Block-busted. Little Leon Lays down the Law

Children are not the most discerning viewers.

I mean, most viewers are not the most discerning viewers, kids even less so. I remember as a child, being part of a discussion about the Fair Go ad awards with my family. Okay, let’s step back a sec. Fair Go was a TV show about consumer rights, etc. They’d also run annual awards for creative advertising. NZ has always done an excellent job with clever ads, and I’d eerily patriotic about it. So I was a child, and The Adults Were Talking. I heard what they said, then impulsively barged in.

“I think the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers toy ad should win. It’s a toy ad and they show all the toys. The toys look really fun, so it’s a good ad.” I was wrong, perhaps because my metrics were off. At least I gave it some thought.

Like I said, not so discerning. It’s probably why shitty kids movies made to push toys continue to exist. Their audience laps them up without complaining, and it puts adult bums in seats. Then, of course, the real money comes from the toys being sold. Ugly Dolls, Transformers, Trolls 1 and or 2. Plus ça change, eh? That said, here are some movies I thought were shit, even as a non-discerning kid:

Super Mario Bros (1993)

Look, a bunch of these are likely to be video game adaptations. The medium has suffered shitty storytelling, contrived plots and low level talent for years. Sure, gaming is a massive industry now, but in the 90s it wasn’t such an all-encompassing entertainment juggernaut. Super Mario Bros was a big deal. It was the game that people thought of when they heard the words Video Game. The movie, however, was a total fucking shitshow. A bizarre plot where Earth was suffering a planetary overlay from some dinosaur planet. All of the game’s goofy/cute looking monsters were retconned into dinosaurs. Even Yoshi, who may well be a dinosaur already, didn’t fair so well. Look how they massacred my boy.

This film actually had talent involved, but even as a kid I could see the lack of coherence. It just made no fucking sense. And why were goombas so fucking creepy? Did Bob Hoskins actually know what he’d signed up for? Looks like maybe not. I watched it again a few years ago, and may have developed an ironic soft spot that was beyond me at an age where I didn’t know what irony was. Have some drinks and watch, but please leave your expectations behind. Super, it ain’t.

Street Fighter (1994)

As a precocious little seven year old, I guess I was finding my pretention too. This movie was yet another shitshow. Once again, they massacred my boy. Why was US Colonel Guile played by renown non-American, Jean Claude Van Damme? Why did esteemed actor Raul Julia waste his final performance on this piece of arse? I’m not the first to wonder. I hated it, but didn’t know why. I was so thirsty for video game film content that I tried to watch it many many times to see what went wrong. I just kept finding more things. Where were the Hadoukens? Sonic Booms? Shoryukens? Why wouldn’t they just do something awesome and animated (they did. It was awesome. Here’s the entire thing on Youtube)?

Wild Wild West (1999)

This one’s fresh, ’cause I just went to a screening with live commentary by local Toronto drag queen Allysin Chaynes. It was a blast. As a child though, it was a rough movie to watch. Why were all the characters so patently unlikeble? How could a giant mechanical spider be boring? Why was the movie significantly less exciting than the audacious and oftentimes riotous full seven and a half minute music video? Will Smith throws his hat across the room to himself in a full white suit. It’s badass. I think I may even still like the song, especially Neil Cicierega’s brilliant rearrangement. I thought this film was gonna be super cool, and instead it was kinda boring, the jokes didn’t really land. It was a slog.

I watched last night after a bunch of drinks and, egads. It’s fucking terrible. Not only does the script suck, but the characters do too. Salma Hayek is reduced to an accent, pair of boobs and a role as a plot device. The script has an unforgivable amount of racist and ableist jokes. It’s altogether many kinds of hateful. So many non-plot literal devices (it’s steampunk all over) serve no real purpose in the plot. And of course, Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix to play Jim West, which is always notable.

Look, I’m no prodigy. I watched my unfair share of terrible movies. These are just some of the few instances where I realised it.

Advertisements

I guess you can say I buried the load…

Today I took a dump at work. I opened the door, and accidentally caught the reflection of some dude washing his hands. I looked him dead in the eyes, flushed the toilet and said “I’m sorry, that wasn’t meant to be a power move.”

Let me explain.

Our work toilets have auto flushers. We have two toilet stalls in our male bathrooms. One of them is an accessible stall. On principle, I try to avoid it if possible. I’ve never seen someone with outwardly visible accessible needs in our office. Some of these are very much not visible, I get that. So I try to be considerate and use the other stall. The other stall has a terrible flush. It’ll get maybe half the bowl down, or it’ll flush things, and you get remnants of torn toilet paper floating at the water’s surface. You can hold down the flush to make it more thorough. If you stand up, the sensor notices you’ve done it and flushes. One day I may have the moxie to just walk out and trust that it’ll do its job. Today was not that day. Today was almost that day, but I choked. I’d had a sizeable load, and upon opening the door to just walk out, I realised that the meagre sensor flush would not be able to contain my output. So I stopped, reached back to flush and hold down that button. That’s when I caught the eye of the dude washing his hands. There was nothing else I could do, I needed to flush the evidence. So I did, and apologised, then I explained the entirety of the above paragraph to him.

Last night at a party we had a neat conversation going. Somebody brought up the idea of making the worst double features you could. One thing I really appreciated about it, was having it work across multiple axes. It could be thematic incongruity, inappropriate juxtaposition of appropriateness, or strangely similar themes but with an element that just doesn’t match. For instance, I thought of Marley & Me//Pet Sematary. It’s great. you go from a touching film about two people getting a dog together, watching their relationship grow as this dog does, then the dog dies. I think. I haven’t seen Marley & Me. I feel like the statute of limitations on spoilers for that movie has waned. BUT THEN in the second part of our double feature, a bunch of pets rise from the dead to wreak havoc on the living. So it’s kind of a nice Hero’s Journey, but very silly. And with more zombies. The game is oodles, OODLES I SAY, of fun. I think y’all should play it with your friends.

Speaking of oodles of fun. Time to go home. CHOO CHOO.

In pokemon it’s pronounced “Kakuna Rattata”

Before any ranting starts, I want to run a valid disclaimer. None of what I’m about to say actually matters. My opinion is not important, and should not deter anyone from any desired activity they choose to pursue. We’re all adults here (I can’t earnestly advise any children to read anything I write. I think it would be ill-advised at best, and actively harmful at worst), and we can choose how we want to spend our lives. I, for instance, climb atop dumb moral high horses and canter around. It serves nobody, least of all myself. The one saving grace is that my errant venting tuckers me out, and likely prevents me from spilling any additional unnecessary vitrtiol, which can only be a positive thing. I don’t have to possess an opinion here, and the notion of people being allowed to like the thing they like as long as they’re not actively harmful to others stands true as ever. With that said.

Fuck this Lion King film.

I say that as someone who grew up with this film. I say that as someone who saw the film in theatres. I say that as someone who made an ardent effort to collect every little bit of promotional material companies would churn out in an effort to get kids goading their parents into visiting their establishment. BP Lion King sticker collection? Check. I probably had little toys, or soft toys or something. I say this as someone who loved the Sega Genesis game. I say this as someone who used to “play house”, but as Simba and Nala with my childhood crush (and how did I not turn out to be a furry?). I say this as someone whose parents’ friends lent them the NTSC VHS of The Lion King (and the cover had a blue, not orange sky), so I had to switch my VCR from PAL, and I watched it no less than 30 times in those few weeks, sometimes multiple times per day. I say this as someone who went along with friends to the theatre 2011 re-release they did with printed sheets of all the song lyrics, bringing every intention of singing along. I say this as someone who, at age 31, excitedly got same day tickets to the broadway musical in London.

Fuck this Lion King film. Disney is wasting our time and doing a disservice to one of their most venerated/beloved movies in their catalogue. It looks fucking terrible, the reviews are not favourable, and it’s going to make a TERRIFYING amount of money.

THIS IS A KIDS’ FILM. The original Lion King delighted audiences with its balance of pathos and magical realism. It was a cartoon, with a wonderfully diverse colour palette and wacky sequences. Timon and Pumbaa were fourth wall breaking loons. There were broadway throwbacks, that whole hula thing. It was silly, and a joyous celebration of imagination. The new film has decided to take a super grounded take, complete with animals devoid of human style features. How are we supposed to connect to these characters when they’re basically CGI Mr Ed? I’m not throwing shade at the animators. It looks gorgeous, no doubt. It’s very much cutting edge stuff, but the decision to cut back on the more fanciful aspects of the film are every part a disappointment.

LOOK AT THIS SHIT. It’s a fucking Aaron Sorkin style walk and talk. Then look at THIS marvellous sumbitch. They use the animation to its fullest. There are spotlights, visual metaphors, even those bugs look goddamn delicious.

The cast is AMAZING. It is. Beyonce’s new song is awesome. But the whole experience is cheapened by the notion that Disney is supposed to be redoing its classics in live action. This film, entirely CGI, shits on that idea. It’s so fucking cynical and crude it makes me want to puke. There’s no point to this film beyond just making oceans of currency (curren-sea?). They’re not looking to push the envelope and create something visionary, they’re looking to create moolah.

Look. I’m very very happy with the idea of giving a new generation of kids something to be excited about and cherish for years. I don’t like to shit on things just because they weren’t from my childhood. I strongly believe that kids deserve good quality entertainment (’cause I adored pop-culture as a child and I only want everyone else to have the best too). Thing is, the originals still fulfill all of this, and I’m not sure that this new film will really be thought about in 20 years’ time. Except in jest, maybe.

At some point I may get to a “no worries” place on this. Hakuna Matata, however, is a long way off. I mean, for the rest of my days? That’s a while away.

Notice that Mike Tyson didn’t appear on either list?

I feel like being punchy today. It’s Bullet(point) Time.

Here are some things I don’t care about (which, trust me, is harder to think about than you’d expect):

  • Tailgating laws.
  • Taylor Swift’s career.
  • The price of fish (unless it’s tinned tuna, in which case I care a lot).
  • Reading Ulysses.
  • Who people choose to love.
  • Bratz Dolls.
  • The Superbowl.
  • Creationists.
  • BPA in my plastic bottles.
  • Phones without headphone jacks.
  • The DCU.
  • The SWEU.
  • Getting the last word (the best word is more important).
  • Oxford Comma arguments.
  • Acai bowls.
  • Being able to buy alcohol at 9am.
  • The Globes/Emmys/MTV Awards.
  • Tea (sorry tea oriented pals).
  • Dota.
  • Macklemore.
  • Ben 10.
  • Casinos.
  • 3D Films.

Wait, this IS much harder than I expected it would be. I have to actively think about things I rarely do, so they’re not topics that are usually top of mind. Let’s invert that and figure out stuff I care about:

  • The rights of the vulnerable.
  • Paddington Bear.
  • Funding for education and healthcare.
  • Fish and Chips.
  • Pineapple Lumps.
  • Owning a good pair of jandals.
  • Pushing back against bigotry.
  • Dichotomous online discourse.
  • Casey Wilson’s “Ask A Swole Woman” column.
  • Clickhole.
  • Banh Mi.
  • The Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz cardboard cut out that stares back at me from my work desk.
  • Coffee.
  • Waving at fluffy dogs.
  • Bong Joon-Ho films.
  • Keeping active.
  • People having access to clean water.
  • Following Demi Adejuyigbe on Twitter.
  • Finding ways to work “just don’t call me late to dinner” into dumb jokes.
  • Stand up comedy.
  • Good puns.
  • Magic the Gathering.
  • Pork bone stew.
  • Sunday brunch.
  • People putting their fiscal desires over the needs of others.
  • Anything Phoebe Waller Bridge writes.

Welp, apparently that’s all I have in me today. So much for punchy, I’m punching out.

Oh, “bodacious” is finding a way into my vernacular for sure

Most nostalgic IPs don’t hold up.

Bill & Ted on the other hand, show that the exception RULES. Which is fortunate, ’cause they were a huge part of my childhood.

Let’s get this out of the way. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey are from 1989 and 1991 respectively. Some things were acceptable in that time that aren’t now (and for very good reasons). It’s not like they’re littered with super problematic stuff, but there are definitely a handful of times a certain VERY egregious gay slur are used. In 2019, it’s totally shocking to hear. I don’t want to normalise this. The running joke around Bill’s young step mum being a revolving door slut is similarly dated. There’s a point near the end of the first film where Bill & Ted are basically given women from history as a reward for saving the day. Like they’re tokens capable of being exchanged. It sucks, and hopefully (perhaps naively) it’s a reflection on how films used to be. I don’t want to applaud any of it, and hope everything to follow doesn’t recuse and understanding of how that shit has no place in films these days.

With that being said, the films are mostly wholesome and delightful.

Excellent Adventure is the better of the two. The premise is fucking absurd, and they just Yes, And… it to the nth degree. Tossing logic aside, it’s an insanely fun roller coster of benign slackers somehow finding creative solutions to almost insurmountable odds, in order to pass their history assignments and not flunk high school. They travel through the past, collecting historical figures to bring back and speak to their class. It’s goofy, and a riot. Whether it’s luring Socrates (pronounced “So Crates”) by quoting Kansas lyrics (leading to an immaculate set up gag almost immediately), or seeing Napoleon so delighted by ice cream that he devours an entire Ziggy Piggy sundae tower, it’s a blast. There’s a scene where the assorted archaic characters get lost in a mall and subsequently arrested that’s a top to bottom joy. Babyfaced Keanu and Alex are fucking adorable, and their California slacker characters are incredibly endearing. The sheer love they have for one another is palpable, and makes for the kind of buddy comedy where you sincerely want to root for everything working out.

Hell, it’s just fun to watch the characters chew scenery. The dialogue is a thing of beauty. Whether it’s Ted “Theodore” Logan being constantly dumbfounded but well-meaning, or Bill S. Preston Esquire’s dim-witted, polysyllabic ramblings carrying the plot, simply hearing phrases like “an unequivocal bummer” or “egregiously heinous” never ceases to be hilarious. All the sets are stupid and over the top. More importantly, the plots are fucking wild. It’s a cartoon come to life. Once the threads unravel, they go with it. Who cares if the laws of physics or probability are violated? These films sure don’t.

Bogus Journey takes everything the first one did, and amps it up to 13. It’s a kid’s movie and the title characters are straight up murdered. Make no mistake, they meet Death, Beelzebub, (I think) God, and some downright fucking terrifying terrors in Hell. This movie is fucking weird and nightmarish. There are a bunch of comments about butts. This Jim Henson-esque monstrosity has a plump tush for no good reason. I’m in for any celebration of butts, so I’m on board. There are more time travel shenanigans, and as the stakes rise the absurdity of the plot tracks along with them. It’s silly, and it’s so, so worth your time. They’re goddamn adorable films, and honestly the principles of the characters are quite solid. Aside from the stuff I mentioned up top, they’re not really mean spirited or nasty movies. They are in every sense worth your time.

Or in their words, most(ly) excellent.

As opposed to this entry, which was strangely pathetic

Here lies nothing.

Yet.

But by the magic of time, by the point you read this there’ll be an entire page of content, brimming with… well I don’t know the answer to that one. It’ll be something. Quite something. Hopefully.

More likely, I’ll probably keep up with the stream of consciousness until it turns into enough of a soft, dense idea to sink my teeth into. But we’re not there yet. I dunno, I’m kind of aggrieved that Netflix took Toni Erdmann off its Canadian service. I’ve spent years meaning to watch that film. Sure, a three hour German farce is a pretty tough sell, but it’s supposed to be fantastic. My girlfriend and I got so far as to watch half of it, but she noped out and we never got around to finishing it. At some point she said I was fine to watch it on my own, but half of a three hour film is still an entire feature film. So I procrastinated, had all the best intentions in the world, then did nothing for maybe two years. Now it’s gone, and I’ve got no recourse but to find other means to watch it. I mean, it IS the internet, there’ll be a way. I just wanted to watch on my lunch break, is all, and the computers tell us as we log in that we have no right to privacy on our work systems.

I mean, do any of us have privacy anyway? I know here in Canada we’re part of the Five Eyes network. In case anyone forgot, that’s the whole Commonwealth-ish arrangement where Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States all say they’re not spying on their own citizens, but spy on each other’s citizens and hand that info over when asked. It’s a big ol’ loophole that shouldn’t be legal, but obviously laws only apply to simple citizens, not the government. Or anyone famous enough. Or people with money. So like, the law only applies to those not powerful enough to fight back. So probably anyone reading this (except for whichever Five Eyes employee got tasked with the unfortunate job of monitoring the excessive bullshit I put out on a daily basis. I hope they like puns at least.

Oh, speaking of which, if you had one of those bright yellow vests and put black horizontal stripes on it, would it become a Hive Vis Vest?

That one was especially for anyone in the F-Bee-I monitoring this. Love y’all.

I was thinking about Ben Affleck’s back tattoo today. Like, JFC dude, I don’t know if this is hubris or a cry for help. I know he hated playing Batman, but did he have to take it out on basically every future makeup artist he works with on films where he’s topless? That’s kinda selfish, dude. On the other hand, maybe he just wanted to create jobs for people. Only Affleck Knows, which sounds like an inscrutable film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

As we wind this entry down, I think it’s safe to say that we never really found our thread to pull at. I’m not sure why I’m throwing y’all under the bus with me, but them’s the breaks. Honestly, I assumed that it was gonna devolve into some anti-surveillance rant, but I got distracted by my bee pun and the Batffleck tattoo. Oh and Nicolas Winding Refn. Will you ever forgive me? Oh wait, I forgot. Only God Forgives.

So yeah, Here Lies Nothing was strangely prophetic.

Fare is in the eye of the beholder

Hey hey, it’s a day. I just came back from a massage, then I quickly drank a big ol’ cold brew. So I’m a little loopy. Let’s begin.

I still don’t get why cold brew drinks in Canada don’t need to list their caffeine content. Energy drinks do. Cold brew coffee obviously contain caffeine, just tell me how much. Don’t surprise me into discovering just how long I’m going to be awake. It’s like a jack in the box style buzz. WHO KNOWS, MAN? At the moment I’m sorta fizzing, which means I may well crash hard in two hours. Or I’ll go to a barbecue, have a few beers and keep on floating, baby. Y’know, have another cold brew with the boys?

Kill me now.

It might be early to call it, but in my opinion Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe deserves instant inclusion in Romcom Canon. Solid script with actual jokes. Great, super attractive cast with charismatic leads. An outstanding extended celebrity cameo that kind of steals the show. It’s one of the first times I’ve seen Asian parents who don’t fit into stuffy stereotypes. Some gorgeous large setpieces and visuals. Does a pretty good stab at the When Harry Met Sally structure, without totally aping it. The right amount of schmaltz, coupled with real relationship issues. Plus it’s not without a few heartwarming moments. It’s like they took the money Crazy Rich Asians spent on making a spectacle, and put it towards paying writers to develop plot and character. If you like romcoms, you’ll have a great time. If you don’t, it’s probably still broadly enjoyable. Not a perfect film, but as far as romcoms go, it both roms and coms in good measure.

I had my first massage in ages. It was NECESSARY. I don’t know precisely what happened, but my neck and shoulders have been super stiff and sore for the past week. My vague assumption is that I stuffed them up at a party last week where I actually accomplished the Dirty Dancing lift with full arm extension. I also drunkenly tried to learn pole dancing tricks and might have done my wrist a disservice. The masseur didn’t hold back. He got right into my back and neck to make adjustments. Many a loud crack was heard. I had all these clusters of knots. He’d put pressure on one until I gave him the say so that it’d been released. Then inevitably there’d be another three knots hiding underneath or just next to it. He didn’t even get time to check my wrist, just an entire hour on back and neck. I’m kind of woozy at the moment (the aforementioned coffee didn’t help neither), and could use some lunch.  Maybe the barbecue will help with that.

Actually, maybe I just need to eat. I’m gonna chow down on some fare, well.