Friday, December 16, 2005

The highlight of my morning

You know that companies catering to my generation will have gone too far when Mitsubishi releases a companion model to the Galant called the Goofus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My prediction for this movie: Pain!

Here it is, the 100th post here at Siftin'! W00t! I think I had more posts than readers about a week into blogging, but that's no reason not to celebrate, right?

A few days ago, Dec. 10, was the 27th anniversary of the passing of writer-director-actor Edward D. Wood Jr. Ed Wood, of course, brought the world such films as "Glen or Glenda" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space."

So what better time to add another installment of Bad Movies A to Z? Well, we're up to D. None of the classic Ed Wood films start with D, unless you amend the title to "D'oh! It's Plan 9 Nine From Outer Space," which, I strongly believe, is cheating.

But in the spirit of Ed Wood, I wanted to review a movie written and directed by someone who clearly has a love for movies but maybe hasn't been blessed with the mad writing skillz.

And since Ed's more popular work dealt with the horror themes, I also wanted a scary movie.

Much to my surprise, a movie fitting those criteria showed up in my mailbox, thanks to Netflix.

I speak of Joel Schumacher's immortal "D.C. Cab."

Okay, it's billed as a comedy, but parts of it are so not funny that it scares me. A lot of people give Joel Schumacher grief for the two Batman movies he did. I know. I was one of them. You even mention "Batman and Robin" to me and my wife heads for the hills so she doesn't have to hear me whine about it.

But Schumacher clearly likes movies. And his were more commercially successful than Ed Wood's.

Today's movie in a nutshell: A young man, Albert Hockenberry, heads to Washington, D.C., to visit his uncle, Harold, who runs a cab company. His goal is to eventually have his own cab company.

The story: You know, that's pretty much it. Not very much actually happens in this movie. There's a little bit of romantic comedy wedged in, and there's a kidnapping, but the main thrust of the story is to showcase a motley crew of misfits who work at a cab company.

You'd think it would come off a lot like "Taxi," but nothing in this movie made me think of that show, even when I saw a taxi.

This, along with the Schumacher-helmed Lily Tomlin comedy "THe Incredible Shrinking Woman," was in heavy rotation back in the early days of HBO and Showtime, and it was hard not to see it.

I love watching movies that I saw when I was younger and realizing that I missed about half of the jokes. There's a bunch of stuff, including nudity early on, that I really don't remember, and that's the kind of thing I'd remember.

Only a few minutes into the movie, we see Mr. T, who essays the role of cab driver Samson. This is kinda funny considering Samson's strength was diminished when his hair was cut off, and Mr. T has that cool Mandinkan haircut.

Anyway, he's driving some guy and his lady friend, who as we find out, isn't really his friend. T stops the cab.

Why? That's the kind of guy T is. He ain't got time for no jibba jabba. He boots the lady out, and we get this awesome exchange:

Samson: Why don't you get off the street and get a decent job?

Hooker: 'Cause I need the bread!

Samson: Then get a job at the bakery.

Oh, snap.

There are lots of familiar faces in this flick, including some stand-up comics in their early days. You've got Marsha Warfield, Paul Rodriguez and Bill Maher, who looks eerily like Breckin Meyer here. In a rare departure, Gary Busey shows up as a psycho nut-bar.

Plus, as I mentioned, you've got Mr. T.

But the guy who really sells this movie for me is Max Gail, who plays Harold. He is one of the few who actually comes off as an actual person, though, like almost everyone else, he has no last name.

While checking a few things at the IMDB, I discovered that Joel Schumacher also wrote "Car Wash," which is funny, because "D.C. Cab" seemed like kind of a rip-off of that.

Anyway, things aren't going too well at D.C. Cab. The cabs are in disrepair, and other cab companies are getting most of the business.

We get to meet most of the cabbies on an individual basis because Albert gets to ride with a different one each day, which is clever from a practical standpoint, I guess. It makes it seem a little more like an extended sitcom (still not 'Taxi'), but it serves its purpose.

When Albert is with Tyrone, we see two kids who egg the cab when they drop off their passengers. It doesn't seem important, but you know what they say, if you're going to show a gun in the first act, it better go off in the third.

Things start to actually happen when a concert violinist leaves his prized (and valuable) instrument in the back of a cab. When it's discovered to have been in a D.c. Cab vehicle, they get the $10,000 reward.

Harold decides to split the money with everyone, much to his wife's dismay. But he asks them to invest in D.C. Cab so they can make a boatload of improvements.

This was made in 1983, but even still, it seems like their $10,000 is expected to go really, really far.

Things are going great until Harold's wife, Myrna, keeps the money for herself. Everyone is ready to quit until Albert says that he has some money that his dad left him when he died. He's willing to put it into the company if everyone stays.

They're so happy that they perform a montage of vehicular improvement scenes to a snappy little ditty.

Albert's money is a bit less than the $10,000, but it appears to cover massive body repair (if not new cars outright), paint, a sound system, new sign and, most importantly, yellow satin jackets.

Things seem to be going pretty well. But when Albert, who has gotten his hack license, goes to the house where the kids threw eggs at him and Tyrone to drop off his passengers, he and the kids get kidnapped.

More familiar faces here. The kids are Scott Nemes, who was in "Meatballs Part II" and "It's Garry Shandling's Show," and Senta Moses, who was in "My So-Called Life" and a commercial for Big Lots a few months ago that my son Brody was fascinated by. He's got a thing for brunettes with glasses, remember?

Anyhow, the cabbies decide that they have to do something to rescue Albert, which makes sense since D.C. Cab is shut down pending investigation. The authorities think Albert is in on the kidnapping. After all, where did the money for all the improvements come from? Albert.

Now admittedly, I wasn't paying rapt attention by this point, but how does having large sums of money implicate Albert in a scheme to extort money from an ostensibly rich ambassador?

I'm sure I missed something. I'd like to say I'm a dedicated reviewer, but darn it, sometimes I get hungry. Plus, the remote is acting up, and ...

But I digress.

Needless to say, Albert and the kids are rescued, and the cabbies are hailed as heroes. All is well. Cue up the 80 jillionth Georgio Moroder song and roll those credits.

Afterthoughts: I don't know that I'd deliberately watch this again; it's more of one of those "Ah, it's already on and I'm too lazy to change the channel" kind of movies. I mean, it has Mr. T!

The forced "romance" portion involving Albert and the cute waitress at the diner seemed a bit extraneous, but not as shameless as Tyrone's obsession with Irene Cara.

Lo and behold, later in the movie, who does he get a chance to drive around? Irene Cara.

Who sings one of the Georgio Moroder songs on the soundtrack? Irene Cara.

Who broke my window?

Telling the truth isn't gonna be easy...

Glass everywhere you look!

Oops. Got a little carried away.

Two hints for the next movie on the list:

1. It's not a bad movie (to me, anyway)

2. The wind is in the buffalo.

Waiting is the hardest part

I'm impatient.

Like "microwave-popcorn-takes-too-long-too-cook" impatient.

So now I have to wait until January before I get to see another episode of "The Office." On the up side, January also marks the return of "Scrubs" to the NBC schedule.

They are the only two shows that I make a point to see every week. Not that I don't like other shows; I work odd hours and am not so good at remembering to set the Tivo.

I love seeing something that makes me laugh out loud, and "The Office" and "Scrubs" fall into that category.

Oh well. I can wait a few weeks, I guess.


This may take a while.