Monday, January 16, 2012

Galaxy Quest: An Ode To Trekkies, Nerds, and All Geekdom (Or If Star Trek Had Been Written By Stoners)

"It speaks to some basic human needs: that there is a tomorrow--that it's not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb; that the human race is improving, and that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids. Human beings built them because they're clever and they work hard. And 'Star Trek' is about those things." - Gene Roddenberry, the creator of 'Star Trek'.

If 'Star Trek' is about pointing out the potential that is the clever, hard-working ingenuity of man and a hopeful tomorrow, than Galaxy Quest is about what happens when that idea is applied quite literally. Except, y'know, without all the idealized characters running the show, but actual, flawed individuals with lives that are falling to pieces.

Galaxy Quest is a film that came out at the end of the century and on the cusp of the New Millennium. The year was 1999 and it was a good year to be a Science-Fiction nerd. Why? Because Galaxy Quest, with its star-studded cast and intelligent writing, was meant to be the mocking parody of 'Star Trek' on the grand stage: the silver screen. The film takes place eighteen years after their sci-fi adventure show "Galaxy Quest" is canceled. That means that actors Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell), Fred Kwan (Tony Shaloub) and Crewman #6 (Sam Rockwell) are making appearances at sci-fi conventions and store openings in costume and character. They're wallowing in despair and are constantly at each other's throats--that is until alien visitors known as Thermians arrive and, having mistaken the show for "historical documents" and consequently modeling their entire culture around it, take them into space to save them from the genocidal General Sarris and his armada.

"Never give up! Never surrender!"

What does this mean for the fictional crew of the fictional ship, the NSEA Protector? Well, it means they're in over they're heads--that's for sure. But they're actors. And if there's anything that actors do well, it's selling themselves as something they're not. So the cast of Galaxy Quest embarks on a journey through the stars to defeat the evil Sarris, and along the way, grow and develop into three-dimensional characters out of the two-dimensional stereotypes we first see them as. All the while maintaining a hilarious tongue in cheek assessment of the situation that takes sly, underhanded jabs at both Star Trek and the characters themselves while also managing to make the characters look sympathetic. A difficult task that the writers and actors actually manage to pull off, and pull off well. Who does it the best, you ask? Why, Guy Fleegman, of course. Better known as Crewman #6 to loyal Questarians. Okay, perhaps he's not the most sympathetic of characters. But he's certainly the most amusing.

And now...

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: So. This film is a little ridiculous. Aliens come to Earth under the assumption that it, and the fictional crew of the NSEA Protector, are their only hope for salvation against an intergalactic warlord bent on the destruction of...well, just about everything. The great thing about this movie is it never loses its ability to poke fun at it self while still maintaining the gravity of the character's predicament. And that's a whole batch of ridiculousness that's too awesome for words. 4.5/5 Stars
  • Classiness: This film is very classy. Not in the traditional sense of classy, cool, suave characters who know what they're doing, but in the sense of consistency. The consistency of character throughout the film is superb. How do I know this? Because you can see a marked and natural change from every character in the film. And that's classy as fuck. 5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: This is a cheesy movie in every best possible sense of the word. Every character has a single thing they do or come back to. For Commander Taggert it's his inability to see how his vanity affects the others around him. For Gwen DeMarco it's creating an identity for herself beyond sex symbol and her job on the ship of "repeating what the computer says." For Guy/Crewman #6 it's his fear of death. And for actor Alexander Dane, it's this. Watch this and see the evolution from cheesy catchphrase to poignant pact made on a friend's deathbed. It's the sort've cheesy evolution that's the staple of good films everywhere. 3.5/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: This film is fuckin' comedy gold. I laugh. Every. Single. Time. I'll repeat phrases from this film all the time, and it will STILL leave me cracking up. I can't even tell you how many times I'll turn to my roommate and say, "Look around you! Can you construct a rudimentary lathe?" to which he'll promptly respond, "A LATHE?! GET OFF THE LINE GUY!" Instantaneous recognition of a joke from a film? That's pretty much the definition of hilariousness. 4.5/5 Stars
  • Awesomeness: a Totally Awesome film. With an average rating of 4.375 Stars, it's quite clear that Galaxy Quest is one of the greatest Science-Fiction Action-Comedies of the last couple decades. Or at least for the 80's and 90's. Clearly.

    There you are Questarians. An intimate critique of the universe of Galaxy Quest as picked apart by yours truly. What's your favorite Sci-Fi action-comedy? Is it Galaxy Quest? Is it something else? Lemme know in the comments! And I leave you with this.

    - Duke

Mystery Men: A Super Powered Cast of Misfit All-Stars (Or Why Wasn't This Movie More Awesome)

What is every young boys dream? Is it to be an Astronaut? A Fireman? A Rock Star, maybe? Or perhaps a famous Celebrity of somekind? 

The answer?

All of the above. But how does one become an Astronaut-Fireman-Rock-Star-Celebrity? Easy.

Become a Super Hero. 
Amateur Superheroes? Awww yeeeaah!
The year is 1999. It's summer. I am nine years old. And after seeing the trailer for this new, quirky superhero flick, I go to the theaters to see this little film. Little did I know what would occur after the viewing of this film. A tradition, still kept to this day, of my cousins and I camping out in their backyard while running an extension cord back up to the house in order to watch this film on VHS, and later, DVD on a mini 11" by 8" television. Ahh, sweet memories of youth. Is it too soon to start reminiscing? I think not.

At a time when superhero genre flicks were only just starting to get their feet wet in the movie industry, along comes a director of TV commercials and ad campaigns, Kinka Usher, with a superhero film boasting a cast of outcasts that sets it apart from all others at the time: Mystery Men.

From L to R: The Bowler, The Invisible Boy, The Sphinx, The Shoveler, The Spleen, Mr. Furious, and the Blue Raja

Looking back in time we see that hindsight is 20/20. But that still doesn't offer an explanation as to why a film like Mystery Men tanked so hard at the box office. Mystery Men was, to use modern day terms, sort've like The Avengers before Marvel even had Marvel Studios or any of it's Iron Man films in the works--just with no-name heroes. But who better to play no-name heroes than big-name movie stars? That's something that Mystery Men has in spades: star power.   

With William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, and Ben Stiller forming the triumvirate of superheroes known only by their monikers: the Shoveler, the Blue Raja, and Mr. Furious, respectively, the film was already off to a decent start as the men were then just making names for themselves, and are now considered to be some of the most distinguished members of the acting community. Hardcore. Add on to the fact that you have Geoffrey Freakin' Rush as your bad guy, Cassanova Frankenstein, (which I personally think is still one of the best super villain names of all time), and Greg Kinnear as his arch-nemeses, the super-douche Captain Amazing and you've got yourself the start of something good. Throw in notable comedians like Paul Reubens, Janeane Garofalo, and the then popular Kel Mitchell for humorous on-screen antics, Mr. Wes Studi for some nobility and leadership, a dash of Tom Waits for some good ol' fashioned home-grown crazy, a pinch of Eddie Izzard and some Pras from the Fugees as Disco gangsters, and you've got yourself a cornucopia of acting talent and prestige. And don't even get me started on the cameos. Yeah. I'm lookin' at you Dane Cook.

Still,  the film only earned a modest gross of $29,655,550 and had an (estimated) budget of $65,000,000. You don't have to be a Mathlete to recognize that the numbers just don't add up to not even to half of what the film was worth.  So why did Mystery Men fail to inspire mystery or intrigue of any kind in men, women, boys and girls? Well, to answer that, we're gonna have to go to the breakdown.

The Breakdown

  • Ridiculousness: This film isn't ridiculous. It's utterly preposterous. In both premise and design. Hell, even the execution of this film is ridiculous. A commercial director? Really? That was the best you could do, guys? But I will say this: my nine year old version of myself really was drawn to this film, regardless of how ridiculous it was. So, for all that nostalgia, I can't judge this film too harshly. 3/5 Stars
  • Classiness: Um, there's very little that's classy about this film. But, then again, it's not really supposed to be classy. You have some classy characters, to be sure, but they're all suave bad guys. This movie's about the underdog. The smelly, flea-bitten, tick-infested, ring-worm bearing underdog. The costumes at the end of the film, however, are truly epic and would make for an awesomely sweet group costume for Halloween nowadays. 2.5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: This is an absolute cheesefest. Too cheesy to please nowadays. Back when I was a kid with weight problems and a fond for hotdogs, I'd say, "Sure! The cheesier, the better!" But I know better now, and after watching Mystery Men again it becomes obvious that the film suffers from too I almost loathe to use that word, but it just seems like this film was too much fun and nonsense for everyone involved, and not enough focused Awesome. I mean, this film actually had a good shot at telling something meaningful with it's undercurrent theme of corporate sponsership. But what happens? The film flounders in the shallow recesses of fart jokes and poorly done slapstick. For shame, Mystery Men. For shame. 4/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: This film has its moments. Most of the dialogue is improvised by the cast, and as I mentioned before, they're all pretty with it actors that come up with some witty dialogue. But if you're looking for serious chuckles, I'd look elsewhere. 2/5 Stars
  • Awesomeness: a Somewhat Awesome film. With an average rating of 2.875 StarsMystery Men tries to rise to its most Awesome calling of being a superhero, but just like the poor schmucks it happens to depict the film manages to do exactly what those losers are good at: falling flat on its face.
    And there you have it my wannabe super peeps. There's the downlow on the Men of Mystery. Now you know the truth behind their secret identity. What's your favorite Superhero flick? Be it 80's, 90's, or more recent. Post in the comments. I'd like to know. And I'll leave you with this.

- Duke

Men In Black: Aliens Are F***in' Weird (Or Why Will Smith Ran The 90's)

Ahhh, the 90's and Will Smith. Few things go together as well as Will Smith and the 90's do. How do I know this? I mean, just look at the 90's. Will Smith was everywhere. 

First, in his breakout television role on the TV Sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith played essentially himself as a young, hip, and cool BAMF drippin' with swag straight from Philly. These words, "In West Philadelphia, born and raised..." are hallmarks of the early 90's and a signature tune to anyone from those times. Begin this song anywhere in America and I swear on everything holy and unholy in this world that any person over the age of 18 will hum or sing along with you. Guaranteed.

His role on Fresh Prince was followed up with a role in the film Independence Day, a precursor to the film I'm going to discuss in just a second.  Just in case you happened to miss out on any or all of the glory the 90's had to offer, here's a clip from Smith in his role as Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day.

Yes. As Captain Hiller, Smith would first be introduced to alien life-forms. But it would be Agent J of the MIB that would put Smith on the path to the stars.
"You get a Series Four Deatomizer and I get a little - little midgy cricket? ...Feel like I'ma break this damn thing!"

The year was 1997 and Will Smith was on the up 'n up in Hollywood. A rising star with wit, passion, charisma, and intelligence, Will Smith was like a volcano erupting all over the 90's. Then Men In Black came out. The film did $84,133,900 in the opening weekend and did a total gross of $326,600,000 worldwide. This movie was a hit. Not just for Will Smith, but for Action-Comedy films everywhere. This film proved that with the right writers, the right director, and the right stars for a film, Action-Comedies were just as viable an option as either their straight Action or straight Comedy cousins. It was the dawn of a new age my friends. The Dawn of the Action-Comedy Blockbuster. And who was riding this typhoon of Awesomeness? Will. Fuckin'. Smith.

The plot is as follows: Men in Black follows the exploits of agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith), two members of a top-secret organization established to monitor and police alien activity on Earth. Agents K and J find themselves in the middle of a deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has arrived on Earth to assassinate two ambassadors from an opposing galaxy. In order to prevent worlds from almost literally colliding, the MiB must track down the terrorist, a giant cockroach running around in the skin of a dead human farmer, and prevent the destruction of Earth. If you couldn't already tell, it's just another typical day for the Men in Black.

And now for the breakdown.

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: This film pretty much speaks for itself in terms of ridiculousness. It's a movie. About aliens. On Earth. Living amongst us. As immigrants. Umm...Yeah. To quote Zed, played by the incredibly awesome Rip Torn, "We're not hosting an intergalactic keggar down here, y'know." I know, Zed. I know. 4/5 Stars
  • Classiness: This movie is classy from start to finish. It's the late 90's and thus the crazy that was the 80's and early 90's has been refined and diluted to more consistently stable levels of Awesome. All black suit and tie with matching sunglasses? Check. Believable, down-to-Earth characters in a not-so-believable or down-to-earth plot? Check. Great depiction of the time period within which it takes place? Check. There are references to the 90's in this, that at the time, you'd never realize were total anachronisms of the day. But now? Here's an example: "Roaches check in...but they don't check out."  3.5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: Alright. This film is sort of loaded with cheese, but only in the very stereotypical 90's  cliche action-y kind of cheese. Otherwise known as the Cheesy Supreme Awesomesauce. Smith does a great job handling the bulk of the comedy in this flick, and Tommy Lee Jones as his straight-man mentor? Yeah. The man's a boss. Total boss. The only difference between him an Will Smith in the film? J makes "this" look good. Whatever "this" is. 3/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: How funny is this film? Well, when I first saw it, (and I was about 7 years old mind you), I couldn't stop quoting it. "Aw, hell naw!" was a popular phrase at the time, as was the aforementioned, "I make this look GOOD!" But now...well, now it falls kind of flat. It leaves something to be desired. It's humorous, make no mistake, but laugh out loud funny? Eh. It has it's moments.  2/5 Stars
  • Awesomeness: an Awesome film. Coming in with an average of 3.125 StarsMen In Black is a film that while dated still has some funky freshness clinging to its timeless 90's attitude. And you know that's just awesome.

    And there you have it my fellow Extra-Terrestrials. Men In Black. Dissected and discussed as only an Aquillian's fake body can be. I leave you with this.

- Duke

See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The Dynamic Duo Do It Again (Or Richard Pryor. Gene Wilder. Nuff said.)

Every so often a comedian is able to rise to the occasion and transcend their unordinary calling to simply make others laugh and entertain. These comedians are capable of holding up a mirror to society's reflection, and by poking fun at society, are able to generate great and true societal change. The film See No Evil, Hear No Evil has two such comedians in the starring roles: Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

One is hilarious....The other is...also hilarious. Together they are...hysterical.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil was a film done in 1989. Spanning a fifteen year time period from 1976 to 1991,  See No Evil, Hear No Evil was the third film out of four that Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder did as a comedic duo. Interesting to note is that, at the time, TriStar pictures was looking to produce another Pryor-Wilder film, but Wilder said he would only do the film if he were personally allowed to rewrite the script. TriStar reluctantly agreed, and on May 15, 1989, the film opened to--le gasp--mostly negative reviews. While most critics of the film agreed that Wilder, Pryor, and Kevin Spacey (in a supporting role) all gave fine performances, the script itself was lackluster and many of the gags were considered to be tried and juvenile. Now, I don't know what film those guys were watching because from where I'm sitting, this film is a comedic gold mine--and apparently people agree with me because the film held the #1 spot when it came out for the first two weeks (Source). And you can see why by taking a look at these clips.

The film's plot is simple enough to follow, too: A man is murdered at a newsstand shop in the middle of the day. Two men happen to witness it. Kind of. A blind man, Wally Karue (Pryor), hears the killer's shots, and a deaf man, Dave Lyons (Wilder), sees the killer walking away after pulling the trigger. Soon after the police come across the pair at the scene of the crime and do their best from what they're given to get to the bottom of it, but even they don't think Wally and Dave are credible witnesses. But the killers, (played by Kevin Spacey, Joan Severance, and Anthony Zerbe respectively)  don't want to take any chances. The two men must now work together, handicapped and impaired though they are, to save themselves and bring the killers to justice. 

One's deaf. One's blind. Can you guess which one is driving? What could possibly go wrong?!
And now, of course, the moment you've all been waiting for. To the breakdown!

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: Okay, now here's a ridiculous film if I ever saw one. The premise is as farfetched as the characters themselves. A blind man and a deaf guy are friends? Okay, I can buy that. Continue. A blind man and a deaf guy are witnesses to a murder? Um, okay, now you're starting to stretch things a bit, but hey, I can dig it. A blind man and a deaf guy travel all over the state of New York in search of the killers that framed them? Yeah. That's ridiculous. 3/5 Stars
  • Classiness: I have always loved Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor because no matter what they do, always manage to remain true to themselves. There's a genuineness and obvious sense of style that just seeps out from their private personality into the characters they inhabit. This is no different. It's like getting a look at what Pryor and Wilder would have been like if they'd been blind and deaf, respectively, yet managed to remain hilarious. And that's classy. 3.5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: Alright. This can be a pretty cheesy film at times. It's gags are most definitely tried and true and some jokes hit while others miss. Sometimes the characters can be right on point, and other times they're just so over the top and overdone you're just like, "Ehh...really?" Then there's the Captain of Police. What a dumb character. He ends the movie lamenting the fact he couldn't shoot either of the protagonists. What kind of police officer wants to shoot a deaf guy and a blind guy, let alone a police captain? 2/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: This film is funny. Very funny. At least at times. It's essentially a blind man and a deaf guy being smart, clever, and doing slapstick. Which they do very well sometimes, and other times, not so much. Still. Here's an example of what to expect in See No Evil, Hear No Evil.  2.5/5 Stars

  • Awesomeness: a Somewhat Awesome film. It's actually a terrible shame that with an average of 2.75 Stars, a film like Hear No Evil, See No Evil isn't better. It had all the makings of being something Awesome or even Totally Awesome. But alas somethings just fall apart at the seams and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Oh well. That's okay. Not all of'em can be home runs. Sometimes you've just gotta settle for the walk.

    Wundebar, meine kinder. See No Evil, Hear No Evil. It's a helluva flick, and I'd say give it a viewing if you're in the mood for Richard Pryor or Gene Wilder. Can never go wrong with those two. Clearly. And thus concludes our breakdown of a good-almost-great Pryor/Wilder duo flick. Thanks for tuning in and I'll seeya next time film fans.

    - Duke

Midnight Run: DeNiro Does Action-Comedy (Or What More Could You Want?)

The film Midnight Run is one of those rare gems you find once every blue moon. For starters it's one of Martin Brest's few films, and arguably one of his best. If I had to decide between Midnight Run and Brest's earlier action-comedy, Beverly Hills Cop, I'm not sure which one I'd pick. They're both so damn good.

                                                 This One...
...Or This One
Secondly is that it's also one of Robert DeNiro's few comedic roles. It's true. Big Boss Bobby D's done some comedic roles before, but it's rare to see the man crackwise so much without being a mobster. In fact, DeNiro's so in-character and in a comedic mood throughout, he actually carries a good portion of the humor in the film. Watch as he and Yaphet Kotto spar in this scene to great comedic effect.

Finally, Midnight Run is one of those great films that encapsulates just about everything you could want in an Action-Comedy--with a solid cast to back it up. It's the story of a down-on-his-luck ex-cop turned bounty hunter named Jack Walsh, (Robert DeNiro), who is forced to track, locate and then trek across the U.S. from New York to L.A. with an awkward, former Mob accountant named John "The Duke" Mardukas, (Charles Grodin), as his prisoner. What ensues is a bond of friendship forged on the road through hilarious circumstance as the two of them are chased by the F.B.I., the Mafia, and another bounty hunter out to steal Walsh's prize. Don't believe me? Here's an epic car chase from the film. And when I say epic, I mean EPIC.

And just for good measure, here's another car chase scene. Only this time it involves a helicopter. Yeah.  A motherfuckin' helicopter. See how "two of the dumbest bounty hunters ever" get out've that one.

Alright, let's not beat around the bush. Let's get to what ya'll came for: the breakdown!

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: Make no mistake. This is a ridiculous film. And yet the premise, while containing it's fair share of plot holes (why is Jack so much more resourceful then both the FBI and the Mafia in finding "the Duke"; why, if "the Duke"is such an integral witness against Serrano, not placed on a flight-risk and put under surveillance when released for bail; etc.), actually holds water to a degree. I can buy Jack Walsh's predicament and past. Probably because DeNiro sells it so well. 3.5/5 Stars
  • Classiness: In terms of class, well, Midnight Run certainly has plenty of believable characters although "classy" wouldn't be the term I'd use to describe'em. Crude. Crass. Spunky. Those are the type of adjectives I'd use to describe the characters of Midnight Run. Grodin's character is the only one out've the bunch that has an honest and genuinely classy bone in his body, but still, even with all the grime and grittiness all the other main characters of Midnight Run display, there's still a measure of rugged, tough-guy kinda classiness that can be felt and seen throughout the film.  4/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: This film could have very easily gone the way of nachos and been cheesy from start to end. Yet, as I mentioned before, there's a certain air of machismo about this action-comedy that lends it a certain sort've credibility and lessens the severity of any cheesy bits there might be. 2/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: Okay, now this is a funny film. When I first saw it, it had me laughing from the opening credits onwards. And yet, while I thought the film was quite humorous, for whatever reason, maybe from knowing how hilarious and awesome Beverly Hills Cop was, I was expecting maybe a little bit more out of this one. Still, a great watch for some good laughs. 3.5/5 Stars
  • Awesomeness: an Awesome film. With a total Awesome rating of 3.25 Stars, Midnight Run manages to tie with it's predecessor Beverly Hills Cop. Robert DeNiro is often hailed as one of the greatest dramatic actors of his time while people say pretty much the same thing about Eddie Murphy as a comedic actor. This shows that, if DeNiro had a mind for it, he could come out swinging and give Murphy a run for his money. At least when it comes to comedies. Dramas...well, Murphy needs to shape up or ship out. DeNiro would wipe the floor with him. Raging Bull style.

There it is. Midnight Run. In all of its bounty hunting glory. Until next time film fans.

- Duke

The Princess Bride: The Romantic's Action-Comedy (Or Everything You Want In A Film)

Few films are capable of transcending genre restrictions so flawlessly as The Princess Bride. Originally a novel by S. Morgernstern but translated and abridged by William Goldman and published in 1979, the film version of The Princess Bride would come out a little under ten years later in 1987.
                                                Book Version
Film Version

This movie is, quite frankly, one of my favorite movies of all time. The book is an absolute stellar read and I highly recommend picking it up, but the movie! Just watch this clip of the late great Peter Falk (may he RIP) as the Grandfather talking to his Grandson, (played by Wonder Years star Fred Savage) about, ironically, the magic of books:

This film truly has it all, and yet, I know many of you will say that it is not truly an Action-Comedy. To this I might have to agree as the film takes place in a Renaissance-era setting and therefore lacks the necessary explosions, car chases, and witty one-liners that abound in the Action-Comedy genre. Indeed, The Princess Bride would more appropriately fall under the Adventure-Romance-Comedy kind of flick. However this film is so damn funny and packed full of action. If you don't believe me, watch these two clips. The first is an epic sword duel between the Dread Pirate Roberts, played by Cary Elwes, and the Spaniard Inigo Montoya, played by Mandy Patinkin. And the second is a mash-up of Wallace Shawn as the evil Sicilian genuis, Vizzzini uttering his favorite catchphrase: inconceivable!

The Princess Bride is such a good film because it's both a parody of the classic love-story/fairy-tale, and yet also a simple re-imagining of it. The story, like so many other fairy-tale romances, begins as such: Buttercup is a beautiful girl whose parents own a small farm in the countryside of Florin and Westley is a farm boy who works for them. Buttercup's favorite pastime is ordering Westely around, to which Westley always replies "As you wish.", a sign of his affection, and obliges Buttercup happily. The two eventually fall deeply in love, but in order to get money to be married, Westley goes off to find a job and start a life for them. But then Buttercup hears of Westley's death by pirates and she suddenly finds herself whisked away by Prince Humperdinck, who is resolved to make her his bride. As the nuptials near, Buttercup is kidnapped by three outlaws--Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya who are hired to kill the Princess and start a war with Florin. Buttercup is then saved by the Dread Pirate Roberts who later reveals himself to be Westley who happened to escape death. But Buttercup is taken once again right as she and Wesley are reunited by the ruthless Prince Humperdinck. The Prince then orders torture upon Westley so as to  keep him away from Buttercup, but Westley ends up being saved by Fezzik and Inigo, who in turn risk life and limb to help him save Buttercup.

So how does this movie fare? Let's find out in the breakdown.

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: Now this is one seriously wacky fairy tale. Told with a mostly tongue-in-cheek style of story-telling, The Princess Bride is always pushing towards the more ridiculous as the film progresses. From its humble beginning on Buttercup's family farm, to the grand castle of Prince Humperdinck, to the incredibly twisted Fire Swamp and the self-explanatory Cliffs of Insanity--this flick has ridiculousness all over it like a Holocaust cloak on a giant. And it works. 5/5 Stars
  • Classiness: While ridiculous, The Princess Bride also manages to remain incredibly classy and on point. The dialogue is always sharp and witty. The characters are all so fresh and well-crafted. I mean, hell, even the look and feel of it is just like if you'd been dropped into a fairy-tale yourself. And all of the scenes with Cary Elwes and Robin Wright as Westley and Buttercup respectively are tender and sweet when they very easily could have been cheesy and overdone. Incredibly classy film, indeed. 5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: Actually, in my opinion, this film isn't very cheesy. But I could see where people would draw those conclusions. The characters are big, the romance is heightened, and the relationship between the Grandfather and Grandson, (while in my mind appropriate), can get kind of hammy and sappy towards the end. 2.5/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: The Princess Bride is full of funny moments from beginning to end. It wouldn't be one of my favorite movies of all time if it didn't have as many funny moments as it does. To prove my point here are two more clips of awesome hilarity. 4/5 Stars

    • Awesomeness: a Totally Awesome film. With a rating of 4.125/5 Stars The Princess Bride is a film that's just superb on so many levels. It's damn near perfect. I mean, seriously, what more could a person ask for what with all it gives you: fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...

      So there you have it ladies and gents. The Princess Bride. The Romantic's Action-Comedy. The Action-Rom-Com. The Comedic-Action-Romance. Yup. It's all of those things, a little bit of magic, and a whole lot of awesome, too.

      - Duke

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Beverly Hills Cop: AH-huh-huh-huh-HUH! (Or Why Eddie Murphy Ran the 80's)

    The year is 1984. It's not quite as morbid and Totalitarian as George Orwell predicted, but still, it's pretty damn close.

    Thankfully, it was an especially good year for Action-Comedy films. Why? Beverly Hills Cop came out. Rejoice, children, rejoice!
    The blunt I just smoked was this big! I swear! Ah-huh-huh-huh!
    This film is not only an excellent example of a renegade cop flick, but also the perfect example of why Eddie Murphy just totally owned the 80's. See in 1982 Eddie Murphy teamed up with Nick Nolte to do 48 Hrs., thus creating the buddy cop genre. Then in 1983 Murphy did a little comedy special known as Delirious which earned him instant fame and notoriety as a very edgy and very racy stand-up comedian. Homie was tellin' some jokes. Fuckin' funny ones, too. Like this one, about racism:

    I reference these two incidents as they both highlight Murphy's on-screen personality which he develops and really defines in the protagonist of the film, Axel Foley. The story of Beverly Hills Cop goes like this: Axel Foley is a streetwise, foul-mouthed detective from Detroit who heads down to the sunny, smog-infested streets of Los Angeles after one of his longtime friends comes to town for a visit. Foley is forced to take a leave of absence from work and follows the killer to, as you may have guessed, Beverly Hills. What happens next is a hilarious trek through the streets of Beverly Hills and L.A. that sees Foley get into all kinds of trouble including, but not limited to: a fight in a strip club, getting thrown through a glass window, getting arrested multiple times, being shot at and being chased at practically every turn. Short of robbing a liquor store, punching a hooker, and kicking a baby, Axel Foley does just about everything a guy can do to get into trouble in L.A.

    And anywhere else for that matter.

    Oh shit. I know you did not just talk shit about the Detroit muthafuckin' Lions. Say somethin' again, I dare you. I'll tear your ass up like a muthafuckin' lion, see if I don't.

    The film was a financial success with a worldwide net gross of $316,360,478 and would prove to be one of Eddie Murphy's most lucrative roles as he would go on to do a second and third installment. Murphy is also known in Hollywood as the actor with the most sequels under his belt, and no wonder when he brings such awesome characters like Axel Foley to life. But enough of this nonsense. Let's break this muthafuckin' thang down.
    The Breakdown
    • Ridiculousness: As far as plots go this one isn't so far fetched. A police detective from one city goes looking for his friend's killer in another. That's not the ridiculous part. The ridiculousness of the film actually comes from the main character, Axel Foley, and his boisterous, fast-talking, silver-tongued, holy-shit-I-can't-believe-he-just-got-away-with-that attitude and personality. 3.5/5 Stars
    • Classiness: This is a classy film. Why? Because of how it's handled. This is the sort've film that, at the time, could have easily gone too far and been way over the top and exaggerated. Fortunately the execution of this film, from the action scenes to the comedic timing, are perfect. And Murphy is able to be both himself and a larger than life version of himself that's also down-to-earth and believable enough as a detective to make you think, nay, hope that there's at least one Axel Foley working in every police station. 4/5 Stars
    • Cheesiness: This film, thankfully, had very little cheese. If there was any one thing that was cheesy about this film, I'd say it was the music soundtrack. But that can't be helped. It was the 80's, man. And it's part of the reason we love it so much. 1/5 Stars
    • Hilariousness: This is a funny movie. It's downright hilarious, actually. In fact, I'd say this might be one of Eddie Murphy's funniest films. Bold, you say? If you don't believe me, take a look at the video below of some of the best scenes and then try to disagree with me. I dare you. 4.5/5 Stars
    • Awesomeness: an Awesome film. Not Totally Awesome. Not Awesomeness Prime. But with an average rating of 3.25 Stars, the film comes in at a solid Awesome rating. Well done Axel Foley. Well done, indeed.
    And there you have it folks. Beverly Hills Cop. A film that helped shape (and would later become a quintessential icon) of the 80's, helped propel Eddie Murphy's film career, and also spawned a ridiculously catchy theme song.

    Catch ya next time film fans.

    - Duke