Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Strong Heart

Young and stupid movie watchers may think Sam Worthington is the only actor around who possesses A STRONG HEART (see: Terminator: Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans), but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, almost a full decade before Worthington showed us the strength of his heart, two other young lotharios impressed us with their cardiovascular fortitude. I am, of course, speaking of those two guys from B2K that made a movie once.

B2K? Well...

Having watched this video again, I have to correct my statement and say only one of the two guys is actually from B2K. The other guy is Roger the annoying neighbor from Sister Sister, a terrible show in its own right.

Anyway, in You Got Served Roger and B2K are street dancers who very much love their craft and hope to strike it big one day. But since this is a movie, the strength of their hearts will be tested before they can gyrate in the background of T-Pain videos. The ultimate way to test it, is to be provoked by a bunch of super white dudes with Dragon Ball Z hair from Orange County. Of course they do not have the moves and subsequently get "served" by our way fresher heroes. This will not stand, obviously, and Goku and his crew challenge our boys to a REAL dance-off at Steve Harvey's dance warehouse. For REAL money this time. Oh shit, it is definitely on.

Naturally, for our downtrodden heroes this is a serious investment of like, college funds and shit, while for Goku and his crew it just means that they can only eat the scrotums of four white tigers this month instead of seven. Sorry, that image is the most decadent brunch I could imagine. Leave comments with more decadent stuff, please! I have only seen a bit of Gossip Girl, so I'm not too versed in it.

Here's where the movie ensures us our leads have strong hearts. Roger doesn't have the necessary funds, so he'll have to ask his grandmammy. I kind of assumed he would make up some bullshit excuse to get $1500 from an old black lady, but no, he really just says SUM SUCKAS FROM DA OC DISSED US AND WE CAN'T GET PLAYED LIKE DAT! Grandma contemplates this for a few seconds, closes her eyes, sighs deeply and proclaims: "You got a stroooong heart, just like yo grampappy." And then he gets $1500. Cuz he can't get played like that. I wish You Got Served came out in like 1990. I'd have gotten a lot more stuff from my parents if I just knew how to negotiate with them.

Anyway, Steve Harvey is a dude who owns a warehouse where he allows kids to dance. He is very insistent on the fact that no one fights in his dancing warehouse. To ensure this, he lays down the law before the dance off starts. And just to make absolutely sure nobody thinks about startin' nuthin', he introduces MISTAH CHUCK. Mr. Chuck is a man of few words and even fewer facial expressions. Harvey assures the dancers that Mr. Chuck is an off-duty policeman friend of his, who will take care of any problems that might arise. This is punctuated by Mr. Chuck showing off his service weapon. I love that in this universe dancing is such a badass occupation that riots regularly arise from it, and an off-duty policeman will literally shoot teenagers who get angry over gettin' served.

Disaster strikes, however, as one of Roger and B's crew has sold them out like an Uncle Tom motherfucker and has totally taught all their best moves to the DBZ crew. Down and out financially, even more tensions come to a head when Roger finds out B is dating his sister, played by the daughter from Damon Wayans' sitcom My Wife & Kids. It's kinda hilarious hearing her try to talk street, since I suppose it sounds about as convincing as when I do it. Bless her for trying, though. Her best line: "This is my CRAZY friend Beautifull!" Way to write at goddamn Saturday morning cartoon/prequel level, writers of You Got Served. Beautifull (2 L's get it rite!!) is, despite the suspicions her name might incur, actually quite beautiful. She's also kind of amazingly offensive as she's essentially just SASSTRON 5000.

Something that didn't even cross my mind while watching the movie is that, while there are two retardedly gorgeous girls in it, neither of them actually dances. It's a guy thing. There are female dancers, but they're in the background. Heh, well. Food for thought. Not really, though. This movie is made for teenage girls. We're supposed to be showing off romantic, athletic, rhythm-havin' dudes. This is never more apparent than just before the final dance-off, where Roger and B both have INTENSE dance rehearsals with their shirts off in the night's pouring rain.

I came to the realization that a dance movie like this is not very different from something like Friday the 13th or Rambo. You don't really come for the plot, or the acting, or the meaningful themes the story explores. You come for the murders/the action/the dance. And yeah, the dance scenes were ultimately very impressive, and the plot and characterization just full of ridiculous enough moments that... well, I kinda have to categorize this movie as a success.

And, you know, you can totally not look gay for watching it cuz these girls are in it.

That's probably the most positive note I've ever ended a post on.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Masque of the Red Death

Roger Corman used to make a shit-ton of movies. In fact, he'd have made about three in the time it takes you or me to eat a bowl of cereal.

In 1964, he released The Masque of the Red Death. Ever the dealmaker, he shot it in England, taking advantage of a tax loophole and getting subsidies for using a British crew. Additionally, he used sets from Burton/O'Toole/Gielgud epic Becket. The result is a pretty good-looking movie done on the cheap. Kudos, Corman.

What I love about this "horror" movie is that there's barely a scary element. Vincent Price isn't a vampire or a mad scientist. He's just a guy who likes to fuck with people. The plague (the titular Red Death) is ravaging the countryside, and Price's Prince Prospero has invited a bunch of his nobleman friends to sit it out in his castle.

Also there is peasant girl Francesca, played by the lovely Jane Asher. For some reason, Prospero wants to convert her to satanism. Yeah, that's Prospero's scary hook. He has a little shrine to Satan in his castle, which is little more than a small black room with an altar and two pretty rockin' dragon statues on it.

His arguments for Francesca to convert to satanism are pretty poorly thought out, as well. "God is dead!" "The world is evil anyway!" "There would be chaos if no one took control!" But hey, he's Vincent Price. He delivers all that stuff about "Bask with me in the glories of hell!" with such smug gusto that it's a joy just literally hearing him talk.

I love that this movie exists. That there was an era where producers wanted to make money, and what they had to do to get money was film some people getting fucked up in a spooky castle while Vincent Price rambled on about doom and terror and darkness and I don't know he likes Satan or something.

There is also an amazing subplot where Alfredo, one of Prospero's asshole noble friends kicks a lady midget ballerina for spilling his drink. Two minutes earlier, he breathlessly whispered to Prospero that "I want her". The kicker? Corman somehow couldn't get a hold of a real lady midget (??), so it's an actual five year old girl voiced by an adult actress. I was initially confused whether or not Alfredo was a pedophile or just a dude horny for midgets. When Prospero's guy-midget plots to get back at mean old Alfredo, he pledges to his lady love he shall not rest before this wrong is righted. He is a real midget, though. I don't even know who was more uncomfortable the day they had to shoot that romantic scene. In the spirit of equal opportunity discrimination, the male midget is also dubbed by a non-freak actor.

Spoilers ahead, though the movie's almost 50 years old and who gives a shit. The vengeance of Hop Toad (male midget) consists of convincing Alfredo to wear a gorilla suit to the titular masque, since all the other guests will be "cleverly disguised, but still... only human." Hop Toad will be playing the ape's midget handler. During the act, our jilted lover douses Alfredo with brandy, ties him to a lowered chandelier, lifts him back up with his amazing little person strength, and sets him no fire. Everyone is shocked, but Prospero is dying of laughter.

"See to it that Hop Toad receives five sovereigns for this delightful performance! A beautiful reminder of life's little cruelties!"

Wow. I wanna live in that castle. If one of life's little everyday cruelties is a guy in a gorilla suit getting burned alive in front of your dinner party guests, well... you know.