|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|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|
Last Week: Coyote Ugly:
I know. The collective eyebrows of the Kexkateers may permanently be stuck in the raised position this week. I really did go out and rent this movie. There was nothing to it. I boldly walked right up to that video counter, looked the friendly clerk in the eye, and said in an even and unquavering voice, This young lady would like to rent a movie. Yes, the K.A.W. reviews have become a real team effort.
We can put aside those seriously, badly, completely and pathetically whipped comments some of you may be considering at the moment too. Presenting this movie for review is perfectly legitimate. It did reasonably well at the box office last summer, and has taken off in rental as well, so there was absolutely no reason I shouldnt have given this movie due consideration. And never forget, Kex has shown the concern for his readers on many occasions to throw myself on cinematic handgrenades. You guys are starting to owe me big time.
John Goodman has become one of our favorite whipping boys around K.A.W. In a way, its sort of a bad thing, because I suspect that if Kex and John went out for coffee some afternoon, it would be a pleasant and amicable experience. He seems like a friendly sort of guy. Still, you have to wonder how this man keeps coming up with ways to torpedo his film career even worse. Playing second fiddle to Roseanne Barr on a bad TV series for several years would make it seem that pretty much anything he did subsequently would scale mighty peaks career wise, yet Goodman continually establishes new lows for himself.
Even allowing that I can, and should get it off my chest that I didnt consider this movie to be nearly as bad as I expected it to be, I think its high time some national law is passed that would forever bar director Jerry Bruckheimer from getting within six states of a movie studio. This is the man who gave us the marginally tolerable Armageddon, and followed that up with Gone In Sixty Seconds. Here we have a guy who is doing a real public service to the youth of America: He presents Generation Y with fascinating, glamorous career choices like bar dancing and stealing cars. Somehow, I dont think either one is going to contribute adequately to the Social Security fund in a couple of decades when Kex gets old, so maybe we really do need to consider preventing this man from doing further damage to future American economic trends.
Aside from Goodman, the person I pitied the most that appeared in this film was leading man Piper Perabo. First of all, either his agent should have advised him to change the name, or if he did so, should be taken out and shot for actually saddling a client with the stage name Piper. Hell, I used to have a bird named Piper. I sort of think I see the workings of a really inept agent behind this unfortunate, but seemingly promising young actor. His previous appearance was in Rocky and Bullwinkle so its not like we are talking about a guy who is building an impressive screen resume. In fact, I rather suspect that the next time I see him in the movies, hell probably be serving me a large tub of popcorn.
Coyote Ugly is the story of a young, aspiring song writer Violet Sanford (Maria Bello) who moves to New York City to pursue her dreams. Somehow, she has grown up in the only town in New Jersey where young people are dense enough to believe that one can sell songs simply by marching into a publishing house and handing over material. Violet is advised that the only way she will get her material known is to sing it herself in clubs, but that presents a tidy problem. She has some sort of deathly stage fright.
Violet lands a job as a sort of bartender/entertainer in a wild showgirl club called Coyote Ugly. As if anyone cant simply go out to any bar in America and watch drunk, testosterone poisoned young males acting like idiots, we get to spend a significant portion of this film as it is presented to us in light of an entertaining spectacle. Once again Bruckheimer does a great service to American well being by showing us the fun associated with getting boozed up and ogling showgirls in bars. The combination of testosterone and alcohol generally means that we are one weapon or motor vehicle away from a body count as it is, but Bruckheimer convienently avoids showing us the aftermath of the proceedings.
Working in the bar helps Violet overcome some of her shyness, and she is helped along by the prodding of leading man Piper. Still standing in her way is her conservative father (John Goodman), who has puzzling reservations about his innocent daughter making a spectacle of herself in front of hundreds of drunk men in a bar in New York City. What can this man be thinking? I mean, its not like she is doing something really dangerous, like taste testing European imported beef or purchasing medications for Robert Downey Jr. Fortunately for Violet, Goodmans character has a change of heart when he meets with an accident: He is hit by a car. Goodman comes out with comparatively minor injuries, while we suspect that the car was reduced to a pile of irrepairably battered junk. Lets face it: If the man gets any larger, he is going to have to forgo swimming in the ocean lest he returns to shore peppered with Japanese harpoons.
This is one of those gooey movies where Violet manages to overcome her stage fright, and makes a triumphant appearance in a songwriters festival. Her song is heard and purchased by a major pop performer, and all ends well and happily. Movies like this always end that way.
Maybe someday, someone will make the consensus of experience movie about the thousands of prospective actors and songwriters to descend on New York City annually with dreams and ambition, only to end up toiling beneath the revered Golden Arches. I know, nobody wants to see movies like that, but it might just do America well if somebody had the guts to speak out on what the American experience typically is: a shattered dream, followed by a perfectly legitimate life of toil in a less lofty pursuit. And real happiness tends to lie in the people we share our lives with, not an unattainable dream of fame.
Last Week: The Rookie:
Here is one of those weird facts I stumbled across the other day that I am certain will fascinate the Kexkateers: It involves the origins of the term, "severance pay." It seems that a few centuries ago in England, you could get yourself beheaded for a variety of offenses. I would imagine they probably included having reeking bad breath in the vicinity of a person of nobility. Beheading tends to cure that problem with finality.
Anyway, if you happened to find yourself in a situation where you were about to be relieved of your noodle, it was customary to bribe the excutioner so that he would do the job cleanly and painlessly the first time. Hence the term, "severance pay."
None of this has all that much to do with this week's movie, however I am beginning to wonder if it might help to bribe the ticket seller in order to steer me in the direction of the best possible movie on a weekly basis. Its really the same thing, in the spirit of making the weekly obligation as painless as possible. However, I'm pretty sure it would have been a waste of money this week anyway. When the only other significant alternative was Death to Smoochy, I'm reasonably certain The Rookie was a few notches higher. My only possible reaction to a few requests I got by email to review Death to Smoochy was basically, "Smoochy THIS."
The Rookie is the true story of a man who chased his dreams and hits paydirt. He realizes his childhood dream of becoming a major league pitcher at the age of 35. Unfortunately he does it with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which doesn't really qualify as being a major league pitcher, but its sort of close.
In spite of this reasonably promising storyline, the film labors under a serious flaw. Not only is it the longest baseball movie in the recorded history of the universe, but its also the only one ever made with practically no baseball in it. We labor through a two and a half hour odyssey following this man from tortured childhood to major league pitcher, and we get to see him throw three pitches in the bigs.
Young Jimmy Morris (Dennis Quaid) grows up in family led by a domineering military father (Brian Cox) who moves the family all over the country. Eventually they land in a shithole oil town in Texas called Big Lake, which looks like a good fire might be an excellent strategy for urban renewal. Since the town has no high school baseball program, Jimmy has to wait until Junior College to get a shot at baseball stardom.
He reaches the minors, but apparently gets injured and ends up as a high school science teacher back in Shithole Texas. He gets married, has 3 kids and establishes a baseball team at Shithole High. Unfortunately, he is an appallingly bad coach (and as close as I could determine, not a very inspired science teacher either) and his team wins 3 games the first 3 years.
The school is about ready to drop the program, because like most high schools in Texas, football is king. Apparently Shithole has a pretty good high school football program, and a few state championships to their credit, but they can't find any good atheletes for a baseball team. Or else Jimmy Morris can't coach a lick.
But Jimmy makes an inspirational speech to his players, and they turn the tables on him. The make him a bet that if they can start winning and take the district championship, he has to try out for the majors as a pitcher. It seems like a dubious form of bribery to include in a Disney film, but Morris' rag tag team suddenly gets good and wins the district championship. So Morris has to make good on his end of the wager.
Morris tries out for the Devil Rays, and gets a call to play in the minors. With the support of his wife (Rachael Griffiths), he eventually ends up in the majors, and joins the team when they happen to be playing the Rangers in Texas. The whole town of Shithole turns out to cheer him on.
The movie closes by informing us that Morris went on to play 2 seasons with the Devil Rays. We also see his jersey haning in the Shithole High locker room. The guess here is that he doesn't really live there anymore though. Two seasons with the Devil Rays probably accorded him a better salary than he would make in 6000 years teaching science, and I'm sure he is living in splendor elsewhere now.
Meanwhile, the Devil Rays are still losing, people in Big Lake probably appreciate baseball now, and I barely made it through this movie awake. And who was the big winner in all this? Jiffy Lube. Why? Because Dennis Quaid was kind enough to wear a hat with their logo for most of the 250 minute playing time of this movie, and I haven't been able to close my eyes the last two nights without seeing that logo burned on the back of my eyelids.
Last Week: Piglet's Big Movie:
Just a couple of weeks ago, Disney Studios offered us nearly unimpeachable proof that the once proud studio is controlled lock, stock and barrel by money grubbing weasels. They released an inferior production of Jungle Book II which was meant to be a straight to video project into theaters first. Now, they have confirmed the suspicion in spades.
This week came the release of Piglet's Big Movie. This time, instead of just shoving a cheaped out production down the movie going public's throats, they have employed a somewhat older Disney gimmick by virtually rereleasing a movie they made more than 3 decades ago under a new title. Piglet's Big Movie came so close to being a dead on remake of Disney's original release of Winnie the Pooh that if any other studio had attempted to sneak something like this by, they'd have gotten their collective asses sued off.
Clearly, if you go to see a movie entitled Piglet's Big Movie, its not like you are really expecting anything superb. Let's face it, you already have to believe that any movie about a pig which implies some sort of big adventure is almost inevitably going to end up with ham or bacon figuring prominently into the ending sequence. But at the very least, you don't necessarily expect to see a blatant rehash of a movie you've already seen, assuming that you've been on the planet at least a couple of decades.
What is eerie about this film is that Disney plays a game of revisionist history with their own trademarked style of wildly revising classic children's tales. Disney takes a series of stories they already told in earlier Pooh cartoons, then add in Tigger as if he were originally there.
That has to be a little more than even Disney Pooh version fans can stomach. Afterall, even Tigger was something of a Johnny Come Lately in the Disney Pooh lexicon. He only showed up after the Disney folks decided that they needed to inject a little new life into the franchise, so they created a new character to pump up the merchandising take. Afterall, a fun new character has to add about 10% to the franchise, bucks wise.
But Pooh has sort of been on the shelves for a generation or so, at least big screen wise, so I guess the folks at Disney figured they could just hash of a retelling of the old tales to a new generation without having to put much effort into it. And they didn't even have to dump any significant investment into merchandise. The Pooh stuff has probably been mostly gathering dust in the warehouses for several years.
My suspicions on this matter were confirmed with a walk through the mall after the movie today. Sure enough, up front and center in the Disney Store was a pile of stuffed Pooh characters up to nearly the ceiling...or as we might say here these days, piled higher than a March snowdrift in Denver.
Those characters were located right next to the display of rehashed Jungle Book tie-ins. Those were clearly right out of warehouse storage. There were huge numbers of King Louie figures in the mix, and he didn't even make a cameo in Jungle Book II. The closest he came to making any sort of appearance was the mention by one of his orangutan buddies that he had moved on. Whether that meant that he is palling around with Clint Eastwood these days, or simply slipped away to the great rain forest in the sky was never made clear.
All of our old Pooh friends are front and center in this film, with voices somewhat similar to the originals back in the 60's. Winnie himself remains the star, with the Disney added shirt, but still no pants. Curiously Mickey Mouse wears pants but no shirt. What is up with that? Sterling Holloway has long since left this veil, but whoever voiced Pooh did a good imitation.
The only character who made at best a cameo appearance was Owl. If I remember correctly, he was originally voiced by Sebastian Cabot, and that is a tougher act to follow. Whoever voiced that little brat Christopher Robin was pretty pathetic. Why can't Disney EVER find a talented actor with a legitimate British accent to play Bristish roles? Geez, after that embarassing performance Dick Van Dyke gave in Mary Poppins, you'd think they'd have put some effort into it ever after.
The movie mostly centers around the efforts of all the Pooh characters to locate Piglet when he disappears after a honey raid. Naturally, scouting around the hundred acre wood can't take much more than a couple of hours, so they have to recall a lot of stories along the way, and they realize that if it weren't for Piglet, most of them would be tattered rags by now. So it becomes especially imperative that they find him.
Ultimately they do of course, and we are moved when Pooh renames "Pooh Corner" to "Pooh and Piglet Corner." All well and good, but lets face if folks. I'm among the mighty throng who wouldn't get very excited over living anywhere near a place called "Pooh Corner," and adding "Piglet" to the name isn't going to soar the property values in my estimation. Not to worry. Its only a matter of time until W declares the Hundred Acre Wood a wilderness area, then secures drilling rights for Pops and Chenney under the table.
Last Week: The Ladykillers:
I had this coming. At least I saw it coming, so I resisted the temptation of going into this movie ready to grab for the bait that was being dangled gamely in front of my face. Somehow I knew almost instinctively that this wasn't going to be the movie I saw in the previews, nor was it going to be a straight remake of a third rate movie that almost nobody remembers. No, clearly this was a setup, and I'm glad I didn't bite.
I haven't exactly set myself up for any potential future career as the Coen brothers' publicist. Their most recent release Intolerable Cruelty took a perfectly well deserved beating on this page, and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou was so dreadful that I am confessing now for the first time that I even saw it. Reviewing it was simply out of the question.
I have great respect for Tom Hanks as an actor, and am of the general opinion that his career reflects a host of brilliant choices in terms of selecting his roles. But neither of his last two efforts, Catch Me If You Can or The Road To Perdition did anything to enhance his image as a guy with a midas touch. Both of those, which were reviewed on this page, were pretty bad movies.
Then we have Marlon Wayans, who has also taken two pretty healthy beatings on this page. Scary Movie was just a dreadful piece of crap, and Dungeons and Dragons, in which he had only a small supporting role, probably should have sunk his career once and for all. Somehow he managed to overcome, and he is still out there burning ears with that dreadful foul mouth that does less to enhance the comic value of a movie than it does to make it offensive. If he would just clean up the language a bit, he'd be worth watching.
Finally we have the fact that this movie was buried by a release in late March, when hardly anyone is going to see movies. Do you really think that Scooby Doo 2 is being released in March because anyone believes its going to garner Oscar nominations? No. Late March releases typically shout B-Movie garbage like Anna Nicole Smith screams tacky, shameless self promotion. A movie released this time of year generally has as much chance of success at the box office as the passengers in the back seat of Stevie Wonder's car have of surviving his personally chauffered tour of the rim drive around the Grand Canyon.
Then there were all of those promotional trailers, which made this look like a low key black comedy. Somehow I just knew that something was afoot here, and I was brought to the edge of falling for the joke 90 minutes into this movie when it really looked like it was going to be exactly what I should have expected. Fortunately, all parties involved ran out of time to spring the trap, and this movie had to show its hand. I'm really glad I never bit.
Truth be told, this was one of the most bizzare pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. The last half hour of this movie is one of the most tasteless, over-the-top weird experiences you'll ever have in a movie theater. And if your sense of humor is anywhere near as offbeat as mine, you will still be chuckling all the way home. I have to admit that the surprise was well worth the wait, and I'm glad I didn't surrender to the temptation of going into this film perfectly prepared to trash it.
Not that there aren't some legitimate criticisms that can be leveled. One we have already mentioned. Marlon Wayans foul language was a severe distraction, and it infected a great deal of the writing of the movie as well. Take out the utterly gratuitous and distracting, even unnecessary pulverizing of 4 letter words and vulgar adjectives, and this movie would have been an half hour shorter. That wouldn't have made it worse in anyway.
The story involves a suave conman, Professor Dorr (Tom Hanks) who finesses a room in a boarding house owned by a devout elderly lady, Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall). He selects her house specifically because it has a strategically placed root cellar which can be used to tunnel into the counting room of a Mississipi casino.
Dorr hires a band of incompetent cohorts that make the plan seem utterly intenible. There is the foul-mouthed Gawain (Marlon Wayans) who is the inside man working as a janitor in the casino. The overconfident Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons) is the explosives expert. The tunneling expert is an ex-Vietnamese General (Tzi Ma). The band's emergency muscle man is a brain dull, failed football player named Lump (Ryan Hurst).
PoSing as members of a traditional music band, the group meets in the root cellar to carry out the bizzare plot. All the while, Marva remains oblivious to the real intentions of the men, even when inevitable complications nearly spoil the plot.
But the real payoff of this film comes in the final half hour, after the plot seems to have succeeded. You knew somehow that this thing was all going to fly apart, but it does so in a manner so spectacularly hilarious that it is well worth sitting through. This movie is apt to develop a real cult following.
I have no intention of giving away the ending. I'll only caution parents that the strong language is unsuitable for preteens. This isn't a family movie. It is, however, well worth the ride. The Coen brothers, Hanks and even Wayans have gained a few points back in Kex's Amazing World, and thanks to all for a pleasant evening of laughs.
Last Week: The Animation Show 2005
I haven't done a whole lot of reviews of anthology films, mostly because they are pretty hard to do. But The Animation Show stands out simply because of its collection of interesting animated pieces from around the world, and is well worth a look. It is a collection of some of the most unique, if not always particularly worthwhile short animated films from around the globe, and certainly provides for a fascinating, if not always entertaining, evening at the cinema.
The Animation Show 2005 is currently touring the country, Denver was the 10th stop along the route, and will probably be coming to a theater near most of the readers of this page in the not too distant future. For more information about The Animation Show, and even how to submit your own short animated film for consideration, click HERE
Rather than give this film an overall rating, I thought it would be interesting to consider each piece individually.
Bunnies: This German short, produced in 2002, introduces the film, and is nothing particularly remarkable. Its one of the shortest pieces in the set, and by comparison to the other offerings, you may well have forgotten about it by the time you leave the theater.
Guard Dog: Nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, this is among the most entertaining films in the group. It tells the tale of a dog on a walk with his owner, and how he envisions dangers around every bend for his master. His overzelousness in pursuit of being a protector leads to comic and tragic results.
F.E.D.S. I didn't think that this was a particularly entertaining selection, as it is effectively a short documentary about food education demo specialists (feds). YOu know, those people who hand out food samples in supermarkets. We've all seen them, and if you happen to go shopping on the right day, you can sometimes enjoy a pretty satisfying meal just walking around the store (admit it, you've done it too). I sort of think that this was originally produced as a live action documentary, but the filmmakers realized it blew, so they tried to save it with animation. It didn't help. The film still sucks.
Pan With Us: Another selection I would have been just as happy without, this is an adaptation of a 1914 Robert Frost poem, describing a journey by the ancient spirit, Pan, through the modern world. It looked to me more like a good excuse for somebody to drag an iron sculpture of an eagle down a highway at high speed. Okay...its a guy thing, but nothing worthy of being a center point for an animated movie. Thumbs down.
Ward 13: This delightful Australian film produced in 2003 carries the message that going to a hospital down under can be a pretty scary experience. Created in stop action claymation, its something of an upscale episode of Gumby Visits The Hospital From Hell. Among the longer offerings, its also one of the more entertaining.
Hello: Another Australian film, this one had some charming animation, but not a particularly compelling story. A little cassette machine is trying to find love with a CD player. It just didn't work very well.
Rock Fish Probably my favorite entry among the group, this 2002 American film featured the most impressive animation, and best story in the group. Its the tale of an interstellar fishing trip that nearly goes awry when our adventurous angler hooks the big one. Its worth going to The Animation Show 2005 just to see this film.
The Man With No Shadow: One of two Canadian entries into the program, this is a tale of a man who sells his shadow to a magician for riches, only to find that social stigma follows. I guess the film was trying to make some sort of point about how we humans can find all sorts of dumb reasons not to like each other, but I sincerly hope that most Canadians have already figured that out without benefit of this rather annoying little film.
Fallen Art: Produced in Poland in 2004, this was my second favorite piece in the collection. While a bit brutal, its certainly unique, and probably the kind of thing you'd expect from a country that has had to deal with soulless totalitarian oppression for most of the last 6 decades. Very well animated.
When The Day Breaks: Tossed in to drive home the point that the art of animation pretty muchs sucks in Canada, I had a bit of trouble figuring out what the point of this film was. After gathering a bit more insight from the film's website, I still don't really get the point. A pig lady witnesses the death a a stranger, a chicken, then tries to find some comfort in the city she lives in. So the world is dangerous and brutal? I guess the prevailing theme in short Canadian animation these days is, "state the obvious in an ambigious way."
Fireworks: This 2004 American film is the shortest in the collection, with a running time of only 25 seconds. Nonetheless, its among the most creative and spectacular, presenting an incredible fireworks show utilizing coins and selected candies you probably have in your home right now. Any film which destroys those awful Peeps candies ought to wins some sort of award.
The Meaning of Life You can still create some pretty interesting animation without computers. In fact, you can still make a pretty interesting little film without using much more than stick figures. In its way, this is a beautiful little film, which utilizes some interesting, completely handdrawn animation techniques. Another film worth seeing, all by itself.
Check out The Animation Show website at the link I posted above, and if it comes to a theater near you, I definitely recommend that you take a look see. I you are a fan of avant garde animation, its a must see.
Last Week: Over the Hedge:
Picture, if you will, a typical American family. They have decided to take in a movie. So you have Mom and Dad, who's first responsibility is to round up the brood. More often than not, there are a couple of kids, and probably another pair of clinging friends who won't let the other pair out of their site, nor will our typical parents' children go anywhere without them.
After a lengthy search of the neighborhood and a few phone calls thoroughly depleting the batteries of a cellphone, a small device civilization managed to flourish without for several thousand years, but is now considered more necessity than luxury, our movie bound expedition has been located, and assembled.
The entire group piles into a gas guzzling SUV that likely gets about 5 miles to the gallon while generating sufficient energy to power two DVD players, a video game, a satellite radio capable of pulling in every radio station on the planet, there are battery chargers to restore the depleted cellphone batteries and still permit the driver to talk on one, so that he does not have to pay any attention to his driving, and a Global positioning device so that Mom, who is seated next to driver Dad, can verify what she already knows: The man does not have the first clue where he is going. Women already instinctively know that, but thanks to GPS, the point can be verified.
Safely tucked into this rolling assault on Earth's ecology, the family starts out in the general direction of the movie theater. Of course, the first stop will be a gas station, because the behemoth in which they are traveling can barely make it 5 blocks without having to suck in more fuel, imported mostly from a politically unstable portion of the planet, to keep rolling.
Filling its gas tank will cost most of $100, and as it burns its fuel, it releases carbon dioxide as a waste product, in quantities that have not existed in the atmosphere for millions of years. And in order to create roads (and houses) so that this group can go to the movies in the first place, thousands of acres of trees have been brought down. Those trees would have cleansed the atmosphere of the CO2 that they are thoughtlessly dumping into the atmosphere, but the trees are gone. So instead, the gas quietly traps heat from the sun in the atmosphere, gradually warming the planet on which our family lives. The ultimate effect is dangerous for all life on the planet.
After filling the guzzler with gasoline, the next stop is a fast food place, in order to quiet the whining kids. Everyone gets a sandwich, fries and softdrink with no nutritional value. Each food item is wrapped in enough paper to necessitate destruction of a Redwood. Cooking of the food itself also releases weird gases into the atmosphere, and the goo left over from cooking of the food is difficult to dispose of, and probably doesn't biodegrade for about 6 million years. Tons of the stuff is generated daily.
Finally, our family arrives at the movie theater. Its a while yet before show time, and theaters consider it their solemn duty to keep the kids entertained before the film starts. So they offer rows upon rows of computer generated video games that suck enough power to keep a small city going. Playing them conveys no particular benefit to the children, apart from keeping them quiet for awhile. But that matters little. The games themselves generate a din that draws to mind 100 unmuffled motorcycles. They also extort phenomenal sums of money from the pitiful parents who allow their children to play.
Its almost showtime, so its time to load up on the provisions necessary to help the children get through the film. There are trash can sized tubs of popcorn, sodas in containers large enough to house a fair supply of tropical fish and candy in wrappers twice the size of the actual content, making you think you are actually getting something for your money. The food supply described above would cost about $20 in a typical grocery store, but movie theaters, who will not permit you to bring in your own food, can charge most of another hundred bucks for the same stash. And just getting in to the theater in the first place commanded a similar investment
All the packaging for this food destroyed a large section of another forest somewhere, and the waste products generated from a single movie showing will fill and industrial sized dumpster.
But this loud, squirming hoard finally makes it into the air conditioned theater; yes, the whole loud, squirming herd armed with their cell phones that they aren't going to turn off, and so sugar charged that they will never be able to sit still for five seconds. And a quarter of the way through that over sized soft drink, they are going to need to take a pee break, meaning that they are going to make that journey no less than 4 times during the film.
And where is this nightmare sample of humanity going to sit? Probably in front of me.
But I liked Over the Hedge. It was a cute movie with an appropriate environmental message.
Previously: Resurrecting the Champ:
Okay. If you are going to make a movie about "a true story that was based on a lie" as the promotional tag line of this movie suggests, why do you make the movie an equal load of bullshit? This story is loosely based on the true story of J.R. Moehringer, a Los Angeles based sports writer who wrote an article about a down and out 50's boxer by the name of "Battling Bob" Sutterfield.
But for some dumb reason that was never explained, the movie was reset in Denver, and involved a fictious reporter named Eric Kernan (Josh Hartnett) who works for an entirely fictional Denver daily paper called The Denver Times In reality, somehow or another Denver is still managing to (barely) support two major daily papers. Three would be absurd.
Admittedly, it was kind of fun, as a resident of metro Denver, to watch and pick out the (few) scenes that were actually filmed in Denver, and those that were just filmed on some Hollywood backlot. For example, all of the crappy alley scenes fell in the latter category. On the other hand, I guess the people who made this movie figured out that they could lend a measure of credibility to the proceedings by having Erik drive by Coors Field once, a nearly impossible feat based upon where he was 10 seconds before and featuring a brief cameo by John Elway.
Anyone who doesn't live in Denver probably doesn't have much of a clue just what an icon Elway is in this city...or in the view of some people anyway. Personally, I find it hard to miss a guy when he won't go away. At least we don't have to stare at his mug everyday in the papers anymore, now that he is no longer affliated by name with a chain of auto dealers that owned half the lots here in the Denver area. Aside from having his picture in the paper, Elway didn't have anything else to do with the business.
But even still, we have to put up with him in every other aspect of our lives. The teaser for a typical 10PM newscast might go something like this:
"A major tornado leveled Limon today. For John Elway's reaction, join us at 10."
For those who don't live in the state, Elway doesn't live in Limon, and probably hasn't ever been there presuming he has never had a reason to drive to Kansas. But for some reason, every TV station in Denver assumes that we, the great unwashed, give a rat's ass about what he thinks about everything.
There was one other problem with setting this film in Denver. There was an implication that Denver is some sort of boxing Mecca. In reality, here is the pecking order of sports in Denver:
1. The Broncos
2. The Broncos
3. The Broncos
4. The Broncos
5. The Broncos
6. The Avalanche
7. The Rockies
8. The Nuggets
9. The Crush (indoor football)
10. The Mammoth (indoor Lacrosse)
11. The Outlaws (outdoor lacrosse)
13.-500. All the nearby college teams and sports, including mens, womens and intramurals
501.-997 All the local high school mens, womens and intramurals
998. Sitting around picking your butt
999. The Rapids (professional soccer)
In case you didn't quite get the drift there, Boxing isn't all that popular here. In fact, the state of Colorado doesn't even have a sanctioned boxing commission. That was a major topic of discussion on one of the 886 sports-talk stations in town, for about 2 minutes, 6 years ago.
Hmmm...maybe I should say something about this movie. It wasn't particularly bad. But if you are going to make a movie austensibly based on a true story, and you use a lot of real names, dates and facts, why change the city where the action took place? Why change the name of the main character? Did the phrase "I will sue your butts off" have something to do with any of these changes?
Samuel L. Jackson turns in a pretty good performance as the down and out, homeless boxer. Josh Hartnett is pretty good as well. The movie is entertaining, although it drags in spots. It also gets a bit preachy in the end. And it's awfully hard to get past the "consequences of misinformation" theme in a movie that only expounds on misinformation in spades. The other positive thing about it is that it doesn't have much to do with boxing, which is a point in its favor. Now, before anyone even asks because someone will, how is dog fighting, the crime of which Michael Vick is accused, any worse than boxing? Because boxers have a choice. For more on the Vick case, see my blog in Kex's Corner.
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