Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The end is the beginning.

I honestly don't know what to say. Yet another calendar year is about to slip away and I don't feel any different than I did at this time last year. My living situation, my job, my overall place in life...they're still the same.

I know that I tell myself that I can do better, but I think it's about time that I act on those thoughts. The end of '08 will not be like the end of '07.

See you on the other side.


My Favorite Themes - Part XXVII

Score: Innerspace by Jerry Goldsmith

About the film: Cocky pilot Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is miniaturized for an experiment. However, due to nefarious sabotage from outside forces, Tuck and his craft end up inside the body of hypocondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short). This is a pretty good comedy from Joe Dante with impressive visual effects detailing the inside of the human body and many funny moments.

Title: "The Cowboy". The villainous agent (Robert Picardo, in a ridiculous wig) is treated to an amusing Western theme that plays like a pastiche of Goldsmith's western scores: jew's harp, tambourine, guitar and synthesized whistling come together to create the tune (which bears a slight resemblance to his later Ray Patterson theme from The 'burbs).

Other themes of interest: There's a love theme on piano and electronics for Tuck and his reporter girlfriend Lydia (Meg Ryan) as well as an ethereal Star Trek: TMP-like motif for the inside of the body. A motif for staccato strings and harsh electronics emphasizes the danger that Jack faces, while a heroic melody appears on rising horns.

Availability: 25 minutes of the score were released on the now-prohibitively-expensive-but-hard-to-find-anyway Geffen Records soundtrack.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

"A world without string is chaos."

No. There aren't any mice running around. I just wanted to share a little something:

Towards the end of 1997 (this weekend, I believe), my father took my sister and I to the movies. They opted for Scream 2, while I went to see Mouse Hunt. A decade on, I still maintain that I made the smart choice.

The directorial debut of Gore Verbinski (those Budweiser frogs commercials), Mouse Hunt told the story of two estranged brothers: restaurateur Ernie (Nathan Lane) and dreamer Lars (Lee Evans). They are reunited by the death of their father, string magnate Rudolf Smuntz (William Hickey, whose last film this was; eerily, his one scene shows him in a hospital bed, his character on the verge of death), who has left them a string factory and a mansion, both in great disrepair. However, fixing up the house, designed by a legendary architect, could lead to a fortune. But a mouse in the house poses a small (and ultimately destructive) problem. One could call this a Laurel and Hardy film as reconfigured by the Coen brothers and one wouldn’t be far off. Mouse Hunt is a terrific film, enlivened by the chemistry of Lane and Evans and some greatly amusing slapstick scenes.

Mouse Hunt was the third film from then-newly formed Dreamworks Pictures. Hans Zimmer served as head of the studio’s music department, which may have had something to do with long-time orchestrator Bruce Fowler being asked to score the film. For whatever reason, Fowler went back to his day job, allowing Alan Silvestri to work on the film.

Personally, I think it’s one of Silvestri’s most charming and enjoyable scores. He again worked with Verbinski on The Mexican. He had been asked to score Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, but disagreements with producer Jerry Bruckheimer put an end to that. (Ah, what might have been...)

Silvestri’s score is based on three main themes:

a) the mouse’s theme - this delightful melody ably suggests a rodent skittering about with its usually light orchestrations (courtesy of William Ross, Conrad Pope and Chris Boardman)

b) the brothers’ theme - a primarily jazzy piece of music for Ernie and Lars and their attempts at respectability

c) memories of father - the softest of the themes, often reflecting the late Rudolf and his legacy

The chronological cue list:

The Funeral - The mood of the music is appropriately grim (brooding strings, organ) as the pallbearers, Ernie and Lars among them, carry Rudolf’s body out of the church. An amusing argument about Lars’ outfit leads to the coffin sliding down the stairs...
Sticking the Landing - ...and the corpse jack-knifing into an open manhole to fast-paced, urgent organ music.
Main Titles - We are taken from the funeral to the string factory as the woodwinds bounce around, introducing the mouse’s theme. The music becomes urgent as an errant ball of string gums up the works. There is a brief bit of respite as we are taken into the office, the site of the...
Reading of the Will - A brooding take on the mouse’s theme (on flute and strings) plays as the executor (Eric Christmas) delivers the details of the run-down house.
Broken Egg - Woodwinds flutter briefly as a ceramic egg (one of Rudolf’s personal effects) ends up broken.
Chez Ernie - An exuberant big-band melody plays as Ernie welcomes the mayor and his family to the restaurant.
Roach Clip - As Ernie grouses about his father kicking the bucket just as he’s about to make it big, a cockroach crawls out of a cigar box - another of father’s personal effects. A brief version of the brothers’ theme on strings gives way to a bit of wind-based mickey-mousing for the insect.
Dinner is Served - With the "Chez Ernie" orchestrations, the brothers’ theme plays as Ernie serves the mayor’s meal. Unfortunately, the mayor’s daughters find half a cockroach in the food; the mayor has ingested the other half! The music grows more and more nervous as the girls try to stab the uneaten half and the mayor collapses from his seat (definitely not good for business). The cue ends with sad yet comical trumpet notes.
Dying Wish - Lars is met by a pair of representatives (Mario Cantone - yes, the very same - and Peter Anthony Rocca) from ZeppCo, a company that wants to buy out the factory and retro-fit it. Pulling a piece of string from his pocket brings to his mind the last time he saw his father alive. A sad violin - backed by a klezmer - plays the memories theme as Rudolf bequeaths his most prized possession - a piece of string - to his sons and, with strings and flute in the background, makes Lars promise to keep the business in the family. Citing his father’s axiom ("A world without string is chaos."), Lars rejects the offer...
Lars is Kicked Out - ...a decision which does not sit too well with his social-climbing wife, April (Vicki Lewis). She throws him out and a doleful take on the memories theme follows his journey.
Smuntzes Lament - The memories theme continues as Ernie and Lars walk down the street, neither with any prospects.
A Place to Sleep - A heartwarming quote of "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" accompanies a well-done segue to the old house. This, itself, leads right into...
"What a Dump!" - The boys take a look around the house, the tense and, at times, jazzy music interspersed with woodwind fluttering for an unseen resident.
And All Through the House... - Lars hears scratching at the walls. He cajoles Ernie into investigating along with him. The low-key strings occasionally give way to orchestral outbursts for the frightening discoveries of moths and creepy shadows. The scratching seems to be coming from the attic. Ernie finds that a mere mouse was causing the noise. He soon discovers blueprints for the house.
Charles Lyle LaRue - As it is discovered that the house is potentially worth a fortune, the ‘memories’ theme is turned into a beautiful waltz.
Alexander Falko - The eccentric house collector (Maury Chaykin) is introduced with an amusing, Judge Dredd-like horn fanfare. An auction is planned to give people a chance to bid on the restored house. Falko offers to go as high as...
$10,000,000 - A quote of "We’re in the Money" underscores Ernie and Lars’s plans of what to do with the windfall. A terrific (albeit CGI-assisted) POV shot of the mouse is accompanied with its theme.
Late Night Snack - Woodwinds follow the mouse as it sneaks an olive to its hole.
The Mouse Trap - Another olive is placed on a mouse trap to a tentative version of the mouse’s theme.
Breakfast Chase - A hilarious cereal box gag touches off this exciting cue that features the themes for the mouse and the brothers fighting for supremacy.
"What Are You Doing?" - Another trap is baited with a piece of gouda (while the mouse makes off with a whole wheel of cheese) to a tuba and flute take on the mouse’s theme. A bit of home improvement (to a folksy take on the brothers’ theme) leads to the mouse crawling along a network of tunnels and pipes to sleep off its feast. The cue quiets down as the mouse rests, the memories theme (augmented with Hawaiian accents) tucking it in.
Nail Gun - The mouse’s rest is harshly interrupted by a series of nails shot into the wall. Punctuated by horn hits and a frantic xylophone, the mouse tries to escape impalement. The cut to Lars on the outside operating the titular device is treated to a sax take on the brothers theme. The mouse finds itself cornered, but the last nail comes up short, leading to a break in the music. Before Lars can manually hammer the nail in (thus ending the movie), Ernie calls him outside.
Hot Tuboggan - Ernie and Lars haul a Jacuzzi up the stairs, having cost them their remaining $1200. The trip is short-lived as Ernie is shocked by the sight of the mouse through a bottle. To a sleigh bells-laden version of the brothers’ theme, the boys travel down the stairs, out the door and onto a frozen ice lake. No points for guessing if the ice breaks.
Field of Traps - As Ernie sets up in the kitchen a minefield full of mouse traps, a wafting string and woodwind melody plays that is pure Silvestri. Things take a turn for the worse (reflected in the descending registers of the cue) when the brothers find themselves stuck in the room. The next morning brings a peaceful flute and string-laden melody juxtaposing the dangerous predicament.
Cherry Catapult - The boys watch as the mouse leaves his hole. As the rodent performs some impressive derring-do in its kitchen trek, its theme builds impressively to a drum roll as he approaches a bowl full of cherries. The spoon it leaps on launches a cherry to the floor...right near the traps! (In the film, the music for this part was temped in at the end of "Field of Traps".) The woodwinds follow the fruit as it spins around, its stem touching on one of the triggers. The resulting explosion utilizes an orchestral outburst (with organ!) as the boys are covered in mouse traps.
Sewage Pipe Suck - The mouse collects an impressive dowry from the sprung traps. Their theme close behind, the boys whip out a vacuum cleaner. Swirling strings follow as the mouse heads into a hole and holds on for dear life. It manages to attach the hose to a sewage line. The music builds as the vacuum bag fills don’t want to know. Eventually, the bag explodes. Yuck.
The Pound - The boys walk through the halls of the pound, a brooding version of the mouse’s theme playing.
Dissatisfied Customer - Icy strings play as a woman and her crying daughter leave the grimy-looking place. mean pussy. - Pound worker Morey (Ernie Sabella; Timon and Pumbaa reunite!) shows them the most vicious feline in stock - Catzilla. Tympani hits and tense strings find the boys meeting their newest ally.
Special Delivery - The horns growl as the cat makes its way through the house, still in the crate.
Catzilla vs. Rodant - The mouse checks out the box lying in the kitchen to anticipatory winds. The box bursts open and, with a horn fanfare, Catzilla is loose. Orchestral chaos gives way to frantic piano music as the animals give chase within a grand piano.
Ernie Finds the Contract - Lars tries to tell his workers about their ever-dwindling pay (needed to fix up the house). A nervous string motif underscores the scene. Meanwhile, Ernie discovers the ZeppCo contract (to the mouse’s theme, for some reason). A sinister march builds as the workers surround the boys in their office, forcing an escape out the window.
The Death of Catzilla - Catzilla continues to stalk the mouse. The chase leads to a dumb waiter (and more cartoon-like music) as the mouse chews the string, sending the cat to the basement...permanently.
Caesar’s Arrival - The shot of the giant bug on Caesar’s (Christopher Walken) truck heralds a monster movie-style sting from the orchestra, followed by some martial overtures.
Strikeout - The march from "Ernie Finds the Contract" makes an abbreviated return as he departs the factory amongst the unhappy workers...
Loose Threads - ...leaving Lars to try and fill the orders. In operating the machinery, various threads of his clothes are pulled into the machines. A fitfully frantic - yet funny - reading of the brothers’ theme underscores the scene as he tries to get loose.
Searching for Mice - A lighter take on the overtures underscores Caesar investigating the mouse’s fecal matter...perhaps a little too closely.
Silent Movie - A piquant Viennese melody plays as Ernie flirts with two women we will come to know as Ingrid (Debra Christofferson) and Hilda (Camilla Soeberg). He goes to introduce himself, but his hat flies off in the wind. He is set to meet the ZeppCo representatives at that time, and if not for the bus that hits him in the pursuit of his hat, he’d have made it.
Enchanted April - To a nervous reading of the brothers’ theme, Lars gathers the yarn balls that used to be his outfit. He retreats to the office, only to find a suddenly amorous April (having heard about the forthcoming auction), whose greeting is - suitably - accompanied with a seductive sax, finishing the theme off. The surprised-sounding final notes of the cue underline a great gag that I’m not about to give away here.
Caesar’s Big Drag - Using a camera, Caesar spies on the mouse’s dwellings within the house. The opening of this cue is all quivering strings and tentative flutes, as if anticipating something. The visual feed is cut off, however, launching the music into a piano/flute arpeggio leading to a drawn-out reading of the mouse’s theme. The exterminator laments the faultiness of his equipment...then he finds a loose wire. He reattaches it, and finds that the feed now shows his truck. The music builds and builds as Caesar sees the mouse trip the switch that retracts the cable attached to his helmet. A frantic version of the mouse’s theme plays as Caesar is dragged downstairs, through the house and back to the truck (though not before leaving behind a flea bomb).
Mouse Dropping - Caesar lies in the snow in front of his truck. The mouse (with an oboe take on its theme) leaves him a present...near his lips.
The Fall of Caesar - The same kind of tentative take on the mouse’s theme from “Reading of the Will” plays as Caesar, clearly ’round the bend, is loaded into an ambulance.
No Ordinary Mouse/Gas Leak - A noise in the kitchen (one of many wrecked rooms) sends the boys in. To tentative strings, they find a sandwich which starts to move. They find the mouse, but trying to squash him only makes a bigger mess. The mouse takes off toward the fireplace. Ernie climbs up after him, but gets stuck. Lars’ flashlight dies, but a book of matches has helpfully been left behind. The mouse’s theme builds in intensity as the smell of gas becomes apparent to the boys. The music dies out as the gas is ignited. The resulting explosion sends Ernie to the ice lake, accompanied by the Jacuzzi tub and the sad/comic trumpet from "Dinner is Served". Lars, blown into a cabinet, finds his fingers crushed when the piece of furniture lands on them.
Shotgun Chase - A militaristic take on the brothers theme starts as Ernie grabs a shotgun off the wall; he’s had all he can stand. As a march builds, Lars tries to stay his anger, mentioning the worth of the house. However, the mouse runs by, signaling a clarion call from Lars. Ernie’s shooting only does damage to the house, while the mouse escapes in an empty can to swirling strings. Lars’ chastising of his brother’s aim leads to sustained strings and a brief stop as Ernie turns the barrel on him. The can rolls by and Ernie fires again - bullseye!
Works on Mice? - The march from the previous cue begins as the blast from the shotgun sets off the errant flea bomb, causing a giant explosion.
Giant Mouse Hole - A few brief notes on low horns sound as the mouse looks down at the boys in the gaping hole in the floor.
"...proposal withdrawn." - Nervous strings hang in the air as one of the Zeppco representatives leaves a message on the answering machine.
Projectile Fruit - Low strings hang in the air as Lars hurls an orange at Ernie following an argument, but it hits the mouse instead.
Insufficient Postage - A jazzy melody plays under a montage of the boys acquiring a loan (with April’s help) and fixing up the house. Meanwhile, the mouse’s trip to parts unknown is cut short by...well, read the cue title.
Auction House Mouse - While taking out the trash, Lars discovers, to quivering strings, the package that contained the mouse. Unfortunately, the auction is already under way with Ernie at the podium. The mouse appears and devours Rudolf’s piece of string. Chirping strings appear as the boys try to locate the mouse. As it turns out, the mouse is on Ingrid's person. The strings continue as the mouse jumps down her cleavage (side note: can you believe that this film was pushed to children? I love it, but geez!). Lars retrieves it, but it crawls down his sleeve.
Flaming Doo - A cigarette lands in Ingrid's hair. The mouse’s theme erupts amongst the pandemonium as a number of guests choke on the same olive and her hair catches fire.
Flushing the Mouse - The fire hose that Lars brought in to put out the flame is stuffed into a hole; they’ll drown the little beast. Unfortunately, the mouse proves to be a fast runner. The music, including a horn take on the mouse’s theme, grows in excitement while the bids for the house get higher. The overflow of water instead, flushes the human occupants out the front door. The melody from "Ernie Finds the Contract" returns as he tries (and fails) to prove the durability of the house to the drenched, departing guests.
"I guess we got him"...or Not - In the ruins of the house, Lars finds Rudolf’s string on the ground. More than likely, the mouse is finally destroyed. A chime-laden memories theme, followed by a take on strings leads to the brothers driving off...but a little visitor hitches a ride. The cue ends on quavering strings as the car arrives at the factory.
Napping Brothers - Sustained strings and an oboe version of the mouse’s theme show the boys sleeping in the office of the factory.
String Cheese - A peppy take on the mouse’s theme underscores the factory’s machinery starting up seemingly of its accord. A yellow-colored ball rolls off the line. The music holds on a string figure with the memories theme on celeste as Lars and Ernie sample the product. ("It’s string." "It’s cheese.") An uplifting read of the theme plays as the boys look up at the mouse. The melody continues on the same path as the factory now produces balls of string cheese. The mouse’s theme briefly appears as Ernie runs a new flavor by the rodent. The memories theme concludes the cue as Rudolf’s string is shown framed, his motto on a plaque.
End Credits - The cue runs through and expands on the three main themes in various guises (the "Main Titles" version of the mouse's theme, the "Hot Tuboggan" version of the brothers' theme, the "Dying Wish" version of the memories theme), as well as a brief reprise of the Christmassy music in "What a Dump!", before returning to the mouse's theme. (For some reason, the cue is shorter in the film.)

This is the track listing as it appeared on the Varese Sarabande CD released in 1997. All the tracks are the same as in the film, except otherwise noted:

Main Titles (2:39)
Funeral Prologue (1:11)
Chez Ernie (1:14; combines "Chez Ernie" with "Dinner is Served", but cuts off before the roach scoring)
Dying Wish (1:41)
Charles Lyle LaRue (0:39)
What are you doing? (2:07)
Nail Gun (1:11)
Hot Tuboggan (0:55)
Cherry Catapult (1:31; the mickey-mousing flute as the mouse runs across is gone and the track stops after the mouse makes his jump)
Ernie Finds the Contract (1:49)
Silent Movie (1:14)
Caesar’s Big Drag (2:06)
Shotgun Chase (1:29)
Insufficient Postage (1:21)
Flaming Doo (1:50)
String Cheese (2:17)
End Credits (5:37)

(And do try to avoid the film when it plays on basic cable. Apparently, the networks seem to subscribe to the 'this is a kid's film' theory, which is just wrong.)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Patience is a virtue.*

(* - I've decided, from now on, when I post an entry where I go off on some insane rant loaded with references to the f-word and the c-word, that an asterisk will go next to the title of the post. I might even do this for back entries. Years from now, when more than a handful of people read this, I just want these things to be clear.)

I realize that the title may be a little hypocritical; I, myself, am guilty of wanting things to happen now as opposed to later. However, I'm pretty capable of keeping it together and, sometimes, I manage to find an alternate solution to the dilemma at hand.

However, the same could not be said of the troglodytic twat I had to deal with at work today. My shift was essentially over and I was organizing and adding my utility payments together like always, making sure that the total I come up with matches the one in the computer (BTW, nine times in ten, it's a perfect match). I'm halfway through my count when one of the plastic machines goes off. Now, does the person using the machine wait quietly until me or my associate are finished with our respective tasks or finish the load on the other machine? Have you ever read this blog before? Of course, the corpulent cunt (who, I guess I should note, was African-American; if ever there was a reason for me to date outside my race...exhibit fuckin' A!) starts in on me liked I fucked her grandmother's corpse or something. My associate explains that I'm counting down my drawer. I doubt that she understood anything that didn't sound remotely like 'the machine is working', so she continues with this mantra of 'if you don't like your job, you should quit' in the snottiest, most condescending tone imaginable.

And yes, I have my moments where the job is a pain in the ass, but this goes beyond 'I don't like my job'; at this point, with her complaining that a spoiled child would consider unbearable, I'm more like 'I don't like humanity, consciousness or life'. And now, let me give you the punchline: this is the exact same impatient cunt that bitched at me two weeks ago about the exact same 'the machine is full' problem while I was performing the exact same 'check the figures' ritual. Now that I think about it, if she tries this again, I'm just gonna shove her nose into her brain and be done with it. Solves my problem just say nothing of the family members who had to put up with her. I'm sure that at least half of them will hail me as a god.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Not quite a Magi.

I'd been stalling on getting a Christmas list to my family this year. I finally delivered it before going to work. Therein lies the problem: I have all this money to get stuff for myself, but when it comes time for a situation like this, I'm at a loss as to what I want, as most of it can be bought with my own money. Sure, it saves me a trip or two, but so what?

Incidentally, I managed to complete my holiday shopping. Luckily, my family is fairly undemanding.


Monday, December 10, 2007

"Adventure's waiting just ahead."

I think it's a safe bet that, by now, much of the free world has seen the trailer for next year's Speed Racer. Apparently, it was shot the Sin City way (i.e. on as little real sets as possible, leaving CGI to pick up the production design slack). In spite of my constant whining about how Hollywood leans too strongly on CGI, I think it looks to be an amusing little diversion. (I certainly know of the show, though I've never watched it, gleaning my knowledge mainly from uproarious parodies done by "Dexter's Lab" and "Saturday Night Live's" TV Funhouse, neither of which can be found online. Shit.)

Still, there are (several) others out there who consider the trailer a nightmare to the eyes, ears and mind...but, especially, the eyes. My strong belief on the matter is this: any society that would make Transformers one of the new century's highest grossers, then turn around and piss and moan about the overly-colorful nature of a Speed Racer trailer is circling the porcelain at mach 5 (see what I did there?). Really, this goes past hypocrisy to mental retardation and back. (And this is coming from a guy who saw an advanced picture of the cast of Scooby-Doo in costume and was ready to call it the worst film ever. Some of us learn from our mistakes and some don't.)

And does John Goodman look just like Pops or what?

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"It's Turbo time!"

...or 'Things that Suck: Jingle All the Way. (Apologies to Jaime Weinman.)

At a message board I frequent, there was a thread about the 1996 holiday comedy Jingle All the Way. Recently named 'the worst Christmas movie ever' (source not identified), it was defended by nearly everyone who posted and there are a number of topics at the IMDb that second the defense in spite of the film's '4.7' rating. I don't know about you, but I certainly feel like I'm taking crazy pills. Maybe it's not the worst Christmas movie of all time, but it's surely in the top three and the worst I've ever seen.

I whipped up a pie chart showing why I think this film is so terrible: (And, really, it takes a special kind of freak to use a FRIGGIN' PIE CHART to show how and why he hated a movie, don't you think?)

Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has too much time for work, but not enough for his wife, Liz (Rita Wilson) and son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd). [cliched plot - 17.5%] Howard was unable to make it to Jamie's karate practice, but he wants to make up for it. Jamie wants a Turbo Man action figure. Sounds simple enough, yes? No. As it turns out, Turbo Man is the hottest thing since sunburn and Howard isn't the only person who waited until the last minute to get one. (Sidebar: it's the day before Christmas and everyone in town is scraping for this doll. Surely, someone's child would've made mention of it long before then, right? Anyone? Bueller?)

Disgruntled postal worker Myron Larabee (Sinbad) [wasting of Sinbad - 19%] has issues - serious, treatable-with-psychiatric-help ones - with his profession and, on top of that, he's looking for this toy for his son. "Some fruity robot called Turtle Man." The toy store opens and then...pandemonium. Adults knock each other over to search for Turbo Man. [unfunny slapstick - 27.2%] Howard and Myron - literally - trip each other up in searching for it...only to find that it's not there.

Meanwhile, good neighbor Ted (Phil Hartman) [wasting of Phil Hartman - 22.8%] can't help but make time with Liz while Howard is gone...just as he has with a number of wives on the block.

Something I neglected to mention on the chart (but, for the sake of argument, let's file it under...I don't know, 'unfunny slapstick') is the fact that the film doesn't believe too strongly in character. Howard and Myron seem to be moved around by the script, much like...a child playing with a Turbo Man. Myron's rants don't reveal much about him and Howard is the standard 'dad must go through contrived hardships to become a better parent'. ['cyborg barbarian...from DE FUTURE! as sitcom dad?' - 12%; by the way, the expression comes from one of the few clear-thinking individuals at the aforementioned thread that inspired this post. Say it with a slightly spastic Austrian accent and it's a million times funnier.]

There are a lot of talented people in this film, but almost all of them are stranded. If you've seen him on television or in Houseguest, you know that Sinbad can be a likable, funny guy. This film allows him to be neither. Phil Hartman (Heaven rest him) has enlivened many a bad movie with simply his presence, but Ted is more of a plot device than a character. Arnold is, to put it mildly, miscast, but, as his next big movie proved, he can be very funny. Rita Wilson is a good actress, but saddled with such a thankless role, one could hardly blame her for not bringing her A-game. [non-effort of Rita Wilson - 1.5%] I'm no Star Wars devotee, so I couldn't tell you if Jake Lloyd was better or worse than he was in The Phantom Menace.

And then, we have the many familiar faces that pop up throughout, yet add very little: Martin Mull as a DJ. Chris Parnell as one of the toy store employees. Robert Conrad as a cop whom Howard constantly runs afoul of (, he turns down Wild Wild West, but signs on for this? Whatever.). Jim Belushi as a shady mall Santa...okay, he was all right here.

What little enjoyment I got from this film came from two elements: 1) Curtis Armstrong. The one-time Charles De Mar is hilarious as a bitter actor having to play Turbo Man's sidekick, Booster, in the climactic parade. His character has, apparently, seen it all; perhaps a little too much and just lives for the paycheck, even if it means having to get this down and dirty. (Yeah, it's not like the film was going to afford such depth to the character, but Armstrong was good enough to inspire me...and his delivery of the line "Where the hell have you been? Geez, I've been sweating like a dog in a Chinese restaurant waiting for your sorry ass to show up!" is priceless.)

And 2) David Newman's score. His resume is filled with silly comedies, but he's bestowed each of them with his usual craft. Jingle All the Way is no exception. The main theme blares heroically over the opening credits and his integration of electronics along with the orchestra is as impressive as ever. What a great surprise a score album would make for the holidays. (hint, hint, Intrada, get off your duffs)

Now, I merely did this for some understanding behind my position. It's not like I'm inviting people to hate this film along with me...unless, it works, of course.

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