The Top 8……Nay, The Top 9 Worst Movies of the Year (that I have seen)

31 12 2011

In my last article I reviewed the best movies of the year (than I have seen).  2011 brought some very good films but was rather underwhelming overall.  The bad films seemed to outnumber the good even more than usual.   And trust me my friends, there was not a shortage of bad movies from this year.  I had such a hard time deciding on which ones to make the list I came up with some more HONORABLE MENTION HAIKU!

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The Top 8……Nay, The Top 9 Best Movies of the Year (that I have seen)

27 12 2011

Merry two days after Christmas and Happy five days before New Year’s!  Every website, TV show, and magazine has their own year end lists and we are no different.  As the movie self professed movie buff of, I put myself through countless hours of watching terrible movies either for reviews or for laughs.  The flip side to that coin is that I am able to give myself an excuse or two to watch some good films as well.  2011 proved to be a year that provided so many highs and lows in cinema this year that I couldn’t decide on just 8 for this list.  So for this year-end list I’ve bumped it up to a Top 9 with some haiku for the honorable mentions.  After all it is the season for giving!

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The Top 8 ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Films

15 10 2011

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The Top 8 Next Air Bud & Buddies Sequels

28 09 2011

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The Top 8 Badass Movie Kids

4 09 2011

Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace, Jaden Smith in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards in Jurassic Park.  What do they all have in common?  If you answered compromising pictures of movie producers, you would be right.  But they are also a few examples of the annoying movie kid.  In some cases these kids can be so horrible that they outright ruin a film or a franchise.  Once in a while though, there is something that comes along that is so astounding we should all take notice and thank Ganesh for this rare gift:  a movie kid that is a true badass.  And I’m not talking supernatural powers or possession because that’s help.  So let’s kick off the Top 8 Badass Movie Kids:

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>The Top 8 Reasons Drew Carey is better than Bob Barker

13 04 2011


That is no typo, kiddies.  I have always liked Drew Carey and the way he has grown into a terrific host of The Price is Right in such a short time is astonishing.  It hit me a few months ago that not only am I impressed with his progress but he is in fact much better than Bob Barker.  And here are the top 8 reasons why:

8:  Drew Carey provides a breath of fresh air

  •  This is a point that any one replacing Bob Barker would receive, hence it’s placement at #8.  While he had a good run as host of The Price is Right he also did it for 35 YEARS!  At 5 episodes per week, 52 weeks a year for 35 years gives us 9100 episodes of Barker.  This doesn’t include prime time specials.  Nothing has a shelf life that long.  

7:  Drew makes me want to eat popcorn

  • Drew Carey’s recent weight loss has brought this comparison to the forefront, especially when someone had the audacity to dress him in a white suit (which was hilarious).  Drew Carey looks like the long lost grandson of popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher.  The glasses, the bow tie, the smile.  It is all there.  I’m hoping can get to the bottom of this unsolved mystery and prove that Redenbacher nailed Drew Carey’s grandmother.  Don’t believe me, here is some proof:
  • Drew Carey has made several appearances for WWE(F) over the years, mostly in comedy segments.  However he did join Pete Rose as a celebrity guest to enter the annual Royal Rumble match.  A lot of fans pissed and moaned over this induction but I really don’t see where the hate is coming from.  If Pete Rose and Bob Uecker can get in, why not Drew?  Now I know a lot of you are going to bring up Bob Barker’s guest host bits on Raw from 2009.  The difference is Carey was having fun while interacting with the wrestlers while Barker had one great segment carried by Jericho and played it off as if he was in TPIR studio.  Not to mention Carey was a good sport regarding being booed.  I wondered what Barker’s reaction would be to such treatment.
5:  Drew allows the contestants their full 15 minutes of fame
  • Unfortunately I was unable to find a lot of video footage to back up this point as most youtube clips are relatively short.  In fact the only way to see the difference is to watch their shows back to back.  I was out of work for over a year so I had plenty of time to observe this (between bouts of crying and salting the barrel of a .45).  Drew doesn’t talk over the contestants.  He doesn’t try to rush them and he always seems genuinely happy when people win big.  Barker seemed annoyed towards the end of his run and was only happy when he could show the contestants how easy it was to make the putt in “Hole in One (or Two).”  Of course Bob Barker should be able to make that putt.  He was doing it for 1,697 years.  I’d much rather have a host who is pulling for his contestants as opposed to some smug dick looking for excuses to usher dopes off stage as soon as possible.  Which reminds me:  fuck Alex Trebek too!
  • Libertarians are awesome.  They are open to all types of freedom with as little government interference as possible.  In short, they are Republicans who could care less about what gay people do.  In Hollywood, a world full of filthy, ultra-left wing hippies it is good to see that there are some who aren’t going to bend over backwards for the entertainment establishment.  I have no idea what Bob Barker’s political views are and frankly I don’t care.  The point is that Drew Carey and I think alike.  And I still want some popcorn.
3:  Drew Carey doesn’t sexually harass women (allegedly)
  • It is impossible for a show like The Price is Right to go on for 35 years without some form of controversy:  in fighting amongst producers, Bob Barker wanting a bigger paycheck, ‘random’ selections from the crowd, etc.  One wouldn’t think that sweet, old Bob Barker would be accused of sexual harassment.  But yet in 1994 former ‘Barker Beauty’ filed suit after an alleged three year long affair.  Two other beauties were fired and given out of court settlements, while producer Deborah Curling filed a discrimination/hostile work environment lawsuit.  I don’t claim to know any facts about these cases but I would classify this as a classic ‘Michael Jackson Deja Vu.’  Allow me to explain.  The first time MJ was accused of inappropriate contact with a minor the vast majority of people wrote it off as a broke family looking for a quick buck.  There was an out of court settlement which was not good for Jackson’s PR but with time people were more willing to forgive and forget.  Then it happened again and everyone thought “AGAIN!”  How could that happen a second time.  Even if Jackson never touched any of these kids the fact that he allowed himself to possibly be put in that situation again speaks even lower of his judgment.  The same thing goes for Barker.  If something like that happens once it is a pretty easy thing to get a chuckle at and let go.  But when it starts happening again and again it will eventually catch up to you and/or the show.
2:  Drew Carey’s experience with improvisation makes him a more adept game show host
  •  Game shows are unpredictable, that is their very nature.  So many variables can change the outcome of any game on The Price is Right.  A customer might not know how much ketchup costs, or they spin the wheel so hard it breaks off of it’s track and rolls into the crowd (seriously, how cool would that be?).  Even the personalities of the participants and of the audience can change at the drop of a hat.  Drew Carey’s experience with improvisational comedy leads to him to be able to adapt to the changes on the fly and expect the unexpected.  His work on Whose Line is it Anyway? is a prime example of being able to think and react quickly while maintaining pace and humor.  Again, not to slam Barker but you could tell at times that Barker was annoyed or taken aback.  Drew has never been held speechless.  Well, except that one time………
1:  Drew Carey was a temporary savior of the city of Cleveland
  • New York.  Los Angeles.  Chicago.  Washington, D.C.  These are huge cities with world famous tourist destinations.  These towns have glitz, glamour, movie stars, government.  Smaller cities like Cleveland have to take other avenues in order to get their name out there.  While the state of Ohio does have the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (the NFL’s is in Canton while MLB’s is in Cooperstown) there isn’t a whole lot about the city of Cleveland that makes it stand out from say, Des Moines.  That was until 1989 when a little feature film called Major League hit the theaters.  The film was essentially The Bad News Bears with the Cleveland Indians.  Better yet the movie was actually pretty funny.  In order to show that Hollywood has always made terrible, unnecessary sequels Major League II was released in 1994.  Upon seeing this Drew Carey took it upon himself to defend the honor of the city of Cleveland and save it’s economy by launching The Drew Carey Show from 1995-2004.  The show ran 234 episodes and even had the balls to have a theme song titled “Cleveland Rocks!”  Drew Carey even managed to keep up his appearances on Whose Line while filming The Drew Carey Show.  Nine years of running a city is enough to make anyone scream, or want to smoke crack.  Just ask Marion Berry he’ll tell you.  But Drew Carey was considerate enough to wait for someone to take up the mantle and carry the city of Cleveland when his work was done.  For you see, 2004 was the second year in the NBA career of one Lebron James.


>The Top 8 Boxing Films Of All Time

21 02 2011

>Boxing as a sport has lost a lot of popularity in the United States over the past decade.  Be it due to the boom of mixed martial arts, the lack of a dominant heavyweight champion or pay-per-view prices casual fans have tuned out.  With this year’s The Fighter however, fans have proved that while the sport’s popularity is declining the love for a good boxing film still exists.  So what makes a great boxing film?  In this Top 8 we take a look at the best boxing films ever. 

8:     The Boxer (1997) 
        Written and Directed by Jim Sheridan 
           Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Emily Watson

    • The Boxer is the story of Danny Flynn, a promising nineteen year old fighter with ties to the Irish Republican Army.  After being held captive for fourteen years and refusing to name his associates he is released back onto the streets.  His hometown, family and friends have gone through tumultuous changes during his incarceration that he must come to terms with, all the while trying to resurrect his career.  Daniel Day-Lewis turns in an amazing performance as usual with a training program that even had cast and crew believing that he could have turned pro after filming.

7:     The Champ (1931)
        Directed by King Vodor
        Written by Frances Marion and Leonard Praskins

    • Boxing and gambling go together like peanut butter and jelly, biscuits and gravy, or prom babies and dumpsters.  Nothing says dominance like being able to punch your opponent into unconsciousness and people love to be able to say that they won money off of the winner.  The Champ is an old Hollywood tearjerker of a boxer who has gambled away his son’s most prized possession.  His horrible decision making has disappointed his son and Champ is willing to go through hell and high water to redeem himself.  An all time classic story of ruin, love, sacrifice and redemption.

6:     Rocky Balboa (2006)
        Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone
        Starring Sylvester Stallone, Milo Ventimiglia and Antonio

    • I will be the first to admit it:  I pissed and moaned like no other when Stallone confirmed that this film was in fact being made.  Rocky V did as much damage to a franchise as any sequel before and since with most thinking that this franchise was long dead.  It turns out we were all wrong and that there was one more quality film for this iconic character.  Stallone scraps Rocky V from the canon and film picks up years after IV.  Rocky has become a local legend and restaurant owner but his life is far from rosy.  Adrian has died and his relationship with his son has been severely strained.  Rocky gets the itch to fight again (I won’t spoil what lights the spark) and the current champion agrees to face Rocky in an exhibition.  On great montage later we have the best choreographed, filmed, and believable fight in any Rocky film.  There are some tender, well acted scenes between Stallone and Ventimiglia to boot.

5:     The Set-Up (1949)
        Directed by Robert Wise
        Written by Art Cohn
        Starring Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, and George Tobias

    • Another example of gambling’s influence on the boxing world, Stoker Thompson (Ryan) is a thirty-five year old boxer whose best days are behind him.  He has been instructed by a local mobster and even his trainer to throw fights to help promote younger fighters and fatten wallets.  Thompson’s trainer is so sure that he will lose his next fight that he doesn’t even bother to tell him that the fix is in.  With this lack of communication Stoker gets his confidence back and is willing to fight for himself and his sport, consequences be damned.

4:     When We Were Kings (1996)
        Directed by Leon Gast

    • When We Were Kings is the definitive boxing documentary.  Chronicling the build up to the legendary ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman the audience is exposed to not only the fight but the goings on behind the scenes.  Ali and Foreman are both featured as well interviews from Norman Mailer, Spike Lee and others.  Fans old and new alike will be able to show this film to friends and family while telling them ‘This is why boxing is special.’

3:     Rocky (1976)
        Directed by John Avildsen
        Written by Sylvester Stallone
        Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, and Carl 

    • Rocky did for boxing in 1976 what The Champ did in the 30s.  Written by an unknown Stallone (who insisted he play the title role over studio favorite James Caan), Rocky is the ultimate underdog story.  Rocky Balboa is working as loan shark muscle and boxing on the side until he meets trainer Mickey and pet store clerk Adrian.  With someone to fight for and someone to teach him Rocky goes from bar room brawler to championship contender.  Rocky has never been a fighter with great boxing skills.  He’s the guy who wants it more and nothing you can do will stop him.  The fantastic script, great performances, and excellent direction made this film a surprise hit and instant classic.

2:     The Fighter (2010)
        Directed by David O. Russell
        Written by Scot Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson
        Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo

    • I know I’m going to get some grief for putting The Fighter this high on the list.  I had several reservations myself but I connected with this film much more than I had ever expected.  As a boxing fan I remember watching several of the film’s featured fights on ESPN and HBO before and after Micky Ward’s title win.  However the boxing takes a back seat to the tension between throughout Ward’s family.  After years of being mismanaged by his domineering mother (Leo) and crack addicted, former boxing brother Dickie (Bale), Ward strikes out on his own with new management and a new girlfriend who truly believes in him (Amy Adams).  Wahlberg plays Ward well; an extremely likable guy who has had some bad fights and bad breaks but this film belongs to Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.  They bring so much depth and conviction to these people you feel as if you are watching a documentary instead of a film.  When the boxing starts (and its not until quite a bit into the film) you are almost relieved to see Micky get some peace while being punched in the head repeatedly.  One part Rocky, one part Rudy, The Fighter is a modern sports film masterpiece.

1:     Raging Bull (1980)
            Directed by Martin Scorcese
        Written by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin
        Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty

    • Let’s face it.  We all knew this was going to be number one.  As much as I love to give a dissenting opinion I am not one to argue with greatness.  Raging Bull is a look into the life of self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta (portrayed perfectly by De Niro) as he struggles with his insecurities and violent outbursts both in and out of the ring.  After chasing everyone away who has ever cared about him and being left to his own devices, LaMotta gets himself into a little bit of trouble.  After returning to New York City from prison LaMotta is slightly humbled and does his best to make peace with those he has wronged.  Life isn’t peaches and cream for him though, as he is alone, broke and left to a career of personal appearances and attempting stand up comedy.

So there you have it folks, The Top 8 Boxing Films Of All Time.  Why do I love these movies so much?  It’s because in all of these films the protagonists have much more going on than just trying to knock out the guy in front of them.  There are extenuating circumstances that motivate and drive these stories.  These men have chosen a complex and dangerous profession and these films not only show the audience how they are effected but how the ones around them have to cope as well.  The fights themselves aren’t as important as they are the manifestation of the drama outside of the ring.  The boxing ring is home for these athletes.  They are free from worrying about family, money, orders or emotion and that is why we cheer when the final fight is over.  Because win or lose the characters have faced their dilemmas and inspire us to do the same.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  

>The Top 8 Biggest Disappointments 2000-2010

10 01 2011

>Have you ever been excited for a new movie?  Album?  TV Show?  Event?  And then it turns out to be completely overblown or worse, absolute trash?  Yeah, me too.  These are the Top 8 of the Aughts.  Why top 8?  Because I like to give myself 20% off.

8:  Y2K:  I’m sure everyone remembers this.  ‘Y2K is coming!’  We’re all going back to the dark ages!’  The only ones who benefited from this overblown nonsense were manual can opener manufacturers and gun stores.  At the time it was considered a great relief but looking back Y2K would have spared us all from a fate much worse than becoming unwillingly Amish (see Cook, Dane.)

7:  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:  My hopes for this movie were pretty diminished once I read Shia The Beef would be playing Indy’s son but I never would have thought that be the least of this movie’s problems.  The Indy franchise is one of the few examples where a movie trilogy has 3 good movies.  And they had to ruin it with this fraudulent cash in.  Character development was non-existent, the effects were bad and Indy 4 commits the biggest offense:  IT’S UNBEARABLY BORING!

6:  Spiderman 3:  Speaking of sequels that should never have been we move on to Spiderman 3.  I’ll admit that I never cared for the first movie.  It felt too cartoonish for me and The Green Goblin’s suit looked ridiculous.  However S2 was a great improvement even if it told the same story.  I had hopes for part three.  Raimi was showing an understanding of the characters and I was excited to see Venom.  Instead we got jazz piano, Eric Forman, and Kirsten Dunst serenading us to the credits.  An obvious example of actors and a director fulfilling their contractual obligations. 

5:  Windows Vista:  The hype for Vista was enormous.  Better file communications, updated, flashy interface, resource friendly, etc.  In reality it made Windows ME look like Windows NT.  Once reviews of this operating system starting hitting magazines and websites people were immediately turned off.  Not necessarily the general public but IT professionals, prompting their business clients not to make the switch and to stick with XP.  Microsoft has since made up for it with Windows 7 but that doesn’t change the massive hit in credibility Microsoft took with this horrible, resource hogging abomination.

4:  Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy:  15 YEARS?!?  15 YEARS?!?  And this is what we get?  This pile of dung was more urban myth than music project.  I’d grown tired of Axl Rose and his antics years ago but when I heard this was actually being released I became interested.  More than a decade and $10 million in the making should result in a pretty good album that would be a throwback to the hair metal days of the 80s.  Instead we get a few decent guitar licks with a slew of over produced crap.  The lyrics are self indulgent.  The ballads are big, bloated and dumb.  And those are the high points.  At least Dr. Pepper didn’t make any silly bets about the release.  Oh wait….

3:  The Philadelphia Eagles:  There are reasons why Eagles fans are notorious for being mean spirited and angry.  They are the Chicago Cubs of football.  The team hasn’t won a championship since 1960.  They have been through decades of incompetent ownership and management.  Once Andy Reid took over the team and drafted Donovan McNabb fans revolted.  The popular opinion was that Ricky Williams should have been drafted.  As McNabb turned out to the best choice of the two it turned out to be not enough.  The Eagles won several division titles, made playoff runs though out the decade earning trips to 5 NFC titles games…….to lose 4 of them.  The lone Super Bowl appearance was the most heart wrenching with the Eagles losing by 3.  Even post-McNabb the Eagles are still their same choking selves losing 3 games in a row at home to close out the 2010-2011 season. 

2:  Heroes (NBC):  There have been some great science fiction shows (Star Trek, The X-Files) and some not so great  (Manimal, Cleopatra 2525.)  The fact that sci-fi has traditionally held a smaller but more devoted fan base than other genres has usually led to TV shows being either syndicated or aired on smaller cable networks.  Which was why I was completely caught off guard when I saw the first tv spot for NBC’s Heroes.  A sci fi show with real production value?  On prime time?  Sign me up.  What resulted was an amazing first season with many intertwined story arcs, well developed characters, great mystery and an open ended, bittersweet resolution.  Then Season 2 was announced.  I’m willing to cut the hastily written resolution some slack due to the writers’ strike but there is no excuse for the rapid decline of this promising show.  Character motivations were changed from episode to episode.  Writers left and returned.  The pacing became so inconsistent that I wasn’t sure I was watching the same show.  The last straw for viewers was in Season 4 when a semi-lesbian story line was introduced between two college roommates.  Thankfully the show was put out of its misery in 2008.  I can only imagine the respect this series would have retained if they quit after the first season and release a movie or two to tie up the loose ends.  A classic example of less is more.

1:  TNA Wrestling:  I know I’m going to catch a bunch of flak but I’m a sucker for wrestling.  I always have been and probably always will be.  When I heard of a new company being launched in 2002 I was pumped.  WCW and ECW had gone out of business.  WWE(F) was in a funk with every segment being dominated by HHH.  Japanese wrestling was in a downturn and there were no independent promotions operating near where I live.  TNA began as a weekly PPV show that lasted for two hours.  I let a lot slide initially:  A tag team of wrestling penises, an interview segment with a dwarf masturbating in a trash can, Jeff Jarrett main eventing the show.  Then the unbelievable happened:  it got better.  With an influx of young, hungry talent and the new found backing of Panda energy TNA seemed to have the best aspects of ECW and WCW,  great wrestlers and a strong financial backer.  Unfortunately they also have the worst aspects of ECW and WCW,  horrible financial decision making and even worse people in creative.  Professional wrestling is a funny business.  Much in the way of pro sports coaches (Turner, Norv) and politicians (O’Malley, Martin) it is very possible to fail up.  That is exactly what has happened to TNA in hiring (and continuing to employ) Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan.  These three men are responsible for bankrupting World Championship Wrestling and their reward is being given control of another company.  TNA is like the new girl in school.  She’s flashy.  She’s different.  Then when you get to know her you’re completely disgusted.  Stay tuned for more TNA ineptitude.  I’m sure it won’t be long before I have more to complain about regarding these nincompoops.


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