Monday, February 12, 2007

Episode 14

The Iron Giant - The year is 1958 and Hogarth (voiced by Eli Marienthal, who is probably best known as Stifler's younger brother in American Pie) is the adolescent only child of a single mother. Hogarth has a very active imagination, which is why his mother (Jennifer Aniston) doesn't believe him when he tells her that he's discovered a giant robot in the forest behind their house. After Hogarth saves the robot from the power lines that it's become tangled in, they befriend one another. Over the following days, Hogarth teaches the Iron Giant from another planet the difference between right and wrong, and how to act properly on Earth. The only other person who knows about the robot's presence in the small Maine town is an artist named Dean (Harry Connick Jr.), who becomes an unexpecting father figure for Hogarth. Until the army sends someone out to investigate the matter, that is. The someone being Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald), who is so blinded by his own urge to climb the ranks of the military that he doesn't see the giant for the kind-hearted creature that it is. Mansley sets into motion events that lead to an all-out government-funded witch hunt for Hogarth's robot pal, which seems as though it will end in catastrophe. What I want to know is how the shit I neglected to see The Iron Giant for seven whole years. I don't recall the film making very large waves when it came out, I was somehow not aware of the high-profile cast of voice actors involved, and I can only think of one person who ever told me that I should see it, which is why I finally ended up watching it. To think...if a single person had told me to see The Iron Giant back in 1999 when it was released, I'd have probably seen it about fourty one times by now instead of just one. The Iron Giant is by far the best 2D animated American film that I have ever seen. The animation is top notch, and outstandingly impressive, the cast is spot on in every regard, and I can not think of a single flaw in the plot, which is one of the best, most heart-wrenching that I have ever experienced. Vin Diesel even somehow manages to shine as the voice of the child-like behemoth after which the film is named; a great task considering how few lines he had to really get the point across. The Iron Giant made me laugh, it made me eager, it made me mad, and it probably brought me closer to tears than any other movie that I've ever seen. It really has everything. I don't know how else to explain it. It may not be my favorite movie ever, but there is no doubt in my mind that it is a perfect film inasmuch as I view it as flawless. Mark my words: The Iron Giant is a masterpiece of film-making and you're doing yourself an injustice if you haven't seen it.

The Whole Ten Yards - Oz (Matthew Perry), Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), Jill (Amanda Peet), and Jimmy the Tulip (Bruce Willis) are back whether you like it or not. Kevin Pollack returns for this sequel to The Whole Nine Yards as well, but not as the same character he played in the previous film. This time instead of Janni Gogolak, the mobster he portrayed the first time around who was shot and killed, he plays Janni's father, Lazlo. Lazlo, a mob boss having just been released from prison, gathers up some lackeys and sets out to find Jimmy the Tulip, who killed his son Janni. Jimmy, however, has gone into hiding since killing Janni. Oz (who can be connected to Jimmy) on the other hand, has not, and it isn't long before Lazlo's toughs come calling. With his wife Cynthia kidnapped by Lazlo, Oz has no choice but to reach out to Jimmy and Jill for help in getting her back safely. Jimmy isn't very happy to see Oz, but there wouldn't be much of a movie if he didn't help out, so we're off and running. What follows is a series of ridiculous scenes comprised of off-the-wall situations, most of which involve Matthew Perry whipping his head around like a bobble head and speaking with near-inhuman vocal intonations. I admit that I enjoy The Whole Nine Yards. I know it's not very good, but it's a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Hence it was inevitable that I'd eventually have to see this unnecessary sequel. As it turns out, Kevin Pollack, who I don't really care for all that much, stands out as the best (or at least most entertaining) part of this movie. His over-the-top idiocy and often confusingly odd accent combined with the "old man prosthetics" that he dons for the role of Lazlo create a fairly entertaining onscreen presence. My only real hope for The Whole Ten Yards was that Amanda Peet would be topless again like she was in the last film, but I guess by the time this movie was made she was a little too high-profile to get nekkid in a mindless mobster comedy. All in all my viewing of The Whole Ten Yards was a very forgettable experience.

Jackass Number Two - This is going to be a pretty short review since there's no plot to summarize, which usually ends up accounting for a good third to half of my average film rant. I also don't want to give away too much of what goes on in case anyone hasn't seen it. The entire cast returns, which is nice to see. I wasn't really a fan of Viva La Bam, and I pretty much despised Wildboyz, which are the two pseudo-spin offs that we were left with in the wake of Jackass' cancellation, so it was good to see the original crew back together doing what they do best...hurting themselves. Right from the first stunt of the film you will get the impression that they've stepped the intensity up a notch this time around. Just about every member of the cast puts their life in more danger than they had before, and in the case of Johnny Knoxville it's quite obvious that he put his well-being in second place behind entertainment value. In fact, especially after watching the special features on the DVD it becomes very apparent that Johnny misses the thrill of putting himself in harms way on a regular basis, so it's almost as though he decided to go all out in case this was his last chance to be...well...a jackass. Highlights of the movie include Steve-O sticking a leech to his eyeball, Bam Margera bawling in fear as he's unknowingly locked in a trailer with a very frightening snake, and the taxi-related prank that is pulled on Ehren McGhehey which involves Broken Lizard's Jay Chandrasekhar. Un...highlights...(or whatever the opposite of a highlight is) of the movie are the special feature in which Johnny Knoxville repeatedly slams his head into road signs just because he doesn't want to stop filming and fade away into obscurity as the guy that people used to think was cool, but is now just the "star" of The Ringer, and the horse masturbation scene which actually made me gag (a first for a movie). There are a surprising amount of celebrity guest stars in Jackass Number 2 and in general it's a more well-rounded experience than the first theatrical outing. Here's hoping that there's a third installment of the series someday in the not-too-distant future.

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