Flashback Friday: Bring It on Again (2004)

When a film is successful, the obvious next step is a sequel. The question is, does it hold up or is it nothing more than an easy cash grab for the studio?

The 2004 straight-to-video movie Bring It on: Again is the follow-up to Bring It On (2000). Whittier (Anne Judson-Yager) and Monica (Faune Chambers Watkins) are college freshmen who want to join the cheerleading squad. When they are rebuffed by the team captain and queen bee Tina (Bree Turner), Whittier and Monica decide to form their own team.

The challenge is the following: only one squad can go to nationals. Will Bree and her establishment team win or will misfits and outsiders have their chance to shine?

There is a reason it skipped theaters and went straight to video. The generic “David vs. Goliath” narrative is predictable almost to the point of becoming boring. While its predecessor had at least some tension, there is none to speak of in this movie.

Do I recommend it? Only if there is nothing else to watch.

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Flashback Friday: Boy Meets Boy (2003)

For the most part, I dislike reality television. The manipulation by the powers that be makes me feel like I am being used for ratings. However, there is a certain segment of the genre that also pushes boundaries and opens doors.

The 2003 reality dating competition show, Boy Meets Boy aired on the Bravo network. Hosted by Dani Behr, James Getzlaff was the potential romantic partner of 15 men. As is standard for the subgenre, each vied for his attention and heart. In the end, he would choose one and perhaps walk into the sunset with him. Assisting James in the process was his bestie, Andra Stasko.

The twist is that some of the “mates” as they were called, were straight. If James chose one of the gay mates, they would win a cash prize and a vacation to New Zealand. If he chose a mate who was heterosexual and pretending to be gay, James would walk away empty-handed.

In a sense, it was progressive, given when it aired. Seeing the LGBTQ community as fully-fledged human beings was still a relatively new idea at the time. However, it was still a reality show, and questionable as to how “real” it was.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday: 3 Ninjas (1992)

The bond between a grandparent and their grandchildren is an important one. It has the potential to forever have an effect on the younger generation, regardless of their age.

In the 1990s film, 3 Ninjas, Rocky (Michael Treanor), Colt (Max Elliott Slade), and Tum Tum (Chad Power) spend every summer with their grandfather (Victor Wong). Grandpa is a Ninjutsu master who has taught his grandsons everything he knows.

They are kidnapped by Snyder (Rand Kingsley), a former pupil of their grandfather’s. Snyder plans to use the boys to get to their FBI agent father Sam (Alan McRae). He thinks that his plans will work. He has no idea that the kids can fight back.

Obviously, this is a kid’s movie. Anyone over a certain age will likely pass on it.

Looking back, I was the perfect age for the film when it was released 30 years ago. But as an adult, I obviously look at it with different eyes. Beyond the lack of female characters outside of the traditional roles, the narrative is simplistic and almost too predictable.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday: Salem (2014-2017)

Centuries after the Salem Witch trials, this moment in history continues to be endlessly fascinating and timely.

The television series, Salem, was on the air between 2014 and 2017. The program starred Janet Montgomery and Shane West. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, the show takes a supernatural slant on the infamous 17th-century witch trials.

I tried watching a few minutes of the first episode. Despite the interesting premise, it was not appealing enough to continue watching. Obviously, there was enough of a fanbase to keep it on the air for three years. But I am not among them.

Do I recommend it? No.

Flashback Friday: Jane Eyre (1997)

*Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk if you are a newbie to the novel or its various screen reboots.

There is a reason that Jane Eyre has been given the label of a “classic novel”. Charlotte Bronte‘s story of a young woman who defies all odds and creates her own happiness is a tale that we can all learn from.

The 1997 TV movie stars Samantha Morton as the title character and Ciaran Hinds as Edward Rochester, Jane’s mysterious employer, and love interest. As in the novel, Jane is an orphaned young woman who must make her own way in the world. Employed by Rochester as the governess to his ward, their attraction is electric. But he has a past that she knows nothing of. If it is revealed, the truth could endanger their future together.

Presently, Morton is electric in The Serpent Queen. Hinds was perfectly cast as Captain Wentworth in the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion. The problem is that these two actors in these roles do not get my blood pumping and my heart pounding as other pairings in the same roles have.

There is one scene that rubs me the wrong way. After it is revealed that Rochester is married, he tries to convince Jane to stay. Hinds is a little too physically rough on Jane as the character for me.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

P.S. Rupert Penry Jones plays St. John Rivers. Elizabeth Garvie plays his sister, Diana. Garvie played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1980 Pride and Prejudice. Gemma Jones (Mrs. Fairfax in this film) was Mrs. Dashwood in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. The Austen force is strong with this one. It is ironic, given that Bronte highly disliked Austen’s wrong.

Flashback Friday: This Is 40 (2012)

Every birthday is special. But there are some that hold more significance than others.

The 2012 film, This Is 40, is a sort of sequel to Knocked Up (2007). Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have a plate that is more than full. On the verge of turning 40, their collective lives are best described as a shit show.

Their daughters are at war with one another, their careers and financial future is on the line, and their marriage looks like it is on the way to falling apart. It is obviously going to take work to fix all of these problems. Will they be able to make it work or will everything they have worked for go down in flames?

This is a classic Apatow movie. As both writer and director, he speaks to the hard truths about life while putting a comedic spin on everyday troubles.

My only issue is in regard to a scene towards the end of the film. Pete and his father, Larry (Albert Brooks) are talking about who is a good Jew and who is a bad Jew. I don’t know what Apatow (who is also a member of the tribe) was thinking when he wrote that scene. But I got the feeling that depending on one’s perspective, it could be seen as borderline offensive.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Flashback Friday: Hotel Hell (2012 to 2016)

It is interesting (to me at least) the many sub-genres within the world of reality television. For every viewer, there is a program to keep them glued to the screen.

Hotel Hell was on the air from 2012-2016. Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, the purpose of the show is to figure out why the hotel of the week is failing and try to fix it. As usual with this kind of show, the barriers include owners who are either stubborn or have their heads in the clouds, lack of processes, bad finances, etc.

By the end, the problems are supposedly fixed and the hotel is on its way to being successful.

Like all reality shows, it is entertaining. But, as a viewer, I have to ask what has been “scripted” and what is being presented as it was filmed?

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday: An Ideal Husband (1999)

For most of human history, women have been kept in two distinct boxes: the innocent and the schemer. It is only in recent years that we have been “allowed” to become fully formed human beings, both IRL and in fiction.

The 1999 film, An Ideal Husband, is based on the 1895 play of the same name by Oscar Wilde. Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) has it all: a solid career in politics, a loving wife, Gertrude (Cate Blanchett), and a supportive sister, Mabel (Minnie Driver). Then his world turns upside down.

Mrs. Chevely (Julianne Moore) claims to have evidence of a potential scandal that would figurately kill Sir Robert socially and politically. He turns to his friend Lord Goring (Rupert Everett) for help. Goring is unmarried and has a certain reputation, which does not please his father. He agrees to help, knowing full well what Mrs. Chevely is capable of.

The upside of this film is that the cast is at the top of their game. The downside is that even with Wilde’s unique writing and comedic style, it cannot overcome the sexist drawing of the main female characters. Granted, it was conceived of and premiered in the late 19th century. However, there are other male writers of that period that gave the women they created more room to breathe and not be constricted to “traditional” female roles.

I was also almost immediately bored, which was another reason I turned it off.

Do I recommend it? No.

Flashback Friday: Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

When a new and unique character comes along, it can fire up the imagination of the audience. But, by the time the audience gets to the third or fourth outing with this character, it becomes a question of when to move on.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) is the third film in the Austin Powers trilogy. After Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), our favorite international spy (Mike Myers) must again prevent the world from being destroyed by Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers). This time. travels back to 1975 and pairs up with Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce) to rescue his father, Nigel (Michael Caine) from Dr. Evil and disco kingpin Goldmember (again Mike Myers).

Though the shine is a bit faded from the previous two movies, it still sits comfortably within the world that the audience expects. Beyonce, as usual, excels in the part of Foxxy Cleopatra while giving proper due to the blaxploitation subgenre of the era.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000)

Our adolescent years are not easy, as anyone who is or has gone through those years knows/remembers. The emotional experience of growing up, learning about the world, and who you are often come out of hard lessons and difficult experiences.

The classic (at least in my mind) 1990s sitcom Boy Meets World (1993 to 2000) followed Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) as he slowly changes from a boy to a young adult. Along the way, he deals with love, loss, heartbreak, etc, and learns that the simplicity of childhood does not last forever.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this show is one of the best of my generation. I grew up with Cory and feel a kinship with this character. Granted, it was television and not exactly reality. That being said, I can look back at BMW and parallel my preteen/teenage years with Cory and company.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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