Monday, September 26, 2011


So I completely forgot that Don't Ask Don't Tell ended recently, and it was kinda funny (funny ha-ha, not funny queer) that I received The Boys in the Band from Netflix Qwikster in the mail on the same day. By the way, I'm cool with the total buggering that Qwikster Netflix is giving my physical brothers, as long as this means that I will be able to stream those films eventually -- and I mean eventually Now, not eventually Five Years From Now. Anyway, I decided to make it a Gay/William Friedkin double-feature by following it up with Cruising.

This flick is from 1970 and it's an adaptation of an off-Broadway play by Mart Crowley and it's directed by the hardass General of ruthless badass motherfuckers in the cinematic arts, Mr. William "I hate fuckin' Mexican marimba music" Friedkin. I mean, at least that was his deal during his heyday, back in the 70's -- when this guy (according to Jewfro's book, at least) was foaming at the mouth while terrorizing his actors and firing crew members every few minutes, like he was injected with the Chinese Shit from Crank and in order to keep himself alive, he had to be a colossal prick to everyone else on that set who wasn't named William Muthafuckin' Friedkin.

This movie is about a group of gay dudes in New York, and we're introduced to them during an energetic hustle-bustle montage set to Harpers Bizarre's cover of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes", because you know how those gays are with their showtunes. The song features lyrics along the lines of "The world's gone mad today/Good's bad today/Black's white today/Day's night today" and it can all be taken like some fuckin' hetero bitching to his wife about how we have all these homos loving up on one another nowadays -- and blacks can sit in the front of the bus! can you believe that? -- or, since the singers of the song sound slightly sissy themselves, the use of the tune can be interpreted as the film kinda telling us "Yeah, man -- they're into guys. But we're getting into the homestretch of the 20th century, times are changing, and if you can't handle it, then tough titty". Or in other words: We're here. We're queer. Get used to it.

I think right off the bat, Friedkin wanted to let the audience know that while this is a filmed adaptation of a play, this shit ain't no "filmed play"; homeboy's combining French Connection-like handheld camerawork with slick dolly moves and quick cuts. During the opening sequence, we see our main dude Michael and he's busy getting shit ready for a birthday party he's going to throw for his bro-mo Harold. We also see this dude Donald driving his fast penis of a car through the cavernous anal opening that is the Holland Tunnel, we see this guy Larry taking model photographs of Maud Adams, we see Larry's lover Hank playing basketball (played by Sybok from Star Trek V), we see queeny-queen Emory closing up at the antique shop he works at (that sound you hear is me going into total shock at the idea of a gay guy working at an antique shop), and then there's Bernard, working at a bookstore and since this is the late 60's, he's wearing a suit to work.

So we watch these dudes have their fun at the party, they're being bitchy at each other while waiting for the chronically tardy Harold, having some laughs and drinks, and dancing to Martha and the Vandellas' "Heatwave" ("Remember that dance we used to do at Fire Island?" one of them asks, reminding me of the time that I once confused Fire Island with Parris Island -- think about that one for a while) until some fuckin' breeder named Alan shows up to spoil their gay ol' time. See, earlier that evening, Alan called up Michael (they were college roomies back in the day) and he sounded pretty fucked up about something and needed to talk to him about it, but then later on, he called again to say Forget about it, it's cool. But here he is, even though he said he wasn't coming over. Well, what the fuck, Alan? Make up your fuckin' mind.

Part of the Alan problem is that he's straight, and because this play (and movie, obviously) was made/takes place before the Stonewall Riots, all these dudes actually appear to give a fuck about what Ultra White Conservative Man thinks of them. For reals, yo; Michael actually has to tell them about this, that Alan might be coming over and Please Don't Let Him Know How We Roll -- and they all agree/understand! Except for Emory, he's not having that shit, in fact, he somehow manages to go Super Saiyan with his flamboyance despite Alan's presence and in spite of Michael & company dialing it down.

I suspect that a lot of straights would love it for gays to live life like it was the pre-Stonewall era -- behind closed doors, on the down-low -- living as invisible men not worthy of human acknowledgement. But meanwhile, these asshole baby-makers can continue necking each other in the park in front of everyone because they're straight and only straights are capable of true public displays of affection or something. Me, I'm a hater, I don't want to see straights OR gays making out in public, that's some annoying show-offy "we're in loooove" shit, but whatever, that's my hang-up; it's a free country and no one should be kept from necking in front of Whole Foods while you're carting out tonight's lonely supper to your Prius.

The problem of having to keep where you like to stick your dick inside of under wraps is that it eventually makes a motherfucker feel like he is doing something wrong, because if it was "normal", why would you have to hide this part of your life from others? You can only live like that for so long before the self-loathing starts kicking in, and I think that's a big part of what this joint's about.

It's like that movie about the gay shepherds who wish they knew how to quit each other, I think it was called I Wish I Knew How To Quit You; in my humblest of opinions, the characters portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal and The Joker were born gay and cursed to live in a time & place where people were too ignorant to accept/deal with that shit. It's a good thing we as a society have evolved past that kind of hateful shit and gays no longer have to worry about what others think about them, and more importantly, they no longer have to think that there's something wrong with how they were born, isn't that right, 14-year-old kid who recently killed himself?

Anyway, I bring all this shit up because it appears that our guy Michael is suffering the most from these kinds of feelings about his lifestyle. His problems at the beginning seem to consist of not being able to deal with getting older (don't I know the fuckin' feeling) and his unpaid debts, otherwise he's kind of in control of his shit. He starts off the party drinking only club soda, talking about how he's been off booze and smokes for a few weeks. But somewhere along the way, you'll notice him switching to vodka and downing that wonderful Liquid Amnesia like it was muthafuckin' ice water on a hot-ass day, and after a bottle or two, it turns out this dude can be quite the mean drunk -- mean, man, mean -- and it can't be a coincidence that this starts happening after a talk with Alan and certain assumptions that were made.

Suffice it to say, things get more and more fucked-up between the characters during this birthday party (OK, here's one example: Alan punches that bitch Emory in his Mary-ass face as a response to his fifty-caliber bitchiness towards him, which apparently works because Emory chills way the fuck out for the rest of the picture) and that's even before Birthday Boy Harold shows up.

Oh, but when he does, holy shit, do things get even more ramped up -- Harold's introduced like he's a badass hitman for the gay mafia, and you know why? Because he IS a badass hitman for the gay mafia, only instead of handguns and icepicks, he uses words and body language to take out his targets and watching him do his thing is just as FUCK YEAH-inducing as watching Jason Statham transport a motherfucker into the next life, because Harold, dear reader, is that fucking awesome. This Disco Stu-looking mofo is a genuine Character in a film full of them; he shows up in his queer pimp suit and purple shades, half-burned joint in hand and -- fuck it, check it out for yourself. He's like this during the entire movie and it never stops being anything less than Good Times whenever he's on-screen:

I'm not one for dress-up, but sheeeeeiiiit, I think I want to be Harold for Halloween. That guy and Omar from The Wire are like the hardest homos this side of the Castro district.

This was a good flick; sure, you can say it's dated but then so are flicks about race from that time period; it's expected and hoped for that over the years things would change, so perhaps being dated is a good thing for flicks like these. It has great performances, non-stop snappy theatrical dialogue, and there's definitely that William Friedkin intensity in full-effect here. It's like the drunker Michael gets, the darker this film gets; the lighting gradually changing from low-contrast to high-contrast, and the camera setups changing from wide shots that include everyone to close-ups that make the subject look like the whole world is waiting right out of frame to pounce on the motherfucker.

The thing I noticed the most with Crowley's dialogue is how it stays the same throughout -- mostly bitchy comments & the occasional epithet -- even though the tone of the piece is completely different by the end. I guess it's the context in which you say it -- not to mention the emotion behind those words. I mean, these guys are calling each other "fag" and "fairy" and a bunch of other stuff nonstop -- and that's not counting the additional shit that's being thrown at Bernard (Black) and Harold (Jewish), and it's ostensibly all in fun, you know, the kind of politically incorrect shit that only the closest of friends/most hated of enemies shoot at each other with. But somewhere along the way, the emotion behind those words and harsh statements is no longer the same, and the intention in using those words has completely changed. Or maybe they were always meant that way, and the real illusion was that they were meant in jest.

Next came Cruising. Man, this was an odd film. Some creepy dude with a creepy voice and dressed in creepy vaguely-Nazi leathers is hooking up with other similarly leather'd-out dudes looking to give/receive Man Love, and then he stabs them to death. At least the first on-screen victim managed to get his bang on, before meeting his maker, but the rest literally die hard. What a horrible way to go, with blue balls.

You have Paul Sorvino playing the Charles Durning role, an NYPD captain who's under pressure by the powers-that-be to find the killer, not so much because it sucks that some dude is killing other dudes, but because there's gonna be a political convention in town soon (I forget which party). So he gets police officer Al Pacino to take an undercover assignment that would require him to immerse himself in the gay S&M/leather scene, and his attitude to being presented with this task is surprisingly laid-back, considering what might be required of him. Or maybe he didn't think of that, maybe he was too blinded at the time thinking about the promotion to Detective he would get after the case.

So off he goes, our fair Pacino -- straight into the gay. He hits up the S&M leather clubs, aka the dark side of the Blue Oyster Bar, thinking he can find an In with these non-ironic mustache-wearers. Friedkin devotes long dolly shots to the standing-room-only dimly-lit smoky rooms filled with guys dancing and macking on each other, then there will be the occasional cut to someone getting whipped (I have a feeling little-to-no Black cruisers request for that particular kink) or to a small group gathered around to witness one of these guys getting fisted by a dude who in my uninformed opinion isn't using anywhere near a properly comfortable amount of KY for the job. There's also a special appearance by The Gimp in happier times, before he hooked up with Zed. Me, I have a small acceptable amount of homophobia, so I'd feel uncomfortable to find myself at a place like this, but at least I can dig on the music while sipping on my Diet Coke, wondering why nobody is hitting me up, probably because I'm too fat for the ladies and not fat enough for the bear-lovers.

At first, Pacino is totally lost, really lost; I mean, if you have to ask Powers Boothe -- one of the most macho motherfuckers in cinema -- what the different colors of bandanas mean in the gay community, then you are really out-of-place. But soon he finds himself getting more savvy in all things Male & Sweaty -- by the way, all these leather extras are the Real Deal, doing in front of the camera what they normally do on a Saturday night -- and he even starts getting himself into better shape, giving us a peek into Pacino's acting future as he repeatedly screams while lifting weights, it's hilarious. It's left up to the audience to decide how far he goes to pass as One Of Them; in my opinion, he does indeed go above and beyond the call of booty -- shit, all Keanu had to do was surf convincingly. There's a lot in this movie that's as ambiguous as Ace & Gary, and I'll give Friedkin credit for most of it, but some of it I'm just gonna chalk up to dropping the ball.

The main problem I have is that Pacino's character is absolutely cipher-riffic; there's really not much to this guy when the movie begins, and all we really know about him is what he goes through. That works for flicks like Spartan, where the plot is the character, but I'm not sure that was the intention here -- and the side characters are more interesting than the lead! I mean, it's kinda tough to figure out how much this assignment changes him when I don't even have the foggiest of what he's changing from. Or maybe that's the point; I don't know, maybe Friedkin wanted to tell us that this guy was pretty much an empty vessel going through the motions, and that the Scent of a Man (nature's amyl nitrate) has opened him up a whole new world of excitement and confusion -- perhaps a world he was always meant for. I don't know, but knowing Friedkin, he'd probably call me a moron for needing everything spoon-fed and then I'd tell him "Oh yeah, because Deal of the Century was really fuckin' deep" and then he'd start foaming at the mouth, demanding that I get an abortion, before stopping and apologizing to me, saying that he forgot where he was and had a flashback to being married to Jennifer Nairn-Smith for a second there.

Hey look, there's Karen Allen as the girlfriend! So full of awesomeness and pretty! What is she doing here? Hell if I know. Her role consists of showing up every 15 minutes to hug up with Pacino or get banged by him. By the time we see him show this chick his Big Boy Caprice, he's already exposed his sweet Sicilian ass to The Gay, and he seems to be fucking her rather rough; this is either his fierce way of re-establishing his love of the vagina or maybe he's banging her with yesterday's hard-on, and since yesterday he was knee-deep in Man-Ass, that tells you everything right there, doesn't it?

This flick has a lot of post-production dubbing, which was mostly due to gays protesting/disrupting the shoot and fucking up the sound, but I think it really adds to the creepy feel of Cruising, these voices that match the actor's lip-movements and yet seem...out-of-place. The killer is played by at least 2 different actors, but they have the same voice, giving the impression that maybe it's not the same guy, or it might be various different guys -- the Evil Murderous Spirit Of Homophobia is going in and out of various dudes, Fallen-style, and when it's not entering the closeted self-haters or the straight gay-haters, it's wafting through the air in any room where the term "family values" gets tossed around like so much salad. Jail salad. Whatever it is, it's fucking scary. I mean, these poor guys, they get dressed like a generic bad guy from any 16-bit beat-em-up video game, looking for some ass (or some lips) and the last thing they want is a fuckin' knife to the back. It's already tough enough to be gay in this town, what with fuckin' Joe Spinell and Mike fuckin' Starr fucking with you (right before they demand that you fuck them).

By the way, during at least one of the stabbing sequences, Friedkin intercuts flash-frames of gay porn, and while I'll give him points for Tyler Durden-ing the audience with that shit, I'm not gonna give him a full pat on the back for it either. Because it's not like he's schooling us with his Phallic Knife Plunging Into Flesh = Cock Plowing Through The Valley Of Feels-So-Good bit; anybody who's ever seen Psycho, or a giallo or a slasher movie featuring scantily-clad victims already knows about this kind of symbolism. Hell, I remember watching this documentary about Dario Argento, where the man himself goes into unsettling length about how murder scenes are erotic and that the killer gets off on sticking it in while the victim experiences her "death orgasm". Anyway, my point is that if anything, Friedkin probably thought he was putting it all together for us and I'm like C'mon, we're not that fuckin' stupid -- and by the way, I'm keeping the baby.

Friedkin had to cut out about 40 minutes from the film in order to get an R-rating; he says it was mostly sexual stuff, not plot points. Goddamn -- 40 minutes of more fisting and banging and young Ed O'Neill? Even for a 1980 Hollywood production, it's harsh enough as is, but I wonder how much of this stuff could've passed with an R-rating in 2011 -- or how much more would have to be taken out? I'm not sure, man, I mean, I just watched an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia that featured two guys engaged in the romantic act of bare-ass hobo-buttfucking, and that's on a basic cable show! But then again, who knows, because as anyone who has seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated can tell you, the MPAA has always been harder on gay sex than on straight sex, and at this point I am fully aware I can't write anything without it sounding like Tobias F√ľnke was dictating it to me. Oh EFC, you blowhard!

I can understand the protests and hate this film received from gays; mainstream Hollywood finally decides to put some money into a film dealing with gay culture, starring a great actor and helmed by an Oscar-winning director -- and yet they choose to focus on an extreme underground subculture that feeds into every straight's worst suspicion/nightmare about homosexuals? Bitch, are you for real? But I honestly don't think Friedkin was on a I Hate Gays kick with this, because if anything, Friedkin is more of a I Hate All People motherfucker with his celluloid worldview, plus the Sorvino character even states that this heavy leather scene is not part of regular gay life (I watched the slightly Lucas'd version that is missing the opening disclaimer that insists this film only deals with a small portion of the gay community).

It's too bad that the negative buzz gave Cruising a reputation for being a terrible film, when it's actually pretty decent. It's very well-made, and I'd put Friedkin's work on this right up there with his work on The Exorcist and muthafuckin' Sorcerer, and the unsettling tone of the film is right on -- the shit gets genuinely scary at times (great ending, too) -- but it's definitely flawed with Pacino's thin-in-all-respects character and Friedkin's occasional lapse into what feels like inscrutability for the sake of inscrutability (aka The Southland Tales Special) and that's why I'd have to put this on the Appreciate More Than Like list.

But I have to give The Frieds credit for making something beyond the usual serial killer flick, especially when you consider the fact that he was just coming off a couple of flops and could have made things easier for himself (and his career) by making something more audience-friendly. Instead, he said Fuck 'Em in typical Wacky Willy fashion and made a film that features Al Pacino do a hysterical popper-enhanced dance and a big muscular cowboy hat-wearing black dude in a jockstrap giving people the mother of all pimp-slappings -- just because.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have crazy mad sex with lots of hot women, right after I take this sleeping pill.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jockin' the bitches, slappin' the hos.

A St. Bernard requested that I ramble about her favorite film, Beethoven. The dog's name is Phoebe and she's a service dog and I've mentioned her and her "disabled and wobbly human" Lauren before, but in case you didn't already know, she and Lauren are awesome. I use that word a lot, "awesome", but that's because it's a great go-to word to display my overly-positive feelings about something, plus I'm an idiot with a small vocabulary. Thesauruses are for pussies -- and comparing those who use important/needful things to pussies is for idiots with small vocabularies.

The DVD came from Netflix and because I stupidly assumed that we live in the age of the 16x9 television, the shit came in 4x3 Full Frame, which ultimately wasn't that bad because the movie looks like it was filmed Open Matte with the intention of having it play un-fucked with on the square box at home for the kiddies over and over again, so it wasn't like I was missing any visual real-estate. The cinematographer was Victor J. Kemper, who probably got the job because one of the movies he shot was Dog Day Afternoon, and this movie, it's about dogs, right? He also shot for John Cassavetes and maybe the St. Bernard in this movie had a reputation for improvising like a motherfucker, so the producers thought Mr. Kemper was equipped for that kind of filmmaking, I don't know.

Doing kind of a full rundown here, so if you want to come into this 19-year-old dog movie fresh, do like you always do and stop reading at this point. If you want to know my opinion, well here you go: it's not a bad movie, it's nice and cute and it brought out the occasional AWWW and the even less occasional HA HA HA, but I'm not gonna go around preaching the Gospel of Beethoven anytime soon. It's OK, you know. Amusing, that's the word I'm looking for -- Beethoven is an amusing movie. Hey, I never said I was a critic, just some asshole with no one to talk to, and blogs are like the equivalent of the barber shops where old men can sit there all day just to ramble their thoughts to a captive audience of people getting a little taken off the top because no one else is around or doesn't want to be around to listen to their bullshit, so, uh, yeah.

The movie begins with Stanley Tucci playing the kind of role he used to play before he Big Night'd his ass into more meaty roles, and Oliver Platt plays his partner-in-henchmanning. They're sneaking in stolen dogs into this warehouse while being overseen by their overseer, and I guess it's supposed to be a surprise later in the film when this Big Bad is revealed, based on the way he's lit during this scene (his eyes are the only brightly lit part), but c'mon, it's still too bright and you can tell who it is because these guys work for Dean Jones. He was in all of these Disney family films (as opposed to Disney porno films) back in the 60's and 70's with titles like That Darn Cat, The Love Bug and Why That Loveable Negro! and he was always the lead, always the good guy. But now in what basically amounts to a 90's version of those flicks, he's the villain, so it's kind of a turnaround or a 180 or whatever you want to call it.

Back to Stan and Ollie; while Platt is wearing coveralls, Tucci's got one of those trendy-for-the-nineties suits on, only he's totally fucking it up with these cowhide boots and to make things worse, he tucks his pants into them. Really, Stanley Tucci? You're not a chick and you're not Rick James circa 1979, so pull your pants out of those boots and cover those motherfuckers up. These characters, by the way, would later reunite in the sequel Beethoven 2: The Imposters, which was a financial failure due to it having absolutely nothing to do with Beethoven and because it tried pulling some Planet-Zeist-in-Highlander II: The Quickening shit by having it take place during the 1930's on some fuckin' boat.

Anyway, why are they jacking all of these dogs, and what does Dean Jones want with them? The movie's sure as fuck not gonna tell you, at least not now, so instead the opening credits begin and we are introduced to our titular St. Bernard, back when he didn't have his titular name yet. We see him as a puppy in a pet store and it seems like a very nice pet store because Melora Walters works there, and she usually plays meek soft-spoken chicks who wouldn't fuck around with animals, not even in Boogie Nights, even though I'm sure that fuckin' Colonel tried convincing her and Jack Horner to maybe dabble in the bestiality sub-genre (and I do mean "sub") because there's money to be made doing that shit.

But guess what? It's all fuckin' connected, man, the pet store and that evil Dean Jones, because after hours Stan & Ollie break into the pet shop and dog-nap some of the puppies -- including our St. Bernard -- and hightail it out of there in their SWAT/bread truck. Our dog, though, he manages to break out, along with his new Jack Russell Terrier buddy. Rather than go on the lam together, they separate and travel completely different paths; Beethoven manages to find a family's house to crash at, while the Jack Russell Terrier tries his hand at being a fuckin' bum who lives off of what I throw away, but he'll just be Jack Russell Terrier, no more, no less.

Yeah, Beethoven finds a house, looking for potential suckers and he definitely finds one in this little girl named Emily Newton, who just happened to be dreaming of a puppy before she woke up. The little doggie starts kissing Emily and in walks Bonnie Hunt (playing the mom), her brother Ted (wearing the kind of glasses that hipster chicks too hardcore for black frames like to wear nowadays), and her hard-up big sister Ryce. These guys, they take the sight of this strange street dog licking the little girl's face rather well; you'd think they'd kind of freak the fuck out because for all they know, this dog could be infecting her with Gwyneth Paltrow Cooties, but alas, this is the way it was written in the screenplay by Edmond Dantes (that's John Hughes to you, buddy) and Amy Holden Jones (the auteur behind The Slumber Party Massacre). I wonder if it was the latter scribe's idea to have the family eat at a kitchen table that has a bowl of live goldfish as its centerpiece; I mean, I'm sure the Newtons dine on fish every once in a while, which is kind of fucked-up for the goldfish, to have to witness that barbaric shit happening to their fellow gill-breathers.

Let's talk about Bonnie Hunt for a second (in the form of a long-ass paragraph); if you've ever seen her get interviewed, then you probably already know that she's a very funny lady who is so overwhelmingly awesome that even that cranky asshole David Letterman probably writes love letters to her mother's vagina for popping out someone so full of pure uncut Win. I was particularly fond of her interviews on The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder -- which was my favorite late night talk show at the time, because Snyder didn't give a fuck and because there was no audience to try to win over -- she was so fuckin' quick and also displayed expert poise in handling Snyder's repeated requests that she one day appear on the show in her old nurses' uniform. Goddamn, I miss that dirty old man, now more than ever. Anyway, it makes perfect sense that someone as talented as Ms. Bonnie Hunt starred in something like 17 different sitcoms and talk shows only to have them end up cancelled.

So Ms. Hunt and the kids try to convince the goddamn paterfamilias (played by that bad Charles Grodin -- also one of my favorite talk show guests) to keep this dog, but he's at the very least, hesitant about the idea. He brings up how dogs drool, smell, make messes, and eventually die -- the same argument I use against having children -- but since the movie is called Beethoven and not No Country For Young Dogs, he relents and now they have to find a name for the dog. Because this movie was shot in 1991 the kids come up with such potential monikers as M.C. Hammer and Ultimate Warrior, but because the movie was released in 1992 this scene is funnier than it has any right to be, because by that point, homeboy dropped the M.C. from his name and soon The Ultimate Warrior would find himself out-ski from the WWE. In the end, the dog reacts favorably to Emily's piano performance of the 5th Symphony, so Grodin decides on the name of....Beethoven. Cue the Dog-Growing-Up-And-Literally-Pissing-On-Grodin's-Hospitality montage scored to Paul Shaffer's rockin' old white man cover of "Roll Over Beethoven" blared in Dolby Stereo (in selected theaters)!

Poor fuckin' Grodin -- this guy comes home from a long day's work running his car air freshener company, trying to impress potential business investors played by Patricia Heaton & David Duchovny (although based on Mulder's performance here, he should've spelled that shit "Doucheovny"), and then has to clean up all of the dog's messes. He was right! He was absolutely right! There's fuckin' drool in his shoes, dog fur all over, dirty floors, wet spaces, paw-printed suits, it's a madhouse he has to live in. At one point, Beethoven is all wet & dirty and he shakes it all off, causing goo, drool and slime to splatter all over Mardukas up in here and it was then that I remembered that Ivan Reitman produced this movie.

I bet you that shit was his idea, because he directed a monster-sized hit movie called Ghostbusters that featured one of the stars getting slimed by a Class 5 full-roaming vapor; he probably brought that up at the script meetings, saying that Grodin's character should get slimed and everyone else was like "Yeah, but dogs don't slime, they get water and mud and drool all over you, but not slime" and Reitman probably cleared his throat and said "It worked in a little $200+ million grossing film called Ghostbusters" and then gave some asshole-smug smile. Then his stupid little bratty kid stomped into the room and kicked one of Reitman's underlings just because and Ivan's all "Oh, Jason! You're so precious!" and little fuckin' asshole Jason was like "You bet your ass, homeskillet!" and Ivan's like "Just where do you come up with these sayings? You are indeed the living end, my child, the living end!" before tossing to Jason yet another fat wad of cash for him to do with as he pleases. Goddamn. GODDAMN.

Anyway, Grodin's kids are reaping the rewards (while he's getting raped by the responsibilities) and they're loving life with this dog, taking him out for trick-or-treating as a horse (fairly easy for this miniature horse-like creature, they just put a saddle on him) and they don't even know that Beethoven's still living the life of Riley when they're not around. Yeah man, after the kids go to school and the mom's out banging the milkman or something, The Beet's being a sneaky son-of-a-bitch.

You see, even though they lock him up in his corral during the day, homedog's like Charles Bronson in The Great Escape or the mythical character who gave eternal cuntface twat Madonna quite the rogering in her song "Like a Virgin" -- he's digging tunnels, specifically one big tunnel under the corral fence and off he goes! Off to roam the mean streets of Happy Clean Town, USA (pop. 3,718 - 2 black, 1 hispanic), where he can continue his daily routine of Always Eating; seriously, it's not enough to snatch the bacon off of Grodin's plate, and if he keeps that kind of Exiled from Contentment diet up, Beethoven's gonna catch some serious 'Beetus. But maybe that's why he's walking all over town -- he works off all those calories with all that cardio, in between liberating leftover food from sidewalk cafes and drinking from the water hose at the local fire station while only a few feet away sits the faggy Dalmatian, parched and unloved.

Like me, Beethoven eats everything but he especially loves him some pastries (he gets the hook-up from the friendly lady at the bakery) but unlike me, he will happily share his treats with others, like his alley-loitering Jack Russell Terrier friend. The little dog munches on this rather phallic-shaped pastry, which I guess is foreshadowing when you consider what happens during the climax of the film.

(He bites Dean Jones in the Tom Jones, that's what happens.)

Because they don't actually have to live with Beethoven, everybody in the neighborhood loves him and they don't fink on him for running around sans owners, even when he's visiting the young'ins at their schools, like Ryce; the poor girl has recently been getting all crotch-perspired whenever this fellow student named Mark (oh hai Mark!) shows up. This threw me off, because based on Ryce's love for M.C. Hammer and Heavy D and the Boyz -- not to mention the poster on her bedroom door of a spotted dalmatian that implies how black & white can co-exist -- I figured she was into the dark stuff, but Mark is a white dude, so what do I know? Ryce is too nervous, but lucky for her, Beethoven's a smooth smooth who will hook a sister up, and he manages to get Mark interested in talking to Ryce.

He gets around, this canine! Because this movie takes place in a time before bullied kids discovered firearms and trenchcoats, Ted's been taking a lot of shit from a group of the lamest group of bullies ever. Well, here comes Beethoven to the rescue, flashing his chompers at the little villains while standing behind Ted, not giving himself away -- thereby making Ted feel like he scared the kids off by himself, giving him some much-needed self-confidence. He also saves Emily from drowning in a pool, which is awesome unless you're a parent who lost his or her kid in a drowning accident, like my aunt & uncle, and boy am I glad I never brought *this* movie over to their place -- can you imagine the awkwardness when that scene comes up, watching this young girl miraculously saved as Beethoven carries her on his back, further advancing the He's Really A Little Horse theory I had going, while my aunt & uncle start doing the whole Why God Why cry/mope, like they're gonna get an answer from that twisted sadist.

Grodin unfortunately doesn't understand the kind of selfless things this dog is doing for the family, since he's already riding the Fuck This Dog train and he's not one to pull the emergency cord. Later on, Duchovny and Heaton show up to have Grodin sign some contracts, only he doesn't know that these two assholes are plotting to fuck him over because that's what you do in Big Business. I thought it was rather bush league of the filmmakers to use these fuckhead characters as an opportunity to spread their foul pro-family propaganda; you find out that they don't want kids and are rather content with that decision and then later in the film, Hunt gives Grodin shit by saying something to the effect of "Your family is going down the drain and you're worried about a dream!" because fuck a dream -- keep popping out kids and live your unhappy zombified existence in order to support them because the more, the merrier in the Keep Consuming game. And what becomes of those who don't agree? They get their asses handed to them by Beethoven when he ties his leash around the chairs they're sitting on and takes them for a fuckin' ride. It is Good Times to see Duchovny's smug ass get dragged down a sidewalk, though, that's for sure.

Because this is a movie for the kids, it turns out Dean Jones is getting paid by Howard Stern's dad to test out some new explosive hollow-point bullets by firing them into the skulls of large dogs. See, that's why Jones is paying Joe Gould's Secret and Ready to Rumble to jack all these dogs -- he either shoots them in the fuckin' head or shoots them up with chemicals and drugs. The best part is that Jones is also a veterinarian, leaving me all disturbed as I wonder how many innocent dogs did this guy yank from his clients, all under the guise of I Had To Put Him Down Because He Attacked Me. So many families destroyed by this guy, just so he can drive his awesome Porsche and pile up stacks of cash in his safe (while his minions stack up just as many dog corpses in the incinerator). But hey, that's capitalism, baby -- you gotta get yours at all costs. Like that mumbly, not-really-talented, bullet-ridden rapper is fond of saying: Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

Somewhere, somehow, a family is at home watching Beethoven on television and some kid is asking his or her mom or dad to explain this particular plot turn; "Oh, well honey, you see, the bad man wants to fire a .357 hollow-point bullet into the doggie's skull, and once he's finished cleaning up all the doggy brain matter and mopping up all the blood and pick up the pieces of shattered broken doggy skull, he will take the written and videotaped results over to his employer, the ammunition manufacturers, where they will then take these results and figure out whether or not they've succeeded in creating a bullet that inflicts the most permanent damage to its target".

Jones thinks he can pull this shit on the Newton family, by visiting Beethoven and then pouring fake blood all over his arm and getting our dog to attack him -- and it works, dear Jesus, it works. Now Grodin's gotta drive ol' Beet to the vet, so he can put him down (but in reality, Jones is gonna shuttle him off to get shot in the head) and the sequence begins with a shot of Beethoven innocently rolling around in his corral that just about broke my fuckin' black heart. Then Grodin's talking to The Beet in the car, feeling all bad about this Green Mile drive he's making with him, and the motherfucker is just crushing it in the dramatic department while Randy Edelman's overly-sappy score is doing its thing.

Then later when they arrive at the vet, I think the reality of the situation has dawned on the dog, and he looks just so fucking sad -- either that or Chris the Dog (the actor who plays Beethoven) was hitting the bong something fierce in between takes, because his eyes are very heavy-lidded, like he has Forest Whitaker Disease, only it's affecting both eyes. As Grodin leaves, he takes one final look at the dog, now behind a cage, and Beethoven responds by barking back the dog equivalent to Harry Dean Stanton's "AVENGE ME!" line in Red Muthafuckin' Dawn.

But calm down, this ain't Million Dollar Doggy, this is Beethoven, so soon Grodin and his family are out to get their dog back -- one of the things Hunt tells her husband is "I know he slobbered and he smelled bad, but he loved us" and I'm like, Is she talking about a dog or an elderly relative? -- and face off with Jones. He tells them that the dog's already been destroyed, but Grodin, he's not buying that shit, so he throws a right cross and knocks his old ass out because the boyz in da hood are always hard, you come snatching their dogs and they'll pull your card. Then he and his family wait across the street under some bright-ass lights, because that's what you want to do when sneakily following someone, you want to make sure that you're in plain unobstructed sight.

They follow him to his Warehouse of Dog-Skull Obliteration and it all goes down like family-movie-climax clockwork; Beethoven breaks free and chases Stan & Ollie around, until he finally catches up with Tucci and chomps on his foot, causing the guy to give out one of those patented Stanley Tucci girl-screams. It was at this point that I can see why Phoebe the Dog considers this her favorite movie, because this flick is like James Bond for dogs, particularly for St. Bernards: you have this St. Bernard who gets to eat everything and have fun with kids and even occasionally chomp on the occasional human or two, and people applaud your actions -- why of course, it's total escapist fantasy to these dogs.

The rest of the dogs escape and the Jack Russell Terrier bites Dean Jones in the junk, and then Jones gets owned Basket Case-style which would've been the most awesome bit in the entire movie, if it weren't for the scene that follows: Stan & Ollie escape the warehouse and are chased by the rest of the dogs. They run through some loading docks full of incoming/outgoing shipments of fruits and vegetables, and one of the dogs figures since he's not gonna get this chance again, he grabs a head of lettuce and takes off with it. I'd post a better pic but my VLC is acting up like a young Jason Reitman at a Beethoven script meeting.

So Jones and his henchmen get thrown into the slam for fucking around with dogs, with the help of the Newton family offering damning testimony. Everything's happily ever after for Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt, Emily Newton, Ted "Hipster Ariel Glasses" Newton, and most importantly, Beethoven. But if you give a shit about that chick Ryce, well, check this out: the Newtons end up on the local news, and as a result, Ryce gets a phone call from Mark, which totally makes her night, I'm sure. She thinks he's fallen for her, but c'mon, we all know what's up; Mark called her right after seeing her on television, which obviously means he's a star-fucker. Poor girl, she'll learn eventually.

In conclusion, Vote Phoebe!