Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia (2009, directed by Tim Matheson)


After 40 years of war, the Colombian military and FARC, the cocaine-funded guerrilla insurgency, are finally meeting to discuss peace.  A group of Navy SEALS, led by Lt. Macklin (Joe Manganiello), have been sent into the Colombian jungle to secretly keep an eye on the peace talks and make sure that things don’t get out of hand.  However, as soon as they arrive, the conference is attacked by yet another group of terrorists.  Led by Alvaro Cardona (Yancy Arias), this third group kills the leaders of the Colombian military and FARC and attempts to frame the entire attack on the SEALS!  Now, Macklin and Carter Holt (WWE superstar Mr. Kennedy) are trapped behind enemy lines.  With the Colombian military, FARC, and Cardona after them and the CIA disavowing any knowledge of their existence, the two SEALS have to rescue a captured comrade and prove their innocence before all of South America plunges into war.

This film, which features Keith David recreating his commanding officer role from Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil, is a standard action movie.  Some of the action scenes are exciting but all too often, BEL: Colombia is done in by its own low budget.  This is especially obvious when the SEALS are parachuting into the jungle and the cheap green screen effects make the movie look like an old 80s tv show, with the SEALS clumsily superimposed over a picture of the sky.  Watching that scene, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the original Magnum P.I. or Simon and Simon suddenly appeared as a member of the team.  Even Jessica Fletcher wouldn’t have been out of place.

On the plus side, the acting actually isn’t bad and Cardona has a little more depth than the usual action movie villain. This is really not the type of film that you would expect to be directed by Otter from Animal House but Tim Matheson doesn’t do a bad job.  Again, the low budget hurts but he gets some decent performances and he shows that he can adequately handle an action scene.   BEL: Colombia isn’t terrible but it’s still not hard to feel that it would have been better if it had been made in 1988 by Chuck Norris and Menahem Golan.

Back to School Part II #37: Can’t Hardly Wait (dir by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont)


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Oddly enough, the late 90s and early 2000s saw a lot of movies about teenagers that all had strangely generic names.  She’s All That, Down To You, Drive Me Crazy, Head Over Heels, Get Over It, Bring It On … the list is endless.

And then you have the 1998 graduation party-themed Can’t Hardly Wait.  Can’t Hardly Wait has such a generic name that, when you first hear it, you could be forgiven for naturally assuming that it stars Freddie Prinze, Jr.  Of course, if you’ve actually seen the film, you know that it features almost everyone but Freddie Prinze, Jr.  This is one of those films where even the smallest roles are played by a recognizable face.  In fact, there’s so many familiar actors in this film that a good deal of them go uncredited.  Jenna Elfman, Breckin Meyer, Melissa Joan Hart, Jerry O’Connell, and Amber Benson may not show up in the credits but they’re all in the film.  In fact, you could argue that Melissa John Hart, playing an impossibly excited girl who is obsessed with getting everyone to sign her yearbook, and Breckin Meyer, playing an overly sensitive lead singer, provide the film with some of its comedic highlights.

(That said, perhaps the most credible cameo comes from Jerry O’Connell.  He plays a former high school jock who ruefully talks about how he can’t get laid in high school.  He’s so convincingly sleazy and full of self-pity that you find yourself wondering if maybe O’Connell was just playing himself.  Maybe he just stumbled drunkenly onto the set one day and started talking to anyone who would listen…)

Can’t Hardly Wait takes place at one huge high school graduation party, which is actually a pretty smart idea.  The best part of every teen movie is the party scene so why not make just make the entire movie about the party?  Almost every member of the graduating class is at this party and we get to see all of the usual types.  There’s the stoners, the jocks, the nerds, and the sarcastic kids who go to parties specifically so they can tell everyone how much they hate going to parties.  Eric Balfour shows up as a hippie.  Jason Segel eats a watermelon in the corner.  Sara Rue’s in the kitchen, complaining about how everyone’s a sheep.  Jamie Pressly drinks and assures her best friend that she’s at least as pretty as Gwynneth Paltrow.  (“And you’ve got way bigger boobs!” she adds, encouragingly.)  Outside, Selma Blair frowns as someone hits on her with bad line.

Of course, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) and Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are the main topic of conversation at the party.  For four years, Mike and Amanda were the school’s power couple but Mike decides to dump Amanda right before they graduate.  Mike feels that he’s going to have a great time in college and he doesn’t need any old high school commitments holding him down.  His best friends all agree to dump their girlfriends too.  Mike spends the party watching, in horror, as all of his friends go back on their promise.  Amanda, meanwhile, wanders around and wonders who she is now that she’s no longer Mike Dexter’s girlfriend.

Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) struggles to work up the courage to tell Amanda that he’s had a crush on her ever since the first day he saw her.  Meanwhile, Preston’s best friend — the reliably sarcastic Denise (Lauren Ambrose) — finds herself locked in an upstairs bathroom with Kenny “Special K” Fisher (Seth Green).  (Needless to say, Kenny is the only person who actually calls himself “Special K.”)  Kenny is obsessed with losing his virginity.  Denise, meanwhile, won’t stop talking about the sweet and dorky Kenny that she knew way back in elementary school.

And then there’s William Lichtner (Charlie Korsmo).  He’s spent his entire life being tormented by Mike and he specifically goes to the party looking for revenge.  However, he has a few beers and quickly becomes the most popular senior at the party.  He even gets a chance to bond with Mike…

Can’t Hardly Wait is a favorite of mine.  It’s one of those films that doesn’t add up too much but it’s so so damn likable that it doesn’t matter.  It’s full of smart and funny scenes and all the actors are incredibly likable.  If you’re not rooting for Preston and Amanda by the end of the movie then you have no heart.  In fact, Can’t Hardly Wait is a lot like Empire Records.  They may not be much depth to it but it’s so sincere and earnest that you can forgive it.

You can even forgive the generic name.

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.16 “Doppelgangland”


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Let’s continue our look at Horror on TV with another classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Just as yesterday’s episode focused on a supporting character (Xander), this episode focuses on Willow!

I was going to say that Doppelgangland was one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but then I realized that everyone would probably say that. This is an episode that truly shows why countless fans continue to love the show after all these years.

Horror on TV: Buffy The Vampire Slayer 3.13 “The Zeppo”


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OH MY GOD, IT’S BUFFY!

I love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s always bothered me that I haven’t been able to share any episodes on this site. But, fortunately, this Halloween, Hulu has come to the rescue!

The Zeppo is one of my favorite episodes. While Buffy and the Scooby Gang save the world in the background, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) finally gets an adventure of his very own! Actually, there’s a lot of things that Xander finally gets to do in this wonderful episode!

(On a personal note, it breaks my heart whenever I read about Nicholas Brendon getting arrested and I’m reminded that Xander was just a fictional character.)

Seriously, enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer!