Friday, August 13, 2010

Still Getting Into Trouble Some 20 Years Later...

So many images to choose from, so little time. It was either this or something from the Roscoe's chicken commercial. Allow this old timer to put Tapeheads into the proper historical context. While John Cusack and Tim Robbins have yet to re-unite, becoming this generation's revitalized Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau... Cusack has yet to win an Oscar, yes? Oh, snap! Anyway, the 1988-1989 film season also provided us with UHF and The Big Picture... the film, not the MTV movie promo show with that dude that had the cameo in Last Picture Show... I mean, Last Action Hero... yes, Tapeheads, UHF and The Big Picture are all about guys who said to themselves, I can do better. This was tastefully, gently implied in The Big Picture. I haven't seen UHF recently within the past year but somehow I don't feel I have to.
But back to our recent family viewing of Tapeheads. I guess I wasn't totally in the mood for it at the time, or perhaps it's just too ingrained a part of my adolescence to view it freshly, but it's not without its rewards. Director Bill Fishman will still best be associated with the awful screen adaptation of Car 54, Where Are You? If only in the minds of Showtime's programmers. And of course, production designer Catherine Hardwicke has gone on to bigger and better things... not necessarily thematically better, but we can't have it all, now, can we? And believe me, if Michael Crichton can't, no one can.
The plot: two... I hesitate to call them losers, but they do a mean white boy extended handshake remix. They're forced to graduate from regular security jobs to pursue Tim Robbins' dream of making music videos. Seriously. Well, they were ahead of the curve, no doubt about it, and look at all the prestige directors that graduated from music videos, whether we want to or not! Jonathan Glazer, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Mark Romanek, and of course, David Fincher... I'm getting nauseous now. Let's stop looking. And so we follow these two nice boys on various adventures... oh, they look so young! Cusack tangoes with Ted Nugent AND Weird Al Yankovic and gets his ass kicked twice. Oh, I'll never look at Weird Al the same way again. We learn about making videos on spec, a lesson we'll never forget for as long as we live. There's also Bobcat Goldthwait using his normal voice! There's also a subplot involving a Republican candidate for president with an unhealthy fetish to give the film some damn prestige. Well, sometimes you gotta impress the WGA with crap like that. There's genuine lightning strikes... they were, weren't they? Don't you lie to me! There's also fourth wall, self-conscious stuff going on. There's also a plug woven ever so subtly into the plot for one of the movie's producers: NBC. But there's something that was rudely taken out of the movie: the They Might Be Giants song Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head! I swear. Let me check IMDb for a sec here... nope, still in the list. Guess I gotta watch it again, huh?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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