No Weezing The Juice – Guilty Pleasures

No Weezing The Juice – Guilty Pleasures

The great films, the universally admired and critically acclaimed films, rest safely in a pantheon of cinematic nobility.  Lines from these films are deathless and frequently quoted.  In some cases, the import or impact of the entire film can be evoked in a single line, in some cases, a single word.  Recognition is immediate, obvious.

“There’s no place like home.”

“I’m the king of the world.”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“Rosebud”

All well and good, pass out the Oscars, cue Robert Osborn.

My pleasures, however, are often of the guiltier sort, not simply the less critically esteemed but the more commonly reviled.  These are gems that have not found an audience and wide distribution, that have faded from memory, that were too narrow in their appeal, or too broad in their humor.  These are films that dragged out the C List actors for the primary roles and filled the rest of the cast from a cattle call at Riker’s Island.

It was Daniel Webster who said of Dartmouth, “It is, Sir, a small college.  And yet, there are those who love it.”  Why Dartmouth needed defending in terms of its size, I cannot guess, but the analog might be, “They are, Sirs and Madams, films of small reputation.  And yet, there are those who love them.”

The title of this piece is taken from one of those unadmired films, Encino Man (Where the Stone Age Meets the Rock Age),  a triumph of inspired casting, pairing a long-frozen recently unearthed caveman, Brendan Frazier, with two unpopular high school students, Pauly Shore and Sean Astin.  Despite having been pulled from frozen ground, Frazier is inherently much coooler (as it were) than Astin and Shore, and so the kids on the fringe hitch their star to Frazier’s wagon, and merriment ensues.

This might be a fairly conventional and forgettable teen pic were it not for Shore’s distinctive California super-slacker vocabulary and intonation.  No written transcript can do justice to Shore’s performance, but in an attempt to bring it to the ear, the title phrase is elicited when Shore puts his mouth on the nozzle of the Frosty Freeze machine, stealing (“weezing” in Shore speak) the confection as the proprietor of the convenience store, familiar with Shore”isms” yells, “No weezing … the juh -woose”.  Shore’s signature term of affection is also presented with a beat in the middle and rising inflection on the last syllable.  “Bud …Dee”

Shore speaks most expressively in defending his constant presence at Astin’s family dinner table:

“If you’re edged ’cause I’m weazin all your grindage, just chill. ‘Cause if I had the whole brady bunch thing happenin’ at my pad, I’d go grind over there, so dont tax my gig so hard-core cruster.”  

Does it help to know that “grindage” is food?  Perhaps not.  This is not easy to untangle, especially for a cruster.

This from 1988’s Tape Heads, starring John Cusack (oiled hair and pencil thin moustache) and Tim Robbins (totally geeked out) as aspiring (terrible) video directors who kidnap a Menudo concert in order to give a showcase to their favorite musicians, The Swanky Mode, played by Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) and Junior Walker. Mary Crosby plays a music journalist promoting the Video Aces.

Cusack:  You look ravishing and I’d like to chew on your thighs.

Crosby:  I thought we had a professional relationship.

Cusack: So I’ll pay.

Tape Heads gives me a great deal of pleasure, and I refuse to feel any guilt at all, since this is certainly the best unappreciated and relentlessly amusing backstage parody of video/music fame.  The cameos alone should be enough to pull this film from the depths of obscurity.  Consider this list:

King Cotton as Roscoe, King of the Chicken and Waffle empire, Soul Train’s Don Cornelius, Doug E. Fresh, Ted Nugent, Connie Stevens, Jello Biafra, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Doug McClure, Jesica Walter, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Courtney Love as an uncredited floozie spreading peanut butter on a naked presidential candidate.

The meta videos are astounding and all the more fun in that Michael Nesmith, former Monkee, one of the pioneers of the music video industry, produced this film and had a large part in framing the two outstanding videos ostensibly produced by Cusack and Robbins’ Video Aces.  The first of these, a cover of Devo’s “Baby Doll” covered by a Swedish group called Cube Squared, is a paint spattered folly.  The other, an accidental filming of a group about to be killed by a rogue spy satellite, The Blender Children, propels the Aces into notoriety.

OK, there are some pleasures about which I do feel a twinge of guilt, maybe more than a twinge.  So, from the closely guarded list of films I probably should not have seen more than twice, 1999’s Mystery Men.

I will try to present the absurd plot of Mystery Men, but appreciation of the film comes in welcoming a team of “super” heroes whose skills are … lame.

The original team consists of Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), and The Blue Rajah (Hank Azaria).  A somewhat successful hero, Mr. Amazing (Greg Kinnear) enlists the group to face arch-villain Casanova Frankenstein (Geofrey Rush) who with the help of Tony P (Eddie Izard) and the Disco Boys unleashes the “Psycho-fraculator”, causing the team to recruit new members, The Spleen (Paul Reubens), Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), and The Bowler (Jeanine Garofalo) assisted by The Sphinx (Wes Studi) and Doc Heller (Tom Waits).

Among the aspirants who don’t make the team are Pencil-Head, Son of Pencil-Head, Squeegee Man, and Dane Cook as The Waffler (brandishes a waffle iron).  Cee Lo Green has a bit part as a mobster.

This spoof of super hero movies was probably ahead of its time, or at least, its intentions misunderstood, as a goofy salute to the over-the-top Batman productions that hit the screen at the time.  It’s a clever film and great fun especially as Mr. Furious and The Bowler engage in running conversation about the odd emphasis William Shatner gives any statement .  Hank Azaria’s British accent is impressive, and the film’s dialogue is pretty sharp throughout with a distinctly mock-heroic affect as in these pronouncements:

The Shoveler: We’ve got a blind date with destiny … and it looks like she ordered the lobster.

Mr. Furious:  Well, here I thought I was with a couple of real superheroes, but really, it’s Lazy Boy and The  Recliner.

The Shoveler:  We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering.

Tossing a bone to the unsuccesful petitioner, The Waffler:

Waffler:  I… am the Waffler. With my griddle of justice, I BASH the enemy in the head, or I burn them like so! I also have some truth syrup, which is low in fat.

Finally, please picture Tom Waits as Doc Heller delivering this description of the psychofrakulator:

It’s a psychofrakulator. It creates a cloud of radically-fluctuating free-deviant chaotrons which penetrate the synaptic relays. It’s concatenated with a synchronous transport switch that creates a virtual tributary. It’s focused onto a biobolic reflector and what happens is that hallucinations become reality and the brain is literally fried from within.

… which, I’m pretty sure, is what actually happened to Tom Waits.

Look, I can’t defend this next next one, and I’m not even going to hint at the plot.

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Ashton Kutcher is Jesse.  Seann William Scott is Chester.  After a night of brain-numbing excess they discover that Jesse has a tattoo on his back , “Dude!”; Chester has a tattoo, “Sweet!”.  Each cannot see his own tattoo; they must ask the other to read it to them.

And so, from Dude, Where’s My Car:

 

Dude! You got a tattoo!

So do you, dude! Dude, what does my tattoo say?

“Sweet!” What about mine?

“Dude!” What does mine say?

“Sweet!” What about mine?

“Dude!” What does mine say?

“Sweet!” What about mine?

“Dude!” What does mine say?

“Sweet!” What about mine?

“Dude!” But what does mine say?

“Sweet!” What about mine?

“Dude!” What does mine say?

“S – wee – t!” What about mine?

…and so on.

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