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Thanksgiving: A Weekend of Turkeys

It was not my intention to spend the Thanksgiving holiday wallowing in crap. Instead, I looked upon the weekend as a chance to catch up on DVDs and comics on those evenings that I would not be with my wife and kids.

So as I trekked to pick up my 91-year-old grandmother, I took along a few DVDs for no other reason than I knew no matter when I watched them, everybody else in the house would have to be asleep and be the type of people who never would ask what I was watching. Bless you, Grandma.

Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo

The world of Happy Madison Productions is populated almost exclusively by freakish man-children. If we met one of them in real life, we would back away slowly and perhaps tell our friends about this freak we met. Yet we keep giving Adam Sandler a reason to film these people.

Never having seen the first Deuce, I feared that I would be lost in the intricacies of the franchise's continuity. Give credit to the film for actually wrapping up an apparent loose end or two, bothering to explain why Deuce would be a free man to travel to Europe.

Though tightly connected by a murder mystery - Who is killing the Great Man-Whores of Europe? - of course the film is really just an excuse for a lot of gross jokes, cameos by friends from the SNL days and occasional teases of nudity. Perhaps it can be best summed up by the song the killer whistles: "Something Stupid."

But then, we all knew that, so it shouldn't be a surprise that this isn't exactly deathless cinema. It's just frustrating that Rob Schneider doesn't really have anything to hang on him for a comedic persona; he just sort of wanders through his movies. Yet it had a lot of laughs - the kind that again made me give thanks for watching this by myself so that no one would know just what exactly I was finding so funny.

The real test of the Happy Madison formula will come with the upcoming Grandma's Boy, which stars long-suffering stable player Allen Covert. It's about time he got a shot at the title - but that's another stream of consciousness for another time.

Deuce Bigalow - European Gigolo

Wednesday Comics Bonus: Ultimate Adventures
After making a derisive remark this week about Marvel's U-DECIDE event from a couple of years ago, it seemed time to actually delve into it. A couple of months back I girded my courage and read Bill Jemas' Marville, and to rip into it would just be beating a dead horse.

So after watching Rob Schneider's movie, I turned to a stack of comics that I picked up through dubious means and read into the night: Ron Zimmerman's contribution to the event (actually, I think it officially had Joe Quesada's backing) -- Ultimate Adventures.

At the time of its release, people panned this thing right and left. Zimmerman was only slightly less hated than Chuck Austen, and disappeared from the industry slightly faster. Folks, we were wrong. This book ain't half-bad.

Yes, it's an obvious riff on Batman with lame identities that seem vaguely homophobic - Hawk-Owl and Woody. But the story actually treats every other element with respect, including a nice confrontation with the Ultimates. The development of the characters has a nice build and understandable motivation.

Then comes the other half, in creating an arch-enemy that seems to be borrowing from the Joker, but inexplicably so. Yet the overall story works really well, spiced up by the always great art of Duncan Fegredo.

Since this mini-series, the characters haven't appeared in the Ultimate Universe, but with Ultimate X-Men building Chicago into its mythos, maybe that will change. It should. And discovering Ultimate Adventures provided a little fiber with my turkey diet on Wednesday night.

Hmm. Strained metaphor.

Ultimate Adventures: One Tin Soldier TPB (Ultimate)

Thursday: Reign of Fire
Once again, bereft of wife and children, I turned to the large stack of unwatched DVDs. Oh, I could have gone for my intended marathon of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Bad Education and The Mask of Zorro (all linked together in a six degrees of separation way) but something about Reign of Fire caught my eye.

It seemed like a no-brainer. This year's Sexiest Man Alive Matthew McConaughey teams with Christian Bale to fight dragons? DRAGONS?!?

Why, if this movie couldn't bring men and women together in some sort of ultimate date night, no film could. Throw in an appearance by Phantom of the Opera Gerard Butler (so so close to being named Sexiest Man Alive) and this, my friends, should be the fabled guarantee. Don't make me explain that.

Then the movie begins.

Have you ever sat through a film and become convinced that you must have fallen asleep and missed something? Then the dread grows that no, you've been wide awake the whole time. Then you finally realize, yes, you did fall asleep and it still doesn't matter.

The high-point of this movie is not the climactic battle against the stud dragon, but a charming little scene in which Bale and Butler (what a vaudeville team they would have made) re-enact The Empire Strikes Back for a group of children that have so far avoided becoming dragon meat.

Sure, it probably sounded cute in the script, but it's never a good idea to remind your audience of a better fantasy adventure film than your own, because then they realize how bad they actually have it.

Reign of Fire

Friday and Saturday still to come...

Derek McCaw


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