Tag Archives: Movie Reviews
Post by Josh Zinn.
One of the biggest embarrassments I ever experienced as a child was believing that other people would be as interested in celebrating the birthday of my dog, Whiskers, as I was. In my mind, it was plainly obvious that my faithful companion was more than deserving of a celebration marking his fourth/twenty-eighth year; thus, I spent hours hand-crafting invitations for each person in my third-grade class (minus that smelly girly, Felicia, who had scabs all over her arms, sucked the liquid out of dandelion stems, and always wore too much rayon). Alas, however, even the promise of confections, canines, and Nintendo wasn’t enough to lure a single one of my so-called “friends” away from their Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget reruns. I was devastated; Whiskers nonplussed. We both ate a lot of cake.
I was reminded of this massive mongrel mistake recently whilst watching the television show Drop Dead Diva. Though a program about a beautiful but vapid model that dies in a horrific car crash and is reincarnated as a brilliant but overweight lawyer might not initially appear to have much in common with the trials and tribulations of a boy and his birthday dog, similarities abound. Case in point: Neither the lawyer, Jane, nor Whiskers are able to find much love in a cold, cruel world that dismisses them as second-class citizens based upon their outward appearance. Point 2: Jane has a guardian angel that feeds her nuggets of advice while Whiskers was fed nuggets of chicken by his guardian angel, me! Point 3: Jane pines for her modeling days and beloved boyfriend, Grayson. Whiskers, on the other hand, pined for the rubber pork chops he had chewed up alongside several of my beloved Chewbacca action figures. It’s all just too uncanny!
Drop Dead Diva is about as intellectual, thought provoking, and stimulating as its witty-by-way-of-secretaries-having-margarita-night-at-Chili’s-and-sloshily-coming-up-with-it title suggests. Like my dog’s deserted birthday party, it’s one of those programs that appears (and probably is) empty and sad, but is nonetheless filled with semi-delicious cake that you can gorge on when no one else is there to witness your rapid descent into self-pity. Sometimes, when you and your dog are dramatically ruminating over the meaning of friendship, a little junk food is the only guest you need.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Maybe it reveals too much about my personal life or the priorities of my parents, but ever since I was a wee tot I’ve had a deep fascination with the world of beauty pageants. Now, truth be told, I’ve never held much interest in the good deeds this year’s “Miss Southern Soy Belt” hopeful professes she can achieve by winning a crown (though she really does do a sensational job spreading awareness about the embarrassing pain of lactose intolerance, bless her heart), but being an audience to the numerous hardships this brave voyageur of beauty and intelligence (she has a bachelors in Communication!) must endure to claim her throne of dairy-free domination is a guilty delight on par with, well… It’s at least as good as the new, “BOLD and ZESTY!” flavor of Wheat Thins I sampled at Target the other night and that, let me tell you dear readers, ain’t chicken scratch.
The young competitors featured on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, however, don’t have a much of an interest in saving the world from the side effects of cheese—that is, unless salvation takes them to Build-A-Bear afterwards. No, in the minds of these pint-sized pageant participants, the ultimate goal in life appears to be proving their jazzercise mettle in a vicious arena that’s conveniently located in the conference room of a moderately priced, Midwestern hotel. There, amidst an array of stackable chairs, rotund women in stirrup tights, and the desiccated remains of Pixie Sticks, these tiny purveyors of sunshine wage war with one another through song, dance, and Ritalin-induced fits of hysteria and ennui. As desperate mothers wipe the Cheetos crumbs from their bosom and waddle up to the stage to guide their child through yet another Lita Ford-inspired routine, the world waits with baited breath as to who will be crowned the Ultimate Grand Supreme of such “star-spudded” events as the Nicholas County Potato Festival Pretty Baby Pageant. Needless to say, only one small fry can come out on top.
Toddlers & Tiaras isn’t good for you. It isn’t good for your family, for your neighbors, or even for that annoying woman in the supermarket who feels obliged to comment on the tastiness of the frozen dinner you’ve just put in your cart. In fact, for many, watching its endless parade of prepubescent, prettified Pollyanna’s is akin to welcoming the apocalypse to the dinner table. That said, there’s something eerily calming, refreshing, and downright entertaining in knowing your life will never be as terrible or tacky as the families you see on the television screen every week. If it’s true that everybody loves a clown (author’s note: No, it’s not) then Toddlers & Tiaras is a three-ring circus of painted faces and problematic parenting that’s guaranteed to make your misery seem just a little bit brighter!
Post by Josh Zinn.
Dear Val Kilmer,
Hi, you don’t know me, but I’ve been watching you. Not obsessively, mind you—I sort of forgot you existed after The Doors came out, so you needn’t worry about me judging you on all the weight you’ve gained—but enough that I can say that your 1985 movie, Real Genius, is a touchstone of my childhood. Sure, you share that honor with vanilla Dunkaroos, an episode of Punky Brewster where the Space Shuttle Challenger blows up, and the television movie, The Deliberate Stranger, starring Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy, but nonetheless, my 12-year old self’s sense of humor is indebted to the collegiate shenanigans you effortlessly showcased in that film.
Upon the suggestion of a friend, I recently re-watched Real Genius in hopes of stoking those Betamax fires of nostalgia. There you were again, Val, looking as irreverent and crazy as I remembered, wearing an “I Love Toxic Waste” t-shirt whilst sporting toy antennas on your head—Fun! Unfortunately, you weren’t as funny as I once thought. In fact, aside from your penchant for always being in the right place for an 80’s synthesizer-set montage, you were kind of just there, smirking your education (and my time) away in flip-flops and hair gel. I’m sorry to say this, Val, but this time around I found myself far more fascinated by the unusual kid you take under your wing as your protégé. Y’know, the really smart one who looks like a cross between Tyne Daly and Martin Short? Yeah, that one.
See, Val, I’ve grown up and with age, I guess, comes the realization that Real Genius, while still fun in a stay-in-bed-all-day kind of way, isn’t as groundbreaking a film as I remembered it to be. Sure, it may be one of the first movies to successfully combine advanced military weaponry with bikini-beach dorm parties and Jiffy Pop, but even amidst all those fluffy nuggets of combat, keggers, and comedy are kernels of unpopped gold. I know this is all so sudden and I apologize, but I didn’t realize until I saw you again that accentuating your character’s eccentricities by wearing bunny slippers to class just isn’t going to cut it in post-justaboutanythingsinceIwentthroughpuberty world. Times are tough, Val, and it takes a real genius to know when to up the ante. Until you figure it out, my eyes will be on Cagney… or is that Lacey?
P.S. – If it helps, I’m pretty much over Dunkaroos too.
Post by Josh Zinn.
Someone once explained to me the popularity and allure of Jennifer Lopez, but, like so many things these days—including the rustic art of mayonnaise making, Diamonique®, and AP calculus—their words were lost on me. Honestly, I just couldn’t fathom how this averagely talented woman had become a worldwide media empire, shucking out albums, movies, and television appearances at a rate far eclipsing the brief but prodigious career of Nelson (the band, not Mandela). Sleek, slender, and bedazzled, Jennifer Lopez is a Versace-clad snake coiled around the globe, squeezing talent from the planet and leaving mediocrity in its place.
Like a snake…
Like a sn…
Of course, how could I be so silly?! The obvious reason Jennifer Lopez is one of the biggest stars in the world today is thanks to her starring role in a little film (that’s a simple-minded guilty pleasure) about a really, really, REALLY big snake.
Like On Golden Pond without a pond, Katherine Hepburn, or numerous Academy Awards, Anaconda is a film that raises questions which strike at the heart of the human experience, such as: Why does Angelina Jolie’s dad (John Voight) have a psychic connection with a gigantic snake? How can a fair-skinned Eric Stoltz stay surnburn-free in the middle of a tropical rainforest? If a snake swallows Owen Wilson and no one sees it, did it really happen? Huh, what’s Ice Cube doing here? And finally, how is Jennifer Lopez able to juggle the pressures of being a dedicated documentarian delving into the discovery of a lost native tribe—cause, folks, there’s always a lost native tribe—whilst maintaining a scantily-clad figure seemingly designed by Spandex?
Not content merely to stop with these quizzical queries, Anaconda also assaults the senses with an ever-increasing amount of tension as the audience is left in suspense wondering whose inability to act, the Anaconda or Ms. Lopez, will cause the death of their career first. Judging from the snakeskin boots J.Lo wore last season on American Idol, it would seem that question has already been answered.
Post by Josh Zinn.
I used to think Molly Ringwald could do no wrong. A ginger-haired vixen whose teenage life John Hughes made privy for the world to see, she seemed to possess an essence of purity and strength amidst a silver screen sea of split-ended, gawkified Ally Sheedy’s and Martha Plimpton’s. The bulk of my youthful devotion to Ms. Ringwald stemmed from the fact that she was the star of Pretty in Pink, a film that explores with delicate nuance the all-important and timeless dilemma of how poor people are able to go to their senior prom. A veritable rose-colored expose on the back-stabbing world of secondary education, Pretty in Pink filled my impressionable and destitute self with fantasies of a life that paid no heed to ritzy clothing labels like Gotcha, Generra, or Esprit, but rather found solace and redemption in the thrift store aisles of the Salvation Army. Like a teenage Norma Rae, Ringwald’s character Andie stands up to her school and the expressionless, there’s-no-way-he’s-a-teenager rival James Spader by saying, “No more!” to the khaki and boat shoe Gestapo. She’s her own woman and she’ll wear a used Mennonite floral print dress to Biology if she wants, thank you very much!
Unfortunately, amidst all this couture rebellion the film also contains a romance with the stunningly washed-out Andrew McCarthy, whose character Blaine may be the most mystifyingly dull seventeen-year-old boy ever to be intended as swoon-worthy. Pay no attention to his vapid stares, trembling voice, and muted color palette and, instead, feast upon the rich social messages Ms. Ringwald is daring the world to acknowledge. True, perhaps Andie has an attraction to pasty, indecisive men who consider being cultured to mean a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a platter full of quiche bites, but when it’s time for THE BIGGEST NIGHT OF HER HIGH SCHOOL LIFE, the antique, coffee-stained lace gloves are off and she’s ready to fight.
Although Pretty in Pink may lack the depth of other films dealing with the conflicts of class and pastel prom wear, it nonetheless validates itself thanks to an amazingly terrific soundtrack (seriously) and Ringwald’s frumpy-forward performance. Prom nights may come and go, but discount fashion is forever.