ROCK STAR (2001)

Directed By: Stephen Herek 
Written By: John Stockwell
Cinematography: Ueli Steiger 
Editor: Trudy Sharp 

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Dagmara Domincyzk, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Matthew Glave, Michael Shamus Wiles, Beth Grant, Stephen Jenkins, Jason Bonham, Jeff Pilson, Zakk Wylde, Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick, Amy Miller, Rachel Hunter, Heidi Mark, Carrie Stevens, Carey Lassard, Kristin Willits 

The lead singer of a tribute band becomes the lead singer of the real band he idolizes.


This is a film built off of wish fulfillment and watching the life and fantasy most members of the audience dream of, sort of like those entertainment shows that show you the houses and yachts of celebrities to impress you even though you might never actually get a chance to actually see or experience it and better yet this is based on a true story.

So while the film is showing someone else living it up. It feels within arms reach for the audience. Like voluntary torture with a story. A real-life fairy tale with a moral to it.

It’s the old talented being careful what you wish for because you get what you want but you might not be prepared for what it entails and what you have to do to maintain it

An all-American dream movie that shows the dark side and in the end is a happy ending that lets the hero stand on his own Terms. Yet ends up feeling cheesy

Mark Wahlberg is strong. Here as the devoted fan and Everyman who won’t bend in his fandom and cover their songs but when he gets the chance to be part of them finds he has to constantly make compromises

He sees the dark side of stardom and the same type of doctoral behavior he had with his cover band he notices it’s the same way in the actual band

There are many scenes showing the access of rock-star life the lifestyle and legendary parties but also the toll they can take and how they can change you and practically make you a slave or zombie to it. Change who you are and who you are to people how flexible your morals can become

Jennifer Aniston is sexy but  the outfits they give her are made to be flattering but they also, unfortunately, show the limitations of her body and for some odd reasons  make her appear older than Her co-star

This is one of the folks that showed his appeal and has a prepared audience for his more Everyman appeal yet who they would want to Be. Watch him have good times and imagine themselves there.

This seems like a film that would have more of an impact when it is set more in the 1980s or even 90s to show how bloated that period of time was. Watching it now it seems to deliver more an obvious message as well as trying to be a kind of throwback that feels out of date and a satire with little to say about the time. Instead of just throwing in hooked jabs of Jokes

The casting of Mark Wahlberg seems ironic considering his past as an overnight music star as Marky Mark in his teens. So while his character here is in a different genre of music. You can’t help but think if he dealt with some of the same issues when he was a music star rapper.

Based on a true story it stays entertaining and funny at parts but seems to try so hard for something that is more of a minor tale. 

Though pretty much of ItMs time and more disposable back then. This film plays much better over time. Still ridiculous but more heartfelt. An earnestness of the modern era That is kind of missing in most modern films of these times. 

Grade: C+

WILLY’S WONDERLAND (2021)

Directed By: Kevin Lewis 
Written By: G.O. Parsons
Cinematography: David Newbert
Editor: Ryan Libert

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlee, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill

A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.


This is obviously a film that throws many winks to the audience and expects the audience to know what kind of movie this is.

Nicolas cage gives a wordless performance. Where he comes off like the man with no name. So he seems almost like a western character of sorts. A drifter who wastes no time on any character development. 

His character never seems surprised by anything that is going on. He keeps working showing a strong work ethic and moral code to a degree. As long. As it doesn’t interfere with his breaks. As he more fights them in self-defense than seeking to stop them.

His presence makes sense with this kind of film, but cage seems barely invested. 

There is barely any blood if there is it is darker, So that it looks like grease or oil representing blood. So not too gory. 

The stereotypical teens make it feel like a true horror in the fact that most of them are here only to be victims. Whose fate we know is coming. 

It’s a horror film yet the killing/death scenes don’t even feel notable or original. It comes across as workman-like and so basic. it just comes across more as means to an end 

The film is not expected to take seriously, more random than the recent THE BANANA SPLITS movie. Which more had something to live up to and something to prove. 

The film seems to have lucked into star casting to anchor an audience for a film with more expectations. 

The film comes off as more ridiculous than scary or even noteworthy violent. As everything feels strangely expected or goofy 

The film is obviously lower budgeted that it feels more like a first film or DIY passion project. One that you never take seriously.

One expected more from the film. As the film comes off as a mainstream Troma film only minus the nudity and sex jokes that This film might even be too tame for them. Even as it feels like a UP ALL NIGHT movie that is trying to be a cult film. 

Like an attraction that knows it’s bad and has little to offer. So it tries to dress it up with a star as best it can to bring in an audience. 

Grade: D+

WELCOME HOME, ROXY CARMICHAEL (1990)

Directed By: Jim Abrahms

Written By: Karen Leigh Hopkins Cinematography: Paul Elliott

Editor: Bruce Green

Cast: Winona Ryder, Jeff Daniels, Laila Robins, Frances Fisher, Dinah Manoff, Thomas Wilson Brown, Graham Beckel, Stephen Tobolowsky, Robin Thomas, Beth Grant, Heidi Swedberg, Carla Gugino, Ava Fabian

 Although Roxy left town more than fifteen years ago, her memory has never faded. Her expected return starts to impact a number of lives, including that of her former partner Denton Webb. But it is Dinky, the adopted daughter of the Bossettis and ignored by most of her classmates as a strange loner, who may be most changed. She is convinced she is Roxie’s secret child.


I saw this movie in a sneak preview when I was around 12 years old. I was very excited to watch it. As at the time I was still nursing a heavy cinematic crush on Winona Ryder after the 1, 2 punch of HEATHERS and BEETLEJUICE. She was my type of lady.

Unfortunately at the time while I thought the movie was ok on the end i found it disappointing, so disappointing I avoided it over the years and considered it a minor failure. She came back later that year with the far better (to me at least) MERMAIDS. starring with Cher and a young Christina Ricci. 

I decided to watch this film once again recently and while it’s still not a favorite. It is more understandable to me now more so then when I was younger. I seemed to miss quite a few things.

Like the lesbian relationship between two characters. That watching it now seems brave for that kind of material at the time. It also explains why the character of Dinah Manoff is so obsessed with Roxy Carmichael’s return. At first thought it was a rivalry and jealousy thing. Now realize it went much deeper than that.

While it follows a similar tread of Jeff Daniels character. His is more understandable as they had a relationship and Carmichael’s relationship with Manoff’s character seems more like a friendship that had a fling. Though both are felt deep and fell hard by this woman and hurt by her leaving. 

At least Daniels character seems to try to get over her by getting married and having children but can’t seem to let her go. So her return makes him kind of obsessed and slowly eats at his wife. Who knows she can never be number one in his heart. 

The film’s clear star is Winona Ryder as even as an ensemble she is in the middle of it all and the film is built around her upcoming stardom

The movie breaks down more into a small town ensemble film. Where we meet many characters and see how their intermix and mingle in this town. As the big event is the return of hometown hero Roxy Carmichael. 

The feelings and situations this creates that ultimately by the end comes to a head but also ends up almost much ado about nothing.

While Ryder’s character is one of many she makes the impression the most as she is an outsider in this town and looking to escape. As she Is adopted she latches onto the legend that Roxy Carmichael has a daughter she gave up for adoption. That she must be her as she is so different from everyone in the town. Even as a boy in town is falling for her but is embarrassed by his attraction because of what his friends might think. Add to it her adoptive parents where only the father seems to get along and care about her. Also the only friend the girl seems to have is a teacher who tries to defend her against bullying. Whereas other teachers turn a blind eye.

Another aspect I never realized was that all of Roxy Carmichael’s songs are sung by Singer/Songwriter Melissa Ethridge who was a rising singer-songwriter at the time and whose music i didn’t notice or become a big fan of until she did the soundtrack for the Movie WHERE THE DAY TAKES YOU. 

Directed By Jim Abrahms who usually directs spoofs and occasionally directs dramas. He gives the film heart and a few laughable scenes.

This film feels more like a novel brought to life. That is entertaining enough even if it Never feels quite like it comes alive. Not does there seem to be a point to it all. Just a slice of life. That tries to be filling but comes off sweeter than anything.

Grade: C+

SPORK (2010)

spork

Written & Directed By: JB Ghuman Jr.
Cinematography By: Bradley Stonesifer
Edited By: Phillip J. Bartell

Cast: Savannah Sthelin, Sydney Park, Rachel G. Fox, Rodney Eastman, Beth Grant, Elaine Hendrix, Keith David, Yeardley Smith, Chad Allen, Richard Riehle

A colorful and foul-mouthed feature musical comedy. A film about a frizzy-haired, pink-cheeked outcast named Spork who is trying to navigate her way through the annals of junior high. When a school dance show provides a chance for Spork to show up a mean girls gang, her trailer-park neighbor steps up to coach her with some “booty-poppin” moves. Featuring a vintage ’90s soundtrack (that includes 2-Live Crew, JJ Fad’s “SuperSonic,” Dimples T’s “Get It Girl”), a score by Casey James and the Staypuft Kid; and extended school hall dance sequences, Spork is a film about standing out and fitting in.

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