Comedy

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Year: 2006
Directed By: Liam Lynch
Written By: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, and Liam Lynch

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was never much of a Jack Black fan, until I saw this movie. In fact I had to be practically forced to see the movie by Amber whose persistence paid off when I found not only did I like it but I loved it. The movie had me from the very beginning when little JB sings his tasty jam. I love that song, as well as many in the movie. I have the entire soundtrack downloaded on iTunes, and I rarely skip it when it comes up on random play. Songs like Kickapoo and Beezleboss literally put me in a better mood when I hear them and that still surprises me over ten years later.

Jack Black has been around forever and slowly risen through the ranks to be a leading man but I was having none of it. I have actually to this day still never seen arguably his most famous movie, School of Rock, and the same goes for Nacho Libre. I didn’t see them when they came out on principle because I simply didn’t like Black. So many people told me I should see them, but I have always been a stubborn fan when I got my mind set on something and I had my mind set on Black. I think it stems from Orange County and the role he had in that film. I had mixed feelings about it but one thing that really annoyed me was Black’s over the top portrayal as the drug addict brother.

I felt completely different after seeing this movie and didn’t shy away from his movies afterwards but I never went back. Maybe somewhere deep in my subconscious I’m a little frustrated at how thoroughly Amber put me in my place on the subject of Jack Black and I stubbornly stand by my original principles out of spite when it comes to movies like School of Rock and Nacho Libre. Maybe one day I’ll check those out and realize how wrong I have been for all these years. It’d make a lot of sense actually because I admire Black’s musical skills so much. School of Rock just makes sense, but that stubborn fan in me is unrelenting.

I love this movie, through and through, but I think there is an easy formula that won me over with it. Start off with a bang and leave them laughing in the end. I’ve already mentioned how much I love the beginning of the movie with little Jack Black and Meatloaf. It’s funny and fun. It’s a great song too and it sets the entire tone for the movie. Check this out and tell me it’s not a great way to start a movie:

Kickapoo hits the mark and I feel the Rock when I hear it and I feel the passion. I love the tasty jam and it’s delightful use of the fuck word. It takes me back to when I was a young child trying to rock out in my own religious home. I have always loved my explicit material but it was absolutely not accepted in both of the religious homes I grew up in. One of the most embarrassing memories I have from the age of yesteryear was how I saved up enough money to buy some music. I don’t remember how old I was but back then we were buying tapes. I bought Green Day’s Dookie album on tape and I was pumped. I’ll never forget that after meeting my dad in another store he took one look and went all Meatloaf on me. In one of the most humiliating moments I had at that age I had to stand there while my dad loudly demanded my money back for garbage they had no business selling to someone so young. It was only one of the most famous albums ever but it had “four letter words” in it. My dad wasted not a second tearing the tape open and reading the lyrics on the inside when I showed him what I had gotten. The same went on in the other household when I was scolded for listening to Nine Inch Nails or Snoop Dogg. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I’d do as a parent myself, but I’d be more likely to confiscate and keep it for myself than to humiliate or whip out the belt.

Tangent over and back to the point. Kickapoo was a great opening that follows with some fun and some shenanigans before leading up to an ending that blows me away every time. There is little more I love more in the combination of music and film than Tenacious D and their rock off with the devil. I love the devil, who was played by the giant Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Though I’ve never been a fan I have to have respect for such a key figure in the history of rock, but I think as the devil he rocks the hell out of this shit. “I’m the devil I love metal!” that’s just fucking awesome. See for yourself:

I love how blasphemous it is and how awesome. It doesn’t matter if it makes any sense or if it’s practical. It’s all about the Rock and this absolutely fucking rocks. I love that not only is the devil funny and on point but when he rocks you can feel the difference. It would only make sense that the devil was the greatest rocker of all time.

I love a movie that catches me so by surprise and wins my affection despite all my instincts. When a movie proves me wrong it reminds me that I’m not right about everything and I think we would all be better off with a little bit of a reminder to that undeniable fact. Amber had been after me to watch this movie for months back in 06 or 07 and I refused as long as I possibly could. She owned the album for the film on CD and would play it often. I would get frustrated because with no context I hated listening to it. That’s something else she was right about because I find myself in an on going love affair with the music still after all these years.

This movie is overwhelmingly silly at times but that’s all part of the fun. Where this movie wins is with the music and that’s fitting because it achieves what it is literally trying to do. I may have avoided this movie and done my best to not see it, but when I did I fell in love with something unexpectedly. This is some of the most fun I have watching any movie and I love when the songs hit my playlist on random and I can feel that fun all over again. I think this movie is worth your time, your attention, and your ears and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

NEXT MOVIE: The Terminator (1984)

 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Year: 1991
Directed By: Michael Pressman
Written By: Todd W. Langen, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK full disclosure here, I haven’t watched this movie in order to review it. Oddly enough I found myself watching it with my kids sometime within the last six months and I think that gave me a good enough impression to go with. I’m like a freaking adult now, can’t be having two sittings of this movie within six months of one another. That would just be silly.

I distinctly remember this film coming to theaters, I was 7 at the time. There was a contest for coloring a picture of the turtles to get free tickets to the film. I specifically remember how much effort I put into it, not only the easy part of getting all the colors correct but also shading with crayons in a way that could rival my abilities as an adult. I put all the effort capable of a seven year old into that drawing and I was so proud to turn it in. When I got the call that my coloring had been selected I lost my shit. I felt like I had won because I was somehow a superior Turtles fan. I had poured my heart into something, probably for the first time in my life, and I had succeeded at it. Low and behold I realized years later that my dad was the manager of the theater that promoted the competition. A coincidence that can’t be overlooked as one reflects on life experiences.

That charming memory aside I loved this movie through and through when it came out and I saw it in the theater. I thought it far exceeded the original film and captured the humor that the turtles were capable of. Plus there were other mutants in this one! I have always been a fan of Toka and Raza, the capabilities of Jim Henson Creature Shop can never easily be overlooked. These guys were no Bebop and Rocksteady but they upped the ante for the turtles nonetheless.

Yet as I have gotten older I find myself revisiting this film now and again. I find that with each viewing I see more and more childish shenanigans. Things I started out blind to because of my childhood love suddenly started to come into focus. The ninja turtles don’t even really fight in this one. In fact they’re the motherfucking Harlem Globetrotters of combat! How can I knock this guy down without using any actual violence? Hmmmm we’re gonna need more props and gags.

The thing is I no longer know what to think about this movie. I watch this movie now and I want to sit here and tell you it’s garbage. Nothing but juvenile nonsense and it isn’t worth your time. However I have to consider the memories that come flooding back. I absolutely loved this movie when it came out and ignored all flaws for years following. Maybe this is a great movie because it captured me as part of the obvious target audience. Maybe what I think about it now fails in comparison to the magic I saw as a seven year old.

If nothing else this movie continued the turtle story line and deepened their characters. That can’t be said for the third in the franchise. I don’t think this movie was worth my time to sit down and watch again within a certain time frame. Upon deep consideration I would say that it is most definitely worth the time of your preteen child. Even though it is silly I think there is still plenty to like about the film for any Ninja Turtles fan.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Team America: World Police

Year: 2004
Directed By: Trey Parker
Written By: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was in college when this movie came out and I specifically remember scraping money together for a chance to see it in the theater. Sure I needed every cent, food and expenses being what they were for a broke college kid, but this movie was a priority. All my anticipation and penny pinching was validated when I sat down to see it. I don’t know that I’d ever laughed so hard before and I appreciated the satire in all my adolescent political prowess. I’ve since seen it more times than I can count and I love it more with every viewing.

I think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, top 5 all time comedy hands down. The fact that it features puppets only makes it more impressive. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are nothing short of genius. I don’t know why they haven’t made more movies but I really wish they would. This proves it because it’s so unbelievably exceptional. Everything from the dialogue to the music is just perfect, and they did it with freakin puppets!

I am a proud American but I have not always been proud of my countries actions. This movie captures exactly how I felt back when I was involved and I cared. My political feelings aside, I don’t know that anything has ever summed up America quite like this:

It’s the attitude behind it, the inclusion of all things American from Walmart to Disney World. In a nutshell this is the country I have grown up in.

I love this movie. It’s just brilliant how ridiculous and serious it can be at the same time. It so flawlessly captures the ignorance, arrogance, and the entitlement of America as a nation. I love my country, but I can’t help but laugh. It is what it is and when you can’t change it you have no choice but to accept it. As an American though there is one thing you can’t forget…

As much as I love this movie there are two scenes I can’t stomach. Something too disgusting to watch is to be expected from Parker and Stone now and again. The two scenes I can’t and won’t watch are when Gary violently throws up for what seemed like forever because it is just so disgusting. The second is the sex scene. It’s funny at first, these two puppets are getting it on, but then it goes too far. And it keeps going, and when you think it’s gone as far as it can go it gets more perverse. It’s too much, but it’s easy enough to skip those two scenes and enjoy what it otherwise so perfect.

Back in 04 the leader of North Korea was just as crazy as the son is these days but he didn’t get the attention of the Saddams and Bin Ladens of the world. I have always thought it was hilarious that he got the spotlight in this film. Kim Jong un is crazy and has exceeded his father in gaining attention for threatening the world. Long before he rose to power his crazy sire was calling the shots and this movie serves as a great reminder of those times. I actually like this portrayal of Kim Jong il better even than Saddam in South Park. I love the scene when Hans Blix comes to inspect. “Ah no not fucking Hans Brix.” Blix’s threat that the UN will write them an angry letter is hilarious. Kim Jong il is a villain I always feel a bit bad for because..

I think special mention has to go to the people that brought this movie to life. The people behind the scenes that made the puppets and the work of the actual puppeteers who did such fantastic work. I don’t know who any of these people are but they are exceptional talents. I hope there is still work out there somewhere worthy of their skill. My disgust aside, what they were able to accomplish during the sex scene was pretty impressive. I love when things come to fisticuffs as well. The fighting that ultimately looks like dancing around is just hilarious. They are puppets after all and these puppeteers could only do so much to make the magic happen.

Love it or hate it you can’t help but laugh if you give this movie your attention. While there is plenty of truth said in jest you can’t take this movie too seriously or it is wasted on you. Trey Parker and Matt Stone create a lot of controversy, but they are two of the most talented comedians I have ever had the privilege of laughing at. If you somehow miss the boat on these two then you should catch up on your South Park, and give this movie a chance because you will rarely see anything funnier. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t let my kids see it, but for any mature adult that doesn’t have a stick up their butt this is a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

 

 

Superbad

Year: 2007
Directed By: Greg Mottola
Written By: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a really funny movie and I enjoy it every time I sit down to it. This recounting of the good old days for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is hilarious. We all have those memories from our youth that have formed into legend and hats off to these guys for making a movie out of theirs.

This is just a great group of funny people brought together to be funny. I think the pairing of Jonah Hill and Michael Cera is great and they have terrific chemistry together. Rogen and Bill Hader are hilarious as the two cops. Last but not least is Christopher Mintz-Plasse making his film debut. I don’t think there are tons of roles out there waiting for this guy but he was awesome as McLovin. This is also Emma Stone’s film debut and how high her star has risen since. There are plenty of great performances in the background of this movie as well.

I’ve watched this movie a dozen times or more and I still find it funny. However I have little to nothing to say about it. Not inspiring lengthy commentary aside this movie is still worth your time. It’s a very funny movie and I don’t usually recommend it because everybody I know has usually already seen it. It’s immature and over the top but it’s a lot of fun.

NEXT MOVIE: Superman (1978)

 

 

Stripes

Year: 1981
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, and Harold Ramis

RYAN’S REVIEW

When you got this core of Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis together in the 80s they were going to make some magic. The men behind Ghostbusters had a specific quality that transitioned onto the screen and you can see it in this movie. Originally written to be Cheech and Chong join the army this movie worked far better than it ever had any business doing so. These guys took a bombed idea and turned it into a comedy classic.

This is one of my favorite examples of how funny Bill Murray is. I think the thing for Bill Murray is that he has to be paired with a director who will just let him do his thing. Bill Murray is notoriously weird and can be hard for some to work with. Harold Ramis had a great ability to work with Bill Murray that lasted for a long time. Up until their last collaboration, Groundhog Day, they had a fruitful relationship. Don’t know what happened to dissolve that relationship but it’s really unfortunate.

I think this movie runs a bit too long. I think if they had stretched out boot camp a little bit more and not been deployed into their protection detail it would have been better. There are plenty of scenes in this movie that look like hold overs from the Cheech and Chong intended script. With a deep cast of funny people including John Candy and Judge Reinhold they managed to make it there own.

This is a movie that speaks for itself. It’s a classic comedy like Caddyshack and it simply doesn’t need my stamp of approval. For me it takes me back to middle school when I was first introduced to it. I thought it was a really funny movie then and I still enjoy watching it today. It’s easily worth your time but like most people you have long since discovered that on your own.

NEXT MOVIE: Suicide Kings (1997)

 

The Stepford Wives

Year: 2004
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Ira Levin (book), Paul Rudnick (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film has sat on our shelf for over ten years and I don’t think I have watched it since we were in college. The film made it into the collection as a gift for Amber on some anniversary or holiday along the way. We’re only minutes into the movie now and I’m already wondering what I was thinking. We own so many movies that there’s bound to be a dud here and there and we’ve stumbled across one it seems. I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for why it’s part of our collection but that memory has been lost along the way.

In one of the very first scenes the dialogue was clearly changed because it doesn’t match up with the lips of the actors. That’s frustrating but it was the plight of this movie. It’s one that’s been disowned by everybody involved including several actors and even the director. Not only did things not go well during filming but it suffered greatly in post production as several things were changed and some even re shot altogether. I have never seen the original film but perhaps I should seek it out now because I do like the idea behind this movie. It won’t be the first mistake I have made watching a remake of something that was much better before.

I’m thinking specifically of The Manchurian Candidate. Coincidentally that very film was advertised on this DVD. I learned a lesson when I watched the original and the very same thing could happen here. I’d really like to test that out but I don’t think it’s going to happen. A quick search shows the original film must be out of print because the DVD cost almost $70. That’s outrageous and I don’t want to see it that bad just to test out a theory. I can settle for the book but I’d have to invest too much time and I’m not really that interested.

Glenn Close is a gem and it’s sad to see her talent wasted in a movie like this. She so exaggerated in the scene where they are “working out” that you can’t help but laugh. She’s just so deftly delightful and her hand motions are fantastic. She shines in this film where everyone else is cloudy.

I have never been a big fan of Nicole Kidman but I do respect her talent. I can’t say that it’s on display in this movie though, her heart clearly wasn’t in it. I like Ferris Bueller as much as everyone else but there is rarely ever a role when I think ‘Matthew Broderick would have been great for this.’ On the other hand I can’t imagine a performance given by Christopher Walken that isn’t awesome but he’s just going through the motions in this movie and that’s a shame.

This movie was directed by Frank Oz and he has never really been a favorite of mine. He hasn’t gotten behind camera in ten years but still serves as the voice of Yoda when called upon. I don’t generally like his movies, however his final film Death at a Funeral was hilarious and needs to be added to the collection now that I think about it. Amber and I watched both the white and the black version of it years ago and enjoyed both.

Aside from Glenn Close, and that one awesome joke about Connecticut, there really isn’t much going on with this movie. It’s a really cool story but it wasn’t delivered properly at all. I wish I could watch the original to see how it measures up and maybe I’ll get that chance at some point. If anybody who has read the book is reading this let me know if it’s worth it and I’ll probably check it out. I can’t say this movie is actually worth your time to see though. It’s short and that’s a plus but even with a short running time it’s just not worth it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stir of Echoes (1999)

 

Stay Tuned

Year: 1992
Directed By: Peter Hyams
Written By: Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, and Richard Siegal

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t remember much from the year 1992 but I do remember seeing this movie in the theater. I was eight years old and the idea of regular people going into the television programming as part of it was such a terrific fantasy for me. 1992 was one of the years leading up to my parents divorce and TV was my great escape. If I wasn’t playing outside with my action figures I was sitting in front of the tube with one in hand watching whatever served as an easy distraction. When I saw this movie I loved it because the idea of being able to go into the world of television was just awesome. The fact that it served as some sort of hell in this movie was beside the point, I was eight, it was the idea that appealed to me. As our collection grew the memory of this film bubbled to the surface one day and I went out of my way to add it to the collective.

The Humphrey Bogart movie seen on the television early in this movie was The Maltese Falcon. Bogart plays badass private eye Sam Spade and in the scene on screen he is confronting the damsel in distress who is actually the perpetrator behind the murders.  Really cool movie that is actually part of our collection. We reviewed it a few years ago. I like this movie a little bit more now for featuring it.

Not really sure what Jeffrey Jones’ character is all about in this movie. Is Mr. Spike the devil? It certainly seems so with the evil laughing as he drives down into Hell presumably. As the boss of Hell Vision he is out to steal your soul and kill you, for some reason. I do like this evil organization who kills and possibly sends people to hell but also trains interns. Interns that can rise quite dramatically it seems. There’s a great reference to Dr. Strangelove at one point down in the depths of Hell Vision. As the movie goes on you still don’t really know what Spike is all about. He’s evil enough though, he’ll choke you out if you talk back to him and kiss you if you give him good news.

I love how this movie mocked the current TV programming of the early 90s. One of my favorites is the Sadistic Hidden Videos. The officer brings the woman to tears with news of her husbands death and two seconds later she’s laughing when she realizes she is on hidden camera. I remember the commercial the Max Hell segment is making fun of with that guy sitting back in that chair and the sound of his stereo blowing his hair or something. I can’t remember what the product actually was but that’s pretty funny. What parent doesn’t want a Silencer of the Lambs now and again on a long ride to keep the kids quiet?

“This is one clever pussy.” That’s hilarious because they found a way to drop the P word into a PG rated film. Followed shortly by “My Three Sons of Bitches” and then the spoof of Wayne’s World. I never got into the Wayne’s World skit, or the movies. Ah there it is, The Maltese Falcon is mentioned by named in the segment that is obviously inspired by it.

Sometimes this movie borders on trying to be a horror film with so much themed around hell and death. Segments like Duane’s World and the Exorcisist can really make it a bit confusing about what the film is going for. There are an awful lot of references to Hell and 666 in this movie for it to be rated PG. I’m not a stickler for such things but in this movie the hell references just seem so random.

John Ritter is so well cast as the typical guy. He had a special quality as an actor and was so likable. I think the scene when he shows up on the Three’s Company set it’s really funny.  He’s the kind of actor who can drop pussy into the dialogue and still come off as innocent. He died before his time, may he rest in peace. Long before he was Jim’s dad on American Pie Eugene Levy was proving he had the potential to make anything he was in funnier. Maybe it wasn’t in this movie because nobody really saw it but he does make this movie funnier.

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seems I cannot escape Star Trek, as it has followed me beyond the 12 prior films and into this one. John Ritter as Captain Picard is good for a laugh even with the horrible reminder. “Holy Shatner,” he does it right and gives respect to both crews. The Star Trek fan I have purged from myself would be proud.

Crash Test Dummies! That’s awesome, and it’s followed shortly by Driving Over Miss Daisy. This is a funny movie. It’s silly and I’m probably putting more thought into it than it’s worth but I’ve enjoyed watching it again. The whole message is as John Ritter says in the end “Too much TV can get you in trouble.” This really isn’t the kind of movie to put too much thought into though. I think it’s worth your time simply because it’ll take you back to the early 90s.

NEXT MOVIE: The Stepford Wives (2004)