IHAO on ... Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza - READER REQUEST

I hate pickles.  I hate vinegar.  I hate ketchup.  I was very afraid of this pizza.  Very afraid.  Like, afraid I might throw up on the pizza.  And that is pretty terrible thing to do, considering that it wasn't my pizza but a slice given to me as we went on the journey of the Double Cheeseburger Pizza.

This pizza is normally $17.  As my roommate and I went on our journey to the other side of town to there, we listened to some wonderful Japanese pop music and talked about how thrilling our town is (fact: it is not very thrilling, that was the joke).  We made it to our destination, and surprise number one, the cashier was awesome.  Telling us how honored he was to be giving us pizza.  He was the nicest dude.  He also knocked 7 bucks off the pizza, and gave us a discount so I could drink me a Sunkist as my roomie downed his Dr. Pepper.

Pictured: I dunno, but it came up when I searched "Dr. Pepper"

The car ride back was filled with terror and laughter, as the smell of pickles and ketchup filled the air.  We were both dead certain the pizza sauce had been completely replaced with ketchup.  But we make it home, take a picture, and I pull a nice big slice, making sure to not avoid pickles.

This pizza's super good.  I really really liked it.  I have only two complaints: 1) for something called DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER, there is very little meat; and 2) if we hadn't gotten such a great deal, this pizza would have way to damned expensive.  With those out of the way, the pizza itself.

The toppings are wonderful pieces of roma tomato, good quality meat, and of course, pickles.  The cheese is standard pizza cheese, maybe a little extra cheddar.  But the real big deal is the secret sauce.  The sauce is amazing.  A+ by itself.  It tastes like a combination of alfredo, thousand island, and hints of ketchup and mustard.  It was glorious.  That sauce ... my god.  Perfection.  Other than my two complaints above (with the money being a BIG deal) this was a great buy, and I would be willing to go out of my way and buy this pretty often.

Grade: B+


IHAO on ... Paycheck

I recently talked about Minority Report, the abysmal adaption of Philip K. Dick's short story that's got the same name.  Recap in the linky.  Philip K. Dick has written many MANY stories that have become films.  I very much hope to some day own all of them, good or bad, just to have a full collection.  Some of them you probably have heard of, like Total Recall and Blade Runner.  Some you may have never heard a peep about like Screamers or Imposters.  I'm going to talk about one that has all the Total Recall-style sci fi we have come to love from Dick's stories, and then add in a healthy dose of John Woo action!

Paycheck stars soon to be Batman, Ben Affleck, as a man who is an engineer that makes his money by doing highly sensitive "backwards engineering" and then having his memory wiped.  Normally these jobs are a month or two.  But for this film, it is a few year stretch.  Upon waking up from that now memory-less few years, he finds that the items he left behind are no longer there, replaced with an assortment of random items he has never seen before.  And going to a bank, he finds that the huge payout he deserves was rejected ... by himself.  From here, it is a mystery action adventure as he tries to piece together what he figured out already but now no longer remembers.

The movie is fun, action packed, and have an amazingly cool world.  The trick to good sci-fi is not going too overboard.  Minority Report went crazy overboard on stupid sci-fi tricks.  But really, Paycheck COULD have been set in the 90s.  The technology is important, but not important to the setting, just the plot.  It makes the story much more accessible and interesting.  I really really enjoyed this.

Ben Affleck gets a bad rap, I think, or at least I think he has perceived as having one, but this year in particular I've found more and more films starring him to love.  Uma Thurman is also in this, and I actually really like her here, which is not normal, because other than the Adventures of Baron Munchausen and the coffin scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2, I find her at best neutral.  But she is very believable, which is incredibly necessary for this plot, and for the emotion of these characters.

I really cannot recommend this movie enough.  It has some silly moments of John Woo-ness, but the story is solid, the action is great, and the whole thing is crazy enjoyable.

Grade: A


IHAO on ... Leonard Part 6

I've found in the past, doing video reviews, that reviewing good movies was the hardest thing to do.  It was hard to find things that were funny, entertaining, and actually critical to talk about.  And in written reviews, this is similar, though not quite as hard.  No, writing written reviews of terrible movies is much harder.  You may think "what are you talking about, just rip it a new one!"  But I'm trying to avoid hyperbole and trashing of films, and trying to be actually critical.  I want to be made aware that a film fails on a bunch of levels, and why.

I say all that because Leonard Part 6 is easily the worst movie I've ever seen that I also like the least.  Some movies make me angrier.  Some movies are objectively worse.  But Leonard Part 6 is a failure that I absolutely hate.  It was awful in almost every regard, with the lead song and two jokes being the only saving graces of this terrible James Bond parody film.

Leonard Part 6 is a film so notoriously terrible that Bill Cosby, star and producer and story-writer, told people after making it to avoid seeing it.  He wanted no one to see this film.  Cosby was box office poison, and this film just continued to cement that fact.  The premise of the film is that a retired CIA operative is called back in to stop an evil group of vegetarians from brainwashing animals and using them to kill other CIA operatives.  And what is terrible is that it SOUNDS like it could have been funny.

I watched the movie with a roommate, and he said described the film perfectly: "It's like ... they are trying so hard on the jokes, and they aren't good ... they are just so cute."  This film endeared itself to him, which is great.  I'm a big fan of films that are terrible but you love, like Barbarian Queen or The Room for me.  But Leonard Part 6 to me is just ... well, it is just this reaction over and over.

Every single bit of comedy comes from a place that seems like they knew what they were doing with jokes, but almost none of them work.  They are too subtle or just don't actually have a punchline or are so into themselves they just continue to circle on themselves over and over.  Here's a great example.  In a briefing sequence, there is a chair that is a little too far out, right next to Leonard.  And every time someone walks by it, they trip a little.  Just a stumble.  That's the joke.

That reaction is how I felt with EVERYTHING.  When the ex-wife tries to make nice and offer Leonard food, she just poors it on him because she is subconsciously still furious with him.

There is a 2 and a half minute long montage that uses bloopers from previous scenes, and culminates in a joke where Leonard went through all his ties before settling on one of the last 5 for his suit.  Yeah, that was the punchline, that he was finally happy with one of the last six.

The movie has a lot of long boring non-joke scenes as well, which makes the film almost unwatchable.  I would not recommend ... but it could be really entertaining for a group get together to just watch something absolutely terrible.  Because that is what this is.

Grade: F--


IHAO on ... the 2014 WWE Elimination Chamber

We are on the cusp of the WWE Network.  And I am very excited to have it, because it will allow more wrestling viewing, and reviewing.  The big PPV to sell the WWE Network, the last big stop on the Road to Wrestlemania, is the Elimination Chamber.  Just like with the Rumble I’ll go match by match and grade them.  Here we go.

Firstly, it is absolutely ridiculous that this poster is all about Stephanie.  Yeah, that’ll sell this PPV.  *rolls eyes*

Big E. (c) defeats Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship

Zeb Colter, the manager of the Real Americans (of which Swagger is a member) starts with his normal stuff, you know, Polar Vortex = Immigration Problems.  “We want Ziggler” chants start but are not strong, which is very good.  You see, with the crowd reaction from the Rumble, crapping on a match that I honestly didn’t find good to begin with, and reacting like they did in the Rumble match itself, it has emboldened fans to not only chant what they actually want, but to be real trolls about other things.  The fact that this match just started, that we haven’t seen a thing from these two dudes, and some guys are trying to “smark” chant is a little worrisome, but they are shut down, and Big E does some amazing athletic stuff right off the back to keep the fans into this match, right now.

“We the People” chant … and it continues to show this trend of “Smark” chants – Smark means Smart+Mark, or the wrestler terminology for a fan who knows a lot of the behind the stage information and that informs their fan attitude – except I love seeing this: the smarks are chanting, sure, and that is a little irritating, but it has no effect on the actual real chants.  Big E still getting pops, Swagger still getting heat (though not very much, because he’s Swagger and isn’t a very good wrestler or believable bad guy), and the smarks are chanting what they want, but still watching.  This is good news.  Hopefully.

Great diving spear spot through the ropes by Big E.  There were some good spots, some weird ones, and a botch or two, but the fans were overall into the match, and the two guys did a good job opening the show.

Verdict: Good

Bad News Barrett segment 1 – Pointless heat.  :/

New Age Outlaws (c) retain against the Usos for the Tag Team Championships

This is a fairly standard match.  Perfectly fine.  Most interesting thing was Road Dogg (accidentally?) calling one of the Usos “punk” which got a CM Punk chant (he is on sabbatical because of unhappiness with how the company is currently going).  This match is here to build the rivalry up for a Mania match, where I suspect the good guys will win.  Wiley heel veterans able to eek out another retain.  It is very sweet to see the Usos smiling even though they are supposed to be upset over the loss because they get to be two guys they respect in the ring.  Nice, even if they need to be babyface upset to get that fire for another match.

Verdict: Fine

Bad News Barrett segment 2 – More pointless heat, though this time being honest about what’s gonna happen to Daniel Bryan tonight.  This one was better than the last.  This gimmick is stupid.  Poor Barrett.  :/

Titus O’Neil defeated Darren Young in a grudge match

Ahh, the tag team that had potential is split apart so both men can flounder.  At least they both get a PPV match.  Right now.  I like Young, he does some nice spots and is a natural babyface, though the crowd is not behind him.  The crowd really only popped for the Clash of the Titus finisher.  Terrible commentary as they talk about everyone that isn’t in this match, from Ron Simmons to JBL not picking up the tab at restaurants.  Well, they talk about Titus.  Because that’s what this is, a match to make Titus be a bigger heel for singles.  Too bad he is outclassed by the other heels in the next match, and will not do much.  This match had no fire, no real “grudge” to it, and was just a glorified squash.  Sad.

Verdict: Bad

Bad News Barrett segment 3 – Cheap heat, though it is hilarious as he has to cover up for the reason his podium isn’t working like it is supposed to and does well doing so.  He’s a good talker, with a terrible gimmick and an awful script to work from.  Let him do his own stuff, guys.  Sigh.  :/

Wyatt Family defeat the Shield

This match has six heels in it.  Except there is one face, he just doesn’t know it yet.  Roman Reigns.  He is a new big star and gonna be huge.  And I’ve loved him since I learned about him years and years ago.  Wyatt is also a new star with his great match against Bryan last month.  This is the future of the company.  This is six men who three or four of them will be a BIG deal.  We are tired of Cena and Orton and part-timers.  We want new.  We want Wyatt, and Reigns, and Ambrose, and Daniel Bryan!  And that is where the world is going … maybe.  Hopefully.

JBL: “I don’t know if everyone here knows WHO to cheer for, they are just cheering for a fight!”  Very observant, though it is clear that the Shield are the faces here in this contest, even if they aren’t going to act like faces (which is good).

There are some slow points in this match, but it just builds, and builds, and BUILDS.  There comes  a point that would have been the TV ending, but Reigns kicks out of the roll-up, and we are firmly in HOLY CRAP territory from that point forward.  Bodies everywhere, everyone killing everyone, it is chaos, and glorious.  There is a lot of story going on, too, as Dean just disappears during that ending sequence.  Reigns does what he does best, be a sole survivor and eliminator, but this isn’t a match with eliminations, and he can’t put the Wyatt’s away as they keep stepping in front of his moves before they can hurt Wyatt himself.  Great match.  Not the best match by any means, but a lot of carnage and a lot of fun, with Seth Rollins REALLY being the stand out, with a lot of great spots and evasive maneuvers, as well as big bumps.

Verdict: Great

Cameron beat AJ (c) by DQ for the Diva’s Championship; AJ retains (thank god)
There is absolutely no way this wasn’t going to be terrible.  AJ is a very good Diva, and that was never going to counteract the awful that is Cameron.

Verdict: The Worst

More Bad News Barrett segment 4 – this is a commercial for WWE Network.  \:

Another commercial, this one for rip-off legos for WWE, featuring all the comedy characters: Santino, Emma, Khali, Los Matadores, and El Torito.  Awful.  Both of the last segments were better than the Divas match.

Batista beat Del Rio because of course he did

I feel really bad for Batista.  I love Batista.  He’s here to really come back and wrestle, to promote his movie, to give fans what they want.  But he’s also become the poster child for all the terrible part-time shenanigans and refusal to listen to fans, and has been turned into an effigy with we fans give our heat and burn.  Not only that, but there is absolutely no way that he can stay face doing this.  He’s trying, he really is, but his own anger makes him vocal and act like a heel.  And it is justified anger too, because it is unfortunate that the fans boo him.  It isn’t his fault, but he is the closest thing to a target the fans can boo for.

On top of that, this match wasn’t good.  They even had Del Rio try to do some cheap heat, and it just did not work.  Which just brings on the boos.  Even JBL has a little fun and says Boo-tista once as the fans chant it, and for Daniel Bryan, and just all sorts of things.  Most chants are for other part-timers, though, which I don’t think people are thinking about or caring.  Or even worse, the original intent has just become heat on Batista, which is crazy unfortunate.  Batista heads to Mania, needing to be a conquering babyface, and actually a heat-magnet.  If they don’t throw a babyface into that match with him and Orton (because of course Orton is going to win) then the fans will revolt. 

It also looks like Batista got injured in the match, as well.  Hopefully it is not a big deal.

Verdict: Bad

Randy Orton (c) because OF COURSE HE DOES in the Elimination Chamber v. John Cena, Cesaro, Sheamus, Christian, and Daniel Bryan

Randy Orton was always going to win.  There was never any doubt.  And Daniel Bryan was always going to lose.  Because of course he was going to.  This Elimination Chamber has the most interferences in a match that is SUPPOSED to be basically interference free considering it is in a huge f-you cage that I’ve ever seen.  It was ridiculous.

That said, this match is pretty great.  Because OF COURSE IT WAS GONNA BE!  You have 4 legitimately great workers, a heel Orton who is finally getting his heel-groove back, and Cena.  This was gonna be a good match.  A great match, really.  Brutal, awesome spots, great elimination spots, fantastic storytelling with Bryan’s injury and Christian’s rage at being the only one to not beat Orton, the series of interchanging double teams, reminders of former feuds, the amazing “pussy” chant as Orton hides in a chamber, immediately followed by an amazing Brogue Kick!  This is just great.  The crowd gets a little overstimulated at some points, but are never bored, and genuinely seems interested the whole time.  The interferences and shenanigans, all Russo-WCW styled, are what deflates this match.  But the actual 40 minutes of wrestling are phenomenal.  26 minutes before the first elimination. 

The way the PPV ends is so on the nose, with the fans being upset with Daniel Bryan’s loss, it either has to actually lead somewhere (Bryan emotionally triumphant as the new champ at Wrestlemania by being added to the Orton v. Batista match) or it is going to retroactively make this match way way worse, which is unfortunate, but that is the burden of storytelling.  Also, it should be noted, that Bryan kicks out of 2 finishers, including an amazing RKO kickout right at the climax of the match.  He is put over huge with the injury, the interference, and the kick outs.  The PPV ends with Bryan looking on, angry and shaking his head over Randy’s celebration and cheap win, for god’s sake.  So we’ll see.

Lemme talk about this Bryan thing a little more, because why not, you are this far in to the review: think if the storytelling currently being used for Bryan and his matches and not listening to the fans was what they did 15 years ago with Stone Cold.  Constant losses, constantly screwed, constantly never having the upperhand, constantly refusing to give the fans the man they cheer for.  Very very different world we are in, 15 years in the future from the Attitude Era.  This truly is the Disillusionment Era.  And ALL that said, I really feel positively about the whole Bryan storyline and it really does remind me of the Austin storylines … but WWE has been known to kill my positivity before.  Let’s remain hopeful, because there are still a few Raws before Mania, and anything can happen.

Verdict: Great, but potentially soured

How is Mania going to end up?  Why does Orton still carry around both belts?  Will 2014 continue to be the Year of the Wyatts?  Does HHH have a plan beyond screwing the fans out of their money?  We’ll see.


IHAO on ... Time After Time

Time After Time is a time travel film without science fiction, a fish-out-of-water situation without comedy, and a satirical look at American culture in 1980 without drama.  None of that is to say it is a bad film.  It is merely a difficult one to put a thumb on.  But I'll make it easy for you: Time After Time is a romantic thriller.  The time travel is just to put a unique spin, but at its core it is about a smart but out of place man meeting a woman he falls deeply for and she falls deeply and instantly for him as his best friend, who he just learned is a terrible psychopath, tries to rip everything away from him.  Except make the two male characters H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper.

Firstly, the special effects are terrible.  Mostly because they are not important to what the film actually wants to do.  But if you are going to have science fiction elements, if you are going to time travel, you have to put SOME budget into special effects.  But nope, the time machine looks terrible, the effects are terrible, and it is just a real let down.  The film isn't about those things, but every time they do pop up in plot or circumstance, it is just a slap in the face because it is so out of place.

That out of the way, the acting is adorable and terrifying and just excellent ... but also a little off.  I don't know if they were allowed to ad lib a lot or if the script is written in such a way to sound like mumbling and bumbling speech, but I don't know if I should applaud the script ... or the acting ... or just look at it all and just say, "Oh ... honey."

This is a gif I hope to use a lot more.

That feeling actually expresses my thoughts on the whole film.  But I do genuinely like it.  The romance is sweet, and a little off and quirky.  The tension all the way through to the finish is really on point.  But then the special effects show up and just ... deflate everything.  Just makes me say, "Oh, honey" again.  I like the movie.  It both feels like it tries too hard and not enough.  But when it comes down to it, all three actors are great, and when they do the romance it is really nice, and the suspense is really taut, and the little bits with Malcolm McDowell just EVERYWHERE are great.

Grade: C+


IHAO on ... Taco Bell's Chili Cheese Burrito and Sangrita Blast

Doing something a little different today.  Because this past week I've been eating a LOT of Taco Bell!  I know, I know, it is bad for me, I'm fat, blah blah blah, good, we have all that out of the way.  There are two new things at Taco Bell I want to talk about, grade, and share my opinions on.  So I'm gonna.  Let's do this!


As a small child, I loved Chili Cheese Burritos.  They were my favorite.  So much so it took me a longer time than I'd like to admit to even try a taco.  It took chalupas, with their formerly wonderful bread, to break me out of my tube-shaped obsession.  I guess I was too afraid of Taco Neck Syndrome.

How did Shaq avoid it and have such a healthy career?!

My father would tempt me with them, or reward me, or just be lazy when my mother was off doing patriotic somethingorothers so we'd go to Taco Bell and I'd get my love.  They were my second favorite food, right below pizza on the charts.

CCBs were just sooooooooooo good!  Warm, soft, cheesy, chili-y!  They were a thing of legend for me.  Wherever I went, if there was a Taco Bell, I knew what I was getting!  I was set.  Two of those and a large drink, and I was good to go.  Losing weight, I would just get water.  Gaining weight, I'd get four CCBs.  It was glorious.

When I went to college I had my first huge culture shock at a Taco Bell (for the purposes of this editorial) ... the South Carolina ones didn't sell CCBs!  It was unthinkable, but Chili-Cheese Burritos were seasonal, and at this point they had left the South Carolina market behind.  Sure, I had found a love of Cheesy Gordita Crunches and still had a soft spot for the soft warm bread of Chalupas, but there was a hole inside my stomach.  Shaped like a CCB.  My parents helped by bringing a cooler filled with them whenever they visited, 6 or 8 or 10 CCBs, all hanging out in a cold cooler making the not-too-terribly-long drive up.  But soon, my hometown's Taco Bell got remodeled ... and the CCBs were no more.

I don't know when my letter writing campaign I was always planning on starting but you know stuff happens get off my back ... ahem ... I don't know how it happened, but it did.  CCBs are back.  And they are just as good as I remember for the most part!  Every restaurant is different, and going at different times leaves different levels of quality in the CCBs.  But if you get them fresh, they are perfect.  Perfect tubes of perfection, filled with cheesy-heaven.  Get them.  Around 11:30am is good, or if you can go late enough so they have to special make you some.  A good way to make sure they are fresh is to change the order just slightly, like ask for extra spicy or add sour cream.  Then you are guaranteed the greatest food Taco Bell ever made.

Grade: B++


As a soda drinker, I used to love Surge and Mountain Dew and all that stuff.  But I've calmed it down, only going out of my way for two Dew flavors: Livewire, the orange flavor that has been discontinued for awhile I think, or at least I never see them anywhere any longer; and Baja Blast, exclusive to Taco Bell.  Now there is a new flavor, Sangrita Blast.  How does it stack up?

It is a black cherry flavor, and is incredibly, incredibly tart.  Almost too tart for me.  And almost too sweet.  And almost too carbonated.  In fact, I think it is actually all those things.  I still like it quite a bit.  Dark cherry sodas are great for the most part, especially non-cola flavored ones.  But a pure dark cherry flavor, full of all that wonderful tart is finally here, and it is actually just too tart for me.  And probably most others.  I have a pretty strong stomach for crazy terrible foods, but it hit my tongue like a bag of tacs.  Sharp, but still pleasant.  But it is a sipping drink, not a drink for a gulping man.  Or woman.  I think it is worth a drink, and it could become your favorite.  But I found all its qualities a little too strong for me, so it ends up just being a middle of the road soda, all things balanced out.

Grade: C

There we go.  Food reviews.  You like this?  Think it is a waste of time?  Want more?  Less?  Lemme know.  I Have an Opinion is still evolving, and I love you readers' input.


IHAO on ... Minority Report - READER REQUEST

Requested by my wife, Melanie Jessel

In the film Minority Report, Tom Cruise is framed for a murder … kinda … that he did commit … kinda … and then he solves a mystery about an old murder that was never solved because the precogs didn't see it ... kinda.  It is not good.  Roll credits.

Tom Cruise is not happy with that decision.  Do the review.

Fine, fine.  I don’t like just coming out in the beginning and telling you my thoughts, but there’s no way around it.  Minority Report is dumb.  It is filled with ridiculous imagery and stupid choices on every filmmaking axis all over the damned thing.  I have nowhere near enough time to point out all the little stupid things, like the “NO TRESPASSERS” sign that is placed so that the camera can see it but no one else at all could ever see it.  Or the ridiculous waterfall roads, because those make sense.  Or the tracking shot over the apartment building with the spiders where nothing makes sense and you don't see our hero do anything and time is just wasted.  Or the heavy-handed eye motif that every character says stupid symbolic pithy things about eyes and seeing and blah blah blah.

This movie does do one thing pretty okay: Tom Cruise’s emotion overall is pretty fine, and not too jarring.  Really, all the actors are pretty fine.  Cruise does a decently fine job through the film being an emotional anchor as he is running around, getting bitten by mutant plants, waving his hands around the most ridiculous and inaccurate computer ever made, surviving being inside of a car as it is being put together in a factory, and having fist fights on top of girders that are being slung through the air.  Man, this movie is dumb.

This gif is amazing.  In the movie, this is Cruise chasing ... ugh, chasing his original eyes that are rolling down this sloped hallway.  Yeah.

The movie is color corrected all to crap (a huge pet peeve of mine), and it suffers from Spielberg-itis really badly with spotlights in every window.  I was shocked aliens didn't show up somewhere, though arguably the mutant plants could cover that role.  The problems with the movie are not in the general plot itself, as that is taken from a Phillip K. Dick story, as are most good sci-fi films not-coincidentally.  No, it is in Spielberg’s additional design choices thrown on top of this world.  Not only that, but I don’t know what happened to Spielberg’s sense of adventure and action since the Indiana Jones films, but the action in this movie is slow, dumb, and really poorly done. 

I put this movie in the same category as Rise of the Planetof the Apes: incredibly stupid, filled with incredibly stupid choices, but fun enough to watch, a lot like a really slow train wreck.  Minority Report does have basically overall better acting, but nothing special to write home about.  Watch the movie with friends and enjoy yourself, but high art this is not.

Grade: D


IHAO on ... the Crow

I finally watched it!  I finally did!  Hurray, I watched a piece of 90s culture that's super important, and super changed how a bunch of television shows and movies looked visually and how characters were written!  It turned the all-American neon fighting machine Sting into ... the Crow ... Sting.  He's now the Joker-Sting, which is pretty funny, considering that arguably the Dark Knight's Joker is how he is because of the Crow.  But I did it!  I watched it!  And it's ok.

Yup, that's it.  Just ok.  Good and bad, history of Brandon Lee's death and all, this movie is fine.  And not even in that way where there is a whole bunch of good and a whole bunch of bad and they even out to create an ok film.  No, no, everything in this movie is just ... fine.  Ernie Hudson is probably the best actor in the movie, and he's just fine.  Tony Todd is also here and is just fine.  The little girl actress is actually pretty good for her age.  Michael Massee is an actor I loved in Flashforward, and was happy to see him here.  But uh ... ok ... let's talk about Brandon Lee.

Wait ... no, no, I didn't mean to ... oh jeez ... don't revenge kill me, please.

Brandon Lee isn't a good actor.  He's go a pretty good presence, but he comes across as a hokey community theatre guy.  Heck, he looks and reminds me of a guy I did theatre with before, though that guy was definitely better as he had some actual gravitas.  Brandon Lee is just kind of there.  Delivering lines that aren't cheesy enough to be bad or enjoyable.  And he doesn't chew the scenery in any kind of extra enjoyable way.  He's just kind of there.  He isn't the worst actor, no, that award goes to our lead villain, who was painful.

There is a whole lot of dated-ness to this film, but it is so stylized that instead of becoming this stamp of old, it became a look that was emulated and wanted.  Much like how John Hughes films, while technically very dated, have this pervasive style that became a genre of their own.  The Crow does similarly, and I think that is a good thing.  There are plenty of bad dated films, but this one isn't bad.  It is just ok.  It never really has any stakes because I never am worried that the protagonist won't succeed.  And as far as revenge flicks go, it does fine enough.  I wish more had been done here, but it is fine, and defined or at least amplified a style and culture.  So there's that.

Grade: C


IHAO DOUBLE FEATURE on ... Monument's Men and LEGO Movie

I was able to double feature two movies that are still big in theatres currently, so why not double feature them together as soon as I can?  I hope you all find these reviews helpful.  Let's get on with it.

Monument's Men is a George Clooney acted, directed, written, and produced film.  I wouldn't call it a "vanity" project, but a passion piece.  Clooney, while the narrative voice and framing structural character of the film, really isn't particularly important beyond hammering home the sentimental purpose of the film over and over.  The film itself is about the true story of the Monument's Men during WW2 who spent their time trying to find all the greatest art, be it paintings, sculptures, or ... other stuff ... I'm sure there was other stuff, but the movie focused on those, anyway, they searched for all the stolen art and tried to stop Nazis from destroying art.

This is a real thing that happened, so let's go ahead and put that out there.  The way things happened probably all happened as well.  Let's just assume other than jokes and little character beats, everything happened.  Ok.  

I found this movie to be sentimental, with very few stakes.  Yes, yes, historical film means that we knew the outcome, but that's not what I'm actually saying about stakes.  "Stakes" are what you need in a film to get invested.  Stakes are created by tension and character action.  The characters are the audience's way into the film.  And I found that Clooney, who did a very good job with the shots and pacing and such on the director's side, created caricature characters that were very simple to understand and like, then used quick vignettes to hop about the plot of the movie, instead of really giving us character moments to build our tension.  Blanchett got the most actual character time, but that quickly went away after the Monument's Men were doing their thing.  

Smiley Frenchman was my favorite character in the movie.  Look at him smile.  :)

With all the stakes removed from characters, all that is left is stakes based on the art itself.  And even there, we see a cheap writing tactic of taking a character and putting all his importance onto a piece of art, so that we are rooting for the Men to find that art as a way to save the character.  It isn't bad or anything, just forced.

Everything Clooney did was good.  My complaints are about the lack.  The lack of interesting choices and scenarios beyond simple vignettes for our characters.  What we did see were are well done.  But if there had been motion between the vignette scenes, if we had really gotten to know the characters beyond the caricatures of "sarcastic elderly dude," "little jewish dude who doesn't like the sarcastic one," "smiley french guy," "husband," "Clooney," if we got to get a real sense of characters, this movie could have been something real special.  The movie handled emotion well, it just didn't truly earn the emotion.  

If you love art.  If you love history.  If you love Europe.  I can very much see this movie being a favorite, even a top 10 for you.  And that's great!  But I personally found it a little lacking, while overall a solid film.  I wouldn't recommend a theatrical viewing (there's nothing really special or necessary about seeing it on the big ole screen) but there are way worse things to rent or Netflix or borrow from that uncle or aunt of yours who you KNOW will own it because it is a war movie that has hunky George Clooney in it.

Grade: B

Chris Pratt is so wonderfully likable as a leading man.  I have to say it right now.  If I liked Tom Hanks, I would compare him to Tom Hanks.  I don't like Tom Hanks, though, so I'm just going to compare him to ... himself, I guess.  I love Pratt.  And he is perfectly suited as a leading fella in this movie and in his new movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.  Trailer below:

This movie is a fun look at the creative force of the Lego.  And a big ole commercial.  There is no denying it, the whole thing is a commercial.  Yes, it goes beyond that, but come one, don't try to fool me people.  The better the movie, the better the commercial.  And it was a very good commercial.

Great joke.  One of probably ... I dunno, a bunch.

The voice acting all around was spot on.  And the world created was even better.  The way it was filmed was fantastic, as it looked like a basically seamless mixture of CGI and stop motion, or just incredible CGI that left fingerprints on things.  It looks very good.  And the movie does go beyond what it could have been to really give us a perfect family film with some new ideas that fit our current culture and parents, as well as our children.  While there are still some things that could have been done, it just leaves room for a sequel, which I'd be shocked if there wasn't one ... actually, I take that back.  This film has a message and moral to it that seems standalone.  So I hope there isn't another.  But there probably will be.  Commercials make lots of money in film form.

This movie really is great.  I don't love it, personally, but I cannot deny great quality when I see it.  And I don't really know what I'd change if I could.  Go see this flick.  You won't regret, and the big screen treatment for these tiny squares is gonna be very much worth your time.  Also, Green Lantern is the new Aquaman.  

Grade: A


IHAO on ... +1

This was a crazy experience.  +1 is just a really neato cool movie filled with a lot of great ideas.  It has some problems, but I liked the flick.  The basic premise without spoilers as best as I can, is that a sci-fi phenomenon happens that creates duplicates of the party-goers at a welcome-back-from-college party.  And we watch the existential crisis and tension build because of this.

A sci-fi, existential art, thriller, party film is a difficult film to quantify.  But I'm very happy it was made, and even happier to watch it.  The way the tension builds is ... well, ok, one complaint is that our characters have to jump to a conclusion that the movie wants them to so we can get to the real meat of what the filmmakers were trying to get to.  It is a bit irritating, but forgivable.  In the same vein of irritating but forgivable, our first protagonist is unfortunately not a very strong actor.  He's serviceable, but a better actor could have really taken this surprisingly difficult role and done something special with it.  All the other actors actually surprised me with their skill, though.

The visuals with the duplicates are ... it is pretty nuts.  I suspect they hired a whole bunch of twins ... but maybe not?  I don't know.  It was believable, and with such a crazy premise, that is a big deal.  The ending is not an easy pill to swallow.  And that is part of charm and point to the film.

Animated gif to show both symbolically show the impact of the ending of +1, as well as bring up page views because Doctor Who: CHECK

This is not an easy movie to talk about.  I really do not want to spoil anything for you, but I have to tantalize you enough to check it out.  It is currently streaming on Netflix, and you can buy it on Amazon.  If anything I said intrigued you at all, I implore you to give this a watch.  More films like this need to be made: unique, thrilling, and unafraid to pull punches, even if characters have to suffer a little because the writers didn't quite know how to get to the place they wanted to story to go.

Grade: B+


Trailer Trash: Sabatoge; Joe; Brick Mansions; The Two Faces of January; Think Like a Man, Too

Welcome back to Trailer Trash.  After a great first iteration, I got a little bit of feedback, and will not include links to the trailers I review at the bottom of the post.  


This movie is like the Expendables with some real balls.  It is gory and violent and rated R without any of that cheese.  And I think it’ll serve this film well.  You got Schwarzengger leading a DEA task force filled with great (tv) actors and it just looks like a crazy wild ride about corruption in their team and not knowing who to trust and fighting the drug cartels.  I am super stoked for it, and it is the kind of film I’ll be seeing alone because my wife will absolutely never watch this movie with me.

Verdict – TREASURE

The Two Faces of January

A travel thriller starring Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst about … I dunno, a dude trying to kill another dude but also helping the same guy because if he doesn’t he’ll go to jail but no matter what they are both going to go to jail and they are on the run because of money and stuff.  I’m certainly very uninterested from just the two minutes I watched.  It already bothered me that within the trailer you see that even though these characters are being searched for, the most they do to hide their identity is wear a hat.  Not change their clothes, cut their hair, or even wear a long/large jacket.  Nope, just put on a hat.  I’m not excited for this one.  Not only that, it seems to me that most of the third act twists are revealed in this trailer.  So a film I'm already not too interested in showed me the plot points and culmination of the film in such a way that I feel pretty positively I know what is happening.  Yeah, ok, sure.  Good job.

Verdict – TRASH

Brick Mansions

Déjà vu?  Oh man.  Ok, this movie is an almost shot-for-shot American remake of an AMAZING French action film, Banlieue 13.  I recognized it from the very first shot of the trailer.  It even stars David Belle, one of the founders of parkour, who was one of the two leads in B-13.  I highly suggest watching B-13, one of the best action movies around.  Grade: A+.  This is … well, it looks perfectly fine and fine.  Add Paul Walker (no jokes here), put it in Detroit, do the exact same plot almost beat for beat, have all the same iconic moments with slightly different more “amped up” cinematography.

There are some apparent changes from the French ones, the interesting ones being: 1) American-ized jokes and actions, 2) the casting is more Americanized, with RZA being the worst choice for a truly fun villain character, but he is probably a producer, so we can let it slide I suppose, and 3) they changed the girl’s relation to the David Belle character from sister to girlfriend and then added a girl villain for a girl fight, which are positive things. 

I’m not sure if I’m really willing to see this movie I’ve already seen and love again … or if I already know it is gonna be good because I’ve already seen this movie.  I know it’ll be good action.  I know the plot is actually really cool.  I know that David Belle is amazing to watch.  So yeah … I think I just convinced myself.

Verdict – TREASURE

Think Like a Man, Too

I did not watch this trailer.

Verdict – TRASH


Nicolas Cage stars as Joe, a man with a past and a lot of anger, who is trying to make a living and cause nobody no problems.  A boy and his family move to town, looking for a job.  And Joe becomes embroiled in a domestic abuse, doing the right thing the wrong way.  I don’t know the twists and turns, I don’t know where the thing leads, but I am excited about this movie.  

Cage loses himself in characters (sometimes) and when he does, he shows people just how amazing of an actor he is, like I reviewed in Adaptation.  This film looks like it could be an amazingly tense drama about domestic abuse and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.  I’m very excited.

Verdict – TREASURE

That's all for this week, though expect a special Trailer Trash tomorrow for the Guardians of the Galaxy official trailer!

The Trailer Park:


IHAO on ... The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (Dreams Trilogy)

The third in the Dreams Trilogy of Terry Gilliam, Munchhausen is fantastic.  Glorious.  Damn near perfect.  Watch it.

Grade: A+

All right, so it is immediately apparent that I've written more because you can see that I have.  Baron Munchhausen tells the story of a war against the Turks and a small city trying to survive the war.  A theatre troupe is performing a play of the fictional character Baron Munchhausen, when the actual Baron appears, an old man.  He then proceeds to go on one final adventure, finding youth in adventure and searching for his friends once more, all unique characters within the story.

I love this movie.  It is a little hard to explain, but it is much like Time Bandits as a story of whimsy and fantasy, but instead of the dreams of a child, we are watching the dreams of an old man regaining his former glory through story.  Where the fantasy and the truth parallel is many times up to you the viewer, though there are many of the tricks you see in Time Bandits or other similar films like Wizard of Oz and Labyrinth with repeated characters, motifs, props, and visuals.  Oh, and Big Fish.  Lots of similarities there, too.

What makes the film succeed beyond just the intriguing setup is truly fine acting, specifically the Baron himself.  He is a glorious character in a film filled with glorious characters.  He lives and breaths and exists and isn't just an actor in a role.  It is truly a memorable role.  Gilliam's pacing works the best in any of the Dreams Trilogy here, and we are truly watching him become a better and better filmmaker throughout the course.  The film is filled with amazing visuals, great music, great acting, and really just succeeds in every regard.  It is the polar opposite of Brazil.

Makes me smile.  Big puggy smiles.  

I implore you to watch this film.  It is my favorite of the Dreams Trilogy, and also a perfectly wonderful standalone as well.


IHAO on ... Time Bandits (Dreams Trilogy)

Before Gilliam made Brazil (reviewed here), he directed a small “special sequence” of the Meaning of Life (which has an opening sequence that very much reminds of Brazil and is probably part of the inspiration).  And before that was Time Bandits, the first of the Dreams Trilogy. 

Time Bandits is a fantasy film about the whimsy and dreams of Kevin, a child who has a love of history and meets up with six little people, the Time Bandits.  From there, they go on an adventure through history and we see Kevin’s perceptions of history and philosophies of larger concepts he can’t completely understand.  Time Bandits has a pacing similar to Brazil and Munchausen, and really, just a slow easy pace that Gilliam seems to prefer.  In Brazil, it dragged the entire film.  In Time Bandits, I felt it fit.  There was always something happening that had meaning, always something to think about as you watch.

Time Bandits is a children’s fantasy film made for adults.  Not in the sense of Your Highness, but in the sense that as adults we look at the film differently than a child would, and we gain further understanding of our characters through that different perspective.  Kevin might not quite get that his perception of Robin Hood and his merry men are actually just a group of terrible bandits and a ridiculously posh Robin Hood seems to play into a subtle understanding on socialism.  Kevin might not know that Agamemnon’s kindly nature stands for a father he wished for, one who loved and who trusted him and was interested in him.  Kevin might not understand that the ultimate evil of the universe and all his minions are covered in the same plastic wrap his parent’s furniture is.

More like chaise-LYNCH, am I right?

There are a lot of little things in the movie that make the experience a wonderful one.  This is not a movie about a character arc, because a child is too young to truly understand the arc they are on.  This is about delving into their mindset.  Now, the ending ends in a ridiculous way that is almost haphazard in refusing to allow the audience even a single moment of understanding.  But that is quite literally the last ten seconds of the movie that leave me that baffled, and there is enough around to allow us to postulate the meaning, which while a little amateurish, isn’t as bad as an entirely confusing film like Brazil.

Also, I need to praise the humor, which always fit and was never distracting to me.  ALSO also, love has to go to the six little people actors who played the Time Bandits.  They are instantly likable, believable, lovable, all with small arcs and great moments.  The escape sequence in the Tower of Infinite Evil (or whatever it is called) is filled with amazing tension.  

Randall, Fidget, Og, Strutter, Wally, and Vermin.  Creators of shrubbery.  True story.

Overall, the film is really enjoyable, and one I love.  It isn’t perfect, as its pacing is a bit long, a lot of the lighting in some sequences is pretty samey and washes everything out, Kevin’s actor is not good (as to be expected from a child actor), and the ending's ending is incredibly off-putting.  But I think it is a great film worth a watch.

Grade: B+


IHAO on ... Brazil (Dreams Trilogy) - READER REQUEST

Request from Joel Gould

Brazil is a sci-fi-kinda thriller-kinda art-film-kinda comedy-kinda Terry Gilliam flick. It is part of the Dreams Trilogy, which features Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (both of which will be getting a review in the coming days).  The Dreams trilogy is an unofficial-official trilogy about the dreams of a man through the different points of his life: childhood (Time Bandits), midlife working adult (Brazil), and retired elderly gent looking backwards (Munchausen).  Doing a little bit of “presearch,” I wanted to check out the feelings of the general public as well as the critical public on Brazil.  Rotten Tomatoes has it at 98% certified fresh and an average rating of 8.7 and only a single negative review.  Metacritic an 88 metascore, including in that 8 perfect scores from the critics and no negatives at all.  Flickchart, my personal favorite of these kinds of sites, has Brazil globally ranked as number 214 of all films ever, with 201 people putting it as their number one film.

I found all of those number interesting.  Because I thought Brazil was utter garbage.

Brazil is a film set in a future-past where heating ducts are incredibly prominent because reasons.  Where posh women wear shoes on their heads because reasons.  Where Information Extraction experts where baby-doll masks because reasons.  Where … I can’t even keep this joke up.  I hated this movie.  I found it to be incredibly dull except for the final climax, which was perfectly fine I suppose even if it was all a dream and didn’t matter.  Spoilers, by the way.

Oops, too late.  Shucks. *sarcasm*

In the film, a paperwork mishap sends a middle management information keyboard-pounder who dreams of freedom, flying, and love, and who is so good at his job everyone wants to give him a promotion and he doesn’t want it, sends him on a “journey” to save the life of the woman from his dreams before she is redacted and killed because reasons.  The movie takes what could have been a pretty interesting setting and fails in every way to make it work in my opinion:

-          The setting is either claustrophobic (which could have been thematic, and forgivable) or stupid-big, alternating for no reason.  In a bureaucratic run world, I’m pretty sure those stupid-big buildings and spaces would not be left to be there. 
-          The actors are ALL subpar, which is terrible considering that the bit-parts and cameos feature actors like Robert DeNiro and Bob Hoskins.  Why cast great actors in small pointless roles and keep the flustered or barely acting ones in the leads?  And I don't actually think the blame is all on the actors, as Jonathan Pryce is actually a perfectly fine actor.  But as a leading man, the audience's eyes into this film world, he just become a flustered sweaty series of double-takes.
-          Over the course of four scenes as our hero tries to explain to his dream-love girl that she is in danger for her life, instead of saying that in any way, shape or form, he just continues to ask “do you trust me?” and tells her that he loves her.  You could explain that they are coming to kill her because of a clerical error that started this whole thing at ANY point.  But nope, if he did, the movie would be over because they would just leave.  Nope gotta have her fall in love with this creeper stalker because reasons, and then the two of them have sex in his mother's bed as she wears his mother's clothing and wigs.  That is not a joke, that is what happens.
-          In the opening of the film, it seems like there was a theme going on of blue-collar heroes, workers who swooped in to do their jobs and left before the red tape could get in the way, but that falls to the wayside real quickly after that.  Even worse, there are EVIL blue-collar workers who work for the bureaucracy and are jerks because reasons.  No, no, no, I know the reason!  It is so they can  be blown up in a terrible poop joke as comeuppance!
-     I could find absolutely ZERO reason for this movie to be called Brazil within the movie itself.  It isn't set there, no one references it in dialogue or in background setting posters (which by the way are actually interesting, but we only see probably three of them, so they don't really matter or amount to anything).  The song plays once in a car.  Is it for the song?  Well, that's what Gilliam says in the book about the film.  So good.  I guess.  

And hundreds of other little stupid bits that I just do not have the time or space to write about.  I do want to say something good about the film, though.  The first few dream sequences where our protagonist is flying in his Icarius suit (don't worry, the film in no way make reference to the Icarius inspiration, why would it?) and the clouds and all that ... those work.  They look a bit cheap and fakey, but they work enough.  And again, the dream stuff in the climax of the film works.  But that is nowhere near enough to make me recommend this film.

This movie is almost 100% style over substance.  No, I take it back, because there is substance there, it is just rehashed over-used plot garbage thrown in a blender with a bunch of nonsensical character motivations and random happenstance to keep the movie moving forward as inorganically as possible.  I do understand how this movie can top so many lists.  It is unique.  It is fascinating.  It is also utter utter garbage in every metric I could ever conceive to rate a film.  How ANY critic can give this film a perfect score is beyond me, let alone 8 perfect scores.

Grade: F-


IHAO on ... Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda is awesome.  Humorous, beautiful, great characters, and my only complaint being the sound effect when Po bounces on something.  Really, that’s the only one.  Everything it does just hits every note perfectly.  The joke with Po's father being a duck and no one EVERY questions it is PERFECT, and a surprisingly important social statement.  The message of how being the Dragon Warrior and the skill is nothing but yourself is glorious.  The prison escape was amazing.  I just loved the whole thing.

Grade: A+

Kung Fu Panda 2 took two viewings to be fair in this critique, and that is not normal for me.  I got caught up in my head about the first one, and how the structure of the second one undoes a lot of the things I loved about the first, and how the interpersonal stuff just wasn’t there, and how the jokes were more forced this time it felt.  Or at least, that's all I could think of the first time I watched it.

But I take it all back.  That isn’t true.  That is me projecting onto this film.  I love Kung Fu Panda 2, and it is in many ways a stronger and more fulfilling film than the first.  The universe is expanded, the fights are fantastic, the villain is truly villainous (and continues to prove that the only time I ever like Gary Oldman is when he is a voice actor villain), and we learn of the true history of our hero as he continues his journey.  It does everything right.  


But ...

... somewhere in the back of my mind, something still prickles.  Something still bugs me.  Maybe its how dark it is, and all the red making a lot of the scenes, while dramatic, a little monotonous looking.  Maybe it’s the way that, like the first film, the final fight ends up being more joke than climax, but this time was less impactful and even jokier.  I don’t know what it is.  This movie is great, but I still just don’t like it ... as much.

I look very much forward to the third, and I want to see more characters in this universe, and just continue to learn things here.  I am along for the ride.  This second stretch was just a little bumpier than the first.

Grade: A


DVD 900!!

I love collecting films.  I’ve been doing it now for 7 years.  And yesterday, with the inclusion of a handful of movies bought at Target on sale, I was able to reach a collecting milestone: DVD 900.  Well, not really “DVD” 900 as I’ve been moving to Blu Ray as much as I can now, but the terminology is what I used back in 2010 when I got my 400th film for my collection so I’ll keep it here.

I’ve been buying movies for my personal collection since 2002, the same year I got my PS2.  It was a big deal.  Movies have meant a lot to me for a very long time.  I remember visiting Movie Gallery as a kid, and my Dad helping me pick out movies to rent all the time.  I remember having to sneak to rent my favorite film, Labyrinth, because my mother didn’t like the look of Hoggle on the front.  I remember him surprising me when I was sick or feeling bad or just because with Return to Oz or Hook or TMNT 3. 

I remember opening movies for the house on Christmas and Easters.  But in 2002, I was collecting for myself.  I walked downtown to a pawn shop and picked up my very first movie: Shallow Hal.  I don’t know why that was the one.  But it was, it was the first DVD I ever owned.  I sold it some years ago because that movie blows, and I kind of wish I still had it, just to frame it, or put it in a glass case like Scrooge’s first dime in Duck Tales.  I got a few more movies after that: Disney’s Hercules, a gift of Snatch and Mallrats from Eric, and of course a copy of Labyrinth.

"Nothing more ... ok, well maybe a couple 900 more."

I bought movies then like most people do, just getting ones you like or keeping gifts you receive.  I wasn’t really a collector until 2007.  Over 5 years I had bought maybe 25 or 30 movies.  But suddenly, I was getting into film in a new way.  I spent my college years working on a double major Writing/Theatre, and somewhere in there my eyes were opened up to the artistry and skill in filmmaking.  And I loved being the guy with the weird movies, and having people hang out in my apartment or bringing Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story to a party at the lake house.  It became a part of my identity, which is a whole ‘nother ramble to go on.
I started compiling films that I thought were great, or thought were terrible but fun to share, or just curiosities.  I started working up the nerve to create I Have an Opinion at that point, though in the old form you can see in videos on this blog.  I refuse to remove them because they stand for where I was.  And I standby those bad review videos even now.   In 2010, I even created DVD 400’s little video for Sylvester Stallone’s disaster film Daylight, which is awesome by the way.  I bought it because I heard it was terrible, and got it, watched it, and was blown away.  It was so much better than I had read.  It confirmed to me that I loved doing this, having my opinion on everything, and sharing it most importantly.

Daylight's biggest fan, eh heh heh.

In 2012 I took collecting to the next step, buying myself my first blu ray player and a foreign region-free karaoke player from the Phillipines so I could start buying non-US films too, or US movies that never got a domestic DVD, like Short Time or the $200 Split Second which was only $14 if I bought the Italian version Detective Stone. 

And now, 2014, 4 years after DVD 400, I have added 500 films to my collection.  Some of that comes from getting married (probably 75-100 of them to be honest) and even better together we’ve been finding and adding more hard to find films and wonderful editions of things to blu-ray, like Three Stooges on blu-ray (the first movie we saw together) or My Favorite Year, a crazy hard to find Peter O’Toole film we were finally able to add to our collection.  I have to get used to calling it “our” collection, too.  And using “we” instead of I.  I am sure she’ll forgive me for doing it in this editorial though.

This look back into the history of this collection is not to brag, but just to share.  Film is important to me, and always has been.  Sitting and watching a movie with friends means the world to me.  Having film parties and hosting and making gourmet popcorn is awesome.  Finding new things to share with my friends, like our love of Top Secret! which came on our radar out of nowhere, or how much I hated Waitress and couldn’t hold back how unhappy I was anymore around 30 minutes in and just really pissing off Schmidt.  Those are memories that are precious to me. 

"Hi, even I can't make Waitress good!" Eh heh heh.

So yeah, there’s all that.  Looking forward to whatever movie is DVD 1000!  Also, DVD 900 actual film review will be Saturday the 15th!


IHAO on ... the Simpsons Movie

Ah, the Simpsons.  Beloved icon of yesteryear.  Oh Bartman, where did you go?  Do the goggles do ANYTHING?  And who ever did shoot Mr. Burns, and how is he still alive?  Excuse me, I’ve just been handed a telegram.  It seems that the Simpsons are still running now.  Also, I’m supposed to stop acting like I didn’t know that now because the joke is over.  Well, with all that into account, let me take you back to 2007.

This movie coming out was a huge deal.  I remember seeing it in theatres the night it came out.  The place was packed with a bunch of comedy fans, Simpsons fans, and all sorts of my college friends who didn’t care, but didn’t want to miss a cultural phenomenon.  It was a huge deal.  For all of a single weekend.  Then it just kind of … dissipated.  No one cared, no one talked about it, no one bought the DVD that I know except the most hardcore Simpsons fan.  And I could barely remember the thing.  This was before I started trying in earnest to delve into film, before my love of the medium extended to owning a huge collection and working hard to come up with a system to share my opinions in the most straightforward way possible.  Which is not what I’m doing here, because I am instead rambling, because I didn’t like this movie.

What'd he say?  I wasn't listening.

The movie isn’t bad, by any means.  It does a lot of things really well, and the first act is just absolutely glorious, with jokes thrown at you from every angle, and Simpsons nostalgia all over the place, rewarding fans or even casual viewers who remembered that one joke and look there is a reference to it!  But then the plot comes in and … the whole thing just falls crazy short.  It just becomes a boring, almost jokeless sit.  The show is predicated on the love of this family, despite the apparent reasons that Marge shouldn’t be with this buffoon.  And the movie pushes it too far.  Homer is just terrible once they are out of Springfield.  It is almost as if the film left all the funny, all the caring, all the things that made it Simpsons in Springfield.  And when we return, it is for a terrible joke about culture breaking down, which by the way would have made a MUCH more interesting film than what we got.

Some of the jokes are still great, most are just fine, but in the end, the characters are either unlikable or not there enough, and all the nostalgia is trapped in Act 1.  I can’t recommend it.  But you already know if you are going to love it because it is the Simpsons.  And that is its biggest blessing.

Grade: C-