The NeverEnding Story, A Closer Look

The NeverEnding StoryFor some reason, the Safeway I shop at has this thing about playing 80’s music. They can choose from over 70 genres, but they seem to stick with 80’s Flashback. So I go to Safeway maybe 3, 4 times a month. A couple weeks back a familiar tune was filling the grocery air while I shopped- the theme from The NeverEnding Story. Of all the songs they could’ve played during the few minutes I’m in the store, they played that one. I took it as a sign. A sign that I needed to stop daydreaming and concentrate on shopping instead of the music. In a likely unrelated event, a couple weeks later I watched The NeverEnding Story.

This wasn’t the same movie I remembered.

First off, the kid’s name is Bastian. That may fly in Germany, but to me it sounds like the way a 4-year old would say Sebastian because they can’t be bothered to take the time and pronounce the whole thing. But I can. I’ll call him by his proper name, Sebastian.

So the movie starts with Sebastian drawing unicorns, playing with his fingers, and eating toast. His dad makes it a point to remind him that his mom is dead and he should stop being a little bitch about it. Then the dad proceeds to put a raw egg in his orange juice. He has to be aware of the dangers of E.coli and salmonella, right? The guy looks depressed and is clearly acting suicidal. That may explain his prickish behavior, but the way Sebastian reacts to the dead parent update, it doesn’t seem that way.

But things get better once he leaves the shadow of his dad, right? If being hunted down by a pack of prepubescent street thugs and getting tossed in a dumpster is better, than it certainly does! Or maybe that’s just the status quo for Sebastian, for after liberating himself from the dumpster, he’s again set upon by the street gang. There are apparently no adults around, or at least adults who care, to tell the ankle-biters to cut the shit out and get to school, so Sebastian takes refuge in the one place bullies would never go- a used book store.

Here is where we learn the only real twist in the movie: Sebastian is surprisingly well read! But the old fart that owns the book store tells him he’s not that well read, so in a classic “in your face” move Sebastian steals the only book in the book store that the old bastard likes to read. Now, I have an assignment for you, class. After you watch the movie, ask yourself what the hell the old guy was doing reading The NeverEnding Story? If he knew the nature of the book, then he’d certainly read it before. The people of the book needed a human child to save them, so was the old mothball just torturing them by keeping their world in a persistent state of peril?

Back to the movie. Or should I say crime spree, because after stealing the book, Sebastian promptly breaks into his school’s attic to take refuge from the manhunt which is probably underway. No cop, no matter how wily, is going to suspect a kid might hide out at a school. Once he’s properly surveyed the world’s scariest attic, Sebastian finally cracks the cover of his ill-gotten gains.

Do you know how I know the world of Fantasia is messed up? Because one the first characters we meet is a cannibal. Rock Biter, the giant creature made of rock, eats rocks. And they just show it! Crunching all these rocks like it’s just something normal, eating your own kind. I imagine if it was a giant horse named Pony Biter, then you might understand why I’m all up in arms about it. Rock cannibalism is just more tolerable, I guess. And there’s this short guy named Teeny Weeny. Seriously, did his parents not expect people to call him Teeny Weenie?

There’s also The Childlike Empress. She’s really old, but she looks like a little kid. I’m sure it’s hard for her to get a date since she looks like a little kid, which probably prompts most guys to stay away. Then the guys that would go for a little kid are put off by her maturity. Love life must be pretty rough for a child-like empress.

Fantasia is under attack by The Nothing. This Nothing is a scary wind, not to be confused the nihilists from The Big Lebowski who believe in nothing nor the terrifying wind from The Happening. The Childlike Empress sends this kid named Atreyu (bless you) on a quest to save Fantasia by finding a human child. That’s right, even though The Childlike Empress and Atreyu (bless you) both look very human they are in fact not human. So yes, The NeverEnding Story is about aliens trying to save their world from nothing.

Atreyu (bless you) sets out on his quest and the first thing he does is bore his horse to death. Then he gets covered in the boogers of a giant turtle. While all this is going on, a scary wolf named Gmork is tracking down Atreyu (bless you). Gmork seems especially cranky. He’s probably having problems at home with his wife Gmindy. Gmork finally catches up to Atreyu (bless you) and is ready to pounce, but this chuklehead dragon Falkor swoops in and whisks Atreyu (bless you) away.

The Southern OracleFor some reason Falkor drops Atreyu (bless you) off exactly 109 miles short of his destination. That stupid dragon was probably too busty yucking it up with himself to remember where he was going. No, busty was not a typo, it’s just that we’ve gotten to the sexy part of the movie and I’m getting all excited. In the next few minutes of the movie, Atreyu (bless you) has to walk between two sets of statues that have the biggest racks ever carved into stone. The second set of statues tell Atreyu (bless you) some junk, but I wasn’t really paying attention because their huge jugs were distracting me.

Atreyu (bless you) ends up in this cave with Gmork and while he is busy expositing, Atreyu (bless you) shanks his ass and Falkor is able to break away from his stand-up routine long enough to randomly save Atreyu (bless you) again while The Nothing blows Fantasia to bits.

It looks like all has been lost as Atreyu (bless you) rides Falkor through space amongst the broken bits of Fantasia, but they find The Childlike Empress still in her tower and she tells Atreyu (bless you) that even though everyone is dead and the planet is now chunks of rock floating in space, he still succeeded in his quest. The Childlike Empress’s whole plot was to get Sebastian (remember him) to read the book long enough that he starts hallucinating and thinks the book is talking to him. So The Childlike Empress and Sebastian sit down together and have themselves a little palaver, as Sebastian has now crossed over into the world of the book. Yes, you could say it was a very engrossing read.

The Childlike Empress tells Sebastian he can have as many wishes as his wishing ass can wish. First he wishes everything in Fantasia goes back to the way it was, out of the guilt he feels for being so thickheaded and not realizing he could have saved everyone earlier rather than have to resurrect them from the beyond. Once that is accomplished, his next wish is for the blood of his enemies. Sebastian and Falkor dive bomb the punks that tossed him into the dumpster. Revenge is best served from the back of flying dragon.

The moral of the movie: turn to a life of crime and all your wishes will come true.

Now that I’ve rewatched the movie, I can’t help but point out that there is another, sinister interpretation of events no one is talking about. You see, everything that happened after Sebastian entered that book store all happened inside his head. When the dusty old turd that owns the book store stepped out of the room to answer the phone, he really came right back in with a bottle of chloroform. He knocked out Sebastian and put him in his basement to become his sex slave. The Childlike Empress and Atreyu (bless you)? They’re fellow children abducted by the old man. Falkor the dragon? He’s an allegory for the heroin the kids were doped up with. The ending, flying into the sunset on Falkor? That’s Sebastian hoping for an overdose to relieve him from the nightmare he is now living. It’s not pretty, but that just might be what really happened. And as disturbing as that may be, this is more disturbing yet: to this very day, the theme song from The NeverEnding Story is still being played in grocery stores all across America.

Zombie Post: The Hangover, or Dude, Where's My Friend?

This is the first in a mini-series of posts I started last year but never completed. Zombie Post sounds like a good name, both because I like zombies and because I am pretty much bringing this topic back from the dead.

I saw The Hangover. And I laughed like most people did. Seeing baby Carlos jackin’ it was pretty funny. I’m hoping you’ve seen the movie before you read that last sentence. Watching those guys run all over Las Vegas and get into zany adventures was a decent way to spend an hour-and-a-half.

But once it was over and I walked out of the theater, during that period of quiet reflection while your eyes adjust to the over-bright world outside, the movie didn’t seem quite as brilliant as it did scant moments before. The feeling just wouldn’t leave me, like that crap-cloud that hung around Pig-Pen from Peanuts. I spent several uneasy minutes trying to figure out what happened. Like the way you slowly recognize a friend you haven’t seen for twenty years, it eventually came to me. The Hangover was just another rip-off.

If the similarities don’t immediately strike you, I composed a table highlighting some of the most egregious points:

The Hangover vs Dude, Where’s My Car
Wake up with hangovers and no memory of the night beforeWake up with hangovers and no memory of the night before
Gotta find their friendGotta find their car
They retrace their steps from the night beforeThey retrace their steps from the night before
Can’t let their wives find out they lost their friendCan’t let their girlfriends find out they lost their presents
Cleo King plays a cop who lets them get their car out of impoundCleo King plays an impound officer who releases their car from impound
A blond escort moves the story alongA blond transgendered stripper moves the story along
They’re harassed by Chinese menThey’re harassed by Norwegian men
They mess around with a tigerThey mess around with an ostrich
They’re made fun of by a Chinese manThey’re made fun of by a Chinese restaurant
Mike Tyson pops up for a cameoAndy Dick pops up for a cameo
They’re bullied by a Chinese gangThey’re bullied by a gang of jocks
One character has the surprise ability to count cardsOne character has the surprise ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube
Some character is randomly reminded of a trivial bit of information from the beginning of the movie that proves pivotal to the plotSome character is randomly reminded of a trivial bit of information from the beginning of the movie that proves pivotal to the plot

As you can see, from the basic premise (hungover guys trying to find what they lost) to the casting of Cleo King in almost the same role, The Hangover apes Dude, Where’s My Car at every turn. It’s not really arguable that The Hangover didn’t steal the basic plot. The best you could do is say that it was heavily influenced by Dude, Where’s My Car. You could be so bold as to call it an homage. Or you could be a buzzword-spouting dick and call it a reimagining.

It’s too bad that Dude, Where’s My Car had to have it’s good name shat upon by The Hangover. But it’s even worse that everyone, regrettably even me, handed over their hard-earned scratch to watch the same recycled garbage over again. I like funny movies. I like them more when I haven’t seen THE EXACT SAME DAMN MOVIE BEFORE. The Hangover is to me like those pair of shoes you wear when you step in a steamy dog turd- no matter how much you liked them before, now they’ll always have that stinky brown stigma on them.

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Well, today marks the one year anniversary since I last posted on the site.  You may be wondering what the hell happened to me. I mean, I was pretty reliable for a while, throwing out new posts several times a week, if not every day. You’re thinking maybe I joined a monastery. Maybe I became lost backpacking in the Canadian wilderness. Perhaps I was finally thrown in the clink. Go ahead and get as creative as you want, because the truth won’t be as good as what you can come up with, unless you’re thinking I was just doing the same thing I was doing before, sans updating the website. If that’s the best you can come up with, well that’s just sad. But [...]

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Weekend Report: Things Are Looking Up

So much for my thoughts on having a $200 million weekend. It was the fourth biggest weekend of the year, but it fell $10 million short of last week, with $166 million overall.

Up easily made it to first place by about $44 million. Pixar’s tenth movie pulled in $68,108,790, about $7 million more than my prediction. Up also set the new standard for 3D openings, with just over $35 million coming from the extra-dimensional showings. It followed the recent weekly record-breaking trend and took the biggest 3D opening crown from 10-week old Monsters vs Aliens. I’m not exactly a slavish fan of everything Pixar does, but it’s heartwarming to see that the they’ve become so successful without always packing their movies full of [...]

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Weekend Predictions: 05-29-09

So far this year, the biggest overall weekend at the box office was back on January 16 when Paul Blart: Mall Cop took the world by storm. The total spent on movies that weekend was $192,903,837. There’s a chance this weekend could top that.

Up is the widest release this weekend, in 3,766 theaters. It’s also the tenth feature put out by Pixar, and their name has basically become the gold standard in computer animation. And they’re really trying to make a point that their name is bigger than the subject of whatever movie they put forth. Cars was about a car that got arrested and had to repave a road, Ratatouille was about a rat that wanted to be a chef, and WALL-E [...]

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The Growing Importance Of Opening Weekend

Since starting this site, I’ve had a growing fascination with metrics by which movies are measured. Being mathematically inclined, I guess it was a nice fit. Plus it’s more interesting to look into the numbers behind some of these movies than it is to watch them.

My history delving into movie numbers only goes back to last September, so I don’t have a long history of knowledge to draw from, but it seems to me that even since just last year, there’s been a noticeable increase in the importance of a movie having a big opening weekend. Sure, having a big opening weekend should always be the goal of a movie, but it takes several [...]

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Weekend Predictions: 05-22-09

The combination of a scifi action movie, a family movie, and a comedy has been pretty popular with Hollywood. So far this year we’ve seen the combination on February 6th, May 1st, and April 10th. Oh, and again this weekend.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian plays the role of the family movie. The difference between this movie and the original is that it takes place in SURPRISE! the Smithsonian. Other than giving the museum more advertising than it’s ever had during it’s entire existence, I suppose all it really means is that there will be different exhibits to rankle Ben Stiller’s character, which is probably all people really want out of the movie: Ben Stiller overacting.

The first Night at the [...]

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Battleship Movie Heads To Drydock

battleshipIt’s been, golly, like a couple weeks since any news of a board game movie has surfaced. I hoped that people finally realized what stupid ideas these movies were and quietly axed them all. Yeah, it was naive of me to think that.

Hasbro finally broke the board game radio silence, announcing they’re getting close to convincing Peter Berg to direct the movie adaptation of Battleship. Obviously, since there is no plot in the game, details on a possible story are nonexistent, unless saying they’ve going for an epic naval action adventure-y type of movie counts as plot details.

Berg is a passable enough director, but it’s going to take a hell of a [...]

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Weekend Report: Angels Keep Star Trek At Bay

It was a contentious battle for first place at the box office this weekend. The Hollywood big shots faced off against the scifi spectacle, with millions of dollars hanging in the balance.

Angels & Demons managed to hold off Star Trek and claim first place, pulling in $46,204,168. My prediction was only about $18 million high, but I’m not upset- it’s always good to get knocked down a peg after a string of successes. It was a little hard to know exactly what A&D was going to do because 1) The Da Vinci Code had a huge opening weekend and 2) it was the first big non-scifi movie in a couple weeks. Both of those factors made me think it could be a big [...]

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Sony Pictures CEO Says Nothing Good Has Come From The Internet

bad-internetThese studio executives, they’ve had a good month. First Fox Sweden’s CEO says ratings promote piracy. Now the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment says nothing good has come of the Internet.

At a recent panel on the future of filmmaking, CEO Michael Lynton said, “I’m a guy who doesn’t see anything good having come from the Internet. Period.” He further goes on to claim the Internet has “created this notion that anyone can have whatever they want at any given time. It’s as if the stores on Madison Avenue were open 24 hours a day. They feel entitled. They say, ‘Give it to me now,’ and if you don’t give it to [...]

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