I Watch A Lot Of Movies: The Beach, Glory Daze, House II & Take Me Home Tonight

The Beach (2000) is one of those movies that I remember coming out, but don’t remember hearing much about. For some reason I thought it had a sci-fi element to it, but instead it’s about a secret island split between a bunch of hippie pot farmers and some bad ass dudes with guns. Leonardo DiCaprio finds out about the island and sneaks his way in where he soon becomes part of the gang. It’s kind of an interesting idea that gets really weird towards the end.

See, Leo left a map with someone and that’s a problem because the guys with guns don’t want anymore people to join the hippies. The boss lady finds out about this and stations Leo on a ledge so he can watch for newcomers. While doing this, Leo loses his damn mind.

The problem isn’t so much in the story or the turn it takes at the end, but in how long the movie goes in one direction showing how life on the island is and THEN switches to this descent into madness kind of thing. The meandering part is kind of fun to look at as you get interested in how life on the island works, but then the tone and mood shift and it’s almost like you’re watching another movie set in the same world as the first. At the end of the day, the performances are solid and Leo does well with an uneven script, but I’m not sure if I’d recommend checking The Beach out if you haven’t already seen it.

We’ve all got types of movies and stories that we’re suckers for and Glory Daze (1995) fits like three of my preferred subgenres. First off it’s got Ben Affleck, an actor I seem to like no matter what he’s in. Second, it’s an “end of college” movie which I’ve been a sucker for since I saw PCU and Animal House. And finally, it’s a 90s movie about the kind of existential crises Gen Xers had when looking at their future in the real world.

Affleck plays a tormented art student who lives with a group of his friends that include Sam Rockwell and French Stewart in a party house. Most of them are on the verge of graduation, but Affleck doesn’t know what he wants to do with the rest of his life and tries convincing his friends to stay on for one more year in the house to party and put off joining the real world.

Like I said, I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies, but I think it’s actually pretty good. Affleck hits a lot of the same notes that he would go on to hit in Chasing Amy (the movies actually shares some similar themes and beats at times) and the movie is funny, but there is a heart in it that I found appealing. It’s about fear of the unknown, discovering the truth of the world and trying to make the best of a bad situation. Sure, it’s formulaic at times, but it reminds me of a lot of the movies I liked in my high school days.

As I said in today’s Ad It Up, I know I saw and enjoyed the first House movie, but I don’t actually remember much about it. I think it had a dude fighting monsters in another dimension after opening a door in his house. House II: The Second Story (1986) one is about a guy moving into his treasure hunting great grandfather’s house that’s decked out in Incan stuff, finding his undead grandfather and trying to keep a crystal skull out of the hands of some demons. Or something.

The poster, which is awesome, might make the movie seem like a creepy horror movie, but it really feels like a campy family friendly romp. The main guy and his friend just kind of run around with a zombie as different rooms in their house turn into crazy locales.

The film also has a pretty fantastic cameo by John Ratzenberger as a repairman who doesn’t bat an eye when an Incan warrior tries to kill him and also fights it off like a boss. Also, there’s a tiny green dog-bug thing that I wish was my pet.

It’s so, so goofy, but if you like that kind of thing, do yourself a favor and check out House II on Netflix Instant.

When I saw trailers for the 80s-set Take Me Home Tonight (2011), I figured it would be your average throwback with lots jokes that are only funny if you’re living in 2011 and the kind of attitude that pokes more fun than pays homage. Thankfully that’s not the case. There are only a few of those anachronistic-style jokes, but for the most part, it’s a coming-of-age, finding-yourself story that just so happens to be set in the late 80s. They don’t even seem to look down on the decade that gave us big hair, strange clothes and rolled up jacket sleeves. Those things are in the movie, but they’re not the focus. It’d be dishonest if they weren’t there.

I was also happy with how some of the usual tropes of this kind of “telling my high school sweetheart I like her story” were handled. You’ve got Topher Grace telling a lie after meeting the girl of his dreams that comes back to bite him in the ass. But, he actually has a really good argument for why he lied. It’s an honest conversation that you rarely see handled so well in this kind of thing.

Like I said, I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories and really liked the performances by Grace (who I’ve liked since That 70s Show), Anna Faris who I didn’t even recognize with brown hair at first, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt and Michael Biehn. Add in a setting that’s not usually handled this way and I’m in. Give it a look.

Going Commando

2008-08-29
4:47:29 am

I know this blog is free and all, but it would be great if you could pick up the last few issues of ToyFare, specifically 133, 134 and the upcoming 135. Not so much because it puts any more money in my pocked (it doesn’t), but just so you too can enjoy what has turned out to be my personal favorite Twisted ToyFare Theatre of all time. For those of you that don’t know what that is (mostly those of you who I know from my life pre-Wizard), Twisted ToyFare Theatre is this section in the mag where we pose action figures in funny poses and give them word balloons. For the past three issues, we’ve been working on this Manly Movie Men parody that takes shots at all kinds of 80s action stars. Of course, I didn’t really realize how good of a job we were doing until I watched Commando last night

To be honest I was pretty blown away by this flick. Not because it was great, or even all that good, but by the shear volume of quips that Arnold throws around. The basic plot involves some guy kidnapped Arnold’s daughter (Alyssa Milano). The guy wants Arnold to do something for him in some Latin country that’s actually fake, but Arnold gets away, hunts the bastards down and gets his daughter back, all the while gaining a stewardess cohort (Rae Dawn Chong).

I highly recommend checking Commando out, if for no other reason than to see Arnold in his prime just killing dudes left and right. There’s a scene where Arnold’s on a plane supposedly on his way to the Latin country. He sits down in first class with this dude who he punches in the face and then BREAKS HIS NECK ON THE PLANE. The best part? No one around them even notices. He then sneaks out through the wheel well and jumps from the ascending plane into a marsh. From there, it’s all killing and bad jokes thanks to screenwriter Jeph Loeb (he writes a few of the comics in Wizard’s Top 10, plus Teen Wolf and Heroes).

And boy does he kill dudes. All kinds of dudes. Short dudes, tall dudes. The second guy he kills is actually one of my favorite character actors of all time David Patrick Kelly who played the dude in The Warrios who says “Waaaaaariors, come out at plaaaaaaaaaaay.” He also played Jerry on Twin Peaks which I still need to finish.

The only real drawback to the movie is Rae Dawn Chong. She overacts her way through half her scenes and then makes terrible jokes through the other half. Basically, she’s pointless except for the fact that they wanted a love interest(?) in the movie.

Overall, this is a great “dude put in a crazy situation and DEALS with it” movie. I was seriously worried that Arnold wouldn’t get off the plane in the plane scene. There’s even this great scene where you see Arnold watching a stewardess close the door and you’re trying to figure out how he’s going to get out. Additionally, these really are some of the best/worst quips in the game. My personal favorite is after killing the dude on the plane he tells the stewardess not to bother him because “he’s dead tired.” Oh, and at the end when he kills the main bad guy with steam pipe he says something along the lines of “It’s time you let off some steam.” Just imagine that in Arnold’s voice. It’s GREAT!

But seriously, I do enjoy these kinds of movies where the main character is just so single-minded and you literally can’t stop you. He’ll even storm the mansion from Beverly Hills Cop to get his daughter. He’s an unstoppable killing force and it’s a shame he can’t become the president of these great United States.