They have recently released a boxed set called "The High School Flashback Collection" where you can get former Vault Pick "The Breakfast Club", "Sixteen Candles" and this classic. It's about the umpteenth time all of them have been released on dvd. Getting "Weird Science" as part of this ultimate collection is a definite plus; however, as good as it as was, it should have been part of your personal collection long before this box set came out.
Director John Hughes was at the height of his game in the early to mid-80s. He was able to tap into the preteen/teen demographic by exploring every facet of high school that all of us could relate to in one way or the other. It was like this guy was inside our heads as his movies accurately pinpointed the demeanor of all the different personality types that existed in high schools across America.
What teenage boy who had issues with getting a girl didn't have fantasies of having that model girlfriend? It was usually right around freshman year when you were starting off as the bottom rung of the ladder again when the senior girls were looking fully developed. Boys with the artistic ability would sketch out that dream girl. Or write a story about her. Or in Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) and Gary's (Anthony Michael-Hall) case, make her on the computer.
It's funny that the 80s seem to specialize in movies where computers were made to do the impossible. This was the same time that "War Games" came out. In both cases, we are supposed to believe that a kid and his souped up Commodore are able to accomplish things that were pretty far-fetched given the technology of the era. You couldn't even create a Kelly LeBrock with today's computers. However, the performances from the actors involves were always so amazing that you overlooked those plot holes.
There are a couple of then unknown actors that made their mark in a big way in this flick. Most notably was Bill Paxton as Wyatt's jerk older brother. His screen time is very brief, but he has some of the best lines in the movie. Of course he would go on to star in huge blockbusters in roles that were the complete opposite of his role as Chet, but it was that role that left the most lasting mark.
Then of course there was the inimitable Robert Downey, Jr. Before he would don the mask of "Iron Man", Robert would be playing a jerk of his own as one of the two main bullies in this flick. You could tell he was still getting to feel his way in this role; however, the little quirks that he adds as Ian showed signs that he was destined for greatness.
There are quite a few scenes in "Weird Science" that stand out as being hilarious. One of the most memorable is when Lisa (LeBrock) forces Wyatt and Gary to go out on a night on the town for the first time ever. Once they get to an "urban" bar and the alcohol starts flowing, the conversation becomes one of the funniest exchanges ever. I was watching this on regular television the other day and they totally ruined it. You have to see the dvd version to properly enjoy it.
I had no idea Spike Lee even had a new movie coming out until fellow blogger CreoleinDC started writing about her film school internship on her blog. Even with all of his accomplished work, Spike still doesn't get the same type of buzz for his upcoming projects that other directors do so "Miracle at St. Anna" definitely snuck up on me.
This World War II film begins in 1983 with Hector Negron (Laz Alonso), a veteran of that war, unexpectedly shooting a customer dead. Police discover that the suspect, a quiet postal worker, kept a statue head worth millions of dollars in his apartment. An eager young reporter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) interviews Negron in his cell about the mysterious artifact. What we get is Negron reflecting back on the events that led him to his present state.
While serving in the all minority 92nd "Buffalo Soldier" division, Negron and three comrades managed to sneak deep into enemy territory in Italy. One of the men, Sam Train (Omar Benson Miller), had picked up the head while they were serving in Florence and believes it brings him good luck. Negron, along with their sergeant, 2nd Staff Sergeant Aubrey Stamps (Derek Luke), take refuge in the Italian village of St. Anna, harbored by locals who are resisting the Nazi's - who themselves surround the area.
Train also protects an injured Italian boy, Angelo (Matteo Sciabordi), he discovers while investigating a seemingly abandoned dwelling. Eventually, the soldiers make contact with their superiors, and are ordered to capture a German so that he may be interrogated about an upcoming attack.
Lee adapted "Miracle at St. Anna" from a novel by James McBride, who also penned the screenplay. It was inspired by the August 1944 Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre perpetrated by the Waffen-SS in retaliation to Italian partisan activity. I'm pretty sure most of the rest of it was fabricated while trying to maintain some sense of historical accuracy. I say that because I had a problem with the one of the crucial opening sequences where the Buffalo Soldiers are advancing towards a river bank thru a wide open field. How much sense does that make to do that in the middle of the day with no cover? That was an ambush waiting to happen.
This flick made me think of a Black version of "Saving Private Ryan". It's no secret that Spike has longed to make a movie giving us the perspective of was from the African American experience in the same vein that "Ryan" did. The difference here is instead of a select group going after a lost soldier, they are protecting a boy while trying to rescue themselves. However, the build up is the same. You get attached to these soldiers so that when the inevitable happens, there's supposed to be a tug at the ol' heart strings.
I didn't particularly care for the uneven portrayal Miller gave as Sam Train. At times he was over the top looney as if he was trying to hard to bring humor to the character. Other times, it seemed to come more naturally as Sam tried to bond with the boy. I'm pretty sure Spike wasn't trying to have Same come across as unstable so the inconsistency in his behavior was a little distracting.
Speaking of Train, it was a little hard to buy the fact that he would be toting around that huge statue head thru all their different conflicts. They would have had enough weight to carry with all of their ammo and whatnot without being bogged down by that as well. You would have thought one of his field sergeants would have prevented it, knowing it would make him less mobile. But it is a crucial part of the whole plot so we have to look past all that.
With a movie on the Black soldier experience, you KNOW there are going to be scenes that reflect the racism of the era. The thing about that is I have gotten so desensitized to scenes like that in various movies that the impact wasn't as great. However, the way he had the soldiers react to their incident was something I hadn't seen before. Not very realistic given the repercussions that would have eventually occurred, but I loved watching it.
On a side note, because my blogging friend CreoleinDC (aka Monica Mingo) did a little work behind the scenes, she was able to get some recognition. Her name appeared in the closing credits as a Post Intern. It was pretty cool to see someone's name on the big screen that I actually knew. Sort of. So cool that I had to take a pic. You'll have to excuse the blurriness, but it's not like I was going to take my good camera into the theater.
Spike made a pretty brilliant period piece with "Miracle at St. Anna". I was getting worried for a minute there as different characters were introduced that seemed to have nothing to do with the story. I was hoping they would get tied in somehow so the plot wouldn't end up being disjointed and Spike pulled it off very well.
It wasn't quite a "Glory" in terms of providing the Black soldier experience, but then again, there was no Denzel to give it that final push. Although Torry Kittles as Lieutenant Birdsong was a very convincing younger Denzel, a la Pfc Petersen from "A Soldier's Story". Even with the ending that bordered on trite cheese, "Miracle at St. Anna" was still a very respectable Spike Lee joint.
Admittedly, the trailer for this flick doesn't look like this movie will be as good as I initially thought. It's too bad because the premise alone of a couple of guys trying to recapture the glory days of their hit-making days had a lot of promise. However, being that this is the last movie that Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes made, I will go see it regardless to pay tribute to those legends...
I just finished watching this week's episode of Saturday Night Live that Anna Faris hosted. There were some pretty good skits like the one with her and Kenan Thompson in a canoe in the middle of a lake. However, once more, they had the best part of the show at the beginning. Tina Fey comes thru yet again stealing the show with a dead-on Sarah Palin impression...
One of the good things about my time at EDS was they often had catered lunches. They would get so busy trying to make sure that service levels were being met that they asked their folks to work thru lunch several times. My area didn't do it that much but the Cardinal Health team did it often and they would frequently change up where they got lunch from.
There was one day that I was minding my own business and I noticed the smell of chicken wings coming from the Cardinal Health side of the floor. Of course I had to be nosy since I was hungry (as always) to go see what it was. They had ordered several different variety of wings from this place called The Chicken Coop. I had never heard of it until then but those wings were off tha chain. I made it my mission to one day visit the restaurant to see if it was a fluke. That one day didn't happen until just recently, which meant over a year later.
I visited the location in West Des Moines since I was in the mood for some wings. The problem was that I quickly realized I was in the mood for some breaded buffalo wings a la Hooters or Drake Diner. Not the type that The Chicken Coop specialized in. Therefore, I was already off to a bad foot with the place and it wasn't even their fault.
The Chicken Coop is a sports grill type setting much like one of their main competitors, Buffalo Wild Wings. They also offer a variety of different flavors like Jamaican jerk (which I think is their best), wasabanero (no clue what that is), pepper teriyaki and of course various degrees of "hot". However, instead of offering their wings in baskets of six, they come in baskets of 10, which means you have to spend upwards to $14 to get two different flavors.
Since it's a smaller location, they don't have as many big screen tv options as BWW. That would probably be bad news for someone who would be coming there to look at different sports games at one time. I was only there for the wings and could have cared less what they had on the tube so they got a pass in that regards.
They tout the fact that their wings are flame broiled. Apparently they took it too far with mine. When they came out, they clearly looked like several of them had been broiled too long. Too many pieces were burnt which caused them to not be as tasty as they should have been. It didn't help matters that the water with which I had to wash them down was rather nasty. I have heard that all of West Des Moines water is like that. That's rather ironic considering that's the rich part of town so you would think they would have the best water in the city.
To top off everything, the service was terrible. There appeared to only be one waitress for about a dozen tables. I can deal with her being preoccupied with other customers, but there were several times when she was not visible at all for extended periods of time. She didn't even do the usual thing that waitresses do where they come back to your table shortly after you have gotten your food to ask how is everything. If she would have, she would have known I needed more water.
Folks that have been with me from the beginning know my thoughts on tipping. If you don't you can check it out here in my review of the movie "Waiting". However, given the current state of the economy and being in a financial predicament myself, I can appreciate how tipping is important. So I had started doing it lately, except in instances like this one where the service AND the food was not up to par. So what did I leave for a tip? A penny. No joke. I bet that waitress is STILL cussing me out.
You all will have to excuse me while I partake of some crow sammich. I will gladly do so in this instance though. But realistically, who would have ever thought that this would be the game where the Kansas City Chiefs would turn things around? I don't care how much a die-hard Chiefs fan you are, when you have the Denver Broncos coming to town as the highest scoring team in the league and KC is riding a dozen game losing streak, things don't look good. That's just on the surface though. KC shocked the world with their 33 - 19 victory over their division rivals.
Getting off to a quick start was just what KC needed to do after so many disappointments in a row. There's no better way to do that than by having three scoring opportunities in the red zone on their first three possessions. All while Denver doesn't get so much as a sniff of KC territory. I just wish they could have done better than getting only two field goals. Which brings me to my next point.
This Nick Novak kid KC has kicking for them really annoys me. I hate to dwell on the days of yesteryear when it comes to the Chiefs, but he truly makes you miss Chiefs' legend Nick Lowery. It seems that whenever Novak gets outside of 35 yards, he can't be trusted to convert. Coach Herm Edwards might as well start going for it when it they get that close.
Even though it was a victory, I do have a problem with some of the play calling. What else is new? However, in this case, it has to do with how Herm failed to get Tony Gonzalez the ball more often. He ended the day just a yard short of breaking Shannon Sharpe's record for most receiving yards by a tight end. KC's next game is on the road against Carolina. That means they blew the chance of having Tony get that record in front of the Arrowhead crowd like he deserved.
Much props go out to the young KC defense. I was one of their harshest critics lately with how they have been letting teams run AND pass ruck-shot all over them. They stepped it up big time this game by keeping the highest scoring in the league to only 19 points and forcing four turnovers.
I'm not going to lie, I was leaning towards hoping KC would run the table the opposite direction. Maybe if they hit the "perfect" season by getting no victories, they would get a chance at some more good draft picks. Honestly, they still have a chance at that. It's a shame that I'm sitting here hoping for that instead of a playoff run and/or a Super Bowl victory, but I'm just keeping it real.
"Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" ended up being just as crazy as the title implies. It was the very reason I didn't go see it when it hit theaters. I honestly didn't think it would be any good. Even when I saw it the first time on dvd, I thought it was just average. It ended up being one of those flicks that gets funnier after repeated viewings.
I apparently wasn't the only person that thought so either. It was on dvd that the movie got a second life. The two lead actors, Kal Penn and John Cho, started getting bigger roles in flicks as "Harold and Kumar" reached cult status which meant that a sequel was inevitable. After taking four years to see it come to fruition, would it fall victim to the sophomore jinx? That's why once again, I waited until the dvd release just to be on the safe side.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" picks up right where "White Castle" left off. Harold (Cho) and Kumar (Penn) have just finishing gorging themselves on the burgers when they return to the apartment and hatch a plan to go to Amsterdam to win the heart of Harold's crush Maria (Paula Garces).
Unfortunately for Harold, Kumar isn't able to endure the lengthy flight without an innocent puff or two from his homemade smokeless bong. When the plane hits some turbulence and the bong is mistaken for a bomb, the flight is diverted to Guantanamo Bay and the two are detained by overzealous Deputy Chief of Homeland Security Ron Fox (Rob Coddry).
Their stay in Guantanamo Bay isn't long at all before an awkward opportunity allows them to escape. You have to overlook the fact that even with several coincidences, escape from such a high security prison would be so easy. At least I hope that isn't the case with that place. At any rate, it is their escape and subsequent adventures on the way to clear their name that makes up the majority of the film.
"Guantanamo Bay" starts off immediately setting the tone that nothing will be off limits to get a laugh. From that point, it gets progressively more vulgar. I was watching it by myself and there were still scenes that I felt uncomfortable viewing. Especially the one with the human-sized bag of weed. The thing is, if you have a demented sense of humor, you can't help but laugh. Still, this sequel made the original look like a kiddie film.
The best part about this movie just as with the original is the people they run into on their journey. "Last Comic Standing" comedian John Reep does a fantastic job as an inbred hillbilly who befriends the two. But it is once again former child star Neil Patrick Harris that shines brightest. What makes him even better in this one is we already know now that he has announced he's gay and his character goes out his way to prove how addicted to sex he is. It even comes across as contrived which makes it even funnier to watch.
There were reports that our government didn't like the fact that the producers made light of Guantanamo Bay by making this movie. Given the fact that some of the decisions are government makes is a joke anyway, they have no room to talk. Plus, "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" is more of a hilarious road comedy film than it is an indictment on the infamous prison. So good in fact that if they wait another four years for a part three, I just may have to drop the twenty bones to see that one in theaters.
Usually, I would get news of a celebrity death by coming across it on one of my frequent visits to the news websites I stalk like CNN or MSNBC. That wasn't the case today. I found out this news from the most unlikely source. G was watching "That's So Raven" on NBC and they broke in during the beginning of it with a "Breaking News" segment to announce Paul Newman has died.
I was flabbergasted. Newman was one of my favorite senior citizen actors. The last of the macho men from the era before the metrosexuals took over Hollywood and now he's gone. Then all of the sudden something else dawned on me. They interrupted a Saturday morning kids show to announce this. So they were basically hitting a preteen audience. A group who had no idea who this cat was. They were essentially hoping that the shorties' parents may have been watching too. A big risk, but it paid off in this case since I caught it. Because I'm sure that was their goal..to make sure that I knew about it...
Anyway, according to spokesman Marni Tomljanovic, Newman passed away from cancer at his home in Westport, Connecticut. He was 83-years-old.
Newman had a plethora of films to his credit and created some of the best characters in cinema history. One of his best known ones would have been Butch Cassidy in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" with friend Robert Redford. One of his many films I never saw even after I started slowly getting into the western genre. I will see it before the end of the year.
One of my personal Newman favorites was "The Sting". Again he partnered with Redford and made one of the best crime comedies ever. It employed plot twists so brilliantly that it set the mold that many future films would try to emulate. It was set in 30s, made in the 70s and will hold up in this decade or any other as good as when it was first released.
The one thing that always impressed me most about Newman was his personal life. He married actress Joanne Woodward in 1958 when both were up and coming. Her star gradually faded and his blew up even bigger. Instead of letting the ego getting the best of him thinking he needed to be with a star of equal stature, Newman never gave it a second thought. He and Woodward celebrated their 50th anniversary this year.