by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
If you have any type of human decency, you will not watch Dear God No!. It is pure vile trash that has absolutely zero redeeming social value and should be banned in at least 37 countries. Luckily, I have very little human decency left, so I found the bloody biker bash to be a hysterically entertaining grindhouse-throwback that proudly shoves a big, thick middle finger down the viewer’s throat. A tribute to the sleazy 1960s/’70s biker flicks, the Impalers are a trashy, bloodthirsty group of drugged-up hellions that race along the countryside, killing everything that stands in their way. When the home invasion of a kindly old scientist goes real gone, daddy-o, the bikers find themselves offed one-by-one thanks to a really pissed-off Sasquatch. Combining every outré film cliché with a Troma-esque hatred of the mainstream, Dear God No! is a helluva good time that every God-fearing American should avoid!
Gene Simmons, lead singer of the multi-platinum glam-metal band KISS, has always prided himself on never getting married and still managing to hold on to his ex-Playboy Playmate girlfriend Shannon Tweed for over 20 years. I believe he even coined the phrase “They say marriage is an institution, and you have to be crazy to be admitted to an institution!” or something hurtfully pithy like that. Needless to say, the Demon don’t wanna be tied down. This reluctance to confirm their decades-long partnership is the whole dramatic crux of Season 6 of the long-running “reality” show, with Gene and Shannon trying to work things out as their relationship starts to crumble due to his total lack of commitment. This season was so packed with wonderfully staged drama, that it needed two discs, the second volume of which is titled “The Wedding” — so, you know, spoiler alert. Gene Simmons Family Jewels is hokey and forced as all hell, but it’s also mindlessly entertaining and a lot of fun.
Let’s make no bones about it: The action film Act of Valor, starring real-life Navy SEALs, is total pro-war propaganda. That being said, it’s extremely awesome pro-war propaganda that will inspire and excite even the most pacifist among us to want to suit up and take out some terrorists! Valor takes us behind the scenes of two fictional SEALs missions, one to rescue an agent being tortured behind enemy lines, and the other to take down a terrorist who has purchased suicide bomber vests that can go undetected by metal detectors. Sure, these are all plots that have been recycled by other, probably better, action flicks, but what sets apart Valor from the competition is the beautifully choreographed realness of the action — the stunt work and battle scenarios are truly jaw-dropping set-pieces that’ll leave you asking “Expendables who?” as you unfurl that flag on your front porch. And if that isn’t the whole point of kick-ass propaganda, then I don’t know what is.
Everyone loves Hoosiers. The story of a coach in need of a second chance and a small-town high school basketball team no one believed in making it to State is a timeless underdog story that drops all pretension and delivers pure heart and emotion the entire time. Made in 1986, it pretty much set the template for the modern inspirational sports film, and many of the tropes you see in those are all here, but very rarely have they been done better. Even more of a revelation is the intensely heartbreaking performance from the late Dennis Hopper, fresh out of rehab, as an alcoholic coaching assistant who wants nothing more than for his son to be proud of him. Everytime he is onscreen, it is almost impossible not to tear up a little. But even that has to take a back seat at times to the immense edge-of-your-seat nervousness as the clock runs out on the final minute of the championship game. Three cheers for Hoosiers, an all-around American classic.
I’m starting to think that UCB should probably stand for Unfunny Comedians Brigade. I mean, how lazy do you have to be to rip-off a lowest common denominator movie like 2009’s Dance Flick? The Upright Citizens Brigade should be stripped of their title as a “groundbreaking” comedy troupe for this alone. You already know the set-up of these movies: A ragtag group of street dancers brings a rich girl into the gang and then tries to save the rec center in a dance-off against the rival crew. The sad thing about this is that Dance Flick was TRULY atrocious — it didn’t take much to improve upon the formula. With supposed talent like the UCB behind it, I just expected something, I dunno … funny. And while some of the jokes are quite clever and made me laugh one or twice, what truly hurts Freak Dance are the numerous uninspired musical numbers that proudly remind you that the Drama Club should stay at least 100 feet away from the Improv class.