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Wet Hot American Summer

That’s not to say that these last few months have been a total wash. “Memento” was finishing its run during the early days of the summer season. “Shrek” was amusing. “Legally Blonde” and “The Others” saved the big studios from total fucking embarassment and the indie scene has given us a plethora of solid entertainment with “Sexy Beast,” “With A Friend Like Harry,” “Made,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and on and on. If it wasn’t for independent cinema I would have had to have cracked open a book or two to entertain myself. And I may have started reading that little golden book sitting on my coffee table this weekend except my second most anticipated movie of the summer finally opened on two, count ’em two, screens in Los Angeles. That’s right. It was time for “Wet Hot American Summer.”

You know how sometimes it seems that a certain movie was made specifically for your For instance, I have a bizarre obsession with the 1950’s and Reese Witherspoon so I was pretty certain that “Pleasantville” would enter my canon before I even entered the fucking theater. Well, “Wet Hot American Summer” seemed like another one of those movies for me. Thanks to a pair non-attentive parents and a stolen VCR I must have watched “Meatballs” around three dozen times in my formative years. Bill Murray was a surrogate uncle for me, Rudy and Spaz my big brothers. I enjoyed the movie tremendously when I was a child and I like it now, but I’m woman enough to realize that it’s pretty stupid. Once I got to high school, every waking hour not spent playing Mortal Kombat II was used exclusively to view and review episode upon episode of MTV’s sketch comedy show “The State”. When I heard that David Wain and Michael Showalter of aforementioned TV show had just made a parody of the whole “Meatballs” genre starring several State alumns and two of my all-time favorite comedy actors, Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce, well, I had to run out and find a homeless no one cared about to fuck to death.

After all of this rabid anticipation, I was finally able to see the film unfurl at the AMC Santa Monica 7 this afternoon and I have to say…it made me feel old.

The movie starts out pretty well. It seems like a smarter, up-to-date version of Meatballs. It’s the last day of summer camp and everybody–campers, counselors, associate professors living next door to the camp–just wants to score before the fall begins. But when Janeane Garofalo’s Beth goes into town to research books on astrophysics (don’t ask), WHAS reveals itself to be a full on throw-every-piece-of-shit-you-can-find-to-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks madcap affair akin to Airplane! There are at least five climaxes, each one lifted from and poking fun at another film from the summer camp-genre and such giggle inducing lines like “Fuck my cock.” But many of the gags overstay their welcome, others are just too weird to be funny and I quickly realized that what I was watching was a bunch of leftover State sketches. And then I also quickly realized that a type of humor I found endlessly hilarious back in high-school had passed me by and became merely chuckle-inducing. Fuck. There is nothing worse than being in your mid-20’s and feeling like the world has passed you by.

Not to say that I wouldn’t recommend the movie. I would. I would even say to see it in the theater so you can get that whole communal laughter thing going. There are moments in it that made me laugh just as hard as some of the shit in “American Pie 2.” I would also say you should see WHAS for Marguerite Moreau who is so incredibly hot I nearly forgot about that homeless guy I left bleeding from the ass in a deserted alley the week before. The lovely Marguerite also has the unenviable job of playing the straight man through most of the picture and she pulls it off admirably. Janeane and Niles are funny as are my boyz from The State Ken (I wanna dip my balls in it) Marino, Michael Ian Black (which I changed from Schwarz because I’m ashamed of being Jewish) and Joe Lo Truglio (who never had any cool catch phrases on the show, but that’s okay because he Joe Lo Fucking Truglio!). Molly Shannon is annoying, but what did you expect from someone who came over from a shitty sketch comedy show. A true revelation, though, is Chris Meloni who must of us know from “Oz” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”. I had no idea this guy could be so funny. When he starts humping a refrigerator I not only laughed, but started being pissed off at Hollywood for not using this guy enough. I look forward to seeing his next comedic role. I also look forward to the next un-official “The State” movie from these guys because “Wet Hot American Summer” does have several things going for it…I just hope the next one has several more.

Rating: B
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Trojan Man Dishes The America’s Sweethearts Behind The Scenes BS

So, the Hollywood hype machine tells us we only have two choices this weekend – “JP3” and “America’s Sweethearts” – and you’re probably wondering how best to waste your hard-earned cash. Well, I’m here to tell you that no amount of pussy you’ll get out of your girl will be worth accompanying her to “America’s Sweethearts.” This is not because I’m betting on “Jurassic Park” to be any good (I know Saint Steven says this one is better than “Lost World,” but all respect, if I sliced off your eyelids then pissed on your baby blues for two hours it would still sting less than seeing a velociraptor go down by way of gymkata). I haven’t even seen “America’s Sweethearts” yet, nor do I plan to. But that’s because I know how “America’s Sweethearts” was born and how it was made.

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Sexy Beast

So far the Summer Movie Season of 2001 has been abysmal. I mean truly awful. Putrid. Abhorrent. Wretched. Instead of the multiplex, I go to the zoo because the monkey shit there makes my eyes sting less than the crap Hollywood dumps on us each weekend. No, I didn’t see “Pearl Harbor.” I didn’t see “Tomb Raider” or “Swordfish.” (Editor’s Note: Sadly, I did see Swordfish. Pray that Dominic Sena is never allowed to expose another frame of celluloid again.) I didn’t because I am of the opinion that when one pays nine bucks to an exhibitor (pronounced: extortionist) one should get something in return. Something more interesting than a brief silhouette of one of Angie’s tats, or two seconds of Halle’s tats, or three goddamn hours of Josh Hartnett’s tats. Jesus Christ, when I want soft core I’ll go to victoriasecret.com. And when I want an engaging emotional experience I usually end in front of the monkey cage at the zoo. But I prefer going to the movies because the popcorn is better.

So my interest was piqued when I heard those mouth-breathing pansies on National Public Radio exclaiming the virtues of “Sexy Beast.” Ray Winstone is great, they said. Ben Kingsley is a revelation. The movie has a solid script backed up by witty directorial touches. Finally a movie that aims for all three organs: the brain, heart and dick. While “Sexy Beast” doesn’t score the hat trick, it does go two for three which isn’t just laudable in this day and age–it’s fucking miraculous. Kingsley plays a guy named Don Logan who I swore was based on my mother. He’s short, mean and says “cunt” a lot. But then I saw Benny do something not even dear old mom could do. He sits completely still, but appears to be in motion. How the hell does he do thatr Sitting in a chair, just looking at somebody and you’d swear he’s going a 100mph. That’s how much energy Kingsley brings to the role. He’ll never be thought of as just Gandhi again and if he doesn’t get a Best Supporting Actor nomination well, that should be the final straw to shut up those fuckwits who still think the Oscars mean anything. Did I say Best Supporting Actorr Oh, yeah, that’s because this movie is Ray Winstone’s. He plays a big, fat retired gangster named Gal who’s enjoying his Spanish villa and ex-porn star wife. He spends most of his days sunning himself near his beloved pool and icing down his balls. Gal’s life is disrupted when Don comes to town to recruit Gal to assist him a safe deposit heist. Gal insists that he is retired, but Don won’t take “no” for an answer. After this movie, Winstone will never be thought of as bastard patriarch from “The War Zone.” He’s like a teddy bear: cuddly, shy and decent. There is more passion and love in the relationship between him and his wife than in a career of J Lo movies and Winstone accomplishes this with one single line reading.

Now, “Sexy Beast” is gong to get compared to the work of Guy Ritchie because it has a bunch of colorful and occasionally funny British-speaking criminals doing colorful occasionally funny British crimes under colorful occasionally funny camera work. There’s one big, big difference, though. Jonathan Glaser, the director of “Sexy Beast,” plays for keeps. His characters aren’t cartoons. They have unfulfilled dreams, emotional wants. They go on journeys and by film’s end are different human beings. The violence in the movie matters. It has consequences. When someone gets shot with a shotgun you see it and it hurts. For these reasons alone “Sexy Beast” is superior to “Snatch” or “LS&2SB.”

Not to say “Sexy Beast” is perfect, however. It only runs 90 minutes, but it’s a long 90 minutes. Mostly because there’s a lot of screen time devoted to the actors looking out just off camera. The clever comedy and stylistic fireworks are few and far between and the last third of the movie (the heist and its aftermath) doesn’t hold very much suspense nor make a lot of sense. In the end “Sexy Beast” engages the soul and mind, but lacks the bells and whistles to service the cock. Maybe tats do count for something. But that’s okay. It was well worth the $5 I handed over to the extortionists. Only one movie in the last six months has been a ten-spot and that’s “Memento.” And if you haven’t seen that yet then, seriously, what the fuck are you doing reading thisr

Rating: B+
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