Dumb and Dumber sealed the deal on Jim Carrey’s perfect year in 1994. I first discovered Dumb and Dumber as a trailer on a VHS copy of The Mask. Since I watched it a lot, I knew every word to the trailer. So I was surprised that I still found the movie funny when I finally watched it on Comedy Central. In fact, Dumb and Dumber is my favorite comedic performance from Carrey (without computerized assistance). It makes me laugh hard every single time I watch it. Dumb and Dumber is the best movie I’ve seen about two dumb guys being dumb. As well as the best movie directed by the Farrelly Brothers. Jim Carrey plays Lloyd Christmas, the dumber friend with a bowl cut and chipped tooth who works as a limo driver. He’s the obvious scene stealer responsible for classic moments like “the most annoying sound in the world,” misusing breath spray, and his wacky dream sequence. While Jeff Daniels plays Harry Dunne, the not as dumb (but still pretty dumb) friend with shaggy hair who works as a dog groomer. He actually does manage to be funny enough to be a good foil. Which gives us some of the movies most memorable scenes. Like licking the frozen pole or the laxative scene (the only fart joke I laugh at). The story is just returning a briefcase to a woman in Aspen. Since Lloyd fell in love at first sight with her. Little do they know it’s a ransom briefcase. Leading to a road trip in the Shaggin’ Wagon. Dumb and Dumber is so dumb, yet so hilarious. “I like it a lot.”
Harry (right) and Lloyd (left) attend a gala
Preceded by: Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd & Followed by: Dumb and Dumber To
Devil is often mistaken for an M. Night Shyamalan film. Even though he didn’t write or direct it. The story was his idea, but for whatever reason he didn’t do anything else. Maybe his losing streak had something to do with it. The basic Shyamalan template is there. Something with horror elements that’s still PG-13 and has a twist ending. Aside from that, Devil didn’t feel too much like one of his movies. It’s about five people who board an elevator, not knowing one of them is the devil. The writing could use some work, but the acting is a bit better. So is the tense atmosphere. Set almost entirely in an elevator. Something I pray never to get stuck on. Being a christian, anything religious has an effect on me. Even if its in a subpar movie. Which is how I would describe Devil. It’s only 80 minutes long. So you don’t really have time to get invested in much of anything. The twist is unexpected, but kind of out of nowhere. Devil is just a creepy (somewhat intriguing) waste of time.
Wanted is surprisingly based on a superhero comic. Well technically its a supervillain comic. So how did it end up as an assassin movie? When I first heard about Wanted, I didn’t know anything about its history. I just figured it was another random action movie. Only with a few key elements that made it stand out. Wanted is the first of many movies based on a Mark Millar graphic novel. Even though I usually stay away from his material, I made the terrible decision to read Wanted. I knew his stuff was brutal, but Wanted is just disgusting and evil. It made me nauseous for how much it crosses the line. Anyway the comic is set in a superhero world like I said. So the decision to drop all of that for the movie is unusual. Instead of being supervillains, they’re assassins. Most of the names and motivations are the same, but all the powers and gadgets are replaced by guns. Notably guns that can curve bullets. Clearly impossible, but it’s one of the things that makes Wanted stand out. Along with Angelina Jolie who steals the show as the gorgeous assassin Fox. Like the comic, Weasley is a normal guy who discovers his father was part of an evil organization. James McAvoy’s American accent could use some work, but he’s fine otherwise. Along with Morgan Freeman who also works well. Although the magic loom thing makes no sense. Wanted is in my opinion a far better assassin movie then it is a supervillain comic.
Fox hangs off the side of a car
Firestarter is all about a little girl with pyrokinesis. In other words, the ability to start fires with her mind. This is the result of a government experiment that was meant for her parents, to give them telekinesis. Instead all the power is placed in their daughter Charlie. Played by Drew Barrymore in her first role after E.T. In case it wasn’t obvious, Firestarter is a Stephen King adaptation. Obvious since he loves writing about kids with supernatural powers. Unlike Carrie though, Firestarter isn’t his best adaptation. In fact it’s one of his most poorly received. Firestarter just sort of starts without setting a mood. As Charlie and her father are on the run from the government. Most important details are told in flashbacks and Charlie using her powers are few and far between. The fire filled finale is good and so is the testing sequence, but the rest is boring. A lot of the second act is just a creepy old man with an eye patch trying to befriend a little girl. Things like that ruin the movie. That’s why Firestarter doesn’t burn as brightly as you might think.
Charlie starts fires
Akeelah and the Bee is e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l. Growing up, spelling bees were a mandatory function in schools. Every child had to participate and spell whatever word they were given. With no practice or preperation. Whoever the best speller was, would move on in competitions that could eventually lead to the National Spelling Bee. I was never much of a speller, but Akeelah and the Bee still caught my attention. Even though the poster made me think it was a horror movie. Akeelah is an 11 year old black child who lives in the inner city. Nobody would have expected a spelling genius would come from there. Akeelah is able to recall hundreds of words perfectly. Leading to a better life for her and her community. Akeelah and the Bee makes spelling competitions feel so high stakes. I’ve watched the national competitions a few times and they do seem very nerve racking. Some of the kids look like they’re on the verge of passing out. Keke Palmer was a great child actress. She makes Akeelah feel real without being too heavy handed. Which is how I would describe the rest of the movie. A family friendly PG that doesn’t sugar coat its environment. They even got respectable actors like Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett to play a part. Akeelah and the Bee is a w-i-n-n-e-r!
Akeelah performs in the spelling bee
“Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World, it’s party time, excellent!” “Party on, Garth.” “Party on, Wayne.” Wayne’s World 2 is the first sequel from a movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s also the last SNL movie to be more good than bad. Since everything that came after it sucked. Wayne’s World 2 came out almost immediately after the first movie. This time most of the focus is on Garth. As he has a cringy relationship with an older babe named Honey Hornée played by Kim Basinger. Like most movies with a duo, giving more attention to the sidekick isn’t always a good idea. Meanwhile Wayne has a vision that Jim Morrison and a weird naked Indian tell him to put on a rock concert. Which he does, and dubs Waynestock. Wayne also meets (and fights) his girlfriend’s father and loses her to Christopher Walken. Wayne’s World 2 parodies popular movies just like the first movie, but not all of them work. Probably the most memorable scene in the sequel is the “ordering food” scene. Aside from that, Wayne’s World 2 doesn’t do much to make itself stand out.
Wayne (left) and Garth (right) return
“Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World, it’s party time, excellent!” “Party on, Wayne.” “Party on, Garth.” Wayne’s World is the second movie based on characters from a Saturday Night Live Sketch. If The Blues Brothers is the best, then Wayne’s World is a close second. Since it took them a decade to come up with original characters that would be worthy (“We’re not worthy”) of a film. Well Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar are just the guys for the job. “Extreme close-up! Whoooa!” Wayne and Garth are rock loving sex crazed best friends who host their own public access show, Wayne’s World. The movie expands on this simple premise by offering a glimpse into their lives outside of the show. Which includes rocking out to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” searching for babes (shwing), and talking about Bugs Bunny cross dressing. Wayne falls for one babe in particular named Cassandra. The conflict comes from TV executives who want to turn Wayne’s World into a TV show. It’s one of those stories, but Wayne’s World keeps things fun by not taking itself too seriously. That’s why they have stuff like the “not bowing to any sponsor” scene or the T-1000 cameo. Wayne is one of Mike Myers three best characters, while Garth is Dana Carvey’s best character. They help make Wayne’s World a funny and excellent experience.
Wayne (left), Garth (right), and the band (center) sing Bohemian Rhapsody
For those who came in late… The Phantom just might be the most important superhero ever created. The Phantom debuted in a 1936 comic strip. He was the first superhero to wear spandex, a mask with white eyes, a power ring, to have a secret hideout (the Skull Cave), and the first superhero with a mantle. Needless to say superheroes wouldn’t be who they were today without The Phantom. Unfortunately the character faded into obscurity until (you guessed it) the 90’s. Billy Zane plays The Phantom in the only heroic role I’ve ever seen him in. In the 16th century, after a run-in with pirates, a boy washed up on an African island called Bengalia. He becomes their first of 21 masked avengers known as The Phantom. While I was interested enough to read a comic beforehand, The Phantom just doesn’t work in the 90’s. It’s cool that he presides over a jungle like Tarzan, has a pet wolf, and rides a white stallion, but the biggest problem is his costume. Which is purple! It’s fine for a comic, but ridiculous in a movie. The movie is also unfocused, has some hammy acting, and feels too familiar. There’s also barely any Africans in it. Billy Zane is just not enough to save the movie. I still believe The Phantom could work, but this movie is no excuse.
The Phantom rides a white horse
The Shadow knows! The Shadow is one of the earliest superheroes ever created. Back before there was spandex, superpowers, or even comic books. The Shadow made his debut on a radio show all the way back in 1930. Then he made his official print debut in a pulp magazine 1 year later. The 90’s was a dark time for comic book movies. Even though The Shadow is older than Superman, they still felt a movie was necessary. I literally never knew this adaptation existed. Unlike other lesser known superhero movies. Probably because The Shadow is basically just a clone of 1989’s Batman. Which is ironic since Batman was actually inspired by The Shadow back before his creation. The Shadow is recognized for his black cape, suit, fedora, and red scarf. The movie does do a good job recreating it (right down to the big nose). The main problem is just how cliché and dull it is. His origin involving Genghis Khan makes no sense without context. The title character is barely in the movie, and when he is, he’s just laughing maniacally. Alec Baldwin should never play a superhero. The shadowy aesthetic and disappearing looks fine, but some of the effects look like a video game. The Shadow is just too forgettable.
The Shadow takes aim
Cinderella Man is a true rags-to-riches Cinderella story. Only instead of a ball, there’s a boxing match. Instead of a glass slipper, there’s a glass jaw. Cinderella Man brings together the duo behind A Beautiful Mind. Director Ron Howard and star Russell Crowe. I’ve said before that my mom was a big fan of Russell Crowe movies when I was growing up. Cinderella Man is another movie I saw in pieces for a long time. Part of the movie I even used for a school project. To make a miniature diorama of a Hooverville. I finally saw the entire movie in my sophomore U.S. history class. Cinderella Man is a true story that takes place during the Great Depression. James J. Braddock was a broken down boxer who steadily made a comeback that eventually lead to a fight against the defending champion. There are many great boxing movies out there, but Cinderella Man stands out for being so inspirational. Since Braddock has a wife and kids to feed in the worst economic crisis in American history. Along with a fine performance from Paul Giamatti as Braddock’s manager. Cinderella Man is a timeless underdog story.
James J. Braddock wins over the crowd