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!

Cutting Loose with Footloose

Of the numerous dance flicks that have be prominent over the years,especially those of the 80’s. the original movie “Footloose”, from 1984 is the one that has struck out as the most memorable. Although it’s regarded as a “dance movie”, the primary source of the movie’s conflict revolves around the fact that the story takes place in a town where dancing and rock music have been banned. That is until a teenage newcomer shows up and challenges the status quo, especially that of an extremely conservative preacher…

Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is the new kid in the sleepy town of Bomont, having relocated there with his recently divorced mother (Frances Lee McCain) from Chicago to live with his aunt and uncle. He learns about the dancing ban from fellow students Willard (Chris Penn) and Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) that came into existence several years prior due to a tragic incident involving a gang of drunken students.

Ren makes it his goal to ensure that the ban is lifted, and to stage a prom for the high school students by pleading his case in a meeting with the town council. But things get complicated when he falls for Ariel (Lori Singer), the wild, feisty daughter of self-righteous preacher, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), who just so happens to be the main instigator behind the ban. Will Ren be able to win the girl and change Moore’s tune?

“Footloose” isn’t quite a cinematic masterpiece, what its corny plot and even cheesier dance sequences (such as a bizarre scene of Ren dancing in an abandoned warehouse to the strains of “Never” by the Moving Pictures, which was hilariously parodied in “Hot Rod”), it has many moments of charm and genuine touching moments that we can’t help but be entertained by both the movie and its uplifting message to fight for the cause that are dear to us.

Kevin Bacon is effective as Ren, playing him as a an affable, if unlikely protagonist, who is determined to do right, contrary to what Reverend Shaw believes about him. Lithgow is just as credible, as a well-meaning preacher who tries to connect with his daughter, but fails repeatedly against his own better judgement. Dianne Weist has some tender moments as Moore’s wife, Vi, who desperately acts as the mediator between her husband and daughter. Lori Singer has her moments as the preacher’s daughter who longs to roam free, and Chris Penn and a pre- “Sex and the City” Sarah Jessica Parker offer comic relief in strong supporting performances.

A remake was released in 2011. While it’s very good in it’s own right, it doesn’t have the same guilty pleasures that the original possessed, least of all, Kevin Bacon! While many might find the original’s excessive dancing scenes too much to handle, for me, it’s all part of the charm! To commemorate “Footloose”‘s 30 anniversary in March 2014, Kevin Bacon appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to poke fun at his role in the film by partaking in a “Footloose” flash mob of sorts.

“Footloose”(1984) rates as a solid 4 out of 5 stars, as it has an inspiring message despite all the goofiness that surrounds the main story. I would recommend it to viewers who enjoy dance movies in the vein of “Step Up” or “Save the Last Dance”, or if you’re just looking for an excuse to hear the iconic title song, as well as “Let’s hear it for the Boys”, since the soundtrack is quite infectious. Let’s hear it for “Footloose”!