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commode

A gathering of interesting movie moments in the most interesting of places.

The bathroom is a common nexus of interest for all races, creeds, cultures, and types. It’s the one place in the home that exudes great comedy, deep philosophical thought, painful moments of realization and regret, and vulnerable tasks where we are at our most transparent. So, of course cinema has kicked down the door to this bastion of privacy on many occasions to make light of all that which can happen in the suburban Narnia that is the “john.” This is just Volume 1… I plan to do more, this is not a top 5 list or anything so calm down!

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- Opportunity Knocks (1990) – Dana Carvey lectures Robert Loggia into submission.

Watch it here.

Our first film scene of choice, where a young Garth Algar speaks of the layered mental exercises that the “crapper” holds for us all. Opportunity Knocks is one of those rare pre-fame movies, 2 years before Wayne’s World, that is actually surprisingly good. Carvey plays a con man who is posing as a rich/smart business man. Here we see him convince a boardroom that you could sell ad space by putting corporate messages on the back of bathroom stall doors. Robert Loggia is pleased.

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Dreamcatcher (2003) – Jason Lee risks his ass for a toothpick. Literally.

Watch it here:

Lawrence Kasdan’s Dreamcatcher is not a particularly good movie. It’s a good half-a-movie at best, we’ll give it that. Here we see Jason Lee as the toothpick obsessed Beaver. He is so obsessed in fact, that is he’s willing to risk the release of an unknown carnivorous slug monster just to grab a toothpick that HAPPENS not to be sitting in one of the plethora of blood puddles all over the bathroom. You know, the blood from the last guy who was in there. I know Rain Man will always be associated with toothpicks, but Jason Lee give Hoffman a run for his money. Toothpicks: They’re worth the risk!

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-Ghoulies II (1988) – J. Downing gets eaten, starting with his anus.

Watch it here:

Ghoulies part duex is really the movie that gave me the urge to write about bathroom scenes. A movie so infamous for its toilet scene that they put it on the poster. You see, ever since childhood, J. Downing’s death confused me. What exactly happened in that carnival outhouse? Did he just sit there screaming while the Ghoulie ate slowly through his anus, balls, dick, legs, and torso and eventually head? How long, exactly, did it take him to die? How come once he starts to experience pain he doesn’t stand up? Is he able to stand up? Surely while the Ghoulie is chewing on his chunks of flesh he has time to stand up and open that door… truly one of life’s many mysteries.

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-Summer School (1987) – Mark Harmon questions a student’s attendance.

Watch the first part here. Skip to 1:20, stop at 1:36…

Watch the second part here. Skip to 2:52, stop at 3:04…

Ok, this isn’t really a “bathroom scene” as neither part takes place in a bathroom, but I wanted to include it merely because we have a character claiming to have spent 6 entire weeks in the toilet, struggling with a stubborn zipper. Now, of course the student didn’t spend the 6 weeks in the bathroom, he was just lying, still, the hilarity of him keeping the bathroom pass is enough to sell me on putting this on the list, not to mention he got a 91% on the test. If only Director Carl Reiner would have made a sequel that revealed he was actually in the bathroom for 6 whole weeks. That could have been the “Back To The Future 2”-esque plot to Summer School 2: Zipper Trouble.

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-Jurassic Park (1993) – No introduction necessary.

Watch it here:

What better way to end volume 1 of Commode Commotion with quite possibly the most famous toilet scene in all of mainstream film. You’ve seen it a thousand times, and you could see it a thousand more. Just the sentence describing it is enough to cause giggling fits of AWESOME. “A Tyrannosaurus Rex crashes into a bathroom, questioningly stares at a lawyer sitting on a toilet, then subsequently almost bites him in half.” It is a rather beautiful metaphor for life, “when you gotta go, you GOTTA GO…but prepare to die horribly.” And that kids, is why Spielberg, despite his mistakes, is a grandmaster of his craft.

A few things about Kick-Ass:

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When it comes to movie monikers and the promises they hold over them, I always think of Rob Zombie’s failure to give us 1000 corpses. Sometimes a movie doesn’t even need to be good, satisfying the lust that the title creates can be nourishment enough for some of us. Bill was most certainly killed, that temple was most certainly “of doom,” and Peewee went on a rather large adventure, so why couldn’t Zombie just give us corpses? Sure, there was a tunnel of approximately a thousand skeletons, but Mr. Zombie, bones do not a flesh-covered-corpse make! Delivering on the title is not always of import, yet its always pleasurable to see a movie with such an enthusiastically positive title be so much fun that its titular line can be used to describe itself. Most likely, cynical or no, the entire internet will be exploding with the all-to-easy phrase: “KICK-ASS KICKS A… sorry, I can’t do it.” Of course, we will get plenty of people doing this:

“KICK-ASS? IT SURE DOES!”

or perhaps a lot of prefacing:

“HATE TO SAY IT, BUT KICK-ASS IS EXACTLY THAT!”

Do you really hate to say it? Also, we’ll get a lot of people going outside said box:

“KICK-ASS PUNTS BUTT”

or lazy negative reviews:

“KICK-ASS LICK’S ASS”

or censored reviews from angry family-values websites:

“KICK-A#S KICKS MORALS OUT THE DOOR!”

or censored reviews from angry family-values websites that don’t get irony:

“KICK-A#S IS A F@#KING PILE OF MORALLY BANKRUPT SH#T!”

or you get the real self-involved ego cases, trying to be so cool:

“KICK-ASS KICKS A… sorry I can’t do it.”

In the end, you just have to give in. Since I saw this film, without fail, whenever anyone brings it up, like a L7-Weenie (is that a term? I stole it from The Sandlot) I blurt out that the movie does in fact “kick ass.” It begins to snowball to the point where you realize that your first instinct when verbally praising anything is to say it “kicks ass,” then you find out that you’ve been describing everything positive in your life as “kick ass” for 20 years and your essentially a caveman with the ability to grunt half-legible mystery tones. This is what Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass did to me, it was so enjoyable I learned I was a Neanderthal on the verge of de-evolution, living on the edge of a knife blade made of cave paintings and liquid-dinosaur-fecal-matter. Why it’s liquid as opposed to healthy dinosaur droppings I have no idea, but you’d think that eating germ-laden cavemen would… wait, getting off topic, right…

“Kick-Ass? AND BOY DOES IT!”

Seriously though, never has the internet (or it’s “generation”) ever encountered a movie that actually begs for vulgarity-filled two-word descriptive reviews. Pay attention all you kids on Youtube and Talkbacks, this is the only movie where legit critics might give you a begrudging pass for saying it “Kicks Ass!” Enough over-obsessing about the title, how’s the movie? Well, having read Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s extremely enjoyable graphic novel, I can say with confidence that the movie is accurate where it needs to be, but diverges from the book when it requires breathing room. It’s thankfully, not accurate to a fault, like some would cite Watchmen as being. The film is made with so much enthusiasm that it renders all the changes very welcomed and in some cases better that the source material. SOME cases.

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Having never seen Layer Cake, and being almost entirely indifferent to Stardust, Matthew Vaughn’s direction has kind of been a ghost to my realm of perception. That is, of course, until walking out of the theater post KICK-ASS. His ability to wrangle in the comic’s grounded reality, keep his actors spouting off with sharp comedic timing, and keeping the whole thing from possibly spinning out into oblivion is quite a thing of beauty. Get down on your knees, and pray to the gods of Mt. Cinemus that Vaughn not only sticks with this franchise but with this comedy/action/crime thriller mulit-genre type of film, because films like this, done right, are often a rare success. Kick-Ass juggles all of its components much like great family film comedies often do (Ala Galaxy Quest,) all the different genres and tones are there, they have heart, and they have been fashioned to fit together like a toaster and a Pop-tart (or, for you privileged kids, a Toaster Strudel.) Kick-Ass is like those films, with the addition of extreme violence, course language, and a young girl spilling loads of gangster blood. A little something for everyone.

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The stand out performances for me were Mark Strong as Frank D’Amico and Chloe Moretz as Hit-girl. Strong seems to get better with every performance, to the point where I think he could be headlining a film, however, there’s no shame in being a superb character actor, especially one whose specialty is villains. Moretz’s Hit-Girl is obviously the centerpiece of controversy, and to hear my one friend talk about her character I felt guilty for not being more jangled. While I find a young girl spouting ultra-vulgarity and violently bloodletting gang members “funny” and “cool,” I in now way was shocked. Perhaps it was the spoilers of the red band trailer, perhaps it was just that I accepted the “age” joke and moved on, but the shock value of Hit-Girl was not why she stood out. Moretz surprisingly confident performance made me honestly forget her age, she carries with her the mojo of a fully grown action star. If there was anything to nitpick about the movie, for me it would be my slight dislike of how “slick” Hit-Girl’s action scenes were. Her fights were bordering on Matrix/Watchmen territory, considering the slo-mo and the flips, I think a grittier pre-‘90s style of fighting and filming would have served the movie better, but it’s a small nitpick. Aaron Johnson, while not physically resembling his comic counterpart is a great find and does an excellent job as Kick-Ass himself. The comedy gold medal of the movie goes to Nic Cage, which his in-costume Adam West homage. This could be a joke lost on younger generations, many of them thinking Cage’s acting is responsible for his delivery, but hopefully their familiarity with the Mayor of Quahog will spell it out for them.

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Is the movie worth a ticket price? Let’s put it this way: Watch the trailer and pay close attention to the moment when Hit-Girl introduces herself. Please note the slight gust of wind that wisps through her pink hair as she says her name with an all too devilish grin. If that kind of self-aware humor/filmmaking usually speaks to you, then you will absolutely LOVE Kick-Ass. So, in summation:

“KICK-ASS, KICKS AS… really sorry, I just can’t.”

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A short complaint about HOT TUB TIME MACHINE and a Semi-open letter to Director Steve Pink:

Time-Travel? Check. The ‘80s? Check. Chevy Chase? Check. Crispin Glover? Check. Cusack? Check. A message about the importance of friendship and its deterioration into adulthood? Check? Silly? Check. Funny? Check. Aware of itself? Check. Motley Crue? Check.

Reviewing Hot Tub without my own bias, and overly enthusiastic slant, is pointless due to almost every aspect of the film personally speaking to me. It’s as if the writers and director Steve Pink reached into my eye sockets and made love to all the mush they found in my skull. As I’ve said on this column before, my favorite film ever is Back To The Future (such a daring choice I know,) a fact that I annoyingly never let anyone forget. So trust me when I say that my friends and loved ones could attest to my take on Hot Tub being bias as fact, and I would let them… if I wasn’t still 50% suspicious that my friends might not exist (yet, that’s a discussion for another day.) Other than that, I think, bias aside, that the movie has its flaws but is genuinely a good time. However, to me, it was an orgasm atop Mt. Facemeltertron (note to geologists: I renamed Everest “Facemeltertron,” so spread the word.)

All of that being said, the theatrical cut of the movie has a despicable, atrocious sore on it that angered me to the point of… uh… anger. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the early advance-screenings of the film, so early in fact that the opening and closing credits were very different from what the movie opened with in March, which is fine, the new credits looked good. The theatrical cut, unfortunately sported less Chevy Chase and fortunately much more cleaned up special-effects. The detestable, disgusting, anti-comedic moment of garbage that was added to the theatrical cut is a simple singular line of additionally recorded dialogue by Clark Duke, while he’s off screen. I doubt it’s considered a spoiler to say that they eventually travel back in time to present day, so there, I just said it. So, the moment they are “traveling” back, they are apparently seeing glimpses of all the years in between, so the ‘90s and the ‘00s. Right before the hot tub spits them back out into 2010 we get the putrid, depressingly unfunny quip from Duke: “NO TIGER, DON’T TEXT THOSE CHICKS!” Yes. That’s right. A lamer than lame, added-in-post, jab at Tiger Woods? REALLY?!?!

Not only was the line obviously added in after the fact, but it was damn near illegible to the human ear. There are many things I will fail to put into words here, like just how much I don’t even remotely care about Tiger Woods, his marital infidelity, and the enormous mountain (Facemeltertron) of reasons why the joke doesn’t belong in this movie. However, I’ll ask this: Why take a silly, funny, enjoyable movie that you made and cheapen it for an already stale topical joke such as this? Film is not TV, it doesn’t need to thrive on current events and timely gossip, and in fact it strives for a “timeless” nature at its apex. Characters in the story can be products of their time, but when you start adding in jokes that were only funny for two days, not even that, is when the phrase “product of its time” no longer applies, it is now a “product of this MONTH.” Yes I realize it is just a silly comedy, but comedy is just as important a genre as any other, and I take it seriously, sue me. So, Steve Pink, what happened? Did you get Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg to come in at last minute and spruce up your final edit? Were your grandparents watching a Jay Leno monologue and taking notes for you before the last ADR session? Did you get blackmailed by a TMZ employee? Do the fans of your film a favor and make a DVD/Bluray cut worth owning. Normally I wouldn’t have the audacity to tell someone what to do with THEIR film, but in this case I know the Tiger-free-cut exists, I saw it for myself on the big screen.

Thanks for reading. I’m Bob Rose, the man who re-moniker-ed Mt. Everest.

Comments:

4 Responses to “Opinion In A Haystack: Toilets, Heroes & Hot Tubs”

  1. chuck stone Says:

    Very glad I never saw the Tiger edition on HTTM (if BTTF can do it, why not).

    And Summer School, is amazing, only second to Summer Rental… you know in the category of “80’s Movies I watched on repeat as a kid, with the word summer in the title, that were directed by Carl Reiner”

  2. Bob Rose Says:

    Chuck: Carl Reiner was the kind of “summer” movies in the 80s. I watched them on repeat too. Thanks for reading.

  3. Alfeetoe Says:

    While I certainly acknowledge some of your points about Kick-Ass, I disagree with a lot of them.

    Really, Bob, how can you say that the changes to the plot were welcome? The comic read like a fresh, new hero franchise, and with the R rating, you didn’t need to cut or ammend anything. Very few comics lend themselves to strict adaptation (the problem with Watchmen is that the story just doesn’t work on film…nor does the subtlety), but this is one of them. I for one was REALLY pissed about the BD/HG origin mangling. Among other things (you read it, you know).

    I don’t know man, I really do think the movie “kicks ass,” but as an adaptation, and BECAUSE of being an adaptation, it falls well short of what I thought it would be.

  4. Bob Rose Says:

    Alfeetoe: I suppose I would agree with you if cared as much as you did about accuracy to the source. But in this case I don’t, and I honestly think that the movie plays better for it. It’s been said a billion times, but a comic is a separate entity from a movie, and really that’s that. Sure you could come back with “yeah but how mad would you be is they changed superman’s costume to pink for the new movie” or something like that…and that would anger me, because a mammoth change like that wouldnt be approved by the creators of supes. However, the creators of kickass fully approve of this film? How do you deal with that? How did the detractors of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE deal with the fact that Maurice Sendek gave his full stamp of approval to the film?

    Then you could come back with George Lucas approving of the special editions and sequels…

    really it comes down to the fact that without the source material KICK ASS was a great f’in movie. The comic is great too.

    Also, we’ve argued this before…you know I personally would much prefer they DONT adapt anything and make REAL STRAIGHTFORWARD MOVIES from scripts again, but that’s not Hollywood’s choice anymore…so perhaps i have trained my mind not to care about that ONE aspect…because dude, the older you get, it’s just going to start eating away at your stomach.

    thanks for reading and commenting.

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