Notes from the back row 

Lean pickings…

Not much to cheer for this time of year. You can actually watch summer begin to die right in front of your eyes… and then the school bus rolls up. Good times. Last year the fat cats in Hollywood threw us a frickin’ bone at least when they released the Rob Zombie Halloween remake. This time around we get Hamlet 2.

The title is the funniest part but Hamlet 2 was actually a big hit at Sundance last winter. Don’t believe the hype though, because while it elicits an occasional chuckle spoofing inspirational teacher movies, the film is really just 90-minutes of obnoxiously manic Brit actor Steve Coogan (he played the director in Tropic Thunder) overdoing it at every chance. And the humour is tired and a little too smug.

Coogan plays a failed actor-turned-drama teacher (kids remember — ‘If you can’t do, teach’) who is on the verge of loosing his job unless he and a bunch of Latino transfer students-gangbangers can whip up the best, most controversial play ever. Blah blah, blah, cue the not-as-funny-as-the-filmmakers-think musical bit at the end and blah blah blah, roll credits. Plays blow, so thank god for Elizabeth Shue, who, playing herself (kind of) is the best part of Hamlet 2.

First off, Elizabeth Shue was, is, and probably always will be really, really hot. And she’s good at soccer too, for all you people who like your women with a little gonch-sweat. But most importantly, she can act. Oscar-nominated for her stellar performance as a hooker with a heart of gold in 1995s Leaving Las Vegas (co-staring Nic Cage and one of the best films of the ‘90s) Elizabeth kind of dropped off the scene after that and went back to school (Harvard) where she procured a degree in Government. Apparently she’s produces films now but the real reason to love Elizabeth Shue is her fantastic work in the 80’s.

After nailing it as the girlfriend in Karate Kid, young Elizabeth starred in the second best movie ever about babysitting, Adventures in Babysitting , and easily stepped into both Back to the Future Sequels. It seemed like she was everywhere and it was fantastic. A lot of people think Elizabeth Shue was in 1986’s Howard the Duck , the weirdest comic book movie to date, but that was actually Elizabeth Shue wanna-be Lea Thompson, who made more popular movies than Shue but still suffers from the unenviable dichotomy of being nowhere near as cool, or as hot. Even without Elizabeth Shue, Howard the Duck is worth checking out and was released on DVD in Europe last year — good luck I say.

The best ever babysitting movie by the way is Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead starring Christina Applegate and Keith Coogan (who, coincidentally, also starred in Adventures in Babysitting.)

Sticking with actresses though, how about the performance of Emma Stone in The House Bunny ? Brilliant. Emma, who shot onto the radar as the oh-so-authentic love interest in last year’s classic Superbad proves it was no fluke by bringing the same sense of inspired realness to an over-the-top geek role. She’s also the best part of The Rocker (along with Christina Applegate. Wow, the movie column is really inbred this week) .

So it’s official. Like Anna Faris, I’ll go to any movie with Emma Stone in it just because she’s in it. And what do you mean you haven’t seen The House Bunny yet? Sure, it’s chock full of T’n’A for a flick aimed at 11-year-old girls but it also stars Hugh freakin’ Hefner and Farris drops pure wisdom when she informs us that, “the eyes are the nipples of the face.” Ha! Kids everywhere might start licking each other’s eyes this back-to-school season – Don’t do it! Eye herpes is a real disease.


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