The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

starwarsholiday_2Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones, Harvey Korman, Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Diahann Carroll, Mickey Morton, Paul Gale, Patty Maloney, Jack Rader, Michael Potter, Claude Woolman, Don Francks

Directed by Steve Binder

Expectations: Super low.

twohalfstar


The Star Wars Holiday Special was once the holy grail of nerd-dom, but the Internet has diminished its luster a bit by making the special readily available for anyone who wants to see it. Shall I let this modern age of access and information sully the legend of The Star Wars Holiday Special? No! For me, this special is still quite special, regardless of the fact that I didn’t have to buy a 5th-gen VHS from a shady guy in the corner of a convention hall. Y’see, despite being a supreme nerd and lover of Star Wars for my entire life, this was the first time I saw The Star Wars Holiday Special. And boy, let me tell you, it was an experience.

For those that don’t know, The Star Wars Holiday Special was a variety show produced by CBS because… well, I don’t know why! But I do know that George Lucas approved it because he thought it would be a good idea to stave fans off waiting for him to desperately think up a story for a sequel that he never planned for hone the Empire Strikes Back script gathering dust on his shelf. Anyway, I don’t know if it really worked to tide people over like he thought it would, but people did go see Empire Strikes Back and perhaps they might not have without the good ol’ Star Wars Holiday Special! Everything happens for a reason, doncha know.

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Martin Mull, Jake Lloyd, James Belushi, E.J. De La Pena, Laraine Newman, Justin Chapman, Harvey Korman, Richard Moll, Daniel Riordan

Directed by Brian Levant

Expectations: Low. This can’t be good. I’m just hoping for some good Arnold lines.


Fifteen years. Fifteen years it took to wear me down enough to accept the idea of watching this one. When Jingle All the Way was released in 1996 I was fifteen, and there was no way in hell I was going to watch my most favorite action star sliding around a department store in a battle with Sinbad for a stupid Power Rangers rip-off doll. No way, no how. These days I feel somewhat different about the whole thing. I don’t watch Arnold films hardly at all anymore and he’s been out of the Hollywood scene for several years so there hasn’t been anything new to entice me. Over these years I’ve slowly grown more and more desperate, willing to watch anything he was in, if only to hear him say stupid lines in that wonderful accent I love so well. During one of my more exuberant Arnold moments, I found myself watching as many Arnold quote compilation videos on YouTube as I could get my mouse on. One of these featured Arnold’s famous line from Jingle All the Way, “Put the cookie down! Now!” remixed into a techno song. This, coupled with a newfound enjoyment of Power Rangers, led me to say yes to Turbo Man and give Jingle All the Way a go.

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Quick Takes: Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Disorderlies, The Happening

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Starring Leslie Nielsen, Mel Brooks, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Lysette Anthony, Harvey Korman, Anne Bancroft
Directed by Mel Brooks

Actually, he’s more just getting along than loving it. I was expecting Dracula to get all Liberace on life, but alas this is a rather pedestrian re-telling of the Dracula tale and not the flamboyant re-imagining I hoped for. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. On the contrary, I’m enough of a Dracula fan to get a kick out of the places where the kicks were intended. The blood gushing gag was my favorite, as it satisfied my gorehound thirst as well as my funny bone. A very minor Brooks work, and presumably his final film unless he’s preparing a comeback, Dracula: Dead and Loving It is just OK.

Disorderlies (1987)

Starring Mark Morales, Darren Robinson, Damon Wimbley, Ralph Bellamy, Anthony Geary, Tony Plana, Marco Rodríguez, Helen Reddy, Troy Beyer
Directed by Michael Schultz

Disorderlies is an astoundingly subtle take on race and class in 1980s, both of which went completely over my head as a kid focusing on the rap antics of three of hip-hop’s heaviest dudes. Oh ok, Disorderlies may not plumb the depths of social commentary and it’s technically not a very good movie, but if you’re in the right mindset, it’s a fantastically fun 80s comedy and I had an absolute blast watching it. When I was a young kid, I had an unhealthy fascination with seeing this movie and when I finally saw it, I loved it. I haven’t seen it since that fateful day in the late 80s, and while it isn’t the laugh riot I remember it being, it’s still pretty damn funny. I just can’t help but laugh when Buff and Kool drive a cop car from the back set with coat hangers. It’s like The Three Stooges for the 80s, complete with the accompanying sound FX and prat falls.

The Happening (2008)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Robert Bailey, Jr., Frank Collison, Victoria Clark, Jeremy Strong
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

The Happening is a big-budget B-movie and nothing more, so like many B-movies, it never quite reaches the heights it sets out for. It’s a poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly written piece of trash moviemaking, but I honestly enjoyed it overall. I can dig the environmental theme, but I take issue with one key moment at the end that shows Shyamalan doesn’t really understand or subscribe to the theories he’s trying to enlighten others with here. Perhaps this moment is yet another comment on society, but if that’s the case, it’s poorly executed. Still though, it’s trashy fun and the R Rating helps sell the apocalypse pretty well. If you enjoy paranoia B-Movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Happening is a fair, but stupid, entry into the genre. Watch out for Mark Wahlberg’s dialogue with the potted plant, it’s a high point and I can only wonder what everyone on set thought about the state of their careers in that moment.

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