Get Ready for a “Totally Awesome” Parody Experience!

Greetings and salutations, everyone! I’ve been watching some movies in the last few days, so I haven’t had much time to post reviews to this blogs as of late. Today’s movie will be VH1’s  satire on 80’s teen flicks, “Totally Awesome” (2006). It takes all the cliches and jokes supplied by 80’s teen movies, and lightheartedly makes fun of them for being dated and conventional. Think of it an “80’s”fied verson of “Not Another Teen movie. I’d like to thank “Moreland” from the blog “Jane Austen runs my Life” for suggesting and recommending this movie.

The idea behind “Totally Awesome” is that there was an old teen movie from the 80’s that has never been shown or released to a contemporary audience – until now, that is!   The tale follows siblings Charlie (Mikey Day)  and Lori (Dominque Swain), who have newly arrived in California from Pittsburgh. Charlie finds out that he’s ranked low on the class “popularity list”. He hopes to land the affections of popular but shallow Kimberly (Brittany Daniel) and show up typical cocky cool jock Kip (Joey Kern) in an upcoming decathlon. He enlists the help of smooth talking Darnell (Tracy Morgan), who tries the “Soul Man” approach, which involves impersonating the mannerisms and look of a black man, borrowing the plot of the controversial C. Thomas Howell movie, and effeminate next door neighbour Mr Yamagashi (James Hong)  who helps him train for the decathlon, “Karate Kid” style of course. But will he see that the right girl has been under his nose all along, in the form of his best friend Billie (Nicki Clyne)?

Meanwhile, Lori finds herself reenacting the plot of “Footloose” when she discovers that  dancing has been outlawed in her new town ever since the last people who danced in the town had their feet literally come loose when they kicked off their Sunday shoes. Lori decides to take action to restore dancing to the town. Enter Gabriel (Chris Kattan), a 35 year old former dance instructor turned destitute janitor, who steps in to show her some sweet dance moves, among other things!

As you may imagine in a frothy parody movie, “Totally Awesome”  is chock full of funny moments. In fact, I thought that the homage to “Soul Man” was actually kind of funny, despite  having utterly loathed that movie, primarily because of how racially insulting it was perceived as, even when it was first released back in 1986. However, as “Totally Awesome” is fully aware of how ridiculous that whole plot was, it dedicates its time to showing how that would play out in a more self aware environment.

I loved guessing the movies that were being parodied in certain scenes. The most obvious were probably “Dirty Dancing”, “Footloose” and “The Karate Kid”, but there are also shout outs to the likes of “Secret Admirer”, “Risky Business” and “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and even “Teen Wolf”. I would have liked to have seen some John Hughes movies get the spoof treatment, but many were already covered in “Not Another Teen Movie”.

I was also surprised by how funny I found Tracy Morgan’s  role in this movie. Usually, his brand of humour can be fairly hit or miss to me, as seen in his show, “30 Rock”. His role is limited to to the standard “black best friend/ sidekick archetype, but he did make me chuckle from time to time. His fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum, Chris Kattan, is also on top form here, as his character gets some genuinely funny moments in.

“Totally Awesome” earns a total of 3 and a half out of five stars, as it’s a fun flick  to check out if you a fan of spoof movies that aren’t meant to be questioned or taken too seriously, then this movie just might be up your street! Also, feel free to check out the website “Jane Austen Runs my Life”. Until next time!

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A Slapstick Christmas Vacation is to be had with the Griswolds!

Everyone has heard of the National Lampoon movies. In fact, they may have risen to prominence over the last few years. Each of these flicks focus on the zany exploits of the Griswold clan, headed by well-meaning but bumbling patriarch Clark W. Griswold (Check Chase). We’ve followed them on their adventures on “Vacation”, in”Vegas” and in “Europe”, with each outing inevitably getting them into all sorts of awkward shenanigans.

More recently, there was a rather mediocre attempt to replicate the comedy and hilarity of the previous installments in “Vacation”, which features many of the same material, but with less of the charm, as the Griswold son, Rusty (Ed Helms) tries to give his family the same joyous vacation experiences as the ones he was introduced to.

While I  certainly wasn’t a fan of that reboot, my favourite of the series has got to be “Christmas Vacation”, which is the only film where the Griswolds stay at home, with the action primarily circulating on preparing for Christmas. As you might guess, things never go as simply as you may expect, especially if your name is Clark Griswold!

In this installment, Clark is determined to have himself a festive holiday , with the added perks of a Christmas bonus from his job with his patient, long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids Rusty and Audrey (here played by Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis, in keeping with the running gag of the Griswold kids having different actors each movie). But alas, it’s not to be, Clark gets into all sorts of antics over the season. From Clark’s goofy Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) who lives in a Recreational Vehicle, snobbish neighbours Todd ( Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis Drefus), and Mary (Nicolette Scorsese), a comely lingerie saleswoman who somehow sends Clark into a fluster, especially when his son Rusty cottons onto him! Add a feral squirrel, a kidnapped boss and a hostage situation, and you’ve got one heck of a Christmas!

The humour of the “National Lampoon” movies might not appeal to everyone’s tastes, as they contain slapstick pratfalls, toilet humour and plain old cringy moments, mainly at the expense of Clark. But somehow, the cast makes this material work, no matter how outlandish or over the top it may seem. Chevy Chase, in particular, continues to play Clark as the bumbling, put upon guy we love to watch. The selling point of this flick  for me is definitely just Clark’s interactions with his Cousin Eddie .  Whether he’s nonchalantly watching him pour his sewage all over his front lawn while wearing a skimpy bathrobe, or reacting to Eddie kidnapping his boss after a rhetorical request gone awry, you just know that there’s some laughs lined up!

In fact, Quaid’s Eddie proved to be so popular that he was given his own TV spin off movie in 2003. Unfortunately, I recommend that flick even less than I do the new revamped “Vacation”.

“Christmas Vacation”  may not have much to recommend it, and contains no Oscar worthy performances, but if you’re in need of a chuckle just after Christmas, then I suggest watching this flick. “Christmas Vacation” gets three and a half stars.

Peace out,  and have a Fantastic New Year!