South Beach Academy (1996)

•March 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

PLOT:

South Beach Academy stars Corey Feldman at his absolute lamest as Billy, a 20-something-year-old virgin from North Dakota who spends spring break at his crazy uncle’s school for tan hotties in Florida’s sizzling South Beach.  His older brother Spencer is the coach for the women’s volleyball league, so naturally Billy expects to drown himself in sandy beach poon.  What he didn’t count on was love.

Ok, it is really hard to describe this film without sounding like I’m copying the back of the box.  I think that must be one of the true markers of a real shit movie.

Anyways, the movie is really less about Billy getting laid and more about how Spencer deals with the crazy uncle (played by Al Lewis, or Grandpa Munster as most of us know him), who has a severe gambling problem.  See, crazy uncle Grandpa Munster somehow ends up betting the whole academy on one volleyball game and it’s up to Spencer to put together the hottest, bestest, biggest-breasted women’s volleyball team South Beach has ever seen.  Oh, and he falls in love too.

Honestly, the plot really takes a backseat to the hot bodies, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to talk about it.  Basically, the whole movie is like one big live-action Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition with Corey Feldman and Grandpa Munster.

AMBITION: 1

I can’t tell if South Beach Academy was made with Corey Feldman as a vehicle for a lot of T&A, or if it was made with a lot of T&A as a vehicle for Corey Feldman.  Either way there was no admirable motive behind the film.  It didn’t even make women’s beach volleyball look good.  Besides, why you even make a 90’s movie about women’s beach volleyball unless you’ve got Gabrielle Reece on board?

PRESENTABILITY: 5

If any of your friends are Feldman fans, they obviously have not seen this movie.  But they should.  It ends here.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 2

Fake tits, tan butts, and some homely bimbo hanging all over Grandpa Munster.  Boo.

PERFORMANCE: 4

Feldman’s performance suggests that he wasn’t completely cool with his role.  It’s as if he was embarrassed to be playing a virgin, so he chose to deliver all his lines with an almost sarcastic lack of conviction.  It is arguably the worst performance of Feldman’s career, but oddly enough it somehow comes off as being very natural for him.  Where all the other actors appeared to be reciting the dialogue out loud for the first time ever, Feldman’s easy delivery of such immortal lines as, “I like breasts, fake breasts,” and his spot-on Butthead impression, “Huh huh, butts are cool,” left me wondering if maybe it was all just Corey being Corey.

DATABILITY: 4

This movie was dated the minute it was made.  It came out in 1996, but damned if it doesn’t look like it was filmed in 1990.  The odd discrepancy between it’s actual release date and the general time-feel of the movie only adds to its WTF factor.  WTF?  Maybe it really was filmed in 1990 but for whatever reason it sat on the shelf for 6 years.  Maybe Grandpa Munster’s family was so embarrassed for him they pulled some strings and got it tied up in post-production, perhaps hoping he’d die naturally before the film murdered him with humiliation.  Or maybe Corey was in and out of so many rehab centers the producers postponed release in the hope that his image might improve in a few years (tough luck, guys).   Whatever the case may be, the amount of neon thong bikinis in the movie will leave you wondering why Color Me Badd isn’t featured heavily in the soundtrack.

SCRIPT: 1

One great way to make a shitty movie is to start by showing the main character in some crazy, inexplicable situation, and then have him address the camera with a line like, “I’ll bet you’re wondering how I got into this crazy, inexplicable situation.  Well, it all started two weeks ago…”  On second thought, the best thing is to start with naked butts all over the place, then move on to the convenient flashback set-up.  To make sure the movie stays shitty all the way through, return to the narrative device at odd, inappropriate times throughout the film.  It’s also important that most of the characters experience complete, 180 degree emotional turnarounds with little or no plausible motivation for doing so.

And let’s not forget the quote of the century: “I like breasts, fake breasts.”

RELEVANCE: 1

The only relevance this movie has is that it’s hard proof of Corey Feldman’s suckiness.  That may be a moot point to some, but as a former fan I can say that if it wasn’t for this movie, I might have forgiven him.  I forgave him for Rock n Roll High School Forever.  I forgave him for Dream a Little Dream 2.  I even forgave him after seeing his terrible band perform last year to a rowdy crowd of a dozen fat 35-year-old women.  I felt sorry for him then.  Now I know what he did to deserve it.  South Beach Academy is incontrovertible.  Corey Feldman sucks.

ORIGINALITY: 1

Nope.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 2

The camera work during the big important volleyball game is shameful.  They made no effort whatsoever to keep the camera on the ball.  It was almost as if they were more concerned with the bodies of the half-naked women playing the game…..

Also, it became obvious very quickly that they were trying to disguise Corey Feldman’s true height.  Corey Feldman is a midget in real life.  So what do you do when his tall, tan love interest is wearing roller skates, making her a full foot taller than him?  Well, in this case they make him sit up on the headrest of the seat of his convertible, and they shoot the scene as if it were being witnessed by a medium-sized dog.  Feels totally natural.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 2

If this movie really was made in 1996, somebody needs to tell the production designers that 6 years ago is not ever interesting or fresh.  You need to wait at least 15 years before you start recycling fashion, music or just out of rehab former child celebrities.

+5 BONUS POINTS for a stellar RON JEREMY cameo appearance! Possibly the only redeeming thing about South Beach Academy is Ron Jeremy’s role as the manager of the strip club Billy frequents.

TOTAL: 28, or the rectal equivalent of severe constipation necessitating multiple enemas, with the eventual result of said enemas being a brick of shit so large that it refuses to stop making movies even after multiple flushes.  Huh-huh, butts are cool.

The following is an excerpt from the March 1996 edition of Playgirl magazine.  Enjoy!

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Battlefield Earth (2000)

•September 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

I chose John Travolta as a subject of interest in this quest for the best bad movie ever made because he has the kind of camp value I would expect from the star of a good shitty movie.   This may only be my fourth Travolta post, but over the past four weeks I have watched many, many more that I didn’t even bother to rate on our handy shit-scale.  I’ve come to realize that this man has done a lot of mediocre crap, and while there have been some fun moments I have to conclude that John Travolta is probably not in the best shitty movie of all time.   I only wish I’d figured that out BEFORE I watched  Look Who’s Talking Too.

Battlefield Earth definitely falls into the category of mediocre crap, which is really too bad because I was excited about this one.  Apocalypse-themed stories always have potential, and having seen Travolta’s silly flowing alien dread locks in pictures, it seemed like a guaranteed good time.  Unfortunately the movie wasn’t quite bad enough to be good, and it most certainly wasn’t for-real good.

PLOT:

An aggressive alien race of lumbering meat heads called the Psyclos conquered Earth a thousand years ago.  Now the few humans left live primitively in the deserts while the Psyclos mine the planet for sparkly gold and other precious ores.  But, predictably, there is one young upstart human with a huge chip on his shoulder who won’t settle for life lived as an endangered species.  Against the equally predictable admonitions of his tribe’s wise man leader ( you know, the old guy draped in dead bunnies), this young whipper snapper takes off on his horse, armed with rocks and sticks, on a mission to seek out the “demons” his people fear (the Psyclos) and destroy them.  He’s quickly captured but due to his high level of moxie the lead Psyclo (Travolta) decides to hook him up to a “knowledge machine” and see what happens.  Guess what happens.  Come on, guess.  If you guessed that his brain turns to jelly and life goes on unmolested for the Psyclos, you need to watch more shitty movies.

AMBITION: 3

This is Scientology recycling an old L. Ron Hubbard sci-fi novel tp further it’s purpose, most likely.  Of course, most of us regular people will never know what that purpose is or how Battlefield Earth furthered it until it’s too late, so who cares?

PRESENTABILITY: 5

Sure, you could make your friends watch this.  You could also fart in their face and call it a chicken salad.  Both actions would have similar consequences: your friends will probably forgive you but they’ll also respect you a little less.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 2

Every time I give a low score in this category I have to wonder how the in hell anybody can make a 2 hour piece of crap like this without showing any interesting sex or violence.  Was everything included in the movie so vital they couldn’t spare a few measly minutes for some weird alien sex or a nice bloody explosion?  Please.

PERFORMANCE: 5

Travolta is very smug and hammy, which works for the movie but doesn’t necessarily translate to a high score on this scale.
Forest Whitaker is the second-in-command Psyclo.  It’s always fun to see an oscar winner dressed up all silly and playing the vapid sidekick.
The man-animals give it their scowly best.

DATABILITY: 5

Battlefield Earth has that epic movie feel that is coming to be associated with the time period.  It’s one of those turn of the century movies that wants to blow your mind AND your eardrums, and then make you cry and pee your pants for good measure.  Kind of like my old baby sitter.

SCRIPT: 3

Travolta shakes a rat in the man-animal’s face and screams, “DO YOU WANT LUNCH!?!?”  The line is totally dependent on the action that accompanies it and still it’s the best quote I can take from this movie.

RELEVANCE: 5

It’s somewhat relevant if only for the Scientology thing.  It also champions the freedom-loving human spirit or whatever, but that’s old hat.

ORIGINALITY: 1

The main story is a million years old and a million times told.  The “contemporary” updates can be traced back to old episodes of Star Trek.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 8

I found the excessive use of “dynamic” camera angles outrageously funny.  I don’t think there was a single scene that wasn’t tilted at least 15 degrees.  Slow motion and monochrome were also overused but to a less hilarious extent.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 5

Again, I have to reference Star Trek.  Visually, the Psychlos were exactly what you’d get if a Klingon mated with a Romulan.
The filmmakers’ vision of Earth in a thousand years was pretty drab.  The ruins of all the familiar American cities was pretty much exactly like Logan’s Run.  This movie ripped off SO MANY THINGS!!!

TOTAL: 42

Watching this movie was like using a public restroom that’s been without running water for a thousand years.

REALITY COMICS PRESENTS:

Staying Alive (1983)

•September 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

PLOT:

Staying Alive is the unusually tardy sequel to 1977’s iconic disco film Saturday Night Fever.   They waited six long years to make it, and if Saturday Night Fever was the movie that brought the disco movement back from the brink of death, then Staying Alive was the movie that beat it’s bloody corpse into the ground.  In 1983 The Bee Gees, heavily featured in both films, weren’t relevant anymore, and John Travolta was washed up in public opinion.  The disco dancing was largely replaced with 80s contemporary interpretive dance, but Staying Alive was still considered an outdated turkey at the time of it’s release.  Even the fact that the movie was co-written, produced and directed by Sylvester Stallone didn’t do it any favors at the box office.

Travolta once again plays Tony Manero, a Brooklyn-born dancing Italian jackass out to make a name for himself in show business.  Six years ago Tony was the star of the biggest discotheque in Brooklyn.  Now he waits tables in Manhattan and his dreams of becoming a famous dancer are deflated daily.  The Tony Manero of Staying Alive is in the throws of a crippling mid-20s malaise and he is constantly unsatisfied.  He treats his steady girlfriend like crap, he lies and cheats and looks at other girls right in front of her, he even goes so far as to ask her if the other girl he’s interested in is seeing anyone.  He’s a complete dick but we still have to root for him, because, in his own words, “I’ve always been this kinda bastard but it’s ok ‘cause like it comes natural to me.”  Plus he’s just a damn good dancer.  But is he good enough?

AMBITION: 5

Most sequels are a thinly veiled attempt to cash in on some previously successful film, and Staying Alive is no exception.  However, this is one of those rare occasions where the sequel is actually more entertaining than the first movie. The dancing in Saturday Night Fever is fun to watch, but it’s weighted down with a lot of serious, socio-economic commentary. Staying Alive doesn’t try so hard to have a sobering message, it’s really all about the dancing.  For every awesome disco scene in Saturday Night Fever there are three awesome 80s dance montages in Staying Alive.  Basically it’s the Rocky of dance movies.

PRESENTABILITY: 6

This is a great one to have on in the background at a dance party, but it’s worth sitting through, too.  Whether you’re marveling at his dance skills or his dickish behavior, Travolta is entertaining the whole way through.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 4

All the sex and violence in Staying Alive is done in cheesy 80s interpretive dance-form, which sounds a lot more hilarious than it actually is.  This is one area where the first movie is superior, with the forced backseat sex, pregnant teenage girlfriend and unfortunate bridge accident.

PERFORMANCE: 7

This is the part John Travolta was born to play.  I just don’t believe him in any role where he doesn’t get to bust a move or act like a hulking jackass.  It’s what he’s good at.  And that dumb thuggy accent really suits him.

DATABILITY: 7

There were sweat bands and leotards everywhere.  Staying Alive definitely out-leotarded Perfect (previous post).  Tony and his girlfriend both have the same huge 80s almost-mullet, and there are enough neon lights to give all of NYC cancer.

SCRIPT: 8

The writing for Staying Alive falls into the so-bad-it’s-good category (thanks in no small part to Stallone’s influence, I’m sure).  Here are just a few of my favorite lines:

“I just wanna say that if I never see you again, you got beautiful legs.” – Tony, to his GF, right before cheating on her.

“I don’t have time for meaningful relationships right now.” – Tony
“…Guys like you aren’t relationships.  You’re excercise.” – Older slutty acquaintance

The new love interest slams a door in his face in response to his come-ons and he tells her, “I thought I was being charming!  You know, you did try to damage my head.  But look, the thing is, I have amazing respect for your dancing talent, alright?  And I respect your womanhood.  I didn’t always respect womanhood but since I moved to Manhattan I got this new mature outlook on life.  I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t curse…” He says all this to the girl with whom he will cheat on his girlfriend.

“I wanna say somethin’ to you but it’s hard ‘cause I’m just not used to sayin’ nice things to you.” – Tony, to his GF

RELEVANCE: 6

At first this film seemed to promise some real, true life-lessons.  It’s 6 years later and Tony’s not a big star, he’s waiting tables.  That’s as relevant as it gets for anyone who has ever wanted to be famous.  There usually comes a point when a person finally has to give up their grandiose, youth-fueled dreams.  That’s one of the most important and humbling lessons life has to offer.  Of course, there would be no movie if Tony was a waiter the whole time, so that lesson is only relevant for the first half of the movie.
The other important point this movie makes is that while it is exciting to meet and fuck new prettier, richer and more talented people, eventually you have to settle for someone you’re comfortable with.

ORIGINALITY: 5

It’s a classic story, and it’s a sequel, but there are unique aspects.  After all, letting Sly Stallone direct a faggy dance movie is a pretty unique idea in the first place.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 8

I literally lost count of the intense dance montages.  Then there were all the non-dance-related montages, like the one where Tony walks from Manhattan to Brooklyn at night.  That’s the “I got some serious thinking to do” montage.   The final dance performance montage is the best, though.  Extreme close-ups of John Travolta’s sweaty face punctuate slow-motion shots of dancers leaping through smoke and colored lights; they’re spinning, sweating, muscles flexing and the guitar is screaming like coked-up prehistoric mosquito.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 7

The set and costumes for the stage show in the movie were hilarious.  I loved the flaming boob and crotch leotards that the back-up dancers wore.  I don’t think it was meant to be funny, either, so that makes it even better.

TOTAL:  63

Like changing a baby’s diaper every day until it’s potty trained, but then letting that baby continue to piss and shit on you for years until one day it finally grows up and treats you like a human being.

OPEN LETTER TO JOHN TRAVOLTA

Dear John,
My mother once told me that people ought to do what they’re good at, and if you’re not good at something, leave is for the people who are.  Now I understand that, as an actor, you like to experiment with your range and try different kinds of roles in different kinds of movies, and that’s fine.  The thing is, your track record shows that trying new things is not usually a good career move for you.  You found your niche early and had tremendous success with Saturday Night Fever and Grease because there are two things that you’re really good at: shaking your ass and acting like a dick.  You strayed from that formula and ended up in garbage like Moment by Moment and Look Who’s Talking.  I thought finally you’d come to your senses when you did Pulp Fiction.  You were a regular dancin’ asshole!  That movie put you back on the map, but then you turn around and try to play a telekinetic farmer or a big hairy alien and see what happens?  Everyone thinks you suck again.  There’s nothing wrong with doing what you’re good at.  It is important to grow and change as an actor but sometimes it’s important to know your place as well, and I am urging you to find that place again.  Please don’t take any more roles that don’t highlight your special talents.  We want to see you gettin’ down and being insensitive, or we don’t want to see you at all.
Sincerely,
The Caring Crew of Coprocinephelia

Perfect (1985)

•September 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

PLOT:

John Travolta had only been in three “good” movies before he began his long streak of infamous stinkers.  This 16 year professional skidmark started off thick and chunky with 1978’s Moment by Moment (see previous post) and was still going strong in 1985 when he co-starred with Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect, a petty romantic drama told mostly through dynamic aerobic sequences.  It’s “…a world where love is a dance played to a pulsing beat and the attainment of physical beauty is everything.”  This is straight off the box, people.  At least we can take comfort in knowing that for every shitty aerobics movie made in the 80s there was an after school special about Anorexia made, too. See?  It all balances out.

In Perfect, Travolta stars as Adam Lawrence, a low-level newspaper employee who’s fed up with writing obituaries so he fast-forwards to five years later and suddenly he’s Rolling Stone magazine’s most ground-breaking reporter.  Most of the beginning of the film is dedicated to providing us with evidence that Adam is a highly motivated and professional investigative reporter, so when he ends up in a fitness club writing a story about the Aerobics Pied Piper (Jamie Lee Curtis), we’re expected to take it seriously.  Curtis plays fitness instructor Jessie Wilson, who spurns Lawrence’s attempts to get an interview because of some humiliating emotional trauma she suffered at the hands of another reporter in her past.  So, instead of becoming his professional subject, she becomes his lover and their sizzling hot romance heats up as the sparks fly and they feel the burn of their excessively warm firey flames of desire.

Though the article Adam eventually writes for Rolling Stone has nothing to do with her, it infuriates Jessie nonetheless because it portrays one of her friends from the health club as a raging slut (which she is).  To win her respect back, Adam writes a new article with a completely different focus but his editor runs third, ghost-written version of the story.  This third version exposes Jessie as the subject of an old sex scandal, which only infuriates her further.  Luckily, Adam’s embroiled in some courtroom drama caused by a previous plot thread and he’s given the opportunity to prove how incredibly ethical he is by spending time in jail rather than breaking a promise.  Will Jessie accept the truth and forgive him?  Well, DUH.

This film would be a total throw-away waste of time except that it contains several rather graphic aerobic scenes that are definitely worth watching just for the shock value of it all.  Apparantly 80s fitness routines generally involved many extended crotch-thrusting segments that, when done by Jamie Lee Curtis in spandex and John Travolta in short-shorts, makes even this otherwise outrageously boring movie mesmerizing in a fun, offensive sort of way.

AMBITION: 1

This film could largely be written off as an extremely long and complicated ad for Rolling Stone Magazine.

PRESENTABILITY: 3

Even with all the entertaining genital-oriented aerobic sequences, overall Perfect is a boring movie and probably wouldn’t work well in most group-watching scenarios.  The pay-off crotch-thrusting scenes are pretty special, though, so anyone who gives a crap about John Travolta one way or the other ought to see this movie.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 5

No sex scene exists in the film, but there is an incredibly lame build-up to a sexual encounter between the two leads involving AMAZING NEW TECHNOLOGY from the 80s and the clever use of work-out metaphors to describe the strenuous sex they’re about to have.

There’s no violence, and no nudity, and for a film with a wardrobe consisting of 90% spandex there is surprisingly little camel toe.  However, what it lacks there it makes up for in spades with multiple scenes featuring big squishy moose knuckle.  The main event, as it were, is a painfully long gyrating moose knuckle montage by Travolta, who’s man parts you can actually see flopping around under his little short-shorts as he repeatedly thrusts his crotch at the camera.  This goes on for a really inexcusable amount of time, as if they just left it uncut.  The scene, that is.

PERFORMANCE: 4

Curtis delivers about as decent of a performance as one would expect, and she clearly put some effort into being physically fit for the role.  In fact, I was downright impressed with her strength and enthusiasm during the exercise scenes, although the high proportion of weird pelvic motions gave it all a creepy, erotic tinge.   Travolta’s performance makes me think he might not have been taking the movie seriously, which was probably a strong choice given the point he was at in his career.   I gotta hand it to him, though, he was utterly shameless when it came to the pelvic exercises.

DATABILITY: 6

The fitness fad of the 80s is in full swing here, although the work-out gear was really toned down and disappointing.  I wanted hot pink leg warmers and teal zebra striped leotards and all I got was John Travolta’s wobbly moose knuckle in loose-fitting drab grey shorts.

The AMAZING NEW TECHNOLOGY showcased in the film (a portable word processor) wouldn’t really have counted for much except that Curtis uses it to proposition Travolta for sex.  Ew.

SCRIPT: 4

This movie isn’t exactly well-written but it’s not a total hack job either.  All the pieces fit together, it’s just not a very interesting or difficult puzzle, and even without the picture on the box you’d be able to tell what it’s a picture of before you’ve even got all the border pieces picked out.  There are so many obvious little set-ups for something else that happens later in the movie.  For example: He helps jump her dead car the first time they meet so that later before they become intimate he can use the line, “I just wanted to see if you needed someone to help jumpstart your battery.”

Some of the language that was used deserves appreciation, though.  One especially slutty character in the movie is described as “The Most Used Piece of Equipment in the Gym,” and then that woman later tells Travolta’s character, “I guess I’ll go out and see if I can scare up a gang bang.”  Most importantly, though, is the fact that we get to hear both Curtis and Travolta say “sphincter muscle.”

RELEVANCE: 4

There are 3 main points that this movie presents.  Lesson #1: The aerobic lifestyle is a cultural trend that should be taken seriously because it is evidence of a great physical and spiritual reawakening among the people who practice it.  It hints at an Emersonian future for America, a future where instead of relying on the government to do everything for them, the people are self-reliant.  Blah blah blah.  This weighty bullshit idea is only introduced because Travolta needs some bogus explanation as to why he’s doing a story on health clubs at all.  I don’t think it’s the intended message of the movie.  For that we go on to Lesson #2: You should buy Rolling Stone magazine, it’s awesome.  We do serious stories on international conspiracy, but we also do shallow, inane stories about how fitness clubs are the singles’ bars of the 80s, aren’t we awesome?

And finally, the third and most important lesson I learned from watching Perfect: Always sterilize gym equipment before you use it.

ORIGINALITY: 3

Perfect is a weird mish-mash of a story.  I can’t say any part of that mash makes for a movie that seems original in any way, though.  If this movie were a meal it would be potatoes with graham crackers and lettuce.  Each item has the potential to be a tasty dish if prepared with other more appropriate ingredients, but when they’re thrown together with little to no seasoning the end result is confusing and unspectacular.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3

Perfect had decent production values with little to no imagination behind the camera.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 3

The soundtrack was full of shitty-awesome, muscle-pumping 80s synthesizer music.  It turns out Jermaine Jackson is responsible for most of it, and that alone accounts for all 3 points awarded in this category.  I was so disappointed with the costumes.  Sure, there were leotards, but only a few of them were laughably hideous.  If you make a movie about aerobics in the 80s, there should be some crazy retarded 80s aerobics costumes involved.  Is that really asking too much?

TOTAL:  36

Like finding out that your best friend left a turd in the upper tank of your mom’s toilet.

BETTER MOVIES FOR THIS TITLE:

Imagine a world where no one ever had to see John Travolta’s limp weiner through his shorts.  Why, that would be just……Perfect.

Or,
Perfect: The step-by-step video guide to skinnier living through the art of The Purge.  Hosted by Karen Carpenter and featuring self-induced bouts of real purging by Mary-Kate Olsen and Calista Flockhart.  Buy it for your teen today!

BETTER TITLES FOR THIS MOVIE:

Leotarded Love
Groins of Steel
Footmoose

Moment By Moment (1978)

•September 1, 2010 • 2 Comments

PLOT:

Moment By Moment is an abominable May-December romance starring Lily Tomlin and John Travolta.  It is such a colossal piece of shit that it was never officially released on home video after it’s brief run at the box office.  Rumor has it Tomlin herself squelched it’s distribution because she was so utterly humiliated by it, which is totally understandable after having seen the film.  Moment By Moment is the kind of movie that makes me glad I gave up on becoming a professional actor.  I don’t care how much money Tomlin and Travolta have made during the course of their careers, it isn’t worth the shame of starring in this movie.

Travolta is Strip (that’s right, “Strip,” as in, take your clothes off), a young runaway pill-pusher with a chip on his shoulder because his parents forgot his birthday when he was 14.  He finds rich, 40-something-year-old Trisha (Tomlin) in a Beverly Hills Pharmacy, hassling the pharmacist because she’s getting a divorce and her sleeping pill prescription has run out.  It’s a match made in heaven, obviously, but Trisha, perhaps grumpy from her lack of sleep, doesn’t realize it yet and treats Strip like yesterday’s pickle.  Undeterred, Strip doesn’t stop pestering her and follows her all over town (to the point where you have to wonder why she hasn’t called the cops) and when he shows up at her beach-front property with a sack of drugs she finally caves and lets him in.  The sparks don’t fly so much as they just sort of convulse lightly.

Strip and Trisha spend the next 45 unbearable minutes of the film bonding over Salad Nicoise, ratty stray dogs and Strip’s contrived back story.  It’s just the worst.  “Sometimes When We Touch” plays softly as the inappropriately aged lovers enjoy cold chicken on the beach.  Later on they’ll share a frothy hot tub.  Puke, vomit.  Gah.  Barf.  The level of discomfort I felt while watching this movie was staggering; like having a pap smear and a root canal at the same time.  I felt truly damaged when it was over.

AMBITION: 3

If it can be considered ambitious to glamorize  a “cougar” romance before “cougar” romances were hip, then this movie still wouldn’t score very high because it didn’t glamorize anything, especially not cougar romances.  If anything, it made cougar romances seem even wronger.

PRESENTABILITY: 2

Food options, little else.  Unless you hate your friends, I really don’t recommend springing this one on anybody.  They will never forgive you*.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 4

The hot tub scene will make you feel physically ill.  It is burned into my memory forever.  I never needed to see so much hairy Travolta.  And that wasn’t even the sex scene!

To their credit, the film makers never actually show Tomlin’s impossibly strong hands grasping Travolta’s sad uncomfortable semi in the film’s one true sex scene.  However, what is shown is enough to make your imagination take you places you NEVER WANTED TO GO (see previous sentence).  It’s like when you’re told not to think of an elephant, and the first thing that comes to mind is an elephant.  Believe me, the harder you try NOT to think about what you can’t see happening, the worse it will be.

PERFORMANCE: 2

Points go to both Travolta and Tomlin for having the nads to go through with this momentous piece of crap.  The acting itself was sub-par, though, even for Travolta, and something about his performance in particular made me feel really uncomfortable.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I found a photo of Travolta’s sister.

Ellen Travolta and Lily Tomlin

It turns out Ellen Travolta bares a striking resemblance to Lily Tomlin.  I can understand better why John’s performance was so off when I think about how awkward and icky it would feel to cuddle naked in a hot tub with someone who looks just like my sister.  I had a hard time not vomiting during that scene even before I found Ellen Travolta’s picture, so imagine how sick John must have felt.  There are many reasons for Moment By Moment’s monumental failure as a movie, but this is really among the biggest.  If the two stars of your romantic film have the sexual chemistry of siblings, it’s time to seriously reconsider things.

DATABILITY: 3

Travolta is super young, and Tomlin is only sort of old, and at this point in history that does date the movie.  It’ll probably be different 50 years from now when neither of their careers will have meant a fart in the wind.  By then they’ll have re-made it in 3D just like everything else and no one will remember John Travolta.  Or we’ll all be dead.  Whatever.

SCRIPT: 2

Calling Travolta’s character Strip was only the first o f many, many poor writing choices.

I can’t help but feel like there was an entire layer of plot missing from this film, as if something really important and vital to the story was forgotten.  Maybe some coked-up editor  accidentally cut the scene that really tied it all together and made it interesting.  There could have been something Oedipal going on, Strip’s lifelong repression of the sexual feelings he has for his mother causes him to seek out older sexual partners.  That could have helped some.  Not much, but some.

The ‘best’ quote of the movie came from naked, hot-tubbin’ Tomlin, who delivers the line in her best gushing, sexed-up older woman’s voice: “Let’s smoke some pot!”  If it will help me forget this move then indeed, let’s.

RELEVANCE: 3

Aside from the garbled anti-drug message and some bullshit commentary on class division in modern society, the movie has some relevance because it stands as a testament to the fact that everyone makes bad choices sometimes.  Most professional actors have a Moment by Moment moment at some point in their careers, although it usually isn’t this bad. Tomlin and Travolta ate it pretty hard here.  It’s actually quite amazing and even admirable that they were both able to bounce back (eventually; Travolta did 16 more years of crap first).

ORIGINALITY: 2

The most original thing about this movie was the casting agent’s unfortunate Ellen Travolta/Lily Tomlin mistake.  It made for a uniquely uncomfortable experience.  Generally speaking, incest is a big point-earner on our scale, but it doesn’t do much for Moment by Moment considering the unintentional nature of those creepy incestuous undertones.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 1

It’s difficult to tell if there was an effort made as far as creative cinematography since the film quality is so poor.  Every copy of Moment by Moment in existence today was apparently taped off the AMC channel 30 years ago, so any interesting camera work has been lost in a dark, boot-legged blur.  But, thanks to Lily Tomlin, it’s all we have (not that great cinematography could have saved this movie).

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 1

I might not have hated Moment by Moment as much had the soundtrack not been so nauseating.  Sometimes When We Touch has got to be the pukiest song ever written, and the background music was just as bad.  The incessant wailing of some far-off saxophone accompanied every scene.  It was as if they got a giant, retarded cricket to do the whole score.  It literally hurt my head to hear.

Every other aspect of the production design lacked enough impact to spawn any silly entomological metaphors.

TOTAL:  23 points

or the equivalent of enduring multiple enemas while your sister gives you a lap dance.

This Movie expressed as a Limmerick:

There once was a weiner called Strip
who gave older ladies his tip
His lip had a blister
That came from his sister
into whose pants he would dip

*To Pauline, Melissa and Calyn: I do sincerely apologize for the trauma of Moment by Moment.  Although I would totally do it again.  I love you guys!

Howard the Duck (1986)

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

PLOT:

The opening sequence of this movie is classically lame: soft jazz plays (ever so softly) as the camera lazily pans over a city scape just after sunset.  Cut to the interior of Howard’s sensible, well-furnished apartment and he’s just arriving home from what I assume was a hard day at the pond.   There are duckmovie posters up all over his apartment, including “Breeders of the Lost Stork,” which barely makes sense, and he has Playduck magazines, complete with topless, human-breasted ducks, which makes no sense whatsoever.  There’s “Rolling Egg” instead of Rolling Stone.  It goes on and on.  This movie is absolutely relentless with the bird jokes.  I recommend just keeping your eyes on the ceiling to avoid the inevitable strain of over-rolling them.  That way you won’t actually have to watch the movie, either, so there’s a nice bonus.  As Howard goes through his evening routine we only see his shadow or his backlit silhouette, but with all the water fowl-themed knock-off versions of Earth pop culture references, the framed pictures of duck people everywhere and a close up of what we’re supposed to assume is a love letter that speaks of “pressing your bill against mine,” by the time they finally get around to showing Howard we’re pretty sure he’s a duck.  In fact, we knew he was a duck already.  It’s in the title.  All the sneaky camera work was pretty much completely unnecessary.  But, the point gets made that this is some kind of “everything’s a duck” parallel universe.  Indeed, Howard is a duck, living a man’s life, until one day suddenly he’s randomly sucked through a wormhole.  As he goes flying head over heels through space an echo-y disembodied voice waxes retarded about the cosmos, alternate realities and, of course, Howard the Duck, who is apparently the beginning and end of all things.   Eventually he lands on Earth where he somehow doesn’t end up on a dissection table in a top secret underground government lab.  No, instead he gets a job, falls in love and saves the world from evil intergalactic scorpion monsters.  What a duck!
The most disturbing element of this movie was the creepy beastial romance between Howard and his punk rock love interest (who is about as punk rock as Juliet Lewis in The Other Sister).  On second thought, maybe that’s not entirely true.  Of course I was deeply disturbed by the duck-on-girl action, but I was far more upset and disgusted when punk rock love interest goes through Howard’s duckwallet and finds an UNWRAPPED duckCONDOM.  This is definitely not ok.  Even if I was into ducksex I would NEVER do it with a disgusting old unwrapped duckcondom.  And it was right in the pocket where money goes!  I don’t know about duckmoney, but peoplemoney is FILTHY.  Not cool, Howard.  Maybe that’s how they do things on Planet Duck, but here on Earth you keep that shit wrapped up until you’re ready to use it.
At the end of the day this movie was just a lame duck.   A real bad egg.  It ran afowl of my good sensibilities, if you know what I mean.  Really ruffled my feathers.  God-quackin’-damnit, make it stop.

AMBITION: 2

This was a George Lucas production ($$$$$$$).  However, because Howard the Duck was such a colossal flop (considered one of the largest and most embarrassing in Hollywood history), I believe it deserves a point or two.  After all, one of the wonderful things about bad movies is the disparity between the makers’original vision of a film and the way the film is perceived by it’s audience in the end.

PRESENTABILITY: 5

Almost too easy.  The menu: Duck (foie gras if you can get it, and for those of you bleeding heart animal lovers, trust me, when you’re through watching this movie you’ll want to force feed all the ducks you know a lot more than just grain), eggs, and a Duckfart to drink.  LOTS of Duckfarts to drink.  Once your guests have had a few I recommend a rousing game of Duck Duck Goose, as the movie will have more than worn out it’s welcome by that point.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 4

This goes beyond even inter-species sex, it’s inter-life form sex.  With dirty old germ-ridden unwrapped duck contraceptives.  Ugh, it’s just so, SO unacceptable and gross.

PERFORMANCE: 1

I feel a lot of sympathy for poor Tim Robbins, whose enthusiastic portrayal of Howard’s wacky scientist friend is humiliating at best .  Kudos to him for somehow digging himself out of this trainwreck and going on to make some decent movies.

DATABILITY: 4

The special effects date this movie the most, but they date it in a good way.  The crimped hair and bad 80s fashion, on the other hand, don’t do it any favors.

SCRIPT: 1

“No more Mr. Nice Duck.”  It hurts.  I mean, it really REALLY hurts.  Fart jokes abound (tip back those Duckfarts, everybody).

RELEVANCE: 1

I think the only moral one could possibly glean from Howard the Duck is something about acceptance of and tolerance for all forms of life, but they really didn’t even bother trying to put that point across.  This movie wasn’t about making the world a better place.  It was about George Lucas getting more bang for his duck.

ORIGINALITY: 2

He’s a duck.  That’s a creature that exists in nature, and even though he came from another dimension or whatever he’s still just a damn talking duck and that’s not a real original idea.  Sorry.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3

Most of the camera work wasn’t even remotely interesting, but I did sort of enjoy some of the inter-dimensional wormhole traveling shots.  Sort of.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 5

I totally appreciate a good mechanical puppet suit with a midget inside, and the dark overlord of the universe had some decent effects for the time.  The evil intergalactic scorpion monsters weren’t all that impressive, but they did make me miss good old-fashioned claymation.  I’ll take Gumby over Avatar any day.

TOTAL:  28

Severe constipation resulting in multiple enemas, but the doctor administering them is a real QUACK, and he sends you an outrageous BILL (I hate myself).

This Movie expressed as a Reality Comic
Considering that Howard the Duck started off as a comic, I thought it appropriate to express the movie in it’s original form, but with a realistic twist, of course:

Somewhere, Tomorrow (1983)

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sarah Jessica Parker has been taking a lot of criticism lately for her bizarre and at times offensive physical features. She was recently voted to be the Unsexiest Woman Alive by Maxim magazine, and both Family Guy and South Park have referred to her gruesome appearance in unflattering (yet extremely apt) terms. Thankfully in Somewhere, Tomorrow she is a much healthier looking and softer-featured teenager. Don’t get me wrong, the small fact that SJP is visually tolerable does not save this film. It would have made me nauseous even without her. Besides, there are plenty of disturbing moments where the lighting and the camera angle conspire to reveal hints of the creepy, unnatural turns her face will eventually take.

PLOT:

Lori (SJP) is a typical young girl who loves horses but hates her mom’s new boyfriend. One day as she’s out riding near her country home she witnesses a small plane crash and subsequently falls in love with the ghost of one the plane’s pilots. Of course she is the only one who can see and hear the ghost (Terry), which causes other people to hilariously misinterpret her behavior. Eventually Lori and Terry decide that his spirit must still be loitering around on Earth for some special reason, and in the process of discovering Terry’s purpose, Lori learns several valuable lessons and blossoms as a human being. And then I shoot myself in the face.

Somewhere, Tomorrow is a grotesque medley of invisible man slapstick and sappy Full House moments. The ending is particularly rude in that several times you’re lead to believe it’s over when it isn’t yet. Somebody drops an awkward “wrapping things up” line and the music swells and you think Thank fucking God, but no. It’s not over. You still have to sit through Sarah Jessica Parker singing a song about sunrises and togetherness to a room full of old people. You still have to swallow the inexcusably optimistic plot twist. And finally, you have to digest the film’s barftastic ending, which fairly oozes with hope for a brighter somewhere, tomorrow.

AMBITION: 3

This movie is like a touchy-feely after school special that, by forcing it’s unrealistically uplifting message down the throats of teenage girls, fills the void between the finger after breakfast and the post-dinner penis.

PRESENTABILITY: 1

There’s no good way to present Somewhere, Tomorrow, no entertaining method for easing the pain or enhancing it in the right kind of way. Honestly, if you’re going to make people watch it with you, the only humane thing to do would be to dole out earplugs and horse tranquilizers.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 2

The only scene that got any genuine laughs from our small audience involved Lori’s mother walking in on her and her ghost boyfriend maybe possibly about to fool around. It was funny because the mom couldn’t see the ghost boyfriend, and he’d just gotten out of the shower (because being a ghost is dirty business) so all Mom sees is her daughter clutching a bath towel in the shape of a butt. Other than that and a mercifully short scene where we see Lori in her bra there is very little overt reference to sex. As for violence, most Disney films have more.

PERFORMANCE: 2

Pretty mediocre across the board. Not even bad enough to mock well.

DATABILITY: 2

Lori has a few bad 80s sweaters, but the most dated thing about the whole movie is Sarah Jessica Parker herself. It’s strange to see her so young, before adulthood turned her into the bony, leather-skinned circus sideshow that she is today.

SCRIPT: 2

This movie damns itself script-wise before it even starts. “Somewhere, Tomorrow” is one of the worst movie titles I’ve ever heard. It elicits all kinds of false, mushy sentiments that make me feel squirmy and uncomfortable, like when I had to go talk about my feelings with the counselor in elementary school. Things don’t get much better after the opening credits. At least 50% of the script could have been lifted straight from inspirational posters. The other half was filled in by a script robot.

RELEVANCE: 5

There were a lot of annoying morals, but the one they snuck in right at the end was the worst and most misleading: You get second chances in life. That’s right up there with telling kids that their pets go to live on nice farms upstate.

ORIGINALITY: 2

I decided that predating Ghost is just enough to earn Somewhere, Tomorrow a couple points. I know that coming before other, more famous shitty ghost-lover movies is a weak indicator of originality, but hey, that’s all it’s got. It’s just a weak movie all around.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 2

Also very weak.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 2

Weak, weak, weak. It took intense physical effort to pay attention to this film. The camera quality was poor, the sets and costumes were bland, and the music was exactly what you’d expect from a movie with a title like a lame prom theme.

TOTAL: 23

Like severe constipation necessitating multiple enemas. Meanwhile, Sarah Jessica Parker gets it on with a horse

This movie told from the point of view  of Terry the ghost pilot:

“Me and my buddy Paul were both in the plane when it crashed. He made it, but I didn’t. At first I thought I was still alive, but then Sarah Jessica Parker appeared out of nowhere and started coming on to me. It was then that I realized I was dead, and this was hell.”