July 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Home Video

Mike Judge, the prolific animator and voice talent turned filmmaker, took H.G. Wells’ envisioning of the future and turned its on its head in 2005. The release was a small one, and therefore the film has been re-discovered as a kind of cult classic in the past few years. The idea he works with is…what if 500 years from now, the world gets dumber and dumber to the point where everyone is stupid? And they still procreate just as much, if not more.

So instead of the Eloi and Morlocks, we just have one race of vastly dumb people and instead of regressing technologically, they’re actually more automated (though I wouldn’t say advanced).

The premise of this film is very promising; the execution actually left me wanting more. The film does work in its own right, and Judge seems to really have fun with the idea. But that’s all the film really is–a collection of funny ideas that never really comes together as a “true world” for the future.

For instance, there must be a few smart people still around to have invented some of the automated services provided (including a very amusing “menu system” at a hospital)–they couldn’t have all disappeared. I think it would’ve been interesting if there was a small society, shunned by the masses, living I guess *like* Morlocks, and even being imprisoned just for being smart.

The protagonist of the film, Joe (Wilson), is actually sent to prison because he doesn’t have the product ID number tattoo on his wrist. He also didn’t pay his hospital bill when he went to check himself out, since he is disoriented and sees a “doctor” (played by Justin Long in a short but funny role). The problem for Joe is, he was part of a military experiment to preserve human life in a pod, and have them in suspended animation for as long as the military wants–in this case, a year. But something goes wrong because the project is scrapped after its creator has some…other priorities it seems that upsets the board. But Joe and a companion, Rita (played by Maya Rudolph), are clumped up along with all the rubble made of the outpost in which the project was being conducted.

Rita is a prostitute, and she’s afraid her pimp Upgrayedd is going to find her. She and Joe are both unaware of how much time has passed when they first arrive in the future.

There are some really big laughs when we’re introduced to the year 2505, where our president (played outstandingly by Terry Crews) is basically the equivalent of a WWE Superstar. His name is funny, too: President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. There is no water (except out of the toilet); instead we have Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator, which is basically Gatorade–and has electrolytes! Because there’s no water, there are no crops growing and there’s a bad “ecomony” because of it.

This is kind of where the movie goes for jokes instead of creating a real satirical world. If water isn’t used for anything but toilets, I think the human population would eventually die out. And there’s no other real joke about the fact that life exists through Gatorade except that the stock is important to people making a living, apparently. When it crashes because Joe uses water to regrow the crops, it puts Joe’s life at risk. I think when he’s sent to prison, there’s just some missed comedy when you just have regular dumb inmates amidst other dumb people. It’d be much more compelling if there was still a separation of stupid, and if smart people were imprisoned because they were smart–and no one could understand them because of that. That’d also be a nice comment about ignorance and intolerance and would’ve given some more strength to the comedy.

I have mixed feelings about the movie because I did find it extremely funny throughout. Unlike “Office Space” which starts strong and ultimately gets bogged down by the weight of its plot, this film never really drags along or gets too heavy. There is always a laugh that will keep you going.

But at the same time, I would’ve really liked to see a more dystopian world that made sense. There are things that just don’t really add up if the population truly is that stupid. And I really think it would’ve benefited if there were other smart people. While Joe is given an IQ test and it’s made him “The Smartest Human Alive”, I think it would’ve been interesting if there were other people who became jealous of Joe and tried to overthrow him and the President.

It makes me wonder if Mike Judge truly thought out the Stupidity vs. Smart thing or if he wanted to just make fun of idiots and the oversaturation of advertising and corporations (every scene is littered with ads and logos).

The fashion jokes are funny, as are the misspelling of words (like “Time Masheen”); but that’s all the movie really is. I guess, in a way, that works fine. I guess I just wanted to see him really build this world and make it credible.The premise was too good to just have it full of “jokes”. I got some big laughs. But I can’t quite say this movie totally delivered.

My rating: :?

Drag Me To Hell

June 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured Content, Movies

I didn’t know this film was done by Sam Raimi at first. I have to admit my ignorance, and I will take the beating I deserve for not staying up on a genre that I typically pride myself being a connoisseur of. So, I apologize to everyone including myself for looking at this film at first and going, “Yeah. Right.” PG-13? Strategically placed by the studio as “The Strangers” was last year to generate a mid-season sleeper buzz? No thanks.

That attitude completely changed when I read that the film was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, and co-written with his brother, Ivan. Now, these two haven’t worked together this closely since “The Evil Dead” series, and we all know how that went. Probably 3 of the most beloved cult horror/comedy films of all time.

“Drag Me To Hell”, in time, could be headed for the same vault. It takes every good element of a horror film and stretches it to the point where you can’t see the lines in the fabric anymore. It’s ironed to perfection, and while Sam Raimi hasn’t dabbled in this genre for some time; he makes his return a triumphant one, illustrating again why he’s a master of the genre.

The story revolves around curses, and begins in 1969, in Pasadena, in which a young boy is troubled by strange voices and has with him a cursed item, a necklace that was stolen from gypsies. It’s always the gypsies, isn’t it? The boy winds up being visited by a demon, the Lamia, who literally drags him to hell–thus beginning the film.

Forty years later, we are introduced to Christine Brown (played wonderfully by Alison Lohman), and her boyfriend Clay (played by Justin Long, in a rather bland role), who are thrust into the same situation the boy suffered from when she does not allow an elderly woman, Mrs. Ganush, another extension on her loan. Mrs. Ganush angrily shouts at her, and curses a button on Christine’s jacket, and soon after, Christine starts hearing voices and seeing Mrs. Ganush visiting her in nightmares–and then, assaults her in the parking lot late one night.

Christine’s got her own share of problems, dealing with a smug and backstabbing co-worker (played deliciously by Reggie Lee), who stands in her way in getting a promotion to assistant manager. David Paymer plays her boss, and in one of the more amusing scenes, is on the wrong side of Christine as she gets one of the most obnoxious nose bleeds I’ve ever seen. When she starts losing control, she finds through a fortune teller that there may be a way to appease the demon, and she tries a few different ways (some of them are quite funny, if a bit sick) to get the demon to leave her alone.

Of course, it’s never easy getting rid of a demon, and when Christine gets downright assaulted by the gypsy Mrs. Ganush, you’ll wince in disgust while laughing hysterically at some of the hi-jinx that ensue. After all, the Fun Demon Spirit is familiar territory for Raimi, and it’s plastered all over the movie. If it hadn’t been done before, this movie would be an instant classic. But, since the best of it happened in “Evil Dead 2”, this seems more reminiscent than fresh. It is no less hilarious, though. Let me be clear on that.

All in all, this movie is a real treat for those (like me) who have lost a lot of faith in the horror genre–especially the attempts at horror comedy lately, which have mostly been a bust. Raimi still knows how to make your skin crawl while making your stomach hurt laughing so hard, and he deserves credit for that. If you’re looking for a 100 minute escape and enjoy a bit of sick humor laughing at these poor souls staving off demons and disgusting Eastern European gypsies, go see this movie. It helps to be in on the joke that this is pure camp, even if it does scare you out of your seats a few times–don’t take this film too seriously. But there is actually a quality message the film provides too if you pay close enough attention, and it’s more than just “stay away from gypsies”. That should be pretty obvious to everyone in the world.

But you may not want to buy anything to eat before or…even after.

My rating: :-)