Comedy

Review of Phantom of the Paradise

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Phantom of the Paradise Theatrical Poster

Phantom of the Paradise Theatrical Poster

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

Before there was Rocky Horror, there was Phantom of the Paradise.

This rock opera-styled comedy written and directed by Brian dePalma is a witty and very campy blending of Faust and The Phantom of the Opera. The story is centered on songwriter and composer Winslow Leach (played more or less badly by William Finley), who has his music stolen and adulterated by the somewhat Satanic, wildly successful record producer Swan (played impishly and yet with a hint of sinister by Paul Williams).  When Leach confronts Swan, Swan has him beaten and imprisoned on trumped-up drug charges.

Leach manages a prison break, breaks into Swan’s record-press facility and gets disfigured by the hot presses while trying to sabotage the system. Later, he breaks into the rock palace owned by Swan and finds himself a nice phantom costume to wear as he begins a campaign to terrorize everyone and sabotage the opening of Swan’s new rock theatre. As with Phantom of the Opera, there’s a love interest and as with Faust, we know early on that Swan is something of a devil, who has Leach sign a “contract” in exchange for using his music.

 

Reason to Watch

There are some great lines in this movie, along with frequent and funny allusions to other films. The send-up of the famous shower scene from Psycho is one of the film’s funniest moments, as are the scenes featuring the effeminate-yet-butch lead singer Beef (played hilariously by Gerritt Graham). Some of the music isn’t bad, either, which isn’t surprising. Paul Williams created the score and wrote the songs for the film at the height of his career.

Context

Phantom of the Paradise came out at the height of the early 70s “Weird=Good” era. It bombed at the box office initially, but quickly became a cult favorite, especially in Canada, where it ran for a year.

If your idea of a good rock musical-movie is one that takes its music very seriously, then this flick will probably piss you off a bit. However, if you like music and films that make fun of themselves and the culture in which they were made, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Beef: I know drug -real from real-real.
  • Beef: The karma in here is so thick you need an aqualung to breathe.
  • Beef: Swan, this was scored for a chick. I’m not doing it in drag.

 

What You Need to Get Through This Movie

There’s something for everybody here: horror, comedy, rock music and romance. If you can’t find something to like in this movie, then a movie may not be able to help you, anyway. This is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be silly and it’s supposed to be weird. It succeeds beautifully.

Grab some throwback snacks and  just enjoy the movie for what it is. Like all cult classics, it requires you to loosen up a bit, so do some stretching beforehand.

Trivia

Originally, Paul Williams was supposed to play the Phantom and Gerrit Graham was supposed to play Swan. Everyone switched roles just a couple of weeks before shooting started. Paul Williams felt he wasn’t quite scary enough. The diminutive songwriter who brought us “Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song” may have been right. But he’s nicely sleazy as Swan.

The actors who play the three bands in the film (The Juicy Fruits, The Beach Bums and The Undead) all did their own choreography, then just showed up to shoot.

Educational Content
  • If someone asks you to sign a contract in blood, you really need to have a lawyer look at it first.
  • Never face plant on a record press.
Justification for Rating

The movie does everything it sets out to do. Cheesy, yes, but not unsuccessful.

Clip

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n5qVJEg3qA

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Comedy

Review of Heathers

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HeathersRating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

Christian Slater goes against character type by playing a bad boy, and Winona Ryder goes against character type by playing a a witty goth “against the norm” girl in this High School dark comedy. Ok, so Heathers isn’t breaking stereotypes of reinventing its own wheel, but it does offer a peculiar look at a peculiar subject with a wit and charm that very few films could put together. Suicide is one of the untouchables. So it is remarkable that the cast and filmmakers crafted something so honestly enthralling and funny without being taboo and pretentious. In 1989, this is quite a feat. Heathers touches on reigning High School topics without being stuffy or egotistical, and manages to craft an addicitive and charming story through all the quirkiness.

Reason to Watch

Lots of attractive High School girls that we can only hope are much older in real life than the age they play on television. It also allows us to make fun of High schoolers without having to pull up to our old High School in beat-up Chevy’s to tell them ourselves.

Context

Heathers is dark, weird, and potentially too niche for everyone to relate to. Unlike something like The Breakfast Club, which is too catch-all to ctach anyone off guard, Heathers is darker and more twisted in construction and execution. The context, truly, is that Heathers holds little back, and succeeds brilliantly because of it.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Veronica Sawyer: It’s one thing to want someone out of your life, but it’s another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of liquid drainer. 
  • Heather Chandler: You wanted to be a member of the most powerful clique in school. If I wasn’t already the head of it, I’d want the same thing. 
  • Heather Chandler: Grow up Heather, bulimia’s so ’87. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

If you are not a High School girl, and never have been, a current High School girl or a girl who was in High School in the 80’s will do just fine. if you are or were a total nerd, this movie may go right over your head. Though do keep in mind for you nerds, the movie has more vengeance than a Superman spin-off series.

Trivia

Main bad boy J.D. is a direct reference to famous Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger and iconic bad boy, James Dean

A character tricks another character into killing someone by saying that the gun shoots special non-piercing bullets called iche luges.” Iche luge is German for I’m lying

The film was considered as putting Christian Slater on the map as an actor. The film barely grossed a million and failed to make its budget

Educational Content
  • Many parallels to Columbine can be found in this film. Not a comedic point, but a frightening one
  • Much of this film is based on real events in Ohio circa the mid 80’s. Be glad you didn’t grow up there
Justification for Rating

The movie holds up well, but is perhaps too bizarre for its own good. For every attractive high School girl, there is a lame bad boy who hogs screen time.

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEeQpejFbYA

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Comedy

Review of Napoleon Dynamite

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Napoleon DynamiteRating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Review

Napoleon Dynamite isn’t for everyone. Set in a rural town in Idaho, Napoleon Dynamite is the master of the nerds. he draws fake animals called Ligers and stuffs teeter tots in his pocket to eat during class. he has huge glasses and a weird addiction to chapstick. If the citizens of Idaho are anything like the characters in Napoleon Dynamite, we need to just blow that state of the map. But the film’s charms and overall style is so bizarre and uniformly stupid, it remains intensely hysterical and oddly endearing. You may not be Napoleon, and you may be unable to relate to any character in this “story,” but there is something here like watching a train explosion that in slow motion.

Reason to Watch

The film doesn’t have a well defined plot, but it’s worth watching for a few scenes. The following are inside jokes that will go right over the head of those who haven’t seen it: Stella! I hunt wolverines! I see you’re drinking 1%. The film is obscure  comedy fodder

Context

Airheads is essentially a less funny more painfully obnoxious version of This is Spinal Tap, and yet, you feel compelled and drawn into its 90’s aesthetics and terrible sweater shirts.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Napoleon Dynamite: Well, I have all your equipment in my locker. You should probably come get it cause I can’t fit my numchucks in there anymore.
  • Napoleon Dynamite: You know, there’s like a boat-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I’m pretty good with a bow staff.
  • Napoleon Dynamite: How long did it take you to grow that moustache?
    Pedro: A couple of days.
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

Marijuana. Done.

Trivia

Napoleon creates an animal called a “Liger.” this is a real animal, created by mating a lion and tiger.

The film was shot in 22 days

Lead character Napoleon was played by Jon Heder. He earned $1,000 for the role, the film went on to make $40 million

Educational Content
  • Idaho is the worst state ever
  • No matter how dorky you are, if you don’t have nun-chucks in your locker and live with your grandma, it could always be worse
Justification for Rating

There is a reason that this film is as notorious as it is. And there is no way Jon Heder is digging himself out and away from this role. After it’s all said and done, Napoleon Dynamite is oddly genius.

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr7djGY1fhA

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Comedy

Review of Airheads

Comedy 1 Comment »

AirheadsRating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Review

This film should have been amazing, and in some ways, it absolutely is. The plot is inane and the characters beyond idiotic, but the quirkiness is escalated by the sheer absurdity of the events. Chaz, Rex, and Pip LOVE rock and roll. They love rock and roll enough to hold a radio station hostage until their music is played. And chaos ensues. The film’s plot is as flimsy as a combover, but it does introduce us to some almost iconic archetypes. Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi play wildly retarded (apologies but that’s basically their characters) individuals, and the plot becomes even more outrageous as time goes on. but for music fans, and fans of terribly ill-conceived humour, Airheads might be for you.

Reason to Watch

Grunge rock was once the shit, and this is a nice little reminder of that

Context

Airheads is essentially a less funny more painfully obnoxious version of This is Spinal Tap, and yet, you feel compelled and drawn into its 90’s aesthetics and terrible sweater shirts.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Chazz: Yvonne, get your shit and go. You’ll be home in time for The Simpsons. 
  • Chazz: We got to send one person out. 
    Pip: I’ll go. 
    Rex: One of the hostages, doof. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

A suspension of disbelief. These guys someone, in some way, manage to succeed (arguably). Knowing their terribly garage band made it off the ground and your awful post-jam collective failed may infuriate.

Trivia

Lead singer of famed metal band Motorhead, Lemmy, makes an appearance in the film

The character Rex is a representation of Rex Brown from metal band, Pantera

Educational Content
  • By being a criminal you can, in fact, get your career known. though dj’s and record label executives have known that for years
  • Adam Sandler has been playing the same role long before Little Nicky and The Waterboy
Justification for Rating

Airheads isn’t particularly a BAD film, but it does introduce too many presumptions for the viewer. For a dumb 90’s popcorn film that focuses more on grunge rock and less on quality, like a Soundgarden album or Brendan Fraser’s career, this one is for you.

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-tj-4M-Jok

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Comedy

Review of UHF

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UHFRating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Review

There aren’t many things that have involved both Weird Al Yankovic and David Bowie. One known more for his quickly dated parody songs, the other as the experimental pop mastermind, these two men have made a calculated risk with UHF and over 20 years later, I’m still not sure if it did much of anything. UHF has both musicians playing “sort of” archetypes as themselves as George and Bob. George earns, through a series of events, the ability to run a quickly declining television station. he hires his friend Bob to help, and through a host of unrealistic and obnoxiously prototypical characters, we have chaos and “humour.” UHF isn’t all that funny, but it does show you that when a musician acts, it more often than not fails miserably. Sting tried it, Bob Dylan tried it, just doesn’t work unless your black.

Reason to Watch

If you are a fan of Weird Al or David Bowie, you may get a kick out of watching them pretend their not themselves by basically acting how they would act as musicians in the spotlight. Also, the Rambo scene.

Context

UHF is silly and harmless, and instead of hurting the career’s of those involved, it essentially kept everything completely and utterly neutral. Yay for film moving forward.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • George Newman: Lesbian Nazi Hookers Abducted by UFOs and Forced Into Weight Loss Programs… all next week on Town Talk. 
  • Stanley Spadowski: I’m thinkin’ of something orange. Something orange. Give up? It’s an orange. 
    Stanley Spadowski: Ok, now I’m thinkin’ of something blue. Something bluuuuuue. 
  • Bob: I don’t know about this, George. We don’t know the first thing about what goes on in a television station. 
    George Newman: Don’t worry, Bob. It’s just like working in a fish-market. Except you don’t have to clean and gut fish all day. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

You may need Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey to help out. I believe he’s a fan of both Weird Al, David Bowie, and arbitrary stupidity.

Trivia

After extremely positive feedback from test screenings, Orion Pictures concluded that this film was their sure-fire summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, the film was released during the summer of 1989 against huge films like Lethal Weapon 2Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  It did turn a minor profit but wasn’t enough to save Orion. Following a string of box-office flops, Orion went bankrupt in the early 1990s.

The first cut of UHF was over 2 and a half hours, and where Weird Al still insists on not releasing the director’s cut, saying there was a reaosn those scenes did not make the film

During film, Weird Al had moles on his face removed. Some scenes they are visible, and others they are not

Educational Content

Even as an actor in a comedy film, Weird Al barely qualifies as funny

Justification for Rating

UHF is reminiscent along the lines of Wayne’s World, but ends up being only partly funny, because the whole time you are never attached to a character or itnerested in the paperthin spinning wheels recycled scenarios plot. Clever ideas tossed and turned around…

Clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n1hKQULa9Y

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