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Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken

The Rating System

Kex Liked It:
It Sucked:
It Really Sucked:
It Sucked as bad as Eyes Wide Shut:

It Sucked badly enough to bring the world to the brink of apocalypse:


The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)

Last Week: A Kex Classic Movie Review: The Greatest Show On Earth:
The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus is in town, and Kex is making his first pilgrimage to the real "Greatest Show On Earth." So the movies will have to take a back seat this week, but the loyal and gentle readers will not be deprived of a review. We take you back in time to the year 1952, when Cecil B. DeMille's epic carried home the Oscar for best picture.

Granted to this day, no one is sure why. The Greatest Show On Earth may very well qualify as the single worst movie ever to take home the Best Picture Oscar, and that is surprisingly fast company. In actuality, quite a few really bad films have earned the coveted prize, but none descended to the standard of truly unspeakable trash achieved by the absolute master over overkill, the one and only DeMille.

To say the very least, The Greatest Show On Earth was considered to be an upset victor even in 1952. Its not like there wasn't reasonable competition. It was a year which saw movies like Cry The Beloved Country, High Noon, The Quiet Man, Ivanhoe and Limelight hit the silver screen. Maybe it won by sheer force of mass. A few contemporary Academy voters were known to remark that Demille had payed his Hollywood dues, and the victory of The Greatest Show On Earth was more an hommage to his career body of work than a direct reward to the movie itself. Around K.A.W. comments like that are generally regarded as craven boot licking.

The film stars Charleton Heston, who spends most of the movie chewing scenery more thoroughly than the tigers chew meat. But he had plenty of competition from Cornell Wilde, a newly hired trapeze artist. Wilde spends the movie flashing his good looks, strutting around without a shirt or in gaudy tights, and speaking in mysterious accents that seem to change with every line he delivers. As the love interest, we toss in Betty Hutton, who finds herself torn between the two suitors (Heston and Wilde), leading us to wonder if there are any males in the circus that don't suffer from terminal testosterone poisioning she could become interested in.

The plot revolves around Heston's effort to save the circus season. The corporate big-shots that run the circus only want to play the big markets, because revenues are down. But mighty Chucky can't sustain the ego shattering prospect of not being able to pitch the tent in every drinkwater sidehole in America. After all, kids NEED the circus. Chucky goes so far as to tell the bigwigs as much. It sounds so much like his tirade against the Israeli tribes he leads in The Ten Commandments after he brings down the stone tablets that we half expect his speech to be followed by the firey wrath of God.

But after establishing that antagonistic line, DeMille surrenders to his instincts, and makes the picture BIG. I mean BIIIIIIIG. We see the circus setting up. We see the circus being torn down. We see the animals being fed. We see the animals being cleaned. We see rehearsals. We see the bumpkins in the audience staring in amazement at every act. We see every damned thing that goes on in the circus and before long, or after long, we are battling mightily not to see the insides of our eyelids. DeMille shows us it all, and most of it, we don't want to see.

Of course there are big production numbers, armies of extras, colorful sets and costumes and sideplots, oh yes, there are sideplots. The most horrifying is the role Jimmy Stewart most wanted us to forget. Stewart played the role of a circus clown who is really a doctor guilty of a mercy killing of his wife. Stewart wears his makeup all the time so no one will recognize him, and occasionally sneaks off into the audience where his mother provides him with regular updates on the efforts of the police to track him down. Apparently the police are not the least suspicious that his mother follows the circus all over the country.

Every circus movie ever made has a scene where the trapeze artist falls off without a net. This is the movie that started the gimmick. At one point, Wilde falls from his trapeze. Even that was boring in this film. But things really go south when Demille finally realizes he has to wrap up this interminable effort somehow.

So how does he do it? He pulls a plot device out of his pompous ass that would embarass even modern directors: The circus suffers a serious mishap in the form of a train wreck. All sorts of attempted heart wrenching moments were woven into the scene as the performers struggled to survive the accident. Central was the serious injury to Wilde, who came through the trapeze mishap more or less unscathed, only to find himself with a life threatening injury after the train wreck. And who comes to the rescue? Jimmy Stewart, who reveals his true identity, suddenly finding a conscious. I'm guessing that 10 minutes after finishing this movie, he also found a new agent.

The The Greatest Show On Earth was bad because it was so typically DeMillian. This is a man who probably used to light cigarettes with a flame thrower. Four years later, he again enlisted the efforts of Chucky Heston, who took on the role of Moses in The Ten Commandments. If The Greatest Show On Earth was massive, The Ten Commandments might well be defined as the cinematic equivalent to a black hole. The captivity of the Israeli tribes in Egypt was all of 20 minutes shorter than the movie.

Last Week: From Hell:

I've been there. I've walked those gloomy streets; not in the flesh, but in dreams. I've been the frustrated police inspector searching for clues, chasing a monster, and the search never ends. Friends of a mystical bent have suggested that they are not dreams at all: Maybe they are distant memories of a lost quest that has crossed the generations. In this life, with the aid of books, articles and photos I think I may have glimpsed a little of the truth. But still the dreams come, and I know the answer may be too far away to ever find now...

A piece of writing from another context. But for now, this weeks movie review:

From Hell is one of the most keenly anticipated films I've ever reviewed at this site. It has much to offer me personally: A subject in which I have an interest that began more years ago than I care to admit to; a film based on a book I enjoyed, although did not agree much with. And a few actors whose work I admire. Yes, everything about this one suggested a cool evening at the cinema from the time I first learned of it last January.

So as much as I was looking forward to this film, the experience was nearly ruined for me early on. I arrived at the cinema early, loaded with my usual haul of refreshments I secreted in, and sat in my favorite seat in the house...yes, everthing was going perfectly. Then, things started a downward slide.

Joe Idiot and an army of siblings and family members arrived and sat directly in the row behind me. Well, they weren't all siblings. There was also an older couple whom I assumed to be Joe's parents; probably his aunt and uncle too. Immediately upon arrival, Joe began running his mouth. I mean constantly. The man simply never shut up. I hoped it would end as soon as the previews of coming attractions flashed on. Alas, it didn't.

Joe began a running commentary of the trailers. He expressed significant joy at movies that featured scenes of cars wrecks and violence. In fact, such images excited him to the point I think he was popping woodies. To say the least,he was becoming an annoyance of major proportions.

The feature had a larger than usual number of previews. Then during what turned out to be the last one before the film began, Joe's cell phone rang; not once, but 3 times. That, needless to say, was the last straw. At that point, I calmly stood up, and provided Joe with a quick summary of future events. I first informed Joe that he was going to hang up his cell phone, and turn it off so that it would not ring again. I then told Joe he was going to clamp his pie hole shut for the remainder of the film. Finally, I gave Joe a brief but concise summation of his geneology. That drew warm applause from the reasonably large Saturday night crowd.

Back to reviewing the movie: The Hughes brothers were concerned that modern Whitechapel might not provide a realistic enough setting for this movie, so they moved the production to Czechoslovicia where they recreated 1888 Whitechapel in amazing detail, right down to the cobblestone streets with the occasional pile of horse manure. Even John Merrick, the Elephant Man makes a cameo appearance.

Victorian Whitechapel was seedy and violent even by any modern standard. A total of 250 boarding houses provided a measure of shelter for more than 8500 people. There were 1200 known prostitutes working the streets. This was Jack the Rippers corner of London.

The movie has its flaws, in spite of its visual magnificense. There are significant liberties taken with historical events, and the film bears little resemblance to the book from which it is drawn. No matter, it is wonderful in its own right.

Johnny Depp as Inspector Aberline gives a good, but less than optimal performance. Heather Graham as prostitute Mary Kelly more or less mails it in. That causes their fictional romance to lack much onscreen chemistry. But the film stands anyway.

The Hughes brothers resisted the temptation to turn this into a third rate slasher film, and should be applauded for it. Nonetheless, there is some graphic violence and gore which will be too intense for preteens. DO NOT bring children to this movie.

One other curious note: There is a song by pop group Marilyn Manson which is being promoted as part of the sound track of this film. You can hear it if you stick around until the end of the closing credits. I guess it is included to attempt to bring the younger demographic to see the movie, although I doubt they will embrace it anyway. I'm reminded of a song that was popular in the early 90's which was billed as part of the Batman 2 soundtrack. I think I watched the film 4 times before I found out that it is only included at the end of the credits. For future reference, no song should ever be considered as part of a movie soundtrack if it is only included in the closing credits.

So, I wasn't disappointed by the movie, but old Joe had a different opinion. He concluded that it was one of the sorriest movies he had ever seen. So I know I'm on solid footing giving this movie a good recommendation.

Last Week: The Banger Sisters:

This movie could have been titled Shallow, Pathetic Losers On Parade, but it is less likely anyone would have gone to see it. That would have been something of a public service and a blow for truth in advertising but I expect much less out of the world these days.

If Oscars were given to movies on the basis of contrived plots and inconsistant storylines, this film would take home a truckload of gold. Unfortunately for everyone involved with this cinematic equivalent to the eruption of Krakatoa, Oscars are given on artistic merit. Consequently, the prospects that it will be given any consideration in any category in 2003 are equivalent to the Detroit Lions chances of winning the Super Bowl next January.

Goldie Hawn stars as Suzette, an aging former rock groupie who is still employed in some sort of rock oriented dive bar in West Hollywood. We gather that she has worked there all of her "adult" life, not that its immediately apparent that she has ever achieved anything resembling adulthood. Its quite evident that her employment status is on shaky ground, and the inevitable quickly happens when her boss fires her. That isn't too much of a shock, because most places don't hand out paychecks for drinking and hanging out. Nonetheless, Suzette is shocked and devastated when she gets the heave ho.
With no where else to turn, she decides to visit her old friend Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) who now lives a quiter life in Phoenix. But enroute, she picks up a failed screenwriter wannabe (Geoffry Rush) who is returning to his hometown intent on fulfilling a birthday wish by murdering his father.

When Suzette arrives in Phoenix, she sees Lavinia in her plush surroundings, preparing to send one of her two daughters (Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri) off to prom. In the years since they have seen each other and shared the company of rock stars, Lavinia has married a successful lawyer with political aspirations and appears happy and comfortable. Immediately, Suzette begins to realize what a pile of shit her life is.

Suzette returns to the hotel where the writer she met is staying, having decided not to drop in on Lavinia afterall. But by a twist of fate, Suzette comes to the aide of Lavinia's daughter, who is on a bad trip after taking acid at her prom. The girl's prom just happens to be at the same hotel, which seems incredibly likely in a city the size of Phoenix.

So Suzette changes her mind about seeing Lavinia, but the latter isn't all that fond of the idea initially. She is attempting to hide her former wild life now, but suddenly gets the urge to return to her wilder roots. Consequently, Suzette and Lavinia go out and have a wild night on the town, much to the shock of Lavinia's husband and daughters.

As close as I could tell, the point writer/director Bob Dolman was trying to make here is that money can't buy happiness. Its time to break the heart of the world folks: Yes it can. Or, maybe Dolman was trying to tell us that if you are poor and kind of wild, life sucks. And if you are well-to-do and drab and have actually put the indiscretions of youth behind you, life also sucks.

I just don't know. If I want a lecture on astrophysics, I'd rather listen to Stephen Hawking than Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. Similarly, Bob Dolman didn't provide me with any indication that he knew what the hell he was talking about in this film. Somehow, I just don't think Lavinia was any better off back in her younger days when she was indiscretely screwing rock stars. Let's face it folks; for all the adorations that are often poured on the musical icons of the last couple of generations, going to bed with most of them would be one grade above bestiality.

The worst part of this film was the casting. Susan Sarandon is cranking out films lately like she is invested heavily in the rapidly tanking stock market. Unfortunately, half the time she can't seem to decide what movie she is in. Goldie Hawn just didn't have the kind of face with enough mileage on it to convincingly portray an over-the-hill former groupy. And Geoffry Rush played his role with all the enthusiasm of a man who took the role because Dolman had some embarrasing pictures of him with Peewee Herman or something.

There are some implied timelines in this film that don't work very well either. The daughter that goes to prom is class valedictorian at her graduation about two days after prom. And Vivian and Suzette glibly discuss sleeping with Jim Morrison, although they mention splitting 20 years ago, so I guess old Jimmy must have been buried with some statuory rape on his conscious. Not that I'd be shocked by that. In any event, I'd be willing to bet that Sarandon will end up discussing this film in the future with all the enthusiasm she musters for her role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Last Week: Under The Tuscan Sun:

It is sort of difficult to come up with phrases to adequately describe this movie. No, wait a minute. Maybe it isn't; steaming pile, festering wound, tub of goo...oh, a few others do come to mind, but most of them really aren't the kind of thing I'd feel comfortable printing here. Let's just leave it with the note that somebody should have swept Under The Tuscan Sun under the Tuscan carpet.

Before I really get into discussing this film, I want to mention something that puzzles me. This is about the dozenth or so film I've seen about the life of a professional writer. I assume that the people who write the scripts for films are also professional writers...or poorly rewarded chimpanzees in some cases. But I presume they are well aware that in order to make a living as a writer, you actually have to go through the pains of writing and selling something once in awhile. So why is it that writers in movies never actually have to do anything? How do they subsist for months at a time with no income whatsoever?

Diane Lane stars as Frances, a writer and novel critic. She seems to have an idylic life until she runs into another author whose book she reviewed harshly. He informs her that her husband is carrying on with some young floozy. Naturally, she ends up in divorce court a short time later.

Since Frances lives in San Francisco, her two closest friends are a lesbian couple who try to persuade her to get away from it all after the divorce by taking a trip to Tuscany. Upon realizing what a pile of shit her life has become, while living in an apartment building catering to the recently divorced, she decides to take the trip. Off she goes on a healing junket to Italy.

Once there, she mysteriously decides to buy a crappy old villa which is being sold by some aging countess. Just what possesses her to think that buying the Italian answer to Eddie Arnold's Green Acres farm is a good idea we can't figure out. But she persuades the countess to sell her the house after a bird craps on her head. Apparently in Italy, having a bird crap on your head is some sort of lucky symbol. I guess things like that evolve in countries that have gotten their asses kicked in every war that has been fought for the last 1500 years.

Frances goes about restoring the old house, although it appeared to me that tearing it down and starting over would have been a better solution. I also don't really know just how good of an idea it would be for a single American woman to suddely settle in an Italian village. I'm not even sure if immigration laws there would make such a thing feasible. American laws are pretty liberal in matters like that, by comparison to the rest of the world. Pretty much anybody can settle here as long as they aren't a communist. You can't come here if you were a Nazi between 1938 and 1945 either. But that is probably a good prohibition. And if any of us happen to be looking for a really loyal friend in this life, who isn't going to be tempted to seek out someone who joined the Nazis in 1946?

The really fortunate thing for Frances is that everyone in the little town she lives in seems to speak reasonably fluent English. I'm pretty confident that you can wander into just about any little hamlet in Italy and find 90% of the population speaking our language. But that is stated only half in jest. I will guarantee that there are a greater percentage of people in most of the cities in Italy who speak English than there are Americans who speak Italian in any of our towns. I can't for the life of me figure out why so many Americans view that fact as a source of pride.

Eventually Frances gets lonely, so she ventures into Rome and meets the hottest looking guy this side of Mt. Olympus. Naturally, he is single. Hours later, they are rutting like minks in heat, and promising to repeat the experience as often as possible in the future. The mere fact that this guy isn't already either married, or already bagging half the chicks in Italy strains the crediblity of the encounter to the breaking point. But if this movie weren't playing on absurd plotpoints, nothing would be going on at all.

Frances and her beau try to get together again, but their efforts are always complicated by something. The most prominent was a sudden visit she receives from one of her old dyke friends. It seems that her partner has run out on her, and now her life has become shitty too. So she runs off to Italy. I started to get the feeling that Italy has the same sort of appeal to broken- hearted American women that the French Foreign Legion had to lovelorn American and British men a century ago. That is a curious revelation, because not once in my mounting decades on this planet have I ever heard of a jilted American woman dashing off to Italy.

Our heroine and her lover never get together again. She tries to get back with him, but is left shattered again when she locates him playing hanky panky with another woman in the north lands. Apparently this sculptured model of ideal Italian manhood couldn't keep it dry for more than about 3 weeks, so poor Frances got it in the shorts yet again. So just when she was about to convince herself that she wasn't a total moron for running off to Italy in the first place, she begins to suspect that her life is still a piece of shit. She is right of course, but she isn't what you would call a quick study.

Eventually, she begins to find some happiness in small ways, then in big ways when she encounters yet another young American writer who's novel she trashed in a review. This lady apparently trashed so many books she might well have earned a reputation as the literary world's answer to the K.A.W. movie reviews. But the writer is young, handsome and horny, and they are soon making the bedsprings squeak under the Tuscan sun, or after the Tuscan sundown. I really didn't care which. I was just happy to see this refuse bin of cinematic ennui fade to black.

Last Week: Surviving Christmas:

Once again, Hollywood has opened the gates of hell upon us. Last year, they unleashed a dreadful, stinking, festering wound of a movie called Bad Santa upon the world, purporting to provide a taste of the darker side of the Christmas holiday. Most critics loved it, which pretty much sums up why this page is necessary if for no other reason than to prevent the world from slipping over the precipice of apocalypse.

If I caught the point of Surviving Christmas correctly, the folks in Tinseltown are now attempting to go the "Christmas really sucks" theme one better. This movie seems to be trying to tell us that the only thing worse than Christmas is spending Christmas with Ben Affleck.

I'm not sure about that, but I'm fairly sure that nothing could drag down the Christmas holiday any worse than a comedy starring Ben Affleck. Lets face it, the man is working so hard on destroying his leading man image that you'd think he is trying to disappear into the witness protection program.

Even allowing him a pass for that retarded superhero movie he tried last year, the awful spectre of Gigli follows him like stench to a skunk. Did J-Lo slap him with a palimony suit he is trying to dodge, hence the overpowering need to pull a vanishing act?

"Ben Affleck" and comedy go together like "Fox News" and "fair and impartial." For that matter, its not really a mystery why the studio chose to release an erstwhile Christmas movie a week before the kids have gone on their annual candy begging ritual. This movie has a creepy atmosphere much better suited to Halloween.

If you really want to get the essential flavor of this movie, imagine "prozac starved Donald Trump visits the Bundys." Drew (Ben Affleck) is an advertising millionaire who has just split with his prissy girlfriend, Missy (Jennifer Morrison) prior to the Christmas holidays. Just how many days before Christmas this occurs is a little puzzling, but the timeline of the film makes it seem like the Thanksgiving turkey must not have even been cooled off yet.

Not wishing to be alone at Christmas, Drew more or less picks out a suburban family at random and offers them $250,000 if they will pretend to be his relatives at Christmas. He choses the Valcos, Tom (James Gandolfini) and Christine (Catherine O'Hara.) Little is he aware that Tom and Chrisine are preparing to divorce after the holidays.

Tom and Christine have a son, Brian (Josh Zuckerman) who spends most of his time alone in his bedroom pulling up porn on the internet. That was a pretty convienent device to keep Zuckerman off camera, since in his few appearances in the film, he looked like he had wandered onto the set by accident, looking for a McDonalds.

The Valcos also have a daughter, Alica, who is the mirror image of Drew's ex, Missy. Alicia is smart, non materialistic and completely unimpressed by Drew. Gee, do you think these two are going to end up falling in love and producing 1.5 children?

Naturally, Drew's antics completely disrupt the Valco's Christmas, not that it was going to be great anyway. Along the way, he manages to heal a lot of their family wounds, as well as his own, because that is exactly what we expect will ultimately happen. This movie is so painfully predictable that the plot developments couldn't have been more completely telegraphed if copies of the script had been handed out prior to the movie, accompanied by a 45 minute lecture.

So what do we have here? A predictable story line, stereotyped characters, Ben Affleck's inept timing and an indictment of the darker side of the holiday season poorly wrapped in a film released, mercifully, 4 weeks earier than a studio that wasn't run by idiots would release a Christmas film. Then again, this one stands a decent shot of being released on DVD before Christmas, giving us all an opportunity to buy something really bad for those annoying relatives.

Last Week: Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story:

Don't you just love it when the people who make a movie are so carried away with their own desire to feed us a line of bullshit that they stick it right in the title? The next thing you know, the government will be attempting the same crap. I can see it all now-- The War in Iraq: Inspired by weapons of mass destruction.

It's not bad enough that I've seen this movie before. I've already seen this movie this year. Oh sure, it was early in the year, so I guess I am supposed to have forgotten. And the central character in that movie was a zebra, not a horse. That is what in Hollywood passes for a big difference these days.

I looked all over the web trying to find a true story upon which this movie might actually be based. In an utter fit of final desperation, I looked at the film's website, figuring that if the people who made it a had an ounce of integrity, they might relate some fragment of the "true story." No such luck. The synopsis of the film was printed, but no reference to the source of the story.

But if you want to treat yourself to a real hoot, there is a link where you can watch a video of the film's star, Dakota Fanning, becoming a girl scout. The link is appropriately titled: WATCH DAKOTA FANNNING BECOME A GIRL SCOUT. I suppose that might hold some appeal for somebody out there. I shudder to think who might be clicking on that link.

I'm going to save the address for this film's official website though, and see how long they continue to update it. Since the clock on the expiration of Dakota Fanning's career is fast ticking down toward zero, the guess here is that the girl scout link is going to be replaced real soon. If Dakota follows the path of most washed up child actors, it won't be that difficult to predict the new links that will be appearing on that site:





You all get the idea. The main problem with Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story isn't just that I've seen it before, this year. I've seen it before several times. We think of National Velvet, Flicka the original Sea Biscuit with Shirley Temple, and every other girl and her horse movie in the history of the universe. There isn't a single new element in this film. Its just a rehash of every other horse racing movie ever made.

Kurt Russell appears in this film as Dakota's dad, Ben, mostly because even Hollywood stars with big names are feeling the crunch of gasoline prices these days. He is a horse breeder in charge of a promising filly named Sonador. On the day of a big race, Ben doesn't think Sonador should run, but her nasty boss insists. Sonador breaks a leg and the owner wants to put her down. But Ben offers to take her, and gets fired in the process.

Ben believes he can make a fortune nursing her back to health and breeding her, but she turns out to be infertile. But soon they find out that she is healthy enough to race again, so they enter her in the Breeder's Cup race and actually win!

That shouldn't be a plot spoiler, because anyone who can't figure out that Sonador is going to win the race is a low grade moron. I apparently shared the theater with about 150 of the aforementioned, because an astonishing number of people actually applauded when Sonador won the race. I was left to wonder what planet these folks dropped down from.

The movie isn't bad family fare, and I suspect it is going to be a pleasant surprise at the box office. But I wanted to make note of one other tidbit I saw in the review on the IMBD website while researching it. That review noted that there is a website that lists winners for the past 70 years. I'm not sure what site they were referring to...there wasn't any such link on the film's official site. I'm also curious about what winners are so listed, since the Breeder's Cup has only been run since 1984.

POST SCRIPT: A little further research reveals that the true story upon which this film is based is the story of a horse named Mariah's Storm. Her owner was a boy, not a girl, and she never ran in the Breeder's Cup. In effect, this film is about as similar to the real story upon which it is supposedly based as Major League is to the real life story of the Colorado Rockies.

Last Week: Night At The Museum:

The surprise box-office hit of the holiday season has definitely been NIght At The Museum. It was a runaway #1 at theaters its opening weekend, and appears to be heading for another top spot finish this weekend. Critics haven't been wildly enthusiastic about it, but then again, most of them get paid for being assholes. See? Another reason why you shouldn't bother with any other movie reviews. I do the same thing for free.

Critics were pretty friendly to Rocky Balboa, but the general public has been wildly lukewarm about the final installment in the series. Word is that Rocky dies at the end of the movie, and even Stallone's harshest critics aren't turning out to watch that happen. If you are Sylvester Stallone, and you see that people would rather watch Ben Stiller putter around a museum than watch one of the best known characters in movie history, I think you can conclude that your lunch ticket has been punched once or twice too often.

Oh, sure, word has it that Stallone is going to revive John Rambo again. This time he'll probably free a couple of fellow seniors being held hostage in the basement of the senior center by Nurse Crachett. Word is that Stallone is also firing up his dream project, a biographical film about Edgar Allen Poe. No kidding. Can't you see that one playing out?

There is Edgar sitting alone one night with a mother of a case of writer's block, when all of the sudden a raven flies in and says, "Yo! Neveamoe!" I think I need to call a time-out here. I'm going to be sick.

***********brief pause***************

I suppose that Stallone might also consider another possibility now that the Rocky series has come to an end. He can always do six remakes! Naturally, Stallone is too old now to play the title character himself, but he can always take over directing duties, and the scripts are already written, with perhaps a few minor modifications.

Here is how I see the new casting:

Rocky: Gilbert Godfried (Yes, I was tempted to say Tim Curry, but he IS too old.)

Adrian: Paris Hilton

Paulie: Paulie Shore...that way he can remember his character name...and so can Stallone

Clubber Lang: Gary Coleman

Mickie: Burgess Meredith (hey, this thing might as well be disgusting)

Oh, yah. We are discussing a different movie. Night At The Museum features Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs and Anne Meara. All of them look like they belong in a museum, rather than appearing in a movie about one. I have to give Rooney a little credit though. The man doesn't look like he has aged a day in the last 20 years. For that matter, Van Dyke appears to be drinking from the same fountain.

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced dad who can't seem to find a direction in life. Then he happens upon a job as a night watchman in a Natural History museum. What he doesn't know is that because of an ancient Egyptian tablet on display, everything in the museum comes to life at night.

To further complicate matters, the aging trio of retiring nightwatchmen are also enjoying benefits from the tablet. It is evidently a sort of fountain of youth. So they decide to steal it. Thus Larry, a wax statue of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and a host of other museum pieces must band together to foil the plot, lest they lose the ability to come to life.

The whole thing sounds a bit absurd, and no fan of Ben Stiller am I. Yet somehow, the whole thing is surprisingly refreshing and entertaining. Some of the visual effects are magnificent, and the plotline, while thin, manages to sustain our interest for two hours.

The film might have been better if edited down to about 90 minutes, and Stiller might not have been the best casting choice. He does little more in the film than try to act astonished and take a few pratfalls. But the film is an enjoyable enough diversion for a couple hours, and might even make people realize, once again, that museums are pretty cool.

Previously: W:

I don't know how much of this movie is down the line factual. But I do know one thing: Trying times do not always spawn great leaders. That is pure mythology. Sometimes they spawn overpowering mediocrities, or worse. Submitted for your consideration, one George W. Bush.

The only thing more painful than sitting through this movie was living through the last 8 years, and this movie really only covered 4 of them. Thank goodness the last 4 years were passed over. Another 2 hours and twenty minutes of this film would have been as painful as...well 4 years with McBush and Caribou Barbie. May the wisdom of the electorate prevail.

Now, the question is obvious: Just how hard up was Oliver Stone to find a subject for a film? Right now, does anyone want to see a movie about George W. Bush? One could understand in 20 or 30 years if some interest arises in the question, just how bad can one moron screw up America? George W. Bush's legacy to the Presidency is about the same as Captain Edward Smith's legacy to sailing luxury liners.

An utterly pointless war, the nation's infrastructure in a shambles, runaway deregulation to the point that the food we eat is no longer safe and the banks we put our money in are going under daily. Energy costs are soaring and the people in Washington are running around acting like the problem fell out of the sky yesterday, when in fact some of us were screaming in the woods 3 decades ago. And, his V.P. shot a guy.

Incidentally, that problem won't necessarily go away if you vote for McCain. Sarah Palin likes shooting things too. Most of you have seen the photo of her with the dead caribou, her very young daughter seated by her side. Palin doesn't like wolves either. She supports shooting them out of airplanes. In fact, she even put a bounty on wolves. Most of the people in Alaska aren't too keen about the practice of shooting wolves out of airplanes, but Ms. Pro Life Palin doesn't see anything wrong with it.

She says that killing wolves is necessary to protect the population of caribou, so that there will be plenty of them for her to hunt and kill. The logic there escapes me, and considering that human hunters play a different role in nature than normal predators and actually do more harm than good, everyone pretty much knows the argument is bullshit. So maybe, Ms. Palin just hates wolves for some reason or another.

It's hard to imagine that the vendetta is personal. Afterall, since 1800, there have been exactly 5 documented and confirmed cases of healthy wolves attacking and killing humans in North America. Only one of those was in Alaska, and 3 of them involved wolves that were being kept as pets. The practise of keeping wolves as pets is probably a bad idea, but it's hard not to suspect that since 1800, 3 people have probably died from tripping over Chihuahuas. So I don't know what Ms. Palin's problems with wolves is. Maybe she had childhood nightmares after watching a Lon Chaney Jr. movie.

But getting back to this movie, one of the major themes involves Dubya's lifelong urge to somehow please George H.W. Bush, aka "Pappy." It should be noted that Jeb Bush denies that the relationship is quite as complicated as this movie depicts, but who really knows? This isn't the most functional family on the planet. Dubya was a boozer and probably druggy for a good share of his life. His brother Neil ripped off every little old lady in Colorado, then most of the taxpayers in America with the whole Silverado Savings debacle. Jeb is kind of weird, and Barbara looks like someone you might see riding a broomstick. Pappy is so annoying it's no real wonder all the kids and grandkids are screwed up.

So, one good thing will probably come out of the nightmare of the past 8 years, and it isn't this movie. Hell will probably freeze over before anyone else named Bush gets elected President. The Republicans are probably also going to have to take a hard look at a lot of their world views before a lot of Americans are willing to buy into any more of their crap too.

Okay, one other point. Reviews have been pretty irregular the past few months, and I did intend to get back on a regular schedule a couple months ago. But I did warn you at the beginning of the year, that this might be a pretty spartan year. We are definitely feeling the effects of last year's writer's strike, and the result has been the appalling crap fest of the past few months. That isn't going to change a lot soon, but we are getting into the time of the year where more promising releases are appearing, and I do have one sitting on deck right now that I just haven't written yet. So thanks for your patience, and things will be getting back to normal now.

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