Monday Morning Critic – 2/9

On tap this week:
— Punched in the face!
— The Final Word on Christian Bale
— Top Fives with Scott Keith!
And slightly much more!

With superhero and comic book films coming out lately, and more still to come, I’ve been thinking. I’ve always wondered what would be the best power to have. It’s a tough question, honestly. And it requires some semi-serious thoughts. There’s so much to choose from and you can’t have it all. I mean who wouldn’t want Batman’s detective skills combined with Superman’s nigh invincibility, Professor X’s metal powers, etc. You could insert a half dozen other powers from heroes across the spectrum, but you get the point. Plus there’s always the downside to having super powers.

You could be super strong and invincible like Superman, but you know how tough it would be to do simple tasks like pushing buttons on a phone without breaking the sucker? Imagine slamming any door, too; you’d rip it off the hinges. You’d really have to watch it or else someone’s getting hurt.

And super speed would be one thing, but it would get boring to just walk after a while. You’d want to just sprint everywhere, and driving would suck because if you’re not going 120mph it’d be slow. Going for a slow stroll would suck, too.

Being invincible would have its perks, but after you get hit in the head with a 400 pound object for the hundredth time it’d become a bit boring. It’s like that episode the The Simpsons where Homer tries to become a boxer, fighting the homeless by pushing them down when they’re exhausted because he has an extra layer of fluid in his brain that makes him impervious to pain in the head. While Doctor Hibbert hits him with the surgical 2×4 to no consequence, imagine if people all day could just hit you with things and it would just bounce off you. It’d get annoying after a while.

You can keep going on super powers, but one never goes away for me in terms of coolness: The ability to turn invisible.

You know why? Because you could have so much fun with it, that’s why.

Me, I’d turn invisible and set up a camera in a hidden place. You know, so you could see people walking by, relaxing, having a conversation, etc. I would be invisible, of course, and with the camera rolling I’d run up and punch them really hard when they’re completely not expecting it. You know, someone would be walking listening to some hit by the Streaks or whatever whiny emo band that’s enjoying their 15 minutes of fame on their iPod and be like totally oblivious to the world when BHAM! Someone just got knocked the heck out. Or you could follow them around with a bat in the air to see everyone else’s reaction, and then unload unholy vengeance on those around.

I already have a title for it, and Fox would probably be all over this: “Punched in the face.”

You could sell it like Jackass for the reactions alone. Imagine how much fun it would be to watch someone get beaten up while not knowing what the hell was happening? We’re talking car-wreck mentality, here, and if you don’t think it’d make money then you don’t understand the world we live in. Think about it for a bit. Paris Hilton, who I think has Down’s syndrome, can market clothing to tweens and has starred in several reality shows. If someone whose IQ borders on double digits can become a semi-famous television star/prostitute, then “Punched in the face” can be a hit on network television for at least two seasons.

Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels can get multiple shows where gorgeous women throw themselves at the two. They were famous 20 years ago for 35 minutes combined, honestly, and get highly-rated shows where women with various levels of attractiveness will do practically anything to land them then “Punched in the face” can pop a 4.0 on Spike TV on Wednesday nights. You could throw it on right after the UFC, too.

Thoughts like these probably kept me from attending Super Hero University.

Random Thoughts of the Week

One of the big stories of last week was Christian Bale’s taped outburst on the set of the newest Terminator film. You can find it anywhere and there’s a lot been said either way, including a remix that was posted on Inside Pulse earlier this week. And there’s been a lot said about it, but I think I need to say something.

Christian Bale didn’t do anything that awful. He just had a bad day that people will laugh about 10 years from now when he’s holding three Oscars for being the best actor alive. If Ray Lewis can sit back and chill while his buddies stab a guy to death without facing serious consequences from ESPN’s crew or NFL fans in general then I think Christian Bale can be forgiven for losing his cool on a set. Harry at Ain’t It Cool covered it wonderfully, so I’ll sum up what he says and then add my own 20 drachma.

The story, after the audio broke, was that the director of photography (DP) on the film was continually adjusting the lighting of the film during a scene. It has to be completely annoying for an actor for someone to completely mess around with something as important as lighting will the scene is being shot. Especially for an actor like Bale, who’s absolutely nutty when it comes to being a Method Actor, the last thing I think anyone should do is mess with him while he’s working. Especially on something like the lighting . . . that would be something you do either before or after the shot, not during. I might not know a lot about movie production but logic dictates you could screw up a shot or a take by playing with the lighting while you’re trying to film.

If I had been the DP on this film, I’d have taken a serious look at Bale’s career. This is a guy who’s crazy enough to lose and gain back 50 lbs or more for roles without batting an eyelash. Losing weight like that requires a ton of working out and not eating, then working out like crazy and eating a lot to put it back on. That takes a lot of dedication and metal toughness, plus a bit of the crazy. Plus the guy was in American Psycho and was insanely good at playing a heartless, ruthless killer. You don’t go that kind of crazy in a role if there isn’t a little bit of the psycho in you.

Did he go too far? Perhaps. But in his situation, I can see why he lost it. And when the film comes out and it’s awesome because of him, I think it won’t be a big deal. While it’s perhaps the greatest celebrity rant ever, he still has the post Dark Knight glow. A quick apology, like he’s already provided, and in another week no one will care anymore.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Orgazmo


Anytime a film is labeled as an “instant cult classic” that’s critic code for “this film sucks.” And Orgazmo has been labeled that for many years, so I went into with low expectations. Orgazmo isn’t that good of a film. It’s funny, but over the years I’d heard this hyped as a great flick and I was kind of disappointed. It’s a raunchy, NC-17 comedy that pulls no punches and goes for every low-brow gag possible but doesn’t hit as often as it misses. And when it misses, it misses badly. It’s got a great premise:

Joe (Trey Parker) is a Mormon trying to spread the word of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints in Hollywood. Stumbling onto a porn set, he gets offered a lot of money to become the star of the new film “Orgazmo” as a super hero of the same name. All sorts of crazy shenanigans occur, leading up to a fist fight at the end. Plus tons of nudity, profanity and all other sorts of goodness only a film about a Mormon becoming a porn star could provide.

It’s interesting to see Parker and Matt Stone, the guys behind South Park, before they became as big as they currently are. It’s kind of a look at guys who can tell a lot of funny jokes but don’t know how to write a standup routine just yet. There are tons of little jokes that come through that are markedly funny, and the film’s opening credits are hysterical, but there are huge tons of the film that are gigantic comedic misses. There’s so much material that’s there for shock value, as opposed to being funny, that it gets bothersome after a while.

Watching the film you can tell the guys were destined for the small screen, as 30 minutes of comedy is a bit easier to write one would suspect than two hours.

Mild recommendation.

Mail Bag

Nothing of note this week.

Top Five Challenge

This week I scored a coup as I have one of the heavyweights of Inside Pulse, Scott Keith, was glad to come on board on for Top Fives. In addition to being one of the premier writers on pro wrestling on the internet, he’s a noted author on the subject and also contributes reviews to The DVD Lounge, bringing a unique perspective to the world of cinema. Since his specialty is professional wrestling, and this is a column about movies, I thought it would be fun to ask a question combining the two:

Outside of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, most pro wrestlers who have tried to become actors have failed miserably. What five things do you thing have contributed to this failure?

Hmmm, tough but fair.

Going from wrestling to acting is actually a difficult thing, because really professional wrestling has more in common with live theatre than with movies. That being said, here’s my biggest factors in order of importance:

1) Lack of spontaneity. Wrestling is a medium based on taking instant crowd reactions and building a match around the changing atmosphere. One guy might be getting too much of a heel reaction and so both guys will adjust their storytelling on the fly and make the crowd react another way. When you’re filming a movie, the endeavor is based on rigidly formatted scripts where you have to understand your character motivation and actions far in advance of ever acting out the scene. As Roddy Piper once noted in an interview, wrestlers are instantly at a disadvantage because they look to the crowd for instant approval and adjustments in the story being told, and filming a movie gives you no feedback other than what the director provides.

2) Lack of true acting experience. Ever notice that Rock was pretty good on promos up until he did The Scorpion King, and then he suddenly jumped into another realm altogether? During his time off he took extensive acting lessons, and suddenly he was doing amazing character stuff that was on a level so far beyond what every other wrestler in the promotion was doing that it made them look like a bunch of indy workers by comparison. And that’s just a few weeks of lessons! Most professional actors work for YEARS at mastering their craft. Here’s another example: Kevin Smith movies (a favorite sub-genre of mine, admittedly) tend to work best when they’re confined to the tight-knit main group produced by the View Askew world (Smith, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, etc.) because they’re all at about the same level of amateurishness and so you don’t notice it. But take a movie like Clerks 2, where you put professional actress Rosario Dawson into the mix, and suddenly every time Brian O’Halloran is on screen with her you’re like “Holy cow, this guy is terrible.” Same principle applies with wrestlers in movies — if you watch Ready to Rumble (and really, who would want to?) then you’ll probably notice that the scenes where all the WCW guys are together work fairly well, but if you put a couple of them by themselves and try to make them share the screen with the actual actors, they stick out like a sore thumb. They just don’t FEEL right on screen.

3) Lack of script quality. Ever read an actual wrestling script? Although it’s intended specifically to be more open to improv than a traditional shooting script is, the goal is still the same and the finished product still resembles the written word more often than not thanks to the control freak that is Vince McMahon. Point being, if you took the dialogue and (shall we say) fluidly changing character motivations that are presented on a typical Monday night and put it on screen, it would get laughed out of the theater. Basically, you’re asking people with the Hollywood equivalent of high school play experience and expecting them to be able to translate a piece of work that’s vastly superior to what they’re used to working with. It’s just not reasonable. But hey, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they CAN keep up with a good piece of Hollywood screenwriting…

4) WWE’s film division is awful. Whoever thought that remaking schlocky 80s action movie Commando with John Cena (but changing it to the oh-so-original The Marine) would be a good idea? WWE Films, apparently. Or that a B-grade slasher movie would be a great starring vehicle for Glen Jacobs? WWE Films, apparently. Or that the most effective use of their investment would be a THIRD entry in the Behind Enemy Lines franchise, which was already so dead in the water that no one even remembered the SECOND movie? WWE Films, that’s who! They say that you should always write about what you know, so why is the film division of a wrestling company ripping off B-grade Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the 80s instead of making movies about, oh, I don’t know, wrestling maybe. Here’s a thought, maybe if someone let these guys make a movie about WRESTLING, they’d have something they understood to work with. Oh, wait, someone did, and it was called The Wrestler and starred a real actor (who was so incredibly talented that he made everyone believe he was a wrestler) and a bunch of real wrestlers who only had to act like themselves and not attempt to carry the movie. And you know who had absolutely nothing to do with that movie at all? WWE Films.

5) You think any wrestler today can do as many drugs as Lindsay Lohan without dropping dead? That’s not even fair, man.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and Northwestern University Co-Eds with low standards at the Rhythm Room

Confessions of a Shopaholic – Isla Fisher fakes her resume to get a job in finance, despite having no self control when it comes to her shopping habits. Based off a British book.

See it – 90 minutes of Isla Fisher looking hot? I’m in.

Friday the 13th (2009) – A reimagining of the 80s horror classic, as Jason kills teenagers dead.

Skip it – Wow, Hollywood has run out of ideas. After like 10 sequels, you’d think they’d give it a mercy kill and retire Jason to the movie killers home. Lawn darts at 10, stabbing teenagers at noon, that kind of thing. The original had the twist ending and that was about it.

The International – Clive Owen investigates a bank which uses its funds to do all sorts of nefarious things.

Skip it – Wow, evil bankers. That’s real original. It’s like Hollywood has decided that no matter what, the evil guy behind everything is now the chubby white guy who runs the local bank. Wonderful. I’m curious who’s left when they run out of bankers to shoot in movies. I mean the Dentist who isn’t licensed? EVIL! The Doctor who doesn’t fully explain things? EVIL!

Just doesn’t quite have that ring to it, I know.

I am a big Clive Owen fan but he needs to stop this crusade of his to show he can make action films since he got passed over for Bond. He made Shoot ‘em Up, which was insanely awesome, now he should just go back to making prestige pictures and dramas. Be Russell Crowe lite, like how we want you to be.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

Tags: , ,