Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In the Not Too Distant Future: How Rifftrax May Take On Sharknado 3

Now that we know we'll have as many Sharknados as Transformer movies, maybe it's time to predict how the Rifftrax crew will take on this year's version of the cheesy SyFy franchise.

It's already taken on part one, as well as part two just a few weeks ago. It's safe to say that if it goes to another Kickstarter campaign to help fund the 2016 season, the fans will hit the goal within a weekend.

Fin (Ian Zierling) and April (Tara Reid) battle two big Sharknados wreaking havoc on Washington DC and Orlando. Then, they threaten to merge into something not even Bruce Willis and an Aerosmith ballad can stop. However, thanks to a spare Space Shuttle, and the power of the Hoff, they blow up the storm from outer space, They also battle sharks in space, and one of them eats April just as she's about to give birth. However, thanks to her chainsaw hand, she escapes, and her baby is OK. Yet it ends with a piece of the shuttle about to hit her, and the movie asks the fans if she should live, The latest word, according to Reid on Adam Carolla's podcast, is that she just might be back. She could be back anyway, Twitter votes be damned.
Nova (Cassie Scerbo) is back, too, apparently trained as a shark killer thanks to watching Michonne a lot on The Walking Dead, and also as a pilot thanks to Fin's son who's busy elsewhere.

Anyway, here's my prediction of what riffs we can expect next year from Mike, Kevin and Bill:

The movie starts with a James Bond style opening, with Fin and his chainsaw

It's 007 in Live and Let Bite, as seen from the mouth of Richard Kiel

Ann Coulter as the VP:  "I feel for the sharks, but they're wrecking our schools, our hospitals, our roads"
If they want to do that, they should run for Congress (yeah, too easy, right?)

Then the sharks arrive. When they're not destroying the Washington Monument more convincingly than Space Invaders or Donkey Kong in Pixels, one of them lands on the Lincoln Memorial.

You guys bite without me. The first sequel was exhausting

Fin gets help from President Mark Cuban, and both are armed to the teeth,

Marc Cuban is the President in Machete Bites!

Fin, his brother, the president and a woman lift an American flag and wind up stabbing one of the sharks, resulting in this

Uh, didn't people complain when same sex marriage supporters did the same thing?

We meet Nova, who's upset by all these Sharknados:  "Kill them all, just kill them all, shoot, bang"

Are you talking about the sharks, or the SyFy execs who keep approving these movies?

Meanwhile, at Universal Studios Orlando, April is there with her mom (Bo Derek).

April decides to help when the sharks get there, but mom isn't hearing it:  "April, Dawn, Wexler, Shepherd"
Is she listing the names of the new Ghostbusters?

Jerry Springer is a tourist standing under what he thinks is a fake shark at the Jaws Pier. He asks someone to take a picture of him. He soon finds out the shark is not fake

Hah! That Arnold Schwarzenegger prank at the wax museum really works.

A shark crashes into an xfinity billboard
This message brought to you by DirecTV

A theater is showing "Shark Wedding", with George RR Martin in the audience. A shark breaks through the screen, killing him

And now his watch has ended. Ours, however, still continues

We see David Hasslehoff at a chicken wings joint with Penn and Teller. They discuss how Finn is doing, while the Hoff says "He's just making it up as he goes along"

Oh, like Republican candidates trying to get on that Fox News debate

Fin's weapon against sharks in space?
It's the new Stihl Lightsaber Saw

A shark finally drops in, literally, the Today show set

Robin Roberts says hello!

Granted, the Rifftrax crew will come up with better snide remarks, because that's what they do. It's interesting what they would say to April giving birth while inside a shark...and escaping thanks to her chainsaw hand. They'd either say, "eat your heart out, Bruce Campbell" or "Shop smart, S-mart". There's also that last scene where April is about to be hit by a piece of the shuttle. Personally, I'd like to see April saved by Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) from Dead Like Me, and remark "hey, my death was embarrassing enough. It won't happen to you, no matter what social media says"...then leave.

Hey, if you need cameos, get creative.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sparks Is Running on Dunkin'

When I wet to see Ant-Man last week, I noticed something strange.

It was a Dunkin' Donuts store near the Target at the Legends Outlet Mall in Sparks. I had no idea it was coming to town, about six months after a store opened in Carson City. The franchise is planning to open several stores in the Reno area over the next five years.

I haven't been at a DD since one opened in the Sacramento area several years ago. I went there once, but not too often after that because it was in an inconvenient location. Placing a DD at Legends works in many ways because it's close to I-80, so it can be a quick stopover for people heading to work.

Where I live, the only places to get donuts are Walmart and Scolari's. You can get individual donuts at Scolari's but not at Walmart. There's no local bakery in town, I really like the idea of a coffee/donut place like a DD or, to show how old I am, a Winchell's place.

The opening was a big deal. There was a line of 18-20 people waiting to get in around 8 AM, mainly because it was possible to get a free cup of coffee during the first week. It was also warm, and customers got a free sample of one of its smoothies.

Anyway, it was so big all the TV stations were there:

Normally, the ribbon cutting my the Chamber of Commerce took place in front of the new business. They decided to move it to the lawn.

The mall also recently added a Jimmy John's. I haven't taken a look inside to see if there's a picture of Brock Lesnar, but I might the next time I head to the Galaxy Theater. It will likely I'll be at the DD in Sparks much more often than the once in Sacramento. There's word that adding a place in Reno may be six to nine months away. I'm guessing they could put it at the Meadowview Mall, but it would be interesting if it's located in the Peppermill or Atlantis, but I doubt it. The DD is Sparks should be ruling the donut market for some time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review of "Trainwreck": Drunk in Love With Amy

Amy Schumer made a name for herself with her comedy act that's "mostly sex stuff" but also her TV show on Comedy Central that says a lot about women and our perception of them. It recently scored several Emmy nominations.

But can she conquer the big screen?
That's a job that's tough for a female stand up to conquer. With the help of director Judd Apatow, and her own script that she expected some other actress to follow, Schumer has a winner with Trainwreck, about a party girl who's really thrown for a loop whe she falls for a surgeon played by Bill Hader. 

Amy plays a writer for a men's magazine who has a wild personal life. She learned early in life from her dad, Gordon (Colin Quinn), that "monogamy isn't realistic". That's why her life is mainly druken one-night stands. She has a semi-steady played by John Cena (yeah, THAT Cena). Seeing them have sex, much less seeing John showing a LOT of skin, is worth the price of admission. He's also going to be in Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, so he's got a future in movies.

She has a sister, Kim (Brie Larson), who has married and also has a stepson who Amy thinks is a bit off. They discuss putting their dad in a home because of his MS condition. He's about as brash as Amy is. 
At the magazine, she works for Dianna, who is really played by Tilda Swinton who apparantly copied her look from Alison Janney.

She assigns Amy to an interview with Aaron (Hader), a sports surgeon who works on the top athletes, even Lebron James. Amy is surprised to find herself falling for Aaron, and hopes she can put her party girl past behind. Her old demons, however, threaten this love story.

Even though Schumer is best known for her bawdy humor, she does well in quiter moments, like when she gives an interestng eulogy, and admits to sis that she's got to make some changes.

What's also surprising is LeBron's scenes with Hader. Seeing Hader try to score against the NBA all-star is very funny, but so is this scene when LeBron compares Cleveland to Miami. Even Apatow said he was impressed. Maybe LeBron ought to go back for a second stint at hosting SNL. 

As I mentioned at a Rifftrax review, Norman Lloyd, who's been in TV and movies literally forever, is also in this movie as one of the older patients at the nursing home. At the age of 100, he is as sharp as ever.

Trainwreck is much more than Inside Amy Schumer, the movie. It's a fine look at a girl was given really bad advice about men by her dad, and learns to overcome it. Some may be puzzled by the end, where there's an intervention that features people you wouldn't expect. However, the final scene was cute, and it was a given there would be a happy ending somehow.

Let's hope the success of Trainwreck gives Schumer lots of chances to show she's more than just a party gal. With this movie, she's off to a great start.

Oh, and there's a very funny spoof on pompous indie movies in general with a former boy wizard and the new Aunt May. maybe that can be expanded to a movie or at least a Funny or Die bit,

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rifftrax 200: Stone Cold Cleanup In Aisle Four

It;'s been nine years of mocking big movies via mp3, and then cheesy B-movies through streaming video. Now Rifftrax celebrates its 200th movie, and the feature it chose was one ex-NFL first round draft pick's attempt to be an action movie star--and not getting close.

Back in 1991, Brian Bosworth, the Boz, retired from the Seattle Seahawks and tried his hand on being a movie star in Stone Cold. He plays Joe Huff, a cop from Birmingham, AL, who doesn't play by the rules. Kind of like a bulkier Clint Eastwood. There was even an "acting coach" in the credits.

After stopping a robbery at a supermarket where he was shopping, the cops come and they're mad at him. Seems he was suspended for insubordination, and didn't like him helping out. The FBI, though, wants him to infiltrate a motorcycle gang that excels in killing people and mayhem in general. If he says yes, he'll be a cop again. If not, he'll stay suspended for six months. He's also saddled with a partner named Lance who looks like the worst FBI agent least for 99% of the movie.

Bosworth is packaged as a rebel cop because of his muscles, pet iguana, and Flashdance-style sweats. If all he did was fight, he may have done fine. Sadly, when he tries to emote, he's not that convincing. Lance Henriksen, who lays Chains Cooper the biker gang kingpin, looks more like a mangier version of Willie Nelson. he looked more meanacing when he was in Millennium, The Terminator and Near Dark. 

As for the Rifftrax crew, they overuse Bosworth's only good quip, "Cleanup in aisle four", while commenting on the gang's use of overkill in its reign of terror. Their attempt to rescue their leader from a sentencing hearing in the Mississippi Supreme Court is a prime example.

Some of the riffs:

The biker gang gathers for an all-out two-wheeled celebration
Kevin:  The grizzled prospectors have teamed up with the biker gangs. We're doomed.

Huff steps into a car where an FBI agent is waiting
Kevin:  Don't hurt me. Sorry, I thought you were Bo Jackson

There's a scene at the compound with girls showering outdoors, and kids for some reason
Mike:  Hideout or a biker-themed amusement park?

A song lyric as Huff/Stone rides to Pensacola for a job:  "It doesn't get any sadder than this"
Mike:  The original title of this movie

A fight at a strip joint that's not too exciting
Bill:  The Nazi Biker Gang fights like the Bad News Bears.

Stone is in a fight with a gangster inside a car
Bill:  This is the 4th worst Uber experience ever.

There's also riffs on a short about buying food, Dr. Strangelove, The Room, the Seattle Seahawks, Betty White, Jimi Hendrix and Meredith Brooks

The latest Rifftrax feature is available at the website, along with the other 199 movies.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rifftrax Crappening Part 2: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sharknado

After Syfy made a movie that pitted Los Angeles, or at least two former TV teen idols, against a hurricane filled with flying sharks, what could it do for an encore?

Why, do the same thing in New York, and add lots of "celebrity" cameos, of course. People will really enjoy and respect this bold move in disaster movies, right?
Well, "enjoy" is a strong word, and "respect" is unlikely, as the Rifftrax crew proved that Thursday night in Nashville when it took on Sharknado 2.

Ian Zierling and Tara Reid are back as surfer/shark hunter Fin and his divorved wife (but maybe not for long) April. They're headed east to see Fin's sister Ellen (Kari Wuhrer) and her husband Martin (Mark McGrath). Fin's also plugging his new book on his experiences from the first movie (book based on a movie, isn't it the other way around?).

The flight does experience a slight problem, aside from Robert Hayes from Airplane more or less recreating his role. There's another storm, and it's filled with sharks. It takes out an engine and kills the pilot. So, Fin has to do his imitation of Airport 77 and land the plane. However, a shark bites April's hand off. She's sidelined for a while until she makes a big comeback in the end. Meanwhile, Fin is reunited with Skye (Vivica A. Fox), who was a childhood friend or almost girlfriend or something, While April's out of action, Skye helps out Fin. However, he makes it clear (kind of) that he's loyal to April.

From there, it's more of the same: people getting killed by sharks in absurd ways, bad editing confuses people where the storm is, and Fin and April wondering why it's happening again (as is the audience).

The Rifftrax trio of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett do their best to bite back on this movie. For example, when one of the sharks burst through the plane, biting a purple-haired stewardess (yep, Kelly Osbourne), it led to Mike hinting this scene may be irony.

They also comment on some of the cameos, like Wil Wheaton, Jud Hirsch, Billy Ray Cyrus as a surgeon (not quite a stretch because he was a doctor on TV) and Jared the Subway Guy. That recent raid on his house over alleged child porn led to him getting removed from Sharknado 3.

So, some of the riffs:

Fin tries to land the 747
Mike:  The new Hero on the Hudson, Captain Soily Pantsenberger

A Mets fan tries to get the biggest bat possible when the sharks arrive at Citi Field
Bill:  Novelty Looting!

The opening credits roll in 3-D while a band desecrates the memory of the Ramones with its Sharknado 2 theme song:
Bill: Upon hearing this song, the Ramones rose from the grave, flipped this movie the finger, then went back to punk rock heaven
Kevin:  Technically "credits", but I think of them more as "blames"

An umbrella blows by in the wind
Mike:  They killed Mary Poppins

Al Roker describes the Sharknado as a "twister with teeth"
Mike:  A twister with teeth is also his private name for Katie Couric

April arrives with a buzz saw where her hand used to be
Kevin:  It’s rare that getting a buzz saw hand isn’t your most radical plastic surgery.

There's also riffs on another of Kari Wuhrer's disaster movies, another movie about a "lovely day", Game of Thrones, Lost, Brian Williams, Ghostbusters 2 and the Today show. It's safe to say Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan don't escape unscathed, either.

Sharknado 3 is coming to Syfy on the 22nd, and judging from the website, David Hasslehoff's dare that this may be the worst movie yet (on purpose, he adds) may come to pass--along with the likelihood  Rifftrax will battle this movie next year.

Before that, the gang took on a short that was an interesting choice, It was the 1970s remake of Appreciating Our Parents, which was featured in the MST3K episode, The Unearthly. In the new version, an abused puppet turns its owner, a young boy, invisible. That way, he can see how hard his mom and dad works to take care of him. It also adds the fact that working moms exist.

By the way, Zierling was at the showing at the Horton Plaza in San Diego. Periscope has some footage of him meeting with fans.

The gang also mentioned that Rifftrax is approaching its ninth anniversary, and its 200th feature (although some fans have pointed out it's already reached that mark). They're planning a big special feature, and we'll have more on that soon.
The encore showing of Sharknado 2 will take place next Thursday. Tickets available at Fathom Events' website. The next new show is Miami Connection on October first, and apparently we can expect "kiss the ninjas" to be said a lot.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rifftrax: Welcome To Dennis Quaid's Nightmare

Aside from creating the San Francisco Sketchfest event that makes some room for severe movie criticism, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney have been part of Rifftrax in its early years. Their first target was The Lost Boys in 2010, followed by Jaws 3-D and Flatliners.

They returned recently for their first VOD title, Dreamscape, with Dennis Quaid as a psychic being "persuaded" to be part of an experiment in dream manipulation. Of course, there's a dark side to this project as it slowly morphs into an attempt to kill the President in his dreams. While critics liked this movie back in 1984, it looks a lot cheesier after all these years.

It features Christopher Plummer in one of his "evil in a suit" roles that he had during the 80's (remember Firehead?), Max Von Sydow as the head of the project, Eddie Albert as the president who dreams of nuclear explosions. and Kate Capshaw as the dream scientist/mandatory love interest just after people blamed her for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Oh, and there's George Wendt (NORM!) as an author who thinks Plummer is up to no good.

What's interesting about how Cole and Janet take on this movie is that they pack a ton of movie and music references in less than two hours. They especially make remarks about Quaid's movie career and even throw in a riff about an Alec Baldwin movie everyone has forgotten about...even Alec. TV's Frank would be so proud.

The plot:  Quaid plays Alex, a psychic who uses his powers to pick longshots at the race track. He's not a favorite with the bookies, Anyway, Von Sydow's character wants Alex to be part of the dream manipulation program, or Alex may see some tax problems thanks to his winnings. Alex leaps into the dreams of a construction worker, a guy who's convinced his wife will cheat on him, and a kid named Buddy who's being attacked by a snake man. He even gets into Capshaw's dream where she's riding in a train. It leads to a lame sex scene that will remind no one of his sex scenes with Ellen Barkin in The Big Easy two years later.

Plummer plays Blair, a CIA type who is worried the President will agree to nuclear disarmament because of his nightmares. Blair wants America to be secure with all the nuclear bombs it wants. He also wants to find a way to kill enemies by sending assassins into their dreams. Sure, sounds dumb, but at least he has a psycho psychic who can do the job. It helps that he's played by the same guy who said "Warriors, come out and play".

Now some of the riffs:

A woman tries to outrun a nuclear a dream
Cole:  Run, Mia Farrow, run!

Buddy has a nightmare
Janet:  Happy Meal....has no toy!!

The President has one of his nightmares
Cole: Phoenix in the summer is just awful

Jane (Capshaw) is upset Alex isn't predicting flash cards as he should
"Why can't you take this more seriously?"
Cole:  Is she talking to us right now?

And the perfect description of Alex and Jane making out on the dream train?
Janet:  All the chemistry of Teri Hatcher and Howie Long from those Radio Shack

There's also riffs on REM, a defunct department store, Atari, Ghostbusters, Snowpiercer, Animal House and Saturday Night Live. Also, if you listen carefully as Alex tries to get away on a motorcycle from Blair's goons, you'll get a really obscure reference that only true TV comedy fans will understand.

The movie is available at Rifftrax's website.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Rifftrax's New Dynamic Duo

Rifftrax is more than just three guys who used to mock bad movies on cable TV.
It's also two women who also appeared on that bad movie show.

Mary Jo Pehl, best known as Pearl on MST3K,  recently returned from her time on Cinematic Titanic to riff cheesy short films for Rifftrax with her new partner Bridget Jones, aka Nuveena and Lisa Leob on the show and also Mrs. Rifftrax (namely Mike Nelson's wife). They have worked before as Minnesota Amazons in "Hercules", and Pearl squaring off with a Roman empress in "Horror of Party Beach."

They've tackled two short subjects that look at America's obsession with the suburbs and consumerism. "Life In the Suburbs" was a 19 minute commercial for Redbook, which appealed to "young adults" starting a family and buying stuff. It looks really weird, with kids wandering through a dinner party, and making the suburbs look like a colorful paradise, or, as Bridget says, "where it's prom every day". It also includes articles to help young adults, like teaching kids how to lose (Mary Jo suspects the Vikings wrote that). Here's a clip:

They seem to be confused yet amused at what the film is trying to explain, but it's a nice time capsule of what family life used to be.

The other short, "A Word To The Wives", is much better. Its message is clear: con your husband into getting a new home, or at least a new kitchen, with the help of a glamorous yet devious neighbor. It's made by the Women's Home Companion, which Mary Jo hopes is George Clooney (that's a callback to one of the movie specials MST3K used to do for SyFy).

As you can see, the hubby and the terrible kitchen cabinets are making the devious neighbor's case, along with his habit of slowly bringing his garbage bag to the curb before the bag collapses. It's not long before Mary Jo and Bridget get annoyed by the overly glamorous housewife and her dream kitchen, The short was also riffed by Josh Way, and his style is a bit more dark with snide comments about Cameron Diaz and Rob Schneider.

Yes, the hubby is Darrin McGavin (not the "Wife Stalker", as Bridget claims), and he has a temper tantrum that would be recreated in A Christmas Story more than 30 years later. Miss Sneaky Housewife is played by Marsha Hunt, who was among many actors who were blacklisted in the '50s due to Communist paranoia. The short is directed by Norman Lloyd, familiar to fans of St. Elsewhere and Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur...among many other things. In fact, if you're planning to see Trainwreck this month, you may spot him near Amy Schumer.

So far, Mary Jo and Bridget are meshing pretty well in their riffing of shorts looking the corporate version of 1950's America. If they have a flaw, it's that they keep riffing well after the film ends, That can be fixed, of course. maybe they can tackle a full-length feature eventually, like a really cheesy rom-com. Imagine them tackling one of those all-star romances Garry Marshall makes every year or so, or anything on the Hallmark Channel.

Anyway, you can get "A Word To The Wives" and "Life in the Suburbs" at rifftrax,com/