Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheeseby Michael J. Nelson
You might think that after ten seasons on the Peabody Award-winning TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike Nelson has seen enough bad movies for one lifetime. As the guys at Cahiers du Cinema say, au contraire! Hollywood's spigot of stupidity shows no sign of slowing, and cheesy films continue to flood our multiplexes and gunk up our home/b>/b>
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You might think that after ten seasons on the Peabody Award-winning TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike Nelson has seen enough bad movies for one lifetime. As the guys at Cahiers du Cinema say, au contraire! Hollywood's spigot of stupidity shows no sign of slowing, and cheesy films continue to flood our multiplexes and gunk up our home entertainment centers at an alarming rate. This dire situation calls for a specialist. A professional. An expert in wading through motion pictures so vile that they aren't released; they escape. We need Mike Nelson! Hey, settle down there, palyou got him!
In more than sixty laugh-out-loud reviews and essays featuring his unique combination of erudite wit and shameless clowning, this screenscarred veteran takes us deep into the recesses of cinematic cheese. He examines legendary showbiz families like Culkin, Baldwin, and Estevez; uncovers an ancient quatrain in which Nostradamus foretells the coming of David Hasselhoff; makes the case for the Food Network and the Three Stooges; and skewers all kinds of movies, including Lost in Space, Twister, Anaconda, The Postman, Spring Break, My Best Friend's Wedding, The Bridges of Madison County, The Blair Witch Project, and many, many more. Here is a film critic for the rest of us: the outrageous, hilarious Mike Nelson.
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I hate to start this thing by nitpicking, believe me, but the movie really should have been called Lava, not Volcano. The film, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, really was long on lava and, as far as I could tell, had only one small quite small, really volcano. And, despite all the hype, the coast was not, at any time during the film, toast. The coastal city of Los Angeles, California was indeed in no small danger of being incinerated by flowing magma, but the situation was competently handled by disaster workers, and only the most pessimistic naysayer would describe the situation by saying, rather unhelpfully, "The coast is toast."
You may accuse me of being rather picayune, but when a film endlessly hypes on television, radio, the sides of buses, billboards, drink mugs, cheese-erito wrappers, Fruit Roll-Up packages, the underside of dirigibles, and family-size toilet tissue packs that "The Coast Is Toast!," I expect to see the entire coast say, from Long Beach to Oakland and every one of its millions of inhabitants incinerated into unrecognizable char. Do not misunderstand me. I don't actually have a desire to see that; I just want my expectations managed with more integrity.
In the first act of Volcano: The Film That Shamefully Misrepresents Its Content, we learn that Stan Olber, head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones), head of the Office of Emergency Management, have trouble cooperating when their respective jurisdictions overlap. If that plotline doesn't get your blood boiling, then perhaps the story of the seismologist who isreluctant to be interviewed on camera will. I understand they cut the scene in which the City Registrar collated taxpayer information because it was too graphic.
Things pick up when seven transit workers are burned to death right near the La Brea Tar Pits. Actually anyone who's been talked into driving more than a mile to see the La Brea Tar Pits has indeed been burned, badly. There's not much to see, and parking is hardly convenient. Anyway, seismologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) is brought in to investigate the incident, and she soon warns the shar-pei-faced Tommy Lee that the titular volcano may be forming under their feet. Then the movie pretty much follows the plot of Earthquake (in Sensurround), and you half-expect to see George Kennedy yelling at Lloyd Nolan, or Richard Roundtree hanging with Marjoe Gortner.
There's some good special effects as the lava flows down Wilshire Boulevard, burning up all the Koo Koo Roo's, Carl's Jr., In and Out Burgers, Jack in the Box, El Pollo Loco, and all those other chain restaurants with the incredibly stupid names that L.A. seems to love so much.
And just what does Carl's Jr. mean? Carl's Junior ... what? Carl's burger is junior? Or is it referring to persons younger than Carl? If Carl's restaurant is junior, then there'd need to be a larger restaurant named "Carl's Sr." to put it in the proper context, and there is no "Carl's Sr " Again, nitpicking, perhaps, but you just can't go around naming things nonsensically and expecting everyone to buy into it. If I named my store "Clean White Cotton Underpants," and then you came in and discovered I sold nothing but custom kitchen cabinets, you'd be upset, and you'd have every right to be! Or if I called my restaurant "Phil's Double," and then just left it at that, with no explanation, I'd be hurting a lot of people. That's how I feel about "Carl's Jr." I'm hurt and angry.
As for Volcano, I was neither hurt nor angered by it. I liked it. Perhaps I was drunk on nitrates from all the luncheon meat I had had that day, or perhaps the botanicals in my wife's hair products that I accidentally used made me susceptible to corny scripts, but I found it pretty entertaining. It was kind of like an old war movie really cornball, but with a heart. It's not my favorite movie ever (that would be Heartbeeps), but it's a decent stupid disaster movie delivery system.
My fear is that its success will lead to more films with clever tag lines, like, say, for a film about a rocket aimed at a town in New York called Buffalo Shot, the tag line would be, "Watch Upstate Go Down." Hmmm, that's not very good. Okay, the movie depicts a horrible avalanche in Denver. It's called Snowball's Chance, and the line reads, "Colorado, Rocky Mountain DIE." Ew. That's terrible. Try a film about a paramilitary group taking over a Missouri landmark called Arch Nemeses. The poster would read, "St. Louie Is Kablooie."
Oh, I like that. I've got to call Casey at Universal and get this baby on the fast track.
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Meet the Author
Michael J. Nelson is an actor, writer, director, and musician who served as head writer for ten seasons, and on-air host for five seasons, of the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was also the composer of most ofMST3K's original music, and is coauthor of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1996). Nelson lives in Minneapolis with his wife, writer-performer Bridget Jones, and their two children.
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I had high expectations of this book because I was familiar with Nelson's work on MST3K. And he did not disappoint! He keeps the laughs coming and rips into terrible movies and their actors. You won't be disappointed!
It obviously took me a long time to get to this, but I have to say that Mike (MST3K) Nelson's efforts here, while indeed dated, as a previous reviewer stated, nevertheless age very well, especially when the more timeless humor emerges, as it often does. Michael J. Nelson, just as Joel Hodgson, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, and the rest of the Mystery Science Theater creators, is an original voice in humor, and even though this book won't make you at all wistful for the days of Pauly Shore and Carrot Top movies, it will make you wistful for the days when someone with erudite wit made fun of them. Well worth the wait, and well worth the read.
I just read this book recently, and even though it is a little dated as far as the shows and movies that are written about, this book is so funny! I laughed until I cried. Any tv and movie trivia fan will love this book.
I don't really like books but I made an exception for this one since it was from MST3K's (my favorite show) Mike Nelson. I recomend it to any one that has a sense of humor or that is a BIG fan og MST3K (like me)
Folks, if you've made it to this page it means you're probably close to purchasing the book... do it. Seriously. The book is very well written and uproariously funny. And it fits perfectly on the top of the toilet. It's like watching one of the better MST3K's, like 'Girls Town' - continuous hilarity that will ping your gray matter. Mike's not pulling any punches on big-name celeb's, particulary those who've made more than one bad movie (Val Kilmer, Danny DeVito, _Jim_Carey_). Once you get the book, I recommend going straight to the review of 'What Dreams May Come'. Oh, and one other note: If you're a fan (or family) of Jim Carey, you stand a good chance of being offended.
This is the best book I have ever read. It's funny and insightful. You look at movies and Adam Sandler in a whole new way after reading this book. A must buy unless you WANT to see all of Jim Carrey's movies.
Well i was browsing in Barnes and Noble and by accident I ran across this book,and I must say I couldn't put it down. I didn't have my purse with me so I couldn't buy it, but I went home and the next day went on hunt down for it. I searched high and low and finally ran across this masterpiece. I bought it and have told everyone about it. Being a fan of his from previous works (mst3k), I couldn't resist. Enjoy it Buy this .
It is very rare that I actually laugh out loud while reading a book, but I caught myself doing so numerous times while reading this one. Mike throws funny, insightful barbs at popular movies as well as he did at B-movies on MST3K. Buy it. Read it. Love it.
I really enjoyed this book. Mike Nelson is very, very funny!! I like his little side-notes as he reviews a movie. His look at the 'Five Families of Film' even makes the Baldwins look funny.