Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad DVD Alert: Howard the Duck

Ever since the entertainment industry made the big switch from VHS to DVD, film fanatics and movie geeks (and yes, there is a difference) have been forced to play a tortuously drawn out game of wait-and-see. Because of the vast libraries of past films just waitig to be converted to DVD, studios have been either unable or unwilling to simply flood the market with every film ever made in one fell swoop.

While this is completely understandable, the end result is that a lot of us have been left waiting years (soon to be decades) for our favorite childhood films to be get their own Special Anniversary Edition DVD release. This is even more true for Bad Movie Lovers, as their minority spending dollar isn't quite motivation enough for studios to foot the bill for remastering and printing yet another copy of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Of course, they did release it on DVD, which just makes you wonder what their criteria for DVD worthy movies actually is.

This can be truly frustrating. I personally have been waiting for a DVD release of the incomparable Robby Benson's cold-war-suspense-thriller-romantic-comedy Die Laughing, and I still can't conceive as to what the hold up could be on the re-release of the classic Michael Keaton/Rae Dong Chong action-comedy The Squeeze. Yet a barely-released film based on a trading card series parodying an almost forgotten fad doll gets the red carpet treatment.

There is one group of fans that can stop waiting. This March, Howard the Duck is finally getting the DVD treatment. Starring a fresh out of Space Camp Lea Thompson, Howard was a highly anticipated summer release that opened on August 1, 1986. It quickly proved that not everything George Lucas touches turns to gold, and went on to to rake in a decidedly un-gold-ly $16 Million before giving up the ghost.

Few people, it seems, were ready for a sci-fi adventure comedy featuring a talking duck. Neither, so it seems, were they ready for a talking duck who could play the guitar, or a Lea Thompson that could sing. Even fewer were ready for a talking duck making sexual advances towards a singing Lea Thompson. Nobody was ready for Tim Robbins as a Jerry Lewis wannabe geek turned hero. Jeffrey Jones was the only one who didn't seem out of place, which says more about his acting career than it does the movie. (For the record, we are huge fans of Jeffrey Jones)

Howard the Duck bombed. Big time. Frank Price, head of Universal Pictures at the time, ended up resigning his position after the debacle. George Lucas, who had been counting on his duck movie to pull him out of financial ruins, was dragged down even deeper by the failure, and ended up selling Steve Jobs the CGI animation division that would later become Pixar. Lucas would then solve all of his money problems by reselling the same three Star Wars films sixteen times each.

Just as Howard's sudden appearance in a world he never made held dire consequences for the human race, Howard's movie was so mind-numbingly bad that it actually changed the course of history. Now, twenty three years later, Howard the Duck is finally available on DVD, ready to find a whole new audience. Drink deep, bad movie fans, you don't get releases like this to often.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? We Do! We Do!

As a lifelong comic book fanboy in his mid-thirties, the only thing more exciting to me than Zack Snyder's film adaptation of The Watchmen making it to the big screen is seeing a new generation discovering this classic work for the first time.

Teenagers across the country are plunging themselves into The Watchmen. Recent superhero franchises like the X-Men and new Batman series have helped path the way for introducing what is still one of the darkest and most philosophical comic books ever.

You can always tell when something captures the imagination of young artists, as they begin producing art like this for their own amusement...

A new generation of intelligent, creative, and introspective teenagers is now being introduced to the comic world's most influential stories ever.

Alan Moore might also see it this way, if he wasn't so busy being a complete asshat.

Bad Movie Alert: The Mutant Chronicles

Sometimes, you don't need to go farther than the trailer to identify a bad movie. Case in point?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Box Office Blight - 2/20 - 2/22 Weekend

1 N Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail LGF $41,030,947
2 5 Coraline Focus $11,432,124
3 3 Taken Fox $11,281,262
4 2 He's Just Not That Into You WB (NL) $8,558,225
5 9 Slumdog Millionaire FoxS $8,384,680
6 1 Friday the 13th (2009) WB (NL) $7,942,472
7 6 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony $6,821,377
8 4 Confessions of a Shopaholic BV $6,742,778
9 N Fired Up SGem $5,483,778
10 7 The International Sony $4,463,916

I must say, there's nothing like a mid-February weekend theatrical opening lineup to make you feel like gargling broken glass with a peroxide chaser. Dismal doesn't even begin to capture the prospects for people foolish enough to venture out to the local Octoplex for a two-hour reality break.

Of course, that never stops at least one film from being number one, and this week the winner was Madea Goes to Jail. The losers, sadly, are too numerous to name individually. Tyler Perry has been doing his best to cash in on a cross between Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor and Flip Wilson's Geraldine, and there were apparently enough enablers with pocket change around to give him a $41 million dollar opening weekend.

I guess the film's success makes sense, based on humor and originality. It seems like ages since audiences have been treated to the sight of a black male comedian playing a woman in a fat suit. And what could be funnier than an elderly black woman being sentenced to prison? Well, I guess every generation needs it's own Geraldine. Actually, I take that back. They don't. Please stop.

The only other major release, Fired Up, ended up at the other end of the charts, earning a measly $6 million and ninth place. A complete surprise, as you would think the plot device of two high school football players going to Cheerleader Camp as an excuse to meet hot girls would be instant box office gold. After all, everybody knows that attractive and popular jocks have to jump through all sorts of wacky hoops in order to meet girls.

Sadly, even a clever movie poster gleefully pointing out that the film's initials were also an abbreviation for naughty words wasn't able to drag a large crowd to witness this comedic genius. Those who actually bought tickets probably did so based on the title alone, only to be disappointed when they realized the film had nothing to do with either Potheads or Arsonists. Now there's a movie I'd drop ten bucks to see.

The rest of the returning lineup is too depressing to go into. A Nightmare Before Christmas The Corpse Bride Coraline jumped up to third place just to be annoying, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop continues to rub lemon juice in America's wounded pride by hanging in the top ten for another week and upping it's total to $120 million.

Honestly, I shouldn't have to be talked down off the roof every time the weekend totals come out. You can't blame the audiences too much, I suppose. There's probably only so many times you can go see Taken before you decide to gamble on another film. Let's just hope next weekend is a little better.