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© 2004 The Beast

I, Robot

**

A friend of mine was all excited a few months back because a movie was based on an Isaac Asimov book. This is good, in theory, but when has Hollywood made something good in theory good in practice? As for my friend, the movie version of I, Robot is merely suggested by Isamov’s book.

Suggested. What the hell does that mean? Does a copy of the book sit there and say, “I think Don Cheadle would make a good Spooner and don’t spend more than 5 million on special effects?”

I think what could have possibly been a great and interesting movie was turned into yet another opportunity for Will Smith to play the same character he’s been playing since the first Bad Boys movie. I, Robot plays out less like a supposed sci-fi classic and more like a Matrix prequel tricked out by a Hollywood chopshop. A robot allegedly kills a human right before a large distribution integrating them into society. If you’ve seen even one trailer, you know that, eventually, all hell’s going to break loose, and nothing draws a crowd better than religion, politics, and killer robots. 


Sleepover

Now I want you to be careful on this one people, because the title is very suggestive, and the ushers giving you a pillow, blanket, and a glass of warm milk when you enter the theater doesn’t help much either. Sleepover retells (and only retells) the classic story of popular kids vs. unpopular kids in a fight for the popular table in the cafeteria—they go on a scavenger hunt to win it. How exciting! Sleepover isthe perfect tool if you want to troll for teenage girls as their mothers drop them off at the mall. I gave that up days ago, so it’s beneath me. Sleepover is filled with a lot of the latest new trends like skateboarding and heroin mullets, and also stars child actresses with names such as Scout Taylor-Compton and Kallie Flynn Childress. A flamethrower should be taken to anybody who had anything to do with this movie, with the exception of Jane Lynch, who has to do more Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy movies in the future. Sleepover filled me with hatred and disdain. I fully realize that it’s intended for kids who probably don’t need much out of a movie, but shouldn’t we encourage them to think, and give them more than a less-than-entertaining way to sell popcorn? I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of---just avoid this movie.


A Cinderella Story

Let’s forget for a minute that the Cinderella story has been done more times than Pamela Anderson, and as a result, let’s also try really hard to forget that Hollywood’s also run out of ideas. With a little concentration and a lot of medication I can do that, but what I cannot and refuse to do is treat it like a brand-new concept because Hillary Duff’s in it and it takes place in present day California as opposed to medieval England.

A Cinderella Story is the kind of movie that you see only when you lose a bet or have a kid with either no sense of taste or just bad tastein movies.

Much as with Sleepover, I feel that cast and crew of A Cinderella Story should be lined up against a wall and shot with potato launchers until death, with the exception of Jennifer Coolidge who, like Jane Lynch in Sleepover, needs to do more Eugene Levy/Christopher Guest movies.

A Cinderella Story inspired me, however. I think all of the studios should get together and hire Alec Baldwin to reprise his role from Glengarry GlenRoss and get Hillary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen twin who’s not on smack, and any other actress who dresses like a whore while starring in kids’ movies—we’ll  have a similar contest that the salesmen in Glengarry GlennRoss had. Give the teenybopper set six months to pull a Christina Ricci by going from bullshit to brilliance. If they flunk out, they either get sent to Ron Jeremy, a strip club, or the glue factory.


Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy ***

Usually when a “Saturday Night Live” cast member leaves the show, you never hear from them again. If you do, you usually wish you hadn’t. Molly Shannon hasn’t done anything noteworthy (with the exception of the short-lived Fox series “Cracking Up”), Chris Kataan keeps hanging around the show like that guy who quit the place you work and keeps coming back to…you know, visit. Anyone seen Cheri Oteri lately? But Will Farrell is the SNL cast member who’s actually showing that it was a wise move for him to leave.

Old School was an instant classic that had anyone with a sense of humor rolling, and Elf was pretty damned funny for a PG-rated movie. Mr. Farrell continues the fine tradition with Anchorman.

It’s a throwback to pre-cable news reporting, when men were men and women were a place to put your dick. There’s plenty of sexist humor and a shitload of laughs. Most of those laughs come from Farrell himself, often without even saying a word. There are enough cameos to make you think you’re watching other movies: Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Tim Robbins show up briefly to add to the almost excessive laughs. I don’t want to blow anything for you, but there’s a rumble scene with rival news teams about an hour in that left me hyperventilating. It’s really good to see a comedy that’s actually funny.

I recently saw Farrell in an interview where he said that he’d like to see anyone on SNL doing George W. Bush in the flight suit. I personally would like to see Farrell in every comedy.


King Arthur

**

When you get done watching King Arthur, the age-old question as to which came first, the chicken or the egg, will come to mind, but will not be answered. Anybody who’s seen Monty Python or hasn’t been hiding under a rock for the last thousand years or so knows the story. Then you watch the most recent adaptation of the Arthurian legend and think you’re watching a lost chapter of Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien borrowed from the Arthur story and director Antoine Fuqua took from Rings director Peter Jackson. See how things go around?

I heard that they were updating King Arthur and I got slightly excited. I’d taken a mythology class a few years back, was familiar with the material, and may possibly even get a little more out of it. Then I saw the trailer. It looked like a music video and Jerry Bruckheimer’s name was on it.

Although I’m glad that actual English actors were cast instead of getting a bunch of Americans trying to sound like John Cleese and Eric Idle, King Arthur fell short and could’ve been better. It’s a cinematic wolf in sheep’s clothing—a typical summer movie trying not to be. You’re better off reading pages 349-494 of Bulfinch’s Mythology. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer to learn from a 19th Century bank clerk than Jerry Bruckheimer.


Coffee and Cigarettes

****

I could bitch about living in Buffalo as can just about anybody else living in this city. I hear people bitching about economic depression, a haggard job market, and being under the thumb of political hacks. But for me, the worst part is having to wait two months for a movie that’s already old news in other cities.

Which brings me to Coffee and Cigarettes, the latest film from Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch has brought us such independent classics as Down By Law, Stranger Than Paradise, Mystery Train, and Dead Man, which are every bit as quirky and nutty as they are good, and I’m happy to say that Coffee and Cigarettes is no different.

What is it about, you ask? Coffee and cigarettes! The movie itself consists of eleven vignettes which take place at diners/restaurants. Most of them faeture actors or musicians playing themselves. You’ve got Tom Waits and Iggy Pop trying to one-up each other. Jack and Meg White ponder the brilliance of Tesla (the scientist, not the band), The RZA, The GZA, and Bill Murray discuss homeopathic remedies. Each vignette is great in its own way, even if you wouldn’t be interested unless Tom Waits or the Wu-Tang Clan was in it. None of the vignettes overstay their welcome, and some you just won’t want to end.

Coffee and Cigarettes is great in the sense that it requires no commitment: there are no drawn out stories, and boredom is given no chance to set in. It’s got great dialogue and is hilarious in a very subtle way. It’s wonderful when a bare-bones movie about really nothing comes along and requires little of its viewer but to just sit there and enjoy.

There’s a very strong possibility that Coffee and Cigarettes will be gone by the time this review hits the stands. In that case, all I can say is to catch it when it hits home video. You won’t be sorry.

 

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