comedy

MOVIE REVIEW: Super Troopers 2 (2018)

Super Troopers 2 delights but is destined to become just another cult film

SUPER TROOPERS 2 (2018 Broken Lizard)

Directed by:  Jay Chandrasekhar

It took 17 years and a crowdfunding campaign, but we now live in a world where a sequel to Super Troopers (2001) exists!  Judging by the mostly empty theatre on Saturday afternoon, Super Troopers 2 looks to become…another cult film.  Which is a shame really, because these beloved screwup cops are adored for a reason.  And that reason is Rod Farva.

Fear not Farva fans, for your favourite character played by Kevin Heffernan is again the butt of everyone’s pranks.  Thorny, Foster, Mac, Rabbit (still the rookie!) and Captain O’Hagen are reunited once again by Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter), who insists it’s the entire original team.  That means they’re stuck with Rod Farva like deja-vu.  Maybe they can stick him with the radio.

You see, only Vermont’s favourite cops can handle this job.  It turns out a big chunk of Canada near the border was surveyed wrong.  It actually belongs to the United States, and custody is about to be handed over.  The local Mounties will be replaced by US cops.  And that’s our gang.  How d’you think that’s gonna go over in Canada, eh?  Will we still be allowed to listen to Rush?

Mayor Guy LeFranc (Rob Lowe) is an ex-hockey enforcer known as the “Halifax Explosion”.  (Fun fact:  in real life, actor Rob Lowe is “obsessed” with the historical Halifax explosion of 1917.)  He seems friendly, but the locals and Mounties take an instant dislike to the US cops.  (Will Sasso, who really is Canadian, plays the funniest of the three Mounties.  Brampton’s Tyler Labine plays another.)  As you can imagine the drama unfolds against a backdrop of US and Canadian stereotypes.  Guns and “MAGA” vs. beer and “Eh”.

Our favourite cops find a hidden stash of drugs on abandoned property.  Sending them to a lab for testing would take two weeks, so of course they sample the drugs themselves to identify them.  This is how Thorny played by Jay Chandrasekhar becomes addicted to a hormone product called “Flova Scotia”.

Fans won’t want any more spoiled.  There are cameos too, so don’t look at the Wikipedia page and just wait to be surprised.  It was pleasant to see Marisa Coughlan (Chief Ursulu Hanson) and Lynda Carter back from the original film.  Brian Cox (Captain O’Hagen) is a serious Scottish actor of impeccable reputation (the Royal Shakespeare Company for example), and the fact that he came back for Super Troopers 2 must mean he’s a good shit.

Original music was performed by Eagles of Death Metal.  Give them credit for a good soundtrack, including a cover of “Blinded by the Light”.

Super Troopers 2 follows the formula of the first, meaning the plot doesn’t matter because you’re just waiting for the next prank.  Honestly though, this drug smuggling plot is an original one that has probably never been done before.  Expect some jokes from the original to be sequel-ed.  Liters of cola, “meow”…just go see it.

Super Troopers 2 is playing now at a theatre near you.

3.5/5 stars

Super Troopers are:

  • Jay Chandrasekhar as Senior Trooper Arcot “Thorny” Ramathorn
  • Paul Soter as Trooper Jeff Foster
  • Steve Lemme as Trooper MacIntyre “Mac” Womack
  • Erik Stolhanske as Trooper Robert “Rabbit” Roto
  • Kevin Heffernan as Trooper Rodney “Rod” Farva
  • and Kevin Heffernan as Captain John O’Hagen

Soundtrack album tracklisting:

1. Tooth Fairy – Super Troopers 2 Cast
2. Blinded By the Light – Eagles of Death Metal
3. Got the Power – Eagles of Death Metal
4. Litre of Cola – Super Troopers 2 Cast
5. Saturday Night Blues – Natural Child
6. Caulk – Super Troopers 2 Cast
7. Shit Makes the Flowers Grow – Folk Uke
8. Penal Colony – Dog Trumpet
9. Fruit Gum – Super Troopers 2 Cast
10. Big Bear – Steak
11. Easy Eating – Naked Giants
12. Fuck a Moose – Super Troopers 2 Cast
13. Shasta Beast – Eagles of Death Metal
14. French Excerpt – Super Troopers 2 Cast
15. Baby, I Won’t Do You No Harm – The Sheepdogs
16. 80Kmh – Super Troopers 2 Cast
17. If You Ain’t Got the Money – Who Are Those Guys
18. Lyin’ – Charlie Patton’s War
19. Complexity – Eagles of Death Metal
20. All My Friends – Blackout Party
21. Secret Plans – Eagles of Death Metal
22. Wham – Super Troopers 2 Cast

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REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 12 (2018)


TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 12 
(2018 Netflix)

Like any franchise with an extended lifespan, Trailer Park Boys has fans both devoted and hyper-critical.  Many are just glad the series is still continuing and still funny.  Others whine that the style has changed and many original cast members (Jonathan Torrens, Lucy Decoutere, Mike Jackson, Barrie Dunn) have left.  The death of John Dunsworth (Mr. Lahey) late last year put things into perspective.  Just be glad we have Trailer Park Boys at all.  John finished season 12, which was lovingly dedicated to him.

What’s the Boys’ deal this time?  After much pressuring from Bubbles, Ricky and Julian agree to go “legit”.  Bubbles is already running a successful brewing company.  Green Bastard beer is a hit.  Julian gets a job working for Gary in security at the mall.  And Ricky?  Odd jobs around the park.  The first is an unmitigated and hilarious disaster.  Things go way off the rails from there.

Lahey and Randy are back, with Bo-bandy trying to keep Jim from causing trouble.  But they need help supervising the park, and hire old nemesis George Green.  Barb Lahey’s still in charge, and a thorn in everyone’s side.  Sarah, Trinity, Jacob and Corey still reside in Sunnyvale.  And wait until you see what Ricky has done to the Shitmobile.  (Turned it into a two storey home with two TVs and both upstairs and downstairs bathrooms.)

One of the reasons you don’t miss Lucy this season is because she’s been replaced by Susan (Susan Kent of This Hour Has 22 Minutes).  She’s batshit crazy and mad for Ricky.  Their on-off-on-off relationship is a source of many of Ricky’s problems.  All he really needs is a break.  Maybe he’ll catch one from some “Angel Shit Sent Down From Jesus God”.

You’ll see.

Julian might even have a shot at love.  An old girlfriend, from all the way back in season one, reappears in his life….

The season ties into the real world release of the official Trailer Park Boys beer called Freedom 35.  It’s a fictional take on how that beer got to the store shelves.  Bubbles, who now drives his own green truck, has a secret recipe and it’s caught the notice of the Halifax Beer company.  They want to pay Bubbles to sell his brew!  Can Bubbles ramp up his production, or will Ricky fuck it all up?

Without spoiling too much of the fun, the best episode this season is called “Happy Birthday Bubbles”.  If you liked the old episode when the Boys played “space” and fired a rocket, you’ll love this one.  I hope Steve Rogers makes a full recovery though his helicopter sure is fucked.  Best of all, this season we return to the arena where Ricky shines like no other:  the courtroom.  Judge Ticklebury presiding.

Knowing that Jim Lahey has taken his last drinky-poo gives the season a bittersweet flavour.  How does the show continue now?  We don’t know, so just enjoy season 12 for what it is.

4.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: George Carlin – What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)

GEORGE CARLIN – What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988 Atlantic)

Why do we still look to the wisdom of George Carlin today in memes and videos?  Because his comedy was timeless.  What worked in 1988 is still topical in 2017.  On the government, Carlin blasts: “They’re against street crime, unless the street is Wall Street!”  Still true, just change the names.  Listen and you might even learn something, but you’ll be too busy laughing to realise it.

It’s actually incredible how applicable this 30 year old comedy show is.  Freedom of choice, freedom of speech, government telling you what you can and can’t hear.  I don’t think George Carlin would think much of the year 2017.  What is most appealing about George Carlin’s comedy is simply how he observes the absurdities of life.  If he makes you uncomfortable, that’s too bad, because the rest of us are laughing.

It’s not all topical observations.  Sometimes it’s helpful advice.  “Here’s one to try.  Go in to a gift shop, and ask for your gift.”  You’ll also enjoy his list of people he could do without.  “A proctologist with poor depth perception.”   True, true.  “Anyone who mentions Jesus more than 300 times in a two minute conversation.”  Yes, yes.  “A brain surgeon with ‘born to lose’ tattooed on his hands.”  Dear God yes.  And…”couples whose children’s names all start with the same initial.”  Say no more, my sides hurt!

The last 20 minutes of the album is dedicated to “More Stuff About Cars and Driving”.  From this, I gather there are many toll roads in the state of New Jersey.  Carlin goes after bumper stickers too.  Imagine what he’d think of today’s window sticker families!

Not for everybody, but possibly just what you need.

3.5/5 stars

DVD REVIEW: Billy Connolly – Live in New York (2010)

BILLY CONNOLLY – Live in New York (2010 Rykodisc DVD)

There are few funnier than singer/comedian Billy Connolly.  My theory is that it’s the Scottish accent.  Live in New York is the funniest comedy DVD that I own. I don’t buy a lot of them, because I find they have a limited lifespan before they get old. I have another Billy as well (Erect For 30 Years), which combines his old standup plus interview and documentary footage. From his Too Old to Die Young tour, Live in New York is the one to get; it’s pure gold.

There isn’t much “standing” in Billy’s stand-up.  He’s mobile, acting out his scenes, rarely stationary.  This was recorded in 2005, before Billy’s Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.  What storytelling ability!  Like a big beast, every story is recreated on stage for your entertainment.

Even though I have seen some of these bits before (Billy scaring his sister is classic), they all come across as if Billy is telling the stories for the first time. Halfway through a story, he will go off on a tangent. He’ll stop his story mid-breath, pause, and then say, “I just have to tell you about something…” Then he’ll tell another story, and come back to his original story 10 minutes later, to much laughter and applause.

Everything’s funny, but some bits here were absolutely hilarious. They include:

  • The afforementioned “sister” story which takes 10 times as much time to set up as the story itself.
  • The stories about his dad who had a stroke. If you have ever had a family member who’s had a severe stroke, then you’ll know. Billy nailed this one on the head, hilariously.
  • The “thistle” tattoo.
  • And best of…opera. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. Billy nails everything I love and hate about opera!

Audio is plain stereo, format is full screen.  No special features; just the show. Billy may be getting old, his hair may be white, but his humour has lost absolutely nothing over the years. This is, in my humble opinion, the very best DVD that Billy has to offer.

5/5 stars and 1 thistle tattoo.

REVIEW: Brocket 99 – Reservation Radio (1986)

BROCKET 99 – Reservation Radio (1986 comedy tape)

If you grew up in Canada in the 1980s, there is a chance you may have heard of Brocket 99.  This was an underground comedy tape that made the rounds in trading circles back in the day, and if you heard it, it was probably some lo-fi later generation copy.  Fair warning:  there are some out there who find Brocket 99 very offensive.  It’s a spoof of a native radio station on a reservation in Alberta, Canada.

The host of said radio station is “Ernie Scar”, played by creator Tim Hitchner, who also played most of the guests on the show.  Every other song that Ernie Scar plays is by AC/DC (sometimes two in a row), though the best tune is “Kaw-Liga” by Hank Williams Jr. The station ads usually involve alcohol in some way.  There are ads for Lysol spray (to get “ripped”) and Dr. Scholl’s foot powder (just put some in your moccasin).  Other contributors to the program include “Franklin Born With a Tooth”, and “Harley Squirrel Nuts”.

Obviously, in this country, the rights and well-being of native communities is a critical issue.  Teen suicides are only getting worse in native communities and their voices are not being heard.  I have long stood up for our native people, knowing full well their tragic history.  You may wonder, fairly so, how I can listen to this tape.  I believe the tape is clearly an over-the-top parody.  I don’t think it was created out of hate, though Hitchner had to remain anonymous for years until his death in 2011.  It seems more like a pastiche from somebody who’s familiar with these kinds of radio stations.  I’m sure a lot of this originated in Hitchner listening to reservation radio stations in his youth.  Radio people like Hitchner check out everything on the airwaves.  Much is just plain funny, regardless of the ethnic slant.  After “Kaw-Liga”, Ernie Scar proclaims “I fucking love that song”.  And now, thanks to Brocket 99, I do too.  One AC/DC track (guess which one) ends with Ernie advising to “Take your dink and sink it in the pink!”    Not everything is good, but some is.

Whatever your stance on this form of comedy tape may be, I remain torn.  Some is legitimately funny.  Instead of judging, I’ll leave this one up to you.

?/5 stars

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 10 (2016)

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 10 (2016 Netflix)

There is a reason we missed reviewing Season 10 of Trailer Park Boys when it came out last year.  A dark cloud hung over the season.  Mike Smith (Bubbles) was incorrectly arrested on domestic violence charges; charges that were swiftly dropped.  The damage was done, and this caused Lucy Decoutere to leave the show.  Even though Season 10 was quite great, we just couldn’t produce the gumption to write it up.  Better late than never.  With this long over and resolved, let’s take a fresh look at Season 10.

As usual, much has changed between seasons at Sunnyvale.  Julian now owns the park and is happy with his two girlfriends (Bambi and Dakota — shades of Charlie Sheen here), and his own casino/bar.  The house band:  Bubbles and the Shitrockers.  Ricky runs his Drugs Store, with all the weed and edibles you can imagine.  His daughter Trinity has been raising baby Mo with Jacob Collins, proud parents now ready to get married and make it official.  All this baby stuff has made Lucy itch for another one, so she’s been getting Ricky to bang her non-stop.  J-Roc is raising his son M.C. Flurry, and has brought back a new girlfriend from Mexico.  Randy’s supervising the park, and Lahey has left.  He’s living in a camper in a park next door, and “pacing” his drinking.  He’s using a breathalyzer to keep himself at a steady 0.120 blood alcohol level…but does he have the discipline to maintain that?

There’s a new three-headed nemesis in town.  Fresh out of jail is former park owner Barb Lahey, and she has backup.  Donna/Don (Leigh MacInness) has also been hardened by jail time.  And they’ve brought the tough-as-nails Candy (Candy Palmater), with her bright pink baseball bat to make sure they get their way.  They are determined to get the park back, and it looks like they have the legal means to do so.  So now the boys need lawyer money.

It’s illegal schemes again, one involving ripping off a former caveman, now “Denture King”.  This side-splitting sequence will leave you wondering how far they’re willing to go to save the park.  They need money bad.  Julian’s been letting everyone drink for free at his bar, and nobody’s paying the lot fees.  Finally Julian decides to turn Sunnyvale into a “all-inclusive” vacation resort.  Bubbles puts together an online ad, which goes viral and catches the attention of Jimmy Kimmel himself.

The first half of Season 10 is actually a little dull.  It’s a bit of the same old, same old.  Breaking the law, almost getting caught.  Bad luck and dumb fuck-ups.  Once the special guests arrive, the season takes on a whole new life.

 

A fleet of gangsta cars pulls into the park.  It’s Snoop Dogg, Doug Benson, and Tom fucking Arnold!  Snoop and Doug are there for the “all you can smoke” weed, but Tom has come for the superfan experience.  Turns out he’s a huge fan of the show (remember, Trailer Park Boys is a “documentary” on Julian!) and has a bucket list of things he wants to do at Sunnyvale:  driving the Shitmobile, sleeping in Bubbles’ shed, and banging Lucy!  “I can’t believe it!  We’re in Sunnyvale fucking Trailer Park!  I’ve seen every episode of your show, man!  It’s even shittier in real life!  I love it!”

As for Ricky, he’s happy just to “get high as fuck with Snoopy Doggy Dogg Dogg”!

As you can imagine, the presence of Snoop and his posse leads to many hilarious scenes and encounters.  Will J-Roc lose his shit completely upon meeting his idol?  Will Ricky be able to say Snoop’s name right?  The one thing fans would have expected out of a Snoop Dogg guest shot is seeing him rap with J-Roc or Bubbles, and you won’t be disappointed.  Episode 8 “The Super Bling Cowboy” has the musical scene you’ve been hoping for.  In fact it’s safe to say that Season 10 changes completely upon meeting Snoop.  The arc of the season takes a back seat to the guest stars, and some of that big star millionaire money might resolve a few plots.  However, at the same time, there is some ambitious writing going on.  Early on, we learn that Jim Lahey has a secret that he’s been hiding all along, that only Barb knows about.  This secret provides Barb some blackmail leverage, but it’s also setting up a storyline that will run for at least three seasons including this one.  Jim’s secret was explored in Season 11, but not fully resolved, presumably leaving it to also impact Season 12, coming in 2018.  (Post your fan theories in the comments!)  This kind of multi-season story arc has never been attempted on Trailer Park Boys before.

Keeping a show like the highly formulaic Trailer Park Boys fresh can’t be easy after 10 years.  Snoop, Doug Benson and Tom Arnold helped distinguish Season 10 as one of the most fun.  You can always count on Ricky, Julian and Bubbles to put themselves in some pretty ridiculous situations, and usually drag everybody else into their web of shit.  The guest stars offer a temporary pause to that, and allow our characters to have a bit more fun than usual.  And when they have fun, so does the audience.  However the ending has a sad note, accompanied by a familiar melancholy song.  It’s a strangely emotional denouement.  “There’s a voice, that keeps on calling me.  Down the road, where I always seem to be.  Every stop I make, I see my old friend…”

Maybe tomorrow, they’ll want to settle down…in the end, it’s about the characters, who are just a big family we’ve now known for 10 seasons.  Randy said it best:

“I love you Ricky!  I love you like a brother. I don’t like you at all, but I love you!”

4/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 11 (2017)

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 11 (2017 Netflix)

Thank you Netflix for saving the Trailer Park Boys.  It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but ever since the Boys returned to Sunnyvale with the excellent Season 8 (remember Orangie?), the show has continued unhindered by cast defections.  Season 11 is the first without Lucy Decoutere (Lucy) and Jonathan Torrens (J-Roc).  After already losing such favourites as Trevor (Mike Jackson) and Ray (Barrie Dunn), I can understand why some fans may have said enough’s enough.  Every show has its peak.  For some that would be the first three seasons of Trailer Park Boys.  For others, we have rolled with the changes.  Not all fans were unanimous in the acceptance of newer characters such as Col. Dancer, Don/Donna, and Candy.  For this season, those characters have been dropped.  The core park residents are now Ricky, Julian and Bubbles accompanied by Randy, Lahey, Sarah, Cory, Jacob and Trinity.  Little baby Motel is around, as is Barb Lahey.

Continuing a storyline from Season 10, Julian has vanished.  Bubbles is doing well now, having gone legit selling his own brand of organic pizza sauce.  It’s a hit, and a restaurant owner is willing to pay wholesale.  He has the whole park working together growing vegetables, contributing to the well-being of Sunnyvale and its residents.  All is well, but Bubbles does miss Julian.  Jim Lahey is sober and supervising, having truly changed this time.  He and Randy are planning to get married, while Randy is vying to get on the police force.  The absence of Lucy and J-Roc is explained satisfactorily.

When Ricky and Bubbles (now mobile with his own little truck) discover that Julian is now a lobster fisherman (or is he?) living in a shipping container, they go to confront him.  Ultimately, Julian’s return brings what it always does:  crime back into the park.  Snoop Dogg calls and wants weed, and lots of it.  Julian decides to hijack Bubbles’ pizza sauce business and convert it to a grow op.  As usual, Bubbles is driven near to the breaking point as the stress builds.

In Season 10, there was a revelation that Lahey may in fact be Ricky’s real father.  This is fully addressed in Season 11, via a lightsaber dual (hockey sticks and brooms subbing in for laser swords) and dialogue taken directly from The Empire Strikes Back.  Director Bobby Farrelly (Bobby fucking Farrelly!) must be given credit for the perfect Star Wars homage in Episode 4, “Darth Lahey”, right down to the action beats.  Brilliant stuff — a highpoint episode for this show.

There are cameos by celebrities and past characters. Look for Susan Kent from 22 Minutes, and NHLer Nathan MacKinnon, first overall draft pick and rookie of the year.  A few old adversaries have returned as well, to cause problems for our three lovable idiots.  Speaking of idiots, Ricky and Julian manage to bring the stupidly to new levels, but simultaneously, Ricky has a Yoda-like ability to trick cops.    Meanwhile, they have also managed to keep up with modern technology.  Cell phones, cameras and GPS now figure into the plots.  There are references to the Walking Dead and changing times.  This manages to keep the series feeling fresh.

After 11 seasons, it is understood that a show rarely hits the highs it once did.  Season 11 is a worthy effort; not in the Top Five, but certainly good enough at this point.

4/5 stars

 

DVD REVIEW: Rushmore (The Criterion Collection) #WesAndersonBlogathon

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Scan_20160807 (2)RUSHMORE (1998/1999 Criterion DVD)

Directed by Wes Anderson

Whether they know it or not, everybody has their first Wes Anderson movie.  Mine was Rushmore, an easy entry point, and I had never seen anything like it before.  It has a genuine quality, an old-fashioned look, and a killer soundtrack — all Wes Anderson trademarks.

The Criterion Collection (“a continuing series of important classics and contemporary films”) deliver some of the best colour transfers, and that is necessary for any Wes Anderson film.  Soaked in dark but rich colours, Anderson fills his work with vibrancy.  His visual trademarks are apparent right from the first scene, a hilarious fantasy sequence introducing our main protagonist Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman).  Max is more than a dreamer though.  He is a doer.  He dreams things and makes things happen.  As such he is the founding (and sometimes sole) member of multiple clubs at Rushmore Academy.  He writes, produces and directs lavish school plays with no thought given to compromise, or safety.  Unfortunately, Max doesn’t dream much of his own schoolwork, and never seems to get it done.  He is on notice.  Fail one more class, and he’s expelled from the school he loves so much.  Brian Cox (Super Troopers) is excellent as Dr. Guggenheim, the school principal.

Max soon meets steel magnate Herman Blume (Bill Murray), to the tune of “Making Time” by The Creation (1967).  The retro music and formal dress at Rushmore Academy gives the movie a timeless feel.  Could it be the 90’s?  The 80’s?  The 70’s?  Sure, why not.  Instead of working at getting his grades up, Max continues to dream.  He dreams of saving the Latin program in school (for no real reason other than just to do it), and of new teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams).  He’s a charmer, but often with ulterior motives.  He and Blume manage to find a bond together.  That is, before Blume himself falls for Miss Cross.

This leads to a strange rivalry between Max and Blume, with each jockeying for position in the Miss Cross stakes, with little thought given to how she feels about the whole thing.  It also sets up some pretty amusing situations, such as Max trying to build a school aquarium for Miss Cross.  He almost succeeds, too.  Max is a hard character to read, as he often wants to make certain impressions.  Blume, on the other hand, is clearly depressed, living in a sham of a marriage with two barbarian sons he doesn’t even seem to like. As their rivalry grows in intensity, so does the music, culminating in The Who’s epic live version of a “A Quick One While He’s Away” from the deluxe version of Live at Leeds.  Wes Anderson has a knack for a musical montage too, and Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby” is host to one such montage.  (Stevens also appears later on with “The Wind” in another song-appropriate scene.)   The Stones’ “I Am Waiting” is more great music for marking the passage of time.

Max might not have been the best student, but genius does not always get good grades.  His plays have an epic scope, and his aquarium does too:  $35,000 cost, just for the initial plans.  (Some of the aquatic movie footage that Max views may foreshadow a future Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, starring Bill Murray).  He’s also a perfectionist.  When it comes to his plays, every line matters.  “Don’t fuck with my play!” he screams to the star of his version of Serpico, right before getting punched right in the nose.  Finally young Max possesses a razor sharp wit, which he uses at will especially when it comes to those he considers love rivals, like Peter Flynn (Luke Wilson).

Rushmore is an ode to the creative mind.  After some humbling experiences, Max learns to use his inventiveness to bring people together.  His final triumph, to the strains of “Ooh La La” (The Small Faces), is to bring all the film’s characters (even the bully student Magnus) together in solidarity.  It’s all done with plenty of laughs, smiles and a few tears.

Wes Anderson utilizes a cast of talents he would work with repeatedly, with Bill Murray being the most obvious.  Kumar Pallana as Mr. Litteljeans, the groundskeeper, was an Anderson regular.  Brian Cox, who also participated in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, brings a sour delight to Dr. Guggenheim.   Secret weapon in this movie however is Mason Gamble as Max’s ally Dirk Calloway.  Another Anderson trademark is that each frame possesses astonishing detail and visual information.  Like beautifully painted and impossibly detailed storyboards, his scenes have a life and tell a million stories in the background.  Much like one of Max’s plays, actually.

Without a doubt, one of the best special DVD features is a selection of play adaptations by the Max Fischer Players, from the 1999 MTV Movie Awards.  The players do their own on-stage takes of:  Armageddon, The Truman Show, and Out of Sight.  MTV were producing some very funny bits for their movie award shows at the time, and these are some of the best. Utilizing the original cast and familiar music from the film, these feel like a fairly natural extension of Rushmore.

Other valuable trinkets include an on-screen program for Max’s Vietnam drama Heaven & Hell, and his adaptation of Serpico.  Of course there must be an audio commentary and that is by Wes Anderson, co-writer Owen Wilson, and star Jason Schwartzman.  There are also the requisite making-of featurettes and supplements.  The biggest selling feature of this Criterion edition for those who value physical products is the giant fold-out map.  From here you can follow the events of the movie on a delightful full colour sketch by movie artist (and director’s brother) E.C. Anderson.  In fact all the packaging for this DVD was designed by Anderson.

5/5 stars

RUSHMORE MAP

REVIEW: Bean – The Album (1997 soundtrack)

MOVIE SOUNDTRACK WEEK


BEAN – The Album (1997 Mercury)

Every once in a while, you just have to buy an album for one song!

Never mind that Randy Newman’s classic “I Love L.A.” isn’t on the CD, even though it was the most memorable song in the Bean movie.  Included instead is “I Love L.A.” as performed by…O.M.C.!  Remember him?  “How Bizarre”!  His one hit had expired and I guess somebody thought they could re-work the “magic” on “I Love L.A.”.  Maybe because both guys have a kind of flat voice, somebody assumed it would work.  It does not!  Why this would have been recorded, instead of simply using the Newman classic, I have no idea at all.


NOT INCLUDED.

You can also safely skip Boyzone (boy band crap but at least with a 70’s groove), somebody just called “Louise” (70’s-sounding easy listening), Thomas Jules Stock (barf-inducing pop), another person just called “Gabrielle” (60’s sounding soul), “Blair” (really stinky rap), and Code Red (saccharine soul pop).  Some of these tracks aren’t even in the movie.  If you want to hear some soul or funk, just put on an actual album by an original artist.

Songs you may want to give a moment to listen to include the campy 80’s classic “Walking on Sunshine” (Katrina and the Waves).  You never know when you might need that song in a collection.  Another good one to have is “I Get Around”, the original surf classic by the Beach Boys.  From 1964, the Boys were in perfect voice, singing Brian Wilson’s genius melodies.  Unfortunately it is interrupted in the fade by Peter MacNicol with movie dialogue.  There are a number of tracks with this issue.  Wet Wet Wet do a surprisingly decent version of “Yesterday” (in the movie, sung by Peter MacNicol).  It’s too sweet and shopping market ready, but hey:  it’s “Yesterday”.  Movie dialogue spoils this one too, at the start of the track.  Why do that?  I’m not familiar with the Wet Wet Wet discography, but this song does seem to be exclusive to the soundtrack (or at least was at the time).  What a way to ruin a track for the fans.

Worth noting is loop-laden “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Susanna Hoffs.  This funky version is worth having for Hoffs fans, but everyone else can safely stick with the Steeler’s Wheels original.  Also fun is “Art for Art’s Sake”, the 1975 original by art-rock band 10cc.  In the movie, Mr. Bean works at an art gallery.  Get the connection?

So what’s the one song I bought this album for?  A rarity.

BEAN AND BRUCEBack in 1992, Bruce Dickinson was working on solo material with the UK band Skin.  The album would eventually become Balls to Picasso, but it was a long way getting there.  I’m not sure what led Bruce to Mr. Bean.  Divine intervention perhaps?  Two of England’s finest exports had to meet, I suppose, and when they did, they covered “Elected” by Alice Cooper.  This was done for a music video coinciding with the general election that year.  As a final track, the Bean soundtrack reissued this hard to find single.  Bruce sings the vocals rather straight, very raspy, very much like his 1990 No Prayer for the Dying voice.  Rowan Atkinson in character as Mr. Bean reviews his campaign promises between Bruce’s growls.  “To help the Health Service, I promise never to get ill.”  Other promises include stopping everyone in Dover from going to the toilet (cutting pollution).  “I’m the nice one in the tweed jacket,” he says.  “Well it was a present actually.”

I’m a Mr. Bean fan, but there is little of appeal on this CD.  After all, Mr. Bean’s gimmick is that he rarely speaks.  Therefore, the movie dialogue stuff isn’t necessary.  It’s a shame they ruined tracks by putting dialogue on the fades.  If they had included the Randy Newman track, I might’ve been able to bump this CD up by half a star.

1/5 stars

Sorry Mr. Bean.  Your CD gets the dreaded Flaming Turd!

 

 

Blu-ray REVIEW: Paul (2011)

By special request of J, from Resurrection Songs!


 

PAUL_0001PAUL (2011 Universal)

Directed by Greg Mottola

You know how most comedies today put all the best stuff in the trailers, and the movies are crap? Paul is the opposite. The trailers sucked (Paul mooning out of a bus window?) but the movie is so much better. To my surprise and joy, Paul is a satisfying sci-fi-comedy with witty dialogue and great performances.

A lot of people (myself included) are sick of Seth Rogen, but Paul succeeds both because of and in spite of him. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost co-wrote and co-starred in a great movie here. It succeeds in combining characters that you actually care about with outrageous situations. Throw in some damn fine sci-fi references and superior casting, and now we’re cooking.

It is a science fiction nerd’s dream. Remember that “Homage-o-meter” that was on the DVDs of Spaced? You could do the same thing with Paul. From little bits of dialogue here and there (“Punch it!”) to flat out homages (re-enacting the Kirk-Gorn fight on the same mountain) this movie is loaded with loving references to the best of the best of the best.

What about the story?

Remember that “UFO” that crashed in Roswell in 1947? Turns out, that was Paul. He crash landed on Earth and has been here ever since, but he just wants to get home. See, the big nasty US government wants to cut out his brain, to gain his powers. In the decades since his arrival here on Earth, his image has been leaked out to us in the form of movies (great Speilberg voice cameo), so as to not shock us when contact is eventually revealed to the world. But before brain surgery and full disclosure, Paul escapes and runs into our two heroes, straight on their way from Comic-Con. Thus begins our sci-fi-bromance-road-trip comedy.

Before too long, Paul, Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg) are on the run from the CIA, with others complicating the mix. Two “hillbilly types” and a Bible thumper are also chasing them for their own reasons. Along the way they meet Ruth (Kristin Wiig), a sheltered Christian girl who has her faith shaken by Paul, but provides much needed help. And let’s not forget Keith Nash! (I want a Keith Nash spinoff movie!)

The reason this works are many. One: the humour is not too outrageous as it is with many of today’s comedies. It combines the right amount of emotion with the juvenile humour. Two: the plot twists and turns. Its carefully woven elements all rhyme, emerging at the appropriate times. Lastly, all the characters are actual characters. It seems character is a writing skill lost in many of today’s movies. Well, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg do not lack that problem. Graeme and Clive are as well written and fully fleshed out as any classic comedy characters.

Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Sigourney Weaver, and the mighty, immortal Jeffrey Tambor (as pompous sci-fi author Adam Shadowchild) all lend their skills to this wonderful movie.

Bonus features are fun. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the live action stuff was filmed since Paul himself was all CG. There are also two cuts of the movie – both equally entertaining.

4.5/5 stars