all the damn rope. And her instincts are correct. Not long after the painting comes home, than weird things start happening. A black Rottweiler appears in the yard, and he loves Barra but snarls at Selleck. We see the dog run off, and fade into the grass. Wouldn’t you know it, the dog in the painting has faded away? Hmm, wonder what that means. Soon, one of the women in the background fades, just as their new housekeeper shows up for work. And guess who she looks like? Cue the theremin! Creepy shit be afoot!! Really, I hope the horror movie association gave Dr. Theremin some posthumous award for all he’s done for these films. The soundtrack here is relentless, and it does help, because it’s all rather silly.

Soon Barra falls under her housekeeper’s spell, and investigators are brought in, and die suspicious deaths! Tom gets knocked out, put in his Triumph roadster on the edge of a cliff, with blocks of ice chocking the tires.  Will he survive? This is a rare case of a film giving away plot twists with its lobby cards, as you can see below. Wifey gets witchy, and shows off her jugs at the one hour mark as she too is suspended over the bamboo spikes, forced to say the devil’s prayer. It’s all rather predictable and over the top, and can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re getting into. I was surprised that Turner Classic Movies showed it uncut, because the topless scenes aren’t quick shots. This is pure ’70s exploitation. I liked the ending, but wish there were a lot more witchy goings on, and that Tom Selleck battled Satan, like the poster promises.

I love a good ’70s occult flick, and this one delivers. I also love cheesy films from the Philippines, like the Weng Weng James Bond spoofs. So this is a win-win for cheesy horror, perfect for this witchy time of year. If you can track it down, it’s worth seeing, if only to see early Tom Selleck battle a coven of sexy witches.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

80’s Trash of the Week: Fletch Lives

Fletch was a huge hit; Chevy Chase took the newsman character from Gregory McDonald’s novels and amped up the laughs, and the sequel went even further and became a pure Chevy Chase disguise comedy. As a fan of the books I was cruel to it upon release, but co-worker The Mouth from the South and fellow blogger Dylan both defend this movie, so I wanted to revisit it.

“The spiders is good! They eat up the cockroaches!”

The first movie had lots of laughs, but the thriller plotline and Fletch’s desire to be a good reporter and ferret out injustice remained. The sequel goes more for laughs, and shoehorns in a plot involving toxic waste, which would be an early ’90s staple; in that way, Fletch Lives is again of its time. The story is, Fletch heads South to inherit his aunt’s plantation, tended by groundskeeper Calculus Entropy, played by Cleavon Little. He has a small part but is very memorable, as expected. He’s the real reason I watched this again, but if you watch it as just another Chevy Chase comedy, it’s actually one of his better ones.

Ben Dover

The minute Fletch shows up down South, his lawyer gal gets offed while they sleep and he’s the prime suspect in the eyes of the inept yet corrupt local police, who throw him in a cell with Randall “Tex” Cobb. Most famous for playing the incomparable Leonard Smalls in Raising Arizona, here he’s got eye make-up on and gives the film one of its funnier scenes, as he tries to introduce Fletch to the charming institution of prison rape. He gets to have more fun later as the leader of the biker gang the Nazis from Natchez, where Fletch pretends to be Ed Harley, of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. That scene works well too. Chase is just so ridiculous as an effeminate and nerdy dork walking into a biker bar that I had to laugh.

Ed Harley.

Later the Klan shows up, led by Geoffrey Lewis- Clint’s buddy from the orangutan films- and Fletch cuts eyeholes in a bedsheet to goof on them. Someone wants to drive him away and get his auntie’s land, and that leads him to TV preacher Jimmy Lee Farnsworth, played by R. Lee Ermey with all his bushy-eyebrow glory. Ermey plays the role straight, and we get our laughs from Fletch’s impersonation of Claude Smoot, a buck-toothed faith healer whose specialty is smacking the demons out of your forehead.
Better yet is how Fletch inspects the scene of the murder, by putting on a pompadour and driving his Aunt’s decrepit pink Cadillac as a sort of rockabilly exterminator. When the dumbass deputy follows him in, he tricks him into thinking a skitterbug, which reproduces by masturbation, has gotten into his ear and the only way to get it out is to get on all fours and squeal like a pig. It just wouldn’t be the ’80s if a comedy went South and didn’t goof on the Klan, slavery, Deliverance, the Civil War, evangelists and corrupt lawmen, and this one has its ducks all lined in a row. Set in Louisiana, they pronounce Pontchartrain right, and they eat Zapp’s chips. Not as bad as it could be.
Cutey Julianne Phillips tags along as a lawyer trying to get Fletch to sell the estate to an unknown client, and Hal Holbrook plays the genteel Southern gentleman. The last 15 minutes feel like they were scribbled on a bar napkin; everything gets resolved as quickly as possible. That and Fletch’s silly Song of the South dream sequence at the beginning sour an otherwise enjoyable comedy, which reminded me of just how funny Chevy Chase could be. Nothing against Uncle Remus either, but it just wasn’t funny, and would fit better in a Lampoon flick.

R. Lee Ermey and Julianne Phillips

Okay Blog Cabins and Mouth from the South- you got me. This one is better than I remember, and doesn’t deserve the crap it gets. But I still think Ghostbusters 2 sucked. Apparently they want to reboot the Fletch franchise, so who do you think will get it? Let’s hope it’s not Jim Carrey.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Could it be remade today? It will be…
Quotability Rating: Nice to meet you Ben. Victor Hugo.
Cheese Factor: smothered & covered
High Points: Biker bar scene
Low Point: Ending
Gratuitous Boobies: Victim of the 1989 boobie drought

Wish You Were There meme

Fletch over at Blog Cabins tagged me in The Favorite Movie Period/Place Meme begun by Getafilm.

1.) Think of a place (real or fictional) and time (past, present, future) portrayed in a movie (or a few) that you would love to visit.
2.) List the setting, period, applicable movie, and year of the applicable movie’s release (for reference).
3.) Explain why, however you’d like (bullet points, list, essay form, screenshots, etc.). If this is a time and place that you have intimate knowledge of, feel free to describe what was done well and what wasn’t done well in portraying it.
4.) If possible, list and provide links to any related movies, websites, books, and/or articles that relate to your choice (s).
5.) Modify Rules #1-4 to your liking. And come up with a better name for this meme.
6.) Link back to this Getafilm post in your post, please.
7.) Tag at least five others to participate!

Dylan chose the near future of Code 46 and Children of Men– not for the dystopia of the latter, but for the nice touches that make for a believable future. Daniel, the originator, also chose a future- that of Back to the Future II.
Me? The future, not so much. Sure, the dirty future of Blade Runner was appealing back in the day. But as my co-worker The Mouth from the South said the other day, I’m a Renaissance man. Give me Ye Olde Turkey Legge and a Dixie Cup of mead. But despite my wide feet, I don’t want to be a Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings movies, I’d rather be in John Milius’s version of the Hyborian Age from Robert E. Howard’s stories, in Conan the Barbarian.
Sure, it’s dirty. Life there is most definitely going to be nasty, brutish and short, sort of like Harlan Ellison (sorry HE, couldn’t help it). But I want to go there anyway, even if my village might be overrun by Picts and Thulsa Doom and his snake cult. I know I wouldn’t be Conan, or even Subotai the archer in that world. I’d be the lizard on a stick salesman pictured below (that’s actually John Milius in a wisely excised cameo). I’d probably be lured in by a sexy witch and chained in her backyard, but the movie has always felt like another world to me. One of these days I’ll go to Spain, and marvel over the filming locations, and choke on a leg of Iberico ham. And I will die happy.
My second choice? Sweet Haven, from Robert Altman’s perfect vision of Popeye. It boggles my mind that this movie has a 4.8 rating on IMDb. Everything about it is perfect, if you watched the cartoons; except perhaps that Alice the Goon is nowhere to be seen. And the isles of Malta are the perfect set for Sweet Haven. A rocky island in the middle of nowhere, with rickety steps all over the place; boxing rings floating in the bay, and hamburger shops that will let you pay on Tuesday for the hamburger today? It’s perfect for me. Maybe because I empathize with, and sort of look like, Bluto, and have since I saw this as a kid.

So, time to tag people. You’re IT!

Raquelle of Out of the Past – we need some classics in this meme!
Caitlin of 1416 and Counting
Rick of Stop the Planet of the Apes… I Want to Get Off!
Mr. Meep of Cinema du Meep
Piper of Lazy Eye Theatre Sorry Piper, someone tagged you already… so I’m tagging:
Mr. Peel of Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur

Needless to say these are all film blogs worth reading.

Death Sentence – James Wan takes a saw to our balls

Where do I begin? This is one of the biggest train wrecks I’ve scene in recent years. What the hell Kevin Bacon and John Goodman are doing in this confused, pretentious pile of crap is beyond me. It is apparently based on the sequel to the novel Death Wish, but discards its story for a bizarre combination of revenge and morality tale that makes little sense and is incredibly tedious to sit through. The Mouth from the South warned me about how bad it was, but no, I read Roger Ebert’s review, and figured what the hell. Ebert also gushed over the mediocre revenge fantasy The Brave One, which had Jodie Foster as a liberal talk show host in the Charles Bronson role, to make it more intellectual-friendly. I should have known better. Spoiler alert. When a movie sucks this badly, I don’t bother hiding spoilers.

On the other hand, Mouth hated No Country for Old Men and loves Tom Selleck direct-to-video westerns, so maybe I should have just checked Rotten Tomatoes first. Like The Brave One, Death Sentence‘s only redeeming qualities are the performance of its lead. Kevin Bacon can play oily scumbags like the pedophile prison guard in Sleepers with ease, or tortured ones like in The Woodsman; here he’s not a pedophile, but an insurance adjuster, so sort of in the same realm. Nick Hume lives in suburban paradise, which we learn about through home movies that look like they’re from the ’70s; he has a wife and two sons, and a typical suburban life until his golden boy hockey player son has a game in… The City.

From the Director of Saw and the writer of Death Wish comes: Shit.

From there he drives into an urban legend; on the way home from the game, he sees two suped up muscle cars driving without headlights, and flashes his high beams at them. They turn around, play chicken with him a bit, and disappear. He gets lost, and is also low on gas, so he drives into a shady gas station to fill up before a third cliche strikes. He doesn’t have to wait long; the two muscle cars show up to rob the store, complete with shotguns and ski masks. They blow away the shopkeeper, who for some reason isn’t behind bulletproof glass like most poor schleps in shitty neighborhood gas stations, and his son witnesses it… so they goad a younger gang member into offing him with a machete, and then leave him there… to make him a man. Don’t ask this to make sense. It only gets worse.

Nick attacks the now unarmed ‘banger and unmasks him, but he escapes only to be hit by a passing car. Flash forward to months later at the trial; the family is still grieving over their lost son, and when the prosecutor tells Nick that the killer will likely only get a few years, he sabotages the trial by saying he can’t identify him. And no one has any idea what he is obviously planning. Even when his family finds him in the basement with a machete and a hunting knife, they don’t suspect anything. (How many insurance adjusters have machetes in their basement? I know I’d have a dozen, but I’m a crazy knife guy.)

Why was it my cool hockey star son and not the loser!

Nick doesn’t have to work himself up to kill, and of course gets in the requisite struggle that ends in someone getting stabbed. His hand gets all cut up, too; when the cops come to tell him that his son’s murderer has been killed, they don’t even notice the huge fresh bandage on his paw. No wonder they haven’t found the two flame-painted muscle cars he saw at the scene! The cops are pretty stupid in this movie, unlike The Brave One and Death Wish. The rest of the gang immediately figure out who offed their homie, and hit back at Nick in his office. The cops still don’t figure out what’s going on. Between action sequences we get pretentious, dramatic scenes set to insipid or annoyingly dramatic music, as James Wan tries to make something deep out of this. But the set piece in the parking garage, when the whole gang is chasing Nick after trying to whack him outside work, defines everything that’s wrong with the movie:

Nick is walking from work and we see the one black member of the otherwise skinhead gang (these guys just take the tattooed skinhead look, but are racially tolerant thugs) stalking behind him. When he pulls a gun to execute him, Nick psychically knows this and swings his briefcase, disarming him like a super spy, then runs when the gang leader (Garrett Hedlund, Four Brothers) opens fire. They chase him through a maze of alleyways and finally to a parking deck, where he starts setting off car alarms to get people’s attention, or attract the police- it doesn’t work, of course. No one pays attention to car alarms. He makes his way to the top, where a lone thug is searching, and tackles him to disarm him. This leads to a protracted battle, wild gunshots that no one hears, and finally a struggle into a parked car. Nick releases the parking brake and the car slowly begins rolling toward the edge, dramatic music playing as he tries to kick out the windshield, while also tying the bad guy with a seat belt. As the car inches toward the edge, with the flimsy guard rail, instead of being excited about impending death for our hero, I began wondering what sort of parking deck has a rail so weak a car can roll through it. That’s sort of an insurance liability right there. You’d think an insurance adjuster like Nick would have pointed that out to his employers. Of course he leaps out just in time, while thug #2 plummets to his death. What’s wrong with that? Why wouldn’t he just push the guy off the roof? He’s already stabbed someone and watched him die. There’s no need for that convenient Hollywood killing, where self-defense, mixed with “I didn’t push him, I just didn’t help him” morality.

Equal opportunity skinheads

Later, they deliver a threat to his office, because he dropped his briefcase and they now know who he is and who his family is; as if they couldn’t figure this out when their first buddy went on trial. Inside the briefcase is a photo of Nick’s family with X’s on their faces, and if we can’t figure it out, the leader calls him at work and says that he has put a DEATH SENTENCE on his family. It’s always refreshing to know that movies still think they need to recite their title, in case the audience was wondering why it was called that. Especially in a movie about a guy who’s kid is murdered, and the bad guy is only going to get 3-5 years, instead of a death sentence, which is what we’d like to see. And a movie in which the father then goes to execute a death sentence on that criminal. I for one still don’t know why Star Wars is called that, since it was about a rebellion, and no one fought over any stars. Hopefully Lucas will rectify that in yet another special edition, where Porkins rolls his eyes and mutters, “I’m sure tired of all these star wars,” right before he’s shot down.

At this point in the movie there’s still an hour left. Nick goes to the cops, who practically say “well, you started it.” Cops typically look down on vigilantism, but you’d think when they know who the bad guys are, they’d do more than put one cruiser outside. You know, especially since she knows Nick avenged his son, maybe they’d arrest him, and put his family in protective custody. But no, a cruiser with 2 cops who are immediately killed is parked outside, and the thugs invade the house with ease. Now, a director with some talent can make a home invasion one of the most gut-wrenching examples of cinematic horror, because seeing your loved ones at gunpoint is a real and terrifying threat. A shitty director like James Wan wouldn’t know suspense if Alfred Hitchcock and Wes Craven branded it on his nutsack with a curling iron, because Lead Thug just immediately shoots Nick’s wife and remaining son in front of him, before shooting him too. In the shoulder. Without a finishing shot. Why? So he can survive and avenge them. Now, in the first half hour of this movie, Nick has hunted down and stabbed the guy who killed his other son, but now he’s really driven over the edge. Now he’s gonna avenge his family like a real movie bad-ass.

You suck at criminalizin’!

When Nick wakes up from this onslaught, and I’m not joking, he walks out of the hospital in the rain, wearing his gown and no shoes, and goes all the way back home. To sad music. He takes a bunch of money out of the bank and goes to buy some guns, from… the gang leader’s Dad! John Goodman, who plays a psychopathic poppa and owner of a body shop slash illegal gun bazaar, must be the only place in town. And the best part is, he recognizes Nick. It’s been established earlier that Goodman prefers money to his feckless small-time crook sons, so he says flat out that he don’t mind him killing his other son, because he’s a “paying customer.” He also warns him not to ask where his son is. Cuz that’s crossing the line! I’ll sell you the guns to do it, but I sure ain’t gonna help any more!

“I will dare to reference Straw Dogs with my shitty motion picture.”

Goodman is always good as a bad guy, but he’s so incredibly over the top in his few scenes that you wish the entire movie was in that tone, instead of trying to tell us that revenge is bad, and that if whitebread suburban dorks like Nick kill street-tough thugs’ siblings…. there might be repercussions. They even try to make an allusion to war, and that war is bad, because people die. Well, yeah, we knew that. But the movie lets Nick shave his head and go on a successful killing spree, ending with him and his nemesis sitting wounded next to each other. “Look what I made you become.” Wow, he even shaved his head like the bad guys! He has become one of the bad guys! Holy shit!

I’ll cry when I’m done killin’.

Yes, it’s that stupid. I have no idea what Kevin Bacon was thinking by taking this horrible movie, yet his acting skills are what make it watchable. Maybe he just wanted to have some fun and play Bronson. Either way, stay the hell away from his movie. It can’t make up its damn mind about whether to be a drama, a revenge film, or even whether revenge is worth the cost. You want to see a good over the top revenge movie? Go see Four Brothers, by John Singleton, starring Markie Wahlberg, Terence Howard and Tyrese Gibson. Set in Detroit, it’s like an old ’70s exploiter modernized. It’s a lot of fun, and vengeance is not without its price, and the director isn’t a fucking hack who should stick to movies about killer ventriloquist dolls and silly twist within a twist gimmicks. I enjoyed Saw and Dead Silence for what they were, but Wan needs to stay in the B movie realm. If Death Sentence had played out on that level, it would have been enjoyable. If you want an arty revenge movie, see Dead Man’s Shoes; if you want an intellectual one see The Brave One. If you want the classic, see Death Wish; the first one is quite good, and if you want silly, see Death Wish IV- the Crackdown:

Independence Day rocks despite Roland Emmerich sucking

For one, I’d like to complain to the TV people that not one channel is playing Independence Day. However, Turner Classic Movies is playing 1776 and Yankee Doodle Dandy tonight. Also a short subject from 1938 called Declaration of Independence about the deciding vote cast to give King George the finger, which won an Oscar for best short subject. So that will have to do.

I hated “ID4” as it was called, when it first came out, but it has grown on me. Roland Emmerich is probably the most god-awful blockbuster director working today, but this is his best and most enjoyable movie; it’s also one of Will Smith’s best action movies. My co-worker The Mouth from the South says Jeff Goldblum ruins any movie he’s in and used this as an example; he was a little annoying, playing his Ian Malcolm science douche from Jurassic Park again, but he doesn’t ruin the movie any more than anyone else does. Roland Emmerich is just incapable of subtlety, and it pained me to look at his IMDb page and see that he’s directing 2012, in which the Mayan calendar ending must signify the coming of androgynous alien Egyptian leaders to tell us global warming is bad. And also a remake of Fantastic Voyage, in which androgynous aliens and ignorance of global warming is causing someone heart disease, so we have to shrink ourselves down and preach about it from inside their left ventricle.

But Independence Day is pretty good. It’s essentially a remake of The War of the Worlds– the great George Pal one from 1953, which is still great cheesy fun today, with delightfully garish colors. Even Spielberg’s boring remake is inferior except for the special effects. ID4 just updates the plot and uses huge saucers instead of tripods, and instead of bacteria killing them, it’s a virus of another kind, a computer virus. Sure, you could be a nitpicking nerd and complain about how a Mac could connect to some alien computer network and disable it, but who cares? It was a cute update.

Professor Frink come to life, mm-hey.

Sure it was full of feel-good stuff like Randy Quaid giving the aliens a rectal probe missile up the mothership’s ying-yang, Vivica Fox and her dog that can outrun explosions, and how blowing up the First Lady makes the President stop being such a pussy. Jeff Goldblum is hardly annoying compared to Judd Hirsch and Harvey Fierstein, and thankfully at least one of them dies at the hands of alien death rays. At least Judd Hirsch gets a few moments where he’s funny, reminding me of his days on “Taxi.” It was better than every Star Trek nerd in the theater cooing when Brent Spiner showed up.

It’s frightening to realize that it’s already 12 years since it came out, and the effects are beginning to look dated. They hold up just enough, but they were smart to use latex critters for the aliens, instead of CG. For example in Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow, the CG wolves were the worst part. No, wait a minute, everything about that steaming turd was the worst part. I can’t wait to see 10,000 B.C. on cable so I can see how much better Caveman and Quest for Fire are.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Kickin’ Yo’ Ass.

Independence Day is good popcorn fun- it’s not really preachy, it’s a little on the long side, and it requires a hell of a lot of suspension of disbelief, but compared to Emmerich’s other insulting films it’s the cream of the crop. Sure, unlike stuff like the John Adams mini-series, it has nothing to do with what July 4th is about celebrating- the balls it took to break away from the world’s greatest power at the time. The war took seven years, our longest war until Vietnam, or Iraq if you’re John McCain.

And now we celebrate it by seeing who can stuff the most hotdogs in their face. The current reigning champion is Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who can eat 66 in 12 minutes.

The greatest American hero.

Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control

I really enjoyed the new Get Smart movie, so I decided to buy into their new gimmick of releasing a spin-off DVD during the theatrical run. There are some theories about why they did it, like “they had too much footage of Bruce and Lloyd and decided to make a movie out of it!” which I wish were true. Sadly, the cumbersome-titled Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control is helmed by a different director, lacks even a cameo or archive footage of the biggest stars, and feels like one of those American Pie direct-to-DVD sequels.

Tell my agent to get me the hell out of this movie!

I imagine it will get plenty of traffic from hungry-hungry “Heroes” fans wanting to see more Masi Oka, who plays Hiro on that show. He’s Bruce. Or wait a minute- is he Lloyd? That’s one of the running “gags,” that people mix up their names. Nate Torrence plays Lloyd, the fat one. The actors are actually pretty funny on their own, when the script lets them ramble and be the nerds their characters are. Unfortunately it only gives them a few chances to do this, and expends a lot of time on badly-timed slapstick that showcases the director’s mediocrity.

Say “frying man!” again, fatboy. I dare you.

Gil Junger, who directed the surprisingly good 10 Things I Hate About You, seems to have gone downhill ever since. The scriptwriters are the same from the Get Smart movie, but they seem to have written this overnight for a contractual obligation. The energy of the two leads saves this movie from the trash can, and in the words of The Mouth from the South, it’s “watchable.” He also thought 10,000 B.C. was “watchable,” which reminds me of when survivalists say you can survive by drinking your own urine. Sure, you could, but wouldn’t you rather have a Fresca?

Scenery’s got a lot of protein. That’s why I chew it.

The plot begins with a strongman in Maraguay (get it? it’s not Paraguay or Uruguay!) who captures a scientist to make him build weapons. Then we get to see Terry Crews appear in his one scene on the paintball course, in a decently funny bit. He’s demonstrating one of Bruce & Lloyd’s gadgets, an invisibility cloak, called the O-C-T. Of course it malfunctions, then he grabs his paycheck and runs like hell, leaving our two geeks to scratch their chins and consider how to improve it. The movie really goes astray when it tries to shoehorn this story in the background to the A-list movie, to explain why Max and the Chief are nowhere to be found. In reality, Carell, Arkin and The Rock probably gave the producers the finger when they were asked to star in a direct-to-DVD movie; Anne Hathaway agreed for some reason, and we see her on the phone with Lloyd at one point, for no good reason.

I can believe an invisibility cloak, but not these guys with these gals.

Instead of the Chief, we get the Underchief, played by Larry Miller- a once funny guy reduced to being the hamster’s bitch in movies like Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps. He’s the go-to guy in Hollywood when you need a slimy asshole character on a budget, and that’s his job here. He wants the OCT ready ASAP, and of course their rivals at the CIA take it on the QT, and that’s not A-OK. Will our nerds be able to get it back? Will they ever get a date? Will Patrick Warburton ever be appreciated?

Some of the best bits are over the credits or on special features.

The movie isn’t bad, but it’s probably best viewed long after you’ve seen it’s daddy in theaters, because it feels very lacking in comparison. For a direct DVD release it’s better than most, and certainly has its funny moments. It feels overlong at 71 minutes, but there are some cute features that are actually funnier than most of the movie. I think the movie was overburdened with plot, and would have worked best like an Office Space type movie with the gadget nerds as their everyday selves, pranking back and forth with the CIA, trying to overcome the forensic hottie’s stinky aroma, and trying to get Hymie the Robot (the as-usual criminally underutilized Patrick Warburton) to work properly. Hopefully Hymie will appear more often in the inevitable sequel.

It’s not a bad way to kill an hour and change if you’re stuck inside escaping the heat or the rain on July 4th, or if you just can’t get enough of Masi Oka. If you’re expecting more madcap laughs like the Carell movie had, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

80’s Trash of the Week: North Shore, brah!

He was a haole. A barney. A kook on and off the waves.
But he would become a soul surfer.

“Scrub it, kook!”
“He’s so haole he don’t even know he’s haole!”

My coworkers, the Mouth from the South and the Friendly Irish Giant, use lines from this all the time. So I was forced to rent it, to understand what the hell they were saying. I was not disappointed. I’ve come up with a new rating system for 80’s movies.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Quotability Rating: High
Cheese Factor: Medium
Could it be made today? With girls, it was called Blue Crush
Gratuitous Boobs: Zero

Rick Kane from is a surfer from Arizona who after winning $500 in a surfing contest, goes to Oahu to ride the big waves. I’m not sure how often you can surf in a landlocked state, but from how he handles the big Hawaii waves, one can guess he didn’t have a lot of competition in that surfing contest. He’ll be in too deep when he gets to the North Shore, where he’s a haole, a barney, a kook!

Rick hops on the first plane to Hawaii with nothing but his board and a box of colored pencils, since he is also an artist, despite not knowing the difference between a drawing and a painting. The first thing he does is track down some old dude working in a strip club, who once said Rick could crash with him if he ever came to Hawaii. See, you should always call first when visiting old friends, or strangers who once invited you over in a drunken stupor, because they might just change their mind. This is the first of many misfortunes that befall poor Rick in his quest to shred on the awesome North Shore wave-age. Luckily a bar brawl breaks out and he doesn’t have to pay for his $20 drink, because he sneaks out with two Aussie surfers he recognizes from surfer magazines. They pile into a Jeep and race off into the night, because surfers are a brotherhood. A brahtherhood. And then to haze him, they make him gather sugarcane during a fire, oy! You only got one? You pussy!

They even surf on bikes, dude!

On the beach the next day Rick stashes his stuff behind a bush and gets on his board, to show how badly he sucks. He rides a wave that his Aussie pals call a ripple, I’ve seen bigger waves in a toilet, mate! Then the Huoi, a gang of native Hawaiian surfers descended from kings, show up and bully their way into his wave. This where he is noted to be so “haole he don’t even know he’s haole, brah!” A haole, pronounced “howley” is what native Hawaiians call outsiders, foreigners, tourists, and other doofuses who stole their belove islands and come to shit things up so the North Shore will someday look more like the Jersey Shore. No wonder they are treated with such disgust. Plus, Rick gets in the way of their leader and screws up his wave! Totally not cool, brah.

Hey haole, I play the douche in this movie, brah!

He leaves, humiliated, only to find his art stuff stolen. That’s what you get for hiding it in a bush, barney! While looking for a place to stay, he meets Turtle, a local surfer and board sander who tells him what a haole is. “Ya know, a barney, a kook, in and out of the water, yeah?” They go to a party that night where not only is everyone wearing goofy costumes like a shark jaw or a toilet seat around their neck, but The Lords of the New Church is playing. One of my favorite forgotten 80’s bands, their involvement makes this movie an instant classic in my eyes. “Murder Style! Livin’ in night-time…” they even have two token punks in leather jackets at the party, although everyone else is wearing shorts and muscle shirts. They must have died of heat exhaustion shortly after the party, but it’s not an 80’s movie without punks causing trouble. They don’t cause trouble here, so I’m sure that scene was deleted.

The party sets the stage for the complex rivalry between the Soul Surfers, represented by Chandler (not the guy from friends- ed.) and the hot-doggin’ free-stylers, led by Lance Burkhart, kind of the surfer magazine covers and contests. In the end, Rick must choose the proper path, which is pretty easy to choose because why would you follow this guy?

Lance and his hypno-nipple.

At the party Rick meets Kianni, a hot Hawaiian girl. But oh nooo!! The Houi are there cockblocking him! “I thought you were leavin’, brah?” For such a line there is no retort. Rick leaves in shame. But his total humiliation is not yet complete. In the morning he surfs with Turtle, and learns about these things called reefs. You’d think a surfer, even one from Arizona, might know of reefs and their dangers to surfers, from reading about them in the surfer mags he recognizes everyone from. But no, Rick learns the hard way. Turtle imparts the wisdom of where the wave breaks, and at all costs, “don’t be there when the wave breaks, or you gonna get drilled!”

Guess where Rick is when the wave breaks. Yes, he get drilled, brah. His board broken, his back gashed on the reef, he stumbles off the beach a broken man Lucky for him, Kianni shows up to tell him about the bacteria in the coral that will scar him for life! Hell, even the kids there know to get it out, you gotta “Scrub it, kook!” Kianni has a better idea, taking him to a shady spot to apply aloe to his wounds.

“Ever notice that haole also spells a-hole?”

Back at Turtle’s shack, Rick finally gets to meet Chandler, the great board shaper. Lo and behold, he has bought Rick’s box of art pencils for $20 off wherever stolen goods are sold. Rick proves it is his, by identifying the rolled-up “painting” underneath the lid. Never mind that it is obviously colored pencil, and we never see a paintbrush. Rick is so good he paints with pencils. Chandler is suitably impressed, and trades Rick the drawing of a surfer for room and board, soul surfing lessons, and the wisdom of the ages. Five minutes later, Rick is making fun of Chandler’s logo and offering to draw a new one. This is the graphic designer subplot, and because Rick eventually leaves to go to school in New York, we must assume he died surfing the East River, or is somewhere downtown making dealtoys and smoking enormous amounts of weed. (in-joke for the graphic designers in the audience)

You see, I was expecting a simple movie about surfing, but they manage to cram so much depth into 90 minutes that I had to like this movie. Chandler is the Zen surfer, who only wants a “Big Gun” board and to surf big waves. He knows that “like the Eskimos have over a hundred words for snow, the Hawaiians have over a hundred to describe the water.” He is also the master of the training montage, teaching Rick on a 300 year old koa wood surfboard with no fins. A creepy surf photographer guy with big eyebrows stalks his every move. He felt eerily familiar, and it turns out he ‘s John Paragon, who played Jambi the Genie in PeeWee’s Playhouse. Not sure I’d want him filming me at the beach.

That’s cool enough to get him into Kianni’s grass skirt, and Rick has a showdown with the Houi Douche when they catch him messing with a local girl. The Houi stick together, but Rick says if they are truly descended from Hawaiian kings, they will let him settle it one on one. In reality he’d be found dead with a pineapple kicked up his hula-hole, but in the movie he wins the fight and gets a tiny bit of respect from them for not being a pussy.

However, Rick is still a pussy when he hitches a ride from an old Hawaiian dude who gives him some homemade jerky. It’s pork jerky and Rick looks like he just ate a turd taco. Maybe he’s a Jewish Arizona surfer, but his aversion to pork jerky is never fully explained.

Then comes the final battle, every movie has one- as we learned earlier, there is a schism in the world of surfing between the hot-doggers and the soul surfers, and it is time to choose sides! Rick wants to compete, but Chandler thinks competition brings out the worst in people. Rick joins the contest and thankfully Chandler doesn’t storm off or disown him and drown him in board wax. He’s too cool for that.

At the big showdown we get to hear the same song twice, The Nature of the Beast by Angel City. Remember them, from the 80’s? Me neither. Apparently that’s just their American name, they were the Angels in Australia and probably got in there because of all the Aussie surfers involved with this movie. The soundtrack is actually pretty good, and I’m disappointed that it’s not on Amazon. The surfing action is very good and unsurprisingly, real pro surfers play quite a few parts- Laird Hamilton as the dick Lance, the two Aussies, and Gerry Lopez (Subotai from Conan the Barbarian!) plays Vince, the tough leader of the Houi.

Lance gets shown for the hotdoggin’ douchebag (hotdouchin’ hosebag?) he is during the final round, when he cheats by pulling Rick’s rope. The one on his surfboard, you sicko. Rick shows he has digested the lessons of Soul Surfing when he is chill about losing, and has to tell Chandler to let it go. Even Vince gives him begrudging respect. But Hawaii is not for Rick, even though he is honorarily no longer an a-haole. He’s got to get to art school, so he can fight for jobs with a bunch of kids who learned photoshop on their own.

Rick, you kook. You should have stayed on the North Shore as a soul surfer, riding Turtle’s boards and eating pork jerky.

Man against nature… the North Shore.