Archives for posts with tag: Jane Levy

Monster Trucks

Somewhat surprisingly, given that this is a Cuckelodeon production, Monster Trucks is a mostly child-friendly and fun adventure film. Distractingly cute young costars Lucas Till and Jane Levy star as high school students who find themselves caught in the middle of a corporate conspiracy when they discover a tentacled, subterranean creature that lives on oil (a literal gas-guzzler!) and enjoys embedding itself under the body of a truck like a hermit crab. Rob Lowe appears as the head of the nihilistic oil company that, through unscrupulous drilling practices, has inadvertently brought these creatures to the surface and now seeks to apprehend them, with Thomas Lennon toadying in a comic supporting role. The film is endearing, the digital animation is brilliant, and even adults should be entertained by this one.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Monster Trucks is:

5. Inclusive, allowing diverse token gimp Danny Glover to take part in the heroics.

4. Class-conscious. The male protagonist’s chief rival at school is a “rich boy” with fancy wheels.

3. Family-ambivalent. The hero’s absentee father is an untrustworthy drunkard, but the troubled young man’s reconciliation with his mother’s rugged beau does at least leave him with a responsible male authority figure at home. The teen male and female leads join hands as they witness the touching reunion of a monster family, the implication being that they will be inspired to marry and start a family of their own.

2. Anti-corporate. Townsfolk, while recognizing that their small community’s economy is dependent upon Terravex’s presence (“All the money in this town comes from Terravex Oil”), also resent the inordinate and quasi-governmental clout that the company wields. “The company I work for employs everyone in this town – and that includes you,” a corporate representative arrogantly informs the sheriff. Company scientist Thomas Lennon also admits to falsifying environmental reports. (Subverting the anti-corporate messaging, however, is the film’s product placement for brands like Beanitos and Chrysler).

1.Green. The problems begin with a sin against nature – “like the earth got mad and let something bad out”. Had Terravex – which, as its name indicates, molests the earth – taken more care not to disturb an unfamiliar and misunderstood ecosystem, it could have avoided its hour and a half of difficulties. Somewhat disappointingly, it seems not to have occurred to the writers what a godsend the existence of oil-gobbling monsters would be in the case of an oil spill. More likely, an oil concern would want to keep such potentially useful creatures on retainer rather than try to destroy them. There is, too, something not quite kosher from an environmentalist perspective about the idea of turning America’s gas habit, visualized by the creatures’ appetite for oil, into something cute, cuddly, and endearing, albeit cartoonishly monstrous.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Mia, a boring heroin addict (Fun Size‘s miscegenating tramp Jane Levy), is accompanied by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three other generic and foul-mouthed twentysomething friends to a remote cabin where they plan to support her as she attempts to kick the habit by going cold turkey.  Unfortunately, waiting for them down in the cellar is a creepy satanic textbook bound in human flesh, which one of the the dummies (Lou Taylor Pucci, looking like a live action Mr. Van Driessen) naturally opens and reads aloud, unleashing a gaggle of nasty beings that proceed to possess most of them in turn.

Evil Dead, as one might expect, is a more polished but less interesting film than its 1982 forebear.  Gone are the ratty, organic camera work and the distinctive claymation-style effects.  Gone, too, is most of the dark humor, as only the blackest of black sensibilities is likely to find anything funny about this new version.  No one can fault this Evil Dead for failing to deliver the jolts and gore, however, as buckets of the stuff are sloshed left, right, down, and onto the ceiling before the movie is over.  Superfluous more than actually bad, Evil Dead lacks the rugged individualism of the original, but should satisfy even the most jaded gorehounds in the audience.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Evil Dead is:

6. Multiculturalist.  A token character of color (Jessica Lucas) has been added to the cast of demon fodder for this remake – two if white Hispanic Fernandez counts.

5. Gun-ambivalent.  Mia warns that no one should ever have touched the articles brought up from the cabin’s basement – among which are a shotgun and shells.  One character falls prey to a demon as a result of reaching for the gun, but the weapon also comes in handy toward the end.

4. Anti-family.  In the film’s opening scene, a father burns his possessed daughter alive and shoots her in the head to save her soul.  David spends most of the film coping with his afflicted sister, his affection for her being a hindrance rather than an asset.  His insane mother is waiting for him in Hell.

3. Anti-gay.  Demonic attack more than once takes the form of a slimy lesbian come-on.

2. Christian, sort of.  Like The Collection, Evil Dead is rife with the sadomasochistic Christian iconography of spilled blood, bodies transfixed with nails, and spiritual purification by fire and torture.  Evil Dead is certain to tingle the spines of the superstitious among its viewers, striking the fear of the unholy into them.  (See also no. 4)

1. Anti-drug.  Whereas Ash (Bruce Campbell) of the first film must rise from wimpdom and assert his manhood against what can only be described as a pack of demonically PMS-possessed college bitches, David in the new Evil Dead faces off against an allegorical type of demonic possession that most notably parallels or expresses his sister’s drug addiction.

2007’s Superbad marked a very welcome return to form for the raunchy teen sex comedy, a genre fallen on seemingly incurable black days after its 1980s heyday.  Superbad‘s call to arms, unfortunately, seems to have gone unnoticed by any filmmakers of notable talent, with Fun Size, Nickelodeon’s foray into lightweight (PG-13) teen sex comedy territory, landing instead like something of a soggy firecracker.

Gorgeous high school students April (tv tart Jane Levy) and Wren (tv tart Victoria Justice) – a nod to Stimpy’s Nickelodeon guyfriend? – are, we are expected to believe, socially insecure and not cool enough to feel that they have a chance with the likes of studly musician classmate Aaron (tv tart Thomas McDonell, “the next Johnny Depp”, as one IMDb user salivates), whose Halloween party promises to be the social event of the season.  Unfortunately, after being invited, Wren gets saddled by her slutty single mother (Chelsea Handler) with babysitting her tubby little brother (Jackson Nicoll), who delights in torturing her with his toilet humor and pranks.  Meanwhile, nice nerdy guy Roosevelt (Thomas Mann – the actor, not the author) pines for Wren’s affection and intellectual companionship, while his token minority buddy Peng (Osric Chau) lusts after kitty-costumed April.  Will Wren’s social life survive the night?  And, more to the point, will anyone in the audience care?

What could have been a happy, human, nocturnal teen comedy after the model of Sixteen Candles or Adventures in Babysitting ends up as a plastic, calculated exercise in nasty teensploitation.  Thomas Middleditch provides some amiable amusement as wimpy convenience store clerk Fuzzy, who befriends Wren’s mischievous little brother, and there are a few moments of mild hilarity, such as a knob broken off a car radio during a particularly annoying song, and the randy giant chicken sight gag featured in the trailer.  Overall, however, Fun Size is too miserly in heart to redeem itself as it depicts a sadistic, casually tawdry, filthy suburban America full of liberal intellectuals and growling barbarians, directionless women hungry for sex, overweight slobs, Obama voters and future serfs – and finds very little amiss.  This is a rotting world where women openly chat about their mammograms without shame and as if anyone could possibly care; a self-loathing civilization in which a little black boy in a Spider-Man outfit gives audiences a chuckle by calling a white girl “bitch”.

Ultimately, though, what’s worst about Fun Size is that it simply isn’t terribly funny.  It gets a grudging 2.5 of 5 possible stars, I suppose.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Fun Size is:

11. Antiwar.  Sarcastic reference is made to “Afghan citizenship” – a reminder of neoconservative failure in the Middle East.

10. Multiculturalist.  Races mingle freely and in friendship.  Hip-hop is an educational tool.  Spider-Man “looks like a Mexican wrestler”.  And, last but not least, bow down before Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bitches!

9. Drug-ambivalent.  Fuzzy warns about the danger of smoking around children after earlier jokingly offering chewing tobacco to Wren’s little brother.  Sexy young people do shots at a club before getting hot and heavy on the dancefloor.  A thug abuses Pepto Bismol.

8. Obesity-ambivalent.  Junk food is the key to the little brother’s heart.  He’s insulted for being fat, but nobody even tries to change his sugary, greasy eating habits.  Fuzzy indulgently gives him packets of sugar.  Overweight Polynesians also provide visual comic relief.

7. Anti-gun.  As part of his Aaron Burr costume, Peng sports an antique pistol – the representative gun is thus an anachronism clashing with enlightened modernity.  He fires the weapon at one point and, though it intimidates a bully, Peng himself clearly finds the experience more frightening than fun.

6. Pro-gay.  Roosevelt was raised by caring and cultured lesbian mothers.  When Aaron, at his party, asks who would like to kiss him, one boy raises his hand along with all the girls.

5. Anti-white male/pro-castration.  Manly men are antagonistic and primitive savages and constantly raising hell whether by stealing, theatening violence, or abducting and holding a child for ransom.  Kicked testicles are an occasion for humor.  Positive portrayals of men in Fun Size are limited to sissy, skinny, sensitive types like Roosevelt and Fuzzy and nerds like Peng.

4. Statist/pro-serfdom.  Roosevelt’s new age lesbian mothers, who presumably named him after crippled American dictator and welfare state Santa Claus FDR, “evolve” spiritually and as artists as they weave a tapestry of a smiling Barack Hussein Obama.  Roosevelt, like Wren, is a “fan of the Supreme Court”.  Wren does her part to inflate the college debt bubble by applying to NYU.

3. Pro-slut/anti-family/dysfunction-tolerant.  The mother whines about how hard it is being a single mother but also seems to find unaccountable bragging rights in this.  Kids are a hassle and Trojan condoms get the appropriate product placement.

2. Pro-miscegenation.  April inadvertently catches a steamy case of yellow fever after letting Peng feel her breast at a party and goes to bed (couch, actually) with him the same night.

1. Feminist.  For Halloween, Wren considers dressing as “feminist icon” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who gets name-dropped an obscene number of times for a dumb teen comedy.  Katie Couric, meanwhile, is praised for being “so brave”.  April experiences painful burning after applying Nair to her ass – and thus is punished for wrongheadedly catering to men’s sexually domineering expectations of female hairlessness.  Wren’s mom bares her teeth and intimidates Roosevelt by boasting that she’s a single mother (and therefore a force to be reckoned with) before handily wrestling him to the ground like a pro.

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