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Movies I-M

Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998), Jawbreaker (1999)
Knockout (2000/I), Leprechaun In the Hood (2000),
.Man on the Moon (1999)

Jawbreaker (1999)

Had potential, but went nowhere.

I liked this movie better the first time I saw it...when it was called HEATHERS.

Rose McGowan tried her best, but couldn't carry the movie. Her voice is so bitchy and bratty it got annoying. One good thing about her is she is built like a real woman with curves and hips, like stars in the 50's, instead of the usual anorexic standard for actresses these days. Kind of like the feminine ideal from that 50's era, except all the raunchy tattoos she has kind of ruin that effect.

The cameo by her boyfriend, Mr. Manson, was kind of amusing. But the movie seemed like they were making it up as they went along, and very predictable. Terrible script, and your believability is stretched way too far. After Courtney (McGowan) and her clique kidnap one of their pals, things go awry and she (the pal) ends up dead. They drive around, freaking out, all except for Courtney, who has the brilliant plan to call the high school, pretend to be the dead pal's mom, and call in sick for her. OK, what is one of the first things the police would ask the kid's mom after she turned up dead? Sheeeesh.

Rebecca Gayheart's acting is slowly improving. I give this movie a slightly higher grade for a couple of things- Pam Grier, and for the sheer mean-spiritedness and bad taste of it. But that's not enough to save this dog of a movie, and The Donnas weren't enough to save it either. Oh, and I liked the Donnas better the first time I heard them...when they were called The Ramonas and The Runaways.

I wouldn't bother, unless you are a big Rose McGowan fan.

Grade: D+

Man on the Moon (1999)

As good as a biopic about Kaufman could be

I went to see this not because I am a big Kaufman or Carrey fan (though Carrey can be hilarious, and I did think Kaufman did a killer Elvis and a couple amusing routines)but because I liked The People VS Larry Flynt, and I love biopics, and it was well reveiwed, and the trailers looked good...plus I wanted to see the cast of Taxi playing themselves.

As I said, MOTM is as good as a biopic can be of Kaufman, (who most people only know as Latka Gravas) who died very young and seemed to have a limited, cult following. Jim Carrey obviously threw himself into the role and gave it everything he had, and did a dead-on impression of him. But I guess I am one of the few people who couldn't forget that I was watching Carrey do a dead-on Kaufman, and also thought from time to time,

Edward Norton (who was in the running with Carrey) resembled him much more. Carrey is just too good-looking (he is a really handsome guy, when he's not making some horrible face) though he obviously gained weight, looked as unattractive as possible, etc. There was just the usual problem that biopics have, where you can't help but notice that the person playing them is much better looking ( though there are some exceptions to this rule). That being said, I still had a great time, and am not sorry I went to see it- I was quite entertained, though I wish they'd included his sobbing-playing-the-bongos routine.

A good movie to see on Christmas Eve like we did, with the Carnegie Hall scene and all, and it did actually make me teary, though that was due to the fact that I'm a romantic sap. DeVito was great as his frustrated manager. Courtney Love was in it less than I thought, fortunately.

To sum up, though I'm not a big fan of Kaufman, (don't dislike him, just can take him or leave him) I recommend it for the performances and filmmaking. Also, it was fun seeing the cast of Taxi back in their old roles-Marilu Henner was the only one who couldn't pull off being 20 years younger (not trying to be catty- I really did think she'd look about the same, but it was obvious she'd lost weight and had some 'work' done on her face). There were some very funny scenes, and some touching ones - not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

Grade: B-

Leprechaun In the Hood (2000)

You know what you're getting

A friend of mine made a good point about watching the Lep series in general: you know exactly what you're getting up front. It's not like after the movie you're going to say to yourself, surprised, "well, THAT was a total piece of sh-t". You can't really be mad at yourself. It's not like going to see, say, Play It To the Bone or 8 Heads in a Duffle Bag, where you think you might actually laugh once or twice at something or enjoy the movie at some points, but end up wanting to punch everyone involved in the face (even Joe Pesci). No one tricked you into seeing this movie.

Anyway, this one was better than part 4 (In Space), but of course that's not saying much. The best one of the series (I can't believe I'm saying that-I should say "the least painful to sit through" instead) was the one set in Vegas. This one I rented mainly because I heard it was mildly amusing, better than part 4, but mainly I wanted to see Ice-T in a 70's pimp outfit with a big 'fro. I think the whole budget went towards paying his salary and they didn't have much left over for costumes, special effects, sets, etc.

Lep 5 had some entertainment value because it didn't take itself too seriously. A couple of things happened I didn't expect. Of course, couple things also happened that I didn't WANT to happen but had a horrible premonition that they were going to, such as the Leprechaun smoking a blunt and rapping (though not at the same time, Thank God). They were a few times I was surprised to burst out laughing at stuff that I think was supposed to intentionally be funny. There was one particularly funny moment when the heroes are hiding from the Leprechaun that was worth the money I paid to rent it, because it was exactly like a scene from Scooby-Doo (in fact, I think it WAS a scene they stole from Scooby-Doo, but at least they stole from something amusing). I thought at first it was just because I had the flu at the time I watched it and had lots of Nyquil, but then my husband laughed at it too.
There's another scene where two characters are having a very serious discussion about how to go after the Lep -- this is after a tragic event occurs, so I figured the movie was going to stop trying to be funny-- and you see that one of them is holding "Leprechauns For Dummies". For some reason (maybe this time it was the Nyquil) that also struck me as pretty amusing.

Now that I think of it, I bet Spike Lee would probably be really offended by this movie. For instance, you could easily have a Leprechaun 5: In the Hood Drinking Game with your friends (hey, you could use Nyquil! It's even green) during the movie just by drinking every time a character says, "a'ight", "yo", "homie", or "that sh*t is WACKED, man!".

So, while on the negative side, we have the fact that the movie is completely stupid and mindless, with little gore, and really cheap production values, we do have the positives of a few good laughs and the fact that it would piss off Spike Lee. I've seen a lot of horror movies WAY worse and more insulting to viewer's intelligence.

Grade: C-

The Majestic
2001

The movie that WOULD NOT END!!!

Straight up, I rented this movie to see Bruce Campbell. I was hoping this would be an interesting Frank Darabont movie to see in the theater. Then I was warned away from it by TONS of reviewers and friends I trust. I have a friend who idolizes Campbell and will see any movie he's even rumored to have a cameo in in the theater. My friend REFUSED to see this movie (again, bad word-of-mouth, he had a friend that wouldn't touch it with a thousand foot pole). That's how bad it is.

So anyway, I read that the DVD special features had footage of Bruce Campbell left on the cutting room floor, so.... I could have just watched the extra footage, but I figured hey, I don't have much planned till tonight, why not watch the whole movie, even though it's 2 and a half hours long? It was directed by Darabont, wasn't it? It couldn't be that bad! Famous last words.

The premise is that Jim Carrey (please, Academy, just mail him some sort of honorary Oscar so he goes back to making silly movies again) plays a screenwriter in the 50's during the time of the Hollywood blacklist. You'll never guess what happens next. He ends up on the blacklist! Couldn't see that coming, huh? All he did was go to a meeting to try to impress a girl in college, but too bad--all in the space of one day, he's not going to get his contract renewed at the studio, his girlfriend dumps him off screen, no-one wants to associate with him, etc. He gets hammered at a bar with a cool name like 'The Congo Bonga Room', then drives off a bridge (accidentally), hits his head, and winds up with amnesia. Here's where they lost my suspension of disbelief. He's completely hammered, almost drowns, then is washed downstream where he hits his head very hard on a large rock. OK, so he somehow floated, unconscious, but with his head sticking out of the water for about a mile so he didn't drown? Anyway, he wakes up on Plot Device Beach on the coast, with no ID (it got washed away) and no memory of his former life, even his name. OK, now right there was when I got a bad feeling reading the plot description, but it gets worse. The townspeople think he's Luke someone-or-other, the son who went off to war and never came back, MIA. I'm not going to go into it more than that, because you've probably already fallen asleep simply from reading my plot description.

I knew this movie was long, but I swear to God, I would be POSITIVE they were winding it up, and it was the last dramatic scene/event, then there'd be still more. This is how dumb I am: I kept watching in case BC showed up again, even though I KNEW his part was through. That's like deliberately putting your hand back in hot water after you've just burned it, or something.

To give you an idea of my high sappiness tolerance, I cried my eyes off during most of the Green Mile (which many of my friends thought was to sappy, but I went through about 19 kleenex) and in Shawshank--I still get teary when I watch them. .But this movie got so sugary and cliched and warm and fuzzy that I talked back to the screen. This is an interesting testament to how badly this movie failed: a couple months ago I went to a seminar given by a successful writer who said, quite correctly, that the two easiest ways to make a reader/audience cry are goodbye scenes and reunion scenes. The Majestic was overflowing with goodbye/welcome back scenes, but all they made me do was wince and wonder if there was any way this movie could have worked and been entertaining. Jim Carrey has now proved he's a fine dramatic actor, so ENOUGH. We get the picture, Jim. He's miscast (though Carrey doesn't think so, you can tell by watching him) but his performance just seems like he's trying too hard as a result.

It's clear that the moviemakers planned (but failed, thank God) to completely sweep the Academy Awards with this one; a ton of scenes might have well as "For Your Oscar (TM) Consideration" teletyped along the bottom... but it just didn't work. The plot line is just something that never should have been greenlighted; it almost seems like a vanity production. Martin Landau, looking worse than he did in Ed Wood as Lugosi (I hope this was intentional) is great , as always; the lead actress was acceptable but forgettable, but it was instead one of the dullest and hardest movies to sit through since...uh....help me out, here....

Campbell fans, if you must rent this, rent the DVD. The special features include the entire 5 minute finale of "Sand Pirates of the Sahara"--which, now that I think of it, seems very out-of-date for the mid fifties, it looks more like a swashbuckling black and white flick of the 40's--a movie that Carrey's character has his first writing credit on. Do NOT sit through the whole movie like dumb me (unless it's just for a moment to see the hilarious poster with him on it). His backstory, which they should have included, was that he plays a over-the-hill matinee idol and corny actor with a serious drinking problem who is hanging onto his career by his fingernails (cough*Errol Flynn*cough) He's looked better, but is hilarious deadpanning lines like "You thought wrong!" Diehard Bruce Campbell fans only- rent the movie, watch his part on the special features,saving you the pain I endured of having to sit through the actual movie. Recommended only for hardcore BC fans or people with insomnia or maybe for screenwriters who want to see examples of how NOT to surprise or entertain the audience. Others, RUN!

The only positive things I can say about the DVD are that it includes the aforementioned film and also a feature where you can read the history of the Hollywood blacklist, which more people, IMHO, should be educated about. Sorry, Mr. Darabont...there's gotta be another Stephen King-depression era-prison flick you can work on next.

Grade: F

Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998)

No.

This was just terrible, almost anyone could have made a better movie. Great concept, it came off like they barely tried, and it went nowhere.

It's too bad that this is the late, talented Lloyd Bridge's last movie, he deserves better (though he tries very hard, it's not his fault and he's a good sport). Jay Mohr isn't really that funny of a guy. Right from the unfunny title, JAM is just DUMB, which is fine if the movie is actually amusing, but I swear to God I only cracked a smile (not even really a smile--a smirk) once during the whole movie, when there was a parade with The Pope on stilts. And I had 3 glasses of wine when I saw it and in a very easily amused mood, too.

I've seen Goodfellas and Casino probably 50 times, so I at least had hoped there'd be some funny "in jokes" for fans of these movies. The funniest parts are in the trailer, and the trailer is only mildly amusing. Don't rent it even if you think it's gonna be "Airplane" meets "The Godfather". Even if you have no expectations whatsoever, like I did when I rented it, you will probably be dissapointed.

Grade: F

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So there!