Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CROSSTOPIX #7: PG-13, SNL/MacGruber, Lovable Flops, and Sequels that Killed a Franchise!

Welcome to the newly revamped CrossTopix! I hope you all are enjoying the new website layout, the new format for this edition, and enjoy the content as well. This week's discussions are about movies made before the PG-13 era, the best SNL skits turned movies as well as the upcoming MacGruber, the best movies/games/TV shows that weren't financially/critically successful, and the least favorite sequels that killed a single movie/video game or their franchise. With me this week: self-proclaimed future multi-Oscar Award Winner and TMZ fighter, Bob Reeks!

Bob: STVO, thanks for having me on, just look at this set, do you have a Smitty like Jay? Aw man, I look forward to giving my feedback and arguing…it’ll be fun. Just to get the promotional stuff out of the way, I am currently working on a screenplay with a friend of mine. We’re just about to hop on the dialogue. Later we will jump on the rest (camera movements, light, and what not) but once it’s done we’ll actually be filming the trailer, hopefully within a few months, so we can get some money from some lucky producer. It’s a great story, no details, but I will say people will get some valuable life lessons and entertainment from it. This is the beginning of Bob. Instigator Bob will come later…I promise.

1. If you were born in the 1980s or before you might remember the MPAA rating system was only: G, PG and R. Later on, borderline movies such as Space Balls, Howard the Duck, and Gremlins arrived with content that was a little too mature for being PG-rated but not mature enough for being rated R. For that, PG-13 was born! Discuss what you think of the era before that and if you think that it was a necessary decision 30 years later…

STVO: I am really surprised by how much the 1980s were able to get away with in the PG-rating! There is full frontal nudity in the original Clash of the Titans, Howard the Duck features parody “PlayDuck Magazine” as well as a nude duck woman with breasts, and the word “S#!*” is said quite a bit in Space Balls! From a fan’s stand point, all of these are very entertaining movies (yes, even Howard) but from a parent’s view point, I could see some of the material is a bit much for younger children. I think that the PG-13 rating has been effective because I think it distinguishes children and family movies (PG) from movies more for pre-teen/teenager (PG-13.)

The Dark Knight does an excellent job of creating a perfect PG-13 experience as it can be violent and very mature yet it won’t traumatize most children for life. One slight drawback is that some directors of PG movies today seem to think that their family movies should be entirely dumb-downed.
Bob: Think about “Uncle Buck” with John Candy, that was PG and included a Rape scene, the F bomb, and drug use (underage drinking) Oh yeah and a drunken clown (nothing for kids to see). This is just another situation where PG-13 would have been helpful.

Of course there is also Indiana Jones. “Temple of Doom” comes to mind. Now to get this out of the way, the third one was PG13, that one they rated correctly. But back to “Temple of Doom”, I saw it at like age 6 or something and I wasn’t affected by the heart grabbing, the sexual innuendo, the Arabs (well now they are scary, but in the movie they had dark evil eyes) , the Alligators tearing up the bad guys. Oh yeah and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, face melting Nazis, skeletons popping out of the walls, and of course the lesson to kids is to walk on eggshells and never ever visit the Middle East. They should’ve rated those R especially when compared to “Stand by Me”

What does all this mean? Our generation was the least protected when it comes to movie content because movies didn’t cause school shootings and other things of that nature yet. Now movies are getting fluffier with the messages that family and children are precious. Nowadays if a movie has a questionable scene, then mommy and daddy form groups and whine whine whine. So the new message with more ratings is to teach kids to sue and fight when you don’t like something. Real life should be rated R in that case.

2. Many of Saturday Night Live’s skits have been adapted into movies. What has been your favorite movie of those skits? Also, share your opinion on the latest SNL skit turned movie: MacGruber.

STVO: Easily my favorite SNL-based movies are Wayne’s World 1 and 2. I like them both so much that it’s hard for me to choose which one I like more than the other. I somewhat idolized the two as a kid and feel that they are still awesome today! Hosting a rockin’ television show from Wayne’s parents’ basement! I love all the celebrity appearances from Tia Carrere, Ed O’Neil, Chris Farley, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, etc. Coneheads is a runner-up as it was such an outrageous movie (see the locker room scene) that I still find it all funny to this day.
Onto MacGruber, I’m not interested. I decided to catch up on the SNL skits on Hulu.com (just type MacGruber in the search engine) and while it’s probably one of the better skits I have seen on SNL in years, it’s not saying too much as SNL in my opinion has been mediocre for about 15 years now. I give them credit for parodying an already goofy concept (MacGuyver) and adding some dirty jokes (using his son’s “anal lube” or needing someone’s pubic hair to disable a bomb) the jokes just don’t have the heart they did 20+ years ago. The trailers haven’t done the movie any favors either (even with appearances from WWE wrestlers.) I do enjoy Will Forte as Principal Wally on The Cleveland Show though!

Bob: I loved “Stuart Saves his Family”, as a Chicagoan I’m forced to love “Blues Brothers”, Wayne’s World 1 and 2, “Coneheads”, and of course The Ladies Man. “Ohhh it’s a Lady” is now in my daily vernacular. Each one had its upsides. “Stuart Saves his Family” was a very warm movie. But it had a more positive message than the skit itself and that was to stay who you are and use it to improve others lives. Blues Brothers is a classic...that’s all I’m going to say. “Wayne’s World”...well Wayne and Garth are kind of the Poster children for 90’s 20-somethings. If you want to see what life was like in Pre-Generation X, you should see these. They were a bit exaggerated but very true with how they viewed young life. Coneheads, they were chewing on condoms....yeah that’s just awesome. And the innuendo with the Subway sub, it’s subtle but you can catch it. But also, the movie is actually smart; it sends a great message about immigration; when returning to their own country (planet) some are actually killed upon return not immediately but usually from non government groups (gangs, drug lords). That’s why I like that one. Finally, The Ladies Man. I don’t know which movie I quote more between Old School or The Ladies Man. It’s just tons of fun and of course my crush from Fresh Prince is hot as hell in that.

MacGruber. Well, I can only state that instead of simply rebooting MacGuyver they spend money on a spinoff. I’ll take the Reboot any day especially since MacGruber is only funny as a 10-second skit…yeah I said it. If it works and draws in more than 80 million I’ll be very surprised, but it’ll probably debut at like number 4 or something. The character isn’t that well known anyhow and neither is the actor. Also, Val Kilmer is in it, sorry Val but no one likes you anymore. I wish it luck but wishes only go so far.

3. “That was awful!” “Man that movie tanked so bad!” Quotes you would likely hear for box-office bombs, TV flops, or video game failures. What are some of your favorite unsuccessful movies/games/programs/even music artists that didn’t do so well financially and/or was critically panned?

STVO: Hahahaha, the list can go on forever if I was to list every movie/game/TV series, but I’ll just select a few. I’ll list one TV show, one movie, one video game, and list a few runners-up.
Mission Hill (1999, Channel: WB/Adult Swim), Titan AE (2000), and Shenmue (System: Dreamcast, 2000.) The three titles I listed all had great potential. Mission Hill was a very funny animated TV show about a three 20-somethings and 17 year-old Kevin French as they live in an apartment in the city of Mission Hill. Titan AE was a unique animated movie from Don Bluth about our planet Earth being destroyed in the future and the human race looking for a new planet to rebuild their lives; this movie could have led the path for more mature animated action-adventure movies. Finally Shenmue wasn’t without its problems but had great potential to be an epic game series from Sega. As a man named Ryo Hazuki seeking revenge for the death of his father, you had to go through his life day to day as you work to raise money, fight gangs to gain information to find the murderer, and help out friends that were in need. Sadly the first game was on a very high budget (with many landmarks and corporate likenesses), was flawed by repetition (you had to work construction like it was a real job), and didn’t gain the fan base Sega had hoped to seek.

Runners-Up: The Critic, Megas XLR, Howard the Duck, Hostel Part 2, Beyond Good and Evil, Eternal Darkness.

Bob: The first movie I have to mention is, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, bad acting, but truly effective. Most people say they saw “It” as a kid and that’s why they fear clowns, well, that would explain the fear of Tim Curry, not clowns. Killer Klowns is a great reason to fear clowns. I mean in one terrifying scene they are walking down the street collecting dead humans wrapped in Cotton Candy! Also, using a human for a dummy like a ventriloquist? Terrifying! This has a huge cult following with it too, but also loads of funny stuff like a memorable beheading with a classic quote, “what are you gonna do, knock my block off?”

“The Strangers” had people in the shadows with white masks that are very scary especially if you try to picture it in your apartment or think of the Manson murders. I guarantee you won’t sleep after watching it, I know I can’t think of that movie before bed. I know I’m approaching 30, but to me it’s terrifying and nearly approaches Gacey and Dahmer-levels of scary. In addition to simple yet terrifying, I enjoy The Blair Witch Project despite many people panning it today.

The Cable Guy and Last Action Hero were terribly underrated. Jim Carrey is just hilarious and someone we all know but don’t necessarily like. Classic subtlety such as “A sound system that would make George Lucas cream in his pants” or who could forget “I’m as healthy as a horse…not a drip (referring to STDs)” Give it another shot and you’ll see what I mean. The same can be said about Last Action Hero. It i s a GREAT action movie that I think stands out. No, this isn’t the movie where Arnold says “Get to the Chopper!” but it is the one where he says “I iced that guy” and “You killed my second cousin Frank…BIG MISTAKE” and “silent but deadly” Also there are quotes that actually poke fun of action movies such as “There's always someone in there. It costs me a fortune in closet doors”

Last but not least, Radio Flyer. Okay some may remember that one being sad and depressing about child abuse. Well it is exactly that, but with a fun twist, the kids creates a flying machine to escape the father (despite the fact he’s thrown in Jail at the end) but still a classic and moving picture. I love it, the kid escapes and flies and sends in post cards every few years until his 40’s despite the fact he escapes at age 10. Hmmm.

4. Movie and video game series can be like an overdone joke. They are good at first, might continue to be the second or even third time, perhaps it loses steam the fourth time, then finally you’re sick of it after the fifth or sixth occurrence!!! List a movie or even video game that killed a series that you started off enjoying then got sick of. You may also include movies/games that were good standing-alone but blossomed into a series you didn’t like.

STVO: The first one I would like to discuss is Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I really enjoyed the first movie very much and felt it was a movie that should have just left a single movie. Out of curiosity, I have watched TCM 2 and TCM: New Generation. They are horrible! If you’re looking for a good laugh or Leatherface experimenting with being a drag queen, these movies might be up your alley. The acting is ridiculous, it loses the slightly realistic feel, and again, more experimentations of Leatherface in drag is just too much.

For video games, I would have to say Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4. When this title arrived, they added free roaming to find missions such as ollying a bum and playing tennis with your skateboard. That’s right; you played a round of tennis using your skateboard as the racket.
I liked that Activision and Neversoft were trying to continue innovation, but I felt they went too far with their free-roaming and adding stories to the Tony Hawk series. Since four, I haven’t been into the series as much. For a series of games like this, I feel it is best to keep it simple and not try to make it an answer to Grand Theft Auto.

Bob: Okay they really, really, really pushed it with Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions. Okay yes, they were fun and highly complex with their undertones and in the theaters I was in heaven. But when you really think about it, the Matrix was an exact copy of Dark City and Dark City didn’t have sequels so why did The Matrix? Oy vey! They need to stop making sequels to movies that clearly stand alone. However I will also bring up TOXIE, yes the Toxic Avenger. Yes, I am going there! The first one was bad, very very bad, but the second and third…YIKES. I thought it was over but then they released Toxic Avenger 4 (the worst movie I have ever seen.) Part 4 has Ron Jeremy as the Mayor and includes a rape scene with a butch girl raping Toxie’s blind girlfriend. Just wrong! They should not have even made the first one in my opinion.

I’m not a big gamer, nothing personal, I just don’t see the point in paying $60 for games that I generally can’t beat without cheat codes because they’re so d*mn hard! There were a couple games I have beaten on NES, Genesis, and SNES, and then there is the GTA series and Devil May Cry. I love GTA, lots of fun and the sequels actually work. Now, Devil May Cry is tons of fun (Jay and Silent Bob name drop) but the second one takes some weird turns in the story and goes nowhere. In fact I got stuck on a giant squid, tried for a few weeks and just gave up. The series now sucks and I don’t want to finish the stories. However I have heard that DMC 3 and 4 revive it to being fun again. I can’t wait to play those.


That's all for this week's edition of CrossTopix! Thank you again to Bob Reeks for joining discussion! Next Wednesday, Charlie Cat joins the discussion as well as special guest and friend of CrossTopix, Matt McCollum. Next week the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street will be released and of course we plan to do some speculation as well as discuss other topics as well!

In the meantime, click like or dislike to let us know what you thought of the edition. Commenting also lets me know if the new format/the topics/the guests are interesting as well. Join the Facebook Fan Page or follow CrossTopix on Twitter! (More updates to occur on there soon!)

Until then, enjoy the week!


  1. TCM 2 is over the top brilliance. Next Gen: on the other hand...

  2. Hi Tim!

    Thanks for commenting. TCM 2 was just a little nutty in my opinion, it was leading the franchise into b-movie territory. I might have to give the movie another chance sometime as I do enjoy Dennis Hopper (Land of the Dead, Super Mario Bros. The Movie, hahaha!) The first movie had a low budget, but not over-the-top cheesiness to it (not that there's anything wrong with those movies, I actually do like the Toxic Avenger unlike Bob.)

    Next Generation I can't sympathize. Sure it has a young and very attractive Renee Zellweger, but it was pretty brutal to watch (not because it was gory and scary, but just ridiculously bad!)

    Besides those three of the original series, the only other TCM I saw was the remake in 2003 I believe. I was expecting awful, but it was actually decent in my opinion, not great though. It stayed pretty true to the original movie with some of its own spin, but for this case, nothing can top the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Toby Hooper!

    - STVO