Monday, December 22, 2008

Another movie review: Zapped!

So, last time I wrote a movie review it was for that new James Bond movie. I didn't care for it, though some of my commenters clearly thought I was too harsh, or possibly that I lack the advanced cinematic sophistication necessary to see its true brilliance.

I will now endeavor to prove two things:
  1. My commenters are wrong, and I in fact have the best taste in the world when it comes to movies.
  2. I am not, in fact, an anhedonist who just hates everything.
In order to prove these things, I will now review a movie I just watched over the weekend. A movie I love.

In case you couldn't figure it out from the title of this post, the movie in question is the 1982 Scott Baio / Willie Aames classic "Zapped!"

Let me just get this out of the way at the outset: this is the best movie ever made. Period.

I first saw this movie many years ago on some cable channel, and it has stuck in my head ever since. So much so that when I discovered that Netflix didn't have it available for rental I wrote them an email demanding that they get it. Apparently they listened, because that's how I rented it this past weekend.

It was everything I remembered, and more.

Here's a plot summary from the IMDB page:
Peyton and Barney are fun loving high school students working on a science project with white mice. When one of the mice begins to move food toward itself with out [Sic] touching it, Barney finds he has accidently [Sic] discovered a formula for telekinetic powers. Now, how much trouble can a high school boy who can move things with just his mind get into?
How much trouble? None, actually. There are no ramifications for anything in this movie, and that's part of what makes it awesome!

That's actually a pretty lame plot summary. Peyton (Aames) is definitely fun-loving, but Barney (Baio) might be on the fence about fun.

Also, the mice are a relatively minor subplot (and aren't all white, despite what the racist summary-giver suggests). Mostly they feature in the beginning, when Barney's crazy-ass experiment involves getting them drunk and/or high on marijuana and making them go scuba diving in a fish tank. His reasons for doing this are vague, but who cares? Mice in little scuba suits are adorable!

Indeed, one mouse does become telekinetic after Coach Dexter (played by the incredibly awesome Scatman Crothers) spills some super-plant-growth-formula into the concentrated extract of marijuana and then Peyton adds beer for some reason. Scientist Barney doesn't even know about these people messing with his experiment. Bad controls!

Then things go crazy and Barney gets telekinetic too.

Now, allow me to explain the brilliance of this movie. If you were going to make a movie in which someone gets superpowers, you'd probably want to make them the anomaly in a world of normals. Everyone else would just be your average boring citizen, while super-Barney has this awesome power.

Zapped! does not do things that way, lame-ass!

Instead of Barney being a superhero in a normal world, the whole world he exists in is a big pile of crazy. Peyton is some sort of sociopath photographer guy who is mostly a bad influence on Barney, but is actually really harmless for a sociopath. Yes, he's totally self-centered and lies a lot, but he's actually pretty nice most of the time. Also, he's bizarrely popular with the ladies (mostly through the power of lies).

In fact, everyone in the entire movie is just sort of a dick the whole time. For instance, at one point Dexter turns to the principal and calls him ugly for absolutely no reason. Then he goes chasing after a barely-clothed teenage girl even though his shrew of a wife is standing right next to him. Oh, Dexter!

Another common theme you might see in a superpower movie like this would be the hero having all sorts of annoying reservations about using/abusing his power. Or else he'd just abuse his power and become some sort of tormented supervillian, or a whiny Spiderman clone.

Barney doesn't care for your movie-making conventions or questions about power and responsibility!

He gleefully abuses his power in petty and meaningless ways. Like harassing radio-controlled plane enthusiasts for no reason. Or making some guy on a carnival ride spin extra fast so he gets sick. All done with totally no remorse or ethical concerns.

I bet you can guess what happened right after this shot!

(Maybe this?)

Eventually Barney does get pissed off that Peyton is using him to cheat at roulette, but even this is more because Barney's new girlfriend (not the pink girl above, a bookish moral type) wanted to mess around with him that night and got pissed because he's hanging out with the future Bibleman and abusing his powers instead of smooching her.

So does Barney do the moral thing and refuse to cheat at roulette with his goofy friend? Does he let the ball fall where it may? Just stop using his powers for evil?

Hell no! Instead of just saying "Hey dude, I'm done. Going to go kiss my frigid girlfriend instead. Later." He uses his telekinesis to wreck the fucking roulette table. Awesome!

He later goes to the prom where he reconciles with bookish girl. All is well, right? He's learned a valuable lesson about not ignoring his crush-object and not using his powers for evil, right?

Not in this world, buster!

Instead, he somehow gets hit in the head with a watermelon (I am unclear as to exactly how this happened). This sends him into a crazy telekinetic orgy of insanity in which he proceeds to strip pretty much everyone at the prom naked and send their clothes flying around. Bookish girlfriend seems to be fine with this for some reason.

I should point out that this is also the one and only scene that causes the movie to lose points. Mrs. Unicow pointed out that there was a gender equality issue here (I would have noticed this myself, but got distracted by all the boobies).

See, Barney was making everyone's clothes fly off, but the movie really only showed the dirty bits of the naked women. So I'm docking points for not showing more male genitalia.

That is the first time I've ever written that sentence.

That's about where it ends. Giant naked prom. No lessons learned, no morals. Just crazy shit for 90 minutes. It's brilliant.

Perhaps you're still a doubter. Maybe you have trouble believing that this is really the best movie of all time. Maybe you need more convincing.

I present as my final piece of evidence this dream/stoned sequence. If you can watch this and still not believe this movie is wonderful, you're a lost cause.

I hope that puts to rest any lingering suspicions that you may have that this movie is anything less than brilliant. Go watch it now or you suck.

Score: 4.99 Salami Bazookas out of 5