Saturday, April 23, 2005

MR. Cranky, here's to you!

Before the New Yorker, before Garth Franklin, even before Harry Knowles, there was Mr. Cranky.

Mr. Cranky has been running his anonymous website since 1995. He site is devoted to reviewing the movies that come out every week, as well as many classics which came out prior to ’95. But Mr. Cranky is no ordinary film critic. Many web pundits rail on Hollywood studio output now and again, or decry independent films as artsy dreck, but Mr. Cranky has no such prejudices. That’s right, Mr. Cranky hates all films, yes, every last one of them!

To give you a sense of what I’m talking about, here is the way Mr. Cranky’s infamous rating system works, (a system which uses explosives to measure horrendousness!):

1 bomb - Almost tolerable

2 bombs - Consistently annoying

3 bombs - Will require therapy after viewing

4 bombs - As good as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

Pack of Dynamite - So godawful that it ruptured the very fabric of space and time with the sheer overpowering force of its mediocrity.

Atomic bomb - Proof that Jesus died in vain.

Very few films have garnered the honor of one or two bombs, and of course the more Mr. Cranky hated the movie, the more fun it is to read the review.

Here is one of my favorites: Mr. Cranky’s review of Volcano

If "Volcano" is any indication, the day isn't too far off when writing can be completely eliminated from the filmmaking process. Exactly how long was the script for this movie anyway? Two pages? Even when the script weighs in at a mere two pages, you would have to assume the phrase "people run away from lava" appears in every other sentence. That's the whole film. 99.9999% of the budget was given to some special effects company while the other .0001% (the cost of a banana) was given to a chimp with a crayon to select from a list of lines:

"It's really hot down here."
"Why is it so hot down here?"
"Oh my God."
"I'm burning up."
"I'm on fire."
"Put out that fire."
"Is that lava?"
"Get out of the way!"
"Get out of the way! Fast!"
"Get out of the way! Fast! It's hot lava!"
"It's hot lava! Get out of the way!"
"Fast! It's hot lava! Get out of the way!"
"Save my dog!"

If nothing else, "Volcano" can claim to have one-upped "Dante's Peak" by saving two dogs instead of one. Undoubtedly, this was due to the overachieving nature of director Mick ("The Bodyguard") Jackson, who also felt the need to throw in some politically correct racial messages in the guise of such things as a kindergartner reading his first-ever paper on "How to Play Nice."

If Hollywood ever wants to make a decent disaster flick, it might consider, in addition to hiring a writer or two, retaining someone who has even the slightest understanding of science. Among the most far-fetched of "Volcano's" blunders is a guy who leaps off a train and into about a foot of lava, then throws another guy to safety. Naturally, this heroic individual dies, but he dies by melting into the lava as if he were the Wicked Witch from "The Wizard of Oz." Was I off the planet when they started making humans out of Play-Doh? Perhaps that chimp was also the science consultant.

There’s nothing like a good old vitriolic sense of humor to get your blood pumping, that’s what I always say. One could spend hours on this site, somehow, even though you know what the tone will be for every single review, he still manages to conjure some very funny images and truths. Also for about $5 you can also purchase an e-book copy of Mr. Cranky’s book “The 100 Crankiest Movie Reviews EVER” which includes many of his classic reviews, including another one of my all time favorites, his review for the 1998 Matthew Broderick Godzilla remake. It seems they’ve pulled Mr. Cranky’s hundred most popular reviews off the site and put them into this book, which is slightly annoying, but I say Mr. Cranky deserves the royalties. He is one funny guy.


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