Friday, July 30, 2010

Goosebumps: Calling All Creeps

I'm running another old--no, classic--no, vintage post from my other blog. Enjoy Calling All Creeps!

We open on Ricky Beamer. He's crouching outside the window to a classroom and a voice over is giving us some exposition. Clever boy, R.L.! You can save time and effort if the characters just tell you their motivation. That's totally what your creative writing teacher told you, right? Tell, don't show. (Yes, I'm aware that R.L. Stine didn't actually write the screenplays, but go with it.) As for our protagonist, I see why they call him Ricky. Doesn't he totally remind you of a young Rick Springfield? I mean, Moranis?

And yes, the only thing about this episode that remotely gave me Goosebumps was the thought of seeing that in my bedroom window. Even though I live on the 13th floor. Anyway, Ricky's telling us all about Tasha McClain, the editor of the school paper who never lets Ricky write anything. She also calls him a creep and "Ricky the Rat" and won't let him play in any non-rodent games. So Ricky decides to get his revenge, by showing everyone what a creep Tasha is. Oh, Ricky, you don't have to write for the school paper. Find your own voice. Blog about all the people who make you crazy. You can say bitchy things and then browbeat sad, mentally challenged blonde girls on national television.

Ricky writes on the school computer something that presumably will go in the next issue. He writes: Calling all creeps, calling all creeps, if you're a creep call Tasha McClain after midnight. He gives her phone number and then looks pleased. Hm, so you're a voyeur who attempted to publish an underage girl's phone number and she's the creep. Ricky, the only thing that would make you more creepy would be walking around in a flasher coat. He hears noises in the hallway and realizes Tasha and the newspaper adviser are coming back. He leaps out the window leaving muddy footprints. Subtle, big boy.

The next day in school, he's accosted by the Usual Suspects. A diverse looking group of bullies shows up.

The female bully has a lot to learn if she wants to go the Mean Girls route by the time she's in high school. Regina George would annihilate her for wearing horizontal stripes on a day that ends in y. On to the bullying. One of the bullies breathes on Ricky. Then they all make him sing Old McDonald while everyone laughs. This is what passes for bullying? I'm a mild mannered Virgo, and even I'm having fantasies of swirlies and the dreaded Rear Admiral.

Aww, cheer up, Ricky. You're sporting a sweater vest that would make Chandler Bing weep with envy.

A teacher breaks up the bullying, and the kids scatter. When they leave, there's an adorable new girl who introduces herself as Iris.

She says she just moved here, and when he responds, "I wish I NEVER lived here," she laughs fetchingly. Lucky boy! Cute as a freaking button, ethnic, and she has low standards! She's like the Asian Sarah Silverman. This is so every nebbishy boy's fantasy--meeting a cute Asian girl who digs nerds. I start to think, "R. L., you just wrote about every wet dream you ever had when you were a young writer with big dreams and an even bigger facial mole. Like this could EVER happen in real life," but then I realized that for some nebbishes, sometimes dreams do come true.

Ricky proceeds to take Iris to lunch. Well, he takes her to the cafeteria and tells her that no one ever eats the Tuna Surprise. Iris is all, "Then why do they keep making it," and Ricky snaps, "It's a plot point, just go with it." Then Ricky says, "I can't believe you're talking to me." Iris asks, "Why's that?" and he shrugs. Gee, maybe because the Onion was joking when they wrote that article about Asian teenagers having fetishes for dorky white guys. Because you're a figment in R.L.'s sweaty, clammy, yellow feverish imagination? As they walk by a table, one of the bullies trip Ricky and he goes face down in his own lunch. Everyone but Iris laughs. Tell me this isn't the perfect likeness of a young Robert Lawrence Stine?

He runs off. Iris tells him to wait up, and he says, "Those guys are gonna pay. After Tasha, they're next." And considering your last revenge scheme, I'm worried. Are you going to write them angry limericks? Ricky mentions that he snuck into the newspaper office to play a trick. Are you watching this, little Dylan and Eric? This is the way to get revenge in high school on those who have angered you. Mean spirited little notes in a widely read paper! Not murder suicide.

Ricky leaves school early before he can get a copy of the paper. Iris calls him at night trying to warn him about something awful. His dad picks up on the other line and makes him hang up. Mr. Beamer, dude? Your son's getting calls from a hot girl. This is going to be his only chance for sexy pillow talk that doesn't entail running up the phone bill with calls to 900 numbers or perfecting a Real Girl who's passed the Turing Test.

Anyway, the next call is from a guy who rasps, "Hello, I'm a creep. When do we meet?" followed by several other equally sensual calls. Well, this makes the time at all girls' college when we all got calls from some perv who would ask us to put the Jergen's on our skin or risk the hose again look like Tommy fucking Tutone by comparison. I'd like to deride Ricky for freaking out but when it happened to me I ended up curled in a fetal position outside the R.A.'s room, so I won't. I will, however, mock him for the phone.

Is a glow in the dark phone really necessary? What, are you constantly fielding late night calls from your dealer?

The next day at school, Tasha reveals that one, she saw him that night, two, this newspaper has a better fact-checker than those guys who published James Frey, the Wall Street Journal, and Dan Rather. She somehow managed to see his fiendish little joke and changed it. Tasha laughs at him and then leaves, and the bullies saunter by, nodding and grinning. But not actually, you know, bullying.

At lunch, they stare at him longingly. Oh Ricky, you're so fine! One of them tosses the Rickmeister a note that says, "When will the creeps meet?" Then Ricky heads to his locker.

Incidentally, love the low camera angle, but that is NOT creepy lettering. The cover of the Goosebumps books? Now that's creepy lettering.

Iris comes up behind him and they talk about the weird events. Then she asks him to go bake cookies with him for the school bake sale. They agree to meet after school the next day, and Ricky's all excited because...well, cookie-baking with a cute Asian girl! You never know what this might lead to. Like, she might show him her collection of stuffed Pokemon dolls and name the cutest one Ricky. Or ask him to help her pick out another schoolgirl skirt. As Ricky stares at her happily, you can tell he's hoping her jacket will slip off her shapely shoulders a little, and I share his feelings, but only because I'm thinking, "This girl has to have a hump under there or a weird evil twin that comes out of her head a la Imprint because what the hell is she doing with Willard here?"

That night, Ricky takes the phone off the hook. Ingenius! However, I'd like to give him the same advice I got for MY weird phone calls in anti-rape class, which is to blow a rape whistle into the telephone receiver. The next morning, he puts the phone back on and the second he does, he gets a call from a female voice saying, "Don't ever take the phone off the hook." Whoa, the writers from that new Beyonce movie Obsessed were totally cribbing from this. The voice goes on, "How can we make contact? We'll be watching. Waiting. We will find you. We will meet soon. Very soon." Oh yeah. Well, who will watch the watchers, dumbass?

Later, Ricky's walking through the woods for no given reason when someone throws a bag over his head and kidnaps him. When he opens his eyes again, he's in a cave, and the bullies are there. They approach him apologetically. "We didn't meet to hurt you!" one says. "We didn't know!" Yeah, turns out they would never have bullied him if they'd known he was a creep like them. And what is a creep?

Based on the cover of the book, I get the feeling that R.L. Stine told scriptwriter/show creator Dan Angel, "Yeah, I'm thinking raptors meet Dennis the Menace," but they only had enough cash for some cheap raptor head knock offs at K-Mart that someone had accidentally spilled yellow paint onto. So, now the erstwhile bullies have yellow dinosaur heads and are doing the Christian Bale Batman voice. Cheap transformation--we don't even see it. One minute we see regular kids, then we cut away to Ricky's rugged visage, and then when we cut back, it's yellow K-Mart dino heads. C'mon, R.L. Stine, what'd you do with the budget money for this episode? Spend it on booze, Asian hookers, and mole glitter?

The dinosaur things explain that they need to get everyone in the school to eat these identity seeds so they'll be changed into creeps as well. If you really want people to know what it's like to be a creep, can't you guys just write a gripping expose on the life of a creep? Creep Like Me? A Creep of One's Own? Then one of them (yes, it's the fat one) eats a fly near Ricky's head with its long, serpentine tongue.

If Ricky's the leader of the creeps, then why are they telling him what they need to do? I haven't been so disgusted by a plot point since Alex Fernandez on Ghostwriter snuck into Thabto headquarters pretending to be the Thabto leader but then some other goon led the meeting. From that moment on, children's TV jumped the shark for me.

The creeps ask him how they should disseminate the identity seeds. Ricky has no idea. The female creep proposes that they put the seeds in the cafeteria food and the other one asks Ricky if he thinks it's a good plan. He replies, "I guess so," and another creep says, "Then it's decided. Seeds in the cafeteria food. It's a goooood plan." So...all he did was stare at them while they came up with ideas and then tell them it was a good plan? I'm suddenly reminded of the decision process for most of the last Bush administration. Ricky IS the deciderer!

Cut to the next morning, in the cafeteria. The creeps need Ricky to dump the seeds. He's unsure and they start to doubt his commitment to the plan. After all, Ricky might not be a team player. They decide to transform and ask him to join them to prove he's a creep. Ricky protests that he is indeed their commander. Well, I can't argue with that. Ricky decides to put the identity seeds in the Tuna Surprise since no one eats that anyway. He dumps it in. Then a cafeteria worker shows up and tries to make him eat it, telling him Tuna Surprise is good nutritious food and that they kids shouldn't mock it. "No, I, uh, never eat tuna in the morning!" Ricky says and then leaves. I'm thinking you're going to have to change your morning fish-eating stance if you want to get into Soon Yi's Digimon themed panties, but okay.

At noon, Ricky anxiously tries to make sure that no one is eating Tuna Surprise, and when he sees Iris has it, he makes her throw it out. She reminds him about their cookie baking date, and he gets impatient and snaps at her, so she leaves. Can I add "has a working spine" to reasons why I love Iris?

Later, in the cave again, the creeps harass Ricky for screwing up the plan. They want to devour him for his poor job performance. (May I suggest placing a pube on his can of Coke?) Then Iris shows up, telling them that she's the second in command and that that plan was just a test run. So Ricky comes up with the plan of putting the Identity Seeds in cookies for the bake sale.

The kids bake cookies in the cafeteria later. Ricky questions Iris separately, and Iris reveals that not ONLY is she a non-creep, cute Asian schoolgirl with a backbone, but that she's also brilliant and came up with this fake plan to get Ricky out of a tough situation. Get the girl a kitten and put her in a Lolicon outit, and I'll start squeeing. The creep-kids chant, "Humans are the past. Creeps are the future." Okay, as slogans go, it's no One of us! but for adolescent-freak things, it's not bad. Even George Orwell probably had to start somewhere lame before he got Four legs good, two legs baaaaad.

At the bake sale, Tasha mocks Iris for being friends with creepy Ricky. Ricky sports another hot sweater vest. Fat creep screams, "Free cookies," and the kids swarm. Ricky tells them not to eat the cookies, but they start laughing at him and chanting, "Ricky the Rat!" The creep-kids tell them that he'll be their leader once everyone eats the cookies. Ricky looks tempted to go mad with power. After all, have you ever gone mad WITHOUT power? It sucks.

Iris tells him that they have to get everyone to stop eating the cookies. But the creeps are quite Mephistophelean. They tempt him with the idea of being leader of the creeps (vroom, vroom!).

Pasty ginger creep leans forward to whisper in Ricky's ear. Just think. Your own line of sweater vests. Also, Feed me, Ricky, feed me all night long! Ricky tells the kids, "Enjoy the cookies," and everyone devours them. Iris protests. One of the creep-kids hands Ricky a cookie and he takes a bite and the credits roll. Uh, don't the creep kids think he's ALREADY a creep? Why hand him a cookie? Well, okay, maybe he looked like he needed the blood sugar rush.

Anyway, I have high hopes for Ricky. I seem to remember one gawky teenager with a cute female sidekick (albeit a redhead, not an Asian) who grew up to become a creep. And he got to be in a Tim Burton movie AND star in a USA series. If you don't know who I'm talking about, do not pass GO or claim $200 but go directly back to the eighties and bone up on your John Hughes movies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

As Retold by Sadako: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

My stuffed toys have been very naughty this past summer. Rosie the Alligator went to Florida and didn't even find one senior citizen to frighten on the golf course. And my teddy bears all had a pizza party and ordered exotic toppings and now my apartment is a mess of honey and salmon and bamboo. Of course, this meant I had to teach them what happened to adorably naughty animals (as I'd already taught them about good, enterprising animals with Corduroy last week). So, it was time to retell them the The Tale of Peter Rabbit!

Once upon a time, there were four anthropomorphic rabbits.

Their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. They lived with their Mother, who only bestowed proper Christian names upon her male offspring, in a sand bank under a tree.

"Now, my dears," said Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "you may go in the fields or down the lane but don't go to into Mr. McGregor's garden. Your father had an accident there. And after the McGregors finished mopping that up, they put him in a pie."

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, who were good little bunnies and coped with the loss of a parent by sublimating their grief into productivity, gathered blackberries.

But Peter, whose predilection for typically lapine behavior could not be suppressed, ran into Mr. McGregor's garden, disregarded the warning about his slaughtered father, and, worst of all, got his beautiful little jacket with the brass buttons dirty.

First he ate some French beans, then he ate some lettuces, and then he ate some radishes.

Round the end of a cucumber frame, who did he meet, but Mr. McGregor!

Farmer McGregor was on his hands and knees planting young cabbages (and making life difficult for 80s parents seeking the number one doll for their kids).

But he jumped up and ran after Peter, screaming, "Stop, tiny humanoid rabbit!"

Peter was dreadfully frightened--and slightly less adorable--for he had forgotten his way out and lost both shoes. He started to run on four legs and then lost his sweet little jacket with the brass buttons.

Mr. McGregor ran up then, and Peter rushed off into the shed.

He leaped into the watering can. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for all that water in the watering can. He sneezed and ran out. After he'd finished being a prop in an Anne Geddes drawing, he ran away.

Out of breath, he still couldn't find his way. He came to a door. An old mouse was rushing around underneath, carrying peas and beans to her family. Peter asked her the way out, but she couldn't talk, having a large pea in her mouth. Peter didn't know how to escape.

And now that his sweet little jacket had come off, he'd have to resit for his portrait that would adorn bowls and cups everywhere. Peter began to cry.

But, much like in sports, there is no crying permitted for long in a Beatrix Potter book. Peter found his way across the garden where there was a pond. A white cat was staring at some goldfish. She sat very still but every now and again, her tail twitched.

Peter thought it best to go away without talking to her. He had heard all about cats from his cousin Benjamin Button who had the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber on tape at home.

Finally, Peter wandered aimlessly some more. But as there were only a few pages left, it became convenient for him to find the exit. There, in the distance--the gate! Peter ran after it, with Farmer McGregor on his tail. But he managed to get out and run all the way home.

Mr. McGregor hung up Peter's little jacket and shoes as a scarecrow to frighten blackbirds with a phobia of dapper, headless young gentlemen.

At home, Peter was so tired that he flopped down on the floor. His mother wondered what he'd done with his clothes and how she'd make him some more without the use of opposable thumbs.

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter)

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well. Sitting in a damp watering can with no jacket on will do that to wayward little rabbits. His mother gave him a tablespoon of camomile tea and put him to bed.

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter)

But I am happy to report that a sense of moral equilibrium is upheld, even among the animals, and Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, the good little rabbits, all enjoyed bread, milk, and blackberries for their righteous, but less marketable in the publishing world, behavior.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movies in a Minute: Pretty Woman

Roy Orbison: "Really? ...really?"

Vivian: "Hi-diddle-dee, a hooker's life for me!"

Edward: "Excuse me. Do you know where Beverly Hills is?"

Vivian: "You know, I'm not just a common street whore. I have the car sense of Mona Lisa Vito, the screwball comedic timing of Susan Vance, and the personality of Sailor Moon, minus several IQ points. And I get checked out at the free clinic and I use condoms, and I make $100 an hour."

Edward: "Not bad. I'd like to hire you. To stay with me. For the night. How much do you charge?"

Vivian: "Um...$300."

Sadako: "And the accounting abilities of a Jersey Real Housewife."

Edward: "What's that in your hand? Is it--is it drugs?"

Vivian: "No, it's dental floss!"

Sadako: "This version of a hooker and her john can't get any more sugar coated unless a cartoon bird alights on Viv's safety pinned bra strap."

Director Garry Marshall: "Remember the kind of sort of statutory rape in my sister Penny's movie Big? The jumping on the bed, staring at the stars, and sleeping in bunk beds thing makes it seem sweet instead of creepy. That was all me!"

Edward: "Well, let's get to the reason you're here. What do you do?"

Vivian: "Everything. Snuggling, cuddling, nuzzling, spooning--that's big and little spooning. For a really wild time, I'll play Scattegories while we watch old movies. No kissing, though, gross!"

Edward's Lawyer, Stuckey: "Edward, about this meeting we have with the guy whose company you're trying to take over--"

Edward: "Well, I know everything about this guy's financials, I've got a sheet of his assets, and I think I'm really prepared."

Stuckey: "Screw that. Do you have a date to the meeting?"

Edward: "Uh. I do now. Vivian, I'm an emotionally crippled manchild who can't cope with women on my own level. We live in an age where shoulder padded power bitches are the only females around. So, for three thousand dollars, Vivian, will you be my date for the next week? And if not, do you have any partially lobotomized friends you could recommend for the position?"

Vivian: "Holy shit! You're joking?"

Edward: "I never make jokes about money. Or gerbils. I'm also going to give you carte blanche to buy whatever dresses you want for all the occasions we're going to this week. Wake up, Viv, time to shop!"

Vivian: "Outfits!"

Garry Marshall: "Gotta give the gals in the audience something to aspire to."

Sadako: "Pretty Woman: the female version of Wall Street."

Vivian: "Hey lady? You know when you were snooty to me when I walked in here wearing an outfit that even a self esteem challenged teenaged Hot Topic customer would pass up?"

Snooty woman: "Yes?"

Vivian: "You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Huge. Now I'm going to go spend even more cash on a Barbie dream house at one of your competitor's stores."

Hotel manager: "I see someone's been shopping."

Vivian: "But I don't know how to act at a fancy restaurant! Help!"

Hotel manager: "Okay. This is the salad fork, sip your wine instead of chugging it, oh, and the precipitation in Spain falls primarily on the flat regions."

Vivian: "Okay. When the waiter brings us the crayons, should I draw smiley faces on the place mat or hearts?"

Edward: "How do you like your first polo match, Vivian?"

Sadako: "I'm starting to think that Pretty Woman is to prostitution as Aladdin is to forced marriage in Arab culture."

Stuckey: "Hey, babe. You, me, a few poppers, and a copy of Fanny Hill. Is it a date?"

Vivian: "Edward, why did your lawyer hit on me?"

Sadako: "He doesn't date outside the profession?"

Vivian: "You told all your friends what I do for a living? How dare you make me feel like a prostitute!"

Edward: "I never once treated you like a prostitute. You were definitely courtesan level. Geisha at worst."

Vivian: "I love you."

Edward: "I had a great time this week. So I was thinking, I'll put you up in an apartment, buy you a car, the works."

Vivian: "No! In the pop up fairy tale books my coke addled roommate and I read at night, there's a prince and a dragon, but the prince never says, 'Hey babe, I'll put you up in a condo!'"

Edward: "Co-op, then?"

Kit: "Ooh, you should go for it."

Vivian: "Name one girl that this has ever worked out for. I want names."

Kit: "Okay. Cinder-fuckin-rella!"

Sadako: "I see your Cinderella and raise you Fantine, Zola's Nana, and La Traviata's Vio-goddammed-letta."

Edward: "Hm. Maybe I should take a break from falling in love with love to do a little business. I'm not taking over your company, Mr. Morse. The love of a good woman has redeemed me. Let's invest in Lisa Frank stickers and manufacture love and optimism."

Stuckey: "Fuck it. I'm going to express my frustration at not being able to violate a failing company by violating a plucky young prostitute."

Edward: "Get out of here, Stuckey! See, Viv? I did the 90s equivalent of slaying a dragon: I got rid of an overweight, balding, cheap cashmere sweater buying lawyer."

Vivian: "It's not enough. A few weeks ago, it would have been, but I've been introduced to so much more. Rodeo Drive. Designer sweaters for lap dogs. Running water. Oh, and love. Sorry."

Edward: "You can have it all, Vivian, really! Off I climb to the top of the fire escape to be your Prince Charming!"

Sadako: "And to eradicate all the work Taxi Driver did unromanticizing streetwalking and also set Sasha Grey's career in motion."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Goosebumps: The Girl Who Cried Monster

Today, I decided to repost one of the Goosebump recap posts I did on my other blog, Get a Pencil and Your Casebook. Enjoy, kiddies!

Before we begin, R.L. and I want to make a special announcement. This episode may be a little bit dark for some viewers. It's about a young girl who sees an older man in a position of authority over her doing something. And when she tries to tell, not even her parents believe her. It also concerns the "M" word. I'm talking of course about monsters.

Lucy Dark is obsessed with monsters. When the episode opens, she's telling her little brother a story about the toe-biter monster. She finishes by sticking her toes in the mud and then screaming that all her toes were bitten off by the toe-biter.

Randy freaks out and runs inside. Mother Dark tells her daughter not to tell silly monster stories. Besides, it's time for Lucy to go to the library for the reading program. She heads over with her best friend, Aaron. At the library, creepy old Mr. Mortman the librarian asks Lucy what book she read this week. She said she read Black Beauty and that it was boring because it should have had more monsters. (Or it should have been the kind of book you can buy on the side of the street in Harlem and featured a shirtless, glistening Seal look-alike on the cover.)

Lucy chooses Frankenstein as her next book and Mortman says that that's also a classic, like Black Beauty, and is she sure she'll like it? (I'm with Mortman--Classics aren't that scary. The most frightening reading experience I had was when I read my last Goosebumps book, The Beast from the East as a child, the twist being that I'd wasted my childhood and had nothing to show for it other than an in depth knowledge of every outfit that looked good on Claudia but terrible on everyone else.)

When Lucy and Aaron leave the library, she mentions how creepy Mortman was and how the book was dripping wet when he handed it back to her. Nasty. But at least your creepy old vaguely molestery guy works at the library and not at the pizza shop like in my hometown. Now that's-ah a soggy-ah meatball!

Lucy realizes she forgot her roller blades at the 'brary and heads back inside while Aaron leaves. She spies on Mortman and sees him feeding flies to his pet spiders. She watches him shovel flies into his mouth and then morph into a monster. She gapes.

Lucy runs home and tells her parents that the middle aged unmarried male librarian unleashed his two-eyed monster to her. They think she's making up stories. (Say what you like about girls who tell outlandish stories--if I were standing in B&N looking for memoirs about weird experiences, I'd buy Lucy Dark's book way before buying Kathryn Harrison's or Mackenzie Phillip's.)

Lucy's dad says that he had hoped this monster thing was just a phase she was going through. Lucy emos, "LIFE is just a phase I'm going through." (Hide the razor blades and the dark eyeliner, folks.) Also, the smug smile on R.L. Stine's face that had appeared when he thought he was going to get the Judy Blume Award for Understanding the Psyche of the Adolescent Girl disappears when I break out into laughter.

Later, Lucy phones her friend Aaron and tells him about her plan. She's going to take a picture of Mortman as a monster and win James Randi's money. Also, prove to her parents that she wasn't lying.

Next scene, at the library, Mortman and Lucy discuss Frankenstein. "Didn't you think that the monster was the most sympathetic character in the story?" Don't fall for it, Lucy! This is just like the time my high school English tutor asked me if I thought Humbert Humbert was the most sympathetic character in all of literary history and then slipped me a lifetime membership card to NAMBLA. "Perhaps we all have a little monster in us, Lucy," he says. Uh, no, Mortman, I don't want a little monster in me, and don't try and tell me how you'd try and rearrange the alphabet to make "U" and "I" right next to each other.

Lucy pretends to leave and then hides in the library again. She watches Mortman eat spiders this time and takes a picture of him. But he sees the flash going off and tries to find her as she hides. She runs away but he's seen her and yells for her to come back. Also, the Internet starts to blaze with indignation as every Feministing, Jezebel, and Broadsheet commenter races to condemn Lucy for photograhing Mortman without his consent. (Sadako: "But he's a MONSTER." Average Commenter: "He got photographed without his consent! And lied about other monsters. She has nothing to be proud of. What a disgrace.")

Back at home, she locks the door. But Mortman shows up on the porch asking if he can come inside. Lucy tells him that her parents aren't home. Then she realizes what she said, and this whole segment turns into an anti strangers PSA from the early 90s. "I mean, they'll be home any minute...I mean, they're in the bathroom. Mom, is dad still cleaning his rifles?" Mortman mentions that she left her backpack at the library, and she tells him to just leave it on the doorstep. Pedo-Bear gets the message and goes.

Okay, R.L., I take back the snark--this truly will haunt my dreams, no jokes. And as for you, Mr. Mortman, sitting backwards in chairs is the way to reach out to the kids. Not smiling creepily. Now I'm going to give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly, grey, no good sweater vest off my property, before I pump your guts full of lead. See, Lucy? You have to be firm.

When her parents come home, Lucy tries to tell them about how Mortman came over to drop off her backpack. They think it's nice of him to go out of his way to do that. Yeah, and it was really nice of wacky old Arnold Friedman to give all those computer lessons to supple pubescent boys in the 80s. But Lucy really wants to get to the crime lab to get these photos developed.

So, her parents take her to the mall so they can go to the One Hour Photo. Coincidentally, Mr. Mortman is here. I bet he's here because he wants to go next door to the video store to get Monsters, Inc. and then go home and write X-rated fanfic with him as Sully and Lucy as Boo.

"Quite the little photographer, aren't you?" he asks Lucy. He looks all huffy, like a bicurious girl who went wild in Cancun confronting Joe Francis, along with her rich daddy's tax lawyer. For the record, though, the photos Lucy took show everything in the shot except Mr. Mortman. Because monsters don't show up on film.

I turn to R.L. "That's the best you could do to resolve this plot point? Monsters don't show up on film?! Besides, I seem to remember monsters photographing plenty well in the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, book 38 of Goosebumps, and in One Day at Horrorland--" And that's when the chloroform kicked in. I admit, I push him too far at times. Okay, okay, on my list of Photography Don'ts, I'll add the monster rule, along with "Don't violate the rule of thirds," and "Out of focus shots of disembodied breasts are not great art even if they are in black and white."

Next, Lucy's parents interrupt and tell Mr. Mortman what a great librarian he is and could he come to dinner that night? He agrees.

That night, Mortman shows up. He asks what they're having for dinner and Lucy's dad says, "It's funny you should ask," Then the Darks grow fangs and there's a cutaway to what looks like a Nature program clip of rattlesnake going for a hipppo (with a grey cardigan and glasses photoshopped onto him) and when we come back, Mortman's been eaten.

The parents explain that, of course, the Darks are all monsters and that when they're older, Lucy and Randy will grow fangs of their own. So why'd they kill Mortman if he's one of them? Because there's only room in town for one set of monsters. It's the same reason Beth Ditto, Amy Winehouse, and Keith Richards rarely headline shows together.

Then there's something at the window that looks vaguely monstrous and the parents get ready to kill again. But it's just best friend Aaron wearing a rubber monster mask. They tell him dinner's over but dessert is still to come. When he asks what it is, they say, "You..." Pause. "...Like cherry pie?" Can the twist be that they're offering up the hymen of their nubile young daughter?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Movies in a Minute: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Solomon: "..."

Claire: "Michael, help!"

Michael: "Emma, you stay here and pause the HMS Pinafore, and I'll see if Mommy's okay. Claire?"

Claire: "It's a black man in a hoodie!"

Michael: "No, it's okay, hon. He's a magical Negro with mental problems but a heart of gold. He's here to build us a literal and metaphorical picket fence for our house."

Claire: "Well, since I'm pregnant, time for my OB/GYN appointment with a new doctor. Doc, what are you doing? I didn't think a pelvic exam was customary after the third month of pregnancy."

Dr. Mott: "No, you're the 100th patient so you get a free one. Nurse, you can leave us alone now."

Claire: "I didn't think it was customary to remove the rubber glove before a pelvic exam."

Dr. Mott: "It's a new technique. All the rage in New York."

Sadako: "Are you sure you don't want to make it even clearer to the audience that you're a perv by using spit instead of KY?"

Michael: "Claire, if what you say is true, we've got to report this guy."

Mrs. Mott: "Well?"

Lawyers: "Sorry, ma'am. Because your husband committed suicide, there's no insurance and because the estate's going to be sued, it's been frozen. No money for you!"

Director: "Let's give Dr. Mott's disturbed wife a stillbirth with hysterectomy to emphasize her loss of womanhood."

Sadako: "I'm starting to realize why Blockbuster shelved this movie under gynecology fetish films."

Mrs. Mott/Peyton Flanders: "Well. I'll take victim blaming for a thousand, Alex. New plan. Move in on the Bartels and take revenge."

Claire: "Michael, are you sure we need a nanny for the new baby? I mean, we've only got two kids and I am a stay at home mom."

Michael: "Go with it, honey. We can afford it, and it's a plot device."

Peyton: "Hello. I'm Trusty McInnocent. Er, I mean, Peyton Flanders. I don't have much experience and my only reference moved away but I've got round blue eyes and soft skin and capped teeth."

Emma: "I like her, Mommy!"

Claire: "You're hired. This is my baby son Joey and our young aspiring Mara Wilson stand in daughter, Emma. Peyton, you can live in this tiny basement room under the stairs."

Harry Potter: "Kind of reminds me at my room chez Dursley, only lonelier and more oppressive."

Peyton: "Where's the baby? Now to breastfeed him from my very own breasts. Phase one of the revenge!"

Sadako: "Diabolical. I'm pretty sure that was the deformed guy in Hannibal's original plan, too, before he came up with the being eaten alive by pigs thing."

Marlene: "Token high powered bitchy friend here. Hiring an attractive woman in a power position? Bad move."

Sadako: "Yeah, it's not nearly as smart as getting knocked up by man child Hugh Grant."

Peyton: "Don't you think Solomon's kind of creepy? No? Just me? Well, time for operation panty drop."

Michael: "Solomon, we found our daughter's underwear in your cart, so I'm afraid you're going to have to leave."

Sadako: "But without this job, how will he afford the flowers for Algernon?"

Claire: "Michael, don't you think it's a little weird that all this stuff''s been happening since we hired Peyton. You know, the baby gaining weight but not nursing properly, the proposal we worked on getting lost, me thinking that you were cheating on me with Marlene, Solomon turning out to be Chester the Molester?"

Michael: "Now that you mention it, it is weird that the proposal got lost."

Marlene: "Ugh. What's that awful noise? Windchimes? As a high powered working woman, nothing offends me more. Unless it's the laugh of a baby or a suit free of shoulder pads."

Claire: "Oh, Peyton gave those windchimes to us. For the baby's room."

Peyton: "I think it gives the house that little extra bit of hominess, doncha think?"

Marlene: "Well, back to being a high powered real estate agent. Hmm. The Mott house. What the--windchimes? That bitch. I've got to investigate. Cancel my morning appointments."

Underling: "What should I tell them?"

Marlene: "Fuck should I know--use that Harvard degree for something. Tell them I've got to get some more catty bitch practice in. Aha! Peyton is Molestery Dr. Mott's deranged wife! Now, to call Claire's home, be extra bitchy to Peyton to tip her off, and then storm over to their house knowing that the evil nanny is the only one at home."

Sadako: "Admit it, Marlene. You weren't even a little surprised when you died in the greenhouse, were you?"

Marlene: "I was more surprised when I lived through that freak stego attack, to be honest."

Peyton: "Hi, handsome. Now that Claire's in the hospital with that freak asthma attack, it looks like we're alone. Turn on the Gilbert and Sullivan and let's get busy."

Michael: "There's only one woman for me."

Sadako: "And if he was going to choose a half mad, half insane hottie, he's Team Bunny Boiler."

Claire: "Michael. I just found out that Peyton used to be married to creepy Dr. Mott."

Michael: "Peyton, we'll escort you downstairs while you clean out your cubby under the stairs."

Claire: "Well, let's get going--"

Michael: "Help! It's Peyton! She smashed my best of Gilbert and Sullivan! Oh, and she's in the house and she pushed me down the stairs, and now she's wandering around with a fireplace poker and a crazed look in her eyes."

Peyton: "Emma? Joey? Where are you?!"

Jack Torrance: "Use an axe, Peyton Flanders!"

Sadako: "Well, if we're going to channel the Shining, my guess is that the homely wife and precocious child will be saved by a magical negro who continues to protect his family in the face of scoldings, in a way that even Old Yeller found demeaning."

Solomon: "Get away from the little white kids. There's some mixed race kids down the street for your homicidal mommy urges."

Claire: "Get away from them, Peyton!"

Peyton: "When your husband makes love to you, it's my face he sees. When your baby's hungry, it's my breast that feeds him. When the PTA needs brownies for the bake sale, it's my dynamic interpretation of Sara Lee that satiates them!"

Claire: "No! Ah. I think she's dead."

Sadako: "Michael Myers dead or Bambi's mom dead?"

Claire: "Oh, Solomon, Emma, are you guys okay?"

Solomon: "I d-didn't mean to h-hurt the baby. I know I'm not supposed t-to handle him."

Claire: "That's okay, Solomon. You saved the day. As compensation for your hard work and for being wrongfully accused, you get to carry baby Joey downstairs."

Solomon: "Oh boy."

Sadako: "Magical negro. Dysfunctional families, don't invite a psycho into your house without it."