Movies+Beer: ZOMBIELAND 2 Doubletap

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zombieland 2

Ten years after the first Zombieland hit theaters, we finally get the sequel they’ve been threatening to make. Join James and Exalted Geeks Brian, Sarah, Everett, Jessie and Jacob as we discuss what is basically America’s answer to Shaun Of The Dead, and whether double tapping the franchise was a good thing, or if they should have left the corpse lay…

Movie Review: LOQUEESHA

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loqueeshaIndie Rights / Amazon Prime Video
2019
NR

Back in the mid-90s, during the first season of sketch comedy show MadTV, there was a sketch entitled “That’s My White Mama”. It was played as a sitcom that featured Artie Lange being possessed by the ghost of an African American woman that he accidentally killed in an automobile accident, so now he dressed and acts like the typical sitcom sassy black woman and hijinks ensue. It’s about as cringe-inducing as it sounds. You take that sketch, take away the supernatural possession angle, and bond it with the script for the Dolly Parton movie Straight Talk, along with a dash of the 80s blackface “comedy” Soul Man, and you’ve more or less have this dumpster fire that is Loqueesha.

I don’t just throw around the epitaph of “dumpster fire” lightly. And it’s not like I went into this movie not thinking this wasn’t going to be a bad movie. I just had no idea at what level we were looking at. And it’s not just the premise of a white man pretending to be a black woman and being successful at it. I’ll get to that in a moment, though.

I would have not known this movie even existed, if it weren’t for a Trailer Reaction video made by Brad “The Cinema Snob” Jones on YouTube. Apparently, the trailer itself caused quite a bit of a controversial stir, and although it secured a theatrical release date, that studio decided to drop the movie all together once the angry social media blitzstorm began hitting the fan. So, it was dropped off directly onto Amazon’s Prime Video streaming, where I’m surprised it hasn’t been pulled already. But, again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Point is, after watching that trailer reaction, I was far too morbidly curious to check out Loqueesha to just pass up the opportunity to watch it when I discovered its release on Prime Video. Thanks, Mr. Jones.

The rundown of this flick is, there’s a guy named Joe who is a bartender that has a talent of despising sage advice to the patrons who wander into said bar. He’s constantly told that he should use his advice-giving talent to make oodles of money, but being the humble guy that he is, he always downplays that idea, content with being a simple barkeep. Until, that is, one day he’s told by his ex-wife that his son is brilliant and is transferring to a private school for really smart kids, and he has to come up with the money to keep up with the higher tuition. So, he tries to get a job as a radio talk show host, only nobody wants plain ol’ vanilla Joe. So he then makes a demo reel of him pretending to be a sassy black woman named Loqueesha, and that’s what gets him hired to do a show…as Loqueesha. Only, no one–except for his producer–knows that Loqueesha isn’t real. Or a white guy. So then, wackiness ensues as he tries to balance his secret with his sudden fame, all the while dishing out the sassiest and sagest advice to a growing listenership as only Loqueesha can. Is he able to maintain this facade? No…as the person they hired to appear as Loqueesha in public appearances and billboards attempts to blackmail him, he quits, the show tanks with the other Loqueesha, and he comes back after coming clean with his listenership, then gets an additional show as his real self while still doing Loqueesha.

There. I just saved you the trouble of having to watch this movie to find out what happens. You’re welcome.

Look, I’m not even going to touch the obvious elephant in the room with this movie. I’m all for edgy social commentary satires…when they’re done right. Or at least competently. All I’m going to say is that Loqueesha attempts to make a statement but falls flat on its face after a few steps in.That would be bad enough; however, things are complicated even more when you factor in that the guy behind all of this–Jeremy Saville–not only wrote the script, but directed and starred as the lead protagonist Joe. Taking the Tommy Wiseau route to making a movie rarely bodes well for the quality to begin with; on Loqueesha, it’s evident that Saville considers himself far more talented and funny than he really is.

The jokes just aren’t funny, the editing is hacky, the acting on the level of an early-90s TGIF sitcom (Full House level, maybe the first season of Family Matters, before Urkel took over), and the effects uses had the quality of someone just learning Adobe Acrobat. When the movie did illicit a laugh out of me, it was from laughing at the movie, not with it. Like when the actor playing the “live appearance Loqueesha” said to Joe, “I guess you’re a better black woman than I am.” I would have loved to have been on set the day that scene was filmed, just to see what happened after that line was read. And how many takes they had to do. I would have never made it with a straight face, personally, had I been in her shoes.

Overall, Loqueesha is just a bad movie on so many levels. I can’t even recommend this as a So-Bad-It’s-Good level. Pass on this one…

Movie Review: The LAST LOVECRAFT

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last lovecraft, theOutlaw Films
2009
NR

Jeff, a down on his luck office worker, finds out he is the last living relative of horror novelist H. P. Lovecraft. What he doesn’t know is that Lovecraft’s monsters are real and will soon threaten the very existence of mankind. Jeff and his best friend Charlie are forced to embark on a perilous adventure and they enlist the help of high school acquaintance Paul, a self-proclaimed Lovecraft specialist. Together the three unlikely heroes must protect an alien relic and prevent the release of an ancient evil known as Cthulhu.

I first came across The Last Lovecraft, subtitle Relic Of Cthulhu, on Netflix back in 2011. I recall watching about half before falling asleep. That had more to do with my level of exhaustion at the time than any kind of boredom with watching the movie. I didn’t wake up until the end credits were almost finished, and I didn’t really feel like going through the movie again. It was a few years after the fact that I got around to a rewatch. this time I managed ot stay awake for the entire run.

So, what we have with The Last Lovecraft is something of a dark comedy horror fantasy that has its black ichor-d heart in the right place, but kind of struggles the dismount. Being a fan of H. P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos, I wanted to really like this movie. It does have some interesting ideas going, and the main human characters are affable enough. But, where they really go wrong is the depiction of Starspawn and the Deep Ones themselves. They’re kinda goofy. But, then again that may have been due to budgetary restraints. Still, to see a general of Cthulhu wearing a hoodie and affecting a thug stance is…well, it doesn’t lend itself to awe and terror, really. The story is your standard Adventurer’s Journey that we’ve been through before, nothing too innovative with that.

Again, I really wanted to like The Last Lovecraft. I really did. But, even though I didn’t unlike the movie, it ended up being more “meh” than I hoped it would be. I’ll admit that it at least doesn’t try to insult anyone’s intelligence by trying to be something else. It’s worth a look, at least.

Movie Review: BE KIND, REWIND

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be kind rewind movie posterNew Line
2008
PG-13

“The past belongs to us, and we can change it.”

 

Amateur film director Mike must find a way to save the local video store business after his magnetized friend Jerry erases every movie in the store. Using an outdated video camera and their own special effects, the two embark on an adventure to remake all the movies, from Ghostbusters to Driving Miss Daisy, turning the two town misfits into local celebrities.

I recall watching a preview for Be Kind, Rewind that was stuck at the beginning of another movie I rented. DVDs used to have this annoying thing where they made you watch the previews before getting to the main movie menu. The preview for this movie was on there, ad it did pique my interest. Though, what the preview showed made Be Kind, Rewind seem like a wacky comedy where Jack Black gets the super power of accidentally erasing videotapes. So, a few months later, I see this title at the Family Video store, and I decide to pick it up to check it out.

So, here we have another instance where the preview is rather misleading. It happens more often than not, especially when you mostly delve into independent type movies like I do. The distributing company needs to catch the eye of the potential customer, you know. Here, while Jack Black’s character of Jerry does get into a bit of a mishap where he’s temporarily a human electro-magnet, something that understandably doesn’t come in handy when you’re working at a VHS movie rental shop, that is just the catalyst for the main premise of the movie itself. Namely, the two friends banding together to try and replace the entire stock of VHS format movies in the store the only way they know how: by filming no-budget versions themselves, and passing them off as the “sweded version” of the otherwise better-known Hollywood flick. Somehow, this actually works, and the customers actually end up preferring the sweded versions over the originals. Of course, the big Hollywood suits catch wind of this chicanery, and they step in to stop what they’re doing, and now it’s one of those Little Guy Vs. The Big Corporate Jerks type of movie.

Really, as an indie quirky comedy flick, Be Kind, Rewind works pretty well. Of course, if you’re going into this expecting one of those low-brow type comedies that Jack Black’s been in previously, you might not get it at first, like I did initially. But, once you realize this movie was made by the guy who brought us Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (another movie starring a comedian playing an unconventional role), things begin to click, and you can enjoy Be Kind, Rewind for what it is: A movie about imagination, heart, and creating something with what you have. Also, this is a movie with Sigourney Weaver. Mmmmm, Sigourney Weaver. Recommended.

Movie Review: TOYS

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Toys movie poster20th Century Fox
1992
PG-13

“Oh, yeah! I love jokes. I love all kinds of jokes. But, you knwo what I don’t like? I don’t like people trying to kill me, hurting my family and my friens, and destroying the whole world as I know it. That just doesn’t sit well with me.”

Robin Williams stars as Leslie Zevo, a fun-loving adult who must save his late father’s toy factory from his evil uncle, a war-loving general who builds weapons disguised as toys. Aided by his sister and girlfriend, Leslie sets out to thwart his uncle and restore joy and innocence to their special world.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, Robin Williams proved himself as more than just a comedian in the acting department. He did have dramatic roles early on in his career, but he really didn’t hit his stride until the later part of the 80s onward, in my not-so-humble opinion. I had caught his turn in Dead Poets Society, then caught one of the more underrated Peter Pan adaptations released, Hook, and then his blowup voice work in Aladdin. When the movie Toys was released in late 1992, I held off of watching it in the theater like the afore-mentioned movies. Mainly because I had just transitioned from High School Student to Welcome To The Real World schlub that very year, and wasn’t really seeing a lot of movies in the theater at the time. Not unless it involved a date. Which I did once in a while. Ah, memories.

Anyway, I ended up renting Toys the summer after it was first released, from the small-town gas station that happened to have a small selection of VHS tapes for renting, and watched it at my grandparent’s place. It was…something.

I don’t think I was ready for what Toys ended up being. I don’t think anybody was, really. Even with his award-winning dramatic performances, the name Robin Williams attatched to a movie makes one think of a comedy. Maybe not always a wacky laugh-a-minute kind of comedy, but comedy none-the-less. Even with his dramatic rolls, Williams always had that kind of quirkiness that was uniquely his. The same can be said for his roll in Toys, but this may be an instance where his unique quirkiness couldn’t salvage the hot mess that this movie is.

The best way to describe Toys is a surreal stream of conscience. It tries to go for a whimsical undertone, but it doesn’t really work as well as Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfield had done previous. Maybe they were trying to go for a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, only with a toy factory and half the charm. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a movie that costarred rapper L. L. Cool J. (that honor goes to the Michael J. Fox / James Woods dud The Hard Way…which I now realize I’ll have to drudge up from my memory banks to do a review of one of these days); here, he plays the adopted son of the evil brother of the owner of the toy factory. He is…adequate. As is everyone, really, if you want to put a fine point on it. If there was one aspect of Toys that I can point to that I liked, that would be Joan Cusack’s character. Mainly because I’m morbidly drawn to weird characters like the one she played here.

Overall, I don’t consider Toys to be a bad movie. It’s just weird and off-putting in not a very good way. I came away from this movie a bit more confused and depressed than I think the movie was trying to go for. It’s worth checking out, just out of curiosity. But beyond that, I don’t see watching this again any time soon.

Movie Review: REALITY BITES

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reality bitesUniversal
1994
PG-13

“At the beep, please leve your name, number, and a brief justification for the ontological necessity of modern man’s existential dilemma, and we’ll get back to you.”

A small circle of friends suffering from post-collegiate blues must confront the hard truth about life, love and the pursuit of gainful employment. As they struggle to map out survival guides for the future, the Gen-X quartet soon begins to realize that reality isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Ah, the 1990s. The decade of pretentiousness, covered with a shellac of false altruism. The time of the late 20th Century where cynicism became a fashion accessory, and everyone became willfully ignorant of their own rank hypocrisy. And the music sucked, too.

That is to say, there’s not a lot about the 1990s that hold fond memories for me. Maybe the first two years or so–’90 thru ’92–but that was when the decade was young and still shaking off the hangover from the ’80s. Otherwise, regardless of being part of the so-called “Generation X” that the news media foisted upon our age group, I still scratch my head whenever I hear someone claim that the ’90s was the greatest decade of the 20th Century. There were some bright spots, certainly, but overall, no thanks.

Which brings me to this review of the movie Reality Bites. I had originally watched this movie in the second-run theater, back in 1994, when the ticket price there was $1.50, and a small bag of popcorn ran about $5. After watching it, I was rather ambivalent as to whether I liked it or not. Essentially, my thought process was along the lines of, “Well, it was a movie, by golly.”

Revisiting Reality Bites twenty-five years after the fact, I still find myself rather unmoved with the movie. At best, Reality Bites is essentially a long episode of Friends without the wit or humor and interesting characters. The irony being that Friends debuted a few months later that same year. At worst, this is an uninteresting dramady that tries a bit too hard to be smart, relying on the kind of insipid bumper sticker philosophies that was rampant in that decade. Not that things have changed much nowadays, mind you.

Overall, Reality Bites is the perfect encapsulation of everything I despised about the ’90s. I’m sure there are those who disagree. I’m sure you look on this decade–and this movie–with fondness. You might want to have those nostalgia cataracts removed from your memory, there.

Uncle NecRo Watches: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

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Uncle NecRo is joined by Brian from the Will Code For Beer pubcast in watching the sequel to Happy Death Day, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U. Did he loath it as much as the first one? Did the movie actually pull off the impossible and made him like it? It’s…complicated. Let’s just say that, this is the first Uncle NecRo Watches that made him get a beer for the pubcast…

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