December 20th, 2009

AMAZING GRACE AND CHUCK (1987) ** ½

Amazing Grace and Chuck is a weird ass movie.  It’s all about a kid named Chuck (Joseph Zuehlke) who won’t play Little League until America and Russia disarm their nuclear stockpile.  His one act of protest causes a big time basketball star named “Amazing” Grace (Alex English) to sit out his season as well.  Slowly but surely other sports stars start to do the same.  When the mob gets pissed that Grace is ruining their sports gambling racket, they have him killed.  Then Chuck stops talking in protest of that.  Pretty soon, all of the kids in the whole world stop talking too.  The only way to get them to start yapping again is if the President (Gregory Peck) stops the arms race completely.

 

Amazing Grace and Chuck is kinda like Superman 4, except that a little kid is Superman, Nuclear Man is represented by the Mob, and that the kid actually succeeds in ridding the world of nuclear weapons instead of foisting the responsibility on us taxpayers.  It plays like some weird cross-breed of a Frank Capra movie and a sports flick.  All I can say is that the schmaltzy message must’ve been pretty hard to take in the overly cynical 80’s.  Even though it doesn’t quite work, you at least have to praise the filmmakers for the strength of their convictions. 

 

Some things in this movie just didn’t sit right with me.  The mobster subplot totally doesn’t work and seems like an arbitrary way to bump off Amazing Grace.  Also, I didn’t buy the international brouhaha over all the silent kids in the world.  I mean you’d think parents would be thrilled their brats finally shut their traps for once but I guess not.

 

Luckily the earnest performances are extremely strong and make the flick watchable.  William L. Peterson does some fine work as Chuck’s doubting father and Peck makes for a charismatic Prez.  Jamie Lee Curtis probably gives the best performance as Grace’s agent.

 

AKA:  Silent Voice.

TICKER (2001) **

Remember the glut of Mad Bomber movies that flooded movie theaters in the early 90’s?  There was Lethal Weapon 3, Blown Away, and Die Hard with a Vengeance just to name a few.  Ticker was made at a time when no one was making Mad Bomber movies.  The fact that it was made five or six years after the Mad Bomber craze died down is probably the reason why it went straight to DVD.

 

Tom Sizemore stars as a cop whose partner Nas gets killed by mad bomber Dennis Hopper (who essentially played the same role in Speed).   When Hopper escapes, Sizemore takes his girlfriend (Jaime Pressly) into custody, which royally pisses him off.  Hopper then vows to blow shit up every hour on the hour until his little honey gets released.  Sizemore teams up with Bomb Squad leader Steven Seagal to take Hopper down and put an end to his reign of terror.

 

Ticker wasn’t really all that bad but it wasn’t exactly what I’d call “good” either.  It was directed by my buddy Albert (The Sword and the Sorcerer) Pyun and it’s filled with little Pyun-esque touches that made it somewhat enjoyable.  I especially liked how Sizemore and Seagal never appeared in the same shot together for almost half the movie.  There would be a shot of Sizemore walking into Seagal’s office then a shot of Seagal at his desk, then they talk back and forth for a bit, but they never appeared in the same frame together.  They do this little round robin about four or five times before they are finally shown side by side.  Of course, that isn’t until the movie’s halfway over.  If I had to guess, I’d say they only had one or two shooting days together.  Three tops. 

 

Incredibly enough; there’s a part in the movie in which TWO Seagals appear in the same scene.  That’s when Seagal and Sizemore walk into a blues club where an alternate reality Seagal is playing slide guitar onstage (under the name “Slowhand”) while wearing a funny wig and sunglasses.  I shit you not.  I could not make that up if I tried.

 

Pyun also has a way with his actors; Hopper in particular.  Wait until you hear his Irish accent.  It comes and goes more than Kevin Costner’s English accent from Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves.  We also have Nas giving one of the unintentionally funniest death scenes I’ve seen in a long time.  I wish there was a behind the scenes featurette on the DVD of Pyun coaching Nas through that scene.  That would’ve been great.  I think the most random performance came from Ice-T who is on screen for all of five seconds.  That is no exaggeration on my part either.  His scant appearance makes his cameo in 3000 Miles to Graceland seem like a starring role in comparison.

 

Then there’s the fact that all the major characters wear the same leather jacket.  (Except for Seagal, who gets the customary trenchcoat.)  Was the movie sponsored by Wilson’s or something?  Albert, if you’re reading this, I seriously hope you got a leather coat out of the deal too.

 

Seagal actually gives a decent performance here.  I think the fact that he had a supporting performance enabled him to relax a little bit.  Since Sizemore does all the heavy lifting, it frees Seagal up to chill out a bit and not be so stiff.  He also gives a pretty good pep talk to Sizemore in the end too.  It’s not as good as his rousing speech from Hard to Kill; but it’s still much better dialogue than the usual stuff he gets to say in most of his Direct to DVD movies.  He also gets the best line of the flick when he says, “Love is eternal… and that’s a long time!”

 

AKA:  The Other Side of the Law.

JULES AND JIM (1962) *

My wife got this movie off of Netflix but she couldn’t watch it all the way through because she said it was so bad.  Since I’m not one to waste a Netflix movie, I decided to give it a go tonight.  She was right; it stinks to high heaven.

 

Jules and Jim are these two guys that love the same girl.  The three of them move out to the country together until World War I breaks out and they go their separate ways.  Jules later marries the skank and has a kid by her but then Jim shows up and bangs her; effectively stealing her away from his buddy.

 

These guys have obviously never heard of the saying, “Bros before hos”.

 

Now you can make a good movie about two guys banging the same broad.  Some of my favorites include Black Crack Attack, Three the Hard Way, and Blow it Out Your Ass.  Jules and Jim is nowhere near the same caliber as those three films.

 

The flick was directed by Francois Truffaut, a guy that is more famous (to me anyway) for being in Close Encounters of the Third Kind than directing good movies.  Highfalutin critics will tell you otherwise, but trust me when I tell you that this one sucks hairy, sweaty, syphilitic balls.  In high school I was forced to watch his Fahrenheit 451 which was pretty boring.  Incredibly, Jules and Jim is even worse.