September 16th, 2010

PRIVATE DUTY NURSES (1971) *

Private Duty Nurses is the second movie in producer Roger Corman’s Nurses series.  It’s so mind-bogglingly awful that it seems like someone is playing a bad joke on the audience.  It’s almost as if writer/director George Armitage set out to make the worst Nurse movie possible.  Imagine if one of those boring ass French New Wave directors made a Nurse movie but tried to do it as a “deconstruction” of the genre (i.e. took out all of the fun and added a bunch of stupid social commentary); and that might give you some idea of what to expect. 

 

For starters, we have the tree-hugging subplot where one of the nurses tries to put a stop to pollution in the ocean.  This subplot serves no purpose whatsoever (especially since it turns out that the damned thing isn’t even polluted) and doesn’t really give the nurse a chance to get naked.  Then there’s the subplot involving a black doctor trying to get a job at the hospital but is denied by the racist superintendent.  This doesn’t really make sense either because apparently nobody’s heard of Affirmative Action in this movie.  I mean one call to Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton and that dude would’ve had a job in no time.  But you know Armitage really hates his audience though when he lets an incredibly shitty hippie band called “Sky” play endlessly in a bar AND on the soundtrack.  Jesus, these guys suck.

 

The worst thing about Private Duty Nurses is the fact that none of the goddamned nurses do any goddamned nursing.  It’s strange to watch a fucking Nurse movie in which they never do any nursing type stuff.  One chick visits her motorcycle riding boyfriend in the hospital, but that’s about it.  What’s worse is that they only get naked once, maybe twice apiece.  And even when the nurses do get naked, they aren’t anything to brag about.  They should’ve called this thing Private Dooty Nurses.

 

Armitage went on to direct the awesome Miami Blues, so I can forgive him for this turd.

 

AKA:  Young L.A. Nurses 3.

MACGRUBER (2010) **

I like movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches more than most people (I happen to think The Ladies Man is one of the great underrated comedies of the last decade) so I was hoping more than anyone for the MacGruber movie to be awesome.   Well, it fills me with disappointment to say that I only laughed a couple of times here and there.  As Saturday Night Live adaptations go, this one is about on par with Superstar.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with MacGruber, he’s this MacGyver knockoff played by Will Forte who tries to dismantle bombs but they always end up exploding anyway.  This one-note joke is appropriate for a two minute sketch and luckily for the audience, the filmmakers limit this joke’s appearance to the end of the movie.  Too bad they forgot to put jokes into the rest of the flick.

 

Basically the plot boils down to a terrorist named Dieter Von Cunth (are you laughing yet?) played by Val Kilmer threatening D.C. with a nuclear warhead.  MacGruber is called out of retirement to stop him.  After MacGruber accidentally blows up his commando squad (which is comprised solely of WWE wrestlers), he asks his girlfriend Vicky St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and a wet behind the ears rookie (Ryan Philippe) to help take down Von Cunth.

 

The best thing I can say about the movie is that the tone is just right.  The flick is played very seriously (or at least as serious as your average Direct to DVD action movie) and all the actors more or less play their roles completely straight (especially Powers Boothe as MacGruber’s superior).  The exception of course is MacGruber, who acts like a total idiot. 

 

I think this approach could’ve worked if only they had some funnier jokes.  Overall, I think I laughed about four or five times during the movie (and the first time was almost a half hour into the flick).  There’s a scene where MacGruber sticks a stalk of celery up his ass (he later eats it), a funny line of dialogue when MacGruber talks about why Von Cunth hates him so much (it has to do with MacGruber running away with Von Cunth’s wife while she was pregnant and he tells her to abort it because he wants them to “start fresh”), and the final scene where MacGruber goes to cut off Von Cunth’s dick and well… I don’t want to spoil ALL the good moments for you.  Other than that, the humor is extremely weak.  If you’re a twelve year old who automatically laughs any time someone says the word “fuck” or any of it’s variations, you’ll probably laugh your head off though.

RANGERS (2000) *

You know, when I was a kid, me and my buddy made a Star Wars movie using my dad’s video camera.  Of course, we didn’t have any money for special effects so what we did was walk down a hallway and say, “I’m heading off in my X-Wing, see ya later” then cut to footage from Empire Strikes Back of an X-Wing flying through space.  Watching Rangers sorta reminded me of that old movie we made.

 

In the beginning of the movie, when the Rangers are about to go on a mission, we first see them in a plane.  Then when they are about to jump out, there’s a bunch of footage from Navy Seals of Charlie Sheen and company doing the actual stunt.  When the Rangers are on the ground and about to get into a shootout, they hide behind a wall.  Then when they turn the corner and fire their guns, the flick switches over to a scene from The Delta Force where lots of Arab dudes get shot up.  The stock footage baiting-and-switching gets so bad at one point that the soldiers have to change clothes before crossing the street in order for the stock footage to match (they go from being dressed “undercover” as Arabs to their uniforms in every other building it seems like).  Halfway through the movie I said to myself, “Shit man, I should’ve just watched Navy Seals instead.  Heck, even Delta Force would’ve been better than this crap!”

 

The stuff in between the scenes from other better movies is pretty bottom of the barrel.  The action they bothered to film themselves is lame and the acting is even worse.  Then again, what do you expect when you cast Matt McCoy, the pseudo-Guttenberg from Police Academy 5 and 6 as your hero?  This guy is totally unconvincing as an Army Ranger.  Watch him when he fires his gun; he flinches EVERY time he pulls the trigger.

 

Now usually, I don’t review Special Features on a DVD but because the flick was directed by my buddy Jim Wynorski (using the pseudonym “Jay Andrews”), I figured I’d listen to the commentary with him and McCoy while I was fiddling around on the internet.  Turns out, this was one of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard.  It’s way better than the movie itself. 

 

Both Wynorski and McCoy are well aware of what kind of movie they’re making and are not above making fun of it, Mystery Science Theater style.  Full of self-deprecating humor and tongue in cheek jabs, the commentary is a fun listen and makes you wish that some of that same spirit went into the movie itself.  McCoy in particular shows a flair for comedy and makes you wish he had a chance to be half as funny in the actual film.  My favorite part was when they’re discussing how to make an American back alley look like another country.  Turns out all you have to do is put in a lot of trash cans with burning fires in them.  “Nothing says ‘foreign country’ like burning trash cans!”  Wynorski’s comments are pretty revealing too and make for a better film school than most colleges offer.  Even better is that Wynorski gives a full confession to what movies he stole from too.

 

So, One Star for the movie.  Four for the commentary.  Do yourself a favor and bypass watching the movie on it’s own and just listen to the commentary.  Plot wise, you won’t be missing anything, but you’ll have a lot more fun hearing about the making of the movie than actually watching it.

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) **

I don’t get the title “The Poseidon Adventure”.  Being trapped in an overturned luxury cruise ship and fighting for your life doesn’t seem too much of an adventure to me.  Wouldn’t the title “The Poseidon Disaster” or “The Poseidon Accident” be more appropriate?  Anyway, this is one 70’s disaster flick that doesn’t quite live up to it’s reputation.

 

If you don’t already know, this movie is all about a cruise ship that gets hit by a tidal wave and flips over.  End of story.  Some of the biggest names in Hollywood are on the ship and have to work their way to the bottom of the boat to be rescued.  We’ve got Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens.  There’s Red Buttons and Roddy McDowall.  Most importantly, there’s Gene Hackman acting like a total pimp as the unorthodox preacher who tries to lead his flock off the boat.  How do we know he’s an unorthodox preacher?  Cuz he says a few mild curse words and touches Shelley Winters’ ass, that’s how.

 

Hackman’s scenery chewing is easily the best thing about the movie.  The second best thing is seeing an all-star cast getting hit with gallons of water.  The third best thing is the stupid special effects which range from crappy toy boats (err… models) to inverted camerawork that makes it look like people are falling to their deaths.  The fourth best thing is… umm…

 

Let’s move on to the bad.  There’s plenty here.  As previously mentioned, there isn’t enough story here to fill a lifeboat.  To call the characters “thinly sketched” would be an understatement.  Take Stella Stevens’ character for instance.  She plays a former hooker that’s afraid that she’ll be noticed by her former clients.  Well, after the boat flips over no one seems to ever talk to her, let alone make a crude comment about her past.  Score one for Stella.

 

And as influential and popular as The Poseidon Adventure was, I have to say it left me kind of cold.  While the disaster clichés came fast and furious during the film’s second half, all the climbing and swimming and yelling and fighting just got monotonous after awhile.  And the less said about the nauseating theme song, “There’s Got to Be a Morning After” the better.

 

Still, it’s kinda cool that this movie features the villains from BOTH Cleopatra Jones movies (Winters and Stevens).