Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2" - Zach's Take

Well, if anyone ever needed proof that kids are stupid, here it is.

I'm kidding, of course, but this movie was really bad. However, I can't really raise much ire over it. Thinking about the film makes me sad rather than angry. Depressed rather than giddy. It's a bit of punctuation on the downfall of director Bob Clark's career. Sure, he's made some bad movies. But he's also made some great ones, like A Christmas Story or Black Christmas. The fact that his career was reduced to this (preceded by Karate Dog) is just disheartening.

This sad wreck of a film concerns the "story" of four babies (whose names I can't remember) helping Kahuna, a man in a baby's body, prevent the evil Biscane (played by Jon Voight) from using his mind control to take over the world. Yep. Stupid and predictable.

Anyways, the main baby is the only one who believes in the existence of Kahuna. See, Kahuna is a kind of urban legend among babies, a hero who rescues kids from orphanages around the world. What he's doing in a cushy daycare run by upper-middle class yuppies is never explained. Kahuna is a child, he's supposed to be five or six years-old, but it doesn't make any goddamn sense at all, because when he was a toddler, he accidentally drank some bullshit potion his scientist father created that prevented him from growing up. Except, he clearly ages somewhat between when he is first exposed to the liquid and when we see him (both in flashback and present day).

There's so much stupid it hurts. I'm not sure how I expect to explain when the movie itself can't even convincingly do it.

Ignoring all the dumb plot elements, the movie is basically an excuse to set up these terribly-staged fight scenes between Kahuna and Jon Voight's minions. In between those boring scenes we have the sassy black baby saying crap like, "You go girl" and "What kinda milk you drinkin'? It's awful. Not a single joke lands, because they're all hackneyed turds found in slightly better children's films of the early 90's.

Aside from that, there's some trite message about "finding your inner self" and the four stupid kids get their stupid super powers in a stupid climax that feels both too long and too short to be satisfying at the same stupid time. It's also devoid of any of the titular "superbabies" for the most part. Seriously, the main kid becomes Brain Baby (see, I told you it was stupid) but does absolutely nothing during the final battle. He's on screen for maybe 20 seconds. Also, doesn't the fact that the movie is subtitled "Baby Geniuses" render his superpower redundant? If they're all geniuses (which they're not, in any conceivable fashion) then how exactly is any smarter than the other three dummies?

Also, it feels like practically every line in this movie was ADRd. What is this, an Italian film from the 60s? Okay, I get that not all of the cast members can speak in complete sentences yet (I'm looking at you, Scott Baio), but why does it seem like everyone was dubbed-over?

Luckily, this was number 1 on IMDB's bottom 100 when we first decided to go through the list, (it has since been de-throned by this) so it can only get better from here, right?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies

And we're back.

Zach and I have decided to become the AFI of cinematic crap. We are using the IMDB bottom 100 as a general list, and after viewing all of them, we will create our own list of the "100 Worst Movies Ever Made."

This week, Baby Geniuses 2 topped the IMDB list. I had only ever heard about this film as a reference point. "Well it's bad, but it's no Baby Geniuses 2." And while I have seen a lot of terrible movies, nothing I've seen can really compete with Baby Geniuses 2. It isn't the worst film I have ever seen. I wasn't frustrated or annoyed as I watched it. I understand this film is for very small children and I'm sure it is appealing to them.

However, I believe this movie is everything that is wrong with movies made for children.

First, the movie gives children no intellectual credit whatsoever, yet it asks too much. The movie sets itself in Berlin in the sixties. There are references to the Berlin Wall and Nazis. Kids are not going to follow this storyline at all, and will more likely than not be bored out of their minds (I know I was). These scenes are juxtaposed next to men being kicked in the groin and cliche lines and racial stereotypes reused over and over again. I grew up with quality age-appropriate movies that were clever and fun without pandering to me or going over my head.

Second, Jon Voight?! What are you doing in this movie? I understand Scott Baio, but Jon Voight? I know you were in Midnight Cowboy, but don't feel pressured to sell yourself for the sake of a paycheck. You can do better!

Also, if these babies understand English, can type in English, and are aware of English...why then, baby geniuses, would you neglect to speak English? Now granted, I never saw the first of the franchise, but I don't really think there is a good explanation for this language barrier.

Overall, this move was really bad. I get that a 24 year old is not the target audience, but I would've despised this movie at 4--though to be fair, I was a very picky 4 year old.

I apologize for any grammatical/spelling catastrophes, but I am on cold medicine and just sat through Baby Geniuses 2.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Red State" - Zach's Take

I really wanted to like Red State. I honestly did. In fact, Maria and I had no intention of reviewing it for CFP until she brought it up after we finished watching it. It's a huge misfire, a complete failure. An utter disappointment.

I was with it for the first 30 minutes or so, despite some awkwardly-acted speech and the complete absence of anything remotely resembling subtlety. Then, as Michael Parks' Abin Cooper delivers his endless sermon detailing the church's beliefs, I realized that's all this movie was going to be. Exposition, weak characterization, and pointless, go-nowhere plot threads.

The film follows three teenagers on a quest to get laid after responding to a Craigslist-like sex solicitation post from a middle-aged woman. Turns out she's a member of the Five Points Church, a riff on the Westboro Baptist Church (despite the film weirdly mentioning the WBC and distinguishing one from the other), a cult that has been capturing gays and killing them, Old Testament style. From there, the movie turns into a siege, as the ATF assaults the compound and a firefight breaks out.

Except the firefight is almost entirely in the background, as John Goodman's ATF Agent character spends ten minutes on the phone in a one-sided conversation with his superior officer. Oh, and that's the second time in the film we see him talking on the phone for an extended period of time. When he's introduced, he takes ten minutes to deliver even more exposition on the Five Points Church, who they are, why they're different from the WBC, and why they've been buying guns. Of course, Kevin Smith cleverly hides this exposition by having John Goodman's wife cook breakfast. Now that's cinema!

There's a point, late in the film, where John Goodman's character mentions that he rarely finishes his supper. Now, all congratulations are in order to Mr. Goodman for losing so much weight, but in Red State, he DEFINITELY does not look like a guy who rarely finishes his meals.

There's really a lot to dislike about Red State. It starts interesting plot threads in one scene that never develop because a character gets shot and killed in the next. It's stupidly nihilistic, like a first draft screenplay written by a 15-year-old kid who just heard about the Wesboro crazies and the atrocities at Waco. There's no payoff. No reason to care about anything that happens on screen, because it's either too silly to accept or too overwrought and melodramatic to have any impact.

There's one major thing that happens towards the end which feels like the movie is finally going to become interesting, only to be explained away in the final exposition dump. I mean, it would have been silly and completely out-there, but at least it wouldn't have been dull like the rest of the film.

I suppose we could applaud Kevin Smith for trying something new, but this movie feels really amateur. And while he might have stepped out of his comfort zone, nothing in the film feels bold or daring. It strives to be ambitious, but it feels like a small, contained movie, with a ton of bizarre tonal shifts. One moment it's a Hostel-style horror movie, the next it's an action, then a comedy.

Red State is, sadly, a bad movie. The only slightly redeeming thing about it is Michael Parks' acting, but the film surrounding him is so bad, such a chore, that it all goes to waste.

Please go back to being funny, Kevin.

Red State - Maria's Take

I have to give Kevin Smith some credit. He took a risk and also took full control of his own work. However, having said that, the new, "edgier" work he produced with "Red State" feels more like a step backwards than anything else. Before I review, I just want to restate that I give Kevin Smith some credit for stepping outside his comfort zone and working on a very ambitious, albeit overall amateur work.

The first words out of my mouth as the credits rolled were, "Well, that was very on the nose." There was nothing subtle nor innovative about the film. Characters were flat and most offensively misused. The acting was pretty decent. I think Melissa Leo always has the slightest tendency to overact and try too hard to steal whatever scene she is in. Michael Parks gave a good performance, but his character had little depth and was simply evil. What bothered me about the Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) character was there was simply no justification for his cartoonishly evil persona. I understand blind faith, but Abin had a weird, warped sense of morality. Kevin SMith asked far too much of the audience. We had to instantly buy that these people just read The Bible too literally and felt it necessary to murder those who are not perfect. I needed more story.

The writing was mediocre at best. Characters shifted loyalties without any explanation, plotlines went nowhere, and the whole film felt like a teenager's rant about religious zealots and corrupt government. Smith starts several different storylines, but ends them before they can get legs. Many of the storylines are far too convenient, and Smith is constantly telling the audience what is happening without any attempt at showing things. I understand John Goodman is a terrific actor, but he doesn't need to spend the last twenty minutes of the film explaining scenes Smith, for whatever reason, felt were unnecessary to film. There are a couple of instances where I felt completely ripped off--it is like if a death in a slasher movie happens off screen--something gets lost.

As we were discussing this film during the credits, I tried to make some analytical sense of what I had just seen, but it seemed unfair that I felt compelled to do so. There were many moments that appeared to be Kevin Smith attempting to channel the Coen brothers. Unfortunately, something got short-circuited in the wiring, because even the worst Coen brothers movie would put this disappointing film to shame.

I actually feel a little guilty for disliking this film so much. I am a big fan of Smith's and this one was more painful than the release of "Cop Out." He never promised that movie to be anything more than it was, but this film he was touting as the defining film of his career.

I do appreciate his attempt to stretch himself as a director and challenge his comfort zone. I think he had an interesting premise, but the execution failed to be anything more than a bizarre, overwrought siege film.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Must See-Attack the Block

Hi Everyone!

Sorry we have seemingly forgotten about our blog--we haven't! We moved across country and had to get our lives in order. Now all that nonsense is done, we need to get back to what is really important. Now, this entry is very different than our usual piss and moan sessions about the crap Hollywood spews with way too much money and not nearly enough talent. Last night, Zach and I were lucky enough to score tickets to a preview showing of the wonderful British film, "Attack the Block." This year movies have been very inconsistent. While "Thor" and "Scream 4" were both fun and enjoyable romps, both lacked the heart that drives, in my opinion, a truly exceptional film. "Attack the Block" filled that void.

Set in South London, we meet Moses, Pest, Jerome, Dennis and Biggz, a group of petty teenage criminals patrolling the streets of their beloved block, just looking for trouble. It is no spoiler to say that they become intrenched in an alien invasion, and they must band together in order to save the world.

In a lot of ways, this movie was supposed to get me excited about the upcoming J.J. Abrams helmed "Super 8," but instead, now I worry that "Super 8" could never surpass perhaps not even reach the level of enjoyment I experienced when watching this (fairly) low budget British flick.

The aliens, certainly very cool in their own right, take a huge backseat to the emotional changes that arc the characters as they unite to fight a common enemy. Moses, the leader of the teenagers, is a rough and gruff kid whose had an obviously difficult life. Whether he chose or was inevitably placed in the leadership role is an interesting character trait and the actor, John Boyega, brilliantly and subtley portrays the character with a passion to protect the only home he's ever had.

There are many funny moments, usually spewed by Alex Esmail's cocky but loveable Pest, but also shouldered by Nick Frost's pot-smoking Ron and Luke Treadaway's hipster Brewis. We were warned by many blog outlets that the biggest issue with the film is the thick accents of the lead characters. Not only wold subtitles have been wholly unnecessary, the language is a character in itself. Even swears and insults are written with such style, it reminded me of if "A Clockwork Orange" fused with Shakespeare.

I cannot endorse this movie enough. Please, when it gains (I hope) a wide release, take some time and watch it. Movies like this make all the junk we sit through completely worth it. Believe, bruv. Truth.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coming Soon - "4 Life"

Does the trailer ACTUALLY include the words "A New Beef?" Nice.

This is probably going to be better than The Wire. Probably.

"Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss"


Honestly, the review should just end there. This movie was so bad, easily the worst we have subjected ourselves to. I made the (retrospectively stupid) decision to watch a "romantic" movie last weekend because it was nearing Valentine's Day. For the record, Zach and I spent our Valentine's eating ridiculously large burritos and watching Adam Green's brilliant "Hatchet 2." To say I made a stupid decision picking this "family friendly" film would be the understatement of a lifetime.

I am a huge Shakespeare fan. I am not one to quote "King John" off the cuff, but I have taken several courses in the Bard, and have seen many, many terrible interpretations. This, my dear readers, topped them all.

First, the story is a very (VERY) loose adaptation of the work. For some reason, Tybalt and Paris have been replaced by the Prince. This boggled me. The Prince is supposed to be the peacekeeper. In this version, he is a lecherous villain who lusts after Juliet. He also looks more like a booger or "The Blob" than a seal.

Oh yeah, all major characters are seals...take a look at the title...see what they did there? The only main character not a seal is Friar Lawrence who is some voodoo spouting squirrel otter. The director also created a Dory/Flounder/Chip (insert any cute Disney comic relief here) character named "Kissy," voiced by his daughter. This character had confused motives and no real reason to exist in this universe.

This movie tried really hard to follow the Disney plot structure, but it failed on all accounts. Also, spoiler, nobody dies. Why would you even attempt a "Romeo and Juliet" adaptation without killing off at least one character as a means to move the plot forward?

This is a really hard review for me to write. I am honestly struggling. I hate that this director thought he could adequately re-imagine the Bard's classic tale. However, the man gave it his all. He single-handedly animated this work. Even though I want to rip it into shreds, as he did with Shakespeare's words, the man worked his ass off. He wanted it to be something great.

It was awful, painful, offensive, and stupid...and I now officially hate the song, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." But I will be damned if I don't give the guy some credit for sticking to his guns, even on a project so obviously flawed.