FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Rob Reiner |||
Rob Reiner

Son of comic genius Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner has picked up the family torch and directed some of the most memorable, quotable, and endearing comedies of the last two decades, and he’s no schmuck when it comes to dramas either.

This is a hilarious spoof filled with biting satire about a filmmaker making a documentary (or “rockumentary” if you will) about a once famous raucous British heavy metal band on a disastrous U.S concert tour, featuring the magnificent talents of co-stars/co-scripters Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. This granddaddy of the mocumentary speaks to the hard rockin’, air guitar playing 14-year-old boy in us all.

In this low-key sleeper hit based on a Stephen King story four young boys in 1959 Oregon set out on a camping trip in order to see a dead body one of them accidentally found. This is a loving memoir to a simpler time with an exceptionally talented young cast tentatively taking the steps on a road that leads to maturity.

Reiner turns a wry, even caustic, eye on men and women in friendship and in love, and that gray area in between. This is an engaging and smartly performed comedy about a pair of longtime platonic friends who turn a feud into a lasting friendship, determined not to let sex mess up a great relationship, until love threatens to ruin everything.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

Advertisement

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

By BrianOrndorf

March 24th, 2004

"Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" picks up exactly where the original "Doo" film left off in 2002: as a brutal cinematic experience that is disrespectful to the source material, contains needless drug references and endless flatulence jokes, and is a generally unpleasant experience all around. Save for Linda Cardellini's winning portrayal of Velma, there's no reason for anyone to step back in the "Doo" for another adventure.


The opening of the new Coolsville Museum of Ghosts has brought out its main donors: the gang of Mystery, Inc. As Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr., driving the ascot joke into the ground), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Cardellini, the only thing worthwhile in these films), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, unforgivable), and bumbling canine Scooby-Doo make their way around the artifacts from their previous cases, a new, mysterious threat crashes the party and announces his intentions to destroy the town with a new outbreak of ghosts. With a cantankerous local (Peter Boyle), the museum curator (Seth Green), and a nosy, continually slanderous news reporter (Alicia Silverstone) as the main suspects, the gang set out to gather clues and help prevent a tidal wave of trouble when the ghosts start taking over their beloved town.

While there was an ocean of ideas and performances to hate about 2002’s detestable “Scooby-Doo,” one of my biggest complaints was that the film was taking a cartoon, turning it into a live-action feature film, then proceeding to make a cartoon of it again, complete with Toontown-appropriate sound effects. Where’s the sense in that? “Scooby-Doo 2” picks up exactly where the last film left off: at the bottom of the family film creativity barrel. But “Doo 2” actually accomplishes the unthinkable, and is perceptively worse than its predecessor.

There’s not much substance to the new “Doo” adventure. With the characters already established, along with Scooby’s crappy CG look (with Scoobs looking NOTHING like his cartoon incarnation) found in the first film, returning writer James Gunn (the current “Dawn of the Dead”) and director Raja Gosnell show a great deal more confidence in terms of exploring the Coolsville world a little more intricately this time around. “Doo 2” is less of a sequel and more of a fully realized Gunn and Gosnell “Doo” adventure, where the original film was constantly unsure whether its bizarre aesthetic would translate to mass audiences.

With that newfound confidence comes belief that the undemanding comedy bits that destroyed the fun factor of the first, and admittedly profitable, “Doo” are the true selling points of the franchise. Forget that the beloved cartoon never stooped low to entertain kids. The PG rated “Doo 2” is steeped in smashed testicle gags, vomiting, another alcoholism-inducing round of endless flatulence humor (guess how the fire-breathing ghost is dispatched?), and two very unfortunate and unnecessary drug references that make me just flat-out angry at James Gunn for including such needless subtext.

“Mommy, why is Shaggy sucking on a whip-cream can?” That’s right, parents, get ready to explain whippets to your children.

“Doo 2” is reliably low-ball in every aspect of production (who does this serve?), including unattractive set design, dreadful special effects (again, why does Scooby look nothing like his cartoon counterpart?), and just piles on the volume and random ghosts when true inventiveness has been depleted. The two “Doo” films are aimed at children, but it’s a weak argument to dismiss them in such a fashion. These are vile productions that tarnish the image of the original Hannah-Barbera cartoons, as well as lower the bar for tastelessness in family entertainment. Not even a Scooby Snack could fix this crud.

My rating: D-