January 23, 2004

Having just finished watching Bend It Like Beckham, I was reminded of my promise to bill stars for bad movies they're in. I should probably re-word that sentence. Bend It Like Beckham was not in any way a bad movie. In fact, it was a surprising gem of a movie. It was original, honest, amusing, and well-acted. I think the fact that it could have gone either way was what brought my promise to mind more than anything else. Keira Knightley (and we have an Elf connection!) was the reason we got it in the first place but there are numerous reasons besides her to admire it. So Bend It Like Beckham is a winner.

And now in the Non-Winner Category, the nominees for Most Appalling Waste of Time and Energy are...

Tears in the Rain
It's a Sharon Stone drama. I like Sharon Stone. I know a lot of people doubt her abilities as an actress and instead like to classify her as somewhere above "nude sculpture" and below "B list" but that would be a mistake. She's riveting in Casino. She made Basic Instinct the hit it was. And she's wonderfully spare and raw in The Quick and the Dead. Tears in the Rain, however, is none of the above. It's just plain terrible. The script plays like a rejected Danielle Steele novel and the production value is of a sort of variety telethon or after-school special quality. I sat through the entire thing because I figured it was a form of penance. Maybe I was being punished for liking Basic Instinct so much. Who knows? All I know for certain is that Tears in the Rain really did live up to it's title. I felt like sobbing from the start.

Beautiful Joe
Maybe it's Sharon Stone's lot in life to make one brutally horrid movie for every hit in her career. It could be that she's been cursed by some form of ancient film evil to fulfill the world's quota of bad movies. Or maybe her karma is so powerful, since she's a diva, that it drags all the rest of us down with her. Either way, Beautiful Joe is just vomitous. I think it was something to do with a dying florist pursued by the mob because Sharon's character owed money or something. She had kids, too. A white boy who never spoke and a black girl who spoke too much. Eventually, after more bad wigs and lines than is humanly possible to detail here, Sharon falls in a sort of love with the dying florist who lives. And the movie, mercifully, ends. It's so bad it makes Tears in the Rain look like a good idea.

The Haunted Mansion
Eddie Murphy has made a lot of dreck in his day. Based on the strength of his past achievements, however, you can forgive such tepid fare as Daddy Daycare and The Nutty Professor 2. I mean he did Raw. And Beverly Hills Cop. He achieves a sort of harmonious balance in his career. Good and bad, yin and yang, it's all okay. Until The Haunted Mansion. So preposterous is this movie that it actually manages to make the Disneyland ride look realistic and Terence Stamp look pointless. It's a love story, a ghost story, a comedy, and a whole lot of bad special effects left over from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Eddie Murphy wades through the slop with an expression that says he knows it's a bomb in the making but instead of shutting down production he just keeps over-acting in a vain and agonizing attempt to make it work. The Haunted Mansion is a car wreck. It's just shattered glass and blood-letting all over the place.

These three movies were so bad that I vowed it wasn't enough to merely purge the memories and spread the word on the celluloid sins committed by Sharon and Eddie. No, I need reimbursement.

Sharon Stone, for the atrocities of Tears in the Rain and Beautiful Joe, you owe me. At least the price of both rentals and a little pain and suffering thrown in. I would settle for a good movie. Either way, I'm collecting. Make something that doesn't birth in me a desire to impale myself on my letter opener.

Eddie Murphy, for the mindless horror that was The Haunted Mansion, you owe me. At least the price of admission for both myself and Homie who suffered along with me. I would settle for a Porsche. After the last five movies you've made, I don't trust you to make a good movie so no settling out of court. Admission or Porsche. Pay up.

Bill Gates has a new plan to make spammers pay for their online sins by installing, by the year 2006, a spanky new software that will track and charge random email sent unsolicited to consumer accounts. How on earth he's going to actually track web activity with enough accuracy to pinpoint and invoice mass-mailer accounts is beyond me but it's a secondary question to how the hell he'd ever enforce the bills once they're sent. Who will collect this mythical money? All of that is really beside the point, however. The point is that if Bill Gates is planning it, there must be something to it. Either it's a really bad Microsoft idea or he's found a way to become whatever comes after multi-billionaire. The theory is what interests me. Because if Bill Gates can bill spammers, I should be able to bill celebrities for wasting my time with their ill-planned drivel. You see where I'm going with this? What we need is a visionary like Bill Gates to plan how to charge celebrities, producers, and directors for their stupidity. Then, at long last, I would be vindicated.

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