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  • Issue of
  • Sep 3-9, 2008
  • Vol. 28, No. 47

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • College

    Using Animal House (1978) as her model, commercials director Deb Hagan takes an adolescent rite of passage and turns it into a primer on collegiate sadism, pushing the R rating to new raunchy lows in the process. Screenwriters Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison have created three archetypes for this hellish adventure: serious-minded photographer Kevin Brewer (Drake Bell), browbeaten science nerd Morris Hooper (Kevin Covais) and brutish horndog Carter Scott (Andrew Caldwell, in the John Belushi role). If any of them believed a trip to Fieldmont would be about academics, that idea is soon dispelled by their encounters with the inhabitants of the disgraced Beta Phi Tau fraternity, where humiliation’s always on tap. The the characters suffer constant abasement, they are so sketchy that any audience goodwill is forged solely through the force of their personalities.
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  • The Scene
  • Babylon A.D.

    This muddled, brain-dead piece of sci-fi slop is so bad that director Mathieu Kassovitz recently disowned it. Some undisclosed disaster has left Eastern Europe a grungy, bombed-out crater, where Toorop (Vin Diesel), a surly, mumbling mercenary has his door down as he's dragged off to chat with a crime lord named Gorsky, who charges him with escorting a mysterious young woman named Aurora (Melanie Thierry), some kind of psychic cyber Madonna miracle child or something. Her guardian-mother is a pacifist nun (Michelle Yeoh) who conveniently knows how to kick major kung fu ass. And trouble comes about every eight minutes or so in the form of hoods, thugs and creeps assaulting our trio, who escape across the Arctic via flying limo, submarine and, best of all, turbo-boosted snowmobile! By the time they hit New York, the confusing religious-techno messiah plot has been completely buried under flaming-rubble CGI missiles and the requisite throbbing metal and rap soundtrack.
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  • The Scene
  • Disaster Movie

    The latest pop culture regurgitation from the team who made "Date Movie" finds the world coming to an end, and the audience asking for their hour-and-a-half back. This stream-of-consciousness parody's problem is that its humorous twists just aren’t fresh. Questioning the sexuality of naked warrior Beowulf? Adding racy lyrics to a chirpy High School Musical number? Making Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw a drag queen? It doesn’t make for cutting-edge comedy. Deflating these images only works when they’ve overstayed their welcome in the cultural landscape. The actors here are merely joke facilitators, although MadTV vets Crista Flanagan (the sullen Juney), Nicole Parker (a cranked Enchanted Princess) and Ike Barinholtz (dead-on as hero and villain alike) really understand the skewed logic of spoofery.
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