Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Boy Meets Monster

Little Monsters
Director: Richard Greenberg
Cast: Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Daniel Stern, Ben Savage
Released: August 25, 1989

I know it's been awhile since I last posted, but I'm back with a new review and it's a review of a terrible movie! Yay! Lucky you! Seriously, I don't know which young Fred Savage movie is worse: this or The Wizard. At least The Wizard has the Nintendo nostalgia and the immortal Power Glove scene and another bonus is that it doesn't have the annoying character of Maurice. It's a good thing Fred Savage has The Wonder Years, because he was in some sh*t movies.

This movie shares some similarities with Monsters, Inc., but it's missing the Pixar charm. Actually it lacks any charm. They're both about monsters who enter children's bedroom to scare them. At least in Monster's, Inc. there's a reason why they're scaring the kids (their screams power Monstropolis); in this movie they just do it because they can? Because it's fun? Because they're literal monsters?

The movie opens with twelve-year-old Brian (Fred Savage) who has just moved to Boston with his family. (I had no idea they were in Boston; I had to look it up on the Wikipedia). His little brother, Eric, is played by his real-life brother, Ben Savage, who is not very good in this. But in his defense, he was probably only seven or eight and was only in this because his brother was. I had to laugh that his name is Eric since that's the name of his brother in Boy Meets World  and every time I think of Eric Matthews, I think of "Fee-nay! Fee-nay! Fee-eee-eee-nay!" And when he thought "Yale" was pronounced "Ya-lay". His dad is played by Daniel Stern which is really weird since they both played the same character on The Wonder's like young Kevin Arnold from the '60s is meeting future adult Kevin Arnold from the '90s. It's like that episode of Quantum Leap when Sam Beckett leaps back into his own body when he was a kid...oh, boy!

The parents have not been getting along and they tell their sons they are getting a trial separation. It also doesn't help that every morning they wake up to little nuisances they believe Brian has caused such as leaving his bike behind the dad's car so he runs over it when he backs up or messes being made in the house. Brian believes it's Eric who is causing this, but his little brother insists it's the monster who lives under his bed. To prove there are no monsters, Brian switches rooms with Eric and this is when we meet a monster named Maurice (played by Howie Mandel). Good effing Lord. This has got to be the most irritating character in the history of cinema. He acts like he's on cocaine and has a bad case of ADD and has just eaten about a thousand pixie sticks. God, I wanted this character to die a slow, painful death that's how much I despised him. And we almost get that because sunlight makes him melt (so he's just a pile of clothes) and if the sun completely rises, he will die. He begs Brian to push him under the bed, but Brian isn't having it since he wrecked his bike, but then his conscience catches up with him and he shoves him under the bed where he heals and becomes a fully formed monster again. If only Brian had just left him...

Mandel's idea of acting is just flaring his arms around and jumping around and being really loud and obnoxious. When he sees Brian's baseball cards, he says, "Need them got them, have them, got them," just super obnoxious. Why would anyone want to be friends with this guy is beyond me. The opening line of the movie is Brian saying how he met his first friend Maurice in this new town and how he's never had a friend like him. Well, thank God for that is what I say! If I had to hang around someone that irritating, I would have to force myself to drink just so I wouldn't murder the person! He should be banned from the human world just for calling pizza "'za". What kind of person says, "Let's order some 'za?" A person who I never want to meet, that's who.

We learn that Maurice is part of a monster community (aka extras dressed up in Halloween costumes) who live underground (aka a cheap set with boxes and staircases) and who wreck havoc during the night where they can enter kids' bedroom from underneath their bed and pull pranks, making the parents believe it was their kids who caused all these shenanigans. Maurice seems to be proud of this as he gleefully tells Brian, "We're the reason why kids get sent to their rooms; the reason why brothers hate their sisters; the reason why parents send their kids back to camp." Brian also seems to love this which doesn't make any sense since HE was blamed for all the crap that Maurice pulled that made his parents (especially his dad) furious. Why would any kid like this guy who's "job" it is to get kids in trouble? Maurice brings Brian along with him as we get a montage of them "visiting" (aka breaking and entering into) childrens' bedrooms and pulling pranks. For some reason, Brian is able to materialize from the floor into the monster world even though humans should not be able to do this, right? I don't know, I didn't write the rules of this stupid world. It seems like the writers of this movie didn't think about that either. During the montage we see Maurice and Brian track mud on a white carpet with shoes; paint a girl's bedroom wall, then paint her face to look like she's the culprit; put plastic wrap over a toilet seat; put peanut butter on a phone receiver; smear their hands in chocolate sauce, then place handprints all over the fridge; Maurice places a q-tip with his ear wax back into a glass jar full of clean q-tips (that reminded me of that scene from Shrek), and even though we don't see it, apparently they also shaved someone's cat as someone's parents scream to them about that when we see the inevitable (and painful) montage of the innocent victims who get screamed at by their parents.

The only part of the movie I genuinely laughed at is when they enter the first bedroom and Brian says, "This is someone else's house" and Maurice replies, "No, duh, where'd you park the squad car, Dick Tracy?"

During their night of chaos, they also visit Ronnie, the big bully at Brian's school who is played by Buzz McCallister. They find his school lunch in the fridge and replace the tuna fish with cat food, and, more reprehensibly, Maurice drinks/spills his apple juice, then proceeds to pee in it, claiming, "Ronnie's gonna be pissed!" The next day everyone at school is beyond thrilled when Ronnie takes a swig of the urine and spits it out on the principal. I don't think he even warrants getting such cruel treatment; even though he's the bully he doesn't do anything bad except use his bigger size to intimidate the younger kids. Not even Buzz McCallister would deserve such a cruel punishment. However, he will join Brian and the others good kids by the end of the movie and I have no idea when they suddenly became friends.

There's a lot of inappropriate things in this movie and I'm not just talking about how many times the word "shit" is uttered and not just by kids. There's a scene where Maurice pulls down Brian's pants so he's just standing in his boxer shorts (no reason why he does that) and a female monster who is played by a young girl tells him, "Nice ass." Yeah, that really happens. Then Maurice and Brian visit Kiersten, the girl Brian has a crush on, but he won't admit he has a crush on her even though he's thrilled to find a Polaroid picture of himself in her bedroom that she took (she's into photography). They are literally standing over her bed watching her and it's really creepy. Then we get one of two masturbation jokes when Maurice makes his hand into a dog puppet who "eats" her big science paper that's due the next day while stroking his hand and saying something like, "The right's best friend." Like, really movie? Also, what is Brian doing that he doesn't even notice that Maurice is ruining his crush's homework? Kiersten ends up failing and Brian is pissed at Maurice. He also gets angry at him when Maurice brings him along to scare a baby and decides to saw off all the legs of the beds so Maurice can't come out from under the bed anymore. His mom believes this is how he's learning to cope with the separation and seems to be okay that her son is ruining all the beds. Way to be a parent, lady.

Brian finds out that since he's been spending so much time down in the monster world, he's suddenly starting to become one because his limbs are starting to disappear when light appears. (So does this mean that Maurice and the others were once kids who turned into monsters? Maurice does tell Brian he is eleven, but I thought he meant he was eleven in monster years. I guess I should have paid more attention while watching this!)

When Eric goes missing, Brian knows where he is and gets Kiersten and Eric's friend, Todd, to help with the rescue and later Ronnie will join them. By this time I have no idea what's going on and I really don't care. After Brian convinces Kiersten and Todd  that a monster underground exists (since it's so easy for humans to access), they get a bunch of flashlights and defeat this monster who we've never met before named Boy (because he's dressed as a school boy, I guess?) who has Eric held hostage. I guess he's the ruler of this monster world and we're just meeting him in the last ten minutes of the move. Because that makes sense. He tells Brian that he'll let Eric and the others go if Brian stays and becomes a monster and that's when they use the flashlight to get away. Maurice also comes to the rescue, they defeat the bad monster, yada, yada, yada, they need to get home but they can't go to Boston because the sun is up so they need to run to California (on the set they just put a bunch of signs with American cities in geographical order) to return to the human world.

Brian and Maurice have a tearful goodbye (WHY?) and while I'm watching this, I'm thinking that they're trying to make this like the friendship between Chunk and Sloth in The Goonies, but at least Sloth isn't annoying and that was actually a sweet friendship. Brian calls his parents to tell him he found Eric and that they're in Malibu. I don't know which is more ridiculous: the fact that his parents don't know Malibu is in California (SERIOUSLY?) or the phone on the wall that has a HUMONGOUS this phone for people with a vision impairment? Also, I've never seen a home phone with the keypad on the wall instead of on the phone. That was super weird. When his parents ask how they ended up in California (fair question), he simply replies, "Uh, it's kind of a long story" and that's the end of the movie. Lame, lame, lame. And lazy AF.

While watching this movie, I noticed there's a lot of close up of people's faces, especially that of Kiersten and they do it with Brian a couple of times. It was just a really odd choice. If I were an actor, I sure wouldn't want people seeing my face so close up on the screen!

Brian's favorite food is an onion and peanut butter sandwich...and those are raw onions, ugh! Not that it would be any better if they were cooked, but at least it would be more tolerable to eat. This has got to be the most disgusting sandwich and I say this as someone who knows someone who likes peanut butter, lettuce, and mayo sandwiches (yeah, I'm just as baffled as you are).

This movie is truly awful. I feel sorry for all the parents whose kids dragged them too see this garbage. Luckily my parents were spared since I have no recollection of this movie from my childhood. (But I'm sure they had to see a lot of other crap! Sorry, Mom and Dad!)

I did some research (pretty much watched YouTube reviews of this movie) and a common thread I noticed was that everyone brought up this ad that was played before the movie on the video cassette where kids could call a 1-900 number to enter a contest and win prizes. You need to watch it to believe it because it's so amazingly awful and hilarious. It's like the late '80s threw up all over it. While watching I took note of the fine print at the bottom that they know that kids aren't reading when they watch this! They do say the call is 95 cents a minute and that kids should get permission from their parents first, but still. It sounds like you call the number and have to answer trivia questions, then you send your answers to the sweepstake address. Now you KNOW this game probably last about twenty minutes and they are milking you for all that 95 cents a minute. No sensible parent would agree to this. I would love to know how many kids entered this contest and they must not have told their parents, right? Boy, I bet their parents were pissed when they saw their telephone bill! I also noticed that the address they sent their answers to was in Blair, Nebraska, of all places. Now I live in Nebraska and I have never been to Blair, but now that I know it's the home of the Little Monsters sweepstake, I may have to visit. Was my sarcasm thick enough for you? Also, how did I go nearly thirty years without ever knowing this terrible rap song existed? I feel robbed.

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