Review 33: It Follows (3.5/5)

It Follows

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto

Released on May 17, 2014 at Cannes, March 13, 2015 in the USA

Running time: 1h 40m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

Wow. I mean…wow. This is really good. I mean, it’s not fantastic, but it’s pretty damn good.

Screw any decent opening; I’m just going to get into it.

There is a trope in classic as well as modern horror films that sex – illicit, nonmarital sex, mind you – equals death. In It Follows, this trope is not only satirized, but taken so much more literally than in earlier horror films.

Anyway, our story begins in your standard unnamed American city with a prologue at night. A very paranoid teenager drives to the beach, tearfully calls her father, sits on the beach, and waits. Cut to morning, where we see the same teenager, looking very dead. She is bruised all over, and one of her legs is seriously bent the wrong way. Yikes.

We are introduced to our main character named Jay (Maika Monroe), an innocent, carefree teenager, who only needs braces and taped-together glasses to complete the “nerd” look. She goes on a date with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), which takes the form of the generic date: dinner and a movie. They skip the movie after Hugh sees something that scares him and he asks Jay if they can leave. While at dinner, the camera, instead of focusing on Jay and Hugh, focuses on a shadowy, darkly lit figure walking straight toward them from across the street. EPIC UNSETTLING FORESHADOWING.

On Jay and Hugh’s next date, they have sex, in the first of three poorly choreographed sex scenes throughout the movie. The characters don’t even seem to undress to have sex. In this particular one, Jay doesn’t even remove her bra. She is also wearing her panties in the next shot.

Anyway, Hugh then knocks out Jay with chloroform. Jay awakens in an abandoned building, tied to a wheelchair. Hugh shows up and tells her that by having sex with her, he has passed a curse on to her. A being (creature? entity? demon? evil spirit?) will constantly follow her at a walking pace. Slow but steady wins the race. If it catches her, it will kill her, and then go after the person who passed it to her. More on the thing – I will from here on out refer to it as the Follower – later.

Hugh, after showing Jay the Follower (which takes the form of a naked woman, because of course), drops Jay off at her home. The next day at school, and that night at her house, Jay sees the Follower walking toward her. Despite her friends’ attempts to comfort her and tell her that there’s no one there, Jay sees the Follower take the form of an old woman in a nightgown, a fellow college student, a half-naked, bloody, urinating woman, and the Slender Man plus face but sans suit. During the past fifteen minutes, we are introduced to Jay’s friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and Jay’s sister Kelly (Lili Sepe).

I will be fully and completely honest: the scenes involving the Follower are almost intolerably tense. While not downright terrifying, they are undoubtedly some of the most tense sequences I have ever seen.

Oh my gosh. Run. Run! RUN! AAAH!

It’s on your left. It’s on your left! LOOK, dammit!

Jeez, even just seeing someone walking toward her is tense.

The Follower is a legitimately scary…thing. The fact that it walks rather than runs is questionable, but if anything, it adds to the incredibly creepy and tense atmosphere. It can take the form of a stranger or a loved one, ranging from a child to a woman in her thirties to Jay’s own father to…a naked old man. Ew. It is incredibly strong, borderline indestructible, and fully and completely unstoppable. And you DO NOT want to let it catch up with you. I will explain what happens in a minute.

Anyways, after Jay’s neighbor Greg drives the group to Hugh’s now abandoned house and discover that his real name is Jeff. (Jeff the Killer? No. Definitely not. I always thought that Jeff the Killer was overrated.) The group tracks him down and Jay confronts him. Jeff reveals that he got the curse from a one-night stand and reveals that the only way to even temporarily get rid of the curse is to have sex with someone else.

The group drives to Greg’s lake house, but the Follower remarkably quickly catches up with them and attacks Jay. Jay shoots it, but this only momentarily stops it in its tracks. Jay steals Greg’s car, but after narrowly avoiding hitting a truck, crashes into a cornfield. Jay wakes up in the hospital surrounded by her friends.

Greg has sex with Jay that night, not believing in the curse. This leads to the second poorly choreographed sex scene, in which Greg is not seen removing his jeans, and Jay never removes her hospital gown. It’s like two ragdolls humping each other. It’s the exact opposite of erotic, when a sex scene like this is supposed to be.

Anyways, after Jay and her friends go home, Jay sees the Follower break into Greg’s house. Jay breaks in as well and sees the Follower take the form of Greg’s mother, who is dressed in her underwear and a bathrobe, with one breast exposed. The Follower goes to Greg’s room and knocks on the door with one knock every two-thirds of a second. Greg answers the door, sees his half naked mother, and realizes too late that the Follower has caught up with him. I told you I’d describe what happens if the Follower catches up with you. It jumps on him, kills him, and has sex with his dead body. As if we didn’t already have enough reason to be terrified of the Follower. Apparently the Follower is into necrophilia. Ew. After Jay flees and spends the night on the beach, she meets up with Paul, who offers to have sex with her to take on the curse himself.

The remainder of the group, realizing the seriousness of the situation, plan to kill the Follower by luring it into an abandoned swimming pool and dropping plugged in electrical devices into the water to kill it. On the way to the pool, Jay sees the Follower standing on the roof of her house, taking the form of a naked old man. Ew.

Of COURSE it’s going to be a stormy night! The group lines the electrical appliances around the pool as Jay waits in it. The plan falls apart almost immediately as the Follower, now in the form of Jay’s father, enters the pool and throws the electrical devices at her. Paul throws a blanket over the Follower and shoots it in the head, incapacitating it, and throws it in the pool. The Follower grabs Jay and tries pulling her underwater, but Paul shoots it in the head again, allowing Jay to escape. The Follower disappears in a large cloud of blood.

Jay and Paul go to Jay’s house, where they have sex. The next morning, Paul is seen driving past a pair of prostitutes. We can all guess what happens.

It Follows ends as Jay and Paul walk hand in hand down the street while someone, who is presumably the Follower, walks about 100 feet behind them, doing what it does best.

It Follows had a great setup, but it sort of fell apart at the end. Pity.

One thing I must mention: In two scenes in It Follows, two infamous old movies make cameos: Killers from Space and, I think, The Giant Claw. If you haven’t seen either, go check them out. They’re hilarious.

Does Yara have … an iShell? That’s just weird.

It Follows has a very Napoleon Dynamite feel to it. It’s an amateur storyline, but it is undoubtedly effective.

This movie has a very ‘80s feel to it, especially with the minimalist electronic soundtrack.

The online version of the movie I saw censors nudity. Good for it!

This movie is not so much scary as it is incredibly tense.

Great job, Maika Monroe. This is her second lead role in her now promising career.

It’s not a fantastic movie, but it is undoubtedly smart. It is original (maybe). And above all, it is tense.

It is also the strangest STD metaphor I have ever seen.

Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Review 32: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2.5/5)

The Hills Have Eyes 2

Directed by Martin Weisz

Starring Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Lee Thompson Young, Michael Bailey Smith

Released on March 23, 2007

Running time: 1h 37m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

As many of you may remember, the remake of The Hills Have Eyes was one of the very first films I reviewed. I praised it for its strong and disturbing story, relatable protagonists and vile antagonists, realistic acting, and brutal, unflinching violence.

Upon hearing that the sequel was not only written by Wes Craven and his son Jonathan, but was critically panned, I knew I would have to see it, regardless of quality. My initial thoughts were: Okay, this is a sequel, and sequels tend to suck. But this is Wes Craven’s work. How bad can it be? Oh, well it can be as inept as Shocker, or as hilariously bad as Deadly Friend.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Our story begins with a young woman giving brutal, painful birth to a stillborn, deformed child before being killed by a mutant. We later learn that this is the mutant patriarch, Papa Hades (Michael Bailey Smith).

We then transition to a group of scientists working in the New Mexico desert where the first THHE film took place. They have installed electronic surveillance equipment to monitor the desert for alleged cannibal activity. They experience technical difficulties that are caused by the cannibals, and they all meet brutal ends.

We then cut to…Kandahar? What? THHE is set in the New Mexico desert, not the Middle East! Oh, wait, THAT’S what’s going on! It’s a military training exercise (Eggs er size…eggs are sides…for bacon. Bacon.) for Napoleon (Michael McMillian), Amber (Jessica Stroup), Missy (Daniella Alonso), Crank (Jacob Vargas), Delmar (Lee Thompson Young), Stump (Ben Crowley), Spitter (Eric Edelstein), and Mickey (Reshad Strik). They all show individual weaknesses, such as running into enemy fire to retrieve a helmet, abandoning a gun, and causing the “deaths” of several civilians. After they fail the mission, they are lambasted by Sergeant Jeffrey Millstone (Flex Alexander) and assigned to bring supplies to the scientists we saw earlier. Gee, I wonder how it’s going to end?

SARGE: All presidents lie, @$$hole. That’s their f^cking job. Nobody’s told the truth since Truman. He said, “The buck stops here.”

Truman may have been a bit of a racist, but he was certainly better than FDR. (Receiving insults.)

Anyway, the team arrives there, of COURSE the camp’s deserted, and all but Amber and Napoleon go to follow a mirror signal at the top of a mountain. Amber tries the radio while Napoleon goes to use the porto-potty – I’m sorry, the correct military term is “latrine”. Get it right, me.

I love, respect, and admire our armed forces. Truly I do. But I would think that they would be a little smarter in this movie. There has been mutant cannibal activity around this part of the New Mexico desert. You’d think that they’d know to not follow that signal mirror, as the audience’s horror movie instincts tell them that doing that in a cannibal-infested desert is BAAAAAAD.

Anywho, when Napoleon goes to use the porto – LATRINE, a hand reaches up out of the muck in the toilet and startles Napoleon. He and Amber get a urine-and-feces-covered man out of the slime, and as they clean him up, and just before he not-quite-unexplainably dies, he says this to Napoleon: “They’re here.” Stay away from the light, Carol Anne! It turns out that not only is the now dead man covered in cuts, but Napoleon determines that the muck is full of pathogens. The freaks wanted him to die slowly.

As the rest of the team treks up the mountain, Mickey falls into an old mine shaft and twists his ankle, resulting in Sarge telling him to go back to base.

Napoleon and Amber start up the mountain and are attacked by a mutant (listed in the credits as Stabber, rather than Mars, Pluto, Lizard, or Cyst) armed with a large meat cleaver. Mickey gets back to the base just in time to shoot the mutant, who disappears into a hole. It isn’t long before Mickey is dragged down a hole and killed. Just as Napoleon and Amber rejoin the main group, another mutant (referred to as Letch in the credits) attacks them, and Spitter accidentally kills Sarge in a hail of friendly fire. Spitter offers to carry Sarge’s body back down to camp. While being roped down the mountain, the rope breaks, sending Spitter plummeting to his death. When the rope is pulled back up, it is revealed that the rope didn’t break – it was cut. And when the group looks around, all of their remaining gear has been stolen. OOOOOOOOOOOH!

During this past scene, we learn that Napoleon is an Eagle Scout. Good for him!

After finding the sergeant of the scientist group, who commits suicide, Amber and Missy lay a trap for one of the mutants, who is shot dead, and is revealed to be Stabber. Missy, however, is then abducted by another mutant known as Chameleon (Derek Mears, who will eventually play Jason in the remake of Friday the 13th), who pulls her into the mines. The group gives chase. Stump decides to go back to base and go get help, while the remaining soldiers soldier on.

The situation is dire, as Chameleon attempts to rape Missy. She fights him off after biting off part of his long, thick tongue, but in comes Papa Hades. Papa Hades drives Chameleon off, and then violently rapes Missy himself.

Stump attempts to climb down the mountain without ropes, but Letch finds him, cuts off Stump’s left arm, waves goodbye to him with it, and then chuckles as Stump meets the same fate as Spitter.

Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it enjoyable? For the most part. Was the story any good? It was actually pretty okay. Were the characters developed and memorable? Not very well, except for the villains. While not developed, they certainly were memorable. I know that they were just reskins of characters from the previous THHE film. Hell, Michael Bailey Smith, who plays Papa Hades in THHE 2, played Pluto in THHE 1. Nice. Though I’ve seen these villains before, it does ot make these ones in particular any less vile, especially Papa Hades, who is disturbing on the level of Lizard (Mars) from the previous THHE. He is big, strong, and intimidating. He drools at the prospect of being able to violently rape Missy. And it takes no less than a bullet in the head, a finger to his brain, smashed testicles, and a bayonet to the mouth to finally go down. Ow. And his death is almost as satisfying as the death of Lizard (Mars). I’m serious. At the deaths of both Lizard and Papa Hades, I let out major sighs of relief, knowing that such monsters were gone from this world. Lizard for his willingness to brutally rape Brenda the teenager, sexually torture and shoot Lynn the sister in the head, shoot Ethel the mother in the stomach, crucify and immolate Bob the father, and steal and attempt to kill baby Katherine, and actually torture Doug with her crying. That’s one nasty person. Papa Hades is the patriarch of the clan after Papa Jupiter’s death. He captures women, brutally rapes them, and keeps them alive for future breeding. Sheesh. That alone is pretty screwed up. It’s like a brothel that advertises opportunities to rape and beat up women. And whenever they’re not being screwed by you, they’re being screwed by disgusting, violent, perverted mutants. Damn. Oh, and another thing about Papa Hades: he actually knows the c-word.

Okay, so the villains are vile, but is the movie any good?

It may not reach the level of disturbingness and awesomeness as its predecessor, but it’s surprisingly decent.

It has the feel of a cheap, low-budget schlockfest, but it is shot very well with good equipment. Despite low-budget effects, the costumes and props are fantastic.

Unlike most sequels.

Final Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Review 31: A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake) (1/5)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Samuel Bayer

Starring Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Jackie Earle Haley

Released on April 27, 2010

Running time: 1h 34m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

Do I still have to review this? It was disappointing enough watching this. I don’t want to have to go through it again simply to write this dang review.

Yes. Platinum Dunes. Again. In 2010, after the “overwhelming success” of the remake of Friday the 13th, Michael Bay decided to crap all over another well-known horror franchise by remaking Nightmare on Elm Street.

Let’s just get this over with.

We open with the same company who released the original: New Line Cinema. Whoever wrote the soundtrack for this flick opens with a modernized version of the original’s theme. This modernized version shows its face very rarely throughout the film. And then I lost all hope when I saw the Platinum Dunes logo.

On a dark, rainy night in a dimly lit restaurant, Dean (Kellan Lutz – you know, from Twilight and The Legend of Hercules.), falls asleep at his table and dreams of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley – Rorschach in Watchmen). Come on, Bay. Don’t act like you can scare us with a slow reveal of Freddy. Everyone seeing this is a fan of the original NoES, so…yeah. Anyway, Dean’s girlfriend Kris (Katie Cassidy) meets him at the restaurant. Dean has cut himself, though he insists that it was Freddy. We are then introduced to Quentin (Kyle Gallner – Matt from The Haunting in Connecticut), and his obvious love interest for the movie, Nancy (instead of Heather Langenkamp, we have Rooney Mara – Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Strangely enough, Nancy’s last name in this movie is not Thompson, but Holbrook. Yeah. Imagine if Freddy Krueger was renamed Vincente Marconi. You’d be pretty pissed, wouldn’t you? Anyway, Dean nods off again, giving time for Freddy to slice his throat open. In the real world, it looks like Dean plunges a knife into his neck and rips it open with it.

Now that we’ve seen Freddy’s face, I can easily say that it looks much worse than the original. Robert Englund’s surprisingly realistic and actually kind of creepy makeup in the original was completely practically done. However Jackie Earle Haley’s makeup is CGI, and it looks dreadful. Michael Bay also thinks he can scare us by giving Freddy a new habit: rubbing two of his claws together, making scraping and snick-snack sounds. Is it actually scary? No. Not at all. In fact, it just sounds tacky. It as tacky as the clicking sound my grandfather makes when he snaps two of his fingernails together. He used to “torture” my aunt with that sound. Bay also tries to scare us by filtering Jackie Earle Haley’s voice and making it drop to an ominous level. It’s not scary in the slightest. In fact, the way Haley speaks already makes Freddy sound like he’s mentally challenged. Oh, and do you remember the sound that Freddy’s claws made whenever he scraped them over a pipe? They don’t make the recognizable screeching sound anymore.

We then transition to Dean’s funeral. I’m amazed that they allowed a Christian funeral in this flick. Bay starts to actually try to pull off the same Janet Leigh red herring with Kris that Wes Craven unsuccessfully pulled off in the original with Tina. At the funeral, Kris dreams of a little blonde girl with four slashes in her dress standing by Dean’s grave before being pulled in by Freddy. Is it a flashback? Is it a g-g-g-g-ghost? Anyways, she wakes up, the funeral finishes, and she talks to Nancy and Quentin before they are interrupted by – hi, Clancy Brown! How’d they get you in this? (Clancy Brown’s once-promising career has been ruined by this and Green Lantern, and will continue to be destroyed by Nothing Left to Fear.) Clancy Brown is Quentin’s overbearing, pointless father. Kris continues talking to Nancy, who reveals that she has been dreaming about terrible things. Uh, Nancy? Would you like to describe what you’ve seen?

We transition from Kris to Nancy, who, unlike Heather Langenkamp’s “good girl”, is a quiet, almost emo girl who spends most of her time creating surreal, graphically violent drawings. Sure, these drawings look cool, but they do not make Nancy an interesting character. Nancy dozes off, leading to an incredibly fake CGI ripoff of the “spandex wall” scene from the original.

Kris starts dreaming about Freddy and begins to fear that she will die in her dreams. One night, when her mother is out, Jesse (Thomas Dekker), her ex, shows up to keep her company while she sleeps. They have sex offscreen, and they both go to sleep. As expected, Kris is murdered while Jesse watches. And this is another cheap ripoff of a well-known scene from a classic horror movie. Jesse runs to Nancy’s house, covered in blood, where Nancy reveals that she has been dreaming about Freddy. Jesse is arrested and jailed, and placed in cell #4. Yes. The Japanese word “shi” translates to both the number 4 and death. It’s all over Japanese mythology. Look it up. So of course Jesse is murdered.

Quentin and Nancy meet at the library to do some research on dreams. Quentin is revealed to be a religious guy. “Gotta believe in something.” Good for him! Freddy’s plan is implied when Quentin and Nancy discuss the seventy hour mark, micro-naps, and ultimately coma.

After a ripoff of the bubble bath scene, Nancy dreams of Badham (yes. BADham. OOOOOOOOH!) preschool, where Freddy addresses her as his “favorite” and as “my little Nancy”. Quentin and Nancy search through  Nancy’s mother’s photo stash and find a photo of Nancy, Quentin, Jesse, Kris, Dean, and roughly ten other kids in a Badham Preschool class photo. Nancy’s mother, Gwen (Connie Britton), catches them and reluctantly tells the two about their preschool years. At Badham, there was a gardener named Fred Krueger who physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused Nancy and the rest of the kids. Nancy was Fred’s favorite. Interesting. This was Wes Craven’s original idea for Freddy. A child molester rather than a child murderer. Apparently the subject of child molestation in film was taboo back in 1984. Nancy and Quentin initially do not believe Gwen.

Nancy discovers that all of Badham’s graduating class of that year, apart from her and Quentin, have died in their sleep. Quentin falls asleep during swim practice (it happens) (NEVER show me Kyle Gallner in a speedo! I respect him too much!) and dreams about what happened to Freddy. The parents of the Elm Street kids chase Freddy to the iconic boiler room and burn him alive.

Quentin and Nancy confront Clancy Brown and accuse him and the Elm Street parents of murdering an innocent man. Remember this – it will be important later.

Quentin and Nancy begin experiencing micro-naps and realize that they don’t have much time left. They decide to find Badham preschool. They stop at a pharmacy, but Nancy falls asleep, is attacked by Freddy, and pulls a piece of his sweater, rather than his fedora, into the waking world. Quentin takes Nancy to the hospital do deal with the cuts on her arm. He steals some adrenaline and syringes, and, when Gwen approves forced sedation, gets Nancy out of the hospital, making the hospital sequence almost entirely pointless.

The two make it to the preschool, and find the room where Freddy abused them. They find pictures of a young Nancy in various states of undress, revealing that – GASP! – Freddy WAS EVIL! Well, we’ve known that Freddy was evil since 1984, so the scenes in which Freddy is allegedly innocent are entirely pointless and basically make themselves out to be just…pointless pointlessness…which I think is the writing equivalent of dividing by zero. Or taking the square root of a negative number.

Nancy comes up with a plan: she will go to sleep, bring Freddy out into the real world, and she and Quentin will kill him. Nancy goes to sleep. Quentin arms himself, but falls asleep and is attacked by Freddy. Freddy terrorizes Nancy, explaining that he left her for last, and, seeing as she has been awake so long, she will not be able to wake up. Remember the marshmallow stairs in the original? It’s been replaced with the molasses hallway. Oh, and Freddy takes the opportunity to say the “wet dream” line from NoES 4: The Dream Master, the “I’m your boyfriend now” line from the original NoES, and the “LOOK-AT-ME!” line from The Dark Knight. WOW.

Quentin utilizes one of the adrenaline syringes to wake Nancy, and she pulls Freddy out into the real world, where she chops off his gloved hand and slashes his throat with a big broken paper cutter blade. Quentin and Nancy leave after torching the preschool with Freddy’s body still inside. As an injured Quentin is taken to the hospital, a police officer mentions that they have not been able to find a body. OOOOOH! When Nancy and Gwen return home from the hospital, Gwen passes in front of a mirror. Freddy lunges out of it, kills Gwen, and pulls her body through as Nancy screams.

What a freaking load.

While remaining visually faithful to the original, the story lacks the depth and twists that made the original as memorable as it is. It’s a paint-by-numbers experience that throws as many tired tropes of the franchise at us as it can.

The story is tired and recycled, the characters are desperate attempts to appeal to today’s stereotypical teenagers, Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara at least try, the effects are laughable, and it’s not…SCARY. This movie is not SCARY. I know I jumped a few times, but there is a massive difference between scary and startling.

While not as bad as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, let alone Halloween, it is still a very subpar horror remake when compared to The Fly, The Crazies, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dracula, Let Me In, and Dawn of the Dead.

I can only hope that someone good can come along and restore this franchise to what it used to be.

From what I hear, it is possible that a found-footage remake of Friday the 13th could be coming out soon. I can only hope that someone will come up with such a cool idea for remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Update: the forthcoming remake of Friday the 13th will not be found-footage. It’s not even a remake. It’s another sequel. What a wasted opportunity.

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

Review 30: A Nightmare on Elm Street (original) (3.5/5)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Wes Craven

Starring Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Robert Englund

Released on November 9, 1984

Running time: 1h 31m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

This review is intended to precede my review of the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Wes Craven is a masterful director. He has had a very colorful career. He has had his ups and downs. He can direct something as disturbing as The Last House on the Left, something as good as Red Eye, something as inventive as Scream, something as mediocre as My Soul to Take, and something as cheesy and stupid as Deadly Friend and Shocker.

And something as surprisingly and enjoyably scary as A Nightmare on Elm Street.

We all know the story. Four teenagers dream of this scary guy. He wears a dirty red-and-green-striped sweater and a brown fedora. He has a horrifically burned face. And the most terrifying detail of all is his clawed glove.

His name is Fred Krueger. He was a child murderer. He was targeted by the parents of the kids he killed. They burned him to death. Now he’s very angry. He’s after the remaining Elm Street kids. One by one, they drop like flies

Freddy Krueger is a very interesting character. He is legitimately scary. Robert Englund himself said that Freddy is “…the guy who knows what’s in your underwear drawer. This is the guy who knows what you’re afraid of. This is the guy who knows what’s in your diary. This is the guy who knows your weakness…” and how to exploit it.

I like the Janet Leigh red herring being executed on the character of Tina (Amanda Wyss). I just wish that the gimmick hadn’t been wasted so early in the film.

The character of Nancy Thompson is admirable. Obviously, she’s the “good girl” character. She’s pretty, innocent, and nerdy. She has bushy, frizzy hair and front teeth that stick out a little. I think this helps to reinforce the idea that her character is good.

The story is pretty good for an ‘80s B movie. The characters are surprisingly well developed, despite being annoyingly stupid at times – oh, yeah, I forgot. They were actually using those clichés for the first time. Okay. I can live with that. The script is clever at times. The acting is pretty good for a B movie.

The casting is fantastic. Heather Langenkamp fulfills her most notable film role with finesse. Johnny Depp does surprisingly well with his first ever film role. Yes, this is Johnny Depp before he went crazy. And then we have Robert Englund. He brings so much to his role with just his eyes and voice. His eyes pierce. His voice gets under your skin almost as much as Hannibal Lecter (Lecktor?). He managed to make Freddy Krueger at least a little bit scary in every movie in this franchise…until he decided not to reprise his role in the remake. I will be discussing the remake later. I even had a “fangasm” on seeing that Lin Shaye had a cameo in this. Lin Shaye played Elise in the Insidious franchise, of which I am a huge fan.

Speaking of cameos, it was nice to see that Nancy Thompson is a fan of the Evil Dead franchise. I love it more than you, Nancy!

Another thing. The brassiere was invented in 1914. Why does nobody seem to wear one in the 1980s?

I think that the only major problem that I have with this film’s story is this: the ending. SPOILERS! I think I lost track of what in heaven’s name was going on when Freddy Krueger, while on fire, climbed on top of Nancy’s mother (Ronee Blakely). Nancy’s father (John Saxon) throws a blanket over them to put out the fire on Freddy. When he pulls it off, we see Nancy’s mother’s (burned? emaciated?) corpse slowly sinking into…a portal to Hell? the dreaming world? Then Freddy shows up again, attacking Nancy, only to fade away after Nancy tells him that she’s not afraid of him. Nancy then steps out of her mother’s bedroom door only to somehow step outside, where she is greeted by her mother. Tina, Rod, and Glen are already waiting to drive Nancy to school. Nancy gets in the car, but UH-OH! The canopy that goes up on the convertible car is striped red and green! The canopy locks, the windows lock, and the car drives off on its own! Freddy reaches through the front door window and pulls her inside the house and kills her. Our last shot focuses on a trio of jumproping kids saying the ominous rhyme, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”

What the heck just happened? It took me five viewings of NoES and six viewings of Never Sleep Again, a documentary on the making of NoES, to learn that I was as blind as a bat and did not get the idea that this was a dream. This was Freddy’s plan. She has been awake for so long that now that she has fallen asleep, she is unable to wake up. This therefore brings the legitimacy of the stories of NoES 3, 4, 5, and 6 into question.

Despite the talent, effort, and heart that went into making the first NoES movie, I still say that the second one, Freddy’s Revenge, is still my favorite.

It’s a pity that New Line Cinema released this undeniable horror classic 26 years before they released the remake.

Well, I shall be spending the next week or less bracing myself for the inevitable failure that is the remake of A Nightmare of Elm Street.

Final verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Review 29: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (1/5)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Starring Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski

Released on October 6, 2006

Running time: 1h 31m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

As many of you may remember, I reviewed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in January of this year. I thought it was a poor, poor excuse of a remake of a classic horror film that still manages to be scary to this day.

I couldn’t help but notice that, as with the previous TCSM film, New Line Cinema had the balls to release this. Yes. This is the company that released The MaskElf, the original Nightmare on Elm Street, New NightmareTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTwin PeaksGettysburgSe7enDark CityAmerican History X, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with The Return of the King winning Best Picture at the next Oscars, the Hobbit trilogy, and The Conjuring. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Wow.

And this movie was directed by Jonathan Liebesman. I complained about him in Darkness Falls (it keeps coming back to bite me in the butt) and I most likely will not complain about him again, as I like two of his other films, Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans, and most likely will not be reviewing his latest directorial credit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though I reviewed Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween back in January, I can safely say that Jonathan Liebesman and Michael Bay made the same mistake as Rob Zombie: they tried to give a soul to the boogeyman.

The instant I saw the Platinum Dunes logo appear onscreen, I facepalmed. Hard. Michael Bay is ruining a classic horror movie yet again. I can imagine good old Bay sitting in the nearest sleazy, seedy bar, and blabbering drunk while coming up with this damn idea. I have yet to enjoy any movie that bears the Platinum Dunes logo. I have had three incredibly unpleasant experiences watching, taking notes on, and writing reviews for TCSM, Ouija, and The Unborn. The next Platinum Dunes movie I will be reviewing will be the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. I saw the original NoES online. I was unimpressed. I will be reviewing the remake soon. I’m looking forward to it.

But enough about Nightmare on Elm Street. This review is about TCSM:TB.

But before I get to it, I must mention one more thing. Tobe Hooper, the director of the original TCSM, actually had the stones to produce TCSM 2003 and TCSM:TB. What was he smoking?

Our story starts with a prologue set in August 1939. An overweight worker at a meatpacking plant in the Texas outback (which isn’t even the same meatpacking plant as in the 2003 TCSM) (Continuity? What’s that?) goes into labor out of nowhere, goes through the fastest, least-painful-sounding pregnancy ever, and dies giving birth to a deformed child. The plant owner throws the baby in the dumpster to die, but the baby is rescued by a young Luda Mae Hewitt as she scavenges through the trash for anything edible. She takes him home, names him Thomas, and loves him with all her heart.

During the title sequence and the opening credits, we are shown some out-of-focus biographical and psychological reports on young Jedediah Sawyer – sorry, Thomas Brown Hewitt! – which is strange, because this town is widespread. The nearest psychiatrist’s office is probably at least three hours away.

Anyways, over the next thirty years, Thomas develops a skin disease, learns that he is mute (both offscreen), and becomes a hard worker at the exact same meatpacking company where he was born. What a coincidence. Anyways, the meatpacking plant becomes condemned. Thomas (Andrew Bryniarski) is called an “animal” by his boss, so Thomas kills him. As he is walking home, he is approached by his adopted uncle Charlie (R. Lee Ermey) and Sheriff Winston Hoyt. When Hoyt points a gun at Thomas, Charlie shoots him with the sheriff’s shotgun, assumes the identity of the sheriff, and introduces Thomas and the rest of the Hewitts to cannibalism. Charlie’s transition from stereotypical Texan to bloodthirsty cannibal is way too quick. But this is, surprisingly enough, actually explained later.

Oh, THERE’S the cannibalism that was missing from TCSM 2003. I was wondering where it had gone. Well, I suppose that’s one thing this movie improved upon over its predecessor. TCSM:TB actually HAS cannibalism. I’m amazed.

TCSM:TB­ again pulls the same gimmick as TCSM 2003 did: Leatherface isn’t evil. He’s just misunderstood. That’s pretty tough to buy. While this was clearly the case in the original TCSM, as Jed Sawyer was intended by Tobe Hooper to be a “big baby” and kill people because he felt threatened, in the case of TCSM 2003 and TCSM:TB, Thomas Hewitt is clearly a sadistic serial killer, despite being mentally ill as in the case of the original TCSM.

However, it is overwhelmingly awesome to see GOD ON HIGH, TREASURE TO THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE: R. LEE ERMEY again. But as much as I love this guy, I would much rather see Drayton Sawyer than Charlie Hewitt.

It is also nice to see the Hewitts say grace over their food like I recommend every family to do.

Anyways, our story shifts to four young adults: Eric (Matt Bomer), his brother Dean (Taylor Handley), Eric’s girlfriend Chrissie (Jordana Brewster, who we keep seeing in The Fast and the Furious, and who seriously needs to fire her agent), and Dean’s girlfriend Bailey (Diora Baird). Eric is on his way back to Vietnam, Dean is a secret draft-dodger, and Chrissie and Bailey are about to bid them goodbye in the closest manner Michael Bay dares to get to actual boobies. Wow. Oh, and Eric proposes to Chrissie with a ring he found in a Cracker Jack box. Insert Spaceballs joke here.

And of COURSE Michael Bay dresses his actresses in as little clothing as he can.

After visiting Luda Mae Hewitt’s shop, the four’s car is held up by a female biker with a sawed-off shotgun. The group’s car hits a blood-exploding cow and is totaled. Chrissie is thrown from the wreckage. “Sheriff Hoyt” shows up, quickly kills the would-be robber, and upon noticing Dean’s partly burnt draft card, arrests Eric, Dean, and Bailey, not noticing Chrissie in the field about twenty feet away from the wreckage. “Hoyt” takes the trio to the Hewitt place. He strings up Eric and Dean and ties Bailey to the kitchen table to let Luda Mae clean her up. Chrissie finds the boyfriend of the dead biker girl and makes her way to the Hewitt place to rescue her friends. It does not go well, to say the least.

“Hoyt” reveals that he was a POW in Korea, and that he and his fellow POWs were forced to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. That’s cool, but so cliché. And way to enforce the crazy war veteran stereotype.

The “horror” elements in this film consist of a series of cheap “startles” rather than jumpscares.

The four main actors are clearly way too Hollywood for us to take them seriously. They look way too 21st century for a film that is set in 1969. One annoying bit: Chrissie’s pants are down just far enough to show off the top of her butt crack. I can imagine Michael Bay getting turned on by that and taking that as a pitiful excuse to stroke his tiny, impotent penis.

The Hewitt family is all terrified by “Hoyt” and Leatherface? They’re all supposed to be crazy!

Yes. Biker and Texan stereotypes. Wow. Oh, COME ON! I complained about stereotypes in my Wrong Turn review!

Of COURSE any movie that concerns the Vietnam War is going to be blatantly against it.

The composer of this movie’s soundtrack WISHES that he was Charlie Clouser. You know, the guy who did the soundtrack for Saw.

This is another of few movies that actually has me siding with the bad guys.

This movie also has the most ridiculous tease I have seen in a long time. The biker Chrissie brought to the Hewitt place is on the floor, lying on Leatherface’s chainsaw, and Leatherface turns it on and saws the biker in half. And it is never shown onscreen.

Michael Bay seriously thinks that this is scary, and that an unhappy ending is original. Wow.

As bad as this movie was, it was slightly better than TCSM 2003.

Slightly.

Final verdict: 1 of 5 stars.

Review 28: The Odd Life of Timothy Green (.5/5)

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Directed by Peter Hedges

Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Odeya Rush, Dianne West, Ron Livingston

Released on August 15, 2012

Running time: 1h 45m

Rated PG

Genre: Kids & Family, Comedy, Drama

As I sat back in my chair at my computer, I noticed that The Odd Life of Timothy Green was produced by Disney. I typed that into the notes I was taking on Microsoft Word, as I knew I was going to be using that little tidbit as a cause for complaint.

TOLoTG takes place in the city of Stanleyville (the state in which Stanleyville is located is never revealed), the “Pencil Capital of the World”. Um…yay? I’m not kidding. Stanleyville has a pencil factory, an actual pencil MUSEUM, their elementary school soccer team is called the Erasers, and pencils become an “important” part of the plot.

NIKO TATAPOULOS (Godzilla ’98): That’s a lot of fish pencils.

We open in an adoption center, where our two would-be parents, Jim (Joel Edgerton, who looks BORED out of his mind) and Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner, who’s still looking disheveled from costarring in Daredevil with Ben Affleck), who have a major problem with finishing each other’s sentences way too often. They have an appointment with the head of the USAS center, as they are trying to adopt a kid. However, when the interviewer notices that they have not filled out the section where they are supposed to describe why they would be good parents, the couple says that “there was not enough space”. Imagine saying that in a different context, like, if you’re explaining why you didn’t even answer one question on an important test. “There wasn’t enough space”. And Jim and Cindy actually think that this strategy will work on the US Adoption Services? That’s pretty weak. So, the interviewer, for some reason, allows Jim and Cindy to tell their story about the [disturbingly] odd life of a little boy named Timothy.

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton are good actors, and I’ve seen them do well in other stuff. Garner tried her best to save Daredevil, and Edgerton did what he could with Exodus: Gods and Kings. Both are clearly trying their hardest in TOLoTG, but even the most talented actors cannot save a doomed project.

It turns out that everything involving Timothy is told in flashback. Jim works at the Stanleyville pencil factory and Cindy works at the Stanleyville pencil museum. We learn that despite Jim and Cindy’s best efforts, Cindy is as barren as most of the Gobi Desert. Heartbroken, the two return home. I will be honest and say that I legitimately felt sorry for this couple. Unfortunately, I would later regret making that statement. That night, Jim suggests to Cindy that they go through some sort of catharsis. They write down what their kid would have been like on sheets of paper, such as musical skills, honesty to a fault, and kicking the winning goal for the soccer team. When Jim and Cindy mention kicking the winning goal for the soccer team, they suddenly pause. They stare at the wall for a few seconds as the music builds, and then suddenly burst out in cheering. I suppose that this is supposed to show how “in tune” Jim and Cindy are, but…ugh. Oh, and Jim shouts “Touchdown!” Strange. “Touchdown” is an American football term, not a soccer term. Jim could have at least acted like a Latin American sportscaster. “¡Inserto Español babble-o here-o! ¡GOL! ¡GOL! ¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!” Jim and Cindy put the papers in a wooden box, and bury the box in the backyard, effectively burying their heartbreak. Jim and Cindy go to bed happy, having moved on with their lives, and having become much stronger as people and as husband and wife. I feel happy for this couple solving their understandable issue in a unique way.

I have one major question: Why not an orphanage? I’m sure there are many kids there that desperately want a family to be a part of.

Insert the intro from “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Bach as a freak storm shows up, and the ground where the box was buried is pushed upward and out. Jim and Cindy wake up to discover a dirty little boy (CJ Adams) who looks like he’s about nine or ten. The boy says that his name is Timothy, and he acts like Jim and Cindy have always been his parents. Okay, time to call the police and put out a missing child notification – …kidnapping works too. I’m surprised that not too many people consider that. One interesting fact: this kid has leaves growing out of his legs. Yes. He’s a kid who came from the garden and has leaves growing out of his legs that look even more fake than Green Lantern’s CGI mask. Jim and Cindy consult each other and they agree that Tim is meant for them. Well, God works in mysterious ways. But this is not one of them. Jim, Cindy, and Tim go to sleep.

During this scene, Cindy said that her mind was racing with questions for Tim. Well, why didn’t she ask Tim all of these questions? Tim seems emotionally stable. I’m sure he can handle being asked some questions.

I like the initial pro-family vibe, but I know that I should not count that chick before it hatches.

Oh, and a cut back to the present reveals that the USAS interviewer revealing that she’s heard crazier stories. Phew! I can SMELL the bullcrap from here!

Tim, who we learn cannot dress himself very well (at age 10? WOW), rises with the sun the next morning. Get it? It’s because he’s a plant! Cindy’s sister Brenda arrives, and she encounters Tim before reminding Cindy of some sort of family get-together that Jim and Cindy are unprepared for. This is not going to end well. Tim is too quick to say that he came from the garden, and Cindy forgets to realize that she may as well say that they adopted him. The family get-together goes surprisingly well, and barely anyone is fazed by the idea that Tim joined the family out of nowhere. Wow. Tim acts especially awkward when he asks three of his cousins, “So you all came from your mom’s tummy? What was that like?” Tim, who’s naivete is really getting on my nerves, later develops a “special bond” with his Uncle Bub, AKA Bubbles with this exchange.

BUB: Hello, young man.

TIMOTHY: Hello, old boy.

This Bub-Tim bond will be important in only one scene.

But then Jim’s dad arrives, and immediately gets off on the wrong foot when Tim addresses him as “Grandpa”, obviously thinking that Tim has a thing against the elderly. Things are made even worse when Jim’s dad, nicknamed Big Jim, starts a family game of dodgeball, and Tim doesn’t know how to play. So Tim turns around, faces the sun, and raises his arms. Oh, I get it! He’s a plant, and so he’s absorbing the sun! But this is made entirely pointless when Big Jim thwacks Tim with the ball upside the head. Insert The Price is Right loser horns here.

Oh, and during the sun-absorbing sequence, Tim is distracted by a young teenage girl named Joni (Odeya Rush). She is easily 15 (in real life as well as this movie), and, considering the music playing during this sequence, she is destined to be Tim’s love interest. Yes. Tim is probably ten or eleven, and Joni is 15. That’s…not normal, or okay. Do you have any idea how easily a teenage girl can take advantage of a boy on the verge of puberty? This cannot end well!

Another thing. Big Jim has as much of a grasp on dodgeball as Tommy Wiseau has on football.

Anyway, one jarring transition later, we see – wait, who is this guy? Is he some sort of plant expert or something? He’s entirely pointless, as he only shows up in one other scene! So the plant expert, in an attempt to analyze the leaves on Tim’s legs as allowed by Tim, Jim, and Cindy, attempts to cut off one of Tim’s leaves. Strangely, his scissors break. Dude! Tim’s leaves can break steel? That’s awesome! This kid could be a superhero! If DC and Marvel comics can create characters like Polka-Dot Man, Egg Fu, Matter-Eater Lad, Blue Snowman, Doll-Man, Captain Boomerang, Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, Sportsmaster, Ambush Bug, the Dummy, Danny the Street, the Fiddler, Red Bee, Weather Wizard, Vibe, Calendar Man, Extraño, Skate Man, Red Tornado, Rainbow Girl, Razorback, Dogwelder, the Clock King, and Color Kid, then Leaf Leg Boy should be – no, that’s just stupid.

In another jarring transition, Jim and Cindy send Tim to school (for the only time shown onscreen), having not consulted the administration (onscreen, anyway.). Wow. Cindy mentions the things put into Tim’s bulging backpack: notebooks, pencils, tissues, Band-Aids, an entire first aid kit, healthy snacks, treats, Graham crackers, a flashlight, batteries, and an extra pair of socks. But no lunch. How did Cindy overlook that little detail? Oh, and the Band-Aids and first aid kit? The school nurse is there for a reason! Unless the only things she has is a box of Band-Aids, a roll of dirty, used gauze, and a rusty saw.

We learn that Tim had an “art project” done on him by two other kids, with Joni coming by at the end to put the cherry on top. Wait, Joni goes to the same elementary school as Tim, but she’s 15 and already has boobs that would put Natalie Portman to shame? Bullhonky! So where are we supposed to like Joni?

So Jim and Cindy take Tim to the house of the bullies, and wouldn’t you know it? The father of Tim’s bullies is Jim’s boss, Franklin Crudstaff! Who would’ve thought it? Crudstaff is so evil that his last name is “Crudstaff”, his coffee mug says “The Boss” on it, his last name is “Crudstaff”, he will attempt to bring up pointless tension at the climax, and his last name is “Crudstaff”! Did I mention that his last name is “Crudstaff”? And, for some reason, the mother invites Tim to her son’s birthday party. And guess what? Jim and Cindy actually acquiesce! Even a cut back to the present shows that the USAS interviewer knows and is dumbfounded by how stupid of a decision that was!

Oh, and the movie ties itself back to pencils by saying that the factory is losing funding and will have to lay off some of its workers. Does Stanleyville seriously have no other way to pay its bills?

But hey! Now it’s time for the birthday party!

JIM: I thought it was time he learned to fight his own battles.

CINDY: We just forgot to ask if he could swim.

WOW. DAMN.

Anyway, we cut right to Tim on the diving board next to the Crudstaffs’ pool while wearing socks to cover up his leaves. Yes. Socks in a swimming pool. Tim is just standing there on the diving board, and is the only person (almost, but I’ll get to that in a second) at the party that is wearing swim trunks. But then Joni shows up, causing one of Tim’s stems to begin to grow. Way to throw prepubescent lust at us, TOLoTG! Uh, Tim? Staring is not the best strategy to win a chick’s heart. Uh, no. No. No! Stop jumping on the diving board trying to get her attention! Stop trying to execute the mating dance of the rafflesia flower! Stop! STOP! STOP! Oh, thank HEAVEN, he finally jumped into the pool. But Tim stays down there a little too long, and Joni jumps in after him. Joni tries to pull one of Tim’s socks off, and in response – nobody touches the leaves, beeyatch! – Tim kicks Joni in the face, which gives her a bloody nose.

We immediately cut to Tim being driven home, and he is instructed to, whenever he sees Joni coming,

JIM: … just run the other way.

Wait, what?

(Earlier) JIM: … fight his own battles.

(Now) JIM: … run the other way.

Make up your mind, man!

After a brief chase sequence, Joni corners Tim and shows him her Wisconsin-shaped grape juice stain on her shoulder. Okay, how does this make them alike? Joni has a birthmark, and Tim’s a literal abomination of nature! Oh, and Joni says she’s afraid to show her birthmark. Oh, come on! I have a birthmark on my foot, and I don’t care who knows about it!

And then, Joni and Tim sort of…hit it off. Ew. Okay, it was one thing for Tim to have a crush on Joni. I can relate. I once had a brief crush on someone four years older than me. But it is quite another thing for Joni to reciprocate those feelings. I don’t care that the actors have only a three year age difference, but it looks creepy when this chick has a crush on a boy half her size. She’s old enough to be his babysitter.

You know, a movie that stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton could have at least picked a hotter, more Hollywood actress to play the role of Joni. I can recommend two right now: Chloe Grace Moretz and Elle Fanning. Both are fantastic actresses and are absolutely gorgeous. I recently saw Moretz play a fantastic Carrie in Carrie, and Fanning did her best to save Maleficent, though the movie sucked.

We then get to the one scene featuring Uncle Bub and yes, yes, that’s right. Out, family. Only Tim can be with Bub in his final moments. We don’t care that Bub has known Jim, Cindy, and his own wife for most of his life. He’s known Tim for two days, and that’s enough for him to slip the nurse an extra $50 and kick everyone else out of the room. We don’t actually see Bub die, but we see Jim, Cindy, and Bub’s wife burst into the room with stressed expressions on their faces, and set Tim off to the side.

Jim and Cindy spontaneously sign Tim up for the soccer team known as the Erasers. Wow. The team is headed by Coach Cal (Common), who refers to himself in the third person. At tryouts, Tim, to say the least, does not do well. Instead of actually kicking the ball, he stumbles over it and falls to the ground. This looks incredibly forced. And, for some reason, Coach Cal lets Tim onto the team, because…Coach Cal likes losing? Okay. Of course Tim’s going to suck at first, but then, out of nowhere, be really good, completely tossing aside the need for practice. At home, Tim practices with Jim. While doing so, Jim and Cindy speak through metaphors, saying that they don’t approve of Joni, and want Tim to stay away from her. I’m sorry, but what has Joni done to deserve the Greens’ mistrust? Oh, and if you want Tim to get the memo, you need to stop speaking in metaphors!

Another thing about this scene – I may have poor foot/eye coordination, but I can kick a soccer ball. How inept is this little booger? This becomes even worse when throughout the season, Coach Cal never lets Tim on the field, forcing him to be the waterboy. No, not The Waterboy. The Waterboy was at least less painfully unfunny than TOLoTG.

One night, after Jim is in a bad mood about the state of the pencil factory, he brings up this phrase:

JIM: With a pencil, anything is possible.

TIM: That is so true.

Yes! That’s how we can feed all of the starving children in Africa! Pencils! That’s how we can defeat ISIS! Pencils! That’s how we can end US-Russia and Israel-Palestine tensions! Pencils! That’s how we can fix everything that’s wrong with our world! We can cure cancer! We can stop all wars! We can collect all the stray cats and dogs in the world, bring them to orphans, and give every orphan and his/her pet a happy home! Pencils! Pencils, pencils, FREAKING PENCILS!

Jim even mentions that he first met Cindy when she was wearing a pencil costume! And when Tim goes to bed, Jim and Cindy come up with a revolutionary idea that will save the pencil factory and Stanleyville! A pencil…made entirely out of leaves! Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE! The dang thing would fall apart long before it could ever be used! Oh, and when they grind up the leaves, they use a mortar and pestle. Wow! And Jim presents the idea to his boss on “Bring your kid to work day”. That same day, Cindy takes Tim to the pencil museum she works at, where Tim sees a painting of Franklin Crudstaff’s mother (who is also Cindy’s boss). Tim says that he could do it better for free. Tim does so, and is indeed honest to a fault, as he also draws her patch of chin hair. This causes Garner to also be honest to a fault to her boss, and she is fired. Yes. Cindy just threw away her job, even though she knew full well that Jim’s job is in serious jeopardy.

KUNI (UHF): Stupid! You’re so stupid!

Cindy confronts Joni, telling her to stay away from Tim. Yes. How dare Joni pay attention to Tim and show concern for him! But Joni shows her a myriad of projects that she and Tim have done, and this convinces Cindy to stop badgering Joni.

At the next soccer game, Cindy and Brenda (oh yeah, she’s still in this movie) get into a parental competition, but Brenda easily bests Cindy when she brings up that not only are her kids working on second languages, not only are they doing all sorts of public service projects, not only do they have their annual music recital coming up, but they can do all of this and still be a happy family. Dude! That is awesome! Tim should have been their kid! And what have Jim and Cindy done? Well, I’m going to put that question away until later, because by the end of the movie, this question will really come back and stab this movie in the butt.

But back to the scene. Cindy, in a desperate attempt to one-up Brenda, BLATANTLY LIES about Tim, saying that

CINDY: He’s musical.

Brenda immediately sees through the lie, as she says

BRENDA: What instruments (PLURAL!!!!!) does he play?

Jim even agrees with the audience that this was a stupid idea on Cindy’s part.

Of COURSE Cindy’s lie backfires – WOW! Brenda’s family is AWESOME! Brenda plays the piano. Her husband plays auxiliary percussion and handbells. Her oldest son plays cello. Her second son plays bassoon. Her daughter plays flute. That’s incredible! I would encourage these kids to join the Reno Youth Symphony Orchestra (RYSO)!

As expected, Brenda calls Tim up to…screw it, just PLAY SOMETHING. HOW WILL TIMMY GET OUT OF THIS ONE? Well, he plinks out a few notes on the piano, flicks the chimes, picks up and puts down a shaker, and then picks up a cowbell and a drum stick. He taps it a few times before playing a simple rhythm. Seeing that Tim is in a desperate situation, Jim gets up, whacks the wall a few times in rhythm, and scats his way into “Low Rider” by Josh Groban. Then Cindy joins in. And then the actual song is dubbed in post-production. As a very prideful, closed-minded musician, this scene is incredibly painful for me to sit through.

The next scene features the final soccer game of the season. Of course the enemy team is going to be called the Bone Crushers. Of course they’re going to be tall, buff players with dark complexions that wear maroon uniforms. After some badgering from Jim, Coach Cal puts Tim on the field. After reenacting the sun-absorbing sequence, Tim takes control, gets the ball, and scores the winning goal…for the enemy team. I knew that Tim was mentally challenged, but DAMN.

BUGS BUNNY: What a maroon.

We then cut back to the USAS interview, where Jim and Cindy’s time for the interview is up. They acknowledge their bad parenting skills, but they refuse to leave. The sanity of all mankind is questioned when the interviewer actually lets them stay longer.

At the soccer celebration dinner, this happens between Tim and Joni.

JIM: … it looks like you just broke up with her.

TIM: No. I let her go.

Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department ™. (Sean, please don’t sue me)

The next scene involves some sort of rally to “save the factory”, where Crudstaff’s father congratulates Franklin for having come up with the idea for the leaf pencil! Of COURSE Franklin Crudstaff was going to do that! Hell, his last name is “CRUDSTAFF”! Tim reveals to the entire audience that he has leaves on his legs, and that is how his parents came up with the idea, rather than Crudstaff. Tim shows his leaves, the leaf pencil idea is attributed to the right people, Crudstaff is shamed and shunned, and the FACTORY IS SAVED! Yaaaaaaay.

But – gasp! – what a twist! It turns out that Tim has, over time, been losing leaves from his legs, and we learn that when the last leaf goes, he goes too. This is why he only had one leaf on his left leg when he revealed himself to the whole of Stanleyville. Yes. He had one leaf on his leg, and the entire room believed him. Wow.

Anyways, once Jim, Cindy, and Tim get home, Tim’s last leaf falls, and he disappears, taking his bland, boring, naïve, annoying childishness with him. Thank heaven.

We finally go back to and stay in the present, as Jim and Cindy have finished their story. They reveal that Tim left them a letter, saying that he had given his leaves to all the people he had affected in his short life, and had left the last one for Jim and Cindy. And never once does he tell Jim and Cindy that he loves them. What a little craphead.

So, after hearing this absolutely insane story, combined with this confession that the Greens are both unprepared and incompetent in the realm of parenthood, would you trust a child to the care of these crazy parents? Of course you would! Jim and Cindy adopt a little Asian girl named Lily, and they all live happily ever after.

This movie is not all that bad. Sure, it was downright annoying at times. The plot sometimes forgot that different parts of it existed and then brought those parts back up at inappropriate times. However, Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton are clearly trying. Jennifer Garner is really damn good whenever I see her play a mother. But the movie itself is too overwhelmingly cutesy to be any good.

But there is one major flaw in this movie that makes it excruciating to watch.

The actual parenting in this movie is awful. I have been able to separate the flaws into two categories.

  • What Jim and Cindy say is this: because they have made mistakes, they will intentionally make bigger ones. They screwed up. They’re glad they screwed up. And they will continue to screw up in new, bigger, more spectacular ways. … … … NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Parenting is NOT about making mistakes just for the sake of making more mistakes! You LEARN from your mistakes to you can become better and be able to not only not make these mistakes again, but make the right choices in the future! Jim and Cindy NEVER got better at parenting – if anything, they actually got WORSE. They NEVER LEARNED that PARENTING IS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE! This transitions into the next category:
  • Jim and Cindy RARELY, if EVER, actually ASKED TIM QUESTIONS. “Where did you come from? Why do you have leaves on your legs? What is the extent of your brainpower? What do you know? What do you like? What do you not like? Screw it – we’re signing you up for soccer! Don’t like it? Tough – deal with it! Do you know how to play a musical instrument? Screw it – get up there and play something, goshdangit! Who’s that chick? I don’t care – stay away from her!”

It boggles my mind to no end to know that plenty of people actually LIKE this movie.

I have absolutely no idea why.

Final Verdict: .5 out of 5 stars. Good acting saved this from being worse.