Sunday, November 21, 2010

Episode 23: "The Babysitter's Club"

Here comes one of the terrible movies on my list for Brian to enjoy.  If you're a girl from the late 80s-early 90s, you are very familiar with "The Babysitters Club."  If you're my age and don't remember it, you may want to pull out your Elementary School time capsule and dig out an old Scholastic book catalog and browse the choices.  You will find "The Babysitters Club" in between the ad for "Sweet Valley Twins" and the latest Judy Blume book.  It was all the hype.  Young pre-teen girls were becoming entrepreneurs and taking business tips from Christy and her friends for their own babysitting proceeds. 

Get ready folks, here comes my confession.  I never read a single "Babysitters Club" book.  Not a single one.  I was a true Francine Pascal supporter.  I wanted to be a Sweet Valley Twin.  As a kid, I would have done anything to be a blonde teenager twin but with a name like Lisa or Tiffany.  "The Babysitters Club" was Francine's competitor.  It would be like eating a slice of Pizza Hut when everyone knows, Domino's has my heart. 

BUUUUT, Sweet Valley made a TV show (WHICH I WATCHED) but never a movie.  This girl needs a cheesy teeny bopper movie on a sick day.  I gave into the temptation and betrayed my friends in Sweet Valley.  Yeesh, that confession was difficult. 

Here are just a few of the classic terrible moments that stole my heart in a bullet point display:
-Young Schuyler Fisk played the main character.  She was TERRIBLE, but improved her acting skills for "Orange County" as a teen.  Then let go of her acting career and made an incredible choice to switch to singing.  I adore her now.
-Young Rachel Leigh Cook was just as awful in this flick as she is in EVERY OTHER MOVIE.  How does she have a career?  She doesn't move her mouth when she talks.  She's full of mumbles.
-Oh there are classic editing mistakes.  It is great fun to try and catch them all.
-The Mean Girls wore Dr. Martens.  I would have done anything to have a pair of those boots.  They weren't the regular brown kind, they were metallic, pastel, and flower pattern.  That was THE definition of cool.
-One of the guys from "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" played an older teen foreigner that won over the heart of a 13 year old.  At the time, I felt dreamy just thinking about some older teen foreigner sweeping me of my feet.  Now, I'm totally creeped out by the plot.  The girl was 13 and he was like 18.  He would've been arrested.

Those are just a few memorable moments that make this movie...awesome.  I know it's terrible, but I still like to watch it.  I can't help but love those awkward pre-teen girls as they're not cool enough to own Dr. Martens like the Mean Girls.  I can relate to them. 

Oh what I would give for a Sweet Valley movie,

This review is a long time coming considering we watched "The Babysitters Club" in August. It's difficult to remember good movies from four months ago, let alone this catastrophe. But, for all its awfulness, this movie is an unintentional comedy GOLD MINE. Great Odin's raven, there's so much to mock!

First of all, as Lindsey mentioned, all of the cast are magnificently poor actors. Rachel Leigh Cook is like a robot but not a cool robot like the Terminator; no, a barely-mobile robot like the little girl from "Small Wonder." And it's a good thing Schuyler Fisk can sing because there's no chance she would have any sort of a career without her voice. What an ugly kid she was, too. It's sad, really. They dress her up to make her look like a tomboy but really, she's just ugly. The rest of the cast is equally bad.

Second, who made this movie? I understand that movies play to their audience. Most kids movies are geared toward kids, obviously. This one is different. This movie plays out like it was written, directed, edited, produced, and distributed by a group of 12 year old girls. The HUGE plot point involving the older teenage boy sort-of dating the 13 year old girl? What is that about?! I feel like this was supposed to be funny but really, that guy is a sex offender now. How was that given the green light? And the shot selection and long takes are excruciating. Most people never notice camera work or editing unless it's really great or really horrendous. Well let me tell you, this one is the latter. Our viewing group probably spent a third of the movie laughing over scenes that ostensibly ended 20 seconds before the cut and shots that were off center for no reason.

Third, and most importantly, I will never forget the pancake scene. At some point, Schuyler Fisk's character (whose name was probably Ryan or Alex or something real tomboyish to help hide the ugly) goes out into the woods with her estranged father (again, no one at the studio thought this was strange) who cooks her mouse pancakes. Only they don't look like mice. No, nothing even close to mice. What do they look like, you ask? Sperm. They look like sperm! We had to pause the movie while we all freaked out and collected ourselves up off the floor. Oh the laughter! And no one in post production thought, "Huh, you know what? Those mouse pancakes look nothing like mice but instead the most unfortunate, inappropriate thing an estranged father could show his pre-teen daughter in the middle of the woods. Maybe we should change that."

So, needless to say, "The Babysitters Club" is an awful movie. But it did bring at least one new inside joke into my repertoire and for that I'll cut it a break.

Grade: C-

I only read the Boxcar Children books growing up,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Episode 22: "Jaws"

"Jaws" is a movie that requires very little introduction so instead we'll focus on the rockin' viewing party we threw this time around.

This summer I took three of my buddies down to the Texas coast for a deep sea fishing expedition. It's a trip I've made a couple dozen times over the years but the first for my friends. Company and shenanigans excluded, it was easily the worst trip I've been on. The boat was overcrowded, the water was seriously rough, the fish weren't biting, and my friend Daniel spent the entire trip, um, chumming the water so to speak. And then our luck changed dramatically when, within a span of 30 minutes, Jason and I both hooked and reeled in sharks. Like I said, I've been on a bunch of these trips and never caught anything bigger or more exotic than a red snapper. I cannot begin to describe the fight that a 42 inch thresher shark can put up nor the adrenaline that the fight induced. I immediately went and started a bar room brawl because I was so jacked up. It was one of the coolest moments of my life and something I will brag about at every opportunity until I no longer have friends to brag to.

When I told Lindsey about my owning of the sea, her mind immediately went to the awesome party we (see: "she") could throw wherein we would start the night off with Shark Week (yes, this was months ago), eat the shark I caught, and finish up with a showing of the incomparable "Jaws." We termed it the "Shark, Shark, and Shark" party because, really, what else would we call it? And so our friends gathered for the Shark, Shark, and Shark party and good times were had by all (even Daniel who we mocked mercilessly all night over his puking).

Anyway, "Jaws" is my favorite thriller/scary/horror movie of all time. The tension is palpable throughout, the action sequences are top notch for its time, and the characters are absolutely perfect. Seriously, they're perfect. In fact, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and especially Quint (Robert Shaw) would all make my "Favorite Characters" list were I to make one. Here's the thing: there's more than a hint of cheesiness to "Jaws" (especially when watching it 35 years after it debuted). If these actors don't completely NAIL their roles and bring humanity and even realism to the table, this movie doesn't hold up near as well as it does. How Shaw wasn't nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work here is beyond me. Maybe more importantly, this is one of the rare scary movies that can actually freak you out. Not frighten or gross you out the way a horror movie does but literally mess with your life. I am openly terrified of sharks to the point that I will not willingly step into the ocean and that illogical fear is due in large part to the abject horror "Jaws" brought into my life. I can only imagine how messed up I would be if I'd seen this movie in a theater. On top of all that, "Jaws" launched the career of a struggling young director named Steven Spielberg who's done alright for himself. And when you know the back story of this movie's SERIOUSLY troubled production (definitely worth a Google search), it's an amazing achievement in film. A.

Best Character: Sam Quint
As I mentioned, all three of the main characters are excellent but dude, Quin is a-mazing. Perfect.

Best Scene: Who has the better scar?
After a rough day chasing the giant shark from hell, the crew gets drunk and start comparing scars, leading to the hauntingly unforgettable moment in which Quint describes his experience as a survivor of the USS Indiana. This is not only one of the best scenes in film history, it also shed some light on a horrible yet important event from World War II that not a lot of people knew about at the time.

Best Line: Chief Brody's, "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is too easy. I've always enjoyed:
Quint - "Back home we got a taxidermy man. He gonna have a heart attack when he see what I brung him."

Did I say I caught a shark?

"Jaws" through Lindsey's eyes:

I've always had the desire to see "Jaws" but just never got around to it.  Finally, a movie on the list that I'm actually excited about!  Man oh man, when Brian caught that shark, I got REALLY pumped.  If you know me, you know I love hosting themed parties.  Well folks, no one could ever top this theme.  I mean seriously, the stars aligned for all of these events to happen.  I think the only party theme that could even come close, is my "What About Ka-Bob?" Party that I've been planning in my head.  Oh how I love "What About Bob?" AND kabobs. It would be awesome, right?

So WHO KNEW that the guy from "Sea Quest" was famous before "Sea Quest"?!  I sure didn't!  I thought "Sea Quest" was his one-hit wonder.  I was super pumped to see Young Sea Quest Guy.  Sadly, his skin looked super old and leathery back then as well.  When are these people going to discover skin cancer and actually take care of their skin?

Well speaking of "What About Bob?", WHO KNEW that the guy from "What About Bob?" was famous before "What About Bob?!"  I sure didn't!  I thought "What About Bob?" made Richard Dreyfuss' career!  I was totally shocked that he was in this film and that he apparently is super arrogant.

So WHO KNEW that the annoying girl from "The Bachelor" was famous before her engagement to Jake Pavelka on "The Bachelor"?  I sure didn't! I had no idea that Vienna was able to time-travel back to play the wife of Sea Quest Guy on this movie.

Well folks, apparently the technology used to time travel and create a "Jaws" shark just amazed me.  I wasn't even aware that this kind of world existed.  "Jaws" sure brought great suspense and a great party into my life.  I will ALWAYS remember my first "Jaws" experience.  I will never watch this movie again, unless I'm eating a shark.

I think I only screamed 3 times,