Notes from the back row 

First off, lets all take a moment and pour some on the block in memory of Pique publisher Kathy Barnett. She was a really hip lady, a pillar of this community, and she launched my career when she and Bob decided to green light this column back in 2002. You rule Kathy, thanks for everything.             

The DVD of the week, in honour of renegade publishers, is The People vs Larry Flint, a fantastic Woody Harrelson flick about the estranged, do-it-yourself creator of Hustler magazine, his battle for freedom of expression (even when you’re wrong), and his immature aggression towards authority. Sticking it to the man always makes for interesting cinema and this is a bang-on film and widely available on DVD.

On the opposite side of the movie spectrum, the uninteresting side, we can find Fool’s Gold, which opens this week at the Village 8.

Matthew McConaughey revisits his happy-go-lucky, immature doofus persona reuniting with Kate Hudson in a sunken-treasure-hunting romantic comedy that, while containing a couple chuckles and lots of wet glory shots, is about as entertaining as a ball of soggy toilet paper.

Riddled with co-stars (everyone from Donald Sutherland to Ewan Bremmer, Steve Erkel even pops up at one point) the lame script follows freshly-divorced-yet-still-in-love Finn (Matt) and Tess (Kate) as they seek out the Queen’s Dowry, an 18 th century mother-load sunken somewhere in the Caribbean. There’s also the new rich benefactor, his ditzy daughter (Alexis Dziena — the best part of the movie) and, of course, the bad guy — a gangster rapper named Big Bunny who is still owed money from Finn’s previous treasure hunting failures.

Few of the one-liners work, the plot is muddled and much of the story is simply explained to us in dialogue (when Tess says, “It’s complex, but not in a good way” she’s unknowingly describing the entire film.) Director Andy Tennant ( Hitch) plays it safe, too safe, for most of the flick and then tosses in some unexpected graphic violence at the end to make sure nothing in the film ever seems to flow together. Fool’s Gold lacks pay off and the biggest fools end up being the audience.

Speaking of an audience, does anyone watch those dumb spoof movies any more? I’m talking crap like Date Movie or Epic Movie ?? I guess some people must because the idiots behind those two pieces of unimagined movie-poop attempts at referential humour and satire are back with another ‘film’ (and I use the term in its broadest sense.) Remember the Spartans is supposed to be a dig at 300 but it also pokes fun at almost every other memorable movie, TV show, and tabloid event of the year, even the “Leave Britney Alone” guy gets acknowledged.

The problem is that the filmmakers aren’t smart enough to do anything more than suck total ass. Their ‘satire’ is simply a list of moments that’ll give you a brief, “oh yeah, I remember that” feeling and that’s it. No wit, no real comedy (anti-gay jokes and pile-driving preschoolers aside) and certainly nothing that comes close to the ‘real’ satirical movies of times past by guys like Mel Brooks or the Zucker Bros. I’m guessing 14-year-old boys might like this kind of flick (it’s true, we totally do mature way slower than chicks) but as my colleague Adam Graham of the Detroit News says, “ Meet the Spartans is so bad even Carmen Electra should be embarrassed.” I picked up her lap-dance exercise DVD’s when I was in Bali and I don’t think anything embarrasses Carmen (or me, apparently.)

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