BRING IT ON (2000)

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Christopher

I didn’t think I had seen this movie but at the very end, right before the credits, the cast dances to “Hey Mickey,” the Toni Basil song. It looked so familiar I must of watched it at some point in my childhood/growing up with a younger sister. Watching it now, it was pretty much what I expected.

It was wild when the film first starts because all the dialogue is just thrown at you. Every single line feels like a line in a movie. Or really, a stage play. It’s line, line, line, line, line. People are practically talking over each other. As the movie progressed it changed but the first twenty minutes feels like watching deleted scenes from Gilmore Girls. No real story but a ton of talking.

Once the story picked up it was pretty enjoyable. There were some good jokes and I definitely wanted Kristen Dunst to hook up with the love interest. What I never got over were the cheers. Were all those cheers made for the movie? The routine that they stole, hasn’t that been around forever? Or was it made just for this movie? Because those were totally cheers my younger sister did when she played softball.

I’m glad I watched this movie but I know I’ll totally forget about it not far from now. Also, I like seeing Eliza Dushku!

Elizabeth

Bring It On is kind of weird. I was 12 when it first came out, and I loved it but it also made me nervous. Life for the cheerleaders in Bring It On seems tough, but then realizing that you’re not even a teenager yet and that when you do become one, you will not be a blonde, clear-skinned twig, it seems a lot rougher. But luckily, Bring It On has enough goofiness to prove that it really doesn’t want you to take it that seriously.

Probably the best things about re-watching Bring It On were seeing Jesse Bradford and Ian Roberts. Now, I really don’t care about Jesse Bradford, but I thought his character was so CUTE and so FUNNY and just SO AWESOME when I first saw it. Watching it again, well of course he looks like a child, first of all. But second of all, when he has his meetcute with Kirsten Dunst, he’s wearing:

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Clearly, a Clash t-shirt. To me, this shirt is pretty obvious. Even if you don’t know The Clash, you should know that they existed, at least. But when Kirsten Dunst points it out, she says “Is that your band?” Now, would a guy wearing a Clash t-shirt look twice at a girl who didn’t even know The Clash existed, much less any other remote thing about them, even if said girl was Kirsten Dunst? I sort of think not . . . or at least it wouldn’t get off to this super cute start.

But yes, Ian Roberts was great. Before his character, a choreographer, shows up, I was trying to remember if anyone famous played him. Chris asked if it was Matt Walsh, and I knew it wasn’t . . . but then it was Ian Roberts! Ian Roberts looks so much like an average dude, it never occurred to me that a member of Upright Citizens Brigade was in Bring It On. It was more obvious though watching it this time because all of the energy and humor in any scene he’s in goes straight to him.

Bring It On isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s not trying to be. I was mostly relieved it wasn’t totally anti-female or something, which can happen pretty easily with hindsight and older movies.

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HANGING UP (2000)

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Christopher

Diane Keaton, how you never seem to play any other characters.

This movie was pretty straight forward in its plot. Three sisters, all at different places in their lives, try to figure out what to do with their aging father. However, the father is kind of just a giant dick. Throughout the whole movie I never once felt sorry for the father who was obviously having issues with dementia and had issues with his children far before he needed to be in a nursing home. There are constant flashbacks to their relationship with their father and they are all awful, except small glimpses of him when they were super young.

This movie is pretty awful but at the end you mainly just feel bad that all the characters have to accept such an awful person as their father.

Elizabeth

At this point I just really want to see Diane Keaton play a poor (or at least non-wealthy), single woman whose conflicts are caused by things other than her character’s own neuroses. But until then, it looks like we’re just going to get more of the same shit from her.

Hanging Up takes place in a world in which Diane Keaton (who was 54 when this was filmed), Meg Ryan (who was 39) and Lisa Kudrow (who was 37) are sisters. Age-wise, Eve (Ryan) and Maddy (Kudrow) make sense. But what about Georgia (Keaton), Eve’s 15-years-older sister? They all have the same two parents, but why they had a daughter, waited fifteen years, and then had two more, was never explained. Hanging Up makes a point to show us how awful the sisters’ mother is, whom Eve goes to see at one point. Apparently their mother hates children, hated being a mother, hated being a wife, and hates her children. So, again, why, if you found yourself in that situation, would you have one child, stay married and with the family for fifteen years, and then have two more? For a movie that felt like it was trying to force us to understand everything going on with this family, leaving that untouched seemed sloppy.

But this is coming from Hanging Up. If you’ve ever taken a screenwriting class, then you know that one of the #1 rules is that the audience loves when characters talk on the phone, especially when you don’t know what the other side is saying. Oh wait, no, I’m sorry . . . IT’S THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT. Yes, as the title suggests, a large amount of dialogue and action revolves around being on the phone. In fact, everytime Eve’s phone rings she jumps around wherever she is, picks up the phone, and screams into it “IS HE DEAD?” Because her father is elderly and he may die. But he may die then . . . or in 5 years? And that’s how Eve lives her life? So, I guess we’re just supposed to be okay with her clearly being insane.

I was annoyed when the dad finally died. Because it was sad, but only because it’s hard to make the death of an elderly parent not sad. The movie did not earn sadness; I would have rather felt the full brunt of relief that the movie was over than that mixed in with some choking up because Walter Matthau died.

The best part of the movie was the giant Newfoundland that occasionally served as comic relief. In a comedy. So that should tell you a lot!

HERE ON EARTH (2000)

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Christopher (spoilers!)

I had never heard of this movie before. I understand why because this movie is certainly awful but it definitely fits the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good category. This movie really makes no sense and whenever a movie has to do with kids and death it’s almost always over the top and so obviously aimed at children. (As a side note this is the same reason I really want to check out The Fault In Our Stars, I imagine these movies being very similar.) So the story follows this giant dick who goes to school at a rich private school, apparently in the middle of nowhere in this east coast mountain town. He gets into trouble by racing other kids and blowing up a gas station. This scene is pretty good for a lot of reasons. First, the race happens only cause our main character harasses the town locals, who are called Putties? Like Power Rangers? Although they never explain why they are called Putties, you just find out later that the town has a similar name. But Chris Klein is the only on that wants to race. Even his own friends keep telling him they should leave the locals alone. Second, they race out of town, driving down straight roads then all of a sudden they’re right back in their town…do all roads lead to this tiny town? Third, they blow up the town restaurant and no one gets hurt? The scene before everyone was sitting eating, what happened to that?

This movie has a lot wrong with it and when you watch it and you think it’s terrible and bad, it only increases. I would totally recommend this movie to anyone!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

From the leg to the liver. That was the biggest thing I remembered from this movie, and it’s still the thing that comes to mind whenever I think about it. That should be the movie’s tag line.

Let me explain. In Here on Earth, Chris Klein plays Kelley, a rich boarding school kid. We have no idea where this school is, or the town that the school is in, although because Boston is later mentioned I guess we can assume it’s somewhere in idyllic, farm-covered Massachusetts. Kelley is an asshole. How do we know this? He gets a car (a very mom-friendly silver Mercedes that all of his classmates go nuts over, even though I’m sure all of their moms have the same one) from his father because he won’t be able to come to his graduation. He’s told by the dean that because cars are not allowed on campus it will be kept in the garage. That concept alone doesn’t make a ton of sense, but whatever. That night, Kelley and two of his friends sneak the car out and decide to go for a ride in town.

They end up at Mable’s Table, a local tiny diner attached to a gas station. Kelley calls the people there “putties,” which is never explained, but there is immediate animosity between the boarding school kids and the diner patrons. Working there is Samantha (Leelee Sobieski), whose family owns the restaurant. Her boyfriend, Jasper (Josh Hartnett) is also there, apparently leading the “putties” against Kelley and his friends. Except . . . Kelley’s friends aren’t assholes. They don’t want to go in the diner. They don’t want to make trouble with the locals. They don’t want to talk to anyone else, they just want to order milkshakes and go back to the school. Kelley is the only one being a huge asshole, and also being a dick misogynist toward Samantha, which riles up Jasper even more. Kelley and his friends end up racing Jasper and his friends, where they make what we can only assume is a giant circle in this never-ending town, because they start at Mable’s Table and end up right back there, but not before running into the gas station, destroying their cars, and burning down the restaurant.

The judge won’t accept Kelley’s father’s offer to pay for the rebuilding, and instead puts Kelley and Jasper to work to help rebuild in exchange for them not having the accident on their permanent record. Sooo . . . best deal ever? Kelley’s father flips out, because apparently the closest motel is 50 miles away. Okay, stop. My mom currently lives in a town of 4,500 people that has 3 hotels. This mystery town apparently is home to a giant boarding school. And there are NO hotels within 50 miles? What an insanely huge stretch just to make the story convenient. Because there are no hotels, Kelley has to stay with Jasper and his family over the summer while he works.

Here’s where I want to point out the fact that everyone in this movie is a huge asshole except for Bruce Greenwood, who plays Samantha’s dad. Kelley’s a dick. Jasper’s a dick. Jasper’s family are assholes to Kelley. And as we will soon found out, Samantha is basically a piece of shit too. Why? Because out of absolutely nowhere, Samantha starts to show interest in Kelley, and in about 5 minutes of screen time they’re in love. All of this is totally unknown to Jasper, who has been Samantha’s boyfriend for an unknown number of years but they’ve at least been friends since childhood. Samantha never seems to have the slightest regard for Jasper, so she and Kelley openly display their relationship around town, which includes making out in the grocery store where Jasper’s best friend works. He catches Samantha and Kelley, of course, and that’s how Jasper finds out. Samantha acts like Jasper is 5 years old; she never comes out and tells him exactly what’s going on and why, she just dances around the subject until Jasper appears to get the picture that she’s cheated on him and she’s leaving him. How nice!

So Samantha and Kelley sleep together and have this star-crossed-esque romance against everyone’s wishes, which includes Samantha spending a weekend alone in Boston with Kelley. But then, when there’s maybe 20 or 30 minutes left in the movie, Samantha falls down while running through a field with Kelley. When Kelley goes to her, she’s hugging her knee, and we find out that SAMANTHA IS DYING OF CANCER. How is this explained to us? She had cancer in her leg, and now it’s in her liver. The line “It went from her leg to her liver,” is uttered. Now, I’m not saying that can’t happen or anything. But this insanely simplified version of what’s happened (she had cancer in her leg and now it’s in her liver and she’s going to die) just makes it so comical, it’s as if Tyler Perry did the research. So then everyone makes up in light of the fact that Samantha is going to die, then she dies, THE END.

I love how fucking stupid this movie is. This may be one of the first movies I ever watched solely because I knew it was going to be bad, and I saw this when I was 12. So 12 year-old me thought this sappy teen romance drama was insane and stupid, so what do you think adults will think of this? It’s just kind of amazing. I will say though that I’ve on and off had “Where You Are” stuck in my head ever since we’ve watched this and I’m now pretty sure that that song is the only remotely decent thing to ever come from this movie. Except for the medical diagnosis of “It spread from the leg to the liver.”

 

ROAD TRIP (2000)

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Elizabeth

So, Road Trip is not funny. I thought it was funny the first and last time I saw it, which had to have been around when the movie came out, which would have put me in middle school. And that sort of makes sense because this is another good example of a film made by and with adults that seem to squarely focused on a middle school (and male) audience.

I didn’t think Tom Green was funny in 2000 and I don’t think he’s funny now. I couldn’t wait until people stopped caring about him because he was so annoying. Luckily, that did eventually happen and I pretty much never thought about him again until we watched this. I’m not one to say that comedy has to be smart to be funny, or that comedy has to be anything to be funny, but for me at least, Tom Green’s humor is just too gross and stupid. Unsurprisingly, Tom Green didn’t modify his style at all for Road Trip, because he didn’t have to.

So, here’s the premise. Josh (Breckin Meyer) is in college in New York and has a long-time girlfriend, Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard) in college in Austin (curiously, she goes to the University of Austin, not Texas, I guess UT didn’t want to be involved?). Josh and Tiffany maintain their relationship by talking on the phone everyday and sending each other videotapes of themselves talking. After three days of being unable to reach Tiffany, Josh determines that they have broken up despite being best friends/dating since they were 5, and therefore has sex with Beth (Amy Smart). The next day, Josh feels great about himself until he gets a voicemail from Tiffany, apparently one of a few, to tell him that her grandfather died and she’s been out of town at the funeral and unable to get in touch with him. Now Josh feels bad when he realizes not that he’s a total piece of shit, but that his longtime girlfriend didn’t dump him out of nowhere. Around the same time, Josh’s friends beg to see the sex tape that he and Beth made because, yes, they made a sex tape. When they put the tape in and see it’s instead Josh talking the camera, he finally puts two and two together that the sex tape was mailed to Tiffany and he has like 48 hours to get it back before she gets home from the funeral. Josh claims a plane ticket from New York to Austin is too expensive, so he decides to drive instead because that definitely makes sense. Making even more sense, Josh does not have a car, so he and his friends Rubin (Paulo Costanzo) and E.L. (Seann William Scott) hit up their acquaintance, Kyle (DJ Qualls), for his car and the four of them set out on the 1,700+ mile car ride.

The road trip itself is full the of the genre standard: their car gets totaled purely from their own stupidity, they run out of money, they make lots of sex jokes. But things get straight up weird when the guys show up at an all-black fraternity along the way. Rubin somehow knows the secret handshake for the fraternity (Was he part of the Ithaca chapter? Was he full of shit? Either they didn’t explain it or I missed it completely), granting the guys access to the fraternity to crash for the night. When they walk into the dining room and see that there’s only black guys there, they immediately start acting like weird, sheltered children who have never seen a non-white person before. They’re nervous and scared, despite the fact that the frat guys are just acting like normal frat guys. Then there’s a joke that I couldn’t even believe. Rubin (I think, maybe it was one of the other guys) says, after they’ve all sat down with their food, “The food here’s not bad, actually.” First of all: actually? Because they’re black, these guys expect the frat’s food to be gross? What? But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is his friends’ reactions to that statement: they slowly turn to him and look at him with both disgust and betrayal. The look they give him would make you think they’re in a frat of cannibals, not just regular black guys. Are these guys that racist and immature? Well, yes, apparently.

The only real funny part of the whole movie is a goofy subplot with Beth. After the guys leave, Beth goes to Josh’s room and discovers Tom Green there instead. He tells her Josh went to visit his girlfriend who goes to college in Austin, Massachusetts. Beth keeps asking him to repeat himself until finally she says, “Boston?” and he agrees. So Beth takes a bus to the University of Boston, finds another student with the same name as Tiffany’s, and accidentally ruins her life by telling this Tiffany that her boyfriend has cheated on her. It’s not the best or funniest subplot, but it’s certainly the best this movie has to offer.

Christopher

This movie used to make me cry with laughter whenever it came up. I don’t know what happened to that movie but that is not what we watched. I suppose that means I’ve matured, though, and I’m thankful for that but geeze, Tom Green is pretty unbearable in this movie. I think the best part was the unnecessary nudity but even that couldn’t make me watch this again.

On a sidenote though I recently watched Snowpiercer and holy fuck it was fantastic! There are a few aspects of the film I don’t think really worked but all the greatness immediately made me not care about that stuff. Have you ever watched the train episode of Adventure Time? It’s kind of an adult version of that. WATCH IT NOW, NOT ROAD TRIP!

SOLO POST – PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS (1996) / PARADISE LOST 2: REVELATIONS (2000) / PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY (2011) / WEST OF MEMPHIS (2012)

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Elizabeth

Recently, Chris was out of town for about 2 weeks. During my time without him I thought it would be good to watch stuff I wanted to see but knew Chris wouldn’t be interested in. The first day I was alone without him, I scrolled through my queue of movies and found Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, which I had heard about only because it was on a list of Louis Theroux’s favorite documentaries. Not that it’s a subject I enjoy, but anything with “child murders” in the title I knew would be a no-go for Chris. So I started watching it with literally no idea as to what it was about, except child murders. So I really had no idea I was about to go down this crazy rabbit hole that would lead me to three additional documentaries and knowledge that is both empowering and terrifying.

All four of these documentaries are about The West Memphis 3 and the murders that began everything. In 1993, three boys were raped and murdered; one had been castrated. This happened in West Memphis, Arkansas, which maybe is not the most forward-thinking place around. The cops immediately focused in on Damien Echols, who was 18 when they arrested him. They zeroed in on him because the cops immediately thought it was a Satanic killing, due to the boys  being raped and tied up and what appeared to be their clothes wrapped around sticks placed in the mud. The cops contacted the local juvenile detention center cop and asked if he knew of any kids who might be into Satanic stuff and he immediately thought of Echols, who had had run-ins for shoplifting, who wore black clothing and listened to heavy metal music. Jason Baldwin, 16, was his best friend and Jessie Misskelley, 17, was their sometimes hangout buddy. They questioned Misskelley, who is also mildly retarded, for 12 hours without any of his family members present. They only recorded the last 45 minutes, where Misskelley confesses to being there when Echols and Baldwin kill the kids. But the confession doesn’t make sense with what happened and he mostly just agrees and repeats what the cops tell him. The cops arrested all three and sentenced Misskelley to life plus forty years, even though his entire wrestling team testified to Misskelley being a town away at a wrestling match, at which Misskelley also signed and dated a sign-in sheet for. Echols was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection; Baldwin was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. This was also despite sworn alibis and lack of any physical evidence.

So when I finished the first Paradise Lost, I knew it ended in the mid-90s and I immediately needed to know what happened. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of all of this before. It was so scary to think of these three kids being killed and three other kids being put in prison, one sentenced to death, for something they clearly didn’t do.

Over the course of the next two Paradise Lost movies, they explore possible other suspects and the convicteds’ constant efforts to appeal their sentences. This seems like it should get easier as more and more DNA exonerates them from being anywhere near the crime, but a lot of political and legal red tape keeps getting in the way (like the original trial judge being the only judge to see these appeals and he’s the only one who can allow a new judge to take over). In the end of the Paradise Lost movies, we never find the killer but the convicted are finally freed based on something bizarre called the Alford Plea in which they maintain their innocence but plead guilty and the judge lets them out based on time served. Even though the judge gave a heartfelt speech at the end in which he acknowledged the legal system had completely failed these men, it did little to hide the fact that Arkansas just couldn’t man up and admit that they falsely convicted and imprisoned these men.

A few days after I finished the trilogy, I watched West of Memphis, which is the most recent and is separate from the Paradise Lost trilogy. It was really long, but was also really comprehensive. It also had the most updated information and the hindsight to go with it. They revealed how the defense was able to raise money to hire awesome experts and DNA analysis that further exonerated them but also pointed more and more to one of the victims’ stepfathers. The passing of time also lets this documentary explain that they’ve since found out that the boys were not in fact raped and the one boy was not in fact castrated and all of the crazy injuries everyone thought were ritualistic, like the castration, was caused post-mortem by animals. So in a way, even though these boys still died horribly, it’s slightly less horrible than everyone originally thought. They also did a really good job at explaining all the Alford Plea craziness.

This story is downright insane from every angle, and totally horrifying and scary from every angle. I know there’s a movie about it out now, Devil’s Knot, but these documentaries are so incredible everyone should watch these instead. And I will say I found West of Memphis to be significantly less brutal and probably more focused. But these are stories people definitely should know about.

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE (2000)

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Christopher

I can’t get enough of this movie. I think the last time I watched it was two years ago but I was ready to watch it again when Elizabeth suggested it, even if it was the fourth time. This movie has an all-star cast, mostly just John Goodman, but I will say that this is one of the best things David Spade has done in his career. The story is simple but makes you invested and the jokes rarely fall flat for me.

I will say though, the biggest downfall for me about this movie are the names. They are kind of difficult to remember and I might be a bit bitter but when I lived in San Antonio myself and a few of my friends used to play Disney Scene It and I was never able to answer any of the Emperor’s New Groove name questions. Not that I was going to win if I ever got it but it’s something I’ll always remember for whatever reason.

Elizabeth

When The Emperor’s New Groove came out, my middle school boyfriend told me something that’s stuck with me to today: never trust someone who doesn’t like The Emperor’s New Groove. It might sound extreme, but it’s actually a pretty sound philosophy.

The Emperor’s New Groove is proof that a kid’s movie doesn’t need random, dumb, “adult” humor thrown in to be good. It just has to be good. Kids and their parents will see a good movie. I feel like this is the theory that Pixar’s been working off of since they started putting out movies. Sure, there’s jokes that might go over the head of a young kid, but I saw this when I was 12 and still got all the jokes. And we just watched it again, and I’m 26, and somehow the jokes are even funnier now, even though the meanings haven’t changed.

Chris and I are also watching through Roseanne right now, which I think is what got me itching to watch The Emperor’s New Groove. As Pacha, John Goodman plays a sort of Dan Conner-esque character in that he’s a big, caring, smart, family man. He really is perfect for this role. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s by far the best thing David Spade has done post-Chris Farley, because he’s actually funny in this. And what an amazing combination of Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton as partners in crime. Eartha Kitt already had a funny voice that really lent itself to be used in comedy, but she really played it up here. There’s a scene toward the end, especially, where she turns into a kitten and her voice suddenly goes up in pitch and . . . I mean, it fucking kills me every time. And I’ve seen this movie over and over again in the last 14 years and it STILL gets me.

That’s true for the movie in general, though. I’m at the point where I can practically say all the lines because I’ve seen it so much, but it doesn’t faze me in the least. Anyone who thinks they’re too good for The Emperor’s New Groove for whatever reason is severely mistaken, and should give this movie a second (and a third, and probably more) chance.

GEORGE WASHINGTON (2000)

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Christopher

There was definitely a lot in this movie that I do not think worked but overall I really enjoyed watching this. I hear it’s very similar to Kids, something I know I need to see but have yet to, minus all the sex, so I think I wanted the one I was more interested in anyway. The story follows a group of kids during the course of a summer where some pretty awful stuff happens. I think the characters in this film are really what make it. That being said, all the adult characters are really worthless in this film. After the movie Elizabeth mentioned this and it made me think of the adults as part of the scenery. The whole movie is shot in abandoned warehouses and buildings. Maybe the emptiness of the building had to do with the lack of development of the adult characters.

I would totally watch this movie again but I’m more interested in watching other David Gordon Green films.

Elizabeth

The biggest thing I took away from George Washington was not so much what the movie was about, but how it felt to me. The cinematography really is beautiful; it sort of reminded me of Badlands or even Nebraska. I didn’t exactly identify with the kids in the movie in that we had similar childhoods, but I did identify with the feeling they had: just how hot the summer is and how boring it can be when you’re a kid.

To me the two weakest elements were the narration and the adult characters. There’s narration throughout, but I honestly found it sort of hard to tell who was talking (I’m pretty sure it was Nasia, one of the main girls) because boys and girls at that age tend to have similar-sounding voices. And there were adult characters, but they were never developed and never really had plotlines, they mostly just had scenes, which in turn felt out of place and slow.

George Washington is good, especially for a directorial debut. But it’s also pretty tragic and a little strange, but beautiful enough that anyone should really see it.