Tuesday, February 19, 2019

WWE Elimination Chamber 2019: Everybody Loves Kofi

Well it was no instant classic by any means, but the 2019 Elimination Chamber PPV was inoffensive and refreshingly short, with two Chambers that were, at worst, decent (One was very good in fact).

The show started and ended well, opening with the Women's Tag Team Championship Chamber.  This bout was messy in spots and suffered from not enough credible teams (Alexa & Mickie should've been involved), but it revved up well toward the end and the crowd bought into the importance of it all.  Sasha Banks & Bayley began and ended the match with Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, and the two teams gelled pretty well.  Nia Jax & Tamina got some good dominant spots, eliminating two teams, The Riott Squad got some moments to shine, particularly in the spot where they each dove off a chamber pod onto separate opponents, The IIconics came off as suitably overmatched (I've heard complaints that they got in too much offense, but it was after a huge Tower of Doom spot, so it didn't bother me), and Naomi & Carmella were essentially punished for their respective scandals this past week.  Kinda odd.  In the end of course it came down to the two starting teams, who had good some back-and-forth before Sasha finally locked in the Bank Statement (using one of her legs since her shoulder was injured) for the tapout on Sonya.  This felt like a big moment and a fitting start to this new championship.  Hopefully the company won't cheapen it by bouncing it all over the place.  Sasha and Bayley need a long run to establish this title as something valuable.  An entertaining Chamber match with the right winner.  ***

Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

So what are we to take away from Bohemian Rhapsody exactly?  That Queen were a popular, groundbreaking band with an all-time great frontman?  We already knew that.  That Freddie Mercury was a wholly unconventional rock star who loved to party and had sex with a lot of people?  Yeah, we knew that too.  Or, are they implying that Mercury took his "lifestyle" too far and the band had to "rein him in," in order to be able relate to him again?  By all historical accounts Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor weren't bothered in the least by Freddie's sexual orientation or his expression thereof, but in this film they're visibly uncomfortable with it seemingly at every turn.  And yet the screenplay isn't courageous enough to explore Freddie's personal life in any three-dimensional fashion, instead tiptoeing around all of it.

Were the filmmakers scared to deal with this material, lest it frighten away mainstream audiences?  Were Brian May and Roger Taylor not willing to fully commit to a tell-all about their bandmate, lest Queen fans come to the "shocking" realization that Freddie wasn't perfect?  This film just feels like it couldn't decide whether to be a Mercury character study or a band biography, and it ends up not really being either.  Mercury's personal life is explored only on the surface, and the other three band members are barely given characters at all.  Even his long-time relationship with Mary Austin and his later one with Jim Hutton are mostly glossed over, while his personal assistant Paul Prenter is presented as a scheming leech.

Singlehandedly carrying the film, Rami Malek gives a very strong performance, the only thing about this film that deserved an Oscar nomination (apparently Bohemian Rhapsody is this year's Gladiator in terms of being over-nominated).  But imagine what he could've done with Mercury's final years, something the script omits completely, instead jumping from the triumphant Live Aid performance to a closing title informing us that Freddie died six years later.  This reeked of the filmmakers simply not wanting to get their hands dirty exploring real dramatic heft, like the goal was to enhance the Queen brand rather than tell their (fascinating) story.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Parents' Night In #17: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994)

Kelly and Justin enjoy some Cava, some local craft beers, and the movie that launched Jim Carrey's legendary film career, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective!  Jim's performance still holds up 25 years later as a masterstroke in screwball comedy!  Sit back and listen to us prattle on about how much we love the guy....

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Top Ten Things: WORST WWF Wrestling Superstars LJN Toys

Welcome back!  Alright, now that we've counted down the ten best LJN Wrestling Superstars toys, let's look at some that didn't make the grade.  Ones that either looked like absolute shite or that served zero purpose when you were trying to put together a pretend wrestling match (a phrase I know is technically redundant).  Some of these damn toys just hurt my brain and I don't know what LJN was thinking when they created the molds.  Here we go.... 

10. Warlord

Alright, you might be asking why Warlord is on this list when a) the toy looks quite a lot like him and b) he's got a decent pose for doing wrestling moves.  This toy pissed me off to no end for one reason: WHERE THE FUCK ARE HIS PANTS???  The Warlord as of 1989 wore long tights, ALWAYS.  So why the goddamn hell is he wearing little Speedo trunks on this toy?  Did no one at LJN bother to look at even a single a picture of this guy that extended below his waist?  Not only that, he's missing kneepads.  Do just a cursory bit of homework and this toy becomes one of the best in the line.  But because of pure fucking laziness, he's relegated to the bottom of the pile.  Also, where the hell was Barbarian??

Likeness - 7
Playability - 7
Total - 14

9. Iron Sheik

This is another one that looks vaguely like the real guy but in a very superficial way.  If you look closely, the facial features don't particularly resemble the Iron Sheik at all.  Again, I feel like they based this sculpt on the cartoon show instead of the actual human.  So this one gets a middling score there.  And his pose kinda sucked.  He's doing the vaudville strongman pose, which was okay for headlocks, clotheslines and maybe a suplex, but it was absolutely impossible to do Sheik's finishing move, the Camel Clutch.  If you can't do the guy's finisher that subtracts significant points.  Pretty lame, LJN.

Likeness - 5
Playability - 5
Total - 10

8. Paul Orndorff

What the hell were the sculpting team smoking when they made the Orndorff figure?  He's got a gigantic, malformed head, he's impossibly jacked, and he's missing kneepads.  Clearly this mold was done by the same guy that did Greg Valentine's, because this is one of the most unpleasant-looking action figures ever made.  This is what Paul Ordorff would look like if someone parked a bus on his face.  Not to mention, the physique they gave him is more Arnold than Orndorff, who was quite buff but not bodybuilder huge.  As far as playability though, he scores fairly high since his arm flexing was conducive to clotheslines and elbows, plus you could do a press slam or a Torture Rack.  But Christ, what an awful-looking toy.

Likeness - 3
Playability - 7
Total - 10

Friday, February 15, 2019

Top Ten Things: WWF Wrestling Superstars LJN Toys

Welcome to a special two-part edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I have not one but TWO lists for you, and they're opposite sides of the same coin.  Back in the 80s we wrestling fans had very limited options as far as the available toys with which to recreate our favorite in-ring matches and rivalries.  In 1985 Remco (makers of the fabulous He-Man knockoff toys based on obscure DC Comics characters like Warlord and Arak) unveiled a modest series of AWA action figures (plus Ric Flair) and a cardboard ring for the action to take place in.  These toys were quite functional but sadly also very generic, being made from essentially the same body mold.  As I got older I came to value poseability over visual aesthetics, and along with my vast collection of He-Man guys the Remco figures became my primary wrestling toys.  Man did I run a helluva Federation.  But I'm getting ahead of myself....

Also in 1985 the WWF got into the action figure game, releasing a colorful, oversized line of LJN toys called Wrestling Superstars.  These massive hunks of rubber had zero points of articulation, paint that would rub off in literally minutes, in some cases questionable-at-best resemblance to their real-life counterparts, and were easily capable of inflicting blunt force trauma to a person's skull.  They were so heavy and dense the accompanying toy ring couldn't handle the stress of play and would routinely crack; my ring had to be replaced less than a year after I got it.  But if you were an eleven-year-old, new pro wrestling fan like me, goddamn these toys ruled.  They were unlike any action figures out there; at eight inches tall they dwarfed every other figures on the market besides the unwieldy 12-inch dolls that had long since become obsolete.  With a roster of colorful, larger-than-life characters to model the toys after, LJN had no shortage of eye-catching products to offer.  The sucky thing about these toys was their rather hefty price tag for the time.  These fuckers cost a good 8 bucks a pop, which for my age was way too much to easily collect them.  Thus my early matchmaking abilities were limited; when I first began accumulating these toys at the end of 1986 I only had three figures, all babyface characters.  The hell am I supposed to do with that?

Anyway, while some of these toys were very playable thanks to well-chosen poses and slight flexibility in the rubber, others were not so much.  Likewise, while some figures carried quite serviceable likenesses to the actual people they represented, others looked like barely-formed humanoid blobs.  I noticed a trend at the time - certain character molds seemed to be done by the same person, and that guy was terrible at capturing realistic facial features, plus all the toys this guy worked on had gigantic nipples for some reason.  Go back and look at the figures for Greg Valentine, Paul Orndorff, Brutus Beefcake and a few others.  The faces look awful and the nips are like the Capitol building dome.

So here's where these lists come in.  I've compiled the ten best and worst LJN figures, based on a combination of likeness accuracy and playability.  I'm trying to keep it as fair as possible, since some figures looked great but were useless to play with, and some had perfect wrestler poses but looked like Sloth from The Goonies.  This being an era long before computer-scanned faces I'll go fairly easy on the likeness ratings, and the playability will be somewhat determined by each wrestler's moveset.  I'll give you the ten best ones today and the ten worst in Part 2.  Let's get to it.....

10. Ricky Steamboat

The Steamboat figure had a pretty detailed face/hair sculpt and a lean, defined body type that more or less matched the real guy.  The resemblance wasn't exactly uncanny but it vaguely looked like Steamboat.  The arms were posed in a way that body slams and suplexes were possible, and his hands were open which lent itself to Steamboat's chops.  This toy was a solid bit of work from LJN.

Likeness - 7
Playability - 7
Total - 14

9. Greg Valentine

Valentine's toy was one of the uglier in the series, with a face like a mean old lady and bright yellow hair like banana ice cream.  Then again, Greg Valentine was always rather homely, so the rough sculpt kinda fit.  This was one of the toys in the series that looked like the sculptor either worked solely from memory or forgot to put on his glasses.  It's a vague representation of Greg Valentine that kinda sorta captures his essence, but by no means is it true to life.  Like at all.  But what this figure lacked in realism it made up for in utility.  Valentine was posed perfectly for slams, suplexes, and most of all, that signature Valentine elbow drop.  You couldn't do the Figure Four, but then again I've never seen a wrestling figure that could.  This one scores quite well on playability.

Likeness - 6
Playability - 8
Total - 14

8. Hart Foundation

Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were more often than not sold as a team, so I'm including them as one entry.  These guys looked quite a bit like the real people and the sculpts captured their body types pretty realistically.  The ring attire looked pretty much just like the Harts' actual gear.  My only issue aesthetically, and this was true for a lot of these toys, is that Bret is wearing his sunglasses, which of course he never wore while wrestling.  As far as their respective poses, they were vaguely configured to do wrestling moves.  Bret's arms were partly outstretched to do clotheslines and slams, while Neidhart could easily do a powerslam (though I'm not sure why the fingers of his right hand are spread out).  These two toys looked good and could get you through a match.

Likeness - 8
Playability - 6
Total - 14


"You understand, Captain, that this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist."

One of my all-time favorite movie posters.  I like it so much that after watching the film once in 1995
and not loving it, I gave it another chance years later.  Good thing I did, because that's when the film clicked for me.

Why has Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War tour de force Apocalypse Now, whose production was hampered by just about every turmoil and anxiety imaginable, endured the last 35 years as a genuine classic?   How was its director able to weather the perfect storm of location problems, unpredictable equipment availability, cast changes, health scares, and a wholly mercurial and unprepared star, and come out the other side with one of the greatest of all war films, indeed one of the greatest films of any genre?  Perhaps adversity really is key to making great art.  Maybe the filmmakers' creative anguish formed a cinematic powderkeg, the volatility of which can be felt in every frame.  Or maybe Apocalypse Now remains in our collective lexicon because it is not a "war film" in the traditional sense, but rather a story about traveling inward to the darkest recesses of the human soul and confronting what we find.  Perhaps the above quote from Harrison Ford's character Colonel G. Lucas (get it?) is more significant than just a plot-related throwaway line.

The film begins with a beautiful slow-motion shot - a reject from the vast collection of dailies that Coppola just happened to fish out of the trash, depicting a forest being incinerated by a fleet of helicopters - before blending into a composite shot.  The jungle becomes the background for an upside-down closeup of Martin Sheen as Captain Benjamin Willard and a closeup of a temple face carved out of stone.  The soundtrack to this beautifully disturbing montage is The Doors epic "The End," which in its own right would become another character in the film.  This combined image is a harbinger of the introspective, surrealistic journey Willard, and we, are about to take.

Effin' trippy, dude.

"There is no way to tell (Colonel Kurtz's) story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine."

Capt. Willard is a broken man when we first meet him.  Like a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, he has been at war so long he no longer knows how to live without it; how to relate to the outside world.  His marriage has ended and he's chosen to return to battle, but without a mission he rots away in a Saigon hotel room, spending most waking hours in a drunken haze.  He is a man devoid of purpose, and when his superiors finally give him something to do, it is the unenviable (and classified) task of traveling upriver through the war-mutilated country to kill a rogue US Colonel.  The film then becomes a series of detached events resembling Homer's Odyssey, as Willard and his boat crew travel deeper and deeper into the jungle.

Willard's target, the highly decorated Colonel Walter Kurtz, has established a cult-like settlement deep in the Loatian jungle (where he is worshiped by the local tribes) and wages his own chaotic form of war.  Willard reluctantly agrees to the mission despite its profound moral ambiguity, and as his journey progresses he finds himself both fearing and deeply respecting Kurtz for all his accomplishments.  He begins to doubt his ability to carry out the mission.

Apocalypse Now is full of great shots.  This one is simple but perfectly captures
the overwhelming heat and claustrophobia of the location. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

WWE Elimination Chamber 2019 Preview & Predictions

It's been three weeks since the Rumble, so that means it's time for another WWE PPV!  We're in the thick of WrestleMania season, when a few of the big matches for April are starting to become clearer.  This Sunday it's the return of Elimination Chamber!

Like 2018, this year's edition has two Chambers, one for the men and one for the women.  But the women's match this time has a wrinkle, as it's to crown the first set of Women's Tag Team Champions, a title that hasn't existed in roughly thirty years (Remember how awesome the Jumping Bomb Angels were?).  Aside from the two Chamber bouts, this show is fairly thin, but at least it won't be five hours, for Chrissake.  Let's get to it...

***I'm ahead with 69% (83/120), Dave is second with 66% (79/120), and Dan and Landon are tied with 65% (78/120).***

Pre-Show Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa

For the first time I'm actually a little sad the CW match got bumped.  Buddy and his, well, buddies on 205 Live have been killing it lately.  This should be no exception, as both guys can go.  I gotta stick with Buddy to retain here since it is on the pre-show.  Maybe someday they'll get a high-profile enough match to have a meaningful title change.

Justin: Buddy retains
Dan: Yeah
Landon: Buddy
Dave: Buddy

Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor

I hate handicap matches, you should all know this by now.  But I like Finn Balor.  Finn should finally win some goddamn main roster gold; he's only had a title on RAW for one day.  This could be decent.  Finn has been working his ass off lately, Lashley is much, much better as a heel, and Lio Rush is talented.  But Finn needs this.

Justin: Finn gets the pin to win that piece of tin.
Dan: I think Lashley holds it here to lose it to Balor at 'Mania
Landon: Christ almighty.  Finn.
Dave: Let's go Finn

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Shane & The Miz vs. The Usos

Christ, this is where we're at now?  Shane gets a PPV match every month?  We all know this is building to Shane-Miz at 'Mania, but since Fastlane stands between this show and that one, Shane & Mike ain't losing yet.

Justin: The champs retain
Dan: They almost have to.
Landon: Usos
Dave: The champs, but come on, this is ridiculous.

You Used to be Sooooo Good: Frank Miller

Welcome to another edition of You Used to Be Soooo Good, where Justin and I, Dan Moore, discuss things used to be awesome but now, eh, not so much. On this day we discuss one of the greatest, most important men to ever come down the chute to write and draw men in tights punching other men in tights in the facial regions.

Frank Miller:  You Used to Be Soooo Good

He just looks like a creep these days.

DAN: Mr. Miller is the highly influential creator of some of the greatest comic book opuses out there. He’s the master of Batman stories, and gave us this, one the most iconic images of Bats in comics history. 

My God.  Just look at it.

The man changed the comics world, taking it from the nerdy clich├ęs of the Simpsons comic book guy to becoming okay for the masses to enjoy them.

JUSTIN: He somehow went from being one of the greatest and most influential comic book artist/writers of all time, a man who revitalized and redefined not one but two major characters while creating a totally distinctive style, to an insufferable self-parody who turns out mean-spirited fascist drivel.

DAN: His politics seem to have completely taken over his creative mind. To the point where he had to re-do a Batman comic into a totally different character as it went on to become a propaganda piece depicting a masked hero beating up Al-Qaeda operatives. Which, to me, seems like a pointless indulgence as actual terrorists run amok around the world. Is seeing a pretend hero beating up actual villains supposed to make us feel better? Feel patriotic somehow? The whole project, from inception to execution seemed 100% pointless and ego driven.

JUSTIN: Yes, his recent "classic," Holy Terror, is essentially just his own fantasy about killing Muslims. Here's how Grant Morrison felt about the idea when it was announced:

Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs.' Al Qaeda.

It's just a shame that such a brilliantly talented artist/writer evidently allowed the events of 9/11 to turn him into a vindictive, bitter old vulture.  Not unlike what happened to Dennis Miller. I mean there's a place for political commentary in comic books to be sure, but it kinda has to be kept as subtext, or it just becomes regurgitated propaganda.  During World War II DC Comics used to depict Superman beating up Hitler and Hirohito on the covers of several issues, but inside the stories were never about that.  The editors wisely understood that even if Supes beats up our enemies abroad in the pages of his comic book, in real life our soldiers still have to face actual horrors overseas.  In the end, while comic books can contain relevant social and political topics, they need to be presented as the backdrop for an escapist story somehow, or it doesn't really work as an art form.

Yeah, Generic Superhero!  You beat up that sword-wielding mummy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Girl Scout Cookies Are Complete & Utter Trash

By Dan Moore

Well, it’s that time of year again. When a bunch of people that work in an office are forced by some pushy asshole co-worker to overpay for some shit cookies being sold by a cabal of prepubescent minions in uniforms for a scam “fundraiser”. That’s right, it’s Girl Scout cookie season.

A rainbow of rubbish

This fucking shakedown has been perpetrated on the American public for literally centuries*. These god-awful bullshit cookies are pushed upon you by some doting mother, probably with an asshole name, like Paige or Alice. “Would you like to overpay for some flavorless sugar discs” she’ll say. And lest you be chastised by the whole fucking office, you acquiesce and say “Sure, give me a box of that garbage where the carboard holding the cookies is tastier than the bullshit cookie itself”. Then she’ll say “oh, only one?” and fucking Karen in accounting will give you that look of disdain, like you’re some kind of monster for only getting one box full of plain flour slices (seriously, fuck you, Karen). So you get two. And she says “ok that’s 9 cookies for a thousand dollars, thanks asshole”.

*(probably not literally).

I hate the whole racket. The fake specialness of those awful cookies. The little sprites in their fucking sashes accosting me outside the Market Basket trying to get me to overpay for their dumpster cookies. Uh, hey, Prudence, or Zima or whatever the fuck horrible name your parents gave you, I just came from the super market. I got BAGS of good cookies, sweetheart. Oreos UP THE ASS. Good shit, like Chips Ahoy and/or Deluxe, whatever your Chips preference is, I got it. And there’s a TON of those motherfuckers in very affordable packages.


And what the fuck are you doing by the supermarket exit selling cookies? Hey, newsflash Nadia, I ALREADY BOUGHT COOKIES. Why would I get more when I’m leaving? Who the fuck taught you marketing? There’s ZERO chance I’m buying anything by the exit of the place I just left, unless it’s a bar and there’s cocaine. It’s common sense. Jesus Christ.

Let’s rate these motherfuckers.

The Peanut Butter ones—legit, the only decent tasting one, and that’s being kind, because these are still fucking terrible. The peanut butter to “cookie” ratio is waaaaaaaaaay fucking off. It tastes like dried dough with a slight peanut butter texture.

RATING: On a taste of ass to total ass, it tastes slightly worse than ass.

Thin Mints---the fuck outta my face with this bullshit. A thin disc of smashed up toothpaste is what this is. “Oh you gotta put them in the freezer for the best taste” I’m gonna put you in the freezer if you don’t shut the fuck up. When I need instructions on how to make your vomit cookies actually taste good, that means they suck and you should go to hell.

RATING: Pure minty hell.

Samoas---“Here, have a bite of racism!” What the fuck is with this name? They’re destroying a beautiful culture by having them be associated with this monster. Caramel and chocolate all mixed up with coconut? I’d rather get a handy from Freddy Krueger than try to down these abominations.

RATING: Complete and utter ASS.

If these look enticing to you, go jump in traffic. 

Tagalongs---more like fuckalongs.

RATING: Balls. Pure balls.

Fuck these cookies. Straight dumpster cuisine.

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The One Thing Wrong with Jurassic Park, by Dan Moore

Jurassic Park is an incredible film. You don't need me to tell you this. It's science. Look.

I'm not here to point out any of the myriad of plot holes, technical gaffes or implausibilities in this film. There's plenty of articles out there showing this stuff.  I'm of the belief that if I can buy people bringing back fucking DINOSAURS, then sure, I can believe a T-Rex can sneak up on a group of raptors and people in a building.

My one problem with this movie is this.

Not that the lawyer gets it on the toilet. No issue there. My problem is with the fact that there's a toilet there in the first place. There would be ZERO need for a toilet at the T-Rex paddock. You would automatically shit your pants at the awesomeness of a T-Rex eating a goat. Not in a bad, embarrassing way. It would be accepted in every tour given. It would be a known custom at the park. They'd be telling you this the second you went through that King Kong wooden door.  "Be warned, this next part is so fucking awesome, you are going to shit in your pants." Christ, I'm sitting on my couch, just thinking of a giant lizard eating some livestock, and a little nugget fell out.  Ok, two. If you think there's something wrong with that, then there's something wrong with you and I don't wanna know you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

You Used to Be Sooooo Good: Rob Reiner

Welcome back to our vaunted Enuffa.com regular feature, You Used to Be Sooooo Good, where I, Justin Ballard and my esteemed associate Dan Moore discuss things that used to be super awesome and now, well, just kinda suck.

There he is.  A former master of cinema.

JUSTIN: This week we'll be discussing the films of director Rob Reiner.  From a well-renowned comedy pedigree, Reiner became famous as Meathead on All in the Family, but made the transition to directing films.  His filmography began with an amazing streak of seven good-to-excellent films, no fewer than four being bonafide cinematic classics.  Just take a gander at his early work.....

This is Spinal Tap (1984) - One of my top five favorite comedies and as you know, one of my most oft-quoted.  Plus as a metal musician I've been through so many similar scenarios as these fools.
The Sure Thing (1985) - Probably the weakest of his early films but still a highly entertaining rom-com that more or less put John Cusack on the map.
Stand By Me (1986) - Based on the Stephen King novella The Body, this is for me the quintessential pre-adolescent movie and the relationships between the four boys echoes pretty much every group of friends I've ever had.
The Princess Bride (1987) - What's not to like about this movie?  It literally has something for everyone, plus the best-ever cinematic performance by a pro wrestler (Andre the Giant).
When Harry Met Sally (1988) - This one hasn't had the long-term appeal for me as the others, but I rewatched it a few years ago and it still holds up as a rare rom-com with both a heart and a brain.
Misery (1990) - Just a really great adaptation of the Stephen King book.  The horror violence is slightly toned down but otherwise it's a pretty perfect movie interpretation.
A Few Good Men (1992) - Arguably Reiner's masterpiece, A Few Good Men was robbed of multiple Oscars as far as I'm concerned.  Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson delivered some of their finest work, and the near-perfect script by Aaron Sorkin provided eminently quotable dialogue that is still part of the American lexicon.

Top Ten Things: WWE Elimination Chamber Matches

Welcome to another Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com!

We're days away from the Elimination Chamber PPV, where the WrestleMania lineup could be dramatically reshaped.  For several years this match/PPV served as the final stop on the Road to WrestleMania, and it had a huge impact on the top Title picture.  It seemed in 2015 that the concept was being retired due to logistical problems with hanging the Chamber from the arena ceiling.  But thankfully WWE dusted off this match last year and it's apparently here to stay.

The Elimination Chamber was first introduced in 2002 as an Eric Bischoff creation, combining aspects of Survivor Series, WarGames, and the Royal Rumble into one brutal fight.  Two men would start the match and every few minutes another would enter, until by pin or submission each entrant would be eliminated.  The wrinkle was that the entire ring would be surrounded by a massive chain-cage structure, and all but the first two participants would be trapped in pods until it was time to join the melee.

This is an unpopular opinion, but I considered the first Chamber match a failure.  I found it slow, plodding, awkward, and ultimately counterproductive in creating a strong RAW roster at a time when Smackdown was smoking RAW creatively and in the ratings.  The match was all about the Hunter-Shawn feud, and the other four guys were treated as afterthoughts.  On top of that, no one seemed sure what to do inside this terrifying-but-unfamiliar structure.  Fortunately the kinks were ironed out after the inaugural edition and over the past fourteen years the Chamber has provided numerous classic clusterfucks.  Here now are my ten favorites.....

10. Daniel Bryan vs. Santino Marella vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show vs. Great Khali - Elimination Chamber - 2.19.12

Despite one of the least auspicious lineups in the Chamber's history, this match ended up pretty great, mostly due to the late-match work by Bryan and Marella.  WWE wisely kept Khali's involvement to a minimum, booking Big Show to pin him almost immediately after a spear.  The rest of the match featured solid action, but it was the dramatic near-win by Marella and the heel work by Bryan that made this match truly memorable.  For a few minutes they had an entire arena believing Marella might actually win the belt, but ultimately Bryan submitted him with the LeBell Lock to retain.  Bryan would of course go on to infamously lose to Sheamus in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, a stupid and ill-conceived booking move that ended up doing much more for Bryan's success than Sheamus's.

9. Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Jericho vs. JBL vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Umaga
No Way Out - 2.17.08

2008's No Way Out PPV began the several-year trend of the Elimination Chamber being used to shape the main event picture for WrestleMania, with two #1 Contender matches determining challengers for each brand.  The RAW Chamber match was easily the superior one, with a stacked lineup, lots of Jericho vs. Michaels action, and a career-elevating performance by Jeff Hardy.  Triple H would outlast the others to earn a WWE Title match against Randy Orton (he'd be joined by John Cena) before capturing the Title at Backlash and taking it to Smackdown in the 2008 Draft.

8. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Sheamus vs. Cesaro vs. Christian
Elimination Chamber - 2.23.14

The 2014 Chamber might have had the best pound-for-pound lineup, with five World Champions involved, plus the accomplished Cesaro.  The action was spectacular, with all six participants entering the match before any were eliminated.  The booking toward the end got a bit outlandish, with the Wyatt Family causing Cena's elimination and Korporate Kane assisting with Daniel Bryan's, but it was a highly engaging Chamber match and ended up being Christian's career finale.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Movie Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

As a huge longtime fan of the Coen Brothers I was stoked for their latest, a film I could watch on Netflix no less (no need to book a babysitter!).  True Grit, the Coens' previous foray into the Western genre was a rousing success and ranks as one of my favorite entries in their filmography, so The Ballad of Buster Scruggs seemed like a promising venture.  The film is an anthology of six unrelated narratives that plays out like a book of short stories and stars Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Brendan Gleeson and a host of others.

I was drawn in pretty quickly by the first story, a tongue-in-cheek, violently amusing piece about an accomplished gunfighter/singing cowboy (Nelson as the title character) who speaks cheerfully and eloquently but has no qualms about coldly murdering anyone who dares insult him.  This story was quite promising and felt like a classic Coen exercise in morbid comedy.  And then it was just over.  Right when are getting interesting, the tale comes to a screeching, premature halt, and we move quickly to the next story.  And that sums up the biggest problem I have with this film.  None of the chapters are given adequate time to explore the characters or plot elements long enough to really become compelling.  Each story either feels rushed to its conclusion or just kind of empty.

The second story involves a bank robbery gone wrong.  The bandit (James Franco) finds himself at the end of a rope, only to escape and then find himself at the end of another rope five screen minutes later.  Things happen in most of these stories that ultimately don't change the outcome.  Maybe that was the theme?  Death is imminent and any escape from it is only temporary?

The third, and most depressing chapter involves a traveling show that consists of a quadraplegic who delivers famous monologues and historical speeches.  Liam Neeson stars as the show manager, Harry Melling as the talent.  This rather repetitive piece depicts their daily routine and their dwindling crowds, building to a very morbid climax.  There's a good idea in here somewhere but the story ultimately feels one-note.

That can also be said of the fourth story, starring Tom Waits as a lone prospector digging for gold along a river bank.  Were it not for Waits' natural onscreen charisma and the picturesque outdoor setting this story wouldn't have much going for it at all.  Most of this episode consists of Waits shoveling dirt into a pan and sifting for nuggets, trying to narrow down the source of the gold.  That he's able to hold our attention in what is almost a one-man show is striking.

The fifth segment feels the most complete; Zoe Kazan stars as a young woman wagon training to Oregon with her brother to hopefully find fortune in the west.  The brother dies of cholera and the woman has to decide how to proceed.  She and one of the train leaders hit it off and he asks her to marry him, agreeing to assume the debts left by the brother.  Then a Comanche attack throws everyone's plans into upheaval.  Of the six stories this would've lent itself best to a full-length film.  Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck have strong chemistry as the two leads and for the first time in the film I found myself rooting for someone.  I'd have liked to see more of this piece.

The final story is the weakest - we're in a carriage with five assorted characters having philosophical discussions about the nature of man, whether we're no more complex than animals or whether peity makes us virtuous.  We then discover that two of the passengers are bounty hunters whose cargo atop the carriage is a target they had to kill to bring to justice.  And well, that's it.  Nothing else happens in this story and I was baffled it was chosen to close the film.  Aside from the aforementioned "death is inevitable" theme it escaped me how this tied the stories together or what it was doing here.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs showed a lot of promise early on.  It's well-acted, the script has that signature Coen flair for language, and there is some dark humor.  But none of the stories is fleshed out enough to make me care much about what happens, and in some cases almost nothing does.  This film would've worked better if they'd chosen the three most promising pieces (I'd go with the Buster Scruggs story, the Tom Waits one, and the Zoe Kazan one) and expanded each of them to forty minutes.  Or perhaps this should've been turned into a TV series with each chapter a 45-minute episode.  Rushing through six narratives in two hours just felt skimpy to me.  The result is a pure exercise in style without much apparent purpose.

I give the film ** out of ****.

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Top Ten Things: Oscar Upsets

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  It's a list of ten things that stand aTOP all other things.  See?

Well we are in the midst of movie awards season, which for me means a mad dash to catch up on all the Oscar bait I haven't seen yet.  Thus when the Golden Globes and Oscars roll around I'll be much more educated and opinionated about the winners and losers.  Over the years we've seen some pretty shocking winners; some pleasant surprises, some bile-churning outrages.  Very often it seems Mr. Oscar suffers from acute myopia, as literally dozens of Best Picture winners fail to make much of a lasting impression on the American lexicon, while many of the losers are universally lauded as masterworks for decades to come.  The same can be said of individual performances and the actors attached to them.  Sometimes an actor or actress can win the gold statue and go on to do literally nothing of note, while perpetually snubbed thespians continue to impress critically and commercially despite the lack of Academy love.

So let's take a look at the ten most noteworthy upsets in Oscar history.  This list includes nominees for Best Picture, Director, and acting awards.

10. Crash over Brokeback Mountain

One of the most infamous recent shockers took place in 2006, as Paul Haggis's ensemble piece about racial tensions in America took home the gold despite the outpouring of support for Ang Lee's touching cowboy love story.  Almost immediately Crash suffered something of a backlash, and few people today recall it as an all-time classic, while Brokeback Mountain helped launch the serious acting careers of Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and of course the late Heath Ledger.  For the record I enjoyed both films but I didn't consider Crash a multiple-time watch.

9. Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) over Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men)

The 1993 ceremony saw a battle of heavyweights in the Best Supporting Actor category, as the respective villains of Clint Eastwood's understated Western and Rob Reiner's courtroom drama went head-to-head.  Hackman took the award but it's Nicholson's performance that is much more remembered (and quoted) 20-plus years later, as the iconic Col. Nathan Jessup.  Lines like "You can't handle the truth!" and "Are we clear??" "Crystal." are part of our vernacular, while Hackman's turn as Little Bill Daggett, though certainly skillful, was far less memorable.

8. Bob Fosse (Cabaret) over Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather)

Speaking of memorable vs. not-so-much, in 1973 choreographer/musical theater director Bob Fosse won the Best Director award for Cabaret, despite Francis Ford Coppola seeming a shoe-in for his masterful work on The Godfather.  The epic mafia drama has since become an essential part of any cinefile's collection, while Cabaret is.....well, not so much.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Cinema Do-Overs: Star Wars Episode I

Since the final Star Wars film in the current trilogy is soon to be upon us, I thought I'd share my own revamped version of Episode I.  I won't go into everything that was wrong with The Phantom Menace, as we'd be here all year, and others have already covered that stuff much more thoroughly and cleverly than I could (Red Letter Media and Chef Elf for example).  But here's how I would totally overhaul the story and give the world a worthy prequel to one of the greatest film trilogies of all time.  Enjoy.....

To preface this, there are two story threads happening and the film would cut back and forth between the big picture stuff and the character stuff.  

The big picture stuff is like this: A war has been brewing over the past decade between the Republic and the Separatists.  War is looked upon as an absolute last resort and is unspeakably ugly to most citizens of the Republic.  The Republic is set up like Switzerland where there’s a standing army and all able-bodied men and women of a certain age are required to join, but since war hasn’t happened in over 1000 generations it’s mostly just a formality.  Those who show real promise are promoted to officers, and those who exhibit strong Force skills are offered Jedi training.  Jedi training begins at age 9 or 10 (not friggin’ six months like Lucas had it) and is mostly performed by a select Council of Jedi (Yoda previously had a more hands-on role in training but given his advanced age he has stepped back from that).

Anywho, the Separatists, led by the mysterious Governor Morlac (who they talk about but we don’t see in this episode; also I changed his name because Dooku sounds like "poop," and he is not affiliated with Palpatine or the Sith) are putting together an army of men and droids and are threatening to secede from the Republic (maybe over Clone technology, which is used to cure disease etc. – this creates an interesting parallel with the real-life debate over stem-cell research).  It should be noted that unlike in the actual prequels, the impending war is a real thing and not a false conflict orchestrated by Palpatine.  Acts of hostility have already broken out all over the galaxy and the Republic is beginning to crumble.  Crime has become a real issue and the economic system is being strained, resulting in outer rim planets becoming war zones (like the one Anakin grew up on).  The Jedi therefore are being stretched thin and are desperately looking to recruit more help. 

An ambitious Senator Palpatine, in light of the rising turmoil/economic crisis, begins a campaign to declare war on the Separatists and restore peace in the galaxy.  He is a master speech maker and has gained quite a bit of support in the Senate and all around the galaxy, particularly in the outer rim where poverty and crime are at an all-time high.  Also the Supreme Chancellor is up for re-election and Palpatine is making a bid to replace him.

The Retired Human: An Investigation

I’ve been subjected to a bevy of retired people in my life the last few weeks (my parents were in town, and now my girlfriend's parents). I’ve been able to study their everyday activities and now I would like to share with you all my very scientific observations on this most strange animal, the Retired Human (Oldicus Boredicus).

There they are, about to tell me how I fucked something up.

1. THEY CRAVE THE PRINTED WORD: These old folk need information. But they do not wish to have that info at a convenient access point like, say, in their hands AT ANY TIME WITH A PUSH OF A BUTTON. No, no, no. These people need ink on paper. NEED IT. Like an alcoholic going from bar to bar avoiding last calls, these people cannot begin the day without their fingers being dirtied up by cheap ink off cheaper paper. Yes, they desire yesterday’s news at an ungodly early hour printed on a piece of stationary barely above welfare grade toilet paper. They all head to a store before the sun is up. They circle the place, standing by for the doors to open so they can pounce like hyenas waiting on a used-up carcass.  One wonders if they would also accept a man working with a quill pen, dipping it in ink and writing out this info in Latin, which is just about as useful as today’s newspapers. 

Breaking News 

2. THEY ARE ACTIVE WELL BEFORE MODERN MAN AWAKENS: When once it was known that the day started when the first rooster crows, now we must heed the call of the sexagenarian. I always thought 4:15 AM was far too early to be putting dishes away; alas, I was wrong. Though I as a working human need rest, they as a non-working folk do not. Nor are they too worried about waking you up when even the sun is still sleeping. They are clanging and banging all over the house like it’s a goddamn gym. But I was told I was too loud at 8:30 PM while I was rubbing wet cotton over a blanket. 

QUIET DOWN!!!!!!!!!!

3. THEY EXPLAIN EVERYTHING TO YOU. EVERYTHING: Have you ever opened a window before? Sure you have! But you’ve been doing it all wrong, you silly son of a bitch! There’s subtle nuances to opening and closing a window I never knew before. But I do know, after my 17-minute tutorial about pushing something up then pushing something down. Other things I had no clue I was doing wrong all these years was using the shower, folding clothes and cutting a steak. Thankfully, I am re-trained in all these activities and I will not be made to look the fool. 

These were just some of my observations while watching this strange creature. Tune in next time when I share with you that you can't be drinking all that caffeine and those lights are way too bright. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Top Ten Things: Obscure 1980s Toys

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  Today I'm thinkin' about old toys I wish I still had.  Because apparently I'm eleven.

The 1980s was an amazing era to be a kid.  Us children of the 80s were treated to some of the most badassistic (Yeah I made up a word) action figure lines ever offered up.  Think about it, in the same decade we had Star Wars toys, He-Man, Transformers, and GI Joe (plus the short-lived DC Super Powers and Marvel Secret Wars), and those are just a handful of the toy lines that were hits!  We also had a fuckton of action figure series that were either short-lived or outright flopped, and those are the ones I'm here to talk about today.  I got to thinking about some of the more obscure toys I had as a kid and the list just kept growing on me.  Some of them I had trouble finding on Google because the name escaped me, but eventually I found 'em all.  Not only does this piece feature a top ten but I've included three Honorable Mentions.  So, strap on your nerd hats and join me for a look back at some of the best obscure toys of the 80s!

HM: Karate Kid (Remco)

Yeah this set came with giant chopsticks to catch a giant rubber fly.

From the hit 1984 film Rocky But With Karate, these stupid, one-note toys had some inexplicable charm to them.  Literally the only two characters I ever found were Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi (apparently Johnny, Kreese and others were available later on), but each figure had one arm and one leg that were spring-loaded, so when you pushed a button they would either chop or kick.  This one set I got came with both characters and a litany of structures for them to chop through or break.  Wooden boards, ice, brick walls, this coat rack-lookin' thing, you name it.  Destroying fake wood with these figures was stupid fun.

HM: Clash of the Titans (Mattel)

They released the first wave and then they RELEASED THE KRRRAKEN!

What a promising line this was, until it wasn't.  The wonderful 1981 fantasy film Clash of the Titans had so many colorful characters and creatures that lent themselves to toy designs, in the same way the Star Wars trilogy did.  The first (and thanks to poor sales, only) series included Perseus (a fantastic Harry Hamlin likeness), his buddy Thallo, Calibos, and for some reason Charon the ferryman (who only appears in the film for like four seconds), plus a Pegasus toy (with zero points of articulation) and a huge Kraken (who looked boss).  Insanely the coolest looking character in the movie, Medusa, never got a toy, but maybe she, Andromeda and some of the Greek gods would've been included in series 2.  Regardless, these were solid toys that deserved a better run.

HM: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Kenner)/Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (LJN)

This is one of my favorite films, but what are you supposed to do with these?

Two different toy companies tried to make "fetch" happen in the 80s with Indiana Jones.  When Raiders of the Lost Ark came out it was a no-brainer that Kenner, fresh off its colossal success with the Star Wars line, would introduce a similar-in-scale line of Indy toys.  Only problem was, beyond the main character no one else in that movie does a whole lot that lends itself to action figure play.  Indy does all the heavy lifting.  What are you supposed to do with Marion in a removable evening gown, or the black-clad swordsman whom Indy shoots like a dog in the street?  Or Belloq or Toht or Col. Dietrich, who are all excellent baddies in the film but have no action sequences to speak of?  The one character Indy has a fistfight with is the nameless bald German mechanic, but that'd keep you busy for what, five minutes?  It's a shame, these were good looking toys for the time, but aside from Indy himself there wasn't much you could do with 'em.  Even the few playsets they had were pointless (more on that HERE).

Damn good detail on these but again, what do I do with 'em?

Then in 1984 LJN tried their hand with 5-inch figures for Temple of Doom, releasing five characters but running into the same problem.  Playing with these toys was all about Indy performing daring stunts and escapes.  Beyond that you're stuck.  Thus when The Last Crusade came out, no one even bothered with a toy line.  'Twas a pity. 

Okay now for the meat of the list....

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Rock

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  For those just joining us in progress, ASM is a regular feature where I pick apart a film that neither qualifies as a particularly good film nor as a piece of junk.  Every movie spotlighted in this column is something I either enjoy despite itself, or a movie that could be really good if the filmmakers just got out of their own way.

Today's ASM is the 1996 Michael Bay action vehicle, The Rock, starring Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris.  The Rock tells the story of a former US General who hijacks Alcatraz Island, taking 80 civilians hostage, and threatens to launch a poison gas missile into San Francisco if his demands aren't met.  The US Government, not wanting to negotiate, sends in a team of Navy Seals, plus a former Alcatraz inmate who knows how to enter the prison undetected, and a chemical weapons expert to disarm the missiles.  As expected, things don't quite go according to plan and all hell breaks loose in the prison.

So why was The Rock both good and bad?  Let's find out....

The Awesome

Lead Actors/Characters

The Rock really begins and ends with its three lead actors. 

Nicolas Cage is spot-on as Stanley Goodspeed, the everyman type who's been thrust into an extraordinary situation and repeatedly survives by the skin of his teeth.  He is our eyes and ears throughout the story, keeping his head down during the intense action and letting the more experienced military characters do the heavy lifting while he concentrates on disarming missiles.  The fact that he has a pregnant girlfriend waiting for him at home adds consequence and sympathy to his plight; we reaaaallly hope he gets out of this alive.

Sean Connery as John Mason essentially plays an older James Bond type - a grizzled SAS veteran brought in to show the Navy Seals how to get in and out of the prison.  When we first meet him, Mason has been imprisoned by the US Government for 30 years without being charged, for refusing to divulge classified information.  During the ensuing combat, Mason is always in control of the situation and never gets rattled.  He forms an unlikely bond with Goodspeed and more or less guides/protects him (and us) through the action.  Mason initially wants to run once the shit hits the fan, but Goodspeed reminds him that his daughter would be within the blast radius if the bad guys launch their missiles.  So he has to juggle helping Goodspeed while also planning his escape at the end.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wrestling Throwback: Lou Thesz vs. Buddy Rogers (June 21, 1950)

This week I happened to stumble upon a super old-school match on YouTube (one of many actually).  How old-school?  Try 69 years old-school.

This match is from June 21, 1950, pitting NWA World Champion Lou Thesz against the original "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers.  As with all Title matches of the time, this was 2 out of 3 falls with a sixty-minute time limit.  The bout took place at Wrigley Field and was later broadcast on the Wrestling from Chicago TV series.

Watching this match was a delightful little time-traveling experience.  I'd never seen any complete Thesz or Rogers matches, and certainly not from their respective prime years (WWE needs to add some pre-1975 content to the Network).  This match actually took place only two years after Thesz first won the NWA World Title, during his six-plus-year reign.  The grappling style on display here was very fluid and athletic, and in fact much more diverse than I would've expected from that period.  During the first fall both guys concentrated on wear-down mat holds like side headlocks and armbars (Thesz even used a keylock at one point), but as the match wore on the moves became much more high-impact.

Rogers dominated most of the first fall, holding a standing headlock and frequently throwing punches to Thesz's face while obstructing the referee's line of sight - a brilliantly simple heel tactic.  After sixteen minutes he hit his finisher, the piledriver, which in this case looked just like the variation Mick Foley later used.  This surprised me actually, given how different Foley's overall style was from Rogers'.  Even more amazingly this wouldn't be the only move Foley lifted from Rogers' arsenal.

The second fall was much shorter but Rogers controlled most of this as well, once again relying on barely-covert punches to the face, to the point of Thesz's forehead bleeding hardway in multiple places.  Finally the referee held back Rogers' arm, allowing Thesz to escape and apply an Airplane Spin into a slam, good for the second fall.

Top Ten Things: Oscar Snubs

Hello and welcome to a special Academy Awards edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be talking about some of the great acting award snubs in Oscar's long and glorious history.  Every year it seems there are at least one or two major films or performances that either go ignored by the Academy or lose to inferior competition.  I can think of several films now heralded as all-time classics that were shown little Oscar love back in the day - Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life, and the original Star Wars for example. 

Then there are the baffling upsets like Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan, Ordinary People being chosen over Raging Bull, Kramer vs. Kramer over Apocalypse Now, and of course Forrest Gump trouncing both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption.

Additionally certain universally-acclaimed films over the years have simply been shut out of the proceedings.  Hoop Dreams for Best Documentary in 1994, The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature in 2015, and for me, Boogie Nights for Best Picture in 1997.

But maybe the most common examples of the Academy failing to recognize deserving achievements fall into the acting categories.  So many great performances have gone unnoticed by the myopic Oscar over the decades.  I can name many more than ten, but this being a Top Ten Things column I've narrowed it down to what I feel are the ten most egregious snubs in Oscar history.

***Note*** Given how difficult it is to rank acting performances I'll be presenting these in chronological order.

1. Miriam Hopkins - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

As fiery dance hall girl Ivy Pearson, Hopkins delivered a performance on par with her Oscar-winning co-star Frederic March.  Their onscreen chemistry was phenomenal and helped elevate this version of Stevenson's classic novella into much more than a typical 1930s monster movie.  Throughout the film Hopkins' character is horribly victimized by the sadistic, abusive Hyde, and she amazingly conveys Ivy's desperation and hopelessness. 

Key Scene: Ivy visits Dr. Jekyll for help, unaware that he and Hyde are one and the same.  As she implores Jekyll to save her she erupts into tears while he looks on, overwhelmed by guilt at being the cause of her torment.  This is a heartbreaking scene.

2. Jeff Goldblum - The Fly (1986)

Another horror film that didn't require an Oscar-worthy performance per se, David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly is largely remembered for its gross-out makeup effects, as its protagonist Seth Brundle gradually deteriorates into a repulsive larva-man.  But underneath all that disgusting makeup is Jeff Goldblum, who went above and beyond to make Brundle into a three-dimensional character we simultaneously fear and pity.  The film is essentially an AIDS parable; Brundle's condition is presented as a cellular disease that both breaks down his body and strips him of his humanity.

Key Scene: Late in the film Brundle's ex-girlfriend Veronica (Geena Davis) visits his apartment one final time.  By this point Brundle has become a lumpy brown mass with insect mannerisms whose human side has almost totally receded.  He warns her to stay away, delivering a tragic monologue about the brutality of the insect brain.