Film Review: Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Release Date: September 10th, 2009 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Written by: Diablo Cody
Music by: Stephen Barton, Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, J. K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris, Adam Brody, Kyle Gallner, Chris Pratt, Bill Fagerbakke, Lance Henriksen 

Dune Entertainment, Fox Atomic, 20th Century Fox, 102 Minutes

Review:

“You know what? You were never really a good friend. Even when we were little, you used to steal my toys and pour lemonade on my bed.” – Needy, “And now, I’m eating your boyfriend. See? At least I’m consistent.” – Jennifer

I never had a burning urge to see this movie and because of that, I didn’t check it out until now. The reason being is that this appeared on The Criterion Channel, of all places, and it made me wonder if there was some hidden artistic genius in this that I, and most of the world, slept on in 2009. That curiosity made me finally give this a shot.

I was pretty underwhelmed by it and it’s pretty much exactly what I thought it would be but more boring and featuring a lot less of Jennifer’s body than an average male would hope for.

Sure, Megan Fox shows some skin and I didn’t expect her to go nude or anything but this is a lot less racier than the marketing in 2009 implied. In its defense, however, this was marketed poorly, as it is more geared towards a female audience than a male one, not to say males wouldn’t enjoy it either. However, the strong female message in it is pretty lost amongst all the craziness and sloppy, nonsensical, hole-riddled plot.

I know that Jennifer was murdered in a Satanic ritual by a terrible band wanting fame and fortune. I also know that this ritual turned her into a demon or maybe she was possessed? I don’t know. I’m not sure if she actually survived and acquired this power or died and came back or maybe was just some demon piloting her corpse. Was she alive? Dead? Undead? What are her powers exactly? What are her weaknesses? She died really fucking easily, getting stabbed by a boxcutter. Yet she was brutally stabbed a bunch of times by a giant Bowie knife earlier in the film during the ritual that made her whatever the fuck she is.

None of this stuff is clearly explained, no actual rules for the film are established and what we end up with was a total clusterfuck where things just happen because the plot needs them too.

Additionally, the dialogue was pretty cringe. It’s like it was trying to emulate Mean Girls a decade too late. However, beyond that, the writing also fails the characters, as they both have these multiple personality shifts that don’t logically make sense.

I thought that Megan Fox gave a pretty mundane performance, overall. Although, Amanda Seyfried saved the film from being total shit and she was likable, except for when her character wasn’t acting like her character.

In the end, I guess I’ve seen this and I never have to watch it again. However, now I’m even more confused as to why The Criterion Channel even bothered with this.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

Release Date: December 4th, 1985 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Lewis Teague
Written by: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner
Based on: characters by Diane Thomas
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Holland Taylor, Spiros Focas, Avner Eisenberg

SLM Production Group, Stone Group Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, 106 Minutes

Review:

“How much romance can one woman take?” – Joan Wilder

This very rapidly produced sequel to Romancing the Stone is better than I remembered but I also hadn’t seen it since about 1987ish.

While it’s not quite on the same level as Romancing the Stone it’s still a fun movie with enjoyable characters and exudes Indiana Jones vibes while being made in the best era for movies like that.

Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are, once again, a great pairing. However, this time around, Danny DeVito is more directly involved with them and it just adds a new element that’s amusing to watch.

In this story, the two leads are now in love and traveling the world. While at a book event on the southern French coast, Turner’s Joan Wilder is recruited by a rising dictator, who she believes is a good leader, to return with him to his country and pen his biography. She leaves Douglas’ Jack Colton behind where he is lucky enough to dodge an assassination attempt. Joan quickly discovers she must write propaganda and is a prisoner that must comply with this dictator’s wishes. Jack and DeVito’s Ralph travel to the dictator’s homeland. While looking to rescue Joan, Jack finds her just as she is escaping with an ally, who is actually the MacGuffin of the story.

As an adventure comedy, this hits the right notes for the most part. There are solid action sequences and everything was pulled off wonderfully for a movie that was rushed and also had major production issues.

Kathleen Turner actually didn’t want to do the film because she didn’t like the script. Michael Douglas, who was the producer, told her it would improve with some rewrites, so she went along with it. In the end, she wasn’t happy with the final product and she isn’t wrong in seeing this as inferior to its predecessor. However, it’s still a great film to escape into for a few hours and these characters are just fun to watch.

It could also be possible that this just didn’t have the right sort of feminine touch and lacked the kind of perspective needed for Turner’s character arc. Romancing the Stone was written by a woman and had the right energy in regards to the feminine half of the film. This picture was written by two men and with that, this comes across as more action and adventure driven where the romance sort of takes a backseat other than a few small scenes.

The Jewel of the Nile was still a decent follow up but I get why it’s become a somewhat forgotten film while its predecessor is still beloved by many. I can also see why this didn’t lead to a proper sequel another year or so later. But in the end, both movies are entertaining.

Rating: 6.5/10

TV Review: Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special. Especially For You! (2021)

Original Run: September 25th, 2021
Created by: Scott D. Marcus
Directed by: Jim Kunz
Written by: Eric Kornfeld
Cast: Cassandra Peterson (as Elvira)

Shudder, 4 Episodes, 80-106 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

For Elvira’s 40th anniversary, she returned for a four episode special on Shudder.

Like the television series that first made her famous and all the other revivals of it, this features her hosting old school horror flicks.

I thought this was a perfect return to form for her and man, she hasn’t lost a step or missed a beat.

Elvira is as entertaining, hilarious and witty as ever and it’s just great seeing her in her element once again, as the woman is by far one of the greatest horror hosts of all-time and beyond that, she’s a national treasure. I mean, who the hell doesn’t love Elvira?

I also enjoyed the four films, even if some of them are far from great. But it’s these kind of movies that helped make her original show what it was and also added the right kind of fuel to her commentary.

My only negative with this special is that it should’ve been bigger. I would’ve loved a dozen or so episodes but I also know how much work goes into these things and honestly, Elvira can do whatever the hell she wants at this point. The fact that she is still game to do these things is a real treat.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Beware! The Blob (1972)

Also known as: A Chip Off the Old Blob (script title), Beware the Blob, Son of Blob, Son of the Blob, The Blob Returns (alternative titles)
Release Date: June 10th, 1972 (San Antonio, TX premiere)
Directed by: Larry Hagman
Written by: Anthony Harris, Jack Woods, Richard Clair, Jack H. Harris
Music by: Mort Garson
Cast: Robert Walker Jr., Carol Lynley, Godfrey Cambridge, Gwynne Gilford, Richard Stahl, Richard Webb, Marlene Clark, Gerrit Graham, J. J. Johnston, Danny Goldman, Dick Van Patten, Cindy Williams, Burgess Meredith (uncredited), Sid Haig (uncredited)

Jack H. Harris Enterprises, 87 Minutes

Review:

“Hippie, schmippie!” – Unidentified Rabblerouser

This is a strange fucking movie.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it, though.

I mostly found it entertaining and amusing but taking the concept of The Blob and making a sequel that’s a comedy was an odd choice. But I get it, the monster is basically just killer toxic snot.

While the humor is borderline slapstick and lowest common denominator stuff, it’s still funny because the actors really committed to some of the more absurd things and it just worked because of that.

This also featured some notable people with a very young Gerrit Graham, Burgess Meredith as an old hippie, Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley fame, Dick Van Patten and Sid Haig in a small role.

Still, at its core, this is a really goofy movie and it doesn’t really add anything new to The Blob concept other than comedy and drug use.

Rating: 5.25/10

Film Review: Romancing the Stone (1984)

Release Date: March 24th, 1984 (Beverly Hills premiere)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Diane Thomas
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda, Zack Norman, Holland Taylor, Mary Ellen Trainor

Nina Saxon Film Design, El Corazon Produccciones S.A., Twentieth Century Fox, 106 Minutes

Review:

“What did you do, wake up this morning and say, “Today, I’m going to ruin a man’s life”?” – Jack Colton

This is one of those films I saw a lot as a kid because it was one of my mum’s all-time favorite flicks. However, I was fine with that, as I liked it a lot too. But I hadn’t seen it in at least two decades, so when I came across it on HBO Max, I figured I’d revisit it.

Plus, what’s not to like, here? You have Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. You also have a pretty great adventure story with solid action and a whole lot of fun.

It’s like an Indiana Jones movie set in modern times, at least when it was made, and it features a very timid yet likable fish out of water character that has to rise to the occasion and put aside her fears to become the woman she should be. It also features one hell of a hero that is reminiscent of Han Solo, as he’s there to help when it’s to his benefit but by the end, he puts his own personal interests aside to do the right thing. Also, they fall in love, so there’s that.

This is a storybook romance but mixed with high adventure, treasure and violent baddies who will stop at nothing to achieve their dastardly goals. Again, what’s not to like, here?

What makes this even better is that Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are a perfect pairing. They know how to challenge each other in the right way and they bring the best out of one another. In a lot of ways, their camaraderie and chemistry reminds me of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen. Being that this is also a jungle adventure movie makes that comparison even more noticeable.

Now Romancing the Stone isn’t the movie that The African Queen is but I kind of appreciate it in the same way in regards to the bond between the two lead characters.

I also love the hell out of Danny DeVito in this and this was really before he became a much more prominent comedic force in movies. Here, he was just coming off of the hit sitcom Taxi and I think it was this movie that really propelled his film career forward.

For its time, this was a perfect date movie. It featured everything a male and a female could’ve liked and it brings it all together quite nicely with likable, fun characters and a simple, lighthearted story with a lot of energy.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: The Sword In the Stone (1963)

Release Date: December 12th, 1963 (London premiere)
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Bill Peet
Based on: The Sword and the Stone by T. H. White
Music by: George Bruns
Cast: Rickie Sorensen, Karl Swenson, Junius Matthews, Sebastian Cabot, Norman Alden, Martha Wentworth

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, 79 Minutes

Review:

“Sounds like someone’s sick. How lovely. I do hope it’s serious. Something dreadful.” – Madame Mim

This was one of my favorite animated Disney films to watch growing up. Although, I wouldn’t consider it to be one that’s near the top.

This tells the story of a young King Arthur, called Wart in this, as he meets Merlin the wizard and learns many lessons from him. Although, the film plays more like an anthology of comedy skits with a very thin overall narrative.

However, in the end, it all comes together nicely and we see Wart pull the legendary sword from the stone and thus, become the first king in a new lineage of royalty.

I do like the humor in this and the sequences are still enjoyable. It would be really hard not to like Wart and Merlin and their adventures.

The animation is also good and it kind of shows a change in what was the typical, standard Disney style. This visual change started with One Hundred and One Dalmatians but then again, Disney really experimented with the visual style of Sleeping Beauty, a few years before that. But I like the ’60s style, as well as how they started to color their films a little more vividly.

The Sword In the Stone is an amusing picture but I can also see why it hasn’t stuck in people’s minds historically like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and others. But it’s also unique in that it treads similar territory to Disney’s “princess” movies but from a boy’s perspective.

Rating: 7.25/10

Film Review: Jungle Cruise (2021)

Release Date: July 24th, 2021 (Anaheim premiere)
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, John Norville, Josh Goldstein
Based on: Walt Disney’s The Jungle Cruise
Music by: James Newton Howard
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, 

Davis Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, Walt Disney Pictures, 127 Minutes

Review:

“Hey, McGregor! Had a girlfriend once, she was cross-eyed. Didn’t work out. We could never see eye to eye!” – Frank Wolff

I watched this on the same day as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While that film didn’t do much for me, except help solidify the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nowhere near the level of greatness it once was, this film actually ended up being a lot of fun and much more enjoyable.

This isn’t a great effort by Disney and in fact, this is basically a paint-by-numbers Disney adventure film. However, just as enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, albeit not as much as the original film, I also enjoyed this in the same sort of way.

Honestly, this has a lot in common with a Disney Pirates movie in that it has treasure hunting, fantastical villains, a well-paced, action-packed story and a lot of water… this time the world’s biggest river system instead of an ocean.

I also thought that Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt worked really well together and through their performances and their characters, you can kind of see an homage to Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen. However, Blunt’s character brings her brother along and it makes for a trio of heroes that also plays homage to the trio from The Mummy films with Brendan Fraser. Funnily enough, Dwayne Johnson was the villain in the second of those Mummy movies.

Anyway, out of everyone in this, I really, really loved Jesse Plemons role. The guy is one of the most talented actors of his generation and he has an exceptional range. The dude really can do anything. However, I believe that this is the first time I’ve seen him actually be comedic. He plays one of the film’s villains, a German prince that just happens to own a submarine that can traverse the Amazon River basin. He’s jovial, a bit psychotic and delivers his lines with an over-the-top German accent. There’s one scene where Plemons’ pronunciation of “jungle” creates a similar, hilarious scene akin to Steve Martin’s “hamburger” scene in his first Pink Panther movie.

Beyond the acting, some of the writing is cheesy as hell but a lot more jokes land in this film than they did in Disney’s Shang-Chi. Johnson’s skipper likes to use an extreme overabundance of puns while giving Amazon tours but the failure of the bad jokes are really the jokes themselves. However, some of the references didn’t make since as the film takes place during World War I and there is a pun about concentrated orange, which wasn’t invented till 1945, the final year of World War II. But then again, modern Disney writers don’t care much about research.

The film, as I’ve said, is action-packed and most of it is really good. This is a fantastical story with all sorts of supernatural characters and situations but almost all of the action was pretty grounded, all things considered. This wasn’t a total shitshow like Shang-Chi, where people without saddles or reins were riding dragons that flew and twisted at ridiculous speeds. When something crazy did happen here, there was a real reason for it and an explanation given, such as in the scene where Johnson falls to his death but miraculously survives, mostly unscathed.

I don’t know what the plans are going forward but I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel. Granted, I’d rather see these characters go on an adventure to somewhere entirely different and I don’t know how you fit that into the Jungle Cruise concept. Unless, they use these characters and tie them to some other classic Disney ride.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: Splash (1984)

Release Date: March 9th, 1984
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Bruce Jay Friedman, Brian Grazer
Music by: Lee Holdridge
Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy

Touchstone Pictures, Buena Vista Distribution, 111 Minutes

Review:

“What you looking at? You never seen a guy who slept with a fish before?” – Freddie

Splash was a movie that was on television all the time when I was a kid. I’d catch pieces of it from time-to-time and I have probably seen all of it but I haven’t actually watched it in its entirety from start-to-finish until now.

It wasn’t a film that I was super into, back in the day, but my mum dug it a lot. It was good enough to watch, though, because it has Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy and John Candy in it and I’ve always loved those guys, especially in the ’80s.

The film also stars Daryl Hannah, who was approaching the height of her popularity, which this film brought to the next level.

If you weren’t alive in the mid-’80s, you might not be able to comprehend how popular she was for a short time. I always thought it was a bit odd that she worked steadily for years but never really seemed to maintain that momentum she had in the ’80s. Regardless, she did always find decent work and had a bit of a resurgence from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies.

For those who don’t know, the story follows a guy that is rescued from drowning by a mermaid. She ends up with his wallet and uses maps on a sunken ship to locate his home, New York City. She does track him down and the two fall in love. However, he doesn’t know she’s a mermaid and she only has a few days to spend with him before she reverts back to her fishy form. He discovers her secret in the worst way possible and is at first freaked out. However, love wins out in the end and this fairytale has a really satisfying ending.

For being a fairly standard comedy in the ’80s, it’s really well acted by the core stars, especially Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. However, I loved the hell out of Eugene Levy in this, as a total bastard that ended up having a heart of gold and risked everything to put things right.

This is fun, amusing and sweet. But it also has heart and I think that shows how talented Ron Howard was as a director, even at this very early stage of his career.

Rating: 6.75/10

Film Review: Funny Farm (1988)

Release Date: June 3rd, 1988
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based on: Funny Farm by Jay Cronley
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Chevy Chase, Madolyn Smith, Joseph Maher, Jack Gilpin, Brad Sullivan, MacIntyre Dixon, Kevin O’Morrison, Alice Drummond, Mike Starr, Glenn Plummer, Bill Fagerbakke, Kevin Conway

Cornelius Productions, Pan Arts, Warner Bros., 101 Minutes

Review:

“Remember, Mrs. Farmer. Whenever you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground belongs to you – whether it’s gold or oil… or Claude Musselman.” – Sheriff Ledbetter

Funny Farm is probably the least zany of Chevy Chase’s ’80s comedies but that doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining and that it doesn’t maximize the talent of its often times zany star.

Chase, his antics and this kind of wholesome story just come across as more laid back and subtle than his other pictures of the era. This movie kind of slows Chase down and presents him in a way that I’d assume is a lot closer to his real self.

The story is simple and it sees a married couple move to the country in Vermont to work on the things they’re writing. They feel like the slow, country life will help them focus more on their work and each other without innumerable distractions.

There are a lot of good gags regarding a city couple being fishes out of water in a small town and while this taps into overused tropes, none of it feels lazy or redundant. I think that has to do with how well Chase and his onscreen wife Madolyn Smith handle the material. Additionally, they had natural chemistry and their personalities meshed well together.

The movie is populated with a lot of familiar character actors and most of the townsfolk are really entertaining and fun to watch.

Outside of the townsfolk, though, I really liked the bits with the movers, played by Mike Starr and Glenn Plummer, two actors I’ve enjoyed for decades now. I understand from a plot standpoint why they only appear in the first act but it would’ve been cool to see more of them.

Funny Farm is a pretty chill Chevy Chase experience. He’s charming and amusing while Madolyn Smith compliments him quite well. I liked the two of them in this and it’s just a simple movie with a simple message that lets you escape into it for a little while.

Rating: 6.25/10