live what you believe…

In 1994, writer/director Kevin Smith broke onto the cinema scene with a caustic yet brilliantly original take on the trials and tribulations of what it meant to be twenty-something and working-class. Five movies later, Smith returns to his roots with Clerks II. Many sequels are borne of monetary obligation and suffer drastically from idealistic bean-counters whose main concern is not whether the film they’re making is substansive, it’s whether or not enough tie-in plastic cups are sold at Burger King. And yet as Smith’s sequel will no doubt make considerable coin, he’s embued his film with pathos and warmth. It’s there, in between the raunch and vulgarity.

Twelve years after we left counter jockeys Dante Hicks and Randal Graves, we return to New Jersey. Since their previous place of employment went up in flames, the two are now slaves to the fast food grind at the Disney-themed fast food restaurant Mooby’s. Becky (played wonderfully by Rosario Dawson), their manager, may have a thing for Dante yet he’s planning to head to Florida with his fiance, Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach, Kevin Smith’s wife). Randal’s still his smart-ass, sarcastic-to-the-nth-degree self, and Jay and Silent Bob are still dealing, yet they’re no longer using thanks to a stint in rehab. Trevor Fuhrman is new to the equation, playing a young Fundamentalist Christian Mooby’s employee who Randal loves to torment.


Kevin Smith has become a media entity in and of himself. Yet his presence in the public eye tends to dilute the most overlooked fact about him: the man can *WRITE*. With Clerks II, he deftly blends the characters we know with a statement that rings very true. The main characters in the film are in their mid-thirties. Smith asks the question: do we grab the brass ring and step forward or do we do something that, while not particularly glamorous career-wise, makes us truly happy? In its very essence Clerks II holds the mirror up to its audience and allows them to reflect on what is to come, which is in their hands.

Some may denounce or dismiss the bawdy nature of some of the elements in the film but that’s trademark Smith. This film is not Wedding Crashers. It’s not Date Movie. It’s wholly original and takes steps that other scripted-by-committee comedies wouldn’t, mainly advancing the fate of the characters into different areas.

Clerks II is also a treat for those of us who’ve followed Smith’s View Askewniverse, with cameos from many alums from his other films.

All in all, Clerks II is the best film of the summer. While achingly funny, it also manages to have a very big heart that beats with a rhythm and style that brings real emotion and tenderness to the fore, with caustic yet believable dialogue that only Kevin Smith-scripted characters can deliver. No matter what, it’s a film that could have been a disaster. Those out there worried that this was a lame cash-in, worry not. Instead Clerks II is a delight and one that delivers on the hype and then some.

tonight….



I’ll be seeing this at 7PM tonight, with the husband of one of my co-workers. He’s a Kevin Smith fan. She unfortunately cannot attend, as she has to work tonight. I’ve been excited to see this for over a year now and finally the day is at hand! I’ll be using the free ticket I earned thanks to Regal Entertainment Group’s Crown Club Card, which accumulates your box-office purchases as points, which are then redeemable for concession items and movie tickets. By the way, head over to http://www.silentbobspeaks.com. It chronicles the recent Kevin Smith/Joel Siegel dust-up. It’s pretty funny. I agree – don’t fucking make a scene if you walk out of a theater while the movie’s still playing.

TiVo has amassed a treasure trove of TV for me. I hope/plan to get through as much of it as humanly possible ASAP.

Apple has posted the trailers for Alfonso Cuaron’s Children Of Men and TMNT, respectively. Check those out here – http://www.apple.com/trailers
(And yes, TMNT is indeed an acronym for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. And yes, my by-then 25-year-old ass will be parked in a theater seat come March 30th, 2007 to see it.)
Someone online stated that the sci-fi drama/romance The Fountain, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Hugh Jackman and Aronofsky’s girlfriend Rachel Weisz (who just gave birth to their son recently) debuts its first full trailer in front of M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady In The Water this weekend. I hope it’s online soon, as The Fountain and Danny Boyle’s upcoming sci-fi flick Sunshine are my two most heavily anticipated sci-fi films. As for Lady In The Water, I’ll see it before it leaves theatres. The reviews have not just been bad — they’re downright atrocious. Only time will tell, however. My Super Ex-Girlfriend looks funny and anything starring Rainn Wilson (who’s hilarious as Dwight Schrute on NBC’s The Office) automatically garners my attention. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to see it in the theater so it’ll probably be a decent DVD rental in the near future.

Alright rambly bits are over. Time to hit the hay, navigating through TiVo before I do so. I know I’m Broken Record Man when it comes to this (reviewing movies in a timely fashion) but expect my Clerks II review sometime this weekend. I also plan to start reviewing more movies on here. ALOT more movie reviews. Hell, that was part of the reason I started this damn blog two years ago! Plus I think TV reviews are in order as well. I’ve still got SCI FI’s new series EUReKA to watch (the pilot) so I’ll get that review posted this weekend also.

adjectives lose all meaning…

In the 1980s, films described as “family” or “children’s” films were not mainly timewasters meant to keep the little ones engaged while Mom and Dad traipsed off to see something else at the theater or to make dinner. Nope. Instead, talented writers and directors used the medium to present films that articulated intelligent and well-written dialogue that was enjoyable for the entire family, not a mere segment. It mattered not if the film was animated or live-action — more often than not what you got was quality. Films like Wolfgang Petersen’s The Neverending Story, Richard Donner’s The Goonies, and Richard Franklin’s Cloak & Dagger all gave us characters we could relate to and situations we either would love to be in or would wonder how we’d get out of them ourselves.

Director Gil Kenan and his writers, Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, and Pamela Pettler, have crafted an unbelievably original yet wholly reminiscent tale of a domicile gone demonic. Monster House, the latest animated offering from Sony (and the first to successfully use motion capture animation), allows us to recall what it meant to be twelve and in those akward years of uncertainty and yet still clinging somewhat to our sense of child-like wonder. In the film, DJ, a young boy, and his best friend, Chowder, are afraid of Mr. Nebbercracker, the cantankerous old man whose house is rotting from the inside it seems. He hates children, especially when they get on his lawn. After Chowder’s basketball accidentally rolls onto the old man’s lawn, DJ tries to retrieve it. But Mr. Nebbercracker grabs DJ and yells at him, inciting a heart attack which kills the old man instantly. DJ feels responsible for the man’s death. But soon thereafter, the boys notice that the house is…ALIVE…and will eat anything that crosses its path. The two buddies decide that they must do something and so, after enlisting the help of Jenny, a girl who goes to the nearby prep school, the trio set about enacting a plan to prevent the house from devouring anything or anyone else in their suburban neighborhood.

Kudos must be given to the animators. The motion-capture animation done in The Polar Express was pedestrian at best. Monster House remedies that with lush, vibrant colors and attention to detail that has to be seen to be believed. These characters are some of the best that have ever been created for this format, bar none. But the animation would be nothing without the actors, of course. Steve Buscemi is excellent as Mr. Nebbercracker, while Maggie Gyllenhaal is dead-on as DJ’s wanna-be rocker chick babysitter Zee. Jason Lee shows up for a bit as well, in a funny bit as Zee’s loser rocker boyfriend Bones. And Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder is inspired as the sage movie and comic book geek the kids look to for advice. However, the movie belongs to Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke as DJ, Chowder, and Jenny Brewster, respectively. These three actors embue their roles with wit, warmth, and genuine presence that is a refreshing change of pace from the vanilla characterizations alot of animated films have featured over recent years.

Many films this summer will offer overbaked scripts written by committee or explosions and catchphrases instead of smart well-defined characters. With Monster House, one of the best films of the summer, the viewer will remember what childhood was all about and how it made us who we are. The film also provides a savvy yet brilliant treatise on how the world seemed full of adventure and magic and was a sea of endless possibilities, just waiting for us to grasp them and make them our own. Except this time…well, the adventure is real….it’s a giant house….and it’s mad as hell.

There will be sneak previews of Monster House this Saturday – check your local listings for showtimes; the film opens nationwide July 21st.

currently reading and surfing and watching and musing….

I’ve been living at DreadCentral.com lately. I’ve also been making good use of Netflix as of late and have been making an attempt at clearing space on TiVo by watching things in a timely manner. It’s a work in progress, really, but it’s better than nothing.

I just saw Spaced a little while ago. BBC America’s been running it. It’s from the minds of Simon Pegg and Jessica Stephenson. Pegg is best known for co-scripting the 2004 rom zom com (that’s “romantic zombie comedy” for those uninitiated out there) Shaun Of The Dead and alot of the cast from that film is in Spaced. It’s really funny and full of pop culture references. I saw the first three episodes and it airs Fridays at 11PM Eastern on BBC America.

I saw Superman Returns Friday afternoon. A review *is* forthcoming; suffice it to say that I loved this film and thought it was even better than the Donner films.

Blade: The Series debuted on Spike TV last Wednesday at 10PM Eastern. It’s pretty good and I’m looking forward to where David S. Goyer and his team take this. Alot of print and online media trashed it but I think they’d already made their minds up that this wasn’t the movies so by its very nature it is somehow inferior. No matter — I loved it and the TiVo Season Pass is set. Blade: The Series also set a Spike TV viewership record, with 2.5 million viewers tuning in. It was also the #1 cable series last week with Men 18-34 and 18-49. I hope the viewer retention is huge from week to week. I want them to renew this sucker (no pun intended)

And since I’ve been in a vampire mood as of late, I ventured out to Barnes & Noble on Saturday with my mother. We procured the first three books in the Charlaine Harris “Dead/”Southern Vampire”/”Sookie Stackhouse” series…

and

I’m twenty pages removed from finishing the first and then I’ll be diving right into the second one (during my lunch break; I have to work 9-5 today). Mrs. Harris’s characterizations and flavor make for an excellent read.

More talk of the horror films I’ve viewed recently (thank you Netflix…they were quite good) and other exciting minutae will follow later today once I’ve returned from work…