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The Bottom Shelf #115

07.05.2007

While some people might believe that there's nothing more All American than Bruce Willis saving the day or the planet being threatened by robot monster-thingys, I think the most All American item that's ever existed was "Saved By the Bell." On that note, here are this week's reviews.

DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS (1998)
Directed by: Alan Cohn
Starring: Tom Everett Scott, Mark-Paul Gosselaar

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I love watching older movies that have inside jokes which most people won't catch onto until long after they've been released. Sure, this movie was supposed to be the one where people were supposed to forget how cute and cuddly Gosselaar was on a certain popular TV show. Instead, this ended up being Zach goes to college. Not that that's terribly bad. No, the inside joke for me is watching Jason Segel and a very young Linda Cardellini hook up in the beginning of the movie. If you're cool, you'll understand why that's so much fun to watch after the fact. If you're not, brush up on the acting history of those two actors.

DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS didn't do well in the theaters despite trying to capitalize on the incoming freshmen in the fall of 1998, right around the time that Za - er - Mark was still riding high on his television fame. It's got a great concept as well. Two guys sharing a dorm, the classic Odd Couple mix of good, hardworking student and complete jack-off, end up in a pinch when they're threatened with getting kicked out of college. However, the curious angle is when they find out that the college has a policy stating that the roommates of a student who commits suicide automatically earn straight A's. The two then set off to find themselves the most paranoid, psychotic and suicidal roommate possible.

The movie really doesn't get funny until about half-way through. And it never builds up to being a laugh-riot. But as the co-stars appear to get more comfortable with one another on screen, they must have gotten more comfortable with one another off screen, as their chemistry slowly does build. The women in the film are entirely forgettable (although the love interest for Scott is Poppy Montgomery, who has gone on to a strong career in television herself) aside from Cardellini and a young Alyson Hannigan. Yet my favorite portion of the movie is that when it dips into the stereotypical joke of having the guys confused by their dorm mates as being gay, it eschews the stereotypical reaction from the guys, all of whom react in a positive and affirming manner. So for being typical, there is enough of a unique angle to give this flick a second chance. Even if it couldn't have gotten that second shot off.

Favorite Scene:

The opening credits for this movie are some of the best that I've seen in any movie in the last 10 years. But remember... I dropped out of college and I'm easily impressed.

Favorite Line:

"This is my brother's Ritalin. Ritalin's good for studying math or science, just don't try to write English papers on it or it won't make any sense. Enjoy that. "

Trivia Tidbit:

"Professor Durkheim" is presumably named after the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who was the first academic to study suicide extensively.

See if you liked:

ACCEPTED, LOSER, ROAD TRIP

SPEEDWAY JUNKY (1999)
Directed by: Nickolas Perry
Starring: Jesse Bradford, Daryl Hannah

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What the hell happened to Daryl Hannah? There was a point earlier on in her career where she was poised to be one of the bigger female actresses of her time. Granted, she always played the blonde bimbo or ditz, but that's a genre that's worked well for Goldie Hawn over the years. Somewhere along the way Hannah stumbled. Aside from KILL BILL, most of the work that's she's done from the mid-'90's on has been off the map and usually casts her in an unattractive light. This movie is no exception. I'll give her this though. Being off the map has at least made her bimbo characters a little more interesting.

Gus Van Sant, the famed director of offbeat flicks of his own, executive produced this movie. Sadly, this just doesn't go into the area that MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO dove into so well 8 years before. But I guess it sets a precedent over Van Sant having a hustler obsession. This movie is the watered down version, where the actors playing the street kids spout off canned lines and talk about having sex for money, but none of the sex is ever shown and no one really gets all that dirty. This is the After School Special for street hustling. One outrageous event after the other takes place, none of it ever inter-connecting, and all with the naivety of a film student who grew up in some suburban wonderland far, far away from anything that he's written about.

Yet... this is a train wreck that's actually hard to look away from. With all of the bullshit that it puts you through, there are moments of genuine reaction and some good true emoting. Part of the problem stems from the actors' inexperience. Aside from Taylor Thomas, not many of the younger parties involved had been in movies prior to this. Jordan Brower is the best thing in the movie, a kid who looks pained to be in most of it, yet is the only one who conveys any heart. He hasn't done much outside of some television and a few other movie roles, but he was good enough to make me interested in looking him up. Too bad there isn't much to dig. Oh, well. It could have been worse I suppose. He could have gone on to star in SWIMFAN.

Favorite Scene:

I find the thought of Jonathan Taylor-Thomas getting f*cked, either by a man or a woman, to be hilarious. Does that make me sick in some way?

Favorite Line:

"Have you ever given a woman an orgasm?"
"I don't know, it was dark."

Trivia Tidbit:

Jonathan Taylor Thomas took over the role of Steven, after Balthazar Getty was fired from the movie. (Hmm... makes you wonder...)

See if you liked:

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, WHERE THE DAY TAKES YOU, MYSTERIOUS SKIN

I was going to review the best porn movies featuring the Bell grads, but I'm still waiting on that Lark Voorhies one to hit the shelves.

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