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Raw Deal (the movie)

Raw Deal (the movie) published on 7 Comments on Raw Deal (the movie)

While typing up a treatise on Pumping Iron, I discovered “Day of the Schwarzenegger” on the USA network. Terminator 2 was on, and it was up to where Linda Hamilton’s attacking Dr. Dyson. Cool, let’s watch. Some notent notables:

  • Edward Furlong’s wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt. Who needs cyborgs from the future to off this kid? Surely SOMEONE at his high school wants to beat up the white kid wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt — especially if he’s got a sheaf of bangs in his face like that one goth kid in the Raisins episode of “South Park.” (By the way, someone totally had to explain “Raisins” to me.)
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (of “Law & Order,” but then again 90% of all actors are of “Law & Order”) plays Dr. Dyson’s wife. Not exactly a plum role — pretty much just crying and screaming — but still.
  • Robert Patrick is underrated and good. Even if he were overrated he`d still be underrated. Kind of like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Kind of the opposite of Duke University.
  • Linda Hamilton is underrated and good. But I can’t think about her too much or it reminds me of James Cameron. Mojitos and mid-life crises for everyone!

I enjoyed T2 and its weirdly poignant ending (sneefiest robot thumbs-up ever), so I decided to stick around for the Big Arnie movie that followed it: Raw Deal (1986).

Oh, my frippin` frip. Monty, this seems strange to me. I wanted to watch all of it so I could provide a full heckle, but I just couldn’t. It was so Grade Z and inscrutable — traits exacerbated by the fact that EVERYBODY is in this movie. As in, “That’s that dude from Law & Order — normally the stuff he says makes sense.” I facepalmed twice from the cast alone.

Steven Hill, the dude on the left, is the one from Raw Deal. S. Epatha Merkerson is on the right.

(Quick sidebar about this picture: Separately they are dude from Raw Deal, lady from “Baywatch Nights,” Lumiere, Sam the Eagle, dude from Catwoman and Reba the Mail Lady. But together they are the Best. Cast. Ever. Also, Angie Harmon burns my eyes with hottness. Also, no one puts Baby in the corner. )

Okay. Back to Raw Deal:

  • I went to IMDb to check out some things. The plot summary says something about Big Arnie having to be the sheriff of a small North Carolina town and crossing and double crossing and shenanigans. Yeah, I didn’t get that at all. I pretty much couldn’t tell who was good or bad or double agent or triple agent, but verily I wasn’t trying too hard. And if anything was supposed to be North Carolina I`m going to have to give that a big no. The whole movie looked shot in Vancouver before “shot in Vancouver” was invented — replete with Degrassi High film stock.
  • Here’s an idea — if your star has a huge Austrian accent, why not give him an Austrian name? Mark Kaminsky? Pirates.
  • Big Arnie has his hair slicked back like Renaldo the Heel. Every time he appeared in a scene I had that complete, fully articulated thought in my internal monologue: “Big Arnie has his hair slicked back like Renaldo the Heel.” It was very distracting.
  • At one point he robs a woman at gunpoint in the back of a car, and she just reacts like, “Oh, you dashing rake, here’s all my jewelry.” But wa-a-a-it, I know that redhead from somewhere. Also, she looks like Mischa Barton, fulfilling today’s “hey, she looks like Mischa Barton” quota. Thanks to IMDb, I see she is Micki from the “Friday the 13th” TV series! BRAAAAAWK! This is a series that needs to be released on DVD in a big way. Cursed antiques, people — CURSED ANTIQUES. Of course, the part before the opening credits was always the best part of the show — except maybe for the spooky tinny trumpet Tower of Terror credits sequence (owowo cursed antiques!) And the dude was totally proto-Xander. But I digress.

    I snarfed this image from Olaf’s F13 fan page. She made this face in *every episode*.

  • A kingpin refers to “smack” and “junk.” I dunno — seems like a big drug kingpin wouldn’t talk like a community college narc. Maybe you shouldn’t write a screenplay after a latte and a reading of “Naked Lunch.”
  • It had Robert Davi in it. Prolly you don’t know him by name — I sure didn’t, so here’s a picture:

    Okay, don’t freak out? But you’ve got some DiCaprio on your shoulder.

    So he sort of looks like Edward James Olmos. He and Big Arnie have these pointless Grade Z manlier-than-thou zing-offs:

    Big Arnie: I`m sure Max has made many mistakes.
    Robert Davi: Never the same one twice.
    Big Arnie: That’s what she said.
    Robert Davi: Takes one to know one.
    Big Arnie: “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb.
    Robert Davi: “I Know This Much Is True” by Spandau Ballet.
    Big Arnie: Faced.

  • It had Joe Regalbuto in it — you know, Frank Fontana from “Murphy Brown”? And I didn’t have to resort to IMDb to find any of that information. So if it’s wrong feel free to mock me. Hell, feel free to mock me regardless.
  • This movie supports my conviction that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a bad actor. All the actors here are hung out to dry — whether it’s Steven Hill fake bad golfing or Darren “poor man’s Gene Hackman” McGavin strolling in and out of a poorly-blocked and poorly-framed scene. And yet Big Arnie holds his own. The dialogue, with the Austrian accent that wouldn’t die, is as through a glass darkly, but for a dude that took up acting by force at 28 he’s really kind of a natural.

There is much more to say about Big Arnie but I`ll save it until I`m master of this Mac issue.

4 Beefs with Return of the King

4 Beefs with Return of the King published on

I got some complaints about The Return of the King. I got to express them before I go to film school and gain an appreciation for how hard it is to make a movie and what a prissy whiny Tolkien pedant I am for complaining about the most epic epic that ever epicked.

What was missing:

  • 1) Saruman. Sooooo lemme get this straight. You have one human Big Bad that kicks Gandalf’s ass, drives the Fellowship into Moria, possesses the King of Rohan and manufactures an army “bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men” and in the end he receives his comeuppance *off-screen*? Move along, nothing to see here, Ents got it under control — oh, but Pippin, it looks like a Palantir got magically swept out of the top of the tower — pick that up for me won’t you?

    Pfft. I didn’t need a Shire-scouring, but a little closure with Saruman and Grima would have been nice kthx.

    Screw you guys, I`m going back to Star Wars.

  • 2) Eowyn and Faramir. Was anybody satisfied with this resolution?

    Eowyn: Wow, I sure was in love with Aragorn but ever since I was spurned and then suicidally heroic I just feel like a new woman — no need to show you though! I`ll just hold Faramir’s hand at the end though you never saw us so much as go to Applebee’s together.

    Faramir: Wow, I was totally going to bring home a three-movie subplot about how I could never live up to my brother in my father’s eyes, and you`d think after not taking the Ring for myself (tho not as heroically as in the book) and nearly getting immolated by my dad I would get a little more satisfaction. But I guess I`ll just hold Eowyn’s hand and there’s really no need to show you why.


    They did WHAT to my story arc?

    Before I saw the movie I saw a publicity still of Eowyn and Aragorn in the Houses of Healing, and I was all like YAY for closure and moping and reconciliation, not to mention Aragorn’s acceptance as king by his people, which is nice. BUT NO. And apparently having your arm shattered by a Nazgul doesn’t mess up your stuff at all.

  • 3) Sam and the Grey Havens. COME ON, JACKSON, THROW ME A FRIPPIN` BONE HERE. Even MAD Magazine caught how random and slapdash the Grey Havens stuff was — gotta go, can’t explain, smell you later. What this moment needed for extra special poignancy and tragedy (not that I didn’t cry like a first-grader anyway) was the realization that Sam will go too someday. Even Sam, the uber-Hobbit, who came back and got a wife and kids and got everything back to normal, will NEVER be like the other Hobbits, will ALWAYS be marked by his experience. SO Last Unicorn.

    Of course, you`d have to give the fact that he was a ring-bearer more than the fleeting glimpse it got, but it would be worth it. I read that Tolkien’s stories are little more than a series of episodes that reassert the fundamental nature of each character. And it’s true that not one character changes from beginning to end — not even Eowyn, Lord love her. So I`m thinking the one profundity that comes of all this you-are-what-you-are is that even though Sam has carried The One Ring and even though he will have immortality in return he will always be Sam. I am dying of poignant

    All this and no Oscar nom? Pwned.

What could have been cut to make room for it:

  • Invasion of that guard post. You know, that one place? That the orcs took by river? That one time? Didn’t need to see it, should have been trimmed up, would have increased the impact of the last battle. Show the boats arriving, Faramir leaving. Maybe emphasize carnage of invasion when he leads the cavalry back. Trim up resulting battle. Done and done.
  • Some of the Denethor stuff. It’s not as important and it doesn’t come to much. All you need is half of his talk with Gandalf and the dismissal/eating scene with Faramir and Pippin.
  • Some of the Gates of Doom buildup and battle. Aragorn is kingly and heroic. Got it. The emphasis should be on the hobbits at this point.
  • Everything with Frodo and Sam until Shelob. Gollum is duplicitous; Frodo is tormented; Samwise is loyal. I get it. I can understand catching up the audience, but once you’re on a third installment you’re punishing viewers who’ve seen the first two more than your helping viewers that haven’t. If they`d left in the scene at the end of Two Towers where Sam semi-apologizes to Gollum, and Gollum seems to accept it but really doesn’t, that’s all you need.

Hey, you know what else I would have changed?

4) The explanation of what was going on with Arwen. I can understand, OK, you need some reason for Elrond to suddenly take an interest and give Aragorn his sword. But wouldn’t it be enough that Arwen misses her boat and proves to Elrond that she ain’t going? So if Sauron wins, oh well, guess she’s pwned, too. Maybe that’s what Elrond meant with his “Arwen’s life is now tied to the fate of the Ring” stuff, but in that case why is she all loafed out on her fainting couch? Can’t get much sewing done when you’re unconscious.

A-a-a-and spent.

Halle Berry’s Catwoman

Halle Berry’s Catwoman published on 8 Comments on Halle Berry’s Catwoman

So much heckling. So. Much. Heckling. I know this must blow your mind — someone saw Halle Berry’s Catwoman and has a bunch of snotty comments to make? Jinkies, what a scoop! But here’s the deal — when someone says a movie is bad, I like to know EXACTLY what is bad about it. Bad acting? Bad internal logic? Bad what? Is it bad enough to be good (Van Helsing, Center Stage) or just bad enough to be irritating (L.A. Confidential, Sphere)? Would I watch some of it if it came on TV?

Catwoman for me was missing the high camp that makes a bad movie good. The acting wasn’t bad, just lacking — with the exception of Benjamin Bratt, who was at his “Law & Order” darndest, and Sharon Stone, who knew exactly what movie she was in and dialed it up to 11. If Halle Berry had played it to the back row, or if she`d had that Bruce Campbell sly-boots-ness that rings my chimes so strongly, this movie could have hanged ten in the badness department. Still, as it was, it was nice and bad anyway.

Oops, I thought this was Dogwoman. Mah bad.

I went with my preferred heckling partner, and many of the following heckles are hers.

There are spoilers galore here. I hope you don’t mind.

  • The plot hangs on an evil skin cream that makes people sick if they use it and hideous if they don’t. Mmm, sounds like Fen-Phen. When they show you how your skin rots if you stop using it, it’s with this morphing 3-D model of a test subject. That was handy — hey, rotting model, remember when we did that morphing before-and-after of how this skin cream made you look younger? We need you to come back now that you’re rotten and sit in the same chair with the same lighting and swivel around a bit so we can do the morphing effect for the rotting as well. Have to find a way to keep the company CGI department quiet — maybe we`ll blast them through a poo chute (more on that later).
  • Kind of hard to tell how long this product’s been around — it hasn’t been launched yet, but Sharon Stone’s used it so much it turned her skin to stone (huzzah wha? She’s playing it awful big for being stone `n` stuff), and yet Halle’s bosomy friend (Alex Borstein, who rules but is utterly sodomized by this role) has been using it for over a month and has no serious side effects either way.
  • Except she faints. This reminds me that she is hospitalized — paper gown and everything — for DAYS because she fainted. Break me offa piece of that health plan! No wonder all these good people are working for an evil cosmetics company — you can’t get that kind of health insurance anywhere else.
  • The Merovingian plays the head of the evil cosmetics company, and despite being the most Gallic looking dude since the Triplets of Belleville he plays an Englishman (I know `cause he says “bloody” in the veddy Britishest way ever). Guess a Frenchman couldn’t run a cosmetics company. Guess he really wouldn’t pronounce Beauline as “bo-line” instead of “be-yoo-line,” like everybody in the movie does. Also he’s nicely scene-chewing, `cause he’s only got like 10 lines to communicate his evilness, not like the 5 or 6 hundred he had in The Matrix.
  • Not sure where Halle Berry works. It’s apparently the advertising/art department of a cosmetics company, because The Merovingian can show up and chew her out and fire her. Yet it’s in a building far removed from the enormous office (with it’s own enormous waste-treatment facility underneath — get to that in a second). And later on she tells Benjamin Bratt she works at an advertising firm. Huzza wha? So hard to keep track of where one works. Maybe she’s lying to throw Detective Bratt off her trail, but it doesn’t play like that, and this movie is not that sophisticated.
  • Halle Berry is killed by poo. I assumed from the trailers that she gets shot, but no — one of the bad guys presses a handy poo-shooting button and blasts her out of some huge poo pipes into a vast poo wasteland in bizarre proximity to New York City (New Jersey? OMG just kidding New Jersey |20×0|2!!!). There she goes from floating face down in in poo water to lying face up on a poo island (eww don’t drink the water NYC). This causes no broken bones, disfigurement or pulled muscles — just death, and she doesn’t even seem to die by drowning, since she doesn’t koff up any water when she’s revived. Anyway, on poo island a computer generated cat (OMG Mrs. McGonagall!!!) sits on her chest (can’t get a real cat to do that, apparently) and breathes funky cat breath on her (wait, a cat CAN do this — I saw Cat’s Eye!) So she comes back to life and staggers home like Torgo and punches in her own window (don’t worry — she doesn’t hurt her hand, and it’s fixed somehow the next time you see it). The next morning she’s in fresh clothes and no longer covered in poo (don’t tell me she licked herself clean EWWW!!!)
  • Speaking of clothes, both Catwoman and Patience dress like holy crap: Patience like an anorexic art student, and Catwoman like a Frederick’s of Hollywood fire sale. It’s the one thing that unifies their characters — I could make a rotten, ancient cat pun here, but instead I`ll leave it to the next point.

    The way you dress… is scan-da-lous…

  • The cat puns are stupid and frequent. Catwoman tells some (really non-subtle and non-discreet) jewel thieves “What a purrrrrfect idea,” and it doesn’t even make sense! Robbing a jewelry store is a perfect idea? There’s another cat pun quick on the heels of it, but I think I blocked it out. I was waiting for her to do the “meow” thing from Super Troopers. Well, I think Halle’s a pussy who should write a litter to her clawyer fa fa fa OMG!!!11
  • This brings me to the general issue with Catwoman’s apartment — it’s seedy and ghetto enough to have wild insanely loud parties (hint for later #1 — call the police about it, maybe even your police friend who’s assigned to every case ever), but the apartments themselves are ENORMOUS. Hers makes the flat from “Friends” look like a walk-in closet, and the loud party people are apparently living in The Cat’s Cradle.
  • The playground fight/seduce-off, which sucked only slightly less in Daredevil, was this series of short swooping shots that made it look like an ad for three-legged jeans (a leg and a leg and a leg). I had a larf when Halle dunked, not just `cause it looked like Air Bud dunking, but because she falls FORWARD from the dunk on top of Benjamin Bratt way back at the free throw line. Silly.
  • What also reminded me of Daredevil was this movie’s abbreviated love scene. What I really REALLY wanted in both of these movies, with their schtupping heroes with super-heightened senses, was a little “ngh ngh OHHH! I`m really sorry. That’s never happened to me before.”
  • There were a couple of ridiculous signs to help establish the establishing shots. One, which I didn’t even notice, was that the police station had a big red neon sign in the window that said “POLICE.” I don’t know NYC — maybe police stations really do have neon signs that say “POLICE” like “Hot Fresh Now” but different. But there was also a charity fair with a big billboard next to it that said something like “FUNDRAISER FOR GOOD CAUSE.” Says Heckler #1: “That’s not a good use of money.” Says Heckler #2: “These people are already THERE. Who needs a sign?”
  • I can’t believe, with a hero named Patience, and all the refreshing midnight walks, they couldn’t throw in a little G`n`R. “AH BEEN WALKIN` THE STREEETS AT NAYEEEET!”
  • There was a motif with midnight that was silly. The magical cat was named Midnight, despite being a regular-ass-looking gray and black cat (apparently Egyptian Maus just look regular-ass). Hint for later #2 — you can’t name something Midnight unless it is BLACK. Or an awesome chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie from the Pacific Cookie Company, and then it can be only a Dr. Midnight. Gawd, I got to get back to California. Anyway, this was not an ironic name, like calling a big dude “Tiny.” Also, Patience has to turn in a project at midnight (not email it or put it on a file server, but PHYSICALLY BRING IT to evil cosmetics HQ across town). Also, the evil skin cream is being released at midnight. But fortunately Patience must have just watched American Graffiti and can apply that knowledge to stop a fleet of 18-wheelers. Owowowowo.
  • Catwoman was CGI more than half the time. It was like how when you watch a cartoon, and someone’s looking for a secret passage, you can tell where it is because it’s going to move in a second so it’s a cell on top of the background and it stands out. When suddenly you look over at Catwoman and she looks fake as Lindsay Lohan’s cans you know she’s about to do something wacky.
  • I got to give a whole bullet to Sharon Stone. She was like an albino baby bird storming in and out of a Mexican soap opera — turning her back on her scene partner, delivering dialogue into mirrors, shoving around glasses of ice in the international hand sign for “I’ve been drinking.” She even pulls out a red silk hankie so she can (intentionally) fake cry into it. It’s awesome when Halle gives herself the same mangy mislayered haircut so they can have a lipstick-lesbian-off. When they fight, Sharon Stone says she can’t be hurt since the evil skin cream made her stony, even when Halle gives her these insane roundhouse kicks `n` stuff (okay, then aim for the chest how `bout?). This is weird since she gets offed by falling out a window like two stories. Oh well.
  • BRAWWK I almost forgot! Detective Bratt, adrift without his Orbach, notices a “Sorry” note written for him on a coffee cup looks just like the “Sorry” note Catwoman leaves on a brown bag. He has it examined by handwriting analysis specialist at the department who, in the movie’s single thuddingest, dorkiest moment, explains the difference between the handwriting samples (one is shy, one is self-confident), despite the fact they look EXACTLY THE FREAK ALIKE. And leaving aside the issue that both these women wrote “Sorry” in identical black ink as notes! And leaving aside the fact that later Bratt finds out they’re both slim hot mulatto women! But still he has to find a jeweled cat claw (from an ugly-ass necklace) before he starts catching on. And THEN he goes to a lip print analysis specialist who finds a conclusive match between two funky lip prints. Here’s where I notice all the police technology in this movie is right out of Minority Report — huge rooms with freakishly large flat-panel monitors and images you can just magically drag and drop on each other. Who says Dubya slashed NYPD funding?
  • Incidentally, as my co-heckler pointed out, having Det. Bratt interrogate Halle is a bit of a conflict of interest, y`think? At least she gets to have a good dramatic cry to remind you she won an Oscar (she coulda just told Det. Bratt “I want you to make me feel good.” Maybe when they were taking shelter in the flower shop that keeps all its flowers out even when it’s closed.)
  • While I`m being snotty about technology, there were some really sophisticated fonts on the websites that Patience visits. As I asked my co-heckler, where my sans-serif is at? One more — the huge silent TV in the middle of nowhere that Patience sees the police sketch on. Huzzah wha? Do they just randomly have these in NYC, broadcasting breaking who-cares news and not ads? Okay, one more — Sharon Stone calls Halle on a video-phone thingy (I`m not real up on phones), and when Halle picks up she turns dramatically toward the phone camera (who’s holding it? What was she looking at?) to say “It’s me.” SHE CAN SEE YOU! DURR! And is this a phone conversation, or a video message, or what? ARRGH!
  • Okay, must calm self down. The big picture — the big picture is what’s important. The ostensible message of this movie is to be yourself, which for Halle would ostensibly be a merging of Catwoman and Patience (OMG so like the end of Long Kiss Goodnight!!!) But Halle gets in touch with her true self and, um, it’s pretty much how she was in the third act — Catwoman sometimes and Patience sometimes. Message received… and discarded. She does squeeze through her prison bars, which is cool (ewww Senator Kelly!) but irrelevant to the true-to-your-self message she just got. Then about thirty second later she appears to teleport. Um. Why didn’t you just majick yourself out of the prison cell in the first place? She’s also wearing a cuddly version of the Kill Bill yellow track suit. Once again, I am reminded of how much more I would have liked this movie if the main female had been Gogo Yubari.
  • Far and away the biggest mistake this movie made was making reference to Michelle Pfeiffer’s honest-to-God Selina Kyle Catwoman. She’s in a spread of photos at Frances Conroy’s house (an incredibly nice one to be in downtown NYC and owned by a retired college professor), and she stuck out like a non-sore thumb on a hand that’s been crushed in a vise. There’s also a fight/seduce moment where Halle holds up a severed cable shooting sparks and tells Det. Bratt something like “I knew there was a spark between us,” just like Michelle does to Max Shreck in Batman Returns (best DC superhero movie ever, BTW, if you take out some of The Penguin). This would be like going on a blind date and being like, “Hey, Salma Hayek, I`m nervous — could you come with me?” Not a good plan! You`d look like crap and she`d be embarrassed to be there.

    Let me cleanse your palate.

Gawd, that was a lot. I can’t stop heckling sometimes. If you need more Halle heckle, here’s someone else’s vigorous (but brief) heckle of Monster’s Ball.

One thing that amazed me was how PG this movie was. No sex, no bad language, hokey violence — just dry as a bone. It reminds me that Alien vs. Predator is PG-13, which is refrikkadiculous. How can you take two intensely R-rated franchises and stir them up into hard and tasteless PG-13 muffins? I was excited for a while, when I figured out this was going to be a movie and not just a video game, and now — not so much.

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