The High Five Podcast Episode 2 – Body Swaps

I threw all my plans out the window when I got a very cool package in the mail from a cool PR person! As a result, you’ll have to wait to find out more of my favorite 2020 film experiences and instead dive into my all-time favorite body swap stories from TV, animation, movies and comics!

We Want Action: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Holy crap, you guys. I kind of loved Cowboys & Aliens and I didn’t really want to. First off, I have a problem with some of the shady dealings that went on in the making and “selling” of the original graphic novel of the same name. As such, I’ve never read it, so I have zero idea how much this film follows the source material, though I believe it’s more of an anthology kind of thing.

Anyway, I don’t remember hearing much of anything about this movie when it finally came out which was kind of surprising because it was Jon Favreau’s follow up to Iron Man 2, was written by Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman along with three others and has a cast that includes Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine and Olivia Wilde. What’s not to like?

Actually, I have no idea because I walked away really liking this movie. First off, it looks gorgeous. Favreau and his cinematographer really did a bang up job making this movie look fantastic. That actually includes the aliens too, when we finally do see them. The design is interesting and I thought they looked as good as CGI aliens actually could with a weird design that was both kind of gross and kind of familiar.

I also liked the plot which finds Craig waking up with almost complete memory loss. He wanders into a western town that’s basically run by the cattle guy played by Ford. As a war starts to erupt between Ford’s guys and the town, these aliens roll in and attack. This being a crisis, strange bedfellows are made, so the main characters join forces and go after the aliens. A lot more happens and I actually worried that the film would feel too long, especially when they joined up with the Native American tribe, but I wound up really liking those parts which also turned out to be important for the story, so it was a worthwhile tangent.

Cowboys & Aliens reminded me of a lot of Favreau’s other work where he does a great job of mixing the big, special effects heavy action stuff with personal moments that round the film out. I just looked and this movie opened two weeks after the last Harry Potter movie and one week after Captain America, so I’m wondering if people were just not feeling like seeing a movie. I also remember my wife’s friends being confused about what the movie actually was about so maybe the ad campaign didn’t really do such a great job. Whatever the reason, I think folks should check this one, it’s a pretty fun outing.

Nerdy Double Feature: Spring Break (1983) & Revenge of the Nerds III The Next Generation (1993)

That’s just a delightfully weird movie poster isn’t it? I remember seeing this box at the video store back when they still rented videos and I was a kid. It seemed pretty scandalous at the time and I probably thought it was about shrinking kids or monstrously huge women. Now, I know that it’s a simple spring break comedy directed by Sean S. Cunningham, the man who birthed the Jason franchise. I’ll admit, my curiosity was piqued as I’d never seen a non-horror film by the man and I appreciate when directors have the ability to bounce between genres.

I kind of loved this movie with all its unexpected weirdness. The story follows these two nerdy guys heady to spring break who want to let loose and meet women, even though the one kid’s step dad is a politician and wants him to not cause trouble. That’s pretty normal enough, but then two other guys from NYC show up (one carrying a potted plant for some reason) and they end up being in the same room. You think it’s going to turn into an “us vs. them” movie between the nerds and the cooler guys, but instead they join forces and become friends!

Even though you’d assume a movie like this would seem like the prototypical spring break movie, it offered up a lot of surprises and uniqueness that I really liked. Though, something was nagging me while watching it. The plot started feeling familiar, especially the political parent involvement. It wasn’t until talk to Rickey later that he reminded me of the lame straight-to-DVD movie Spring Breakdown starring Parker Posey, Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch which seems to have stolen a fair number of plot points from this flick. Not cool, especially considering no credit is given.

Spring Break is a fantastically fun movie that I recommend to anyone looking for a fun, upbeat movie to watch this Labor Day weekend. Spring, summer, what’s the difference?

Up next on my nerdy double feature was Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation, an installment of the four-part epic I’d never seen before. I am a gigantic fan of the first movie and it’s message of being yourself. Damn, I feel all pumped up every time I watch it! Anyway, this third installment was…interesting. It’s 1993 and Adams College has been taken over by nerds, which drives some mean old Alpha Beta alumn to hatch a plan to get Stan Gable (the quarterback from the original movie) put in place as the dean to get the power back in the bully AB hands. Somehow it works. We also get introduced to a new generation of nerds, specifically Harold, the nephew of Lewis from the original (he played by Gregg Binkley who played Kenny on My Name Is Earl). As it turns out, Lewis has turned into a yuppie douche who stifles that signature laugh of his and has a douchey ponytail even though he’s happily married to Betty (the girl he banged dressed as Darth Vader in the original). It’s your typical “fallen hero” story and, I know this sounds stupid, but it made me MAD to see him like that.

Anyway, the movie’s got some fun nods to early 90s geekery like the current students laughing at the tech their predecessors had and the doorbell of the TriLamb house playing the Super Mario 3 music (I geeked out pretty hard at that).

This might sound weird, but I wish the movie had taken itself a little bit more seriously. The young nerds do a good job as do most of the returning actors and characters, the real problem lies in the character of the older alumn and some of the directing choices which just goes way over the top into cartoon territory at times. His scenes take you out of the story, which is too bad because otherwise this could have been a really solid made for TV sequel. Still worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series, though, especially with the awesome musical numbers (nowhere near as good as the originals, but still fun, especially the early 90s rap. Fun stuff.

UPDATE: I forgot, Clancy Brown has a small role as a gas station attendant, check it out!

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

So far we’ve gotten six offerings from DC’s animated universe straight-to-DVD movies. Here’s how they break down for me:

BAD
Superman/Doomsday
Batman: Gotham Knight

GOOD
Justice League: The New Frontier
Wonder Woamn
Green Lantern: First Flight

The bad ones are bad either because they strayed way too far from the original concept (Superman/Doomsday) or were just plain old boring (I think you can figure out which one that is). The good ones either stick to an existing story or create a brand new story using the basic mythos. For whatever reason, I had some pretty big reservations about Public Enemies. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a big fan of the comics the movie was based on. Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman (or as Em calls it SuperBatman) was a big fun popcorn comic that was dragged down by the interminable thought boxes he through in so that you could see how Superman and Batman think about each other. It was SOOO boring.

Anyway, after watching PE last night I would definitely put this one in the good column. I’m not a big fan of mixing the voice talents of previous incarnations with a different art style. I keep hearing Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly and expecting to see the classic Batman/Superman/JL/JLU versions of these characters. It’s a small complaint and really the only one I’ve got. I like how they used Ed McGuinness’s art to base the animation on, though it could have been a little bigger. The basic story follows that of the comic: Lex Luthor’s president, he’s got some heroes and villains working for him, tries to turn the world against Superman because there’s a big Kryptonite meteor coming towards Earth and Superman and Batman have to put a stop to it.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the comics (or more accurately looked at the pretty pictures) so I can’t remember how closely the movie mirrors the comic. You don’t get a teaming up of Superman and Batman’s family of heroes coming to the rescue, but you do get the fight between the dynamic duo and Hawkman and Capt. Marvel. There’s also a JLU-worthy fight in the episode where Supes and Bats fight a giant army of villains because Luthor put a bounty on Supes’ head. While the action scenes are a lot of fun, I’m not sure how well the story is told. It’s hard for me to judge because I did read the comics and all the comics from around that time, so I’ve got a lot of extra info bouncing around my head. I think Em had a pretty easy time following, but again, she’s read a lot of that stuff too. Then again, I don’t know how many non-comic fans will be checking these DVDs out. Hopefully a good deal will, then they’ll fall in love with these characters and start following their adventures in comic book form. Ha, who am I kidding? That almost never happens for ongoing comics.