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911-cover

The Woodstock and Altamont concerts of 1969 are widely and rightly regarded as epochally emblematic events and both have been the subject of studies into the sociological, occult, and even the possible mind control significance of each of these programmed mass experiences. The Concert for New York City staged at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001, has received much less scrutiny but is no less worthy of investigation on similar grounds. It is interesting to note that, with the inclusion of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Who, the lineup at Madison Square Garden would feature personnel from each of the previous countercultural extravaganzas, inviting comparison between the events. In the case of the Concert for New York City, however, the rock icons who had previously heralded the arrival of an ostensibly freer and more open society valuing peace and love would instead lend whatever remained of their revolutionary prestige to the entrenchment of an authoritarian establishment determined to intensify the drive for war and Zio-corporatist global domination.

The program was orchestrated by the Robin Hood Foundation – ostensibly as a fundraiser for the families of the heroic firefighters and law enforcement officers who had suffered tremendous losses during the rescue efforts in Manhattan on September 11th. Celebrities in attendance begged the viewers at home to donate. Susan Sarandon, making what she characterized as the “money pitch”, assured the audience of the benevolent intentions of the organizers: “Let’s give it up for the Robin Hood Foundation, I can personally vouch for them.” What is the Robin Hood Foundation? Lynn Parramore characterizes the initiative as “Robin Hood in Reverse”:

America’s parasitical oligarchs are masters of public relations. One of their favorite tactics is to masquerade as defenders of the common folk while neatly arranging things behind the scenes so that they can continue to plunder unimpeded. Perhaps nowhere is this sleight of hand displayed so artfully as it is at a particular high-profile charity with the nerve to bill itself as itself as “New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.” […]

The Robin Hood Foundation, named for that green-jerkined hero of redistribution who stole from the rich to give to the poor, is run, ironically, by some of the most rapacious capitalists the country has ever produced – men who make robber barons of previous generations look like small-time crooks. Founded by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones, the foundation boasts 19 billionaires on its leadership boards and committees, the likes of which include this sample of American plutocracy […]

By occupation (the more useless and parasitical the better), it comes as no surprise that 12 of the 19 men in leadership positions at the Robin Hood Foundation happen to be hedge fund managers. […]

The mission statement of the Robin Hood Foundation brays about all the funding it provides for school programs, generating “meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.” Soup kitchens! Homeless shelters! Job training! The tuxedoed tycoons throw money at all these causes “to give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

How far does this largesse actually go toward ameliorating New York’s poverty problem? Unsurprisingly, not very far at all. In fact, as Hedge Clippers points out, the poverty rate in the city has grown over the course of the Robin Hood Foundation’s history, from 20 percent in 1990 to 21.2 percent in 2012.

Guess what’s also grown? The bank accounts of 19 billionaires on the Robin Hood Foundation’s boards, which have ballooned 93 percent since 2008.

A look at Robin Hood’s directors reveals such worthies as Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, pioneer of toxic mortgage-backed securities trading, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Also sponsoring the Concert for New York City was Bear, Stearns, Inc., which, according to a study by investigators Mathewson and Nol, was one of the companies engaged in suspicious trading activity during the days leading up to the destruction of the World Trade Center. There “investors traded 3,979 contracts from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10 on September options that profit if shares fall below $50. The previous average volume for those options was 22 contracts” according to Mathewson and Nol. Clearly, these were people gravely concerned about the welfare of the city’s firefighters and police.

911-bowie

The program opens with David Bowie performing the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” to a montage of historic images of Manhattan and newly arrived immigrants. Bowie, not himself an American – and who, just a few years previously, had declared “I’m Afraid of Americans” – would seem at first glance a peculiar choice to perform this particular number and to open the show. However, even this, as with much of the evening’s symbolism, was very deliberate in design. Bowie would be but the first of several British performers to take the stage, reinforcing the coupled commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States in pursuing the newly minted “War on Terror” agenda. Curiously, “America” contains a bizarre and seemingly comical reference to espionage and deceptive appearances. “She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy. I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”

Odd, too, is the fact that the montage of shots of New York City skyscrapers includes a clear image of the old International Telephone and Telegraph building on Park Avenue. This is an unexpected choice for inclusion considering that the company is most notorious for its instigation of a CIA-managed coup to install Augusto Pinochet as dictator in Chile on September 11, 1973. Bowie, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra from the Late Show with David Letterman, next performs “Heroes” – a song with an arguable 9/11 resonance owing to its inclusion in 1998’s Godzilla, a film depicting apocalyptic havoc in New York City and featuring the Twin Towers prominently. “We can beat them forever and ever,” Bowie vows, stirring the men in the audience to warlike enthusiasm.

911-drum

Next the comedian Billy Crystal – not to be confused with decidedly unfunny PNAC signatory Bill Kristol – takes the stage to make some goofy jokes about the then-current anthrax scare. “You know who I’m worried about?” Crystal begins. “My relatives. I mean, my relatives are Jews, they smell everything that looks suspicious.” Crystal perpetuates the theme of paranoia and introduces the evening’s concern with the fate of the Jews. He continues, bringing out the concert’s symbolic involvement with the uniform-oriented regimentation of spectator sports:

Somebody said that this is bigger than Woodstock […] and music brings everybody together. And it’s all about togetherness tonight. We’re here tonight, we are alive in New York, the Yankees are kickin’ ass, the Knicks will kick ass. Alright, we’ve been hit, we’ve been a little down, but we are not out, we are still the greatest city in the world […] and we’re a better New York. We’re a better New York […] and we’re a compassionate nation. We’re a compassionate nation. While we’re at war. We’re at war but we’re also dropping food on Afghanistan. […] Now tonight is important, just to have fun and get away from the news for a while, it’s okay. I can’t watch the shows anymore with the ticker tape going at the bottom of the set, it’s driving me crazy. My neck hurts. […] Get away from the news. And you hear the same things over and over again. […] It’s not the good old days when the only guy we hated was John Rocker. This is a different thing. Now we can have fun. We can make fun of the Taliban. And when they’re together, don’t they look like ZZ Top? But let me ask you something. We have learned something in all of this mess. We have to be kind to people who are different than us, who look different, who talk strange, who have different beliefs. I’m talking ‘bout people from Jersey. We should learn and whether we are Christians or Jews, or a Muslim, we all have to agree on one thing. We can never, ever again let Mariah Carey make a movie. Please.

Crystal makes clear that Muslim terrorists are not the only enemy America faces. The Concert for New York City is also haunted by the specter of the angry white bigot – the old American type personified by Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker, who in 1999 had said of New York,

It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing. […] The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

The War on Terror, while rallying westerners to slaughter the inhabitants of distant and easily misrepresented foreign countries, would also pressure Americans and Europeans to find within themselves the capacity to accept an increasingly alien presence in their midst. As Crystal suggests, the 9/11 attacks have metamorphosed the citizens into “a better New York” and “a compassionate nation” that is also “dropping food on Afghanistan”. The obedient open-mindedness demanded of the audience extends beyond the mere acceptance of immigrants from foreign cultures. They must also accept the sexual other, as represented on the concert program by David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton. The pedophile demographic is also represented, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Pete Townshend in attendance, and Allan Konigsberg, known to the world as Woody Allen, contributing a short film to the show.

“These colors don’t run” reads an American flag sign hoisted among the audience. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, whose office received one of the anthrax letters five days before the concert, reinforced the bellicose mood of the night, declaring that “America will never be defeated!”

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A firefighter then introduces Bon Jovi, with the Jersey boys performing a somber rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – significantly, a song about economic hardship made bearable by a faith in the irrational. The theme of a necessary sacrifice would be repeated in the calls for viewers to donate money and in Jim Carrey’s assertion that “freedom comes at a terrible price.” Bon Jovi next performs “Wanted Dead or Alive”, which, in the context of the Concert for New York City, is cleverly metamorphosed into a song about war and the bravery of soldiers, cowboys on steel horses, riding off to fight in “another place where the faces are so cold.” If the lyrics are honest about one thing, it is that they “might not make it back.” Ironically, Bon Jovi’s drummer beats on a set adorned with images of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, the effect being that Lady Liberty takes a pummeling throughout the patriotic performance.

Jay-Z grabs the mic to deliver the drug-slinging anthem “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, its title a reference to the Israelite god Jehovah. This selection might seem out of keeping with the evening’s festivities if not for the fact that U.S. forces were then in the process of seizing Afghanistan for the reclamation of its poppy fields. The Goo Goo Dolls next invade the stage to rock a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, with frontman John Rzeznik parading around in camo pants to show his solidarity with the mission of “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

911-scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro then introduce Martin Scorsese’s short film “The Neighborhood”, which concerns itself with the demographic changes reconfiguring the director’s old stomping grounds on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. “Today, on the surface,” Scorsese begins, “it seems obvious that the neighborhood’s changed. I mean, it’s Asian-American. It may be Chinese now. But it’s not that simple.” He visits a Mr. De Palo, the proprietor of a cheese shop, who gives the audience a lesson in diversity and social change:

People today say “This is not Little Italy anymore.” And I tell them “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. The spirit of Little Italy, the immigrants that came here […] and you look down the street and you see this whole group of people.” I said “That’s the same exact thing as my grandparents and great-grandparents. This neighborhood hasn’t changed.”

“Wow, look at that cheese, eh?” Scorsese enthuses before treating the audience to a historical lecture that utilizes the themes established by Billy Crystal’s deprecating remark about John Rocker earlier during the show.

There were groups of bigots called Know-Nothings. They didn’t want the Irish in America at all. This was back in 1844. They gathered together to march down Prince Street from the Bowery to burn and destroy St. Patrick’s, but when they got to the corner, they saw that the place was defended not just by Irish men, but by Irish women and by Irish children, too. […] And that was the beginning of the end. The change. The change over acceptance about what America’s supposed to be. Letting in the immigrants, letting in other cultures, other religions, other races, and everybody living together – in freedom […] I had this thing that happened to me […] by 1979 I […] developed dyslexia. Invariably, I want to say “right” but “left” comes out. I want to say “left” but “right” comes out. And, uh, when I think of New York I want to say “New York” but “America” comes out. And that’s real. That’s true.

This will never be the country of the ignorant Know-Nothings again, Scorsese suggests, so nativists are advised instead to learn to love and live with the multicultural gaggle of schoolchildren who traipse across the screen during his diatribe. After all, just like the Italians, they will acculturate and eventually be transformed into real and fully assimilated Americans.

911-joel

Billy Joel shows up to perform “New York State of Mind” and “Miami 2017” – an upbeat tune that, oddly enough, seems to revel in imagery of New York City’s destruction.

Will Ferrell next appears in the role of “W” in a comedy segment celebrating the popular myth of the cowboy adventurer Bush administration and trivializing the horror of the invasion of Afghanistan by turning it into a stupid cartoon:

I wanted to give y’all an update on the current proceedings. Let me take a second to give you my own little Behind the Music on the Artist formerly known as the Taliban. Earlier today I met with the U.S. Senate in their chambers. And then I met with the House of Representatives in their new offices, which are in the basement of an abandoned Sam Goody’s in eastern Maryland. We discussed our plan […] to bomb the Taliban into the Stone Age. The problem is […] they don’t seem to notice the difference. So we had to come up with a new plan. And right now we are focusing our attacks on all the major cities under the Taliban, or as I call them, the Evil Doers. We’ve just started attacking Mazar-i-Sharif. And you know what? Sharif don’t like it. Rock the casbah, rock the casbah. You know, Sharif don’t like it. Now, as many of you know, we’ve had to change the name of our military campaign several times […] but I’ve talked to some of the people here tonight and they’ve given me some new ideas. Paul McCartney said, “Why don’t we call it Taliband on the Run?” I thought that was good. Destiny’s Child suggested “Operation Bootylicious”. Macy Gray, she said somethin’ to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she was sayin’. […] Well, whatever we call it, the mission is clear. The Evil Doers are in their caves. And we’re gonna smoke ‘em out of their caves. And then we’re gonna smoke ‘em back into their caves just for the heck of it. And then out of their caves and then back in. And why are we gonna do this? I can do anything I want, my approval rating is like 106% right now. And since I can do whatever I want, I’m gonna sing a song tonight.

“W” then launches into a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” only to be interrupted before he can get to the telling line “The piper’s calling you to join him.”

Chris Kattan introduces Destiny’s Child, who treat the crowd to a song titled “Emotion” (“emotions takin’ me over”) followed by a gospel medley to shut down rational thought and give God’s sanction to the new age of international interventionism. An apparently inebriated Harrison Ford thanks the Robin Hood Foundation and Bear, Stearns for their generosity, after which the audience is further distracted with a feel-good “Lovely Day” video with smiling babies, interracial couples, and dogs.

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Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, continuing with the transatlantic theme, collaborate on “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” with backing from Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra.

James Lipton from Inside the Actor’s Studio provides a distinguished introduction for Adam Sandler, reprising the role of his Saturday Night Live character Operaman in order to honor the fallen firefighters and other heroes with novelty songs about consumerism, homosexuality, and Jewish erections. “I got a bone-ah! A Jewish circumcised bone-ah! Can’t get rid of this bone-ah! Operaman wish he was alone-ah!” Generous as his performance has already been, the virtuoso cannot bring himself to leave the stage without first directing the audience’s thoughts to excretions and bestiality:

He no let women read. He no let women vote-ah!

That’s why the only love he gets is from a mountain goat-ah!

He want to spread disease-oh in our mailbox.

For he himself suffers from a case of smallcox!

Osama kiss my ass! Osama bite my dink!

Osama go to hell! Osama get a shrink!

Osama says he’s tough, Osama says he’s brave.

Then tell me why Osama is shitting in a cave!

The Backstreet Boys, tasked with the difficult chore of following Sandler’s triumph, sing “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” – again, an ironic selection in consideration of what the concert has been designed to do. David Spade and Melissa Etheridge put in appearances, after which Halle Berry makes another “money pitch” and introduces a Spike Lee tribute to the New York Yankees. Visible over a doorway in the film is a quote from General MacArthur: “There is no substitute for victory.” This conveniently frames the necessity of the “War on Terror” through the collective memory of the “good war” America fought against fascism. MacArthur, of course, commanded American forces in the Pacific theater opened after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The “War on Terror” had similarly been launched by a “New Pearl Harbor” event as predicted in PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document. Paul McCartney would also draw a parallel between the Second World War and the “War on Terror” by mentioning that his father served as a firefighter during the Blitz.

911-who

John Cusack introduces the Who, who storm through “Who Are You” with a Union Jack projected onto a screen above the stage. An American flag replaces it during “Baba O’Reilly” with its assessment of a generation “all wasted”. “Behind Blue Eyes” cranks up the anger with its “vengeance” that is “never free”. American flags symbolically flank a Union Jack for the final song of the set, which, in the Concert for New York City’s greatest irony, is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Images of the Twin Towers appear on the screen to remind the audience why the war drums have been beating all night.

Governor George Pataki puts in his two cents with some “God bless America!” tripe, after which Cusack introduces Konigsberg’s short “Sounds from a Town I Love”, which spies on neurotic New Yorkers as they kvetch into their cell phones post-9/11. Two of the overheard conversations warrant special attention. “This is the greatest city in the world,” one man says. “Where else can you be paranoid and right so often?” The New Yorker’s paranoia takes on particular meaning in consideration of another character’s restaurant review: “Hey, we went to Balthazar last night. Oh, it’s fantastic. At the table next to ours was Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Marlon Brando, Tiger Woods, Tony Blair, the president, and Osama bin Laden. I am telling you, that is the in place to be.” The idea that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden might be having a business lunch together is only intended to be a joke, because only Allan Konigsberg could imagine something so silly happening – right?

911-stones

The home viewer’s attention is more than once redirected to a Bud Light banner as well as to a bimbo in the audience showing off her ample cleavage, keeping the people’s collective consciousness squarely planted between their legs, which is where it stays as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards take the stage. The pair sings “Salt of the Earth” as an excuse to get in “a prayer for the common foot soldier”, after which Mick hoots his way through “Miss You”. Matters only get grubbier from there, with Howard Stern trotting out and showing the crowd his buttocks.

Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance behind the microphone and was reportedly booed, but this audience reaction was allegedly edited out of the concert as presented on DVD. Bill, after referencing the Oklahoma City bombing, bubbas his way through a creepy speech in which he says, “We hope we can make your children our children. We hope your future will be ours.” He then finishes with a statement reinforcing the multicultural theme established by Billy Crystal and Martin Scorsese: “Just one last thing I want ‘em [i.e., al Qaeda] to know: in America, you can have any religion you want, you can be from any race or background […] you can do anything you want [i.e., what thou wilt] and still be part of our crowd, if you recognize that our common humanity is more important than all of our interesting differences. That’s the big difference between us and them,” he declares. To fight against terrorism, then, and to be a true American patriot, is to view the racists and the religious bigots as enemies of the state.

911-backstage

James Taylor sings “Fire and Rain” and “Up on the Roof”, followed by Michael J. Fox – another interesting piece of booking for the program – introducing a firefighter who angrily brays: “Osama bin Laden, you can kiss my royal Irish ass!”

Rudy Giuliani puts in a good word for New York tourism, after which Jimmy Fallon gives vent to his poor taste by singing a comic rendition of “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” to a room full of people whose loved ones had, in fact, just died. Jon Bon Jovi introduces a foul-mouthed Kevin Smith short, followed by John Mellencamp doing “Peaceful World” and “Pink Houses”. Hilary Swank brings out Vladimir Ondrasik, whose stage name, “Five for Fighting”, slyly reinforces the hawk objective.

911-portman

Natalie Hershlag next pops out to sell the alliance with Israel with sex appeal. “Hi, everybody, I’m Natalie Portman. I was born in Jerusalem, but I am now a proud resident of New York and I want to wish peace to everyone who is a human being [i.e., Jews] everywhere.” Hershlag smooches a fireman and teases the crowd, “I would kiss all of you if I could. Thank you!” Yes, thank you, goyim. Thank you for fighting Israel’s wars. Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, by the way. Check me out, you goyim. I’m totally hot!

Richard Gere, the only performer who seems to want, however timidly and ineffectively, to oppose the rampant warmongering spirit of the night, receives a negative reaction to his embarrassed message of peace:

This is the moment when we need to be healed and when music showed us the way. Music does what it does best, it helps us to heal. And I think in the situation right now, when we have the possibility of taking this energy, this horrendous energy that we’re all feeling – and the possibility of turning it into more violence and revenge – we can stop that. We can take that energy and turn it into something else. We can turn it into compassion, to love, into understanding. That’s apparently unpopular right now, but that’s alright.

An excerpt from a Ric Burns documentary has journalist Ray Suarez spouting more multiculturalist rubbish and hammering into Americans’ heads how brown they have to become and how Jews are eternal victims:

I would submit at the beginning of the twenty-first century that New York is one of those places that you can use to understand the entire American experience, from a string of Indian villages out on the tip of the eastern seaboard to a place where blacks and Dutch and Jewish refugees and people from the four corners of the earth came in – to the America factory […]

Salma Hayek calls out Jim Carrey to do a clown routine before he composes himself and gets serious. “It is the end of a selfish and cynical age,” he proclaims, reinforcing the notion that a new nation has come into being. The heroes of 9/11, he says, “have reminded us who we really are.”

911-mccartney

Finally, to bring the Concert for New York City to a close, the oligarchs trot out their ultimate showstopper, decrepit old beetle [sic] Paul McCartney, who, trashing his stature as the author of “All You Need Is Love”, reveals himself to be a prostitute of the military-industrial complex by unveiling what is positively the stupidest song of the long and depressing decrescendo of his career – and all for the benefit of some parasitic bankers and Zionists. “I tell you what,” the cute beetle announces after playing “I’m Down” and “Yesterday”. “We wrote a new song, um, the day after the attack, and it’s about freedom. That’s one thing these people don’t understand,” he challenges, raising his fist in a martial gesture. “It’s worth fighting for.” McCartney finally launches into the idiotic “Freedom”, instructing audience members to stomp their feet and clap their hands for percussive entrainment similar in its effect to that heard on John Lennon’s record “Give Peace a Chance”. “I will fight for the right to live in freedom,” the song states repeatedly, zombifying the listener.

After the rest of the stars on the program join McCartney for “Let It Be” – another signal to viewers’ brains to shut down logical thought processes and take refuge in the vague and pastel – McCartney again insists on subjecting the audience to another run-through of “Freedom”, this time with all of the other stars taking part and thereby endorsing its insipid neoconservative messaging. “I want to see everyone joining in this time,” McCartney commands, intending that those who sing along will become complicit in the sanction of war and have an emotional investment in the project. Amusingly, McCartney wears a firefighter’s T-shirt that says “Chinatown Dragon Fighters” – as apt a label as any for a charlatan energizing a nation to wage a war against a foe that only exists in a culture’s imagination.

911-singalong

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Men Women and Children

This ensemble film follows the interrelated lives of a set of high school students and their parents in the context of twenty-first century connectedness that paradoxically has resulted in a profound disconnect for them all. Jennifer Garner plays a paranoid mother obsessed with controlling and filtering her daughter’s online activities. The daughter, Kaitlyn Dever, strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with Ansel Elgort, a sensitive, gloomy boy who quits the school football team after realizing that sports are meaningless. Meanwhile Elgort’s gruff football enthusiast father, played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, attempts to cope with his wife’s abandonment of the family. Norris thinks he may have found a new love with Judy Greer, whose trampy daughter, played by Olivia Crocicchia, aspires to become an actress and promotes herself online with risqué photographs. Adam Sandler, meanwhile, adds another “serious” role to his résumé as a dull accountant whose marriage to Rosemarie DeWitt has lost its magic, with both seeking sexual satisfaction on an extramarital basis.

On the whole, Men, Women and Children makes for an engrossing and mildly artsy Hollywood social commentary, but some threads of the story are definitely more rewarding than others. The insights about the debilitating effects of online pornography are welcome, and the portions of the film concerning young lovers Dever and Elgort are touching and nicely played; but the story about the straying spouses takes Men, Women and Children into regions of moral repugnancy too extreme to qualify as entertainment – a circumstance that militates against what otherwise might have been this critic’s unmitigated recommendation. The film does, however, have much to say about the consequences of living in a deracinated, nihilistic, high-tech society centered on empty civic nationalism and in which “football served as a common language for which they [i.e., father and son] had no substitute.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Men, Women and Children is:

6. Anti-Christian. The actions of Jesus Christ mean “absolutely nothing”.

5. State-skeptical. Garner’s surveillance of her daughter’s devices, while attacking the “helicopter parent” phenomenon as a sort of irrational paranoia, also serves as an allegory about the post-9/11 regime of domestic spying as the norm. The flaw in the analogy, of course, is that it suggests domestic surveillance is motivated by a misguided maternal devotion rather than a hostile mania for control.

4. Anti-porn. Sandler’s imagination has been vitiated by the instant gratification of online pornography. His computer, as a result, is also riddled with malware. His son, played by Travis Tope, has been rendered sexually dysfunctional by his own pornography habit. “By age 15,” narrator Emma Thompson informs the viewer, “Chris found it difficult to achieve an erection without viewing a level of deviance that fell well outside societal norms.” Now only the idea of female sexual domination arouses him, and he is incapable of performing with an actual girl. One wonders if Hollywood’s anti-porn stance as articulated in this film and in Don Jon (2013) is motivated by genuine concern for the public health or by worry about online pornography’s competing share of its target audience’s disposable time and income.

3. Slut-ambivalent. Elena Kampouris plays a girl who gets pregnant and has a miscarriage after losing her virginity in a sordid episode in the home of a friend. The audience is invited to hold blonde “bitch” Crocicchia in contempt when she says, “It’s a new era for women, okay? Just because I’m comfortable with my body and enjoy hooking up doesn’t make me a slut.” The film’s anti-slut credentials are, however, undermined by its comparatively casual treatment of marital infidelity.

2. Anti-marriage, pro-miscegenation, and anti-white. Sleazebag Sandler seeks and finds sexual gratification with a prostitute while his shiksa wife, Rosemarie DeWitt, signs up for an account with the Jewish homewrecking site AshleyMadison.com and takes the Allstate congoid, Dennis Haysbert, for her lover. DeWitt is eventually embarrassed to be found out by Sandler when he catches the witch in a bar with still another man, so that the film ostensibly shows that cheating carries risks; but Sandler’s response is tolerance, and his wife evinces embarrassment rather than actual regret. She clearly enjoys what she is doing, and Men, Women and Children makes a great to-do of eroticizing her first encounter with Haysbert. “I’m excited,” she says as she straddles the hulking, gorilla-faced lothario. “I want it […] in my mouth. I want that big penis of yours. I want it. I want your dick. I want you to destroy me with your big fucking cock.” The film, furthermore, could be argued to constitute de facto product placement for AshleyMadison.com’s AIDS-procurement service, suggesting as it does that women of Rosemarie DeWitt’s level of physical attractiveness can actually be met through the site. The viewer is left to assume, too, that, had Sandler’s wife not been caught in her infidelities, she blithely would have continued enjoying her shameless escapades.

1. Luddite. Technology has profoundly complicated the human condition, disrupting male-female relations and isolating individuals in a lonely cacophony. Like the Voyager outer space probe featured more than once in the movie, humanity has now entered treacherous “uncharted territories” thanks to technology.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Adam Sandler turns in a pleasantly understated performance as Max Simkin, a Lower East Side shoe repairman who discovers that an heirloom stitching machine has magical properties in Tom McCarthy’s film The Cobbler. Put on any customer’s two shoes and Max takes on that person’s appearance, allowing him to indulge such entertaining caprices as sneaking into a black thug’s gun-and-bling-filled apartment or walking into a beautiful stranger’s bathroom. Max eventually takes his place as a “guardian of souls” in addition to his work as a mender of soles.

While funny, The Cobbler is a film which, like Punch Drunk Love (2002), allows Sandler to show off his non-idiot side and is welcome as a change of pace. Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman appear in supporting roles as, respectively, Max’s barber neighbor and mysteriously absent father. Viewers may see the surprise ending coming, but so much of The Cobbler is entertainingly unexpected that any conformity to audience expectations is handily offset.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Cobbler is:

6. Obesity-tolerant. “I’m not fat. I’m big-boned.”

5. Pro-gay and pro-miscegenation. Simkin’s eventual love interest is peppery Carmen (Melonie Diaz). An Asian woman (Greta Lee) flirts with Simkin in a bar after he has unwittingly taken on the form of a bisexual man (Dan Stevens). “I think it’s hot,” she reassures him. Sandler also dons high heels to occasionally assume the appearance of a gauche Latin transvestite (Yul Vazquez).

4. Family-ambivalent. Simkin is deeply devoted to his mother (Lynn Cohen), who was abandoned by his father (Dustin Hoffman). The latter turns out to have responded to a higher calling. Asked if she ever wanted to be somebody else, Mrs. Simkin replies, “I’m your mother. That’s all I ever wanted to be.” Carmen seemingly discounts the necessity of fathers, however, when she says, “My dad split when I was 12. Life goes on.”

3. Localist and populist. Carmen works for the Lower East Side Action Committee, committed to halting the area’s gentrification, and attempts to get Simkin to support the cause. “I’m glad that you’re supporting a local business,” she tells him when she sees him with a box of pickles.

2. Racist! The Cobbler’s only important black character is a career criminal, a murderer and abuser of women, played by rapper Cliff “Method Man” Smith. “You Jewish?” this black bigot interrogates Simkin. “Lucky you.” He then insensitively asks if his recently deceased mother left him any money. In another scene, the fiend creates a Michael Brown-style ruckus in a convenience store.

1. Borderline anti-Semitic. Surprisingly, The Cobbler offers an unsavory portrait of a Hebraic slumlord and gangster in tough-as-nails “Jew from Queens” Elaine Greenawalt (Ellen Barkin). The film compensates for this cinematic blood libel by providing typical wailing violin movie portrayals of weak, long-suffering Jews like Simkin, who gives submissive shoeshines to arrogant blacks. Ratcheting up The Cobbler’s Jewish victimhood factor is Fritz Weaver from the 1978 Holocaust miniseries, who appears as Mr. Solomon, the helpless old man Greenawalt hopes to evict by any dastardly means necessary.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Part VI of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler in Ideological Content Analysis: A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective of the ICA Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies (A.S.S.)

AdamFlag

Sandler gets to tackle a more serious role than usual, playing one of the relatively normal characters for a change in the blatant pro-immigration propaganda piece Spanglish, which, for the purposes of this review, shall go by its alternate title The Passion of the Wetback.  Sandler plays John Clasky, a gourmet chef and father whose wife Deborah (Tea Leoni) is such a spoiled, unbalanced, and self-absorbed shrew that she is apparently incapable of keeping her own home in order despite not having a job.  The only solution, of course, is for the Claskys to hire a hot illegal Mexican housekeeper, Flor (Paz Vega), to grace them with her wise Latina ways and teach them a moral truth or two like a wetback Mr. Belvedere.  Along for the ride to demonstrate the bright future made possible by America’s budding immigrant generations is Flor’s daughter Cristina (Shelbie Bruce), who is naturally prettier and more talented than Clasky’s pudgy daughter Bernice (Sarah Steele).

Sandler’s accessible humanity anchors what might otherwise have been an intolerable chick flick, with Tea Leoni creating a psycho mother to stand alongside Piper Laurie in Carrie and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, a creature so disgusting that one can hardly blame Mr. Clasky for being tempted by imported fruit.  Mrs. Clasky is the new American woman: hard, unfeminine, sexually neurotic, straining for beauty but making herself more unappealing in the process, and utterly overwhelmed by her uninteresting problems.  Her fatuous presumption, a product of privilege, finds humorous expression when she initially misunderstands her new housekeeper’s name to be “Floor – what I walk on, right?”  America, not Mexico, The Passion of the Wetback would inform viewers, is the hotbed of kidnapping, with Mrs. Clasky at one point taking off with Flor’s daughter without permission and leaving a note: “I decided to steal your daughter for a bit.”  Thankfully, Flor finds out and hits the roof, giving her boss a peppery piece of her wise Latina mind.  Mrs. Clasky is, however, gratified to hear from Cristina that she is “the most amazing white woman that I’ve ever met.”

Okay by lightweight chick flick standards, the film is still a sociological crime and a commercial for the Treason Lobby.  3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Passion of the Wetback is:

8. Animal rights militant.  A PETA sticker adorns the daughter’s bedroom door.

7. Anti-drug.  Clasky’s mother-in-law (Cloris Leachman) is an alcoholic.  Flor discourages Clasky from turning to drink to escape his problems.

6. Obesity-tolerant.  Women yearn for “the comfort of fullness.”  Mrs. Clasky insensitively buys her daugher clothes that are too small for her, expecting that Bernice should lose weight so that the items will fit; but Flor slyly alters the garments to boost the girl’s self-esteem.

5. Egalitarian and hostile to private property.  “I didn’t know God had a toy store for the rich,” Cristina says, expressing her shock at “natural beauty which is privately owned.”

4. Pro-castration.  Mr. Clasky, an exemplar of the sensitive, tolerant man, “seemed to have the emotions of a Mexican woman.”

3. Pro-miscegenation.  Naturally.

2. Anti-marriage/family-ambivalent.  Mr. Clasky is a model father, but his family is severly dysfunctional.  Mrs. Clasky is bitchy and unfaithful.  Flor’s husband left her.  Clasky’s mother-in-law endorses the superiority of Third World motherhood, however, when she tells Flor, “I live my life for myself.  You live yours for your daughter.”

1. Razist/alien-delugist.  A spicy slice of Hollywood psyops, The Passion of the Wetback frames the illegal immigration crisis as the disarmingly personal story of a beautiful, long-suffering woman and her precocious daughter searching for a better life and hoping to earn a share of the American dream with hard work and a little help from their friends – less threatening for the viewer, certainly, than a horde of hairy, mustachioed day laborers or criminal freeloaders bent on leaching off the state and keeping American unemployment high.  Illegal immigration, as The Passion of the Wetback illustrates, just means more sexy women, so what could possibly go wrong?

If anything, criminal aliens are probably a divine provision.  “Great God in Heaven, save me,” Clasky implores before turning around and seeing Flor for the first time.  She and her fellow invaders are America’s collective Savior.  The Passion of the Wetback does what it can to convince the audience that illegals want to become real, acculturated Americans by learning English and studying.  “That show you’re watchin’s gonna be a hit,” Clasky jokes, seeing Flor watching an English language video course.  Preferential treatment for illegal college applicants receives a boost when Cristina, Bernice’s academic superior, applies to Princeton University.  Bernice, in one of The Passion of the Wetback‘s most shameless moments, hugs Cristina and even says she hopes that some of her will rub off.

Part V of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler in Ideological Content Analysis: A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective of the ICA Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

Unfairly trashed by the consensus critical apparatus on release, this ambitious outing from Adam Sandler goes where few previous comedies have gone with such earnestness of purpose, grappling with the eternal philosophical questions that have given mankind pause over millennia.  Why does evil exist in the universe?  Are there black people in Heaven?  And, most fundamentally, can white men jump – even when descended from the Prince of Darkness himself, and when the spiritual fate of the planet is being played out on the cosmic battlefield of the Harlem Globetrotters court?

Who but Adam Sandler – who, to his credit, manages to keep his face contorted in a comical grimace through every scene – could possibly have brought the heir to the throne of Hell to life in such edifyingly funny fashion while also essaying a bold theological meditation and commentary on the morals of fin-de-siecle America?  The answer – nobody!  Add a bevy of Sandler’s Saturday Night Live buddies including Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Ellen Cleghorne, Kevin Nealon, and Rob Schneider in cameos, stir with a pinch or two of tasty scatalogical humor and outright depravity, and Little Nicky makes for a strange but satisfying brew guaranteed not only to get the audience wasted, but lay their souls to waste as well.

4 out of 5 stars.  Actually a fairly heartwarming experience, Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Little Nicky is underrated, unholy, unashamed, and:

10. Corporate.  Bellicose product placement puts Popeye’s Chicken on the side of the angels.

9. Anti-South.  Nicky more than once jokes that he is from the “Deep South”, thus equating the region with Hell.

8. Pro-gay, at least from the standpoint that all publicity is good publicity.  Clint Howard portrays a grotesque but amusing transvestite.  Also, breasts are made to sprout from Kevin Nealon’s head, which later elicits a favorable remark from Rodney Dangerfield.

7. Multiculturalist/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Validating the authenticity of kitsch pictures hanging in the homes of believers of color, Little Nicky depicts a flock of angels of different races.  Hitler receives special (and very unwelcome) attention from Satan in Hell.  A pro-wigger current finds expression in the line, “Popeye’s Chicken is the shiznit.”

6. Drug-ambivalent.  Central to Nicky’s task of taking his errant brothers back to Hell is trapping them in a magical liquor flask, which could be interpreted as suggesting that liquor is the gateway to eternal damnation.  A boy is depicted vomiting after the drinking age is lowered to 10.  Still, “I came for the beer and the bitches,” says a kid at a Globetrotters game, and marijuana-spiked pastries also receive an endorsement.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  Nicky is the spawn of Jewish Satan (Harvey Keitel) and an Anglo-Saxon angel (Reese Witherspoon) and has one black and one white brother (Tiny Lister and Rhys Ifans, respectively).  Carrying on the bestial tradition from Billy Madison, a giant bird vengefully humps pervert John Lovitz.  A demon (Kevin Nealon) and a gorilla also find themselves in the throes of jungle fever.  Dog Mr. Beefy and sewer rat Heather have “five of the ugliest children you’ve ever seen.”  Jew Sandler again goes for the blondes, in this case mousy Patricia Arquette.

4. Anti-Christian.  Quentin Tarantino represents the faithful as a stereotypical blind-eyed fanatical street preacher.  Angels are portrayed as ditzes.  (See also no. 2)

3. Family-ambivalent/anti-marriage/dysfunction-tolerant.  “I love my father very much,” Nicky says, attempting throughout the film to do his father’s bidding and save him from oblivion.  His family is majorly dysfunctional, however, with unmarried parents and abusive brothers constantly scheming against him.  (“Mom and Dad tried dating for awhile, but were unable to deal with a long distance relationship.”)  The sum effect is a normalization of dysfunction.  A churchgoer praises God for his wife’s pregnancy only to be informed that the child is not his.  A baby in a carriage is transformed into an evil midget that attacks its mother.  “You look like my first wife – only she had more hair,” Dangerfield tells the gorilla.  “I’m cheating on my husband with the weather man,” says a reporter.

2. Relativist.  At stake in the story is the balance of power between good and evil, with one no better than the other.  “Why don’t we all just have fun and do whatever we want?”  Most demons are basically decent folks.

1. Racist! – and specifically anti-Semitic, in spite of the thin pretenses of no. 7 above.  Hell is conspicuously inhabited and lorded over by Jews, with Rodney Dangerfield, Harvey Keitel, and Sandler playing three successive Princes of Darkness.  Jon Lovitz also winds up in Hell.  An Asian stereotypically resorts to kung fu against Nicky.  John Witherspoon plays a jive-talking black thief.

Part IV of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler

In Ideological Content Analysis:

A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective

Of the ICA Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

The number five film at the box office in 1998 and the number two adult-targeted comedy of that year (after the juggernaut There’s Something About Mary), The Waterboy was another major hit for Adam Sandler, here reteamed with Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci.  From the beginning The Waterboy makes its intentions clear, breaking with opening credits tradition in proclaiming itself “A Frank Coraci Movie” rather than the conventional rendering “An [insert director’s name] Film”.  In other words, The Waterboy is self-conscious and unashamed popular entertainment, preemptively thumbing its nose at whatever the critics might say about it.  As such, the movie is more or less a success – an energetic, upbeat, and stupendously stupid sports comedy aimed at the proverbial lowest common denominator.

Sandler, in a turn reminiscent of his “Cajun Man” Weekend Update bit from Saturday Night Live, creates one of the most memorable comic characters of the decade in Bobby Boucher, a 31-year-old rube still toiling as a college football team’s waterboy.  Boucher is socially awkward, lacks confidence, wets his bed, and is still a virgin; but he is not, as might at first appear to be the case, mentally retarded.  Even more shocking, it turns out the loser has real rage inside and potential as a psychotically brutal offensive lineman whenever somebody makes Boucher angry enough.  Down-on-his-luck Coach Klein (Henry Winkler, in a wry performance indicative of his range beyond the Fonz) knows a star player when he sees one; and, against the wishes of Boucher’s fanatically protective Mama (Kathy Bates), gives the beleaguered waterboy the chance to lead the South Central Louisiana University Mud Dogs to glory.  The climactic team win peculiarly lacks the expected comic punch, but enough in the film is endearing and funny for its shortcomings to be forgiven.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Waterboy is:

9. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  A black player pictures a football as a Klansman’s head so as to motivate himself to kick it especially hard.

8. Feminist.  Distractingly sexy Fairuza Balk plays Boucher’s tough love interest, blade-wielding car thief and potential murderess Vicki Vallencourt, who can handle herself with ease against any would-be oppressor.

7. Mildly anti-South.  The hicks who populate the film are good sorts for the most part, but stereotypically ignorant white trash nonetheless.  One of Boucher’s college professors, a Col. Sanders look-alike, is brutally tackled in a moment of humiliation for an absurd visual representative of the plantation-infested Old South.

6. Drug-ambivalent.  “Don’t smoke crack,” says famous cocaine user Lawrence Taylor to a group of children.  Drinking humor occurs throughout, however, with even the Mud Dogs’ mascot imbibing.  The big game at the end is the Bourbon Bowl.

5. Anti-Christian.  Mrs. Boucher represents conservative Christians as fundamentalist twits obsessed with avoiding an omnipresent evil which lurks in unexpected places.  “Little girls are the devil,” she warns her son; also “Ben Franklin is the devil,” and she even mumbles about the Prince of Darkness in her sleep.

4. Pro-gay.  A sheriff and his deputy answer their door shirtless, the implication being that they have been in each other’s arms.  Misunderstanding Boucher to have said he is bisexual, a party tramp remarks, “I think that’s sexy.”  Coach Klein is seen wearing women’s shoes in a flashback.

3. Statist.  Decent vocabulary notwithstanding, homeschooled Boucher, with his lack of worldliness and social skills is essentially a walking, whimpering endorsement for public schools.  Knowledge-hungry Boucher, when given the chance, is eager to have a university education.  Nevertheless, The Waterboy inadvertently undermines the audience’s confidence in state-run education when the Louisiana high school equivalency examination is shown to include the following inaccurate question: “Ben Franklin discovered electricity.  In what year did this happen?”  (Ben Franklin, despite what unqualified Louisiana teacher union apparatchiks might teach the rustics, did not discover electricity.)

2. Pro-slut.  Tattooed floozy Vicki is all too happy to flash her breasts at the virginal football hero and flirts shamelessly with him in front of his disapproving mother.  (See also no. 4)

1. Family-ambivalent.  Boucher’s love for his mother is consistently touching, but her smothering affection is ultimately an obstacle that must be overcome.  Boucher’s father abandoned his family, and the son, in a triumphant moment of self-assertion, rejects his attempt at reconciliation.

Part III of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler

in Ideological Content Analysis:

A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective

of the ICA Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

Damon Wayans, who in 1991’s The Last Boy Scout played wisecracking sidekick to Bruce Willis’s hard-boiled but complementarily wisecracking detective, was once again teamed with a white comedy partner, this time playing a funny straight man of sorts to buffoonish Adam Sandler for another, rather less distinguished buddy action outing in 1996’s Bulletproof.

Goofy L.A. car thief Archie Moses (Sandler) has the perfect partner in streetwise Rock Keats (Wayans) – or so he thinks – until the latter turns out to be an undercover detective using him as a pawn to get close to car dealer and heroin kingpin Colton (James Caan).  In a bust gone disastrously wrong, Keats reveals himself to the outraged and heartbroken Moses only to get shot in the head by his erstwhile companion in a freak accident.  After recovering with the help of physical therapist and new girlfriend Traci (Kristen Wilson), Keats is incensed to learn that Moses, after being apprehended, has requested that Keats be the one to bring him back to Los Angeles to testify against Colton.  At issue throughout the story is whether the pair of former friends can manage to evade Colton’s killers and find their way to safety without strangling each other first.

An irrepressibly obscene film with a heart, Bulletproof succeeds through the charm of its stars and the relative clip of its silly plot.  There is, however, one particularly suspenseful sequence involving an airplane perched precariously at the edge of a cliff.  Caan is underutilized as the villain, but brings a megalomaniacal credibility to his role whenever allowed.  In the end, even the crankiest viewers are likely to begin rooting for Moses and Keats to make amends and win the day.  Bulletproof earns 3.5 of 5 stars for being a fun if disposable entry in the jokester buddy action subgenre.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Bulletproof is:

10. Egalitarian/anti-capitalistic.  “Everything we get we split down the middle, right?” Keats affirms with Moses.  “Anybody who would drop a hundred grand on a car deserves to have it stolen and then deserves to get the shit kicked out of them,” Moses says in defense of his profession.  Business owner Colton is a vicious drug lord.

9. Racist! – and specifically anti-Semitic.  “Anybody ever tell you you look like a struck match?” Keats asks a darker-skinned colleague.  Car thief and heroin smuggler Moses’s name irreverently suggests the stereotypical roles of comedian, doper, duper, and robber for Jewry.

8. State-skeptical.  Dedicated cops like Keats are honest, but the FBI is infested with crooks.

7. Pro-miscegenation.  Keats displays an easy, familiar way with white women in a bar.  High yellow Traci, however, affords the closest thing to a white girlfriend that the film could permit the character to have without technically crossing the color line. When Moses and Keats stop at a rural motel, Moses tries to convince the proprietor, seemingly slow-witted Charlie (Mark Roberts), that his wife might enjoy a threesome.  “Me, you, the old lady.  A little sandwich action? [. . .] You’re a piece of white bread, she’s a piece of white bread, I’m the salami, let’s give it a shot.”  Moses, sporting a matador’s outfit, also does his best to charm a bevy of Mexican beauties at the end.  (See also no. 1.)

6. Anti-drug.  Keats’s father died of heroin addiction and Moses’s mother smokes too much weed.  Drug kingpin Colton and his associates are murderers.  The film is ambivalent, however, to the extent that Moses suffers no repercussions from his own marijuana smoking, as that particular drug is treated as something relatively harmless and cute.

5. Anti-Christian.  Fake Bibles are used to smuggle heroin and thus literally contain the opiate of the masses.

4. Relativist.  “You don’t realize there’s a gray area in life,” Moses explains to Keats.  “That’s where most people live.”

3. Misogynistic.  From bar sluts to strippers to Moses’s dope-smoking mother, positive portrayals of women are nowhere to be found.  Worst, Keats’s girlfriend turns out to be working for Colton.  (Cf. no. 1.)

2. Multiculturalist/pro-wigger.  Keats and Moses, a black man and a Jew, are friends and learn to set aside their differences, which are never racial, to overcome adversity and work in harmony.  Keats, whose real name is Jack Carter, demonstrates his familiarity with English literature in choosing his undercover moniker.  Moses, meanwhile, earns wigger points by saying things like, “Ooh, that’s the old school shit.”

1. Pro-gay.  “I’m falling in love with you all over again,” Moses tells Keats in a line that pretty well encapsulates the subtext of the relationship between the two men.  For all their show of facetiousness and playful insult, the gay angle comes up again and again – too often to be just an occasional joke as they constantly bicker and make up like scrappy, cantankerous, loving spouses.  Earlier in the film the two check into a motel’s honeymoon suite, where Moses, while lathering himself in the shower, serenades his friend with a rendition of “I Will Always Love You” – and it is significant that Keats, though in a smug, defiant manner, later echoes the song in delayed reply.  The motel scenes are heavily laden with suggestions or near-acts of homosexuality between the two leads and the proprietor, Charlie.  Moses, before suggesting the aforementioned threesome, tries to convince Charlie that Keats is gay and feeling amorous.  “He says he’s not gay, but, uh, let’s see what a few drinks and a back massage will do to him, huh?  That might gay him up a little, don’t you think?”  “I’d like to make out with you in the dark,” Moses confides to Charlie before trying to kiss him after a narrow escape.

There is also frequently an S&M/B&D flavor to the two leads’ companionship.  Moses spends most of the film in handcuffs, submissive to the dominant will of Keats, who ties him face-down to a toilet full of his turds after sticking his pistol up Moses’s anus.  Moses talks at length about urinating on Keats.  “I want his asshole cuffed to his nuts,” Keats has threatened earlier.  Moses also betrays a potential latent desire for crime boss Colton when, vouching for Keats’s thug credibility, he avows, “If he’s a cop I’ll suck your dick, Mr. Colton.”  Colton is unsuccessful in attempting to collect on the pledge, however, when Moses punches his genitals.  Significantly, Keats’s girlfriend Traci is revealed to be working for Colton – a necessary development if she is to be removed as an obstacle to the heroes’ intimacy.  “You pretend that Archie Moses doesn’t exist, which is making you miserable twenty-four hours a day,” she tells Keats with considerable perception.  These, the viewer has always realized, are two men who cannot live without each other.

Part II of

The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler in Ideological Content Analysis:

A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective

of the Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

1995’s Billy Madison finds Sandler expanding his retard schtick from Saturday Night Live into the feature-length characterization of a bizarre, hyperactive American Oblomov, an irresponsible man-child of means who lives off the family fortune and spends his days in epic slacking: partying, drinking, hallucinating, and generally wasting his life.  Unfortunately, his lifetime of pampering means that spoiled Billy never learned to do anything for himself; and only the influence of his Fortune 500 hotel tycoon father (Darren McGavin) prevented him from flunking out of school and allowed him to undeservedly graduate.

Learning this for the first time, Billy is distraught; and to prove to the skeptical Mr. Madison that he, Billy, and not the scheming and evil Eric (Bradley Whitford) should take over direction of the family hotel chain, Billy hits upon the idea of demonstrating his ability to achieve on his own by tearing through all the public school grades again, from kindergarten to high school, in just a matter of wild and wacky weeks.  Along the way he makes a number of friends in grade school and falls in love with one of his teachers, the cute but tough Miss Vaughn (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) – but will it be enough to counter Eric’s unscrupulous effort to undermine the project and sabotage Billy’s righteous birthright?

Billy Madison revels in the absurd, celebrates the obscene, and wallows in the scatalogical like the world is ending.  What might on paper sound like a total cinematic disaster is, however, turned into a surprisingly and defiantly funny character creation in the hands of Adam Sandler.  Viewers are challenged not to laugh when Billy, his crush on Miss Vaughn in full bloom, whimpers pitiably in an aside that he, “Want[s] to touch the hiney”.  The laughs thin out somewhat during the film’s obligatory inspirational third act, but Sandler’s inimitable mojo keeps the ball of snot rolling, and smile-sparking supporting turns from Chris Farley, Norm MacDonald, and Steve Buscemi certainly do no harm.

Viewed with an open heart, Billy Madison is, in all honesty, a stupid but also a pretty funny comedy of the gleefully gross, gutter-snorkeling variety and earns 3.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Billy Madison is:

7. Anti-feminist.  Miss Vaughn, though she can be stern and in one scene bests Billy in a physical altercation, appears to become interested in him after she lets him get away with an “assault” in which he pretends to fall on a school bus and exploits the opportunity to grope her breasts.  How incorrigibly sexist!

6. State-skeptical.  Public schools’ employee screening practices are called into question by the revelation that Billy’s grade school principal, Mr. Anderson (Josh Mostel) is actually a former professional wrestler with no teaching degree.  One of the teachers (Dina Platias) is a slightly spacy hippie who engages in some kind of ritual freakout when the kids are out at recess.  A bus driver (Chris Farley) is clearly full of rage and a man who could snap at any moment.  He also steals the children’s lunches.  Public grade school education appears to consist of coloring exercises, crafts, and spelling bees.  See also no. 1.

5. Anti-family/anti-marriage.  Children can be brats.  A trivia host offers the category “My Wife the Tramp”.  The mother of one of Billy’s classmates indicates that she is sexually available while her husband is serving a prison sentence.

4. Pro-drug.  Billy drinks heavily, the only consequences being laziness and humorous, Harvey-style hallucinations of a giant penguin.  He eats paste with gusto and offers some to a classmate.  His slacker buddies joke about getting a donkey drunk.

3. Pro-miscegenation.  Billy’s fat black maid (Theresa Merritt) repeatedly flirts with him and offers to take her top off to cheer him up.  Bestiality receives an endorsement when the bus driver meets and finds ecstasy with the penguin of Billy’s hallucinations.  Madison, despite his all-American name and Anglo-Saxon father, is unmistakably a Jew and so cannot resist the blonde temptation of Teutonic “hiney”.

2. Pro-gay.  Among Billy’s dirty magazine subscriptions is one called She-Male Fiesta.  Mr. Anderson gives Billy an obscene Valentine’s Day card informing him that he is horny and later shamelessly grinds against him in public.  The bus driver, taking over from Miss Vaughn, does an educational striptease for Billy to induce him to learn his lessons.  Lesbians engage in a three-way kiss.

1. Capital-ambivalent.  Billy’s untamed lifestyle and various eccentricities suggest that a privileged upbringing results in a spoiled, abnormal personality, and the story of Billy’s first fraudulent experience in the public schools indicates that the rich simply disregard the pesky rules that everybody else has to follow in life.  That the wealthy Mr. Madison puts his son through the public schools at all may point to a humble adherence to his Main Street roots and everyman origins – or it might be that Mr. Madison sees deficient and academically undemanding public schools as offering the easiest path to graduation for his son. Meritocracy receives a nod in the acknowledgement that Mr. Madison is a self-made man, and his company eventually winds up in the hands of his most qualified and deserving subordinate (Larry Hankin).  However, had Billy chosen to accept the direction of the company, this impression would have been instantly dissipated by the picture of a barely functional simpleton jumping to first place in the corporate world just because of whose son he happens to be.  He instead opts to go the populist route and become a teacher himself.

Part I of The Filthy Films of Adam Sandler in Ideological Content Analysis: A Cranko-Politico-Critical Retrospective of the Institute for Advanced Sandler Studies

AdamSandler

A relatively restrained Adam Sandler stars as Robbie Hart, a man who a few years previously (to The Wedding Singer‘s retro present, 1985) dreamed of rock renown, but has settled into a less than high-rolling existence as a schmaltzy performer at weddings and currently lives in his sister’s basement.  With his own marriage around the corner, however, things appear to be going well for the personable entertainer – that is, until his shallow fiancee (Angela Featherstone) stands him up on their wedding day, sending him into emotional doldrums that threaten his qualifications and livelihood as a mood-enhancer and spirit-lifter for hire at nuptials.  Fortunately, Robbie’s outlook brightens when he befriends pretty waitress Julia Sullivan (cuddly Drew Barrymore); the only problem is that Julia, while clearly perfect for Robbie, is instead engaged to sleazy, self-absorbed womanizer Glenn (Matthew Glave).

One of the top romantic comedies of 1998, The Wedding Singer  deservedly charmed its way into audiences’ hearts as the perfect date movie, irresistibly sweet for the girls but funny and occasionally gross for the guys.  Sandler’s magic soft-spoken chemistry with Barrymore is uncanny and ought to have spawned more than a mere two films featuring the pair.  This one at least stands as a monument to what Sandler can do with (mostly) tasteful comic material, marred only here and there by hopelessly crude, cheap laughs at the expense of foul-mouthed and feel-copping elderly people.  Brief, atrocious bits like the notorious rapping granny can be forgiven in the light of everything The Wedding Singer does with simple, economically heartwarming panache.

4 out of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Wedding Singer, in addition to being a superlative romantic comedy, is:

7. Pro-gay.  In one of The Wedding Singer‘s several moments of ass-grabbery, two men are seen slow-dancing, holding each other by the glutei maximi.  Robbie’s womanish bandmate and Culture Club aficionado George (Alexis Arquette) is a grotesque but endearing figure.

6. Anti-drug, in the fine 80s tradition.  More than one character vomits after drinking alcohol.  Robbie only turns to Sneaky Pete out of despair, and wakes up after his night of imbibing in a compromising position.  Neither he nor Julia is a habitual drinker.

5. Anti-materialistic/anti-capitalistic.  Robbie makes an abortive attempt at yuppiedom to compete with Glenn, but finds himself unprepared for the gray suit-and-tie existence.  As a representative of the financial world, Glenn is naturally a complete scumbag.

4. Anti-slut.  Julia objects to the idea of tongue-kissing at her wedding, insisting that at the most there might be a little conservative “church tongue”.

3. Traditionalist/pro-family.  A point of contention between Robbie and his ex-fiancee is his intention to raise a family in his hometown.  He maintains close relations with his surviving family members.

2. Pro-miscegenation.  The entire plot revolves around the cutely inevitable union of Robbie, an undisguised Jew, and flaxen-haired, cherub-cheeked Julia.  Also, Hart’s Jewishness in conjunction with his Anglo-Saxon surname suggest a mixed ancestry.  Two extras, a black man and a white woman, are seen entering a club together.

1. Pro-marriage.  A romantic comedy titled The Wedding Singer could hardly be otherwise.  Robbie’s brother-in-law confides that passion can fade after years of mundane married life, but an elderly couple celebrating their anniversary demonstrate that marriages can also endure.

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