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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:



Last Week: Bedazzled:

Succeeding at the task of disappointing me in a movie is about as difficult as sneaking a steak dinner past Luciano Pavoratti. This week, Harold Ramis, Brandon Fraser et al. actually managed to succeed at the task with their new film Bedazzled. Just this morning I read on CNN that 85% of all lightening fatalities are males. This little bit of trivia doesn't have all that much to do with the movie, maybe its just a bit of wishful thinking. I'm guessing that since more than 85% of movies are predominately male constructed projects, there may be some odds in our favor here for nature's vengence against the guilty parties. This movie was nothing short of a crime against nature.

I didn't really have high expectations for this film, but I figured that with the assembled talent, it had to be worth a least a few laughs. Ramis has been at the helm of numerous successful comedies before, and his sense of humor is usually cutting and on target. This movie was so thoroughly unfunny I can only wonder if Ramis penned the script five minutes after he caught his wife cheating on him and ran down stairs to witness his dog dying of a massive cardiac arrest. The total lack of anything humorous in this comedy earned it my lowest rating at K.A.W., which is of course, "it sucked as bad as Eyes Wide Shut." The principle difference is, of course, that at least Stanley Kubrick had the good taste to die after he dropped such a pathetic bomb on the movie going public. Ramis is going to be around for awhile, hopefully with an opportunity to redeem himself.

Meanwhile, we turn our attentions to Brendan Fraser, who is not a moron, but usually plays one on the screen. You'd have thought that after playing Dudley DooRight, Fraser would have had a pretty long and serious talk with his agent.

Clearly that conversation is long overdue. In fact, there is no jury in the world that would convict Fraser of anything but justifyable homocide if his agent were murdered horribly at this point. One more role like this and the next entry on his show business resume is likely to be: "Busboy at Country Dinner Playhouse."

I read something else interesting at CNN this morning. Apparently at the premier of this movie, Elizabeth Hurley, who plays the devil in this movie, was roundly booed by the premier attendees. The spin was that Hurley was being booed for appearing in a commercial which was filmed during the actor's guild strike. I'm guessing that it possibly could have had something to do with her performance in this film: And the sad footnote is that she, or at least her costumes, were actually the best thing in the movie. The guess here is that she was the only cast member at the premier, since a full blown riot didn't break out.

As I sat through 90 painful minutes of this trash, pondering hanging myself with tied together soda straws, I could only wonder how this film ever got made in the first place. The answer dawned upon me as I was watching the credits roll. This film awarded credits to about 40 stunt men, a host of assorted gofers, assistant and associate gofers, a basketball consultant, and a dizzying array of people who couldn't have had very much to do. I can't ever recall seeing a simple comedy that credited the efforts of so many people. It therefore dawned upon me that this movie was more or less a welfare project for just about everybody Ramis has known in his life. He'd have been better off just cutting them checks for doing nothing, which is probably exactly what most of the people associated with the production of this film did.

Bedazzled is a remake of an old Dudley Moore film made a couple of decades ago. That wasn't a particularly good movie either. Apparently everywhere in the world except Hollywood it is common folk knowledge that 30 year old trash only gets staler with time. This is basically another "sell your soul to the devil and suffer the consequences" genre piece. The Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) offers Stanley (Brendan Fraser) seven wishes in exchange for his soul. What Fraser really wants is the affections of Margaret (Frances O' Conner), but he is a geek and she doesn't even know he's alive.

The setup is supposed to provide the comic slap: Fraser wishes for wealth and power, but is transformed into a Columbian drug lord. Then he wants to attract Margaret through sensitivity, but is somehow transformed into an even more pathetic loser than he already is. He then returns to the dream of fame and riches, but wants to do something above the board and honest. The devil makes him an NBA star with a small male reproductive organ. Wishing instead for intellect, riches and fame, the devil makes him gay. All of it is annoying, none of it is funny.

Demonic possession seems to be a pretty hot subject in Hollywood these days: Maybe they are just trying to annoy the Republicans. One way or another, I think its time to move on to some other obsession. Can anyone out there make a comedy that is actually funny without parading an endless stream of obsenities and bodily functions past the audience? My guess is that its a lost art, but I'll keep hoping. In the meantime, the advice to K.A.W. readers is to skip Bedazzled and rent George of the Jungle if you really need a Brendan Fraser fix this weekend. I never thought I'd say this about any movie, but George was better.

Last Week:K-Pax:

This is apparently what passes for delicious irony in Hollywood these days: Jeff Bridges starred as a space alien in the reasonably good sci-fi movie Starman most of a quarter of a century ago. In K-Pax he plays the role of a psychiatrist who has a patient who claims to be a space alien. Wow, we are just drowning the the karma, aren't we?

Actually, about the only thing I can personally think of that sucks more than a movie where they set you up with a vividly telegraphed "surprise" ending is a movie where they leave you to draw your own conclusion about what really happened. In my mind, it ranks right up there with going to a concert in which the performers ask you to sing along. HELLO! I don't want to sing along, and I don't want to hear the loser next to me singing along. I want to hear the performers up on the stage singing. That is why I am there.

So we have this movie, K-Pax, which shoots 2 hours of our lives we can never get back, and it tells us a story which could have been told in 10 minutes, then leaves us to draw our own conclusion. Bullshit!...Oh, okay. I'll draw a conclusion: This freaking movie ate like Rosanne Arnold at a three buck buffet.

Lets be quite clear here: This movie did not need to be anywhere near 2 hours long. So what was going on during most of the movie? We had something that looked like a very extended "Kodak: Capture the moment" commerical and a lot of scenes of Kevin Spacey looking stone faced and wooden. Gee, didn't we see that in American Beauty? Yes. There are also more than the required number of scenes of Jeff Bridges brooding. Old ladies three rows down started throwing candy at the screen just to see if they could get a reaction. It was not pretty.

Okay, Jeff Bridges is psychiatrist Mark Powell, who is apparently the greatest psychiatrist in New York City, where a couple of scenes that might have shown the World Trade Center in the background were hastily airbrushed out so that the background sky is occassionally a weird yellow color that NEVER occurs in nature. His patient is Kevin Spacey, who calls himself Prot (pronounced like oat). Powell doesn't believe Prot is really from K-Pax, yet his delusion is so convincing he can't quite figure out how to draw the patient out of it.

Further disturbing is that Prot has astronomical knowledge that is otherwise limited to a handful of astronomers who have only recently discovered the solar system Prot claims to be from. Fortunately, Powell's brother-in-law is not only an astronomer, but on of the few who is in on the knowledge. So Powell is confounded by Prot's curious astronomical abilities.

Curiously, it never occurs to the astronomers to ask any of a series of questions that a really advanced intelligence might know to the exclusion of earth capability. For instance, one might ask for a simple and straightforward solution to Fermit's last thereom. But such opportunities are allowed to slip by. Still, Prot makes cautious believers of them.

Powell remains skeptical, and decides to attempt hypnotic regression to draw the truth from his patient. Now, at this point we might note that no reputable psychiatrist on the planet would attempt hypnotic regression. The general concensus in the psychiatriatic community is that hypnosis is a useful tool to allow people to relax on stage enough to cluck like chickens, but not to reveal anything about their tortured past. The general suspicion is that hypnosis can't even help a patient remember what happened 5 minutes ago, let alone 5 years ago. So we realize how fictional the story is.

If you are still awake by the end, the movie leaves you wondering, and never answers the question it poses from the opening moment. Contrast that to a similar movie I saw a few weeks ago, Happy Accidents. It similarly steers you in various directions, but ultimately provides a definitive ending. Its a better movie as well, which doesn't have to rely on a lot of TV commerical filler to flesh it out into a feature film.

Its not that I'm necessarily regretting not having invested my time on 13 Ghosts instead, because the critical buzz on that one is pretty brutal. And if we really need some "delicious irony" out of Hollywood these days, why don't we take a shot at this: Instead of cheap gimmicks, how about a decent movie?

Last Week: Sweet Home Alabama:

If you have ever watched The Andy Griffith show and found yourself seriously wondering why none of the guys in Mayberry are married, you'll probably really enjoy Sweet Home Alabama. I want to draw a very critical distinction here. The question of why none of the guys who live in Mayberry are married may have occured to you, but you quickly realized that the answer was overwhelmingly self evident, so you moved on to other intellectual pursuits. But if you have ever actually spent a lot of time trying to figure it out, you will like this movie.

You see, to most of us, the answer is really painfully obvious. I mean, Goober, Gomer, Barney, Floyd the Barber...women around Mayberry must buy bus tickets and hold the driver at gunpoint ordering him to floor the accelerator and clear the county as quickly as possible about 10 seconds after the onset of puberty. The alternative is to find themselves actually passing the genetic heritage of one of these guys on to the next generation after a drunken interlude at Otis's still. Why the hell do you think Otis was the only guy in town who was married?

So we have this movie Sweet Home Alabama, in which an ambitious young woman named Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) actually manages to escape the Alabama answer to Mayberry...Pigeon Poop, Alabama or some such. Then she defies all reasonable probability by hitting it big in the fashion industry despite an apparently complete lack of education.

She also falls in love with a wealthy, powerful and handsome young man who happens to be the Mayor's son, and figures to end up being President of the United States someday. At least if his mayor mom (Candice Bergen) has anything to say about it. In other words, her whole life has somehow transformed into a wildy unlikely fairytale of a proportion that makes the credibility of the movie about as difficult to swallow as Florida election integrity.

But there is just one problem. Poor Melanie had sort of a wild childhood, and she ended up marrying Pigeon Poop's future heir apparant to Otis Campbell. The only difference is that he hasn't put on 200 pounds yet, but we are certain its inevitable. His name is Jake or Goober or something (Josh Lucas). Melanie's new boyfriend proposes marriage to her in an elaborate fashion, but she has never bothered to clue him in about Goober back home, so she finds it necessary to journey back to Alabama in order to get him to sign divorce papers which he has refused to return for several years.

Now at this point, we quickly begin wondering why Melanie didn't just trust the affections of her new man, and simply come clean. Clearly, it wouldn't have been much of a problem for her intended to contact Don Vitto Corleone, and have him send a little muscle down to Dixie. I suspect that Goober would have quickly succumbed to persuasion and a bottle of Scotch, and the whole matter would have been safely behind Melanie. Instead, she has to take matters into her own hands.

The remainder of the movie's plot disolves into a formula piece in which Melanie and her husband reunite, and bicker endlessly and annoyingly. But along the way, Melanie discovers that she is still rooted into Pigeon Poop, and she still loves Goober. Why? You may ask. So did we...even after seeing the movie. She has an opportunity for a spectacular fashion career, and to potentially end up living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But she flushes it to reconcile with the future town drunk. In other words, this movie managed to achieve the impossible by becoming even more implausible after feeding us a wildly unlikely setup.

If the overall plot of the movie wasn't ridiculous in itself, we are supposed to believe that Melanie is wildy successful as a fashion designer as well. I don't know who was responsible for the costume design in this flick, but Reese Witherspoon is probably facing a life sentence the moment the fashion police catch up with her. Okay, I'll fully confess to the body of Kexkateers that I don't really know jack about women's fashions. But much like art, I know what I like. The crap Witherspoon was squeezing into in Sweet Home Alabama would have sent the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz into fits of profound depression.

This travesty was directed by Andy Tennant, who is has built a mystifyingly successfuly career filming wildly unlikely love stories. His last effort was Anna and the King, in which he remade one of history's most beloved musicals without any music. The appeal of that story has always alluded me anyway: a love story involving one of literature's most notorious psychotic meglomaniacs. He also is the guilty party responsible for the nearly unwatchable Ever After, a Cinderella adaptation with the unfortunate mistake of casting Drew Barrymore in the lead, and equally sickening efforts like Fools Rush In and It Takes Two.

Now we get a nice love story about a shallow, self-centered bitch who escapes Pigeon Poop, Alabama and hits it big in New York City, but grows her character by evolving into a stupid, shallow self-centered bitch. Wow, was that a fun transformation to watch. Just a quick idea here Andy: Next time you want to burden me with one of your love stories, just send me a note in advance. I'll save you the trouble by buying myself a plane ticket to Alabama and allowing mosquitos to eat me alive.

Last Week: Intolerable Cruelty:

Its actually pretty easy to offer a summation of how bad this movie is. Under normal circumstances, I don't think my wife would have much of a problem watching a six hour film of George Clooney raking his leaves. It would probably hold her interest. However, about 10 minutes into this film, she was sawing off some pretty hefty snores.

That didn't matter much. The "crowd" in the theater was comparable to what you might expect to see attending a late Friday afternoon freshman philosophy class. It would seem that this movie isn't generating a lot of interest in terms of getting people into the theater, then its downright dismal at keeping their attention once the lights go down and the show actually starts.

Intolerable Cruelty isn't just the title of this film. Its practically a bow to truth in advertising. Sitting through this ode to boredom is as close to truly intolerable cruelty as any human being should have to endure. If there is anything to be gathered from the experience of sitting through this film, its the revelation that George Clooney has a pretty poor dentist. Early in the film, we are forced to assimilate the image of a blacklight closeup of his teeth. I didn't want to see that. My wife didn't even want to see that.

Hell, in the last year, I've had to broaden the horizons of my existance with two undesired lessons on the specific anatomy of George Clooney. In a crappy sci-fi movie called Solaris (see archives) I reviewed a little less than a year ago, we were exposed to a pair of visions of Georgie's butt. Now we've had to see an overblown vision of his teeth. Suffice it to say that I really, really don't want to see much more of Clooney's private anatomy.

In this movie, Clooney portrays a brilliant butt burned-out and cynical divorce attorney. Clooney is so jaded by the realites of his profession, that he is losing faith in the concept of love. But his interests are piqued by the wife of one of his clients, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Clooney is representing her philandering husband, but the moment he sees her, its love (lust?) at first site. Clooney hopes that as soon as she is shaken loose of her hubby, he can move in on her himself.

But Clooney successfully defends her husband, leaving her without a dime in the settlement. Since she married the guy with the intent of getting a big divorce settlement in the first place, she goes after a new trophy. As it turns out, she is now wanting to drop the anvil on Clooney, both out of revenge and to fulfill her objectives for comfort and wealth.

But poor old George believes that true love has come into his life, and makes an impassioned speech about love at a convention in Las Vegas. His speech is so gooey and grotesque it almost seemed to have wandered onto the screen from some other movie. Even so, it was a step above most of the proceedings in this film.

Billy Bob-Thornton makes a brief appearance in this film, and his performance is drawing some rave reviews in numerous quarters. Another will decidedly not be added here. I've seen Thornton in some roles I've enjoyed. Probably the most recent was Primary Colors, and I have to reach back quite a ways for that one. Since then, I haven't seen him in a role that actually enhances the quality of the film. His next opportunity to singlehandedly sink a celluloid project comes around Christmas time, when he will star as Davy Crockett in Alamo. I haven't seen the film yet or his performance. But from where I sit, casting Thornton in the role of Davy Crocket is right up there with giving Gary Coleman the lead in a remake of Tarzan.

The best single word I can think of to describe Intolerable Cruelty, aside from "boring" would be "formula." The utter absence of originality in Hollywood these days is producing a string of genre films that are so indistinguishable and so unmemorable that it almost seems that they could get away with releasing the same film with a new title about every 8 months. Maybe they are.

Meanwhile, I know that kicking a man while he is down is a pretty low thing to do, but some guys just have it coming. Here's to you Rush Limbaugh. Whoever had "three weeks" in the K.A.W. pool as to how long it would take for him to make some assinine racist statement on ESPN and get his ass fired can step forward and claim the prize. Now comes word that he is hooked on prescription pain-killers, and has been illegally acquiring them for several years. All I can say is, *snicker*

The man has called so many people down on drug abuse over the years, in such nasty ways, that this is nothing short of poetic justice. I think any sort of drug abuse is utterly idiotic and inexcusable. So I guess Rush is not only an idiot, but he is also a hypocrite. Let's see, let's add up the sum things we can call Limbaugh in a factual way now: "racist," "idiot," "drug-abuser" and "hypocrite." Doggone, add "rapist" and "nazi sympatherizer" to his resume and the man could be the next Republican govenor of California.

Last Week: The Incredibles:

It takes a long time to create an animated feature that has a really high quality appearance. As a consequence, its a really bad idea to get into a theme that is either topical or trendy. By the time you finally get your film into the theater, your trendy idea could be about as appealing to audiences as OzFest in Sun City.

The superhero genre has already been beaten down like Jerry Falwell in a moshe pit. After all of the Batmans and Spidermans and Punishers and Hulk and pretty much every other comic book hero already enshrined on the silver screen, Hollywood had already gone at least two steps to far cashing in.

Daredevil should have put the entire genre out to pasture once and for all, but Hollywood has always operated under the premise that you never stop beating the corpse until the flesh has completed rotted away. As a consequence, Halle Berry had to bury her own career a few years in advance of the superhero genre with last summers most disasterous release, Catwoman.

So now Disney/Pixar gets into the foray 2 years late and $30 million over budget with the early holiday animated spectacular, The Incredibles. That this is a good looking movie is not in question. But good looking animated features are a dime a dozen these days. With about a dozen new ones lining up for release in 2005, visual appeal isn't going to slice it anymore.

In this story, superheros are adored and worshipped in America, until people start getting weary of them saving people who don't want to be saved, and causing appalling property damage with their sometimes over the top antics. Sometimes, they aren't always terribly polite to their adoring public either.

Case in point is Mr Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) who is idolized by young Buddy Pine (Jason Lee). Buddy would like to be Mr. Incredible's ward/sidekick, but Mr Incredible thinks young Buddy is a pain in the ass, and brushes him off pretty harshly. Gee, do you think Buddy is going to grow up to be some sort of evil genious, and nemesis to Mr. Incredible?

With a public backlash against superheros, laws are passed to prevent them from exercising their powers. So Mr. Incredible has to get a regular job and live a normal life. He takes on the alter identity of Bob Parr, and insurance claims adjuster. He and his wife, Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter) raise their family of three, including two frusted teens and a baby.

The two older children have a very difficult time suppressing their urges to use their superpowers, but they are strictly prohibited from doing so. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible isn't having a much better time holding back his urges to save people. His passion gets him fired from his job, but just in time, he receives a mysterious offer for a job that will permit him to be a superhero again.

Little does he know that the offer is coming from the now grown up Buddy, who is recruiting superheros to test out an evil machine that is is preparing to unleash on the world. Buddy's plot is to unleash the doomsday machine, then swoop in and defeat it himself, so he will assume the role as the world's savior and greatest super hero.

Naturally Mr. Incredible gets himself in trouble, and the family has to come to the rescue. The kids finally get to use their superpowers, and finally, at long last, the film actually starts to get interesting. The last observation is the true and ultimate rub. This is an unusually long offering for animated fare. It has a running time of just under 2 hours. Unfortunately, the initial 90 minutes are more tedious than a weekend of listening to Kevin Costner read Crime and Punishment. Once the film does get rolling, it is extremely visually appealing, at times bordering on downright exhilarating.

Alas, smaller children, for whom this film isn't really suitable anyway, are never going to last anywhere near that long. I came pretty close to not lasting that long. The Incredibles wouldn't have suffered any from some deeper editing, taking it to a sleaker 90 minute standard. And if the superhero genre hadn't already been so thoroughly beaten to death, the entertainment value might have been higher as well.

Previously: Chicken Little (Digital 3D):

This movie proves two things. First of all, it is possible to make an animated movie that not only looks good, but has a decent story. That isn't exactly news. The Shrek license demonstrated that point twice. However, the team that created Shrek was effectively forced to sacrifice a great deal of the appeal for their primary audience, children, in order to entertain an adult taste as well.

The second point demonstrated by this movie is that roughly two-thirds of the professional reviewers in this country wouldn't know a fun, entertaining animated film if it beat them in the ass, hijacked their car, ran over them a couple of times, drove them to the hospital and spoon fed their vegatated, broken bodies for a month. Anyone who visits the Rotten Tomatoes website, which summarizes the critical reaction to almost every movie released will note that this film scored a rather sad 36% positive rating.

Of course, the regular readers of this page have largely already realized that visiting any other review site is a pathetic waste of time. For example, Steve Rhodes, of Internet Reviews quipped, "Boy does Disney need Pixar." Boy, does Steve Rhodes need a laxative and an I.Q. boost.

Incidentally, in case any of the readers here are unaware, Chicken Little is the first computer animated film Disney has done without the aid of Pixar. By my way of thinking, this film adequately demonstrates that Disney needs Pixar about as bad as New Orleans needs George Bush regulating the funding for its levees

How about this line: "For a movie that's supposed to launch Disney's official CGI era, Chicken Little doesn't stand tall enough."-- Bill Muller, ARIZONA REPUBLIC. For anyone who is unaware of the fact, Bill Muller stands 4'7". He still has to pull out a chair to raid the cookie jar. That is, when his mom has something in it. I have it on good authority that he still lives at his parent's home.

"Compared to the CG gems from Pixar, Chicken Little is stylistically inconsistent, narratively messy, and, well, just not much fun."--Bill Muller, Philadelphia Inquirer. Living in Philadelphia will do that to ones mind. After the Eagles broke Philadelphians heart yet again last year by losing the Super Bowl they had barely missed so many times, they've had to endure getting off to a mediocre start this year, capped off by getting their asses beat by the Broncos last week. The Phillies have made about 2 World Series appearances in their history, and the last time the Flyers won a Stanley Cup most of the players didn't wear helmets nor goalies masks. The only reason that anyone lives in Philadelphia is because they can't figure out how to get the hell out, and the only reason that anyone writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer is because they aren't good enough to write for the National Inquirer.

"Here's the source of the bird flu. Chicken Little is one of Disney's worst." -- Christopher Smith, BANGOR DAILY NEWS (MAINE) Has anyone in the history of the universe ever read any part of a movie review that appears in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News until now? (The answer to that one is, NO).

"If I was 6, I think I'd have had a good time, but Iím not and nothing I tried could make this go by any faster - I wanted to run screaming from the theater and warn everybody." -- Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone, THEMOVIECHICKS.COM. Okay bitch. When you turn 6, get back to us. We might listen to what you have to say.

"The movie did make me smile. It didn't make me laugh, and it didn't involve my emotions, or the higher regions of my intellect, for that matter."-- Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Rog baby, the higher regions of your intellect and a nickel will buy a piping hot cup of SQUAT! We've seen what YOUR movie making talents can produce: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: The only movie parody in history that was WORSE than the film it was spoofing.

Okay. enough of this crap. I liked this movie. I enjoyed it. The animation was good, I rather enjoyed the story, and the music was great. True, it wasn't an original soundtrack, but a combination of recent and older songs played well into the film. IMHO, this film is something of a Disney throwback storywise with modern technology for visual effect. Its the kind of film Disney used to make back when the film itself was the point of the experience, rather than a vehicle to sell Happy Meals at Mac.

I strongly recommend that if the film is showing near my readers in the Digital 3D format, you spend the extra couple of bucks and see it. But even if its just the regular movie experience, I think you'll enjoy this one. And on a personal note, Janet, Colin really did great this time!

Last Week: The Queen:

This movie scored an incredible 98% favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Somebody is going to have to explain that one to me. Are that many critics so clueless that anything in this film came as a magnificent revelation? The point of this exercise is that the Queen and her immediate family are clueless and detached. That is like standing up in front of America on national television and saying that The Donald is annoying and arrogant.

Our story begins just before the death of Princess Diana back in, oh hell, whatever year it was. I really don't give a crap. I didn't then either. Look folks, the whole lot of the British royalty represents a bunch of worthless human beings who hit the all time mother of a jackpot in the grand sperm lottery. Why does anyone care about any of them?

Anyway, Diana, who was recently divorced from Big Ears is drawing lots of press attention by cavorting all over the world with some rich Arab. The Queen (Helen Mirren) is obsessively stewing about it, probably because the relentless march of progress has denied her what she undoubtedly perceives as her ancestorial right to lop off the young woman's noodle.

Of course we could pause here to mention that it evidently doesn't bother Lizzy all that much that Bonnie Prince Elephant Lobes has been conducting an illicit affair for years. After all, he is a true blueblood, and as such, its his birthright to bang every chick in Europe if he so feels inclined. But once Diana got fed up with the whole miserable lot of them and took a hike, her escapades became a source of royal embarrassment.

Now, admittedly I have been a bit hard on HRH here. One can not entirely blame the poor lady for having a stick up her royal ass the size of Big Ben. She is married to her cousin, a man so useless he actually makes Neil Bush seem relevant. This is a guy who has a real fanatical jones for wearing dresses and shooting wild animals (at the same time). That would be weird even by San Francisco standards.

Then, suddenly, Diana dies. England goes into a state of wild mourning, which, in my view should have swept the entire country decades before Diana died. Anyway, while England engages in a mass national festival of peasant self-pity, the royals remain detached and evidently unconcerned. In reality, they could barely hide their glee, which was probably why they didn't want to present a public face.

Well, that isn't universally true. Prince Titanic Audio Sensors picks up on the public sentiment, and wants to give the public what it wants with a state funeral. So does newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was portrayed as attempting to fulfill the wishes of his constituency. The guess here is that in reality, Blair probably was enjoying the public humiliation of the monarchy almost as much as, well, I probably would have in the same situation. I kind of liked Tony Blair until he became Dubya's butt boy.

The Royals keep expecting the whole thing to blow over. They remain out of view and detached, and Prince I'M Relevant Because I Married My Cousin goes on wearing dresses and shooting at Bambi. (Insert your own West Virginia joke here)
Curiously, the people of the once great empire grow even more despondant and restless until eventually, the royals have to publically acknowledge Diana. They are humiliated, and Tony Blair gets to smile a lot. What he never ever does, is put on a dress; at least until Bush the younger gets elected.

There has been a lot of Oscar buzz around this film. Helen Mirren appears to be a near lock for Best Actress. The film itself may end up being a strong contender for Best Picture, unless the voters prefer a movie like Babel, which may be the only film in the world right now that even less people have seen.

I have a theory about Babel. I don't think there IS such a film. I think its a put up job by critics who can't find any other good movies to vote for this year. They hatched the idea, announced it was playing in a few dive theaters in a couple markets, then played a few Bugs Bunny/Road Runner cartoons to appease anyone who actually showed up. That folks, may be your Best Picture winner at this year's Oscars.

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