Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf

 

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:36 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The more I think about it, the more perfect “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf” was, especially in the realm of the old-school, and I mean this with all due respect, cheesy, werewolf movie. First there is the title, or at least the “Night of the Lone Wolf” part. Sure there’s the solo werewolf at the start, but by the end there are multiple wolves. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the title and our hero is the lone wolf, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that our main werewolf all of a sudden decided to go on a biting spree and instantly we have a pack of werewolves.

Now let’s get to the werewolf himself, or I suppose all of the werewolves. This is no CGI, full-blown, let’s make him as scary as we can, werewolf. Nope. This is the classic “let’s hand-craft this werewolf, complete with animatronics, but in the end it’s still going to look cheesy and like a dude in a werewolf outfit.” And the story – basically it’s about a blind dude who is the only one who seems to figure out this peaceful community has a werewolf in its midst, and it’s up to him to shoot it (that’s right, I said it’s up to the blind dude to shoot the werewolf). Toss in some Stepford Wife type bitties, some religion, and, oh yea, I forgot to mention the blind dude is also ex-military so let’s pull out the old military duds when it’s time for the payback, and yes, this is “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf.”

Wow, that was a long opening summary. Let’s get to the basics of the story.

Ambrose (Nick Damici) is a blind, ex-military dude who is on the outs with his family. He needs a place to live and finds himself in the lovely community of Crescent Bay. He does have a best friend, his seeing-eye dog. On the first night in the community he hears a neighbor being attacked, and then his dog ends up dead at the claws of the werewolf. No one else in the community finds it odd that once a month, when there is a full moon, things go bad in the community, but instantly Ambrose knows what is going on, realizes he has a month to set up a trap, get some silver bullets, and prepare himself for the werewolf’s return.

The moral of this werewolf story: Don’t fuck with a blind dude’s best friend!

And so Ambrose learns about the town, learns about the townsfolk, maps his target zone, and prepares. The night comes, Ambrose is ready, only this time there isn’t just one werewolf because it seems our distressed human has gone on a biting spree, but Ambrose is up to the challenge, in all his military glory.

Werewolf movies come and go. Some try to up the scary factor, especially the newer ones with the CGI enhancements. Some try to be comedies. But some, like “Late Phases…” work to put a new twist on the genre (like a blind dude who saves the day), while paying homage to the skills of the classics. I have to admit that I was expecting some pretty crappy acting for this one, but Nick Damici is fantastic in his role as the grumpy, ex-veteran, who is somehow a fantastic shot as a blind dude and the smartest person in the town. If you ever wondered what happened to Ginger (Tina Louise) from Gilligan’s Island, there she is as Carissa, wonderful in her little role, and I kept looking at Lance Guest, who brings a great, creepy factor as Griffin, a man with a secret, and then I realize he was Alex Rogan in one of my weirdly favorite movies of all time, The Last Starfighter. Yup, instead of a bunch of crappy actors that would have detracted from the movie, this one actually is filled with a ton of character actors who bring solid performances to their roles.

If you like a classic werewolf tale, one that isn’t trapped in technology and CGI, this is really a movie for you. Solid acting with a decent amount of cheesiness and, with that, I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but it’s a solid 4 stars out of 5 for “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf.”

As far as the Blu-ray, it’s got some special features as well, including the commentary stuff, but also a really good look at the Making Of, and the most detailed explanation I’ve ever seen of how they made those werewolves suits.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Nick Damici, Tina Louise, Lance Guest
MPAA Rated: Not rated.
Released By: Dark Sky Films
On Digital Download, Blu-Ray & DVD: March 10, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Please put them to bed.
Date Movie: If she likes a classic werewolf movie.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Yea, the werewolf inflicts some major damage. Poor doggie.
Action: The ending when Ambrose gets his revenge.
Laughs: In that classic, cheesiness kind of way.
Memorable Scene: When Ambrose breaks his trusty shovel..
Memorable Quote: Nothing stood out.
Directed By: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Cool things about the Blu-ray: This had probably the most extensive look I’ve ever seen at how they make the costumes.

Believe Me

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:33 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

I know. I read the press release for “Believe Me.” And yes, I know the synopsis mentioned a group of college kids who figured out a great way to make a quick buck, namely by scamming Christians to donating money to their phony-baloney charity, and then said kids would realize the true meaning of being good people. And finally, I know that’s what the movie ends up being about, but I so wanted it to flip directions and be a full parody of Christian fundraising. Instead, yes, our foursome realized the error of their ways and became good people again, until, “I, um.”

Here’s the basics…

Sam (Alex Russell) is in college. He wants to go to law school but owes college a bunch of bucks before he can officially graduate and move on to law. At a Christian service one day, after hearing a girl ask for money for her cause and finding out how much she made in two weeks, he hatches a plan and somehow convinces his buddies to go along. Yes, they were going to come up with some fake charity, something about water for Africa, call it “Project Get Well Soon,” and when the bucks rolled in they would pocket the cash. Somehow Sam forgot about the law.

They have an event and it goes so well they become recruited by Shooter McGavin (Okay, in the movie his name is Ken, and in real life he is Christopher McDonald, but he’ll always be Shooter to me), to go on tour with another Christian charity group, Cross Country. It is while on the road they sharpen their craft as scamsters, and Sam also wants to hook up with Christian cutie, Callie (Johanna Braddy).

The thing is that they learn their craft so well they begin to achieve rock star status, much to the dismay of the actual rock star on the tour, Gabriel (Zachary Knighton), who also wants to hook up with Callie.

Low and behold Tyler (Sinqua Walls) of the group of dudes begins to see the error of their ways, and slowly, one by one, they all fall back in line as good people, but not before their scam is uncovered. Ken is disappointed in them but won’t press charges as long as they keep touring and helping him raise cash much to the dismay of Gabriel, and Callie sees the goodness in Sam.

Yup, the movie ended just as the press release said, except, “I, um.”

Here’s the thing. For me, “Believe Me,” was at it’s best when it was mocking Christian fundraising. There was a scene in the middle of the movie where our boys realized that in order to be the best at scamming they had to figure out exactly what Christians were like. They needed to learn everything about the God-loving folks who went to the events, things like how to worship, stand, make hand gestures, even what to eat and wear. They find things like worship stances, prayer postures, kitschy slogans, and that “You don’t want to be Shawshanking in a room full of Geckos.” They even complete things by setting up their own clothing line, “Cross Dressing.” Get it, “Cross” dressing, Christians, crosses. It’s almost the ultimate in mocking. And it was funny.

The almost scary part was how spot on the stereotypes were, especially if you have ever watched some of the preachers on TV asking for money, and the way the people in the audience act at them. The movie was great at this, but then there was the “Okay, let’s let this movie have a message that they learn their lesson” part that turned things into more of a generic film.

There we are, having a good time, and all of a sudden our mocking boys are all goody-two-shoes, there is this lovely montage, and with Sam on the stage about to give his big “come to Jesus” speech the movie ends with him saying, “I, um…”. Maybe it was supposed to be kind of artsy, maybe it was supposed to make you reflect, but all it had both me and my wife say was “What kind of crap ending was that?”

When “Believe Me” was doing what it was doing best, being funny and mocking the “give me money for thirsty people in Africa” thing, it was almost a 4 star comedy, and even as the generic “they learn the error of their ways” movie, it was still okay at about 3 1/2 stars, but when both me and my wife end up with the same reaction after sticking with the film to the end, I’ve got to drop it one star. Sadly a movie that had great potential and was even just okay, totally blew it with one “I, um…” ending. It’s 2 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Believe Me.” That might even be a little generous, but the mocking keeps it up there for me.

The Blu-ray had some extra stuff, namely some deleted scenes that again showed the movie couldn’t figure out if it wanted to skewer the fundraising or embrace the goodness, and the outtakes were okay.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Believe Me
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Alex Russell, Zachary Knighton, Johanna Braddy, Miles Fisher, Sinqua Walls, Christopher McDonald
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Virgil Films & Entertainment
On Blu-Ray & DVD: March 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: It’s safe enough for them, but I don’t think they’ll get the jokes.
Date Movie: Up until the last line.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah. Just some drunkeness.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: When they are making fun and mocking.
Memorable Scene: The “Learning to be Christian” scenes.
Memorable Quote: “He went to prison. He said he hated it.
Directed By: Will Bakke
Cool things about the Blu-ray: I did like the hazing scene. It kind of reminded me of “Old School.”

VANish

MPAA Rated – Not rated.
It’s 1:19 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

VANish
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Danny Trejo, Tony Todd, Austin Abke, Bryan Bockbrader, Adam Guthrie
MPAA Rated: Not Rated.
Released By: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Send them to bed. Lots of blod!
Date Movie: If she likes blood-splattering thrillers.
Gratuitous Sex: There is an attempted rape in the van, though it doesn’t turn out too well for the dude.
Gratuitous Violence: Headshots, shotgun blasts, machetes, and a handy little cutting saw help with the blood splatter.
Action: Not really much action.
Laughs: Some chuckles.
Memorable Scene: Emma kicking the crap out of Shane.
Memorable Quote: “What kind of amateur bullshit is this?”
Directed By: Bryan Bockbrader
Extras on the Blu-Ray: The bloopers were decent enough, and I actually liked seeing the alternate endings.

The press release said: “three thugs viciously kidnap a drug cartel boss’ only daughter from her home in broad daylight.” With that I was a little confused at the opening scene of VANish as a dude and his lover were being abducted at night, in the California hills. Now let’s cut to the next scene of two dudes in a van, talking calmly amongst each other as dudes will talk, and I’m wondering where is the third dude? Is this the van? And what happened to those people in the first scene?

Little did I know the importance of the first abduction to the plot of the movie, to be explained during a later scene, and now I was being fully introduced to possibly the dumbest trio of kidnappers that there have ever been in a movie. That’s okay, though, because the trio of dopes really made VANish an entertaining film in the realm of blood-splattering thrillers.

So, yea, the basic plot of the movie is that this girl, Emma (Maiara Walsh) is kidnapped by these three dopes, Jack (Austin Abke), Max (Bryan Bockbrader), and Shane (Adam Guthrie), who send out a ransom demand to her father the drug cartel boss, Carlos (Danny Trejo). As the movie progresses somehow our kidnappers figure it is okay to untie Emma, who now seems to be along for the ride so that she can see her Daddy who pretty much abandoned her years earlier, we learn why Jack really kidnapped Emma and wants to find Carlos, and in their travels through the deserted roads, of course our heroes get pulled over by a cop, Officer Darrow (Tony Todd at his genre finest), and while Jack is fairly calm about the whole thing, it’s his friends who are basket cases, complete with the cliched line of “I’m going to smoke him!”

The thing is, it’s a scene like this that keeps you knowing this is just supposed to be an entertaining movie, and if the blood-splattering thriller is your kind of movie, VANish keeps up the good time, especially as we get to the climactic “takeover” scene in the van, and the final shoot-out with Carlos and the drug cartel where we also find out that Carlos might be the worst shot ever with an automatic weapon.

I did have a lot of questions after the movie was over like how is Emma alive after seeming to lose so much blood, how was the one dude able to function after having his face sawed off, and what do you do with a van filled with so much blood splatter after you get back home? Also, even though I enjoyed all of the gratuitous violence, the fingers getting chopped of by the machete and then spraying blood everywhere really seemed like the ultimate in cliches.

In the realm of the blood-splattering thrillers VANish isn’t a masterpiece, but it was interestingly shot, mostly from the perspective inside the van, and done pretty well I must say. Also, even though mostly unknown actors, they all hold their own in their roles, and Danny Trejo is always a treat. I was entertained, got mostly what I was hoping for, and in the end really like VANish, so much so that it gets 4 stars out of 5 from me. It clocked in at a nearly perfect 79 minutes, which was nice because that means there wasn’t a lot of dragging things out, and even the extras on the Blu-ray were kind of fun, especially the van breaking down on the side of the road warranting a call to AAA, and I actually saw a purpose to the alternate endings they provided, showing how they could be stupid in my opinion (the 3rd one), and almost as good as the original (the 1st alternate).

Watch VANish for what it is and you should have a good time.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Overnighters

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

The Overnighters
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jay Reinke
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Drafthouse Films
Video Release Date: February 3, 2015
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s about a lot of down-and-out people.
Date Movie: If she’s interested in a good documentary and not something mushy.
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk of sex offenders, but nothing graphic.
Gratuitous Violence: Just one person trying to get the Reverend off of their property and threatening to shoot him.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Ehh.
Memorable Scene: The reveal by Rev. Jay of something from his past.
Memorable Quote: “A man with no teeth and living with his daughter calling other people trash.
Directed By: Jesse Moss
Cool things about the DVD: Some of the deleted scenes actually should have been left in the film, and the extended interview with Rev. Jay is actually interesting.

The OvernightersThe stories were out there: Move to North Dakota! There are tons of jobs, waitresses are making $15+ dollars an hour, and you can easily find a job making over $100k a year! While some of this may be true, when stories like this get published what happens? Tens of thousands of people, mostly out of work, consider moving to North Dakota to find work. Here’s the problem. While there are jobs, there aren’t that many, and it’s North Dakota. The fracking boom has come mostly to smaller towns that don’t have the resources to accommodate such a giant influx of folks, many of whom are down on their luck, have questionable pasts, and think that North Dakota, or in the case of the documentary “The Overnighters,” Williston, North Dakota, is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “The Overnighters” focuses on these people, the ones not getting the jobs, as well as Rev. Jay Reinke, a pastor in Williston who opened his church to those who couldn’t find a place to say, much to the dismay of the town, especially when the questionable pasts of those seeking shelter came to light.

As the documentary opens we see the Reverend waking up the people he has sheltered for the night. Most of them are men, those who came by bus or train are sleeping throughout the complex, in hallways and rooms, while those with cars would sleep in the parking lot, and the documentary begins to key in on a few of them with Rev. Jay, trying to help them through the transition to find a job. He advises them to clean up, cut their hair, get a resume together, and keep trying, but challenges await most of them, especially as background checks reveal criminal records, but more importantly for the documentary, people on the sex offender list.

We see Rev. Jay’s family who is trying to do the Christian thing and help everyone they can, but you can see the strain the situation is placing on them as well. The key to this story is the town of Williston, torn by wanting to be good Christians, yet wanting to keep their small-town feel, worried about crime, and trying to keep their children safe.

Progressing through the documentary we learn that the Reverend is housing men with sex offender pasts, both in the church and in his home, and while some might be a blip on a record that follows them for life, others are not so seemingly insignificant, and when the local paper brings this to light, the blow-back for Reinke is insurmountable, especially as he is harboring some of his own secrets.

What I loved about this documentary was that it really showed the flip side to the stories of the boom of North Dakota. You see the people and some you root for, but many you question because at one instance they seem like people just trying to restart their lives, but then you see them slip into being assholes again. The thing is this even happens with Rev. Jay when one minute he seems like the great-natured guy, just trying to help, but, and sure every story has two sides, from the commentary by some of the people he helps, there are times even his motives seem questionable. There is an extra with a detailed follow-up interview with Reverend Jay when he addresses this, mostly in a manner consistent with his personality shown in the film.

There are a few times the documentary drags, but other than that “The Overnighters” is a fantastic look at the other side of the North Dakota story. Sure, those with a little bit of a better plan than the people just “showing up” and thinking millions await them probably have a decent chance of the good jobs, but it’s this other side people don’t hear about.

This documentary shows people doing a lot of soul-searching, losing even more, like their families, by even coming to North Dakota, and a Reverend who has his own demons that he can’t come to grips with. It’s a great look at the town reaction, those who don’t have it so easy, and the challenges faced when the “boomtown” event happens because not everyone is happy about it. It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “The Overnighters.” I guess I would have liked a few success stories on people who really made it, though there was the one dude who was excited because he was actually going to have someone to supervise. Other than the little blurb of “What is happening now,” a little more follow-up on some of the characters might have been nice. Also there is some “niceness” about the documentary, although one of the outtakes, “I Used to Stay Here,” really shows the flip-side and the volatility that can be there. I think I might have like to have seen a little more of that.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Cyber-Seniors

MPAA Rated – Not Rate
It’s 1:15 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Cyber-Seniors
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Shura Eadie, Ebert Hobbs, Henri Pelletier, Max Schellenberg
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: Virgil Films
Release Date: January 27, 2015 – Online and VOD
Kiddie Movie: Not too young. It’s a documentary and there’s a lot of talking.
Date Movie: It’s cute enough for the two of you.
Gratuitous Sex: Nothing that will make you blush.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: The seniors with no governor on some of the things they say.
Memorable Scene: Shura cooking the grilled cheese with an iron.
Memorable Quote: Annette says “I’m not eccentric.” and Henri the mentor just rolls his eyes.
Directed By: Saffron Cassaday

As I was watching Cyber-Seniors I couldn’t help but think of three people, my Mom, my Mom-in-Law, and my Dad-in-Law, and although a little older than all of the mentors in the documentary, my experience with each my seniors was pretty much the same as the mentors had with theirs. My Mom was an early adopter to the Internet though she passed away before Facebook hit it big which would have helped her re-connect with many more people she lost touch with than she had found just through email and Google searches. My Mom-in-Law’s adoption, especially on her iPhone, quickly accelerated once she hit Facebook, even to the point she has now discovered Snapchat as “GrandmaEleanor” and loves posting her “stories” while keeping in touch with the Grandkids. My Dad-in-Law stays away from social media, but loves finding any news site he can discover. Teaching all of them various aspects of the internet and social media takes a lot of patience, but as the mentors show in the movie, the patience pays off the minute you see the smile of the elder discovering the wonders of Skype, Facebook, and finding out that the younger generation swears too much in their Facebook postings.

As the documentary goes, Macaulee and Kasha Cassady had a high school project back in the late 2000’s after they witnessed their grandparents discovery of the Internet, and they started a program to help other seniors get online. They ended up setting up a group, recruited friends to help teach the seniors, and their sister, Director Saffron Cassaday, started filming the sessions. The documentary keys in on a few of the seniors, their mentors, the elder’s challenges in understanding the concept of the Internet with the youngin’s challenges in finding ways to help point the elders in the right directions, and the excitement of discovery as the elders realize their is another world out there beyond the walls of the retirement home by becoming part of their families everyday lives again.

The training progress showing everything from just turning on a laptop, to using webcams and Skype, even to online dating, while the movie concludes with a contest amongst the seniors, namely to see who can be the biggest “YouTube” star amongst them. Their worlds open up again, and it’s a joy to see.

The beauty in training seniors is that they rarely have a governor any longer, and some of the best moments in the documentary are times when the seniors don’t hold back about people’s looks and their opinions on life, and while some are a little hesitant at first, worrying that if they unfriend someone on Facebook that said “unfriend” will come and attack them, eventually, once they see the benefits, they love it.

All in all it’s a nice documentary about the youngins helping the oldins learn how to get online. There is a little bit of a side story as Macaulee and her grandfather came down with cancer during filming which kind of took the story off the rails a bit, and things dragged a tad as we came to the YouTube contest, but the touching commentary by Ebert Hobbs on having a purpose in life long past your retirement is both poignant and a nice ending to the movie.

A fun look at the old folks learning about technology and it’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Cyber-Seniors.” If you’ve ever tried to help an elder learn about technology you can relate to the patience the mentors have, but mostly you can relate to the joy when the senior finally “gets it.”

On a side note, if you are interested more about the movie, want to be a mentor or cyber-senior, be sure to check out the the Cyber-Seniors website.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Bound by Flesh

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:30 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Bound By Flesh
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton
MPAA Rated: Not Rated
Released By: IFC Films
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Nah, it’s a documentary. They’d be bored.
Date Movie: If she’s a documentary kind of girl.
Gratuitous Sex: There’s talk.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Some chuckles at some stories.
Memorable Scene: It was interesting seeing the sisters performing together.
Memorable Quote: “Freakery sells.”
Directed By: Leslie Zemeckis

Think about your best friend, your wife, your sibling. You like them, don’t you? You probably generally like to be around them? Now picture being attached to them, and I’m not talking emotionally, but physically attached, kind of around the butt area, for 60 years. Granted you didn’t start out that way, but Daisy and Violet Hilton were born, as conjoined twins, and “Bound By Flesh” gives a fascinating, yet kind of sad look at the ladies who had fame, sort of, but because of the people around them had nothing, really, but each other.

“Bound By Flesh” takes you on the journey, from birth to death, of Daisy and Violet. We learn early on that their Mom was devastated when they were born, feeling punished by God because she was having children out of wedlock. Mom was a barmaid, and though she wanted no part of the kids, her boss, Mary Hilton, saw financial potential in exploiting the kids so she bought them from mom. Thus began a life of being trotted out in front of people, bar patrons “testing” their connection, and isolation and control so that the girls couldn’t have a life.

The girls were taught music and dancing, oddly enough, so as their life progressed they ended up in the carnival circuit mostly thanks to Edith and Myer Myers, a couple who ended up with the twins after Mary Hilton died. They did well because, as one guy puts it in the documentary, “Freakery sells.”

Eventually a few people around them gave them the courage to sue Myer, and they won, but a life of isolation, and getting older, didn’t prove helpful to the sisters as bad business decisions and failed relationships followed them for most of the rest of their lives. Yes, they became one of the highest grossing acts in Vaudeville, but as is cautioned in the documentary, be careful what you wish for because now, without the control of Myers, the girls were free, promiscuous, and general party girls who could never figure out who the con-men were, and also never had decent guidance for the rest of their lives, losing touch with the changing world and not being able to understand why people didn’t want to see them any longer, nor understanding the business of it all, and failing to see that as they grew older their popularity went away.

Stranded in North Carolina by their tour manager and left with nothing, the twins, who at a time seemingly had it all, were hired by a local grocery store, and it’s there they lived out the rest of their lives. Working at the store gave them a little money, but more for the ladies, it gave them time to reminisce with the staff and customers as all they really wanted to do was entertain.

They could have been separated later in life, but Daisy and Violet, by this time, realized their lives were one, and they probably couldn’t survive without each other, and in the end Violet came down with the flu. Daisy made the decision to lie there, in their little home, and die along side her sister.

“Bound by Flesh” is a fantastic documentary showing both the ups, but mostly downs, of the Hilton sisters. Their lives are reminiscent of many child and young actors, where the manager or family pretty much steals everything from them, and eventually they become “whatever happened” anecdotes. The other thing about the documentary is that as much as it’s about the sisters, it’s also a great look a the early days of the carnival and of the side-show, how the shows got their start as outgrowths of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, as well as the rise and fall of Vaudeville, and it’s relation to the sisters.

Fascinating yet sad lives, if you are looking for a wonderful documentary I must say I really enjoyed “Bound by Flesh.” It’s 4 out of 5 stars for this great look at two ladies who could have had so much more if it weren’t for the scumbags around them.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

The Final Member

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:12 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Final Member
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson, Pall Arason, Tom Mitchell
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Drafthouse Films / Cinedigm
Released On: June 17, 2014
Kiddie Movie: They might giggle a lot, but you might want to put them to bed.
Date Movie: I was a little worried when my wife said “I wonder what his penis looks like?”
Gratuitous Sex: Some talk of womanizing.
Gratuitous Violence: Nah.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Only like most people would laugh at penis stuff.
Memorable Scene: The ending scene was awesome, but there were two scenes I won’t mention that were hilarious and might make you cringe if you a man.
Memorable Quote: “He has this great specimen, Elmo.”
Directed By: Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math

Who knew it was so difficult to get a penis donor? That, in essence, is the underlying theme of “The Final Member,” one of the most riveting and at times hilarious documentaries that will make most men cross their legs and give that “protect my junk” gesture with their hands, while women, or at least my woman, will watch in utter amazement at the quest for a penis specimen.

Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson is the founder and curator of the Icelandic Phallological Museum, a museum that was started pretty much to save his marriage as Siggi’s fascination and collecting of any penis he could find was driving his wife crazy and over-running the space in their house. Over the 40 years he has collected many a penis, from the teeny, tiny hamster dink to the giant, sperm whale johnson. He also is into wood-carving, carvings, of course, of penises, with clocks, utensils, and a variety of items any man would be proud to display in his man cave. All of this is great and swell, but what his museum was missing is the most treasured of specimens, the homo sapiens.

During “The Final Member” we follow Siggi’s quest for the piece that will make his museum and in fact, his life, complete. You see, Siggi is getting up in his years, and as a man who is proud of his museum he knows that without the human penis it’s just a collection of stuff. Low and behold enter two people, Pall Arason and Tom Mitchell. Pall is an elderly gentleman, an Icelandic legend not only for his adventurous nature, but also for his womanizing. Pall has decided that upon his death he would like to donate his penis to the museum, and Siggi is thrilled because what would be a better way to “complete” the collection than with an Icelandic legend. There is also Tom, however, who states “I felt ever since I was a kid that when the time came I didn’t want my penis to go to waste when I died.”, and has named his penis “Elmo.” He decides, though, that he would like to donate his penis while he is still alive, a fact that makes Siggi curious but also excited because he won’t have to wait for Pall to kick the bucket. Tom, however, is a weird dude, and if you think Siggi is obsessed with the penis, that’s nothing compared to Tom who has come up with how he wants his penis preserved, displayed, and even Siggi says of Tom, “This is a funny guy.”

Sure this is a little bit of a spoiler alert, but the movie does end with Siggi getting “The Final Member,” and the ending triumph scene is awesome. I was so happy for him at the end I almost got a little weepy. I will, however, not spoil two of the best scenes in the movie only to say that yes, they do involve the penises of Pall and Tom.

A lot of documentaries can be boring, drag on, and get preachy, but I was happy to find “The Final Member” a fascinating look at man’s obsession with his penis, blending the oddly serious nature of Siggi’s quest to complete his collection with a mix of humor that, well, goes along the line of how people generally find talking about the penis funny. It’s 5 stars out of 5 for “The Final Member.” Women will just shake their heads watching and wondering why men can be so obsessed with it, while the men will fully understand and maybe pull out the ruler to see if their penis is of legal length.

A great movie, and I now have a new vacation destination, the Icelandic Phallological Museum. The trick, now, will be convincing my wife we should go to Iceland.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure

MPAA Rated – G
It’s 1:10 Long
A Review by:
-Andy Labis

Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Sophia Grace Brownlee, Rosie McClelland, Amy Louis Wilson, Anna Skellem, Margaret Clunie
MPAA Rated: G
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Home Video
Kiddie Movie: It’s really who this movie is for, or fans of Ellen.
Date Movie: Only if it’s your husband, and he’s watching it with the kids.
Gratuitous Sex: Um, no.
Gratuitous Violence: Some slapstick.
Action: Some running.
Laughs: Cute laughs.
Memorable Scene: Rosie’s use of her last wish, and Sophia Grace questioning her reasoning.
Memorable Quote: Nothing stood out.
Directed By: Brian Levant
Cool things about the Blu-ray: You can learn about pink, and sing along with the girls.

In the world of “You will get exactly what you’d expect” and “cookie-cutter movie,” I bring you “Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure.” And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

First the back-story, and you can skip this paragraph if you already know who this duo is. Sophia Grace Brownlee and Rosie McClelland became famous for having a video of them singing and dancing to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” go viral. Ellen DeGeneres, never one to shy away from having an Internet sensation on her show, invited them on, they sang and danced, and the Ellen fans loved her. Seeing gold, and because the girls are uber-cute, Ellen kept having them as guests, with Sophia Grace doing most of the boisterous talking while Rosie was just adorable. Then Ellen realized “Let’s have them be correspondents!” and the pair started doing red-carpet reporting, and you would thing the rest was history.

Of course not. Let’s make a movie!

So we get the girls in a fictional movie where, as correspondents for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, they head to Switzelvania to cover the coronation of the new queen. Under the watch of Phyllis Bundt (Amy Louise Wilson), the girls head over on their flight, Phyllis, of course, loses the girls and ends up on her own adventure to get back together with them, and the girls find themselves sneaking into the castle.

At the castle the girls, instead of just being correspondents, are mistaken for nieces for the princesses, and decide to just roll with it. As fakers they get to individually meet the princesses and realize things are a mess in Switzelvania. There’s Princess Imogen (Anna Skellem) who is obsessed with herself, another who is a ditz, and Abigail (Margaret Clunie), the shy one who likes to dress up as a super hero. The girls quickly realize that the best choice is Abigail, but she is far from Queen material, and their new quest is to give her a crash-course in manners and poise.

And hilarity ensues.

Oh, and did I mention there is a magical duck that grants Rosie three wishes?

I know I should say “Spoiler alert,” but if you can’t realize that our heroes save the day, that Abigail becomes Queen after Rosie uses her magic duck, and that Phyllis ends up with a hunk, you do not really understand the meaning of “cookie-cutter” as I mentioned in the opening of this review.

Look, this movie wasn’t made to bring any Academy Award nods, although I’m one to give an award to the duck, but really it’s just a nice, fun movie for fans of Sophia Grace and Rosie, with a cute, happily ever after story, and the girls get to sing and dance. If the movie was being promoted as something fantastic and a must-see I would probably give it 2 stars in terms of originality and acting, maybe even less, but the movie is really being set up as what it is, you will get exactly what you expect if you know who the girls are, and for that I’m going to add a star for 3 stars out of 5. Not the greatest of films, I would have liked a little more originality, but the girls are their adorable selves, and the right princess does become Queen. Get it knowing exactly what you are going to get.

As far as the extras on the Blu-ray combo pack mostly it’s about the singing and dancing department with a featurette of the songs in the movie, and I learned a lot about pink, but for the most part the extras aren’t anything uber-special.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Hot Guys with Guns

MPAA Rated – Not Rated
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
Andy Labis

Hot Guys with Guns
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Marc Anthony Samuel, Brian McArdle
MPAA Rated: Not rated.
Released By: Wolfe Video
Release Date: Video on Demand: May 6, 2014DVD: May 8, 2014
Kiddie Movie: Oh no. Put them to bed.
Date Movie: My wife got sucked right into it.
Gratuitous Sex: A lot of talk, and gay, sex parties.
Gratuitous Violence: There are some guns and fighting.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Quite a few.
Memorable Scene: Nothing stood out.
Memorable Quote: “How’s your head?” “It still hurts.” “You didn’t say the safe word.” “I had something in my mouth.”
Directed By: Doug Spearman

As my wife simply put it: “It’s so bizarre it’s captivating.” The movie is “Hot Guys with Guns,” and yes, I have to agree with my wife.

With an opening scene reminiscent of a James Bond movie, only with dude butts instead of dudette butts, we are introduced to passed-out guys in a room and a weird dude in a mask.

Let’s cut to the heroes of the movie starting with Danny (Marc Anthony Samuel). He’s taking a private investigator class as research for a movie role because, well, the film takes place in California, and, of course, it’s got a dude who wants to be an actor. Then there is his friend/ex Pip (Brian McArdle), who lives with his wacky mom, she who doesn’t like black guys or Mexicans, and Danny is worried about Pip because Pip is getting involved with a dude that Danny doesn’t trust.

As the story unfolds it turns out Pip finds himself at a party where everyone ends up drugged and passed out, with things stolen. It turns out there are Sex Party Bandits out there, and our two heroes want to solve the case, especially now that Danny is learning private eye stuff.

So our heroes get wrapped up in a plot of intrigue and bad guys, a plot that thickens when we find an actor was hoping for a role in a Disney film that was somehow involved in a drugged-up rape, and comedy, mayhem, and crime-solving ensues.

I must say that the first half of the movie had way too much plot development for what was supposed to be a buddy movie in the likes of something like “Lethal Weapon,” and was mostly background for internet surfing, but all of a sudden I was actually wrapped up in the story and wondering how the boys were going to crack the case without getting killed. I laughed, I cringed, and yes, I thought “bizarre.”

Had the movie opened with a tighter first half I could have easily seen myself heading to the 4 ½ star range for “Hot Guys with Guns,” but because it took too long for me to get involved in the story I have to drop it to 3 ½ stars out of 5. It’s not the greatest of acted movies, and there is some bizarreness in a world of gay, sex parties, but for some fun you could do a lot worse. Stick with the movie past the first half and let the bizarreness and fun take hold.

The DVD has some general stuff like some bloopers, but for the most part this one is all about the movie – No, you’re not going to get any real insight into sex parties.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

“How’s your head?” “It still hurts.” “You didn’t say the safe word.” “I had something in my mouth.”

Thanksgiving – Time for a Break or To Move On?

It’s Thanksgiving time as I’m writing this, and I have a lot to be thankful for, and as much as a time it is for giving thanks, it’s also a time for reflecting for me, especially about this place, Entertainment Ave!, which has been a part of my life in one form or another since about 1988, some 25 years ago.

This odyssey began as a little article in a college newspaper, Technology News, with my buddy and me looking to make some extra beer money. It was there that The Unknown Reviewers were born (Here’s a link to one of our first articles, found on Page 3), with me, The Dude on the Right, and him, The Dude on the Left, with bags on our heads and a PC with a hard drive topping out at 40Meg I think (Yup, you could fit a whopping 10 songs if they actually had digital downloads back then, but I digress), where we would wake up on a Friday morning with foggy heads and write about bands visiting our college bar the night before. As college years moved on some of the personas may have changed, but the bags remained the same, and The Dudes carried on.

Re-taking the reigns of The Unknown Reviewers in my never-ending college days, after being in an advisory role for a while, eventually The Dudes became digital, posting our reviews on our college website, and then, back in 1996, after finally ending college fun and pretending to grow up, Entertainment Ave! was born, with cheesy graphics, a cast of characters who mostly just wanted to have a goofy character, and the concert reviews grew from college bands to national acts, movie reviews were added, and through the years we’ve had an advice column, dabbled in animated movie reviews, held weekly podcasts, personal blogs, Daily Plights, and just some general commentary about the world.

I’ve always had big dreams for Entertainment Ave!, and although a lame excuse in the world of entrepreneurship, I generally let my day job and sometimes life in general, get in the way of trying to take this place to the next level, and over the past few months, with some other major changes taking place in my life, I’ve begun to wonder if this part of my life has also run its course. For over two years now I’ve been trying to get all of the pages updated to the newer format, a task I didn’t realize was so huge until I realized that, through the years, I’ve amassed over 750 various reviews and articles, and converting them has proven a much more daunting task then originally thought. I’ve also had a goal to get all of my concert photos updated to go along with the concert reviews, as well as get them posted for all of the world to see on my flickr site, and although a little easier than the page conversion, I haven’t gotten to the individual editing of them, either. Ugh!

“So, Dude, what are you trying to say. I’m getting tired of reading. Get to the point, already!”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that for a while I’m going to be putting this part of my life, Entertainment Ave!, on hiatus, as I ponder its future. There might be a post every now and then, but for the most part I’m going to see if some kind of inspiration comes to re-envisioning the site, its goals, and if it can be a part of my life for the next 25 years. I might try to finish getting the old reviews converted, finish up with the concert photos, play around with some site re-designing, but as a one-man show, and a site this large, it’s been a tough task keeping up with the changes in technology, the changes in how people get their content (I never did get the Facebook nor Twitter connections fully integrated as I envisioned, nor the “Second Life” virtual site, and even though I’ve designed an iPhone app or two, this site has never gotten its own app much to my own disappointment). For the time being I’ll be leaving everything posted, because hey, someone might want to read about an AC/DC concert from 1991, or see if they should rent “Dude, Where’s My Car?”, but don’t count too much on finding out what I think about the latest Christmas movies, read about a bad film coming out on Blu-ray, or a plight about if Cher really did make the gayest video, ever, for her song “Take It Like a Man.”

If this does end up being my last post for this site, I would like to thank all of you for your support through the years, any comments you may have tossed my way, and the chance to share my entertainment world, and sometimes thoughts about life, with you. It’s been a lovely ride for over 25 years, and maybe its not over yet, but in any case it’s a time to re-assess, re-evaluate, and see if some reconditioning can bring a new chapter to the Entertainment Ave! life.

Maybe for the last time…

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