Monday, February 28, 2005

Movies, Football - And Anne Archer besides!

You may not yet have seen "Man of the House," which came
out this week, though you probably are familiar with it's prequel
from last year, which was about a college cheerleader who was rejected by the University of Texas.
Now, thankfully, we have a document of some of who made the cut.

I promise that joke (gotta follow the link to get it) is funnier than anything in the movie, even if
you're a Republican.

So what does a Tommy Lee Jones-meets-five-giggly/bouncy/murder-witnessing-Texas-cheerleaders
movie have to offer? Not surprisingly, you get lots of long,
gratuitous leers at a very scantily-clad Austin. Threadgills, Buffalo
Billiards and Mangia Pizza are all pushed up, mashed together and
presented beneath plunging necklines. And there are plenty of slow,
lingering aerial shots of UT's campus, it's form dripping in
lucious see-through sunlight, it's perky architecture poking
through the foliage. Not 10 minutes ever pass without a shot of the
clocktower throbbing upward.
And there's also hot chicks with big tits.

In short, a little something for everyone – except, I guess, for
Republicans (it’s my favorite drum, dammit, and I’m
gon’ bang it).



Actually, the whole affair is about as awful as you’d expect and
might already be gone from your local Cineplex and little missed.
Still, beforehand, I thought it had a chance. Afterall, look at
who’s in it: Tommy Lee Jones as his usually reliable Grim Cop (a
Texas Ranger, no less); Cedric the Entertainer enlisted for comic
relief; and five rightfully unknown actresses charged with nothing more
stressful than looking, preening and bouncing like bimbos. If you need
the plot, here ya go: Tommy’s smileless, all-business cop is
charged with protecting the five girls, who together witnessed a murder
(during official cheerleading duties, no less), and so he goes
undercover as an assistant cheerleading coach.

Put like that, how did it miss?

I thought it was also a hopeful sign that the movie got a real
school – a real big school, in fact – to fully commit to
playing host. Afterall, very nearly every ‘campus’ movie
or TV show ever filmed was set on “California University”
or “Texas State” or “Faber College” or some
such place. Not this one – the movie is, if nothing else, a 90
minute infomercial for Austin nightclubs and UT fan apparel. The UT
band gets two scenes, every key sequence is filmed at a campus landmark
and – for you authenticity geeks – during a UT football
game against Arkansas (in Darryl Royal stadium), the UT running back
gets hit for a loss. They didn’t miss much.

Except, sadly, for jokes. Using generous standards, I counted a
total of four jokes in the whole movie. Two were witless but grimly
determined set pieces that finally drag an ok-I-smiled-for-a-second
grin out of you (example: Tommy gets the cheerleaders to wear more
clothes (“jogbras ARE clothes!” one protests) by installing
a huge air conditioner (refrigerator idea: funny; less skin: not
funny)). But two jokes were shockingly efficient,
here-comes-the-pitch-and-a-long-high-drive-to-deep-center hits. Both,
not surprisingly, were rifs on the movie’s central joke (Tommy
Lee Jones? A cheerleading coach?).

In one, Tommy is pulled, unprepared, in front of a UT pep rally, where
he akwardly addresses a few hundred fans. Holding a candle and clearly
bewildered, he mumbles into the mic that the candle represents, "err,
the spirit of every Longhorn fan that can, err, never be extinguished."

And the candle promptly goes out.

In the second, he tries to awkwardly ask out a hot professor played by
Anne Archer. He has already turned her down once, too concerned with
blowing his cover or (worse!) endangering the cheerleaders, but now his
achin’ heart has reconsidered and he says, well, I wanted to ask
you out before but “it’s just so hard to find time in my
schedule as a, err, assistant cheerleading coach.”

SCREEEEECH- CRASH! WAIT A SECOND!!! Did I just say ANNE ARCHER?!?!?
Yip, Anne Archer, probably one of the top three dignified and serious
actresses in Hollywood, right here in the middle of the swirl. She
plays a literature professor (natch) connected to the plot by the
jiggliest of the girls, who is taking – and failing (natch) - one
of her classes. Or something.

Anne Archer, Tommy Lee Jones and the licensing fee for full access to
the UT campus; I think my instinct was right - somebody wanted to make
a movie here. I wonder what happened?

Well, one clue can be found in the bizarre appearances of current
harmless-funny-black-guy Cedric the Entertainer. Heavily touted in the
trailers, Cedric makes two – or is it three? – bafflingly
small appearances, all of which reek of a desperate, 11th-hour rewrite.

At a guess, I'd say the producers - unhappy with the
Jones-Archer-UT product - decided to pay Cedric for one day of work and
to bolt whatever footage they got out of him onto the movie, regardless
of how bad it matched. Not surprisingly, they ended up with a 2-foot
fin on the back of a Civic. If you pay attention (not that I would
suggest it), you'll notice that if Cedric's tiny appearances - all shot on the same studio set – were eliminated
from the movie, it wouldn’t require a single line to be changed
elsewhere in the movie. Another clue: though Cedric’s cameos
appear at the beginning, middle and end of the movie, he wears the same
outfit in all three and Tommy wears the same thing in two of them.

And then there’s the plot – who shot who, and why and how
it gets sorted out. It’s tedious, sort of obvious but more just
irrelevant. I mean, crooked cops, mob money, kidnapped kids, whatever-
bring back the boobs! To the film’s credit, they avoided the
most obvious possible cliché: the Big Showdown (Tommy-vs-Bad Guy)
does NOT occur in the fourth quarter of The Big Game.

Of course, that would have demanded summoning a realistic vision of UT
beating OU and I guess Spielberg was busy that week.

OK, enough shots at UT’s football program, boob jokes and
pseudo-erotic descriptions of overrated Texas cities. Maybe I should
have quit with the Fahrenheit 911 joke.



"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table."

bang bang bang!,
matt

ps - first-ever use if "natch." yes? no? I'm torn. Wonkette kills
with it but then... she's SUPPOSED to sound like a chick.

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