Monday Morning Critic – Warrior (2011) Review (Kind of), Blazing Saddles

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The big film that comes out this week for MMA fans is Warrior, a tale of two brothers in an MMA tournament with years of painful memories separating them. But it’s not the fact that it’s a serious film with MMA in it, as opposed to something generic like Never Back Down which is just an underdog tale in the vein of Days of Thunder. I know this because I saw it Sunday night during the sneak peek (and will have reviews up on Inside Pulse Movies and Inside Fights sometime this week), obviously, and something about the film caused me to write about it more. I had a bit on the Star Wars Blu-Ray debacle but it wasn’t ready and the Blu-Rays get released next week so it felt a bit timelier to delay it a bit.

The thing that stands about the film is that it shows just how far MMA has come in such a short time and how cinema is giving the burgeoning sport that final bit of the mainstream acceptance it needs. That’s the thing I think that any sport really needs to have that continual acceptance as a sport: you have to have a great film to lead the pack.

And I’m not talking about a film that aficionados of the sport can get behind. If that was the case then hockey would be much bigger because Slap Shot is one of the funniest films ever made. You need that big dramatic film to make your sport feel that much more important and hockey doesn’t have it. Neither do a ton of sports that allow people to be professional athletes full time, so it’s not a matter of picking on hockey, but the ones that do have an indelible impact on the American sports scene.

Baseball has a plethora of them, which is part of the reason why it’ll always be the sport that symbolizes the mythos of American athletic endeavors. There’s a special power to it when we discuss baseball because part of our memories are tied to the cinematic endeavors of baseball on the big screen. It’s hard to not love baseball when you have films like Field of Dreams, Eight Men Out, Major League, The Natural and Bull Durham that are a permanent part of the American cinematic lexicon. Any guy worth his salt ought to able to quote off the top of his head something from half those films.

Football and basketball have a handful of films that reach that rarified air, Friday Night Lights and Hoop Dreams respectively, but when we reflect upon baseball it’s always America’s game for that reason I’ve always thought. There’s a layer of brilliance in baseball films as a group, at the upper end at least, that hasn’t really been matched outside of it. Boxing has the best case, with Rocky and Raging Bull (amongst others), but nothing matches baseball for this. But all MMA had so far has been a pair of films that were good but not really memorable that really didn’t change much.

Warrior is the film that’s going to really change that. It raises the bar to Rocky type levels and hopefully Nick Nolte gets some love come awards season.

You can read all our coverage of Warrior by clicking here.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Blazing Saddles

If they ever wanted to remake Blazing Saddles for a modern audience, which seems to be the case with a lot of classic films from the 1970s and ‘80s, they’d have to change a lot of things. The western comedy, one of the most quotable films of all time, probably couldn’t get made in today’s era of comedy. And we know exactly how the film will get changed, too.

Blazing Saddles is a Mel Brooks film with a fairly simple premise. A new Sherriff (Cleavon Little) is sent to a small town where a railroad is going to go through. That land will become very profitable once the railroad is built but until then it’s still a town. Joined by an infamous gunslinger (Gene Wilder), the new Sherriff has to defend the townsfolk against a crooked Governor and Attorney General wanting the land for their own sake because they’re evil like that. It’s insanely funny, perhaps the funniest film ever made, but there’s no chance it could get made now as it currently stands.

There’s no chance that Blazing Saddles could get made as is, even in an era of blue humor that seems to be emanating out of Holllywood now. There’s a rant about how Hollywood doesn’t know how to do R-rated humor in here somewhere but I’m not that clever because there are plenty of good, dirty-word filled comedies that come out often enough to stow it inside. I just have these sneaking suspicions that if Blazing Saddles got remade that it’d be toned down significantly to the point where it wouldn’t even resemble the Blazing Saddles that’s so insanely funny. Follow me on this.

We all know they’d change this R-rated comedy into something PG-13, if only to expand the audience and make it “relevant for a new generation.” Much like they’ll do to Die Hard in 15 years or so when they reboot it by remaking the original with Justin Bieber in the John McClane role.

You laugh now but watch. It’s hard not to watch this and think that Adam Sandler and Happy Madison are waiting for just the right moment to announce they’re going to make another version of this with the Sandler film but for a new, family-oriented generation. It’d become a western comedy with some of the edge taken off, marketed to the gills as now a comedy you can enjoy with your whole family.

So none of this:

And more of this:

Again you laugh, and perhaps shake your head at assertion about this, but we all know this is becoming much more of an inevitability the more Adam Sandler decides he wants to make movies with all his friends. Eventually they’ll want to remake a famous film together that doesn’t involve them playing on the usual character types we know them for on their face. It doesn’t take a marketing wizard to know that being a cowboy is one of those things from childhood that actors still think is cool; it’s why westerns still exist and why actors want to do them enough that there’s at least one western a year. And with Hollywood moving up from crappy films to classics, Blazing Saddles has to be on someone’s list for remakes with the Happy Madison crew.

Adam Sandler as the Waco Kid does sound like it could be good, if Sandler went full on R-rated, but it’d still be the Adam Sandler role for him and nothing to stretch his comedic chops. It’s not like he has to stretch his acting abilities with films like Bedtime Stories, Just Go With It or Grown Ups. He plays Adam Sandler better than anyone and we’d just get the Waco Kid … if he was also Adam Sandler. And in this stage of his career I think Sandler is done with R-rated films if he’s assembling the whole crew and their assembled salaries. PG-13 is a much easier rating through which to make $100 million back as opposed to an R.

Think about it. Chris Rock steps into the roles of the Sherriff, Kevin James is now Mongo (who isn’t retarded and just likes to knit), David Spade and Rob Schneider are the bad guys with Nick Swardson somehow involved (and it being as painful as you’d think) with a number of model turned actress types thrown in there. It’s still set in the west, so everyone gets to hang out in New Mexico as opposed to some woods somewhere. Throw in a 30 minute camp fire scene (because fart jokes are high comedy, of course), no profanity or racial slurs and a comedic shootout instead of a fourth wall-breaking fight and you have Adam Sandler’s Blazing Saddles,

Heck, they’d probably differentiate the two by giving it that name. Which would be perhaps the worst idea ever, a film that makes Jack and Jill a masterpiece and be a film that’s justified by the “I got to make a movie with my friends” that actors use to justify bad films like Grown-Ups or any of the films in the reboot of Ocean’s Eleven after the first one.

As for me, I’ll stay watching the original if/when that happens because it’s perhaps the funniest film ever made that doesn’t have the phrase “Monty Python” involved in it. When you make a list of the funniest films ever made, this has to be at the top or near it.

Highest recommendation possible.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star – Nick Swardson gets another awful, awful, awful, awful movie to star in.

Skip it – Anyone who purchases a ticket to see this film needs to get fired from movies.

Warrior – Two brothers compete in a prestigious MMA tournament for different reasons.

See it – Saw it last night, perhaps the best film of the year.

Contagion – The bird flu goes from bad to worse and starts killing an all-star cast.

See it – Soderbergh gets great casts and usually delivers.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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