Movies to Watch While Ill

We're all still sick at my house with entire truckloads of Kleenex and chicken soup being delivered at regular intervals. Since we've only been leaving the house for the bare essentials (school, doctor, pharmacy, library) we've ended up watching a bizarre assortment of videos when we take a break from studying for exams and writing novels. We watched everything from Muscle Beach Party (stunningly horrible but kind of scenic) to a movie about a gazillion people all trying to kidnap the same fellow to GTO aka Great Teacher Onizuka, an anime series about a 22-year-old guy who hangs out in gangs, drives a motorcycle and wants to be the greatest teacher in Japan. It's a pretty funny show as he's always in a never-ending battle with both his students and the administration but is still somehow convinced he will be the greatest ever.

If you have the right kind of cable you'll have access to a fairly new channel called Fearnet. I don’t quite understand the Fearnet name, their website is which makes me think they should have just gone all the way and called it but whatever. We like their selections as they're one of the few channels to offer Japanese horror flicks with subtitles instead of crummy overdubbing. We recently watched One Missed Call and liked it so much we watched the sequel. It's a technological horror story about a haunted cell phone that involves getting a phone call that will eventually lead to your death. While somewhat formulaic it was interesting and well done enough that we did watch the second one, which was kind of a typical sequel in that it delivered but didn't quite live up to the original.

We also watched the entire Species series, one, two and three. The first one tried fairly hard but didn't quite succeed. Parts of it were hilariously dated, a cell phone as big as a brick, a statement that nearly a quarter of a kilobyte of data had been sent into space containing genetic information about humans (Wow! Nearly a quarter k!!) and the aliens were clearly influenced by Ridley Scott's Alien series. The plot sounded like someone's very private fantasy, alien/human hybrid is desperate to reproduce and goes on a rampage looking for a mate. The second film was just plain awful with no redeeming features that I could see. The third however was the best of the bunch and that's because the film didn't try to be about something threatening ALL MANKIND. We meet two characters that are in college who don't get along at all who are pretty interesting and watching them clash is even more interesting. Then we find out one of them is growing yet another alien hybrid in his basement and needs his former rival to become his partner instead. This is the kind of thing we can really care about and characters we can root for. If you're going to watch this series you may want to skip ahead to the third one.

King's Ransom is the story of a man called Malcolm King who is very rich and very, very annoying. In the first act of the film he antagonizes his wife, his star employee, a desperate wannabe employee and just about everyone else he meets. As they all follow the breaking story of a kidnapping with a five million dollar ransom they simultaneously decide to kidnap him to a) pay him back for his rudeness and b) get rich quick. Just to make the story that much more complicated he plans to kidnap himself, so he can hide the money and keep his wife from getting half of it in a divorce settlement. This is a cute film with even acting and some laugh out loud moments. (One character asks another if she likes sushi and she says yes, because when you fry it up it tastes just like fish.) This film was rated PG13 but it was raunchy enough that I was a little uncomfortable watching it with my fourteen-year-old so I advise parental discretion.

I've seen so many parodies of these types of films that I thought I'd better see what the fuss is all about. When I saw that Muscle Beach Party was available for free on demand I went ahead and watched it. My viewing partner was less than impressed and repeatedly suggested we just turn it off but I thought we could suffer through to the end and I'm glad we did because I was astonished to see that Peter Lorre, of all people, was in it. The film was really quite bad but it had three things I liked. 1) All the musclemen (who look like they've been zombified) are wearing these terribly masculine pink hot pants. It's quite a sight to see. 2) There are some very nice shots of waves and such. 3) The film introduces Little Stevie Wonder and I enjoyed watching him and thinking about how his career has progressed over the forty-five years since the Muscle Beach Party was made. Is the whole thing worth watching? Maybe. You can giggle at parts of it but you may be better off watching it in fast forward.

One-Sentence Review

This week our one-sentence review comes from Cam the White Tiger. He reviews The Wish List and says, "One of the lesser known books by Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl books, this is a great book about a girl who dies in the middle of a crime and has to go back to earth and do good deeds for a chance at heaven." Have you got a one-sentence review? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at