Quick Movie Review: Airheads (1994)

airheads When it comes to mid 90s music-infused comedies, the two that were ridiculously influential in my world were Empire Records and Dazed And Confused. Both of those movies showed young me a world that not only involved more complex emotional relationships than I’d personally experienced up to that point, but also reflected my views on how important music could be.

Airheads has some of those themes, but is much more of a madcap comedy. Michael Lehmann (Heathers) directed this movie starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscmi and Adam Sandler as members of a band called The Lone Rangers desperate to make it big in the LA music scene. Through a series of misunderstandings and accidents while visiting a local radio station, everyone thinks they’re holding the DJs and other employees hostage. The band decides to roll with it in an effort to get people excited about their music.

Fraser’s Chazz is the true heart of the film. He wants to make great music his way, but it seems like the whole world’s against him. Buscemi’s less emotionally invested, but still into it. Think Mr. Pink with a bass. And then there’s Sandler who’s somewhere between Waterboy and Billy Madison on the Sandler Stupidity Scale. The cast also includes Michael McKean as the shifty station owner, Judd Nelson as the also-shifty record exec, Ernie Hudson and Chris Farley as cops, and DJs Joe Mantegna and David Arquette. Oh and Michael Richards is in here too, mostly crawling around like a worm.

I think the success of this movie for the individual viewer depends on what kind of films you dig. If you’re a fan of the comedies from this time like Dumb & Dumber and Tommy Boy, then I think you’ll be into this one. I wasn’t such a fan so it fell a little flat. They all just seemed a little silly to me, but I get the appeal if that’s your thing. I liked Airheads a bit more than those other movies though because Fraser is just so damn earnest and Mantegna gives it his all. Still, there’s a lot of dumbness going on that took me out of the story immediately following scenes I really enjoyed. Frankly, I winced and rolled me eyes any time Richards appeared because his role, while somewhat important to the story as it gets a real gun in the station, winds up being overly stupid and mostly pointless. In other words his involvement is a long way to go for a pretty basic plot point that could have been done in one scene.

At the end of the day, I felt like there was actually a really solid point behind this film, but the overall goofiness surrounding most of it doesn’t serve that story very well because it’s not much of a leap to feel like Lehmann is just making fun of Fraser’s Chazz, which is too bad because he’s probably the best part of this film.

Quick Movie Review: Congo (1995)

congo_ver1As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of How Did This Get Made, the Earwolf podcast where hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Rapahel, Jason Mantzoukas and a special guest all watch a movie and then pose the title question, usually in awe of its badness. When I saw that this week’s film, Congo, also happened to be on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d give it a watch ahead of time so I could be in on the gag a bit more.

The plot as presented in the film is pretty complicated, with lots of motivations, but the basic idea is that various people are all going to one place in the Congo and wind up working together. Laura Linney’s going to see if her former fiance/explorer is still alive (and also see if communications-enhancing diamonds really exist there). Meanwhile Dylan Walsh is a scientist bringing gorilla Amy back to her home after teacher her sign language (which gets interpreted to voices thanks to a contraption). You’ve also got Tim Curry looking for Solomon’s Mines and Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson along as their guide plus a few others.

Most of the film is actually about the group traveling by various forms of transportation to where they want to go, Once they get there, it turns out there’s a small army of super-aggressive white apes guarding the actual mine. Oh and it’s also on a volcano, so there’s your ticking clock.

For about 2/3 of this movie I was thinking to myself, “Sure, there’s a lot of travel and Amy the gorilla is clearly a person in a suit, but I don’t know if this is up there with other HDTGM fodder.” And then the ending happens. Guys, it’s bonkers. There’s lazer guns and fire and monkeys killing people and people killing monkeys (lots of that actually) and terrible CGI and an air balloon.

At the end of the day, I don’t regret watching the film. I actually enjoyed the adventures parts and even got to enjoy some of the characters — Hudson is SUPER charismatic in this — plus, it’s always fun to actually watch these movies before listening to the podcast. I still enjoy the episodes referring to movies I haven’t seen, but like I said above, it’s more fun to be in on the gag. Still, it’s not exactly what you’d call a good movie. In fact, there is a good movie in here and it’s the one featuring Bruce Campbell as a jungle explorer, but he doesn’t make it past the first few minutes. Oh, SPOILER warning, I guess.