THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL:
  TERRIBLE MOVIES VIEWED FOR THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN THEM

page 2

   PAUL COONEY

Balls. I got a pair. Sure. And do those testes sometimes influence how I spend my leisure dollars? How 'bout all the time! LOL! Omg you know what I'm talking about don't you? Of course you do, unless you're suffering from erectile dysfunction or have a religious belief that prohibits your bits from swelling.

If the latter my condolences, if the former may I suggest you peruse some smut?

I digress. With all the entertainment choices out there from the bullfights to wrestling to lawn darts, I simply can't find the time to see everything can I? Of course I can't!

And do you really think art is the answer? I mean we've been at this whole "civilization" nonsense for 2000-plus years, and I think we can now all reasonably conclude: the shit just ain't worth it. Nice try Shakespeare, good effort Bach, you can get up from the harpsichord and get your well-deserved pat on the ass, but ultimately it's all pointless and it don't make no nevermind on the trials and tribs of us crazy kids on this here planet Earth.

Those fucking Greeks had all the answers! It's in there! Shit's been figured out since way back when and it just don't matter, this world still sux and morons are still runnin' rampant cuz god forbid we actually let the superior ones genetically engineer the 99% plus of the population who really should be lobotomized and enslaved. Oh Gattaca, when will that beautiful dream become a reality?

I digress...art is dead, effort is futile, everyone's stupid and I just want to be entertained. Holy shit, Howie Mandel just popped up on my tv...goddammit he's single-handedly destroying/supporting my argument! I need to find some art quick...oh lordy! Pale Rider is on Spanish television! Viva! Sydney Penney is even more bewitching dubbed! Rapido erection grande!

I digress yet again. I simply don't have time for the Mickey Mouse bullshit that the hoi polloi call "culture."

Thus when it comes to cinema I'm sure as shit not going to waste 90 minutes watching a flick featuring a chick I don't want to rail. Am I right? I said, am I right?

Life's too short! Every flick should feature a chick I want to be stranded on an island with.

What's that, precious? Why did I throw the satellite phone into the sea? Cuz I don't want to be rescued! Let's stay here forever, babycakes! Just me and you...we can live on love and coconuts. And handjobs!

I digress yet again.

If there is a flaw in this strategy (the filmgoing one, not my awesome south sea island utopia), it's that sometimes you let your heart and loins lead you into a movie that really sux.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is one such movie!

Baby Jesus knows I had high hopes for that little mamby jam, what with the triumph of Eurotrip fresh in my memory. Oh, Kristin Kreuk! You are so lovely! I was the happiest of campers when you appeared onscreen in that whimsical cavalcade and promptly dumped that bland dude in a rather saucy way, and then showed up at the graduation bash and proceeded to tongue Matty Too Hotty From Southie Damon onstage as he sang about doing you on Scotty's birthday. Wowsers. Those 5 minutes alone made that whole movie worthwhile!

Thus when I learned you were going to be the lead actress in a major motion picture, was I wrong to expect greatness? It was based on a video game! Since when do those not turn out great?

Hello, Frisco! Street Fighter begins in San Fran and that's a good thing cuz I like rice as much as the next guy and trolleys sure are fun are they not? That's another thing, when are mustaches coming back in style? I have my hands on my hips as I write this. Where is the lisp feature on my keyboard?

Yet another digression. A sweeping shot of the Golden Gate bridge followed by something even more precious: an asian girl playing the piano! (Wow this Sydney Penney voiceover is actually terrible...where is the chick who does Dora the Explorer when you need her?)

After the ivories are tinkled the scene shifts to Tokyo. Hello what's this? They actually shot on location for this shitbomb? Wow - those beatniks in Hollyweird know how to waste money! And I thought those bureaucrats in Washington were bad! Lol.

Kristin's poppa has some fancy pants job that sends him around the world where he lives in mansions with pretty gardens and homely servants and...a white wife! Well la tee dah, this cat has really scored, but no doubt the jealous gods will strike back. You can't just throw all that good fortune in their faces and not expect a little payback, dude!

Daddykins practices Tai Chi which means I don't trust him already, but he also takes time to teach his daughter Wu Shu martial arts! The very same martial art featured in The Rebel, which was only the most successful movie in Vietnam's history and which featured a Vietnamese model in the lead role. Oh Veronica Ngo. I would gladly ngo through the hell of a Hanoi prison if I knew you were the prize awaiting me on the outside! Not since Michelle Yeoh drove a motorcycle atop a train have I been so enchanted by an asskicking pixie.

Come to think of it I would rather be knee deep in a rice paddy getting shot at by the Viet Cong than watching Street Fighter. Michael Clarke Duncan is involved? Gross. Was Ving Rhames in rehab? Omg it gets worse! Neal McDono-why-he's employed is the heavy! I have so little respect for him I won't even bother to spell his name right! First Walking Tall and now this. Why is he being cast as badass bad guys? He is no Roy Stalin!

I'm 20 minutes in and Matt Damon doesn't look like he's going to make an appearance. How depressing. Kreuk is wasting her talents playing the piano instead of his flute. I object!

Poppa is kidnapped and Kreuk comes across a secret scroll of some sort and reveals she speaks Chinese. That's hot...maybe this movie can be redeemed after all. Can we skip all this street fighting and get down to the pillow arts?

McDonut holds some sort of hoods convention at the Shadaloo HQ that is a clear Goldfinger rip-off and appears to be attempting an Irish accent. Good god. It's bad enough that he is neither big nor menacing enough to play a convincing tough guy, but now he's failing badly at acting! I hope some 90 pound half asian girl kicks this loser's ass at some point! Ngo away!

Moon Bloodgood shows up on a motorcycle and that is a step in the right direction, though it's obvious very early on that this film is not going to take advantage of some inspired casting.

(Which was especially lamentable since the theater I saw Street Fighter in was shockingly empty, and thus if the opportunity had presented itself in the form of a Bloodgood/Kreuk dalliance I would have been free to take matters into my own hands. Not that I advocate such things of course, but with movie ticket prices the way they are today it's the least they could let me do.)

Sweet sassy molassy - Chris Klein! Yes! Not only is he in the movie but he's scowling! Those rosy cheeks are scowling and that's bad news for the bad guys. His name is Charlie Nash and he works for Interpol. At the very least this movie has given me my new alias. Will it impress the high school girls? Only one way to find out!

Some weak stuff happens with severed heads on a table and Kreuk's daddykins being held in prison, but I really just want to see some smoldering Klein/Bloodgood action with Kreuk remaining virginal on the side, perhaps engaging in some light onanism. Is that too much to ask? Isn't that what focus group's demanded when these questions were put to them? (Do I have to start hijacking focus groups?)

Klein breaks down just how bad McDonough is: "This guy walks through raindrops." Hmm - that sounds kind of adorable! I'm still not scared of this chump!  What does he do when it's not raining? Prance around sunbeams?

Kreuk bids her servants adieu and heads to Bangkok. She's like London Tipton. Which reminds me - don't ever watch Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior cuz you're a big fan of Brenda Song. We all marvel at the genius of The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and expect that when you take the star of that show, make her a homecoming queen turned secret ninja assassin named Wendy Wu you've got a rock solid hit right? Well you'd be fucking wrong! Wendy Wu's adventures simply aren't as riveting as a spoiled heiress' escapades on a boat, and that's a shame.

Back to Chun Li...Kreuk's wearing some clunky boots that just don't measure up to Natalie Kelley's fantastical bootwear in Tokyo Drift. They really should have avoided the whole boot area after it was clearly perfected by Nat. Maybe Kreuk could have sported ballerina shoes or Adidas, or put her own personal stamp on the sombrero. "Oooh why is that beautiful girl wearing a sombrero in Bangkok? I'm not messing with her!"

Sombreros aside, the only scene worth watching in this disappointment occurs in a bathroom where, come to think of it, most of life's greatest moments happen. Is there a better friend than the toilet? He takes all your doody and pee pee and rarely complains, and he doesn't judge you when you spend a little quality time with the vaseline. Way to go, toilet! A bosom pal!

Kreuk is wearing a very fetching blue dress and does some odd braided knot thing on the top of her head that is rather nice, and she entices some generic dragon lady into the john with the promise of sapphic ecstasy. Delicious. Surprisingly instead of some toilet-scented tenderness we are treated to a beat down! Kreuk turns on dragon lady just as the old hag was expecting a kiss. There are kicks and punches and at some point a faucet is ripped off the sink, but unfortunately neither lady is wearing a wife beater so we really don't get the full benefit like we should. This director is such an amateur! Save the blue dress for the yacht scene! That reminds me...there was no yacht scene!

Nash dashes into the nightclub as scared patrons flee the plumbing troubles. He's got his gun drawn and you know this hotshot who gets results has no qualms about killing women, but even when Kreuk disobeys his order to freeze he can't bring himself to pull the trigger and ruin something so lovely. He's a bad ass who plays by his own set of rules, but that is one flower he won't trample on! Good for you, Nash!

Other stuff happens as this terrible movie stubbornly insists on having a plot of some sort. McNo-talent beats up a girl and it's revealed he was the orphaned child of Irish missionaries. This is the first thing in this video game flick I completely disbelieve. There is no way this weak suck is Irish!

I really should have skipped out on the Street Fighter and watched the opening credits to Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past again.

A. It's got McConaughey, a man so dreamy I took the time to spell his difficult name correctly as such beauty warrants.

B. It's got Rachelle Wood, a buxom wonder who has been grossly underutilized by the fops and fools in La La Land who continue to foist the likes of January Jones onto the screens of the world even though I have no interest in getting inside her jeans in January, February or any goddamn month for that matter.

I really must recommend, if you have 45 seconds of free time to peruse the opening of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Miss Wood graces the screen before the credits are even finished - in white lingerie no less! It's her finest performance since that jewelry commercial I saw her in, and, as a bonus, the remaining 90 minutes weren't half bad! Michael Douglas plays a real sleaze and the whole thing exists in my memory as a pleasant irrelevance.

Where was I? Omg Street Fighter...must I? I wish I was watching Ping Pong Playa instead, which is to ping pong-centered movies what Paul Blart is to mall cop pix. If you are going to see one ping pong-themed movie this year, and by god you should before the Chinese take over, make it Ping Pong Playa.

It's not like most other table tennis movies, which are filled to the brim with violence and intrigue. This one is a sweet and tender tale about this Lucas Black-esque Asian badass who just wants to play hoops and has no interest in one of those "job" things his dad keeps yammering on about when he's not frying Spam. We've all been there!

Suddenly his jerk doctor/ping pong champion brother is hurt in a car accident and our slacker hero is forced to pick up the paddle and save the family honor by teaching ping pong to a bunch of nerdy kids! Best plot ever! He assembles a merry squad of table tennis-playing disciples and with a little practice and a lot of swagger wins the ping pong championship, defeating the jerky white boy challenger in an awesome test of wills and ball skills.

Does he win the heart of Asian lovely Smith Cho in the process? (Spoiler Alert!) Not really! It's kind of odd...she seems kind of asexual, focused on her thesis or some other such nonsense.

Still, it was a very charming picture and a great showcase for Smith Cho's incredible talents. She smells a bag of baked goods at one point and it's just super.

Back to Chun Li! Some jerk shoots a rocket grenade and causes Kristin to drop her groceries. Stop being so mean! She's looking a little skinny in this picture and could use all those fruits and veggies now rolling into a Bangkok gutter to put some curves on her sinew. She dusts herself off and recalls a few moves Tom Welling taught her in Kansas which she then uses to destroy some mask wearing douche. At some point during their tussle she warns him "I'm just getting started," but then she immediately kills him! Wtf? Toy with him a little, kitty cat!

If only I was watching Scorpion King 2 again, which featured not one but two tawny girls - Natalie Becker and Karen David - wearing not a whole lot. They even went to hell at one point and there was a whole 'who is this impish little tramp thinking she can steal my man' thing going on that was really terrific. Will Scorpion King 3 be as good? Probably!

Finally another scene worth watching! McNo-talent kills Kreuk's daddykins! I really didn't see that coming and it almost makes me think he is menacing.  Still he looks so ordinary that even when he kills defenseless Asian men in front of their beautiful daughters, I still picture him as an insurance salesman having a bad day.

This lame dude named Gen shows up again and is supposed to be helping Kreuk but for some reason he waits til she is shot before he comes to her aid and brings her lovely little wounded body back to his creepy bachelor pad. Or maybe it's already been blown up at this point. I just know he has a real cheesy mustache and he looks like he smells. After the usual mystical Danielsan mumbo jumbo bullshit he tries to teach Kreuk how to form an energy ball of some sort, which just calls to mind a vastly superior Asian chick playing with balls movie, Dragonball Evolution.

That Jamie Chung! What an actress. I don't recall too much of the plot of that beaut but there were some bad guys and Jamie Chung met some nerd who had a dragonball and she wore tight clothes and together they managed to defeat evil! Hooray! That's the kind of feel good movie that leaves my heart soaring and my nutsac swollen, and that's all I really want out of a matinee. Good for you, Jamie Chung!

Speaking of nutsacs, back to Charlie Nash! Interpol's premier agent sees Bloodgood's gold handcuffs and is very intrigued. He never uses them however. Why doesn't this movie deliver? I was actually entertained by Dragonball Evolution for Allah's sake! I'm not a hard gentleman of leisure to please!

Mercifully Street Fighter does come to an end as Kreuk finally battles McNotalent and actually kills him by knocking his head til it crunchily spins 180 degrees...while his daughter watches. It's pretty hilarious.

Obviously I clapped like a seal on meth when the credits rolled out of respect to Kreuk, but jiminey crickets that was a let down. But as I hurled popcorn at the usher and cursed the ticket girl, I thought to myself, chin up camper! Vanity never made a bad film and Rae Dawn Chong is always legit!

 

   CHRIS FUNDERBURG

When John asked us to write a little something on this idea, I immediately threw out a few obvious responses like the time I watched a Mark L. Lester straight-to-video joint called Night of the Running Man just because it featured Janet Gunn or the time we both suffered through the extremely unpleasant Diplomatic Immunity for the promise of learning just what Fabania Udenio would be showing off if this were indeed the Riviera, girl. He then sent me this e-mail in response:

Hm...I'm not sure I wanted this to go in the direction of "movies I saw because I read on Mr. Skin that such-and-such did full frontal in it, and obviously it's a terrible piece of shit and why did I think tiny Holly Marie Combs would have attractive boobs anyway?" But I don't want to hinder the process, so by all means - discuss how upsetting the rape scene in Diplomatic Immunity is.

But really I'm not sure what he had in mind. If I watch a film starring a beautiful actress I genuinely admire like, say, Catherine Deneuve or Juliette Binoche, it's because I genuinely think the film will be good that is to say, I equate "quality actress" with "quality film" and I'm just not going to bother with a piece of obviously worthless trash like Jet Lag or Bee Season or Music and Lyrics* just because they happen to be in it. A talented actress will get my attention, sure, but that's not the final consideration. The film matters, on a certain level. I write "on a certain level" because I'll honestly watch just about anything if I'm in the right mood and it's on Netflix or what have you. But I had to go way out of my way to see Diplomatic Immunity and Night of the Running Man I saw them both in the vhs era, mind you, before everything was readily available through ebay or BitTorrent, back when finding a vhs tape of a little-loved, mainly forgotten Bruce Boxleitner flick and an Andrew McCarthy action film from the director of Commando, respectively, was damn near impossible. Add in the fact that Diplomatic Immunity wasn't even the only movie with that title to come out in 1991 and I'm sorry to say I exerted real effort to find those movies, movies that I had no reason to expect would be any good. I'm pretty sure Mr. Skin didn't exist then, either, so I couldn't even be guaranteed of naked-ladyness on the part of either film. Hm. This paragraph somehow makes me appear to have even less dignity than I thought it would.

Would it be more humiliating to write about how just last summer I forced noted gentleman of leisure Paul Cooney to accompany me to see The Sorcerer's Apprentice because I have seen literally every move in which Monica Bellucci appeared? I guess if you're willing to do a few dishonest mental contortions she's more in the Juliette Binoche, legit-type actress mode than she's in the Janet Gunn, bosomy soft-core t.v. star/former Dallas Cowboys' cheerleader mode but come on, is she? Has anyone, anywhere ever thought "Oh, I'll see that Monica Bellucci movie; she's a good actress." No. They have not. Because that thought would be bullshit. I saw her in the extremely shitty French wire-fu period piece Brotherhood of the Wolf in the theater and immediately tracked down everything else she had been in, including t.v. movies and PAL-only releases without English subtitles. Incidentally, she used to be in a lot more movies with her husband Vincent Cassell (a.k.a. the ugly French guy from Ocean's 12, a.k.a. Europe's greatest hero.) I think she had been in six movies with him before she left for Hollywood and since then they've only been in Irreversible together. I don't even have a reaction to that. Is it better to be in giant piles of steaming crap like Doberman and Brotherhood of the Wolf with your husband or a self-consciously "like, super-fucked up, man!" artsy rape-revenge film? I genuinely don't have an opinion. But make no mistake about it, my interest in Bellucci was "Jesus H. Christ Almighty this lady is so. fucking. hot." For the record, the result of my painstaking research: L'Ultimo Capodanno is the one you're looking for. Franck Spadone has its moments, too.**

After a while, I just kept watching Bellucci movies even as her career got classier and more glamorous Hollywood-ish, less Euro and art-trashy. I'm a completist by nature and I kept consuming Bellucci films despite not really being obsessed any longer. I like her, sure, but I'm not going nuts or anything. My habit reached its nadir with The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I honestly don't know what I was doing seeing that film. It was family-friendly entertainment from a lunk-headed blockbuster producer, sure to be the worst kind of headache-inducing "good clean fun" noise machine. Bellucci wasn't even in the the preview, so I knew she'd barely be in the movie and almost definitely dressed appropriately for a family film. I mean, just what was I getting out of this experience? I don't even enjoy Nicolas Cage's histrionics as much as the rest of the internet seems to and there's obviously nothing about "a live-action reboot of the Sorcerer's Apprentice section of Fantasia" that doesn't sound fucking awful. I hope it's at least a grittier take on the source material! It would have been bad enough if I had just gone to see this movie on my own, alone with my bleak thoughts in a darkened theater, nothing to do but wrestle with a conscience that allowed such a thing to happen; but I had to convince Cooney to come with me. I spent actual time making a case for why we should see this film and how that would be a good way to spend a couple hours. Paul rightfully loathes punchable-faced no-talent Jay Baruchel, so it wasn't exactly an easy task to get him to go to the movie. Fuck, I hate Jay Baruchel and hope to punch him in the face someday what the hell was I doing? I have no explanation. Bellucci, predictably, isn't in it more than 10 minutes and is not pulchritudinous in her limited screen-time. Was it worth it? Was it worth suffering through squeaky-voiced human irritant Jay Baruchel's romantic fumblings and Jerry Bruckheimer's explosion-a-minute philosophy just to keep the streak alive? No. It was not.

 

* 8 Women is a piece of worthless trash that stars Deneuve and a bevy of French beauties (Isabelle Huppert! Emmanuelle Beart!) but I was honestly hoping it would be a good movie. I wouldn't have watched it if I were fairly certain it would suck, the way I was 99% sure both Diplomatic Immunity and Night of the Running Man would most definitely blow.

** Also, I should really mention that Brotherhood of the Wolf features classic Bellucci pulchritude although, that one is the gateway drug. Telling you about it would be like telling a heroin addict he really should try smoking weed because it will blow his mind.

 

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