Awfully Good: Demolition Man
Demolition Man (1993)
Director: Marco Brambilla
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock
Is there a plot?
A cryogenically frozen and flamboyantly sadistic criminal is unleashed upon a peaceful Utopian America in the year 2032 and only one man can stop him—a hotheaded cop who was also conveniently cryogenically frozen.
What's the damage?
DEMOLITION MAN is a pure 90s action movie; brash, campy, ridiculous and starring Sylvester Stallone. At the time of its release in 1993, I’m sure it felt fresh and cool, but much like Kid n Play's haircut and Kriss Kross’ wardrobe, what was once cool back then sure seems goofy now.
Action star you didn't expect to see in EXPENDABLES 2: Beetlejuice.
To continue the bad hip-hop imagery, case in point: Don’t ever give Wesley Snipes blonde hair and put him in denim overalls. Snipes is in his prime and in his element here and by that I mean he's clinically insane. He sports such off the wall acting, like random singing or bizarre one liners ("Jeffrey Dahmer? I love that guy!"), that I'd bet it wasn't all in the script. But that's what makes Simon Phoenix so fun to watch; he's the kind of wacky, hyperactive villain that they just don't make nowadays. Which is why it's sad he's such a supporting character in DEMOLITION MAN, almost a side note to Stallone's fish out of water story. But more on that in a moment…
So that's how she got the Oscar!
Though not as memorable as Lincoln Hawk, Marion Cobretti, or even Sgt. Joe Bomowski, John Spartan definitely fits in to the pantheon of Sylvester Stallone characters who yell and punch things. In fact, the film is almost an early cousin to Awfully Good favorite JUDGE DREDD, with its constant cheesiness, unrealistic vision of the future, and amusing exploration of The Law, (Hell, it even shares both Stallone and annoying runt Rob Schneider.) Spartan is the typical Stallone badass at the beginning of the movie. It actually opens up with him breaking in to a building and beating up and killing people without any context whatsoever. We just assume this is what Stallone should be doing. However, as soon as he accidentally lets 30 or 40 innocent hostages die, all of a sudden everybody wants to make a big deal and send him to jail...in a cryogenic chamber. Perhaps someone can explain to me how this is a legitimate form of punishment for criminals. You did something wrong, so let's keep you around for future use! DEMOLITION MAN starts off in 1996, so it's not like freezing someone at the molecular level is easy or cheap. Not only are you spending potentially millions of dollars keeping the scum of society alive for no discernible reason, but how awesome would it be to go to the future? That's a reward! I would totally kill for a chance to see hoverboards and THE INCREDIBLES 2. Thanks to DEMOLITION MAN, that dream is also a reality.
"Hey Sly…EYE SEE YOU. Get it?"
However, once we follow Stallone in to the year 2032, the film switches from an action movie to a satire: Sylvester Stallone Presents A BRAVE NEW WORLD. While it's great watching John Rambo make fun of hippies and wimps for 90 minutes, instead of meaningful commentary about this puritanical society, the film turns in to an episode of "I Love The 90s." Taco Bell is now fine dining! Commercial jingles are classical music! Arnold Schwarzenegger is President! (Okay, that one was almost prophetic.) Keep in mind, I don't expect deep insight from a movie like this, but if you're not going to give me the two leads constantly kicking ass, you better offer up something better than Stallone dealing with his urge to knit sweaters and learning how to future poop. (See the Best Line section below for more on the legendary Three Shells.)
A young Jack Black pays his dues and dreams of a day when he can play Gulliver and stick a Lilliputian up his butt.
DEMOLITION MAN has some familiar faces in Denis Leary, Benjamin Bratt and even a cameo by a very young Jack Black. It also marks the major debut of Sandra Bullock (I don't count LOVE POTION NO.9), who's cute and spunky and a surprisingly good foil for Stallone's brutishness. But was I the only one fearfully expecting Bullock to end up being Spartan's daughter? They bring her possible existence up multiple times and then never follow through. Perhaps certain South Korean movies have warped my mind, but I was afraid we were in for something seriously messed up. (Non-fluid exchanging cyber incest still counts!)
I! Am! SPAAAAARTAAN!
You know what else is messed up? DEMOLITION MAN's "happy" ending. Stallone predictably saves the day and settles in to a futuristic life of seashells and VR banging Sandra Bullock, but nobody seems to remember that Wesley Snipes unfroze a bunch of other dangerous convicts in the prison, many of whom are certainly running around raping and pillaging Utopia. Be well, indeed.
"What seems to be your boggle?" would be a natural choice but I chose this clip because of a) the impressive slew of curse words from Stallone and b) the inclusion of the Three Shells.
So here's the deal: Spartan needs to drop a deuce but can't wrap his mind around why bathrooms of the future use three seashells in the place of toilet paper. (Much fanboy speculation has been made as to exactly how one would use shells for this purpose. The general consensus seems to be that two would be used together for clamping/extraction, and one for scraping/wiping.) This does not fly with Spartan, as he shouts a string of outlawed obscenities to get tickets, with which he uses to defiantly wipe his ass. So basically this is an awkward clip about Sylvester Stallone pooping.
1) This clip has it all: Wesley Snipes in overalls singing and fighting to bad 90s music.
2) The famous virtual reality sex scene between Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone. Prepare yourself for the Italian Stallion's "O" face.
3) The final fight between John Spartan and Simon Phoenix. Epic.
You almost see Stallone's junk during the cryogenic freezing sequence. Must've been chilly in there.
Play Along at Home!
Pick one of the following and take a shot or drink every time:
- Stallone yells, "Phoenix!"
- Someone says, "Be well."
- Someone violates the Verbal Morality Statute
- Simon says...
Double shot if:
- Sandra Bullock messes up a common phrase
Thanks to Ben for suggesting this week's movie!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.