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© 2004 The Beast

Spider-Man 2   ****

I was initially slightly disappointed in Spider-Man 2. I thought that the brilliant balance between action and drama that the first Spider-Man displayed made it arguably the best comic book movie ever. It had enough excitement to leave just about any action movie swimming in the toilet and enough of a great story and dialogue going to make it a potential classic. Watching the sequel, however, I thought that the story was too much. Maybe I was upset that Aunt May was going to lose her house. Maybe I felt a little too bad that Peter Parker was living in a ghetto-ass apartment and was a step away from selling his ass to pay his rent, flunking his classes, and failing to end up with the butter-faced Kirsten Dunst. But reflecting on it afterward, I realized that it was sheer radiance. I realized that it wasn’t about a guy in red and blue pajamas; it was about a average jerk (just like you and I—well, maybe just you) who’s got more problems than a math book and is trying to pull his life together while ultimately knowing that he has to make a big decision. I also understood that this is what makes Spider-Man the character so great. He’s got real problems and he’s not independently wealthy. You can actually feel for him, and this movie makes sure you do. There wasn’t a bad performance to be found, and even a few surprise returns with Willem Dafoe and Cliff Robertson briefly reprising their roles from the original. Alfred Molina turns in a poignantly treacherous performance as Doctor Octopus, managing to be creepy without going over the top. Director Sam Raimi continues to mature, giving us a sleeker movie while sticking to his ingenious roots: the scene where Doc Ock’s tentacles come to life on the operating table had Evil Dead 2 written all over it, and Bruce Campbell has a cameo, going toe to toe with Peter Parker. If that alone doesn’t give you any incentive to see this movie, you deserve a truly painful death.


Fahrenheit 9/11****

There are three things I don’t discuss with people normally: religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin. Then again, The Great Pumpkin really is a religious figure, so I guess just the first two. Part of the reason is out of laziness, as I don’t really have the time or ambition to stay informed (which I‘m sure, collectively, is the main reason that Bush is in office in the first place). Hell, everything I know about politics I learn from “Saturday Night Live.” But the first two fire people up like nothing else—and they sell tickets. We saw how much Passion of the Christ made earlier in the year and every show in this area for Fahrenheit 9/11 was sold out on its opening day (and for all of you naysayers—it was playing at more than one theater.) I always knew that George W. Bush was an idiot, but until watching this movie I never knew how wrong I was. Dishonest? Yes. Incompetent? Definitely. But he’s not so much a tumbling dickweed (which he definitely is) as he is a terrible actor. Michael Moore, who also brought us Bowling for Columbine and Roger and Me, shows us just how bad an actor Bush is through various clips—namely the ones where he stammers incessantly before giving a 400-score-on-the-SATs answer. Mr. Moore also traces junior’s agenda in an easy-to-follow outline taking us from ‘70s Texas all the way to present day Iraq. Not only does Moore directly shred on Bush through the whole two hours by also showing us the effects of his deception (dead soldiers, amputee soldiers, dead Iraqi children, a brief interview with Britney Spears) but he also knows when to let the evidence speak and spare us the sight of himself. Moore recently said that he didn’t care which way people leaned after watching this movie; what he wanted was for people to act on the way they felt and to actually, I don’t know…vote. What gets me is that there are people out there who will see this movie and still vote for Bush. But maybe that standing ovation at the end of the movie gives me hope. Early on in the movie, Moore shows us a scene where he met Bush, who told him to “go do some real work” with a hee-haw chuckle. He took your advice, Mr. President.


The Notebook   *1/2

Every once in a while, I get sucked into a shitty melodrama. Maybe it’s my time of the month, maybe I miss the dog I had when I was eight, or maybe I just get sucked into the story. But when I saw The Notebook, none of that happened. It’s just James Garner reading to his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife from a notebook recounting their story together. I got bored fifteen minutes into this now-and-then chick flick, in which I can truly say that the performances were its only merits. And those performances inspired me to try out my own acting abilities right then and there. I started crying uncontrollably for an hour and a half. And I’m not talking about those weak, sniffled cries, but those wailing “WHY?-WHY?” cries. Anybody who told me to shut up was called a monster and asked why I couldn’t have my feelings. Hell, if the movie can’t entertain me, I’ve just got to do it myself.


White Chicks *

Ask anybody who’s actually thought about it and they’ll tell you that comedy is a very tricky thing. It requires timing, delivery, and a bunch of other qualities and attributes that I do not possess. Add to that the fact that everybody has a different definition of what is or is not funny. For example, I think that The Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, and Dennis Hopper’s performance in Blue Velvet are some of the funniest things to ever hit the big screen. Conversely, many a person thought Along Came Polly was a comic masterpiece, whereas all I wanted to do the whole time was cut off my penis and throw it at the screen in protest (yes, I did feel that strongly about it). So with this in mind, it takes a hell of a lot to get me to go and see a comedy—especially one that looks as obviously dumb as this one. Was White Chicks the movie to make me take back everything bad I’ve said about shitty, brainless comedies? Hell no. But it did cement my other theory that there’s a machine that will turn human feces into a script, and that anything processed through this machine is made into a major motion picture. Come on. How else can you explain a movie being made about two black FBI agents impersonating Hiltonesque heiresses to bust up a kidnapping plot? They looked more like the kids from Village of the Damned than Hollywood playgirls, but that’s beside the point. White Chicks is just a fast food formulaic turd filled with a bunch of how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-this-one situations and sprinkled with garden-variety dick and fart jokes. I saw an interview with the Wayans brothers, who are responsible for this modern-day blackface extravaganza, and one of them said that they thought this whole thing up within a few minutes. You know, I really believe them. If you’re in dire need of an actually good comedy, e-mail me at Michael@buffalobeast.com and I’ll send you a list of movies to rent for free. But if it’s a case of you simply needing to piss away eight bucks, give it to me.

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