Backtrack (1990), review of a criminally underrated film.

I’ll admit, the tagline sucks.  It becomes apparent why.

Rated: 3.5 / 5

 

Introduction

backtrack (verb):
1. To go back over the course by which one has come.
2. To return to a previous point or subject.
3. To reverse one’s position or policy.

— The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

This is one of those films not many know about, and if they do know about it they’re probably only aware of the theatrical cut.  Upon my first viewing, that’s the version I saw.  Sometimes the film goes by the alternative title Catch Fire, other times it goes by the intended title Backtrack.  Either way, it’s most likely the theatrical cut (TC).  The Director’s Cut (DC), on the other hand, can be found and can be viewed.  But as far as I can tell, it’s only available on VHS.  It has never gotten a DVD release, let alone a Blu-Ray release.  So I had to settle for lesser video quality, which is a shame because it becomes impossible to make out some text that, while not mandatory to see, would certainly improve the viewing experience.  Also hurts that it’s not available in widescreen unless it’s the TC version.

To make a long story short, the DC is far superior to the TC.  This is a criminally underrated film, underrated because of the ravished treatment it got by studio interference which made it more shallow than intended (to the point where Dennis Hopper demanded his name be removed from it as director).  Also underrated because it is misunderstood, primarily because of the TC treatment, also because few have seen the DC version, and because those who do watch it tend to view it more as a guilty pleasure than anything else (though I will admit, that’s how I initially viewed it until giving it a closer look).

Jenny Holzer reference.

 

Director’s Cut Review

This film is a cry for something different.  A film that is aware of how stale films in general have gotten, which is something more relevant today than back when this was made.  Granted I’m only speaking from my current experience, but I do recall there being plenty of 70s and 80s films that generally had bleak endings and/or formulaic plots and atmosphere/progression that seem to come straight out of an assembly line; the independent film wave of the 90s. had yet to hit, but it was just around the corner after this film’s release.  The statement is made early on with one of the LED art signs which states:

I AM CRAZY BORED AND FAMILIAR WITH THE ENDING

And another sign which states:

I WALK IN AND OUT OF THE CRACKS OF MY SKULL WHEN THERE IS NOTHING

Blatant, literal, with very little wiggle room for interpretation.  This is the art style of one of our main protagonists Anne Benton (played by Jodie Foster).  She specializes in LED light art for politics, personal relationships, cliches, and for statements on the excessives of average people.  LED lights appeal to her because they are familiar, they are everywhere, and people are drawn to them.  Normally they are used for advertisements, for shallow consumption; but she aims to use them for artistic merit.

 

A reference to another artist, Georgia O’Keefe.

But in so making her art so literal, the abstract is sacrificed (to the point where other artists, including one played by Bob Dylan, look down on it).  While her art is easy to understand, her wants/needs/desires are not.  She isn’t truly happy, and she subconsciously wants something different, but she can’t figure this out for herself because she is so literal.

bob13-05
Oh yeah, Bob Dylan is in this.

Opposite of Anne is Milo (played by Dennis Hopper), a hitman for the mafia who also has a taste for the abstract art.  His hobby, when he’s not collecting art, is playing the saxophone.  He knows what he likes, he knows what he desires, but he has difficulty in expressing it clearly.  Thus he plays the sax very poorly, but becomes drawn to Anne’s art style because she can express things so clearly.

backtrack 1
PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT

The film becomes a sort of “opposite’s attract” love story, with a dose of Stockholm syndrome thrown in for good measure.  The plot is about artist Anne witnessing a mob murder, then being chased by the mob, the police, and the mob hitman Milo.  Milo eventually tracks her down, but decides to keep her as his own rather than kill her.  Over time, they both fall in love with each other, and attempt to flee the mob and the police together.  There are a few ways to interpret this, one of which is the happy union of the literal and the abstract.  Of having art daring to try something different, something many may find controversial.  Of having two art forms together that shouldn’t be together, that just don’t match up.  But the thing about art is that it is subjective.  Some will enjoy various forms more than others.  And sometimes the strangest combinations can work.  In the case of the film, the idea that Stockholm syndrome can work; in that regard, I state that this film was ahead of it’s time before Beauty and the Beast made that shit popular.  And come on, not everything can turn out like The Collector (1965).

There is also a reference to D.H. Lawrence in this film, which is ironic not because he expressed similar themes about relationships in his works, but also because his works were also subject to censorship and misrepresentation.  It’s as if the controversy surrounding this film only helps to make its point, though it would be nice if the DC was around in some modern streaming service or on DVD/Blu-Ray so others to appreciate it.

“Passion’s a hard thing to conceal.”

Let’s get back on track here (heheh).  Anne’s LED signs have an affect on Milo.  Signs with messages such as:

LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL

EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU

MEET DREAMS YOU CAN’T RESIST

CALM IS MORE CONDUCTIVE TO CREATIVITY THAN IS ANXIETY

PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT

The art inspires him, makes him want to change his life.  But being a hitman who has difficulty in expressing himself, that’s kind of difficult to do (obviously).  And on top of that, he becomes self-aware at how much he sucks (or more appropriately, blows) at playing the sax.  So he opts for kidnapping her, after being influenced to do so in a manner she mentions in an audio recording he gets a hold of, where she says:

“I don’t know if I can be with people I don’t know, if I’m fit for it anymore.  I’m cut off and I’m losing my connection.  I do have this fantasy.  There’s a man in the dark.  I can see his face.  He’s got a scarf around my neck and I know I’m gonna die.  And nothing else makes any difference.  I realize now that I’m selfish and I’ve always been selfish, and that’s fine.  […]  This time I actually believe I’m safe.  No one knows where I am, and eventually this will all be forgotten, and I’ll be forgotten too.”

So when he comes to kidnap her, he does so in the method she envisions.  He handcuffs her and wraps a scarf around her neck.  He then gives her the choice of being killed by him, or by living, but belonging to him.  She takes the second choice.  Thus Milo is fulfilling a desire within her, while also fulfilling his own desire.  Yet she is against this at first (understandably), and does not warm up to Milo at all for a long period of time.

backtrack 1

But as the film progresses from there, she eventually begins to accept her internal desires, and begins to accept Milo.  The literal and the abstract begin to intermix, and both become more accepting of each other’s views; though they get in an argument over the validity of the way each view art, and how meaningful their lives are whether together or as individuals; it is more-or-less reconciled soon after, as if the film doesn’t really give a shit about that typical moment in romance films where the inevitable temporal break-up happens before the inevitable reconciliation.  The film is attempting to be different after all, and could be said to be somewhat satirizing other films of that type of genre.

Which brings me to the other meaning to be had outside of abstract vs. literal art styles.  As stated earlier, it is a film that cries out to be different because it’s bored with the average Hollywood fluff that comes out regularly.  So the film itself opts to be different, not just with the progression of the plot and subject matter (Stockholm syndrome works), but also changing genres at various intervals.  It goes from being a thriller, to a slow-burn character study, to a teen romance (I’ll expand on that in a moment), to an action shoot-em-up, and having a happy ending in spite of the odds and how it seems to go against what had been built up during the first half (at least on an initial watch; it does fit together when looking at it from a critical stand-point, barring leaps in logic).  It attempts to make it so that either it gives you an ending you don’t expect, or an ending you’re not bored with even if it is expected.

Which brings me to the overall theme of the film, relating to the title Backtrack.  In one sense, it’s about backtracking to what made us enjoy films in the first place at an earlier age at an earlier time.  Particularly that of the 70s, and anything pre-Hay’s Code mid-1930s, and in the modern context, much of what has come since 2012 (personally, I think films have largely lost there edge at some point between 2006-2012, depending on how strict you are about film quality and allowing studios/directors to take chances with respectable budgets).  Just let the film-makers run wild and do what they want how they want, and come what may.  A cry for freedom, for independent film-making.  While the film’s cries may not have been heard, given that it bombed in theaters and was re-edited to make the theme convoluted, if not entirely absent, they were cries shared by others which lead to the indie film movement of the 90s.

The alternative way to look at the term backtrack is with how the characters go from being mature to immature during the 2nd act, primarily during the 2nd sexual encounter between Milo and Anne.  They go from being mature adults, who have been conditioned to lock away all childish thoughts and impulses over the years, to regressing back into a child-like state.  It’s like how college kids (or even teenage kids) who are in one of their first relationships would interact.  How they laugh and giggle, and how they become more care-free about the world (even though the dangers of reality creep in off and on with the mafia goons catching up to them).  They even bicker like teenagers at one or two points.  The backtrack refers to going back from adulthood to childhood.  Because children are more easily pleased, more easily entertained, than adults.  They possess something that is missing from adults which can make them more closed off and isolated.  They don’t have those walls built around them which are slowly but surely built as they age, especially in schools.  It’s something that was preached in Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  To backtrack is to tear it down.  Embrace what allowed you to embrace the joys found in childhood.  It is what can allow you to not be alone, to not become isolated.  But this doesn’t work if it’s one-sided.  Others can only be as accepting if they are just as free of this thought-control.  In order for that to happen, the current life must die in order for the new life to arise, like a phoenix.  The film represents this with the native american ceremony, the burning of the pilgrim, who represents people in general.

And when you think about it, don’t we all have our own innate desires that may be considered abnormal, or even taboo?  Some women want to be dominated by a macho man who can take charge.  Some men want to have a woman in a slave-like role.  Many want to have someone who can change their life for the better, even if it is done in extreme manners that usually only work out well in your head.  Some things that teenagers daydream about.   And in the end, all children enjoy seeing a happy ending.

It is a way of life Anne didn’t consciously realize she wanted.  She finds a piece of pottery under the dirt at this theater house in New Mexico, something she doesn’t understand yet, something she wasn’t actively looking for.  Then later on in the movie, she finds a matching set of pottery in an entirely different location (this may have implications within the literal context of the film, but I’m not sure myself).  Thus she realizes she has found something she didn’t even know she was looking for, which is fixing something she didn’t realize was broken.

One last thing before ending the analysis.  There comes a point in this movie where Jodie Foster’s character finds and cares for a lamb.  I shit you not.  And this came before she did the film Silence of the Lambs.  Good God, how can one not watch this portion of the movie without making jokes or puns?  But anyway, the film makes some symbolism of this by showing a statue of some woman with a lamb at the mob boss’ house, the mob boss being Vincent Price (someone make a Vincent Price as Hannibal Lector meme please, I’m begging ya’).

d8simr

 

Issues With The Movie

Now as great as this all sounds, the film isn’t without its issues (putting aside TC and DC differences).  The helicopter action scene is mediocre at best.  There’s a moment where Milo leaves his sax behind before driving away from the cabin to run from the mafia, yet he has the sax back during the end credits (maybe he bought a new one).  Dennis Hopper may not have been the best choice to play Milo; he’s not terrible, but he seems a little too off and awkward even for his character.  And the ending is a bit far-fetched, but one could argue the reason those mob bosses put themselves in such a vulnerable state is because Vincent Price basically wanted them all to do, along with Milo, and coerced them into confronting Milo on their own.  This isn’t explicitly stated at all, but one could reach that conclusion with the dirty cop twist.  Still, would’ve been nice to have seen that conversation.

Some argue that the film falls apart and becomes stupid during the second half without how the dialogue and character interaction get, but I chalk that up to the whole Backtrack theme.  Of course the dialogue becomes more childish and less intelligent.  They’re backtracking!  As to whether that will be to your tastes, that’s up to you.

 

TC vs. DC

The music is different and far worse in the TC.  Both versions contain scenes that aren’t in the other, though the DC is the overall lengthier film.  Ultimately, the TC tries to make the film out to be some off-kilter action/thriller/romance flick, but it comes off as more awkward than the DC intended, and that’s saying a lot.  At first it sets up the feel that Anne isn’t in to Milo at all, to the point where he rapes her during their first encounter, that she berates him (as opposed to just messing with him in a lighthearted manner) during the second encounter.  Then next thing you know, she’s laughing with him and enjoying herself with him.  It comes out of the blue as opposed to the more gradual development seen in the DC.  Granted, it’s still a strange thing to see, the whole Stockholm thing working out, but at least the DC makes a better effort at it.  And they make it seem like Milo is an expert sax player in the TC, which contradicts that abstract-literal art theme which the TC pretty much tosses aside.  Lastly, they downplay (if not altogether remove) any hint that the movie is attempting to subvert expectations, to be a satire of mainstream film, or at the very least something that attempts to do something different just for the sake of doing something different, making that one of the main messages.  It does so by removing some of the LED light art which spells this out for the viewer.

backtrack 1
‘insert Vincent Price Hanibal impression here’

Take a look at how this scene differs greatly between the TC and DC versions of the film.  It’s amazing how much a difference in editing/pacing/music can change a scene.

 

Overall

Highly recommended movie, so long as it’s the DC version you’re watching.  It’s different and fun.  It’s something wants to be taken seriously, and yet doesn’t want to take things so seriously.  It’s an intentional fun contradiction.  A film made by an adult for adults who want to release a bit of their inner-child, while Joe Pesci is screaming fuck fucker motherfucker and motherfucking every other second he’s on the screen.  Plus you get to see Jodie Foster naked, which is incredible because I didn’t think that was possible.

 

 

PS: It is worth mentioning that the character Anne Benton is inspired off the real-life artist Jenny Holzer, who has been doing similar art styles since the 70s, and is still around today doing her own kind of art as far as I know.  Even the line, PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT is something that made her famous.  Seems as if she had an admirer in Dennis Hopper.

 

PPS: Jodie Foster probably did Silence of the Lambs after this just to spite the film, because she didn’t enjoy working on it.

 

Other recommendations for more on this film:

http://www.stockholmfilmfestival.se/en/festival/1991/film/backtrack

http://regrettablesincerity.com/?p=7151

https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/2018/07/13/backtrack-1990/

https://projectorhasbeendrinking.blogspot.com/2015/09/protect-me-from-what-i-want.html

https://dcpfilm.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/catchfire-hopper-1990/

Mystery Review for Black History Month and Valentine’s Day

So, what to review for this time of the year; this time of the month?  I’ve been pondering a few films to review for black history month; which, to be honest, I think is kind of a stupid thing, because if there’s going to be a black history month, then there should be a white history month, or a red history month, or a pink history month, etc.  Kinda racist to leave all the other races out, don’t you think?  Just have a plain old-fashioned history month!

But I digress.  I could review 12 Years a Slave (2013), directed by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (and no, I couldn’t type that name correctly without copy-pasting it, and I refuse to believe that guy could either until he was in middle school), who was awesome in that one judo movie Redbelt.  But despite the great directing and cinematography (especially that) and acting, it’s just a basic run-of-the-mill slave film that just looks real nice.  It may be basic, but it’s still pretty damn great, but also depressing, so not exactly the most entertaining popcorn flick I’d rewatch often.  But then again, neither is Requiem for a Dream, and that film is pretty damn good too.

I could review Django Unchained (2012), but that film is overrated.  Seriously, it ran out of steam after the first big gun battle.  Even during that sequence, the realism walked out the building.  Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s a Tarantino film that is only similar in name only to the Italian film it ripped off (which I recommend over this), and it’s supposed to be all about the homages, the callbacks, the retro vibes.  Because Tarantino can’t really do anything all that original, though he is capable of writing some absolutely fantastic dialogue.  But that’s the thing.  The whole, “But it’s retro!  It’s supposed to be over-the-top and a bit cheesy and exploitative!” is something I just see as a lame excuse to disguise the flaws inherent in some of his films, mainly with this and Death Proof (despite the incredible stuntwork that film pulled off) and Kill Bill (though I find it impossible to hate those movies despite my gripes).  The difference between his films and those he pays tribute to is that the latter took itself dead-seriously, thinking without any doubt it was the most bitchin’ thing in the world, when it is really cheesy as hell and all the more entertaining because of it.  Tarantino’s films, with the exception of Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, are intentionally designed to give that feel, are very self-aware, which makes it all the more easy to critique and give them hell for it.  It’s a bad excuse to let realism get thrown to the wind during Django Unchained’s last 20-30 minutes, especially when Tarantino’s films (at least prior to Kill Bill) were firmly grounded in realism.  Plus I have reason to believe this is one of the films, if not the film, that started the whole white-guilt/black-power element that’s been plaguing films in a negative way since then, though not all are bad.  But I’ve rambled enough about that with this paragraph, so I’ll just end it by saying this movie was meh.

I could review Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, except that I already did that.

I could review Super Fly (1972), which is a fun movie, but not THAT fun.  Sure it has a hilarious chase scene where you can see the camera cord bounce in and out of frame off and on (stuff like that brings a smile to my face, at the very least, when watching these old 70s blacksploitation films), some somewhat amusing fight scenes (especially the hilarious finale fight), and a smoking hot bathtub sex scene.  But all in all, it’s just a slightly above-average flick with a lot of big lull points with some sparse entertaining bits here and there.

I could review Shaft (1971), arguably the most famous blacksploitation (the spell-check wants me to auto-correct that word to “transplantation”) film of all time, especially with that kick-ass theme music, plus those pen metaphors for colors; but that would be too easy.

I could review Black Dynamite (2009), but that would also be too easy, even if it is one of the only films I’ve seen next to Bruce Lee’s Game of Death that has a nun-chuck vs. nun-chuck fight against Michael Jai White and Richard Nixon, but I think that reason is enough to convince you of how fucking epic that movie is, and is mandatory viewing.

I could review Black Panther (2018), but fuck that.

Nope, not going to review any of those.  I’ve got something else in mind.

From 1992,

the one,

the only,

the legendary…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could’ve saved this for April Fools, but then you would think this is a joke.

Rated: 3 / 5

“Wherever there is a male race, or lifeform in the universe, that is oppressed by females, we’ll come and free them, for a gay universe!”

“Oh it’s real!  It’s damn real!”

Yes, this movie exists.  Yes, it was made to troll the shit out of people.  And yes, I’m trolling the shit out of you too with this review.

So the film begins where Star Wars and Star Trek began, in space, in the universe.  A calm peaceful universe where men are free to live and express themselves freely, and watched over and cared for (in more ways than one).  The gayniggers (the film title indicates that is one word, the narrator speaks as if it’s two separate words, but I’m just going to go with the one-word format for this review) come from the planet Anus, a “male only” world.  They pilot a ship, with crew members named ArmInAss, Captain B. Dick, Sgt. Shaved Balls, Mr. Schwall, and D. Dildo.  They come across Earth, and are ready to not pay it much mind until they find out there are “female creatures” on the planet, which makes one of them ask, “What in the phallus is going on down there!?”

So they go down to Earth determined to save men from the oppressive females (probably because the #metoo movement caused them to take over the world, and eliminated honey badgers in the process), and start by killing hookers in some city.  Then they start killing females in Russia, a country who’s language is incomprehensible, and is untrustworthy.  Then they go to Asia, where the women, and I quote, “eat with branches, have yellow skin, and are very unfriendly.”  Then they go to Germany to eliminate females, who are all blonde and hate dark skin.  Then they go to America and kill Mr. T’s girlfriend, then ArmInAss tries to fist Mr. T, who then gets angry and squeezes his tight muscular buttcheeks together and rips his arm off, which causes him to get welcomed onto the ship as a replacement crew member, with the new name M.B. Cheeks.  And after all this, one stays behind to lead the Earth into a peaceful gay future.

Oh yeah, and speaking of arms in asses, did I mention there’s a “Holy Asshole” that they stick their arms into?  And that one of the gayniggers transforms into a white European?

It’s worth mentioning that this film is intentionally badly dubbed, in that the voices don’t always sync with the lip movement (to say the least).  The music can be decent (and funky) at times (even if it steals the theme from S.W.A.T.), and the narrator has a nice ASMR voice (pray he never uses it on you, or else you’ll get to relaxed and then Surprise!  Butt-sex!).

goodbye white pride

So I guess the theme to take away from this movie is that it’s ok to be gay, learn to live without women, and should women start oppressing men, pray to the stars and then gayniggers from outer space will show up and blast women into oblivion and make men not be such pussies anymore (the world belongs to the dicks and assholes).  Happy black history month, and happy valentine’s day.

Ladybugs (and a bonus mini) review

90s rated: 2.5/5

2017 rated: 3.5/5

So my initial interest in this film drew from information I had gathered that this is one of Rodney Dangerfield’s best films, the others being Easy Money and Back to School. But when the film got going, all of a sudden I found another reason to get into it. This film also has the kid who played “Stuttering” Bill in the 1990 It miniseries, Jonathan Brandis. I kept waiting for this kid to stutter, but unfortunately he never did (except for maybe one brief moment in one scene, but that doesn’t count).

Anyway, this movie is a bit bizarre. It seems like it should be a kid flick. It’s constructed like one. Has plot developments like one. Has that 90s kid stuff that makes it seem like one. But it ends up being as much of a kid flick as Game of Thrones is a porno. Sure the latter has some nudity and sex scenes, but that hardly qualifies, even during the first 2 seasons. As for this film, oh man, the dialogue and content are way out there.

She seems pretty concerned doesn’t she?

Where to start? Oh let’s just start with the fucking swearing. There weren’t any fuck-bombs dropped, but they sure let loose with everything else. Asshole, son of a bitch, blind bastard, a girl soccer team called the beavers, bullshit, shit, and bitch are all words uttered at one point or another during the film’s runtime. I mean, I guess I could’ve taken a hint early on by seeing that the film was rated PG-13, but why look at the rating when the poster looks so family friendly?

Now if I was watching this in 1992 (or during the 90s in general), I wouldn’t have thought much else about it. Yeah it had Rodney doing his one-liners (most of which are definitely PG-13 rated), but it also has typical 90s kid hi-jinks and some painful attempts at comedy. If you’ve seen enough 90s films aimed at being comedies, especially the kid ones, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The sort of stuff that if you’re kid talked into seeing today, you would be thinking, “Christ, why didn’t I get an abortion?” It would be one of those films you wouldn’t think to much of after seeing it.

However, this isn’t the 90s anymore. Today’s cultural climate is different (for the worse) compared to that of the 90s. Stuff that was typical and moderate back then is considered far too extreme and offensive today. That isn’t a good thing under almost every circumstance I can think of, but one way in which it is a good thing is that it got me to enjoy this movie more. Back then, it was just a so-so comedy elevated by Rodney Dangerfield’s presence and dialogue with a couple decent morals, marred by some painful attempts at comedy (not all attempts are painful, but there’s enough to make you hurt). By today’s standards, this is one of the most politically incorrect sexist racist perverted stereotypical homophobic films ever made. Not to mention Rodney Dangerfield plays the dirty creepy old man angle so well it would make the Japanese proud. It turned me into one happy masochist. I tolerated the painful moments just to be showered in the anti-PC nature of this film. How the changing of times can make one appreciate things of the past.

Anyway, the plot of the film.  Rodney Dangerfield plays the main protagonist who works for a company that he wants a promotion at.  And he’s not the most pleasant fellow around, he’s a womanizer, and spouts one-liners that put everyone down, of all ages, genders, and races.  And that’s part of his charm, because I’m not going to lie, as despicable and politically incorrect the jokes he makes are, that’s what makes them so funny.  Like much of the stand-up humor back then, the jokes were so shockingly outrageous and offensive you just had to laugh at them.  But in any case, he’s despicable, and is willing to stoop to despicable levels to get his promotion.  So he winds up coaching a girl’s soccer team in the hopes of getting them to win the season.  And he knows jack-shit about soccer, much less how to coach a soccer team.  And as to be expected, the team sucks.  They play like shit and couldn’t win a game to save their lives.

It’s at this point you would be able to guess correctly exactly how this film is going to go from here.  The team is going to learn to overcome their differences/obstacles/lack of talent, they’re going to get better, and they’re eventually going to come out triumphant.  And that does happen, but it’s how it gets there that makes it interesting.  Rather than Rodney mustering up the willpower to read the Soccer rulebook (which his black assistant played by Jackée Harry is at least willing to do, even if I’m pretty sure she doesn’t finish it), or do better coaching, he decides to take his stepson, who is a talented athlete but has issues with authority, to dress up as a girl and join the team and get them to win more often.  Let the tranny and sexist jokes fly (let alone the pedophilia)!

“Oh how I want to tap that young manly ass.”

Oh yeah, this film got fun real fast.  It makes bearing through the “90s painful humor” bits worth it for all that gets unleashed.

Oh and don’t worry.  There’s room for racism too.  Like this discussion between Rodney and Jackee have about sports:

“You know that black people are the best at sports, c’mon! We’re the best runners, the fastest runners, the best at track. We’re the best at baseball, the best at boxing, the best at basketball, football. Hey, you name it! ”

“Eeesh, black people are best at sports. Are you kidding? How about hockey? And waterpolo? Fencing! Best at sports… hey, badminton! Yachting! Best at sports… Oh, I forgot fox hunting! Best in sports…”

And this other moment when their Asian goalie blocks several ball shots, and Rodney says something along the lines of, “She’s become the Great Wall of China!”

I love this film, in all of its anti-PC glory as much as I hate political correctness with all of my little black fucking heart.  The film and Rodney let these jokes fly not giving a single flying fuck about who (or what) it would offend.  Even to the very end (even if the last joke is really stupid), do these jokes continue.

But anyway, back to a more serious note (yeah right), Jonathin Brandis disguises himself as a girl named Martha at the behest of Rodney so that he can teach the game to get better.  However, because the stepson is a selfish prick, he’s all about himself during the game.  Playing on his own, scoring on his own, leaving the rest of the team in the dust and getting pissed at them when they’re not playing on the same level as him.  Basically acting the same way he would when playing with the guys.  On top of that, he rarely puts forth the effort to disguise his voice as a feminine voice, and often still yells around like a dude.  But eventually, he learns to be less selfish, starts teaching the other girls how to play better and function as a team, and by the end they are able to play fine and win games even without his help.  In fact, the final game of the film is played entirely without him.  Have to admit, for such an immoral film, it actually has some decent moral lessons in it.  It’s all brought to light with an inspiring speech by Rodney near the end:

“You don’t need a boy to help you win! You’re women! You don’t need anyone! You’re liberated! You got the vote! You can burn your bras! When you get them!”

Plus he even learns to value those around him rather than his promotion in another fairly decent speech.

“The best, the best. That’s all I keep hearing. You want to be the best. Let me ask you this, what good is being the best if it brings out the worst in you?”

Granted, the last moment of the film pretty much pisses on all of those good morals for the sake of a cheap laugh; but hey, at least they’re there.

But anyway, going outside the box for a moment, this also reminds me of other issues today.  Of guys not only disguising themselves as women, but identifying as a woman, on and off the field.  Like that transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and an actual transgender soccer player Miranda Salman, among other cases.  Plus the 2018 Olympics should be interesting since they’ll freely allow transgenders to participate in whichever gender section they feel like, regardless of how they were born.  The point is, as this film shows, and as other real-life cases have shown, men tend to be better than women at sports.  Sorry ladies, but it’s a fact.  You can wipe the floor with us at college studies and the mental games, but we tend to be dominant when it comes to physical sports.  It’s just not fair (and biology proves this) for people born as men to compete in a women’s sports division.  It’s unfair to the other (naturally born) women.  Most women aren’t like Chyna damnit!

That being said, this isn’t the only soccer film to do this concept, and it pretty much fires back against that last paragraph you just read.  Over 10 years later, and a similar plot would be used in another movie, but with the gender roles reversed.

Now, by the end of Ladybugs, I was reminded of She’s the Man.  I remember watching it many years ago, remember thinking it was a so-so film, and didn’t think anything of it afterwards.  But now that I’ve seen Ladybugs and have been reminded of this film again, and have seen some of the comments made about this film in more recent years, comments long the lines of, “This movie invented [modern] feminism.”  In this movie, a girl decides she wants to play soccer in the men’s division at college, and so dresses up as a guy to fool everyone.  And it pretty much goes the same as in Ladybugs, a soccer ball to the crotch joke, a love interest, everything working out in the end.  So I rewatched it, and determined that there wasn’t enough material there for a big review.  Like Ladybugs, it also has annoying humor.  And the first 15-20 minutes is fucking agonizing in that film, it made me question my tastes in films a decade ago.  Then some familiar faces start to show up.  Like, “Hey, that’s Vinnie Jones!  Hey look, a young Channing Tatum!  Hey look, that Jewish guy who shows up in films like this!”  The humor in the film is nowhere near as great or memorable as in Ladybugs, but there’s enough there to keep the movie going once it gets past the first 20 minutes; and then I was reminded of why I didn’t think it was all that bad back then.  I mean, it does have a moment where, when they discover the protagonist is carrying tampons (while she’s playing a dude), she uses the excuse that she shoves them up her nose when she gets nosebleeds, and Channing Tatum takes the advice later on.  There’s also a scene in a pizza restaurant that worked better than I thought it would.  And the flashing at the soccer game.  But then there’s the fact that the protagonist falls for Channing Tatum rather than that hot chick who was into her.  Come on, they were a better fit for each other.  Let the girls kiss each other damnit!

“Kiss her!”

Other than that, it does have a couple characters who pretty much say what I stated earlier about men being superior to women in sports, only a lot more assholish about it.  Because, you know, yay feminism!  Even so, I kinda wonder if even this film would be made today with dialogue like this:

“Listen, I know I should have told you who I was, but I was afraid. I’m sorry.”

Well, you know maybe if I had known you were a girl, we wouldn’t have talked like we did, and got to know each other the same way. And that would’ve been a shame.”

“Just so you know, everything you told me when I was a guy, just made me like you so much more as a girl.”

“Ok, but just from here on in, everything would just be alot easier if you stayed a girl.”

Then again, there is dialogue like this:

“Just remember, inside every girl, there’s a boy. That came out wrong but you know what I mean.”

Honestly though, the movies not half-bad once you get past the first act.

So, back to Ladybugs, some of you outraged fellows may be wondering how it is I could enjoy such tripe as Ladybugs, wondering why it is I haven’t moved on the the immature and intolerable 90s era.  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I’m sick and tired of the safely manufactured and sterilized humor of today.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against safety PC humor in of itself, but only so long as the unsafe homophobic transphobic non-white-phobic humor is still around in other films, which they’re not, nowhere near the extent of stuff like this.  “But isn’t that a good thing, like moving on from The Birth of a Nation films and such?”  No, it isn’t, and here’s why.  Today it’s considered ok (ie open season) to make fun of straight white people.  Today it’s not considered ok to make fun of anyone or anything else (just ask Milo Yiannopoulos).  Worse yet, it’s become taboo, to the point where it can’t even be discussed with people why it should or shouldn’t be ok to use this type of raunchy humor.  And lest we forget, that’s all it is, humor.  It’s not meant to start a gender/race war with anyone, it’s made for laughs (cheap or otherwise).

“But these jokes put those people down as being inferior.”

All jokes do that!  Every funny joke is done at the expense of either some individual or some group of people!  And I’m not biased, I love seeing jokes made at my expense, at white people’s expense, and at straight people’s expense (let alone at the pervert’s expense).  But I want to see jokes fly everywhere at everyone.  In fact, I think it should be mandatory for everyone to be made fun of at some point in time.  It makes them learn how to deal with insults and such (and if they’re quick-witted, they may learn to deal a few of them back), and they learn how to toughen up and not let it get to them.  Or maybe it does get to them and they end up committing suicide.  Didn’t say there weren’t cons, but the pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned, because the alternative is a lot fucking worse as I’ve seen.

“But they should never be put down!”

Says who and by what authority and what logical reasoning?  Let me provide some insight into what some legends of the profession have to say about this (not George Carlin, I’ve used him enough for now):

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Brooks stated: “We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy.”

“It’s not good for comedy,” he added. “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

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PS: Honestly, I wasn’t planning on ending this on a rant about the current state of comedy.  But sometimes, that’s just the way things go.

 

PPS: Oh, right.  She’s the ManRated: 3/5