She’s the Man

She's the ManAmanda Bynes, before she seemed to follow the path of Lindsay Lohan, was one of my favorite actresses and her movies always made me believe that normal people could have extraordinary things happen to them in their lives.

Like getting to make out with Channing Tatum.

She's the Man 4She’s the Man is a hilarious movie with a true and powerful moral, just because you’re a “girl” doesn’t mean you can’t play with the big boys. When Viola Hastings learns that the girls’ soccer team will be cut she decides to try out for the boy’s team, only to be flatly refused by the sexist coach. To add insult to injury her boyfriend, Justin (Robert Hoffman), recants on all of the things he told her about how good she She's the Man 1was (including that she was better than half of the boy’s on their team), Viola comes up with the logical plan of taking on her twin brother’s identity. This is made possible, initially, because Sebastian (James Kirk) is already playing on their parent’s divorce to go to London for a music contest and asks her to pretend to be mom and say he’s sick. Viola’s plan is far more entertaining of course, so she enlists the aid of her stylist, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) and goes to Illyria as Sebastian.

She's the Man 2It is here that Viola, as Sebastian, meets Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum) and his friends Toby (Brandon Jay McLaren) and Andrew (Clifton Murray) who are all on the soccer team. On her first day as Sebastian, she also meets the beautiful, perfect, and intelligent Olivia (Laura Ramsay). With a few more characters, as such as the bitchy Monique (Alex Breckenridge) and the awkward Eunice (Emily Perkins) we can now officially enter the love dodecahedron. And this is one that could give Degrassi a run for it’s money.

She's the Man 5Viola likes Duke who thinks she’s Sebastian, so he’s crushing hard on Olivia who is in love (or something) with Sebastian who is really Olivia who is trying to avoid Monique who is Sebastian’s (the real one) ex-girlfriend and so Viola (as Sebastian) must avoid Olivia’s affections because she wants to be on the soccer team but she (Viola) is now crushing hard on Duke who thinks she’s Sebastian. There. Did that all make sense?

On top of the twin switch, Viola must contend with her mother and her strange obsession with ignoring everything that Viola actually loves to do in favor of debutant brunches and cotillions. Viola must meet all of her commitments as Viola while still trying to prove that she is more than capable of being on the boy’s team at Illyria.

She's the Man 6Throw in a couple of fights and you have yourself an entertaining evening. This is a comedy of epic proportions that makes me absolutely hope that Amanda Bynes goes back into acting, she’s good at it and she should never stop doing it.

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Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus 7What started out as a Disney Channel Original Movie would be viewed by executives as a goldmine and turned into a theatrical release that is now shown on ABC Family’s Thirteen Nights of Halloween every single year.

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Hocus Pocus 9Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are the Sanderson Sisters (Winifred, Mary, and Sarah specifically) and are finally revealed to be witches who must eat children every once in a while to maintain their power and beauty. Unfortunately, after kidnapping Emily Binx one year her brother Thackery (Sean Murray of NCIS fame) refuses to let them have her and goes to save her. But while he is too late to save his sister his sacrifice is what leads the sisters to being hanged by the townspeople. Of course, since they’re actual witches, they cast a spell that prophesies a virgin lighting a candle that resurrects them at some point in the future.

Hocus Pocus 2Rather than burn the house down, no doubt because they might have a virgin do it of course, the house is left standing in Salem, Massachusetts as a museum commemorating the Salem Witch Trials. Smart. Thackery (Voiced by Jason Marsden) sits over the house for all time, having been cursed into the form of a black cat and unable to die and rejoin his sister in heaven. One day, the Dennison Family move to Salem Dave, the dad (Charles Rocket) and Jenny, the mom (Stephanie Faracy) are hoping that getting away from Los Angeles will do something for their teenaged son Max (Omri Katz) and their young daughter Dani (Thora Birch). Because that always works out so well.

(GERMANY OUT) Hocus Pocus Kathy Najimy, Thora Birch, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler Auch Dani (Thora Birch,m), die Schwester von Max, brauchen die Hexen Mary (Kathy Majimy,l), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) und Winifred (Bette Midler,r) zum Leben. (Photo by United Archives/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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Its Halloween in Salem and as Max finds himself crushing hard on Allison (Vinessa Shaw) in class and, after randomly accidentally ending up in her house while taking his sister trick or treating, he tries to impress her with his nonbelief in the Sanderson Sister myth. Funnily enough, from a Disney film, Max is revealed to be a virgin after lighting the candle and resurrecting the three witches who now must complete their goal or be left for dead for real this time. Hocus Pocus is a Halloween-theme movie and it takes great pleasure in this aspect of itself. With an ensemble cast consisting of three actresses most everyone knows and a few names who would go on to do important things, this film was an instant cult classic.

Hocus Pocus 5One other standout cast member who shows up partway through the film is the undead Billy Butcherson (played by Doug Jones). As Winifred’s ex-lover, caught in a tryst with Sarah of course, his death and subsequent loyalty to Winifred play out as one would expect.

The movie takes jabs at Christianity, somewhat subtly, and it truly plays up the belief that witches are servants of the devil for all that it is worth. Because it’s a comedy, it has the ability to do so and still take itself seriously when it needs to, and while it’s a children’s film it has elements of horror that are surprising for a children’s film, as well as a Disney film.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.The Man from U.N.C.L.E. while not as wildly successful as it could have been was, in my opinion, an awesome movie that was truly underappreciated. No doubt for the intensely blatant innuendo of a gay relationship that, sadly, didn’t actually exist between the two main characters.

D4D_3324.dngStaring Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, the CIA and KGB’s best agents respectively in 1963. Both are known for dubious actions but are, for the most part, intensely loyal to their countries. They first meet in Berlin when they are sent after the same woman, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) for the same reason. Gaby’s father, an important person in the development of nuclear weapons, has gone missing and is believed to have been taken by the cunning villainess Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki). Both are told to do the same thing, reclaim the Dr.’s research and eliminate the other in order to make sure that it doesn’t fall into enemy hands.

I’ve mentioned, to many people, that this movie could have easily slashed Debicki and Vikander from the film and I would have been completely fine. Both women, while playing D3S_2026.DNGhugely important roles in the plot are simply negligible to the relationship between Cavill and Hammer’s characters. The sexual innuendo is ever-present and the sexual tension is practically palpable throughout the film. Aside from being the basis for the entire plot (Gaby Teller) and the one running the show (Victoria The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 8Vinciguerra) both women also serve to remind us that Solo and Kuryakin are one hundred percent heterosexual. Can you imagine a big budget film with two white male leads actually being heterosexual without sex having to be used to remind us? Oh you can? Oh that’s right, we use sex to make sure you understand that a character is not heterosexual! Aside from that, their relationship starts out hostile (as can be The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 1expected of enemy spies who have tried to kill one another in the recent past) but over time Solo and Kuryakin learn important, intimate really, details about one another that evolves their relationship over the course of the film. If it weren’t for that whole “I want to blow up the world for reasons that don’t make sense other than I’m certain it will somehow net me a profit” thing, than the relationship between the The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 10two spies would have been the entire plot. And I would have had absolutely no problem with that. I think the movie would have been far more satisfactory if that had been the case but it was still in awesome movie. It had high comedy points while at the same time it always was able to deliver on the drama of the situation that the trio were in. It pays direct homage to the television series it was based on and has a fantastic love affair with the sixties, especially fashion and style. All in all, this is a movie that you should sit down and enjoy without delay. I know I’m going to.

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm StreetA Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t my favorite horror film, I don’t even think it’s on the list of slasher films I enjoy. But it has an interesting concept, developed characters, and like Psycho it pulls one of the biggest twits on the audience with the role of Tina.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5We are introduced to an interesting, scared young girl named Tina (Amanda Wyss) who has been having horrible dreams of a burned man with a claw-hand chasing her. Unfortunately, little does she know, this man is actually real and a danger to her. Truly afraid she has her boyfriend and two friends sleep over with her and that night her dreams take a drastic turn for the worst when she is brutally killed all about her room in a manner that would leave CSI baffled and probably should have precluded her boyfriend from being a suspect.

With no one believing Rod (Nick Corri), Tina’s boyfriend, he is arrested and Nancy and Glen (Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp respectively) are skeptical as things start to get strange around them. By the time Rod has bit the dust in jail, it’s no longer a question of who is killing them but how this person is killing them.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3While I don’t particularly care for Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) I can safely admit that he makes up a part of the trifect of serial killers that are most famous in the slasher genre, including Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers (With Leatherface sometimes around for the ride and sometimes conflated with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2Jason despite the fact that Jason has never once used a chainsaw). His series has a unique concept, something other slasher films can’t say or blatantly pirated from one of the four killers just mentioned. Supernatural, determined, laced with quips, and a weapon that makes me question his manhood much like Kia did in Freddy vs Jason. Of course it didn’t really end well for her.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4Slasher films are a huge part of our culture and because of that they have fallen into disrepair over the years. We no longer want new and original concepts but franchise mills that will keep our appetites whetted so we can feel good when we complain about them. I dislike The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise but that doesn’t make it a bad one. It is actually original in concept, features well developed characters in its first installment (something that Friday the 13th can’t share in but Halloween can), and blurred the lines between horror and comedy in a believable fashion that never dulled the wow factor. Then the sequels happened and that is a completely different conversation that we can have later in the month.

For now, it’s October, the month of scary images and tricking of friends and strangers alike. Enjoy the crisp autumn season as it begins to come to a close and hopefully join me in on a Halloween marathon this upcoming October 31st!

Scary Movie

Scary Movie saw fit to make fun of the horror genre and unlike several other films that predated it, it was wildly successful and spawned four sequels of variable likeability.

Scary Movie posterCindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is a direct parody of all of the Final Girls of recent horror films and is hilarious in the process as she tries to survive the machinations of a comedic serial killer. Her boyfriend Bobby Prinze (Jon Abrahams) friends, Buffy Gilmore (Shannon Elizabeth), Brenda Meeks (Regina Hall) and Scary Movie 1their boyfriends Greg Phillipe (Lochlyn Munroe) and Ray Wilkins (Shawn Wayans) are involved in a (not at all) fatal car crash that leaves one man dead (after they’ve hit him with a bottle, dumped him into the ocean, and left him for dead that is) one year ago from when the main story has opened with the unfortunate death of Drew Decker (Carmen Electra) at the hands of her distracted parents. Sure the killer had a hand in it, what with the breast implant stabbing and all, but she was utterly safe until they hit her with their car and left Drew injured enough for the killer to catch up and kill her.

Scary MovieSurprised by this, Cindy wonders if it has anything to do with the man they had killed one year prior as Drew’s death was on the anniversary of this ridiculous crime. Suddenly they are being stalked by a psychopath who knows what they did last summer. Several scenes from iconic horror movies get a rendition in this, from Rose McGowan’s death in the garage in the original Scream to Sarah Scary Movie garageMichelle Gellar’s iconic fight or flight from the fisherman in the original I Know What You Did Last Summer. Keep in mind that Sarah Michelle Gellar managed to get killed in both of those franchises around the time Buffy the Vampire Slayer was trying to deconstruct the blonde victim that slasher films tend to go with quite often.

Scary Movie 2This film is an absolute parody of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer as most of its plot comes from these two films while a smattering of the other details are pulled from various horror films. While the sequels are divisive for one reason or another, my reason stems from the fact that every film after 2 (I enjoy 3 mind you) ignores what worked for the first one. Scary Movie was centered around the plots of the two aforementioned horror films and borrowed tangentially from the others whereas many of the sequels missed the mark on this blending process. The plots worked because they were similar enough that the deviations from one movie to the next made sense. Compare Scary Movie 3 which deviate between The Ring, The Grudge, Signs, and Eight Mile without much care for how these films would work together.

Scary Movie proves that the originals are invariably the best, and this is from a series which parodies films for a living.