12 September 2004

My Baby's Daddy

Three best friends, Lonnie, G, and Dominic coincidentally impregnate their respective girlfriends, forcing them to quickly grow up and become baby daddies and perhaps even learn to be fathers .

Give me a moment while I wait for my brain to stop barfing.

This movie was terrible. I can't complain though. The movie's exactly what I expected a movie called My Baby's Daddy to be like. Ignoring the movie's ridiculous premise, this movie is still wrong, so wrong.

Firstly, I can't believe anyone in their right mind would acknowledge that any of the three losers was the father of their child. In one scene, the daddies leave their three toddlers unattended in an upstairs bedroom while a party full of alcohol and hoochie mamas rages on downstairs. One of the daddies unwittingly leaves the bedroom door open, allowing the three babies to crawl all the way downstairs to the front lawn, completely unnoticed. Of course, this incident compels the three players to take fatherhood more seriously, i.e., clean up the house.

The film is also rife with racial stereotypes: stingy, uptight Asian owners of a convenience store; loud obnoxious black women; earthy Indian woman; white guys who want to be black. There is even a long running (might I add, too long) play on the Chinese language with characters named Bling Bling, Da Ling, and XiXi (pronounced She She). I have no problems with jokes addressing stereotypes, but jokes are suppose to be funny. This movie was not funny. The film in general seemed like a random string of jokes that were probably a little funny at one point in time (maybe at 4:00 a.m. when the writers were high off of some illegal substance), but completely fall flat on screen.

The film's leads, Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, and Michael Imperioli could produce great performances if given the right material, so I have to wonder what crap head convinced them that My Baby's Daddy was a good idea.

Admittedly, in this cavern of crap exists a few nuggets of funny. Despite the cliche, twin comics, Jason and Ryan Sklar are hilarious as the "Brothers Stylz", an aspiring (white) rap duo. If the movie had centered around the rappers and their encounter with the milk and cookie loving gangsta/music executive, Drive-By, the film would have been five times funnier (granted, that's not saying much). For instance, when introducing the rap group an MC quips, "It's time to put some crackers in this soup. Straight from the streets, I mean, cul de sac, the Brothers Stylz." Also, Method Man makes a very funny cameo as No Good, G's cousin. Meth is just really good at infusing a hard hood persona with a whole lot of charm and goofiness. I also can't forget little Bobbie J. Thompson (The Tracy Morgan Show) as Tupac, the precocious other son of Lonnie's baby's mama.

I could tell how awful the film would be within the first ten minutes of the film. It took everything I had to finish the film. The only reward for watching the entire film is the rap performance by Bobbie J. Thompson at the end of the film. Then again, you can just wait until someone throws the DVD of My Baby's Daddy outside their window, so that you can skip ahead and just see the track with Bobbie J.

My recommendation: Don't wast your time. You know the saying "curiousty killed the cat"? That cat probably killed himself after seeing My Baby's Daddy.

07 September 2004

New York Minute

Twin sisters, Jane and Roxy Ryan spend one madcap day in New York City in the hopes of gaining Jane a scholarship to Oxford and landing Roxy a record deal. Roxy, played by Mary Kate Olsen is the rebel sister. She wears vintage t-shirts and lots of black eyeliner; is a master at skipping school; and is the drummer for an aspiring pop rock band. Ashley Olsen, the blonder sister, plays Jane, who, as signified by her geeky, yet uber stylish glasses, is a stark contrast to Roxy. Jane is an uptight, ultra-organized, germaphobic, straight A student, and apparently the captain of the cheerleading team? Needless to say, the twin sisters resent each other's existence (DESPITE their posh house, an easy going, unobservant dad, killer wardrobe, nice hair, and seemingly perfect life).

Unfortunately, a series of mishaps and a case of mistaken identity (after all, it wouldn't be a twin movie without some mistaken identity action) aboard the train to NYC leads Jane and Roxy to unwittingly take a ride from the henchmen of a ruthless music pirating ring/ nail salon which causes a bum to spill his slurpee onto Jane’s shirt, which forces the girls to sneak into the Plaza hotel, which leads to an ugly dog eating a valuable microchip, which then necessitates the ransom of Jane’s organizer, which leads the twins to a Simple Plan video shoot and gets them on stage to dance with the band and crowd surf, which then causes the girls to fall down a man hole that eventually takes them Harlem where they get “blinged” (i.e., terrible wigs and gaudy outfits), which then makes me realize how really unimportant plot is as long as it allows for continual costume changes and showcases MaryKateandAshley’s comedic prowess and, excuse me if I barf, sex appeal (They're barely legal, people!). By the end of the day, do Jane and Roxy learn that perhaps it’s not the scholarship or record deal that matters, but more importantly, their relationship and the time spent together OR do they learn that they can have their cake and eat it too?

New York Minute is targeted at two audiences: the young droids who eat up Mary Kate and Ashley’s straight-to-video films and the skeezy adults who insist on reiterating how hot little Michelle Tanner has become. With all the scenes featuring trendy little outfits and a surprising lack of clothing, both fan groups should be immensely pleased. Everyone else will be pleasantly surprised – if you go in with really low expectations.

Firstly, Mary Kate and Ashley have come a long way from the mindless recitation of “You got it dude” from their Full House days. I’d even venture to say that they’re now actresses. Even without the different hair colors or difference in height and style, one could tell the lead characters apart by the performances and character development of the respective actress. Mary Kate is nothing to sneeze at, but Ashley stands out with a finer sense of comedic timing and expression. Despite the pseudo-punk attitude, Mary Kate still reads like a rich girl from Malibu. Ashley, on the other hand, seems to more fully immerse herself in the idiosyncrasies of her character. I think it’s time that Ashley starts getting top billing. From here on, refer to the twins as Ashley and Mary Kate.

New York Min. also features an assortment of notable cameos. Andy Richter is pretty hilarious as an American-born, need I add, white henchmen who speaks with a Chinese accent. Eugene Levy stars as Max Lomax, a fumbling truant officer intent on catching Roxy Ryan playing hooky ala Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Levy, puts his own goofy, near sighted twist on the evil authority figure character. Levy’s former SCTV cast mate, Andrea Martin also stars as an important Senator with a hot son. Darrell Hammond, playing the straight man to the Olsens’ gags and mishaps, exudes a creepiness that I now realize is in all of his characters and impersonations (e.g., Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Sean Connery). Other familiar, yet not very famous, faces include Jack Osbourne (The Osbournes), Jared Padalecki(Gilmore Girls), Drew Pinksy (Love Line), and Bob Saget (Full House).

If you look beyond the ridiculousness of the storyline, flat supporting characters, and racial stereotypes, the movie’s rather enjoyable, even funny at times. In fact, New York Minute is hands down better than the Lizzie McGuire movie.

My recommendation: If you’re into the teen girl genre, I’d say, what the heck, rent it. However, if you are one of those icky people who counted down the days til Ashley and Mary Kate turned 18, forget it. Don’t rent the movie, just get help.

01 September 2004

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

In the midst of a Cuban revolution, allegedly bookish All-American teen, Katey Miller (Romola Garai) moves to 1958 Havana with her incredibly good looking parents (Sela Ward and John Slattery) and snotty little sister, played by the snotty little sister from Surf Girls, Mika Boorem.
Katey magnanimously befriends a local busboy, Javier Suarez (Diego Luna) and gradually -- actually, rather quickly becomes a hoochie mama and falls in love with Havi-air and his dirty dancing. Secretly, the two prepare for a prestigious Latin ballroom dancing competition in the hopes of winning a free trip to America, where Javier will then send for his entire family. Right.
Will a pesky revolution get in the way of their romance? Will the Cubans succeed in getting Fidel Castro, the leader they've always wanted? You simply must watch the film to find out.

I didn't hate the movie. The soundtrack, a catchy blend of Latin and American Pop is fantastic. The dancing is entertaining, if not a bit over the top. In case you missed the title of the movie, the director and choreographer emphasize the "dirtiness" of Latin dance through repeated shots of scantily clad women, gryrating bodies, and lots of fake sweat. The entire movie centers around the contrast between the sexiness of Latin dance and the rigid formalities of classic ballroom dancing. Everything from costumes, to choreography, to the lead actors underline the fact that Cuban dancing = dirty and white dancing = clean? lame? not good?

The movie tries to gain some dramatic credibility with its historical backdrop, but the factual revolution cannot hide the fact that the movie is pure cheez: shoddy cinematagrophy, stilted dialogue, a sad excuse for a plot, and a focus on pretty clothes, pretty actors, and catchy music.
Despite the fluffy storyline, the cast does a pretty decent job. However, the only performance worth noting is that of Diego Luna, who plays Javier the busboy. Luna, although at first glance is far from being the sexy lead, proves to be quite charming. I don't know if it's the accent, his smile, or his innate sense of rhythm, but Luna is most convincing as the young man who tempts the conservative foreigner to do some dirty dancing -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge. (See how subtle I was just now? That's how subtle this film is).

Before you proceed to view this film, I must warn you: There is an absolutely horrifying cameo by Patrick Swayze. I don't know if he stuck his head in a vacuum or received some discounted plastic surgery, but Swayze is a good example of how plastic surgery can go wrong -- very wrong. Now I understand why Swayze agreed to appear in Havana Nights. He may not be getting any more film work for awhile (or perhaps he needed the money to repair his face).

My recommendation: Rent it if you enjoy cheezy dance films or want to see Patrick Swayze's film career crash and burn before your eyes.