Patrick McGinlay's Internet Tendency

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APRIL 8, 2004

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Last year's Undercover Brother proved that you CAN take a good idea for a spoof movie and make it unfunny. 'Brother' had everything one could expect from a professional attempt to gently rib the black exploitation films of the 1970's- knowing in-jokes, over the top stereotypes, and a ridiculous plot. Yet somehow, despite the potential, Undercover Brother never really delivered. And the same can, unfortunately, be said for 'The Hebrew Hammer'.

Hammer's setup is pretty good- young Mordechai Washington Carver is teased mercilessly by his classmates because he gets a crappy dreidel for Channukah, while the other kids are playing with their fantastic Christmas presents. The boy grows up to be The Hebrew Hammer, a certified circumcised dick, a champion of his people, complete with beard, long, pimpin' black coat and groovy theme music. In the extended opening, we get the pleasure of seeing Hammer (Adam Goldberg) walking through his lower east side of New York neighbourhood, with everyone yelling "Go Hammer" and other such admonitions, while he blows kisses to three young Jewish maidens underneath a sign blaring "100% kosher meat". If you're hoping to see good visual gags, this one's full of them. It's also full of fairly standard "don't worry, I'm Jewish too" stereotypes (the meeting of the Jewish Justice League has a chair for the International Jewish Media Conspiracy, and a vacant chair for The Committee of Jewish Athletes) and contains almost no plot whatsoever.

Basically, Hammer used to work for the JJL until they kicked him out because they didn't agree with his methods. But now, Santa's evil son, Damian (Andy Dick) is planning to destroy Channukah, and the JJL has to stop him. So their chief, the very Moshe Dayan looking Chief Bloomenbergansteinthal (Peter Coyote, with a bewildering German accent) reluctantly brings Hammer back into the fold, assigning his comely daughter Esther (Judy Greer) to keep an eye on him.

Do I really need to tell you that Hammer saves the day and gets the girl? No. Do I need to tell you that there's more Jewish references and in-jokes here than in all of the Mel Brooks movies put together and translated into Yiddish? No. But what I will mention is that despite some fairly good production values and cameos by Melvin and Mario Van Peebles, what 'Hammer' really lacks is a decent script. The jokes will be completely lost on about 99% of the population, and the ones that do work are pretty much all done in the first 5 minutes. Jews might find this stuff funny, but the novelty wears pretty thin, pretty quickly.

That being said, it's still better than can be rightly expected from a first time director (Jonathan Kesselman), and Goldberg ('Saving Private Ryan', 'Scotch and Milk') gives his usual solid performance. I just wish there had been, like, y'know, some jokes in this movie about how neurotic Jews can be. I'm all neurotic about it. Get it? Because I'm Jewish. Ha.

The Hebrew Hammer- 6/10
Undercover Brother- 5.5/10
Bongy Fong! The Wacky Chop Socky Adventures of Johnny Chi-nee- 9/10



I've apparently been really harsh recently on kid's versions of adult films like Agent Cody Banks 2. The reason for this is that I would like to see film makers treat kids with some form of intelligence when making films for that demographic. So not knowing much about Catch that Kid other than is was supposed to be like Mission Impossible or even Ocean's 11 for kids I went along to see what if it really was.

The plot is quite simple really. 12-year old Maddy (Kristen Stewart), with the help of two friends Gus (Max Thieriot) and Austin (Corbin Bleu), decide to rob the state-of-the-art bank where her mother (Jennifer Beals) works to acquire the cash needed for a costly operation to save her dying father (Sam Robards). During the heist, the kids need to overcome a high-tech security system, some guard dogs, and a nasty (and slightly annoying) head of security to get to a bank vault suspended 100-feet above ground. Also, Maddy is an excellent mountain climber, Gus is a computer genius who can crack security systems and Austin is a mechanical wiz who can build anything and both of the guys are in love with Maddy, go figure.

Ok so this is not entirely the most realistic plot but if you want realism look out your window not at a movie screen. Surprisingly this film doesn't try for the cute humour or out there laughs like other films I have bagged out lately but what is does do is quite a good job at putting over the heist in a believable way, it is well planned and thought out, something that most kids films don't do. Also, the "bad guys" like the security chief and bank manager are only used to move the plot along and not entirely the main reason for this heist.

Catch that kid is quite a good film and it will make kids want to have fun and try to rob a bank with a ludicrous security system when they walk out.


Stephen King adaptations are usually quite well done but like Michael Crichton his book always seem to follow the same format. So don't be surprised by Secret Window.

The plot is thus, successful author Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is in the midst of a painful divorce and everything about the breakup has turned messy and unpleasant. It has sapped his energy and siphoned away his creativity, leaving him with a monumental case of writer's block that renders him incapable of even stringing a simple sentence together. Then, a psychotic stranger named John Shooter (John Turturro) shows up at his doorstep, accuses Rainey of plagiarising his story and demands satisfaction. Despite Rainey's efforts to prove to Shooter that he did not plagiarise his story, Shooter becomes increasingly insistent and hostile.

Seems pretty simple huh but wait for it there's a twist that you'll probably see coming, like all Stephen King stories. Despite this, Secret Window is a quite enjoyable film. It uses humour to defuse some very tense moments and Johnny Depp is very good as Mort a very arrogant writer (maybe some auto biography there Mr King?) It scared some people on either side of me at points so it may be good for that first date movie where you want to the prospective other to jump in your arms or other areas.

Oh yeah people who work for the Triple M promotional team really should learn how to use a microphone, the guy who introduced us to the screening made footy player look smart.


Matthew (Michale Pitt) is pursuing his education abroad in Paris in 1968. He becomes involved in the film going community and makes friends with a French brother, Theo (Louis Garrel), and sister, Isabelle (Eva Green), Around them the May 1968 Paris student riots (which eventually shut down most of the French government) is occurring.

The Dreamers can only be described as very French. It uses the sexual games between the three main characters to almost mirror the tension building outside. Theo and Isabelle have an almost sexual relationship. What really made this film interesting was the way director Bernardo Bertolucci splices in the old footage from films in the 30s in with his footage.

The only thing that distracted me from this movie was the amount of nudity in it. Yes seeing newcomer Eva Green naked was enjoyable but it wasn't entirely necessary. Don't worry ladies you also get to see full frontal nudity from both of the male leads as well. Overall, The Dreamers is an interesting film.


THE HEBREW HAMMER stars Adam Goldberg. It's rated M.

CATCH THAT KID stars Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James LeGros & Michael Des Barres. It's rated G and runs 92 mins.

SECRET WINDOW stars Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton & Timothy Hutton. It's rated M and runs 96 mins.

THE DREAMERS stars Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green, Jean-Pierre Kalfon and Anna Chancellor. It's rated R and runs 115 mins.
Opens April 29th.


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