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 Fighter (2010)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Mickey O’Keefe, Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Jill Quigg, Dendrie Taylor, Kate B. O’Brien, Jenna Lamia, Frank Renzulli, Paul Campbell

Directed by David O. Russell

Expectations: I saw this a couple months back and loved it.


I watched The Fighter a couple of months ago but chose not to write about it. I loved it from the opening moments, all the way to its thrilling climax and I just didn’t feel like breaking it down. I ended up watching the film again and the same feeling permeated the air around me. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worthy of a writeup. In fact, The Fighter may be the best picture of 2010, and any film garnering that kind of talk is always worthy of some dissection. I almost didn’t see this film too, as I had tried to completely avoid it because “I’ve seen enough underdog boxing movies.” Realistically I have, but The Fighter is about more than boxing.

It’s about family. The relationships between Micky, Dicky, their mother and their sisters are incredibly realistic thanks to stellar casting and acting from everyone. I’m unsure how accurate to life the storyline is, but it comes off very natural. Sure it hits a lot of clichéd beats here and there, most notably the “girlfriend re-bandaging our heroes wounds” routine that is in practically every movie, but The Fighter still feels genuine. David O. Russel’s handheld camera work and his dedication to licensed songs instead of a traditional score help paint the picture of the era and the location, and go a long way for believability in my book.

A lot of praise has been directed towards Christian Bale’s exuberant performance, and he’s very deserving of the talk, but I was especially taken with the work of Amy Adams. She did get an Oscar nomination for the role, though, so it would seem I’m not the only one that liked her here! She’s just dynamite in everything I’ve seen her in, but this just might be my favorite role of hers yet. I think what I was most taken with was how different she was from her role in Doubt. Adams exudes sex appeal and a resilient strength that few actresses can believably pull off.

If you’re like me and you think you’ve already seen all the boxing movies you can stomach, give this one a shot. It’s an incredibly well-made film that manages to be about more than just boxing. To me, the result of the final bout is inconsequential even, because the real story is about Micky’s familial relationships. The Fighter is a film that knows just how to get inside your soul and stick with you, and I look forward to future David O. Russell films.

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.

The Lovely Bones (2009)

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Rose McIver, Michael Imperioli, Christian Thomas Ashdale, Reece Ritchie, Charlie Saxton, Amanda Michalka

Directed by Peter Jackson

Expectations: Moderate. I heard bad things, but I love Peter Jackson so there’s no way I’m not watching this.


This is a tough movie for me to review. Emotionally, I loved it. It hit me hard and continues to resonate in the days following. Technically, I have some issues with it. Ultimately, for me, the emotional weight of the movie is far greater than any technical problems I had, and I am judging it a bit harsher anyway because of my Peter Jackson fanboy status. I’ve seen every one of his films and I enjoy them all. Yes, I even like Meet the Feebles.

Set in 1973, the film tells the story of Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl who blissfully walks home one day with the prospect of her first kiss consuming her mind. Instead, her neighbor rapes and murders her. Her spirit leaves her body and she continues to look down on her family from the afterlife. With The Lovely Bones, Jackson returns to a smaller type of movie similar to his 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures. My problem with some of Jackson’s choices in filming this movie is that instead of being in “small-movie mode,” he still seems like he’s in “big-effects-movie mode” having just come from Lord of the Rings and King Kong.

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