docrotwang

IMDb member since May 2007
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    12 years

Reviews

When Nature Calls
(1985)

Don't surrender to it -- just trust it.
Look...I'm not kidding you, here, trying to tell you this is a great movie. You're gonna start watching this movie, and roll you eyes at how cheap it looks. You'll probably scrunch up your nose at how stupid the first few jokes are. You may even heave a sigh, mumble some obscenities, and reach for the remote before the opening fake trailers are through.

Don't.

Instead, do this: tell yourself (honestly-you're not kidding yourself, either), that as cheap and dates as this flick is, "When Nature Calls" is going to do its damnedest to throw you jokes from every angle, it's gonna do it with sincerity and glee, and although it's gonna tread some familiar ground, this movie is going to surprise you. Reassure yourself that it's actually going to amuse you; let yourself in on the truth that, once you let this movie do its thing, you are going to get its groove and that groove will not stop.

Don't trust me. Trust yourself. Trust the movie, trust director Charlie Kaufman, trust the cameos by Morey Amsterdam and G. Gordon Liddy (!), trust the throwaway gag about the parking attendant out in the wilderness, and trust the theme song. You'll have it stuck in your head later, anyway, so you may as well make peace with it now.

Let the movie happen. Let the Van Waspishes move (mostly reluctantly) to the middle of nowhere, and go full "Little House on the Prairie" out there. Let the pointless dance number happen. Enjoy the part where the 'Native American' wrestles a cougar, which, in some shots, is a guy in a fursuit. Watch the family argue with each other via voiceovers; it's okay. Enjoy the surprise celebrity roast; that's what it's there for. Let that "running through the grass" scene go on too long. Yes, that's "Classy" Freddie Blassie as a psychologist. You're right, that scene really did become an ad for a wristwatch. See? Feel better now?

You'll agree with me, at the end of it, that what you've witnessed isn't a well-polished, high- (or even mid-) budget comedy with stellar performances and crowd-pleasing guffaws. But by the time the movie is over, and you've read the gag credits, and the theme song is stuck in your head (I told you so), you'll be glad that you've seen this wayward little gem, this obscure and forgotten dollop of early-80s goofiness, and you'll wonder who else is out there starting to watch it and rolling their eyes and starting to reach for the remote...

...and you'll wish you were there, at their side, telling them:

"Don't."

Riaru onigokko
(2015)

When absurdity takes itself seriously...
...you get movies like this one, and that's not saying much.

Solo: A Star Wars Story
(2018)

Thumbs Up by the Class of '77
"Star Wars" was my first love.

I was two-and-a-half years old. It didn't just shake my world, it helped to shape it; I've been a fan for as long as we've had "Star Wars", it ignited my imagination. It's why I love stories and movies, and why I've spent so much of my life thinking about how they're made and how they work.

"Solo", I'm pleased to say, satisfied both the youthful fan and the discerning critic inside of me. The former was constantly entertained, watching my long-beloved universe expand in new and organic ways; the latter was pleased and satisfied by the film's brisk pace, interesting characters, clear storytelling, and engaging performances.

In other words: "Solo" lives up to its roots as a pulp space opera romp, and it does it with charm, inspiration, and skill. I approve.

"Solo" has what it takes to be a good "Star Wars" tale: it's got humor and stakes, it has thrilling action and surprising reveals, moments of betrayal and of unexpected displays of loyalty. It has blaster fights and speeder chases ("Star Wars" has always been as much about hot rods as it has been about Joseph Campbell and samurai flicks). It has wacky aliens and bizarre headgear, despicable bad guys, funny sidekicks, and a charming rogue.

About that last part. Look, the new kid isn't Harrison Ford -- only Harrison Ford is. But Alden Ehrenreich shows up and gives his best Han Solo, and it's good -- it's good enough that I'm buying it, and I had fun watching him do it. (Not try it -- do it.) And this is to say nothing of the rest of the cast -- Donald Glover's Lando is delightfully arrogant and smarmy, Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra is believably conflicted and struggling with her loyalties. Paul Bettany sells creepy like he's on commission, and Woody Harrelson...yeah, that's how you play a scuzzy conman. He's a long way from "Cheers", tell ya that.

Look, make your own call. All I can tell you is this: I've been a fan for forty-one years, through thick and thin (remember when you got made fun of for liking "Star Wars"? I sure do), and I was perfectly pleased and entertained watching this movie. Not to go all "No True Scotsman" on you, but the disparaging remarks coming from other self-professed fans makes absolutely no sense to me. Whatever, that's their problem.

Lastly, consider this: I've seen a terrible "Star Wars" film. That was over a decade ago. "Solo" isn't it.

A Wrinkle in Time
(2018)

Space Oprah: The Motionless Picture
By the time "Wrinkle" reached its climactic scenes, where the stakes are highest and the resolution hangs in the balance, it carried so much forward momentum that I had to keep waking myself up so I wouldn't snore and bother the other theater patrons.

Yeah...it was like that.

Look, I'll admit: I've never read the book (shame on me, I guess, as a lifelong lover of SF and general metaphysical weirdness), so I can't judge DuVernay's "A Wrinkle In Time" as an adaptation of L'Engle's literary favorite. But I CAN measure it as a film that wants to tell a story, and on that scale...um...

...

Uy. Never is there a real sense of conflict with which to engage: the tone and mood are so lovey-dovey, from stem to stern, that the film never feels like it's progressing in any meaningful way. The galaxy-gobbling threat doesn't, and isn't. Good performers are wasted on one-note characters (be they whimsical space-nymphs or oh-so-precious baby geniuses) in puzzling costumes and -- were those hairdos? I think they were hairdos. I mean, they were where hair is supposed to be. Expensive FX fill the screen in service to a plot that *drifts* through its paces instead of *advancing*. If there was variance in the musical score, I missed it (but I think I didn't, because I think there wasn't). Michael Peña is asked to leave his "Ant-Man" charm at home and put on a goofy mustache and some red contacts for like a few minutes, and Captain Kirk (the new one, anyway) has a beard and is interesting, but doesn't really do anything and OPE what nope I'm awake not snoring sorry no.

This is going to be someone's favorite movie, and that's a beautiful thing; art needn't be categorically *good* to be *effective*, after all, and I love the hell out of "Xanadu", so I should know. But a film that wants to tell a story should be equipped to tell a story, and if it can't do that, then...it's doing something else, I dunno, I'm...

...

...huh? No, no, I was just...just resting my eyes. It's nice, maybe you should do the same.

The Curse of King Tut's Tomb
(2006)

"Oh, My God! It's Tut!"
Yes, Casper Van Dien, it's Tut. Well, actually, it's immortal, mystical, son-of-Ra Tut, with Mechanical Wing action, come to save the world from Set, Lord of the Underworld, in a (not very) climactic battle in a quarry.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you read that right. Sorry.

Look, I understand that pulp can take liberties with history and, you know, scientific accuracy. That's fine, as long as it's fun and at least somewhat convincing. But when it isn't, you get "The Curse Of King Tut" (DVD titled "The Curse Of King Tut's Tomb"), a meandering wonderland of nonsensical cuts, bad dialog, magical explosives that cut 90-degree angles straight down and characters who add nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, to the development of the plot.

What plot, you ask? Ah, yes. Casper Van Dien plays Danny Fremont, who is neither Rick McConnell nor Indiana Jones (and he's not Daniel Jackson, either), who has found 3 of the 4 fragments of the Emerald Tablet which King Tut (an immortal superhero, by the way) used to trap Set (who looks like a beardless Cthulhu) in the Netherworld. His nemesis Sinclair (Jonathan Hyde) belongs to a secret cabal called The Hellfire Council (who are not the Illuminati) and has stolen all three of them so far. If Danny and his pals (whose names you don't learn until, ummm...I dunno, 45 minutes in?) fail to find the final fragment before Sinclair, then Sinclair will wear his sunglasses a lot and have incredible powers with which to control the world. Also, there will be CGI demons.

Naturally Danny DOES find it first, but his proved ability to lose important artifacts and not, you know, take basic precautions secures the fact that Sinclair gets it anyway and gets the powers and ahoy, the CGI demons. There's the obligatory love interest (Leonor Varela, whose character's name we also don't know for a while), the Crazy Wise Man, The Sexy Spy, The Comic Relief Who Adds Nothing To The Plot, The Tough Soldier, and The Horrible Dialogue. Russ Mulcahy, who left all his flair in 1985 where the pop music was better, phones it all in.

Oh, and apparently India looks like Egypt. Who knew?

Seven bucks gets you the DVD at Wal-Mart; 3 hours gets you an experience you'll never forget.

Neither one, unfortunately, is refundable.

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