Saturday, February 15, 2014


All South African movies are about apartheid even if they seem to be about nothing. It’s jarring (at least to a dumb American) when you watch a movie that takes place in Africa and all you see are a bunch of almost Australian people running around, with nary a brother in sight. It would be like watching Cotton Comes to Harlem and seeing nothing but white people, even in the crowd scenes. It’s like you're watching an Outer Limits episode where gentrification is pushed to a science fiction-y extreme. 

Regardless, Baby Brown is South Africa’s answer to the no-budget Lethal Weapon ripoff, but with women playing the mismatched buddy cops and with no brothers in sight anywhere. However, the two partners are not even brought together until 50 minutes into the 90 minute runtime. Before that, a bunch of plot and shit is setup I guess. 

You have tough lady cop O’Hara, who has no interest in starting a family or putting on makeup or playing with the Barbies. Just kicking butt behind a badge and serving as an inspiration to young women who dream to uphold the law and don’t mind absurd overacting. She also speaks in a ridiculous southern accent that comes and goes, as if this is supposed to help Americans relate to the movie and not be put off by its foreignness. 

To show the audience what a badass she is, she thwarts a pervert during possibly the greatest (and certainly the dumbest) hostage crisis scene in the history of cinema. Some crazy overacting asshole has a gun to a chick’s head and requests to talk to a female officer because, according to O’Hara’s douchebag misogynist male partner, “he prefers a material figure, a member of the weaker sex” to talk to. I think the screenwriter got “maternal figure” and “material girl” confused, which is doubly confusing to the audience because there is nothing maternal about Madonna buying clothes and jewelry. 

When O’Hara starts “negotiating” with the creep, he just makes her strip down to her underwear. If his only demand was to see a chick in her underwear, why not just make the girl he’s holding hostage strip down to her underwear? I guess we should just chalk up to random nutbaggery and move on with our lives, but I’d like to think this was all planned out via some twisted internal logic. 

Either way, it’s this kind of insane circular logic that I love in action crap like this. For example, when O’Hara and Ruso later team up after O’Hara’s partner gets shot, the commissioner makes them get drunk together while on duty so that they can overcome their differences and bond. You see, they instantly hate each other because O’Hara is a brunette who sometimes dresses a bit tomboyish and Ruso is a blonde whose outfits are sometimes a bit on the slutty side for a cop. They head to a bar and get plastered and a drunk redneck hits on them, because when an ultra tough person starts drinking at a bar, there is always a drunk redneck that bothers them. You’d think that rednecks would’ve learned their lesson by now that Southern Comfort does not make you invincible. Of course, O’Hara makes quick work of the guy with her very awkward fighting ability, apparently killing him with a mere awkward girly push to the ground. Earlier, Ruso killed a knife wielding thug by kicking him in the balls. For all of their vast differences, both O’Hara and Ruso have the amazing ability to kill tough opponents with a limited series of incredibly awkward martial art moves. 

Despite being cops on duty following orders from the commissioner, they are arrested for being drunk at a bar.  Not because they killed a redneck, mind you, because, let's face it, who gives a fuck when a drunk redneck gets killed. They are brought in front of the commish and are chastised because “the precinct does not tolerate drunkenness”. Their bonding “assignment” was truly a lose-lose, catch-22 waste of time. No wonder the police are so inefficient, what with contradictory policies like this. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Raphael is the local drug lord who speaks in an indistinguishable accent, as does his nutball lead heavy (although a different indistinguishable accent). I guess the movie wants us to believe that it doesn’t take place in South Africa, but is actually a movie about a Kentucky cop trying to stop a collection of vague Europeans. Regardless, Raphael is the kind of ruthless drug lord that has his topless girlfriend fetch him a glass of scotch despite being 18 inches away from the bottle. I guess that is 80’s shorthand for “living in the lap of luxury”. 

Oh yeah, the topless chick is a police informant, which could spell trouble for her if found out, as Raphael already has a habit of offing girlfriends who aren’t even police informants. As a cop puts it, “as ladies get real close they get real dead…terminal love affairs…a lot of ex-girlfriends and axed girlfriends”. So, basically, the two lady cops have to harbor and protect the topless girlfriend from Raphael’s drug cronies, and this conflict is basically saved for the third act. It should come as little surprise that no amount of cronies carrying machine guns stand a snowball's chance in hell against two women that can instantly kill a man with a mere glancing shoe. 

Despite the heavy padding and awkward narrative structure and the score that sounds like Andy Milligan stock music run through a synthtrocity filter, Baby Brown is filled with the kind of stupid touches that bring joy to defeated fans of action trash horseshit. Every edit, line of dialogue, and character decision is an oddball, brain damaged imitation of “respectable” late 80’s action cinema. There’s the scene where O’Hara chases a thug on foot while he is bleeding to death. They give chase throughout half of South Africa despite the fact that he is carrying an uzi and could easily save himself by blowing off O’Hara’s face at any time, but no, that would deprive us of a token foot chase scene that last upwards of 7 hours. There’s the scene where a prostitute tries to solicit Yakov Smirnoff’s chunky cousin by promising a “good time”, but she notices that he’s already masturbating, and he retorts with “I’m having good time already!”.  Later, Raphael’s crony is able to find out the location of the secret police hideout because the drug traffickers have a maid working at the police station (?), and she conveniently keeps them up to date on the latest secret police information. 


There’s probably a classic piece of shit in there waiting to come out with some re-editing, maybe something along the lines of a female-centric Samurai Cop. Or maybe I should just embrace the brain dulling spurts of inaction and noodle curdling score, not as roadblocks and detours between the fun bits, but atmospheric bass notes in an action trash symphony that subtly jellos a mind that was never going to understand the world to begin with.

Here are some more random screenshots, for those hopeless enough to care: 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


It’s Black Friday. A 40-band equalizer sound system/VHS player/fuck machine combo is on sell at Wal-Mart for seven cents. You show up at four in the morning, carrying a pot of black coffee and a lifetime of capitalist baggage. When the door finally opens, you create a diversion by smashing the pot over the head of the 400 pound Arab in front of you, and then deploy a series of Hulkamania elbow smashes to frigid temples to work your way up to the front of the line. You finally get into the store and rampage towards the electronics section like a monster from some retard yankee kaiju, clotheslining a waddling mother of four wearing a five kitten sweater, lifting knees into the unsuspecting balls of henpecked fathers, and swatting away children into cardboard teen pop idol displays, like flies being splattered on the windshield of an SUV speeding towards the big box apocalypse. You finally make it to the sales display and death grip the cardboard box with your bacon greased fingers, lifting it over your head like it was the holiest of holy grails. 

So, after all that trouble, you pay $20 for the privilege of waiting an hour in line to ship it to some asshole relative you haven’t seen in three years. That makes no fucking sense. Why put on a monstrous display of material selfishness only to give away the fruits of your rampage under the empty guise of unselfishness? If you’re going to be selfish, at least be honest about it. That way, you’ll at least feel a modicum of shame when you’re watching porn on your brand new iPad and a Sally Struthers commercial comes on where she begs money for a four-year-old Ethiopian boy who was so starved he chewed his own hands off. That’s all I’m asking for folks. 

There was a time in America (the 90’s) when Arnold Schwarzenegger, a movie star ubermensch with a thick Austrian accent and a 22” neck, was considered the white bread all-American dad. This was just taken for granted. I don’t remember a scene in True Lies where somebody explains that “Harry Tasker” was a German steroid freak who somehow parlayed that into a job as a U.S. secret agent. I guess you could say that America embraced him as one of their own because of his hugely successful 80’s action roles. Either that, or people going to see an Arnold movie don’t give a shit about little character details like that. I dunno. 

Either way, “Howard Langston” (hopefully named in tribute to Murray Langston aka The Unknown Comic) lives a modern capitalist conundrum. Namely, he has to work long hours to be able to afford to buy his kid all the shit he wants in order to make him happy, but that means he doesn’t have time to spend with his kid, which he needs to do in order to make him happy. One lesson that kids are rarely taught is that you should expect one or the other. Either you get to play catch with dad or you get the MLB Playstation game, but not both. You know what, lowered expectations are a good idea in general. That way, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the abject horror and emptiness that life has to offer.

Anyway, “Mr. Langston” is working late one day and ends up missing his son’s karate class. I didn’t even know parents attended their kid's karate classes, yet this thing has a bigger crowd than your average WNBA game. Not only does Arnold’s superdad neighbor Phil Hartman attend the class to see his tubby son awkwardly kick a wooden plank, he records everything on a state-of-the-art hi-8 camcorder. He also brings a reindeer home to his son and even helps Arnold’s wife with the cooking. Hartman lip smackingly rubs his perfect fatherliness in Arnold’s face at every turn, making it constantly clear to him just how inadequate he is as a dad. This leads to some nice scowling from Arnold in Hartman’s direction, as if to say “muthafucka, I’m the Terminator!”. 

Most important of all, Hartman bought his son a Turboman doll way before it was sold out but Arnold was too busy working to pick up the doll. It is now Christmas Eve, and he needs to find one to save Christmas for his annoying brat. You’d imagine Arnold would be able to handle this after blowing up the Predator, but part of the fun is seeing Arnold repeatedly fail in his quest, like the scenes in Kindergarten Cop where he can’t handle a classroom filled with kids. As Hartman puts it at one point, “you can’t benchpress your way out of this one”. 

That’s the setup for this family film that, despite the goofy overacting by supporting characters and the overbearing sledgehammer family friendly score, has satire on its mind. Take, for example, the scene where a toy store hands out lottery balls for the privilege of buying a toy that was decreed as a “must have” by corporate interests, and the balls are knocked up in the air and go flying everywhere. Desperate parents crawl around and knock each other over to grab one of the balls, like rabid junkies scrambling to scoop up the contents of a heroin piƱata that just got blown open by a crowbar. This is all to the tune of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, ironically summing up the holidays in one mad scramble. 

Then there’s Arnold’s kid, who recites the entirety of the Turbo Man commercial when selling it his dad, even including the “batteries not included” bit, and adds that he’ll be a “real loser” if he doesn’t have the doll. The point is clear. The advertising industry turns children into robots who are pitted against each other in a playground game of high stakes materialism where everybody loses except for the stockholders, just so they can better grow up to be dutiful consumers that repeat this cycle of horror as pawns in Dante’s 10th circle of hell, the part that is basically one giant shopping mall. Well, it was clear to me anyway. 

Impeding his progress is Sinbad, wearing post office blue instead of his more standard black guy Zubaz attire. He’s basically a slightly worse version of the desperate Arnold, resorting to threatening people with a bomb in order to get a Turboman, where as Arnold merely resorts to breaking and entering to get the doll. Arn also punches a reindeer in the face at one point, perhaps an homage to his camel punching in Conan the Barbarian. Not only do these antics provide violent slapstick for families to enjoy and stoners to enjoy and stoner families to enjoy, but it is also a manifestation of the madness of unchecked materialism, where human beings are reduced to rabid buffoons willing to sell their mothers to Taiwanese sex dealers in order to keep up with the Joneses. 

I guess the ultimate lesson is that if you have to choose between playing catch with dad or getting the MLB Playstation game, choose playing catch. Those are real human moments that can’t be replicated with a game or a toy. Unless of course your dad is a drunk piece of shit or throws like a girl, in which case, go with the video game and be thankful you at least got something out of the deal.  Oh, and merry Christmas!