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The Bottom Shelf #88


It never occurred to me that I should review Xmas themed flicks. I mean, most of those circulating are ones that are well-known by everyone, even supposed "cult classics" like THE REF. So I didn't have anything planned. Then Mr. Blo informed me that I'd be put on the naughty list if I couldn't come up with something. (Kidding, he only spanked me with a candy cane and then insisted that I think harder.) Since I'm nice (but not entirely so), these are the selections I came up with.

Directed by: Nora Ephron
Starring: Steve Martin, Adam Sandler

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I actually paid money to see this movie in the theater when it was originally released, but couldn't remember much about it aside from the fact that Adam Sandler has a minor contributing role. MIXED NUTS plays out much like a movie that you're never going to remember, other than the annoying little odd bits here and there. It's not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. Yet it's far better to trudge through if you're sick and tired of Charlie Brown reruns and whatever special by whatever pop princess NBC has suckered you into watching by refusing to air anything else.

The movie is a remake of the 1982 French movie, LE PERE NOEL EST UNE ORDURE. I haven't seen it and thereby cannot make any assertions as to whether this version is any better or worse. I do know that it's a strange movie with an unbelievable set of premises, a cast full of people whose name power would have driven the flick to being an instant classic if it were to have been released 10 years after it first was. Then again, I doubt many of the actors in it would have chosen to participate at that time.

I wish I could state a more definitive position on whether or not I liked this movie. See, there are scenes with certain actors that I really liked (Madeline Khan stuck in the elevator, playing with the child's toy and discovering what all the buttons do is one of them) as well as scenes where that same actor gets on my nerves. Although, while they're doing that, someone else picks up the slack and pulls through (Liev Schreiber is absolutely enchanting as a depressed drag queen). The movie is absurd and uneven, but it can boast one thing that most holiday movies cannot: Jon Stewart wearing spandex and rollerblading. Top that, Charlie Brown!!

Favorite Scene:

When Martin and Schreiber are dancing. Reminded me of some twisted version of Martin's famous dance with Gilda Radner on SNL.

Favorite Line: "Who ate all the water chestnuts??" (Sorry, it's an inside joke with my family.)

Trivia Tidbit:

The landlord's name is Tannenbaum, the German word for "Christmas tree," ironic due to his corpse being disguised as a tree later in the movie.

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Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron

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Oy. Where to begin? How is it that this movie can contain two Oscar winners and a multiply Oscar nominated actor and still be so f*cking ludicrous? I suppose one might assume that they all were duped by what looked like a clever script on paper only to be sidelined by a shiftless director after contracts had been signed and production had began. One might even make the argument that the roles were taken for the money since they all had a minimal amount of exposure by that time. But still... why the hell would someone want to be involved in this movie unless they were on a dare?

The movie focuses on a car thief (Affleck) during his last few days in prison where he's finishing up a cruel 5 year sentence for grand theft auto. How a guy can spend 5 years in what is proclaimed to be one of the roughest pens and still look like a polished and manicured metrosexual is beyond me, but let's play along for the sake of the story. His cellmate talks of a gorgeous woman who is waiting his release, a meeting that is cut off at the pass when he greets an untimely demise after a cafeteria food fight. (So he steps into his place and her panties as a result.) Things go even further downhill from there when the young woman's brother hijacks their romantic rendezvous and ropes him into assisting he and his band of bumbling co-workers with robbing a casino on Christmas Eve.

You might be wondering why I'm recommending a movie that I quite clearly hold a negative opinion about. A bad movie that isn't even so bad that it's good, REINDEER GAMES holds an allure to me simply for the star power. I remember renting this when after it had breezed through theaters and into my local video store, knowing full well that it would suck. Theron hadn't yet won her Oscar and Affleck was still dusted with the powders of would-be super stardom. Watching it again after time has passed has made it even more laughable to me. It's a fantastic reminder that we should never hold any actor in particularly high regard. Idolization of anyone will come back to bite you in the ass eventually, so it might be best not to play that kind of reindeer game.

Favorite Scene:

Watching a then unknown Ashton Kutcher be chased and getting my hopes up that they might run him over.

Favorite Line:

"I want some hot chocolate. You want to hear about some Indian casino, I want to see some goddamn hot chocolate! And a piece of pecan f*cking pie!"

Trivia Tidbit:

I'm not exactly sure if anyone can tell me how Frankenheimer went from directing RONIN and then followed up with this slop, but there's some trivia for ya.

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It might be important to point out that while I love the holidays, I really can't stand movies ABOUT the holidays. I was fortunate enough to come from a family that actually talked to one another instead of plopping down in front of the TV with a tape in an effort to be together and yet avoid one another at the same time. Hell, that's what the damn football game is for.



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