Greetings and salutations, visitors of Ben's Movie Reviews. You're probably expecting Ben to welcome you to this double-feature review. But alas, he is busy shining shoes or getting rhinoplasty or spelunking underwater caves or something; I don't know what Californians do. Here, though, with Trehern at the helm, we'll be examining the intricate, subliminal and heart-wrenching art that is Against All Odds and Graduation Night. Nah, just kidding...we're going to be making fun of them!
Against All Odds (1984)
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods
Another 80s movie, I know. But this one is actually legitimate. Legitimately horrendous. It's the tale of Terry Brogan (Bridges), a retired football player who was forced out of the Los Angeles Outlaws franchise because of a bad shoulder. He's hired by his gangster friend Jake Wise (Woods) to find his runaway girlfriend (Ward) whose name I cannot recall, nor care to remember.
After finding her, Terry falls for this boyish-looking harlot and they spend months hanging out in South America and sexing it up in abandoned Mayan temples. It's pretty unsanitary. Obviously, it wouldn't be a good movie unless Terry got caught, so he does and the remainder of the movie has him falling in and out of love with the girl before going on one last mission to clean his hands of the gangster business.
This film was actually separated into three parts, which felt like three different movies with three different feelings to them. First, you have the retired football player looking for work because he has no other talent than catching a ball and running. Okay, so at first this is a sports movie with Terry finding a new talent and his struggle to break his athletic shell (see The Wrestler). Well, as the story takes this route, it immediately stops when he's hired to find this girl.
So the second part starts with Terry finding the spoiled little brat in South America, and they scuba-dive and make-out and act all touristy. Now it has become a romance movie (see Nights in Rodanthe), and you're forced to sit through their lovey-dovey talk for another third of the movie. But then Jake finds out about their scheme to hide away together.
Now the third act starts, and we go from "torrid love affair" to Scarface crime-drama in LA. This section of the movie I actually liked, because it had some pretty stellar shots and dramatic intrigue. The suspenseful climax of the film has you guessing how Terry will fight off these baddies and still manage to keep his life. But the instability of the thematic flow had me confused and severely interrupted my movie-going experience.
The best acted of the main players was James Woods, who played the greedily wealthy club-owner Jake Wise. While in some instances you see his uncaring/emotionless side, other times you see that he really loves/lusts his girlfriend even though she's too introverted to love him back. The most interesting part is to see his decay from crime lord to peon as Terry runs up the ladder of the gambling syndicate.
Bridges' portrayal of Terry is another story. He's tough in some scenes, while in others he's a completely spineless nancy. He wasn't as comical as Flynn from Tron, and Bridges milks the pretty-boy character until you don't really care what happens to him. His blind love for the girl despite her pompous and selfish ways really had my blood boiling.
The movie concluded well enough, achieving to tie up all the loose ends and ending with the famous Phil Collins song that gave this movie its namesake. I would suggest this to someone who likes the suspenseful, crime-drama, romantic underdog athlete story that we're all familiar with. Not a bad movie, but not good enough to buy on DVD or record on your DVR. But if it's on TV one day, and you're folding laundry or something, you could probably leave it on.
With that out of the way, let's move on to Graduation Night.
Graduation Night (2003)
Directed by Alpesh Patel
Starring Abigail Spencer and Some Nobodies
This is by far (and I mean lightyears) one of the lamest movies I have ever seen. Wait, no, this is the King of Lame Movies; the absolute lamest movie I have ever seen concerning high-school teenagers at a kegger with no parental supervision. It's the meager tale of three boys, Stardancer (real name), Quigley (NOT down under) and Dubber (the GD hippy).
The movie starts with Quigley, your stereotypical moral fat guy (poor man's Jonah Hill), trying to have a party that he expects everyone at school to attend. Well, no one does. You know why? Cause these three guys are LOSERS!! I mean I was far from popular in high school (and I mean lightyears), but I would never stoop so low as to hang out with these nerds. Predictably, their kegs get stolen by the douche-jocks, who then bring them to the class valedictorians' party across town. Oh and guess what? She's the stereotypical tight-ass b*tch! You're breaking some real ground here, Patel.
Ugh, this movie is so corny that it redefines the word "corny". It's dull as dishwater, hackneyed, mundane and platitudinous, all rolled into one boring-ass celestial body of dumb.
So the valedictorian, Skye (Spencer), turns out to be a real hottie and the saving grace of this movie. Skye's parents own a liquor store (**face palm**) and her and Stardancer get locked in the supply closet (**rips wallpaper off walls**). Stardancer, as lame high school stereotypes go, has been her secret admirer for four years, but you don't know that until the end. Oops, sorry, SPOILER ALERT!
First off, if you're a creepy stalker for four years, there's a good chance the woman you are stalking isn't going to fall for you. You know, because she's afraid you'll rape her. Well, Skye happily embraces her secret admirer even though she doesn't know who he (or she...MEOW!) is. She even brags to Stardancer about the admirer like it's some real accomplishment on her part. Just bad all around.
The movie attempts to emulate the positive ideals of a high school student: pursuing your dreams, telling that special someone you love them, reconnecting with old friends even though the high school caste system deems otherwise. You know, the total bullsh*t that after-school specials (and The Breakfast Club) are full of. The rest of the movie has Quigley and Dubber pulling weak and childish pranks on the douche-jocks, which aren't even worth mentioning in this review.
This movie sucked...plain and simple. It was like Patel took the American Pie/Road Trip/Euro Trip/She's All That/Drive Me Crazy movies and dumbed them down for senior citizens who found movies in the 1920s offensive. The dialogue was cliché and boring, the jokes weren't even jokes, and the boobs and drugs were nonexistent. Not one kid smoked!
This high school class must have existed in Perfect Town, USA, where nuclear bombs and TV haven't been introduced yet. If you ever wanted something to burn in the middle of a retention pond becuase there was nothing better to do, the Graduation Night DVD is the best item I can think of right now. Well, that and a shoe.
Stay tuned for Trehern's final two March Movie Madness reviews this week!