Friday, August 30, 2013

Warning: Mr. Chocolate Will Try to Eat You!

Grizzly Man
Director: Werner Herzog
Released in theaters: October 27, 2005


This is a documentary about the late Timothy Treadwell who was very passionate about nature and animals and was a very (perhaps a little TOO much) enthusiastic bear lover. He and his girlfriend were mauled to death by one because of his own stupidity and carelessness. The end. Thanks for reading!

No, I have lots more to say. First of all, if you have never seen this documentary which is directed and narrated by Werner Hergoz (who played the bad guy in last winter's Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher, just a bit of random trivia for you there), I highly recommend it. After watching it, you will have the same reaction to Timothy Treadwell as I did: that guy is nucking futs! He was an environmentalist who spent thirteen years living with the bears and other wild animals in Alaska during the summer.  I guess he became mildly known for what he did, being interviewed a few times, although I had never heard of him until I saw the movie back when it was released on DVD after a friend/co-worker told me about it and after she explained it to me, I knew I had to check it out.

The most interesting thing about Timothy Treadwell, aside from his whole ordeal with the bears, was that he was an actor (or attempted acting) before he got into the whole activism scene. Herzog interviews one of his acting friends (an unknown person) and he said that Treadwell claimed that he came this close to playing Woody on Cheers, but lost out to Woody Harrelson. According to Treadwell, he was their second choice. Gimme a freaking break. I really doubt that is true. I can believe he auditioned for the part, but I doubt he was anywhere close to getting the role. We already know he has a record of lying because he used to tell people he was an orphan from Australia. After he didn't get the role on Cheers that he was supposedly so close to, he became an alcoholic and nearly overdosed on heroin. He had always loved animals since he was little and when he traveled to Alaska for the first time to see bears, they became his passion and he vowed to protect and advocate for them.

While I admire his passion, I do think he went about it the wrong way (obviously). I really don't understand how one person can protect a bunch of bears in a so-many mile radius. What are you going to do? Go up to a poacher and tell him to put down his gun? I think killing bears for fun and for the prize is disgusting, but I think killing a bear for self-defense is absolutely justified. Treadwell said he would never kill a bear for that reason even and never carried a gun with him...which turned out to be his own detriment.

It wasn't just that it was impossible for him to protect all the bears, but he went about it doing it the wrong way and would disregard the national park's rules. He would get very close to the bears and would even swim with them and pet them, treating them like they were dogs. You are suppose to move your camp every seven days, but he never did that.

Like I said he spent thirteen years spending the summer camping in Alaska living among the bears. He would even give them names. Mr. Chocolate was one of his favorites. (And Mr. Chocolate is an innocent bear - he has never eaten any humans as far as I know). During the last few summers, Treadwell brought a videocamera and documented his travels to Alaska. By the time of his death he had hours of footage which Herzog used much of for the documentary as well as interviews with family members and close friends of Treadwell.

He brought his girlfriend the last few summers and I don't know which was more surprising: that he had a girlfriend in the first place (not saying he was a homosexual, but he gave out more asexual vibes. He seemed to have to convince himself that he liked women quite a bit too, telling himself over and over "I love women!") or that he was dating this particular woman who was afraid of bears. Um, then why would you date somebody whose whole life revolves around bears? I'm sure she was only afraid of bears when she was camping out in the open in their own turf and nothing to protect her from them if they decided to attack, which is understandable. But even then, why did she ever agree to go camping with Treadwell in the first place? I'm sorry, but if my boyfriend was into bears and wanted me to go camping with him where bears roam freely, I would be like "F*ck no!"

It is believed that an older bear who was having trouble finding food killed them. This happened in October 2003, the 13th (and final) year (lucky #13!) Treadwell had been camping every summer in Alaska with the bears. It happened towards the end of their stay and when the guy who was suppose to pick them up, flew his helicopter to where Treadwell and his girlfriend were camping, he noticed something was wrong immediately because he kept calling for them but never heard an answer, then he saw a bear gnawing on human remains (eww) and got the hell out of there.

Being mauled, killed, and eaten by a bear is probably one of the worst ways one can die, if not THE worst way, but the way Herzog approaches his death, he's so overdramatic about the whole thing, that it's almost comical in a way. We see footage of Treadwell talking about setting up camp and he says he's in a forbidden place for humans to camp (well, duh, obviously there's a reason it's forbidden...it's not safe!) and he brags about how he's hidden in the brush from anyone. And on the bottom of the screen it says, "HOURS BEFORE HIS DEATH". The coroner who examined the two mauled bodies is this weird, creepy guy who never blinks (that's what makes him weird and creepy) and reminded me of Fred Armisen and I kept thinking I was watching him an an SNL skit because he was being so melo-dramatic, talking about examining the mangled body pieces. I think because the whole thing is gruesome, he had to be super somber and grave about it - to the point that it was bordering on parody. But the one that took the cake for me was when Herzog was interviewing an ex-girlfriend of Treadwell (again, I was surprised) and she somehow wound up with the audio recording of Treadwell and his girlfriend's death. Oh, did I mention the camera was running when they were killed? The lens was on so there is no footage. Why anyone would want a recording of their ex-boyfriend (or anyone for that matter) being killed by a bear is beyond me, but somehow she ended up with. Herzog, while sitting with her, listens to the tape with headphones and is very somber (understandingly) thoroughout the whole thing and after he takes off his headphones he asks her, "Have you listened to this" and she says "No," and he says, very, very seriously, "You must never, ever listen to this" and she says, "I won't, Werner, I promise!" He tells her to destroy it and she says she will. I still don't know why she would have that in the first place.

This is a fascinating documentary (as well as a great PSA for what NOT to do when camping around bears) and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ahoy, Matey!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley
Released: July 9, 2003
Viewed in theaters: July 11, 2003

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Johnny Depp (lost to Sean Penn for Mystic River)
Best Sound Mixing (lost to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (of course it did))
Best Sound Editing (lost to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
Best Visual Effects (lost to Return of the King)
Best Make-Up (lost to Return of the King - as did everything else that year!)



Can you believe it's been ten years since this movie was released? Hard to believe. Watching it again recently, it didn't feel like it was ten years old, but that could account that it is a period piece and therefore there are no pop culture references to painfully date the film. But I didn't feel like any of the effects were outdated and it still seemed like a fresh, fun movie. When I first heard they were making a movie based on the Disneyland ride, I thought it was the stupidest idea...just like it was a stupid idea to make a movie based off Battleship (and that one really was, although I never saw it) or a movie based on a videogame (why even bother?)

I had been on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World when I was nine, but honestly, I don't remember anything about it except the line was l------ooooooooooooooooo------n-------g and there was an animatronic dog with a key in its mouth, which they pay homage to in the movie. There's really no story to the ride....you're just in a boat looking at a bunch of animatronic pirates. My other history with Pirate of the Caribbean was that I had the Disneyland Nintendo (hehe) game where you go around and have to find all six keys to unlock the Magic Kingdom. One of the ways to get a key is you have to beat the Pirates of the Caribbean and it is the hardest thing ever! You can't kill the pirates until the second round and until then you just have to jump over them to avoid them and it's nearly impossible to jump over them and not touch them and if you do touch them, you die! And don't get me started on jumping over these huge pits which are too long to attempt to jump so it's easy to die that way! My friend and I played this one summer afternoon when we were probably 11/12 and we beat Space Mountain, we beat the Haunted Mansion, we beat Thunder Railroad, we got ALL of the damn keys except for the frickin' Pirates of the Caribbean, so we just decided we would tell everyone that we beat the game even though we didn't and made chocolate milkshakes to celebrate. So yeah, ever since I had that game, I've had nothing but bad memories of Pirates of the Caribbean and wasn't expecting anything from the movie.

He is so much prettier than she is! 
But nevertheless, I went to see it. I went to see it because everyone was raving about it, and let's be real:  Orlando Bloom is not the worst person to look at. He is just so pretty! I could stare at him all day! I saw him in recent photos and he's still quite nice to stare, I mean, look at. So I saw it and really enjoyed it, so much, in fact that I saw it a second time before it left the theaters and bought the DVD. I saw the second one (Dead Man's Chest) on DVD, the third one (At World's End) in the theater, and have not seen the fourth one (On Stranger Tides). I was bored to tears watching the second and third one (I thought the second one was a fluke and the third one would surely be better....wrong!) and therefore I have no desire to see the fourth one. I think they are making a fifth one though they should just stop already. To anybody who has never watched the Pirate movies, I would tell them just to watch the first movie and pretend that the sequels don't exist. I understand why there are sequels...the first movie was a big hit and it made lots of movies and it's easy to continue and explore the characters, but I feel the first one wraps up all the characters nicely that you're not left wondering about loose ends.

Pirates of the Caribbean is to Johnny Depp as Pulp Fiction is to John Travolta. This was the movie that made Depp a STAH again and he was nominated for an Oscar, then he went on to star in Finding Neverland which he was also nominated for an Oscar, then he was nominated for an Oscar for Sweeney Todd. I remember how everyone was raving about his Jack Sparrow performance. I was a little surprised he got nominated for an Oscar because it's a comedic performance and the Academy tends to turn their noses away from those, but it was one of the many things that made the 2004 Oscars so interesting.

Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) has a gold pendant that can reverse the curse of the pirate Balboa (Geoffrey Rush) and his crew. She is oblivious to what the pendant can do and first obtained it when she was a young girl and took it from a young boy who was found floating in the sea and was rescued by her father and his men, including Norrington who looked to be about 30 when she was 12 and will eventually ask for her hand in marriage when she is 18. The age gap is a bit icky but surprisingly he looks like he hasn't aged a day in those six years! The young boy is Will Turner who grows up to be a black smith (and played by Orlando Bloom). Elizabeth takes the pendant from him because she doesn't want the men on her father's boat to find out he has any relations to pirates because there was a skull and crossbones on it.

Balboa and his men kidnap Elizabeth because she has the pendant and think she is the offspring of William "Bootsraps" Turner who is Will's father. They need the pendant and the blood of Bootstrap's child to offset the curse: when the moon is uncovered they are pirate skeletons (skeleton pirates?) and the only way to return to their human form is to return the pendant to a treasure chest along with the blood. Since Elizabeth is not the right kin, it does not work.

The movie is a bit on the long side, but doesn't feel nearly as long as its predecessors. It's got everything you would expect from a pirate movie: swashbuckling, sword fighting (wait, are those the same?), great pirate costumes, a monkey, a desert island in the middle of the Caribbean, treasure, and of course you can't forget the rum!

I'm still quite impressed with the effects. I love the scene where Elizabeth is on the cursed Black Pearl ship after she gave herself up under the condition of parlay and Balboa has revealed his secret to her. It was fun seeing Knightly react to the pirates when she saw them in their creepy skeleton form. And I love it when Balboa, in his skeleton form, drinks something and the liquid goes through his throat and just pours out of his ribs. Really brilliant. Geoffrey Rush is lucky he didn't have to be in the sequels since his character is killed off. Yes, I really do hate the sequels that much! I probably won't be writing about them!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Second Movie Montage


It's time for my second movie montage! If you missed the first one, you can catch it here. Hope you enjoy this one. 



Thursday, August 8, 2013

The season with Hilary Swank AND Jessica Alba!

I recently finished season 8 of Beverly Hills, 90210:



Steve - Steve meets Carly, a single mother of a six year old boy, Zach. They do not get off on the right foot, but Steve becomes interested in her and finally woos her and they start dating. Carly is played by none other than two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. She was in the opening credits, but after her character moves to Montana (because her dad is sick), she was dropped from the credits. I guess Hilary Swank was fired from90210, but the joke is on them because she went on to win two Oscars! Ironically, Steve got Carly fired from the restaurant she worked at because he was there with a date and his date was being rude to and she was rude back, so Steve got her a job at the Peach Pit. Besides Claire, Carly was one of Steve's more serious relationships, so I rolled my eyes when he suddenly came to the realization that he never loved Carly because he would have followed her to Montana if he had! Nice attempt at a lame save there, show. 

Steve gets Brandon to join him to start their own newspaper, called "The Beverly Beat" (there's actually a strike-thru though "beat"), which I don't know how that happens since it's only the two of them, plus their assistant, but for the show, they seem to make it work. 

There's a stupid episode where Steve meets a woman and it's so obvious she's a lesbian and stupid idiot Steve doesn't get that and asks her and her "partner" to join him and Brandon (he tells her he lives with him so she thinks they're a gay couple) out and there's a whole misunderstanding. Wah, wah, wah! 

I don't exactly remember how it got started, but letters are sent to The Beverly Beat office and they are from a young woman, Jill, writing to a guy she's never met, Ted. Why this woman is writing intimate things to a guy she's never met, let alone seen before, I have no idea. But Steve is getting and reading the letters. He decides to meet Jill and pretend to be Ted and he does this awhile before he confesses he's not really him. He finally tracks down Ted and introduces Jill to him (a good-looking, successful guy) but Jill goes back to Steve saying she wants to be with him and they start dating, but after awhile Steve feels smothered by her and breaks up with her. He dates a separated woman, Sarah, but she ends up back with her husband. But ugh to both women. They make me miss Clare. Can you imagine there was ever a time I actually didn't like Clare? 

This is the season Lindsay Price joins, but she's not a regular cast member yet. I like her character, Janet (Brandon and Steve hire her) and I'm glad I do because I know she and Steve end up together. The gang have their 5th high school reunion (who the fuck has a five year high school reunion? I guess I understand why they did it since they probably knew that they still wouldn't be airing in 2003!) There is a sign at their reunion that says "See you in 2003!" and it's crazy how much the world will change between 1998 and 2003! The class of '93 are sent a paperback book filled with paragraphs about the entire alumni about what they are up to and who they are dating....okay, let me say, if my high school did that, I would really hate that....plus how did they get all that information and who cares what people are doing five years later? I can understand doing that for ten years or later, but 5 years out of high school isn't that much. Anyway, Steve is expected to show up with some ditzy, big-boobed blonde, but he decides to prove them wrong by bringing Janet. He ends up ditching her at the reunion to hook up with a hot blonde girl from his science class in the locker room, but what he doesn't know is that he's being set up because the hot blonde used to be a geek who he made fun of and when he's in the shower, she takes all his clothes. After the reunion, he goes to apologize to Janet who is crying and tells him that it isn't a good idea for them to go out again when he asks. Obviously I already know they end up together so they must have worked it out! 

Brandon - At the end of last season, Brandon and Kelly started dating (their second time) and Kelly moved into Casa Walsh. Their relationship was a bit strained because they always had the same routine every day and things were starting to get boring between them. They wanted to get the spark back by doing spontaneous things, like having sex on the kitchen table. Eww. Even though they seem to get the spark back, Brandon, being the douche bag he is, cheats on Kelly with Emma, this girl with some major bangs who is a writer for their paper. She and Brandon have an affair and she writes about it as a column for the newspaper, pretending it is someone else's story, of course. Kelly mistakenly thinks Steve cheated on Carly with Emma and when she goes to confront Emma about it, Emma tells her she had an affair with Brandon and Kelly breaks up with him and doesn't talk to him for a very long time. But eventually they do reconcile and get back together towards the end of the season. You're an idiot, Kelly Taylor.

Before all that happens, though, Brandon and Kelly run into Erica (Dylan's little sister) who is now 16 and is a streetwalker! They get her help and off the street where she eventually moves to London to stay with Dylan and Brenda. 

At the reunion, Andrea shows up and confesses to Brandon that she's getting a divorce from Jesse and she's dropped out of med school. I always wondered why Andrea went to med school....I always thought journalism was her calling since she was the editor of The Blaze, but I guess since Brandon was going down the road, they didn't want to be too repetitive with her. 

Brandon asks Kelly to marry him and there's a wedding and everyone is there, but at the last minute they decide not to get married. Thank god. They really are boring. 


Kelly - When the gang get back from Hawaii and are at the airport, Kelly gets shot after she and Brandon witness two guys hijacking a car. She is rushed to the hospital and at the end of the episode when she wakes up and sees Brandon, she says, "Who are you?" What a ridiculous TV cliche! Luckily it doesn't take too long before she starts remembering things again and she's back to old Kelly. Glad they didn't waste our time with that. Or maybe it just didn't feel like it since I watched all the episodes back to back instead of having to wait a week in between each one. They do find the guy who shot her...he was killed in a gang related incident and Brandon tells his corpse that "he deserved what he got." 

Kelly starts working at a clinic and starts getting hit on and sexually harassed by the main doctor. Once Kelly records the conversation, he is fired and replaced by Donna's father (who I thought had a stroke...I guess he got better). Like I mentioned before, Kelly breaks up with Brandon and starts dating a med student at the clinic. 

Jessica Alba was in a three-episode arc where she played a pregnant teenager who came to Kelly's clinic for help, then disappeared. Kelly later finds a newborn baby boy outside wrapped in a blanket and knows it belongs to Jessica. She goes to her house and she tells Kelly that her mom didn't know she was pregnant and she doesn't want the baby so he is up for adoption. Kelly tells Brandon that she wants to try to adopt him and Brandon isn't happy about this because Kelly didn't consult him first. (I think by this time he and Kelly are back together. Did I mention they get together? Of course they do). The baby goes to a gay couple and Jessica, who plays a bigot, wants the baby back because she doesn't want her son to end up gay and by law she is right to do so. I guess by then her mom knows she had a baby because when Kelly visits her, her mom is there with Jessica and the baby and is like, "Jessica Alba, you need to take more responsibility for this baby!" (except she used the character's name!) Finally Jessica realizes she can't take care of the baby and the gay couple get him. 

At the reunion, she runs into some girl we've never seen before who tells Kelly that she's married to Ross Webber, a guy who was a senior when Kelly was a freshman and took her behind the bushes and had sex with her, then told everyone about it and Kelly got a reputation for being a slut. Now I remember when Kelly was telling this story to Brenda and the other girls and it sounded like she was raped, but when she told it to Valerie, she made it sound like the time she lost her virginity, so I guess it could be both...but it was just weird that the same story seemed different. 

Kelly's mom meets Val's dad and they hit it off and decide to get married even though they haven't known each other for very long. Since Kelly and Val hate each other and don't want to be stepsisters, they do everything in their power to convince the other's parent not to marry their parent. But in the end, Kelly's dad is consistent with his not being there and blowing everybody off and tells Kelly to tell Valerie's mom that he won't be able to make it. Bill Taylor is such an ass! Once a jerk, always a jerk! 

David - David was set to sign a deal with a band, but backed out when he found out they were white supremacists and their lyrics were filled with racial slurs, including anti-Semitic rants and David is Jewish. He has a lot of financial problems this season and seeks help from a loan shark but gets in over his head and is helped out anonymously by Noah, who he doesn't like because he started dating Donna. As you probably guessed, David and Donna broke up (for like the 10th time) this season. David and Valerie start fake dating and fake having sex to make their exes jealous, but eventually they start dating for real, but end up breaking up at the end of the season. Um, doesn't David remember when he dated Val a couple seasons ago and was furious at her when she wanted David to sleep with her friend who was blackmailing her? I guess not. To make money, David starts doing jingles for local advertisements. 

Valerie - When the gang goes to Hawaii (for a gig Donna got there), Valerie meets Noah Hunter, the newest addition to the cast and probably the most boring character added to the series. Noah is a loner, mysterious, brooding, and all the ladies fall for him. Um, doesn't that sound like Dylan McKay? He's just replacing Dylan! But at least Dylan was cool without having to try hard. Noah even has a dark past: he was drunk and while driving with his girlfriend, she died because of his own stupidity. Valerie starts dating Noah, even though he is poor and lives on a boat, but on the side, she starts seeing a rich man and Noah dumps her. Noah reveals to Brandon that he is a trust fund kid and has millions and Valerie finds this out and is angry that he lied to her. 

Now if you remember a few season back, when Brandon was still in high school and got into some serious trouble because he was gambling? Well, the same bookie comes back and wants to use the After Dark to place bets. At this point, Noah and Valerie run the place (I can never keep track who's in charge of it) and Noah said he didn't want any gambling, but Valerie goes behind his back and gets in some serious trouble and her punishment is having to do community service at the clinic Kelly works at and Kelly greatly enjoys her making do all this dirty work like mopping and cleaning the toilets. 

Noah's older brother visits and puts the "date rape drug" into Val's drink. She drinks it, but Noah is there and his brother gets a call from his wife (lovely guy there) so he doesn't do anything. Noah takes her upstairs and they start kissing (this is when he was dating Donna) and the next day Valerie wakes up and can't remember anything and accuses Noah of rape and they go to court. He is acquitted because of his perfect rap sheet and because Valerie is kind of a whore so nobody believed her when she said she was raped. I'm still not sure what happened..apparently they did have sex, but Noah didn't know she was drugged and she was kissing him back.

When Valerie is called by a doctor to donate bone marrow because she is a match, she says she will go in to talk to the doctor. While she's there, she runs into the man's (grown up) son and daughter who tell her that their dad is a child molester. This upsets Val greatly because she was molested by her own father and even though she's not suppose to know anything about the patient (and I guess this is the reason why), she decides not to give him any of her marrow because she sees he has a granddaughter and doesn't want to help a monster live. Now if I were in Val's shoes, I would do the same...I would not help a child molester live longer! But they do find another match for him, so Val doesn't have to feel guilty that she killed him. 

She and David break up and after they do, Val is in a bad place and has sex with some random guy who she later finds out does drugs and has AIDS so the last episode has Val going to the clinic to see if she has AIDS or not. Cliffhanger! 

There's a great line when Valerie says "Saved by the bell!" when there's an awkward moment between her and Kelly (or maybe it was Donna) and the doorbell rings. Haha, nice little shoutout there to TAT's other big show. There's a word for that when TV shows/movies give little shoutouts to their actor's other works, but I forget what it is. Another example I cam remember is when Pacey commented on The Mighty Ducks in Dawson's Creek.

Donna - At the end of last season, Donna and David had sex and David moved in to the beach house, but Donna wanted them to have separate rooms because she didn't want her mom to know they had started sleeping together. There's one scene where Donna is at the drugstore with Kelly to get birth control pills and while she's waiting in line, Mrs. Martin just so happens to walk in and get in line behind them, telling them she's getting a prescription. The pharmacist comes out and starts explaining to Donna how to use them and Kelly jumps in and tells Mrs. Martin those are her pills and Mrs. Martin makes a comment to Donna, saying, "Thank God those aren't for you!" Then there was another scene where Mrs. Martin is over at the beach house and asks Donna if she have some advil and Donna tells her they're in the bathroom and I thought for sure she was going to open the medicine cabinet and see the birth control pills and start freaking out, but that didn't happen. Opportunity missed, if you asked me. How did Mrs. Martin find out her daughter was having sex? Donna told her. Yawn. She was mad at first, but then seemed fine with it after a few episodes. 

Donna starts getting jobs for fashion designers but most of them end up in disaster and she gets fired. When she has a gig as a personal shopper, she accepts Valerie's help, but Valerie tells the clients that it's her who's doing all the work and they fire Donna and want to continue to work with Valerie. Then another client she worked for has young foreigners making their clothes in a sweat shop (this must have happened around the time of the Kathy Lee Gifford controversy!) and she finds out that Steve's dad owns the building where the sweat shop is. Brandon writes about it in his newspaper and Steve's dad states that he will fix the problem and that's the last we hear of that story.

In one of her many jobs, Donna works on a fashion shoot that revolves around a spoiled child who is only in the modeling world because her mom wants it. This girl was supposed to be 8, but you could tell she was played by a teenager (or maybe older!) It was just really obvious. She may be small and was acting like a petulant child, but no way she was a child. I looked the actress up on IMDb and while it didn't say what year she was born, it did give her height as being only five feet tall.

Her grandmother dies and before she does, she tells Donna that she and David were meant to be. Grandma Martin knows best! 

Noah's brother, awesome guy he is, gives Donna some pain pills after she was in a car accident and her back was hurting her. She was having trouble staying awake at work and giving presentations and working on her drawings. She steals her co-workers sketches and uses them as her own. The co-worker quits, but Donna confesses to her boss that she stole them and she is fired. She goes through a downward spiral and overdoses and is taken to rehab...just like the time Kelly got addicted to cocaine! Except this time Donna didn't have to room with somebody who would later try to emulate and kill her!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Green Light Special

Go
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Katie Holmes, Sarah Polley, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, Breckin Meyer, Taye Diggs,  William Fichtner, Jane Krakowski
Released: April 9, 1999


I first saw this movie when it was released on video and hadn't seen it since, so a good 13 years has elapsed between viewings. This is one of those movies where you get to see three different story lines from three different group of characters and all of them, of course, are all tied together.

The first story involves a group of teens who work as clerks at a grocery store. It's almost Christmas, but Ronna (Sarah Polley) is not in the Christmas spirit because she's about to get evicted and needs money for her rent. A co-worker, Simon, tells her she can have his shift because he wants to go to Vegas with his friends and this way he'll be able to go, so it's a win/win situation for both of them, according to him. She also works with Joey Potter, oops, I mean Claire (Katie Holmes who plays her in a very Joey Potter-esque way) and Mannie and while on break they play this game which I know as the Celebrity Game. It's where one person starts off with a celebrity, say, Katie Holmes, and the next person has to name another celeb who starts with the last letter of the previous one, so the next one would have to start with an S, like Sandra Bullock, then the next one would be Kevin Costner, then the next one would be Richard Gere, and well, you get the idea! My college camp friends and I used to play that game all the time just randomly. It really helps pass the time! They were playing it a little bit differently as they were only using dead celebrities and Mannie gets stuck on Malcolm X!

Two young good-looking amateur actors (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) come in looking to score some ecstasy from Simon, but since he's not there, they go to Ronna and ask her if she can get them the drugs. She sees this as an opportunity to make some money and tells them she will have the drugs for them by the end of the night. She, Claire, and Mannie go to Simon's drug dealer, Todd (Timothy Olyphant) and because she has no money, she leaves Claire with this drug dealer they've just met as insurance that she'll be back to pay him the money that she owes him. Understandably, Claire is not happy about this, but Ronna guilt trips her into staying, saying how she's going to be homeless tomorrow on Christmas if she can't pay for her rent and how much she needs this money.

When she gets to the address the young actors gave her, they are there with an older guy (William Fichtner) who seems really interested in the drugs and Ronna, getting a signal from one of the actors that she feels like something is up, denies having any drugs, then asks to use the bathroom where she flushes them down the toilet. She replaces them with aspirin she buys at a drug store and marks on them with a pen. She and Mannie go back to Todd's place where she tells him the deal didn't work out, gives him back the pills, takes Claire, and gets out of there before he can realize he's been ripped off.

They go to a rave where she starts selling other over the counter medicine she bought and pretends they are really hard core drugs and charges hefty prices and pretty soon she is rolling in the dough. They crash a van filled with teens getting high and Ronna introduces herself as Donna and Claire as Kelly. I totally took that to be a Beverly Hills, 90210 shoutout!

It doesn't take long before Todd realizes he's been screwed over and after talking to Simon on the phone, he knows where they are and finds Ronna out in the parking lot. He is about to kill her when she is hit by a car, then tossed into a riverbank. And that's where the first story ends...

The second arc follows Simon on his trip to Las Vegas with his three friends (Breckin Meyer and Taye Diggs being two of them). He crashes a wedding and meets two bridesmaids and has a menage-a trios with them, but because they've been toking up, one of their joints that is still lit, is dropped on the floors and the curtain catches on fire and pretty soon the whole room is on fire. A stoned Simon realizes what's going on and he grabs two pillows and runs, butt-naked to the elevator and grabs Marcus, the friend played by Taye Diggs. Their other two friends are sick with food poisoning from the shrimp they ate at the hotel's buffet.

There's an ongoing gag that everyone thinks Marcus is a valet because of the way he dresses so when they head out of the hotel, a guy with a red convertible tosses him the keys and tells him to park it anywhere. Simon and Marcus steal the car and Simon finds a gun in the glove department. Being guys, they go to a strip club and get into trouble with the owner after Simon touches the girl who's giving him a private lap dance even though they've both been told specifically not to touch the girls. The owner gets into a fight with them and Simon, who has the gun with him, shoots the owner in the arm. I can't remember why, but Simon had Todd's credit card which he used at the club so the owner thinks Todd is the one who shot him. He and Marcus grab their other friends and they make their escape. Simon says they shouldnt' stop until they reach Mexico, but Marcus tells him as long as they go home they'll be okay.

And then we have our third and final story which revolves around the two young actors, Adam and Zach who are a gay couple. They are working undercover for Fichtner's cop and that's why they need the pills. They know Simon has been selling them and want to bust him, but their plan is askew when he's not there. Zach feels it's not right to get Ronna in trouble even though Ficthner tells him she's still a drug dealer even if this is her first time, so he gives her a sign that she should dump the pills.

They both confess that they've cheated on the other and they find out they both cheated with the same guy. They are the ones at the rave who did a hit and run on Ronna. They see Todd there with his gun and get out of there and discuss what just happened at a gas station. One of them reason that even if the girl was still alive, the guy with the gun was going to kill her anyway, so either way she would be dead. Adam realizes they are still wearing their wires and freaks out that somebody will hear their conversation. They decide to go back to the scene to see if the girl is still alive. Lucky for them she is!

So yeah, this movie is action-packed, has some good laughs, and can get quite dark at times. I feel like I pretty much told the entire plot, but there's a lot of stuff I left out too! A before-she-was-famous Melissa McCarthy has a small cameo as someone who is a big fan of the soap opera Zack and Adam star in. And any movie that plays "Steal My Sunshine" (remember that 1999 one hit wonder classic?) is okay in my book!