The Bootleg Files: Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy

BOOTLEG FILES 654: “Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy” (1926 fan film inspired on the Our Gang series).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.


REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Partially-lost film with no perceived commercial value.


For every Hollywood franchise that gets screen time at the multiplex, it seems there are an endless number of fan films created by overenthusiastic movie lovers who want to be part of cinematic fun. But fans films are not a recent phenomenon. Indeed, the earliest known fan film was made back in 1926, and it was also part of a strange trend that brought a mix of filmmaking and hucksterism to small town America.
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The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Eli Roth has always been a better horror fan and film lover than actual filmmaker, and he’s proven it time and time again. After the embarrassing bomb that was “Death Wish,” I had hope that “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” would be a win and Roth would kind of re-invent himself. While not as awful as “Death Wish,” Roth proves once again he’s not too good at handling tone, pacing, and general direction. Without the thick icing of blood, grue, and torture to cover up the thinly layered cake that is “The House with a Clock in Its Walls,” Roth once again proves he’s a filmmaker that has so much to learn, and so much evolving to do.

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Beauty Shop (2005) [Blu-Ray]

The spin off for the “Barbershop” movie is a good idea on paper. On paper. I mean Queen Latifah is better at acting than Ice Cube, so it seemed like a slam dunk. The attempted launch of a new series within the “Barbershop” franchise is not only one big misfire, but it’s dead on arrival from minute one. “Beauty Shop” isn’t a prequel, or a sequel, but mainly just a movie that’s set in the universe of “Barbershop.” When we see Gina Norris from “Barbershop 2” again, she’s working at an upscale salon in Atlanta and she has a picture of the gang from Calvin’s shop hanging on her mirror. Beyond that there isn’t much at all to “Beauty Shop.”

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Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

The original “Barbershop” from Tim Story and Ice Cube was a very good and entertaining albeit imperfect drama comedy about family, and community. It had a lot more going for it than didn’t, thankfully proving to be anything but a fluke. Kevin Sullivan carries on the down to earth tone with “Barbershop 2.” While it is just as imperfect as the original, it’s also a very good extension of the first film, continuing the storylines of the characters we grew to know and engage with. Thankfully everyone pretty much returns for the second go around, and they’re all about the same people we remember, except older.

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Tag (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

People are often surprised when they learn that “Tag” was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, mainly because the premise looked so creative. The comedy genre is pretty much a wasteland as it is, but the movie seemed to have a ton of potential. Plus the fact that it was inspired by a true story is also a plus that kept me anticipating its release. “Tag” ends up being a fun comedy about friendship, tradition, and life, and while it doesn’t fully realize the concept, I had a good time with it, and I don’t mind adding it to my collection. “Tag” brings with it a pretty stellar ensemble cast, all of whom manages to bring their A game and also seem to be having a good time.

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The Predator (2018)

Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.

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Ocean’s 8 (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

Over the years, Hollywood has been trying to increase the demand for more female oriented movies by re-conditioning franchises that have been gestating or thought long dead. After the disastrous “Ghostbusters” retread I was very worried about a female oriented version of “Ocean’s Eleven.” After barely finishing “Ocean’s Twelve,” and skipping “Ocean’s Thirteen” altogether, I had no confidence in “Ocean’s 8,” no matter how many fine actresses were assembled. Thankfully “Ocean’s 8” is proof that these series can be altered to fit the female dynamic and reach a brand new section of movie goers without feeling like pointless pandering, a la (sigh) 2016’s“Ghostbusters.”

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Barbershop (2002): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

Ice Cube spent too much of his earl years as an actor looking for a vehicle that would propel him in to blockbuster status, and he’s had his share of misses. When he committed to simpler more personal movies like “Barbershop,” he really managed to shine. He’s not the best actor in “Barbershop,” but as Calvin Palmer Jr. he’s kind of the glue that keeps his entire crew of barbers together in a neighborhood that’s being consumed by crime, and political corruption. “Barbershop” may not be a masterpiece, but it’s a pleasing and pleasant comedy about the value of community and family.

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