July 2, 2013

Wiener Dog Nationals (2013)

RECENTLY, JACK-JACK WAS OBSESSED with dachshunds, aka “wiener dogs.” Whenever he’d see one, he’d point it out and giggle until the little four-footed frankfurter was out of sight.

So when I heard there was a new family film all about wiener dogs, I was on it like relish on a…well, you know…

Wiener Dog Nationals introduces us to the Jack family: unemployed widower Phil (Jason London) and his three children, teenager Skip (Austin Anderson) and kids Bridget (Caitlin Carmichael) and Danny (Julian Feder). When Danny adopts a wiener dog named Shelly for his birthday, he discovers Shelly’s got speed and enters her – unbeknownst to Phil – in the Wiener Dog Nationals, a real-life dachshund race sponsored by the Wienerschnitzel fast food chain. With the help of Wiener Dog Nationals employee Melanie (Alicia Witt), Shelly and the Jacks keep one step ahead of the scheming Ms. Merryweather (Morgan Fairchild), a filthy-rich debutante who’ll stop at nothing to see her wiener dog, Princess, win the big race.

For a film called Wiener Dog Nationals – about a wiener dog who enters a series of wiener dog races – the amount of screen time dedicated to wiener dogs is shockingly minimal. Ironically, Shelly is marginalized in her own film. In fact, there’s so much screen time dedicated to the Jack family’s internal strife and miscommunication, the film should’ve been called A Fractured Family – Oh, and They Have a Dog Too.

First-time feature director Kevan Peterson should have added establishing scenes of Shelly bonding with Danny and his family beyond the dog races (of which, there are only three in the entire film). How about the kids playing with the dog? Getting into wacky antics much to the dismay of their strict father? Even when Shelly turns on the hijinks, it’s all shown after the fact: ripped-up couch pillows here, a chewed-up newspaper there. Where’s the fun in that?

As the exasperated dad, London spends the entire film looking either perplexed or annoyed. Fairchild comes off as Cruella DeVil Lite as she schmoozes the race’s head judge (Mad Men’s Bryan Batt) when not resorting to espionage and blackmail (!) to get Shelly disqualified. And don’t get me started on the always-painful experience of watching extended scenes of marginally talented kid actors struggling to deliver dialogue to each other (see Opposite Day, Labou).

By the time the stakes are raised in Wiener Dog Nationals’ last act, it’s too little too late. Shelly’s screen time has been scant, simple questions are left unanswered, and it all ends with (spoiler alert!) a happy ending, but an underwhelming one that basically says, “Shelly didn’t win the big race, but thanks to two completely unrelated disqualifications, she’s the winner by default!” Um, yay?

Flat and forgettable, Wiener Dog Nationals’ ultimate flaw is simple: It has too much dialogue, and not enough dachshunds. Or, as my wife puts it, “Too many words, not enough wieners.”
What did FilmBoy and Jack-Jack think?
All I could get out of FilmBoy regarding Wiener Dog Nationals was complete indifference. Did he like it? “Sort of.” Jack-Jack could not be reached for comment (he fell asleep before the ending).

Is it suitable for your kids?
Wiener Dog Nationals is suitable for all ages. A few uses of “stupid” and “losers,” and Phil and Melanie make awkward advances toward each other, but that’s about it.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
My wife was unimpressed with Wiener Dog Nationals’ plot holes and overall B-movie feel. She did hope that with Shelly’s race winnings, the Jacks can afford to get Danny a haircut. Major white kid ‘fro going on there.

Bad: Your dog drinks your milk.
Worse: She's lactose intolerant.

Wiener Dog Nationals (2013)
* Director: Kevan Peterson
* Screenwriter: Gregory Gutierrez
* Stars: Alicia Witt, Jason London, Morgan Fairchild, Marque Richardson, Bryan Batt, Caitlin Carmichael, Chris Moss, Laura Ann Kesling, Austin Anderson, Julian Feder
* MPAA Rating: G

Rent Wiener Dog Nationals from Netflix >>

June 19, 2013

Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (2013)

SUMMER, 1988. I’m 19, working at a crappy factory job. And since I’m underage, my nightlife is practically nil.

But then, while channel surfing one night, I come across a talk show. Well, it’s technically a talk show; it has an audience, guests, and a host. But the audience is near riotous, the guests look shell-shocked, and the host – with a loosened tie, wide eyes, and ever-present cigarette – is shouting self-righteous rhetoric at them when he’s not telling them to shut up. Or, in his oft-repeated catchphrase, to “Zip it!”

I had never seen anything like it in my life. And I was hooked for the rest of the summer.

Before there was Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, or even Glenn Beck, there was Morton Downey, Jr. For two years in the late 1980s, The Morton Downey Jr. Show drew in viewers looking for a fight. And with every episode, they got one, if not several. Downey was provocative, incendiary, controversial, confrontational, and often downright rude – and his audience loved it, frequently jumping to their feet in roars of applause.

Through archive footage, animated segments, and interviews with former colleagues, guests, and audience members, Evocateur tells how Downey skyrocketed to fame (some say infamy) and crashed just as fast. Directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, all recovering Downey fans, do a good job balancing footage of Downey’s show with interviews and home videos. The middle meanders a bit and struggles to keep things compelling when not talking about Downey’s show, but things pick up with the discussion of frequent guest Reverend Al Sharpton – who, like Downey, knew the value of controversy and schemed with the host to keep things fiery and memorable.

While claiming to be a voice for the common man, Downey was actually a child of Hollywood (his dad was a famous Irish tenor, his mom an actress/dancer) and he was a family friend of the Kennedys. And like many pop culture personalities who put on an act, the misogyny of Downey’s TV persona bled over into his personal life (colleagues talk of physical confrontations with female guests and his own wife), and he soon became an egotist spiraling out of control: affairs, bouts of rage, rock star extravagance, climbing debt, and perhaps worst of all, believing his own hype.

Evocateur ends with the two events of Downey’s professional and personal demise: his infamous hoax when he (incorrectly) spray-painted a swastika on his face and claimed he was attacked by skinheads, and his death from lung cancer at 67. (The footage of a gaunt, hoarse, and humbled Downey in the final stages of his life is especially hard to watch.)

Evocateur effectively states the case that, for better or worse, Morton Downey, Jr. was the prototype of today’s television – the precursor to the fight-centric circus of raucous talk shows and reality TV. He deliberately provoked his guests. He knew the power of manipulation. He discussed topics on an emotional level, not an intellectual one. He attacked his guests with a ferocity never before seen on a talk show – creating an awkward, dangerous atmosphere that, nearly 25 years later, still permeates the television landscape today.
Is it suitable for your kids?
Evocateur is rated R for “language and some nudity.”
Language: Frequent use of four-letter words.
Violence: There are verbal and physical confrontations in clips from Downey’s show.
Nudity: A couple of Downey’s guests get topless.
Smoking: Nearly every frame of Downey has him smoking. He dies from lung cancer.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
I highly doubt she’ll like Morton Downey Jr. or his behavior on his talk show, but Evocateur is a compelling documentary no matter what you think of its topic. This could be one worth sharing with her…provided the kids are asleep or out of the house.

"Betsy Ross: Real American or Talentless Tramp?
That's next on The Morton Downey Jr. Show!!!"

Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
* Directors: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger
* Screenwriter: Daniel A. Miller
* Stars: Morton Downey Jr., Herman Cain, Pat Buchanan, Chris Elliott, Gloria Allred, Sally Jesse Raphael, Alan Dershowitz, Curtis Sliwa, Richard Bey
* MPAA Rating: R

Rent Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie from Netflix >>

June 3, 2013

Taken 2 (2012)

THE ORIGINAL TAKEN gave us another reason to like the already likable Liam Neeson: We got to watch him dish out some serious kicking of ass in his quest to rescue his kidnapped daughter.

In Taken 2, we’re reacquainted with Neeson’s overprotective dad and former intelligence operative, Bryan Mills, who’s even more overprotective thanks to the events of the first film, where his teenage daughter Kim (Lost’s Maggie Grace) was kidnapped, drugged, and about to be sold as a sex slave. As Bryan copes with Kim’s new boyfriend (Luke Grimes) and her inability to pass her driver’s test, he invites Kim and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to join him on a security detail-slash-vacation in Istanbul. But soon after they arrive, the vengeful relatives of the kidnappers Bryan killed in the first Taken kidnap Bryan and Lenore, leaving Kim to elude the captors while trying to find and rescue her parents.

Let’s be honest: A large amount of the first Taken’s appeal was to watch Neeson dole out tactical and brutal revenge against the men who took his daughter. Unfortunately, he doesn’t unleash his very particular set of skills on the bad guys until the last 20 minutes of Taken 2. In the meantime, he’s telling Kim what to do via cell phone as he tries to find a way for him and Lenore to escape their captors.

There are also several scenes of incredulity that hamper the film. Neeson’s captors, who have him at gunpoint, wait until he makes and finishes a call with Kim before abducting him. Kim can’t pass her driving test, but she barrels down the narrow streets of Istanbul in a stolen taxi like Jason Bourne. The overuse of musical crescendos to tip off pivotal moments gets annoying, and a bit insulting. And much like how Taken tried to play off 25-year-old Grace as a high school student, it’s now even harder to buy 29-year-old Grace as a soon-to-be college freshman.

Despite the efforts of awesomely named director Olivier Megaton, and returning Taken co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, Taken 2 is merely passable and ultimately forgettable. Bottom line, the adventure’s not the same when Neeson’s not the one who’s large and in charge.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Taken 2's rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality.
Action/Violence: A man is tortured to gather information; there is a lot of hand-to-hand combat; many people are shot; a few people are slashed with knives. There are several intense foot chases and car chases (featuring multiple crashes).
Adult Situations: Kim makes out with her boyfriend, fully clothed.
Language: Several occurrences of “sh*t.”
Alcohol: Bryan and Lenore drink wine in one scene.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Nothing really for her to see here. If pressed, watch the original Taken with her for a better experience, though the theme of child abduction and the intense violence may turn her off.
That's a helluva way to skip out on the room bill.

Taken 2
* Director: Olivier Megaton
* Screenwriters: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
* Stars: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija
* MPAA Rating: PG-13

Rent Taken 2 from Netflix >>

May 23, 2013

Kung Fu Magoo (2010)

MENTION THE NAME “Mr. Magoo” to anyone under 30, and you’ll probably get a blank stare. Or in honor of Magoo’s handicap, maybe a squinting, legally blind stare.

Mr. Magoo was a series of cartoon shorts created in 1949 featuring the misadventures of Quincy Magoo (voiced by Gilligan’s Island star Jim Backus), whose incredibly poor vision put him in all kinds of slapstick misunderstandings, with Magoo completely oblivious to what was really happening. Over the years, Magoo has appeared in various TV series, holiday specials, and movies (including a dreadful live-action film starring Leslie Nielsen). The latest incarnation is 2010’s Kung Fu Magoo, which has Mr. Magoo (Jim Conroy) sharing a home with his nephew Justin (Dylan Sprouse), who mostly rolls his eyes at his uncle’s nearsighted antics.

After inadvertently saving a busload of students from a robotic villain, Mr. Magoo is labeled a hero and recruited by the government to infiltrate Bad Bad Island, with Justin and Mr. Magoo’s dog McBarker along for the trip. Bad Bad Island is led by the sinister Tan Gu (Lloyd Floyd), who is holding the Evilympics, where the toughest supervillains compete in events such as building doomsday devices, battling giant spider robots, and yes, knuckle cracking. Also competing is Justin’s hero, action movie star Cole Fusion (Chris Parnell), who’s there to prove he’s more than just another pretty face.

Despite the film’s title, we don’t get a lot of kung fu fighting from Mr. Magoo. (He gets his moniker because someone thinks he’s striking a Karate Kid-like crane pose while tangled in fishing line.) However, the film makes up for this by providing non-stop action throughout, mostly thanks to the Evilympics events and several chase sequences involving Magoo, Justin, and various pursuants. And while not every one of Magoo’s myopic misunderstandings is laugh-out-loud funny, several are truly hilarious.

A joint effort from DreamWorks Classics (formerly Classic Media) and Mexican-based Anima Estudios, Kung Fu Magoo maintains the spirit of the classic Mr. Magoo character within a contemporary, fast-paced, enjoyable film.


What did FilmBoy think?
Initially, he didn’t know what to make of Mr. Magoo – but once Kung Fu Magoo got rolling, he was laughing out loud on several occasions.

Is it suitable for your kids?
Violence/Scariness: Cartoonish violence abounds (punching, knife-throwing, laser guns, rocket launchers, etc.); a boy bullies Justin on several occasions, mostly via water balloons.
Rude Humor: McBarker vomits over the side of a boat; a robot is kicked in the groin and self-destructs; a bird poops on Mr. Magoo’s head. Justin’s best friend in school is a poor Indian stereotype, with a thick accent and protruding teeth.
Language: “Jerk,” “freak,” “hotness,” “kicking butt”

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
She could do worse than having to sit through Kung Fu Magoo with your kids. It’s often exciting and intermittently funny. And if she’s a Gen-Xer or older, she might feel nostalgic seeing Mr. Magoo again.

“Um, Bob? You might wanna bring a deadlier weapon next time…”

Kung Fu Magoo
* Director: Andrés Couturier
* Screenwriters: Emmy Laybourne, Rob Sosin, Robert Mittenthal
* Stars: Jim Conroy, Lloyd Floyd, Dylan Sprouse, Cole Sprouse, Alyson Stoner, Tom Kenny, Chris Parnell, Rodger Bumpass, Maile Flanagan, Wally Wingert, Candi Milo
* MPAA Rating: N/A

Rent Kung Fu Magoo from Netflix >>

May 15, 2013

Texas Chainsaw (2013)

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has established itself as a true classic of relentless terror. But its many sequels, prequels, and remakes have delivered continually diminishing returns. This year’s Texas Chainsaw picks up where the original Chainsaw left off, with an opening sequence that shows the demented Sawyer family holed up in their farmhouse, surrounded by an armed, angry mob. The mob opens fire on the house and then burns the place down, apparently killing everyone inside – including the maniacal Leatherface, who wields the titular chainsaw and wears a mask of human skin.

Fast forward a couple decades, and we meet Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who learns that a grandmother she never knew has died and left Heather her mansion in Texas. Bringing along her friends Ryan (Trey Songz), Nikki (Lost’s Tania Raymonde), and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), Heather heads to her grandmother’s mansion to finalize some paperwork. Turns out that inheriting Grandma’s mansion comes with a little snag: Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is alive and living in the sprawling basement, which he’s turned into his personal butcher shop.

Like the many Chainsaw films that followed the largely bloodless original, Texas Chainsaw piles on the gore – with Leatherface putting his trusty saw to use on several victims, including his own grisly not-so-magic trick of sawing a person in half. (Texas Chainsaw’s gore comes courtesy of FX master Greg Nicotero, who also worked on Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.)

But Texas Chainsaw is more than a story about a boy and his power tool; the sins of the past also come to light, as Heather discovers her connection to the Sawyer family – and uncovers the tragic demise of a family she never knew. Corrupt policemen, brutish locals, and small-town secrets start playing a big (if not bigger) role than the horror of Leatherface, and the film falls into some sort of horror/crime hybrid that dilutes any small shred of terror it succeeded in creating.

Texas Chainsaw director John Luessenhop should get credit for attempting a fresh approach to bridge to the original film, as well as taking the terror of Leatherface beyond the house of horrors and into the local population (police investigate the killings, and Leatherface chases Heather through a crowded town fair). But not even cameos by the original Chainsaw cast can save this latest lackluster attempt at keeping the franchise alive. Uneven, rarely scary, and hobbled by an awkward and unsatisfying conclusion, Texas Chainsaw is yet another sub-par installment in a film series where, nearly 40 years later, the first is still the best.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Texas Chainsaw is rated R for “strong grisly violence and language throughout.” So, no.
Violence: People are shot, impaled, bludgeoned to death, beheaded, dismembered, skinned alive, and ground into meat.
Sex/Nudity: Heather and Ryan make out, with Heather only wearing a bra on top. Nikki strips to her bra and panties on several occasions.
Language: Countless four-letter words. A couple mentions of “retard.”

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Highly doubtful. Even if she’s a horror film buff, avoid this one and watch the original.

Hmmm...decisions, decisions...

Texas Chainsaw
* Director: John Luessenhop
* Screenwriters: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms
* Stars: Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Shaun Sipos, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, James MacDonald, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Richard Riehle, Bill Moseley
* MPAA Rating: R

Rent Texas Chainsaw from Netflix >>

May 9, 2013

Bee Movie (2007)

MY AFFECTION FOR DreamWorks Animation has definitely grown over the last five years, thanks to more deeply developed offerings such as the Kung Fu Panda films, How to Train Your Dragon, and last year’s Rise of the Guardians.

But before that, DreamWorks’ output lacked the depth and imagination that Pixar was providing in droves. And 2007’s Bee Movie is (hopefully) one of the last installments of that earlier time.

Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) is a college grad who’s eager to begin his career as a worker bee in his hive. Since bees have a short lifespan, he knows he has to make his career choice count – once a bee picks a job in the hive, they’re stuck with it for the rest of their (abbreviated) life. While out collecting pollen, Barry befriends Vanessa (Renée Zellweger), a human who values all living things, including Barry. When Barry is outraged that people have been “stealing” bees’ honey for years, Vanessa helps him file a lawsuit against the human race.

Bee Movie is pollinated here and there with make-you-smile cleverness, but out-loud laughs are few. Many jokes will go over kids’ heads, but the punchlines won’t satisfy the adults who get them. (It really took four writers to come up with this?)

In addition to uneven humor and lack of character depth, the film demands huge suspensions of disbelief. The fact that Vanessa accepts and befriends a talking bee after only a few moments is hard to swallow, not to mention the swarms of people in the courtroom during Barry’s lawsuit trial who also seem unaffected by Barry’s ability to speak. It’s also tough buying the seasoned, “lemme tell ya” voice of 53-year-old Jerry Seinfeld as a recent college graduate. (If you’re dying for a Jerry/Puddy reunion, Seinfeld’s Patrick Warburton voices Vanessa’s arrogant and jealous boyfriend, Ken.)

Bee Movie starts with a promising premise – questioning the idea of having one monotonous job your entire life (a la Wreck-It Ralph) – but soon devolves into a much less engaging plot involving a courtroom trial that kids won’t care about, much less understand. Uneven and too clever for its own good, Bee Movie provides occasional glimpses of inspiration, but ultimately not enough sting.


What did FilmBoy and Jack-Jack think?
FilmBoy stayed with Bee Movie for the first hour, but then his attention waned and he started looking at his Pokemon cards. His final verdict: “It was okay.” Meanwhile, Jack-Jack soaked in every bit, getting visibly animated at much of what was going on.

Is it suitable for your kids?
Bee Movie is rated PG for "mild suggestive humor."
Language: A bee accuses Barry of “making out” with Vanessa. When he needs to go to the bathroom, Barry declares he needs to “drain the ol’ stinger.” A bee says of a female co-worker, “She’s hot!” Barry describes a character as being “very Jewish.” In a low moment, Barry and Vanessa jokingly discuss a “suicide pact” and how they would do it. One mention each of “drag queen,” “poo water,” and “heaving buttocks.”
Violence: Vanessa stabs herself with a fork to make sure she’s not dreaming. Barry has a dream where Vanessa crashes a plane she’s piloting and it bursts into flames. There are several scenes of slapstick punching and slapping. Ken tries to swat, smash, and light Barry on fire during a fight.
Adult Themes: There’s an ongoing theme, though handled lightheartedly, of dying and death due to the bee’s short lifespan.
Smoking: A human passerby smokes a cigarette.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
The images and premise of Bee Movie may appeal to her, but she may balk at the pedestrian humor and questionable adult material in such a child-targeted film.

Wow – that's one honey of a serve!
(Oh, boo-hiss to you, too.)

Bee Movie
* Directors: Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith
* Screenwriters: Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, Andy Robin
* Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Eddie Izzard, Alan Arkin, Megan Mullally, Rip Torn, Larry Miller, Barry Levinson
* MPAA Rating: PG

Rent Bee Movie from Netflix >>

Congrats to the winner of the
Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection!


The winner is...

Amy Bond!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest - and for making this my most popular giveaway ever.

May 2, 2013

Win the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection!
(a $600 value)

I CAN’T BELIEVE I’m giving this away: You could win the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection!

This collection makes a great last-minute Mother’s Day gift. It features 100 classic films (including all 22 of Warner Bros.’ Best Picture™ winners) on 55 DVDs, presented in book-style premium packaging. It also includes two all-new documentaries, Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot and The Warner Bros. Lot Tour, plus hours of commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more on select films, as well as a limited edition 27” x 40” poster and a postcard series of Warner Bros. movie posters designed by the legendary Bill Gold. View full film list

How to Enter:
  • Comment on this post by May 8, 2013. You must provide a way for me to contact you if you win. For example, your e-mail address must be available on the page/site that's linked to your name ("Bob said...") or include your email or Twitter handle in your comment.
  • I will pick one comment at random and post the winner.
  • Prize is available to U.S. mailing addresses only. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)

After you’ve entered, check out the Mother’s Day Movie Night Blog App, featuring:
  • Guess-the-Scene – How well do you know the silver screen’s most famous love stories and sing-a-longs? Test your knowledge on the world’s greatest films. The quicker you pick, the more points you score!
  • Words in Film – Select your mood and let quotes and images from film express how you’re feeling.
  • Movie Night Conversation Starters – Watching a classic flick together is the perfect opportunity to catch up and share stories. This Mother’s Day, make it a point to connect with your family and give them a chance to learn something about mom they never knew!

You can also download “My Perfect Mother’s Day” (PDF), a fun fill-in-the-blank sheet you can fill out and hang on your fridge for your whole family to see.

Good luck!

April 24, 2013

Superfights (1995)

SOMETIMES, I WORRY that I won’t see another film worthy of Trashterpiece Theatre. But then along comes a movie like Superfights, and all is right with the world.

“Superfights,” as if I have to tell you, are a type of pro wrestling/martial arts hybrid – “where no one knows the outcome!” the announcer assures us – with Superfighters sporting gimmicky nicknames such as Budokai, Dark Cloud, and Night Stalker. Mega-fan Jack Cody (Brandon Gaines) attends every event, even teaching himself the moves he sees his favorite Superfighters perform. (Conveniently, he works in a warehouse full of mannequins, which he uses as practice dummies.)

After Jack becomes a local celebrity by beating up a trio of would-be muggers, he’s recruited by Superfights president Mr. Sawyer (Keith Vitali) to compete in the ring. Jack trains with Angel (Kelly Gallant), a freakishly muscular female Superfighter who overtly flirts with Jack but may have ulterior motives. Watch in amazement as Angel trains Jack using the latest advancements in 1995 technology, including punching at a stream of light and dodging giant phallic pipes that dart out of the walls.

Oh, I almost forgot: Mr. Sawyer’s Superfights empire might be a front for extortion, drug running, mind control, and murder.

Superfights captures the pure essence of direct-to-video, B-movie action flicks of the mid-‘90s. The B-level acting. The hokey, overly serious training montages. The meathead, be-the-best mentality of the fighters. The gratuitous violence. The melodramatic soundtrack, awash in mid-‘90s synth and squealing guitar riffs. This one’s got it all, set against the martial arts hotbed of…Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The film also features other ridiculous moments, such as Jack getting attacked by a ninja while jogging in broad daylight – a ninja who, while fleeing, literally tells Jack to “just say no” to the “vitamins” supplied by Angel as part of Jack’s Superfighters regimen.

All that being said, the fight scenes in Superfights are in-sane. Director and fight choreographer Tony Leung gives us dozens of fights featuring rapid-fire exchanges, impressive editing, and over-exaggerated impact with blood, sweat, and spit flying everywhere. It culminates in a multi-fight finale between Cody and Sawyer that’s so amazing, I immediately replayed it once the credits started to roll.

A real-life third-degree black belt, Gaines’ role in Superfights was his first and last in films; he’s now a public speaker, rabbi, and acupuncturist living in California. Gallant, unfortunately, has had her share of run-ins with the law since Superfights, including a wrongful death lawsuit and recent arrests for DUI and probation violation.

Highly entertaining and a candidate for repeat viewing, Superfights delivers the goods in both martial arts action and cheeseballiness – rightfully earning its spot in the Trashterpiece pantheon.

(Bonus: Watch for a brief appearance by wrestling legend Rob Van Dam as a doomed Superfighter. His fight was originally supposed to be much shorter, but the filmmakers were so impressed with his physical abilities that they made his fight longer and took a full day to shoot.)

Is it suitable for your kids?
Violence: The Superfights get increasingly violent, leading to bloodied faces and broken bones. Superfighters beat up citizens and two-bit hoods while collecting “protection” money. Several people are beaten to death, many with blood spurting from their mouths. A man is bloodily decapitated by a ceiling fan.
Sex/Nudity: Angel is seen briefly nude from behind as she enters a shower. Jack and Angel share a kiss wearing nothing but bathrobes. Angel makes several overt advances on Jack, with lots of grabbing and groping. Sawyer and Angel are shown getting dressed post-coitus.
Language: “A**hole,” “bulls**t,” “s**t”
Drugs: Superfighters are shown taking Sawyer’s steroid-laced, mind-controlling “vitamins.” A man snorts cocaine.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she’s the kind of person who enjoys B-movies and talking back to the screen, but doesn’t mind some violence and bloodshed thrown in the mix, Superfights could be a great film for you to share. Otherwise, check it out yourself or with some friends.

Experience the awesome Superfights trailer,
then try in vain to fight your urge to see the film:

* Director: Tony Leung
* Screenwriter: Keith W. Strandberg
* Stars: Brandon Gaines, Feihong Yu, Keith Vitali, Kelly Gallant, Chuck Jeffreys, Cliff Lenderman, Brian Ruth, Patrick Lung-Kong, Karen Bill
* MPAA Rating: PG-13

Rent Superfights from Netflix >>

April 20, 2013

Win a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack of The Guilt Trip and a Deluxe Spa Kit!

You could win a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack of The Guilt Trip starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, plus a deluxe spa kit.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack comes ready-wrapped and includes a pop-up Mother's Day greeting card with audio message:
click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The spa kit includes: sauna basket, olive & aloe soap, honey & calendula moisturizer, cool mint foot scrub, Whenever shampoo and conditioner, anti-stress shower gel, whitening toothpaste, early-to-bed shower gel, loofa, pumice stone, massaging brush, nail brush, and hair brush.

How to Enter:
  • Comment on this post by April 28, 2013. You must provide a way for me to contact you if you win. For example, your e-mail address must be available on the page/site that's linked to your name ("Bob said...") or include your e-mail or Twitter handle in your comment.
  • I will pick one comment at random and post the winner.
  • Prize is available to U.S. mailing addresses only. (No P.O. Boxes, please.)

Good luck!


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