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The Bottom Shelf #154

Apr. 3, 2008by:
100%

I've decided to geek out on Paget Brewster this week. A couple of her earlier films which make me wonder why she didn't become the huge "It" girl that she should have become. But also, to make me wonder if being the "It" girl is really all that great. "Subversive Girl" sounds so much cooler.

RECKLESS + WILD (1999)
Directed by: Bill Fishman
Starring: Christine Taylor, Paget Brewster

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

For some, you might find this movie billed under the title DESPERATE BUT NOT SERIOUS, as there is a song with that title which plays at the end of the movie. And this is a film that needed to be renamed several times even if it was going to get the hopes of being relegated to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. But there's only one problem with that. The movie's actually funny. Billed with the image of Claudia Schiffer on the cover (she's not even close to being the lead of this movie) and supposedly starring Christine Taylor in the main role, this movie is all about Paget Brewster and her total Bettie look. That scene girl who spends every single day of her life going out to bars and hoping to schmooze with the right people. It's damn near what it seems like Brewster has had to do in her personal life. Which is an outright f*cking pity because she's completely in a league of her own.

The film focuses on two people who met by chance in Nepal when the guy (John Corbett) was studying bugs and the girl (Christine Taylor) just happened to be there. (I might have missed the reason why, or not really cared.) The guy sends the girl a letter saying that he's leaving Nepal for only one day to be the best man in a wedding in LA and would the girl (who's from San Francisco) come down and meet him there? The girl has a best friend who drives her insane (Brewster) but is just so darn lovably inept that she can't say no when her friend mentions driving past a big Hollywood party before the wedding. The invitation gets lost, the address is hard to find, many shenanigans ensue over the course of the evening (including a great scene with Joey Lawrence playing shitty guitar in his dive of a house, bemoaning the death of Jerry Garcia and slightly cashing in on the "WHOA!" that we remember him for with a "DUH!" instead) and all seems hopelessly lost. In 5 words or less: Never trust a party girl.

I wasn't thinking that this film was going to be very funny. I was looking more to being able to enjoy Brewster than anything else and give her the proper Bottom Shelf treatment that she requires. But I ended up laughing my ass off at some of the incredulous moments in the movie, including this bizarre "We deliver anything in 30 minutes or less" fleet of strangely attired new edition Volkswagen bugs at the "Pink Dot" crew delivered the women safely to the airport in the desired amount of time. Plus everyone in the movie is someone that you kinda recognize from somewhere, bit and character actors which make the entire movie a complete parody in and of itself. From Max Perlich as "Say No to Todd!" to the late Wendy Jo Sperber as the landlady to Judy Greer, Henry Rollins, Ned Bellamy (the Pink Dot dude, don't say he didn't look familiar), to Richard Edson as the guy who was looking to write the script about working at a convenience store. This is a film to get totally baked to, watch, point, jab your friends and say, "Hey! That dude! You know, that dude, that dude who was in that thing, remember?" Surprisingly funny. Not perfect, but far better than you might have preconceived notions about.

Favorite Scene:

When the dog is chasing the landlady up the stairs with the giant pink vibrating dildo.

Favorite Line:

The thing about this movie is that you've just got to appreciate it for all the random scenes with people who are just on the cusp of Hollywood popularity. Actors who in their own way are scene crashers. Plus, watch all the way through the credits because the scenes with Brian Posehn and Patton Oswalt talking about the gay nature of STAR WARS is better than any of the other scenes you've watched about people talking about the gay nature of STAR WARS.

Trivia Tidbit:

Yes, that really is Claudia Schiffer singing all of the songs that her character sings in the movie. Yes, her voice really is that naturally bad.

See if you liked:

Anything that involves Paget Brewster, or if you are a fan of watching Henry Rollins look like he's 'roiding out.

THE SPECIALS (2000)
Directed by: Craig Mazin
Starring: Rob Lowe, Paget Brewster

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

What bothers me most about the recent onslaught of really bad parody movies (DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE, MEET THE SPARTANS) is that they're simply trying to capitalize on something that's already making money. The people behind the films don't seem to be film fans, know anything of significance about the genre they're trying to mock or have even an iota of intelligence with which to attempt to drum up a script. A parody movie is supposed to be a loving tribute to something that you know a great deal about. That you've spent hours watching, learning from, and have come to the conclusion that it takes itself so seriously (and your obsession with it is that serious) that it needs to take a poke. Which is why THE SPECIALS, a movie that could easily be dismissed (and most likely was since after filming for only 18 days and not getting a wide distribution, was shown very little love) is so noteworthy.

A script written with tongue-in-cheek love by James Gunn, a man whom I will always adore for making a seriously scary movie that knew how to make fun of itself (SLITHER), this film is about a group of superheroes who are low on the superhero totem pole. Their powers might seem shitty, but don't bother comparing them to those other lame superhero losers in MYSTERY MEN just for that reason. These are guys who have something to offer. They are the heroes for the underdogs, the weirdos, the oddballs. While the rest of the world around them mocks their lack of super-special ability, including the toy manufacturer whose line of action figures insults what little credibility they had to begin with, the heroes must also find it within themselves to pull together as a team.

It is unfortunate that the film is so haphazardly directed and edited. There are some great lines in the movie and some character actor star power which outshines the final product. But the film is worth watching for those reasons, even if they've been slapped together like a messy deli sandwich. Rob Lowe and his ability to make you like him, hate him and want to f*ck him (don't lie, guys, he's hetero-questionable) at the same time parallel his character's involvement in the flick. Ignore the blatant referrals to other franchises (Jamie Kennedy with the blue make-up is kinda lame... he still could have been who he was without attempting to mock up Nightcrawler) and focus more on the simpler in-jokes (the flawless angsty performance by Judy Greer, John Doe as one of the eight people who make up the singular personality of superhero Eight, and the ridicu-fabulous Alien Orphan played by James' brother Sean) and you'll see that it IS possible to make a movie which feels like a parody, essentially IS a parody and yet, well... doesn't suck.

Favorite Scene:

When Deadly Girl (Judy Greer) is approached by Sunlight Grrrll (Melissa Joan Hart) about joining The Femme Five, even though there were already eight of them in the group.

Favorite Line:

"The great thing about not getting the person that you love is that you can still think about that person and masturbate, which is essentially the same thing."

Trivia Tidbit:

The girl asking Minute Man (played by screenwriter James Gunn) for his autograph is Jenna Fischer, Gunn's now-estranged wife.

See if you liked:

SKY HIGH, MYSTERY MEN, MARS ATTACKS!

There's also another link between these flicks, with another underrated actress, so if you prefer to call this Judy Greer week, be my guest.

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10:55AM on 04/03/2008
I think it's interesting to note that The Specials was directed by Craig Mazin, who just directed the drastically different Superhero Movie. I haven't seen that Superhero Movie yet (although I own the dvd of The Specials, as a James Gunn fanboy), but I can guess which one is better already. Either way, glad to see it get some love.
I think it's interesting to note that The Specials was directed by Craig Mazin, who just directed the drastically different Superhero Movie. I haven't seen that Superhero Movie yet (although I own the dvd of The Specials, as a James Gunn fanboy), but I can guess which one is better already. Either way, glad to see it get some love.
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