Sunday, February 14, 2010
You'll probably notice that my selections definitely skew toward the 80's. That's because I worked at a movie theater from 1987-1990, so I saw a LOT of movies during that time.
So without further ado, here are THE KNUCKIES!
(cue dramatic music...)
BEST PICTURE: The Godfather (1972)
There are some opinions that are just impossible to argue with. For example, regardless of personal taste, no one can reasonably dispute the fact that Led Zeppelin was a phenomenal rock band. Anyone who says, "nah, Zeppelin sucked," is either deaf or a complete idiot. The Godfather falls into that same category. It's simply the best film ever made, period. The writing, the acting, cinematography, music, it's all top-notch. We get to see the development of Michael Corleone from his attempts to distance himself from the family business all the way to his becoming the Don. And the memorable lines are endless: "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." "Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes." If you don't like this one, you need to get whacked. (Honorable Mention: Rocky)
WORST PICTURE: Are We There Yet? (2005)
I'm embarrassed that I even saw this one but as anyone with children knows, sometimes parents just have to sit through crappy movies to appease the kids. Ironically, though, my kids also thought this movie sucked ass. I mean, you can't really expect a lot from a movie that stars Ice Cube, but this was brutal on every level. All you need to know can be summed up by describing the two main characters. The male lead offers to drive a woman's kids 300 miles in an effort to impress her so much that she'll sleep with him, and the female lead LETS a mere acquaintance drive her kids 300 miles unsupervised. And the kids, Lindsey and Kevin, are tough to describe, other than as "disgusting little shits". They don't really bear any sort of resemblance to actual children and the things they do to "get even" with Ice Cube's character aren't funny...they're just despicable. It's one thing in a movie like Home Alone, where the whole context is slapstick, but in Are We There Yet? the set up is for a family-type adventure. Macaulay Culkin was protecting his home. Lindsey and Kevin weren't provoked by Ice Cube, they're just being rotten for the sake of it. For example, in an effort to get a trucker to think they've been abducted by a child molester, one of the kids holds up a sign that reads "Help us." If even ONE real kid ever tries that, this movie should be banned and all copies of it burned. Hell, that's a good idea regardless. (Dishonorable Mention: Anchorman)
REPEAT VIEWING CLASSIC: Shawshank Redemption (1994)
This is a movie that I simply can not flip through with the remote, and that says a lot since I also own the DVD and can watch it whenever I please. This is one of exactly three movies based on a Stephen King book that can be considered great. The other two are Stand By Me and Misery. Okay, and The Green Mile. It's one thing when you see a film that is truly outstanding, but to be a movie that viewers are eager to see again and again (and again and again), it's gotta be truly special. For example, Forrest Gump and Titanic were outstanding, but once was enough for me. But I've probably seen Shawshank 25 times by now, and it never gets old. That's pretty rare. (Honorable Mention: A Few Good Men)
Have you ever gone to a movie expecting it to be absolutely awful? Usually it's when you're with your kids (did any adult REALLY think Pokemon was going to be a good film?), and you just write it off as your parental duty. Every so often, though, a movie rises above expectations and proves to be pretty entertaining. For me, it was Role Models. From the previews, I thought it was going to a painful viewing experience, especially regarding the kids in the movie. Fortunately, the "obnoxious brat" routine disappeared early on, and the characters actually bonded. And really, any movie with that many KISS references is going to be okay by me. (Honorable Mention: The Hangover)
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Batman (1988)
In the months leading up to June of '88, the hype was everywhere. Mysterious movie trailers, t-shirts and memorabilia popping up everywhere to promote the Keaton-Nicholson version of Batman. I was working at a theater in Pasadena, and we invited all our friends to an unofficial "sneak preview" the night before the movie opened. The higher-ups in the theater company would've blown a gasket if they found out, but they never did. Anyway, it was an exciting event and we were pumped up for greatness. And then the movie started. Aside from a couple early scenes with the Joker, it was terrible. Lots of plot holes, editing errors and shallow characters. What a let down. (Dishonorable Mention: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
For two hours, it was impossible to tell that Dustin Hoffman didn't actually have autism. His performance, rightfully, earned him the Oscar for Best Actor and to this day I have yet to see a more compelling performance. Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond Babbitt never went "over the top", and he definitely, definitely did his homework on autism and the behaviors exhibited by those with the disease. The one scene that stands out in my mind was the scene in the airport when Raymond refused to fly on any airline other than Qantas. I know several people with autism, and this type of reaction is 100% accurate. Any attempt to force the autistic person to do something he doesn't want to do will provoke extreme responses, but once their routine is re-established, they settle back into their more typical behavior. Hoffman played this perfectly without ever making Raymond seem unrealistic or corny. (Honorable Mention: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight)
WORST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Male): Kevin Costner, JFK (1991)
I'm actually a big Costner fan, but he really needs to stick to films where he's not being asked to, you know, act. He's great when he's basically playing himself in movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. But his attempt at a southern accent in JFK was simply brutal. It didn't help that he was surrounded by a cast of actors who are about ten notches above Costner on the acting ability scale, guys like Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, and many others. In fact, one could make the argument that the only person whose performance was more lifeless was John F. Kennedy's portrayal of himself in the Zapruder film segment. (Dishonorable Mention: Keanu Reeves, Everything He's Ever Been in Except Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure)
Glenn Close has been in a boatload of motion pictures, but never has she looked as hot as she did in Fatal Attraction. No wonder Michael Douglas went astray. I believe that it's Close's history of playing "nice" ladies that made her performance as Alex Forrest even more disturbing. And she could turn it on and off like a light switch -- sweet and charming one minute, completely psychotic the next. Just like, you know, every other woman on the planet. Just kidding, girls. Sort of. (Honorable Mention: Kathy Bates, Misery)
WORST ACTING PERFORMANCE (Female): Kelly McGillis, Top Gun (1986)
Okay, I'm going to be honest here, my main beef with Kelly McGillis in this movie has more to do with her character than her actual performance. Charlotte Blackwood (call sign, imaginatively enough, "Charlie") was the most insensitive fucking ice queen on the planet, and I hope she dies in a fiery explosion. Here's why. Late in the film, we see Maverick sitting in a bar, having just quit Navy Fighter Pilot School, better known as "Top Gun". He's nursing an ice water and dealing with the death of his best friend Goose, who perished in a crash caused by that fuckin' dickhead Iceman. Charlie comes up to Maverick and for about thirty seconds, almost seems to sympathize with him, what, with his friend being dead and all. But when Mav doesn't immediately snap out of his "funk", Charlie turns on him, saying, "So that's it then. You're going to quit. I guess you've got that maneuver down real good." What a bitch. (Dishonorable Mention: Rosie Perez, White Men Can't Jump)
MOST MEMORABLE SCENE: Car Rental Scene, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
This is also the funniest scene ever filmed, hands down. To refresh your memory, Neil Page (Steve Martin) has just been dropped off at his rental car, or more precisely, the parking spot where his rental car was supposed to be. Abandoned by the shuttle bus, Neil then has to walk about three miles back to the rental car office where he's confronted by an obnoxiously cheery agent (played to perfection by Edie McClurg) who's on the phone with a friend, talking about her Thanksgiving plans. When she finally gives Neil her attention, the guy finally snaps. And I quote:
" . . . I really don't care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn't fucking there. And I really didn't care to fucking walk down a fucking highway and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!"
Steve Martin, at his absolute best. (Honorable Mention: Training Montage, Rocky)
MOST DISTURBING SCENE: Gum Job Scene, Yes Man (2008)
This is a scene I'd rather not dwell on too much, so I'll boil it down to the bare essentials. Having made a commitment to saying "yes" to all suggestions, Jim Carrey is offered oral sex in return for helping an old lady install shelves in her apartment. We see Carrey enter the woman's bedroom. We see her move down Carrey's chest, and disappear from the frame. We all know what's going on here, and it's rather disgusting. And then, just when we think it can't get any more repulsive, it does.
We see a hand put a set of dentures into a glass of water on the night stand. Ewww. (Honorable Mention: Hobbling Scene, Misery)
Let's face it, John Cusack has built an entire career around "nice guy" roles. He's one of those actors who you'd be really disappointed to find out is an asshole. I mean, some actors, you just KNOW must be complete pricks in real life (I'm looking at YOU, Sean Penn), but Cusack seems like he'd buy you a beer, ask about your family, and then offer to help you move. In Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler is Cusack at his endearing best. He does everything he can to win the heart of Diane Court (Ione Skye, who was once involved with Anthony Kiedis if you can believe that), stands on the principle that he won't ever sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career, and he calls his friends on the carpet for their hypocrisy ("If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?"). To paraphrase that fuckin' dickhead Iceman, Lloyd Dobler could be my wingman any time. (Honorable Mention: James Bond)
This douchebag is known for one line and one line only. All together now:
"GET HIM A BODY BAG!"
During the All-Valley Karate Tournament's final match between Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence (Tommy's dojo-mate and, most likely, his lover) Tommy giggled and squealed like a Girl Scout hopped up on Thin Mints. He sure seemed pretty cocky for a guy who'd gotten his ass kicked by Daniel-san two rounds earlier in the tournament. This guy is such a sphincter biscuit I have a feeling that if their sensei would've allowed it, the rest of the Cobra Kai would've round-kicked Tommy into a quivering lump of acne cream. (Dishonorable Mention: Ariel Moore, Footloose!)
I challenge you readers right now to come up with one movie that Tom Hanks wasn't good in. I'm not saying all of his MOVIES have been fabulous. The 'Burbs was a bit "out there" and Joe Versus the Volcano wasn't going to win any awards, but even in his weaker movies Hanks was fun to watch. He won back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, produced and/or directed two very entertaining films (That Thing You Do! and Apollo 13) and is, by all accounts, one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. If I had to choose one of Hanks' performances that I liked the best, and it would be difficult, I'd have to go with his portrayal of Josh Baskin in Big. From the minute he hits the screen, you're absolutely convinced that Tom's been possessed by a twelve year-old. (Honorable Mention: Morgan Freeman)
LIFETIME DISGRACE AWARD: Will Ferrell
So there you have it, the first annual Knuckies. I'm sure many of my selections will be disputed, but that's the nature of show business. So feel free to share your disagreement.
Okay, show's over. After party at Suldog's place!