Hey kids and cats, it’s me, Ynce Iche! It’s time for a fun and exciting journey to my favorite destination, the Movie Misery Corner. I’ve spent more time watching movies I hate so I can do what I love, which is write these articles.
All of you nice folks at The Avocado have read and commented on the work I’ve posted, and sometimes you say extraordinarily nice things about it, which I appreciate. I might be a failure at academics, social interaction, and having a positive relationship with my parents, but at least I can glean validation from strangers online by dunking on The Angry Birds Movie.
In a weird way, I’m okay with that, despite how pathetic it sounds. I have the rest of my life to figure out what I want and find people I like spending time with, and I swear to god, when I turn 18 I will leave my parents’ house like I’m a rocket exiting the atmosphere– on fire and with a lightweight aluminum frame (note: I had to Google “what are rockets made of” for this weak joke).
But no matter what choices I make, I’ll always have this tangible journalistic record of being a teenager with too much time on his hands, caring more about bad movies than some of the people who made them.
I’m not sure what that really means in the long run, but at least I’ll have these articles until this website gets shut down or the internet explodes. And unlike almost everything I do, that fact makes me feel kinda good about myself.
Note: Unlike the two “Movies I Saw In 2017” Misery Corners, which also contained short reviews of multiple movies, this one does not have a unifying theme or purpose. It’s just full of assorted garbage, the article equivalent of the dumpster in my neighbors’ alleyway. Empty Dominoes pizza boxes and… empty packages for the components of a tropical fish tank? What the hell are their lives like?
It would be an understatement to call this movie bland. It’s a beige folding chair, it’s a strip mall parking lot, it’s a saltine cracker with no salt. Evan Almighty was directed by Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a film I recently wrote an article about.
And yet, I didn’t watch it as part of some kind of perverse Tom Shadyac film festival. I put it on because my brother, my mom, and I were disagreeing about what to watch, and Evan Almighty contained recognizable actors who none of us hated. I’m pretty sure that this is why the movie was made, since it seems to have no higher ambition than to blend into the background and completely fade out, having made zero impression but still hopefully having gotten your money.
It didn’t even succeed at that goal, given that it didn’t make back its sizable budget and was apparently at the center of a controversy regarding treatment of the animal actors in the film. I didn’t know either of those things until just now, when I opened Wikipedia, so I hope you can all forgive me for not staying up to date on all the hot fresh Evan Almighty news.
I mentioned the actors before, and those actors are Steve Carell (who plays the titular Almighty), Morgan Freeman (who has the role of God, technically the character who is actually almighty), and John Goodman (as a crooked congressman).
Morgan Freeman is the only one who seems to be trying even a little bit, and his portrayal of capital-G God is duly charming with a dash of mild sass. Carell and Goodman clearly don’t give a shit about the film or its story, but neither do I. They play the broadest possible interpretations of their assigned archetypes, “harried family man doing his best” and “rich, powerful environment-hating nastyman” respectively.
It’s taken me a while to get to the plot of the movie here, but I don’t think that said plot will take me very long to summarize. Evan is a newly inducted congressman, under pressure to be friendly with the established congressman played by John Goodman.
He is being asked to sign a bill that will open up parts of a national park to commercial development, and isn’t sure whether he wants to do so. Aside from that, God appears to him and tells him there will be a great flood and he needs to build an ark. So Evan is under a lot of stress. He also grows a long, Bible-style beard that he can’t shave (in addition to other physical changes) because apparently serving God is like being Santa Claus in the movie The Santa Clause.
Anyway, he needs to learn to respect all of God’s creatures and spend more time with his family, and also learn to build a big wooden boat, the latter of which he somehow grasps much more quickly. There is one funny moment in the movie, where birds flock to Evan in his office while he is greeting Goodman’s character.
A wavering smile plastered on his face, he says that the birds are trained. “See? No matter what I do, they… won’t move.” It’s all clean, good-natured stuff, and the religious evangelism is blessedly minimal. That didn’t stop me from wishing the filmmakers had been washed away in a great flood.
Sue me, I liked this movie. Sure, its plot is implausible on many levels and riddled with holes, and the jokes aren’t always the sharpest, but damn if it isn’t fun. Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell play overprotective parents who have gotten their daughter into a good college.
The college is Bucknell, which the movie has decided is a heart-stoppingly amazing school. I mean, it’s better than I could do, but it isn’t fucking Harvard, and the movie trips the “this college paid us” wire a little too often. In general, The House comes off as a movie that would be a lot better were it less beholden to the craven requirements of corporate filmmaking by committee, or at least a lot weirder and nastier.
Buried somewhere in this bloated, uneven film there’s a kinetic, off-kilter satire about the insane cost of college in the US and the insane things people will do to defray that cost. In the context of this movie, one of those things is opening an illegal casino in the basement of a friend’s house.
The friend is played by Jason Mantzoukas, and he’s funny as hell. He’s a recently divorced gambling addict trying to win back his money and his wife by going all in on his homebrew casino scheme, and Mantzoukas plays the desperation inherent to the character for all it’s worth.
Poehler and Ferrell bring less pizzazz to their roles, but they at least seem like they’re having a fun time being in the movie, which is more than I can say for Steve Carell in Evan Almighty.
The plot sorta feints in a bunch of different directions and never chooses any of them. The central trio starts an underground fight club/betting scheme, and the movie briefly seems like it might be about the sublimated aggression endemic to residents of the suburbs, which is overdone but still not a bad premise per se.
Then, they’re threatened by a gangster because they’re horning in on his game, and I expected to be in for wacky organized crime hijinks. The plot thread that closes out the film, but is by no means actually very important to most of it, concerns a member of local government who has been embezzling money from the town’s local college fund/waterpark money/listen, nothing they intend to use it for is a thing funding goes to in reality or makes much sense.
In between the parts of the movie where plot occurs, the main characters manage their casino (how they afford the entire elaborate casino setup and get it into the basement is never discussed), eat a fancy dinner, and wear ridiculous outfits. Also, they chop a guy’s finger off and set another guy on fire, but it’s okay, those were criminals, so there are no legal consequences. That’s how it works, right?
Anyway, the local government guy busts the casino and takes all the money, which he stashes in the town hall instead of a bank account or something. I think he either plans to give the cash to his mistress or pay back the town so he can conceal his wrongdoings, but I legitimately forget which. Whatever. Is The House good? Well, no. Not really. But Jason Mantzoukas is great in it, there’s a steady stream of silliness, and if you’re having a rough night you can just switch it on and sorta let it sink into your eyeballs. For that purpose, it works.
Most of the discussion surrounding Pottersville doesn’t explore whether the movie is good or bad, because its badness is self-evident. People usually prefer to discuss how the goddamn film got made, a line of discussion which is its own kind of fruitless because there’s no explanation that makes sense.
If I meet God when I die, my question for him will be “What are all the factors that led to the existence of Pottersville, the complete film as it was released to the public?”, and I will press him for details until he either answers every possible query or sends me to hell. The movie stars Michael Shannon (I don’t know what the filmmakers had on him, but it must’ve been bad) as a man who goes on a bender when he realizes that his wife is cheating on him. During this drunken evening, he acquires a gorilla suit, and wears it around town in the titular Pottersville.
He is mistaken for Bigfoot by other Pottersville citizens, and the town becomes moderately famous as the home of a Bigfoot sighting. Now, you might be thinking that this sounds like a pretty run-of-the-mill comedy about a quirky small town.
And it is that comedy, but with a separate and completely batshit movie stapled onto it. See, the Shannon character’s wife isn’t just cheating on him. She’s having fursuit sex with Ron Perlman. For those of you not in the know, that means they hump while dressed like cartoon animals. By the way, Ron Perlman was a producer on this movie.
Anyhow, the fact that the wife is a closet furry doesn’t actually become of any plot importance, so a) either the filmmakers thought it was unbelievably hilarious, or b) this furry adultery scenario happened to someone in real life, and this is their way of processing their emotions about it.
I hope that b) is the case, because that would be way, way funnier than anything in the movie Pottersville. I mean, the furry subplot/running joke/potential expression of a personal vendetta probably is the funniest thing in the movie, to some degree because the situation is inherently humorous, but largely because it is so utterly out of place.
For both reasons, the dull-as-rocks story concerning “Bigfoot” bringing a monster-hunting show to the town doesn’t hold a candle to Ron Perlman saying “I’m a furry and proud of it!”.
As a furry myself, I’d like to respectfully point out that most of the animal costumes in Pottersville are very poor in quality, and actual fursuits are usually much nicer. They’re also really hot and bulky, so while a lot of furries fantasize about boning sexy animal people, most of them don’t actually initiate sex while they’re in their giant mascot outfits.
There’s not much more to say about Pottersville otherwise, despite the fact that a fair number of well-known actors are stranded in it. Besides Michael Shannon and Ron Perlman, the film features Christina Hendricks, Judy Greer, and Ian McShane. The director, Seth Henrikson, apparently made a bunch of Christmas movies before making this one, and Pottersville is also sort of a Christmas movie when it isn’t too busy being about public drunkenness, reality TV, and furry sex.
It’s probably better to read about the movie than see it, since it’s more interesting as a bizarre cultural object than a movie. The production company Wing and a Prayer Pictures oversaw the film’s development, and to quote The Simpsons, “The wing was on fire and the prayer was answered, by Satan”.
7 Chinese Brothers:
There are no brothers and no Chinese people in this film, as far as I remember. I have no clue why it’s called 7 Chinese Brothers, so it must be a reference to something I don’t understand. Something not in the film. There are a lot of things not in this film, like interesting performances, a coherent plot, or sympathetic characters.
I understand that 7 Chinese Brothers is a lowkey indie comedy, one that works outside the box and has no truck with the conventional building blocks of film. That didn’t make it suck any less. It’s one of those movies where a depressed man (Jason Schwartzman, who at least makes him convincingly irritating) who hits up relatives for money, meanders around, is in a romantic relationship, and then isn’t anymore.
Larry, our hero, specifically takes money from his grandmother, which is somehow even sadder than if he were freeloading off of his parents. His character traits are that he’s an alcoholic, he talks to his dog (which is cute for the first ten seconds of the movie), and appears to have never had a meaningful human relationship in his entire life.
He gets a job at a car service place called Quick-Lube, and crushes on a woman coworker. This movie received middling, even occasionally positive reviews, and I can’t imagine why. Sure, the film and its universe are intentionally insufferable, but it is exasperating to watch a man onscreen who barely even maintains the energy level necessary to hit on women and work his incredibly simple job.
None of this story would be interesting even if it had happened to a friend of mine, so why would I want to watch it as a movie? Like most bad movies, this movie has one good scene, which is when Larry butchers the song Diane Young on karaoke. Unfortunately, the ability to watch people do shitty karaoke is not a rare opportunity. There’s a subplot about a previous coworker wanting to get back at Larry for keying his car, which isn’t very funny and mostly makes the main character look like a douche yet again.
If any of his problems, literally any, weren’t caused by his own laziness and poor decision making, that would… that would really help, okay? Speaking of which, the best friend in this movie is a womanizing asshole, and he still can’t make Larry seem palatable.
7 Chinese Brothers is only 76 minutes long, so of course it like 76 hours. Watching it feels like you work at the knockoff Jiffy Lube with Larry, who is telling you about the events of his everyday life. You desperately want to clock out and go home, but you can’t, because this is your job. It’s not your job to watch 7 Chinese Brothers, so I’d advise you not to.
I’ve mentioned this movie in passing before, but I haven’t gone in depth on it for y’all. And as we all know, nothing demands analysis as much as the multilayered work of art that is White Chicks. The funny thing is, that’s actually somewhat true. White Chicks is pretty interesting as a snapshot of early ’00s weirdness.
The clothes, the eyebrows, the music, the popularity of Paris Hilton. It’s not an era that period films generally like to turn back the clock to, since in a lot of respects said era was terrible. One of those respects is the movie White Chicks. Despite that, I think this film might one day be useful as a part of American cultural history. Don’t get me wrong, though, the day will not come when it’s worthwhile on any other level whatsoever.
The movie features two black men as main characters, in this case FBI agents and brothers. They are Marcus (Marlon Wayans) and Kevin (Shawn Wayons) Copeland, and despite being high-level law enforcement officials, they don’t seem very good at their jobs. Well, that part’s realistic. The crux of the film is that they disguise themselves as white female party girls, wearing makeup and prosthetics that catapult them straight into the uncanny valley. That’s the only part anyone remembers, presumably because it’s the only unique thing about the movie.
The rest of it is just cut-off pieces of other comedies, expertly blended into a flavorless slurry. We get girl bonding comedy, except that two of the girls are actually men. We get romantic comedy, we get marriage comedy, and we get cringe comedy.
All of these various aspects of the film roll pretty much effortlessly along a road of cliches paved long in advance by other, better comedies, only hitting the occasional speed bump put in place by the movie’s ridiculous central plot conceit. Also, there are a few homophobic and transphobic jokes, since when you have men dressed as women in a movie those things come with the territory.
These jokes are obvious and lazy. An investigator sniffs a pair of panties worn by the disguised Copelands, only to find out seconds later that they were worn by a man. He recoils in disgust. The wife of one of the Copelands finds him in a hotel room with his disguised brother.
Upon being informed that her husband’s seeming mistress (all of the people in this movie are legally blind or extremely oblivious, so they don’t note the obvious rubber masks worn by the FBI agents) is actually a man dressed as a woman, she assumes they are gay and gets even angrier.
This type of humor is the only thing about the movie that’s offensive, since the opinion that whiteface is racist continues to be exceptionally ill-informed. Still, the people shocked by the whiteface angle are probably what got the movie made, and in turn what got the movie the attention of the public.
Without it, White Chicks would be immediately recognizable for what it is: a poor-quality retread of Big Momma’s House. Nobody wants their movie to be described as a worse Big Momma’s House, but as a pseudo-critic I consider it my personal calling to speak the truth, even when that truth is self-evident to anyone who has seen or Googled both films.
The FBI agent brothers are originally meant to be watching the sisters they’re impersonating, rather than dressing up as them. They’re bodyguards, assigned to escort them to an important party and protect them from a reportedly impending kidnapping. The girls refuse to attend the party due to minor facial injuries sustained in a limousine fender-bender, so the clear solution is for these two tall black men to act as two small white women.
Well, it’s a clear enough solution that someone thought of it and decided it would make a funny movie. They discover the kidnapper, have misadventures with a group of rich young white women, and appear in a fashion show. If this sounds like it’s up your alley, go ahead and watch White Chicks, and never read my articles again. Well, you can still read them, but I want you to feel a little gross while you do it. You owe me, because I had to see it three times before finally getting to deliver this hot take.
That’s it for tonight folks, and I’ll see you in the next installment of Ynce Iche’s Movie Misery Corner. Know any bad movies you’d like to see covered? Tell me about them in the comments!