Tuesday, January 16, 2018

VHS Review: 'Our Friend, Martin' (1998)

Revisiting one of the most ubiquitous Black History Month video cassette staples in the annals of American public education (and yes, it does indeed play fast and loose with the historical accuracy, in case you were wonderin'.)

By: Jimbo X

I don't know how you folks spent your Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but if you ask me, there's only one proper way to get our collective Kangs on - and that, of course, is with a screening of the 1998 straight-to-video cartoon Our Friend, Martin.

What, you've never heard of Our Friend, Martin before? Well, if you grew up in elementary school America between the years 1999 and 2005, odds are your local public escuela/indoctrination factory made you watch it at least once a year (if not to commemorate MLK Day, than certainly as filler come Black History Month.) Now, I was in middle school and on the verge of entering high school when the straight-to-video offering was initially released, so I just missed out on this particular early aughties phenomena. But judging from the way the Millennials talk about this 'un on Reddit and 4chan and YouTube, I'd feel pretty comfortable labeling Our Friend, Martin as their generation's The ButterCream Gang - that weird piece of ubiquitous pop cultural ephemera that not only is inextricably tied to one's public education experience, but seems to only exist within the vacuum of elementary school nostalgia.

Even now I'm not sure exactly who bank rolled this thing, or what they're agenda was, or if they even suspected the damn tape would become a VCR staple in every primary school in America for at least half a decade. Whoever it was, though, they had to have had quite a bit of loose change to throw around, considering the staggering number of A-and-B-list celebrities lending their vocal talents to the production. Ed Asner, Angela Bassett, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Ashley Judd, Susan Sarandon, Jon Travolta, OPRAH - hell, they even got Urkel to show up for a day or two in the recording studio to voice a teenaged MLK. It's undoubtedly a star-studded production, and the fact that this thing never made it to TV (or even basic cable, to the best of my knowledge) makes its existence all the more perplexing. I mean, you'd think PBS, if nobody else, would've tried to wrap their mitts around this one, but no - apparently, Our Friend, Martin went straight to video and - for all intents and purposes - just stayed there until YouTube and DailyMotion came along.

And if you've never seen it before, well - consider this in-depth review/analysis either a late MLK, Jr. Day gift or a really early Black History Month present.

The film begins with a title screen for DIC Entertainment, who is best known for producing half of every cartoon made in the 1980s (Nelvana, obviously, did the either half.) Some organization called I.P.M. gets secondary billing, but I have no idea who or what they are. And no, a quick Google search turns up nothing of use, even when you use "Our Friend Martin" as a Boolean assistant. We get this really, really cheesy R&B song as the opening credits rolls, and even better it's called "When We Were Kings" because fuck, sometimes the universe just makes things TOO easy for us.

No, this is the film at its absolute subtlest.

The movie begins proper with these two black kids standing in front of rubble that magically transforms into a fully built house. Oh, and one of them transforms into Martin Luther King, Jr. after entering the Stargate, so there's that.

And because this shit isn't late 1990s enough, we have ourselves a secondary title theme performed by Salt N Pepa, which sounds more like something to bump uglies to than something befitting of a children's animated program. From there, we are introduced to our antagonist, Miles, a precocious black kid who idolizes Hank Aaron, has a nasty ass bedroom and calls his mama "a slave" because she actually wants to work overtime at the office. (Oh, and as an aside, we never see Miles' father in the cartoon. Yeah, that revelation shocked the shit out of me, too.) Then she tells him if he doesn't get his grades up, he won't be able to play baseball and become rich like Barry Bonds and will probably end up slangin' crack down at the Waffle House down by the I-285 interchange. By the way, this kid's house is NICE - we're talking two stories, stairs, a basement, an attic, the fuckin' works. As a matter of fact, one might even call Miles - dare I say it - privileged?

In the next scene Miles is accosted by this fat blond white boy in a purple belly shirt. Eventually the bully, named Kyle, grabs hold of Miles at the bus stop but the old white bus driver almost runs him over and Miles is just barely able to escape. "See you, wouldn't want to be you," Miles says, which, for the record, was an antediluvian phrase even by 1998 standards. So Kyle's dad - voiced by John Travolta of all people - has to drive him to school. Which, fittingly enough, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. From there, we're introduced to the rest of the cast. There's this skateboarding kid with a country accent (voiced by the little kid from Sling Blade, if you can believe it) and this stuck up Hispanic bitch who considers herself "Madame Curie" and the rest of her cohorts "The Three Stooges." Miles' teacher (whose race is a complete mystery - she could be Dominican or she could be Irish) then tells him she's worried about his slipping grades and he blames it on baseball season. Then he says the only way for a black person to make money in this day and age is through sports or entertainment, and then the teacher says something about Colin Powell and tells Miles that if he doesn't do a good job on his book report about Martin Luther King, he's going to be held back a grade. 

So anyway, the kids go on a field trip to MLK's birth home, and Whoopi Goldberg is the tour guide and the country skateboarder kid LITERALLY asks her if MLK had magical powers. Then Miles sees a photo of MLK as a kid playing baseball and Miles says "why the fuck NOT steal a revered civil rights leader'  baseball glove?" But as soon as Miles puts it on, Wish Kid-style, he and that country motherfucker are magically transported back to the 1930s. Sure as sugar, they run into 12-year-old MLK, whom Miles describes as "major magic time," which I have to admit, does roll off the tongue rather smoothly. Oddly enough, even though it's Atlanta in the Great Depression, black kids and white kids are playing baseball together, which, I don't know, seems like a bit of a stretch to me. But then a white woman calls Miles "an uppity colored" and tells the white skateboarder kid that if he doesn't clean up his act he'll get fucking lynched.

Miles slips on the glove again and this time around the kids wind up on a train with a teenage Martin Luther King, Jr. King explains how he spent the summer humbly picking tobacco in Connecticut to pay for college, which - to put it mildly - isn't exactly a 100 percent truthful interpretation of what King's ACTUAL youth was like. Then MLK talks about how "whites and coloreds" couldn't associate with one another in the South, while ominous music plays over stock footage of segregated water fountain signs. Then the kids eat dinner with the rest of the King family, and Daddy King is voiced by James Earl Jones, because of course he would. "Don't you think it's cool he's always doing nice things for everybody else?" Miles comments.

Hey, it was either that, or Wayne Williams Junior High.

The kids time-skip once more. Now they're in Montgomery, Ala. for the bus boycott in 1956. And now MLK is voiced by Levar Burton, and we get the NARRATIVE APPROVED Rosa Parks story (which, of course, never brings up the fact that Samuel B. Fuller was already in the process of BUYING the Montgomery bus system), and then we get stock footage of MLK's house getting firebombed. Then a character voiced by Samuel L. Jackson starts rallying the black community to use violence against the honkeys, but MLK tells them to be more like Gandhi instead ... which, uh, means he wants them to hate Africans and sleep with their naked nieces on top of them?

Well, before we can fully digest that peculiar visual, the kids time hop again, and now it's time to relive the Birmingham riots, complete with a montage contrasting cartoons and real people having Dobermans bite their ball sacks and getting hit in the face with fire hoses. The kids end up getting transported back to the modern day, and the next day they watch ANOTHER video about the sit-ins and "Bull" Connor, who is pretty much depicted here as a cross between Hitler and The Penguin. And that's our cue for even MORE footage of black people getting power washed, complete with the very, very debatable suggestion that MLK and JFK formed a partnership for racial justice.

After school, the kids go back to MLK's birth home and convince Whoopi Goldberg to let 'em go back inside and fuck around with the time-space continuum some more. The fat white kid and that know-it-all Hispanic bitch decide to trail 'em and what do you know, all four of them wind up getting sucked back in time to the March on Washington. Oh, and hilariously, the "I Have A Dream" speech is dubbed over, because the King estate actually TRADEMARKED it and make people pay to use it now. That said, you can still have a lot of fun with the scene subbing in your OWN music. Might I suggest "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)" by W.A.S.P.? Anyhoo, the kids run into their future teacher at the rally, and she talks about MLK representing the "power of one" and "affecting change in everyone we touch" and a whole bunch of other hippie dippie bullshit. 

Then the kids hop forward in time and find newspaper clippings about King's death and act like it's the first time they ever heard he died before and decide to head back in time and STOP MLK FROM GETTING ASSASSINATED. "Sorry, that's way past my curfew," MLK tells the kids when they ask him to travel with them to 1999. But after name dropping Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall enough times, MLK finally decides to travel to Miles' time alongside the rest of the chirrens. Except when Miles and MLK get there, the King birth home is just rubble on the ground and the two white kids are best friends instead of being antagonistic towards each other and oh shit, black kids aren't allowed to ride the school bus anymore. Cue stock footage of KKK marches and "colored only" park benches and MLK starts asking Miles some serious questions about why he thinks *his* timeline is so great again. Now cue MORE stock footage of burning crosses and masses of black people weeping. And, then when the kids get to the middle school, all of a sudden it's been renamed "Robert E. Lee Middle" and the water fountains are segregated again and the principal keeps telling them to "git out" and chides the teachers for being "stupid women." And, oh, that Hispanic girl from earlier? Now she's a street urchin who doesn't know English and polishes floors for a living and Miles' mama is a MAID and he's all pissed that he don't have a Nintendo 64 no more.

So Miles and MLK have to sleep in bags on the floor and then MLK sees his daddy's ghost in the clouds and right then and there he decides he has to go back in time and DIE and keep the continuity loop a goin' as originally planned. And holy shit, they actually SHOW MLK getting shot in Memphis. Well, you have to give 'em some props for having the cojones to put THAT in a children's cartoon. From there we segue to footage from King's funeral, but again, since it originally used quips from the "I Have a Dream" speech, all we have here is just dead audio. Anyway, with everything corrected in the space-time continuum, Miles is able to come back to the modern day and yep, everything is back to normal. And after Miles gets an "A" on his assignment, the kids decide to go feed some homeless people and join Jimmy Carter's Habitats for Humanity and hug crippled black women in wheelchairs while a cover "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" plays in the background. And that, my multicultural brethren, is all there is to it.

Hooray for government-mandated inclusionary policymaking, which totally can't be subverted into civil liberties-eroding power grabs the same way government-mandated exclusionary policymaking was!

Well, I guess that is what it is, isn't it? I guess you don't need me to tell you the historical accuracy in this one was hit and miss, and you REALLY have to question the cartoon's rosy - if not downright messianic - depiction of the good Rev. Dr. King. I mean, it's not like they were ever going to show the alleged homosexual drunken orgies or bring up the fact that a lot of MLK's mentors were avowed communists or anything like that, but they could have at least tried to make the guy seem a little more relatable. After all, the REAL MLK smoked, packed heat, and boned at least one white woman, didn't he?

I suppose in hindsight one may consider Our Friend, Martin one of the great pioneering texts of the ongoing "white guilt" complex in American society - especially for Millennials. Remember, this was shit children were seeing every single year throughout elementary school and junior high, and let's face it - the big, central message the cartoon gets across (rather intentional or planned) is that a.) MLK was so great that everything he said most be taken as the literal social gospel and b.) left unchecked, white men will enslave you again and call your mama bad names. Even if that wasn't the filmmakers' desire, that's just the way hyper-literal children think, and when you have that pounded into your skull over and over for nine years, without a single adult explaining the movie's takeaways in a more nuanced form it can and will leave an indelible stamp on one's psyche - and no amount of factual evidence is likely to surmount the pure emotional pull one has felt since he or she was in kindergarten. The filmmakers may have thought the key idea children took away from the movie was that you shouldn't treat people unfairly because they're different, but instead the central theme they're walking away with is "holy shit, white people were EVIL as fuck back in the day, and if we don't do everything MLK tells us to they'll start treating minorities like doo doo again." Just read the comments on this YouTube upload - virtually none of the top comments are about racial reconciliation, but various shades of the old "boy howdy, the whites sure were MEAN towards blacks back then, and you know what, the probably still want to enslave us" chestnut. Planned, or unplanned, that's the major takeaway easily impressionable children got out of this movie - don't judge people by the color of their skin, except for the white ones, because goddamn, look at all the evil shit they did back in 1950s.

As a history lesson, it's pretty much just brazen hagiography for the ankle-biter set, leaving out all of M.L.K.'s more regrettable character traits and pretty much attributing the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement to his doing (that there isn't a companion video chronicling the animated exploits of Malcolm X is a rather telling example of omission by design.) As a morality play, it's pretty humdrum as well, but come on - it's pro-diversity propaganda intended for first graders. What did you expect? And taken only on its merits as animation, it's passable, but nothing extraordinary. The entire time I was watching the video I just felt like the character designs seemed hauntingly familiar, and sure enough, the IMDB validated my suspicions: it was co-directed by Vincenzo Trippetti, who as fate would have it, also served as a storyboard supervisor for The Real Ghostbusters, Jem and Mummies Alive! Needless to say, if there was ever a production in dire need of a sudden guest appearance by Apep the Snake God, surely it would be this woefully uninvolving cartoon.

As a piece of nostalgic ephemera, I suppose it has its merits. Shit, I didn't even watch the thing when I was a kid and I still smelled my old elementary school's cafeteria and gym mats while I was reviewing it. But more importantly, it stands as a testament to the power of the media - particularly animated programming - as a major social conditioning engineer. Our Friend, Martin is unquestionably a production with the chief goal of dictating morality to its young audience. It has little to do with entertaining them, or even giving them an educational history lesson. Rather, it's a coordinated effort to instill in young viewers the seeds of an adult ethos, one that neatly contours to a particular political ideology and its pre-established dogma.

Is the intent of Our Friend, Martin to encourage children to rebuke collectivist labels and see individuals as precisely that, individuals, or is it meant to goad children into believing a one-dimensional social policy creation myth that clearly paints one half of the U.S. social dyad as born losers and the other half as lapsed ethno-totalitarians?

And if you can't figure out which one, no worries - just show this flick to an eight-year-old and they'll be able to tell you which is which as soon as it's over.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

This Week in Social Justice Warrior-Dom (Jan. 15, 2018 Edition)

Trigger warning activated! Our biweekly recap of everything that irked, irritated and aggravated SJWs is back with a vengeance!

By: Jimbo X

One of the U.K.'s most prolific media outlets advocates buying children dildos for Christmas

You know, maybe the name This Week in Social Justice Warrior-Dom just isn't apropos anymore. Indeed, it seems that every week the deluge of progressivist inanity and insanity I trudge through is less a condemnation of the hyper-liberal hivemind as it is firm evidence that Western civilization is headed towards terminal madness and collective cultural suicide. Indeed, mayhap one day, the completed TWISJW omnibus will serve as an unplanned field guide to the decline of humanity as we know it, sort of like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire only with way more grammatical errors and dead URL links. Well, few items as of late prophesy that inevitable downfall of civilization as much as a recent Metro article penned by the publication's lifestyle editor, Ellen Scott, charmingly titled "Why You Should Buy Your Teenage Kids Sex Toys."

No, that's what the editorial board CHOSE to call it. For real. And no, as much as we all may want to believe it's a parody, I assure you - this thing is 100 percent legit. The article went live on Dec. 30, but it's since been pulled from The Metro website - no doubt due to intense public blowback, which I'm sure the publication was no doubt blindsided by. I mean, who in the world would've ever suspected that people in this day and age would be offended by a column advising moms and dads to purchase pocket pussies and vibrators for their underage children? Alas, even though that particular website has tried to scrub the article from their online archive, I had enough foresight to archive the article myself BEFORE it got removed from The Metro. Let's let authoress Ellen Scott take the lead, why don't we?
"...As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your children’s entirely normal exploration of their sexuality is safe, healthy, enjoyable, and in their own hands. You can do that by buying your children their own sex toys. Don’t panic. I’m not talking about getting your son a Fisher Price version of a sex doll or presenting your daughter with an eight inch strap-on on her eighth birthday. I’m talking about a starting point, a way to introduce your offspring the concept of self-pleasure."
Folks, that's literally just the introductory paragraph of the article, and we've already got references to giving dildos to first graders and the coy suggestion that it's a parent's moral obligation to teach their chilluns how to jack off. And if you don't know how to tackle that thorny topic, no worries! There are already "educational" videos making the rounds on YouTube in which moms and dads oh so delicately tell their prepubescent young 'uns the ins and outs of how vaginal lube and strap-ons work. Now THAT is what I call progress, folks.

But surely, Scott - whose Twitter feed, SHOCKINGLY, prominently displays a literal monument to her litany of mental health disorders - can't possibly find a way to go even deeper down the rabbit hole, can she? Oh, how wrong you'd be. Continuing, Scott states:
"When young people aren’t encouraged to think of masturbation as a normal, healthy thing to do, they look for sexual gratification elsewhere – usually at the hands or genitals of another inexperienced person. Their first time is uncomfortable and disappointing, and they’re set up to accept that this is just what sex is like. This is a problem for girls in particular, who are less likely than boys to try masturbating thanks to the shame connected to the act (for boys wanking is seen as entirely normal, whereas girls are still battling the stigma of having their own sexual needs), and later, probably as a result of being unable to learn what gets them off early on, are less likely than men to achieve orgasm during sex. Without early masturbation experiences, the first time young people discover sex is shown to them by someone else – someone who won’t magically know what their sexual partner likes, who’s been influenced by their own experiences, and who could end up delivering a terrible first time. What’s more, if their first sexual experience is with another person, issues of consent and legality come up."
So even in an article advocating parents to instruct their kids how to diddle themselves, Scott STILL tries to position herself in the moral high ground by drudging up all the ways the totally abstract, wholly arbitrary and completely non-existent concept of society makes women feel bad about beating themselves off, complete with a completely explanation-less and evidence-less "correlation" between masturbation abstinence and rape.

But this isn't about sexualizing young children, she defends her column. No siree, Scott's article, she declares, is meant to keep young women safe. And why, oh why, does she think parents purchasing their daughters "legitimate" sex toys will keep them healthy and well-minded? Because if they don't, she warns, they might end up sticking a vase up their hoo-ha and having to go to the emergency room.
"When teenagers aren’t taught about masturbation – how to do it, what feels good, that it’s normal – and given the tools to try it, they reach for whatever objects they think might do the trick. When I was at school I heard of girls exploring their vaginas with hairbrushes (the handles, thankfully, rather than the bristly bits), electric toothbrushes, bananas, and, most worryingly, a shot glass (any kind of fragile glass in the vagina is a terrifying idea). For most of these girls their experiences were just that – funny first-time masturbation trials that weren’t that exciting. But putting objects into the vagina that aren’t designed to be in there can lead to all kinds of worrying consequences, ranging from a nasty infection thanks to the bacterial balance caused by masturbating with fruit, to severe abrasions and injuries that require hospital treatment."
Again, Scott is saying this isn't sexualizing children. I mean, purchasing inanimate objects for their own offspring to shove in their reproductive organs for sexual pleasure has NOTHING to do with sexualizing children, and you'd have to be an evil Nazi Republican Trump supporter to argue to the contrary, you woman-hater, you.

But surely, this whole article - complete with its surprisingly graphic cartoon artwork of female ejaculation tainted panties and a couple engaged in mutual jerkin' it - isn't just Scott griping about her own early sexual preferences and then projecting it as a major moral dilemma for society at large, is it? 
"My shaky attempts at masturbation were dismal enough to put me off any self-love sessions for years. I hadn’t been taught about the clitoris, I didn’t have any understanding of how the vagina worked, and I thought thrusting my fingers in and out would be enough to leave me writhing in pleasure. It was not. If I’d had a sex toy and been given the essential ‘here’s the deal with masturbation’ chat that came with it, perhaps I would have learned about orgasms and my own body a lot more quickly. Perhaps I wouldn’t have gone on to have disappointing sex with no way to express what I needed. It’s a parent’s responsibility to bring up masturbation and give young people the tools they may need to do it safely, because if they don’t, they’re failing to equip their children for a positive relationship with sex."
...oh, nope, never mind. It totally is. But come on - it's not like Scott's asking parents to take 11-year-olds into porno shops to purchase sex toys, is she?
"Buy your child a beginner’s sex toy for the purposes of masturbation. When? Probably earlier than you think – anecdotally, I’ve heard of a lot of people masturbating for the first time at age 11 – but you should be able to chat to your children and suss out if sexual pleasure is even on their mental radar. Buy them the sex toy and give it to them – or take them along to pick out their own – and explain that whenever they’re curious and want to try things out, they’re completely free to use their own sex toy."
You know, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Ellen Scott probably doesn't have any children of her own. And I reckon I'll go out on another limb and say that Ellen Scott will NEVER have any children, nor find a man insane enough to stay with her long enough to even contemplate reproducing with her. And in a way, Scott practically embodies the new Moral Majority of unwed, childless, feminist liberals - the sorts that, without any childrearing experiences whatsoever, feel the compelling onus to tell procreative people how THEY ought to raise their children in a way that projects their own sexual frustrations on them. Thus, instead of The Metro penning columns about how parents can teach their children to be more financially responsible, emotionally stable and logical, they're instead getting literally insane cat-owner spinsters-in-training to pound out clickbait urging mommies and daddies to buy their fourth graders ram rods, butthole oil and French ticklers. 

These are people who honestly think teaching children how to use sex toys ISN'T shamelessly sexualizing children, but some kind of liberating progressivist holy cause. Which, naturally, allows me to wrap this one up with a comment from another U.K. social commentator - heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, who in 2015, stated the following:
"There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia. Who would have thought in the '50s and '60s that those first two would be legalized?"
Well - is he right, folks, or is he right?

California man prosecuted for trolling mosque online

I've always said that if you want to take a gander at America's future, you first take a look east to the U.K. - where people are jailed for posting videos online of their pugs giving Nazi salutes - and then a glance westward ho towards the Golden State - where gangbangers are given a universal basic income just for not killing anybody that month and people with AIDS are free to infect as many other people as they want without fear of criminal prosecution. And hey, what do you know, it looks like wacky old California is the first state in the Union to attempt to legislate U.K.-style anti-electronic hate speech diktats into reality. In 2016, Mark Feigin was arrested by police after he allegedly called a mosque in Los Angeles and left a death threat - which, for the record, has never been released to the public, nor even transcribed, so who knows what was actually said in the call. Secondly, there's strong evidence to suggest that Feigin was not the person who supposedly left the death threat on the mosque's voicemail, which even hyper-leftist multiculturalism-uber-alles champions like CNN have embraced as la verdad. So even after raiding Feigin's home and taking all his guns and finding no evidence that he was dialing up death threats to mosques, the California A.G. is still trying to put Feigin behind bars - this time, for posting mean things about Muslims on the mosque's Facebook page. Anyway, for stating "THE MORE MUSLIMS WE ALLOW INTO AMERICA THE MORE TERROR WE WILL SEE" and "PRACTICING ISLAM CAN SLOW OR EVEN REVERSE THE PROCESS OF HUMAN EVOLUTION" online, the powers that be in California are looking to put Feigin away for quite some time under state penal code 653(m)(b), which is still just a misdemeanor, but COULD be elevated to a felony under - what else? - California's obtuse interpretation of what constitutes a "hate crime." Regardless, Feigin's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the online trolling charges as a violation of their client's First Amendment rights, which, considering the outcome of U.S. v. Popa (in which a Romanian immigrant who called Eric Holder's office and repeatedly called him the "son of a negro whore" was cleared of all charges), seems like a fairly reasonable outcome.

But then again, this is the Ninth Circuit Court we're talking about here. And if there was ever a legal venue in the country that would go full-on Orwell and breathe "wrongthink" into life, it'd definitely be the same line-up of robed jackasses that once ruled the terms "marriage" and "natural family" to be illegal hate speech.

Baltimore reverend blames increase in black homicides on lax police involvement

You might have heard of something called "The Ferguson Effect" before. Basically, it's this theory that ever since #BlackLivesMatter rose to power, police forces across the nation have been too terrified to interact with black suspects, so as a corollary, the number of black people murdering one another in our finest and dandiest inner cities has skyrocketed. Of course, when people like Heather Mac Donald bring this up, the vanguard of the liberal media just HAS to denigrate it as crypto-racist nonsense, even though the actual homicide stats from major cities like Chicago, Dallas and Milwaukee indeed paints a clear correlation between reduced police interaction and increased black-on-black murder. Well, the MSM is going to have a hard time playing the race card against one of Baltimore's most outspoken proponents of po-po prioritizin' P.O.C. patrollin' - the Rev. Kinji Scott, who apparently has done a 180 on the great American black men/police dyad since 2015. Back then Scott lamented the high profile death of Freddie Gray and his similarly deceased black kindred, but now that Baltimore's per capita homicide rate has reached its highest levels since 1993 (this, despite the population decreasing by roughly 100,000 people), he's now demanding that the boys in blue do SOMETHING to keep the vibrant African-American youth of urban Maryland from massacring one another in droves. Indeed, in a recent NPR article, he said that Baltimore's black community NEVER wanted police to stop intervening in the first place - a misconception he pinned on the transferred well wishes of "progressives" and "our liberal journalists." Let's hear the good reverend preach it himself, why don't we?
"...We know for a fact that around the time Freddie Gray was killed, we start to see homicides increase. We had five homicides in that neighborhood while we were protesting ... I look at the conclusion of 2017, these same cities — St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans and Chicago — these same black cities are still bleeding to death and we're still burying young men in these cities ... We need the front line police officers and we need the heart of the black community to step to the forefront of this discussion. And that's when we're going to see a decrease in crime."
Huh. So what's that old saying about not knowing what you've got 'til it's gone? Well, you got your wish Baltimore - and if you'd rather die alone on the streets than live among law enforcement officers, I just reckon that's something you've got to deal with on you own.

Newsweek criticized for tweeting photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s corpse

I think it's pretty safe to say that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the single most revered human being in America. You can go on live prime time television and say "fuck the Pope" or "Jesus takes it up the ass" and nothing happens, but if you dared to raise any questions about King's philandering and confirmed hobnobbing with actual communists, you're likely to lose your job, get blacklisted from your professional field and be forced to beg for forgiveness for the remainder of your life for besmirching the good name of MLK, who is undoubtedly the purest and most decent human being who has ever lived on this planet. And that's a lesson Newsweek learned firsthand earlier this year when they tweeted out a picture of MLK in a casket with the caption "Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin?" Now, for those of you who aren't fucking 70 years old right now, that's a reference to the 1968 Dion hippie anthem  "Abraham, Martin and John," but I'm guessing most of the under-40 Twitter populace didn't get it and simply assumed Newsweek was making fun of God-Man King by NOT displaying him as messianic superhero and therefore, promoting some sort of dastardly, super-duper racist alt-right agenda. Even Bernice King - the daughter of MLK himself, who, as an aside, has made millions licensing her dead father's likeness to whichever gaggle of guilty white liberals wish to exploit his visage - was outraged over Newsweek's tweet, which - not at all surprisingly - was deleted shortly thereafter. Not that it didn't stop white women who look like 8-year-old boys from taking the publication to task - you know, just like the Good Rev. Dr. would've wanted.

Report: violent crime in London almost DOUBLES under Mayor Khan

As the capital of the U.K. - and therefore, the capital of Europe, if not economically, certainly culturally - London is pretty much in the driver's seat of steering an entire continent's financial and social policies. Which is why progressivists in jolly old England are STILL patting themselves on the back for voting Sadiq Khan as London's first ever Muslim mayor back in '16, who since then has saw his humble city - and by proxy, the rest of the country - slowly but surely embrace more and more free expression-squelching legislation as a necessary deterrent to the abstract conceptualization of hate, which is a notion so obtuse even U.K. police have said they have no idea how to objectively define what is and isn't "hateful." Well, new crime stats from the Mayor of London's Police and Crime Office reveal that - despite Khan enacting ordinances that ban "fat shaming" in public advertising and make possession of bacon a felony offense - London hasn't exactly become a safer society under his stewardship. In fact, in just Khan's first two years as Mayor's office, knife attacks, robberies and thefts have risen in excess of 25 percent, while rape and gun crimes have increased 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, total homicides have shot up a remarkable 27 percent, while youth homicides have gone up a dizzying 70 PERCENT. Of course, rather than focus on this incredible upswing in violent crime over the course of just two years, local media is instead zeroing in on the city's 26 percent rise in "Islamaphobic offenses." Which, I think we can all agree, is certainly more troubling than the city government doing Jack Shit about an explosion in juvenile-perpetrated murders and an overall homicide rate that rose a full quarter over the course of only 24 months.

England may become home to world's first vagina museum

Give or take a century ago, Freud coined the term "penis envy" to describe the dual subconscious antipathy women feel towards themselves and their kind, as well as their intense frustration over not having genitals that, if so desired, can be wrapped around just about any cylindrical object imaginable while simultaneously allowing the ability to piss standing up. Well, considering the excessive (if not wholly irrational) "pussy pride" sweeping the nation in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential victory, mayhap old Sigmund might have been on to something. Enter non-testicled Florence Schechter, a 20-something comedian of the Jewish persuasion who has resolved herself to opening the world's first vaginal museum about 50 miles to the South of London. Naturally, Schechter said she was inspired to open the museum after learning of Iceland's world famous "penis museum," which was the focal point of the documentary The Final Member, which she - of course - cites as an example of "gender inequality." Among other eye-pleasing sights, she told The Jerusalem Post her hypothetical museum would feature galleries dedicated to clitoris mutilation and a litany of vaginal infections, in addition to an in-house bakery that will serve guests vulva-shaped cupcakes. Alas, the one thing Schechter doesn't have is the seed capital available to open the museum; we'll just have to wait and see if her feminists pals have enough pocket change to get the project off the ground, but if I were a betting man? Much like a Hillary Clinton presidency, I'd bet the bank that this tribute to twats never comes to fruition.

Germany goes full-Hitler when it comes to new online hate speech laws

Seeing as how old Deutschland is responsible for that whole Holocaust thing, I suppose it's only natural they'd try to atone in this, the current year, by doing everything in their power to suppress, stamp out and generally silence anything that even remotely resembles hateful rhetoric. Well, on Jan. 01, the really, really hard to pronounce Netzwerkdurchstezungsgesetz law officially took effect, meaning all social media networks with more than 2 million users will now have 24 hours to "act after they have been told about law-breaking material" or face fines as high as 50 million Euros. Indeed, Facebook has already hired hundreds of staffers to patrol German users so as to comply with the expansive online surveillance edict, with all the other social media Leviathans like YouTube and Twitter no doubt sure to follow in their footsteps. Alas, some civil libertarians with the audacity to think that one's inherent right to free expression is more important than shielding the easily bruised egos of minorities with special governmental protections have criticized the law as overbroad, with some satire accounts making fun of right wing politicians getting "gassed" for looking and sounding too much like real white supremacist chit-chat. Alas, don't expect German Justice Minister Heiko Maas to overturn their controversial law anytime soon. "Calls to murder, threats, insults and incitement of the masses or Auschwitz lies are not an expression of freedom of opinion," he told the German publication Bild, "but rather attacks on the freedom of opinion of others."

Yeah - nothing authoritarian sounding about this motherfucker, is there?

Confirmed: The DNC tried to bribe women to lie about being sexually abused by Donald Trump

With all this riffraff about still unproven "Russian collusion," it's kinda' interesting that the mainstream media, by and large, has steered clear of making the same ruckus over extremely verified evidence of Democratic National Convention collusion in the 2016 election. Case in point? The newfound evidence that two big time Hillary Clinton donors, David Brock and Susie Tompkins Buell, paid Lisa Bloom - yep, the attorney behind the #MeToo movement - $700,000 in an attempt to bribe a woman to come forward with unsubstantiated (read: fake) allegations of sexual maltreatment from The Donald in the lead up to the 2016 general vote. And - of course - despite being faced with overwhelming evidence that DNC heavy hitters were actively trying to financially compensate a third party to lie about being sexually abused, in a New York Times write-up on the matter writer Kenneth P. Vogel still has the audacity to declare Trump has "fought back by suggesting, mostly without evidence, that their accusers are being paid by Democratic partisans."

Yes, this in the very same article in which Vogel explicitly states Brock and Buell funneled money to coerce a woman to lie about being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. So do these assholes even read what they write before they turn it in, or are their editors so sloppy they don't even catch day one fuck-ups like this? Either way, such editorial execution speaks volumes about the alleged "impartiality" of the media's biggest movers and shakers. In fact, it's almost as voluble as their silence when it comes to the ethical misdeeds on the part of their ideological teammates in D.C., ain't it?

Somali immigrant tries to rape pregnant woman after sneaking into Italian hospital

As we all know, celebrating diversity is the single most important thing we can do as a society, and multiculturalism-worship is such a worthy undertaking that we're essentially required to condemn any and all forms of ethno-nationalism (well, at least one kind of ethno-nationalism) and gently turn the other cheek when people with swarthier complexions commit trifling misdeeds, like running over 100 people with a transfer truck or anally crucifying a 10-year-old. As such, it's probably for the best if we - as a global collective - simply gloss over a rather lamentable episode in Rome recently in which a 43-year-old woman going into labor was sexually assaulted by a 38-year-old Somali immigrant, who apparently snuck into the hospital and stole a nurse's uniform before committing his criminal misdeed ... I mean, unintentionally non-conforming to cultural norms. According to The Daily Mail, the suspect ... I mean, the innocent refugee still coming to terms with the complex, if not inherently prejudicial, customs of Western civilization ... "walked into the delivery room, where he groped the woman's thighs and genitals and began masturbating." Granted, such is a despicable gender-based hate crime when people like Harvey Weinstein do it, but we simply must cut this Somalian some slack. I mean, how was he supposed to know that in Italy, it's considered impolite to jerk off on pregnant women and try to shove your hands inside their vaginas without permission? Anyhoo, the suspect (i.e., victim of white oppression) is now staring down several aggravated sexual assault and theft charges. Thankfully, however, the accused (who has been living in Italy for five years) will undergo a rigorous mental health screening before he stands before a judge; here's hoping the "would-be rapist" is declared mentally incompetent ... and therefore, fully entitled to all of the government hands-out he deserves.

In early Troll of the Year nominee, WikiLeaks publishes entirety of anti-Trump screed online

Unless you've been living under a rock since New Year's Eve, you've likely heard a thing or two about Michael Wolff's tome Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which virtually every mainstream news outlet in the world described as a factual "bombshell," this despite multiple allegations that a large amount of intel in the book is either exaggerated or totally fabricated. Also overlooked by the ever-zealous press? Author Wolff's long track record of alleged journalistic malfeasance, which includes not only repeated accusations of misquotes, but creating wholly fictitious "sources" for his 1998 book Burn Rate. Regardless, the media's nonstop promotion of the book has the tome on track to sell about 30,000 copies during its first week on the racks - this, despite some rather humdrum reviews from The Chicago Tribune and The Guardian decrying the book for being aesthetically unpleasing. Alas, self-described libertarian Julian Assange and his merry band of hacktivists over at WikiLeaks are so committed to exposing the alleged misdeeds and misdoings of the Trump Administration that they've done Wolff one better and published the entirety of Fire and Fury online via Twitter, making it free and available for download to anybody who was aware of its existence on Google Docs before it was eventually yanked down for copyright infringement. While the original link is dead, enough early adopters grabbed the copy when it was live that literally one Google search will net you a gratis PDF copy of the tome - and thus, deprive Wolff of whatever royalties he would've gotten from the $18 MSRP. IF this is a coordinated attempt to hurt Wolf's sales, then you have to give Camp WikiLeaks some dap, 'cause nothing sticks 'em right in the gut like forcing an ideological rival to sacrifice financial compensation for wider public penetration. I mean, if the information therein is as important as Wolff and his supporters claim, than surely, he would be happy that others were gaining said info even without having to pay for it, right? Alas, consumers hungry for some anti-Trump literature may be the ones costing Wolff the most potential profit from his new treatise - as it turns out, scores of would-be readers are actually purchasing a 2009 book with the same title by accident and leaving angry memos online about supposedly being gypped by the publisher. Well, we all know not to judge a book by its cover, but in this scenario, would it be OK to judge a book based on the dumb asses too stupid to figure out how ISBNs work?

... and a few headlines that speak for themselves ...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Double Review - 'The Florida Project' / 'Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle'

In which we take a look back at one of 2017's most brilliantly inventive movies - and one of its most soulless. 

By: Jimbo X

Yeah, this time of year pickins' are quite slim at the local multiplex, ain't they?

Let's take a quick gander at the sheer shit they're playing at the local multiplex. Let's see - there's Downsizing, a movie that's pretty much destined to go in the Hall of Fame of High Concept Movies That Nobody In Their Right Goddamned Minds Ever Wanted To See In The First Place, which you can tell is catered specifically to the white yuppie asshole demographic 'cause the trailers for the flick uses "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads, which is pretty much the unofficial national anthem for white yuppie assholes

Then you've got Pitch Perfect 3, which is about the worst beating of a dead horse my eyes have laid upon since these angry Indian fellows decided to swing a piece of lumber at this poor, poor pony. And then there are those movies so indistinguishable from one another that I honestly have a hard time telling which is supposed to be which. I mean, if you get a ticket for The Star and accidentally waltz on in to Ferdinand or pay money to see Father Figures and watch Daddy's Home 2 by mistake, would you even really notice?

How about that, one local theater is still showing Greatest Showman and another is still screening Coco. But considering the alternatives is actually doing more than one showing a day of Insidious: The Last Key or - God have mercy on your mortal soul - The Commuter, maybe it's not such a negative after all. 

Now I know January has usually been regarded as a theatrical black hole, but hot shit on a Duralog, is this year's slog one of the worst I've encountered in my lifetime. Proud Mary? Maze Runner? Arctic Justice? No, that's OK, I'd rather pay $10 to watch rats fuck down at the dump, thank you very much. And I'll just let you check out the rest of the mainstream docket for yourself - whatever the literary opposite of a "banner year" is supposed to be, it looks like 2018's going to be precisely that for big budget Hollywood movies.

You know, I'm starting to think - maybe this means movie theaters, as a cultural institution - are probably less than 20 years away from becoming obsolete. I mean, think about it - what's the point of spending $40 for two tickets, two Mr. Pibbs and half a box of Raisinettes to watch something that ain't gonna' be worth a toot, no way? With all of these 4K TVs and shit, we've got to be getting pretty close to having IMAX quality shit in our own living rooms, and when that happens there won't even be a point to go to a movie theater no more to even watch those big ass capeshit "event" movies. That's pretty much the only thing keeping Hollywood trucking along these days - those huge franchise tent-pole movies where nerds dress up like Iron Man and Luke Skywalker and spend an outrageous amount of money to watch the same old shit they've seen a million times already, only this time it's while they're surrounded by other nerds who have spent outrageous amounts of money to watch the same old shit they've seen a million times already. It's a group catharsis thing, I think - nothing says "21st century living" quite like the willful desire to amass one's self into a giant, amorphous blob of halfhearted pop cultural mania.

Besides, movie theaters are more of a third world thing nowadays anyway. Here in the States, we've got Netflix and thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can pretty much stream any and every fucking movie ever FOR FREE just as long as we know which sites to use (and more importantly, not use.) That's why you're already seeing Hollywood trying to make inroads in China, India and Africa, where the locals are just now getting disposable income. To us, watching God Particle and Peter Rabbit sounds about as much fun as sorting out our sock drawers, but if you're some 28-year-old in Rwanda or Bombay, you'll gladly fork over the moolah to watch whatever the hell's showing just so you get to experience air conditioning for an hour and a half. The big-time studios have certainly figured this out; they don't need to make movies anymore, just something they can project on a white screen as vivid foreground imagery while guys named Jean Baptiste and Amit try to figure out what sort of sorcery makes the Coca Cola Freestyle machine work.

Long story short, filmmaking - as both an art form and a lucrative business - is getting pretty close to buying the farm. Sure, it sounds a little outlandish to say movie theaters will be extinct in two decades, but you know what else sounded absurd at the time? Telling the folks at Blockbuster circa 1996 they were just ten years away from becoming technologically obsolete, too

The local cinema is dead, folks - it just don't know it yet, even though the stench of putrid movies ought to be the first giveaway for anybody with a working set of olfactory glands and too much damn sense to shell out $14 for a jumbo bag of popcorn.

You know - this trailer may or may not give you the wrong impression of just how upbeat the film actually is.

Still, as long as you don't mind slummin' your way through some of the indie theaters in the hipster part of town, you might actually be able to watch a movie halfway worth a damn every now and then. Take The Florida Project, for example, which isn't just one of the most unique and aesthetically intriguing flicks of 2017, it's easily one of the five best movies of any variety that came out last year.

Now, the name Sean Baker might not ring a bell to most of you, but he's one of the best up-and-coming directors out there. His last movie was called Tangerine, and it's easily the best pseudo-documentary ever made about trannies in L.A. who give blow jobs to Armenian cab drivers at car washes filmed entirely on an iPhone. Well, with The Florida Project, Baker finally got his hands on some REAL equipment, and the end result is one of the most aesthetically amazing independent movies I've seen in quite some time. This motherfucker absolutely NAILS the kitschy ephemera of Orlando - the strip mall parking lots, the gaudy souvenir shops, the beautiful sunsets and especially the pastel sleaze of the motel industry in the outer Kissimmee, Florida area. As soon as we get that lovely close-up of the anti-abortion billboard - overlooking a Sam's Club, naturally - you just know you're in the hands of a filmmaker who knows his stuff.

This is pretty much the best neo-neo-neorealism flick since Gummo, and probably the best insight into post-Obama America I've yet encountered in narrative fiction form. Basically, it's about all of these unsupervised six-year-olds whose mamas turn tricks for a living and have to stay in crappy motels running around getting into wacky shenanigans and slowly coming to grips with the way the adult world works. Now, I know that makes it sound like some pretentious, hoity-toity class warfare liberal propaganda, but hear me out - this thing is pretty much devoid of any political agenda, and mayhap even reinforce the necessity for traditional family values the same way Spring Breakers subversively did.

So we start off with these feral children spitting off motel balconies on fat Hispanic women smoking cigs and calling her "rat shit" and "a stupid THOT." So motel landlord Willem Dafoe has to go up to their mama's room and tell 'em to clean that shit up and stop getting weed smoke in the curtains. Then the kids get some free pancakes and bacon because their mama will take one of the drive-thru girls out clubbin', and they take turns flipping off helicopters. Then the green-haired mom buys the fast food ratchet some food truck grub then she goes to Family and Children Services and complains about not getting enough TANF gibs. Then the kids talk about what they like and don't like about oranges as they walk across about 20 different gift shops and ice cream stands. Then the kids talk about all their neighbors getting arrested and the elevator smelling like pee and shut off the electricity to the whole complex and then Dafoe (who sounds JUST like Al Pacino in this movie) replays the security monitor footage and realizes the kids are the ones that messed with the power switch.

Then this foreign couple shows up at the scummy hotel because they got scammed out of a Magic Kingdom room online. Then a bunch of church people start handing out free bread and Dafoe tells them to move it to the back because he don't want the tourists to know his motel is ground zero for tramps, whores and indigents. Then there's this great scene where Dafoe lights up a cigarette at dusk and all the lights on the complex come on. In a just world this movie would've gotten a Best Cinematography Oscar nod, but unfortunately, we all know what kinda world we live in here

So after that Dafoe has to chastize an old woman for sunbathing nekkid in the pool and drinking margarita juice right out of a blender. Then the green haired mom buys a bunch of Justin Beiber knockoff cologne from a Chinese wholesaler and she and her kid go to better hotels and try to sell the shit. Then Dafoe evicts a hooker and the kids steal a lighter with a nekkid cartoon woman on it. Then Dafoe has to stop an elderly paedo from trying to kidnap some kids at the park, then the kids decide to throw some rocks through the windows of some abandoned rental units and go spelunking through a buncha' shuttered condominiums and start throwing toilets out of windows and setting entire vacant properties on fire. Naturally, this drives a rift between the green haired mom and the chick at the waffle place. So the green haired mom and her kid do the most adult thing imaginable to solve the problem - they go down to what's her name's place of business, order $50 worth of waffles and have a burping contest right in front of God and everybody. Then they go back to their room and eat cheese pizza and watch potato peeler infomercials. Then Dafoe has to evict them and they go to this motel down the street that charges $45 a night instead of $35 and they can't afford it so they have to couch surf for awhile. 

And to pay rent, she has to start hooking, naturally, and selling counterfeit DisneyWorld tickets. Then they go on a $400 shopping spree at Dollar Tree, which I know sounds absurd, but trust me - I've seen this shit with my own eyes before IRL. And then the mom beats up the waffle place woman and Children's Protective Services gets called on her and they break into a Best Western so they can score a free breakfast. Then the cops book her mom for prostitutin' and the kid is about to be taken away to a foster home, so she and her bestie instead break into DisneyWorld. And then - the end credits doth roll.

Of course, this is one of those movies academic snobs are going to just LOVE deconstructing and analyzing for its subtle undertones about the death of the American dream and how pop culture sells children an unrealistic worldview (but good luck finding one that'll say anything about the film's lack of father figures being the chief driver of the characters' miseries), but really, all that stuff is beside the point. This is just a damn entertaining movie from start to finish, with great acting, a great story and excellent visuals - you know, all the stuff you used to get from the big Hollywood productions. 

Anyhoo, we've got zero dead bodies. Two exposed female breasts. Forced soda chugging. One flaming condo. One subplot about the removal of a cum-splattered mattress. One street fight, with attempted vehicular homicide. One cat fight, with brutal beatdown and uncontrollable vomiting. Gratuitous take-home box kicking. Gratuitous ice cream sharing. Gratuitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich making. Gratuitous spliff smoking. Multiple evictions. Panhandling fu. Bloody tampon fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place, some truly atrocious parenting skills fu.

Starring Willem Defoe as Bobby the landlord, who has to occasionally put child predators in headlocks and do his darnedest to comfort five-year-olds after their mamas get arrested for prostituting themselves online (seriously, he deserves an Oscar for his work in this one); Bria Vinaite as the green-haired single mom who makes her daughter listen to hip-hop while she's getting boned by customers from Backpage.com; Mela Murder as the Waffle House waitress who gives the kids free sausage and maple syrup and winds up getting her left eye socket smashed in because she doesn't want her kid playing with a confirmed arsonist; Rosa Medina Perez as Bertha, the overweight Hispanic single mama who says "I need to lighten up, light up and get laid"; and Brooklyn Prince as Moonee, the ringleader of the kindergarten gang that, among other wholesome activities, pester tourists for free ice cream cones and cause millions of dollars in rental property vandalism.

Written by Chris Beroch and Sean Baker - the latter who also directed the film, who SHOULD at least get a nominee for his work here, but probably won't because the Academy thinks some black dude or white woman who made a film of lesser quality deserves it more because Trump is still president.

Regardless, this is a movie WELL worth going out of your way to catch. It's one of the most innovative flicks in a year filled to the brim with rehashes, in addition to featuring one of the year's best acting performances and what may very well be the best cinematography you'll see in any film from '17. I can easily afford this one four stars out of four. Jimbo says check it out, even if it means actually paying for a ticket instead of just bootlegging it online like you do everything else. 

Fun fact: the working title was actually Autism: The Motion Picture.

Changing gears considerably, let's head back to the regular movie theaters for a moment, why don't we? All I can say is that the marketers at Sony really dropped the ball when it came to this newfangled Jumanji movie. Considering the main character is named "Gilpan" and he literally cries "oh vey" when under duress, there's really no excuse for 'em to NOT have named the movie Jew-Manji and released a bunch of branded tie-in yarmulkes to coincide with the Hanukkah season.

Now, believe it or not, this Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle movie isn't a remake of the 1996 Robin Williams vehicle, it's a direct sequel ... kinda'. It does sorta' pick up where that movie left off, with this one metalhead retard scooping up the titular board game but shucking it aside so he can play more Twisted Metal on his Sony Playstation. But the board game is apparently cognizant of its own existence now, so it morphs overnight into an old ass Atari 2600 cartridge that glows neon green. And since the kid in question wears a Metallica shirt, it's pretty much a given he's too stupid to not plug it into his retro-looking console conveniently laying unused next to a pile of soiled socks and get sucked into the living, breathing virtual world, which effectively makes this the inversion of the 1996 movie, where the game enters the kids' real world and ... eh, like you (or anybody else, for that matter) gives a shit.

What's important for you to know this time around is that we've got an all new crop of precocious teens monkeying around the local high school, committing all sorts of misdeeds to garner themselves some detention time. For example, we've got this one stuck up blonde ho that's always taking selfies and doing FaceTime chats during quizzes and this dorky introverted girl who thinks football is stupid and makes fun of the gym coach for only making $32,000 a year and this one big black jock named Fridge who makes the aforementioned nebbish Jew nerd do his homework for him - so yeah, it's pretty much the EXACT same cast from that atrocious Power Rangers redux, only with slightly less autism and implied Muslim lesbianism. So eventually the wannabe Breakfast Club gets locked inside a basement where they're forced to tear staples out of a ten foot tall mound of U.S. Weeklies and hey, what do you know, they just so happen to find the same retro console from the beginning of the movie and sure as sugar, they get zapped into video game world just like that Megadeth-worshippin' dunderhead at the beginning of the movie.

Except now, all the kids have been transformed into larger than life superhero video game characters. The nerdy Jew kid is now The Rock playing the main character from Uncharted, the dorky girl is now a Lara Croft stand-in, the narcissistic blonde ho is now a fat cartographer played by Jack Black (who is REALLY fascinated by how "his" newfound penis works) and the big angry black jock has been transformed into (what else?) Kevin Hart. After all the usual exposition, the kids eventually figure out they have to place a jewel in the eye of a giant jaguar statue, but of course, there's this one evil dude who can control the game world's animal life who wants the gemstone all for himself, and eventually, they meet up with the kid from 1996 who got sucked into the game (who says stuff like "getting Jiggy with it" even though that song didn't actually come out until 1999) and they make a coordinated, concentrated effort to escape the virtual island without using up all of their lives.

There's pretty much no plot beyond that. It's just the kids learning the power of teamwork and micro-managing their fledgling romances and a whole bunch of crappy looking CGI alligators and cobras attack them for the next hour. Oh, and the final 30 minutes are filmed almost entirely in computer generated darkness, so good luck making out half the shit you see onscreen. 

Anyhoo, we've got 30 dead bodies (virtually, anyway.) One dead snake. One helicopter chase. Multiple karate fights. One exploding character actor. Several deaths by plunging. Gratuitous urination jokes. Gratuitous Peter Frampton cover. Gratuitous '90s slang. Kung fu. Rhinoceros fu. Hippo fu. Cheetah fu. Elephant fu. Cake fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place - shameless PlayStation4 product placement fu.

Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, who is pretty much an expy of Nathan Drake from the Uncharted games, except, you know, brown; Jack Black as Professor Sheldon Oberon, a fat, Jack Black-shaped pile of goo possessed by the spirit of a 16-year-old Snapchat skank; Karen Gillan as a very Tomb Raider like character who can only kick people's asses while "Baby I Love Your Way" plays on the radio; Kevin Hart as "Mouse" Finbar, a zoologist who spontaneously combusts if he comes in contact with pastries; and Nick Jonas as "Seaplane" McDonough, the avatar of the Metallica fan who's been stuck in the virtual world since 1996. 

Written by no less than four writers (including Chris McKenna, the same guy who fucked up Spider-Man: Homecoming) and directed by Jake Kasdan, who I think we all believe would be better suited making a Dewey Cox sequel instead of this stuff.

Eh, the best I can give it is a meager two stars out of four. It's not as bad as I was expecting, but it's still a VERY predictable, paint-by-numbers big budget cash grab. Jimbo says check it out, but only if you do so in a manner that doesn't cost you any money (wink, wink.)