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Kitten With a Whip Reviews
Mindlessly Fun Movies

Here are some movies that don't require you to use your brain much. If you only look movies with a deep hidden meaning, or ones that you can have intellectual discussions about, you might want to skip them and rent, oh, Woody Allan's Interiors instead. If you just want to lighten up and watch a fun popcorn movie where you can be entertained without having to think too hard...read on.

Brady Bunch Movie, The (1995)

Hey, groovy movie. I think you're really happening in a far out way!

When I first heard about the concept of this movie, I thought it was dumb-I liked the idea of a BB movie, especially since the previews looked great, but then I read I review about how the Bradys are in a "time warp" and the rest of the world is in the late 90's. When I saw the movie, all my fears were put to rest. In fact, some of the "culture clash" scenes of the Bradys interacting with the rest of the world were the best, such as McKean's character not understanding a word of what she's saying because of her lisp, an attempted carjack "Well, this is a car. But my name's not Jack!" and Marcia's best female friend being a lesbian with a hopeless crush on her.

There's not really enough room to say enough good things about this movie. I've had a long week so I'll just list them- FIrst, the dead-on impressions are great, especially Alice, Jan, and Marcia, but Mike Cole is really the standout-he sounds more like Mike Brady than Mike Brady, and has his mannerisms down perfect. Lots of in-jokes and references that kids who didn't watch the show won't get but those of us like me that did will get: for instance, when Carol kisses Mike goodbye when he leaves for work, she says, "See ya, Tiger!(pause) Tiger...Tiger...I wonder what ever happened to that dog?" the blackboard in the kitchen has "porkchops and applesauce" written on it, etc. They even manage to throw in a reference to (hee hee) Johnny Bravo.

The period detail is great (now that I see it as an adult, I realize the Brady's house was actually pretty cool looking), including the costumes. There's some little sexual innuendo thrown in, but it fits in with the movie and the characters perfectly-one of the funniest scenes is when Carol and Mike think they're alone, and she's sitting on his lap whispering what is probably talking dirty in his ear, and he's saying "Uh-huh...You would...I see..." exactly like Mike Brady does when he's talking to someone on the phone. They also include the popular Brady songs like "Sunshine Day" (always kind of grated on me, but they do a great version in a Sears store) and the horrible one that starts "Clowns never laughed before..." but "Keep On" is actually a pretty catchy one.

They recreate many famous moments from the show, such as Marcia's nose getting broken ("Oh!My nose!") to Jan's delight, potato sack races, Jan hating her new glasses, Peter (or is it Bobby-for some reason those are the only 2 names I can't keep straight) being the Safety Monitor at school, and plenty more.

The plot (yes, it actually has one)involves the Brady family's efforts to save their beloved home from an evil land-developer. Highly recommended, even if you're not a Brady completist. Watch for the cameos from 4 original cast members-the best was the real Alice playing a truck driver (hmmm, always though Alice was a little butch) picking up hitch-hiking Jan who has run away from home.

Most importantly to me, though this is a parody, the moviemakers make fun of the show while still staying true to the spirit of it and the characters. All their naivete (spelled wrong, I know...) is actually sweet rather than annoying-Marcia wears hideous 70's clothes but carries herself like a princess, Greg wants to make friends with the car-jacker, assuming he must need a spare tire, Mike explains how he wouldn't sell his house for any price because he designed it himself with love. During one scene, Marcia and Jan go to a modeling tryout (Jan is instantly booted)and the photographer/agent tells her she needs to cut her hair, get plastic surgery, and lose weight. She slaps, him horrified:"CUT MY HAIR?? How dare you!" Greg's lines to pick up chicks (well, it seems like this is his only opening pickup line) is "Hey groovy chick. You look really happening in a far out way!" are actually endearing.

Everyone with a sense of humor and fun will probably like this movie, and those of us who grew up on the show will absolutely love it.

Grade: a far out A+

Daisy, Spinning

Psycho Beach Party (2000)

Charles Busch for President

First of all, anyone who comes up with the movie title "Sex Kittens Go Bossa Nova" deserves some sort of award or national holiday in their honor just for that alone. I was sold on this movie way before the incredibly cool opening credits rolled. Actually, we saw the trailer for it in the theater, and almost instantly and simaltaneously said, "we're there".

There's about a dozen different elements to this fun flick that would have made me see it if only one of them had been present. First, I've seen almost every 60's Beach Party movie (though I'm sure Charles Busch has most people beat on the number of times they were watched) and this is not only a hilarious parody, but the 60's detail down to the costumes, sets, make-up, and hair is so dead-on I wouldn't have been surprised to see Donna Loren or Deborah Walley show up. The soundtrack is really, really great, some of the best surf music that wasn't actually recorded in the 1960's I've ever heard. The plot is actually really clever, with one of the best twist-upon-twist endings I've ever seen. The opening credits and closing credits are great, and I'm sure any guys who didn't really want to see the movie but were dragged by their girlfriends will dig the hot Ann-Margret crossed with a Bada-Bing! girl go-go dancer. She knows her go-go dancing, too.

I first heard about this movie when I read about it in Fangoria of all places. I was impressed by what I read but thought, "they better not screw this up". Once I saw about 30 seconds of the trailer I realized they knew what they were doing. The movie actually has more of an actual plot than many of the 60's beach movies did (not that either really needed one). The plot centers on a series of Blood-Feast type murders in Malibu. In their search for the killer, the female police detective (Charles Busch, who is probably the funniestof anyone in the movie) focuses on Florence (Lauren Ambrose, almost as funny), who suffers from a very entertaining form of multiple personality disorder but doesn't know it yet. There's a huge number of great supporting characters, such as her love interests Starcat and surf God Kanaka. Bettina Barnes, a B-movie actress on the lam from Hollywood, shows up to add extra glamour. Also especially funny-especially if you thought parts of those old beach movies got kind of homoerotic-are young beach studs Yo-Yo and Provoloney (next to John Waters, this movie comes up with the greatest names for characters of all time) who are suspiciously more interested in wrestling each other than checking out the chicks in bikinis.

If this weren't enough, Busch also makes almost every single line include some sort of campy and hilarious 60's lingo. If you've read or seen the play the movie was based on, you know exactly what I mean. The young cast, which could have ruined the movie if they took themselves too seriously, are talented enough to take lines like, "Is this a beach shack or the Malibu branch of the CIA?" and "They look like beatniks...should I unpack my bongos?" and make them soundfresh and funny. Considering most of them probably weren't born until a decade or so after these type of movies came out (yikes), this is pretty impressive. Ambrose is perfect as Florence "Chicklet" Forrest/Ann Bowman, and if Busch (who played the part onstage)had to tutor her at all on how to play it, she picked it up pretty well. Busch has less scenes, but almost steals the movie- he's probably the funniest and best in drag I've seen since Divine. His facial expressions alone made me laugh so hard when I saw it in the theater that I was worried the usher might come over. Fortunately everyone else was laughing just as hard.

There's plenty of shockingly raunchy jokes, but somehow the whole movie still seems as innocent and good-natured as if it were rated G. Ok, maybe not G, but you get the idea. Everyone involved in the making of the film obviously loved what they were doing. A completely fun, clever but brainless, campy movie with an awesome cast, screenplay, wardrobe and soundtrack, perfect from the font used in the opening credits to the to-die-for tiki torches. It's pretty hard for me to think of anyone who this movie wouldn't at least bring a smile to. You don't even need to have seen a Beach Party movie to have a good time-it's not all in-jokey (though those who grew up on those movies will probably notice and appreciate some smaller details more). Even if you have no idea who Annette and Frankie are, as long as have a sense of humor, you should still enjoy it. If you liked Hairspray...well, now that I think of it, most fans of Hairspray probably have already seen the movie. If you liked that movie, if you're into surf or just surf music, or 60's movies, or if your favorite cocktail comes in a coconut shell or tiki mug, drop everything and rent this movie now if you haven't seen it yet. You'll have a blast. Dig me ?

Grade A+

Almost Heroes (1998)

Mediocre movie, but Chris Farley fans should check it out.

First off, I laugh at almost anything Chris Farley ever did. If you can't stand Farley, you might want to re-consider renting this. If you found him as hilarious as I still do, then it's definitely worth a shot.

If I saw this movie with almost anyone else cast in Chris Farley's part I probably, well, would have never seen it in the first place, but if I did I would have given it a lousy review. OK, the movie itself was completely predictable and dumb (not like it was supposed to be intellectual). I think Matthew Perry had't made it to rehab yet because during certain scenes he looks too thin and pale. During others (did they toss both of the leads in rehab halfway through shooting, then resume production when they were out?) he looks pretty good. In fact, if you have the hots for Perry, you should definitely see it because he was looking pretty good to me by the end of the movie, and I never thought he was all that hot before. I have a feeling the part of "Edwards" was originally meant for David Spade, but he pulled out- too bad, because the movie would have gone from a B to an A for me.

We saw it opening weekend, Saturday night, and the theater had already split up the movie (and even cut the poster in half! Jerks) with another in the same part of the theater because no-one was showing up. The audience was us and maybe a dozen other Farley fans who sat silently when he wasn't onscreen, then you'd hear us all roar with laughter at the top of our lungs scattered from various parts of the mostly empty auditorium (the laughs were scattered, not our lungs, sorry for the bad grammar) when he did or said something funny.

This is not his best movie (he was obviously and sadly on his last legs, but doing his best to give his fans their money's worth)but not his worst. If you're a Farley fan, don't be scared away by the bad reviews, rent it or buy it! The scene where he has to go find an eagle's egg in the wilderness to cure his sick friend is priceless, and so is his comment when he finally brings it back and finds out which part of the egg they needed. Every single review in the media I read said something along the lines of "this is a sad legacy to be Farley's last movie, with his weak performance, blah blah" but I think he could have done a lot worse. He did his best, even though he probably felt like crap, and his best was hilarious.

RIP up there big guy, your fans miss you.

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Deep Rising (1998)

My favorite sea monster flick other than "Jaws"

"This Ain't No Pleasure Cruise", the tagline of this underappreciated movie reads, but it is for anyone who loves a good popcorn movie. If it weren't for "Jaws", I would have said this is the best, most fun sea monster movie, period. I remember having to drag my husband to this- he went along as one of those marital-duty-being-a-good-spouse movie dates. I had read about it in Fangoria magazine, and the effects looked cool. I have trouble resisting a good monster movie, and the other thing I remember reading was that all the cast and crew said they had an absolute blast making the movie. I didn't really expect much, other than some cool FX and a few jumps. But this flick turned out to be so much fun I ended up adding it to my permanent video collection. My husband started out grumbling but ended up having a good time, too.

Treat Williams stars as Finnegan, a stock character who is the type of hero that is a cross between Han Solo and Bruce Campbell. You know, the type of scoundrel for hire who owns his own ship and will get the job done for you for a price, even if it is technically criminal, but is basically a loveable rogue. He and his roughneck gang of mercenaries are hired to hijack and rob a luxury ocean liner on its maiden voyage in the South Seas. When he and his maverick gang, which includes his stock comic relief sidekick Joey (Kevin J. O'Connor), find out that the rich scumbags who hired them to do the job left out a few crucial bits of info that make the job even more dangerous than they thought, they get cranky (standard dialogue such as "This wasn't part of the deal, and you know it!" ensues). However, this turns out to be the least of their friggin' problems, because when they board the ship, they find all the thousands of millionaire passengers have vanished without a trace. The only handful ones left alive are a sexy jewel thief (Famke Jannsen) and the big bosses of the ship. Guess what happened to them? This is a monster movie, so... ...

...So I know this doesn't sound that original or impressive. However, while this movie won't win any prizes for making you ponder the meaning of life, it is entertaining as hell. "Deep Rising" is one of those fun, mindless roller coaster movies that won't go down as the most thought provoking movie (you can predict exactly what is going to come out of a character's mouth at any given moment, such as "Hey..." "What?" (pause) "....Be careful"), but makes you realize how much fun a good dumb monster movie can be.

The special effects are inventive and mind-blowing-they don't look low budget at all, and there's a ton of cool ones in this flick. Wen Rob Bottin is involved, you KNOW there's going to be at least one really cool, nightmarish monster effect. Most of them are pretty memorable. The monster seems kind of run-of-the-mill at first, but keeps getting better and nastier. Instead of just eating its victims, it takes agonizing time to digest them before spitting out the gristle and bones, making for the type of long tortureous death that causes characters to 'save one last bullet' to kill themselves if the monster gets them. I won't spoil it, but the monster turns out to be much more impressive and frightening (like lots of great monster movies, you don't see the entire creature in all its horrible glory till the grand finale) than anyone expects. I'll just come right out and say it: Rob Bottin is a genius! That's right, I said it! SOMEbody had to say it! Call me a movie geek if you want (not that I care) but horror fans, you know I'm right.

There is also guts, goo, and gore-a-plenty for the splatter fans, so much in fact I was kinda surprised that the MPAA let this movie get away with an R rating. There's many great horrifyingly disgusting moments, and I remember one in particular that occurs about 1/3 into the film that made even the most jaded viewer's jaws hit the floor.

While the dialogue is corny and the characters 1-dimensional, there were actually several twists and turns to the storyline that were a shock, including one of the best and most original "the end...OR IS IT?" endings I've ever seen in a horror flick. Treat Williams is kind of a discount Bruce Campbell (man, that bit of casting would have made the movie perfect-laugh if you want, but Campbell fans, you know I'm right), but Williams does a fine job even with some of the stupid catchphrases he is given ("NOW what?"). Famke Jannsen looks stunningly beautiful as always and is more talented and charismatic than she gets her due for. It's always nice to see beautiful babe type leading lady over 30 (not that she looks it). The CRS (Comic Relief Sidekick), who does such a great job impersonating Joe Pantoliano that I had to check the credits, actually gets some funny lines in (Finnegan: "Do you know how many uncharted islands there are out here?" Joey: "Uh, two?") The supporting cast, even the extras, ham it up and are clearly having lots of fun.

There are some moments that are pretty frightening and there's plenty of nail biting suspense. While this movie is strongly reminiscent of John Carpenter's "The Thing" (see my earlier gushing about Bottin), the "Alien" series, and even "The Empire Strikes Back" (Star Wars fans, listen to Williams when he raises his voice, he's a dead ringer for Ford as Han Solo) it is also very original. More importantly, this flick is just flat-out fun. If you're in the mood to escape reality completely, scream, and be entertained, then by all means pop in this underrated little gem , turn off your brain, and get ready to have a blast.

And get ready to scream!

Grade: A+

Serial Mom (1994)

We all have our bad days...

I am a hardcore John Waters fan, but this one of the few ones I rent rather than purchased. I can't really think of anything I would want to change about it, however, other than maybe setting it in the 50's or 60's so Van Smith could have worked his costume magic. If another director, say Robert Zemeckis or someone had directed this, then based on the subject matter, I probably wouldn't have had any interest in seeing it. But hey, any movie containing the credits "Written and Directed by John Waters" (in this case, the credit is superimposed over an image of a pulverized fly who has just been swatted by the title character...he always picks the best shots for his credit, doesn't he?) well, I'm there, no matter what the premise is.

Waters' films often center on 'troubled' but lovable female characters, and this one is no exception. Kathleen Turner does a great job portraying Beverly Sutphin, a June Cleaver-esque, devoted happy homemaker who doesn't even allow gum in her house, but has a short fuse and keeps a secret scrapbook (I wonder if it was from Waters personal collection) of clippings about serial killers. We don't know how long she's been killing, but the first half of the film follows a week in her life and the various neighbors and acquaintances she dispatches simply because they pi$$ her off. Ever momentarily had an urge to kill someone when they stole a parking spot from you, badmouthed a member of your family, or committed an obvious fashion violation? We don't act on it (well, *I* don't anyway, maybe some of you have and I just don't know about it) but Serial Mom sure does.

Again, only Waters could have pulled this movie and subject matter off. If you're a Waters devotee, then you are well aware that criminal behavior, trials, and serial killers are subjects near and dear to his heart-this is a man who is a self-confessed "trial groupie". With any other filmmaker, it could have been boring. Many probably would have been extremely offended by a movie about a lovable serial killer played for laughs (especially those who knew the victim of a violent crime) but the tone of the movie is so light and over-the-top that only people with no sense of humor could think it might condone murder. Who else but Waters could think of a victim being bludgeoned to death with a slab of pork chop (because she made the mistake of not rewinding a movie before she returns it to the video store) while watching a videotape of "Annie"?

This is not the funniest Waters movie I've seen, but it has its moments. Among the funniest are the scenes where Beverly torments her neighbor Mink Stole with hilariously obscene phone calls to drive her over the edge. Also very amusing are scenes where Beverly's whitebread manner ("oh honey, the only "serial" I know anything about is Rice Krispies!") contrasts with the horrified stares of her family and neighbors. Turner is best in the moments when she goes from a harmless Donna Reed to Charles Manson within seconds when someone makes the mistake of annoying her- just watch her face. I couldn't help but imagine how perfect Divine would have been in this part- can't you just see her losing it when Mink Stole cuts her off and steals her parking spot? No offense to Turner- Divine is now making heaven flashy, so Turner fills in perfectly.

Waters fans should also watch for cameos /small roles by Alan Wendel, Traci Lords, Susan Lowe, Mary Vivian Pearce (I only recognized her from her distinctive voice) and though he doesn't appear in the credits, Waters manages to work in Don Knotts.

I don't fall off the couch laughing like I do when I see Female Trouble or Polyester, but it's still lots of fun. I'll take one of Waters' non-Divine films over a teen slasher flick or anything starring Jean-Claude Van Damme any day of the week.

Grade: B


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