April 12th, 2008

JUMPER (2008) **

There’s no better place in the world to see a movie than at a drive-in.  I felt my drive-in epiphany at the tender age of five when my dad took me to see a double feature of Mortuary and Mausoleum.  When I saw Bobbie Bresee’s breasts grow faces and chow down on Marjoe Gortner, well I was a changed man.  I never forgot that experience and hopefully everyone reading this will also feel like that at least once in their lives.  What makes the drive-in great is the fact that you do get two movies for the price of one.  It’s even better when the movies have a common theme.  (Like Mortuary and Mausoleum.  Both films featured people getting butchered in places known for their ample cadaver storage.)  This week, I went up to The Diamond State Drive-In, the last remaining drive-in in Delaware and checked out a double feature of Jumper and Rambo.  These flicks had a lot in common. 


For starters they both have one word titles. 


Okay, that’s about all they have in common.


Jumper may never win any Video Vacuum Awards, but just the fact that I saw this mess at the drive-in probably added a star or more to it’s rating. 


Jumper is all about how Hayden Christensen can teleport himself all over the world.  He has the ability to teleport (or “jump”) to Rome in the morning, teleport to Egypt and chow down on a Wawa sub on top of the Sphinx at noon, jump on over to London and hang out at Big Ben, and still be back home for dinner.  


Unfortunately with all his power, he couldn’t teleport himself into a better movie. 


Then Samuel L. Jackson enters the picture as a “Paladin”, a guy who hunts down Jumpers and kills them with a giant Bowie knife.  (Usually Jackson can light up any movie he’s in, but he looks less than thrilled to be in this flick.)  Jackson’s barber gave him a Brian Dennehy hairdo and that REALLY pissed him off, so he takes all his aggression out on Christensen by cattle prodding the shit out of him and holding his girlfriend (Rachel Bilson) hostage. 


There’s only two places in the world where a movie this stupid actually works.  One is on the Sci-Fi Channel (where this flick is bound to end up in a year or so) and the other is the drive-in.  Teleporting teenagers being chased by tired looking character actors is just easier to accept when you’re under the stars sitting behind the steering wheel of your trusty Cavalier. 


Actually, the flick wasn’t half bad until they introduced Hayden’s thoroughly annoying British sidekick and the plot starting jumping around more than the characters did.  It also lost points for the tame love scene between Hayden and Bilson.  The movie was PG-13 so the filmmakers completely ignored the possibilities of teleportation sex (AKA:  “Jumping” her bones).


Even though the sidekick was grating on my last nerve, at least he got the movie’s best line when he said:  “If it moves, I can jump it!”


Then Rambo started up.  I love this movie.  This was my second go-round with it (I already saw it on opening night about three months ago) and if there was ever a better (recent) movie to see at a drive-in, then I sure can’t think of one.  Rambo may be my favorite of the series, and seeing it at the drive-in only made it that much better. 


It’s hard for me to single out what makes Rambo so great. 


It might be the scene where Rambo decapitates a Burmese soldier with a homemade machete, giving a new meaning to the term “Burma Shave”.


Perhaps it’s when Rambo tore a dude’s throat out Road House style. 


Or when Rambo ripped the child molester general’s guts out and they spilled all over the forest. 


Could it be the scene where the villains make innocent farmers run the 100 yard dash thorough a minefield? 


Or the scene where Rambo single-handedly mowed down half of Burma with a machine gun and only had to reload once.


Maybe it was the part when Rambo snuck up on two soldiers and shot them with a machine gun at point blank range, turning them into human Jackson Pollack paintings. 


I could go on, but what’s the point?  Faithful readers will already know that Rambo is Number One with a bullet (make that ten thousand bullets) on the Video Vacuum Top Ten for ‘08.


All I’m going to say is that there are few things more American than watching a Rambo movie at a drive-in. 


Speaking of the drive-in, there is a terrible crime being perpetrated on American soil.  There’s a bunch of greedy land developers that want to tear the Diamond State Drive-In down and put up condominiums.  Just like the evil Burmese soldiers in the movie, these people want to rape and pillage something decent and good and use it for their own debauched desires.  Like Rambo, we the drive-in going audience must combat the evil, not by ripping people’s throats out, but by supporting the drive-in regularly.  For information on how you can help, check out www.dsdit.com for more details.

TEEN MANIA (2003) ** ½


The incomparable Johnny Legend, the man who brought us such immortal compilations as Weird Cartoons and the Sleazemania saga, brings us this hour long hit-or-miss assemblage of vintage movie trailers featuring juvenile delinquents (The Flaming Teenage, Motorcycle Gang, High School Hellcats, Johnny Trouble, Teenage Gang Debs, and The Thrill Killers), hot rodders (Hot Rod Gang, Wild Ones on Wheels, and Hot Rods to Hell), and rowdy teenagers (Lost Lonely and Vicious, Young Willing and Eager, Mondo Teeno, Teenage Tramp, and The Young Runaways) of the 50’s.  We also get a look at trailers for teenaged themed horror movies like Curse of a Teenage Nazi, Teenage Torture (AKA:  Teenage Zombies), and Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory. 


There are also trailers for musicals such as Rock Around the Clock (“Go, Man, Go to This Real Gone Show!”), Rock Around the World, Rock! Rock! Rock!, Rockabilly Baby, Hey Let’s Twist, Ring-A-Ding Rhythm, The Big TNT Show, and for plenty of movies that ended up on Mystery Science Theater like I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Teenage Caveman, Horror of Party Beach, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, and Teenage Strangler.  Legend even gives us a few trailers showcasing the teenage antics of the 60’s like Disk-O-Tek Holiday and The Hallucination Generation (“Do You Know the Taste of Purple?”), but the most fun comes from seeing soon-to-be famous faces starring in low budget potboilers like Cry Baby Killer (Jack Nicholson!), The Proper Time (Tom McLaughlin of Billy Jack fame!), Key Witness (Dennis Hopper!), and The Explosive Generation (William Shatner!).


At just under an hour, this comp is just the right running time for JD fans looking for a quick fix, but unfortunately a lot of the trailers aren’t the complete versions.  I know Legend was trying to cram as much stuff as he could into a short amount of time, but I’d much prefer to see the full trailer and not just a 30 second truncated version.  Also, these trailers are kinda tame and while some people will definitely get a kick out of them and feel some sort of nostalgia for them, I personally prefer a little bit more sleaze in my trailer compilations.  The best part of the DVD though is the in-theater ads promoting spook shows and free Fabian photo giveaways as well as a hilarious Vespa ad.  It’s no Sleazemania, but Legend’s legions with an hour to kill will definitely wanna give this a look see.    

THE AMATEURS (2007) * ½

Jeff Bridges stars in this belabored and surprisingly unfunny comedy as a small town loser who rallies his community together to make an amateur porno movie.  The premise sounds thin, but you would think with the presence of such great actors as Bridges, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano and William Fichtner that they’d be able to pull it off.  You’d be wrong though. 


This flick is nothing more than a bad sitcom with occasional porn terminology tossed in to secure an R rating.  Bridges is game, but like everybody else in the cast, he flounders with the innocuously weak material.  The script is chock full of clichés and offers zero surprises, which makes me wonder what exactly drove the big name supporting cast (which is almost solely comprised of every single television actor not currently working on a series now, including Ted Danson, Lauren Graham, Steven Weber, Isaiah Washington, and Brad Garrett) to star in the film, other than to grab a quick paycheck. 


There are far better movies about the making of porn out there (Boogie Nights and Orgazmo instantly come to mind) for you to waste your time with this tripe.  In fact, you’d be better off watching an actual porno instead.  You'll get more entertainment out of it and at least you'd get to see some tits, as this flick contains no female nudity whatsoever.  The ladies in the audience will be thrilled to know that Danson bares his ass in this film, but that is far from a glowing recommendation in my book. 


AKA:  The Moguls.