Once Bitten (Cursed 2005)

For Cursed, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson teamed up to bring us a take on a different type of horror. Rather than slashers, they tackle werewolves. Jimmy and Ellie are brother and sister who witness a car accident one night, when they attempt to help the driver, they are both bitten by a wild animal that mauls the driver.

But as the days pass, the siblings both find they are feeling different. They heal quickly and Jimmy finds himself becoming both a better athlete and more desirable to people. While Ellie is skeptical of Jimmy’s werewolf theory, she becomes convinced as she feels the changes coming on. They then try and determine how to free themselves of the curse. In the grand tradition, they must end the blood line of the werewolf that bit them.

They discover who the werewolf is and then have to fight to end their curse. But there are complications…is the werewolf the one that is killing people?

You know…unlike Scream, this effort from Williamson and Craven lacks any punch. It has some decent twists and fun moments (for example, Jimmy’s dog gets infected and becomes a werewolf dog). But this really feels like an attempt by Craven to make a film in someone else’s style. Lots of fast cuts, rock music driving the soundtrack. I know Scream did something similar, but more effectively. This film has a good core cast, but is also filled with a very early aughts TV cast. You have actors from Dawsons Creek and Smallville. Pop singers.

There are no scares in this werewolf tale and it really collapses under its own reference heavy weight.

Reboot, Restart (Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, 2020)

Jay_And_Silent_Bob_Reboot_PosterKevin Smith created a splash with Clerks in the early 90’s.  He had a string of hits, but somewhere around 2001 he started to fall out of favor.  Now, I actually like Smith’s general work and some cringe takes over the years, he comes off as a well meaning guy who wants to entertain through stories. He started doing national tours where he pretty much just chatted and told stories about his career (this has resulted in some rather entertaining DVD sets). His movies have not fared as well among critics and general audiences (though I liked Red State and Tusk).

I like Smith and feel like people are a little too hard on him. Maybe I have missed something unforgivable. But anyways… 2001 was the year that Smith put out Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  Unlike previous works, there was no real “message” or exploration of ideas about relationships and the like. The film was just a wacky hijinks filled raunchy comedy.

Jay and Silent Bob find out that Banky sold the film rights to a major studio to create a Bluntman and Chronic (the comic Holden and Banky created in Chasing Amy). Angry that they are not seeing any of the profits, they set out to sabotage the film.

I worked at a video store when it came out on DVD.  Every night when we closed up shop, we threw in that DVD and laughed our asses off as we did our closing duties. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot feels, well, inevitable.

Picking up around seventeen years later, Jay and Silent Bob discover that Bluntman and Chronic is getting rebooted and they are not being compensated.  So they set off to sabotage the film by going to Comic Con.  The hiccup is the discovery that Jay’s beloved from Strike Back- Justice- had a daughter with Jay that she never told him about named Millenium, or Milly. Justice is now married to a woman named Reggie Faulken. Yes, Smith is geeking out hard here.

After meeting, Milly forces Jay and Silent Bob to take her and her friends to Comic Con with them (without knowing who Jay is, as Justice makes him promise to not reveal he is her father). Hijinks ensue.

There are some good laughs, mainly falling into cute references, rather than joke based hilarity.  The cameos are ranging from fun to “because they could get them”…but what really stands out with the film?

Smith wanted to say something here.  Like, his desire to communicate overwhelms the film.  And not in a terrible way, I actually like what he is saying…it feels far more personal than some of his other attempts at sentimentality.  Family seems to have been the spirit here, and I truthfully like that.  Even when we revisit characters like Holden and Alyssa from Chasing Amy, it is to show them both at a better place in their lives and their relationship.  Smith pushes the notions that family is bigger than traditional ideas of a nuclear family. Family is what you make of it, don’t fear parenthood, no matter how scary it may seem.

This is not to say the film is not goofy, it is…and while some humor feels repetitive or just fell flat for me early on, by the end of the film, Smith won me over.

Baked Goods Part 3 (American Wedding, 2003)

American_WeddingAmerican Wedding focuses heavily on the next step for Jim and Michelle, which was a wise move.  It’s secondary focus is on Stifler, which dominates the beginning of the film.  That is a very rough start.

The scenes with Jim and Michelle work well.  They are likable characters.  And to play Michelle’s parents, they got the terrific Fred Willard and Deborah Rush.  The early scenes where “Stifler Ruins Everything” are tiring.  But, somehow, they start to transform Stifler.  Oh, sure, he is a douche, but they really play up just how badly he wants to be liked.  This results in the homophobic character trying to prove to the patrons of a gay bar that they totally want him.  The dance off he starts is actually quite amusing.

Again, a lot of the heart is from Jim’s dad.  There is a genuinely heartwarming moment where Michelle is feeling uncertain, and she seeks the advice of Jim’s Dad.  When she mentions Jim told her he is the person he trusts most for life advice, Levy’s face lights up, like he always wished this was true, but never believed it.

This installment is notable as Shannon Elizabeth, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne and Tara Reid are completely absent.  I suspect they had no idea how to fit them into the tale.

There are gross out jokes, embarrassing moments with Strippers at the bachelor party (Aspects of this scene work well, as everyone tries to cover up, when Jim unexpectedly brings Michelle’s parents back to the house).  Despite a rocky start, American Wedding is a surprise, and one of the best of the franchise.

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