There seems to be a new resurgeence yet again in interest of everything "Star Wars". Still not sure what brought it on. Or maybe it hasn't really happened so much as it's just me coincidentally running into different "Star Wars" references in different places. Whatever the case may be, it reminded me that I needed to have this joint as a Vault Pick so it can get the greater exposure it deserves.
Every now and then, the powers-that-be will make a movie that is catered specifically to a certain nerd demographic. I'm not talking about the obvious sci-fi or superhero film of the moment. Those are designed to have a broad appeal to make up for their enormous budgets. I'm talking about those niche films where they are aiming specifically for us fanboys. So what better title to give one such film than to aptly name if "Fanboys".
The story is the year is 1998 and "Star Wars" fans everywhere are counting down the days until the epic release of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace". Probably none more so than four best friends Eric (Sam Huntington), Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel). The anticipation is eating at them so much that they plan a cross country odyssey to infiltrate the famous Skywalker ranch and boost a pre-release print of the film. Naturally, they experience various far-fetched and outrageous adventures on the way.
I don't think I have ever geeked out over a movie as much as I did over this one. The main reason was that I could see myself in so much of what these guys were doing. At least in spirit. The biggest thing was how they related so much of their real life into some type of "Star Wars" quote. And not the well known obvious quotes either like "May the force be with you". They were using obscure references that only true Star Wars fans would pick up on.
As much as a fanboy I am, I never have considered myself to be extreme. Certainly not so much that there had to beef with Trekkies. That was an ongoing thing in "Fanboys". It's like Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans could not co-exist. It made for some hilarious moments though. Like the guys making a special detour thru Riverside, IA just to mess with Trek fans that had congregated there for a mini-convention (Riverside is the fictional home of Captain Kirk, for those who didn't know). It also allowed for one of many amusing characters from Seth Rogan.
All of the other cameos made this film even better. It was very slick how they found ways to incorporate actual "Star Wars" icons into the movie. Instead of being their regular selves that would have had a normal fanboy gushing (I mean who DOESN'T want to meet Lando?!), they were regular people, but still with a Star Wars nuance to them. Especially the scene that Carrie Fisher has where she utters one of her most famous lines ever.
It was more than just those appearances that helped this flick. It was also how they had other known celebrities who are fanboys themselves making cameos. Such as Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes subtly giving a nod to an infamous "Clerks II" scene. Then "Fanboys" puts the icing on the cake when Mr. Headgeek himself, Harry Knowles of one of my favorite websites, Ain't It Cool News, showed up. Okay...it was actually Ethan Suplee playing him, but the fact that a known website geek had an actor comically portraying him continued to add to the nerd factor.
This was more than just your typical road trip movie. There was somewhat of a message. Hutch put it best when he said you have to find your own Death Star. You have to find that one amazing deed that you accomplished that you can live on forever. Not to say you should dwell on the past, but once you have scored that Death Star, any other obstacle that comes your way pales in comparsion. Yes...I know every road movie has that one flimsy moral they work in there somehow; however, this one was more impressive because they used a "Star Wars" analogy to make it ring true.
Naturally, the most ironic thing about the entire movie is we all know how bad "The Phantom Menace" sucked. Not as an overall movie, but definitely in terms of a "Star Wars" film. With the exception of the epic Darth Maul scene, it fell exponentially short of expectations after waiting so long for a new "Star Wars" entry. So in essence, as you are watching this film and already having that knowledge, it made everything they had to go thru that much more funnier.
It would be a huge understatement to say that I could feel where these friends were coming from. I mean you are looking at a guy who took the day off work to wait in line for the midnight showing of "The Phantom Menace" and STILL doesn't regret it. Those of us that grew up on "Star Wars" seemed to be wired a bit differently like that. "Fanboys" taps into that and it connects with our inner geeks with every innate nuance and numerous reference. It is for that reason that this particular grade may be slightly jaded, but VERY much well-deserved nonetheless.
I would have forgotten the MTV Video Music Awards were on last night had I not seen several postings about it to remind me
I'm not going to make this all about that show though so as to bore those of you that could care less. However, there are a few things I wanted to get off my chest about it...
Like is it just a man thing that I could really care less that Beyonce is pregnant? It's been the hottest news topic ever since she brought it up last night. You'd be hard-pressed to find out how the folks are dealing with Hurricane Irene but I bet you don't have to look far to find news on Bey's pregnancy
This new song "Otis" by Jigga and Kanye...not feelin' it. And I actually like both of them. I just know they can both do better. About the only thing the song is good for is to get the younger folks hip to the original track by Otis Redding so they can be schooled on how great he was
I could really go for some wings right about now. It's been a while since I've had any. And by "a while" I mean a couple of weeks
One thing good that did come out of that MTV award show was a commercial for their new show "Death Valley". It looks HILARIOUS! DVR was set for it before the commercial even ended
Some people were bothered by the fact that Britney Spears got a VMA Lifetime Achievement Award. Why? She has no vocal ability so videos were about the only thing she was good for
Turntable doesn't want to act right for me now. It's like it's trying to tell me that it doesn't want me to get addicted and it's staging its own intervention. Whatever. You don't know me like that, Turntable!
Had to go back to Cedar Rapids recently and realized that there really isn't much to miss about that place anymore. Even that caramel apple shake at Kool Moo didn't taste as good as I remember it
You can feel the climate slowly started to shift towards fall as the temps cool off. It's just a matter of time now before people start complaining that it's too cold
I was watching the show "Ancient Aliens" on the History Channel while editing my last photo gig and was amazed at how many folks from the olden days had stories of seeing alien being and/or spacecraft. But then I wondered how many of them may have just been on something since drugs weren't illegal then
By the way, the shoot from that day was pretty dang amazing if I must say so myself. I used one of my fave pics from the day as the photo for this entry to prove it
One of the biggest minuses with working from home is the hours I keep. I tend to start early and end late. That 14-hour work day that I put in on Thursday was a harsh reminder of that
I updated my profile on Model Mayhem but I'm still not completely convinced of the usefulness of that site. I've been out there for several months now and have had exactly one person contact me via that site interested in doing a shoot
Hung on as long as I could but it looks like it's time to let the hair go and go back to the bald fade. *talking to the hair follicles* You had a good ride, fellas
Dear Words With Friends: "Jedi" is too a word. Update your dictionary again
Neither of my sons like anything DC. I don't get it. I grew up on both Marvel AND DC
I know it's just preseason but I'm getting tired of seeing my Chiefs get their butts kicked
They're remaking "The Thing" AGAIN?? Why? The one with Kurt Russell was already perfect
Glad to hear that Janet Jackson's show at the State Fair was a success. That's a huge feather in the Fair's cap. Don't know how they're going to top that now unless they manage to somehow wrangle U2
We all know of at least one person who alive today only because you did not want to go to prison
I don't think that there's a day that goes by that I'm not thinking about that portion of the country for one reason or another. All I have to do is watch the news and there is something that brings them up. These days, it's the news of Hurricane Irene wreaking havoc over there. There's just always soemthign that keeps that side of the country fresh in my mind whether I want it to be or not. Whether it's good news or bad. Which prompted me to shoot out a quick entry about one midwesterners thoughts about that particular region.
First of all, I should clarify when I refer to it as a "region". I'm really not referring to the entire East coast. I have friends that are being affected by the hurricane as far south as the Carolinas. Naturally I know that they are also considered part of the East coast. However, I am referring to that particular area which normally gets the most attention. That would be the larger metropolitan cities over there such as New York and D.C. Well...really New York in particular.
I sure would like to know what those folks over there did to piss off Mother Nature. I would say God since we all know that He controls the elements and not this mythical Mother Nature, but I didn't want to sound blasphemous. Still, it seems like they can't catch a break in the weather department. And it's ALL. YEAR. ROUND. They get hammered with snow storms in the winter, heat waves in the summer and now hurricanes as we approach fall. They just can't catch a break. I used to think it was bad dealing with this midwest weather until I kept seeing what they had to contend with.
Then I see in the news that they're starting to have even bigger problem with their rats. It's bad enough that there's a rat problem in the first place. Just that alone is nasty. But when they make news because the rats are getting bigger? Yeah...that about makes my stomach turn. It makes me wonder what kind of money an exterminator in that area makes. Whatever it is would be worth it. And I don't mean the ones with the cushy jobs that get called out to the rich folks' homes to spray for spiders and such monthly. I mean the ones that are brave enough to take on those rats head on.
There is also the whole cost of living problem that has been there for the longest. It is not cheap to live in that region at all. A cheap apartment (which will probably involve the aforementioned rat problem) cost as much as what we pay for mortgage payments here. If you want to drive somewhere you have to worry about outrageous parking garage fees (if you can even find a spot to park) plus the steep gas to put in your tank. Or you could just take a cab and go broke from trip that only takes you a few miles.
Even with all this, I continually see things that make it seem like living over there would be the ultimate party. Look at shows like "Friends" and "Seinfeld" where they always give the appearance big city life is full of neverending laughs and excitement around every corner. Shows like that and "King of Queens" consistently depict the lighthearted side that makes you want to live there. Of course I know it's not going to be that rosy, I'm just saying that they do a good job of making it seem that way.
The reality is I definitely wouldn't mind visiting for extended time periods if I had the time and/or resources to do so. I'm sure anyone who grew up in that region has a strong enough affinity for it to endorse it as the place to be. However, having grown up in areas where I have never had to deal with some of those East coast problems, I'm not in any hurry to make the East coast a permanent home. I'll stick to watching the shows about it and imagining how it could be.
Yeah I know it's old by now since it was one of the original Super Bowl spots from earlier this year, but it still cracks me up. Sometimes it's just the little things like flashing back on commericals like these that helps get me thru the day...
Hollywood thinks they're slick. When this movie hit theaters it was released at the same time as Tyler Perry's latest Madea joint. So we go months without getting a movie with a Black cast in theaters then they mess around and put two out at the same time. They know folks can't afford to go to the movies like we used to so we're forced to choose. Then before you know it they're both gone from theaters, they don't make the money as they should have and it gives them an excuse to say "See..we told you those movies don't make money". Well I hate to say it but it worked on me because I didn't get a chance to see other until this dvd release. But I made sure this was the first of the two that I checked out.
The story of "Jumping the Broom" is one that we have seen plenty of times. Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) comes from a family that has always been well off. It's not that her fiancee Jason Taylor's (Laz Alonzo) family is hood, they're just of average means which doesn't always mesh well with the boushee folks. So when the two different backgrounds converge on Martha's Vineyard for the couple's nuptials there is naturally going to be a culture clash that is the driving theme of the movie.
As much as they could have made this very stereotypical given the very trite plot, I will give them credit for throwing in a couple of surprises. For instance the strained relationship between Sabrina's mother played by Angela Bassett and her husband (Brian Stoke Mitchell). It could have been a very formulaic problem, but it turned out it wasn't quite so simple. It was a small victory but still noticed.
What I wasn't feeling was the whole cougar thing going on with Shonda (Tasha Smith) and Sebastian (Lil Romeo). There were just so many things wrong with that. We've just seen her in too many headstrong roles to know that she wouldn't be the type to fall for no little boys. She can't shake that typecast. And if by some stroke of luck that she would do that, would it really be someone like Lil Romeo? The reason I continue to still call him "Lil" is because Master P's son still look like he's 12. I can't see Tasha dating someone that looks like a prepubescent kid no matter how mature they act.
I really wasn't a fan of Patton's character either. We've seen her deliver some strong performances so we know she can come with depth when she has to. And true...this particular character wasn't meant to be one of those stirring dramatic roles. But the manner in which she went thru most of the movie with the deer-in-the-headlights persona was more than annoying.
I think Loretta Devine must be resigned to the fact that she is destined to play mother roles from here on out. Not just mother roles either. The strong matriarch type where the WHOLE family looks up to her. I seriously don't think casting agents look anywhere else when they are looking for such a part. I guess there's really no reason to when there are only a two or three new Black movies that come to theaters a year.
Unfortunately, they really didn't break a whole lot of new ground with "Jumping the Broom". As I mentioned, the storyline is about as unoriginal as they come. I'm sure it was a struggle for them to keep it from being too stereotypical. Their efforts to avoid that could have been better spent on coming up with an overall more original concept.
There are some days I really struggle to come up with an entry for this weekly post. I may let some of the other weekly entries like the Bungles or the Throwback slide from time to time but not this one. It's mainly because I'm a little anal retentive. I can't go two weeks in a row seeing the same picture in that little Vault Pick of the Week area to the right. And in order to change it I need a new entry. So it forces me to stay on top of this one.
The problem is I have had SO many amazing picks over the years that the field to pick from is getting smaller and smaller. There can only be so many great movies out there, right? Can there really be that many classics? Well I guess there could be but then you also have to consider they have to be flicks that I have also seen. That's cutting down the list even more. I know I've seen a ton of films in a lifetime but there's also a ton I haven't seen. And it's not like I'm out there trying to play catch-up.
So since the list is getting smaller, I decided to go back and check out some of my early selections. There were several that I didn't give the proper respect they deserved. Partially because I was just starting out and I was a bit anxious in my writing. I didn't take the time to give a little more insight as to why they were made a Vault Pick. "Major Payne" was one of those.
The first time I saw this one, I wasn't majorly (all puns intended) impressed with it. Not sure why because I have been a Damon Wayans fan ever since the days of when he had tiny roles in flicks like "Roxanne" (which needs to be getting Vault Pick status very soon). It was when my then brother-in-law started harping on it that I started really paying attention to it and how saw how good it was. I watched it again and couldn't believe I had the nerve to ever doubt it's hilarity.
The best parts were when Major Payne (Wayans) was relaying his incredulous war stories to whomever was listening. Whether they wanted to hear them or not. Plus it was the manner in which he told them that made them so funny. A combination of the ridiculous voice Payne has, his mannerisms, patterned colloquialisms and facial expressions that combined together perfectly. If anyone was telling me any type of story in that manner I wouldn't be able to keep myself from laughing. I don't know how the actors playing opposite Wayans were able to maintain straight faces.
Then it was also the way in which Payne interacted with the kids. He was the epitome of a fish out of water as he had NO parental-type skills at all. All they were was tiny adults to him. They were subject to just as much sarcasm and/or ridicule that he would lavish on anyone else. Case in point was when he first dealt with the deaf kid. One of the best scenes in the movie. It should be wrong to be laughing at it but you just can't help it.
I could never understand is why Karyn Parsons couldn't get more roles in films. She came from one of the most popular Black sitcoms ever so she was well known. She even did a decent enough job here. As much as she could while constantly being upstaged by a stellar Wayans performance. Yet no one could hook her up with more work? It's a shame that someone of her caliber really only has "Major Payne" as her one big screen success. But at least if that is the only one she'll ever have then it was a great one.
Ultimately, this flick is really all about Damon. To this date he has still never made a better movie. Sure the storyline is absolutely abysmal and predictable, but there are so many classic quotes that come from this one that I've lost count. If you're not a fan of senseless comedy then you won't and/or didn't enjoy "Major Payne". However, any fan of movies that make you laugh will find "Major Payne" a must-have.
Few people were able to come thru with a smash the way that this cat did. Unfortunately, he came from an era when writers got very little accolades so not many folks knew that he and his wife were the ones behind some of Motown's big hits. Now one of the greats is no longer with us.
R&B legend Nick Ashford passed away in a New York hospital succumbing to his battle with throat cancer. He was 70-years-old.
My first recollection of Mr. Ashford was when I first saw that "Solid" video on Video Soul on BET back in the 80s. That's back when BET wasn't on 24-hours yet and that two hour video show was the only real opportunity we got to see videos for Black artists not named Michael Jackson. I fell in love with the song instantly. There was one thing I never could shake from my mind though: why did dude look like the lion man from "The Wiz"?
For a while there I thought that Nick's look was just a guise for performing. It didn't take long for me to realize that it wasn't. The long curly hair and big goatee were his signature image. So then I started thinking that maybe the people who designed the lion man for "The Wiz" got their inspiration from him.
I actually didn't discover until even later on what a huge factor Nick had been in the world of R&B music. It was also during the 80s that I started paying more attention to all the great music that had come from Motown. I had no idea that Nick and his wife Valerie Simpson were responsible for some of their best cuts like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" and "I'm Every Woman". So yeah...having them pen a hit was a solid guarantee that it would be memorable.
Of course we can't forget Nick's epic performance in the former Vault Pick "New Jack City". Yes it was a shame that he had to play a corrupt minister but at least he was doing his thing. It was well into the 90s and he was still finding a way to be relevant beyond just his music. I couldn't hate on that at all.
The odd thing was I was just thinking about Ashford and Simpson the other day. I was trying to think of obscure 80s hits that didn't get a lot of airplay here and "Solid" came to mind. Naturally that had me wondering whatever became of the two of them. I never thought that one of them was dealing with the worst kind of cancer a singer could get. At least now he's no longer in pain.
Thank you for all of the R&B greatness you left us, Mr. Ashford. Rest in peace.