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The Bottom Shelf #110

05.31.2007

There's a great battle that's been waged over the years. In my family, we have a long standing argument over who the best offspring of the almighty Martin Sheen is. My father stands firmly beside his assertion that it is the brother who shirked the Hollywood moniker and kept his birth name, citing REPO MAN. I counter that with a MIGHTY DUCKS... all three. That, and I get to write a movie column and my dad doesn't. Therefore... Charlie (and subsequently my Awesome self) wins!

THE ARRIVAL (1996)
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Teri Polo

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I like a good conspiracy theory story. Having a good setup unfold before me and spending the majority of the film wondering the age old question of "Whodunit?" I just have a problem with the fact that most of the time these movies are of only varieties. Either it's something about our government/politics or it's got something to do with extraterrestrial life. How about a Whodunit when it comes to which guy screwed the hot chick and then knocked her up in a Frat Pack movie. Only spare me the Will Ferrell nudity, if you don't mind.

THE ARRIVAL is one of the movies which falls into the latter category of Whodunits. Sheen is an astronomer who stumbles upon a radio signal from a distant star and is convinced that it is evidence of alien life. After reporting his findings to NASA and getting fired for what is reported as being "making up" signals, he goes out of his way to prove to himself and anyone else who will listen that he's onto something. His journey takes him into South America where he hooks up with a scientist who helps him to fill in the cavernous blanks. Aliens indeed are involved. And they're up to no good.

This flick was made around the time of the first Sheen resurrection, right after he'd been reported as one of the men frequenting Heidi Fleiss' business and taking too many drugs. As we all know from the tabloid coverage of him, he did some more backsliding after this. It's one of those things that I always wonder when I watch a movie featuring an actor that later is revealed to be a major user. How f*cked up was he to take the role and how f*cked up was he when filming it? That's not to say that THE ARRIVAL is a bad flick. It's passable. There are some decent action scenes, some good special effects and it has a nice build-up. It doesn't deliver as strongly as you might expect it to because (or in spite of) that build-up though. So maybe instead of snorting coke those weeks in production he was only popping pills. Let me call up Downey Jr and figure out how that works.

Favorite Scene:

Listening to Sheen speaking pitch perfect Spanish while trying to get at someone's satellite dish and then later in the movie pretending that he doesn't know the language.

Favorite Line:

"Zane, you don't look too good."
"I look like a can of smashed assholes."

Trivia Tidbit:

The scorpions that the Skeleton Man places into Ilana's room are Emperor Scorpions, which are actually quite harmless (except to those with allergies) and are often kept as pets.

See if you liked:

THE 6TH DAY, STRANGE DAYS, STARGATE

THE WRAITH (1986)
Directed by: Mike Marvin
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

Can I just say that they don't make them like Sherilyn Fenn anymore? And lament about what a sad fact that that is? A cute brunette with big blue eyes and big natural boobs who wasn't waifed out to a size zero, there really should be more young actresses trying to emulate her. Granted, they shouldn't be trying to emulate the roles that she's picked over the years (other than the bewitching Audrey from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks") or her weak acting skills. But it wouldn't hurt to see more young women who looked like she did in her heyday.

Fenn is the former girlfriend of a young man who was murdered by a gang of street thugs who race cars and terrorize the streets. When a mysterious stranger shows up out of nowhere to sweep her off her feet and antagonize the lead punk who is in love with her, things start to get weird. Add in a modified car that can blow up and then regenerate itself as if an alien version of KITT from "Knight Rider," mix with a spectacularly bad '80's heavy metal soundtrack and then feature Randy Quaid delivering some of the most ridiculous lines ever written and you've got yourself THE WRAITH.

This was one of those movies that I watched in the 6th grade mainly because I thought Sheen was dreamy. Unaware of how drug addled, bloated and obsessed with trailer trash ho's he would become, I vaguely remember thinking that this movie was somewhat cool the first time I watched it. Watching it again years later, I realized what a great laugh it is. Over the top, ludicrous and flat out stupid, the movie is pretty bad. But in a knee slapping, bad-line quoting kind of way. I defy you to not marvel over such lines as, "I don't need a warrant when I've got this here badge," and "...but whoever he was, he was weird and pissed off!" Perhaps you just have to be from my generation to look at something like this and wonder what the hell you were thinking back then. In either case, I'd still rather watch this than TV. And believe me, that's saying something.

Favorite Scene:

After having his car rammed into the graveyard, watching Packard discover that his name is engraved on the tombstone in front of him.

Favorite Line:

"Forget it Murphy. Roadblocks can't stop somethin' that can't be stopped."

Trivia Tidbit:

Nick Cassavetes, the actor who plays Packard, has gone on to a successful directing career, counting movies such as THE NOTEBOOK and ALPHA DOG in his resume.

See if you liked:

FREEJACK, NIGHTBREED, FIRE IN THE SKY

I must make special mention of THE CHASE, which I would have loved to include here but was afraid of being pelted with the fanboy taunts of "That's not Bottom Shelf material!!" I am relenting just this once, but from here on out I maintain the stance that I have shown my daddy. When you write your own column... you can pick whatever you want too.

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