Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

July 27 - August 10, 2005
Issue #80

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   

Mercury Rising
Big Media Buys the Pharm
by Allan Uthman

 
Taibbi Come Lately
Beast Founder Discovers Ohio
by Matt Taibbi
 
In Defense of Stupidity
Krauthammer: Down with Thinking
by Allan Uthman
 

Misadventures of Boy Wonder
Rove was Always a Scandal

by Matt Taibbi

 

Shred Man Talking
Gonzalez, Ashcroft Have a Chat
by Allan Uthman

 
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Create your own Action Movie
Connect-the-Cliches and Make it Big in Hollywood!

 

Local Car Dealer Eats Entire Ham
Chris Crawford

 

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Brad & Angelina Shouldn't Adopt
China Owns our Asses
You're All Going to Hell
The BEAST Blog
Buffalo in Briefs
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Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
Kino Korner: Movies
[sic] - Letters
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Kino Korner: Movie Reviews by Michael Gildea
The Bad News Bears

Normally the idea of a summer remake of a classic cult movie from the ‘70s appeals to me about as much as staring at that creepy picture of last season’s Buffalo Jills I keep seeing at work. The idea of it is kind of sick at first.

You think of the cheesiness of the whole thing. A bunch of blank Chippewa chicks wearing gross outfits, sucking in their natural guts while maintaining their Vaseline-toothed smiles. Yeah. A lot of them look like drag queens who are, in fact, female. At least 1.5 million dollars in make-up combined in this photograph. And not a platinum blonde in the house.

But it’s not all bad. Let’s take Gillian Anderson’s little sister. Third row from the top. Second one on the right. I’d sure like to meet that girl’s mother. If you’ve seen the picture, you know who I’m talking about. Not the one with the psycho eyes in the middle, nononononono. The one with the hot pose and the bobbed crayolahead hairstyle. Sorry, forget the name.

But the point is that there are some great parts too. And although Billy Bob Thornton doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning against that pair of stems, he had me laughing. He puts in a performance that’s a few notches below Bad Santa—or the DVD release unrated Badder Santa, if you wish. Bad News Bears is basically a PG-13 version of an R movie. Director Richard Linklatter had some success with School of Rock, about a lovable loser surrounded by demented misfit children. And School of Rock is basically Bad News Bears. Or is Bad News Bears actually School of Rock? It’s a vicious, vicious cycle!

So many remakes these days are clones. They’re slightly tweaked, but they’re fun. The Bad News Bears is basically a clone, but a fun clone. Besides, how can you not enjoy a movie where the main character is named Buttermaker? I want to get a dog and name him Buttermaker. A gray Neopolitan Mastiff. Buttermaker. Even if it’s a female.

Just go. It’s no original, but it’s fun. It’s pretty much a pisswater version of the sturdy stout that Bad Santa served up. Do what you like; there’s worse ways to spend your money.

 

The Island

Speaking of worse ways to spend your money, there’s The Island, the latest Michael Bay movie. You may not know his name, but you know his movies. There’s Armageddon,Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys I and II. The Rock. You see where I’m going with this?

It’s something to sit through if you need to leave your brain at the door. But if you look at the plot of The Island, it actually requires that brain you’d normally ditch while watching a Michael Bay movie. You’ve got two clones who are supposed to be harvested for organs, fighting for their “lives” through a metropolis in the future. Do they have the right to live? Should you root for them? There’s certainly a lot to think about here. But before your head starts to hurt, the typical crazy-ass action sequence kicks in and depressurizes your throbbing temples.

And that’s where The Island goes wrong. For the first part of the movie, you’re drawn into this wild story. And you’re wondering where it’s going to go. It’s kind of like you’re on this date, and it’s going very well. She’s got great eyes, a little bit of a schnozz, but otherwise very pleasant.

Then this chase scene you’ve seen half a dozen times before shows up and blows its wad on her leg. Farts in the lobster bisque. Jumps on the table and starts dancing. Oh, what the guys down at the comic shop will say when they find out!

But Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are in it! Let’s add some street cred to this movie! Johansson’s the big thing now and McGregor’s old hat at this sci-fi thing. He did THREE movies with Lucas. Tom Maccio’s kid told me he’s going to kidnap McGregor in London and asked me what I thought.

Don’t ask him about Star Wars. You’ve seen those people! Talk a lot about movies where he’s shown his penis. Talk about Velvet Goldmine. You know, the movie where he fucks Batman in the ass! You want this man to fear and respect you! I told the boy.

Maccio’s tweaking. We think we’re losing the boy to the dark side. First Phantom of the Opera and now this. I told him it could be worse; he could be stalking Vin Diesel.

The Devil’s Rejects

When I finally saw House of 1000 Corpses, I remember thinking it was a Texas Chainsaw Massacre knock-off that was at points amusing before it did a 180 on its audience by settling down for the night in Hellraiser territory. Seeing Sid Haig’s character Captain Spaulding was worth the last couple hours of my life (check out the DVD and let the main menu run) and I was ready to leave it at that. The finish reminded me of an anime movie that made no sense at the end, like Wicked City or Akira, but whatever.

So now we’ve got the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects. House of 1000 Corpses came off like the wet dream of a guy who’s seen every horror movie ever made. And from what I understand, writer/director Rob Zombie has.

While The Devil’s Rejects is completely unnecessary, it has its moments. With a 1:4 scare to gore ratio, it gets to points where it drags. Don’t get me wrong, this was some of the worst gore I’ve seen in my time—and I grew up on some bad ‘80s horror—but this was all cock and no balls.

Rob Zombie can make a good-looking movie, there’s no doubt about that. But The Devil’s Rejects seems to be what you’d get if Quentin Tarantino did a horror movie: a cast of actors who were the Lawrence Oliviers of obscure horror movies from the ‘70s. But Tarantino would’ve remembered to throw a story in there. For fans of ‘70s horror exploitation, you’ll probably freak out to the point of a borderline seizure when you see all of the cameos. It’ll make your day. But if you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any of that, skip it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

There are two kinds of remakes: one is the kind that happens for the sole purpose of making money, where people think it would be interesting to see an updated version and see how something would happen in this day and age. There’s usually extensive tinkering with the plot and when the credits roll, you can only think about how unnecessary that all was.

Then we’ve got the second kind of remake, the kind where you’ve got an original film which, despite enjoyable moments, is flawed and there’s plenty of room for improvement. Hence Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Think back on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the rags-to-riches story of a white trash kid, his frumpy mother, and both sets of his grandparents in a perpetual orgy smack dab in the middle of his living room. He wins a trip to a world famous chocolate factory run by an eccentric... well, nut and the whole thing’s set to song. It was enough to make psychiatrists rich years down the line.

While Willie Wonka was entertaining in a nostalgically demented way, it wasn’t a great movie. Roald Dahl hated it. So it’s worth redoing, if you can get the right people to redo it. Get two insanely creative people like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to do it and you’re looking at an exception to the rule that the remake’s never better than the original film. They’ve never let us down.

And the result of the duo’s 4th teaming is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With Tim Burton directing, you know you’re getting a darker version than the Gene Wilder musical from when you were a kid. The coppertop huckster we grew up on is traded in for a demented geek man-child that could pass for either Marilyn Manson or Michael Jackson’s little half-brother.

It’s creepy. The Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (they’re all played by one guy) and the songs they sing whenever one of the kids gets knocked off are nearly Flaming Lips demented. A scene that springs to mind is when Mike Teevee gets voted off the island and there’s actually an Oompa Loompa cheese metal band playing. Not to mention the clever tributes to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Psycho.

And what would a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film be without a trademarked performance by Depp himself? Depp throws dementia, classic kid’s show host energy, and low-grade OCD to give one of his most bizarre performances so far.

The senior citizen orgy dinner show is still happening in accordance with the basic gist of the movie. But what adds nicely is the fairy tale atmosphere that Burton washes on.

I’d say check it out, but I’m kind of biased. Every time Burton and Depp get together, magic happens. And it’s a kid’s movie. Take that any way you want.

Wedding Crashers

The marketing of movies over the past few years has gotten good. Effective, but sneaky as all hell. Wedding Crashers is a prime example. It stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a pair of fun-loving galoots who crash weddings for free hors d’oeuvres, booze and tang. (And I don’t mean the breakfast beverage of astronauts.)

You’ve seen these two before, right? You remember. Starsky and Hutch. Oh, wait. Ben Stiller was in that too. And Owen Wilson was in Zoolander with the both of them. And wait, Will Farrell was in that toothenhedidOldSchoolwithVinceVaughnandthentheydidAnchorman andnextthingyouknow your mind’s bent. It’s like the time I heard that there was cocaine in Bob Hope’s system when he died.

So all of these guys and more of them I haven’t mentioned get together and it’s to the point where they’re starting to sell themselves in bulk. They’re turning into the Justice League of Funny Actors. But they’re not quite there yet.

With Wedding Crashers, we’ve pretty much got a Swingers sequel. Swingers Go to Hell is what we’ve got here. There’s no “you’re so money” and “where are all of the beautiful babies” that started as a nice breeze in the mid-‘90s and turned into a bitch of a tornado that spawned martini and cigar bars that died with The Big Bad Voodoo Daddies. We’ve got the same concept, but instead of hitting Vegas, they’re crashing weddings. We’ve got grown up versions of the Swingers guys who get played by their own game, when they become the uneasy boyfriends to the Big Man in Town’s crackhead daughters.

I was expecting Old School funny out of Wedding Crashers, but wound up with Starsky and Hutch funny, with some Dodgeball moments. You’re not missing a hell of a lot here. If you can see it eventually, go for it.

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