Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best Worst Movie

Directed by: Michael Stephenson
Written by: Michael Stephenson
Starring: George Hardy, Michael Stephenson, Darren Ewing,
 Jason Steadman, Jason Wright.
Synopsis: As the child star of the worst movie ever, Troll 2,
Michael took interest in the story of the movie's infamy
and subsequent cult following, along with its leading star, George Hardy.

Best Worst Movie/Troll 2-He Said

Ever since I started to listen to the /filmcast podcast and reading up on movie sites, I discovered the lovely world of “good” bad movies. Jonesy and I have our favorites, Step Up 2 being the top one, but then there are others we’d never heard about until recently: The Room, Birdemic, and Troll 2. Thankfully, we have the amazing Inwood Theater, in Dallas, having their Midnight Madness showings, which has everything from cult classics, B-movies, and even oldies like Tim Burton’s Batman. We were treated to a special screening of Best Worst Movie hosted by our friends over at Gordon And The Whale with a Q&A following with George Hardy, the star of Troll 2. Best Worst Movie, directed by Troll 2 child star Michael Stephenson, is the story of the eventual cult following that the horrible Troll 2 managed to amass over its 20 years of existence.
 Hopefully Killers NEVER gets a cult following
Waiting for the screening, we were amazed at the sheer number of people waiting for Best Worst Movie; there were people chatting around us with weird T-shirts that had slogans we couldn’t understand…yet. Having been to a showing of another “good” bad movie, The Room, we expected some hardcore fans, and there were people dressed up in groups, taking pictures and having a grand old time.
Shot of the full lobby, where the line went all the way upstairs

I must say that Best Worst Movie is yet another example of how great documentaries can be. It starts of with George Hardy going off on his daily routines as dentist. Mr. Hardy is such a nice and charismatic man; he rarely frowns at all during the movie, and even if he is trying to put a positive spin on a subject, he doesn’t sound fake about it. The editing in the first part of the film was amazing as it set a funny, almost campy tone to the movie. As the movie continues, we see a bit of Michael Stephenson’s history as the over-acting child star. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t delve too much into his side of the story as much as George’s, which is a shame given how infamous they both became after the movie.
The movie continues as George slowly but surely figures out that Troll 2 has become a bit of a phenomenon, and completely flabbergasted, he goes on to seek out people that are holding Troll 2 screenings, and in the process, he becomes a minor celebrity in the B-movie circuit. As much as this is Troll 2 and George’s story, Stephenson tracks down and interviews many of his former cast mates, some who are doing well, while others, such as Margo Prey who played the mother, are just downright depressing.
The highlight of this bunch is Troll 2 director Claudio Fragasso, and much like Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau, he is a man that has a vision, and he could give a crap whether someone likes his work of art. I find these types of people fascinating because they see the world in a different way that it’s almost sad how out of touch with reality they are, and yet they might border on genius (not this guy though). Logic seems to evade Claudio, and when George asks him about an issue he had about a particular scene, his response, “Logic doesn’t matter!”
Overall, this movie was so good that I felt Troll 2 was hyped up a bit TOO much.
 George Hardy w/the Gordon and the Whale
After the movie, George Hardy came up with the good lookin’ fellas from Gordon and the Whale to do a brief Q&A. George was as charming as ever with his friendly demeanor lighting up the stage as he was answering various questions. Even with this whole movie basically being about the last few years of his life, the man is down to earth, recognizing some old friends of his from the area. I wish that Stephenson had been here, but the man was busy having a baby! So congrats to him. There had been things I was interested in asking him, like the lack of focus of his own post-Troll 2 story.  After the Q&A ended, we got treated to the midnight screening of Troll 2, which Jonesy and I were excited to see given our previous experiences at the Inwood. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the movie quite as much as I though I would.

Before I talk about it, let me give you a background of my B-movie experiences. The best experience I had was at the Inwood while we watched The Room. The crowd was interactive and added to how accentuate how bad this movie was. Even before I went to the midnight showing, I saw it at home, and I laughed at the awful dialogue.
I’m not sure if watching Best Worst Movie and the cult-like hype that surrounds Troll 2 as the optimal way to watch it. Keep in mind that most of the audience that I saw this with had not seen Troll 2 as well, so there’s that factor to take in to account. Overall it was really bad movie in the best sense with its nonsensical plot, horribly written dialogue, and cheap costumes; yes, it is potentially as bad as people make it out to be. For people that love bad movies, this should have been obligatory watching, but for those that are not initiated yet, it is worth watching.

This was yet another great evening spent at the Inwood, which is becoming my favorite theater more and more given the great midnight screenings. As for the movies, like I said, Best Worst Movie was one of the best movie I have seen this year, which is shaping up to be the year of the documentaries for me. Troll 2 will definitely need another watching to get a true feel for it.

Best Worst Movie/Troll 2-She Said

There’s something to be said for bad movies. There are bad movies, and then there are BAAADDDDDD movies. Movies that are soooo bad, that you feel the need to tell everyone about it. It’s so bad that you actually recommend people watch it. The best part about these movies isn’t the actual movie, but the experience in seeing it with a group of people and laughing until it hurts. Troll 2 is the ultimate bad movie. What’s even worse is that it has nothing to do with the first Troll; in fact, there aren’t even trolls in Troll 2.
But something odd happened over the last 20 years, Troll 2 became a cult classic. It became one of those movies that you loved because it was ridiculous, and it was fun sharing the ridiculousness with friends and more friends. Eventually, Michael Stephenson, who played the little boy in Troll 2, decided to take it upon himself and make a documentary about the worst movie ever made, thus Best Worst Movie came about. Michael first finds George Hardy, who played his dad, and finds out he is a dentist. George becomes kind of the center of the documentary and travels with Michael to find all the other old co-stars.
Where Michael lacked in acting skills in Troll 2, he makes up for as a filmmaker. His documentary is insightful, funny, poignant, and charming. It makes you want to watch Troll 2, if you’ve never seen it, to see what all the fuss is about. As he researched and interviewed people for the movie, he found this almost underground cult following of the movie. There were Troll 2 watching parties across the country, and people began screening the movie in theatres to sold out crowds. George eventually begins going to some of these screenings and becomes completely engrossed in this sub-culture.
The documentary isn’t all fun and games. There’s a point where Michael and George go and visit Margo, who played the mother, and it’s heartbreaking to watch where her life has taken her since making Troll 2. They also go visit the men who played the Grandpa and shop owner, and those visits also twinge on the heartstrings. Michael takes treats these visits with great respect. He never makes these people out to be crazy; he just shots the honest truth.
Michael is a brilliant filmmaker, and he captures the phenomenon of this cult classic. After watching Best Worst Movie, I was so excited to watch Troll 2. But first we were treated with an amazing Q&A by the guys at with George Hardy! He was actually as every bit as energetic and charming as he was in the movie. He appeared to be having the time of his life in Dallas, and he seem to have all the time in the world for the audience. We were even lucky to get a reenactment of his famous line live!
After the Q&A, we were treated to a midnight showing of Troll 2. Now, I’ve been to a few awesomely bad movie premieres before, and I was insanely excited for this one. The movie itself is absolutely horrific. It’s bad in every sense. I mean there is literally no redeeming quality in it. However, the point is not to enjoy the movie, but to enjoy the experience of seeing it with people who dig bad movies.
Now, this experience was fun, but it wasn’t as “involved” as other screenings I’ve been to, such as The Room (where people yell at the screen and throw spoons) and Rocky Horror (need I say more about this one?). Most at the screening had never actually seen Troll 2, including myself, so we were interested in what made the movie so bad. It’s a lot more fun to see it with an audience who has seen it and laugh at all the jokes coming up. Maybe the mojo in the audience wasn’t flowing that night or maybe I wasn‘t in on the joke, but I would go back now that I’ve seen it. For awesomely bad movies, it’s always better to suffer through it beforehand so you know what to expect. Therefore, you can enjoy the inside joke of what’s going on in the movie with an interactive audience

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Get Him To The Greek

Get Him To The Greek
Starring: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, Elisabeth Moss, and Rose Byrne
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Written by: Nicholas Stoller/Jason Segel (characters)

When record company employee Aaron Green gets the idea to have troubled rock star Aldous Snow play an anniversary show at the famous Greek Theater, he has to go get him from London to LA, which may be more trouble than he expects.

Get Him To The Greek- He Said

Get Him To The Greek is the latest in the many comedies produced by Judd Apatow and his ever expanding cast of friends/comedians.  This is not a widely advertised fact, but you can see hints of what makes his comedies great in here.  It’s the story of a record company lackey, Aaron Green (Hill), going to retrieve a relapsed junky and outrageous rock star, Aldous Snow (Brand), from England to play a show at the famous Greek Theater.  You can bet that hilarious hijinks will ensue throughout this movie.  The people that were at the screening, as well as myself, laughed throughout this whole movie, even if I didn’t quite get what the movie was trying to do.  It definitely was a good time at the movies, and I honestly would see it again if only because it’s one of the better movies out right now.

I went into this movie with mixed expectations; I was familiar with the Aldous Snow character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I knew this was a pseudo-sequel of sorts, with Jonah Hill playing a different character than from Forgetting.  This seemed a bit fishy to me, but once you get past this you can have a good time.  Aaron is a good counterpoint to Aldous but neither are extreme personas.  Aaron has some bad boy moments, and he can be outrageous, while Aldous’ big story arc has a lot to do with emotional growth.  I know it’s been done before, but the “bad boy with a good heart underneath” feels natural to Brand and he pulls it off well.  After having read, on AICN, an interview with his own drug and alcohol issues, it gave me a bit of chills, and I almost felt sorry for him having to relive those experiences.  Regardless, the chemistry between this dynamic duo is indeed the best part of this movie.  They fight, party, disagree but it all felt very organic in that way that Superbad did.  The songs that Infant Sorrow, Aldous’ band, play are hilarious in a Flight of The Conchords sort of way, there is a CD out by them with all of the songs played in the movie. 

And for all of the good that it has, I was still left confused as to what the point to the movie was.  Normally most of these raunchy types of comedies don’t really have anything in the form of a message.  But, given how many serious moments involving Aldous and Aaron, I can’t help but feel that Nicholas Stoller tried too hard to emulate Apatow and failed.  For example, there are moments where Aldous become contemplative and tries to repair various relationships and every time he does, it seems that the most outrageous and random things happen that take away from the emotion.  Like I said, if it hadn’t be for the fact that they try to be serious I wouldn’t have minded.  My other big complaint is Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ performance; you know I get it…he’s supposed to be a caricature of the eccentric music executive, but where I have seen actors tackle this same role, Combs’ performance was very one note, and ridiculously annoying by the end of the movie.  We get it; you want to make money and you need Aldous there at the Greek.  He felt like the weakest part of the movie when it came to characters.  Also there is an almost climatic “emotional” scene at the end with Aaron, Aldous and Daphne, Aaron’s girlfriend, that was supposed to be for laughs but honestly felt more uncomfortable in general, and this scene but it left a bad taste in my mouth. .  I will say that Russell Brand needs to get away from these roles; I fear he will start being typecasted even if he is good in the bad boy persona. 

Overall, I’d say you should go out there and check out the movie.  It’s not an opening night sort of movie but this will go great with a group of friends.  It is a funny and entertaining movie, with a few missteps, tonally speaking.  If you have seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it definitely feels like its spiritual sequel rather than a formal one.

Get Him To The Greek- She Said

One thing I never wanted to be was a rock star. The life seems very hectic: flying across the world to play at a show for three hours only to hop on a jet and fly back, radio interviews at all hours of the morning, TV interviews which require you to look and act coherent, recording new songs, learning new shows, and having a life somewhere in the mix. No, seems too insane for me. The only job that would seem worse is their assistant because not only do you have to keep up with the rock star, but you have to organize them and deal with their demands and mood swings.
In Get Him to the Greek, Aaron (played by Jonah Hill), gets a chance to prove himself to his music industry boss, Sergio (played by Sean Combs), by going to London and bringing back legendary rocker, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), to the States for a Today Show appearance and a show at the Greek in LA. Seems pretty simple, but Aaron has never really seen the rock star side of the music industry before, so let the fun begin!
Yes, the movie is as funny as the commercials advertise. In fact, I would say they keep some of the best parts out of the commercials, which is rare nowadays for comedies. Aaron gets thrown into this world with Aldous, and on their way to LA, pretty much anything and everything happens: sex, drugs, alcohol, more drugs, and more alcohol. Honestly, I’m not sure how their livers handle the binge. One of the best shots of the movie is when Aaron and Aldous are running out of a hotel in fear of their lives, and Aaron has a manic, terrified look on his face that he’s about to die, but Aldous has this almost excited, pleasurable look as if to say, “this happens everyday!”
This movie is odd because it’s half raunchy comedy and half mid-rocker-crisis-epiphany story? The second half of the movie deals with Aldous coming to the realization of how alone in the world he is. He has no real friends, except his mother, an estranged relationship with his dad, divorced, doesn’t see his kid that often, and relapsed into drugs and alcohol. He finds a somewhat friend in Aaron, but doesn’t know how to keep it because he’s destroyed almost every other relationship in his life up until now. Russell Brand, believe it or not, can actually act. I found him really endearing during this revelation. He makes Aldous an actual character instead of a stereotype.
Sean Combs as the outlandish record producer, Sergio, brings a great edge to the movie. He’s the black version of Cruise’s insanity that was Les Grossman. He brings amazing energy to the movie, including having a voice over of a text message that, I have a feeling, will become very popular among friends.
The only problem I have is, tonally, the movie seems all over the place. It felt a little like Apatow’s Funny People, where you weren’t sure if it was an all out comedy or drama-dy or drama. You know the movie is good, but you’re not sure what you were supposed to get out of it. You think it’s going to become sentimental, then Aaron has to shove heroine up his butt before they board a plane. Or there’s an insanely awkward moment between Aldous, Aaron, and Aaron’s girlfriend, and I won’t get into it, but you can probably guess what the moment is.
The movie is fun; go with friends and laugh, and don’t ever accept a “Jeffrey” from anyone…ever.