Beavis and Butt-Head Do America — Today’s Friday Fun Flick

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America - poster

Something to lighten up the mood after the Spalding Gray post — although Spalding Gray was no stranger to the comedy.  But soitenly, a diff’rent flavor here…

Beavis & Butt-head Text Block v2I am not a big animated feature person, but I do love the Beavis.  And the Butt-Head.  And it’s no easy task converting a short-form animated TV program into a successful full-length movie, but Mike Judge knocked it out of the park with Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.  It is a terrifically fun, spirited flick that even has a worthwhile plot structure, including the hilarious harassment of Mr. & Mrs. Anderson, the elder couple who always fall victim to B&B’s shenanigans.

The teaser trailer below is the best I could find — but it works well as a litmus test.  If you don’t find it funny, you’ll want to pass on the movie.  If you’re laughing like I did, you’ll find Beavis and Butt-head Do America to be an uproarious romp across the U.S.A.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Trailer_-_IMDb

Click for Teaser Trailer

Cinematic Greats: Sling Blade

Sling Blade - poster

SPEAKING OF BILLY BOB THORNTON… I previously highlighted him in the terrific film A Simple Plan, but his greatest accomplishment is Sling Blade (1996).  He wrote, directed, and starred in this indie: what a way to claim your arrival at the doorsteps of Hollywood.  Sling Blade is a classic, timeless tale that I connect to great literary works such as Of Mice and Men and The Old Man and the Sea.  Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote at the time:

Billy Bob Thornton’s “Sling Blade” is a mesmerizing parable of good and evil and a splendid example of Southern storytelling at its most poetic and imaginative.

Sling Blade is a must-watch film.  Try to find a good quality recording.  I find it odd and disappointing that such highly acclaimed films from such a relatively short time ago as the 1990’s are not readily available in HD.Sling Blade - still large

Friday Fun Flick: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Welcome to the Dollhouse - poster

I saw Welcome to the Dollhouse in the theater back in 1996, so my memory of it is not overly detailed, but it has stuck in my mind all these years later as an outstanding film that I had a lot of fun watching.  Roger Ebert gave it his highest rating in his excellently-written review (I continue to be surprised at how all these great films from my past match up with 4-star Ebert evaluations):

Scene after scene, “Welcome to the Dollhouse” piles on its details, re-creating the acute daily misery of being an unpopular adolescent and remembering, too, how resilient a girl like Dawn can be–how self-absorbed, how hopeful, how philosophical, how enduring.

Dawn’s revenge, we hope, is that someday she will be rich, famous and admired, while the snotty little cheerleaders who persecuted her will have been sucked into the primeval slime of the miserable lives they deserve.

A refreshing little bright star of a movie, Welcome to the Dollhouse is a perfect celebration of the 90’s indie renaissance.

Friday Fun Flick: A Shock to the System

A Shock to the System - title card

A Shock to the System (1990) made me fall in love with Michael Caine as an actor.  Roger Ebert:

Caine is a splendid movie actor, a consummate professional who is fun to watch in any film, because there is always a layer of irony and fun right there below the surface.  That makes him especially entertaining as a villain; his charm makes his sins seem permissible, or at least understandable.  He rarely plays villains we hate.  More often, we want him to get away with his sins.  Since the sins he commits in “A Shock to the System” are wicked ones, that sets up a nice tension inside the movie.  We see things from his point of view, we are invited to identify with him and yet when the Connecticut detective comes calling, we think it’s about time.

Ebert gave the film 3 of 4 stars without citing any deficiencies.  This is a better movie than that.  Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman gave an “A” rating:

At the beginning of the exhilarating corporate satire A Shock to the System, the voice of Michael Caine comes on the sound track, soothing and seducing us as it has so many times before.  That voice, with its halting cockney sparkle, its tones of ironic civility, is one of the most delicious sounds in movies, as unmistakable a comic signature as Chaplin’s bowlegged shuffle.  Once again, Michael Caine is playing a A Shock to the System - Caine on phonesneak, a rogue, and drawing the audience into a conspiracy with him-the way he did in Alfie (1966), the movie that made him a star, and then 20 years later in Hannah and Her Sisters.

Only this time, Caine’s character is going to go farther- much farther. A Shock to the System is a black comedy played very, very close to the bone.  Written by Andrew Klavan, and directed by the veteran independent filmmaker Jan Egleson, it’s a head-on satire of greed and power that’s also one of the most enticingly intimate portraits of American corporate life ever put on-screen.

Rounding out Caine’s brilliant performance is excellent support by Swoosie Kurtz, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert, and Will Patton as the tenacious detective.  A trailer is not available that even comes close to doing this movie justice, so you’ll just have to trust me that you’ll like it.  A Shock to the System is available on Hulu, or hunt down a DVD.   This is one of those little movies that, despite featuring a big star in the leading role, and being absolutely terrific fun, has, sadly, so easily slipped under the floorboards, relegated to the ashcan of cinematic history.  9/10

And one more thing: bippity, boppity, BOO!

* * *

Comparison Notes (all recommended): American Psycho, Glengarry Glen Ross, Edmond, Wall Street

Michael Caine and Peter Riegert

Michael Caine and Peter Riegert