Thursday, June 30, 2011

TDP Just Got Smaller!

As of Wednesday June 29th 2011 you no longer have to squint, turn your phone sideways, or zoom multiple times on your smart phone/mobile device in order to read Ten Dollar Popcorn on said mobile device. I'm a giver. From now on when you read the current episode or browse the archives for a well deserved laugh, it will look like this:
Feel free to continue to enjoy your monthly edition on your desktop/laptop computer. This is just another service I offer to you at no extra charge. You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tron Maud 'Dib

In 1982 a friend of mine and I were just geeky enough to be the first in line on the first show of the first day of release for Tron. It was a cool movie and I had no idea it was a Disney movie, not that it mattered. We saw it at Southway 6 Theaters which is now a dollar cinema if I'm not mistaken. Which I suppose is ironic in this case (3:00). Years later Netflix gives me the opportunity to watch the movie again with the kids. I still loved it and the boys liked it but thought the computer animation was kind of weak. 29 years of advancement in computer animation might tend to jade the young'uns I reckon.

Then a friend of mine who also has Netflix told me he could no longer get the movie on the service. I wondered why because we had just watched it. Based on no knowledge whatsoever I concluded that it was simply being re-packaged for re-release after the new Tron movie was headed for DVD. I stand by that theory even though I have to this date done no research to back it up. So now months later, both movies are available on Netflix so I decided to send for it again followed by the new Tron movie, Legacy. It turned out to be a good choice because the boys liked the first movie better the second time they watched it and then a few days later we got to see the new one.

Tron is about a computer technology company (ENCOM) that is taken over by an unscrupulous English person (because they make great villains) who steals the work of a co-worker (Kevin Flynn) and attains the title of Senior Executive of the company due to the success of the stolen software. Flynn (our hero) is reduced to carving out a life by owning a video arcade filled with the games he designed but gets no credit for. He and two former co-workers from ENCOM decide to break into the company computer to get the evidence to give credit where credit is due. Hilarity and Hijinks ensue.

Tron Legacy is about Flynn's grown son (Sam) following his father into the digital world of ENCOM after realizing that he was trapped there all these years and didn't just abandon him. The computer animation didn't disappoint. They even had a "young" Flynn in the computer in addition to the "real" Flynn. The effect was almost perfect, except for the mouth. I'd say more but what I don't know about digital effects would fill a warehouse, or two. Therefore, since I am simply an internet blowhard, who am I to criticize?

Anyway as I was watching the movie and enjoying it, for the most part, I was wondering what was wrong with it. The effects were great and the story was above average, if only slightly. I mean movies with truly awful stories are blockbusters that linger in the theaters long after their expiration date so what was up with this one? It hit me when I was talking to a neighbor who was watching it with his kids the same way I was, on Netflix one after the other. It suffered from what I call the "Dune Effect". I'll explain what I mean by that but give me a minute because I just thought of it...

Ok, got it now.

The movie Dune was created from an incredible story that could have actually been two movies because there was just that much material that could have been explored. Not because the production company wanted to keep shaking the money tree like they're doing with a certain series of movies about a young outcast wizard who can't seem to catch a break. I can expand upon that book and movie series but that's another column. Hoo Boy! Don't get me started. As I was saying it was a good story but the movie moved like an 16 ton brick of jello pudding blocking the main street of Dead Horse Alaska in January. Too much to digest even for people who like that sort of thing. Sorry, I know I didn't have to explain that metaphor, I just felt obligated.

Tron Legacy was like that, only on a smaller scale. It was just slightly too much to digest in one sitting. Like that piece of cheesecake at the end of a meal at the hotel ballroom that you know you're too full to eat but dadgummit you just don't go to these things that often and you don't have to clean the table since it's at a hotel and it's a piece of cheesecake for cryin' out loud and you know it's going to be good. Heck, even if it's only pretty good then it's good enough because you don't have cheesecake everyday, amiright!

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah. The Dune/Tron Legacy thing. No, I'm not saying Tron Legacy was as good a story as Dune. What I am saying is that Tron Legacy would actually have been a good book without ever being a movie. Yes, really. See for yourself.

Tron Legacy (the movie) C+

trailer for Tron 1982

trailer for Tron Legacy

trailer for Dune

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Name Is Dave

For several years now Alvin and the Chipmunks has been a staple in our household's rotation of DVDs. It's not played weekly, or even monthly but it gets a viewing once a quarter or so. What I'm trying to say in so many words is that, as kids movies go, it's not a miserable steaming pile of cow poop. My kids like it and it doesn't irritate me like, say, Happy Feet does. The kids have seen the second installment of the Chipmunks movie The Squeakquel and enjoyed it, as far as I know. I seemed to find other things to occupy my time when it was on our TV. Now I don't want to sound superior by that statement. I'm sure if I was in a dollar movie theater, or a lifeboat, I would most assuredly have given it my undivided attention. My point is that they have given no indication that they want to own a copy of "AatC2:TS" so I'm in no hurry to find it, new or used.

If you haven't seen it but you have seen the cartoon from the '60s (I think) then you know the theme of the story. The plot is a little more "Hollywood". By that I mean they have to start with some background information about the Chipmunks, even if they have to make it up and bypass any sense of presumption. I mean, with the cartoon I don't think too many viewers were concerned as to how Dave Seville and the singing chipmunks met. It was a cartoon. I know there was a cartoon in the '80s also but after an episode or two I couldn't watch it anymore so I cannot knowledgeably comment on it here. If that one explored the origins of Dave and the chipmunks then feel free to let me know it the comment section. However I did own an LP copy of Chipmunk Punk (pre-dates the '80s cartoon) that was often shown on commercials as a mail order item but I think I got it in a record store. It's rendition of Let's Go by The Cars was my favorite. At least that's the one that still finds it's way into my head on occasion. Don't feel bad though, it's a useful song when used to dislodge mind-numbingly irritating songs that get stuck in my head. NO! Not Friday. Are you kidding? That song's awesomely awesome. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Actually that reminds me of a show I saw recently. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a big fan of sitcoms anymore. What I'm about to tell you should prove that. When browsing channels late one night I stumbled across a rerun of My Name Is Earl. I remember seeing previews of the show but didn't ever give it a second look. I don't know why I watched this one episode for that matter. Maybe it was because the title character, Earl, had a familiar voice. It was Dave Seville from the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie! I'll admit it took me a scene or two to figure that out. I honestly don't know if it's still making new episodes but the show I saw was about Earl, his brother, and a lunatic stealing a bookmobile and him making amends for it years later. By the way, Earl making amends for past transgressions is the whole point of the show.

Another thing is that it also took me a while to figure out that Earl's slow witted sidekick was his brother. I think his name is Randy. I've seen about four episodes now and of those, three got a chuckle out of me. Which is more than I can say about the Simpsons nowadays. On that note I recorded two Simpsons episodes last month to see if it was still up to snuff and was achingly disappointed. The Earl character is a long way from the Dave Seville character which I think in "the biz" they call "range" but I'm happily not in "the biz". He's likeable in both guises so I think we'll call that "talent".

It seems I haven't actually given any real information about either the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks or the show My Name Is Earl. That being the case, let your heart be your guide when deciding to watch either of these... um, recordings? I won't dissuade you from either.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: C+
My Name is Earl: B-

trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks

trailer for Happy Feet

My review for Happy Feet

trailer for The Squeakquel

1960s Alvin and the Chipmunks

1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks

Chipmunk Punk


My Name is Earl TV show

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Whither Rockycop?

I think it was in 1989 that a friend of mine called me up and told me they were filming Robocop 2 downtown in my city. He asked me if I wanted to go and see if we could watch some of it being filmed. Not being a common thing around here I decided to go with him to see what we could see. The majority of what we saw turned out to be the opening sequence of the movie. lots of storefronts were covered with facades and were painted in neon colors. There was a parking lot upon which was being built a wooden structure for the sole purpose of being destroyed in the movie. I don't remember being too excited until we found out that something was actually being filmed the moment we were there.

It was a scene in which Robocop was stepping out of his police car and the shot was of the bottom of a car door and his foot hitting the street. "All right!" I thought, "I get to see Peter Weller!" Sadly, no. It was Robocop's leg but it wasn't Peter Weller in it. Not being aware of the economics of Hollywood at the time, it didn't occur to me that having Mr. Weller in the robotic leg would cost considerably more than "Ernie Muckenfuch" in said leg. They must have filmed that leg coming out of the car 700 times. Hard as it may be to believe, it got a little old after about the 643rd time. I know, I'm as surprised as you! Anyway we had our fill and since they were in no hurry to include our (most likely) grubby selves in the movie, we made our exit.

Now I told you that story to tell you about this one. Much to my dismay, I read the following in a recent article:

"There are not any plans to erect a statue of RoboCop," the response on Bing's Twitter account read. "Thank you for your suggestion."-Dave Bing, Mayor of Detroit

Now don't get me wrong, the fact that I read it didn't dismay me, it was the content. Just getting that out of the way. Read the full article here. But still, the injustice of it all (no pun intended). Clearly Hizzoner has no intention of lifting a little finger to revive his threadbare city! No, they don't have to put it up at the top of a set of stairs or in front of a police station. Such prominence might detract from the poetic beauty of the city. Instead they could put it in a more appropriate place such as the basement of a crumbling building, or maybe a chemical waste facility. Surely there are more than one of those around there.

Think of the tourist trade! The dollars lost simply by people trying to find the statue would reach in the hundreds at least! Am I overusing my interjections in this paragraph!? I'm afraid we must consign ourselves to the fact that, at least in the Bing administration, Detroit will have to carry on without it's shining example of heroism.

Missed opportunities.

trailer for Robocop

trailer for Robocop 2

p.s.-In keeping with continuity of this site, I think I saw Robocop 2 in a dollar cinema. Or maybe not.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mamma Dearest

Please welcome our guest blogger for this edition, Brick Lunkknuckle. Mr. Lunkknuckle has been a long-time reader of TDP and provided the following submission for your reading enjoyment. For those of you out there who are husbands and have run this gauntlet, you will heal.

Every man does things for his wife for no other reas
on than to make her happy. It’s the nature of marriage. We squawk and brag about wearing the pants in the family, but you know there are things that you do that you would rather not let the other guys know about. And I’m not talking about holding her purse, going to the opera, or not smacking her brother even when he really deserves it. Those belong to a category of stereotypical things that every man does, and if you do something in that category, we all nod inwardly and think of a similar thing we do for our own spouse. No, I’m talking about the really embarrassing things that you’d rather not anyone know about. Things like donning a dress so she could pin the hem. Or learning what a word like ‘taupe’ or ‘taffeta’ means and correctly using it in a sentence. Or watching ice dancing. Unless you’re a Neanderthal, there’s something your wife wants from that category, and you’ve done it.

For me, it’s listening to ABBA. Yes, that ABBA. Hiney-shakin’, pants-suit-wearin’, free-lovin’ seventies Swedish super-group ABBA. My wife, being a musical type, loves ABBA and whenever we go to her mothers’ house, the cassette goes in the car and we end up listening to their gold album of ‘hits’ (they were huge in Denmark). Now this has been going on for years, and I hesitate even now to admit it. But you can nip any manly protest of outrage or snort of derisive laughter in the bud right now, because I know there’s something comparable in your closet. If there isn’t, then you haven’t been married very long, or won’t be much longer. As stated before, it’s the nature of marriage. I bring forth this revelation for your own good and the protection of your very sanity. You see the music of ABBA was the inspiration for stage musical that ran in New York and possibly some flyover territory. It was well received by the Will & Grace crowd and was the toast of the town for some time. It was then, after that initial success, that it mutated into the movie, Mamma Mia!.

Mamma Mia! stars Meryl Streep, Remington Steele, and that British actor from The King’s Speech and tells the story of a young blonde chick getting married at the hotel her mother owns on some Greek Island . She wants to invite her dad to the wedding, but she has no idea who daddy is. So she invites the three past loves of her mother, the tramp, and wonder of impractical movie plotline wonders, they all show up at the same time! No, I’m not making this up. Now mind you, this was not a movie we rented, but rather it was one of those moments where I was tired at the end of the day, and just wanted something mindless to watch. There was nothing. And I mean nothing. No video tape shows of anyone getting racked, or “How they Make Doorknobs” documentaries. No “History of Sex”, no sports. There wasn’t even a stinkin’ “Law & Order” on, and that’s saying something. I’m not sure what happened next. I was tired, nodding off. I woke and my wife had the remote. I know, I know! You don’t have to say it. Next thing I know I’m hearing, “oh, I’ve heard this was fun,” and we were watching Mamma Mia!. I didn’t see the danger when I scanned the channels earlier. Apparently my brain didn’t even register that as a viewing possibility, sort of like a Spanish channel or BET.

My limbs were weak. I couldn’t move. The abomination that unfolded before me was sucking the very life out of me. It wasn’t a train wreck. No, a train wreck is something you watch with horrified fascination, unable to tear yourself away from the awesome spectacle of sheer raw carnage. No, my friends, this was like watching a botched liposuction. It’s not something you would want to see in the first place, but on top of that you can tell it was going horribly, horribly wrong. If you ever find yourself accidentally seeing this movie, do yourself a favor and gouge your eyes out. And it being a musical, puncture your eardrums as well. Induce vomiting. Run screaming through the nearest closed window. Do anything to distract yourself and your spouse. Set fire to the cat.

No, I shouldn’t say that. I mean, I wouldn’t want my vitriolic rhetoric to cause any harm to come to a cat. Not only would it be unfair to the cat, but the ensuing sound wouldn’t be distinct enough from that which emanates from the movie. Meryl Streep can’t sing. I mean, I know she’s the best actress of her generation. Everybody says so. You can tell because she can weep on demand and her fake accent sounds distinctly non-American whether she has a farm in Africa or a bridge in Madison County . But she can’t sing. And watching her try to sing “Money, money, money” with a backup chorus of fat Greek washer women was particularly excruciating. And as a brief aside, can we really feel sympathy for someone who is lamenting about not having enough money when she owns a freakin’ hotel on an idyllic Greek island? I mean the setup was straight from the Menopausal Wymyn’s Guide to Dream Sequences. She sings, she laments over wine with her best friends laughing and giggling about how done they are with men. I was waiting for one of them to mention that waiter, what was his name? Jean Luc!

So the daddies arrive and are implausibly stowed by babycakes up a ladder into a storage room. Seconds later Streep secretly discovers the trio and launches into the title song. Now, she seems to know she can’t sing, because while huskily belting out lyrics that have absolutely nothing to do with the situation, she is acting. I mean act-TING, man. She’s surprised! She’s flustered! She swoons indecisively! She flits under, beside and above the room, peeking in this way and that, clearly torn by long-suppressed desire and revulsion of anything with a pen1s. The words she sings are ridiculously mismatched with the scene, so she conveys emotions with her hands, her eyes, her head. I mean this made Kabuki look dull. She’s acting so hard with her whole body it was like epileptic performance art. But damn, she must have been good at it. I mean she is the best actress of her generation. Everybody says so.

Anyway, the rest of the movie went downhill from there. Stay away from this atrocity at all costs, if you value your sanity. While I mentioned the things we do for our wives above, under no circumstances should watching this movie be one of them. If only I’d had a good friend to warn me ahead of time, as I do now for you. Save yourselves. I thought it I could handle it, getting some brownie points from the wife. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I feel scarred by this event, and I only watched 8 minutes of the movie. Just think if I’d seen the whole thing. …shudder…

trailer for Mamma Mia

trailer for The King's Speech

mix of ABBA songs

Law and Order (before it became silly)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All Tomorrow's Blogs

It's a new year and I resolve to renew my tradition of one post/review per month. I actually have seen a movie or two that I plan(ned) on reviewing. Included in that category is GI Joe and Despicable Me, the former via Netflix and the latter via my trusty dollar cinema. Speaking of which, there were some changes made at said dollar cinema that I disapprove of but that's another story. Anyway I never got around to writing any of them due to several instances where life just got in the way.

In the mean time I'd like to congratulate our considerable stable of bloggers here at Ten Dollar Popcorn for earning yet another award!

2010 was a good year and it's well deserved indeed. I'd like to thank all four of our readers for their support.