Just Like Being There

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:23 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Just Like Being There
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Daniel Danger, Jay Ryan, Kevin Tong
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Virgil Films
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Kiddie Movie: Only if they want to learn a little something about art and concert posters. There’s also some bad words better left for when they’re older or on the playground with their friends.
Date Movie: Ditto.
Gratuitous Sex: Um, no.
Gratuitous Violence: Um, no.
Action: Um, no.
Laughs: Some of the people are kind of quirky.
Memorable Scene: I was fascinated at the look at the artists who still did nearly all of their work by hand.
Memorable Quote: “I tried to paint and I’m shit at it”“The history books will tell what happened, but the art will tell them how we felt about it.”
Directed By: Scout Shannon
Cool things about the DVD: Actually some of the deleted scenes were interesting, and the expanded band interviews were pretty cool.

And here I always thought they were some kind of ground, marketing campaign by a record company to advertise a show, and in my head a weird type of marketing campaign only to be seen by a select few who might be driving near a concert venue. I’m talking about concert posters, or “gig” posters as they are sometimes called, and they are those posters, usually with some giant text and cool artwork, that if you live in the small city have probably only seen in the movies, but if you live in any larger city, near a concert venue, will see them used almost like wallpaper along a wall, usually plastered on construction barriers and such, whenever a “cooler” kind of band comes to town. Little did I know that most of the time those posters are made by local artists, saluting bands they love or bands that inspire them, and the documentary “Just Like Being There” well, documents those people’s stories.

Little else did I know that most of these artists mostly do this for love, but a lot of them do it for love and money, as the gig poster world has become a haven for collectibles at times, with some works commanding thousands of dollars.

Who knew?

“Just Like Being There” gives a fascinating look at the world of the gig poster and follows a variety of poster artists, with names most people won’t know like Daniel Danger and Jay Ryan. The documentary follows them through their days, through their creative process, and in the span of the 83 minutes of the film, I learned more about screen-printing than I’ve ever known. We see what inspires the artists, we see how some of them are old-school about their craft still doing a lot of the work by hand, while others have entered the digital age, and there is also the interaction with the bands, many of whom don’t really know what artwork is awaiting them until their arrival in a city, which at times is almost a “Welcome” mat for the band.

We also learn that many of these artists are kind of quirky, with personalities nearly as interesting as the artwork they create, there is a look at the collectability of many of the artists with gallery shows highlighting the much varied artwork that goes into the poster world, and how, many times, there is so much more involved rather than just a colorful poster with some big lettering. There is a passion in many of the artists, and a nice development of how their work does a great job at trying to tell a complete story of a band, of a time in history, all on one poster.

The documentary also includes a lot of cool music, with bands like Archers of Loaf, Spoon, Nada Surf, and Tokyo Police Club highlighted, and the interviews with the bands are sometimes just as interesting as the spotlight of the artists.

As a music lover, and a person who has sometimes wondered who was actually putting up “gig” posters, I was pleasantly surprised at the work put into “Just Like Being There.” It’s a complete documentary, giving a great, inside look at the art world of the poster and their place in the music industry, a wonderful view of those who have become household “gig” poster names, and a love for those who are really in the world with a passion for something they love.

It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Just Like Being There,” and if you have ever wondered where those concert posters come from, this documentary has many of the answers and will give you a greater appreciated for the work, and quirkiness, that goes into their creation.

As far as the DVD, it pretty much is what it is, but there are some extras including some deleted scenes, a greater look at the work of Daniel Danger, and more clips of band interviews that are always fun to watch. The DVD really is a solid, and seeming complete look, at the world of concert poster art.

John Dies at the End

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:39 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

John Dies at the End
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Clancy Brown, Paul Giamatti
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Released On: April 2, 2013
Kiddie Movie: Oh no, put them to bed.
Date Movie: If she is a fan of the b-movie genre.
Gratuitous Sex: Just a lot of boobs.
Gratuitous Violence: Over-the-top and gratuitous.
Action: Not really.
Laughs: In the over-the-top gore/goofiness kind of way.
Memorable Scene: The monster made out of meat products.
Memorable Quote: Nothing stood out.
Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Cool things on the DVD: Nothing stands out but the “Creature Corps” feature is a nice look at making creepy creatures.

“John Dies at the End.” Now, please stop it with the “You should have said, ‘Spoiler alert,’” because that’s the title of the movie, and not my synopsis. The movie could also easily be called “John and Dave Save the World,” which I guess is also a spoiler, but before any more direct spoiling or synopsising, let’s get to the story.

Okay, this is going to be goofy. We are introduced to Dave (Chase Williamson), discussing an axe and the death, or seeming death, of a strange being. An interesting take if one version of the axe that chopped of the head of said being is the same axe after it has been rebuilt over time. Re-enter Dave, now talking with Arnie (Paul Giamatti) in a Chinese restaurant, trying to tell Arnie his story so that Arnie may tell the world, and the story of the “soy sauce.”  It seems the world is being attacked by beings from an alternate universe, and somehow John and Dave take it upon themselves to save us all. In the meantime, there is this “soy sauce” that gives people strange powers and offers lots of hallucinations, and also gives a glimpse of the strangeness of the invasion. In the meantime, during Dave’s storytelling, we find his story of his buddy John, his meeting up with a monster made out of meat parts, his finding a dog that helps, well, helps them a lot, and also how there are these bugs that try to infest humans on the way to domination. We also find a hot dog that works like a cell phone, a girl with no hand who can open a “ghost” door, a magician who can help kill the invaders, and an alternate universe where girls walk around without tops so as not to scare John and Dave.

Does that sound a little confusing? Well, I will admit that “John Dies at the End” is a tad confusing, what with not really knowing if parts of the story are bits and pieces of hallucinations or actually happening in the real world, but through it all it is totally entertaining, in a B-Horror, B-Comedy, B-I would totally watch on late night cable, B-movie kind of way.

There is goofiness, there is lots of over-the-goofiness gore, there are some creative goofy monsters, and although at times confusing, it is confusing fun. The acting isn’t anything to write home about, well, except for the always-awesome Paul Giamatti, but I don’t think this is a movie made for Oscar-style performances. Instead it does exactly what you want it to do, if you are a fan of the B-movie kind of film – entertain.

All movies aren’t supposed to be spectacles, some just entertain, and “John Dies at the End” entertained me. It may not be your cup of tea, I admit, but it was mine and I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Extra-wise the Blu-ray doesn’t have that much except some nice interviews and some normal “Making of” stuff, at least on the entertaining side. I didn’t care for the deleted scenes, but so be it.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

ExistenZ

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:37 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

ExistenZ
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Dimension Home Video
Release Date: 1999
Kiddie Movie: Oh no, I don’t think so.
Date Movie: She might get scared and snuggle a little closer, or she might just go “Huh? This movie sucks.”
Gratuitous Sex: Almost, but not quite.
Gratuitous Violence: Yea, some pretty good violence, especially with the organic gun.
Action: Some.
Laughs: Not really.
Memorable Scene: Most of the movie had me thinkin’.
Memorable Quote: None that stand out.
Directed By: David Cronenberg

“eXistenZ” is one of those movies that you probably didn’t see in the theater and might pass up on the video shelf saying “I haven’t heard of that one. Let’s find “The Matrix.” It didn’t have the hype and is not the high-packed, action-filled, blast your senses movie like “The Matrix,” but if you like the psychological twistedness of “The Matrix” I urge you to rent “eXistenZ.” It’s kinda like “The Matrix” without all of the gunfire.

“eXistenZ” is a virtual reality game, but taking it to the next level. In this world, or one of the worlds, you plug this living game pod into a computer-like port in your spine. This puts you in a sort of trance in which you, in conjunction with the other players who are hooked up to the pod, become an actual part of the game, almost like a dream with multiple players controlling the outcome. We are introduced to the game designer, or is she(?), Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is on the run from game manufacturers set on seeing that eXistenZ doesn’t make it to market. Her protection is supplied by Ted Pikul (Jude Law), about the only dude on the planet who doesn’t have a game port and who really isn’t a security guard. But, Allegra needs to see if her game is damaged so she plugs up Ted and they enter the game, where reality and imagination meld into one, and get lost in it.

This movie is so multi-layered that going into it more might just ruin it more for you, but I’ll just say that it’s got gross-you-out scenes, it’s got some quality violence, it’s got some steamy moments, and you’ll wonder throughout the movie just what scene is reality and what is part of the game.

Like “The Matrix,” I came to the end of “eXistenZ” saying something like “Whoa, that was fucked up,” and I was pleased. But if or when the future of computer games comes to the point of something like eXistenZ I’m scared. It’s just too fucked up.

4 ½ stars out of 5. This movie was most excellent. Rent it.

That’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!

Enchanted

MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 1:47 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Enchanted
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2007
Kiddie Movie: Maybe not 9 year old boys, but definitely the girls.
Date Movie: Even if you don’t have kids it’s a fun movie. Not too long and with a happy ending.
Gratuitous Sex: It’s from Disney. What do you think?
Gratuitous Violence: In a cartoonish kind of way.
Action: There’s some suspense more than action.
Laughs: Lots of them!
Memorable Scene: I liked when Giselle became “big citied” when she order the hot dogs with Prince Edward.
Memorable Quote: Nothing stood out.
Directed By: Kevin Lima

DVD Review:
When the movie “Enchanted” made its way to movie theaters I sort of balked at seeing it, as, well, I’m a 40 year old dude with no kids. Then I started hearing reports of how good it was, for both kids and adults, and then I did want to see it. But then as my Thanksgiving weekend kind of got turned upside down, I didn’t see any movies, but during our “Stu & The Dude’s Weekend Wrap-Up!” podcast, Stu Gotz mentioned that he really enjoyed seeing the flick. As such I added to my Netflix queue, and you know what, the movie was fantastic.

The story goes as the trailer shows – Giselle (Amy Adams) is a Princess in the animated world, and she is set to marry Prince Edward (James Marsden). The evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), working to put the kibosh on the upcoming nuptials, dispatches Giselle to our real world in New York City. But Prince Edward is in love so he transports himself to New York City as well, and suddenly you have two lovable people from a Disney animated movie trying to survive life in the big city. The thing is that all is not simple for Prince Edward, as in the time period between Giselle and the good Prince’s arrival, Giselle has met single dad, Robert (Patrick Dempsey), and his adorable daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). Now sort of indoctrinated into our world, and able to round up what would be the grossest of critters to us, namely roaches and rats and pigeons, to clean Robert’s apartment, when Prince Edward does arrive Giselle begins to think some things might have to change because now she’s looking for a life after her “happily ever after” happens.

Yes, of course, you can see that Robert will fall in love with Giselle (and who wouldn’t?), there’s a foreshadowing that the good Prince might not actually end up with Giselle, and to bring the movie full circle, Queen Narissa shows up to finally put an end to Giselle, and in Disney fashion, she fails.

The movie is fascinating as Disney takes the rules of the Princess story in the animated world and translates them to the grit and grime of New York City, but what totally brings this movie into a fantastic realm is that Amy Adams is able to pull off playing an animated Princess in real life, and she deserves even more accolades than she received for her role.

If you’ve got kids you’ve probably already seen “Enchanted” in the theater, or via DVD, or probably both, but if you haven’t, I will say this is not one of those children’s movie with nothing for the adults, in fact it is just the opposite, and might even melt the hearts of the dudes who only like movies where a lot of stuff blows up. With that I’m giving “Enchanted” 5 stars out of 5.

As far as the DVD I was disappointed in the blooper reel, because those clips are usually my favorite, and once again we see why deleted scenes make their way to the deleted scenes extra. What was fascinating, at least for me, were the “making of” portions of the bonus material, especially how they filmed the cleaning of the apartment scene. The thing I didn’t need on the DVD bonus features was the section telling me that I suck because I don’t have a Blu-ray DVD player yet, as the Blu-ray version has a few more extras.

A super-solid rental if you’re just looking for a nice movie to snuggle with your honey on the couch, and if you’ve got kids, especially little girls who love Disney movies, you’ll probably have to buy it.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Eagle Eye

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:57 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Eagle Eye
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Chiklis, Billy Bob Thornton
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2008
Kiddie Movie: It might make them never use their cell phone again.
Date Movie: She might cuddle with you for comfort or just roll her eyes.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: There’s a lot of people who die, but you don’t see it.
Action: There’s a lot of people who die, but you don’t see it.
Laughs: Only for the absurdity of some of the scenes.
Memorable Scene: Who knew Morse Code could save the world.
Memorable Quote: “We’re already in mid-shitstorm.”
Directed By: D.J. Caruso

While watching “Eagle Eye” I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a day, a few years ago, when a group of friends were getting liquored up, watching a bunch of movies, namely “I, Robot,” “War Games,” “The Italian Job,” and maybe even “Enemy of the State,” and said to each other, in an altered state, “Dudes, we could make a movie combining all of these,” and then, you know what, they did. I would toss in “Live Free or Die Hard,” only I believe that movie was probably already in development by the time “Eagle Eye” was being drafted, but hey, you can’t say that the “Eagle Eye” tunnel scene isn’t reminiscent of the “Live Free or Die Hard” tunnel scene, just substitute a helicopter for a military drone aircraft?

Okay, maybe the premise for the story of “Eagle Eye” wasn’t developed in my fictional universe, but it does takes a lot of premises from a bunch of different movies, with the end result that computers really only do what they are programmed to do. “I, Robot” had the three rules for robots; “Eagle Eye” has the Preamble and Constitution. In the end computers just want to be our friends, and look out for us.

In terms of story, for this one you get Jerry (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel (Michelle Monaghan). They are ordinary people, in fairly ordinary lives, and then, somehow, their lives become intertwined by the voice of a woman who seems to need them to carry out some dastardly deed. The voice dictates to Jerry instructions that get him in a jam with the FBI and then helps him escape from the FBI, while the voice also turns Rachel into a distraught mother with the fear of her son being killed, thus dictating her actions. And as the movie goes along, Jerry and Rachel can’t seem to figure out how this voice seems to be able to control just about every technological part of their lives, from subway trains to street lights, from junkyard robots to power grids, and in the middle of it all, we start to see a plot developing, which we must suppose is some dastardly terrorist plot, but, ahh, other things are at work here.

And you know what, I’m not going to directly give away what is directly at work here, although I sort of already hinted at it, only to say that most every aspect of this movie is unbelievable in our world, yet somehow believable if the “ringleader” of this story turns out to be who she is.

So, here we go. If you want to totally escape reality, “Eagle Eye” should take you there, or maybe freak you out as to what might be possible in a few years. The weird thing is that I kind of liked it, in the same way I liked the movie “I, Robot,” and loved Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) as the FBI guy who is flustered by technology. There are a lot of things blowing up, you might wonder if someone can really change stoplights at will, who knew that the baggage handling of an area could be so much fun if you aren’t being shot at, and if you live near some electric towers, you might think about moving.

As a Chicago person, in a little aside for this review, in the theater I was unsure if I saw it, but thanks to the DVD and slow-motion, at the beginning of the movie there is a helicopter shot of the Chicago El, St. James Catholic Church in Chicago (where I used to go to mass sometimes when I was in college), and Keating Hall, the “sports center” where I used to do a killer can-opener of the high-dive board in the pool at Illinois Institute of Technology, where, yes, I went to college, and also where all of this reviewing stuff began for me. I know it’s dorky, but for me it’s always cool to see things I am totally familiar with in a movie.

Anyway, “Eagle Eye” is an action-filled movie with tons of seemingly implausible scenarios, but get the DVD realizing this and you should have a good time on your couch, and sure, you might laugh when some things happen, but hey, that’s what movies are sometimes about. And as hard as this might be hard to believe, I was almost ready to give this movie a 4 star rating, until, in Hollywood fashion, the poignant ending I envisioned was changed into a feel-good ending, so I’m dropping it ½ star to 3 ½ stars out of 5 because someone else in this movie should be dead. With that, I was hoping, when watching the DVD, that the alternate ending it contained would be the one I was hoping for, but all it really did was sort of set up a sequel. Blah.

And speaking of the DVD, for the movie-geek crowd, the 2-disc version does have quite a few extras that are interesting if you love seeing how movies are made, especially mixing in seeing behind-the-scene things on location, a nicely detailed “Making of…” features, and a feature with the Director of Eagle Eye, D.J. Caruso, having a discussion with John Badham, the director of “War Games,” with how the movies are similar, yet different. I always love a fun gag-reel and the 2-disc version has it, and as usual, we can see (and be happy) that some scenes were deleted. You also get commentary stuff, if you want it, more scary stuff about your cell phone, and I’m just sad they didn’t have an “On Location…” for Chicago. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to like looking at my old church from above.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Extract

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:32 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Extract
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Gene Simmons, Kristen Wiig
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2009
Kiddie Movie: Put them to bed.
Date Movie: My BFF liked it, so go ahead and watch it with her.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of talk but clothes are kept on.
Gratuitous Violence: A dude loses a testicle.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Lots of chuckles.
Memorable Scene: Every scene with Ben Affleck
Memorable Quote: Nothing sticks out.
Directed By: Mike Judge

Who knew Gene Simmons was such a great actor? Okay, maybe not great, but as scheister lawyer Joe Adler, I loved him. The movie is “Extract,” and you are definitely getting this Blu-ray for the movie because the extras, well, let’s get to that at the end.

Here’s the story…

Jason Bateman is Joel. From his youth he has been fascinated with “extracts,” you know, things like vanilla that your grandmother would use in baking. Turns out that Joel is also a chemistry wiz and developed special versions that, well, I didn’t really understand it, but they are better extracts used in baking than most extracts. But, that’s not important right now. What is important is that Joel has turned his knowledge into a business, owning and running a bottling plant for his extracts, being married to Suzie (Kristen Wiig), and have a best friend in Dean (Ben Affleck). But things at an extract plant can get a little hairy, especially when you don’t always have the most intelligent or dedicated workforce, and especially when things aren’t the greatest in your love life, as is the case with Joel, and you have recently hired the hottie Cindy (Mila Kunis).

So, Joel wrestles with whether or not he should sleep with Cindy, he hedges this by seeing if Suzie will be faithful while in the company of a new pool boy, and finally, Joel’s big payday might be ruined because one of his employees has hired said scheister lawyer, Joe Adler, and might just drive the company into bankruptcy. Things are rough in the extract business, and Joel knows it.

Look, “Extract” is a Mike Judge film, and as such develops itself into a quirky look at the workplace. “Office Space” had Mike analyzing people in the corporate office, this movie has the folks in an extract processing plant, and it has its moments that I think most anyone can understand and/or relate to. The weird thing about this movie is that it takes many strange turns, from the thievery aspect of the drifter Cindy, to the setting up your wife to cheat on you aspect, to a dude getting a testicle blown off in a freak plant accident, and I think the place that “Extract” lost a little character is almost trying to have too many tentacles in the movie instead of just maintaining the focus on what could have been the funniest of aspects, namely Step getting his ball shot off and hiring Joe Adler as a lawyer.

I have to say that I’m kind of happy that I didn’t catch the movie in the theater, I think I would have been disappointed, but as a DVD I think it’s a nice little comedy that takes a funny look at a food processing plant. For that, it’s 3 out of 5 stars, especially if you enjoy the Mike Judge type of humor.

Now, as far as the Blu-ray, or the DVD for that fact, don’t even worry about the extras. I mean, there’s a little clip about how Mike Judge goes about putting a movie together that is nice enough, but the “Blu-ray” extras, namely the deleted scene and extended scene, aren’t worth it at all. You’re getting this movie on Blu-ray only because, well, you own a Blu-ray player.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Dogma

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 2:08 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Dogma
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Columbia/Tristar Home Video
Release Date: 1999
Kiddie Movie: Nope, lots of swearing.
Date Movie: She might find it funny or maybe just find it disturbing.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: They don’t show it, but it’s hinted at.
Action: Not really.
Laughs: Lots.
Memorable Scene: Rufus falling out of the sky and Silent Bob’s facial expressions.
Memorable Quote: Two quotes by Jay: “Snootch to the motherfuckin’ nootch!” & “Beautiful, naked, big-tittied women just don’t fall out of the sky you know.”
Directed By: Kevin Smith

I don’t know why but “Dogma” is quickly becoming one of my favorite videos to watch or movies to watch for on cable. Maybe it’s the way they question religious beliefs, maybe it’s the subtle jokes, or maybe it’s because they bust on the platypus. In any case, as long as you can keep an open mind about religion, well, “Dogma” might just be a movie for you.

Opening with a disclaimer that the movie is fictitious and should be taken as a comedy, Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) and Jay (Jason Mewes), joined by the 13th apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock) help Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) make her way to New Jersey to stop two banished angels, Loki and Bartleby (Matt Damen and Ben Affleck) from entering a church and negating all of existence. How can entering a church end existence? Well, it seems the Pope has decreed, in conjunction with the New Jersey church’s anniversary, that all who pass through the church doors get their sins forgiven. Loki and Bartleby, who have been banished by God from Heaven for eternity, could find their way back into heaven if they walk through the church doors. This would make God fallible and thus end existence as we know it. Alright, my explanation isn’t the greatest, but Bartleby does a better job explaining it to Loki, and they begin their journey to the Garden State.

So it’s a race against time to stop Bartleby and Loki, and Bethany and her entourage aren’t without their difficulties getting to Jersey. There’s a run-in with a shit demon, Jay constantly trying to get in Bethany’s pants, Bethany questioning why she is chosen to stop the angels, and Azrael and his goons trying to stop Bethany because he wants existence to end.

Like I said before, “Dogma” is at its best on many levels, from Loki’s conversation with a nun resulting in her wondering what she is doing with her life, to the Rufus’ dilemma of not being in the bible because, well, he is a black man, to Alanis Morrissette playing God, and portraying God as kinda, well, a ditz. This movie isn’t to be taken seriously, but it may make you wonder if Mary did have sex with Joseph after Jesus was born because, as Rufus explains, “Do you really think he would have stayed married to her for all those years if he wasn’t getting laid?”

I didn’t see “Dogma” in the theater so I can’t say which place might be a better venue to see it, but it is nice to be able to pause and rewind to go back and catch a joke or two you might have missed in the theater. That and the fact that the DVD subtitles helped me figure out one of my favorite lines, only because it still doesn’t make sense to me, “Snootch to the motherfuckin’ nootch!” I give Dogma 4½ stars out of 5.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

The Darwin Awards

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:34 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Darwin Awards
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: David Arquette, Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, Juliette Lewis
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2006
Kiddie Movie: Nah, being young they might get the wrong idea of The Darwin Awards and think they should win one.
Date Movie: It’s a nice movie to cuddle on the couch and screen-talk about how stupid people can be.
Gratuitous Sex: There’s some sex and some nudity. Nice.
Gratuitous Violence: Just seeing how people are stupid.
Action: Nope.
Laughs: There’s some laughs and chuckles.
Memorable Scene: The “being safe in the shower” scene.
Memorable Quote: Nah.
Directed By: Finn Taylor

DVD REVIEW – Add Cool Things
Someone mentioned to me that they saw the DVD “The Darwin Awards” in the rental store and wondered if I saw it. I told them I hadn’t, but then saw it on my own and decided, “What the hell, let’s see if this movie sucks.” It didn’t suck, but I can also see why it never made it to the big screen, but maybe the film folks should have at least given it a chance. Here’s the story…

Most of you know the story of The Darwin Awards. These are awards given every year to people who die in ways that are pretty stupid when you think about it, or find themselves unable to reproduce. It’s also a reference to “survival of the fittest” signifying that maybe humanity will thrive just a little bit more by losing these morons early. Anyway, in the movie “The Darwin Awards” we get Joseph Fiennes as Michael Burrows. He’s a police investigator in San Francisco being taped for a documentary. He’s also hemophobic (he faints at the site of blood). And he’s also obsessed with those who die or get injured in a “Darwin Award” manner. He’s hot on the trail of a serial killer but sadly the sight of blood causes him to faint and the bad guy gets away. Disgraced and booted from the force, Michael thinks he might find his next calling, working for an insurance company in determining high risk cases for them, or claims to deny based on the fact that the facts aren’t always what they seem, and now he is paired with Siri (Winona Ryder), traveling the highways and byways of the country debunking some insurance claims that on the surface seem open and shut.

So Michael and Siri find a dude crushed by a vending machine, a dude claiming someone stole his car, a missing dude (and car) who just wanted to go fast and be on TV, and all the while Michael is still obsessed with finding the serial killer he let get away. And, oh yea, he falls for Siri (but who wouldn’t?).

I really wanted to like this movie, and as a DVD rental it’s good enough for a rental, but the problem is that since we know what The Darwin Awards are, every time Michael and Siri get to a new town to investigate an insurance loss, well, the ending of the loss is really no surprise. It’s pretty obvious why the dude reported his truck stolen, most people will be able to figure out the demise of the stoner dude at the Metallica concert before it happens, the vending machine death is a “Duh!”, but the one adventure involving Harvey (David Arquette), who couldn’t seem to go fast enough for his wife Joleen (Juliette Lewis), where you might actually be sitting there watching the movie wondering what this bonehead did to kill himself, is ruined because the filmmakers gave it away at the opening of the movie. So much for any mystery during this movie.

In the midst of the deaths is the budding relationship between Michael and Siri, and the interruptions and non-interruptions of the documentary filmmaker constantly stating he can’t get involved. The love story is cute enough, but it is the quirkiness of Michael trying to not be a Darwin story that makes things funny during this movie.

I love Wynona Ryder, and would stalk her if she wanted me to, and she is just absolutely adorable in this movie. Joseph Fiennes was great as the quirky detective now obsessed with Darwin Award scenarios. But the underlying problem with the movie was that there weren’t any surprises.

In the end it’s 3 stars out of 5 for “The Darwin Awards.” There are a couple of funny moments in the movie intertwined with the deaths and shootings, but just please, remember, if you are going to use your gun to pull your buddy from the icy pond, make sure you unload the gun first.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Dead Silence

MPAA Rated – Unrated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Dead Silence
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Donnie Wahlberg, Amber Valletta, Ryan Kwanten, Laura Regan, Judith Roberts
MPAA Rated: Unrated
Released By: Universal Pictures
Release Date: 2007
Kiddie Movie: Only if you want them to have nightmares about dummies.
Date Movie: Good for the both of you to snuggle to.
Gratuitous Sex: Would have added a star, especially in an unrated version.
Gratuitous Violence: Tongues get torn out, there’s blood, and people die.
Action: Some running and chasing.
Laughs: Nothing really.
Memorable Scene: I did like Jamie’s dad, all the way through the end.
Memorable Quote: None
Directed By: James Wan

I hate to start a review with a rant sometimes, but for “Dead Silence” a rant, I believe, is necessary, and this rant has to do with the folks who marketed the film when it first was hitting theaters, and even those marketing the film now coming out on DVD. The trailer for “Dead Silence” simply started with “From the writers and directors of ‘Saw’” and that, for me, says expect a lot of gore, blood, twisted-ness, and over-the-top horror fun. The DVD states “New Unrated Version. More Gruesome and Horrifying Than Anything Seen in Theaters.” The problem is that the movie isn’t more gruesome and horrifying than anything seen in theaters, and it doesn’t come close to the level of over-the-top, yet fun, gore as seen in “Saw.” Nope, “Dead Silence” is actually a decent thriller, with some nice twists and some horror gore (but no nudity, bummer), and I probably would have seen it in theaters when it first came out if they just marketed it as a horror/thriller and ignored the then “reputation” of “Saw.” I also would have liked my first viewing of the DVD if I weren’t waiting, for an hour and a half of watching, for more gruesomeness, horrifying-ness, and “Saw”-ness, instead of just wrapping myself into the story and thriller-ness of it.

Enough ranting, here’s the story.

It seems that in the town of Ravens Fair there is an old story about a ventriloquist lady, Mary Shaw (Judith Roberts), who haunts the locals. She never had any kids, only dolls, and if you saw her in your dreams you shouldn’t scream because she would tear out your tongue. Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) comes from Ravens Fair but has moved out of town with his wife Lisa (Laura Regan). One day a ventriloquist dummy gets delivered to his doorstep, Lisa ends up dead – sans tongue, Detective Lipton (Donnie Wahlberg) thinks Jamie killed her, and Jamie is heading back to the old homestead to bury his wife, investigate her murder, and confront his dad, Edward (Bob Gunton). He finds that pop has a new wife, Ella (Amber Valleta), is being trailed by the good Detective, and things are getting more twisted in his hometown. Dummies have been exhumed, the funeral director’s wife seems crazy, there are flashbacks to the downfall of Mary Shaw, her death, and the actual story of why Mary Shaw’s spirit is taking revenge on the town comes to light. In the end Jamie finds some secrets he might have done better without learning.

I’d go more into the story, but there isn’t a reason to. Most people find ventriloquist dummies kind of creepy to begin with, so them going on a killing rampage in a horror flick isn’t a surprise. Hell, most of us find ventriloquists a little creepy so them going on a rampage in a horror flick wouldn’t be a surprise, either, and “Dead Silence” builds on our general creepiness of ventriloquists and their dummies. The problem I had was because the way the film was marketed I really expected an over-the-top horror flick, with ghastly, brutal killings, rather than just the thriller it was. Sure, there were some twists and turns at the end, one which was totally obvious from the get-go, another I was surprised I missed, but for most of us who have grown up with the horror genre, “Dead Silence” is actually a better thriller than a horror/gore fest.

If you find ventriloquists and their dummies creepy, and you’re looking for a movie to snuggle with your honey on an evening, “Dead Silence” really wouldn’t be that bad a choice. There are some slow points, but most thrillers have them, and some of the killings won’t really be a surprise, but some killings aren’t always a surprise in most thrillers anyway. I give “Dead Silence” 3 stars out of 5. It’s not the most original of flicks but has its moments. Ignore the marketing because if you are anywhere between 17 and 50 years old, growing up between “Friday the 13th” through the “Scream” series and beyond, it’s not more gruesome nor horrifying than anything seen in theaters. Just enjoy the thriller for what it is, a thriller about creepy dummies with some moments of tearing out tongues.

As far as the extras on the DVD go, I found it funny because I actually thought the alternate opening would have been a better one then giving me the historical origins of the word “ventriloquist,” the deleted scenes were fine being deleted, it was interesting seeing how the film folks found a great choice for Mary Shaw, but maybe the marketing folks should have watched “The Making of ‘Dead Silence’” part that shows “Dead Silence” is really a tip of the hat to old-time horror flicks and not just a gore-fest, nor meant to be that gruesome nor horrifying, just thrilling.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:28 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Rob Schneider, Arija Bareikis
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Touchstone Pictures
Release Date: 1999
Kiddie Movie: Lots of bad language and adult jokes. Too young and they’ll ask too many questions.
Date Movie: It’s more a dude movie, but she might like it if she has a warped sense of humor.
Gratuitous Sex: Nothing gratuitous.
Gratuitous Violence: Some things breaking.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: It’s better on video.
Memorable Scene: None.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Sid Ganis, Barry Bernardi

I really didn’t like “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” when it was in the theaters. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but I didn’t find it funny, wondered why it was made, and just didn’t like it. Back then I gave it 1 star. But then I got the DVD and decided that this movie really isn’t that bad.

Rob Schneider plays Deuce Bigalow. He’s a fish tank cleaner who gets most of his enjoyment by making the girl in the fish store dip her breasts in the snail tank so he can see her boobs. He gives his fish bottled water and drinks rusty pipe water, and he ends up taking care of a cool, gigolo’s fish while the gigolo is out of the country. He accidentally trashes the place and needs to come up with a ton of cash or face the wrath of Antoine, the cool gigolo, and with the help of T.J., a man pimp, becomes a gigolo, or rather, a man whore, himself. But Deuce doesn’t score the hot chicks, nope, T.J. sets Deuce up with the “freaks” where Deuce charms the ladies with good verbal skills rather than being good in the sack.

Alright, to be a little more fair the movie does go deeper than that, sort of preaching the message that everyone is special in their own way, and maybe because I was in a better mood, maybe being a little bit older, or maybe being at home where I don’t try to engross myself in a movie most of the time, but this time I enjoyed “Deuce Bigalow..”. The scenes that gave me chuckles in the theater gave me chuckles again, like the narcoleptic girl who tied her hair to the light so she wouldn’t drown in her soup when she fell asleep, but also felt a little sorry for Deuce, especially as his relationship with Kate fell apart.

It’s an adult rental but remember to bring out the child in you when you watch it. If you do as I say it’s 3 stars out of 5. If you’re looking for an intelligent comedy, “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” isn’t it, but if your looking for stupid fun, go ahead and rent it!

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!