Sunday, July 29, 2012


What a difference a leather tankini makes....
"They use them in the construction centers. If ever we used the stop circuits and turned off all our robots, they'd have to go back to a construction center for reactivation. On arrival each would be marked with a disc like that to show it is a deactivated robot. The technicians call them corpse markers."

1) We're now in the Leela era, the very brief period (I was surprised to realize this period lasted only three stories over a single season) that serves as a transition between the Baker Doctor's two major companions. I am not as big a fan of Leela as most men--the leather tanktop and shorts thing didn't do anything for me, and Louise Jameson does little for me--but under Hinchcliffe she is an intriguing character. As we'll see in this story, she's a highly intelligent woman who was raised in a society where she didn't the tools or the inclination to stimulate her braininess. This leads to the Doctor taking her on as a companion to mold and shape her into the person he sees she can be. Of course, after the fourteenth season, Leela falls into the hands of Graham Williams and becomes something a lot less intriguing, but we won't talk about that now.

2) This story and the one that follows it is unique in the Hinchcliffe canon in that they take their inspiration not from horror but mystery tropes. Even though there are references to the robots being 'the walking dead' (said reference leading to a great little piece of exposition about the fear of robots by Baker), this is at its core a sci-fi trade dress version of the Agatha Christie classic Ten Little Indians interwoven with generous helping of Isaac Asimov's Robot stories. And the way Hinchcliffe and writer Chris Boucher fits that novel's plot to service the series is nothing short of stunning.

3) And to emphasize this connection to Christie's Edwardian-era mysteries, the world of this story is really well designed. There is a definite whiff of Art Deco in much of the fixtures around the ship and the costumes of the characters. It hints at a greater culture and aesthetic, and probably didn't cost all that much given the amount of atmosphere it delivers.

4) One of the nicer touches is how Boucher flips Ten Little Indians' main plot conceit in having the character most people overlook as one of the heroes....and what a character he is. Gregory de Polnay's D83 is a magnificent temporary companion to the Doctor...and I love the impression I get that D83 strives to be a better 'robot,' leading to The Doctor insist that he's becoming more human. Plus we get inherent comic relief in some of his natural reactions.
"I love you man."  "No, I love YOU, man!"

5) I really appreciate how our supporting cast all have very distinct personalities that feed into the Christie conceit. And it's funny how the character who ultimately turns out to be the villain is the one who a) has the most reasonable excuse for knowing the thing that would otherwise give him away and b) seems the most level-headed and reasonable, leading us to mark him off the suspect list immediately.

6) Granted, a case can be made for Russell Hunter being written off as a scenery chewing goof, especially in the middle part of the story. But there's some sort of depth to Uvanov that makes him a much more compelling character than the callous slave driver we meet in part one. And once we learn some of what makes him tick, it makes him a joy to watch in the story's final act.

7) Even though it was obviously a model, I am fascinated with the workings of the sand miner. Besides being something of a novel setting, the shots of the miner trundling along, turbines working give it a sense of atmosphere and otherworldliness. It's the sort of small thing Hinchcliffe does that provide depth to each story.

(Plus...for someone who hates enclosed spaces, the cliffhanger for Part One freaked me out)

"Hello, I'm here to judge the Silliest Sci-Fi Costume Contest..."
8) The main reason this story freaks me out is how so many of the cast are robots--and since robots are not living things, they can be seen on a family television show mangled, torn up and otherwise mutilated. There's one shot where Poole comes across a robot whose head is smashed in, but the attacker apparently tried to fix up with electrical tape, that still gives me nightmares.

9) I love all the little tips of the hat Boucher's script gives to Isaac Asimov's Robot stories, from the references to the Laws Of Robotics to the introduction of 'Grimwade's Syndrome.' It gives the threat a fuller feel beyond the ol' 'Yaaah! Killer Robots!'...which in turn gives the story more gravity.

10) While I really appreciate that The Doctor entrusts Leela to enact the very Pulp-like solution to the story (like Doc Savage, The Doctor doesn't kill his enemy, but lets him bring about his own demise), the gentle mockery of Leela seems out of place, especially if we assume the Doctor's motivations for taking her on as a companion lie in his recognizing her intelligence. Sadly, this is a harbinger of things to come, when the Graham Williams era comes in and treats Leela more and more like a comic foil for Baker's Doctor.

Overall... wonderfully frightening little whodunit with loads of atmosphere, and one of the best stories of the post-Sarah Jane Hinchcliffe era.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ten Statements About....THE REFLECTING SKIN (1991)

Yes, that's a boy having intimate pillow talk with a dead fetus.
And yes, that's indicative of how twisted and depressing this
film is.
"Why don't you go play with your friends?"
"They're all dead."

1) I'm warning you right now--this is a brutally unpleasant film that is made all the more unpleasant for its thorough lack of hope. This is a movie that just hammers you with the desperation, guilt and doomed nature of its characters until you are just as devastated as Jeremy Cooper's Seth, screaming for some form of release in a world where none is ever forthcoming. Be prepared.

2) Director Philip Ridley takes full advantage of the stark landscapes of Canada that stand in for Idaho in this film. There are frequent scenes of Seth, sometimes with his friends, running through these seemingly endless wheat fields, their dark clothing popping off the screen. The perpetual brightness of these sequences act in stark contrast to the evil acts that occur in these landscapes.

3) Ridley's script is so tight and well-thought out that while we are horrified by Seth's growing delusion--and later madness--we never doubt for a second why he's believing these things. Ridley makes sure there's a logical explanation for every aspect of Seth's belief system, and the fact that everyone surrounding him is several degrees of insane only allows that system to grow.

4) ....and it's fortunate that Ridley's script is so tightly plotted, because Jeremy Cooper....well, Jeremy Cooper isn't that great an actor. We are horrified by Seth's descent in spite of Cooper, not because of him. That being said, there is a severe disquieting element to the way Cooper's line readings get more and more gleeful as the evidence that supports his theory that his brother's new girlfriend is a vampire grows and grows....which in turn makes Seth's decision at roughly the one hour and twenty minute mark all the more frightening.

You think this is a sweet scene between two people in
love...but then you don't know this film.
5) Even though most people would look toward the very early performance by Viggo Mortensen, the person I think may be the one whose performance holds the film together is Lindsey Duncan. Duncan's Dolphin Blue is as weird as her name implies, and she rises to the task of bringing her to life multiple times. There's a definite sense of her being too far gone to save (and the implication is that her madness, and her husband's death, is connected to the mummified child Seth and his friends find in the barn), but she is at turns pitiful and--in a very odd way--sympathetic and playful with Seth. And while she may think she's bonding with Seth by sharing her memory box filled with her husband's remains, all she's doing is leading him further into insanity.

6) And I guess we need to mention The Black Cadillac. Cruising through the wheat fields, its blackness making it stand out for miles, it's the literal harbinger of death. I almost wish, however, that what Ridley implies pretty much from the first time Jason Wolfe's Driver talks to Seth wasn't made obvious in a later scene. Wolfe is so confident in his predatory friendliness that we didn't need to see his friend jump out of the Cadillac and abduct someone.

In the context of this film, this might as well be a shark...
7) You know what else horrifies me about this film? The abject sense of isolation throughout the film. There seems to be maybe ten people in this area, all living with great spaces between them...and their numbers dwindle so rapidly I wonder if it's some sort of black joke.

8) In a film that seems to dare you to evoke the phrase 'Lynchian,' Robert Koons' Sheriff Ticker is the most Lynchian element. With his metal eyepatch, ruined ear and artificial hand, speaking in a theatrical grit, Ticker seems to come from much further away than 'the town.' And like Dolphin, Ticker has this unfortunate habit of trying to bond with Seth by telling him the most horrific things. And speaking of Sheriff Ticker...

9) is indicative of this film that the only real moment of comic relief, when Seth can't comprehend what Ticker means when he asks if his father touched him, becomes seriously dark and disturbing when the Sheriff demonstrates what he means. It's almost as if Ridley is gleeful in the way he smashes the few rays of hope, twisting them from something light into something repellant.

10) However, I do respect that Ridley gives us a touch of ambiguity to Seth's action that leads to his final breaking point. While there's no doubt that he does what he does out of pure malice for Dolphin, it's unclear if it is an impulsive move or a calculated attempt to destroy what he perceives to be a monster. It doesn't redeem Seth Dove, but it does give us a way of nuancing his terrible nature.

Overall...while it is a relentlessly nasty film with a pitch black view of humanity, the startlingly beautiful compositions and tight plotting make it a eminently watchable movie. It may very well be one of those movies, like Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, The Bad Lieutenant, and others, that you should experience once but never revisit. It has certainly made me want to view Ridley's other two films.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ten Statements About....ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

Yep...most naturalistic finishing blow eeeeever....
"Remember, once you're inside you're on your own."
"Oh, you mean I can't count on you?"

1) Boy, is this script lean. The only guy who's really verbose is Lee Van Cleef's Hauk, and even he's terse and to the point. Carpenter apparently knows we're not here to watch exposition, so he's more than happy to move along and get us to the fights, the car chases and the nastiness.

2) Even for Carpenter, who's noteworthy for populating his films with characters that break away from being stereotypes, this is a film full of vivid characters. Even those characters with scant face time, like Frank Doubleday's sawtoothed Romero, or Charles Cyphers' Secretary of State, have their moments in the sun. As such, it's very hard to choose stand outs....

3) ...however, I will cite a couple, beginning with Van Cleef's Hauk. I particularly like how Hauk has a weird sort of respect that he never out and out admits to Russell's Plissken. He seems to admit it to others--defending his choice, running interference for him and continuing to buy him time--but the closest he comes to admitting how much he values Snake is when he offers him a job at the end. Van Cleef's confidence and body language says more than enough about his thoughts.

4) And then there's the tag team of Harry Dean Stanton's Brain and Adrienne Barbeau's Maggie. I love how we're never quite sure where these two are standing in regards to Snake and the situation with the President. Even though we only get their backstory in a line or two of dialogue, Stanton and Russell makes this relationship's veracity through their physicality toward each other. And the beauty of this is how these two do unpleasant things, but in no way become evil in our eyes because this is the world they've been living in for the last nine years and duplicity is the only way they can survive.

5) I can overlook that the majority of this film is shot not in New York, but in East St. Louis---if the script didn't have such a cavalier attitude towards New York City's geography, starting with their stubborn insistence that there is a '69th Street Bridge.' There is literally no way that Snake's progress through this city makes any sort of sense. It's as if the entire lower half of Manhattan was squooshed together into one square mile. I know this prolly wouldn't bother most people, but for me it nags and nags...

"Of course you should let me in...I'm the most New York thing
in this film!"
6) You'll notice I haven't mentioned much about Russell's Snake Plissken at all...and that's because the genius of Russell's performance is how the film doesn't so much happen because of him but in spite of him. The majority of Plissken's success is due to luck and circumstance--he only directly affects the story a scant handful of time. But because the character Russell creates is so well-structured and charismatic, we continue to assume he is the hero and not just our P.O.V. It's a trick Russell and Carpenter pull off again in Big Trouble In Little China, and it's a thing of beauty.

7) The reason I like Ernest Borgnine's Cabbie isn't because he provides comic relief in this film. It's because he makes it very clear early on that he's been driving a cab for thirty years...which means he chose to stay in New York when it was converted to a prison. In a film filled with things pretending to be New York, Cabbie is the most authentically New York thing in the place!

"Either I shoot you, or the viewers learn we're in St. Louis...
no one wins, Harry!"
8) I know Donald Pleasance worried about being a U.S. President with a British accent....but I didn't find him out of place. I assumed he was a Bostonian Brahmin--and given his role is smallish, it doesn't detract much at all. Pleasance does manage to walk that fine line of making him callous, maybe even dismissive without being a monster (unlike what we got in the sequel in Cliff Robertson).

9) And I appreciate that this is a political satire where the script doesn't spell everything out for you. We know just enough from the opening crawl to know that this is a country in decline, that things are going to fall apart a lot faster in the future, and that this is where we may be going. And I equally appreciate the fact that pay off of this film utilizes a musical, subliminal call for looking to the past to erase the disasters that could be forthcoming.

10) I gotta be honest...for a film that's supposedly action oriented, there's a lot of clunky action. The whole fight scene with Ox Baker's Slag is particularly awkwardly staged, as is the 'firefight' on the World Trade Center and, well, pretty much every fight in here. If it wasn't for the physicality of Russell, I suspect we'd look on these set pieces a lot less kindly.

Overall...a film that is pretty ungainly, but is well-redeemed by a whole raft of great characterization and a subtle script that spreads its satire lightly and not with great nasty gobs of stuff falling all over itself (unlike the sequel, which maybe I'll get to one day).

Thursday, July 12, 2012


"Sarah Jane, in recognition of your long service to the series,
we're going to make you dress up as an infantilized tomgirl..."

"Eldrad must live!"

1) And now we're at the end of the Tom Baker/Elisabeth Sladen/Philip Hinchcliffe era. And it's to the credit of Hinchcliffe that he acquiesced to Sladen's wish and not killed her off (like the original, French Foreign Legion themed final story was supposed to) or married her off like so many other female companions, but left her wandering down the road whistling a jaunty tune. That being said....

2) YE GODS, what an awful outfit she's saddled with. I kinda understand why they seem to have infantilized Sarah for her final appearance--namely to emphasize the creepiness of her possessive self--but that thing is just heroically ugly. At least she got rid of the even more ugly headband she sports in the open quarry scene.

3) I like how the script by Bob Barker and Dave Martin, knowing that one of the key players is at the end of her journey, seems to gleefully play with certain tropes, starting with the idea of starting their adventure in an actual quarry as opposed to a quarry masquerading as a distant planet and ending with the punchline to Sarah's final scene.

4) I personally like the concept and design of The Castrians, especially the first version of Eldrad as played by Judith Paris. I think it's the first time we've had the idea of non-carbon based life forms outside of psychic/energy intelligences like The Nestenes and The Mandragora Helix. Plus it allows the script to give us something of a cue in the language that The Doctor Knows What's Going Down with Eldrad' in episode four.
"I know there are men who find 'baby blues' attractive...but not
usually when they're glowing like that."

5) Now I know there are moments where we're to infer that Sarah's being particularly put upon (her being controlled by Eldrad being the biggest one), but I have to confess that even seeing those moments the final blow-up that prompts the departure of Sarah Jane seems....sudden and out of place. This might be because Sladen reportedly didn't want Sarah Jane's leaving to be the center of the story, but the story is very Sarah-centric, and even then it seems like an abrupt decision on her part.

6) Given the slightness of this story, Baker and Martin manages to give every character a little screen time, right down to the demolitions guy in the quarry and the doctor who checks out The Doctor after the fact. None of these guys seem rote stereotypes at all.

7) ...although my favorite of these one-off characters is Glyn Houston's Professor Watson. Houston takes what could've been an off-the-peg administrator and give him a nuanced life. It helps that he has loads of chemistry with his assistant, Frances Pidgen's Miss Jackson, although my favorite scene with him involves his placing a call to his family. He never actually tells them of the seriousness of the disaster, but Houston's physicality sells the point a hundredfold.

8) I actually find the ultimate fate that awaits Eldrad when he tricks The Doctor and Sarah into returning to Kastria kinda bittersweet but satisfying. The whole idea of this monstrous figure all alone on a dead planet he wished to turn into an army bent on war, surrounded by all his inventions designed to make that happen, is very fitting. The added chase afterwards seems...gratuitous after the elegant closure to the story.
"Dude, that is the crappiest corn costume I've ever seen."

9) With all this being said, and with the understanding that this is a script that features chunks that were improvised or worked out by Baker, Martin and script editor/compulsive rewriter Robert Holmes, I have to express some dissatisfaction at the reprise of the gauntlet structure we saw previously in Pyramids of Mars. This is a sad ghost of the puzzles and traps of that story, although I will admit that I liked the idea that The Doctor and Sarah are immune to many of the traps because they're, you know, not silicon-based.

10) If the reason for ending their partnership seems arbitrary--after all, The Doctor thinks nothing of dragging Leela to Gallifrey in The Invasion of Time less than two seasons hence--the possessions Sarah packs seems even more arbitrary. A single flower? A tennis racket? She can't be carrying too much clothes in that little suitcase.

Overall...while it has its flaws, this is a great send-off to one of the greatest companions of all time. Essential viewing.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ten Statements About....THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)

Unlike in previous films, this relationship works....
"Your boyfriend is a man of many masks.  I get that."

1) I don't mind Andrew Garfield as the new Spidey; I think he gets the gawkiness of the character down cold, especially in the scenes where he interacts with Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy. The only real problem, although not a fatal one, is that the film is working so hard to distance their Peter from Tobey Maguire's Peter that he comes off as too cool. We never quite buy him as the put-upon nerd who needs Spider-Man to escape into.

2) Denis Leary rocks the house every time he walks onscreen as Captain Stacy....and one of the strengths of his performance is how the script takes advantage of Leary's onstage persona to define him, while allowing Leary himself to infuse the character with a degree of intelligence and respect. My only regret is that the script chose to saddle him with the role usually assigned to J. Jonah Jameson, which robs him of what made him compelling in the comics--namely, that he was smart enough to figure out that Peter and Spidey were one and the same long before Peter suspected.

"Raaaahr!  I's a monsta!"
3) Okay, I like that this film chose to take a page out of the Raimi films in casting character actor Rhys Ifan as The Lizard. And I acknowledge that many of the elements in his story arc are elements taken directly from comic stories regarding the Lizard. However, this script cannot seem to decide whether Curt Conners starts out his story arc as a corrupted individual or if his intentions are pure, albeit twisted by the influence of the Reptile serum. The story and his motivations tend to be muddled with every plot point that is introduced about the character, which robs the film of a proper narrative flow. That being said....

4) The collapsing of The Lizard's origin into Spidey's works a Hell of a lot better than the tinkering that connected The Green Goblin to Spidey in the Raimi film. Overall, the changes to the origin as a whole make the film tighter and more logical in its pace. Even the way the script chooses to dispense with the wrestling angle while still making wrestling a part of Peter's inspiration streamlines and strengthens this section of the character's arc.

5) This film has no sense of New York geography whatsoever. This is the kind of topsy-turvy world where apparently Forest Hills is recognizably Brooklyn (Peter even takes the Q train home, a line that never stops in Queens). Hell, the flick so fetishizes the Oscorp Tower that no other place seems to exist in its world....

6) ....and while we're on the subject, I call for a ban on action scenes on New York bridges in super-hero movies. As good as the scene is where Peter has to save a boy from a car suspended from the 'Williamsburg Bridge' (obviously the Queensborough Bridge, incidentally), the stuff that happens before and after is dull and uninteresting. It's become a trope that desperately needs to be retired.

Of course, after seeing what Chris Nolan is planning to do to our spans in the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, I see this is a futile effort.

7) That being said, I like how Spidey's saving of the boy Jack pays off during the climax, with Jack's Father (played by C. Thomas Howell) actually using his position to help him get to Oscorp Towers. This little subplot makes the same point that those scenes of New Yorkers sticking up for Spidey in the Raimi films did, but in a way that keeps the narrative flow moving rather than pausing it.

8) It's obvious that Columbia has seen the success Marvel Studios has had with the creation of its movie-verse and wants to make one of its own....but it's doing so clumsily. The rather hamfisted mentions of Norman Osborn throughout practically scream out 'this is for another film! Green Goblin here!', and the post-credit scene is horribly mangled. You know, if you want us comic geeks to recognize the presence of a new character, it might be a good idea to actually give us something of a clear shot of him!

While Andrew Garfield and Sally Fields are in the scene,
Martin Sheen has flashbacks to trying to raise Charlie....

9) The interesting thing about the use of Martin Sheen and Sally Fields as Uncle Ben and Aunt May is how the film once more goes out of its way to try and make them nothing like the Raimi versions of these characters--and yet here it works. You get a definite sense of what these two people were like in the past, and how their strength and sensitivity manages to inform and support the person Peter is. I certainly get the impression that the stories we'll be getting with Fields will be the kind of thing we couldn't get with Rosemary Harris....although I could have done with a little more subtlety as to their hinting at May knowing Peter is Spider-Man.

10) I get that Peter feels responsible for Conners' transformation into The Lizard....however, I do find it peculiar that the first half has Peter searching for the robber who killed Uncle Ben pretty incessantly, only for that whole aspect of his character drop once the actual super-villian-y aspect of the film kicks in. One of the primary things Peter learns in catching the robber is that revenge is not a proper motivation...and this iteration of Peter never learns it. It's a strange, strange thing to have disappear during the narrative.

Overall...even though it spends far too much time establishing that it's decidedly not the Raimi films and is confused about what it ultimately wants to accomplish, it's okay for what it is, thanks primarily to strong central performances.

Went to The Atlas again. Since I hadn't been at the theaters for a while, most of the trailers were new to me save for the one for The Dark Knight Rises, which continues to fill me with ennui. Oddly enough, the one that got me the most excited was the one for Pitch Perfect, a comedy about the collegiate acapella scene. And I will not mention the Firstlook speil about Elementary that only served to make me mad with every mention everyone in the cast makes about how this idea of a modern day Sherlock Holmes has never been done before...

Fuck you, CBS.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ten Statements About....HAPPY GILMORE (1996)

"I'm Adam Sandler...and I'm Product Placement's Little Bitch.."
"Just stay out of my way... or you'll pay! LISTEN to what I say!"
"Hey, why don't I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What'd ya say?"

1) I think the saddest thing about this film isn't that it's arguably the best film Adam Sandler has done on his own (as opposed to those films, like Punch Drunk Love, where Sandler is an actor in a project conceived by someone else), but that the best film he did on his own was only his second film overall.

2) ...and another sad thing is how the Sandler formula is firmly in place this early. There's still some wiggle room, but all the earmarks of a 'classic' Sandler movie are there: the shameless product placement, the grotesque supporting characters (many played by his former peers on Saturday Night Live), the cameos by sports figures (what the Hell is rationale behind Lee Trevino sorta stalking Happy and shaking his head?), the awkward romantic arcs....

3) but one of the things that does make this film work is how Happy actually has a character arc that he completes. In the opening montage we are presented with his character flaw, a character virtue (his love of his grandmother), and a physical problem he needs to solve by overcoming his psychological problem (regaining his grandmother's house). We're also given small indicators that Happy has positive character traits, as when he sticks up for the homeless man at the country club and hiring him as his caddy. It's these things that are usually missing from present day Sandler films, and it give us identification with him and reasons to root for him.

Adam Sandler may be making all the cash...but the guy on
the left is the true star of this film
4) God bless Christopher MacDonald, who is to the 90's what William Atherton was to the 80's--namely the perfect asshole-as-comic-foil. His Shooter McGavin is so absolutely smarmy and nasty he actually invests us with even more of a desire to see Happy win. And even better, none of his plans to thwart Happy are unrealistic; because they're the sort of thing you imagine a golf pro would think of, it enforce the reality of the world, even with the unrealistic elements contained within.

5) ...and speaking of unrealistic elements, I have much love for Carl Weathers for taking a silly grotesque caricature in Chubs and making him into a three-dimensional human being that genuinely cares for Happy and his talent. Having him disappear about halfway through for the sake of another Lee Trevino gag (at a point where the non-sequitorial nature of Trevino stalking and disapproving of Happy has begun to wear) is a shame, but while we've got him he manages to help carry Sandler when he's clearly incapable of carrying a movie.

6) Man, is the product placement dripping off this film. Every single one of the stops of the tour is sponsored by a different company, whose symbol is plastered all over the place (I particularly cringed at the Pepsi ball that seems to have been placed for no reason whatsoever next to Happy and Bob Barker save to remind us who paid for this scene to be shot)...and then we get the insane Subway product placement, which includes not only a mock commercial, but actual lines of dialogue insisting that it's the one thing that makes Happy...well, happy, and an obtrusive t-shirt he wears throughout the third act.
I admit it...I post this picture because it makes me laugh
inappropriately...make up your own caption....

7) The main reason I decided to dig this out of my collection is the presence of Julie Bowen, who plays Happy's romantic interest Virginia. Bowen's still at the beginning of her career, where she has yet to grow into her face....and she has the weakest character arc. It's like the script sets up obstacles, yet doesn't figure out how Happy can overcome them--so they just gloss over them to move onto the next plot point. Bowen does what she can with this thankless role, although she can not hide its very artifice.

8) While I know Bob Barker's extended cameo is usually the one everyone remembers, the one I think works the best--to my surprise, given how much I disliked him when he was on SNL--is Kevin Nealon's new-age golf pro. Not only is the advice he gives genuinely amusing in its gobbley-gookiness, his supportive reaction to Happy's behavior adds as perfect punctuation to the scene itself. Why future cameos aren't nearly as effective in Sandler's films is baffling.

9) While I appreciate Joe Flaherty's presence in the film, his is another role where the script kind of doesn't know what to do with him after the initial sequence with him. When he does show up a second time, totaling his car in such a way that it sets up the final set piece, the script doesn't allow it to follow the character to his logical conclusion--namely Flaherty, either consciously or inadvertently, helping to confirm Shooter's duplicity.

10) While he does aquit himself well in the film, there's still a sadness at seeing Richard Keel in here playing one of Happy's former bosses. He looks pretty ragged even at this point, where he's still mobile...and knowing how his body was about to complete its rebellion against him, well....'s aged a little badly, its adherence to what we now know is The Sandler Formula damns it a little bit more, and yet it still has a capacity to make me laugh at spots.