November 27th, 2009

THE ARISTOCRATS (2005) ***

The Aristocrats is a joke that is told by stand-up comedians to stand-up comedians.  The opening line (“A guy walks into a talent agency…”) and the punchline (“What do you call the act?”  “The Aristocrats!”) is always the same.  The middle portion of the joke is up to the comic’s imagination.  Anything goes as long as he (or she) keeps these things consistent:  The guy, his wife, son, and daughter have sex with each other.  Urination, defecation, and vomiting aren’t required but it helps.  Points are earned if the comic can come up with the sickest shit imaginable.

 

The joke itself isn’t funny but the execution of the middle section can be depending on who is telling it.  This is where the comedian can completely let go and say virtually anything and get a laugh.  This documentary from director Paul (Comics Only) Provenza is essentially just interviews with a 100 comedians who tell us their encounters with the joke.  Some of them even tell their version.

 

It’s here where the movie sorta fumbles.  I honestly believe if the whole movie was 100 comedians telling the joke, it would’ve been great.  As it is, Provenza often cuts away to other interviewees while someone is in the midst of telling the joke.  Telling jokes is an art form that requires intricate timing.  By cutting away from the comedian in mid-joke, it ruins the flow of their version.

 

Some people actually get to tell their version of the joke with minimal to no interruption and it’s hysterical.  George Carlin, Bob Saget, and Sarah Silverman are among them and each one of them had me in stitches.  Drew Carey gets a special mention for doing a little hand motion at the end to accentuate the punchline as does Kevin Pollack who performs it while impersonating Christopher Walken.  Martin Mull tells a clever variation on it that is very funny as well.

 

The Aristocrats (the movie not the joke) loses points thanks to the sloppy editing.  Still it’s funny and fast moving enough for me to recommend it.  It’s definitely a treat just seeing all these great comedians (Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Don Rickles, etc.) in the same movie.

A PASSENGER TO BALI (1950) *

A man claiming to be a missionary bribes his way onto a boat and causes the captain all kinds of problems.  When they finally get to Bali, the captain tries to ditch his unwanted stowaway but the authorities inform him that the mysterious passenger is unwelcome in their country, or anywhere else for that matter.  That means the mischievous missionary must stay on the ship where he causes the captain even more grief.

 

A Passenger to Bali was on my 50 Pack of Horror Movies but it isn’t a horror movie.  Heck, it isn’t even a movie!  No, it’s actually an episode of Studio One, an ancient dramatic television show filmed live in front of a studio audience.  What a gyp.

 

This flick…err… program is stuffy, boring, and more than a might bit stupid.  This captain guy was an idiot.  If the authorities made me keep this fucker on my boat, I would’ve thrown his ass overboard as soon as the boat left the dock.  What a dumbass.

 

If there is a saving grace to this mess it’s the fact that the show still has all the commercials intact.  There’s a great ad for a television set that boasts, “More black and more white for a clearer, sharper picture!”  The best commercial is the one that refers to a refrigerator as a “girl’s best friend”.  That shit was awesome.  I think if the whole hour had been taken up by nothing but old commercials it at least would’ve been watchable.

THE LOST MISSILE (1958) **

A rogue extra-terrestrial rocket hurtles itself around the globe incinerating everything in it’s path.  Meanwhile a scientist (Robert Loggia) is having problems with his bitchy fiancée who gives him an ultimatum:  Marry her or she’ll walk.  When the government figures out that the rocket is heading towards New York City, the wedding is put on hold until he can figure out a way to stop it.

 

Well, an out of control alien missile isn’t the worst concept for a 50’s Sci-Fi movie but the crummy execution is unforgivable.  Despite the promising set-up, The Lost Missile drowns in an ocean of excessive narration and an overabundance of stock footage.  If I had to guess, I’d say that The Lost Missile consists of 65% stock footage.  That’s about 60% too much if you ask me.

 

Now when someone like Ed Wood uses stock footage and pointless narration, he mashes it up in some insanely crazy way so that it’s entertaining. Director William (The Falcon in Mexico) Berke isn’t entertainingly inept like Wood.  He’s just inept.  He must’ve known the movie was going to suck because he died while making it.  

 

Loggia is quite good in the lead and it’s easy to see that he would go on to bigger and better things.  Nobody else in the cast is in the same league though.  The script, co-written by Jerome (It!  The Terror from Beyond Space) Bixby is earnest but all of the stock footage kinda ruins things.

 

There were one or two moments of weirdness near the end that semi-redeemed the film.  The highlight came when the malevolent missile obliterated a Canadian family while they were making a snowman.  I also liked the scene where a gang of juvenile delinquents stole a plutonium weapon and quickly died from radiation poisoning.  If The Lost Missile had a few more moments of lunacy like these, it may have been just goofy enough to work.