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Witless Protection Review


Unbearable
First, he gave us the interesting but incoherent Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. It was a film so completely devoid of intelligence that the screenplay consistently threatened to choke on its own drool. Not to be outdone, the Blue Collar Tour vet then went military with the mindless Delta Farce. There, he at least had Bill Engvall and D.J. Qualls to share the blame with. Now comes Daniel Lawrence Whitney's latest celebration of skidmarks, atomic flatulence, personal filth, and animal husbandry. And as Witless Protection proves, the timer on this comic's 15 minutes of funnyman fame has hit an hour and a half.

Poor dumb backwoods deputy Larry Stalder (Mr. Cable Guy). He longs to be an FBI agent, much to the chagrin of his country-fried friends and Daisy Mae wannabe gal pal Connie's (Jenny McCarthy). While spending a quiet morning at the local coffee house chewing the fat, he sees a big city vixen (Ivana Milicevic) surrounded by several men in black. Mistakenly believing she's the victim of a kidnapping, Larry springs into action. He hijacks the lady, avoids the mystery men, and believes he has saved the day.

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Live And Let Die Review


Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre (not to mention the first appearance of Roger Moore.)

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Warning Sign Review


Weak
Sam Waterston in a zombie movie? Though it's dressed up as a meditation on genetic engineering, Warning Sign is still just a zombie movie, sans the death. In this film, the guys just go to sleep before they become bloodthirsty monsters. And this zombification is curable: So the body count is awfully low. Still, Warning Sign has a pedigreed cast and a few fun moments (Kathleen Quinlan getting electrocuted by a mild-mannered scientist who just wants out of the research facility. Reasonably interesting for its era.

Alien Review


Excellent
The good news: Sigourney Weaver's famous underwear shot, which probably launched millions of now middle-aged men straight into puberty and beyond, has survived Ridley Scott's keen eye in his digitally remastered 2003 director's cut of Alien.

As for the bad news, well, there really isn't any. Alien, first released in 1979 and in theaters right now, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The beautiful and ballsy Weaver is a heroine for all seasons, the movie is suspenseful in all the right spots and it plays beautifully on the big screen with big sound.

Continue reading: Alien Review

Live And Let Die Review


Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre.

Roots Review


Excellent
When you think of epic mini-series, what comes to mind? Rich Man, Poor Man? Shogun? More likely than not, it's Roots, the based-on-a-true story tale that spooled over 12 hours and six nights, the story of "an American family," albeit one that began captured in Africa in 1750, then sold into slavery in the U.S. colonies.

Roots begins with Kunta Kinte, emerging from childhood and undergoing warrior training in his tribal homeland. The slavers arrive soon enough, and after a harrowing three-month ride back across the Atlantic, Kunta is sold, becomes Toby under his new master, attempts repeated escapes, and eventually accepts his fate as he settles down with a wife and child. The Revolutionary War comes and goes, and Toby's daughter Kizzy is sold, becoming the mother of her new master's son, known as Chicken George. Chicken George in turn is sent to England to pay off a gambling debt. When he returns home after 14 years, he is a free man. The Civil War arrives, and the rest of the slaves are freed. Soon enough the family faces the perils of vehement racism and the KKK, and Chicken George finally leads his family to safety in a new settlement.

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The Running Man Review


Good
Game/reality shows have already entered the realm of the grotesque with people eating cow stomachs on Fear Factor, getting verbally castrated by Simon Cowell and company on American Idol, and tolerating Donald Trump's presence on The Apprentice. Seeing people actually hunted down by killers seems like the next logical step. And we have a movie for a template!

That movie is The Running Man, the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle that resembles a lot of the Governator's best work: He kills people by the dozens, says some funny puns in that fist-thick Austrian accent and tags along with a hot exotic beauty. If that formula works for you, read on.

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Blue Collar Review


Good
Funny and depressing look at infighting and conspiracy in a fictional American auto union. A cult classic from the writer of Taxi Driver.

Brubaker Review


Weak
Full of gushing late-1970s idealism, Brubaker cuts a portrait of Henry Brubaker, a real-life prison reformer who uncovered a little nastiness in a southern prison system. Robert Redford is memorable in the titular role, but the melodramatics are a bit much to wade through at times. Watch also for a young Morgan Freeman, nearly unrecognizable.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare Review


Unbearable
The only Nightmare on Elm Street movie to begin with a Friedrich Nietzsche quote and give us Freddy riding a broomstick, aping The Wizard of Oz -- all in the first 10 minutes -- not to mention appearances from a young Breckin Meyer to Yaphet Kotto. Cameos are legion: From a returning Johnny Depp (credited as Oprah Noodlemantra) to then-hot Tom Arnold and Roseanne. Too bad it's all for naught. Longtime Nightmare collaborator Rachel Talalay (a production manager on the first installment and later a screenwriter) got behind the camera on this outing, turning in the absolute worst entry of the series. (Freddy as video game character murderer? Pass.)

Alien: The Director's Cut Review


OK

Twenty-some odd years after scaring the bejesus out of me as a thrill-seeking teenager, Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi horror hallmark "Alien," re-released today in a new Director's Cut, doesn't hold up as well as I'd anticipated.

Sure, the infant alien bursting from the chest of John Hurt after gestating his gut is still a seat-gripper (although the stiff little puppet that emerges and scurries off screen has always been the worst special effect in the movie). Sure the seven poor saps onboard the ill-fated cargo spaceship are real personalities with depth and dimension (cynical blue-collar grunts stuck with each other in dead-end deep-space jobs) played by gifted actors like Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright and sequel-bait Sigourney Weaver. These people are anything but the wisecracking beauty-before-brains WB-channel cast-off types that have always been fodder for B-horror killers Jason, Freddy and Leatherface.

Sure, "Alien" still boats what is arguably the best monster design in movie history (by H.R. Giger and Carlo Rambaldi). The exoskeletal alien itself -- with its razored fingers, its sleek, elongated dome head and its steely-fanged mouth that drips translucent goo and hides a tongue tipped with another set of teeth -- is ingeniously terrifying. The acid-blooded, mutant-crab-like face-hugger -- with the long, strangling spine that impregnates Hurt with the alien embryo -- is so masterfully rendered that even during its slimy autopsy close-ups the thing begets goosebumps. Modern CGI effects cannot hold up to this kind of substantive scrutiny. "Alien's" aliens are as real as movie monsters get.

Continue reading: Alien: The Director's Cut Review

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