June 10th, 2009

THE GREATEST MOVIES IN THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE

Welcome back Vacuumers.  As you know, every Wednesday I’m going to try to tell you about some of the greatest movies in the history of the human race.  To do so, I’ve created a segment called The Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race.  Today’s movie is a little something called:

 

TERMINAL VELOCITY  (1994)  ****

 

People (not many, but people nonetheless) who know about this movie will attest to its logic-shredding bravura action set pieces.  If you’ve never heard of the mind-numbing insanity that is Terminal Velocity, shame on you.  If you are one of those poor unfortunates, consider this Terminal Velocity 101.  Time to go to school.

 

Terminal Velocity or TV as I like to call it; could’ve been a horrible movie.  It’s got clichéd characters, inane plotting, and a general lack of human emotion.  Since it’s got Charlie Sheen in it though, it’s a must see.  You may scoff, but TV is without a doubt the best Charlie-Sheen-Jumping-Out-of-an-Airplane Movie since Navy Seals.

 

Besides starring the pride of the Estevez family tree, this flick also stars Natassja (“My dad was a nutjob”) Kinski, James (“Before I was Tony Soprano”) Gandolfini, and Christopher (“Before I was Shooter McGavin”) McDonald.  TV was also written by David Twohy, the man who blessed the world with stunning awesomitity of The Chronicles of Riddick and directed by Deran Sarafin, the dude who directed Gunmen, the best Christopher Lambert/Mario Van Peebles movie ever made.  Aren’t you just dying to see it now?  Well if you don’t have two hours, here’s the skinny:

 

Charlie Sheen plays a skydiving instructor named Ditch Brodie.  You know the rule in the Video Vacuum Movie Rulebook that states, “Any movie that features a main character named Ditch is a good movie?”  Well, that rule came about because of Terminal Velocity.

 

Anyway, Ditch is so reckless that he’s had 12 safety violations in the past month.  One of those comes when he parachutes into the middle of the city in ass-less chaps with the words “Kiss” and “This” painted on his derriere.  Too bad Ditch thought he was crashing a bachelorette party and not an 8-year old kid’s birthday party.

 

Despite his reputation, he gets a new client named Chris (Kinski) who hires him to take her out skydiving.  What makes TV such a heartwarming movie is the poetic dialogue.  Before they jump out of the airplane, Chris says, “I’d be stupid to trust my life to a walking penis”, to which Ditch retorts, “I’m much more than a walking penis… I’m a flying penis!”  And tell me again WHY this movie wasn’t nominated for Best Screenplay?

 

When Chris jumps out of the airplane before Ditch gives her the go-ahead, she ends up plummeting to her death.  There’s an FAA investigation and a greasy agent named Pinkwater (Gandolfini) starts asking Ditch a lot of questions like, “You think she misrepresented her ability?  Naturally Ditch gives hilarious answers like, “I think she did for bullshit what Stonehenge did for rocks!”

 

Ditch does some snooping and discovers Chris is actually alive.  He asks her, “How come you’re still vertical?”  After a lot of hemming and hawing (and by hemming and hawing I mean that Ditch and Chris get into several shootouts and rocket sled chases with the bad guys), Chris finally reveals that she’s a KGB agent.  Ditch is dumbfounded, “It’s the K-G-Used-to-Be!”

 

After a couple more run-ins with the bad guys, Chris and Ditch take a breather and over a bottle of tequila, Chris tells Ditch all about her life in Russia and her three-legged dog named Tripod.  After she swallows the worm, she asks Ditch what she just swallowed.  When Ditch tells her, she says, “I was trained to swallow all sorts of things.”  Ditch quips, “Careful, I just might have to marry you!” 

 

Chris then gets Ditch to help her search an abandoned airplane and when he worries about running into some “nuclear shit”, she gives him a coffee pot lid to cover his crotch because “External genitalia is more susceptible to radiation!”  When Chris finds what she’s looking for (a cache of KGB gold), Ditch sneaks up on her and startles her.  She gets pissed that he finds the gold and chides, “I told you to wait!”  To which, Ditch utters the greatest line in the movie (and possibly any Charlie Sheen movie for that matter), “Don’t worry; I’ve got my Coffeetron Dick Defender!”   

 

Again, tell me how this wasn’t nominated for Best Screenplay?

 

Chris tells Ditch that Pinkwater is actually a Russian agent who is looking for the gold so he can stage a coup and start up a “Second Cold War”.  She pleads with Ditch to help her and even goes so far to tell him about her poor starving Russian family.  Ditch mutters, “Pack the bags, we’re going on a guilt trip!” 

 

Ditch initially refuses to help but when Chris is kidnapped by the bad guys, he rushes into action.  And by action I mean one of the greatest stunts ever filmed.  Seriously folks, Moonraker ain’t got nothing on this baby. 

 

Chris is locked in the trunk of a car that’s loaded into a cargo plane.  Ditch sneaks into the plane to save her but the bad guys see him.  He hops into the car and floors it, pinning the villainous Russian to the wall, before jamming it in reverse and sending the car out of the plane and into the air.  While the car is plummeting towards the ground, Ditch works his way to the back of the car and opens the trunk (after fumbling with the keys to add to the suspense), freeing Chris before opening his parachute just in the nick of time. 

 

This scene was filmed before directors started CGI-ing up their action sequences.  When you see the car falling out of the plane, it’s a REAL car and REAL stuntmen, not a bunch of 1’s and 0’s.  Bravo Deran for your stellar work behind the camera.

 

But of course, the movie ain’t over yet.  Once safely on the ground, Ditch and Chris’ romantic bliss is interrupted by Pinkwater who parachutes down on top of Ditch and promptly puts him in a Russian bear hug.  Luckily, Ditch is a quick thinker and pulls Pinkwater’s utility chute which causes him to fly right through some nearby windmills and turns the dude into lasagna. 

 

In the end, Ditch goes to Russia and is given a medal (the ceremony is almost exactly like the one in Star Wars) and gets to meet Chris’ three-legged dog.  I don’t know about you but any movie that ends with a freeze-frame of a three-legged dog is all right by me.

 

Terminal Velocity is criminally underrated.  As an action movie, it’s filled with non-stop shootouts and over-the-top action sequences.  As a comedy, it features more hilarious one-liners than any of Sheen’s Hot Shots movies.  (“What do I look like, a brain donor?”)  The reason it all works as well as it does is because of Sheen.  This movie has more Sheenage than just about any movie ever made.

 

What’s Sheenage you ask?  Well, it’s a technical term created by The Video Vacuum Cinema Laboratories.  Sheenage calculates a film’s merit based solely on the presence of Charlie Sheen.  It takes into account 1) the amount of Sheen screen time 2) the amount of patented “Sheenian” moments (i.e. jumping out of airplanes, riding motorcycles, getting drunk, doing drugs, banging broads, etc.) 3) the amount of times the viewer says aloud, “Damn that’s vintage Sheen!”  A film that contains all three of these is considered to have “Quality Sheenage”.

 

A film’s Sheenage is vital to its entertainment value.  The films themselves can be lousy but as long as they have a high amount of Sheenage, they can be well worth watching.  (SEE:  Three for the Road.)  Movies like Loaded Weapon 1, Deadfall (soon to appear on the list of TGMITHOTHR), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off feature Sheen in small cameos but are worth checking out for the excessive amounts of quality Sheenage.  In fact, I’m convinced that one of the reasons that Being John Malkovich was a critical success was due to Sheen’s hilarious cameo.  Even though he only appeared in a few scenes, Being John Malkovich has excessive amounts of Sheenage, which is always a good thing.  In fact, Roger Ebert called Being John Malkovich “The Best Film of the Year”.  Oh yeah, he knows about the Sheenage all right.

 

Movies with dumb characters, childish scripting and no socially redeeming value help to escalate the Sheenage.  Dramatically sound movies like Platoon, Eight Men Out, Wall Street, and Lucas are OK and everything but films like The Wraith, Beyond the Law, The Chase, and Navy Seals have much more Sheenage.  The reason is that these movies solely rely on Sheen to carry the film and because of that, they just marinate in 100% pure Sheenage.

 

Terminal Velocity’s Sheenage is off the fucking charts.

 

Basically Charlie Sheen is the new Elvis of acting.  Not only do both dudes have the sideburns, the hair, and the uncanny ability to always portray themselves in every movie they appear in; they make a movie worth watching just because they appear in it.  Chuck and Elvis kick ass in any genre, whether it be westerns (Young Guns or Charro), war films (Platoon or G.I. Blues) or extravagant costume dramas (The Three Musketeers or The Trouble with Girls).  Hopefully someday the two personalities will collide and Sheen will star in 3000 Miles to Graceland 2:  Taking Care of Business.  As the King himself once said, “If I Can Dream…”

 

Lately though, Charlie Sheen has taken a break from the big screen and has been starring on the hit TV show, Two and a Half Men.  While he seemingly has left his big screen career behind (not to mention the cocaine and hookers), we his fans can still enjoy his past films and anxiously await a renaissance of old school Sheenage.  Come back to us Charlie, we miss you.

 

Terminal Velocity ranks Number 10 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films for the Year 1994, just under Shawshank Redemption.

 

See you next week Vacuumers with our next movie.  I’ll give you a hint; it features one of the all-time coolest character names of all time:  “Cole Trickle”.  Still stumped?  Does the line, “Rubbing is racing” ring any bells?  That’s right folks; we’re talking about one of the greatest Tom Cruise VEHICLES of all time… Days of Thunder.  Fasten your seatbelts boys n’ girls…