Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Moment by Moment




Boy, have I just seen a real winner today. This movie clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame of Bad Movies right along with the Twilight movies, Norbit, and Garbage Pail Kids among others. However, the only difference between those movies and the movie I’m reviewing today is that this movie is not presently out on DVD. Hell, it never even got a video release, probably because Universal, the studio that distributed this thing even though it shouldn’t have been greenlit in the first place, was so ashamed by it that they wanted to just banish it from existence. That’s how bad it was. However not quite as bad as what Universal churns out in theaters these days.

In fact, the only way to see this movie is on cable (if you’re lucky that is) where it is viewed every so often or if someone uploaded it to YouTube, which someone did but I won’t name names.  

And to think that this movie was released on the heels of two iconic John Travolta movies: Saturday Night Fever and Grease. He was a big star on top of the world and could have any movie he wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he was convinced to do this by producer Robert Stigwood (who produced both of Travolta’s big blockbusters) or as part of an expressed desire to do a movie with comedian Lily Tomlin, who at the time was also on a career high thanks to her Oscar win for the movie Nashville. I’m guessing that Lily decided to do this movie because her real-life lesbian lover/manager Jane Wagner directed and wrote this movie. And according to IMDB, this was the only movie she directed.

And another thing of note about this movie is that the hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000 tried to obtain the rights to this movie so they can riff on it and were denied. That was a big blunder on Hollywood’s part because this movie clearly deserves to be riffed on. However, the Cinema Snob recently reviewed this movie and I think that it’s about as close to a riff as you’re going to get.

Even though this movie is not available on video, you can’t deny that this movie exists. And since I’m reviewing it today, neither can I. So ladies and gentlemen, here is the infamous John Travolta romantic movie that Hollywood does not want you to see: Moment by Moment.

The movie opens with Trisha (played by Lily Tomlin), a bored 40-something woman who is going through a messy divorce, walking through Beverly Hills looking to refill her sleeping pill medication. So that pretty much explains why she looks so doped up and in a daze throughout the movie. I mean, her character is about as personality-challenged as Kristen Stewart. While out and about, she meets John Travolta’s character who is named Strip. Really? REALLY?! Strip who is in his twenties (Travolta was 24 at the time of this movie) is a drifter who has a bit of a shady lonely past and even shadier friends to boot. When we first meet him, Strip has the makings of a perfectly good stalker: Not leaving Trisha alone, talking endlessly even though Trisha’s looking at you as though she’s ready to call the cops at the drop of a hat. And Strip is like that for the first 30 minutes. In fact, his shtick is so annoying that a nice guy who can’t get a woman will somehow find this movie and watch what Strip is doing and then think to himself, “Oh, wow. Am I really like that? No wonder I can’t get laid.”

However, after at least 30 minutes of Strip’s annoying friendliness, Trisha finally starts warming up to him despite the fact that she’s still got the issues, most notably trust issues which is understandable because her husband cheated on her, not to mention personality issues. However despite all that, she becomes sexually attracted to the much younger Strip and before you know it, they start doing it. And for the record, I just have to say that Lily Tomlin should not be allowed to do movies that require her to do love scenes. Ever. And she and Travolta have absolutely no chemistry at all, both in and out of the sack. Not to mention that they actually look too much alike, but that’s kind of a moot point.

And shortly after they hook up, all the drama bullshit happens. Strip becomes like a puppy dog acting all needy and looking for validation because he never got that from his family and when she doesn’t say the three magic words, he departs in a huff. In fact he does that frequently for most of the remainder of this movie. He leaves when Trisha won’t reveal to her upper-class friends that she and Strip are in a relationship. And of course, there’s also the whole May-December relationship thing that threatens to tear them apart. And there is a mob subplot thrown in (Strip sees a mob boss at an art show he goes to with Trisha and he’s upset that the mob boss is one of her big society friends.) But like everything else in this movie, it doesn’t go anywhere.

So you would think that with all this thrown at our couple that they would just break up. But you know this is a love story which more often than not tend to have happy endings. Although they may just as well have been better off breaking up because there’s no chemistry.

As far as performances go, the supporting cast aren’t really familiar names and they’re not really in the movie long enough for us to care about them too much. So the only performances I can judge are Travolta and Tomlin. Like I said before, Tomlin has absolutely no business being in a romantic movie. She isn’t romantic enough. Plus it doesn’t look like she was even trying to give a good performance. It was like she was just going through the motions.

As far as John Travolta goes, at least he put in an honest effort. He comes off as playing a character who is a beta male trapped in an alpha male body. He starts out annoying and creepy before veering off into needy and desperate territory, displaying the type of attitude that would normally get a person dumped into the friend zone. At least for his credit he did look good. He’s frequently shirtless throughout the movie and back then he could easily pull it off. Now, well… not so much. Back then a man could have hair on his chest whereas now women expect their men to look like they do on Jersey Shore (no hair on your body at all.)

But personally, I think this whole movie should be thrown in the friend zone. At least with a movie like The Room (directed by Tommy Wiseau) it may have sucked, but at least it was funny because it reveled in its badness. This movie is just boring as hell with dialogue that will make you facepalm. I mean using pick-up lines like “Are you part of the Auto Club?” Really? That’s the best that you can come up with? THIS MOVIE SUCKS! But since this movie does not have a video release and it is very rarely seen, I’m not going to nuke it into Bad Movie Hell. Instead of letting this movie fade into oblivion, this movie should be studied and held up as an example of how not to make a romantic movie.

In fact, I’m gonna go as far as to offer Universal a challenge and I do suggest they accept it. Next year, instead of releasing Fifty Shades Freed (just say you’re going to release Fifty Shades Freed) you re-release this movie to theaters instead so that way, this movie can finally get a DVD release and we can finally learn how this movie came to be. In all fairness, I would think this movie would be better received if it were released now than it was back in ’78.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Last American Virgin



Well, folks. For this review, it’s time to take a little trip to the magical world of the 80’s. And as you know, the 80’s were the best time for movies, TV shows and especially music. 80’s FTW! The movie I’m reviewing today came out at a time when the teen sex comedy genre was booming thanks to the success of the 1981 film Porky’s, which I do vaguely remember seeing as a kid and came out the same year as the iconic teen sex comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I have the DVD of Fast Times but I haven’t watched it yet. In fact, the only time I’ve seen Fast Times was on TV and it was edited. And you pretty much know how people feel about R-rated movies that are edited down for television. In fact, I have a story about that but that’s for another episode.
Getting back on track here, even though this film came out a mere two weeks before Fast Times in the summer of 1982, it is the latter film that is most remembered while this film sort of disappeared into obscurity because of the fact that this movie offered a very controversial and very realistic ending compared to the usual stereotypical Hollywood ending where the nice guy is the hero and he gets the girl at the end. If you came to this review looking for that type of movie then you came to the wrong place because this movie starts out as a stereotypical teen sex comedy and halfway through it throws you a curve and gets really serious (with an abortion subplot not that Fast Times didn’t have one) and then there’s that ending but it’s not a happy ending. So without further ado, here is my review of the classic 1982 film The Last American Virgin.
The Last American Virgin is the Americanized version of a 1978 Israeli film called Lemon Popsicle and it is about a trio of friends, one of whom is a male virgin who embark on a series of misadventures while trying to get laid. That while Lemon Popsicle and the seven sequels that followed it were set in the 50’s, the Americanized version was set in L.A. in more contemporary times, meaning the early 80’s. And another thing that The Last American Virgin shares with its Israeli predecessor is that both films have the same production team: Golan and Globus as producers (meaning that the schlock factory known as the Cannon Group was behind this movie) and it also has the same director, Boaz Davidson. And since male virginity is a pretty serious issue these days with this crazy screwed-up dating culture we are in right now, now is probably as good a time as any to dust off this classic movie and give it a review. So without further ado, here we go.
The movie opens sort of like A Christmas Story (even though this came out a little over a year before Christmas Story) where just like in that movie, the protagonist sees the object of his desire. However instead of a BB gun, our protagonist Gary (played by Lawrence Monoson), pines for a really hot transfer student named Karen (played by Diane Franklin, best known as one of the princesses from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.) And just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, Gary is standing there with his mouth hanging open to the point where he is practically drooling whereas the girl just gives him the once-over and walks away. Then he goes and order the same exact ice cream that the girl does and immediately he sets about trying to find out who she is so he can get with her. Uh, creepy?
Here’s a little tidbit about Gary. He’s not the stereotypical geek like in most romantic comedies where the nice guy gets the girl at the end, nor is he bad looking. He dresses like a typical 80’s kid, collar flipped up, hair in a pompadour (though I don’t know why the boys in this movie all have pompadours in a teen sex comedy that is set in the early 80’s even though it is an Americanized version of a movie that is set in the 50’s), and a sharp dresser. He has a job as a pizza delivery boy at a pizza place called Pink Pizza and he is frequently seen driving around in a pink station wagon which is the company car. Uh… gay?
He is frequently seen palling around with ladies’ man Rick (played by Steve Antin) and David (played by Joe Rubbo), the token fat guy who unlike Gary has considerable success with women. Unlike his peers, Gary is still a virgin who despite his many trips to get laid, he usually goes home without getting any. In fact, the whole first half of the movie consists of the boys’ never-ending quest for tail.
The movie really begins with the boys picking up three girls (one extremely hot chick, one moderately attractive chick, and a fat chick.) They invite the girls over to Gary’s house where they promise them drugs and sex. They have the girls snorting Sweet ‘N Low because they’re trying to pass it off as cocaine and then the sexcapades begin. Since he’s the token douchebag in the movie, Rick gets the really hot chick, fat boy David gets the moderately attractive chick who is sort of reluctant to put out and makes David wait outside while she is getting naked. And guess who ends up with the fat chick? That’s right, our hero Gary and of course he was having difficulty getting her in the mood because clearly she’s more interested in eating rather than getting laid. At one point he even tries to take off her bra using a pair of scissors. But their party is interrupted when Gary's parents return home and pandemonium ensues, nearly forcing Gary’s mom to have a nervous breakdown especially when David mistakes her for his girl. That scene was hilarious.


While Gary attempts to find out about Karen, he even gives her a lift to school after intentionally deflating the tires on her bicycle (creepy) where he learns that she doesn’t have a boyfriend which would seem to indicate that she was a virgin. However he blows his chance with her yet again (friend-zoned) and soon he is shocked to find out that her woman senses were tingling for bad boy Rick the Dick, hence our love triangle which at least is not as bloated and overhyped as the Edward/Bella/Jacob love triangle in that franchise that will not be named.
And to make matters worse, the new couple tries to set Gary up with her geeky best friend Rose who is kind of weird with glasses and pigtails (after all, it was the 80’s) and Rose is immediately smitten with Gary but Gary is obviously oblivious to her. He wants the hot girl after all. Geeky attire aside, Rose is not that bad-looking. All she needed to do was lose the pigtails and Gary would probably forget about Karen. Of course that can’t really happen otherwise we wouldn’t have a movie.
The next sexual misadventure comes when Gary delivers pizza to a sexy Latina cougar whose sailor boyfriend is always out of town and she tells him she wants to hook up with him. And of course being too wimpy to follow up on it, he runs back and gets his friends. Are you really that much of a loser? If an obviously hot woman says she wants to bang you, you don’t run off and get your friends. You bang her!
So anyway, sissy boy Gary brings Rick and David back with him and pretend that they were on a pizza delivery run and decided to bring extra pizzas so that they had an excuse to go to her house. Then she proceeds to do a striptease dance for the boys which makes them as Beavis would say go Boooooiiiiiiinnnnng!  And as usual Rick the Dick gets to bang her first and then David goes next. And as far as that goes, well let’s just say that I’ll never look at the KC and the Sunshine Band song “That’s the Way I Like It" without seeing the image of naked David on top of a hot woman. But guess who decides to show up just as Gary is getting ready to get it in? That’s right it’s the missing sailor boyfriend who promptly chases them off.
And what’s the moral of the story, kids? Next time a cougar wants to sleep with you, don’t bring your friends!
And it is about this point where Rick begins to plan to take Karen’s virginity so he goes to Gary and tries to ask him for the keys to his grandmother’s house where he plans to get her alone. Gary responds by saying that he couldn’t find it and instead forces Rick to break his date with Karen and accompany him and David to a prostitute named Ruby, who obviously looks like she is past her sell-by date. This time, Gary goes first, but because of nerves, it’s unknown whether or not he finished or if he actually got inside her or not but apparently it does not go well. And sure enough the next day, all three boys end up going to school with itchy balls. Heh-heh. Got crabs?
And by the way, the scene where the boys go to a pharmacist and have to explain what is wrong with them is actually hilarious. And what would have made it even more hilarious was that the pharmacist was originally supposed to be a woman.
However the boys get over the crabs long enough for Rick to finally take Karen out to the football field (to Gary’s horror) to finally get her laid. Gary tries to stop them but he could not find him and it is the first time that we hear the Commodores’ single “Oh, No” in the movie (we’ll hear it again at various points during the latter half of the movie along with the movie’s theme song, “Just Once” by Quincy Jones with James Ingram.) Then after Rick and Karen finally do it, they go back to the local hangout where Gary is all alone, obviously depressed and Rick rubs some salt in Gary’s wound by bragging about hooking up with Karen and Gary leaves in a huff.
A few days later, Gary observes an argument between Rick and Karen in the library where he tells her to get lost and here’s where Gary sees his big chance to get with Karen. Now, there is a term for that type of behavior that I can’t think of it right off the top of my head right now…
Anyway, Gary learns that Rick got her pregnant and now wants nothing to do with her and since he obviously still has feelings for her decides to help Karen pay for an abortion. At the same time, he confronts Rick in the library where the two pretty much comes to blows and it’s curtains for their friendship.
Later on, while everyone goes away on a ski trip during winter break, Gary moves Karen into his grandmother’s house. He takes her to an abortion clinic while he runs off to pawn off his stereo and borrow money from his boss to pay for the abortion. After the abortion, Gary takes her back to his grandmother’s house where he behaves like a perfect gentleman even though I have to admit that his watching over her while she sleeps is kinda creepy.
And then the moment of truth arrives when Gary finally reveals his true feelings for Karen and she finally does kiss him as though she seems to be returning his feelings and then invites him to her 18th birthday party the following week. Next thing you know Gary is able to scrape up eighty bucks (thank god Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen was nowhere in sight and if you’ve seen Back to the Future Part III, you’ll get the joke), Gary goes to a jewelry store and buys Karen a gold locket with an inscription on it that says “To Karen, with love.”
And sure enough, the day of the party arrives and Gary arrives in the pink station wagon with Karen’s present, happy as can be because he’s finally gonna get the girl. And just when you think that this movie will end up with the traditional romantic movie happy ending that the nice guy is finally gonna get the girl and live happily ever after, he opens the door to the kitchen and sees his beloved Karen… making out with Rick the Dick! All I gotta say to that is... WHAT THE FUCK, MOVIE?!
If this isn’t the biggest bag-over-the-head blow to your balls! To think that after all that Rick did to her and after all that Gary has done for her, she still decides to take the douchebag back! Sound familiar? Sounds like today’s dating scene to me! And she has the nerve to smirk at him! (Bitch.)
And with that move, we see Karen's status elevate from the object of Gary’s desire to the damsel in distress to finally the movie’s real villain. Just like real life!
And so Gary leaves the party, taking Karen’s gift with him and the credits roll as he drives home crying. Now the way I see it, I came up with a couple of possible scenarios as to how this movie might actually end. First up, after he is done crying, Gary could go back to the party and beat the shit out of Rick and hope that convinces Karen that he is a real man and not a pushover. Second scenario: Gary goes back to the party and settles for Rose. I mean she’s not that bad looking for a total geek. Just lose the pigtails and switch to contacts and she’ll be good to go. Third scenario: He’ll go his own way, go to college and hopes he runs into another girl named Karen who will actually date him. That is, if he doesn’t return the locket and get a refund.
Hey, chin up, Gary. At least you can take comfort knowing that you’ll be killed by Jason Voorhees two years later in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. And no, you don’t get any there either.
The performances are actually pretty good in this movie. It is pretty well written for a movie that starts of as a generic teen sex comedy and then throws you a curve halfway through to make the film into an Afterschool special with the abortion subplot and of course that ending. And the music is wall-to-wall 80’s music. In short, this is American Graffiti rewritten as an 80’s teen sex comedy. It contains some of the most recognizable 80’s tunes, such as the Cars’ “Shake it Up;” Devo’s “Whip It,” which plays during the dick-measuring contest (I’m serious, there is one early in the movie in which the token nerd who’s not even a main character in the movie wins); REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You;” and Journey’s “Open Arms” to name a few.
I have to admit that Golan and Globus had guts to put out a movie with a very realistic ending that a lot of guys (especially in today’s screwed-up dating society) can relate to and for that they should be commended. On the other hand, if they think this lets them off the hook for Superman IV, they are sorely mistaken.
And there has been some talk about remaking this movie as far back as 2011 where Brett Ratner said that he wanted to direct a remake of this movie and I will post a link to that article in the description box below but I wouldn’t trust this movie to a director who’s only had two good movies his whole career: The first Rush Hour movie and Red Dragon. If anyone was to do a remake, give it to Judd Apatow. After all, he’s no stranger to movies about male virgins.
So in short, The Last American Virgin is a pretty good movie that clearly has to be seen especially since people can relate to this film primarily because it describes today’s dating culture. In fact, I think this movie predicted today’s dating culture. If you like 80’s nostalgia or if you do want to see a movie that does not have the stereotypical Hollywood ending, then this movie is for you. If you can find it on DVD or on Netflix, you’ve got to see it. It is clearly not to be missed.
Link to Brett Ratner on remaking Last American Virgin: http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/brett-ratner-says-hes-remaking-the-last-american-virgin

Friday, February 3, 2017

Deadpool




Let’s get on with this movie review and as you may have guessed by now, it will be a review of the comic book movie that has taken the world by storm and no it’s not Batman vs. Superman nor is it Captain America: Civil War. In a word, it’s Deadpool.
As you all know Deadpool, who also has the nickname “Merc with a Mouth” is a mercenary character who not only kills people but he also employs his bizarre sense of humor and he is perhaps one of the most self-aware characters in the history of fictional characters because he breaks the fourth wall a lot. So basically he’s either an R-rated version of Spider-Man or the Eminem of superheroes. I haven’t read Deadpool comic books but I knew of Deadpool prior to this movie. Hell I knew of him prior to his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I agree with you that X-Men Origins is actually unwatchable save for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and of course they got Deadpool completely wrong by turning him into this monster who has his mouth sewn shut which is not how Deadpool is supposed to be. And ironically Deadpool was played by Ryan Reynolds in that movie.
However, since Ryan Reynolds is a fan of Deadpool and like everyone else he was not happy with how Deadpool turned out in Origins and for years (not to mention doing another bad comic book movie) he set out to do a Deadpool solo movie and hopefully do the character right. Well, thanks in part to a phenomenal marketing campaign that involved social media, he succeeded.
And not only is it a win for Reynolds, it’s also a win for Fox Studios who own the rights to the X-Men franchise as well as the Fantastic Four but after the last Fantastic Four movie you might as well call them the “Shittastic Four” and you might as well just give up on Fantastic Four because the Fantastic Four are not interesting enough characters to carry a movie franchise. I highly doubt that even Marvel can do anything with them. And as far as the X-Men franchise goes it’s been hit or miss. Sure they’ve been commercially successful but box office success does not always equal quality. Prior to Deadpool I have seen only three X-Men movies in theaters: The first two X-Men movies and The Wolverine, which was far superior to X-Men Origins.
So without further ado, here is the review for Deadpool.
Most of what happens in the movie you already saw in the trailers such as Deadpool riding in the cab playing with the window and climbing through the cabbie’s window to chat with the cab driver. Then of course there’s the classic scene on the freeway where Deadpool is sitting on an overpass drawing a picture of him killing someone while listening to Salt-n-Pepa’s Shoop before jumping down into the passing vehicles where we get the freeway fight scenes which you also saw in the trailers so again it’s hardly a spoiler.
However, the movie pulls a Chris Nolan as Deadpool narrates how he came to be Deadpool such as how he (by the way his real name is Wade Wilson and he’s an ex-Special Forces operative who moonlights as a mercenary) met the love of his life, a stripper named Vanessa (played by Morena Baccharin who is no stranger to comic book entertainment because she appears on the Batman prequel series Gotham.) And during the course of the relationship, Wade finds out he has cancer and he ends up taking a deal from a guy who looks like Agent Smith from the Matrix movies (in fact Wade even calls the guy Agent Smith in the movie) and he ends up in a secret laboratory where he undergoes a treatment program that is supposed to not only make him cancer-free but gives him superhuman abilities, including accelerated healing. However, the doctor that experiments on him is a guy named Ajax (real name: Francis) who looks like Tom Hardy’s character from Star Trek: Nemesis who delights in torturing Wade and finally putting him in a machine that ends up horribly disfiguring him.
What ensues is the lab being destroyed but Wade survives and he sets out to get revenge on everyone involved with the lab. In turn he starts calling himself Deadpool and he starts killing everyone (one of the funniest sequences involves Deadpool trying to mow down a wounded guy with a Zamboni.) During the movie, Deadpool is aided by Colossus from the X-Men and a teenage girl called Negasonic Teenage Warhead who has the ability to turn into a powerful raging fireball (as Gina Carano finds out the hard way.) “Boy, I’d hate to be guy that pressures her into prom sex.”
Without going any further (since the movie’s still in theaters) as far as performances go, it’s safe to say that Ryan Reynolds is officially vindicated from X-Men Origins and he completely nails it. Everyone else is pretty solid and as far as Gina Carano goes, she’s still behaving like she’s pissed that she lost the part of Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. I also like the opening credits at the beginning where it’s basically a freeze-frame during an action sequence and they have such credits as “Some douchebag’s film”, “Starring this guy” (it also shows Ryan Reynolds’ Sexiest Man Alive issue of People magazine which also pops up again frequently throughout the movie), “a hot chick”, “a moody teen”, “a CGI character” and “Directed by a complete tool” among many others.
And before you ask viewers, yes Deadpool does poke fun at X-Men Origins as well as Green Lantern and like I said before, he even pokes fun at Ryan Reynolds himself by again having the Sexiest Man Alive magazine floating about. I also love the way that they have Ryan Reynolds emoting while wearing the Deadpool mask. And the music was chosen really well, with the predominant ones being Shoop, Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton (a song that has long been associated with Deadpool), Calendar Girl which plays during the sex scenes, Careless Whisper by Wham which plays during the end credits that includes an animated Deadpool playing a saxophone and so on.
And before you ask, yes there is a post-credits sequence so you have to stay past the end credits. I won’t give away too much but Ferris Bueller fans will definitely not want to miss it and there’ s a subliminal reference to the sequel.
So in short, Deadpool is hilarious. As far as I’m concerned. It’s the best X-Men related movie I’ve seen. There’s a lot to like about this movie and it’s a comic book movie for grown-ups. Don’t bring the kids even though little Jimmy will very likely find a way to sneak into the movie.