15
Jun
2010
Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Blemishes on Otherwise Great Films
Jordan and Sam
By Jordan and Sam (with help from many friends)

Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which Jordan and Sam take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

You remember that awesome movie? You know the one with the great story/acting/directing/musical score? Yeah that one. Well there's this thing in it that really pisses me off, but otherwise it really is as great as everyone says it is. What pisses us off? Well for starters....

10. Cassandra (Tia Carrere), Watyne's World and Wayne's World 2

There's a lot to love in Mike Myers two film adaptations of his best SNL character. In fact, pretty much everything is something to love. The extended parody of advertising, meeting Alice Cooper, re-enacting the Laverne and Shirley theme song, Lara Flyyn Boyle riding a bicycle straight into a car"”pretty much every scene in both movies is executed flawlessly to create two of the most gloriously dumb movies ever made. But this is Hollywood, kids, and our man Wayne has to fall in love. Enter Tia Carrere, whose performance as Cassandra is the dollop of ketchup right on top of your ice-cream Sunday. She's terribly unfunny, can't seem to figure out how to deliver lines, and just seems to exist either as a sex object to Wayne, or to be stolen from him by the film's antagonist (Rob Lowe the first time out, Christopher Walken in the second movie). Granted, her presence in Wayne's World 2 does lead to likely the most detailed parody of The Graduate ever executed, yet by that point, does anyone care if Cassandra runs out of that church with Wayne? The rest of the movie might have been sheer perfection if she hadn't.



9. Batman's Voice (Christian Bale) Batman Begins, The Dark Knight

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight restored Batman's good name. Christian Bale's darker, more brooding Batman was just what audiences needed after Joel Schumacher's nipple-ization of the caped crusader. Christopher Nolan's direction kept the dark mood in place and did the mythology of Batman justice. There's certainly an argument to be made that Bale is the best of the film incarnations of Bruce Wayne. Though if one was to make an argument against him, they would have to point to "the voice". Batman typically has his "Bruce Wayne voice" and his "Batman voice". Bale took this to the extreme. So much so, it's become a bit of a joke as seen in this wildly popular and all too accurate YouTube spoof.





8. Broadway Melody Sequence, Singin' in the Rain

Every film musical to come after Singin' in the Rain owes a bit to the 1952 film. It was funny, had great music and spectacular dancing from the likes of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. The plot was great as the movie took the audience back to the birth of talkies. What better way to tell the story of the beginning of sound in film than with musicals. For all of its trailblazing, Singin' in the Rain was not susceptible to avoid pandering. The songs from the movie were all classics that people already knew. The movie was advertised as having those songs you've been singing for years. The other instance of pandering came with the Broadway Melody sequence of the film. The reason its such a blemish on an otherwise great film is that the sequence has nothing to do with anything. It serves as a venue for Kelly do dance but that's it. The sequence brings the story to a screeching halt as it is literally dropped in the film. In fact, it was only placed in the film because of the success of the extended dance scene in An American in Paris.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YWBOfsXsDA

7. Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction is without a doubt, one of the most important movies of the 90's. It's fun, endlessly quotable and the movie that put Tarantino into another class of director after his astounding debut with Reservoir Dogs. Each small vignette interwove within the larger story in fantastic and unexpected ways as Tarantino took a non-linear approach to telling the story-and it worked. Well, it almost always did. There was one story, nay, one character that is endlessly irksome in an otherwise flawless movie. Butch has a girlfriend named Fabienne. Now you may not remember her right off the bat. But think a little while, she's the one that goes on and on about wanting a pot belly. Oh, she also loses Butch's (Bruce Willis) watch. These are all well and good as plot points but the characters voice and dialogue is mind numbingly annoying. Her only purpose is to have someone that is on the receiving end of one of the film's best lines, "Zed's dead baby. Zed's dead."



6. The Death of Boromir, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Remember that time when you were watching Fellowship in the theater for the first time, and the final battle arrived? You were probably so excited to see another excellently choreographed battle sequence, you were ready for anything. If you'd read the book before hand, you were even preparing yourself for the epic sense of loss that would accompany the death of Boromir. Director Peter Jackson had already pulled off heartbreak with Gandalf's death earlier in the film, so it was going to be a heartbreaker. And then Boromir got shot with an arrow. And then he got shot with another arrow. And then everything went all slow-motion and Frodo probably screamed "No!" and Boromir got shot what amounts to a comedic amount of times, lumbering around for far too long before falling over and living just long enough to give the classic "I'm dying" speech. By the time he actually got around to dying, we had forgotten why we were supposed to care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry3dFFrnxzY&feature=related


5. Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley), American Beauty

Perhaps the best movie satirizing suburban life, American Beauty was a worthy Best Picture winner. Alan Ball's characters are appropriately dysfunctional to prove his point. But the character, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) was just preposterous. So much so that it was a bit distracting. Ricky was the unbelievably sensitive artistic type that just loved to find the beauty in mundane things. He loved to take video of Thora Birch from afar and documenting a plastic fucking bag. This was just plain annoying. However, this is totally forgivable. What made no sense was his reaction to Kevin Space seconds after his brains were shot all over the wall. Ricky just stared and admired the beauty of it. Any real human being that's not a Dexter-esque serial killer would probably scream in terror at seeing an annihilated human head. Maybe that's just me.



4. Harrison Ford's voice over, Blade Runner (Theatrical Cut)

Ridley Scott has made himself a reputation as a sort of anti-Lucas, in that he has re-cut his sci-fi noir five times, and has made it slightly better with each pass. The biggest problem with the first version was something Scott, and his star Harrison Ford, never wanted there in the first place. The studio insisted that Ford provide narration to explain the world of the film and to add emotion to a story that is sometimes clinically detached. Ford hoped that if he did a terrible job on it they would change their minds. Unfortunately, movie studios can be a little stubborn, and what we're left with is a stilted, bored-out-of-my-mind reading of entirely unnecessary narration, which actively works to take you out of what is otherwise a completely immersive movie.



3. The Rat, The Departed

For two and a half hours, director Martin Scorsese weaves a complex web of deceit, betrayal, and undercover tension, as legions of corruptible characters from both sides of the law do bloody battle in the streets of Boston. That anyone could possibly survive this ordeal and come out morally unscathed is unlikely, and in fact the film, true to its excellent form, fulfills that promise that every character would be sullied by the end of the day. Just as I'm about to sit back in my chair, heave a tension-relieving sigh and enjoy the credits, a CGI rat walks across the screen and blows the awesome power of an otherwise perfectly satisfying ending with a piece of digitally rendered heavy-handed symbolism. See, it was the characters in this movie that were the real rats. And something tells us that if you didn't get that in the first two and a half hours of the movie, the CGI rat probably isn't tying everything together for you.



2. The Final Scene in PSYCHO

Psycho is a brilliant thriller and perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's best work, though there is a lot of worthy competition. The story is crafted so well, that the audience is at the end of their seat until all the pieces fall in line and the chilling questions behind Norman Bates are answered. The movie concludes logically, though there is a scene at the end of the film, in a police station, where a psychologist explains to the audience exactly what just happened. I'd like to think that Hitchcock was forced to put this scene in the movie by a film studio that had no respect for the intelligence of its audience. No spoilers here, but everything is very clearly explained and it just leaves you with a rotten feeling, that is, until the final shots of the film that still manage to make viewers' hair stand on end.

1. Ewoks, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Everything is moving along quite nicely in the closing chapter of George Lucas' space epic. There's that fantastic opening Tattoine rescue, Lando is going to pilot the Millenium Falcon, Admiral Ackbar is there, and the Rebel Alliance finally has an actionable plan to end the war with the Galactic Empire. And then the Ewoks show up. Sure, they're cute, and fuzzy, and its sort of funny that they see C-3P0 as a God, but their novelty quickly wears off, and by the time they are single handedly responsible for the end of the rebellion, the shine is at least slightly off the apple. Not that they're Jar Jar Binks or anything.



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