Empty Balcony: Jerry Maguire, or, Never Go Full Cute

Jerry Maguire movie poster, in French!Cameron Crowe has made a number of films of note. His films consist of entertaining, escapist, happy storytelling that has about as many sharp edges as a bowl of jello. He made the type of films that challenge no assumptions, and throw in just enough emotion to tug on the heartstrings. The worst part about this is not all the squishiness, but the fact the only reasons his films arouse any emotional responses at all is because they are manipulative, reducing human emotion to a formula. Crowe doesn’t evoke emotions in a viewer — he extracts them.

At the start, Jerry Maguire, Crowe’s film from 1996, freewheels its way through the life of the titular character, played by Tom Cruise. He’s a sports agent, and his life is shown as one of glitz and glamour, right until the moment he finds himself the public spokesperson for clients in trouble with the law or in trouble with the media. (Is there really any difference when it comes to sports?) Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Jerry Maguire, or, Never Go Full Cute”

Stallone Month: Daylight

Daylight, the 1996 film from screenwriter Leslie Bohem and director Rob Cohen, should not be this bad of a movie. It’s the perfect vehicle for its star, and does absolutely nothing wrong in following the Irwin Allen disaster movie playbook. It’s swift and action-packed, and there’s enough tension that it should be able to keep a viewer’s attention. But, the characters. My God, the characters. Continue readingStallone Month: Daylight”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Substitute

What a gloriously stupid movie. From director Robert Mandel, The Substitute tells the story of Jonathan Shale (Tom Berenger), a black ops soldier who leads a team sent abroad to fight the scourge of illegal drugs. But, we viewers never get to see one of these missions. As the film starts, we meet Berenger and his team at the back end of an incursion into Cuba that has left three team members dead. The government disavows any knowledge of the operation or its participants, and throws Shale and company out on their asses. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Substitute”

Schwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way

I was not sure I would be able to get through this movie even before I began watching it. I try to wipe my mind of all preconceptions before viewing a movie, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is a squishy family movie. I do not like family flicks, and I’m not that much of a fan of Christmas movies, either. But, I like Schwarzenegger movies. What to do? Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way”

Schwarzenegger Month: Eraser

Here I am, just a day after publishing a review where I excoriate the film industry for producing anonymous gobbledygook, and the next film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month is more anonymous gobbledygook, action-style. But what makes Eraser such a bland, unoriginal action story as compared to, say, something like Commando? How does Eraser have any less value compared to that film? I think it has everything to do with panache. Commando revels in its cheapness, but it was also designed to be excessive. Its rough edges give it character. Whereas a film like Eraser, which has been polished to within an inch of its life, lacks character in comparison. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Eraser”

October Horrorshow: The Frighteners

Before he was boring me to tears putting endless hours of Tolkien tales to film, Peter Jackson used to make horror films. Not many, to be sure. Peter Jackson is not a horror filmmaker. He is a filmmaker who has made horror flicks. His most memorable work in the genre was Dead Alive (Braindead for all you worldly purists out there). That film is memorable for being, perhaps, the goriest horror film of all time. It truly was an exercise in bloody excess, impossible to faithfully convey in a posting to a website. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Frighteners”

The Empty Balcony: The Arrival

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the ’90s. In that decade, Hollywood fell in love with CGI. Not because it looked good, or that it served to immerse a viewer further into a film. It certainly did not matter that CGI was still in its infancy — that there were better methods for applying visual effects to film. Nor was there a sense of charity on the part of the studios — a nurturing instinct meant to develop a process that was clearly important to the future of film. Goodness, no. CGI was cheaper than traditional F/X, that’s all. And boy, did it look cheap. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Arrival”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.

From IMDb’s trivia page on Escape from L.A.: Escape from LA [sic] was caught in development hell for over ten years. A script for the film was first commissioned in 1985 but John Carpenter thought it “too light, too campy.”

Too campy? Why? Were The Riddler and Two-Face in the original draft? I find it hard to believe that Carpenter rejected a script for this film because it was campy. This movie lives on camp. It’s not light, though. I’ll give Carpenter that. Escape from L.A. is a violent flick. A bit cartoonish, maybe, but that many bullets can’t be fired in a movie and still be considered light. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.”

October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies

From Dusk Till DawnOctober has come again. It being the month of Halloween, we at Missile Test choose to celebrate by watching and reviewing horror films. Ah, blood. There just can’t be enough in October. Today’s selection has plenty of it, even though it’s mostly green. But what the hell, it’s all in fun.

Quentin Tarantino was riding high after the success of Pulp Fiction, a film that had a strong case for winning Best Picture at the Oscars the year it came out. Was it Tarantino’s youth which kept his opus from taking home the top prize? Who knows? Some of the competition were no slouches in their own right, but none broke any new ground, nor did they spawn a whole genre of imitations that crop up in cinema to this day (just like Alien and all its clones). And the winner that year, Forrest Gump, felt like little more than the Baby Boomers trying to justify their actions in retrospect by infusing their youths with blandness and innocence, when naiveté (with a sharp edge, at least) would have been a more apt description. This trivializes the profound role they played in turning public opinion against the war in Vietnam, but their role was not nearly as important as that played by the news media who brought home the images of war to the American public. The youth had always been suspicious, and were never onboard with the war policy from the beginning, but every other demographic in America couldn’t have given two shits if we had been winning the war instead of losing it. Anyway, I honestly can’t tell if that film was an apology to their parents or an apology to the directionless void of malaise left behind by their sudden thrust into real adulthood that was then passed on to their slacker Gen X children. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies”