August 27th, 2009

IDIOCRACY (2006) ***

Luke Wilson stars as an average Army recruit who is picked to participate in an experiment where is he cryogenically frozen for one year.  The plan of course goes wrong and he winds up being frozen for 500 years.  He wakes up in a world that has been continuously dumbed down where everyone speaks in slang talk and ads for corporations are everywhere.  Naturally, that makes Wilson the smartest man on the planet.


To me, Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead was never a celebration of moronic behavior but a warning.  That warning is a lot more vocal in Idiocracy.  Judge is saying that if our nation’s youth perpetually continue on the path of poor education, sports drinks, and reality TV, this nation is pretty much doomed.


Luckily, Idiocracy is never preachy and often very funny.  The film is at its best when offering glimpses of everyday futuristic life.  For example, America’s number one TV show is called “Ow My Balls” which is nothing but a guy getting hit in the balls over and over again.  There’s also a pretty funny sight gag involving a building equipped with a giant digital clock that constantly blinks 12:00.  I think the funniest part though was when Wilson went on the historically inaccurate amusement park ride called The Time Masheen.


As Judge’s live action movies go, I have to say I liked this one better than Office Space.  (I dig that flick but have always felt it was a tad overrated.)  Like that film, Idiocracy has more than it’s fair share of laughless lulls.  The satire in this film is pitch black and razor sharp, which gives it the edge in my book. 


A pimp-obsessed Army general gets the best line of the movie when he says:  “A pimp’s love is very different from that of a square!”


A couple of teens go spelunking in an old pagan tomb where they run afoul of a bunch of hooded Satanists led by Peter Cushing who make human sacrifices.  The cult also worships a stone Minotaur that speaks in a raspy voice and shoots flames out its nostrils.  Concerned priest Donald Pleasence then sets out to find the missing spelunkers and put a stop to the sacrificing once and for all.


Land of the Minotaur is typical 70’s horror junk.  (It would look right at home on Commander USA’s Groovy Movies.)  It isn’t terrible or anything like that; it’s just kinda slow moving and uninspired.  If you’ve seen one Satanist cult movie, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  This one is distinguished by the hilarious talking Minotaur idol and a pair of British horror stalwarts traipsing around collecting a paycheck.  That’s pretty much it. 


The film was made in Greece by the director of Death Kiss, Kostas Karagiannis.  He doesn’t have a distinct style but at least he keeps everything in focus and is able to create a modicum of atmosphere in the sacrificial chamber sequences.  Having said that; I have to put Karagiannis on my Shit List for cutting away too quickly from the potential gory stuff.  While the exploding Satanists finale was fairly decent, everything else about the picture had Made for TV written all over it.  The moody music was by Brian Eno and Paul Williams.  How’s that for strange bedfellows?


Best line:  “Keep your eyes open for some more funerals!”


AKA:  The Devil’s Men.

CHERRY 2000 (1988) **

David (Graveyard Shift) Andrews is this futuristic asshole yuppie dude who is madly in love with his robot sex doll named Cherry 2000 (the smoking hot Pamela Gidley from Mafia).  When she short circuits during a particularly wet bout of lovemaking, he seeks out a “Tracker” (Melanie Griffith) who takes him into the wasteland to find a replacement chick chassis.  After being chased around the wasteland by some crazed psycho (Tim Thomerson) and his minions, David eventually forgets all about his sex-bot and falls in love with Melanie instead.


There’s not a whole lot of action in this movie and when the action finally does come around, it’s pretty goofy and awkwardly staged.  The whole shebang had a lot of potential but the flick really shits the bed once Andrews winds up in Tim Thomerson’s weirdo wasteland compound.  The biggest flaw the movie has is that there is only so much you can do with a sex robot and keep your PG-13 rating.  Because of the chaste rating, we only get one scene of tame tonsil hockey with the robo-slut.  Had the filmmakers gone the R rated route and fully explored the concept of erotic automatons, it might have been killer. 


Sadly, Cherry 2000 is mostly just a Mad Max rip-off with only the novel casting of Melanie Griffith as the tough heroine to separate it from the rest of the pack.  Usually I can’t stand her but she was looking quite foxy with her red hair and skanky make-up.  On the flipside, Andrews is really boring in the lead.  His performance is so lifeless that he should’ve been the one playing a damn robot.  Never mind him; the best thing about the movie is the top notch supporting cast of B movie favorites.  Besides Thomerson, there’s Ben (Red Dawn) Johnson, Brion (The Horror Show) James, Marshall (Total Recall) Bell, Robert (Soultaker) Z’Dar, and even a before he was famous Laurence Fishburne. 


Cherry 2000 is slow moving and short on thrills but at least it showed us what Las Vegas would look like after the apocalypse two decades before Resident Evil:  Extinction did.  And despite its numerous shortcomings, I can’t really bring myself to hate any movie that features cameos by Robby the Robot and Gort.  Johnson gets the best line of the movie when he says, “There’s a lot more to love than hot wiring!”