Words & Stuff

RRR: I Laughed, I Cried...

(10 September 2000, supposedly)

Jim Moskowitz recently revived a lovely idea originated (as far as we know) by Debbie Hollander: "Reviews of Movies I Have Not Seen." Here are Jim's reviews:

End of Days
A charming look at twilight, dusk, eventide, and the gloaming. How do they differ, and what do these contemplative periods of daily darkening mean to different cultures and eras of history? Arnold Schwarzenegger narrates this surprisingly erudite documentary.
Stuart Little
The early history of Charles I. His weak, sickly childhood led to his receiving the nickname that provides the film's title, but through a tenacious battle against a scheming duke's son (played well beyond the hilt by Adam Sandler) he gains the strength that he will eventually need to lead his country to ruin.
Pokemon: The First Movie
In what has to be the lowest budget for any release from a major Hollywood studio ever, Warner Brothers has given America its first taste of leisure verité: ninety-three minutes of two third-graders sitting across a kitchen table from each other, turning over trading cards and mumbling about "power" and "evolving." Watch for a brief cameo by Richard Garfield (creator of Magic: the Gathering) as "Dad."
The Patriot
Mel Gibson offers an in-depth look at the ballistic technology that made the Gulf War the highest-rated war in network history. Smartcam technology makes for the ultimate ripoff of Prince of Thieves' arrow shot.
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Stallone attempts a return to past glory, beating up on a moose in a struggle for the Wassamatta U. boxing title.
Gone in 60 Seconds
Nicolas Cage is not just any hot-dog eater. He's the Upper Wabash County Champion Hot Dog Eating King for nine years running. But this summer's Fair and Livestock Show will give him competition like he's never even dreamed—Dom DeLuise, costarring as "The Masked Mouth." You may want to warn your children before seeing this film that the grand finale is just special effects.
Shaft
Banking on the success of The Red Violin at tracing the history of a single instrument over many centuries, Paramount has unveiled a summer blockbuster tracing a single 1948 Hudson crankshaft as it passes from car to junkyard, to auto repair store, to car, to junkyard, and finally to art gallery. The decision to create a soundtrack for the movie out of classic '70s grooves is bizarre but inspired.

Jim's original review of Anna and the King involved an in-joke, so I've revised it, and added a couple of my own.

Anna and the King
In this update of the famous Russian novel, young immigrant Anna Karenina discovers a hidden cabin where the 65-year-old Elvis Presley has been living the Buddhist life for over two decades.
The Sixth Sense
Brilliant romantic comedy about a young lexicographer trying to figure out how many meanings there are to the word "love."
Lone Star
John Sayles' slow, boring science fiction epic about a yellow sun that drifts out of the galaxy, and its efforts to return.
Where the Heart Is
Interesting but flawed remake of classic film Fantastic Voyage, about a tiny "spaceship" navigating a patient's veins and arteries to remove a blood clot; in this version, the patient can't be moved, so the entire operation takes place in a Wal-Mart.
Sphere
In Michael Crichton's film version of the classic mathematical-thought-experiment book Flatland, a daring circle ventures forth into the mysterious and dangerous third dimension.

In a similar sort of vein, my sardonic pal Jack Mantis provides some reviews excerpted from his book Mantis at the Movies. I suppose I should note, for those of you who somehow missed watching television in the '80s, that Brandon Tartikoff—youngest network president ever, when he became head of NBC in 1980 at the age of 31—used to use the term "high concept" to describe a show that could be summed up in ten words or less. I believe that the high-concept series-summaries, especially for sitcoms, were what popularized the phrase "hilarity ensues," as in "Hilarity ensues when messy guy and neat guy become roommates." Jack figures that the phrase has been sadly underused since Tartikoff left NBC ten years ago, and has set himself the task of rectifying that lack. He doesn't, however, restrict himself to ten words per review.

Jason and the Huguenots
Deranged killer falls in with a group of early French Protestants. Hilarity ensues.
Mr. Washington Goes to Smith
The first president of the USA disguises himself as a female student in order to attend a women's college in Massachusetts. Hilarity ensues.
Pinokia
An elderly engineer discovers that his cell phone has come to life and wants to become "a real little toy." Hilarity ensues.
Princess Pokemoke
A human girl raised by incredibly cute cartoon characters must play a collectible card game to decide the fate of
humanity. Hilarity ensues.
Sheepless in Seattle
Big-screen update of classic children's story, with Meg Ryan as Bo, a rural shepherdess who feels lost in the big city. Hilarity ensues.
The Spider House Rules
Spider (Tobey Maguire), the head of a wacky frat house, falls for Buffy Muffett (Charlize Theron), the ditzy but endearing leader of the neighboring (and rival) sorority. When Buffy gets pregnant, hilarity ensues.
Wilde Wilde West
Witty gay Victorian playwright becomes an agent for the American government, using gadgets, fisticuffs, and poetry to stop evildoers. Hilarity ensues.
You've Got Bail
Tom Hanks stars as a bail bondsman who strikes up an online romance with serial killer and hardened ex-con Meg Ryan. Hilarity ensues.

And, finally:

Hilarity and Jackie
Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy takes up a new career as a standup comedienne and cello player. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

Haven't had enough yet? Take a look at these descriptions of mid-season replacements.


Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>