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This week:
The Passion of the Christ

Club Dread

Filthy says:
"Jesus or tits? It's a close call.

I love when a long-anticipated movie premieres. There's an electric buzz of anticipation in the air before the lights dim. The true fans have waited their entire lives to see the movie. Like many theaters, the Olde Town Cinema here in Arvada holds its blockbuster first screenings at midnight of opening day, and the crowds form early. People stand in the cold wintery air, but they don't care. Sure you can catch the matinee the next day or the next week, but these hardcore fans can't live one more minute without seeing their favorite characters come to life.

The Passion of the Christ is based on the best-selling book of all time. No shit, this Bible is bigger than Harry Potter. Seeing how long the line was for that Tolkien horseshit, I knew something this popular, and with as rabid a following, would pack them in. Boy was I right. Opening night, there were klieg lights, balloons, local radio stations and a dude selling bibles and Indian Fry Bread from his pickup. It was a real festival atmosphere, just like the opening of Lord of the Rings.

In fact, I recognized a lot of the same people. Different costumes, for sure, but they were just as crazy about the Bible as they were about Spiderman and Daredevil. A lot of the fans knew the story by heart and quoted it to each other in line. "Lord, how good that we are here! With your permission I will erect three booths here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for the Knights who say Ni!" At which the others would jump in and say "Ni! Ni! Ni!" Then they laughed and high-fived. Some even declared Frodo and Bilbo as honorary apostles. I admit, this level of fandom was beyond me, but I liked how much these self-described "Jesus Freaks" were enjoying themselves. That's what movies are for, right? To transport us to places far away in time, space and spirit. It's the magic of movies that makes beating the pulp out of a good man 2000 years ago as thrilling and real as a bunch of dwarves running around after golden rings.

And the costumes! The crowd didn't go as all out for Passion as they did for Rings, but I saw more than one argument about whose raiments were most authentic. In sandals and robes, some people looked cold, but they came dressed as their favorite characters, ready to cheer the adventures on-screen. There were lots of Jesuses, for sure. He seems to be the most popular. He's got the most merchandising deals, that's for sure. I was more impressed by the folks who dared to be different: the fat guy dressed as a Roman Centurion and kept calling all of us "Fucking Jewboys!"; the two hotties dressed as Mary Magdelen who were offered rosary beads to flash their tits; the Pontius Pilate who couldn't decide whether to get Jordan Almonds or Twizzlers; the guys who brought their own wooden crosses. Actually, those guys were assholes. When a screening is sold out, it's pretty fucking rude to take a second seat for your cross and leave a John the Baptist waiting in the lobby. Those guys should ask themselves: what would Jesus do? He'd go to a matinee, and he'd probably turn off his God damned cell phone.

And the guy with the Styrofoam cross. Where's the sacrifice in that? It was cool when the lit it on fire and twirled it, but still, he was acting like it was all heavy when the girls were watching.

When the doors opened and they finally let us into the theater, there was a bit of unChristlike shoving to get the best seats. I sort of hung back, because I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of excitement, watching the kids screaming "Jesus rules!" while sticking out their tongues and making the heavy-metal Satan gesture with their hand at the local medias' news cameras. This was a crowd amped for a good, old-fashioned Hollywood thrill ride.

The movie is, well, pretty damn sour. It's gory as shit and by the end, Jesus looks a lot like I did after my first day of high school, except he's hung from a cross and I was hung from a flagpole. Had Jesus been wearing underwear, I'm sure the Romans would have given him the mother of all wedgies. The Passion of the Christ takes place over Jesus's last 12 hours of life. The story is based on a hodge-podge of the four gospels that illustrate in graphic detail what it's like to be unpopular.

Director/Catholic zealot Mel Gibson has done an admirable job taking a text that is beloved by many and turning it into something so bitter and hateful. He turns the New Testament into more Old Testament. At least it shows that he paid attention when the nuns and priests made him feel like shit. He might be missing the point, though. I thought the big thing about Jesus is that he willingly suffered, and the suffering wasn't the point. I think the point was for folks to go out and be grateful for redemption, that he died for their sins and then he rose from the dead. He rose from the dead, danced around and went up to heaven. I mean, that's so cool. (Who knows where that's from?) The actual death isn't the part we're supposed to dwell on and feel guilty about. We're supposed to feel guilty only in that the guy died for our sins, and our sins are usually stupid crap like stealing porn and letting our dogs crap on the neighbors' lawns.

Although, maybe Gibson is smarter than I think. He's got the option for a sequel in which Jesus rises from the dead, gathers his posse (Baby-faced Luke and Beancounter Matt in the Howwwwwwwse!) and gets a little Hollywood-style revenge with submachine guns. If that dude could turn water into wine, I'm sure he could score some AK-47s.

I guess a lot of Jewish groups are all worked up over the portrayal of Jews in this movie. Well, too fucking bad. I didn't hear you guys protesting at the way Arabs and blacks have been getting the shaft by Hollywood over the years. If you'd spoken up for them, maybe they'd stick up for you now.

By the end of the movie, the festive crowd had turned dark and gloomy. Not many cried, but there were very few in costume still shouting out their favorite lines (in Aramaic), and the people throwing toast and dancing up front were silenced entirely. That's what Gibson wanted, I guess, to take the piss out of the happy people. Two Fingers for The Passion of the Christ. Go ahead and add a finger if you already rented a fake beard and need a place to wear it.

Passion opened on Wednesday, and by Friday I wasn't feeling shitty that I hadn't made enough of my life to be crucified anymore. So I washed down all the Catholic bile with a late screening of Club Dread. It's amazing that in the same week Hollywood can put out such completely different crap. It's like a rainbow factory out there, shitting out something to disappoint every person's taste.

Club Dread is a horror/comedy, and it's as lame as its title. It's as painfully unfunny as a cotton swab up the urethra. The comedy troupe Broken Lizard, who created Super Troopers, has been so lazy in making this turd that they missed the bowl. we as the movie goers are left to step in it. Rather than try to amuse us with original jokes, theyíve simply gone out and made another shitty slasher movie and used comedy as the excuse for repeating the worst cliches of the genre. What a bunch of dicks.

The five men in the troupe were classmates at Colgate University. Colgate, for those who don't know, is generally better known for having the same name as a toothpaste than it is for its comedy. These five men have a style that is probably huge with frat boys who listen to Steve Miller, but the appeal beyond that is limited to teenagers who think "Saturday Night Live" is funny but doesn't have enough bong references. Seriously, there are more exposed tits in this movie than noticeable gags.

In Club Dread, a college party island lorded over by burnout Jimmy Buffett-style singer Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton) is being terrorized by an anonymous killer. The staff is being killed off, and nobody knows who the killer is.

This is a pretty standard horror movie setup. Lame old cliches and scares you can see a mile away. Hell, even making fun of these low-budget slasher movies has been done too many times. But the Broken Lizard fucks play it for face value. Too lazy to come up with an original story idea, they just coast on the same old shit: bumps in the night, fumbling for keys, killers who reappear everywhere, masks and machetes. And while the movie is trying to scare us with this old crap it isn't trying to make us laugh.

The attempts at humor are limper than a donkey's dick in Tijuana. It's the sort of inbred comedy borne of guys who know each other too well. They like setting up gags, they just don't take the time to finish them. The Coconut Pete character could be really funny, but he's mostly used to propel the shitty horror story. Every other character that isn't a hot, topless chick is just a broad sketch comedy caricature that is supposed to be funny simply because of a "wacky" accent or the amount of pot he smokes. What the fuck? If you had a good horror idea, I would understand the comedy taking the backseat. But when the horror is this unimaginative and uninteresting, the jokes better make me piss not only my pants but the pants of the guy one row up.

It's a bad movie, pretty fucking terrible and lazy. But I'd rather see it than The Passion of the Christ again. I just like boobs a lot. Two Fingers for Club Dread.

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Joyce Kuwalhik of "Hot Ticket"

Along Came Polly is "A laugh-out-loud comedy!"

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Filthy's Reading
Nicholson Baker- The Fermata

Listening to
Mongo Santamaria- Afro Roots


His Girl Friday