Cannonball Run II (1984)

cannonballrun2_1Starring Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jamie Farr, Telly Savalas, Marilu Henner, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Anton, Catherine Bach, Jackie Chan, Richard Kiel, Mel Tillis, Tony Danza, Jack Elam, Charles Nelson Reilly, Doug McClure, Ricardo Montalbán

Directed by Hal Needham

Expectations: The lowest.

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Ugh. These are the moments I really hate my completionist tendencies. I can’t even imagine how I’m going to get through Jackie’s horrid American films of the 2000s. But those are problems for another day, so let’s focus on the travesty before us. Cannonball Run II is just like The Cannonball Run if everything was less funny and even more boring. Sounds great, right?

So this time the Sheik’s father, the King (Ricardo Montalban), is angry with the Sheik (Jamie Farr) for not winning the first cannonball race. So the Sheik announces a new race and puts up a million dollars as prize money. Telegrams go out to all the previous racers and before you know it there’s a bunch of wild shenanigans on the highways of the American Southwest. The race never really mattered in the first film, but it doesn’t matter AT ALL in the sequel. It is merely a device to shoehorn as many wacky characters into one movie as is humanly possible.

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Tales from the Hood (1995)

Starring Clarence Williams III, Joe Torry, De’aundre Bonds, Samuel Monroe, Jr., Tom Wright, Anthony Griffith, Wings Hauser, Michael Massee, Duane Whitaker, Brandon Hammond, Rusty Cundieff, Paula Jai Parker, David Alan Grier, Corbin Bernsen, Roger Guenveur Smith, Lamont Bentley, Rosalind Cash

Directed by Rusty Cundieff

Expectations: Low, I’m not an anthology fan. I do love the poster, though.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I’ve never been one for horror anthology films, but my love of Tales from the Crypt, and my ideas that this would be a fun, black version of that, won me over and led to me giving this one a shot. Well… it ain’t pretty. There’s not a whole lot that’s good here, but thankfully, what’s good is excellent. But those excellent bits I’m referring to are the FX, which realistically are about 1% of the actual runtime. Everything else is just painful, or boring, or both.

The film opens with a title sequence that involves the camera slowly moving around a skeleton decked out in locs, a bandana and smoking a fat blunt. While I found this funny, and therefore kind of expected something of a horror comedy from the film, I was sorely disappointed when the first tale began with extreme, racially charged violence from a group of asshole white cops. It’s not really offensive as it takes stereotypes and plays them up for the purpose of crashing them down with giant horror payoffs, but it was still jarring. I’m willing to buy into the movie for those payoffs, but no matter how hard I tried I was unable to get involved completely in any of the stories except the final, Clockwork Orange-inspired one (which coincidentally ends with the worst payoff of the entire film).

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Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Tyra Ferrell, Angela Bassett, Redge Green, Dedrick D. Gobert, Baldwin C. Sykes, Tracey Lewis-Sinclair, Alysia Rogers

Directed by John Singleton

Expectations: High. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to watch this.


Boyz n the Hood is hands down one of the best films of the ’90s. The fact that writer/director John Singleton was only 23 when he made it makes that fact all the more incredible. Jumping out of the gate with both feet running, Singleton creates one of the richest and thought-provoking inner-city films of all time. It might be boring to read a glowing review of a 21-year-old film, but I simply won’t be able to control myself. Boyz n the Hood is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

Boyz n the Hood is great because of its characters and the way Singleton treats them. I’ve always been a vocal supporter of black filmmakers telling black stories because I feel that it’s the only way to get to the heart of the matter. If a white man made Boyz n the Hood, he simply wouldn’t come at it from the same angle. I know I’m making broad, general statements and everyone is an individual, but all I’m trying to say is that I would rather invest my time in a story about a group of people if it’s coming from a member of said group, that’s all. Schindler’s List is Schindler’s List because of Spielberg’s personal connection to the material and Boyz n the Hood is no different.

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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.

Mini-Review: The Other Guys (2010)

The Other Guys (2010)

Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans, Jr., Michael Delane

Directed by Adam McKay

Expectations: None whatsoever. It’s a mainstream comedy, the bane of my existence.


Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are buddy cops always playing second fiddle to better men. Ferrell is content in this role as a desk man, but Wahlberg has an intense desire to get out of the office and bust some perps like the big boys. Together they do all the arguing and bungling you’d expect from this type of film, but the comedy is actually funnier than it would appear at first glance, making The Other Guys a relatively okay film. Adam McKay’s direction leaves something to be desired, though, with the action sequences devolving into boring, derivative, handheld bullshit where nothing is clear. The film is also ridiculously overlong, needing a good twenty minutes cut out to keep the pace moving quickly and limit the time between quality jokes. I have to give them credit, though, a mainstream comedy winning me over, even incrementally, is something of an achievement.

The cameos by Samuel Jackson and The Rock were fantastic, and you’ll most likely find yourself saying, “Aim for the bushes!” before laughing to yourself for quite some time after watching The Other Guys. In a comedy the barometer of quality should be how much it made you laugh, and on that note, The Other Guys does pretty well. Mark Wahlberg is funnier than expected and Will Ferrell is more subdued than expected. This might sound like an odd role reversal, but the film seems to work because of it. I can only imagine the film being even more dull in its dull moments if they had gone with the more traditional roles for the two leads. The Other Guys is also something of an education on the recent financial meltdown for those that like to get their news from Will Ferrell movies. It doesn’t entirely work, but it is somewhat admirable to see a big budget movie try to address real issues in between dick jokes.

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