Friday, 27 February 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 59 Leonard Part 6

An international spy organization run by vegetarians, mind controlled animals, ridiculous outfits and irony that didn't become apparent until nearly 30 years after it's release. Those are but a few elements in this bodacious piece of cinema, that brings us a newcomer to this blog – a man not usually associated with action movies, if we can safely classify this as such. We probably can't, because whatever 'action' takes place is remarkably tame and laughable. The parts that are supposed to be laughable, however, are not. Oh fuck it, let's just get to it. The movie we are looking at is...

This motherfucking happened. I'm completely confounded by this actually happening. 

Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Bill Cosby, my friends. Let that concept sink in for a second. Until 2014, that name would almost exclusively conjure up images of a respectable elderly black comedian with a PhD in teaching (little known fact) who children of the 80s grew up with as the tried and tested but affably hilarious Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby Show. Of course, as most of you probably know, that image has been diminished greatly by no less than 13 counts of sexual assault by various females. I have no idea if any of that is true or not, and it doesn't really matter. However, I was amused by the weird way in which life sometimes makes things come full circle, something I'll get back to shortly. First, let us once again consider the fact, that Bill Cosby plays a suave spy, in a movie so rich in food thematics I'm not sure what to make of it. But I'll try to figure that out over the course of the next so and so paragraphs, so bear with me.

As far as I'm concerned, this is how a successful date is supposed to end.

Cosby plays Leonard (the part 6 thing isn't really explained, and I'm afraid I can wager precisely zero guesses as to it's meaning) a spy who retired because the spy business was ruining his marriage. His marriage was ruined anyway, because despite him having retired, his wife still left him. The movie hs set 7 years after that, and yet he still asks his butler daily if she called. Because if she didn't the previous 6 years, chances are good she might have in the 7th. So it's safe to say, Leonard hasn't gotten over her. The CIA wants Leonard to come back into service, because an evil vegetarian terrorist threat has risen, and as a maitre'd at a fancy restaurant Leonard is the one and only man who can handle that kind of seriousness. This premise is ludicrous at best. I shouldn't be surprised really, but the movie seems to be relatively high in production value for an 80s flick, so it's too bad they flaked on script. The vegetarians kill by mind controlling animals, mostly small rodents, and having them nibble people to death. Presumably because it's easier to handle rabbits on a movie set than lions and rhinos. At least moderately easier. It's classic vegetarianism. Those people are just hellbent on world domination.

The Oracle goes batshit and wants to take over the world. With mind controlled animals

While that whole thing is unfolding, we are treated to a subplot in which Leonard's daughter, who drifts between fads, wants to marry a producer in the theater production she is a part of, who is like 50 years her senior. It gets kind meta at this point, with some highly awkward scenes between Leonard as the concerned but aloof dad, his scantily clad daughter and a very effeminate old producer dude. Furthermore, Leonard manages to set up a date with his wife, during which she pours various types of food over his head. Both are calm and collected, and there is a weird detachment to the whole routine that I can't quite figure out what to make of. She is pissed, obviously, because he let his career ruin their marriage, but so subdued, it's hard to imagine she really gives a shit. Leonard contemplates the dilemma of taking on another mission, thus estranging his wife further, and letting the world be destroyed by evil vegetable eaters. It's a toss up. But it's settled when his wife is kidnapped. Or daughter perhaps. Would you know, I just can't remember at this point. Leonard gears the fuck up and goes after the terrorists in their hide out, which is some kind of processing factory. Hilarity doesn't ensue, but mayhem does and it concludes with Leonard riding a fucking austrich. Yes. That happened.

Why his helmet says ipso facto, I have tried for 4 weeks to figure out. 

Food is obviously a major theme here. I don't know why it's a major theme, because besides being involved in almost every scene in some form, it doesn't really play a major role, except the inherent fun in throwing or pouring food over people. Why the terrorists are vegetarians as their only defining characteristic, and what their purpose really is besides 'kill meateaters' never becomes apparent. Perhaps that's for the best, because whatever explanation they could come up with would surely take away from what little premise this movie has. Still, it strikes me as odd that you'd involve food in this degree, without at least trying to tie together the plot elements to achieve some form of coherence. It's like the first half of the movie tries to set up some kind of reason for the second part to exist, but it doesn't. Leonard and his wife end up together, and his daughter is saved. Whoop de doo. We were never invested in any of it to begin with. And the daughter/producer subplot isn't really resolved. I guess Leonard saving the world from evil food themed terrorists was enough to convince his ex-wife that he wasn't just a deadbeat secret agent.

Love knows no boundaries, but I think I understand why Leonard is disconcerted by this pimp looking dude.

Despite how thin that plot really is, surprisingly the movie kind of seems to make sense as you watch it. It's boring and clearly pointless, yet somehow things are strung together in a way where the scene transitions make somewhat sense. Granted, the bar is low compared to the previous 40 or so entrants on this list, but that's something too I guess. What happens in those scenes makes no sense, obviously, but it's sequential and without too many strays off the beaten path. It's a little sad, when scenes being sequential is the best thing in a movie, but these flicks are on this list for a reason after all. Like I mentioned, the production value of this film seems relatively high. Cosby was a household name when it was made, and obviously it was made to try and make some coin off of this fact. He plays the role of Leonard very much in the style of his trademark role of Cliff Huxtable – father type figure, bemused by his daughter's antics, who just wants to be left alone by the world. It's all very subdued. The CIA consists of a board of weirdos in a darkened room, pleading with Leonard to come back for his standard fee of a million or 6 million or something. Classic CIA.

More food shenanigans? What is the deal here? Are they pro or con vegetarians? Food waste is a problem. I don't understand. 

We see a B100 familiar face heading up the CIA in this one. Joe Don Baker, who keen readers will remember only too well from my review of Mitchell – the 70s hard boiled cop caper featuring the always bearable Linda Evans. He's back for seconds, and while it's only in a minor role, we get another glimpse at just why he's chosen for these projects. Cosby is a newcomer, and while I don't think his acting career outside of his own sitcoms ever really took off, he isn't really that bad here. It's not a lot to work with, granted, and he doesn't do much with it. He's not believable as a secret agent or government operative in any way shape or form, but he's just Cosby, and that's pretty believable. So he's got that going for him. Leading the terrorist organization is a face I was slightly familiar with. It took me a few moments, but then I recognized her as the Oracle from the first two Matrix movies. She looked a lot better in the 80s, but then so did I probably so I shouldn't point fingers really. Again, there isn't much to work with in terms of character development here, and the motive of the terrorists isn't ever really explained. But she goes at it with gusto, portraying a deranged vegetarian who is fed up with the shit of all us carnivores out there. It's time to turn the animals on us, and make scarce humanity. To what end nobody knows. Perhaps she just wants to ride the roller coasters without having to standing in line.

I don't know much. But I do know, that this isn't something that ought to exist. I've seen it. And now so have you. I make no apologies. 

So the meta value of this film is kind of weird. I'm not one to raise sociopolitical issues in my reviews. This is entertainment afterall. I did find it kind of peculiar, that the allegations against Cosby seem to mirror some of the shit that goes on in Leonard Part 6. His daughter in this movie is heavily sexualized, for no apparent reason, and wants to date a 50 year older dude. Leonard sort of raises the question whether or not he is forcing the daughter or not. It's not really treated or discussed much, it's just a subtext that I can't figure out why was included. It would make sense, if they took it somewhere. They don't. Cosby is now in the same situation in real life, with abuse accusations raised left and right. I wonder if his legal council reviewed this movie for pointers. Or if they just watched it for the striking performances. Whatever the case may be, it's grounds for serious reflection, I think. Which is what I feel this review sort of accomplished. Didn't it? It did.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - 60 Titanic the Legend Goes On...

The second animated movie, if you don't count Troll 2 (and really it's cartoonish enough to qualify) on the list, and contrary to no popular opinion, a complete waste of time. Talking animals, love across social classes, evil step sisters and also talking animals. Oh and the ship goes down in this one too. Sorry to spoil it. Let's just sink right into this review, as it were. Sink in, you know. Alright fine, then just join me in looking at...

Look at this shit. It simply should not be a thing that exists.

With animated flicks, for some reason, I'm lulled into this naïve belief, that because production of it necessarily must be more cumbersome than a standard production, it automatically ups the quality. Through the magic that was Kis Vuk I had that thesis effectively and instantly disproved. However, the notion that somebody involved in these flicks still stopped for a second, looked at what they were doing and went 'What has my life become?' keeps sneaking into my thinking apparatus. Perhaps I'm just slow. I ate a lot of paint chips when I was younger (mid-20s – it wasn't recreational. I'm just that stupid) so anything is technically possible. I can't say I'm disappointed exactly, when I watch the next installment in this hell that has become my waking hours, but still my heart sinks a little when the end credits roll and I feel like my mind has just been pelted with frozen grapes (don't ask). Mostly I think I just lack the answer to that one vital question 'Why?'.

Willie trying to woe Angelica with this look was a thing of sheer beauty. 

The why in this case, is probably best answered with the phrase 'because Titanic'. Because that's literally all this is. Bring up Titanic before your inner silver screen, if you would please, and quickly zip through it. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl is higher up in the class system, boy becomes alcoholic but eventually cleans up, girl indulges boy, ship crashes and people die end of story. It's more or less what happened in real life too. Take that plot, minus a few elements, substitute Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio with shitty looking animations, and half of the supporting cast with talking animals, and you've got some of what's going on here. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Tip. Of the iceberg? Still no? No worries, we'll get there in the end. The did us the favor of reversing the genders at least, so it feels somewhat fresh. The girl embarks the Titanic with her step-mon and two evil step-sisters. It's pretty much Cinderella, because they threw in talking mice and a bird too, and there is some shit about a dress and a penchant containing a picture of this girl's mother. The dude is Willie or Will for short (it needed saying) who is a Lord or something and travels to the states to find true love.

Much like real life, according to legend, the band kept playing until the very end. Same song as they played during dinner too. 

Everything goes pretty according to plan. The rest of the cast is a veritable who's who of standard animation flick characters. The evil theif lady with two nitwit cronies, the bumbling but well meaning detective tracking them, the good hearted nanny to Willie, another kind old lady that helps our main girl with the dress and finally the first officer on the shit, who comes off as a bad guy but probably is just jealous of the last character worth mentioning here: Gaston. Yes, he even looks like the fucker off of Beauty and the Beast and is, of course, also French. Just like Angelica has a striking resemblance to Anastasia from the movie of the same name. Disney ripoff #2 and #3 identified. The animals help find the penchant that Gaston had picked up/stolen from the ground at the docks and given to a big bosomed singer he fancies for that reason. The penchant is returned, and Willie falls in love with Angelica (for that is her name) literally, I think, before first sight even. He's like in the same room as Angelica and that's it. Love at first being within 100 feet of one another. Classic. Their love is only postponed by conflict for a very short time, because it's a shitty flick and not that long. Of course the shit ship starts going down and Angelica escapes in a boat, but Willie is still on the deck. He jumps in, and manages to not be dragged with in the slipstream only to be saved by Angelica shortly after. Also in the boat, Nanny to Willie, who, in a twist of Freudian proportions, we realize that the Nanny who raised William and gave him all the love she would've given to her lost daughter is, in fact, and you may have guessed it, the mother of Angelica. Birth mother. And nanny of Willie. With whom Angelica is in mad and passionate and reciprocated love. This element is disturbing at best, but is not explained or touched upon in any way. And they all live happily ever after. Magnifique!

The guy on the right is never explained, but clearly he's seen some shit. 

Let me open the post plot analysis with two positive points: They didn't include an 'I'm the King/prince/duke/other royalty of the world!' bit, which I found very pleasing. They also saved us from embarrassment by not doing the whole floating on a plank and somebody not being able to fit on there shindig. Thus concludes the positives. The rest was shit. I don't know where to start even. So let's go with the voices. For some reason the travesty that was Kis Vuk had managed to attract at least a few larger names. Bill Nighy, Miranda Richardson, Sienna Miller. All names more than 2 people in the world will recognize. In Titanic it was pretty clear they had hit the local mall asking everybody who passed if they could do a voice. 'But surely doing a voice is pretty easy?' you could very well be thinking now. I know, because I have had the same thought several times in my life. I, as opposed to people in this movie, however, also has an internal mechanism that tells me it only seems easy because I don't have a fucking clue what I'm talking about. The voices here were crap, I think is what I'm trying to point out. Even crappy Saturday morning cartoons have better voices than this. They were annoying.

Gaston and Willie are buds, but not really. Or perhaps they are. It's not really clear. 

As for the animation itself, it was pretty iffy. 3 minutes in, I had seen the same little 3 second bit used three times already, and that kind of laid the groundwork. We were treated to a montage in the middle of this, in which we saw scenes from the previous 30 minutes, as if we had forgotten the extremely simplistic love story already. One of the scenes in the flashback montage was literally the scene in which Willie sits down to flashback. Amazing. Also in the mix were some exterior long shots of the Titanic sailing about it's merry way. These pans were clearly CG as opposed to standard animation for the bulk of the film. That's all good. It was decently done. But it was pointless and just thrown in because somebody got a hard on rigging a cam around a model of a boat and clicking play. Still I guess it's nitpicking. But if I can't nitpick, what the fuck am I here for? Besides nitpicking, these movies would literally end me.

Willie, ever the hero, jumps ship with a kid in his manly arms.

Talking animals. This is as hard a feat to pull off, as kids that aren't annoying in movies/series. In animation it's considerably easier, and yet still it's done for shit in this. There is a party in the animal quarters one night, and of course that means a dog has to do a rap in, what can only be described as, the most white boy ghetto attire and attitude ever shown in mainstream media. Followed by a Mexican mouse trio playing indigenous La Cucaracha style shit for a while. To top this off, we get to see two Dalmatians eating a string of sausages from each end until they end up nearly kissing. To top THAT off, there are cats playing instruments. Disney rip offs #4, #5 and #6 in one scene. New record! Of course these animals aren't questioned by any of the humans. And they have access to any food item for the party, yet moments later the smallest mouse and his parents are starving and helped to a piece of bread by Angelica – no questions asked. I guess it all worked out, because most of the animals were saved I think.

The kid apparently didn't make it, because when they haul Willie, the kid is nowhere to be seen. Presumably he just needed to be seen rescuing a kid for it to stick. 

In the final boat were Angelica, her boyfriend and his nanny/Angelica's mother, along with the detective, the first officer, some weird guy nobody has seen before and then the thief lady and her two sidekicks, who were allowed to escape. Yes, the detective and the three people he chased in the same boat, with no consequences. As they row past the almost lifeless Willie floating in the water, the first officer insists they are already over capacity, but every time a character is show in the boat, they are seen with tons of space around them. The first officer wants to just leave people. Super. Could be movie tricks, I guess. No wait...

Drowning animals. It's a thing that probably also happened. 
The end credits roll after a solid 75 minutes of bemused boredom. I shut the movie off, but my media center informs me I am not done watching this movie. Puzzled, I resume it only to learn there are 15 minutes worth of credits for this travesty all of which are accompanied by the same music that played during the montage and, if you can actually believe this, also joined by scenes from the movie. As in pretty much just the montage over again. 15 minutes of repeat scenes from a 75 minute movie? It doesn't even make sense on paper. And then there is the eclipse in the title. Like we're somehow supposed to feel a sense of grandeur or larger than life potential. Titanic... it's a thing that happened but this movie totally makes it better? Titanic... yes we know but here is a movie about it that spits raw? Titanic... Because you deserve something better and here it is! The movie is Italian, so perhaps that's why? I can't say for sure. I just can't. 

Yes. The production company for this was apparently set up just for this movie. They have no other titles to their name. +1 for originality. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 61 Snowboard Academy

IMDb Bottom 100 Review – Number 61 Snowboard Academy

88 minutes of some of the most unfunny shit ever captured on celluloid, unimpressive snowboard and skiing montages, and a plot so thin Cosmopolitan is looking to hire it as their next cover model. That's what we're dealing with in tonight's review. Add on top of that Jim Varney, a face familiar to the B100 list, and newcomers Brigitte Nielsen and Corey Haim, and we've got a movie cocktail so potent, the odors alone will give you a hangover. I can delay the inevitable no longer. It's time to take a not so critical look at...

Just look at this cooky bastard. That hairdo was genuine I'm sure. 

This seems to be the epitome of Sunday morning still in the clutches of a massive boozer don't want to get up from the couch movie. Perhaps only surpassed by 3 Ninjas. One of the movies that cost a network about $3.50 to purchase the rights to, and subsequently show in every available time slot. It's unspeakably boring and stupid, making it perfect for showings ad nauseam. For me, one showing was sufficient to throw up a bit in my mouth. Is the movie really that bad? Perhaps not. But I think I threw up more out of boredom than anything else. It's Jim Varney for pete's sake! How the hell has he ever been OK to put in films? Granted, his Slinky the Dog turn in 2 of the 3 Toy Stories wasn't bad. But let's be honest here, folks, it didn't really demand much of him in terms of acting talent. So he's pretty much batting a career average of 0. He seems to model his antics after Popeye, with a constant stream of mumblings and musings, that other people are oblivious to. He just needs to stoop when walking, and it'd be a perfect match. Well except that for Popeye in the 40s it was hilarious. For Varney in the 2000s... not so much.

This lady is entirely too happy to be involved in this project. She probably thought it was a commercial for laxatives. 

Snowboard Academy is basically a depiction of a battle of slope supremacy older than time itself: Skiing versus Snowboarding – which one is fucking better than the other? It's an existential discussion I've had myself many a time over the years. I never reached a conclusion until tonight. Varney showed me the path of infinite illumination. However, the conclusion was inconclussive. Does that make sense? Not really. I guess the subject matter is too complicated to cover in this review. Instead, let's dwell upon the action that unfolds before our very eyes when Varney, Nielsen and Haim do, what Varney, Nielsen and Haim do worst. Haim is a snowboarder at some resort. His dad owns the resort, and his older brother is a skiier. They fight over what's best. They are adopted. Nielsen is married to their dad, and is Russian. Obviously. Things are slow at the resort, and the insurance dude is on his way to see if they want to keep insuring the resort, or if things are too fucked up for them to justify covering anything. Of course Nielsen sees this as the perfect opportunity to wrest the resort from her husband before divorcing his ass. She plays the classic blame game, effectively framing the older douchey brother for explosions and other mishaps, because he's already an asshole and him and his brother are dueling on the slopes.

I don't even know what the hell is going on with this costume. As if he didn't look ridiculous enough already, this had to happen. 

That's quite a predicament, you might be thinking. Yes. It is. But alas, it's not too big a predicament for Jim Varney, a travelling minstrel. Actually he's an entertainer hired to, amazingly enough, entertain in the bar at night. However, on top of that he is also going to be security expert for the entire resort. AND make announcement. The 5 minutes of screen time his 'interview' takes shows me he is clearly not suited for that. It also tells me he is easily in the running for least funny guy ever. But all this is of course disregarded. Because if your resort is about to undergo major insurance checks, you want some fucknugget trippind over wires and setting fire to himself. So he is hired. If the dad wanted to hire somebody who actually knew what they were doing, that somebody probably wouldn't want to be hired after all. Everything in the movie unfolds with tedious inevitability. A bet is made between skiiers and snowboarders. If blah blah blah happens, snowboarding gets to stay at the resort. Even if it's clearly a booming business, the dad is ready to straight up ban it from his resort to appease this stupid wager. But that's how that is. Varney goofs off, fucking up a few things. Nielsen and her ski resort employee slash ex green baret wannabe boyfriend try to make shit hit the fan in a big way, to ruin the impeccable reputation of the resort. The insurance guy shows up and at first is appalled, before turning on a dime when Varney foils the evil plot in the most bumbling and off the cuff way. Happy endings all around. Except for the viewing several. In this B100 game, we are the perpetual losers.

Nielsen/Nelson doing what she does bed best. Not much.

It's hard to say too much about this flick, without sinking into deep unrecoverable depression. But for you guys, in the name of simple wholesome family entertainment, I'm going to risk it. The movie sucks, to put it bluntly. I was never a fan of Brigitte Nielsen, or as the is credited here, Brigitte Nelson, despite her status of 'local girl' – at least around my parts. She married Sylvester Stallone back in her modelling days and of course that meant starring in movies. She barely pulled off evil Russian wife in RamboRockywhatever IV opposite husband Sly and in-movie husband Dolph Lundgren. Her acting career should probably have stopped there, or even better: never taken off to begin with. Now she makes her way around the low-belly end of the reality TV circuit. Yes, as much as I loathe all reality TV even I can't deny, that some shows are worse than others. The one I most recently remember seeing her associated with, had Dave Coulier in the same season. So we know it's a waste of airwaves. In an amazing turn of events, she actually manages to make Dave Coulier look appealing. I am as freaked out by this as you probably are right now. When my inate hatred for Coulier is trumped, the fan has been hit with feces in a big way. As for Haim, he seems to have forever skirted the line between mainstream and b movies. The Lost Boys was probably his biggest endeavor, and that says it all I think. However, I haven't actually seen The Lost Boys, and still Corey Haim is a name I know inherently. I don't know why I do. But I do, so he has that going for him which is nice.

Billy Dee? Is that really you? Sadly no. But look at Corey Haim here. What a champ!

Varney is an institution. I understand that. I don't accept it. His claim to fame is largely based on aforementioned Ernest movies, and I don't get why. Granted, I'm not in the target audience now. I don't think I am anyway. Did they have a target audience? If the target audience are stoners, kids or people who watch hangover movies on US television on Sundays, then no. I am not in any of those groups. I remember the Ernest movies from when I was a young adult, and I hated them then already. Jim Varney is not my cup of tea. He might be somebody's, since he's still being used. Well was, rather. He died in 2000 with 52 actor credits to his name. That's 50 more than I am OK with. I assume all 4 of you readers are watching these movies after reading the reviews, because that's what you do, right? You read a review of a movie and then you watch it? Anyway, if you are you will have seen Varney's turn in 3 Ninjas High Noon at Mega Mountain. It was a stellar performance compared to this. Perhaps due to the fact that he has way less screen time in 3 Ninjas, and thus less opportunities to waste our time. But it' the principle of the matter. Jim Varney was by and largely not a good actor and shouldn't have been in as many movies was. Perhaps he'll surprise me yet. Not with new stuff obviously. I don't know if you noticed, but I just mentioned he died in 2000 meaning it's difficult to put out fresh material. But there are still... 46 Varney movies I have no seen, so I suppose he could be Oscar worthy in one or two of them. And under appreciated by the academy. It happens.

My face when watching this movie. 

All in all we have a movie with 3 pretty shitty actors, a shitty premise, pointless slapstick and a half assed script. I'll say, at least, the story kind of made sense. Not made sense as in “this is a believable story that could totally happen in real life”. But sense as in “this story moved from A to Z without leaving out half the letters. It seems asinine to even have to mention this, if I were reviewing movies that took longer than 10 minutes to write. But these bottom dwellers are a different breed altogether, and when I watch one of them, and aren't going “but... didn't they just... how... where... what?” every 5 minutes, it's an accomplishment I feel the need to crack open champagne for. It's a bittersweet victory, because I'm still none the richer for having watched this movie. But at least I'm not contemplating ending this pitiful existence and/or traveling to the Varney estate to empty my bladder on his grave. As bland as his performances are, they don't hold a candle to some of the other stuff I've sat through. Some of it, as even the laziest of readers will know, has downright pissed me off. Then again, without that motivation, this blog might not even exist. I don't know if that's a good consequence or a bad one. I'll let you lot decide.  

More Varney. Here he's just been run over by a slope preparing machine. Hilarious. Right? No.