YOGA HOSERS (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 28 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Crude Humor, Sexual References, Comic Violence, and brief Drug Material

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Directed by: Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne & Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith’s filmography has recently gone through many odd shifts. Though he gained a loyal fanbase from low-budget comedies like CLERKS and MALLRATS, Smith has entered a horror phase…and this has been a hugely miscalculated move. The best of Smith’s horror efforts is easily RED STATE, a surprisingly strong merging of the Waco siege and the Westboro Baptist Church. 2014’s TUSK was disappointing due to its confused tonal shifts and a plot that seemed to making itself up as it went along. That film featured cameos from Kevin Smith’s daughter and Johnny Depp’s kid as Canadian convenience store clerks. YOGA HOSERS is a semi-sequel to TUSK and serves as a spin-off for that pair of minor characters.

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Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith) are best friends, bandmates and co-workers at the Eh-2-Zed convenience store. They bury their faces in their cellphones during school and periodically skip out on their shifts to hold band practice in the backroom. After being invited to a senior party held by preppy Hunter Calloway (Austin Butler), the Colleens’ lives begin to look up…until Colleen C’s father (Tony Hale) forces the two BFF’s to take an unexpected work shift. Missing Hunter’s party won’t be the end of the Colleens’ problems though, because Bratzis (Kevin Smith in bratwurst make-up) have risen from the ground. You may be asking: “What’s a Bratzi?” It’s a little Nazi made of bratwurst and the Colleens have to contend with an army of them. Lucky for them, legendary man-hunter Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) is on the case.

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YOGA HOSERS’ plot is kind of difficult to summarize, because there isn’t exactly a straightforward storyline. The film is supposedly about two teenage clerks fighting bratwurst creatures that kill people by going up their butts, yet only a third of the film seems interested in that. The rest is dedicated to the Colleens going about their teenage lives and Johnny Depp mugging for the camera. Kevin Smith unapologetically admitted that this film was a vanity project, but it might have been fun (albeit ridiculously stupid) if there was any semblance of a story. Flashy headache-inducing title cards, two cringe-worthy musical numbers, and lame cut-away jokes constantly interrupt the movie’s already wavering momentum.

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Even though it clocks in at a mercifully short 88 minutes, YOGA HOSERS frequently lags in its pacing and feels much longer as a result. There are a few chuckles that keep the film from becoming a total failure, but these are few and far between. One visual joke seems directly lifted from Mel Brooks’ ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (moles changing around on Johnny Depp’s face), which in turn was actually recycled from the ever-changing hump in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. The biggest laugh comes from Haley Joel Osment as Canadian Hitler. The punchline to his single scene is very funny, but that energy vanishes the minute he’s gone. Don’t worry though, because YOGA HOSERS tries to get more wacky laughs by giving us a Nazi villain monologuing through voice impressions of Hollywood actors (ala Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Pacino, etc.). That’s the level we’re at here, folks.

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I can’t judge too harshly on Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith’s performances, because they come off as annoying teenage kids. This was definitely the intention, but it doesn’t automatically turn them into likable ass-kicking heroines. Austin Butler, who resembles Justin Bieber, shows potential in a neat plot twist that showed promise…and is quickly written out by a lazy butt joke. Johnny Depp’s Guy Lapointe was one of the worst things in TUSK, but seems to fit in with the wacky stupidity of YOGA HOSERS. His presence is much more colorful than either of the Colleens anyway. The less said about Kevin Smith in bratwurst make-up, the better. Justin Long is serviceable enough as a pretentious strip mall yoga instructor. However, Smith thinks that cameos are the same thing as comedy…which makes for two incredibly out-of-place moments.

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Truthfully, I think that Kevin Smith knows YOGA HOSERS isn’t a good movie. In the Q&A shown before the Fathom Event screening, Smith stated that the film is a midnight movie made for viewers who aren’t allowed to stay up until midnight. He seems to be writing off this film’s bad quality as it being made for kids. I don’t think that’s quite the case. There may be no F-bombs or nudity in this film, but there’s definitely enough sexual innuendos to earn the PG-13 rating (which isn’t exactly perfect for a “kid’s movie”). Even if YOGA HOSERS was actually intended for little girls, quality kid’s films usually entertain older viewers too. How terrible is YOGA HOSERS? Well, let’s just say that a theater filled with hardcore Kevin Smith fans was dead silent for 90% of the running time and I’ll pretty much be ignoring the rest of Kevin Smith’s new movies until he inevitably makes CLERKS III.

Grade: D-

TUSK (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for some Disturbing Violence/Gore, Language and Sexual Content

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Directed by: Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment & Johnny Depp

TUSK was created in a wholly unusual way. On SModcast episode 259, Kevin Smith and his co-host were discussing a strange ad that eventually morphed into a story involving a madman and a walrus suit. At the end of the episode, Smith issued a call to arms for his fans and asked them to vote on Twitter through hashtags if he should make a feature based on the story. A majority of his fans answered #WalrusYes and about a year later, TUSK is upon us! How does the film stack up as a whole though? I really loved RED STATE and thought it was Kevin’s best film to date with powerful punch being thrown at certain issues, but also maintained an interesting story. TUSK never bored me and there will be people who absolutely dig this film, but I kind of hated it for many reasons.

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Wallace is an irreverent podcaster making his living on exploiting strange people on his episodes. Arriving at Canada for an interview that quickly goes south, this moustached podcast host finds a weird ad posted in a bathroom. This piece of paper offers a free room and plenty of stories for menial household duties. Wallace takes immediate interest and travels to the middle of nowhere to interview this reclusive old man. Turns out that the poster of the ad has a more sinister agenda in mind and wants to turn Wallace into a walrus. Needless to say that circumstances are dire. Wallace’s friends desperately search for him with the help of a quirky French-Canadian detective.

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There’s probably a really solid film within TUSK, but the main narrative complaint I have is the film sporadically throws flashbacks at the viewer every 10 minutes or so. Some of these have a purpose and others are a complete waste of time. However, it lends to the underling sense that Kevin Smith was making this screenplay up as he went along. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this was the rough draft of the story, because it needs some fine-tuning. Things might have improved greatly if Smith also showed everything in chronological order. Flashbacks with Wallace (including a forced one in the final minutes) would have worked better if they were in the opening act. Therefore, references to them in the end of the movie would have actual staying power, instead of being almost instantly forgotten in the matter of an hour or so.

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Scenes being placed where they chronologically belong (in the opening act), could have possibly benefitted making the characters likable. Wallace comes off as the biggest asshole in the world, but Kevin Smith attempts to get the viewer to feel a bit of sympathy for him. However, he does this by placing a few random flashbacks (damn the weird order of scenes in this movie and my continued harping on it) right by the moment we’re supposed to feel bad for Wallace’s horrible predicament. It’s a technique that feels overly manipulative and could have been easily corrected. Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez aren’t given a whole hell of a lot to do here. Also (if you don’t know about the movie’s worst kept secret cameo then SPOILER), Johnny Depp’s presence was wholly unnecessary and merely amounted to him doing his funny face shtick (ala Jack Sparrow, Mad Hatter, Tonto, etc.). One extended scene between him and Michael Parks was painfully bad. None of the jokes really work in this movie.

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Most of the payoff hinges on the inevitable appearance of the Wallace walrus (seen frequently after about 45 minutes in or so), but the reveal doesn’t satisfy either. I felt the look was too comical and silly, also unlike any of the freaky medical drawings glimpsed early on. The conclusion is stupid enough to work in such a ridiculous story, but Smith botches it in a rushed and frenetic execution. However, not everything about TUSK is awful. Michael Parks (the best actor in RED STATE) is clearly having a blast as the utterly insane Howard Howe. I loved most of his delivery, except for that aforementioned scene with Depp. Also, the setting of the Howard’s isolated house is appropriately creepy and offers decent suspense in his first encounter with Wallace.

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The difficult thing about making an intentionally cheesy or campy film is that if the filmmaker is winking too much at the audience then the joke becomes less funny. TRICK ‘R TREAT and CABIN IN THE WOODS balanced an equal amount of silly humor with a straight-faced delivery, therefore making the story work. TUSK feels like Kevin Smith is making it up on the spot and constantly grinning at the camera. The sporadic flashbacks feel like they were added in on the spot during the writing process of the first draft and putting these in the chronological order would have gotten me to enjoy it far more than I did. TUSK feels sloppy, forced, and unfocused in many areas. There are a few redeeming factors (the setting, a kernel of a really creative story, and Michael Parks going wild), but I left the film disappointed.

Grade: D

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO (2008)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 41 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Crude Sexual Content including Dialogue, Graphic Nudity and Pervasive Language

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Directed by: Kevin Smith

Written by: Kevin Smith

Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords, Jeff Anderson, Katie Morgan, Justin Long, Brandon Routh, Tyler Labine & Tom Savini

Kevin Smith is one of those filmmakers whose stories either work for you or they don’t. Some people love his dirty-minded movies with a heart of gold and others see him as a bit of a so-so storyteller. Personally, I’ll try everything this man does at least once. CLERKS II and RED STATE were his last two great films in my opinion as some of his output has been a tad lackluster in the last decade. ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO is a prime example of a movie that has spurts of comic brilliance, but ultimately falls victim to Smith sticking too close to a familiar formula playing out in predictable fashion.

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Zack and Miri have been friends since elementary school and live together strictly as roommates. The two have no interest in forming any kind of romantic relationship and sex is off the table. After circumstances get dire and they find unpaid bills stacking up to an insane degree, the two buy into a crazy idea of filming their own pornography and banking on it to save themselves from the impending possibility of being homeless. The process of making this no-budget adult film requires enlisting a crew of colorful characters (some of which are played by real-life porn stars). Zack and Miri’s friendship gets more complicated as they discover there might be unexpected feelings between them. The plot plays out in typical rom-com ways, even if the idea of making your own porn isn’t necessarily a staple in this genre.

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I’ll get the good qualities out first. Fortunately, there are a lot of positives in this flick. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks have great chemistry together. I bought them as lifelong friends and could understand why they wouldn’t necessarily want to risk screwing their friendship up with sex. They seem feed off each other and the cast members around them. The other performers include Craig Robinson, Jeff Anderson (who does not play his usual Randall character from CLERKS or anything resembling him). Jason Mewes steals the show in the role of a low-IQ, but sweet-natured porn star enlisted for Zach and Miri’s little endeavor. One of the best scenes in the film is in the opening 20 minutes and involves a hilariously graphic conversation with a briefly glimpsed Justin Long. This is the nicest thing I can say about this movie: Everything works perfectly in setting up the scenario and Smith’s witty dialogue is in full form…for the first 25 minutes or so. The rest of the movie doesn’t live up to how strong this film opens.

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Two main things keep ZACK AND MIRI from reaching potential greatness or even stacking up with better comedies in the new millennium. The story falls victim to the rom-com formula and there are stretches of the film that didn’t even get a chuckle out of me. From the start, everyone watching the movie pretty much knows where Zack and Miri will be at the end of the film and Smith doesn’t necessarily do anything to derail those expectations. To be fair, CHASING AMY and CLERKS II didn’t hold any surprises in this way either, but they did provide awesome plot threads and keep the viewer rolling with laughter. ZACK AND MIRI doesn’t do this as well. The handful of long stretches not containing a single laugh also put a damper on the whole scenario. It should also be noted this is a really dirty movie, as if you couldn’t guess that from the title. Smith fully pushes the R rating to its limits in sexual content and graphic dialogue, more so than in something as gross as CLERKS II.

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ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO isn’t Kevin Smith’s finest hour and it was intended to be the film that pushed him into more mainstream success. Instead, the film starts off very strong, then drags for a bit, and ends with a satisfying climax (pun fully intended). I had fun watching this film and it’s a good date movie, if your date doesn’t mind a whole lot of crude humor. The biggest issue is that the rest of the film couldn’t live up to the level of its opening 25 minutes. ZACK AND MIRI ends up being a decent rom-com weighed down by the two major problems already mentioned.

Grade: B-

IDIOCRACY (2006)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Language and Sex-related Humor

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Directed by: Mike Judge

Written by: Mike Judge, Etan Cohen

Starring: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, Anthony Campos, David Herman, Justin Long, Thomas Haden Church, Stephen Root

Idiots. The world is full of them. Turn on the news, read a blog, or (God forbid) do a search on YouTube if you want some recent examples of stupidity that pops up in our society again and again. IDIOCRACY (Mike Judge’s third feature film) was promptly shelved and then dumped into an extremely limited theatrical release by the studio that financed it (Fox). This is a pity on so many levels. One of which being that this sci-fi comedy has some startling, funny, and depressing points to make about the future of mankind. It’s not without faults, but I guarantee you haven’t seen anything quite like this film before and you probably won’t see anything like it again.

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In the present day, Joe Bauers has been selected for a top-secret army experiment. The reason he’s been chosen isn’t that Joe is a genius, but he’s the most average man in every category and doesn’t have any pesky living relatives to ask questions. He’s frozen in cryogenic sleep and through human error, wakes up 500 years in the future. Joe makes the shocking discovery that everything has been dumbed down to ridiculous levels. Joe is now the smartest man in the world and must deal with this whole new stupid society.

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The depiction of why humanity’s IQ suddenly dropped is terrifying, because it’s so true. Smart people think things through before they decide to have kids, dumb people don’t. How many huge white trash families do you see with tons of kids running wild around the supermarket? It’s altogether depressing to think about and director/writer Mike Judge knows this. He tends to keep things as upbeat and wacky as possible, despite the arguable accuracy of his vision of the future. A whole lot of creativity permeates through every frame. Careful attention has been paid to small details that bring this world to life. Shameless product placement has been turned into a punchline, rather than obvious marketing towards certain companies. I can’t imagine that you’ll want to visit Costco, Starbucks, or Carl’s Jr. after watching IDIOCRACY, because of how the movie portrays each of these chains. Also, I doubt you’ll want to chug an energy drink (which is preferable to water in this future) either.

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With all of the scathing satire taken into account, IDIOCRACY comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome. Some of the characters and humor are a little too obnoxious. Luke Wilson is a decent enough leading man here. I always seem to get the impression that he’s the less talented or charismatic Wilson brother. His performance didn’t do much to change my mind. However, seeing as his character is a perfectly average guy, it seemed like ideal casting (no major disrespect to Luke Wilson). Dax Shepherd also overplayed his role of an idiotic lawyer to the point of teetering on the annoying side, rather than a lovable doofus that the script tries to make him out to be. Maya Rudolph is the worst character here and the less said about her performance, the better. A few big name actors do pop up in short roles as the future morons, these include Justin Long, Stephen Root, and Thomas Haden Church. Finally, there’s Terry Crews and he’s without a doubt hilarious to watch. As a wrestler-elected-president, Crews is having a blast and it’s infectious to the viewer as well.

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The finale also falls into a predictable territory, where the viewer is pretty much just waiting for things to follow the exact manner that they do wind up playing out in. With all of this being said, Mike Judge does hit the nail on the head very well in little details and lots of scenes are scathingly funny. We’ve all met people who resemble some traits of this future folk and it’s horrifying accurate to think that the planet might some day wind up in an idiotic dystopian world. Again, I did like how fleshed out this world was. Tone wise, the film feels like a 70’s sci-fi film that’s been injected with a good dose of humor alongside the relevant social commentary.

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IDIOCRACY is far from Mike Judge’s best work (OFFICE SPACE and KING OF THE HILL), but it’s also earned the cult status surrounding it. What’s even more telling is that the studio dumped this film in a terrible manner and yet movies like TRANSFORMERS still get huge releases. This move could be viewed as another step closer to IDIOCRACY’s predicted future of people paying to see a 90-minute movie titled Ass or watching “Ow, My Balls!” on TV every evening. As playful as it is satirical, IDIOCRACY is recommended for those wanting out of the ordinary laughs or are curious about taking a look into a possible terrifying future where smart people are an endangered species.

Grade: B

DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sequences of Horror Violence, Terror, Disturbing Images and Language

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Directed by: Sam Raimi

Written by: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi

Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, Reggie Lee, Adriana Barraza

You’re either going to “get” DRAG ME TO HELL or you’re not. Created by the Sam Raimi, director of the ultra-low-budget EVIL DEAD which became a cult phenomenon and a staple film in the horror genre, DRAG ME TO HELL is wildly over-the-top and campy. It’s made for goofy laughs and macabre entertainment. Never does the movie take itself seriously. It’s all about having fun. Raimi clearly had a blast making it and plenty of viewers will have a blast watching it. The plot resembles something along the lines of Stephen King’s THINNER with a hellish spin or a comedic take on 1957’s NIGHT OF THE DEMON. Either way, the movie is far from a masterpiece but it gets the intended reactions. DRAG ME TO HELL is a gooey good time, made even better in the company of friends (preferably some who have never seen it before).

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Christine Brown is a former farm girl turned promising loan officer. When a promotion opens up at her job, Christine makes a tough move to impress her boss. The result of her decision denies the elderly Mrs. Ganush, a half-blind gypsy woman, her home. Soon, Christine finds herself paying dearly for the ulterior motive based decision in the form of being cursed by Ganush (those wacky gypsies, always placing curses of people). In three days, Christine will be dragged to hell by a goat-like demon (the Lamia) to burn for eternity. Desperate to avoid her untimely fiery fate, Christine turns to a medium and takes drastic measures in trying to rid herself of the curse.

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I’m trying to be vague. As familiar as the plot is to horror fans who have sat through the movie multiple times, Raimi (and his brother Ivan) pack in a few twists that come unexpected for those who aren’t diehard fanatics of the scary stuff. It’s a story that relies on set-pieces (one moment involving a piece of cake, another involving a séance, etc.). Raimi knows how to brilliantly connect each and every one of these extremely campy scenes in a way that’s relevant to the plot and interesting to the viewer. The movie never lags and moves at a breakneck pace, even in the slightly problematic final third. DRAG ME TO HELL maintains a re-watchable factor that isn’t seen much in recent cinema (especially the horror genre). This is a movie that I wouldn’t have a problem watching multiple times in a single year (I watched it a total of seven times in 2009. Twice in theaters and the remaining five on DVD).

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I only have two things that I can fault the film on. Some of the effects aren’t up to snuff. I’m not speaking of the practical work as some puppets used are as silly as they were intended to be and the make-up is fantastic. The CGI work is where a few cracks become visible. There are moments of bodily fluids and goo liberally thrown around that look good, but other uses (a diseased animal, a person being dragged into the pits of Hell, and the ever-so-briefly glimpsed Lamia itself) come off as one step away from being fully complete. The movie is purposely cheesy, but the iffy CGI it took me out of the movie for a few seconds. Then there’s the predictable final act. The quality is still at a ridiculously entertaining high and there’s lots of pitch-black comedy gold in those final 30 minutes. However, if you’ve seen a single episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT or read any memorable scary stories, then you’re likely to 100% guess where everything is heading in those last seconds of film. The conclusion is entertaining and satisfying, but everything up to that point kept the viewer on edge (as funny as the jokes were) and this was a notable shift in the storytelling. These two things don’t detract too much from the ghoulish fun to be had in Sam Raimi’s welcome return to horror.

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Some people may avoid DRAG ME TO HELL for being a PG-13 horror flick and label it as a kiddie scare film. It happened upon the release and it’s likely to continue in the future years. A good film is a good film, regardless of the MPAA (an unreliable organization to begin with) rating. Never once did the rating ever pop into my mind with DRAG ME TO HELL. The difference between the final cut and the theatrical cut is 30 seconds of film (two quick shots were cut and to be honest, those brief seconds took things a little too far over-the-top). Sam Raimi maintains the campy style he’s become known for in the EVIL DEAD series and there’s a very creepy atmosphere surrounding the film. This is a great choice for a Halloween movie marathon or a dark and stormy night. The cast does a good job, but Alison Lohman is to be commended for her performance as Christine. She takes a beating and has plenty of muck, goo, and bodily fluids thrown on her. It’s unapologetically gross and makes for some huge laughs, possibly some vomit as well (one scene with dentures makes me gag every time I see it).

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DRAG ME TO HELL is a feature-length TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode. It’s a horror flick that maintains a well-built atmosphere and supplies a steady stream of big laughs. The familiarity and some questionable CGI take it down from a possible masterpiece, but it’s hugely entertaining all the way through. This one comes highly recommended for those who enjoy scares with a lot of humor thrown in (think EVIL DEAD II) and it’s a must-see for enthusiastic horror fans (assuming you haven’t already sat through it).

Grade: B+

YOUTH IN REVOLT (2010)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Sexual Content, Language and Drug Use

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Directed by: Miguel Arteta

Written by: Gustin Nash

(based on the novel YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne)

Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, M. Emmet Walsh, Jonathan Bradford Wright, Erik Knudson, Fred Willard & Rooney Mara

YOUTH IN REVOLT is a lesser known movie featuring Michael Cera as an awkward teenager. Granted Cera has made this kind of role work in other films, namely SUPERBAD or SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (his best film yet). The only real difference with YOUTH IN REVOLT is that it’s based on a novel and features a ton of big names in the cast. Ironically, this is also a very flat, stale, and uninteresting piece of work.

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Nick Twisp (Cera) is living a stressful existence. He’s a cultured, intelligent young man and also a virgin. It seems like all the jerks around him have girlfriends. His mother is a piece of white trash dating a pathological liar and his father is a neglectful creep dating a 25-year-old hottie. As Nick states, it’s aggravating how many people around him are getting action. It isn’t until he moves to a trailer park for a week that he runs across Sheeni Saunders, who takes an immediate interest in him. The two of them fall fast in love, but when the struggles of life makes things difficult to stay together, Nick finds that he must become a rebel (in the form of an alter-ego named Francois Dillinger) to win her heart.

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There is a lot of ground this story covers in the ever-present difficulties that get in the way of Nick and Sheeni’s romance. Seeing as the film is a mere 90 minutes long (counting credits), things move at a super rushed pace. It’s annoying how fast the film goes and it left barely any time for anything to develop enough for me to care as a viewer. There were moments of stylized storytelling that I appreciated. From the credits sequence to a few montages, the film incorporates animation of differing styles. This element actually worked quite well and somewhat set it apart from being just another teenage comedy in that respect.

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Most of the flaws come with the characters. Michael Cera’s voiceover at the beginning the film made me feel like this might turn out to be an underrated gem. The introduction of each character is funny enough and there was plenty of potential to be realized for most of them. However, not much is done with any of these colorful people. Big name actors are wasted as popping up in two or three scenes and then forgotten without any further notice. Steve Buscemi takes on the role of Nick’s neglectful father and just doesn’t get to do much with it. Another potentially fun character, Ray Liotta as a cop, is wasted. He could have been one of the best characters in the film and winds up in about 5 minutes of screen time.

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You may notice that I’m neglecting to mention the two leads. That’s because neither of them give anything spectacular. Portia Doubleday just comes off as a bland love interest and the viewer isn’t given much reason to care about her, thanks to most of their romance being shown in a few forgettable scenes and a brief montage. Michael Cera plays the socially inept teenager. We’ve seen him play it before and he plays it again here. There isn’t any charm to the character of Nick Twisp and it makes for a pretty empty experience altogether.

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YOUTH IN REVOLT relies on jokes that almost always fall flat, a plot that we’ve seen many times before, and a big name cast that aren’t given much to do. As a romance, it’s hollow. It doesn’t work as a coming-of-age tale either. As a comedy, I didn’t laugh more than five times. There is a certain style to the film that sets it apart from being terrible, but it’s not good or even middle-of-the-road either. It’s just disappointing, bland, and should remain forgotten. Don’t waste your time on this one.

Grade: C-

WAITING… (2005)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Crude and Sexual Humor, Pervasive Language and Some Drug Use

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Directed by: Rob McKittrick

Written by: Rob McKittrick

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, Kaitlin Doubleday, Andy Milonakis, Dane Cook, Chi McBride, Luis Guzman, David Koechner, Jordan Ladd

CLERKS have had their time in the sun, as have white-collar employees (OFFICE SPACE), so what about the waiters and waitresses of America? WAITING…, a comedy that written and directed by Rob McKittrick, was actually written as he worked as a waiter. Instead of focusing on the sad true-to-life humor that comes with any customer service position, McKittrick goes into over-the-top gross-out territory that doesn’t wind up being half as funny as he thinks it is.

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The staff at Shenaniganz is a diverse and colorful crew. There’s Dean, a part-time student feeling discouraged that he’s been a waiter for four years. Monty, the resident cool guy, who’s called to train newcomer, Mitch. There’s also a philosophical cook, the crass kitchen staff, the wannabe gangster bus-boys, and the uptight boss. The movie doesn’t so much have a story as it focuses on different characters through the average day in the restaurant, complete with rude idiotic customers and the stress that comes with the job. There’s also a running bit about a “game” where male members of the staff try to get each other to look at their junk. That’s the kind of drivel this amounts to.

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Crude humor can be done well (look at almost every project Judd Apatow has been involved with), but WAITING… chooses to focus more on shock value than actual laughs. This is a movie that your average Jr High or High School student would find to be hilarious. However, in a world where better workplace comedies exist (OFFICE SPACE and both CLERKS movies), this amounts to little more than a film that’s trying too hard to be gross.

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None of the characters are developed more than the one-dimensional stereotypes they portray. David Koechner is the best one here by far, as he plays the scumbag boss. Justin Long and Ryan Reynolds serve as the mostly main characters, but neither amount to getting the viewer to care about them in any way, shape, or form. Dane Cook is as annoying as ever, while Chi McBride (an actor who’s proved himself to have a decent set of comedic chops) isn’t given much to do here at all.

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Some gross-outs are effective in making the viewers stomach a bit queasy, but that’s not the same as well-executed comedy. With the exception of about three scenes in total, there’s nothing very funny here. It’s a CLERKS rip-off set within the confines of a restaurant. That’s about it. The meager budget shows in that the production values are very cheap looking and it feels like this unfunny mess of a supposed comedy should have been sent direct-to-video.

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It may be a cheap shot (of which the movie seems to take many), but the whole time I was watching WAITING… it seemed like I was waiting a lot, in the sense that I was waiting for it to be funny and when I realized this wasn’t going to happen, waiting for it to be over. Avoid this one!

Grade: D-

JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 31 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Terror Violence/Gore, Language and Brief Nudity

Jeepers Creepers poster

Directed by: Victor Salva

Written by: Victor Salva

Starring: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher

JEEPERS CREEPERS was a huge hit on the horror scene back in 2001. I remember reading rave reviews from Fangoria and hearing Clive Barker call it one of the best in the decade. In fact, it wound up being so successful at the box office that a sequel was released two years later. I was far too young to see the film on the big screen and had to wait to see the tame censored version on TV. Watching it now for the first time in about a decade, I can see how this would be refreshing for genre fans to be coming out of the late-90’s self-aware slasher craze and how they might wind up loving this little film. It’s definitely not the second coming of horror, but JEEPERS CREEPERS is what more wide-theatrical horror movies should be. It’s original, R-rated, and focuses on scaring the bejesus out of you!

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A pair of siblings are driving through the Florida countryside. Trish has picked up her brother, Darry, from college and the two are planning on spending Spring Break at their parents’ house. Along a deserted highway (which has been the source of many urban legends), the two encounter a foreboding truck. The driver behind the wheel seems to attempt to run them off the road. They let him pass and laugh it off. It’s when they see said driver of the truck further down the highway that things begin to get strange. It appears that he’s dumping a group of bodies down a drain pipe. Without warning, the siblings find themselves being hunted by something much worse than a serial killer….something that isn’t human.

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This is a good old-fashioned monster movie that features a frightening boogeyman, a creature that hasn’t gotten enough recognition. This “Creeper” (as he’s listed in the credits) isn’t fully shown until about halfway into the movie and even then, he’s still hiding in the shadows for the most part. We catch brief glimpses of him throughout the movie, silhouettes and we only see the Creeper full-on in the conclusion. Mercifully, the monster is unique and very creepy (which suits his character just fine).

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One thing that is especially refreshing about JEEPERS CREEPERS is that the two main characters are siblings. If this were another film about a girl and her boyfriend encountering a monster, it wouldn’t be the same. It feels like there’s real chemistry between the lead actor and actress in a bickering, playful, but loving brother/sister relationship. As much as I usually can’t stand Justin Long, he does a decent job in this flick as Darry. Gina Philips is especially convincing as his sister. Then there’s Jonathan Breck. Hidden under layers of make-up, he’s a formidable foe in the form of The Creeper. Patricia Belcher is the weakest cast member in the film. She’s plays an annoying psychic, who really doesn’t do much except deliver exposition.

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That’s the main problem I have with JEEEPERS CREEPERS. At points, it’s scary and atmospheric. During other moments, it feels like it’s poorly written and must explain the little details to you. I like the idea that there’s a creature that feeds every 23rd Spring for 23 days, but there must have been a better way of telling us this than an annoying psychic who keeps giving large portions of exposition. Sometimes things are scarier when they aren’t explained. If the film had found a way of giving this back story of the Creeper and not divulging any other information that occurs later on in the film, then it would have been nothing short of absolutely terrifying. Instead, the Victor Salva practically reveals his hand with the psychic giving cryptic hints at where the film will go.

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Even with some predictable turns and too much exposition, JEEPERS CREEPERS is a really cool creature feature. Salva makes the wise decision of regulating his beast to the shadows for the most part. The Creeper is indeed a very creepy menace and the two leads are believable as siblings too. This whole movie has great ideas and executes them to varying degrees of success, but overall, I would recommend JEEPERS CREEPERS as one to watch in the dark with the sound cranked up!

Grade: B

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