It’s 9pm on a Saturday night, and since I am apparently incapable of sticking to a deadline, that must obviously mean this is another edition of the 3FING3RS classic Fresh Look Friday. I have just finished a screening of the 1999 teen “comedy” She’s All That, starring Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachael Leigh Cook, and you guys? This movie blows. Like, not even in the good way that Twilight blows, but in the way that it would blow if someone came into your house, cut out your tongue, and then made you swallow it whole. The late 90s and early 2000s birthed a great deal of these types of movies in what I guess was meant to be some sort of resurrection of the high school comedy genre that dominated the 1980s; except unfortunately, where 1987 had John Hughes and Molly Ringwald, 1999 has Freddie Prinze Jr and….wait, who directed this noise? I’m not even going to look it up, because I don’t want to attach a name to the embarrassment.

Now I won’t lie, I have a soft spot in my heart for these types of romantic teenage comedies of the black hole that was 1999. Never Been Kissed is quite likable, 10 Things I Hate About You was a fantastic example of how to cater to a young audience without dumbing yourself down, and even Drive Me Crazy was surprisingly fresh (as in tomatoes, not as in Prince of Bel Air). What I truly hate about She’s All That is how dated it is now. Something that contributes to my enjoyment of a movie, no matter how cliche, is how it adapts itself to that particular cliche of its time period, and how it translates a year, 10 years, or 50 years later. She’s All That is a re-imagining of My Fair Lady, which is a re-imagining of Pygmalion, and that story keeps on getting told because it’s universal. It’s something that anyone, in any place, from any time can relate to, and when given something so easily translatable, I should think that’s it not hard to NOT fuck it up. The scent of desperation in this movie is thick and goopy, like a mixture of molasses and the stank of my feet after a day at work, and I became more and more uncomfortable with every scene.

Here is the famous dance scene from the movie, and the scene that best encompasses everything that was wrong with 1999:

……..

Okay okay okay. It is now 11:13 on a Sunday morning. I wrote all that last night whilst still in the throes of a 40 of Miller High Life, and perhaps I was a bit harsh. Yes, She’s All That is totally terrible, but if you were 13 in 1999, watching it again in 2010 is strangely enjoyable just because it makes you realize how totally lame you must have been in 8th grade. I mean, I remember actually saying things like “whatevs” and wearing belly chains and listening to Sixpence None the Richer and thinking I was awesome because of it. How I feel about movies that cater too much to their time period in order to seem cool absolutely still stands, but if you are at the age where you remember actually having a crush on Paul Walker or wearing Airwalk sneakers, then give this movie a Fresh Look. Just make sure to do it with a bottle of Jack Daniels to numb the pain.

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Sweet No-body-Should-Have-Made-This-Movie

It’s Friday night here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so that means another glorious installment of Fresh Look Friday where we here at 3FING3RS take another look at the garbage pail movies of the days of yore and let you know whether or not they’re worth giving a second chance. Up tonight on the chopping block is the 2001 movie Sweet November starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. In this modern masterpiece, Charlize plays Sara, a quirky, free spirited bohemian soul in San Francisco, and Keanu is Nelson, some high powered ad exec on the top of his game, livin’ life in the fast lane. Tell me: how much did you hate reading that sentence? How insulted did you feel by the time you got to the period? As your eyes danced over the words “bohemian” and “high powered” and “livin'” with its dropped G, how much did you suddenly find yourself loathing me for subjecting you to such lame ass cliches? I’d like for you to multiply that feeling by 13 billion and  you will have some vague idea of how I felt sitting in my living room watching this movie.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, in addition to having a deep appreciation for films where shit gets blown up (i.e. anything with Michael Bay’s name attached to it), I also love a good romance. If you were to come over to my house and look at my DVD collection right now, you would see a that right next to my copy of Die Hard is the VERY DELIGHTFUL AND NOT AT ALL EMBARRASSING Notting Hill. I am a lady who enjoys punching the air when Hans Gruber shoots that dude in the face (seriously awesome) as well as one who cries like a baby when Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant that she’s “just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Is that line a bunch of dicks in a blender? Absolutely. But the sincerity in its execution makes it work. I am not bothered by cliched, recycled storylines when it comes to romance movies, because part of what makes them so enjoyable is knowing exactly what it is you’re going to get. So what is it about Sweet November that literally had me wishing I was gargling hobo toenails rather than watching that gob-awful movie?

Let’s start first with the story. Sara is some hot hippie who wears pajama pants instead of regular pants and eats vegan sausage. She has made it her life’s mission to “fix” the men of San Francisco by making them realize how much more meaningful it is to eat ice cream sundaes and do cartwheels on the beach instead of have a real job and, you know, a purpose. Nelson is, naturally, her polar opposite in that he drinks a lot of coffee and drives a Jaguar and  is always screaming into his cell phone about affiliates and demographics and all those other things advertising executives like to yell about. After meeting at the DMV Sara decides she is going to make Nelson her “November.” You see, Sara limits herself to one month with these men she is so graciously saving, saying “it’s long enough to be meaningful and short enough to stay out of trouble.” After a month she kicks them out, unemployed and dumped, but with a new lease on life because Sara has opened their eyes to the wonders of wearing used clothing and eating cous cous.

OH YEAH. Also, Sara is dying. Of what, we never have any idea, except that it involves her getting headaches every time she doesn’t want to discuss something and having enough pill bottles in her medicine cabinet to medicate every single living person on the planet for the rest of their lives. I don’t know what I hate more; Sara’s mind blowing conceit that she thinks just because she has hot-lady death syndrome that she has all the answers and has the right to tell other people how to live their lives, or that this conceit is meant to be passed off as romance to the movie going masses.

The acting is truly terrible. I will make the concession that it’s pretty difficult to act well when you’re given such a mind numbingly awful script, but remember how Charlize Theron has an Oscar? I really think she’s a great actress, but she definitely doesn’t let anybody know about it in most of her films. Keanu Reeves is just Keanu Reeves. I think the forced, stiff delivery he is so famous for is actually pretty well designed for comedy, but in a weepy melodrama it’s honestly just embarrassing to watch him.

The only thing I actually enjoyed about this piece of dogmeat was sitting with my roommate Lance and identifying all of the San Francisco neighborhoods the movie is filmed in. FUN FACT! The park where the last scene takes place is actually up the street from our apartment. It is a place famous for the fact that it gets overrun by hipsters drinking tall cans of PBR out of paper bags at 1 in the afternoon, so it was amusing to see it as some romantic backdrop symbolizing lost love or endless possibilities or whatever the hell. If you do decide to give this movie a Fresh Look, make sure to notice the little white building alone in the grass; that’s the exact location where some dude wearing a pair of pants made out of garbage bags offered to sell me weed and then when I declined called me a “butt burglar” If that doesn’t scream romance, I don’t know what does.

It’s Friday night, kiddos, which means another edition of Fresh Look Friday here on 3FING3RS. Tonight we’ll take a second look at the fourth installment (but first chapter) of George Lucas’s Star Wars Saga, The Phantom Menace. Now, truthfully, I hadn’t seen this movie since it first came out back in 1999, when I was but a wee lass of 13. When the original Star Wars trilogy was re-released in 1997, my mom let me miss school to go watch all three movies in the theaters, and I don’t know if it was that I was 11 and stupid, 11 and awesome, or that I got to skip a test on fractions, but I LOVED THAT NOISE. Watching the original Star Wars trilogy marks the first time I truly remember being excited about movies, and I have always thought it was so cool that I could have the same feeling in 1997 that someone else felt 20 years before. That being said, I’ve always kind of struggled with the problem of “do I like Star Wars because it’s good?” or “do I like Star Wars because it’s totally effing sweet?” It’s hard to think objectively about something that you’re so personally attached to; which is why when the 3 prequels came out in this past decade, I found it so easy to serve them all up a nice tall glass of Haterade. I guess I felt like if I ragged on the new ones, that somehow solidified and legitimized my love for the original. This is stupid, obviously, but give me a break; teenagers are dumb.

So I’ve gone through the past 11 years saying mean things about The Phantom Menace whenever the subject happens to be brought up (which is a lot, since I hang out with a bunch of nerds) but I don’t really think I’ve ever given it a proper chance. Tonight was the night that I tried.

It still sucks.

BUT OKAY. It sucks less than I thought.

The dialogue is atrocious, the acting is embarrassing, the plot blows, and the casting is beyond awful. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to cast Jake Lloyd, the kid who plays the young Anakin Skywalker, in anything other than a short film of me kicking him in the face, should be shot. I’m not expecting some classically trained thespian, but seriously. And I know, George Lucas’s writing doesn’t exactly make it easy to not come off sounding like one of those computer automated messages credit card companies call you with when you owe them $1300 (not that I would know), but shouting “Yippee!” shouldn’t be that hard for some 10 year old kid who’s just been cast as the most badass mothafucka in the universe.

My mom claims immaculate conception, but those midichlorians probably came from Satan

While the pacing and execution of the plot is pretty bad, the story is awesome. George Lucas obviously has some pretty cool ideas, I just wish one of them was to hire a scriptwriter. That all being said, I’m reminded of an interview I read years ago with Ewan McGregor (who plays Obi Wan Kenobi in the sexiest way possible) where he says something to the effect of, “Yeah, it sucks, but it’s Star Wars. What am I supposed to do, go up to George Lucas and tell him his writing is crap?” I guess this is pretty much how I feel about it. It’s Star Wars, dudes. It’s awesome because it’s Star Wars, no matter how many of the individual elements scream “I AM A BAD MOVIE!” Save the phenomenal special effects, The Phantom Menace is pretty terrible on it’s own; but watching it again, doing my best not to compare it to the original trilogy but rather allowing it to serve as a spring board into the badassery (yeah, I said it) that is A New Hope, I’m definitely glad to have given it a Fresh Look.

Today introduces a new feature here on 3FING3RS, one that is very near and dear to my heart because basically it gives me an excuse to watch bad movies under the guise of entertainment journalism. It’s called Fresh Look Friday, and it gives us (the collective “us” since in the immortal words of Troy Bolton, we’re all in this together) a chance to go back and watch films that were generally loathed by critics and audiences and re-examine them in a new light. Who knows, perhaps the reason everyone hated BioDome so much wasn’t because it was a mind-numbingly awful piece of garbage, but because it was so ahead of its time that we just weren’t ready for it as a society. Five bucks says that 50 years from now Pauly Shore will be known as the premiere avant-garde comedian of the 90’s. Maybe not in the good ol’ U. S. of A., but definitely in France.

At any rate, our introductory film this week was meant to be the masterpiece that is Batman and Robin starring Academy Award winner George Clooney, current California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, and CBS superstar Chris O’Donnell (not to mention the bat nipples, which should have been a credited cast member all its own).Unfortunately, they copy of Batman and Robin that I happen to own was bought in Tanzania and is not of the highest quality. Which is weird, because you would think paying 3 U.S. dollars to some Rasta on the streets of Africa for a bootleg collection disc of movies entitled “Harry Potter vs. Star Wars” (which also, inexplicably, includes the first 28 minutes of a season 3 episode of 24) would be a little more professionally done.

At any rate, after my tears finally dried that I would never know what happened to those poor bat nipples, I found I had a decision to make: what movie currently housed in my vast collection would serve as the perfect introduction to Fresh Look Friday? As I scanned the titles, my eyes passed over so many worthy contenders. After deciding that I would save Surf Nazis Must Die! for Yom Kippur, I settled on Tim Burton’s homage to and satire of 50’s sci-fi flicks, Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks! came out in 1996 and it stars pretty much every awesome person you could ever think of if you were a 35 year old white lady: Jack Nicholson (in 2 separate roles), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, even Tom Jones. You would think with a cast like that you’d have movie gold, but, as the cinematic equivalent to the firebombing of Dresden that is Nine proved last year, big stars don’t make your movie good. However, enthusiastically irreverent performances and Tim Burton’s gift for making the absurd totally hilarious makes Mars Attacks! absolutely worth re-watching. I mean, seriously, Sarah Jessica Parker’s head gets fused onto the body of a chihuahua, and the entire United States Congress gets incinerated by a bunch of martians that look like this:

dangle face

It is literally impossible not to laugh when these ridiculous looking things are on the screen

Mars Attacks! isn’t a “so bad it’s un-watchable” movie, nor is it one of those “so bad it’s good” deals. It’s not bad and it’s not good; it just is. It’s the sort of movie you watch on a Thursday afternoon when you should be going to your four hour long film class, but would rather just sit on the couch and eat a bag of Sun Chips. It’s funny and entertaining, and you don’t have to pay a whole lot of attention to it to enjoy it, which sometimes (not always!) is exactly how a movie should be. Movies don’t always have to be such serious business; not all of them can be approached in the same way. I’m not going to view Mars Attacks! with the same movie watching hat I wear when I watch Edward Scissorhands because the tone and intent between the two is so different. Granted, I know that’s not a good way to review something; movie critiquing can’t be 100% subjective, but movie watching definitely should be. So, go rent Mars Attacks! and decide for yourself whether or not it deserves a Fresh Look.