Tag Archives: David Arquette

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992, Fran Rubel Kuzui)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is so technically inept, not even Carter Burwell turns in a good score. Most scenes are just trying to decide who’s doing a worse job, director Kuzui, cinematographer James Hayman or editors Jill Savitt and Camilla Toniolo. Overall, it’s obviously Kuzui, but the editing in the first half by far worse than the photography. But the photography in the second half is so awful, it’s difficult to hold anything against the editing.

And then there’s Joss Whedon’s script. Regardless of whether or not someone rewrote it, it’s still awful.

But there’s a very likable quality to Buffy–Kristy Swanson. She does really well in the film. She has actual chemistry with Donald Sutherland and Luke Perry, even though Kuzui directs the actors terribly. Swanson weathers Kuzui’s direction best, Sutherland worst, Perry somewhere in between. Kuzui doesn’t have a sense of humor, which doesn’t help things. But Swanson gives a rather good performance. The film fails her over and over.

Perry manages to be likable whenever he’s around Swanson, until the film gets uncomfortable with her in the driver’s seat of their romance.

The vampires are lame. Paul Reubens is awful (Kuzui’s lack of humor fails him the most), Rutger Hauer isn’t much better. He and Swanson are awful together.

The movie runs eighty minutes and change. The first half, as Swanson trains to become the Vampire Slayer, moves pretty well. Kuzui and Hayman don’t do well, but they do okay. It’s trying to be a high school movie with vampire hunting. Swanson gets a great character arc and the script’s better one liners. Kuzui doesn’t seem to understand how the one liners work, but Swanson does. In contrast, Perry flops whenever he gets one of the one liners.

It ought to be a whole lot more entertaining, but the brisk pace of the first half and Swanson do get it to the finish. And, for what’s got to be the first time ever, I’ve got to single out the hair stylist–Barbara Olvera–she does a fantastic job with Swanson’s various styles.

I wish Buffy were better. It’s not, but I really wish it were. Swanson deserved it, Perry even deserved it. But really Swanson. She effortlessly goes from being likable to good. Shame the movie doesn’t even manage the former.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui; written by Joss Whedon; director of photography, James Hayman; edited by Jill Savitt and Camilla Toniolo; music by Carter Burwell; production designer, Lawrence Miller; produced by Kaz Kuzui and Howard Rosenman; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Kristy Swanson (Buffy), Donald Sutherland (Merrick), Paul Reubens (Amilyn), Rutger Hauer (Lothos), Luke Perry (Pike), Michele Abrams (Jennifer), Hilary Swank (Kimberly), Paris Vaughan (Nicki), David Arquette (Benny), Randall Batinkoff (Jeffrey), Andrew Lowery (Andy), Sasha Jenson (Grueller), Stephen Root (Gary Murray), Natasha Gregson Wagner (Cassandra) and Candy Clark (Buffy’s Mom).


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Muppets from Space (1999, Tim Hill)

Muppets from Space is definitely missing some important elements (like subplots and a first act), but it usually doesn’t matter. Even though Hill is a poor director–the film doesn’t just lack personality, it looks like a TV show–the Muppet performers are incredibly strong and the script has a bunch of great lines.

The film focuses on Gonzo, which might be the major problem. The Muppets are a team and, while everyone else gets into the act (to some degree), it’s mostly Gonzo’s show. And there’s not enough for him to do. The script lacks narrative ambition–Gonzo gets kidnapped by the Men in Black and the Muppets free him. Then there are space Muppets.

A little bit more happens at the beginning, but that description pretty much covers it all. It’s as though the screenwriters know they can get away with certain things–like not giving the rest of the Muppets story arcs–and still be genially okay. They’re right… but geniality doesn’t make up for ambition.

For the Muppets, Pepe, Bobo and Miss Piggy are the standouts in this one. Most of the cameos are with Piggy–she has great scenes with Ray Liotta, Andie MacDowell and Josh Charles.

In the primary human role, Jeffrey Tambor is funny. David Arquette and Rob Schneider work well too, probably because they’re only slightly less manic than the Muppets.

The funk soundtrack is occasionally amusing but a little forced (original songs would’ve helped).

It’s perfectly fine… just feels like television.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Tim Hill; written by Jerry Juhl, Joey Mazzarino and Ken Kaufman; director of photography, Alan Caso; edited by Richard Pearson and Michael A. Stevenson; music by Jamshied Sharifi; production designer, Stephen Marsh; produced by Martin G. Baker and Brian Henson; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Kevin Clash, Bill Barretta, Kevin Clash and Frank Oz as the Muppets.

Starring Jeffrey Tambor (K. Edgar Singer), Andie MacDowell (Shelley Snipes), Pat Hingle (General Luft), David Arquette (Dr. Tucker), Rob Schneider (UFO Mania TV Producer), Josh Charles (Agent Baker), Hulk Hogan (Man in Black), Ray Liotta (Gate Guard), Kathy Griffin (Female Armed Guard) and F. Murray Abraham (Noah).


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Scream 3 (2000, Wes Craven)

Neve Campbell wanted a reduced presence in Scream 3—she doesn’t really show up in the film’s plot until an hour in—but by not participating, she’s in a worse film.

Her performance is fine. Ehren Kruger’s script is so lame, she can’t do much with the role—especially since she’s got to be suspecting everyone. Except Courtney Cox and David Arquette, of course, and when the three are on screen together it’s the closest Scream 3 comes to working.

Cox gives the film’s best performance. Arquette’s only good opposite her or Campbell. Replacing Campbell for some of the run time is Parker Posey, who’s playing Cox’s character in a movie. Parker and Cox are great together. How Kruger and Craven didn’t realize it is beyond belief.

Craven’s got a couple good set pieces (not the final sequence, unfortunately… it drags forever) but he’s clearly disinterested. Though it’s not like he can be held responsible for the terrible acting.

In no particular order, the laundry list of horrific acting… Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer (she’s real bad), Scott Foley, Patrick Dempsey (he tries to act with his hair) and Josh Pais. Pais is barely in the film but is so bad he’s memorable.

As for good acting? Matt Keeslar is good and Patrick Warburton is funny. And a decent Carrie Fisher cameo. Poor Liev Schreiber looks embarrassed.

The good parts of the film show there’s potential—even with the setting and set pieces.

Terrible Marco Beltrami score too.

It’s surprisingly disappointing.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Wes Craven; screenplay by Ehren Kruger, based on characters created by Kevin Williamson; director of photography, Peter Deming; edited by Patrick Lussier; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Bruce Alan Miller; produced by Cathy Konrad, Marianne Maddalena and Williamson; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers), David Arquette (Dewey Riley), Emily Mortimer (Angelina Tyler), Parker Posey (Jennifer Jolie), Matt Keeslar (Tom Prinze), Jenny McCarthy (Sarah Darling), Deon Richmond (Tyson Fox), Scott Foley (Roman Bridger), Lance Henriksen (John Milton), Patrick Dempsey (Mark Kincaid), Josh Pais (Wallace), Patrick Warburton (Steven Stone), Carrie Fisher (Bianca), Heather Matarazzo (Martha Meeks), Kelly Rutherford (Christine Hamilton) and Liev Schreiber (Cotton Weary).


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Scream 2 (1997, Wes Craven)

This year (2007), I saw more summer movies than I have in at least five years. I avoid big Hollywood franchises (the modern ones, the revitalization attempts… it’s fifty-fifty), so I really don’t know how bad the acting is in most of those films–from what I saw this summer, it’s probably atrocious. But there’s a special place for Scream 2, because not a single new cast member gives an acceptable performance. All of them, almost uniformly, are terrible. I suppose an order can be arranged–Elise Neal is worse than Jerry O’Connell, who is worse than Timothy Olyphant… though no one can compare to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Her performance is so incompetent, even her facial expressions are ludicrous. The lesser supporting case members–Laurie Metcalf, Duane Martin, Rebecca Gayheart and Portia de Rossi–all terrible. Of the new additions, only Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps–who have nothing to do with the actual film–are acceptable. And I suppose Lewis Arquette isn’t too bad.

Though she’s the “star,” Neve Campbell is barely in the film, entirely overshadowed by all the terrible acting going on around her. When she is around Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Liev Schreiber, things really work. Cox and Arquette are great together, Schreiber is great with anyone… only Jamie Kennedy (of the returning cast members) is lame. Oddly, the film ends on a high point–establishing a wonderful chemistry between Cox, Campbell and Schreiber… which might be why I remember the third one being disappointing, regardless of it being lousy–the potential for something of particular merit is certainly established by this one’s conclusion.

Most of the problems are because of the acting. A dumb horror movie can survive with decent acting, but Scream 2 also lacks charm. The college setting is stupid, the writing is dull–Williamson goes overboard with his pop culture references to hide there being nothing going on for any of the characters (except Cox and Arquette and Schreiber, so their scenes are better). Wes Craven’s direction is framed for a pan and scanned VHS–possibly the worst case of framing for home video since The Untouchables. He has two good shots in the entire movie, both near the end anbd one of them is only funny (it’s an Evil Dead 2 slash Nosferatu reference).

Scream 2 doesn’t work because everyone who dies is a welcome victim (except the two opening deaths), because they’re such terrible actors. When Gellar goes, it’s a reward to the audience for having to sit through her. If anything, her death wasn’t gratuitous enough (as opposed to the opening, when Scream 2 really felt exploitative). But having to tolerate Neal for the whole movie… argh. I’d forgotten Miramax recycled bad actors through their movies, trying to build them up into… well, into something.

Maybe if Craven had directed some of the actors, or composed the shots with some dignity, it’d be better. It has a great conclusion–all the likable characters, played by all the decent actors, have nice exits. Except then the lame music for the Miramax Records (or whatever they called it) soundtrack kicks in and helps one remember the piece of crap he or she just sat through.

And Luke Wilson’s cameo is fantastic–but they really shouldn’t have mocked Skeet Ulrich so brutally if they were going to cast worse actors then him in the movie.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Wes Craven; written by Kevin Williamson; director of photography, Peter Deming; edited by Patrick Lussier; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Bob Ziembicki; produced by Cathy Konrad and Marianne Maddalena; released by Dimension Films.

Starring David Arquette (Dewey Riley), Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers), Jamie Kennedy (Randy Meeks), Laurie Metcalf (Debbie Salt), Elise Neal (Hallie), Jerry O’Connell (Derek), Jada Pinkett (Maureen), Omar Epps (Phil), Liev Schreiber (Cotton Weary) and Duane Martin (Joel).