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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:


Bless The Child

Previously: Bless The Child:

Okay, this made a whole lot of sense. Jimmy Smits left the highly successful ABC Network TV show N.Y.P.D. Blue because he was concerned about being typecast, and wanted to take on some cinematic roles that would stretch his abilities. So, the first really major silver screen role he takes on is in this weeks film, Bless The Child. Smits stretches his abilities by taking on the role of an F.B.I. agent. Wow, Im sure he has lost all his fears about being typecast now.

Okay, its true that he did portray an F.B.I. agent who was a former seminary student, and he is currently investigating a series of murders that seem to be related to some sort of satanic rites. Apparently, a satanic group is trying to track down the embodiment of the second coming, who was born on December 16, six years prior to the outbreak of a series of child murders in New York City.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment. Kim Bassinger is the female lead in this film, portraying a psychiatric nurse who spends most of her time spewing incredibly lame dialog. Her crack whore sister, Jenna (Angela Bettis) shows up at her door one snowy December night, with a new baby in tow. Bassingers character, Maggie OConner pledges to get her sister back on the straight and narrow, and sends her off to relax and take a bath. Apparently the bath tub is in Tacoma, Washington, and Jenna decides to walk it, because in the next scene, she has disappeared from the movie and the baby girl (Holliston Coleman) is now three years old.

The little girl, Cody, is autistic, which is naturally a significant disruption in Maggies life. Once again, the scene changes, and another 3 years have passed. We see Maggie enjoying watching a movie with her date, while the now six year-old Cody is occupying herself by banging her head on the wall. This performance freaks out Maggies date sufficiently that not even the potential allure of a night of blissful sex with a woman that looks like Kim Bassinger is sufficient reward, so he politely cuts out. Yeah, that could happen in this universe.

Out of nowhere, Jenna returns, with a new husband, (Rufus Sewell). He is some sort of ex-child actor who is now the head of an organization that helps people overcome alcohol and drug addiction. In actuality, his group is the front for a satanic worship cult. That will bring us back up to date. Jenna and her husband plan to take Cody away from Maggie, because ever the villain Rufus has figured out that Cody is the second coming child he has been seeking. Naturally Maggie is concerned that the change will be devastating to Cody and she refuses to giver her up, but Rufus and Jenna kidnap Cody.

With the help of an escapee from Rufus cult, Maggie is able to locate Cody. The escapee in question must be the grownup Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) who must have tired of a life of bizarre behavior, and decided to go straight. I need to take off on a sidenote at this point. This movie was rated R but nobody got naked. That was kind of disappointing, because I think the vote of every, or almost every red blooded American male who endured this film would have gone to Ricci. I realize that the women and a few assorted males probably would have cast in for Smits, but Im guessing that if Ricci had gotten naked, this film might not have flopped quite so profoundly at the box office.

With the information she is given, Maggie is able to track Cody down in a building guarded by the flying monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz. You see, this is yet another one of those films where the main characters are basically incredible imbeciles. Maggie seems to be under the impression that she can simply waltz into the secret headquarters of a major, satanic cult, pick up Cody, maybe snag a quick bite to eat and walk back out without anyone stopping her. Instead, she wakes up from a drug induced stupor and finds herself driving against traffic on the Brooklyn bridge in a car with no brakes.

I should mention that this is one of those films where the bad guys are also incredible imbeciles. Instead of just quickly disposing of Maggie and sending her to sleep with the fishes in the East River, they had to devise a plan that actually provided her with an opportunity to make a harrowing escape. I guess if the bad guys in films like this didnt have a flair for the dramatic, it would have been a much shorter movie, probably entitled Satan Takes Over The World.

I dont think Id be giving away any important information about this movie by saying that all ends well, as good triumphs over evil, and the world continues to plow on, apparently with some hope of heavenly salvation. In essence, the prince of all evil in the world is so magnificently inept that he got his ass roundly kicked by Jimmy Smits, Kim Bassinger and a six year-old girl. It kind of makes you wonder why it took nearly 4 years and a huge military machine to dispose of a lesser level of evil in the person of Hitler.

The summary of this film on the back of the video box noted that it was in the tradition of The Sixth Sense and The Omen. I guess it is, in the fashion that all of those films are basically in the occult genre. However, the gall of Hollywood publicists is demonstrated in even mentioning this piece of trash in the same breath as those works, not that either were particularly good in their own right. The best that could be accomplished for quoting critical acclaim on the back of the box came from a reviewer for Dish Network. Im guessing he didnt actually see the film.

Last Week: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Vacations are supposed to leave you rested and relaxed. Mine did, or I thought it did. It would seem I was gravely mistaken. The proof came when we went to the movies this week, and I found out that I apparently returned home looking like ten miles of bad highway.

When I purchased my two tickets, I was pleasantly surprised that the total came to slightly more than I would usually pay for a single ticket. I thought at first that perhaps the theater was running some kind of Monday night special or something. It turned out that wasn't quite the case. When I looked at the tickets, I was horrified to see that the young whippersnapper that the ticket booth had given us a SENIOR DISCOUNT!

Needless to say I was gravely insulted. I wasn't quite insulted enough to straighten the little bastard out then and there. I took the discount. Then I waited until AFTER the movie and I beat the living crap out of him. Okay. No I didn't. I probably couldn't have. Okay, so I probably couldn't have even way back when I was his age. But it wasn't long enough ago that I am yet entitled to a SENIOR DISCOUNT.

You want to know why companies go broke? Because they hire brain dead teenagers to conduct their business for them, that's why. On two different occasions when I was on vacation, young cashiers handed me back quantities of change well in excess of what I was entitled to receive. On the first occasion, the amount was sufficiently excessive enough that I could not in good conscious permit the error to go uncorrected. The second time, the amount was considerably smaller, and I just pocketed the extra cash.

But a SENIOR DISCOUNT? Yes, I'm getting older, I admit. But I don't look THAT FRIGGING OLD YET! This little pimply pup didn't even ASK if we were entitled. He just gave it to us! If he would have asked, I wouldn't have been particularly insulted. But how much money is this little jerk off costing his company by making idiotic assumptions? I think I'll start going to his line from now on, if he still has a job next weekend.

Oh, by the way, the movie we saw was, of course, Harry Potter 3. There were moments in this film that were so utterly spectacular that they could almost take your breath away. Then, unfortunately, there were long stretches that were such laborious blabathons that I almost wanted to saw off my head with a dull fingernail file and toss it at the screen. If the books are even a quarter as dull as some of the passages in this movie, I can't for the life of me figure out how they are keeping the attention of the average 10 year-old.

In this film, Harry and the gang are reunited for their third year at Hornwart, or whatever they call that wizardry school. But this year, Harry is seemingly threatened by a new evil; a powerful black wizard known as Serious Black. I was threatened by a powerful evil called Serious Boredom.

In the movie, things aren't always what they seem. In my movie theater seat, things were exactly what they seemed. For way too much of this film, I really was seriously bored. The rewarding moments were almost enough to push this film over the top to receive a smiley, but not quite enough.

I feel the duty to warn parents as well. I wouldn't take pre-teens to see this movie. It is by far the darkest of the series to date, and potentially quite frightening in spots. With a running time of just over 2 hours, very few preteens are going to be able to stay interested in the proceedings, given the film's very slow stretches.

While we were out in LaLa land, I found out that the fourth film in this series is already in production. Speculation is that a fifth film will follow quickly after that one. It will have to follow awfully quickly, because Harry's voice is starting to get notably deeper, and Herminie is starting to develop notable female physical characteristics. That doesn't bode well for the producers of this series to make tangible plans to film the sixth and seventh books in the series.

I think that may be just as well. This film, and the previous one have gone somewhat over the top of reasonable children's entertainment, in my estimation. In fact, it rather seems to me that the films have become more directed towards a young adult audience, which is robbing the fan base of the books of the franchise they have built with book sales. Nonetheless, time is doing to the young cast what doesn't need to happen on paper, and if they try to continue this series through four more films, I may be legitimately entitled to that SENIOR DISCOUNT by the time its all over.

This Week: The Terminal:


Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having to endure spending a few hours, or longer, in an airport due to a cancelled or delayed flight is already familiar with the reality of how desperately tedious places airports generally are. Douglas Adams once quipped that there is good reason why the words "beautiful" and "airport" have never appeared together in a sentence in the history of the English language.

For those who have heretofore managed to escape that specific exercise in ennui, watching the movie The Terminal is a fair approximation of the experience. Give director Steve Spielberg a little credit. He has managed to create a film which makes the experience of hanging around in airports every bit as dull as reality. I would compare it to a 72 hour marathon of watching televised golf or celebrity poker.

Imagine for a moment, the film E.T. with the title character trapped in an airport. Now you have the formula. Except in this case, Tom Hanks stands in for the clueless but resourceful little alien. Hanks portrays Victor Ichycrotchovich, or something like that, a tourist from some breakaway eastern European country with a bizzare name, something along the lines of Boogerglobia. Victor is visiting the U.S. carrying a Planters Peanut can, although the contents are obviously something other than peanuts. The real contents are supposed to be a compelling mystery.

But when Victor arrives in the U.S., he quickly learns that Boogerglobia has had a revolution. Some faction of the populace has apparently rebelled in order to change the name of the country to something more pronouncable and less embarrassing, as well as reforming the alphabet to some number of letters less than 100. Clearly its a populist movement that could sweep disasterously through eastern Europe.

The standing government in Victor's country is overthrown, and the U.S. has yet to recognize any new regime in Boogerglobia. Therefore, Victor is not eligible to be admitted into the country. He is forced to remain in the airport until such a time that his passport can be reinstated. Since he effectively has no means of self-support, he has to rely on his resources, and the kindness of whatever strangers he may encounter in the airport to survive, he is quite clearly up excrement estuary without a manual propulsion device. Afterall, the level of compassion of the average person in an airport, or the workers therein, is below what you would generally encounter at the D.M.V.

Still, Victor manages to befriend a few of the locals. Everyday he faces rejection by a pretty female customs officer, who happens to be the object of affection of a guy who takes food out to the airliners. Victor is promised daily free food rations from the food driver if he can help him win the affections of the young lady. Personally, if faced with the prospect of eating airline food daily, I'd probably opt for starvation rather than being manipulated into playing cupid, but Victor is desperate enough to sign on.

Victor also befriends a beautiful flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who is conducting a hopeless affair with a married man. I guess the audience is supposed to be hoping that the two will eventually get together for a permanent relationship, but in this case, the movie offers its only touch of reality. Victor doesn't get the girl. Instead, the whole relationship is set up to keep us wondering what is really in that stupid peanut jar.

It turns out that Victor's dad, now departed is a big fan of American jazz. He has collected autographs of several jazz stars, but there is one prized signature he never got. So Victor's trip to America is a quest to get the lone autograph. He has them all stored in the jar of peanuts. Big woop.

So when the stewardess ultimately rejects Victor for the married guy, many of the women in the audience naturally get weepier than the contestants at the Pillsbury Onion Ring Fry Off. I just couldn't buy in. It seemed to me that if her choices were between a hopeless relationship with a married guy on the one hand, and a greezy little foriegner who lives in an airport with dreams of getting the autograph of a third rate jazz musician on the other, she probably made the more intelligent choice.

Of course, it seemed to me that "option C; none of the above" was probably out there too, but it wasn't like this film was chuck full of bright or likeable people. In fact, there were a lot of people in this film exactly like you expect to encounter in an airport. READ: Morons who can't even read their tickets competently enough to find the proper seat on the plane.

This movie is austensibly based on a true story, about a guy who got trapped in the Paris airport under similar circumstances. I doubt that. I mean, getting trapped in an airport here in the U.S.A. is one thing, but in France, that would have to define about the 80th circle of hell. This movie would have been a lot shorter, and ended with the guy swinging from the neck with his own shoelaces in a restroom stall on day two. The movie was titled The Terminal, but it seemed more like 130 minutes that would never terminate.

Last Week: The Stepford Wives :

As good luck would have it, Joy and I found our new favorite employee at the nearby theater manning one of the ticket booths at the local theater, and once again, we went to his line. Once again, we received the SENIOR DISCOUNT, and saved ourselves roughly half of the nominal price of admission. I'm getting kind of used to this. Sure, it still irks me a bit. But one of these days I will be legitimately elibible, so there is nothing wrong with preparing for when the time comes. Watch how much I bitch when I have to pay full admission again now.

This week's movie is The Stepford Wives, which edged out Garfield by the slimmest of margins. Actually, there wasn't really a great deal of debate in the matter. I had to work Sunday, and by the time I got home, Stepford Wives won the battle purely by virtue of the issue of starting times. By the time we were able to make it to the theater, Garfield was already an half hour into its showing, while Stepford was starting in 20 minutes. No contest.

As most of my readers are probably aware, Stepford Wives is the remake of a cult classic 70's TV movie. Remaking stuff from the 60's and 70's has become a lucrative industry in Hollywood these days, but usually its old TV series. Its pretty rare for anyone to find cinematic grist from old made-for-TV movies, because nobody can really remember any of them. Most of them are such formulaic, artisticly void creations that they disappear from the public consciousness two commericals after they air.

This 21st century remake starts off pretty much like the old movie. Joanna (Nicole Kidman) is a TV show creator who is addressing a conference of sponsors for the upcoming season. She is introducing a line of new reality shows, which look just retarded enough that someone might actually air them.

One of them involves a married couple from Nebraska, who are sent off to a paradise island for a week. The husband and wife are separated, and allowed to have a week of sexual romps with hot, well built members of the opposite sex. At the end of the week, they have to decide whether to stay together, or go on having wild monkey sex with their new group of partners. The husband wants to go back to his wife and Nebraska, but she, being clearly the brighter of the two, wants none of that. This leads the enraged husband to try to kill Joanna at the convention.

Network execs fear lawsuits, so they immediately fire Joanna. Her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick), also a studio VP, resigns in protest, and the two decide to move to Stepford, Connecticut to restart their lives. But upon arriving in Stepford, they discover a weird Republican Valhalla where all of the women are happy, smiling, well-dressed sex kittens who serve their husbands' every whim fatefully. They cook, bake, clean, vacuum, listen to Rush and Dr. Laura, all those weird kind of things. The men entertain themselves nightly at a private club where women are strictly forbidden.

At a 4th of July picnic, Joanna runs into an old friend, (Bette Midler) and together they try to unlock the secrets of Stepford. But their efforts are frustrated, and just as Joanna plots to escape the town, she goes to her friends house to find that she, too, has been transformed into a Stepford dittohead, er, wife.

Enraged Joanna storms the men's club, only to find that the men are waiting for her, to perform the same transformation. WARNING! WARNING! PLOT SPOILER AHEAD! It turns out that the men, lead by a weirdo named Mike (Christopher Walken) and his perfect wife Claire (Glen Close), are putting brain chips into the women's heads to turn them into perfect June Cleaver clones. Ironically, its not Mike who is leading the plot. It turns out that he is an android. The real culprit behind the plot is Claire.

In the originally TV movie, the wives were actually being disposed of, and robots put in their place. In this remake, the writers apparently felt that a less permanent and reversible solution was needed, so they came up with the microchip idea instead. Unfortunately, they apparently came up with the idea half way through the script, because the shadows of an earlier version of the script, more like the original, haunt the storyline.

At one point early in the movie, when Walter is being introduced to the goings on in the men's club, Mike reveals to him the secret of the Stepford wives. One of the men calls his wife in, and suggests that he needs $20. He sticks an ATM card in her mouth, and she spits the money out dutifully. A robot could feasibly do that. A woman with thought patterns modified by microchips couldn't. In another scene, newly transformed Bette Midler sticks her hand in a fire without getting burned. Again, that could be pulled off by a robot, but not a person.

Director Frank Oz plays this one mostly for laughs, but one suspects that his alter ego, Miss Piggy, would bulldoze Stepford faster than George Bush could run a company into the ground. There are moments when this remake captures the eeiry quality of the original, but its largely a pointless tongue-in-cheek effort. It'll do well enough at the box-office, suggesting that once again, Hollywood has put its finger on the pulse of the Stepford audience. While I found parts of it entertaining, I think the story would have been better if more effort had been put into delivering the cautionary message of the original.

This Week: War of the Worlds:

The second book I ever read as a child was H.G. Well's sci fi classic, War of the Worlds. It followed closely on the heels of Robinson Crusoe. I loved the intense action of Well's yarn, and the opening paragraphs opened my eyes for the first time to the concept that perceptions of truth and morality can be relative to the position of the observer.

Steven Spielberg apparently owned the same editon I treasured as a child, which featured illustrations of the alien tripod machines. They appeared in this film precisley as they were drawn in that long gone book I owned. For the most part, the film follows Wells' basic story fairly closely, although Spielberg tosses in some modern elements to keep the story relevant for 21st century audiences.

This project was first put into motion during the summer of 2001, and just weeks after a final script was delivered, the attacks of September 11 occured. That forced Spielberg and company to reconsider the entire project. A new script was ordered that reset the script from modern times back into the late 19th century, when the original was set. That was supposed to protect audience sensibilities, although Spielberg was actually just playing games. For most of 3 years, no one except those inside the production knew which script he was actually filming.

Spielberg and company kept this production so closely under wraps that they didn't even release a theatrical trailer until about 2 weeks before its ultimate release. The film had a reported budget of $128 million, and old Stevie evidently didn't want anyone getting even a hint of what was going onto the screen until the last possible moment. Even critics were forbidden from posting reviews prior to the release date.

In this version, Ray (Tom Cruise) is a divorced father struggling to reconnect with his estranged kids, who are being dumped on him for the weekend by his ex-wife. It isn't all that difficult to figure out why the marriage didn't work. She is a flaming bitch and he is an insufferable prick. Its a wonder that the two kids aren't spending most of their time torturing small animals.

The kids in question are Robbie (Justin Chatwin), who is in the midst of a full blown battle with teenage male angst, and Rachael (Dakota Fanning) who struggles with the role of precosious cute little girl obligatory in a Spielberg production. The inner family bickering is so intense that we quickly start pulling for the aliens.

When mysterious weather anomolies start to plague New York City, Ray's initial fascination turns to terror when giant tripod like machines rise from the ground and begin leveling New York City. Ray brilliantly realizes its time to grab the kids and hightail it. Curiously, however, he figures his best strategy is to head for Boston, where the kids' mom is spending the weekend with her parents. Apparently it doesn't occur to Ray that this is a full blown alien invasion which is likely to include Boston, and not just a vendetta by Red Sox loving ET's who haven't picked up the broadcast of the 2004 series yet.

In Well's original tale, the alien invaders came from a dying Mars. The possibility of an ancient civilization on Mars was plausible in the late 19th century, but not in the early 21st. so a different mechanism had to be invented to explain the invaders. Spielberg chose to simply ignore their point of origin. More curiously, he invented the plot device of offering that the alien machines had been secretly buried for millions of years, and the aliens were transported into them by the mysterious lightening during the storm.

There are only a couple of problems with that concept. First of all, the aliens had to be hip to the concept of geologic dynamics, and its unlikely that they would have risked having their machines end up under mountain chains or under two miles of ocean. There is also the question of how some unwitting employee for Con Edison never stumbled upon one while laying cable. Finally, why bury the machines for a million years, then wait around until life became evolved enough to produce a technological civilization that not only would have depleted a considerable portion of the planet's resources, but might well be able to fight back?

On these plot points, Spielberg fumbled dramatically. Then again, Wells' original ending doesn't hold up all that well these days either. In the late 19th century, when the germ based nature of most diseases was only starting to be understood, Well's solution to the demise of the aliens was brilliant. On the other hand, a civilization capable of interstellar travel would probably already have at least considered that contingency, and presumably taken some precautions to counter it.

But at least that ending makes some sort of sense. We can be grateful that Spielberg resisted any temptation to permit Cruise to write the ending of this tale. It would have been more than a little hoaky watching collective humanity banding together before the mighty tripods and chucking bottles of Flinstones Chewables at them.

We'll give the film its due. Its pretty cool looking, and gives a good thrill or two. It makes the old 1950's look like a Bugs and Elmer cartoon. But much like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz, it can dance through your consciousness for two hours, tragically in search of a heart.

Last Week: World Trade Center:

Before we begin this week's review, there are a couple of things I need to get off of my chest. The first one I have discussed before, but I am done being nice about it. Not that I have been particularly polite in discussing the issue, but all the gloves are off now, because I'm just really sick of it.

The topic is, of course, cell phones in movie theaters. Look folks, if you are too stupid to understand how to turn that damned thing off for two hours in a movie theater, you are probably such an incredible lamebrain that you present a sigificant danger to the rest of us in a hundred different ways. You either need to get smarter or get rid of the cell phone. After all, you probably don't need one anyway. Anyone who is too big of an imbecile to figure out how to turn it off, or at least put it on vibrate probably has very few friends anyway, and you aren't going to get enough calls to justify the device, outside of it being a status symbol.

Personally, I am completely fed up with being annoyed by YOUR status symbol while I am watching a movie. Get rid of it, or be warned that if you are sitting next to me the one time a month it rings, its apt to go flying across the theater very suddenly. HOw tragic for you to watch your investment suddenly taking wing towards the theater wall, especially since you are married financially to your service provider for the next two years. How satisfying for me to watch it dashed into a thousand pieces when it hits the wall at high velocity.

The second issue I am going to discuss is related to the movie, which was related to the day's events. That is why I chose to see World Trade Center inspite of the fact that a few months ago, I stated strongly that I wouldn't be reviewing any of the 9-11 movies. But after the day we all had today, I think its apt.

I seem to remember reading a website a few weeks ago where some guy was ranting about the airlines' complete inability to enforce regulations concerning carry-on luggage. The author made some very relevant remarks. Hmmmm, where did I see that piece.... OH! WAIT! I remember now. It was right here! I wrote it! Check out the KEX'S CORNER PAGE. The second article on the page called HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION...see the Day 1 entry.

I'm sorry that the rest of the world is so late to the party. I am thankful that Scotland Yard and other British Police were sufficiently on the ball to foil a plot which nearly took advantage of the fact that airlines won't enforce regulations already in place.

My question is, where are all the people we are paying lots of money to who are supposed to 1. enforce the regulations and 2. figure out where the vunerabilites are and react to them BEFORE the bad guys figure out how to exploit them? Or is it just that the Department of Homeland (In)Security is being run by a bunch of incompetent morons who were hired by the country's #1 elected moron?

While we are at it, who was it that EVER decided that it was okay for people to carry beverages through security stations unchallenged, and then on to airplanes? I have flown once or twice in my life. Every commercial flight I have ever been on, including a couple on little vomit comets with propellers, offered inflight drink service. Sure, its not Starbucks, but they always bring me some trail mix or stale pretzels followed by my choice of softdrinks, juice, water or even alcohol.

Neither I, nor anyone else, needs to take their own beverages aboard planes. Movie theaters don't even let you take in your own beverages, and as yet, terrorists haven't put in a lot of efforts blowing up movie theaters. Granted, there are one or two movies I have sat through where it wouldn't have been the worst thing that could have happened, but have we completely abandoned common sense?

So, tonight I decided to go ahead and see World Trade Center, if for no reason other than to remind myself that we haven't really learned anything. I don't know if Georgie even got to find out how My Pet Goat came out. So, which was more painful...the real memories of 9-11, or watching this movie?

No contest. The real memories are worse, and frankly, we don't need this movie. I understand that Oliver Stone is donating some of the proceeds of this film to the memorial and that is okay. But Nick Cage and brave policeman go together like Mel Gibson and racial sensitivity.

I guess I just expected something very different from this movie. I thought we might actually get to seem NYC policemen and firemen making valiant efforts to save the lives of others. Instead, Nick and his band go into the building, it collapses, and we spend the rest of the film watching the agony of Nick and one of his fellow officers, buried beneath the rubble. If only the script had suffered a similar fate.

Last Week: Alvin and the Chipmunks:

Roughly 50 years ago, an undistinguished sound engineer by the name of Ross Bagdasarian was fooling around with some sound equipment and more or less by accident, Alvin and the Chipmunks entered the social consciousness. Bagdasarian also created his alter-ego, Dave Seville to manage his three singing chipmunks, and a recording and cartoon sensation was established.

Ross Bagdasarian's other contribution to mankind was a male child creatively named Ross Bagdasarian jr. His legacy thus established, Ross Senior went on to his reward/punishment several years ago. I offer the choice here, because certainly some doubt must be felt. There are at least a few of us who believe that a special place real close to the fire has to await the perpetrator of this sort of "creative" output. (I refer, of course, to the creation of the chipmunks, not necessarily Ross Jr., although all things considered, it might still be appropriate.)

Ross Jr. also went into the world of sound engineering, but he hasn't independently done much to distinguish himself. It should be noted that he did sign off on, and make some contribution to the motion picture which we consider this week. There are those who not so privately wondered why.

On a bad movie forum on which I regularly participate, it was suggested that Ross Jr's participation in this project indicated that he as either 1. Broke 2. intoxicated, or 3. being blackmailed by someone. I responded by considering each point in some detail. After all, the question is reasonable.

First of all, broke. As noted above, about all that Ross Jr. has really done in his life is to help introduce the chipmunks to a couple of new generations. Their Christmas album can't be earning enough royalties these days to buy a breakfast at McDonalds. The idea really burned out back in the 60's. So this possibility seems to have some promise.

Then we have intoxicated, or perhaps worse. Look folks, I don't know Ross Jr. I don't know what his personal habits are, and I have no desire to meet the man in court. So let me say here clearly that not only do I not know whether or not this is a possibility, but I am more than willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt and express unlikelyhood.

Finally, we have the suggestion that he was being blackmailed. Okay, let's be blunt here. Ross Jr has lived his entire life living the legacy of being the offspring of the man who created Alvin and the Chipmunks. How much shame can anyone really lay at his doorstep? This guy could probably have naughty pictures floating around of a foursome with Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears, and it wouldn't really hurt his reputation. Heck, if he was photographed playing poker with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, people would probably just say, "Cool he can play poker. But his Dad created Alvin and the Chipmunks. HOw do we get beyond that?"

So, how bad was this movie? It starred Jason Lee. As you remember, he attempted to flush his career late last summer by appearing in Underdog. What is next for Lee? An appearance as Phineaus J. Whoopee in the inevitable big screen version of Tennesse Tuxedo? At the point where you are attempting to develop your career by bringing cartoon characters into live action, your career is pretty far down the can. But let it be noted that he is one of the few guys who is actually climbing with this career path. At least they aren't Kevin Smith flicks.

The plot here is simple. Struggling songwriter Dave Seville (Bates) meets 3 talking chipmunks and becomes famous and wealthy. But just to add some conflict in the story, Dave loses control of their career, and realizes that he misses the chipmunks, and they are more than just friends and business associates. They are family. In other words, the closest thing this guy has to roots on planet Earth are three rodents. Kind of pathetic. And you think your family is weird?

Children will love this movie. A lot of folks around my age may enjoy the nostalgia. But geez louise, folks. Alvin and the Chipmunks? Hollywood has now officially become so desperate and starved for ideas that they are reaching back half a century for creepy ideas. Don't be surprised if next holiday season, we are treated to Barking Dogs, The Motion Picture.

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