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Old Movie Review Thread

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by $100T2, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. KIMaster2.0

    KIMaster2.0
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    A few people mentioned the movie PCU (1994), but it didn't immediately ring a bell. Then, when I looked it up, I realized I had probably seen this movie 3-4 different times on Comedy Central when I was around 9 years old, a couple of years after it came out. I liked it at the time, but was curious how I would view at as an adult.

    Ostensibly, it's about a crazy house (not a frat, but a house) on campus led by Jeremy Piven that registers a lot of complaints from the PC (politically correct) groups on campus and has a dean that wants to shut them down.

    There are some laughs here and there, but the only amusing, original gag is throwing raw meat at the vegan protestors. Other than that, it's canned and recycled humor from dozens of earlier movies, and not even done particularly well. 9 year-old me didn't care or notice, but it's very jarring now.

    Piven as the lead is disorienting, as he dresses, talks, and looks like a lame-ass, balding 30-something.

    On the bright side, as an adult the movie is an amusing time capsule of the 90's as well as a nostalgia trip. PCU reminds me a lot of the undergrad I went to, with its murals and large common rooms. As a pre-frosh, I stayed with a House (not frat, but "house", just like in the film) president where the marijuana fumes were ten times thicker than

    And yeah, the absurd politically correct aspects of a college in 1994 are now mainstream aspects of life in 2021. Women purposely making themselves ugly who think all men are evil rapists? Yep. Blacks who think every Caucasian is a "white devil"? Quite familiar. Getting rid of Indian mascots? Long since achieved. Even a sign language translator is now a hallmark of most political speeches, not just a silly element of a 1994 movie.

    But here is where we get to the movie's biggest problem, as well as its most interesting aspect, and why the fuck I'm wasting keystrokes on a dumbass little college film from almost 30 years ago.

    The movie's themes are warped and schizophrenic, often to the point of being Bizarro versions of reality. There are three layers to this. The first one is that the movie is supposed to be anti-PC, it's even in the goddamn title and tagline, and yet, who is the main villain? Why...it's a stuffy Republican played by David Spade!

    The very opposite political group to the ones instituting political correctness, and the group that tried to fight PC themselves, if completely ineffectually. So what's the message, then? That PC is good after all? That PC might suck, but conservatives suck even harder? That PC is a necessary evil to destroy conservatives? In that case, Piven and his crew are necessarily antagonists too, since they fight against a the most effective tool against the ultimate evil, Republicans. Which means the crazed feminists and black supremacist crew, portrayed as jokes, are the real heroes of the story. Which makes the entire movie nonsensical and contradictory.

    But that's just the first layer. The second layer is that the movie portrays Piven's crew as the free-thinking, anti-PC rebels. They're SUPPOSED to be the guys and girls you root for. They're not hypocrites, and are honest about who they are.

    So after an entire movie building this up, who is that delivers the most courageous, badass, "fuck you" speech to the establishment at the very end of the picture? Why...the stuffy Republican villain! After all, Piven and his crew only stood up to the dean, an old white woman no one likes or supports. Spade, meanwhile, had the fucking balls to call out the powerful identy groups that form(ed) the progressive coalition; LGBTQ, feminists, and minorities. It was a brave speech in 1994, but it's a ludicrously badass, courageous speech nowadays, when it would get you cancelled 10 times over.

    It doesn't help matters that it's also the funniest piece of dialogue in the entire picture, easily out-shining anything Piven ever says. So we have a villain who embodies the positive qualities of our protagonists, the reasons we're supposed to like and root for the protagonists, far, far better than they do.

    And feeds into the final, third layer of the movie. Namely, that it's easy, incredibly easy to see Spade as the tragic hero of the movie and Piven as the scumbag villain. The flashback to Piven and Spade as roommates during their freshman year, while funny, only makes this more stark. What do we see? A poor, nerdy Spade being utterly terrorized by a sadistic asshole in Piven. Revenge of the Nerds didn't present the jocks as being nearly this awful, nor did it give its titular protagonists such a strong motive for revenge.

    But there is more than revenge going on here. Remember that early scene in the movie, where the prefrosh is glancing through photos of past years? And how it went from a bunch of decent-looking, serious young men wearing suits and ties to a bunch of stoner hippies not even bothering to look at the camera? The 90's, when this was made, were a time of unbridled optimism. We thought we had it all figured out, and that our awesome liberal democracies were the "end of the history", having achieved utopia or close to it...that was even the title of a bestselling book by Francis Fukuyama released two years before this movie.

    But now in 2021, we can't fucking fool ourselves. We know exactly what we're watching in that scene. We're seeing degradation. Decline. Rot. Civilizational decay. And it's not so fucking amusing when you realize how much shittier society and daily life have become since the 90's, how I have to watch everything I say the way my parents did back in the Soviet Union, or how current American society resembles that communist hellhole so closely, and in some ways is much worse, to the point where many modern dissidents would gladly trade the current US for the USSR of the 70's, and I can't even blame them.

    And what is Spade's answer to this? Does he meekly accept or ignore it, like the vast majority of humanity accepts the decline and death of the West, or the madness and horror of modernity, believing there is nothing he/she can do?

    No! Against impossible odds, Spade finds a few people around campus with similar beliefs and desperately tries to turn back the tide of rot. It's a project that he devotes years to, plans for extensively, and comes close to fulfilling. Alas, it's all futile, and in the end, he is no match for the forces that people back then didn't understand or even have a proper name for. But his failure only makes him more of a tragic hero.

    And who deals the ultimate blow to him, while supporting groups that he equally doesn't like? All so that, for another decade or so, he can continue being a self-indulgent asshole despite it being obvious that there is little place for a straight white male in this coalition? The man who is little more than a pathetic sell-out weasel? Why, Jeremy Piven's character!

    So that's what I find really interesting about this picture. That this silly little 90's college comedy, utterly in spite of itself, offers us such conflicting, hypocritical messages, culminating in the realization that the hero is really the villain, and vice versa.
     
  2. KIMaster2.0

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    I've watched a number of old films since my last post, but wanted to give others a chance to reply. Regardless, I recently watched

    The Founder (2016)-

    Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman who has never hit the big-time, but one day, comes across a unique eatery in San Bernardino called McDonald's, and strikes a deal with the two brothers running it.

    A damn good biopic. It's funny, fast-paced, and insightful about the business model of McDonald's and its development. Most impressively, it elicits empathy for every single major character, even ones in direct conflict. That's a rare quality, as most movies require an antagonist, as they don't have enough faith in the story otherwise. And that empathy extends to Keaton's Kroc, a cutthroat opportunist, but one who had been struggling, suffering, and risking it all for 30 years, when most men would have given up, before finally striking gold. The romantic subplot was weak and telegraphed, but otherwise, this was excellent.
     
  3. KIMaster2.0

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    Watched another classic;

    My Fair Lady (1964)-

    A rich professor of phonetics claims he can pass off a flower girl with a harsh Cockney accent as a well-bred lady in a few months. Based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, which I haven't read, but I'm told is deeper, as the written word typically is. All that said, I ended up liking it far more than I expected to, and would even go as far as calling it my 4th favorite movie musical. (For those curious, 3rd is The Court Jester, 2nd is Jesus Christ Superstar, and my favorite is Phantom of the Paradise)

    Now, it's a top-tier musical production, with gorgeous period costumes, lovely sets, a slew of catchy tunes, a terrific ensemble cast, and Audrey Hepburn. And yet, I normally don't care for big classic musicals. So what gives here? Well, it's the terrific sense of humor, at times bordering ironic, dark, or downright cruel. It permeates the entire film, even during drama or romance, and is brilliantly encapsulated in Harrison's Higgins, a selfish asshole who manages to be funny, charming, and sympathetic.
     
  4. Czechvodkabaron

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    White Chicks (2004)
    Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans play FBI agents who disguise themselves as two socialite sisters in order to stop them from being kidnapped, and in the process they have to mingle with the sisters' friends and attend a fashion event over the course of a weekend. It was my first time seeing it, and I thought that it was hilarious and lived up to its status as a cult classic. This movie did not deserve to be nominated for Razzies--at least not for worst screenplay or worst picture, like it was. There are some stretches that aren't funny, but the humor works more often than not. It does rely heavily on gross out humor, so it definitely isn't for everyone. It would probably be borderline in making my own list of the top 10 best comedies of the 2000s, but I did like it better than all the comedies that I've seen that came out within the last decade.
    7/10

    Mortal Kombat (1995)
    With the new MK film coming out (which I still haven't seen) I wanted to watch the original again. I remember thinking that it was decent when I was a kid, and that is how I would still describe it upon rewatch. The visuals are good and the fight scenes are passable. A lot of the dialogue is cheesy, but there are some good character moments. Johnny Cage in particular has some good lines. The film is not groundbreaking, but for a movie based on a video game it isn't bad.
    5/10

    Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
    When I was a kid I remember actually liking this one better than the original. But I only saw Annihilation one time, unlike the first one that I saw on TV a few times after I rented it. I knew that the second one was critically panned, but I wanted to check it out again and see if I would really find it to be that bad as an adult.

    It really was bad. As a kid I probably liked the second one better because it had more action, but the action scenes are repetitive, overlong, and not good enough to justify having more emphasis on them over the character element. Only two actors from the first film (Robin Shou as Liu Kang and Talisa Soto as Kitana) returned for this one, and James Remar is horribly miscast as Raiden (Christopher Lambert was great for the role in the first film). I'm glad that I gave it another look, but I won't be watching it again.
    2/10
     
  5. Crown Royal

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    The best thing about Christopher Lambert playing Raiden is that’s he’s Chinese, so he speaks Mandarin perfectly.
     
  6. Nettdata

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    He's French-American... where do you get that he's Chinese?

    Lambert was born March 29, 1957, in Great Neck, New York, the son of Yolande Agnès Henriette (néede Caritat de Peruzzis; 1928)[3] and Georges Lambert-Lamond (1910–2003),[4] a French diplomat then at the United Nations.[1][5][6] His father was a French Jew.[7] Lambert was raised and educated in Geneva from infancy and moved to Paris in his teens.[8]
     
  7. Czechvodkabaron

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    I think that he was being sarcastic and making a joke about how Raiden should be played by an actor who is Chinese. As far as I can tell though the character is based on a Japanese thunder God.
     
  8. Nettdata

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    Ahh. That makes more sense... almost as much sense as him playing the Highlander... with Connery being a Spanish dude.
     
  9. Crown Royal

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    Don’t worry, if you can actually sit through Highlander 2 you find out they’re from outer space.
     
  10. Nettdata

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    There is no Highlander 2. There Can Be Only One.
     
  11. Crown Royal

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    Talk about a film series with so much potential just dying on the vine.
     
  12. dixiebandit69

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    He's not Spanish, he's Egyptian, you uncultured rube.
     
  13. Crown Royal

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    He’s a sorcerer from outer space. Watch the unwatchable sequel.
     
  14. Juice

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    Under Siege

    I watched this movie for the first time ever yesterday. I don’t think I had really watched a Steven Seagal movie from start to finish before this one, but I went in expecting a good deal of camp while still being entertained. I got a lot of the former and very little of the latter. I can’t tell if people only like this movie ironically like a lot of 80s/90s garbage or if they think it’s generally good like Predator or Die Hard.

    Honestly, I hated it. Seagal is so unappealing and uncharismatic, it was just a chore to sit through. The action was underwhelming and the story was absolutely absurd. Why wouldn’t this guy just be discharged from the military instead of being made a cook? How does he take absolutely no damage? You’d think action movies would have learned after Die Hard. It’s hard to pinpoint more than that, I just didn’t like it. I can’t believe the director of this went on to make one of the best action movies ever when he made The Fugitive the following year.

    2/10
     
  15. Crown Royal

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    Even when I watched this when it came out, I was massively disappointed and basically was angry with how insanely predictable and suspense-free it is. Erika Eleniak’s incredible sparking tittays could not save this in a million years. It was Segal’s first big-budget starring vehicle (to match his insanely inflated ego) and it was a horrible by-the-numbers action movie, far less fun than his previous gangland cop movies. Honestly, the sequel to Under Siege is hardly a great movie (it’s dumb as fuck) but it might be better than the original. And it has a drinking game where you do a shot whenever Segal implores his patented clothesline-chop technique.

    You HAVE to watch his later movies. 65 years old, 300 pounds, just fatly sneaking around wearing XXXL special ops gear and getting into inordinate amounts of fat hand-to-hand combat. Then he rescues some girl forty years his Junior who just plain fucks him on the spot because he’s also the producer of every film. And the sunglasses never come off, for ANY of this. It’s surreal.
     
  16. Juice

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    I haven’t, but the Cum Town podcast does a hilarious take-down of Sniper Special Ops, specifically him looking through a sniper scope with his sunglasses. He seems like such a ducking weirdo. Him being best buddies with fucking Putin doesn’t help anything.
     
  17. Nettdata

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    That movie was gold when it came out at first... I mean... it had a major redeeming feature. Maybe even two of them...

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Aetius

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    Let's be honest, it isn't the director that makes The Fugitive great, it's Tommy Lee Jones just chewing his way through every scene in the movie.
     
  19. Nettdata

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    Exactly. And I don't think Tommy Lee would have been as good as he was in The Fugitive if he hadn't done his whacky thing in Under Siege.
     
  20. Crown Royal

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    She was the first Baywatch girl, and still the hottest Baywatch girl.

    Funny in joke for the film, Erika Eleniak actually is Miss July 1989 in real life.