Archives Ratings Mrs. Filthy Gooden Worsted

This week:

Sleepy Hollow
Toy Story 2

Filthy says:
"Sleep Hollow's not so
fucking bad!"
"Toy Story's Pretty Fucking Good!"

The fact that I don't get along with anyone is to your benefit this week. This is what happens when Mrs. Filthy's family comes over for Thanksgiving because we can't all fit in their trailer, and my fucking brother-in-law starts yapping that the apartment smells like gasoline, and how my wife is too good for me, and how our neighborhood sucks and how his Camaro is so Goddamn bitchin'. As my face turned purple and I started drinking the cooking sherry, the Mrs. gave me a ten-dollar bill and told me to get lost before I embarrassed her, like I did last year when I got drunk and tried choking my mother-in-law.

Ten bones not only buys a full-price movie ticket, it also buys a bag of the popcorn. So, as my wife and her family stuffed themselves with turkey, vomited my mother-in-law's "mashed potato surprise!," got tipsy and fought over who was treated best as a kid, I hid out in the theater by my lonesome, having the same dinner the Peanuts kids ate. The theaters were mostly empty on Thanksgiving day until about five p.m. and I had no trouble fitting in a double feature. It was me, a bunch of other loser men, single dads with their kids, and some foreigners who don't have a God damn thing to be thankful for.

I paid for "Sleepy Hollow" and snuck into "Toy Story 2." If I had it to do over, I would have paid for "Toy Story 2." Actually, they're both better than average, but that Disney flick really was good shit. Believe me, I'm as surprised as you about that.

"Sleepy Hollow" is loosely based on a Washington Irving short story, which is in the public domain and can be read for free on the Internet. Hollywood probably paid a couple million bucks for the story, though, because, as we know, they are a coven of complete fucking morons. Johnny Depp is Ichabod Crane, a New York City fancy-lad lawyer who is summoned to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to determine what or who has been chopping the heads off the local citizens.

Depp is skeptical of the supernatural because his mother was killed by his father's irrational fear of the unknown. He is not at all skeptical of Christina Ricci's big boobs. He falls for her, much to the dismay of her fiance, Casper Van Dien--a subplot that goes nowhere. Anyway, shortly after his arrival, more townsfolk get clobbered. Depp encounters the Headless Horseman and he becomes a believer in the supernatural. He also becomes a believer in Depends undergarments. He's such a big scaredy-cat. Still, he insists, the Horseman is merely looking for his head, which has been stolen by a mortal. To get it back, the Horseman does whatever it is told. I am not sure how Depp comes to this conclusion, but I guess if Hollywood says so, we better all shut the fuck up and accept it.

With Ricci at his side, Depp seeks out the Horseman, and he investigates who would want the specific townspeople dead. The movie quickly devolves from a fun spooky movie about a creepy specter chopping off heads in a stylish way into a pretty lame Agatha Christie mystery. As Depp gets closer and closer to the truth, his precious Ricci and her epic knockers are put in peril's way. He must not only return the Horseman's head by solving the mystery, but he must also save his honey-bunch.

For the first half of "Sleepy Hollow," I bought it. Sure the plot was thin, but the movie looked so damn good and the Horseman was such a bad ass villain, that it was fun to watch. I rooted for the Horseman to keep killing, not get caught. The Horseman, played with more cheese than a pizza by Christopher Walken, is seriously fucked up. This guy had pizzazz. He had fluid motion and nice sword action.

And while the movie is bloodier than when an epileptic seizures during his dental visit, it was so stylish that it wasn't gross. Gory, sure, but gross? Not so you would turn away. That's because it doesn't feel real--rather it feels like a gruesome fairy tale. Even when the beetle crawls out of a neck, and a boy's mother's head rolls across the wood slats directly above him, stopping with its eye on him.

Christopher Walken was made to play a Headless Horseman. In flashbacks before his beheading, he looks sort of goofy all made up to look like a vaguely Norsk vampire with really fake looking fangs. Hell, just put Walken on the screen stuffing his mouth with hot dogs and people will scream in terror. He's convincingly evil as the heartless bastard who we want to get his head back.

The movie looks like what the original Frankenstein would look like if it was made today, all gothic and cold. Lots of lightning, plenty of blood, and the people pale and scared. The whole thing is filmed on elaborate, massive sets. Burton wants it to look like those old movies where the outdoor scenes are filmed indoors so they have that vaguely artificial feel. Maybe it's to make it dreamlike, or maybe it's just because Burton is a nut and does weird stuff for his own reasons. I guess it's supposed to remind us of those old English horror films, but I seriously doubt all us dumbfuck out there will get that reference. And the whole movie's tone is so damn close to black and white that they might as well have gone all the way, saved film costs and passed the savings on to us.

All this mood and ambience went a long way toward covering the thin story. Okay, so people are getting their heads cut off. Okay, Depp is there as a pant-pissing big city wiener who must overcome his own fears and arrogance to solve the case. Sounds like a good one hour movie.

Unfortunately, they made it two. They mixed the good shit with the belabored mystery. I not only didn't care about who was directing the damn horseman, I got tired of trying to follow that story as it became more and more convoluted. The mystery part is shitty, too. I kept thinking of old Scooby Doo episodes as Depp put his clues together and solved the crime. Instead of giving us more bloodshed and merciless beheading, the second half of the movie is mostly people talking. It's Depp explaining his theory, then it's the bad guy saying how she would get away with it, and why she did it. I just kept thinking, "Shut the fuck up and let the Horseman kill some more people." On top of that, Depp's fraidy-cat hides sometimes and acts with courage at other times. There is no reason for when he is brave and when he is scared, except, I guess that the story needs him to be brave sometimes.

Maybe these scenes would have been better if the characters didn't sound so lame. The dialog, of which there is none when the Horseman is chopping up people, is so stilted and cornball that it's laughable. The actors practically choke on their awkwardly ancient sentences. And Depp's accent makes him sound like a street urchin in the Arvada Community Theater presentation of "Oliver Twist." "Please, sir, may I have another?"

Ricci doesn't have much to do except stare at Depp with those googly eyes. The moviemakers sort of start her out as a witch, but they don't follow through with that. Her relationship with Van Dien goes nowhere, and then he gets chopped in half. Ricci is left bland and incapable of much, just like most women are portrayed in Hollywood.

Three fingers for "Sleepy Hollow." It starts out feeling like the perfect movie to watch on TV after Thanksgiving dinner, but it ends up wanting to be too clever for itself.

"Toy Story 2" doesn't try to be too clever. Hell, it felt just about right for both me and the few kids in the theater on Thanksgiving. Because of my aversion to kids and kid movies, I never saw the first "Toy Story." But this time, I was left with the choice of either "End of Days" or this, and I'd rather have one of my nuts cut off with pruning shears than sit through an Arnold Schwarzenegger slag heap.

I didn't need to see the original to understand the relationship and plot of the characters here. What amazed me, though, was how much more effectively Disney can develop the personalities and emotions of dolls than they can people. This flick is a long way from "That Darn Cat," and not just because Doug E. Doug isn't in "Toy Story 2." I wonder how a studio can make something this subversive in the same year they make something as canned and formulaic as the miserable bastard child "Tarzan." I mean, this is the kind of movie you take a kid to because you want him to see it, not because you want to get the punk out of your hair for two hours.

Woody is a cowboy doll, and the favorite toy of an annoying boy named Andy. Andy is off to cowboy camp and he plans on taking Woody with him until Woody's arm tears. The doll is left behind, and as soon as the annoying kid is out the door, his nondescript mom decides to sell Andy's old toys in a yard sale. While Woody isn't going to be sold, he gets caught trying to save another toy from the 25¢ box. He is discovered by a fat comic-book type geek, Al from Al's Toy Barn. Al needs Woody to complete a collection of toys he wants to sell to a Japanese museum for a buttload of money. When he can't buy Woody, Al steals him and hauls him back to his disgusting little comic-book geek apartment. The other toys band together to rescue him.

Meanwhile at the apartment, Woody has met the other members of Woody's Roundup, the 50s show that he was the star of. He has come face to face with his ancestry, something he didn't know he had. He didn't even know there was a cowgirl named Jesse (that he can't fuck because he's boning Little Bo Peep already), or Stinky Pete the Prospector. You know kids would love a doll called Stinky Pete. And these long-forgotten toys were in storage until their chance to be put on display in Japan. Woody is faced with the dilemma of saving these new toys from oblivion, or returning to Andy's room, where he will eventually be abandoned as the kid gets too old for him. It's some pretty heady stuff for kids to think about, and I assume the Disney corporation is trying to guilt the little brats into never giving up the cheaply made childhood toys they sell.

While Andy's other toys, led by Buzz Lightyear, go on a road trip to save Woody, the cowboy mulls over his future. Does he help the other characters from his old show get out of storage, or does he return to his friend. Does he want to live forever in a case, or for a few more years in the embrace of the annoying kid?

The adventures of Buzz and company make up the comic relief. They struggle across a busy street, causing several side-splitting accidents and thousands of dollars in property damage. They search a toy store, with Buzz being confused for one of the other thousand Buzz dolls. They must duel Buzz's enemy, the Darth Vader-like Zurg.

Finally, they reach the comic-book geek's apartment and there is a showdown between Woody's roundup and Woody's friends. I doubt I'm giving anything away by telling you that Woody decides to return home to Andy and live out his years as a toy with grace and dignity. The good toys from the geek's collection get to join him. But the bad toy goes to Japan.

What I liked most about "Toy Story 2" is its simple but important message for kids: that fat men who collect children's toys are dangerous and evil. Kids, keep away from comic book shops, don't stay at home learning magic tricks when the other kids are playing sports, and don't ever buy any "Magic: The Gathering" cards or join the Society for Creative Anachronism. If you do, you'll end up as a fat, friendless, bearded weirdo. This goes for the girls, too.

I also enjoyed how much personality and emotion these little dolls had. Each one has a distinct personality, and it is expressed consistently through the actions and expressions. The writers had a hell of a lot more fun making these dolls human than most screenwriting assholes do with actors. I guess it's because the writers liked these dolls, while nobody likes real actors.

"Toy Story 2" is sort of like an Ingmar Bergman take on toys, but a hell of a lot funnier than that pouty Swede would have made it. It's about mortality. Not the mortality of a person, although I wouldn't have cried if little Andy had been squashed by a car. It's about the mortality of toys, and what happens to them after their owners outgrow them. This is a concept the six-year-olds in the crowd didn't get. I'm sure they didn't, because most of them were climbing over their seat backs by this time. But I got it and it was handle pretty damn well. They didn't sugar coat the message, and they didn't force it into a commercial for Disney toys.

Hey Kids, get Filthy's Reading, Listening and Movie Picks for this week.

I guess we're supposed to be able relate our own fears about being loved and dying to this. Would I rather live forever in a sterile environment or live a short life with the things I love. I suppose it depends on whether they got the porno channels in the sterile environment. And, what about my dogs? Can they come with me? Maybe just Sophie, not Scooter. She would pee on my eternal carpet.

The movie's pretty fucking funny, too. Buzz has a Luke-Darth showdown with his enemy. The Barbies in the toy store are having a permanent, mindless beach party. The action is more entertaining than the overblown, "look how big this is" shit in real action movies. In fact, every action scene is exciting and pokes fun at the action formula that Arnold and the rest of those big movie dicks with thinning hair make. The funniest part is how dead on they pantomime the big action movies.

The one big mistake is a sappy ballad sung by Cowgirl Jesse about how she saw her owner grow up and lose interest in her. It was as dopey as one of the skits on those misguided "teen" shows on the Christian channels. I mean, it's so corny and sappy that it loses all impact. I thought I would puke all over the kid in front of me. And the damn kids in the audience didn't watch it because they didn't give a flying fuck about a slow, dorky song. So, who was this for? I guess the moms and dads in the audience who cry after reading greeting cards. Maybe it will inspire them to go buy more Disney nostalgia shit.

While the computer animation is impressive, and almost as good a use of all this technology as my site, the people look freaky. They just look stick-like and unnatural. It was distracting and it made annoying little Andy even more annoying.

The only other gripe is that the movie was too long for the kids in my theater. By the end, they were all crawling around like fucking monkeys, and they were yapping about everything but the movie. I would have grabbed the kid in front of me and wrung his little neck, but I have had to speak to too many cops about managing my anger in the past to do that again.

Four hearty fingers for "Toy Story 2." I feel plenty weird recommending a Disney movie to people, but I have to be fair if I ever want Roger Ebert to take notice and invite me on his show. If Roger is reading, he should know what a God damn good-looking man I am.

 Enter an e-mail address and send this page to a friend:

 Want to tell the Filthy Critic something?

 Big Empire  Post-it Theater  Las Vegas  The Gift ElectroniquÈ  Big Empire Buddies



©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.