But Airplane! doesn't reign just by calling firsties. Or rather, it does - because it hit the bull's eye so dead-center that there wasn't much room left for other arrows. It purportedly spoofs the airplane-based disaster movies so popular at the time of its 1980 release, but much of the main plot (a scarred war pilot must attempt to land a passenger jet during a storm when the crew falls ill) and even some specific scene are lifted from the little-known 1957 B-movie Zero Hour (unseen by me); it simultaneously satirizes one particularly obscure film, '70s disaster films, and every bad B-movie you've ever seen.
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What is it about fancy prep schools that makes them the de facto setting for contemporary re-imaginings of Shakespeare? Something about the parent-free environs of the pretty and privileged makes it a completely believable breeding ground for Shakespearean turmoil of assorted varieties. This time, we get Twelfth Night, only it's (poorly) renamed She's the Man and involves fewer tropical islands and shipwrecks and more soccer and slapstick.
Viola (the preternaturally spunky Amanda Bynes) is a soccer star and wacky tomboy who's royally ticked when her school cuts the girls' team. The smug coach - and Vi's equally buffoonish boyfriend - refuse to let the ousted players try out for the boys' squad because girls are fragile and slow, or some other early-1980s-grade cutting-edge sexism. So Vi assumes the identity of her twin brother, Sebastian, who snuck off to London for a couple of weeks, to make the team at a rival boarding school and prove her point.
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The movie starts in 1995. Chris (Reynolds) and Jamie (Smart) are childhood friends, who have just graduated high school. Chris chooses the night of her graduation party to confess his love for her. Long story short, Chris's love for Jamie gets broadcast for everyone to hear, and she responds by telling Jamie that she loves him. Like a brother.
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Aside from Solondz's decidedly risky topics, his format in Storytelling takes chances. It presents two separate shorts, entitled "Fiction" and "Non-fiction," with no obvious connection between the two. The only true thread is that both comment on the telling of tales, the shifting of points of view, and the way most people in Solondz's suburban landscapes constantly paddle their painful lives upstream.
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The acting is atrocious -- Mia Farrow sounds like she's reading from a cue card the entire film, and Mary Steenburgen and Julie Hagerty are woefully miscast as a troubled wife and a wanton nurse, respectively. Poor Tony Roberts spends the entire film with a rag wrapped around his head. Worst off, however, is José Ferrer, an aging star uncrated, dusted off, and carted in for the occasion. The poor guy does not belong in a Woody Allen vehicle, mangling what comedy there is.
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So goes the curious event that A Guy Thing -- a well-meaning but almost completely worthless trip through a minefield of infidelity, masculinity and self discovery -- is based upon.
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Hey, you know what's funny? False accusations of child molestation. That's just the most hilarious way to get back at your father for being mean to you because you're a hopeless screw-up. At least, that's what Tom Green seems to think.
Green is that MTV personality who takes a video camera out into the world to record himself accosting embarrassed strangers and performing gross-out stunts for the amusement of easily entertained viewers. He wrote, directed and stars in "Freddy Got Fingered," a lose collection of sub-par Green gags orbiting around a 28-year-old unemployed nitwit whose dad (Rip Torn) hates him because, well, he's a worthless human being who goes out of his way to make Dad ashamed of him.
Aww, poor Tom. He's so misunderstood.
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Jason Lee is usually the funniest guy in any Kevin Smith movie (Banky in "Chasing Amy," Azrael in "Dogma"). Julia Stiles has had fine comedic timing ever since her big splash in "10 Things I Hate About You." But they couldn't be more mismatched as romantic leads in "A Guy Thing."
A cold-feet comedy of accumulative misunderstandings about a groom-to-be who wakes up with a blonde in his bed the morning after his bachelor party -- and assumes the worst -- the movie spends most of its time mining very familiar territory. Lee hides the girl's forgotten panties, discovers she's his fiancée's cousin, and has generic nightmare run-ins with his future in-law and Stiles' ex-boyfriend.
Most of its jokes come from the compounding lies that make it hard to sympathize with the hero, and the moment you meet each one-trait character, you can see his or her entire story arc mapped out in front of you. Example: Stifled Lee, who's going to veer from his buttoned-up, conservative bride-to-be (Selma Blair) and fall in love with wild-child Stiles, has a buttoned-up, conservative brother (Thomas Lennon) who is secretly in love with Blair. Hmmm...I can't imagine where that's going.
Continue reading: A Guy Thing Review
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