November 26, 2010

Steve Urkel: A Retrospective.

It should have been a true “revenge of the nerds” success story. Instead, it played out like a slippery slope oiled with comedic atrophy and worn-out catchphrases, causing a major viewer revolt. Couch potatoes turned into snobby French Fries, demanding something better. (And probably saltier.) The potatoes had spoken: Steven Quincy Urkel was out.
TGIF: Thank God It’s the goddamn Finale!
On July 17th, 1998, after ten years as America’s go-to nerd-in-suspenders, Urkel was launched into space for the series finale (…logically), and after a testy few TV minutes, he returns to the Winslow home, safe and sound. Sadly, he never returned into the homes of America.

Steve Urkel remains one of the most infamously annoying people to occupy the airwaves, sporting suspenders made of woman-repellant and the voice of kitten rape. He was a blundering genius and serial stalker who incessantly asked people that he’d just pissed off if he did indeed just piss them off. (The answer is always yes. Forever, yes Steve, you did do that.) And for nine seasons, America tolerated him. Hell, some even accepted the 100 pounds of squinting sexual repression with open arms.

And some wore blackface to...ya tribute. pop culture-obsessed vagina.

Strangely though, for all of the 90s nerd archetypes that found their bespectacled selves on sitcoms, Steve Urkel is the only one who thrived as a suave, pants-dropping playboy when not in the immediate presence of his costars. When the Winslows were away, Urkel would play. He’d play hard.

Let’s face it; Screech outside of Bayside High is probably the exact same guy as Screech inside Bayside High, just with a lot more baby lotion and hand-to-dong contact.

But Urkel?

At some point between oiling his six-pack and disrobing the ladies at the bar using only lyrics from a Boys 2 Men ballad, Urkel crossed the threshold into nerd-dom, inflicting ulcers on the world from 6 to 7 pm on Friday nights. He transitioned from shades to geek goggles, cranked the pitch up on his vocal chords, and presumably gave himself a very large, very permanent butt probe. (How the hell else did he walk like that all the goddamn time, people?)

And, to some extent, he made it work. For one hour every week, Steve Urkel was routinely welcomed into millions of homes—even with the very real possibility he’d break all of our expensive glassware.

That fucking table's going to snap any second. Just you wait...

To look at Steve Urkel’s track record in the post-Family Matters world is to look deep into the soul of a classically poor decision. It’s the moral of why a handsome man should never, circumstances be damned, hike his white jeans up to his shit-eating grin and talk like the puree option on a blender. During Family Matters' fragile final years, Steve Urkel was a lost dog, sniffing out anything vaguely familiar to take a crap on. Bewildered audiences found themselves staring at a nerdy apparition, the Ghost of Sitcoms Past. Urkel was on Full House. Urkel was on Step by Step. Urkel was on Meego (which was about a 9000-year-old alien...or something).

The fall of Urkle-Mania is not surprising. In fact, when looking back on those nine years, one begins to wonder how he lasted so long without being shot by his neighbor, who carried a gun as part of his job and had the temperament of a colicky baby.

Still, the fact that the handsome Steve Urkel never got the chance to unleash himself on the world the way his ball-squeezed, dork montage of a counterpart did is just wrong. The Steve Urkel whose gaze could unhook bras. The Steve Urkel who was sponsored by Plan B contraception. The Steve Urkel who…kind of looked a lot like that guy Stefan Urquelle, now that I think about it…

Like seeing Clark Kent without his glasses...and a dashing goatee.

The fact that he never got proper face time with America is an outright tragedy. An irresistibly hunky tragedy.

November 22, 2010

Jean-Claude Van Damme: The Quest to Dress Like a Male Prostitute not such a Hard Target for a Timecop. Could Have a Double Impact? Bloodsport!!!

Punch. Kick. Double punch. Jump, spin, kick. Splits. Pose.

Such is the life of "the Muscles From Brussels." This tedium is surpassed only by the constant flex of his biceps and straight-to-DVD work ethic. Jean-Claude Van Damme is a man of pattern: A + B + C = Damme. And for nearly 20 years, it worked like a charm.

Type "van damme flex" into Google. Then watch your computer explode.
In the 80s and early 90s, Jean-Claude Van Damme was to action movies what cranberries are to Thanksgiving: colorful, easy to digest, and on your plate every single year, regardless of if you wanted him there. But he was harmless and handsome, so it could easily be brushed aside.

You were never going to leave a Van Damme movie saying, "boy, I did not see that twist ending coming," or "I need to re-evaluate my outlook on life." What you more than likely said is something like "Jesus, did that guy dress himself out of Elton John's 'DONATE TO GOODWILL' pile?"

Liberace would have told him to tone it down.
Pick any one of Van Damme's movie titles from a hat. In that movie you will be guaranteed to see Van Damme do two things: wear a fluorescent tank top and split-punch a bad guy in the dick. There is no movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme where this does not happen! In some rare cases, they may even happen at the same time.

I understand that this era was a confusing time for male fashion, but frequent viewings of Death Warrant, Kickboxer, and Double Impact have made me think Van Damme was actively vying for the title of Fruitiest Wardrobe in a Movie About Avenging Someone's Untimely Death.

Like you wouldn't vote for him...
The only real question is why? Why wear the rejected items from a Kylie Minogue video when you're about to throat-kick someone?

Hold up. I was told this was an audition for that Right Said Fred video...
Budgetary restraints? Did you lose a bet to Dolph Lundgren? What, man???

In the end, you could dismiss it by saying that in the beginning, the rookie actor wasn't enough of a big shot to make decisions about his wardrobe. Surely the director/producer/assistant to craft services told him to shut his mouth and put the leg warmers on. But then, how do you explain this?...

Hold up. I was told this was the Miami Vice reunion...
Jean-Claude Van Damme: action star, ball-puncher, flagrant misuser of pastel colors.

**Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, Martial News,,, Picsicio, Punch Drunk Critics, and Muscle Weights for the photos.

November 11, 2010

An Open Letter to Troy Duffy, Director of Boondock Saints 2.

Look. Before I start, we get it. You like to see gunfire in slow-motion. And you love bloody squibs popping from the chests of your racially insensitive bad buys. And you obviously have a fixation with making people say and do manly things in very manly ways using a lot of expletives to prove how large their dicks are. Got it, thanks.

But the thing is: you already did that. Remember, it was called The Boondock Saints, and it was pretty terrific. Did you really need to go and make a second one?

I’ll answer that for you.


No, you definitely did not. Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day acts as nothing more than a shout-out to the fact that you made a movie that some people liked ten years ago. You took the original, shoved in some more over exaggerated action sequences, turned the main characters into Irish versions of Inspector Gadget (minus the cool technology), brought back the supporting cast to read the same lines they read before, and replaced all of the dead cast with new dead weight.

There were no characters in your movie. There were only glimpses of people who would die, kill, or eventually call someone else a queer.

In Sunshine Cleaning, Clifton Collins Jr. played his character Winston, a handicapped sterile products salesman, with great subtlety and charm. I’m curious then, when Collins showed up on set for All Saints Day, did you make him re-watch that performance all day in a tiny room with the volume cranked up and the Spanish subtitles on? And then make him sit through twelve hours of Speedy Gonzalez cartoons?

And holy H.E. Double Hockeysticks, you replace Willem Dafoe’s Agent Smecker with that ridiculous collection of tit-wearing Southern witticisms? (Also, she was the worst part of the show Dexter. It’s like her job in show business is to take potentially wonderful things and ooze a deadly case of the terribles all over them.)

After watching two once-commendable actors play grab-ass and masturbate each other (mentally) on camera for two hours, I can see why Dafoe would want as little to do with this as possible. And yet, you somehow got him to show up for two minutes at the very end—for the purpose of…fuck, I dunno, something about faking his death in order to facilitate another horrible sequel? It’s at this point I’m forced at ask: do you have nude photos of Willem Dafoe banging an orangutan while force-feeding meth to a child laborer? I honestly don’t know how else he agreed to show up on set.

He can't even look you in the eyes...

I know, maybe he was so engulfed by the script that he was desperate to be included in the plot in any way possible? I mean, what’s not to love about this plot?

These things are not to love about the plot:
1)     The son of the mob boss who was killed by the boys in the last film is Judd Nelson...? (I’m not asking if that’s really Judd Nelson, I’m asking if it really had to be Judd Nelson?) He suddenly gets the urge to go after his father's killers. After 8 years. It took him 8 years to figure out he didn’t like that two dudes killed his dad? That’s just a poor family bond.
2)     Meanwhile, the boys have spent the last 8 years growing beards and playing hide the pickle with each other—though the last part is purely (accurate) speculation—in Ireland until they get news that someone killed a priest they used to know...or something. Annnnnd cue romantic comedy montage of trying on fancy dresses in a mirror while Hall & Oates plays in the background. Or something equally unnecessary and stupid.
3)     And that final conversation between Henry Fonda and Billy Connolly? You must have shot so many loads over that scene that both actors are now pregnant with scripts for Boondock Saints sequels. I’m sure you were aiming for an Oscar here but you got a fucking Elmo, guys. Sorry.

I’ve heard you say that you wanted to do another Boondocks movie “for the fans.” You wanted to “repay the fans putting clothes on [your] back for the last ten years.” But couldn’t it be that you wanted to do a sequel because you haven’t had a gig in ten years and need more clothes on your back? Well, hopefully the box office from this pays for some new threads from Farm & Fleet.

This wasn’t for the fans, Troy. This was two hours of homage to the first movie. A re-cut, regurgitated mess full of annoying new characters and bad accents.

Hopefully it’ll be longer than 10 years until you ruin your franchise even more.

Essentially Condensed Reviews: Nirvana - Nevermind

Today I'm reviewing Nirvana's seminal grunge album, Nevermind, which spawned mega-hits "Come As You Are" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

It's pretty good. You should go download it or something.

Next week I'll review Michael Jackson's Thriller.