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!

Advertisements

Surely Airplane! is one of the best Parody Movies of the 80’s?

Carrying on from my review of “The Naked Gun” Movies, I will review “Airplane”! (1980), as well as its sequel, “Airplane II: The Sequel”. This is similar to the “Naked Gun” saga in that both feature Leslie Nielsen among the principle cast members, and they both poke fun at a certain film genre. With the “Naked Gun” it was cop dramas, with “Airplane”! it’s disaster films, particularly a 1957 film entitled “Zero Hour”, which has much the same premise as this parody remake.

As soon as the opening credits begin, the theme music from “Jaws” plays on the soundtrack, we see a backdrop of clouds, with a plane wing motioning through these clouds as though it were a shark. It’s then that we know that we’re in for a compelling flight.

The plot of the first movie concerns former fighter pilot, Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who has developed a phobia of flying following his time in a recent war. His lack of motivation causes his stewardess girlfriend, Elaine (Julie Hagerty), to end things with him. Desperate to win her back, Striker sneaks aboard the same plane.

However, some faulty fish served for dinner renders many of the passengers, as well as the crew, in a state of sickness. With nobody left to fly the plane, mild-mannered Doctor Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) suggests that they use one of the passengers to pilot the plane to safety. Perhaps a certain former pilot can jump in and save the day…

The sequel “Airplane II: The Sequel”(1982) sees the absence of Leslie Nielsen and the crew who were involved with the original picture (namely, David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams). However, the movie still works despite them being gone. In this installment, Striker finds himself forced to land another plane, this one being a lunar shuttle gone haywire. The jokes are still as hilarious as ever, though.

This was Leslie Nielsen’s first foray in comedic acting, having established himself as a dramatic actor in several flicks during the 1970’s. The material, like “Naked Gun”, is lampooning several 70’s disaster movies, sometimes word for word. In addition, there’s a hilarious send up of “Saturday Night Fever” that arises when Striker is reminiscing over his time with Elaine, which never fails to send me into stitches each time I see it!

“Airplane”! earns four out of five stars from me, as it’s a terrific send up of 1970’s disaster movies of yore. I’d advise teenagers of 15 and up to view this movie, as it contains copious amounts of sexual innuendo, as well as drug references and uses. There’s additionally a running gag involving various characters committing suicide in order to avoid having to listen to one of Striker’s boring stories (played for laughs, naturally).

However, kids might still have fun laughing at all the zany, screwball humour and jokes. That being said, “Airplane”! rates as a classic spoof of all time!

Something tells Me I’m into the Naked Gun Movies

Everyone’s familiar with the parody movies that seem to have been shoved in our faces as of recent years, most namely the movies which have been produced by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (Scary Movie franchise, Date Movie, etc.)

But what about the movies who aim to parody certain genres of film, and do it in a way that’s humorous and entertaining. That brings us to today’s flick, “The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad!”, based off of a short-lived TV series, “Police Squad”. All three flicks in the series parody cop movies, though on occasion other genres get thrown into the mix. Although the majority of what happens is extremely ridiculous and absurd, chances are that you’ll be too engrossed by each gag to even care.

The first “Naked Gun” (1988) introduces us to bumbling detective, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), as he investigates a sinister plan to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II when she attends an upcoming baseball game. Along the way, he falls in love with Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), the ditsy assistant of prime suspect Victor Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban).Amid all the pratfalls and silliness, can Drebin crack the case?

The first sequel, “The Smell of Fear”(1991), has Drebin and Jane break up, and Jane begins dating oil company executive, Quentin Hapsburg (Robert Goulet), of whom Debin instantly becomes jealous. Little does he know that Hapsburg is the ringleader behind a plot to kidnap a scientist (Richard Griffiths), and replace him with a commoner.

Finally, “The Final Insult”(1994) sees Drebin and Jane married, but they’re in a bind in their marriage. Drebin is pulled out of retirement and infiltrates a prison to sneak out notorious criminal, Rocco Dillon (Fred Ward), who has a rather devious plan up his sleeve…

The “Naked Gun” movies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, due to the sheer amount of silliness scattered throughout. However, some viewers may still find it hilarious, especially those who are into cop shows and would like to see this style lampooned.

Leslie Nielsen typically acts as the straight man to the chaos surrounding him, and he fares well in that role. Priscilla Presley additionally shows us that she is capable of holding her own against Nielsen when acting alongside him. Despite all of the implausibility in the series, you care about the story and what happens to the main characters. The franchise also features former American football player O.J. Simpson as the comically accident prone Detective Nordberg. Unfortunately, both his acting and football career were eclipsed by his infamous scandal in his personal life…

The “Naked Gun” series as a whole receives four out of five stars from me. Kids from the ages of 11 and up may appreciate the physical humour more than younger kids, although there are some subtle sexual jokes and references which could fly over their heads. Nevertheless, if you enjoyed the series, I’d recommend “Airplane”!, also by the Zucker brothers.