And we keep on rolling along.  Welcome to the third installment of The Chewer Reviewer.  We‘ve had a steady stream of great stuff and it continues this week with reviews from Simon Rowson, John Bernhard, Ian Pratt and Erik Antoine. Make sure you guys show them some love here.  Enough outta me, let‘s spin the wheel (raggedy man)! – Jeremy.

By Simon Rowson

STUDIO: Touchstone/Buena Vista Home Entertainment
MSRP: $34.99
RUNNING TIME: 552 Minutes
Road’s End: The Final Chapter
Bumps In the Road – October Road Season Two Bloopers
The Scenic Route: A Behind-The-Scenes Tour

The Pitch

Grosse Point Blank, with bestsellers and melodrama instead of contract killings and Piven.

The Humans

Bryan Greenberg, Laura Prepon, Brad William Henke, Geoff Stults, Jay Paulson, Evan Jones, Odette Yustman, Lindy Booth and Tom Berenger.

The Nutshell

17 year old Nick Garrett leaves his girlfriend and his lifelong friends to embark on a 6 week backpacking trip and never comes home. Rather than disappear into the sex slave trade or find his flesh and organs served up as kebab meat in an especially shady Bangkok deli like most vanished backpackers, he writes a scathing autobiographical depiction of his former friends which becomes a bestselling literary sensation. 10 years after disappearing, Nick returns to Knight’s Ridge to reconnect with his family and friends, and win back his high school sweetheart and her 9 year old son, who may or may not be his.

The Lowdown

October Road, a spiritual sequel to creator Scott Rosenberg’s own screenplay Beautiful Girls, had a first year that benefitted from being only 6 episodes in its entirety; the mid-season length allowed for a breezier pace, and though fraught with contrived drama and forced quirkiness, the season was so short that much of the lesser aspects sped by rather quickly, with just enough likeable performances and charm to make it remotely enjoyable.

“Nick, if this bitch says she loved me in Rush Hour 3 one more time, I’ll dropkick her in the subconscious.”
“…Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening. I was transfixed by your tie. It’s like a leopard fucking an optical illusion in a big pool of vomit.”

The 13 episode long second season, however, isn’t afforded the same luxury, and while managing to ditch much of the painful pretentiousness and ham-fisted dialogue that bogged down the first, it regrettably replaces it with prolonged soap melodrama. The burgeoning relationship between Nick and his possible son, which provided much of the endearing charm in the first season, has been relegated to the background to focus on the more strained and trite aspects, like the grating and overlong aftermath of Ikey’s affair, and the drama of Hanna and her impending marriage to town assclown “Big Cat” Cataldo, both of whom are about as appealing as a shotgun enema.

The show’s most glaring failing rests with the central ‘Will they, won’t they?’ romance. It’s a tired convention at the best of times, but here, though the potential relationship between Nick and Hanna is intended to be the heart and soul of the show, we never actually feel it; as hard as Greenberg tries to sell it, Laura Prepon is so lifeless in the role that the chemistry on-screen is non-existant.  Meanwhile, we’re left wondering why Nick would pine for the drab, lifeless Hannah in favour of the magnetic, utterly beautiful and incredibly intelligent Aubrey (Odette Yustman, saddled with the female equivalent of the Bill Pullman “other guy” role).

Despite severe budget constraints, Roger Corman’s Robocop remake earned a D+ for effort.

October Road strives for the same small town quirk and charm found in Gilmore Girls or Ed, but manages to capture the wit and whimsy of neither. A likeable lead in Bryan Greenberg and some charming performances from the supporting cast elevate the material, but the painful adherence to stock soap plotlines mean the
show never manages to be anything more than a guilty pleasure.

The Package

The set comes with a slight handful of features: a blooper reel, a brief fluffy behind the scenes tour with the cast, a few Buena Vista trailers and promos, and most notably, a 10 minute ‘wrap-up’ episode, quickly shot on DV to satiate the show’s fans and provide closure after its untimely cancellation. It’s a great idea, though hilariously cheesy in execution – with a dramatic 157 year long dramatic pause before the “shocking” reveal of Sam’s father, it feels entirely like an unintentional parody of the show’s own soap conventions.

OVERALL 5.4 out of 10

by John Bernhard

STUDIO: Paramount
MSRP: 24.99
Commentary Track
Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes
Behind-the-Scenes Music Video
Behind-the-Scenes on the Red Carpet

The Pitch

Kind of like Scooby Doo without monsters or Scooby Doo.

The Humans

Henry Winkler (Arrested Development), William Baldiwn (Backdraft), Chris Massoglia (Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant), Peter Scolari (Bosom Buddies), a bunch of kids, some recognizable character actors

The Nutshell

A Plumm Summer is a coming of age family film set in the small Montana town of Peaks View 1968.  It follows the adventures of the Plumm Brothers, Elliott (Massoglia, not bad at all) and Rocky (the other one, oddly muppetish). Rocky’s favorite thing in the world is Froggy Doo, the marionette star of a locally taped television show hosted by Happy Herb (Henry Winkler). During a live event, Froggy Doo is stolen, sending shockwaves of fear, mistrust, and despair through the whole community. Elliott and Rocky vow to locate the missing puppet and save the day. Additionally, Elliott must come to terms with his embarrassing drunken jackass of a father (Willaim Baldwin) and navigate the usual coming of age minefields (bullies, the girl next door, Clint Howard in clown makeup).

The Lowdown

First off, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this movie. It’s a cute story about cute kids doing adorable things. The central mystery is straight out of Encyclopedia Brown, and even William Baldwin’s drunken antics never go any farther than drinking all the food money away or punching some barfly off camera. There’s not a single curse word or adult situation to be seen. I’m kind of surprised that a strong Christian message never emerged. The actors are all fairly relaxed, clearly just happy to be working (and not very hard, in the case of Winkler and Baldwin), and the idyllic small town summer shots call to mind any sitcom your grandparents watched as children, like Leave it to Beaver and the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

I did want to mention the overwrought nature of the Froggy Doo mystery. The entire town is rattled to it’s core by the theft of a puppet. Eventually, a pair of FBI Agents (one of whom is Peter Scolari!) arrive on the scene to solve the case. The movie does at least have the intelligence to let us know this is a shitty and demeaning assignment for said agents, but there’s still one major problem: the puppet looks reallllly cheap. Like Crow T Robot, replaceable for 100 bucks and half a day’s work cheap. The spiral of depression it causes in the children, and Winkler, seems not just excessive, but easily avoidable. This probably isn’t an issue for the intended audience, but I’m well out of that group.

On the other hand, the intended audience for this film might be hard to find. It’s almost miniscule in scale and ambition, and maybe parents looking for something aggressively G-rated would like it, but I doubt their kids would. It doesn’t do much to hold the attention, especially against the wide array of flashy options available to family audiences nowadays.  Unless you’re a William Baldwin completionist, this isn’t really a movie that belongs on your radar.

The Extras

The commentary track confirms that this film was made be the nicest people in the world, way kinder and more pleasant than you or me. Also, they were as shocked as I was that they got the rights to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. There’s also the usual gag reel, deleted scenes and trailer. There’s a tacky music video and some red carpet premiere footage.

OVERALL: 6 out of 10

by Ian Pratt

MSRP: $20.49
STUDIO: North American Motion Pictures
RUNNING TIME: 73 minutes (approx.)

The Pitch

Sub-intelligent college kids + the bereaved / mystical mumbo jumbo = woodland strife

The Humans

DMX, Wes Brown, Lauren Fain, and Louis Herthum

The Nutshell

When a seemingly everyday hit-and-run murder leads to the reawakening of a huge voodoo serpent, a group of archetypes must destroy it or face consumption.

The Lowdown

Somewhere between bottom-rung Zone Horror fare and aborted home movie projects dwells Carnivorous, a creature-feature so bad it actually aids paedophiles. Allen Cade (Herthum) is a man’s man; he’s got a shed, receding hairline, and shotgun. Moreover, he’s happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Becky (Lisa Arnold). It’s a shame, then, that he’s still haunted by his adolescence; domestic difficulties, academic underachievement, voodoo imagination pens… the usual. You see, as a young simpleton, Allen stole a thrift-store Necronomicon from a house filled with plastic skulls and L’il DMX. Inside it was a pen shaped like an alligator/snake hybrid. Being something of an artist, Allen took his new stationery for a spin. Moments later, daddy was dead. Yes, the pen killed him. Or, rather, the creature it summoned killed him. Did this tragedy serve him right for thieving said pen and wishing ill upon his admittedly awful father? Yes, it did.

Copyright matters kept Godzilla II: Draco VS. The Kool Aid Boy at the conceptual stage. 

Like all real men, Allen buries his troubles deep down inside and gets on with his life, allowing his fears to resurface decades later in nightmare flash-backs. Tragedy’s not through with Allen yet, though. Enter, the Kids: Slutty Ashley (Victoria Vodar), Sleazy Clayton (David Pullman), Dopey Kurt (Caleb Michaelson), et al. They opt out of a weekend getting poleaxed in a plush suburban home in favour of getting poleaxed in a dilapidated rural hut. En route, Becky befriends the bumper of the Kids’ jeep, much to Allen’s chagrin. The driver, Dopey, is too busy enjoying the longest emo song ever and ogling Slutty to notice. His girlfriend, Average Sam (Fain) and Android Kelly (Brown) are suspicious. Sam wants to see what they just killed, but not that much. Dopey keeps driving. Meanwhile, Allen learns that Becky found the demonpen before her demise. It seems, Allen forgot all about burying it mere feet from his house. After a few drinks, he decides to give this art caper another try. He draws the alligator thing eating the car whole – kids and all (uh-oh!) It’s not long before life begins imitating Allen’s attempt at art.

“Would sir like a gift receipt with that?”

Anyone going into Carnivorous expecting more than perfunctory mediocrity deserves not only disappointment but a slap. The worst thing about the movie is not its woeful script (“You drew us to death! That sucks. You suck!”), its sub-par performances (Wes Brown makes Clint Howard look like Heston), or even its lamentable SFX, it’s the total dearth of effort and interest on the part of everyone involved. With a little enthusiasm, the So Bad It’s Good Bin might have beckoned. As is, a staggering body of ineptitude prohibits quality at every juncture.

“They told me it couldn’t be done. They told me I was mad. Lady and arm, I give you my home-made vibrator!”

There’s a duality at the heart of Carnivorous that might be interesting, if it weren’t so rubbish. Take the name, for example. Sure, the trailer, Internet, and DVD itself decree it Carnivorous (or Carnivourous: Rise of the Kulev Serpent), but that doesn’t stop the end credits reading “Cast for Lockjaw.” Unsurprisingly, the film confounds this. Unable to choose a protagonist, director Amir Valinia simply passes the narrative parcel between The Kids and The Angry Widower*. This move is typifed when the demon misappropriates Allen’s head during the final showdown, leaving only the usual smattering of Final Faces, including the ephemeral “military guy” Nick (DMX, who headlines despite appearing in less than a third of the film) to best the mega-beast. Incidentally, if you think fighting voodoo with voodoo is enough to stop a monster serpent, you’re wrong. If you think voodoo needs a little help from DMX’s bazooka, you wrote Carnivorous and need to leave Earth now, never to return.    
The Package

Given that no-one saw fit to proof-read the opening titles (actual credit: “STARRING and Louis Herthum as Allen Cade”) it’s fitting this disc boasts little in the way of special features. Trailers for Baseline Killer (!), the Edward Furlong vehicle Dark Reel – with Tracey “Bob the Goon” Walter! – and, of course, the feature presentation are your lot. A decent transfer only highlights the many flaws of this massively underwhelming experience.

* – Superior title suggestion.

OVERALL 1.0 out of 10

By Erik Antoine

STUDIO:  Lionsgate
MSRP:  $14.98
RUNNING TIME:  100 Minutes
Trivia Track

The Pitch

Rain Man meets Beaches.

The Humans

Director:  Andrei Konchalovsky (Tango & Cash)

Cast:  James Belushi (K-9, Jingle All The Way) Whoopi Goldberg (The Telephone, TV’s The View)

The Nutshell

James Belushi is Homer Lanza (“like Mario Lanza!”) a guy who was hit in the head with a baseball when he was a kid and became mentally handicapped because of this. He finds out his dad is dying of cancer and decides to hitchhike to Oregon to see him. On the way, he meets Edwina (Eddie) Cervi – an escaped mental patient with an inoperable brain tumor, played by Whoopi Goldberg (Eddie. Not the tumor). Eddie offers to drive Homer to Oregon in exchange for the eighty-seven dollars that were stolen from him by a gun-toting John Waters during an earlier hitchhiking attempt.

Off-beat hilarity is promised as they hit the road and become best friends in the space of a couple of days.

The Lowdown

I have a sneaking suspicion that my plot description made this movie sound a lot more interesting and worthwhile than it actually is. Or maybe not. Because I know that if you told me we were going to watch a movie in which James Belushi plays a retard and Whoopi Goldberg plays a dying mental patient – and we are asked to spend the better part of 100 minutes in their company – well, I would vanish like a fart in the wind and wouldn’t return your phone calls.

Let’s just say the movie delivers exactly what it promises with that pairing and that specific storyline… An unbearable evening of pure torture.

I remember vaguely hearing about this movie throughout the years. Released in 1989, it’s a movie that was made during what I like to call Whoopi Goldberg’s Blue Period. That interminable span, between her Academy Award Nomination for The Color Purple and win for Ghost, in which she gave us such wonderful films as Fatal Beauty and Clara’s Heart… And this film.

All I remembered is that the movie existed. But now assume this must have been one hated fucking picture. Because I can honestly say that there is very little (if anything) throughout its running time that is less than painful to watch.

Let’s start with the basics. First of all… This is a road movie and I always see that as a lazy way for screenwriters to not have to come up with much of a story. Just put a bunch of kooky characters on the road and let the story write itself! This can work if the characters are engaging and you put them in a series of interesting and unusual situations. This movie certainly tries that. So, along the way, Homer and Eddie (both separately and together) brush with a bunch of sub-Lynch/Coen Brothers characters played by interesting actors… All the actors receive billing in the opening credits, even though they are given one scene a piece. So there’s the aforementioned John Waters as the guy who robs Belushi at the beginning. Anne Ramsey (“Oweeeeeennnnnn!!!!“) pops up as a convenience store clerk. Vincent Schiavelli is a priest (perhaps the movie’s one “okay” scene) Tracey Walter shows up as a cop and childhood friend of Belushi….

Wait. You know who I think doesn’t get billing that I enjoyed seeing? Pruitt Taylor Vince. The portly character actor shows up at one point (young and with hair!) as a gas station cashier that gets shot in the chest by Whoopi Goldberg.

Yes. One of the plot elements is that Eddie is craaaaazy. So she’s all paranoid and not only does she hold up gas stations and convenience stores, she KILLS the attendants by shooting them in the chest.

Okay. Moving on. The main problems with Homer & Eddie are the title characters. When Robert Downey Jr. coined the famous “full retard” phrase in Tropic Thunder, he specifically references I Am Sam. But I do wonder if this little movie didn’t also pop into his head. Because it is the definition of that term. Two comedic actors trying to show “range” by performing as these damaged people. To that end, the overacting is off the charts! I knew I was in for a treat during the very first scene, when Belushi walks out of his house (after a supposedly hilarious opening shot where he tries on a whole bunch of hats, finally settling on the one that makes him look the most like Randy Quaid) and says, “I’m going to Oregon.” (or something like that) with a Community Theater production of Charly inflection that lets us know he’s supposedly a little slow.

Later on, there is a spectacular display of “Look Ma… I’m ACTING!” virtuosity, when Whoopi Goldberg loses her shit in a public restroom after Belushi tells her to brush her teeth. She gets hysterical and bashes her head against a mirror, while Belushi struggles to make her stop.

It was during that scene, I think, that I suddenly realized I was viewing one of the most singularly horrendous motion pictures ever produced.

And so, the movie meanders along, as they drive from one location to the next (stopping at a brothel run by Karen Black so that Belushi can pop his cherry), with annoying “let’s cut to a commercial break” fade-outs every five minutes or so… And an obnoxious “on the road” soundtrack of melancholic tunes, most of which were written by Mike Piccirillo and produced by David Malloy. The album is available from Apache records. So, by all means, track it down on Ebay if you want the perfect selection of music that will convince you it’s probably a good idea to down that bottle of Drain-O after all.

Eventually reaching its abrupt (and completely predictable) conclusion, and fading to the closing credits sequence that plays over an earlier scene from the film… Kind of like a TV show from the 70s and 80s.

It’s hard to believe that a movie this inept and unwatchable came from the director of Runaway Train. But it did. The box cover touts this as part of Lionsgate’s LOST COLLECTION – “The best movies you forgot about.” Looking at the insert announcing other titles in this collection, like Repossessed and Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, I know why they were forgotten.

They suck.

The Package

Part of The Lost Collection from Lionsgate. This is obviously the DVD equivalent of those $9.99 bargain bin VHS movies you would occasionally see at Path Mark that were recorded on LP mode, usually put out by GoodTimes. It’s shit. The only “special feature” is a Trivia Track full of fascinating details – such as the fact that Andrei Konchalovsky is Russian.

Some of the trivia comes in the form of multiple choice questions that take up half the screen. Like:
What movie gave Whoopi Goldberg her first Academy Award?
a) Ghost
b) Die Hard
c) What Dreams May Come
d)All of the above.

Two interesting tidbits: The writer, Patrick Cirillo, also wrote Tears Of The Sun. And this is the final film appearance of Fritz Fields – a character actor who had been acting since 1917. He plays a mortician – how prescient.

There are no other special features aside from some trailers for better films, like Monster Squad and the original My Bloody Valentine. The film is presented in Full Screen Format (That’s actually listed as one of the “features” – Full Screen Presentation – as if this were some bonus advantage or something), so it is not the best way to appreciate the (for all we know tremendous) compositions of Academy Award winning cinematographer Lajos Koltai. The picture quality is grainy and shitty, making me think this was most likely transferred from a VHS master. But the audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, so you can surround yourself in the overacting of Belushi and Goldberg in pristine bliss.

Rounding out the “package” is the box itself. Homer & Eddie comes packaged in one of those new Eco Boxes – Yay! we’re saving 1oz. of plastic by making our DVD cases somewhat hollow! Give us a Nobel Prize! – a reflection, perhaps, of just how disposable the movie included within really is.

OVERALL 2.0 out of 10