This week:
Maid in Manhattan

Filthy says:
"A Christmas wreath made of shit."

Do you hear the sleigh bells ringing, a ting-tingling-too? Probably not because Hollywood has rammed them so far up our asses that shit got all over the little ball thingy. Yes, it's December, and every fucking movie magazine is starting to cackle and crow over the "Holiday" season movies. These are the ones we're supposed to want to see. For 11 months, Hollywood holds back the goods and delivers what they believe are award-unworthy drivel; pap to pacify us dumb hicks.

And then, rather than reward us for our loyalty, Hollywood uses December to say "Fuck you" to everyone outside of Los Angeles and New York. They say: "Sure we made some films we're proud of, and sure we're glad you spent billions on the shit we crammed down your throats all year. That's why, for Christmas, we're giving you more of the same while our sophisticated friends in superior cities on the coasts get to see our best products. You see, Denver, Chicago, Pierre and Spokane, we think you folks are incredibly stupid. We want the really smart people in Los Angeles and New York to tell you dumb hicks what to think."

Hollywood doesn't want to show its best goods to the 90% of us who actually make up their box office week in and week out. We don't get to open our Christmas presents until January, and then not until after they've already been opened and manhandled by the coast fuckers. You bet your ass Hollywood isn't eager to do limited releases of The Hot Chick for their snobbish friends. But if the movie's good, they tell us to suck donkey dick and wait in line while their buddies get their greasy fingerprints all over it.

On the coasts they're watching movies I am actually interested in seeing: About Schmidt and Adaptation, to name two. In Denver, we get Drumline and Maid in Manhattan. Fuck you, too, Hollywood. From now on I'm stealing as much as I can from you pretentious pricks.

This past Friday, with a long open stretch of hours before me, I paid for Drumline and then snuck into Maid in Manhattan. Some may remember Hitler, Jr., the buzzcutted overeager teen who patrolled the multiplex in search of sneaks. He once busted me. Well, I guess now he's too busy writing his manifesto "Meine Filme" and recruiting for his youth brigade to continue hassling people for the AMC 24. His absence made slipping into a second film as easy as stealing candy from a baby. Seriously, if you've ever actually tried stealing candy from baby you'd know it's not just a saying: it really is super easy.

The problem is that sneaking into Hollywood movies can be like stealing a mean old lady's colostomy bag. Sure it causes some hardship, but all you get is shit.

Drumline is about a college marching band. Actually, it's about every fucking sports cliché ever filmed, but with the hope that making it about playing snare drums and wearing silly costumes makes it fresh. It's doesn't. It's just fucking stupid to know exactly how every scene will play out with the added aggravation of it not even being about something interesting.

Devon Miles (Nick Cannon) is the hottest young snare drummer in the country. He gets a scholarship to Atlanta A&T to be on their drumline. Immediately, his arrogance gets him into trouble. In fact, it gets him kicked off the team. Don't worry, though. His aphorism-belching band leader (Orlando Jones) lets him suit up for the big game... oops, I mean big beat-off. Along the way, Cannon makes his single mom proud, learns a valuable lesson about humility (off-screen, apparently), learns that his absent father really does love him, and wins, loses and win back the heart of the prettiest cheerleader on campus. The cheerleader (Zoe Saldana) is an upperclassman. Cannon is an incoming freshman. They have nothing in common except they're in the same script and there has to be a love story.

After a falling out with his bandleader, Cannon is lured to a rival university and almost enrolls there until he learns that they—SHOCK--want to know what music his old school will play in the big showdown. Cannon must also overcome a secret shame: he can't read music. Wow! What drama. Ultimately Cannon has to learn that the band is about all the musicians, not just him.

Drumline wants us to think black college marching bands are just about the coolest fucking shit in the world. I'm skeptical; if black marching bands were cool, us white folks would have ripped them off years ago. Seeing as how Vanilla Ice and Eminem aren't twirling batons, it's safe to assume that marching bands, white and black, are equally lame.

Drumline doesn't miss a single sports cliché. In fact, it turns its characters inside out and arbitrarily flip-flops their motives just to hit them all. The problem is, they feel really absurd when you replace athletes with marching bands practicing their choreography. Oh, jeepers, will the fat kid make the turn at the right moment so they successfully spell "1970" on the field? I just wanted to scream "Get a fucking life!" but I know they can't hear me. They're movie characters. Maybe that fat guy who was drumming along on the back of my seat would, though.

The sports formulas are so tired that we know what will happen next at every turn. In a sports movie, at least there are sports to watch. Here, the only thing separating us from the inevitable conclusion is a bunch of drumming. I honestly had no idea whether the good or bad guys drummed better. They all made a hell of a racket, but the big trophy went to the good guys.

Here's the thing about marching bands. In sports, the cream of the crop is skimmed at each level. Only the best grade school players play in high school. College takes only the best high school players. In band, it's the exact opposite: college bands will gladly take any adult who is willing to lug a tuba case around campus.

Kids in high school bands are called "bandos," a label used with the same affection and endearment as "leper with the clap and a club foot." College bands are for the very few losers in high school who have visions of being even bigger losers. They still haven't reached puberty, or haven't realized they reached it. They're often unhealthy, lazy, lonely and half their conversations consist of dialogue from Monty Python. The other half is correcting each other's slight errors in said dialog.

I'd honestly rather see another movie where a dog saves a basketball team than the hoary old formula imported to another activity this pathetic. Two Fingers for Drumline.

I didn't sit through all of Maid in Manhattan. I saw enough, though, and I will make a guess at the ending. I'm pretty sure that's what the screenwriters did too. Jennifer Lopez is a tough-talking, street-smart maid at the most fun hotel in the world. It's so much fun that she spends more time dancing and singing acapella with the other maids, sass-talking the pouty customers and wearing the guests' clothes than she does cleaning. In two hours of movie, she barely manages to change the sheets on one bed. Never mind sponging up the vomit between a mattress and boxspring, pulling hair out of the drain, mopping up semen and blood or putting talcum over the spot on the carpet where a guest lit himself on fire. This is either the filthiest hotel in the world or the moviemakers aren't telling us something.

Lopez has a stock-issue precocious son with an uncanny knack for saying unbelievably wise things at just the right moment. One day, after a long and boring explanation of why it's okay for Lopez to be trying on clothes that aren't hers, her son introduces her to weasel-faced Ralph Fiennes (properly pronounced as Ralf Fee-enn-is by everyone but the man himself). He mistakes her for a guest of the hotel and invites her for a walk. He is madly in love, and she is smitten with him. She can't tell him she is really just a crummy old maid.

Fiennes is an assemblyman running for senate. He is, we're told, a very charming and handsome man. Damned if he isn't a real charmer for a guy whose mouth doesn't move when he talks, has fucked up teeth, and looks like he's about to fall asleep or ready to whip out his dick and start masturbating in front of us. He's so charming that he's running for senator, but actually doesn't care. See, politics are icky, but being powerful is dreamy.

Their love is complicated. Could he ever possibly love someone so common? Wouldn't it hurt his political chances? I walked out when, after several unfunny close calls, Fiennes finally discovered Lopez's true identity. Here is what I think happened next: He called her a gutter slut. Mad, she snuck into his room and used his camera to take pictures of her shoving his toothbrush up her ass. After developing the film and then puking, Fiennes retaliated by kidnapping her son and harvesting his kidney. He left the boy in a bathtub full of ice and wrote on the mirror with his lipstick "Call 911!" Upon discovering this, Lopez hurries her son to a hospital, but it's too late. Fiennes wins his senate seat. Then Lopez and her co-workers dance some more but then are shot dead for flashing their high beams at an oncoming car at night.

The movie feels like a commercial for Lopez. Here is the world's biggest primadonna playing the girl from the block, and getting to make a lot of speeches about what it's really like to be poor. It's image control, not character. Fuck her. And Fiennes isn't charming or dashing or good looking. The guy's just a constipated creep.

Maid in Manhattan is supposed to be a fairy tale story for women. I don't know which women but I sure as hell don't want to meet them. It depicts a blue-collar worker, but it's afraid to show the work she'd actually do. Hell, even Cinderella had to scrub a stone floor. Maid in Manhattan's message is supposed to be empowering: that love is more powerful than class distinction. And yet, the prize is a creepy rich guy who can run for senate. If Fiennes weren't rich, he wouldn't have been staying at the fucking hotel Lopez works at, and he sure as hell wouldn't be running for senate. If she were so God damn beautiful, he would have noticed the several times she was wearing her maid's outfit, not when she wore some other lady's expensive coat. Essentially the message is not that class doesn't matter but that in this fairy tale world, poor ladies should aspire to marrying fabulously rich men.

Bullshit. One Finger for Maid in Manhattan. Next time I'll really rip off Hollywood: I'll stay home.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Evans - The Kid Stays in the Picture

Listening to
Don Caballero- American Don


Paris, Texas

Ever-reliable Mark S. Allen of UPN Sacramento

Star Trek: Nemesis is "More than Just a Great Star Trek Film--It's Just a Great Film!"

Maid in Manhattan
is "The perfect date movie!"


©2002 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All fucking rights Reserved