May 29, 2009

Star Trek Reboot Nails It

By no means can we be considered Trekkies, but we were really taken with J.J. Abrams new Star Trek movie. Sure, the whole time travel plot device has been done to death (see Star Trek: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: First Contact, among dozens of other sci-fi movies), and Winona Ryder's part was way too small, but Zachary Quinto was terrific as Spock, the other supporting characters were well cast, the special effects were stunning, and the action tense and exciting. All in all, a fine reboot that pays homage to both the original TV series and the previous films. Here's hoping they keep this cast together to carry on the Star Trek legacy for Roddenberry, Shatner, Nimoy, and the rest.

With that sentiment, courtesy of the Pop Culture Fiend Archives, here's the TV commercial for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last of the films featuring the original Star Trek cast:





Star Trek (Official Movie Site)
Star Trek at imdb.com
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country at imdb.com

May 28, 2009

The Death of Freddie Mercury and How Great Was Queen?


Was listening to "Don't Stop Me Now" and other Queen tunes recently and reflecting on what a great band they were. I think Americans never really "got" Queen or gave them their due the way the Brits did. In England, Queen is absolutely revered, and the group is generally considered second only to the Beatles as the greatest rock band of all time. But in the US, it seems like Queen is sort of lumped into a category of "good" bands (in there with Rush, Aerosmith, and other 70s-era groups) who, though they're certainly respected, still take a back seat to other British acts like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and U2.

For me, when I think of all the things that make a band great -- songwriting, musicianship, vocals, live performance, creativity and innovation, etc. -- Queen comes in as the third greatest band of all-time, behind the Beatles and Earth Wind & Fire. Two of the major reasons Queen ranks so highly, is because of their innovative, diverse and eclectic sound, evidenced on songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Bicycle Race", "It's a Hard Life", "Another One Bites the Dust", "Who Wants to Live Forever", "We Will Rock You", and dozens more. And then of course, there was lead singer Freddie Mercury's amazingly rich vocals. Mercury had one of those unique and distinct voices that you would hear and immediately know who it was -- similar to Sting, Stevie Nicks, and Bono, except Mercury's voice and vocal range was much better than any of theirs.

Anyway, I pondered all this and began thinking about how I found out Mercury had died. I happened to be watching and recording a show on MTV and the VCR was still going when Kurt Loder came on with the shocking and sad story.

From the Pop Culture Fiend archives:


May 27, 2009

UPDATE: This Relationship Makes No Sense

Just a quick update on a post (included below) from back in February:

We understand that Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima is now pregnant by her husband of 3 months, NBA(and we use this term very loosely) "star" and world's luckiest sonuvabitch Marko Jaric... This news really irks us, not just because we think this is possibly the most ridiculous pairing since some numbnut decided to put broccoli on pizza, but also because it kind of ruins it for us. Allow us to explain as we address Adriana personally:

Adriana, it's our opinion that supermodels like you have an obligation to stay single for as long as possible, so that regular schlubs like us can somehow feel like you're available. Yes, we know there's no chance in hell we'd ever come within a thousand yards of you, much less meet or have the chance to date you... but to quote Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science, "Why are you messing with the fantasy? We know the reality; don't mess with the fantasy."

It's also our opinion that beautiful women like you Adriana, who get pregnant and then have babies, are like beautiful new sports cars that get into a crash. Sure you can have it repaired and it'll run just the same, but in the back of your mind, you always know...

So Adriana, Heidi, Gisele, and all you other supermodels, we implore you... Knock it off with the marriages and pregnancies!


Related Posts:
This Relationship Makes No Sense


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


"This relationship makes no sense... just like Marco Jaric being in the NBA."

This stinging but oh so accurate comment by an anonymous
Yahoo Sports blog reader pretty much sums up exactly how we feel about the just released news that Brazilian Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima secretly married NBA "star" Marco Jaric of the Memphis Grizzlies in Wyoming over Valentine's Day weekend.

Okay, there's so much wrong with this, we don't know where to begin.

How in the hell are these two a match? She's from beautiful, tropical Brazil; he's from everyone's favorite vacation destination, war-torn Serbia.

She's one of the most successful and highest paid models in the world; he's currently averaging a whopping 1.8 ppg playing for the last in their division, 26 games under .500 Memphis Grizzlies.

And she's one of the most attractive women in the world, and he's not even one of the most attractive Memphis Grizzlies. You get the idea. When it comes to cute couples, we're not exactly talking Eva Longoria and Tony Parker here.

And to make matters worse, Adriana claimed to be a virgin, telling GQ magazine that, "Sex is just for after marriage."

Great... "While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it!"
So yeah, we're jealous. But we still say this perverse relationship is an affront against all of humanity and ultimately doomed. He's in Memphis, or on the road playing games seven months a year, and she's jetting all over the world doing photoshoots, runway work, or guesting on How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty.

We're thinking sooner or later Adriana's amnesia's gonna wear off, or she'll catch a glimpse of herself and Marco in a mirror, or perhaps the universe will self-correct itself in some other way.

Until that time, Adriana and Marco's marriage officially goes to number one on our list of most inexplicable celebrity pairings ever, just ahead of Heidi Klum/Seal and Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett.

May 22, 2009

The Evolution of the 80s Teen Movie - How Bob Clark, Gen X, and Home Video Changed the Landscape of American Cinema

Part I

There was a time when Hollywood wasn’t producing very many movies about or starring young people. From the mid-50s (when Hollywood first began depicting the lives of young people onscreen in films like Rebel Without a Cause and The Blackboard Jungle) all the way through the 1970s, only a small handful of pictures were being made featuring teenagers (or early twentysomethings) in starring roles. Typically, rather than offering an examination of young people’s lives (in either a real or imagined way) these films were quick, lightweight attempts to cash in on a young star’s presumably limited fame and box office appeal. This was most apparent during the 1970s when Jodie Foster, for example, after her strong performance as a 12-year old prostitute in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver, followed up with the saccharine Disney family-comedy Freaky Friday, and the gimmicky Bugsy Malone, a gangster movie spoof featuring an all children’s cast. In other instances, teen films were merely vehicles for a handful of recognizable child actors to perform opposite established adult box office stars. Tatum O’Neal, for example, gained fame after her Academy Award-winning performance in Peter Bogdonavich’s 1970 feature, Paper Moon. But through the remainder of the decade, O’Neal’s best roles were in The Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau, International Velvet, opposite heavyweights Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins, and the disappointing Nickelodeon (1976), starring Tatum’s father Ryan O’Neal and the country’s number one leading man at the time, Burt Reynolds.

Furthermore, most of the aforementioned films from Foster, O’Neal and the handful of other young actors judged capable of carrying a picture, such as Kristy McNichol (Little Darlings, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia), Scott Baio (Bugsy Malone, Skatetown, USA), and Brooke Shields (Tilt, Just You and Me Kid), were box office and/or critical failures. As a result, Hollywood remained hesitant to script and produce films that explored the world of teenagers in a meaningful way. In an era where most of the top production executives were holdovers from the Hollywood’s old studio system, “star power” was still something of a prerequisite for getting pictures green-lighted and “kid actors” didn’t have enough of it to become anything more than novel, short-term box office draws. Case in point, even when casting the (what would prove to be wildly successful) frat comedy Animal House, the filmmakers turned to 30-year olds Tim Matheson and Peter Riegert, and the established 29-year old star of Saturday Night Live, John Belushi, to portray the college-age protagonists.

But as the eighties rolled in, Hollywood’s attitude towards writing, producing and casting films about young people and their willingness to examine their lives and experiences was about to change. The film that would initiate this change was a most unlikely entry.

Porky’s was a low-budget high school comedy written and directed by Bob Clark, a 40 year old Hollywood veteran whose best known work had been as a writer for The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. Porky’s was produced for a meager $4 million dollars, but would prove to be groundbreaking in a number of ways, including its subject matter. Unabashedly raunchy, even by today’s standards, Porky’s follows a group of high school boys as they play practical jokes on each other, spy on the cheerleaders in the shower, and torment the girls phys ed teacher, Miss Ballbricker. The story centers on the boys’ attempts to gain entry to a local strip bar and their subsequent confrontation with the bar’s owner (the one and only Porky himself.) Some of the film’s more hilarious scenes involve the guys enlisting the services of a prostitute, two gym teachers having loud sex in a laundry room, and one of the boys teasing the girls with his penis and having it nearly yanked clean off by Ballbricker. Interestingly, even amidst all this highly-charged sexual humor, Clark manages to work in a redeeming social message, as one of the boys learns a lesson about racial tolerance. Make no mistake however, Porky’s is first and foremost a riotous, rude and gross comedy about a bunch of guys trying to… well… get laid—a plot that would be repeated ad nauseum in teen films throughout the 80s, 90s, and into the next millineum. Porky’s though, was the first to tread this ground, and in doing so, became a huge hit.

Another significant aspect about Porky’s was the fact that it featured a cast of unknowns. The film’s box office success flew in the face of conventional wisdom and proved that when it came to the teen movie genre, star power was of little importance. On the strength of the teen and twentysomething dollar, Porky’s grossed nearly $60 million at the box office. Hollywood took notice and a fundamental philosophical shift occurred, as “coming of age” stories like Breaking Away (1979), Foxes (1980), and Endless Love (1981), which sought to honestly explore all sides of the teen experience, both serious and comedic, were passed over (by both producers and consumers) in favor of bawdy teen sex romps. Indeed, the success of Porky’s triggered a frenzied race among production companies and major studios to cash in on the film’s success by duplicating its formula. As a result, the next two years brought a slew of Porky’s clones, most of which featured similar casts of unknowns and offered little more plotwise than a group of pubescent boys out for sex. The Last American Virgin (1982), Goin’ All the Way (1982), My Tutor (1983), Private School (1983), Spring Fever (1983), Spring Break (1983) and Losin’ It (1983) are prime examples. All of these, however, failed to match the success of Bob Clark's film. Despite this, though, the new genre of the teen movie would not be short-lived, as the film industry pleasantly realized it had two additional sources of revenue for their movies—cable television and home video. These two new outlets would prove pivotal to the success of teen movies, and would fuel Hollywood’s continued exploration, expansion, and diversification of the genre through the remainder of the decade.

Next week:
Part II - The VCR and The Outsiders Make Their Marks

Related Links:

May 20, 2009

We told ya... Shawn Johnson Wins Dancing with the Stars

We hate to toot our own horn here but... BEEP-BEEP! As we predicted way back on March 9, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson won Dancing with the Stars last night. Here's what we said back then:

Shawn Johnson – The multi-medal winning Olympian has a lot going for her. She’s cute, used to competing, and her gymnastics background gives her all the athleticism, conditioning, discipline, balance and grace she needs to win. It’s all just a question of how well everything translates to the dance floor. Any way you slice it, she’s gotta be the favorite and we can’t see her missing the top three. Odds: 3-1

... Pretty damn accurate if we say so our damn selves.

Also, actor Gilles Marini came in second, one spot higher than we predicted.

For verification purposes, here's our original post.

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May 18, 2009

Seating Arrangements for The Brady Bunch?

Something has been plaguing my mind lately... How the hell did the Brady Bunch fit nine friggin’ people into their station wagon for that cross-country trip they took to the Grand Canyon?

Granted, I haven’t seen the episode in question in several years, but if memory serves, I believe it was Mike, Cindy and Carol in the front seat… but then it gets fuzzy. How did they get six more people in that damn car? A coworker just told me that back in the 70s, station wagons used to have two back seats, in addition to that cargo area in the back. But I found this ad for a Brady Bunch-era station wagon that's remarkably similar to the one used in the show and it has no such "jump" seat. Even if it did, it still seems like it would be awfully crowded for nine people (plus their luggage and camping equipment) on a 1000 mile journey from California to Wyoming. Maybe they got out a lot to stretch their legs... They also got a nice break when they stopped in that ghost town to hang out with Jim Backus, but still…

Anyone who’s seen this episode lately, post and let me know who sat where.

May 12, 2009

Rastapiece Theater

This week marks the 28th anniversary of reggae legend Bob Marley's death. I think of him whenever I watch this clip of Rasta-Man from Rastapiece Theater talking about I Dream of Jeannie. (In case you're wondering, this clip is from the early 90s HBO comedy series, Hardcore TV.)

May 10, 2009

Bring Back… Hardbodies

The feature film (and 80s Skinemax classic) Hardbodies was released 25 years ago this week. There's nothing really remarkable about this film but we get the sense it’s become something of a minor cult classic thanks to its classic eighties-brand of raunchy humor, gratuitous nudity and plain ole watchability (in spite of the bad acting and dopey story.) Like other films of its ilk and era (Malibu Bikini Shop, Hot Dog: The Movie, Fraternity Vacation) Hardbodies wasn’t very successful at the box office, but began to catch on after runs on late night cable. The film even earned a sequel (Hardbodies 2) which, curiously, was set in Italy, had almost an entirely new cast, and very little to do with the original.

Hardbodies plot revolves around Scotty Palmer (Grant Cramer), a popular soCal surfer boy who’s enlisted by three middle aged guys (a hairy guido guy, a southern good ole boy, and a fat loser) to help them score with the resident young beach babes. Cramer later had a nice run on The Young and the Restless but is probaly best known for his role in the cult comedy-horror classic, Killer Klowns from Outher Space. The only other memorable Hardbodies cast members are Courtney Gains (as Scotty’s friend Rag), who is often recognized as the preacher Malachi in Children of the Corn, and the then unknown all-girl 80s band Vixen. The group appears in multiple scenes performing the songs "Computer Madness" and "Mr. Cool" but later had top 40 hits with "Edge of a Broken Heart" and "Cryin’".

As for the dozen or so beach babes (who naturally appear in various states of undress throughout the movie) true eighties cinephiles may recognize actresses Teal Roberts (Scotty’s girlfriend Kristi) as the stripper in Beverly Hills Cop II; Kathleen Kinmont from TV’s Renegade and the aforementioned Fraternity Vacation; Kristi Somers from Tomboy, and Darcy DeMoss as Patty from Can’t Buy Me Love with Patrick Dempsey.

All in all, Hardbodies is (at best) a bad movie but a guilty pleasure. And one that many of us who were teenagers in the 80s want to see again for old times sake. Currently, however, it’s unavailable on DVD. We certainly hope that whoever holds the rights to the movie (RCA/Columbia Pictures?) will get their act together and bring the film back soon so we don’t have to start trolling eBay for a used VHS copy. And also, if you're in the soCal area, the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles is having a one night only screening of Hardbodies on June 8th. Maybe we'll see you there.

Anyway, we trolled the internet for photos and clips from Harbodies but couldn’t locate a whole lot. But we did find the sequence from the opening credits that provides a snapshot of the type of humor the film offers. Take a look and enjoy a theme song that's painful to listen to but will still somehow get stuck in your head:




Hardbodies at IMDB.com

May 7, 2009

Actors Who Were WAAAAY Too Old for Their Roles


Here are ten that bother us the most:

10. Tim Matheson

Veteran actor Matheson was already 31 when he portrayed college lothario "Otter" in the classic Animal House, and was a weathered-looking 37 when he played essentially the same character in 1984's Up the Creek.

9. Stacy Dash
Gorgeous though she was, Dash was 29 when she played high-schooler Dionne, best friend to 18 year old Alicia Silverstone's character in 1995's Clueless. Remarkably, four years later, at age 33, Dash was still playing the same role in the Clueless TV series.

8. Ralph Macchio
Macchio was a noticeably paunchy 27 when he reprised his role as teenager Daniel LaRusso in 1989's Karate Kid Part III.

7. Clint Eastwood
In the Line of Fire was a great thriller, but as part of its romantic subplot, we're forced to watch a grizzled 62 year old Eastwood make out with Rene Russo. Nauseating.

6. and 5. Lorna Luft and Stockard Channing
With their crow's feet beginning to show, Luft and Channing were 29 and 34, respectively, when they took their turns as Pink Ladies and Rydell High seniors (Channing in 1978's Grease and Luft in 1982's Grease 2.)

4. Lorna Luft (again)
We also weren't buying a 31 year old Luft as spring breaking college coed Carole in Where the Boys Are '84, particularly in her "Hot Body Contest" scene and others where she plays opposite twenty-something co-stars.

3. Roger Moore
In his last two turns as James Bond, 1983's Octopussy and 1985's A View to a Kill, the mid-fiftyish Moore had visibly thinning hair, an abundance of wrinkles and liver spots, and needed a stuntman for just about every scene that required him to do anything more strenuous than get out of a chair.

2. Robert Redford
In The Natural, Robert Redford plays a baseball prodigy who returns from a mysterious 16-year absence to lead his team to the pennant. And though he's middle-aged throughout most of the film, in early scenes, we're supposed to buy a 47 year old Redford as the 22 year old baseball phenom, Roy Hobbs.

1. The entire cast of Mamma Mia
The film's central character, bride-to-be Sophie, is twenty. But instead of actors in their early 40s (which would have been consistent with the chronology of events presented during the film's exposition) we get 58 year old Meryl Streep as Sophie's mom, and 54 year old Pierce Brosnan and 56 year old Stellan Skarsgard as two of her possible dads. (They'd have been more believable as Sophie's grandparents.) Rounding out were cast were 57 year old Julie Walters and 55 year old Christine Baranski, and having this group of scraping 60 actors dance and frolic onscreen to ABBA songs, is downright embarassing.


Related Posts:

May 4, 2009

Breakin' New Ground

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the seminal street dancing movie, Breakin'.



Though today its often mocked on pop culture "nostalgia" shows like I Love the 80s, Breakin' was a very important film. Prior to its release, there had been small, independent productions that had explored hip-hop culture, but Breakin' was the first mainstream Hollywood film to do so. Significantly, the film's low budget and the tidy profit it earned led to the birth of a new sub-genre of American film -- breakdancing/rap/hip-hop movies, which included the likes of Beat Street, Body Rock, Rappin', Krush Groove, the House Party movies, and the oft referenced, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, which, in an effort to capitalize on the success of the original Breakin', was scripted, shot, edited and readied for release in barely 5 months. Without Breakin', there would have been no Stomp the Yard, no Honey, no Step Up.

Intended merely to capitalize of the breakdancing craze that was peaking in 1983-84, Breakin' starred Adolfo ("Shabba-Doo") Quinones, who was already a street-dancing legend and had been an original member of The Lockers, an LA-based "pop-locking" dance group that also counted singer/choreographer Toni Basil as a member. Quinones would go on to other movie roles (Tango and Cash, Lambada), music videos (Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You"), but found his greatest success as a dancer and choreographer for major artists, including Madonna on her "Who's That "Girl" tour.

Breakin's other two stars were Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, who had been featured in the street dancing documentary,
Breakin' and Enterin'; and Kansas-bred Lucinda Dickey, who (like her character in the film) was a classically trained ballet, tap and jazz dancer. The film also introduced us to many other less famous but equally talented b-boys (i.e., breakdancers) along with rapper Ice-T, actress Lela Rochon, who appears briefly (wearing a red jacket) in the film's opening sequence (below), and even Jean Claude Van Damme.

But above all else, Breakin' provided American film's first acknowledgements of hip-hop culture and that culture's artistic expression through dance, graffiti art, DJ'ing and MC'ing.

Here's another clip and also, The Black Hollywood Files has some great pictures and outstanding interviews with the film's stars.





Breakin at IMDB.com
The Black Hollywood Files Tribute to Breakin'

May 1, 2009

Summer Movie Season Arrives Earlier (and Earlier, and Earlier...)

The release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine today marks the start of the summer movie season. But the interesting thing is, today is May 1st and we're nearly two months removed from the official start of summer (June 21.) We're also nearly a month ahead of Memorial Day, which used to be the date the studios looked to as their jumping off point for summer releases. But as everyone looks to get a jump on the competition, the studios are sliding release dates further and further up on the calendar. Somewhere along the line, the studio execs figured out that from Christmas-time through April, audiences are so starved for decent movies, that if a big-budget sequel, action or super-hero movie arrives in theaters in early May, it's likely to earn big box office. Moreover, the success of recent late March and April releases like Anger Management, Blades of Glory, and Baby Mama, has proven that even marginal pictures can do well so long as they have a decent marketing push behind them.

I'm not complaining though. In the 80s and 90s you used to have to wait until close to Memorial day for blockbusters like Return of The Jedi (released May 25, 1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (May 23, 1984), Mission Impossible (May 21, 1996), and The Lost World (May 22, 1997). Nowadays, the release dates of some of summer's most highly anticipated films creep closer to the beginning of May.

Which is why this decade we got Star Wars: Attack of the Clones on May 16, Van Helsing on May 7, and Spiderman 3 on May 4. The studios now understand that getting their film out in early (as opposed to late) May (when there's more competition from both other movies and from summer activities like going to the beach) can potentially add more than $100 million to their picture's gross.

Look at last year's Iron Man, which was an entertaining film but by no means one of the best summer movies in recent years. It became a $300 million dollar blockbuster, largely due to the fact that its May 2 opening beat everything else out of the gate. Folks were so starved for a decent movie and so amped up for summer that they flocked to theaters to see it.


And now, with today's opening of Wolverine, we've reached the limit of the May release. Wolverine is sure to have a huge weekend, and I predict that very shortly, maybe as soon as next year, one or more of the studios will dip their toe in the water and release one of their summer blockbusters in April. Even as I'm writing this, I'm looking at my computer's calendar and I see that in 2010, April 30th is a Friday... Seems inevitable doesn't it?... Who knows what's after that. Easter could become the new Memorial Day. Studios might want to take advantage of the facts that many kids are on spring break around that time, and many adults get (or take) Easter Monday off so they have a 3-day weekend.

In any case, enjoy your summer movies and maybe I'll see you on line for Wolverine... or Star Trek... or Terminator Salvation... or Year One... or Transformers 2... or Public Enemies... or G.I. Joe... or Inglorious Bastards... or...


Moviefone Summer Movie Guide
 
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