Friday, July 29, 2011

Do You Wanna Know a Secret? Review

And The Story Goes...
A group of college kids, including multi-talented Joey "Whoa*" Lawrence, head to Florida for a luxurious spring break vacation. They soon find out that all is not well as acquaintances and friends begin to die by the hand of a mysterious masked killer. It is up to a Reese Witherspoon look-alike and her friends to find out who the killer is, and to stop him before it's too late.

The typical attire of a girl on spring break at 9 in the mo'nin
My Thoughts
The secret is that there are no real scares, blood, boobs or inventive stories involved in Do You Wanna Know a Secret?. Whoa!*

In my review for Dead Above Ground I had mentioned that it was a 'by the numbers' film...and I stand by that statement! As it turns out Do You Wanna Know a Secret? is by all accounts a by the numbers movie to the tenth power. On IMDB this is listed as a horror, thriller and mystery, though if you've seen more than one typical late 90s/early 2000s teen horror flick, then you will probably have 'the secret' figured out in 7 minutes 41 seconds ± 2. Luckily for me, my tolerance for what many would consider to be painfully terrible cinema is fairly high.

After learning the plot of Do You Wanna Know a Secret?, and seeing how 'want to' is spelled, it should come as no surprise that actors who could actually provide solid performances more than likely avoided this project like the plague. In fact, J-Dogg Lawrence (as he's known on the streets) is the best part of this movie. Indeed, the grown up version of the Blossom heartthrob appears to be a Laurence Olivier-esque thespian when compared to the remaining 'actors' (or as I like to call them 'the warm bodies reading lines').

Unimportant character. She doesn't have money,
but man does she want a taco!
(fuzziness is from the movie)
Let's talk death scenes for a moment. They are far and few, and tame even by 1950s standards. Some characters just don't show up for a while, and we learn later that they were screen. Personally I don't get a hard-on for huge amounts of gore, but I believe that if you intend to make a stereotypical teen slasher film, then by George you need to give the people what they want! I'd like to give a little note to the filmmakers: cutting necks isn't the only way to kill people!

In essence the story line, acting, editing, death scenes, characters and even the score are all average or below average.

Now, I'm sure that you're asking 'but Mr. Inimitable®, isn't there anything redeeming about this movie.' Well, seeing Joey Lawrence play the tough guy is pretty entertaining. I haven't seen such devastating whirling roundhouse kicks since the era of Norris in such classics as Lone Wolf Mcquade and The Octagon. At first glance Joey may appear to be your typical aging teen idol desperately clinging to the fame that he once knew, but I can guarantee you that this ex-Tiger Beat regular is all business.

Joey Norris....I mean Lawrence
Another great character is Oz, who, in keeping with the tradition of Blacula, Blackenstein, and  The Bleature Blom the Black Blagoon, I would like to call Blercules (black Hercules, for those of you who can't put 2 and 2 together), but in the spirit of political correctness I will simply refer to him as the nondescript gent who isn't Joey Lawrence or the killer, or better yet - Oz. This guy is huge, and you would think that might come in handy at some point. However, as the movie progresses, he grows geekier and geekier until he is barely a step above Steve Urkel. At one point the battle between this giant and the killer, who is of average height, build and intelligence, is so one sided that it's laughable. As my grandpa would always say 'you can't judge a book by its cover...even if the cover is on steroids.' I always wondered what in the hell he was talking about. Now I know.

Jeff Conaway (R.I.P), of Taxi and Grease fame plays a troubled detective...or FBI agent...or a person in some position of authority ( I admit that I just don't feel like rewatching it to find out his exact title because it really isn't that important). Unlike Joey, you can see that Signor Conaway doesn't really have an interest in playing in Do You Wanna Know a Secret?, and he is just going through the motions for his paycheck. I can't say that I blame him. It would be sad having a once (semi)promising career, and now you are stuck playing with actors who deliver lines with the subtlety of an atom bomb in time square - I'm looking in your direction Leonora Scelfo.

Now I'd like to bear my soul to you for a moment. I don't know what the killer's problem is, and I've actually lost sleep over this because the secret isn't really a secret. The secret is pretty mundain, and it's surprising that the movie makers actually believed that it would require an entire feature length production to:

1. Create a strong desire within the audience to learn what the secret is (something that never happens)
2. Have the characters develop a strong desire to learn what the secret is (I don't think that they even care)
3. Have the secret revealed and resolved (by this point nobody cares anymore because those who managed to stay awake are probably thinking about how they could have watched Scream 3, Gigli, or anything on the food network instead of Do You Wanna Know a Secret?!)

This entire story could have been told in roughly 15 minutes, or 20 minutes if Andrei Tarkovsky is directing. All I'm saying is if you plan on making a movie of mostly filler, then at least give us characters who are fun to watch.

The killer
Do You Wanna Know a Secret? is an incredibly predictable movie that is in a genre that is already filled with overly cliche and predictable entries. The premise isn't that interesting, and the execution doesn't make up for any shortcomings that the script has. The only real reason that I watched it is because I was curious to see Joey Lawrence in a horror movie since all that I remember of him was Blossom and that show and movies that he made with his brothers.

All in all, I would say that if you skip this movie, then you won't be missing much. This would definitely be most entertaining for fans of this particular time period of teen horror flicks, or Joey Lawrence fans, but I think that most would find it stupid and/or boring. Some hooters could have really broken up the monotony of it all, but I guess you can't everything. In other words, watch at your own risk.


Oh yeah...whoa*

*Obligatory Joey Lawrence 'whao' reference. As per Connecticut State Statute 315 article 12, any article, blog or obituary that contains the name 'Joey Lawrence' must have no less than 3 'whao' references per 1000 words. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ghost Fever Review

The Story goes...
Buford and Benny are two policemen who are sent to the possibly haunted home of two women, who are allegedly over 100 years old, in order to serve an eviction notice. Once inside the creepy house, strange things begin to happen, and the men discover that the house is actually home to two beautiful young ladies. As it turns out, the house is also haunted by the ghost of a mean slave owner, and it is up to Buford and Benny to save the women from the ghost and eviction.

My Thoughts
Saying that Ghost Fever is a strange film is somewhat of an understatement. For being a comedy/horror film, it is neither funny nor scary. Though it does appear that the two stars, Sherman Hemsley and Luis Avalos, are making a real effort to keep this movie alive. I suppose that I shouldn't be too surprised at the lack of entertainment value of this movie since the director (justifiably) chose the pseudonym "Alan Smithee" as the credit for director. For those of you who don't know, Alan Smithee is a fake name that directors use when they choose to disown a film. A main reason for the use of this pseudonym is for when creative control is taken away from directors by the producers.

Generally I try not to be too negative in my reviews, though I will make fun of many movies, but Ghost Fever is just a bad movie. It really isn't even worthy of earning the coveted "so bad it's good" title that has made classics out of some very poorly created films. Tommy Wiseau's The Room is probably my favorite example of incompetence documented on film.

From the initial introduction of the two ghost characters in the first scene, the lack of quality special effects becomes apparent. Usually I don't find cheap effects to be terribly off-putting, but these effects aren't just cheap, they almost seem like the filmmakers were being lazy. And, we're talking your typical congressman type of lazy here.

The jokes are a mix of slapstick and puns...neither of which are actually funny. For the life of me I cannot determine what audience Ghost Fever was intended for. The humor seems like it would be intended for small children (and I'm talking about Sesame Street aged kids), but when I see Sherman Hemsley in a contraption that is designed to crush a man's twig-and-berries, I can only assume that it's intended for older folks.

One of the more infamous scenes in Ghost Fever (of course I mean it's infamous among the 32 people that have actually seen this movie) involves a dancing mummy. Well, it's actually the ghost of the slave owner wrapped in a sheet so that he can engage in a dance-off with Buford and Benny. This jabroni is break dancing, moon-walking, and basically just bustin' a move. I guess it just doesn't make sense because one minute this ghost wants to kill the two men, but then a moment later he's satisfied with just 'serving' them. He's more inconsistent than Lebron during the playoffs.

Oh, the slave owner ghost becomes a vampire 2/3 into the movie as well. Allegedly a voodoo curse turned his cruel behind into a vampire after he died. Don't hurt yourself over-thinking this. Just except it and be glad that you only have  1/2 of 1 hour left.

One of the most surreal scenes in Ghost Fever is a boxing match that takes place between Benny and none other than Joe Frazier. Benny decides to take on the champ in an effort to win money to save the women from eviction. I don't really have too much to say about this one.

Ghost Fever is pretty bad. If you like to watch poorly made movies so that you can laugh at them, then you might find some redeeming aspects of this movie. I usually like schlocky films, but the jokes were just so lame that it was hard to laugh at them for being stupid.

Overall, I would say to just skip this one. With the hour and a half that you would spend with this disaster, you could be watching paint dry.


Double Impact Review

People to Know
Sheldon Lettich...................Director/Writer

Jean Claude Van Damme....Chad & Alex - One is possibly gay. The other is possibly gay. But on thing is for certain....Alex hates black silk underwear.

Geoffrey Lewis....................Frank - The not-unlike-Don-Quixote father figure of Chad. He's always ready for adventure because danger's his middle name.

Alonna Shaw.......................Danielle - Blonde girlfriend of Alex. Much to his chagrin, Danielle actually likes black silk underwear.

Bolo Yeung..........................Moon - The Ultimate steroid enhanced with HGH!

And the Story Goes...
Jean Claude Van Damme demonstrates his acting ability in not one, but two thrilling roles. Our hero plays a pair of twins who were separated at birth when their parents are ambushed in Hong Kong by a shady business partner. One twin, Chad, is raised by an American in France. The other twin, Alex, grows up on the mean streets of Hong Kong. They soon discover each other, as well as their history, and together (with the help of their mentor and a sweet ass abandoned hotel headquarters) they move to take out the crime boss that destroyed their lives.

The twins Damme establish their command central
My Thoughts
Double Impact has always been one of my favorite Van Damme movies from what I consider to be his golden era. Captured is the seemingly innocent and youthful Signor Damme attempting give emotional performances, while kicking people in their faces, and doing splits at random. Sure, by normal action hero standards a split might not be the most intimidating thing on the planet, but for Jean Claude it somehow works. And, as previously mentioned, we get twin Van Dammes!

Twin Van Dammes? Usually you have to pay double for that kind of action!
Jean Claude had a hand in writing the story to this gem, and you can bet that there is some ultimate cheese to go along with the action. The man who I really give credit to for all this cheddar is none other than director/writer Sheldon Lettich. You may remember him as the writer of such classics as Bloodsport, Lionheart, Legionnaire, Double Impact, and, of course, Rambo III. And, with directorial efforts such as Lionheart, The Last Patrol, The Order, and Double Impact you know that this will be a fun film. I'll be the first to admit that these movies aren't art, but it's tough to make the argument that the man doesn't know how make a fun flick.

I always hope a pillow fight materializes in this scene

One of my favorite aspects of many Van Damme movies from the era is that he often plays an "American" that is in some strange place, trying to overcome some strange obstacle. His Europeaness is so overwhelmingly apparent that it usually makes for some great laughter throughout these films, and you can almost smell the lack of giving a shiz on the part of all involved. Fortunately for us, Double Impact does not break tradition, and what we are forced to settle with is an English baby that is raised by an American man living in France. Usually this would mean that this particular twin, Chad, would have an American accent when he spoke English, and a French accent when he spoke French,  but instead we are given the task of ignoring his thick French accent in all languages for the sake of the story. His twin brother, Alex, on the other hand is even more of a stretch. Alex was raised by French nuns in Hong Kong, which is supposed to explain his French accent. I suppose that it's unimportant, but it always brings a smile to my face.

Moving on. Having two Van Dammes face off against Hong Kong Triads is a stroke of genius in my book. Being un Americano myself, I love the exotic locations, and the craziness that is possible in these strange worlds. Indeed, Double Impact has it all when it comes to guns, martial arts, explosions, chase scenes on boats (a la Bloodsport), and sexy women! And yes, if you like what you saw in Bloodsport, then you'll be happy to know that we get more fight scenes between Jean Claude and one Mr. Bolo Yeung. Bolo doesn't age, folks. And, he has to be one of the most intimidating antagonists in all of filmdom.

Bolo Yeung causing some Van Dammage
Overall the performances are what you would expect for a late 80s/early 90s action movie. The man to watch is Geoffrey Lewis as he does what Geoffrey Lewis does best. Which is to act as Geoffrey Lewis-ish as possible by overemphasizing various lines as inappropriately as possible. I personally love when his character, Frank, is explaining to Chad and Alex the history of their parents deaths, and the inheritances that they are owed. The emotions can really be felt when he continuously raises his voice indiscriminately throughout his monologue. It's breathtaking.

Shiz just got real for Frank. That's the Chinese Hercules! 
The action scenes are very well put together. Whether you love Van Damme or hate him, you have to admit that these are what he excels at. We as the audiences are given some real treats throughout the movie, including (but not limited to): Van Damme on Van Damme action, rolling on the ground whilst shooting, and unnecessary splits. In my time on this planet I've learned to really appreciate these scenes since we really don't get too many good action movies these days, and we definitely don't get action stars who can do splits.

Not quite as effective as the buddy-cop-handshake, but it'll suffice. 
Double Impact should not only be seen by fans of Jean Claude Van Damme, but also fans of run down hotels. I'll go so far as to say that this film has become a classic. Sure Van Damme seems to be made of Wisconsin's best, but that cheese is what makes him great. However, if you don't like Signor Damme, then this probably isn't the film for you.

Sheldon Lettich gives us his best here, and I can't help but wish that he could pull us out of our quality-action-movie drought that we have been experiencing throughout the past decade. Sadly it seems that the older that Mr. Lettich gets, the slower his output becomes. His last film was in 2006 with no sign of future activity. R.I.P Sheldon Lettich's career. We hardly knew ya.

If you haven't seen it, then watch it. Unless you're of the most hardcore of art-house enthusiasts, you should find Double Impact to be entertaining.


Previous - Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horrible Bosses Review

Though Horrible Bosses is far from the funniest movie that I have ever seen, however it does manage to provide a good amount of laughs throughout. Yes, we are subjected to scatalogical humor (as can be expected these days), which seemed to really strike a cord with the 18 - 20 year old crowd who made up the audience with us. However (and luckily), the story doesn't constantly stoop this low, and there are some genuinely funny moments.

The premise seemed to be just ok, but what made me want to see it was three of actors who were involved in it. Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey have both demonstrated their comedic abilities in past projects (such as Bateman in Arrested Development, and Spacey in Men Who Stare at Goats as examples), and I was confident that they would deliver in Horrible Bosses. Both provide their standard performances, which is not a bad thing.

What I really wanted to see was how well Charlie Day would do in something other than playing Charlie in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Being a fan of IASiP I always love to see projects that the actors of show take part in. I did see Going the Distance, and I honestly felt that the script was poor and Charlie was more or less wasted, so it's difficult to use that film as an evaluation. Anyways, Day is quite funny in Horrible Bosses. Though he is supposed to be playing a different character than Charlie, he still maintains that lovable goofball-ness, and if you like him in IASiP, then you shouldn't be disappointed here (I expected to hear some bird-law in one scene). I'd be interested to see him take on a role much different from the Charlie-type that we are used to seeing someday.

Jamie Foxx as 'Mother Fucker' Jones was hysterical as a not-that-dangerous ex-con who is helping the boys in taking out their bosses. He had just enough screen time to keep the character from getting old, but he made the most out of what was given to him.

Colin Ferrell is terrific as the balding cokehead green belt son of one of the bosses in the movie. He has one of the best comb overs that I've ever seen, and one of the doucheiest bachelor's pads in the world. His home reminds me of Jerome's from the T.V. show Martin.

Jennifer Aniston brought her A-game as the horny dentist to Horrible Bosses. Usually she isn't a reason to see a movie, but she does not hold back here. Her unrelenting attempts to force Day's character to have sex with her were very funny, and pretty hot at the same time.

All in all I was not disappointed that I paid money to see Horrible Bosses at the theater. It's one of the better comedies that I've seen in a while, and if you like crude humor, then this should not disappoint. All of the actors did a good job, and the end result is a fun film. Hopefully the producers don't get the idea of making a sequel where the boys once again will be put in situations where they want to kill their bosses...but this time it will take place in Thailand.

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