Saturday, 17 December 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Merry Christmas, Internet. Welcome again to the Wastelands. Come, gather around to hear a story while we roast chestnuts by the fire and all that good stuff.

That's right, it's Christmas time and I'm treating you guys to a very special holiday teen treat but first, a little background info. Way back in the 90s, one of the hottest teen heartthrobs was none other than Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or JTT for the hardcore fans.

Stop laughing, guys, your generation likes Bieber!

He was made famous, starring as Randy, the middle child of the Taylor family on Home Improvement. From there, his teen idol status grew as he was offered more and more movie roles so that teen girls could drool over him for 90 minutes on the big screen. The show ran from 1991 to 1999 and was extremely popular, possibly solely because young girls thought Randy was cute. Don't get me wrong, I watched and enjoyed Home Improvement when I was younger but it is a pretty stupid show, however I'd probably watch it if I caught an episode TV just for sheer nostalgic purposes. Anyways, by 1998, JTT was growing tired of the limelight and wanted quit the show to focus on his University studies. Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor, was extremely supportive of this decision and let him leave the show and they parted on good terms.

Then, lo and behold, right at the end of the year a movie comes out starring none other than JTT himself and Tim is pissed. He thinks Jonathan lied to him about needing to focus on schooling and really quit so that he could make feature films. Why do I bring this little story up? Well because the film in question was none other than I'll Be Home for Christmas. Was this movie worth burning his bridges with Tim Allen? Well, why don't we see for ourselves:

My first thought is "no"

The movie starts off with JTT strutting down his school hallway, looking like he's a big shit and the most important thing ever and right away I feel like I'm going to hate this prick. Not a good sign seeing as how he's going to be the main character in this thing. He springs his nerdy friend out of his locker but not until this friend gives him a bunch of things he wants.

You stay in that locker until you give me mah mail, bitch!

Oh but he's so delightfully charming, or at least the movie wants us to believe he is, that he can talk his way out of any situation. Like when his girlfriend's roommate blocks him from coming into their room...for some reason and he bribes her with her favourite candy bar...granola bar? Not sure what but she seems to love that shit so she lets him in and then he proceeds to tell her to get lost.


As it turns out, they are on Christmas break and JTT (I don't care if he has a character name, I'm calling him JTT) is surprising his girlfriend, played by Jessica Biel of 7th Heaven fame, with a trip to Cabo San Lucas and she's less than thrilled. After being in sunny California for school, she wants nothing more than to go home to New York for Christmas and see the snow and decorate a Christmas tree and all the traditional Christmas stuff. She gets mad at JTT for not asking her first what she wanted to do and questions why he doesn't go home for Christmas. JTT claims he wants to lie in the sun with his girlfriend. Ok fair, he is a teenaged boy after all.

Then he gets a call from his father who practically begs him to come home for Christmas and he proceeds to lie to him about studying. Ass. The father grills him about what he is really doing and JTT confesses all nonchalantly that he is taking his girlfriend to Cabo because he'd rather lie on the beach next to his hot girlfriend than see his family for Christmas. Ass. Hole. His father then tells him that he misses him and that he hasn't been home for Christmas for a few years. Wait, isn't JTT supposed to be 18? Was he shipped off to boarding school or something? Anyways, cool JTT doesn't care about that he still doesn't want to come home. Yeah, fuck family at Christmas time he could be sitting by himself on a beach in Cabo since his girlfriend is going home. Then his father resorts to something so absurd and so profoundly sad that my heart almost breaks watching this scene:

Sing it with me people: A-SS-HO-LE!

Really? Your family begs you to come home because they clearly miss you and you callously crush their hearts and make them resort to bribing you to come home? The only reason you want to go home is to get a car? I guess the writer was going for a redemption thing but did they have to make him this unlikably cold hearted? What's sadder is that when the Stepmom questions this, the Dad is just too overjoyed that his son is coming home for Christmas to care that he had to bribe his son to make him want to. Dude, Ebeneezer Scrooge thinks you're soulless.

You disgust me, kid.

Because we need to pad this movie out, JTT makes a deal with some school bullies to help them cheat for money. The plan backfires when the ringleader Eddie, who likes JTT's girlfriend, sabbotages his plan and the school bullies fail their test as a result. They go to teach JTT a lesson and hilarity ensues!

JTT wakes up in the middle of the desert...with a Santa costume glued on. I don't really get why they did that to teach him a lesson, seems a bit extreme and random but since it's JTT, I'm ok with it.

I am mildly upset with the situation that I am in!

So his girlfriend, Allie, thinks that he has ditched her and with no other way home, she has to take a ride home with Eddie, the bully. I love how they go out of their way to make this guy out to be such a douche just to make JTT's character seem better by comparison. I'm still rooting for the bully though.
As you can imagine, JTT encounters a lot of obstacles on his way back home so that he can get a porche and since his character is just so unlikable to me, I kind of relish in all of the hell he is put through. In fact the first ride he gets is with a bunch of old ladies and I just love what they put him through.

At least now he's lost the beard so that he's once again "hot" for the ladies. Oh yeah.

JTT then gets a ride with a poor man's French Stewart who just so happens to be about as slow in the head as French Stewart as well. JTT asks the man to speed up to catch up with his girlfriend and they get pulled over by the cops but it's ok because JTT lies his way out of the ticket by saying he's delivering toys to hospitilized children. We're supposed to like this guy? Anyways, the cop offers to escort them and JTT is forced into! Eww, that's like so totally gross. JTT is way too cool to do charity for poor sick kids. Of course, since this is Disney, through plot contrivance cute little kid wish, JTT is shown the true meaning of Christmas and tries to talk to his Dad but he's not home.

Meanwhile, Allie is singing Aqua (Ah, the 90s) in Eddie's car while he watches her with a smile on his face. Right here is where my mind kind of went in the direction that this would have been a more interesting movie. You have this girl who is uptight about school and has to get a ride with a slacker guy that she doesn't like. The guy clearly likes her but is just a little slow and I think there is something sweet in that. He asks her what the hell she sees in JTT and I have to admit I'm quite curious about that too.

I agree with Eddie, what a nerd.

Back with JTT, he agrees to help the cop who escorted him to the hospital get back with his wife in exchange for a bus ticket back to New York. Once again, because this is a Disney movie, even though the guy kissed another girl in front of the whole town and humiliated his wife, she takes him back because he sang her a crappy song really really badly.


Don't worry folks, we're at the halfway point now. JTT has his ticket home and is riding the bus for the last time since he is sure to get his sweet, sweet porche. Except that oh, noes! He sees Eddie kissing his girlfriend for a split second under the mistletoe on TV.

You see, Allie and Eddie decide to pull over and spend the night in a German themed Christmas town and it really looks like they are bonding. I could totally buy this as the romantic comedy part. I mean Eddie seems genuinely into her and she is pretty wowed by the kiss. I guess we're supposed to think that she is starting to like Eddie so we feel bad for JTT but honestly, I'm kind of hoping that she'll dump JTT and get with Eddie who in another RomCom would reform his douchey ways and grow as a person thanks to Allie's love. But this is a JTT film so we're still rooting for him. I guess.

I don't know, maybe it's just me but these moments are sweet.

JTT cons the bus he is on into going to the German Christmas village, Edelbruk, by stealing people's things and pretending that there is a little girl waiting for a liver transplant. Charming. The bus gets to Edelbruk and JTT hurries to find his girlfriend before Eddie has a chance to kiss her any further.

He's just so charming.

Anyways, he finds her, Eddie reverts back to being an annoying douche and she immediately forgives him for ditching her since it wasn't his fault. Then JTT goes and snaps at Eddie for stranding him out in the middle of nowhere so that he won't get home before six o'clock. Idiot. Now Allie is questioning him about why he needs to be home by 6 and he confesses that his Dad was going to give him the porche if he made it home by then. Allie is pissed and ditches both guys in Edelbruk by taking JTT's bus ride home. *gasp* You mean people don't find it charming that you have to be bribed to go home for Christmas?


Eddie gives JTT a ride home and for a split second you think they are going to bond and forgive each other but again, this is a Disney film and the "bad guy" must get his comeuppance. Eddie kicks JTT out of the car because he decides he doesn't want to help him get home to get a cooler car than his and give him a chance to get back with Allie. JTT stumbles across a Santa marathon which has a prize of $1000 to the winner and he enters it. One Santa even offers to fund his way into the race. He seems like a nice guy. Eddie tells some cops to get out of his way and this gets him arrested. *cough*

The Santa race is almost over and JTT and the Nice Guy who funded him in are neck and neck for the lead but JTT loses his hat. Nice Guy actually waits for JTT to get his hat and catch up before running again and seemingly lets JTT win. JTT is extatic until he finds out that Nice Guy is the Mayor of the town who wins the race every year and donates all of the winnings to buy turkeys for people who can't afford them. JTT begrudgingly goes to the Mayors house to give him his winnings because he's changed and become nicer. I just see him as a petulant child who is only doing it to not appear like a douche rather than someone who genuinely wants to do the right thing.

Aw! Stupid Mayor, now I have to give back the money.

Anyways, his sister takes pity on him and buys him a ticket which is useless because JTT doesn't have any I.D. on him so he stows away with a gassy dog. Disney flick, remember? He then proceeds to ride on top of people's cars for some reason and then steal a sleigh from a Christmas parade all while his Dad's heart breaks because JTT hasn't come home yet.

Awwwww! Poor Dad, having a douche for a son.

His first thought is, of course, going to his girlfriend's house to apologize to her. She forgives him again and they proceed to speed to his parents' house. Does he go in right away? No. The jerk asks his girlfriend to watch his family until it is after six. Yes, lets sit here and watch my family have Christmas dinner while feeling like shit because their worthless son once again stood them up. Their pain is like an aphrodisiac, mwa hahahaha!

Once he is certain he's proven to his girlfriend that he doesn't want the porche, he ends his family's suffering and goes inside where his Dad offers him the porche anyways because it's not a fucking fairytale and he was only a few seconds late. Knowing this still makes him look douchey, JTT says he doesn't want it because they'll need to spend more time together fixing it up. Awww. Oh and he resolves his issue with his Stepmother in possibly the weirdest bonding moment ever.

Y-you asked me for my sweater size? You really do accept me! *tear*

They go outside to watch the parade walk by that he stole the carriage from and just when you think he will get a comeuppance for being a jerk, they remember that this will add too much screen time and wrap it up in another awkward fashion:

He stole our sleigh, let's get him! Oh, he complimented my wings? It's cool.

That was I'll Be Home for Christmas and oh what a pile of shit it was. The protagonist was an unlikable douche and I don't really think he redeemed himself at all. It seemed like the writers were trying to make his character into this Ferris Bueller like guy but in my opinion, JTT just doesn't have the charisma or likability to pull it off. He just comes off as a smug asshole who thinks he deserves everything. Sure he makes it up with his girlfriend and family in the end but he got off light considering how shittily he treated them all in the beginning.

I may have bought into it with a more likable actor but JTT just never did anything for me. He was a smug know-it-all in Home Improvement and he's a smug know-it-all here. Before anyone says that I should cut this movie slack because it's a Disney movie and the excuse that "It's Christmas, these movies are supposed to be cheesy!" I will just say that just because it is meant for teens or kids and it is Christmas themed, doesn't mean it doesn't have to at least try to be good. I cut a lot out of this review so you guys didn't have to read a freaking novel about it but if you want to get nostalgic or you liked JTT as a kid maybe give this one a watch but if you're like me, I say miss it.

As you can imagine, this movie didn't do very well at the box office (rightly so) and JTT kind of faded into obscurity. Home Improvement moved on without him despite the lower ratings and I imagine he went to college with his tail between his legs. To be fair, I think JTT probably did this movie for one last quick paycheque before starting school because school is pretty freaking expensive but he probably should have disclosed the fact that he was doing this movie to Tim Allen instead of lying and saying he needed time to prepare for University.

So, what happened to JTT after this movie? He's had some guest starring roles since this movie but according to IMDb, he hasn't been in anything since 2006. So I guess it really doesn't pay to get on Tim Allen's bad side but at the same time, teen idoldom really doesn't last long and you can't coast on looks alone forever, even though I never really got what was so appealing about him in the first place.
I wish there was a better teen roadtrip movie set around Christmas to show you but where on Earth could I find such a movie? It will be a task, I'm sure but for you guys, I'm willing to try.

I'm Blinvy and this has been another Teenage Wasteland review.

  Clips Used:                  
                       I'll Be Home for Christmas - Disney

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Eerie, Indiana

Hey Internet, I'm Blinvy and, as you're probably well aware, this is my Teenage Wasteland.

Get ready to enter the "Center of Weirdness for the entire planet!"

I said that I would be discussing teen movies and TV shows, so I thought I would use this week to go over a show I remember watching. I know, you're probably all thinking why on Earth is she doing this show, wasn't it for kids? And to that I say...well kinda. But the characters in it were in their teens so screw you guys, it still counts!
Eerie, Indiana ran very briefly on NBC from 1991 to 1992 before NBC decided to pull it as they normally do with quirky shows. I think I caught an episode or two back then but I was pretty little at the time but remembered certain scenes from it that we'll get to later. When I really discovered it was on FOX when it ran the episodes in syndication in 1998, when I was a teen so there! I watched this show religiously because even though I am an absolute wuss when it comes to scary things, I love creepy, supernatural shows and stories to death (pun intended) and this show delivered. Oh sure, it had its share of over the top goofy humour as the show was intended for younger audiences but it also had a surprising amount of truly creepy moments as well as kind of serious and grown up plot lines.

Fuck, yeah! I totally own this too.

The show starred Omri Katz as Marshall (Mars) Teller whose family had just moved to the small town of Eerie, Indiana, population 16, 661 (get it?) and he discovers that the town really lives up to its name. He teams up with his neighbour and only friend Simon Holmes, played by Justin Shenkarow, to collect evidence of all the weird and unexplained happenings in the town. 

It's cool, we got this.

Now this show did a pretty good job of mixing elements of creepyness with humour, the tone of this show is bizarre and a little bit silly, kind of like a Twilight Zone for kids. They did everything from tupperware that preserved people so that they would stay forever young, to retainers that made you able to read dog's minds and an ATM with a mind of its own. The episodes that really stuck with me were the darker and more complex episodes, because as I said I just love things like that but also because they really stuck out from the rest of the episodes that went more for humour but the humorous ones were very enjoyable too.

Remember, 8 hours a day keeps the wrinkles at bay!

I think the episode that stands out the most in my mind and probably most people who watched this show, is Heart on a Chain. It was a pretty intense show for its target audience and quite frankly, really depressing. That being said, it is still one of my all-time favourite episodes and I think that is because it is a really human episode. It deals with the pain of first love, the death of a friend/someone you love, and even the complication of falling for the friend of someone you lost and letting go and moving on. Of course it resolves these issues fairly simply but it still manages to pack some emotional resonance.

And, hey, is that Danielle Harris?

A few of my other favourites are The Lost Hour, in which Marshall rebels against the town's lack of Daylight Savings and sets his own watch back an hour and finds himself trapped in that hour; and Reality Takes a Holiday, in which Marshall finds a screenplay in the mail and finds himself backstage of the show Eerie, Indiana itself where his entire family are just actors and call him Omri. Yeah, that's right Supernatural, Eerie, Indiana did it first!

'French Mistake', indeed.
This show also had some pretty great continuity and running gags. There was an episode where kids were being brainwashed by the eye doctor and given horn-rimmed glasses that made them act all Stepford-y. The next episode, as the camera pans through Marshall's classroom, we see a few kids who still have their glasses and of course are the well behaved ones. They also like to slip in little horror movie references into their episodes, like in America's Scariest Home Videos, an actor from the mummy film they are watching is transported into the real world. The fake actor's name is Boris Von Orloff, a reference to the late Boris Karloff who played one in the 1932 movie, The Mummy. There's even a reference to Twin Peaks in the episode, Mr. Chaney. It's these nice little touches that make this series so much fun to watch. See if you can catch some of the other in-jokes yourselves.

If you haven't seen Twin Peaks, you should check it out.

For the most part, this series was mainly stand alone episodes but they did start to run a bit of an arc through it with the introduction of Dash-X, played by Jason Marsden. He first appears in the 13th episode entitled The Hole in the Head Gang. He claimed to have woken up in Eerie with no memory of how he got there, who he was or where he came from. In his very brief arc, seeing as how there are only 19 episodes of the show, he tries to find out about his past and sometimes helps the boys in their investigations. He picks the name Dash-X for himself in the 16th episode, entitled The Loyal Order of the Corn, in reference to the mysterious + and - marks on his hands. It is hinted at that he may be an alien in this episode as well but we are never given a clear answer to his origins. He's almost better that way, a character shrouded in mystery and weirdness, he's almost a representation of the town Eerie, itself as we never know why anything is the way it is, it just exists.

Plus and Minus?

This show lucked out with some great writers, a great cast and even though it was made in 1991-1992, the show stands up pretty well and remains highly enjoyable. If you are a fan of quirky, supernatural style shows, track down Eerie, Indiana and give it a shot. It's especially great to watch through the series and see how many people were in it that you can recognize today:

Whoa, baby Tobey Maguire!
Dawson's Mom! (Mary-Margaret Humes)
Stephen Root of NewsRadio and Office Space!
Jason Marsden, Eric's friend on Boy Meets World!

So that's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by the Wastelands again and I hope you will give this show a try. Next time, I promise I'll get into a more generic "teen" show but until that time, I'm Blinvy and I'm outta here.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Wish Upon a Star

Hey Internet, I'm Blinvy and once again you've entered my Teenage Wasteland.

There are many things that upset the life of a teenager, like parents, homework, chores, work but one of the biggest, hellish and most frustrating struggle a teen must face is insecurity.

Insecurity, what a distasteful word, the mere mention of it sends me into the black pit of despair that is the memory of my teenhood. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about, that feeling that you are not good enough, you are not fit enough or pretty enough or that you are not good enough to be noticed by anyone. Don't deny it, I'm sure you've all felt the bitter sting of insecurity. We all have and I'm including the people who you thought were extremely confident on that list too. Yes, even her:

She thinks that thing on her face needs fixing.
You know, that thing on her face? Is she the only
 one that's noticed that thing?

The thing is, we all feel insecure about ourselves because we are all our own worst critics. It doesn't matter who tells you that you are pretty and worth while, you will always look at someone else and wish you could be them because life would be so much easier; which brings me to today's movie: Wish upon a Star.

Yeah that's right, we're going into the 90s, Disney Style!
What, you've never heard of Wish Upon a Star? The made for TV movie that stars that kid from the Halloween franchise and the girl alien from Roswell as sisters? No? Well, you're in for a treat.

I first saw Wish Upon a Star on TV many years ago and I have to admit that this is a guilty pleasure for me and it stands up pretty well, 90s fashion and dated Valley Girl stereo type aside. It is a cute and fun little movie that never fails to make me smile. With that said, it also remained ingrained in my mind because I was absolutely shocked at some of the things included in this movie. One scene in particular made even my younger self exclaim "This is a Disney movie?" but I'll get to that later.

The movie begins the way every 90s movie about teen girls began, with clips of Alexia Wheaton (Katherine Heigl's character) getting ready for school and picking out a stylish outfit. Downstairs, her sister Hayley (Danielle Harris of Halloween 4 and 5 fame) and her parents are already up, ready and eating breakfast.

OMG, Like this totally hasn't been done before!

Despite the fact that the "girl getting ready" intro has been overused, it is a pretty nice way to introduce and set up the characters. Just from this little clip, we know everything we need to know about this family: Alexia cares deeply about her looks, Hayley cares about school and science and their parents are really into psychology, a fact that does come into play in this movie.

It's Alexia Wheaton, bitch.

So Alexia finally comes down in her brand new outfit and I'm not going to lie, when I was younger, I adored that outfit. Heck, I still think it looks cute and really isn't that bad in the long run. It's obviously a way outdated outfit now and is streets behind the risque outfits some kids these days are wearing, heck it's even behind an outfit we'll see later in the movie (Why yes, I am going to be teasing this outfit a lot), but the Mom thinks it's too revealing. Yeah just wait until later, Mom (...ok, ok I'll stop teasing it.) Anyways, she thinks she should stop her daughter from going out in public like that but the dad stops her because he thinks that the more they tell her not to dress provocatively, the more she pushes the boundaries. From there they both come up with the idea to not parent their kids and stop giving them rules for the kids to challenge because they can't challenge rules if there aren't any, right? Right? This should work out well.

Anyways, the girls head off to school where Hayley is once again late and Alexia makes out with her boyfriend. Get it? Because one is smart and one is dumb. Alexia also fakes a doctors note to get out of gym class because sweat is like sooo not hot! Besides, she has to look her best when she goes to meet the Principal to suck up for a recommendation for college because her grades sure aren't going to get her a letter.

No, Alexia, she will not consider it but hey, at least you look good! 

Hayley is not 100% innocent either, she may be book smart and have a future ahead of her but she secretly wishes she were like her beautiful sister. So much so, that she sneaks into her sister's room with her friend so that they can read her diary and try on her clothes (and, if I'm being 100% honest again, I would totally do the same thing if Alexia were my sister, those clothes are cute!) Most of all, Hayley covets Alexia's boyfriend and she imagines what it's like to be so in love and to kiss him. She believes that Alexia has probably gone all the way with him already.

All of these emotions come to the forefront as Hayley is doing her astronomy homework and spies her sister in the hot tub with her boyfriend. Really watch this scene, it's quite the good set up for later.

When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are...

Of course, as we all know, wishing upon a star does not really work. I mean, if it did I would have ten billion dollars right now, a mansion and I'd be able to eat anything I wanted while maintaining a figure like Alexia's with little to no effort but this is a Disney movie, people. Believe!

Is it weird that her sister wants to touch her boobs?

Desperate, Alexia/Hayley tries to force Hayley/Alexia to make another wish to switch them back. She even brings her a birthday cake, *tsk* silly Alexia, birthday candle wishes only work on your actual birthday, duh! When even tossing pennies in a toilet (pretending it's a wishing well) doesn't work, they decide to go through a day as each other and find another shooting star that night.

Naturally, Hayley/Alexia is stoked. She gets to be her popular sister for a day and more importantly, live out her fantasy of what it must be like to date Alexia's popular basketball boyfriend, Kyle. Except that, (whoops!) Alexia dumped his ass after the hot tub and called him a sick little puppy. Why? Because her friends and her have made up stupid rules and there is a three month max on boyfriends. I guess they really want to make sure they get through as many guys as possible during high school. Anyways, Hayley/Alexia is horrified and goes to talk to Kyle. After apologizing profusely, Kyle takes her back and they proceed to make out.

Alexia/Hayley in the meantime, is having trouble getting through a pop quiz that Hayley's teacher is giving so she fakes ill so she can spend the day at home, pampering herself. She gets it pretty easy today but her day of rest is soon disturbed when she learns what Hayley/Alexia has been doing as her. Hayley has ruined Alexia's nails and worst of all, she has shown up at home with a hickey on her neck courtesy of Kyle. Fearing that her sister will ruin her reputation, Alexia/Hayley demands that Hayley/Alexia reverse the wish immediately. Only one problem:

Oh no she didn't! *snap**snap*

And thus, the most entertaining part of the movie has begun. The girls are at odds with one another and are in each others bodies, what are they going to do next? Well, it's the moment you've all been waiting for! Day two: the bitch strikes back and how does Alexia/Hayley get back at Hayley/Alexia? Well, by completely trashing her reputation in kind and how she goes about this just completely blows my mind considering it's a Disney film, the most wholesome of entertainment producers. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you without further ado, the most awesome thing you will ever see in a Disney movie:

Holy shit!

I mean, really? Are you seeing this? Am I the only one shocked? That is a fucking dominatrix outfit, complete with whip! Point Alexia/Hayley, Hayley's reputation is going down! Oh, the parents? Yeah, they're doing that whole free reign thing so they're like totally cool with it and besides, they say that Alexia has worn this out before. Huh, I guess this 'no rules' thing isn't new.

Oh, ok that explains it...except no it doesn't! 

Yeah, they use "Halloween costume" as an excuse to why she had such an outfit but I call shenanigans. What kind of parent lets their sixteen year old daughter wear an outfit like that out of the house, even on Halloween? What kind of costume was it supposed to be? S&M superstar? But lets just pretend that they did let Alexia wear this on Halloween and this is why they are going to let their 14 year old daughter wear it to school. Ooooook...

Hayley/Alexia is furious that her sister is going to make her look like a porn star so she hits Alexia where it will hurt the most, her appearance. What does she do? She *gasp!* wears the same outfit as she did yesterday and doesn't shower!

Hayley, sweetie? Your sister is
better at revenge than you

The girls head to school, each determined to wreck each others' reputations as much as possible. It actually gets pretty vicious, with Alexia/Hayley purposely flubbing Hayley's make up test so she'll get a bad grade and then writing that "Hayley Wheaton is a wench!" on the girl's bathroom wall and Hayley/Alexia returning the favour by crossing out "Hayley" and writing "Alexia" over it and then making her sister look ugly in her homecoming pictures.

Well, her sister was really obsessed with her looks so this would tick her off...

Ok, Hayley's revenge is a little weak but she does maul Alexia's boyfriend in front of her but then, Alexia/Hayley is doing this:

Point Alexia. Again.

The girls are caught and finally reigned in by the Principal. She threatens to disqualify Alexia from the homecoming queen race and Hayley from the science fair but they both plead each others cases and she lets them off lightly by asking them to clean the Girl's bathroom wall. The girls finally talk about their issues with each other and we learn why they each acted out. It's a sweet scene where the girls come to understand one another and Hayley learns that Alexia isn't as experienced in love as she once believed. This is an interesting concept that I don't think any "swap bodies" movie had touched upon, that switching bodies with someone is a violation of one's self. Watching someone else as you do things to your body that you hadn't done before is kind of creepy when you really think of it and I understand Alexia's anger at the hickey and her fear that Hayley will lose her virginity for her. But, this is, Disney so all that thought is left up to you, they don't go into it more than that but kudos to them for even bringing that thought to the surface. So, finally the parents are brought in to discuss their girls' behaviour. The principal is ticked that their daughter was parading around in S&M garb and the other was practically mauling her boyfriend in public but they have psychology on their side, right?

The Principal's WTF? faces throughout the parents' 
weak explanation makes me laugh every time.

You know, I've noticed that in almost every teen movie out there, parents are made out to be incredibly dumb and clueless. Why is that? Is it the film producers way of telling teens "hey, this movie gets you. Parents just don't understand you guys, they are clueless as to how things really are but you guys get it." We're all guilty of this in our teen years, we think we know everything and that our parents are the fucked up weirdos and then we grow up, get slapped in the face with reality and realise that we didn't know shit back then. But, I digress.

The parents leave the school and the Principal now feels sympathy for the girls for being brought up by such dumbasses. This is perfect because now the girls are working together and helping each other straighten their lives out. Alexia/Hayley smooth talks Hayley's teacher to get back into the science fair and Hayley/Alexia tutors Alexia to help get her grades up to get into college. The girls are closer than ever and the parents pat themselves on the back for their great "parenting skills" and talk about writing a book. Haha, jokes on them, they didn't do anything, it was all the wish. Heh heh, stupid parents are...stupid!

So after their day of righting wrongs, the girls stay up so that Hayley/Alexia can make the wish to set things right. Alexia/Hayley falls asleep early but it's ok because Hayley/Alexia spots the star by herself.

Easy as pie...

So problem over, right? Wrong. They're going to pad this out some more, gotta make it at least 90 minutes, remember. However, the pay off is pretty good and sweet so I don't mind this delay as much as I would mind other obvious ones. Hayley/Alexia wakes up in her sister's body still and is devastated. All hope is lost and she believes that she is stuck in her sister's body forever. Haven't you ever heard, 'Be careful what you wish for' before?

Alexia/Hayley is still cheery, believing that they both fell asleep early but she is still bummed that her sister gets to have her moment of glory in the homecoming parade. Hayley/Alexia doesn't want to upset her sister so she stays quiet about the reverse wish fail.

Today is the big day, Hayley's science project has to be presented, Alexia has to meet up with a College acceptance panel and it's homecoming because everything important happens during the big high school dance. Hayley/Alexia manages to impress the panel and promises them a B average her next semester and Alexia/Hayley manages to present Hayley's science project and wins first prize.

The girls meet up to tell each other the good news but when Alexia/Hayley cheerfully tells her that Hayley will be able to present her project at Nationals, Hayley/Alexia finally breaks down and tells Alexia the bad news. They can't ever switch back. Alexia doesn't seem shocked by Hayley's confession and she finally confesses herself. She had wished to be Hayley at the same moment that Hayley wished to be her.

Exactly, Gandhi, exactly.
On a serious note, I really like this reveal. It shows you that even the supposed prettiest, most together girl still feels insecure about something. It's not pretty versus average, popular versus underdog, it's everyone against the world. We're all vulnerable, we're all trying to be or hoping to be better than we are, it's human nature. I like this message, it is an important one to send out to people, that you are not the only one out there who wishes they were anyone other than themselves and it makes me really like the Alexia character who I disliked at the beginning of the movie and wrote off as a vapid valley girl right away. She may have been on the outside but inside, she wanted so much more, she wanted to be smart like her sister, to have her life ahead of her. It killed her to think that high school would be all she had, and to her, Hayley had a bright future to look forward to where as she would have nothing. It's kind of nice to see that other side to people.

So anyways, the girls have a new found hope and, together this time, make their wish:

Rockin' 90s effects, y'all!

Why is it that wishes work instantaneously the second time but only work after a night's sleep the first time? Seriously, this seems to happen in all body switch movies but whatever, they are finally back in their own bodies and they couldn't be happier. Alexia wins homecoming Queen, is happy with her boyfriend and her friends have renounced their snobbish rules except for the one where they are totally BFF! Hayley will be able to present her science project at Nationals and she gets to dance with the boy next door who had a crush on her and her sister gives her the tiara she won. Most importantly, the sisters have grown to understand and appreciate one another and have become closer than they ever were before. And on that note, we end on a wink:


What a cheesy movie...and I fucking love it! I can't explain it but I just love the dynamic between the sisters in this and I really like the different kind of twist they put on this with the whole body swap concept. In most other movies, the body swap occurs because the characters are somehow cursed and that curse is only lifted when they learn something but what force cursed them in the first place? And how did this someone know exactly when the characters "learned their lesson" so to speak?

In this movie, it is our characters who cause the body switch out of a desire to be what they aren't. It's a neat look at both teenage insecurity and the whole "Be careful what you wish for" concept. The girls had to work their issues out and be totally honest with each other and truly work together to get out of their mess and I really liked that. I also liked that Disney had some balls to go with the whole "dominatrix outfit" scene, I don't think any other out fit would have worked for that scene, it kind of had to be shocking. Respect.

So, if you are ever in the mood for a good fluff film, I truly do recommend Wish Upon a Star, it's fun and heartwarming at the same time and I don't think we'll ever see such a sincere effort from a Disney teen movie again but time will tell.

I'm Blinvy and this has been another Teenage Wasteland review...type thing.

Clips used: Wish Upon a Star
                    Clone High

Thursday, 24 November 2011

One Crazy Summer

Hey Internet! I'm Blinvy and once again you've entered my Teenage Wasteland. Sorry for the delay in posting, I've been crazy busy lately but I'll try and keep on track from now on.

So, when we last left off, Savage Steve and John were busy filming the follow up to Better Off Dead when Savage made the mistake of screening it to his cast. John stormed off in a huff, claiming it the worst thing ever and that Savage made a fool out of him.

Naturally, Savage Steve was hurt.
With John upset and Savage Steve deflated, they continued to shoot One Crazy Summer. Savage told John to do what he wanted, since I guess he didn't want to "make him look foolish" again and, grudgingly, One Crazy Summer was finished. The result? Well, let's take a look.

The DVD cover I got just featured Demi and John, had I seen this cover and who the third billed was, I might have skipped this one altogether...

As soon as the movie begins, you know you are in for a Savage Steve production. The familiar cartoon intro is back. Complete with a little story to go with it.

This introduces us to the inner workings of our hero for the movie, Hoops McCann and even though he introduces himself as a Rhinoceros who can't find love and slaughters little fluffy bunnies who mock him, he's still not as crazy and unsettling as Lane Meyer and somehow not as lovable either. Weird. Now, you're probably asking "What the hell kind of name is 'Hoops' anyways?" Well, apparently Hoops got his moniker because his dad was really great at basketball and so he was going to be great at basketball too. Unfortunately, his parents failed to consider that he might not be good at basketball, thus rendering their name for him completely ridiculous as well as a constant reminder to their kid that he failed to live up to their expectations. Wonderful parenting.

Anyways, since Hoops sucks at basketball, he decides that he's going to be a cartoonist and has applied to art school but in order to get in, he must illustrate a 5 panel cartoon about love. The only problem is:

Don't worry, Hoops. That's what summer vacation is for.

Hoops tells his friend, George Calamari about his stress over getting into art school and his ever helpful friend invites him to Nantucket for the summer. OK, I fail to see how that helps him get into art school but I guess it might help him relax a bit, or make him die of boredom. Whichever comes first. Hoops agrees to this proposal and so they go pick up George's little sister, Squid and - Wait, Squid? Squid Calamari? Seriously? Wow, the parents are really cruel with their kids' names in this movie. Anyways, they pick up...Squid(ugh), and her dog, Boscoe, who no one should make fun of, apparently.

AAAAHHH!!! Another demon child!

Seriously though, who teases a dog? The dog doesn't know what you're doing or why. Why wouldn't you just tease the little girl? Her name is Squid for sobbing out loud, the name is asking to be mocked and they go after a defenceless dog? My guess is that it is to garner sympathy for our heroes and make everyone else look like douches in comparison.

 During their trip to Nantucket, Hoops stops to take a leak and that is when we're introduced to Cassandra, our love interest for the movie. She's played by, Demi Moore? Well, OK this is four years before her break out role in Ghost so I guess I can see how they got her. She also seemed to be going through a massive 80s phase, she looks like a bizarre combination of Pete Burns and Boy George:

Which one is which?

Cassandra is being chased by these really tough...biker...punk...anime fans?

I've got nothing. Except maybe, LOLWUT?
Don't worry, he's not our main antagonist. As you can see, he's dispatched easily and we're free to forget about him for the rest of the movie. However, his plot device purpose has been served and Cassandra has still lost her money; which she needs in order to keep her grandpa's home. Hoops and Cassandra part ways once they get to Nantucket but promise to keep in touch. You know this might be a pretty cute movie and I'm in the mood for a little RomCom action. I'm actually pretty stoked to see the rest of this...then this unholiness is unleashed:

Not Bobcat! My ears bleed every time he speaks!

And this movie went from kind of bland to horrifying in seconds. Why in God's name did anyone put this...this thing in front of a camera? My ears bleed every time he opens his mouth to utter his godawful schtick which is nothing more than "I talk funny and make weird noises, laugh! LAUGH!" (I can just imagine him saying that too.) The first time I saw this, I knew the rest of the movie was going to be painful because of this dolt. Why did people think this guy was funny?

Our heros are getting picked up by the "delightfully charming" and "lovable" Stork twins, Egg and Clay. Aren't they just precious?

 It's the Incredibly Forced and Awkward Comedy Duo!

Aww, look they can't figure out how to get their "I'm with stupid" shirts to work, aren't they just the silliest and most lovable characters ever? The answer is no. No they are not but we're stuck with them anyways so lets just get through the rest of this.

So Hoops is introduced to these two pricks and I love how you can see how incredibly hard it is for John to keep smiling as he shakes Bobcat's hand while listening to him speak. Priceless.

Ok, in all fairness the character is supposed to be taken aback by Egg...but I'm sure it wasn't a challenge for Cusack to portray this.

Anyways, we're informed that the moron twins are picking up some guy's boat, the guy in question, is of course a bleach blond preppy asshole named Ted Beckerstead. I wonder if Savage Steve had some issues with a blond haired preppy guy in his past, because he sure likes making them antagonists in his films and this guy is so over the top as an antagonist, it's like Savage took the Stalin character, subtracted the funny and added a ton more unnecessary and unmotivated assholishness.

We are really supposed to hate this guy, I guess.

Then we are introduced to George's family. He has a grandma who clearly loves his sister more than him, an Uncle who is driving himself insane trying to win $1,000,000 from a radio show. They add absolutely nothing to the plot except being wacky characters and the fact that they showcase how freaking boring George is. He's like the human embodiment of Garfield, every line he delivers just sounds like he's setting up someone else's joke. I get that he's probably supposed to be a straight man but we already have Hoops for that role so as a wacky side kick, George just doesn't measure up. I miss Charles De Mar.

Hoops and George set off to find their friend...Ack Ack. Acky for short. Seriously, what is up with the names in this movie? It's like it's trying way too hard to be wacky and original but giving your characters stupid names that no one in real life would EVER have just makes it...stupid. Well, to me anyways. Back to the story, Acky's father, played by Joe Flaherty - the only great thing in this movie, tells them that Acky is at the beach collecting shells for him. Of course when he says shells he means this kind:

Hooray! Curtis Armstrong is back! De Mar lives!

They get Acky from the beach and just as they are about to go and do...something, they run into Cassandra at her grandfather's funeral. Since her grandfather died and she was just laying him to rest at a funeral, Cassandra is obviously game for some more hang out time with Hoops. Hey, we all handle grief differently, right?

Anyways, Cassandra tells Hoops that Ted Beckerstead's father has been trying to run her grandfather out of his house since she was a baby and that with her grandfather gone, he has a shot at getting the house unless she can get the bank $2,000 in two weeks. If she can't come up with the money, everyone in her grandfather's home is out on the street and Mr. Beckerstead puts up a restaurant in its place. Although, his restaurant looks more like a mansion and we never get to meet the supposed people that would be put out on the street but whatever, we have our main conflict for the movie.

Lobster Log Restaurant...Manor?

Cassandra asks Hoops why the hell he has such a ridiculous name and he lies and says he/'s a great basketball player because, as you know, in romantic comedies no one ever tells the truth in the beginning in order to create hilarious misunderstandings. He draws her a picture and she's so impressed with his talent that she invites him to her concert to raise the $2,000 she needs and he promises to be there for her. Nothing can go wrong now!

Except, of course, this is a romantic comedy so something has to go wrong. Ted's girlfriend Candy, for some reason asks Hoops out and he, for some reason, agrees even though he obviously likes Cassandra and she obviously likes him. Why does this happen? I don't know, it doesn't really go anywhere but it does effectively throw a wrench into his budding relationship with Cassandra as he goes on a date with Candy on the same night as he's supposed to be at Cassandra's concert.

Ooooo, faced!

I'm not really sure why Hoops even goes out with her. He seems more intimidated of Candy than attracted to her and he knows full well she has a boyfriend. He even enlists his friend's help to keep an eye out on Ted to make sure he and Candy don't run into him. His friend isn't able to watch Ted so he enlists Bobcat's help and we all know that it's not going to end well. Aside from the fact that we know that Bobcat is going to fail at this task, we are also tortured with long scenes of him making his idiot noises and acting like an all around annoying fucktard.

Oh never stops making noises! My ears!

So, Cassandra notices that Hoops missed her concert because everyone missed her concert and goes to find Hoops. Ted finds out that Hoops is on a date with his girlfriend and threatens to kill Hoops but Cassandra steps in at the last minute and challenges Ted to play basketball against Hoops instead. This obviously doesn't go well because Hoops sucks at basketball but they manage to get away.
Cassandra hates him now because he's a lying asshole and Hoops now tries to win Cassandra back. He does this by designing posters for her second attempt at a concert fundraiser. They pass posters all over the island and because he does this, of course, Cassandra forgives him and they become friends again. That breakup was once again, mercifully short.

The second fundraising concert goes way better and Cassandra makes the money she needs to pay the back mortgage on her grandfather's estate; which means that the movie is now over, right? Wrong. The bank decided that they'd given her long enough and went ahead and sold her house anyways. Oh those evil bank owners, they're always just in it for the money. Have they no hearts? This movie could have been over but nooooo, now we have to sit around for another 30 minutes.

Beckerstead now owns Cassandra's Grandfather's house, which is home to...people that we never see who are now on the street, and is getting ready to tear it down to build his new Lobster Log restaurant. So, he's basically evil but just how evil is he?

Noooooo!!!! He kicked the poor doggy!

Evil! Evil! Burn him at the stake!! He put people out of house and home for a stupid elaborate restaurant and now he's just committed the greatest movie villain crime of all time, harming an animal. Oh and his son also beat up one of the Stork twins. Not Bobcat. *cough* Yeah, I didn't care either.

But our heros come up with a plan of attack to get back at those evil Beckersteads, they are going to beat them in the annual Nantucket Regatta! B-because, the Beckersteads love to win and really want that trophy so if our heros win, they can trade the trophy for Cassandra's house. *cough* What? It sounds like a fair trade to me.

Alright, so the Beckerstead's fortune is still in the control of Mr. Beckerstead's father who forces his son and grandson to enter the regatta every year and win or he will cut them out of their inheritance so their plan makes a little sense. Then again, Mr. Beckerstead's plan to get Cassandra's house and open up his own restaurant chain was in order to amass his own fortune so that he wouldn't have to do the regatta anymore so I still question this climax a little. I mean, he won already. He got Cassandra's house, he has the means to tear it down but perhaps they still have to enter the regatta this year so that they have the funds needed to build the restaurant so I'll buy it.

The only thing standing in their way is that the only boat they have is a complete junker and needs fixing up before they can enter. Since this is the 80s and we're near the end of the movie, of course this means it's time once again for a montage!

We're gonna need a montage. Montage! A boat fixin' montage. Montage!

Now that they have the boat all fixed up and good as new in just a few quick clips, our heros must now choose their captain and, of course, they pick Hoops. Hoops declines because he's not going to be on the boat because he's afraid of them and he runs off like a scared little girl. Remarkably, Cassandra is not turned off by this and she decides to go after him and convince him to be the captain of The Boat. Yes they named the boat, The Boat because despite the fact that we have people named Egg, Ack Ack and Squid, they decided to pick the most boring and unoriginal name for their boat possible. Anyways, Cassandra convinces Hoops to go on the boat simply by saying that he probably "just hasn't had the right kind of experience on a boat." and then kisses him. Problem solved!

So Hoops is finally charged up and ready for the big boat race. Ted has pulled ahead of our heros but because they are cartoon villains, they still have to "ensure" they will win by cheating even though they are already in the lead and Mr. Beckerstead cuts The Boat's sail line. Now they will never win...or will they?

Remember that Hoop's other dilema is his lack of basketball skills? Well get ready for Hoops to score one for the team! It's all come down to this, Hoops can finally prove to the world that he deserves his name and all he has to do is toss a tiny weight through a hoop (pardon my lack of sailing terms and knowledge) to re-hoist the sail.

Awww, yeah! His parents didn't name him Hoops for nothin'!

Now they are back in business! But our heroes our still behind Beckerstead and it is the final leg of the race. The Beckersteads are sure to win with their powerful motor but our heroes have an ace up their sleeves. They stole Ted's car and used the engine to power their boat. *cough* Pretty sure cars and boats don't work that way but way to stick it to the antagonists guys! That'll teach them to kick dogs and punch your weak comedy relief characters.

So, of course, Hoops wins the day, gains back his basketball rep, conquers his fear of boats, and gets the girl. Oh and that Uncle finally wins the $1,000,000 he's been waiting for...until the phone cuts out and they pick another winner. *cough* You know, just in case you wanted to know what happened with the Uncle.

So that was One Crazy Summer and boy it sure was a movie. I've gotta say, when I first saw Better Off Dead, I was drawn in by its oddball humour and its over the top cheesy charm and when I heard that Savage Steve and John Cusack had teamed up again, I was pretty excited. Savage Steve had surely improved as a director, the budget was probably better, the story would probably come together better and come on it starred both John Cusack and Demi Moore. It just had to be good. Unfortunately, the animosity between Savage and John really shone through in this movie. Even when I was unaware of the background stories, it was clear to me that John's heart just wasn't in this movie.

On top of that, the story is pretty weak and a lot of plot points from Better Off Dead, end up recycled here. Replace Stalin with Ted, skiing with boating and basketball, French exchange student with rocker chick and you get the bland rehash that is One Crazy Summer. Not to mention, Bobcat. This guy is painful and is a large reason why I find no enjoyment when watching this movie. I might have found this ok if he wasn't in it but unfortunately for me, he is and forever will be which is why I will forever regret having this movie in my DVD collection.

So there you have it, the two perceived dark stains in John Cusack's career, the movies he will forever regret doing. In my humble opinion, he should only regret overreacting so much about Better Off Dead because that movie is pretty great and wildly enjoyable but I would stand by his decision to shun this movie. If you enjoy a good oddball comedy and don't mind Bobcat Goldthwait, then give them both a try, you may enjoy them both. Otherwise, stay far, far away from One Crazy Summer.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "Yeah, but whatever happened to Savage Steve?" and I'll tell you. After a quick look at imdb an extensive search through piles of books, I managed to uncover that Savage Steve directed one last movie, which he did not write called How I Got Into College before switching to television directing. Some titles that stand out for me that he's directed are Lizzie McQuire and Even Stevens. Why? Well, take a look for yourselves:

Those weird cartoon inserts strike again.

Now it doesn't state specifically, or at all, that he worked on the animations for Even Stevens or Lizzie McGuire nor that he was involved in the creation of these shows but I remain convinced that he influenced these style elements and the often quirky moments on these shows. Look at the similarities, it just screams Savage Steve to me.

Savage Steve Holland...holding a duck plushy.

Regardless of my distaste for One Crazy Summer, I think he's got something going for him, he has a very vibrant style that you don't see often in teen movies or shows that sets him apart from other teen genre directors. It's a shame that he and John had a falling out that dampened his love for making movies because you can clearly see in all of his works that he loves what he does and I hope he eventually gets up the nerve to write and direct another feature film again. I would definitely go see it if he did...unless it starred Bobcat Goldthwait.

So that's it for me. Thanks for visiting the Wastelands again.

Clips used: One Crazy Summer

Music Used: Montage from South Park's Asspen episode. Seriously, watch this episode. It's hilarious.