Technology has become such a humongous part of our everyday lives it’s now become a tool that we take for granted, and use without caution. It’s embedded in everything we do now, and because of that, we’re prone to broadcasting how stupid and absurd we can be to the outside world. Peter Huang’s short anthology entitled “5 Films About Technology” is a laugh out loud funny and realistic look at how five groups of people all end up committing some kind of ridiculous act with their own technology thanks to stupidity or circumstance.
Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz’s “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” is that kind of zany superhero spoof that, with some watering down, probably could have been a Warner Bros. cartoon in the nineties. After having such immense success with Toxie, Troma makes a second grab for cult fame, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once again. Thankfully, not only is Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. one of Troma’s most iconic and popular characters who stands proudly beside Toxie, but his movie is good to boot. “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” is filled with the typical Troma tropes that make it such a blast. The acting is iffy, the violence is gruesome, the humor is off the wall and original, and the pacing is break neck.
I would be lying if I said that “Troma’s War” is one of the best efforts from Troma. While it tries very hard to elicit some kind of political satire and tackle the idea of exploitation movies, it’s kind of a missed effort. Truth be told, “Troma’s War” is more of a chore to sit through than anything. It’s creative and a neat addition to a collection if you love Troma, but overall, it’s a loud, head ache inducing attempt at an action movie that can never quite put a finger on what it wants to be. It’s a disaster movie, a war movie, an action movie, an “Airplane!” style spoof, and then a political satire. It tries to roll all of these genre elements in to one frantic ball, but stumbles left and right with its intentions.
The populace is obsessed with sports that thrive on violence and uniformity. The rich are generally oblivious to the outside world. Sports are corporate funded obsession based around putting its competitors to their limit. Civilization finds the obsession with celebrities more interesting than actual world issues, and the media manipulates the public through culture of competition. That is the stunningly familiar dystopian future presented in “Rollerball,” the future of 2018. Director Norman Jewison’s science fiction action film has a lot to say about the wide gap of social and class structures. As well it presents a grim glimpse at a corporate empire that results in a world much like today, where the media and culture is dominated by a single entity.
Beneath Paul Michael Glaser’s action film where Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on gimmicky athletes and ends every bout with a silly catchphrase, beats a movie that is quick as a whip and horrifyingly prophetic. Based on the Stephen King novel, “The Running Man” is simultaneously a vehicle for Schwarzenegger that also sneaks in a lot of commentary about society that would oddly enough come to completely fruiting by the mid to late aughts. “The Running Man” is based around a very popular and deadly reality show, steeped in a world where people risk their lives for cash and vacations for entertainment, and it’s all run by a mad man running a corporation. You can pretty much point that arrow to any one of the men running the world today.
Jordan Peele has effectively fired off the starting gun of what I think will become an landscape of cinema filled with social commentary about the racial climate, and division among a certain kind of people. As with all horror movements, Peele expertly crafts a movie that reflects the racial relations of modern America, and how there is a thin line between acceptance and cultural appropriation and fanaticism. Peele is a man who has devoted most of his career to brutally sharp and funny comedy, and here he delivers what is a darkly comedic but very scary tale about cults, the racial dynamic and what is arguably the next movement in the racial hysteria in the country. “Get Out” derives a lot of uncomfortable laughter from the audience, but it has a lot to say about the extremes of racism, and the sheer horror of pure ignorance and naivete.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are two men who can be funny when they want to, and whenever they come up with a premise for something out of the box they almost offer up something great. For some reason they can never seem to completely unfold their unusual premises whole hog, and hinder their own efforts to be absurd time and time again. “This is the End” had moments of pure hilarity but fell apart by the second half, and “Sausage Party” is a movie where I get what they’re doing. Yes, I understand what they’re doing here. “Sausage Party” is an off the wall and absurd twist on “Toy Story” where anthropomorphic sentient inanimate objects are treated as such to the point where they feel everything humans can. They can be scared, they have their own communities, and yes, they even have their own sexualities and religions. I get it.
“Josie and the Pussycats” is kind of a “They Live” of its sub-genre, taking a cute premise and turning it on its head to show a decent rock trio and how they become consumed by corporations, merchandising, and the all consuming hunger of the fans that follow. Sadly in 2001, the world was inundated with endless boy bands and pop princesses, all of whom were Caucasian, very blond, and very young, and were always on MTV grinning and getting their fans to spend, spend, spend. So, “Josie and the Pussycats” sadly got lost in the shuffle considered something of a celebration of consumerism, when really it kind of mocked the whole idea.