>Worn Out Welcomes: Nicolas Cage, Part II

3 04 2011


Greetings, readers.  I apologize for the delay between parts I and II of this particular Worn Out Welcome but I’ve been quite busy as of late.  Between the last Overrated, the 3DS launch, The Chinlock and having to make money at my day job some things had to be moved to the back burner.  I also had to take some time to rewatch some of his more forgettable films.  Not to worry, nothing has changed between then and now.  Nic Cage still sucks.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

  • We begin the 2000′s with Nic Cage butchering a 1970s classic.  The original Gone in 60 Seconds was a 1974 film about insurance agents who led double lives as car thieves.  This remake however completely drops what would be the best chance for actual character development.  Cage plays Memphis Raines, master car thief, with all of the exuberance of Steven Wright playing a librarian.  Giovanni Ribisi is more entertaining than Cage in this film and that is really saying something.  It also doesn’t help that this film was directed by Dominic Sena, who brought us such classics as Swordfish and Whiteout.

Windtalkers (2002)

  • The abyss of Nic Cage knows no bounds.  Not only has he butchered classic action and horror movies, and make otherwise great directors look painfully mediocre, Mr. Cage is also partly responsible for one of the worst World War II movies ever.  His hammy performance in Windtalkers can only be described as ‘Will Ferrell from Old School but is supposed to be taken seriously.’  Adam Beach, fresh off of playing Kicking Wing from Joe Dirt does this film’s credibility no favors either.  Just completely appalling all around.  BUH!
National Treasure (2004)
  • National Treasure to this day is a complete mystery to me.  How was this movie so successful?  Were the blue balls for Indiana Jones this severe?  Once again Nic Cage plays what could be an interesting, or at least bad ass character absolutely flat and boring.  Noticing any trends yet?  Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates (Get it? Ben Franklin?  Because the movie is called National Treasure), a treasure hunter who is as bored with his life filled with adventure as Star Trek extra.  At least in this film he is paired with director Jon Turteltaub of 3 Ninjas and While You Were Sleeping fame.  This is the company you should keep, Nic.  Just stay away from the Coens and Lord Scorsese.

The Wicker Man (2006)

  • Everyone knows about this abortion of cinema.  Everything about this film is just wrong.  The Wicker Man (1973) was the story of a catholic policeman sent to investigate a kidnapping on pagan island village.  Whereas that film had great atmosphere and great performance by Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee we are treated to a hilariously stereotype of lesbians and bees being poured into someone’s eyes.  If you paid for money for this movie without seeing the original I will pray nightly for your soul.  If you’ve seen the original and still paid for this I demand a written apology from all of you.

Ghost Rider (2007)

  • I’ll be the first to admit:  I’m not the biggest fan of the Ghost Rider character.  I like his origin story but I’ve never understood how this could have been more than a one off, or maybe one 12 comic issue long saga.  But just like with Windtalkers where Cage proved people had seen enough WWII movies, Ghost Rider proved that people had also seen enough comic book movies.  Cage tries to channel his inner Clint Eastwood in this film, squinting and grunting his way through his dialogue just waiting for the worst CGI of a flaming skull to take over all of the action scenes.  A horrible casting choice to be sure but Cage really put in some effort to make this movie as bad as it was.

Next (2007)

  • Next is one of the aforementioned movies that I had to rewatch during the delay between parts I and II.  This film also convinced me that Nic influences the scripts of his movies by doing Mad-Libs.  ‘I need a noun:  douche bag.  I need a nonsensical job: magician.  I need something that goes BOOM:  nuclear bomb.’  Next follows the journey of Las Vegas magician Cris Johnson who can see two minutes into the future.  Instead of using this ability to do something cool like buy a winning lottery ticket right before the drawing he uses his gift to work at a casino and hustle blackjack.  Way to aim high, asshole.  Before long he is enlisted in the search of a bomb planted by a terrorist organization.  Again, Cage seems too preoccupied (probably with his IRS bill)  to focus on his role.  There are scenes where it feels that he forgot his lines several times, or couldn’t remember them but the director finally gave up and just left his ad-libs in the film.  2007 was an awful year.  We got Ghost Rider and Next yet Cage got to be close to Eva Mendes and Jessica Biel.

Knowing (2009)

  • Where could I possibly begin with this gem?  Knowing is the product of Alex Proyas (director of The Crow, Dark City, and I Robot) losing a bet and having to make a movie with Nicolas Cage.  I will save you all two hours of your life right now:  alien angels blow up the world and take Nic Cage’s and Rose Byrne’s kids to a new planet where the immediately eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  In this shit storm we are exposed to ‘Mourning Drunk’ Cage and ‘Loving Father’ Cage.  Drunk Cage does such great things like drink, hold his head in his hands and crack code that would take Rain Man a decade to figure out.  Loving Father Cage neglects his kid, yells at him, almost gets him killed and treats us to either standing around with his mouth agape or squinting with his eyebrows contracted in confusion.  All joking aside avoid this at all cost, despite the fact that Roger Ebert gave this four stars.

The Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

  • Werner Herzog has always been known as a maverick film maker.  While he has made some great, unusual films he is often heralded by the critics and indy crowd for simply doing what isn’t expected of him.  Case in point with Port of Call.  In this film we see Nic Cage portray a policeman who is addicted to drugs, gambling and dicking over everyone he comes across.  We get to see manic Face/Off era Cage and gloomy, Loving Father Cage from Knowing.  Herzog pulled the wool over the general audience’s eyes with this movie scoring an 87% on Rottentomatoes.com.  If this film had Brett Ratner’s name on it it would have been an all time Razzies winner.  This movie sucks and blows at the same time with Cage at his absolute Cage-iest.

Kick-Ass (2010)

  • Kick-Ass is the ultimate love it or hate it movie.  Fans will make reference to the self aware jokes, the coolness of Hit Girl and the hilariousness of Big Daddy.  Detractors will say that the movie completely drops it’s main character and is totally mean spirited.  They would both be right.  I’m still trying to figure out if I like the movie but I do know one thing:  Nicolas Cage does a pretty good Adam West impression.  As much as people have told me they enjoyed Cage in this I’m just not on board with it.  It was funny for the first scene or two with Big Daddy dressed as Batman and speaking like Adam West from the 60′s TV show.  Is that enough to be thought of as a good performance?  Not unless he stars in a biopic of Adam West titled West of Quahog.

Drive Angry Shot in 3D (2011)

  • My expectations were extremely low for this movie.  The 3D gimmick is already on its last legs which made me think that Nic Cage would be the final nail in the coffin.  I was hoping at best for a movie along the lines of Grindhouse or Machete.  While those films aren’t particularly memorable they were self aware and encourage audience participation.  They succeeded in being ‘Midnight Movies’ where fans cheer and yell throughout the movie.  Drive Angry Shot in 3D doesn’t make fun of itself enough to be considered a Grindhouse type of movie but it doesn’t take itself seriously enough to be seen in the same light as Escape From New York.  And the biggest obstacle holding this film back from achieving either end of this spectrum is Cage himself.  Amber Heard is surprisingly effective as the hot white trash sidekick and William Fichtner is a blast as The Accountant.  Cage seems muddled and confused, as if he doesn’t know which movie he himself is starring in.  His acting and dialogue delivery is the worst of anyone in this movie, and not in the ‘so bad it’s good’ way.  It’s in the ‘so bad its distracting from an otherwise enjoyable b-movie way.’

What did we learn from all of this?  Hopefully that Nicolas Cage can do no right.  He is the antithesis of Christopher Nolan.  Everything he touches turns to shit, even if its shiny shit like Raising Arizona or Wild at Heart.  You would think that after his recent string of horrendous movies (many of which I have not and will not watch) Hollywood would learn.  You would be dead fucking wrong.  According to imdb.com Nicolas Cage has five movies either in post production or currently filming.  At least one of them isn’t a sequel to Ghost Rider.  Oh wait………..

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>Worn Out Welcomes: Nicolas Cage, Part I

2 03 2011


What can be said about Nicolas Cage?  He owes more money in back taxes than anyone reading this will ever see in their lifetime.  He also named his kid Kal-El after Superman.  So in short he’s an asshole.

Nicolas Cage was born Nicholas Coppola and is in fact the nephew of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola.  Cage changed his name so as not to be accused of riding his family’s coattails.  Sadly its the most admirable accomplishment in his career.  I’ve never liked his work, even when he was supposed to be good (The Weather Man) or winning an Oscar (Leaving Las Vegas).  His portrayal of the same manic characters combined with his inability to say no have completely destroyed his career.  As always I will be chronicling performances that he has given in movies that I have seen.  And for some reason I’ve seen a lot of Nic Cage movies.

Peggy Sue Got Married  (1986)

  • Peggy Sue Got Married was a minor Francis Ford Coppola film (so much for not riding those coattails) in which Nic plays the husband of the title character.  At her high school reunion Peggy Sue faints and wakes up a senior in high school who tried to fix her mistakes.  Think Wizard of Oz except an unknown Jim Carrey is a coke head.  Cage’s performance would be bland and unforgettable until he opens his stupid mouth.  He portrays his character as a whiny, nasally wimp who is supposed to be a talented singer?  I can’t believe Coppola allowed him to give this performance.  It must have been a birthday present to Nic from Uncle Frankie.

Raising Arizona (1987)

  •  Almost everyone knows Raising Arizona.  This early Coen brothers work tells the story of a petty criminal (Cage) married to a local cop (Holly Hunter) who can’t conceive a child.  In desperation they kidnap a quintuplet of a local businessman and all hell breaks loose.  Cage again plays a bland and dejected failure but this time he has a great cast around him and an excellent writer/director combo in the Coens.  While Cage does nothing to stand out he doesn’t ruin the film, which is as good as I can ever expect.

 Moonstruck (1987)

  • I have a lot of problems with Moonstruck.  So many that Nic Cage is one of the last things about this movie that piss me off.  This steaming pile follows Cher (who won an Oscar for this film TWENTY years before Martin Scorsese would get one) who is torn between two brothers (Cage and Danny Aiello).  This film reminds me that 1987 must have been a horrible year since this film made over 80 million at the box office.  Cage plays the evil portion of a Maury Povich segment as a guy who starts an affair with his brother’s fiancee.  The worst part is that he is the guy she ends up with and everyone is happy about this.  Even Danny Aiello.  The Danny Aiello from The Professional would have ripped his intestines out through his eye sockets.  But not here.  Screw this movie and everyone associated with it.

Wild At Heart (1990)

  • This is one of the few movies is which I don’t hate Cage’s performance.  Nic Cage plays Sailor Ripley, who goes on the run with girlfriend Lulu Fortune (David Lynch regular Laura Dern) after Lulu’s mother hires a hit man to kill him.  I liken this to Raising Arizona where Cage would have had to try really hard to ruin a great director’s film and he really isn’t given the chance to do so.  Willem Dafoe and Crispin Glover really steal the show here as they completely bought in to the weirdness that Lynch creates.

Honeymoon In Vegas (1992)

  • There comes a time in every up and coming actor’s career where he is in a film with an actor who is beginning the down turn of his career.  Honeymoon In Vegas is this film for Cage as he stars along side James Caan as a man who recently gets engaged and as the title tells us, plans for a wedding in Las Vegas.  This film is also where I mark the beginning of the non-stop shit performances from Nic Cage.  He is completely unlikeable, whiny and at the same time completely void of any emotion.  It is quite the contradiction.  This movie was so terrible Adrian Lynne decided to remake the next year with Robert Redford, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson.  It was called Indecent Proposal.  It sucked too.
Amos & Andrew (1993)
  • It makes sense that this unfunny cop buddy comedy stars two guys who can’t say no, Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson.  Racist, juvenile and offensively boring Amos & Andrew is the tale of a black man being mistaken for a burglar, the cop who learns the truth and the police chief who tries to get both of them killed.  None of the jokes work and Cage’s delivery of this dialogue doesn’t help matters.  His performance of a cop in this movie did what Mike Myers did to gurus in The Love Guru.  When N.W.A released Fuck Tha Police it wasn’t due to police corruption.  They just saw an advanced copy of Amos & Andrew.

Guarding Tess (1994)

  • Disgracing police officers in unfunny comedies wasn’t enough for Nicolas Cage.  He didn’t even think to take a year off before he disgraced Secret Service agents in an unfunny comedy as well.  Guarding Tess is the oh-so-not-at-all-engaging story of a President’s widow (Shirley MacLaineCon Air.  He does his best to display no personality and practices his action hero stare throughout.  Everyone looked as bored working on this film as I was watching it.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Here we are.  The big one.  The movie everyone points to when I say I don’t enjoy Nicolas Cage’s acting.  People always ask “Well did you see Leaving Las Vegas?  He won an Oscar for that, you know?”  No one stops to think of how shallow the field was that year.  Anthony Hopkins for Nixon?  Sean Penn for Dead Man Walking?  Some Italian guy for Il PostinoBraveheart won best picture that year and time certainly hasn’t been kind to that film.  Same thing goes for Cage here as not being unbearably melodramatic or gargoyle like was enough.  Winning an Academy Award in 1995 is like winning a hot dog eating contest:  five minutes of glory, a lifetime of being an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.  Leaving Las Vegas is the ultimate one hit wonder in film.  It was the only time Cage, Elisabeth Shue or Mike Figgis were ever considered legitimate talents.  1996 couldn’t have come fast enough.
The Rock (1996)
  • Oh boy how wrong was I?  The Rock is a summer action movie in which Cage plays an untested scientist sent to break into Alcatraz with a 184 year old Sean Connery and a team of inept soldiers.  The fact that this Michael Bay’s best film doesn’t speak very highly but Cage just bores me in this movie.  Ed Harris displays shocking depth, Sean Connery is entertaining as always but Cage is just kind of there.  His stumbling through his scientific jargon really saps out whatever believability there was in the first place.  Not to mention the awful, chemistry free scenes between Cage and his way too hot for him girlfriend played by Vanessa Marcil.  Catch this movie on cable and enjoy Connery.  Listen to some music, or better yet, read this blog entry whenever Nic Cage is on screen.
Con Air (1997)
  • The late 90s sent us into Nicolas Cage overload.  The man starred in two films per year from 1997-2002.  Con Air finally gives us what someone, somewhere thought was a good idea:  action hero Nic Cage.  The most dynamic component to Cage’s performance is his awesome mullet wig.  That thing displays more emotion through wind storms, fist fights and motorcycle chases than Cage does throughout the entire film.  When you’re more wooden and stiff than John Cusack that is really saying something.  The stand out performances in this action schlock are from John Malkovich and Colm Meaney.  These guys are having fun playing assholes and you know it.  Cage is just a blank slate with a horrendous southern accent.
Face/Off (1997)
  • The second Nic Cage action movie of 1997 was Face/Off, one of John Woo’s failed attempts at the American action movie.  John Travolta co-stars in this farce so at least Cage never had to worry about being the hammiest performer on set.  This film has so many plot holes and totally implausible action scenes that Cage’s shitty acting becomes secondary.  However Cage is still awful.  Although he is supposed to play both Sean Archer and Castor Troy at points in the movie I often forget which he is supposed to be.  At least Travolta switches from ultra bland dad to manic ‘I love being a terrorist’ mode.  Is Cage a federal agent?  A terrorist?  A drunk?  A honeymooner?  Who knows, its all the same.
City Of Angels (1998)
  • City Of Angels features the romantic duo of Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.  Or as I like to call it:  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Bringing Out The Dead (1999)
  • It finally happened.  Nicolas Cage finally ruined a film by an otherwise great director.  The Coen brothers and David Lynch were able to escape but Martin Scorsese wasn’t so lucky.  Cage pulls out his Leaving Las Vegas serious actor look as a burned out paramedic who begins to have hallucinations of patients he has failed to save.  Cage is so piss poor in this movie its painful to watch.  He gives the audience both sides of his acting persona:  brain dead and coke addict.  There is no middle ground and it feels like Scorsese just gave up and finished this film as quickly as possible.  I will never forgive you for ruining a Scorsese film, Cage.  Never ever.

Please return for part two where we will cover the work of Nicolas Cage from the new millennium.  Hopefully I will get the time to see Drive Angry Filmed In 3D before I post part two.  I will do my best to have it completed by the end of the week.  Enjoy!

>Worn Out Welcomes: Kate Hudson

17 02 2011


In this edition of Worn Out Welcomes we take a look at an actress who started off very strong.  Surely the daughter of Goldie Hawn would be looking to avoid comparisons to her mother and be viewed as a serious actress.  My first exposure to Kate Hudson was in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous in 2000.  She played Penny Lane, the leader of a gaggle of groupies who falls in love with rock singer Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) while developing a kinship with a high school age music journalist (Patrick Fugit).  Hudson’s Penny is one of fun, love, sadness and loss.  I was hopeful that this young, new talent would keep up the great performances and script selection.  Boy howdy was I wrong.  It was all downhill after that.


·         How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days:  Kate Hudson begins her horrendous streak of romantic comedies with this steaming pile of poop.  Hudson plays a shrill, whiny, needy and unlikeable person who doesn’t have the communication skills of a five year old.  It doesn’t help that she stars opposite Matthew McConaughey.  I promise we’ll get to him at a later date.
·         Raising Helen:  Hudson show incredible range with this one.  She goes from playing a shrill, whiny, needy and unlikeable magazine writer to a party girl!  Raising Helen is a movie of the week; a woman is saddled with custody of her sister’s kids and learns responsibility and love.  Think Uncle Buck without the giant pancakes.
·         You, Me and Dupree:  Hudson pulls a Wes Anderson and runs the Wilson brothers gauntlet (she starred in Alex & Emma with Luke in 2003).  Another generic comedy where characters can never discuss anything that happens because the plot says so.  Matt Dillon looks bored out of his mind here and I believe this movie is what led to Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt.  

·         Fool’s Gold:  Was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days not enough for you?  Then you’re in luck as powerhouses Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey reunite to bring you all of the jokes that got cut from their first collaboration.  Ugh.
·         My Best Friend’s Girl:  Kate Hudson.  Jason Biggs.  Dane Cook.  Next!

 ·         Bride WarsBride Wars is by far the most offensive film Kate Hudson has made.  Not only does this tepid, vacuous story center on her character not being able to communicate with anyone, she has to drag Anne Hathaway into this!  This is even worse than what Will Ferrell did to John C. Reilly in Step Brothers.  You are a vile woman, Kate Hudson. 

The two biggest burdens on Kate Hudson’s career have been Matthew McConaughey and script selection.  Although she has only costarred in two films with McConaughey it feels like 10.  The first time is forgivable:  mortgage payments, loan sharks, purchasing organs on the black market, etc.  However to willingly go back for seconds just screams ‘I give up!’  Her script selection has been even worse and I don’t know whether to blame her or her manager/agent.  She is slated to appear in three movies between 2011 and 2012.  The first is another romantic comedy where Kate falls in love with her best friend’s fiancée (OH NOES!).  The second and third are biographical films about Margaret Keane and Linda Lovelace.  Does this mean Ms. Hudson is learning from Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron?  One can only hope.

>Worn Out Welcomes: Tim Burton

2 02 2011

>Have you ever been to a wedding, funeral, or Bar Mitzvah where one guest is completely unbearable?  At first you think ‘Hey this guy is kind of funny’ or ‘I love how quirky this girl is.’  Then after 10 minutes you realize that the funny guy only has one joke or the quirky girl is just unbearably weird.  The rest of the event becomes an awkward Pac-Man like dash in which you try to keep this annoyance from splitting your head in half.  Hollywood is full of these people and I have taken it upon myself to expose the one trick ponies as I see them.  This week we take a look at director Tim Burton.  Once viewed as a fresh and bold maverick Tim Burton has worn out his welcome.

The first film I saw of Burton’s was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  As a fan of the show I thought the movie was great.  It really expanded on Pee Wee’s world, the jokes were spot on and the dark scenes (everyone remembers Large Marge) made for a nice change of pace, causing the audience to care about Pee Wee making it back to his comfort zone of bright lights and never ending cheer.  Burton has gone on to make two good films (Beetlejuice, Big Fish) and one great film (Ed Wood).  The rest of his filmography might has been self cannibalized to the point it is tough to differentiate which film is which.
·         Batman:  This movie sucks.  In fact it sucks so much I already wrote an article about it.  Check out ‘Overrated’ for more information.
·         Edward Scissorhands:  This film kicks off Burton’s theme of ‘Everyone who follows social norms is a great big dick hole.’  Very similar to most Stephen King novels, except Burton dresses all of his protagonists like teenagers listening to The Cure.
·         Batman Returns:  Christopher Walken and Michelle Pfeiffer are awesome despite Burton’s attempt to sap all energy from Gotham City and its residents.  The fact that Tim Burton has admittedly never opened a comic book really shows as this film is gray, drab and overall adventure free.  *Fun fact:  Andrew Bryniarski, who played Max Shreck’s son Chip also played Zangief in the 1994 Street Fighter movie.*
·         Mars Attacks:  A disappointing spoof of 50’s alien invasion movies.  There are some fun performances from Pierce Brosnan and Michael J. Fox but to once again waste the talents of Jack Nicholson is unforgivable.
·         Sleepy Hollow:  This was the point where I REALLY started to sour on the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp combination.  Depp is directed to play Ichabod Crane as being dark and weird for the sake of being dark and weird.  The set designs in this movie are so uninteresting and bland I was lulled to sleep the first time I tried to watch it.  This movie reminded me so much of Batman Returns that I had to watch that one again to make sure they weren’t the same film.
·         Planet of the Apes:  Even the most die hard Burton fans have abandoned this cinematic abortion.  How Mark Wahlberg was able to survive this and The Happening is beyond me.  This abysmal remake has none of the wonder, fun, or intelligence of the classic.  Burton also manages to cripple Tim Roth, Paul Giamatti, and Helena Bonham Carter with this insipid script.
·         Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:  I really thought this would be the last collaboration between Burton and Depp.  The fact that Depp portrayed Wonka as a reclusive pedophile was bad enough.  However Burton makes it worse by not making any of the kids likable in the slightest.  None of these characters can be related to because they are so flat and one dimensional.  All of the characters in this movie are assholes except for the poor, weird outcast.  Catching onto any repeating themes yet?
·         Corpse Bride:  Corpse Bride features some great animation but this screenplay feels like a rejected script for The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This may have worked as a 20 minute short but there is no money in making shorts.  The character designs, backgrounds and score also feel like things that didn’t make the final cut of Nightmare.  Another example of Burton recycling his own work for profit.
·         Sweeney Todd:  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:  In a shocking turn, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are cast in a Tim Burton movie playing weird, unlikeable characters with white makeup, black clothing and bad hair.  I’m so sick of this trio I could vomit.  The only highlight of this film is that the criminally underrated Alan Rickman got to collect a pay check.
·         Alice in Wonderland:  Like in Batman and Batman Returns Tim Burton manages to suck all of the joy from Wonderland of all places.  This film commits many crimes against the Lewis Carroll classics but the most offensive one:  it’s BORING!  As I was watching this on cable I found myself flipping through my menus praying for a rerun of Jersey Shore or 16 & Pregnant.  Sadly I found none.
·         It has just come to my attention that Tim Burton is currently in pre-production for a Dark Shadows movie.  For those of you not familiar with the show Dark Shadows was a soap opera that ran from 1966-1971 featuring vampires, werewolves and other creatures of myth.  Take a guess as to who will be playing vampire Barnabas Collins.
      The biggest issue that I have with Tim Burton is that he has painted himself into this corner.  Actors often fall to typecasting when audiences are unable to believe an image change.  Directors are typecast when they take on similar projects over and over again.  Sometimes it’s great (Martin Scorsese) and sometimes it’s horrendous (Uwe Boll).  When he is willing to try a different approach the results have been quite good (Big Fish) but it hasn’t been enough.  Stop trying to make ‘Tim Burton’ films and just focus on making good films.  Your legacy will thank you for it.


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