|
|
Gonzales Weekly Citizen - Gonzales, LA
  • Movie Man: 'Eagleheart' spoofs action cliches

  • As someone who spent his formative years watching “Late Night with David Letterman,” I consider Chris Elliott an unsung comic genius. Whether it’s his short-lived Fox sitcom “Get a Life,” his cult movie “Cabin Boy” or his series of increasingly unhinged books, I’m willing to follow him wherever he goes.

    • email print
  • As someone who spent his formative years watching “Late Night with David Letterman,” I consider Chris Elliott an unsung comic genius. Whether it’s his short-lived Fox sitcom “Get a Life,” his cult movie “Cabin Boy” or his series of increasingly unhinged books, I’m willing to follow him wherever he goes.
    That’s why I was happy to see “Eagleheart” arrive in my mailbox. Produced by Conan O’Brien’s Conaco and airing on Cartoon Networks’ late-night Adult Swim block, it’s a spoof of cop shows — specifically Chuck Norris’ “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Elliott plays our hero, U.S. Marshall Chris Monsanto, a dimwitted but enthusiastic lawman who fights all manner of villainy — evil twins, zeppelins, the Mob, you name it.
    It’s all pretty silly, but because each episode is only 15 minutes long, “Eagleheart” never wears out its welcome. (It’s also hilariously violent, which explains why it airs late at night, far from Cartoon Network’s kid-oriented daytime shows.)
    The new season one DVD collects all 12 episodes plus commentary tracks, deleted scenes, a never-aired pilot (with Conan himself) and more. If, like me, you worship at the altar of Chris Elliott’s goofiness, you’ll probably want to add this to your collection.
    Head games
    From the ridiculous to the sublime, we move on to director David Cronenberg’s latest film, the slightly (but only slightly) twisted 2011 historical drama “A Dangerous Method.” Cronenberg, you’ll recall, is the man behind such out-there fare as “The Fly,” “Scanners” and “Videodrome.” But he dials things way, way back in this movie, which focuses on pioneering psychologist Carl Jung (Michael Fassbinder), his difficult patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and legendary head shrink Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).
    All that potential craziness and pent-up tension sounds perfect for Cronenberg, but he keeps things so austere and tightly wound that “A Dangerous Method” seldom feels, well, dangerous. The actors are certainly good (especially Knightley, who takes some real chances with her performance), but the movie itself feels like something you’d see on an off-night of “Masterpiece Theater.” It’s not bad by any means, but it never comes near the uneasy brilliance of Cronenberg’s best films.
    College reading
    Here are a few things I learned from Matty Simmon’s new book, “Fat, Drunk and Stupid! The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House”:
    1. The studio demanded “Animal House” have a movie star in its cast, so director John Landis called his old friend, Donald Sutherland. Sutherland agreed to play a professor over two days of shooting. The studio offered Sutherland $20,000, plus a percentage of the film’s profits. Sutherland chose a $35,000 salary instead, which ended up costing him at least $6 million when “Animal House” became a huge hit.
    Page 2 of 3 - 2. The actors playing the lovable Deltas and the hateable Omegas were kept separate during filming. While the Deltas partied in their hotel rooms, Mark Metcalf, who played Niedermeyer, sat upstairs alone, polishing his boots and building up his anger. (By all accounts, Metcalf is a nice guy in real life.)
    3. There was originally a scene in the script where the Deltas picked up a scruffy-looking hitchhiker who said his name was “Zimmerman.” After hearing his nasally vocals, they tossed him out of the car. This scene spoofed Bob Dylan, who was just becoming famous in 1962, when “Animal House” was set.
    Since its debut in 1978, “National Lampoon’s Animal House” has become a genuine comedy classic, and if you’re a fan, Simmon’s book will probably inspire you to watch it again. Besides the movie itself, Simmons shares anecdotes about the National Lampoon magazine and even “Delta House,” the short-lived (and bad) TV series inspired by the movie. It’s a quick read, but you’ll learn a few things about comedy. And, as Faber College’s motto declares in the first scene of “Animal House,” “Knowledge is Good.”
    Read Will Pfeifer’s Movie Man blog at rrstar.com/blogs/willpfeifer/ or email him at wpfeifer@rrstar.com.
    Some DVDs out Tuesday, April 3:
    “War Horse”: Even Steven Spielberg’s name couldn’t attract audiences or a Best Director nomination for this World War I drama about the adventures of a horse and its owner. Everyone agreed the movie’s sweeping vistas looked spectacular, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether that beauty will translate to the small screen.
    “We Bought a Zoo”: Speaking of big names making a movie no one saw, Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this comedy/drama about a widower (Matt Damon) who, as you might have guessed from the title, buys a zoo. This one’s smaller story might look just fine on your TV set.
    “Chinatown”: Director Roman Polanski, stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway and writer Robert Towne created one of the great movies of the 1970s in this detective story about a conspiracy involving Los Angeles’ water. Another director, John Huston, plays the movie’s villain — one of the creepiest characters ever to appear on a movie screen. This release is its Blu-ray debut.
    “Regular Show: Slack Pack”: Cartoon Network’s crazy, outlandish and — believe it or not — Emmy-nominated animated extravaganza makes its debut on DVD.
    “Being Elmo”: This acclaimed documentary focuses on Kevin Clash, the man behind the most popular Muppet on “Sesame Street.” Even if the sound of Elmo’s voice drives you crazy, you’ll probably enjoy this film.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Madonna: Truth or Dare”: Speaking of documentaries, this 1991 film focuses on Madonna back when she was still relatively early in her career as a mega-superstar. She’s just as self-absorbed as you might expect (especially when she makes fun of Kevin Costner after he offers a compliment backstage), but the dance numbers remain impressive.
    And CDs:
    Nicki Minaj, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”: This is a big year for Ms. Minaj. In addition to this album, she’ll be appearing as a mammoth named Hailey in the movie “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift.” She’s also has a fragrance in the works. Ah, the power of pop music.
    Rascal Flatts, “Changed”: Gary LeVox explains the title, “Actually there’s a song on the album called ‘Changed’ and it’s a really, really special song. And we thought that title of that song really captures what this new season of our career is cause everything in our professional career has changed ...(we) thought the title was appropriate.” Thanks, Gary.
     — Will Pfeifer
    Sources: thedigitalbits.com; tophitsonline.com

        calendar