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!

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

2009-01-30
12:27:45 am

I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin’ Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that’s not exactly what we got.

So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don’t like something because it doesn’t match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it’s a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn’t the Superman I’ve been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don’t like the original Superman movies either, but that’s a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I’m not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it’s not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don’t really agree with the director or writers choices, but it’s a well put together movie.

I can’t say that’s the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you’ve got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I’d say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate “Cowboy Ending” makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn’t have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there’s a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it’s buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.

There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that’s too short, but still great. Basically, it’s what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t lack an awesome cast though. Here’s a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason “Everything’s Better with Bateman” Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.

Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They’re made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn’t like it. What are the odds?!

All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin’ Aces: Blowback, though I probably won’t shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I’d rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.