May 27th, 2009

THE THREE STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE (1963) **

The Three Stooges star as manservants to a descendant of Phileas Fogg, the original dude who went around the world in 80 days.  This guy makes a similar foolhardy bet with a conman who robs a bank and blames the crime on Fogg; saying that he used the trip around the world as an escape.  It’s then up to the bumbling Stooges to clear his name.

 

Although the Stooges have their name in the title, they’re really only there to support the romantic leads.  Even when they do get a chance to shine (like when Curly Joe pretends to be an Indian sharpshooter), it’s easy to tell that they were well past their prime.  At this point in their career, the boys were way too old for pratfalls so whenever they take a tumble, you just hear a loud crash and then the camera cuts to Moe or Larry lying on the floor surrounded by broken plates.  There is also a decided lack of their patented slapping and eye-poking too.  

 

The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze is scattershot at best, but it does offer some yuks for die hard Stooge fans.  The funniest scene in the flick is actually a rip-off of the old Stooges short, Punch Drunks where Curly boxes and goes crazy every time he hears “Pop Goes the Weasel”.  This time, Curly Joe battles a Sumo wrestler in Japan and goes nuts when he hears the tune.  Even though this scene is just a pale imitation of the original, I have to say it still gave me a chuckle.

 

The Stooges also appeared in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and 4 for Texas the same year.

 

AKA:  Around the World in a Daze.

TELEFON (1977) **

I’m a big Charles Bronson fan but even I had a tough time with this preposterous, undercooked, and overlong thriller.  Old Chuck stars as a Russian major who is tracking down a rogue KGB asshole (Donald Pleasence) who activates “sleeper” agents in America by reciting a Robert Frost poem over the telephone.  (Err… Telefon.)  You see, these guys are actually brainwashed KGB agents who are trained to go blow up whatever Big Don says.  The CIA gives Bronson a foxy sidekick (Lee Remick) that has strict orders to do him in after he’s completed his mission.

 

The longwinded set-up (Bronson doesn’t show up until about twenty minutes in) gets Telefon off on the wrong foot and the movie never has a chance to play catch up.  Director Don (Dirty Harry) Siegel’s pacing borders on lethargic and adds to the movie’s woes.  Worse of all, there isn’t a whole lot of action in Telefon; which makes it one of Chuck’s lesser outings.  

 

Bronson delivers a solid enough performance although he’s never really given anything macho to do.  I mean he’s got a photographic memory in this one.  That’s not really badass and is actually kinda nerdy when you really think about it.  Pleasence turns in a hammy performance and is pretty funny while wearing an array of outrageous disguises and goofy wigs.

 

Lee Remick gets the best line of the movie when she says, “The things we do for socialism!”

MONSTER CAMP (2008) ***

Okay remember in Role Models when McLovin’ was participating in LARPing (Live Action Role Playing)?  Well, this documentary is devoted to that.  We follow the Seattle chapter of NERO in which nerds and virgins pay good money to dress up like Renaissance Festival rejects and hit each other with Styrofoam swords.  Most of these dorks play NERO because they got bored of Dungeons and Dragons.  All I can say is at least they’re actually going outside for a change.

 

The documentarians should be commended for never making fun of their subjects.  Trust me; it would’ve been easy to do.  They mostly just put a camera on a nerd and let them dig their own graves.  I particularly liked the one chick in blue face paint who was bereaved that her “race” of people, the Sea Elves had been vanquished from play.

 

What’s most interesting about the flick is when the organizer slowly starts to grow the fuck up and move on with his life.  (This still doesn’t stop him from him donning a bunch of vines and pretending to be a plant monster.)  I also got a good laugh out of the fact that his right hand man ditched him during one crucial event because he was too busy at home playing World of Warcraft.  

 

I don’t think you necessarily have to be a nerd to enjoy Monster Camp.  For some out there, this will be like watching a home movie.  For me, I got a lot of hearty laughs out of it.  

 

PS:  If any of you nerds are reading this and don’t like my review, I want you to know that I’m wearing a Crimson Cloak that renders me immune to all your spells.

POWDER BLUE (2009) **

Powder Blue is one of those depressing low budget indie dramas that follows a couple of diverse characters through meandering plot lines that all intersect in the end.  (In this case; on Christmas.)  This one has a stripper (Jessica Biel) that has a kid in a coma who falls in love with a meek mortician (Eddie Redmayne).  Meanwhile an ex priest (Forest Whitaker, who also produced) tries in vain to commit suicide and winds up befriending a miserable tranny hooker (Alejandro Romero).  There’s also an ex-con with a bad ticker and a big (predictable) secret (Ray Liotta) and a divorced waitress with a heart of gold (Lisa Kudrow) in there too.

 

Basically, it’s one big fat Magnolia rip-off except instead of raining frogs at the end, there’s a blue snowfall.

 

Most of the performances are serviceable.  Biel’s story arc is OK but I just couldn’t bring myself to give two shits about Whitaker’s pathetic character.  The actor that fares the best is Patrick Swayze.  He plays Velvet Larry, the owner of the strip club.  Dressed like the lost member of The Darkness, and wearing more eye make-up than he did in To Wong Foo, Swayze steals every scene he’s in and gets all the best lines like, “Every time I see you on stage I get a raging boner!” and “You cost me $1000 a head every time you don’t give it!”  It’s easily his best performance since Donnie Darko.

 

This movie really exists though to show you Jessica Biel’s titties.  She whips those puppies out twice (once while stripping, the other during a love making session) and they looked pretty yummy to me.  I love it when movie stars who are merely eye candy try to prove that they can really “act” by taking off their clothes.  (Like Anne Hathaway in Havoc.)  It’s funny because whenever porn stars try to prove that they can really “act”, they DON’T take off their clothes.  (Like Ginger Lynn in Vice Academy.)  Tepid dramatics aside, Powder Blue will definitely be worth a look if you’re a Celebrity Skin fan.