Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Baloney Has a Second Name, It's O.S.C.A.R.

Hey guys, look who it is!  It's Brother From Another and Another 'Nother Mother, Professor Robert Oscar Lopez. You may remember ROL from his sad, Dickensian life as a boy who caught Teh Ghey from living in a trailer with two unvaccinated lesbians, or perhaps you recall his LOL-worthy theory that Homosexuals are modern slave masters who oppress Blacks by using them as breeding stock to replenish their plantations, and by "plantations" I mean "mobile homes."

In any case...he's back!

Children of Same-Sex Couples: A Turning Point

I am a professor.
Really?  Can you make a radio out of coconuts and bamboo?  I didn't think so...
 Among the many farces of academia, hiring season is exceptional.
Okay, sure, somehow you were hired to teach at the college level, but don't you agree that's really more tragedy than farce?
 Everyone in the department pretends that we are completely collegial and endearing, while job candidates arrive and audition for us. We go out to lunch with the aspirants and small talk ensues.
And that's when the Olive Garden turns into the Garden of Gethsemane! Except instead of Judas kissing Jesus, your department head hogs the breadsticks!
This time around, many of my colleagues courted the candidates by musing about their childhoods over dinner. Colleague X talked about how he was the first one to attend college because his father only finished up to tenth grade. Colleague Y recounted arguments about classic books with her parents who were both English teachers. Colleague Z reminisced about the days when her father, a preacher, prepared for his weekly sermons. 
And then there’s me sitting there. I’d love to say: “I was raised by a lesbian who took me to a motor home on the weekends so she and her lover could hike and build wooden decks together. 
So it was like growing up with slightly more butch versions of Bob Vila and Norm Abrams?
When I worked in my mother’s clinic doing typing and filing, I transcribed the files of her mentally ill patients, some of whom were gay or transgender, so I knew everything about sex a kid could possibly imagine by the time I was fourteen.
Yeah, I don't want to get into a pissing match about who had the more picaresque upbringing, Prof, since compared to a lot of people I got off light; but given that my mother was mentally ill and began threatening to murder me in my sleep when I was five years old (Insomnia 4 Life, yo), I'd totally be willing to trade my night terrors for your light typing and filing.
By the time I was sixteen, I was getting in lots of trouble.
Well I would hope so, given all that free sex ed you were getting. Hell, if I'd had your advantages as a teenager I'd have been working my way through the Kama Sutra and the Collected Works of Henry Miller like somebody following one of those IKEA chifforobe-assembling diagrams.
By the way, because this was my life and I refuse to lie about the problems it caused me, I have been dubbed an anti-gay bigot by all the major gay advocacy organizations and the other people at this table have banned me from the department listserv and newsletter.
Yeah, cry me a river and pass the Five Cheese Dipping Sauce.
“But please, go ahead, tell me how you grew up.”
Nervously, with a chair wedged against my bedroom door at night. But I thank my lucky stars that at least I was never subjected to non-consensual clerical work!
For all the talk about fighting privilege, “speaking out” and “breaking silences” are actually not what the left wants children of gay couples to do.
They want them to do The Macarena. No one's quite sure why.
Everything about my life is dangerous to discuss
Cross the wrong people, and the forces of Big Lesbian might just push you off the top of a high dental dam.
because if I tell the truth about where I came from, I can be accused of homophobia (which has happened) and fired (which has come near to happening).
Not near enough, apparently.
I wish they -- the pro-gay liberals -- would make up their minds. 
You're right. Let's quite hemming and hawing and just order the Pasta e Fagioli, we gotta be back at work by one-thirty.
Either be radical and anti-establishmentarian, and accept uncomfortable voices into the conversation -- or else shut up and let me talk about Homer’s Iliad. Which I’ve read in Greek.
 I don't know which Greek you were in, but he was pretty patient to let you stay in there for the length of  an entire book. (Was it Spiros? He's pretty chill...)
Children of gays, or COGs, are ready for a turning point. 
Specifically, The Turning Point, the 1977 film about bickering middle aged ballet divas, although admittedly that's probably more popular with the COGs' parents.
The gay community raised us, sometimes with love, and often with a bit of inconsiderate self-interest.
So, like every parent, everywhere?
Too many of us were asked to keep secret how hard the whole experience was. Many times siblings turned against each other based on which brother or sister “broke ranks” and decided to speak the truth while others played along to keep Mom and Mom or Dad and Dad happy.
In other words, you're saying that sometimes the children of gay parents experience sibling rivalry, and compete for parental approval?  That is shocking, in that I never knew the Smothers Brothers were raised by lesbians.
 Actually, I guess should read, "Moms always liked you best!"
After decades of decrying the pain of “the closet,” the gay community remains largely unwilling to uncover the true feelings of the children raised in their midst.
I assume they simply wanted to spare us, since we've all heard children kick and scream and whine and fuss and write columns for American Thinker.
Don’t think we are only disappointed with liberals. We find ourselves wondering what happened to conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage. The anti-gay-marriage activists gave us much less attention than they gave to the cake-bakers, florists, and innkeepers who were Christian and who didn’t want to service gay weddings.
I don't know if you can catch syphilis from an attention whore, but I think I'll go put on a condom just to be safe...
Aside from canned platitudes extorted from kids still under gay adults’ custody, the terms of the same-sex parenting debate were always dehumanizing statistics. “Who had better outcomes?” “Who has a lower percentage of autism?” “Who has greater attachment security anxiety?”
"Who has the highest incidence of Adult Onset Self-Pity Parties?" "Who has the crappiest argument?" "Who's the biggest drama queen?"
Until now. The dissident COGs who refuse to follow either side’s party line are growing in number. We will not be left out of this marriage showdown about to go before the Supreme Court.
"We've already filed an amicus tantrum."
 This time around Anthony Kennedy will not be able to assume he knows what we are thinking, and the Human Rights Campaign will not be able to tell us what we are supposed to want. We won’t let people use us anymore. Keep your eyes out for our briefs against gay marriage. Even if we can’t change history, at least we want to be part of it. Our time has come. We deserve it.
And I think I speak for all of us when I say: here's hoping you get exactly what you deserve.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Third Annual Skelly Awards!

By Bill S.

Awards season is winding down, with the Oscars airing this Sunday night. But before that happens, it's time once again for me to look at this year's nominees in the four acting categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress) to decide who, among them, has the most embarrassing role in their past, and award them the with the "Skelly"(as in "Skeleton In the Closet"). Last year's winner was Meryl Streep, who can take comfort in knowing she'll never make another movie worse than She-Devil. She can also take comfort in knowing she'll never be in the running for a "Skelly" again, because according to the eligibility rules I invented for the award I invented, once somebody makes the list, they never do again. This shouldn't be taken to mean that She-Devil is better than the movies we'll be looking at. It still sucks goat balls. I just don't like repeating myself. But before we find out who this year's winner is, let's look at the runner-ups. Or is it runners-up? Raise your hand if you give a shit about this.

I don't see any hands raised, so let's begin.

8th Place: ETHAN HAWKE.
Hawke made his movie debut at 15 alongside another notable teen newbie, River Phoenix, in Explorers. His best pre-stardom role was in Dead Poets Society (appearing alongside some more up-and-comers, like Robert Sean Leonard). In the 90's he became a Generation X icon, thanks to pictures like Reality Bites and Before Sunrise. But a few years earlier, before his goatee was even a single chin whisker, he had to slog through a dumb, gimmicky teen movie (I think these are a rite of passage for very young actors), called Mystery Date.

(It's...well, I think you can guess.)

7th Place: JULIANNE MOORE
The favorite to win this years Best Actress Oscar, Moore's been so good, in so many movies, for so long, it's hard to believe she hasn't won already. Confession: as much as a Movie Trivia Geek as I am, I don't have everybody's resume memorized, and sometimes I have to look them up. And nothing has thrown me for a bigger loop, caused a bigger "What. The. Fuck?" reaction than finding out one of our finest actresses appeared in...Body of Evidence.

Wait, what? That Basic Instinct ripoff? This first of Madonna's many failed attempts to prove she was a Serious Actress? No way!

But, Yes way...


Somebody should have done that to the idiot who greenlit this mess.

[Note from Scott: For more on Body of Evidence, check out pg. 95 of Better Living Through Bad Movies]

6th Place: J.K. SIMMONS
The favorite to win Best Supporting Actor, and hey, isn't he always the best supporting actor? I mean, he made J. Jonah Jameson the most entertaining character in the Spider-Man movies, uttered the funniest line in Juno (which some of you are now quoting) and generally is one of those guys who, when his name pops up in the credits makes you perk up and say, "Hey, if he's in it, it's probably good." The problem with such character actors is the good will they've built up can sometimes draw you into a movie your best instinct would usually drive you away from...like, for example, Autumn In New York. Once again a supporting role, Simmons plays a doctor in this tale of a terminally ill young woman who finds romance with an older man in a picturesque city. It's kinda like the equally bad 1969 flick A Place For Lovers, except that picture featured a character who sells inflatable airbags, and Autumn In New York features characters who could be outwitted by them.

[BLTM, pg. 47]

5th Place: LAURA DERN
Dern made her film debut at the age of 6 in White Lightening. In the mid-80's she became a Queen of Cult Movies (or a princess, given that her parents are Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd), thanks to pictures like Smooth Talk, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Rambling Rose and Citizen Ruth. But in between her days as a child actress and transition to leading lady, she landed a role in a horror film with two other then-unknowns, Charlie Sheen and George Clooney. It was a called Grizzly II: The Concert, and was a sequel to the 1976 horror film Grizzly, which was a ripoff of Jaws, with a bear instead of a shark.

And that sequel has never been seen by anybody, because after it was completed it was never released. "But Bill", you ask, "If you haven't seen it, how can you be sure it really is Dern's worst movie (or Sheen's, or Clooney's)?" To which I'd reply: It's a sequel to a ripoff, and even though it starred GEORGE FREAKIN' CLOONEY, the studio still didn't think it could cash in with a video release. I'm guessing that on the scale of Movies I'll Never get To See, it falls short of that missing footage from The Magnificent Ambersons. It might be better than The Day the Clown Cried. But not by much.

4th Place: ROBERT DUVALL
Duvall made his film debut in To Kill A Mockingbird. Now that's a good start. He was also in all three Godfather movies, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, M*A*S*H*, Tender Mercies, The Great Santini, True Grit...I think I might just get a filmgasm listing his best movies. But as with any career that spans 6 decades, not all of them were winners. Two less-than-stellar movies were featured in Better Living Through Bad Movies: Days Of Thunder (pg. 98), which featured 22 year old Nicole Kidman as a neurosurgeon, presumably because Katie Holmes wasn't available, and Gone In 60 Seconds (page 95), which describes the exact duration of my interest in it. Neither of those films, however, is the one that puts him on this list. No, it goes all the way back to the '60's and The Detective. While Duvall doesn't have a lot of screen time in this movie, any participation in it is embarrassing, because this pretentious sleazepit deserves a spot alongside Freebie & the Bean, Cruising, and Partners in the Homophobia Hall of Shame. The trailer features one of its gay characters, a murder suspect named "Felix"...
...and he's not even the most offensive character. If The Detective had been made in the '80's, there might have been people picketing the theater, as there had been with Cruising. But since it was pre-Stonewall (when the prevailing attitude of the public was "Any guy who doesn't wanna bang Lee Remick deserves to be killed") nobody questioned its portrayal. It even got some praise from critics who found its tacking of shocking subject matter daring. I guess, if you find it daring to confirm people's worst assumptions. Or if you forget that it came out in the same year as Rachel, Rachel, which depicted a same-sex kiss that didn't lead to someone being horrifically murdered.

3rd Place: REESE WITHERSPOON AND PATRICIA ARQUETTE (tied)
Reese Witherspoon made her film debut at 15 in the touching coming-of-age film Man In the Moon, still, along with Election, one of her best roles.

Patricia Arquette can sometimes seem overlooked among the famous acting siblings -- she isn't transgender, she isn't a flake, and she doesn't have a Toto song named after her. She is, however, the first to get an Oscar nomination. So, there's that.

These two gifted women once worked on the same movie. Ordinarily that might be cause to smile (or, if it had been a remake of Personal Best, cause to whoop joyfully). The cast also included Harvey Keitel, Rodney Dangerfield, and Rhys Ifans. Unfortunately none of them has the lead role. That acting chore (well for him it's a chore) fell on Adam Sandler...

In Little Nicky, Sandler plays the dim-witted son of Satan (so many punch lines, so little time), who's sent to Earth in order to bring back his brothers before they turn New York City into a bigger hell hole than it already is (so many punch lines, so little time). It's hard to decide which actress has the more demeaning role: Arquette plays a girl whom Nicky develops a romantic interest in, and Witherspoon plays Nicky's mother, who turns out to be an Angel. This movie is so stupid, it actually buries the lead about Nicky being a half demon/half angel, introducing this late in the film as a contrived plot twist, and so lazy that once that twist is revealed, absolutely nothing clever is done with it. Full disclosure: I avoided seeing this movie for many years, since it looked like a suckfest, and only watched it for the purpose of this column. I hope you appreciate that sacrifice. It's an all-time low for everyone involved, with the glaring exception of Adam Sandler, and the possible exception of the maintenance crew who arrived after production wrapped, performing the valued public service of removing any evidence of the movie before anyone had the misfortune to step in it.

2nd Place: MICHAEL KEATON.
My favorite Batman (Adam West runs a close second). I've liked this guy since I was a kid, and saw him for the first time on the sitcom "All's Fair", playing Lanny Wolf (what a name), a comedian hired by Jimmy Carter to add humor to Presidential speeches. (I was disappointed to learn "Joke writer to the President" wasn't a real job.) It seems hard to believe that in his 40-year career, this is the first time he's ever been nominated for an Oscar. At the very least, he should have gotten a Best Supporting Actor nod for stealing ever scene in Night Shift. (Who'd have guessed a guy who excels at playing slick, quick-thinking hustlers and hipsters, would be this year's sentimental favorite.) If he doesn't win, he at least deserves to win 'Father of the Year" for that Golden Globes acceptance speech (I don't know about the rest of you, but I teared up.) That's not an award he'd win for the movie that landed him on this list: Jack Frost.

This wasn't just bad, it was unwatchable. It centers around a man who dies in an auto accident and is reincarnated as a creepy CGI snowman who will haunt your nightmares forever. Scott already did a fine job describing this movie's awfulness, so all I can add is that it falls into a very weirdly specific comedy subgenre: the dead parent who comes back to haunt his children. Of which another example is Ghost Dad. Oh well, at least Jack Frost doesn't star a serial rapist. But on the whole, "Hamlet" was still funnier.

So you may be asking: if Jack Frost was only bad enough to land Michael Keaton in second place, what could be worse? For then answer, you need look no further than Keaton's co-star in Birdman, the winner of the 2015 SKELLY AWARD goes to...

EDWARD NORTON.
He got his first Oscar nomination for his very first movie, Primal Fear, but lost to Cuba Gooding, Jr. (if he doesn't win this year, he can take comfort in knowing he lost to a worthy opponent.) In addition to Birdman, he's also in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Norton's career is marked by (mostly) interesting, ambitious film choices-dark films like Fight Club or oddball comedies like Moonrise Kingdom. So I guess it's no surprise that his worst film wouldn't just be some garden-variety, run-of-the-mill flop. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert (who gave it HALF a star) wrote: "Only enormously talented people could have made [it]. Those with lesser gifts would have lacked the nerve to make a film so bad, so miscalculated, so lacking any connection with any possible audience.To make a film this awful, you have to have enormous ambition and confidence, and big dreams."And just what movie could have produced such a reaction. Three little words: 


Like Little Nicky, I've purposely avoided seeing this movie for years. I knew it had a reputation as one of the biggest bombs of the past two decades. I was also aware that it actually had a cult status, fans who claimed it was an underrated masterpiece. So this year, for the purpose of this column, I had to watch it, to see for certain whether it truly was as bad as I was expecting. Spoiler alert: it's worse.

All the talent involved in making this, in the service of a movie that really only has one joke: Sheldon, AKA "Smoochy", is sincere and sweet and incorruptible, and everybody else is a complete scumbag. This gets old after the first 15 minutes (the running gag about the brain-damaged boxer gets old after 15 seconds.) Once you realize this, every attempt to shock becomes predictable, especially since its attempts to shock aren't all that bold to begin with. "Ha ha, Rainbow Randolph curses like a sailor when the cameras stop rolling. I was totally not expecting this." Of course there's gonna be a clown with a drug addiction. Of course the charity organization's going to be a scam. Of course Catherine Keener's programming director's gonna have a fetish for kiddie show hosts -- what else are you going to do with a smart, sexy female character, make her human?

To quote another critic, Dorothy Parker, this wasn't plain terrible. This was fancy-terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.

Well, something that looked like raisins anyway.

But let's end this column on a lighter note. Here's Best Actor Nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, who, if he doesn't win for his work in The Imitation Game, should at least win "Best Actor With a Name that's Fun To Mispronounce On Purpose". In this clip he offers up imitations of other famous actors. He's amusing and charming.

Bill S.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Guest Column: Ninja Apocalypse!

By Hank Parmer

Tagline: Devastation, Mutation, Termination (From an idea by little Tommy Gunderson, the 10-year-old who lives down the block)

In the not-too-distant future, riots engulf the cities. The "assembly of governors" makes belligerent noises. Whoops! There go the nukes. My, that certainly escalated fast. This is what comes of giving  Sam Brownback the Bomb. It looks like nullification just succeeded beyond the Tea Party's wildest dreams.

So, okay, we've had our Apocalypse, but it sure looked more like a nuclear apocalypse to me. It's not at all clear what ninjas had to do with this. How typical. So many people are always ready to take the easy way out and blame it on the ninjas.

"Years later."

Southern California is a scorched and blighted wasteland. So really, things haven't changed all that much after the nuclear holocaust. Contrary to scientists' predictions, though, cockroaches are extinct, while ninjas have thrived.

Which makes perfect sense, when you stop to think about it. What better preparation could there be for life in a post-Apocalyptic hellscape than stealth techniques, ceiling-clinging and mad shuriken skillz? Sure, the cockroaches may have two out of three of those down pat, but they're simply hopeless when it comes to throwing razor-edged objects. At least, with any kind of accuracy.

There's also another tribe, of non-ninjas, whose attire and makeup instantly identify them as fanatical devotees of Eighties hair bands.  A trio of them are scouting out the lay of the land when they're discovered by two ninjas, but before they can make like seagulls and get the flock out of there, they're summarily slaughtered! The ninjas are joined by Grandmaster Fumitaki, played by the only semi-recognizable actor in this film, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (The Last Emperor, Memoirs of a Geisha).

He dominates the ninja clans with his incomparable scratching and beatmatching. Plus he can do cool stuff like tripling himself, when the Hair Bander who got his head punctured by a throwing spike at the beginning of the fight turns out to be not dead yet and attacks him from behind. So these aren't just your everyday, garden-variety ninjas, but magic ones, as well!

Having dispatched these feckless representatives of the Eighties Hair Band Tribe, the ninjas find some scrolls and show them to Grandmaster F, who seems perturbed.
"I worked with Bertolucci, dammit! Bertolucci!!!"

Cut to the hero, Cage of the Lost Ninja Clan. (Christian Oliver) I'm still a bit hazy on why these guys are called the Lost Ninjas. As Cage is always willing to remind everyone, though, they're a very proud clan, so maybe they were too pig-headed to stop and ask for directions.

Cage is standing on a rock in the middle of the woods, looking a bit disoriented. A ninja -- who may be from a different clan, or else found him purely by chance -- runs up and delivers a summons from Grandmaster F to an all-clans rave in his fallout shelter crib. Cage returns to his village. At least he seems to know where that is.

He's allowed to choose four other ninjas to accompany him, in case he gets lost again. First there's blonde surfer dude and technical wiz Trillion (Kaiwi Lyman).

Cage also selects his resentful and hot-tempered older brother Surge (Les Brandt).

Surge is perpetually cheesed not only because his parents named him after a sugar-coma-inducing citrus soda, but also because Dad chose younger brother Cage to succeed him as head of the Lost Ninja Clan -- assuming that Cage doesn't wander away in the interim. In addition to the scenery, he and Cage will chew up a considerable portion of the mercifully short time alloted to dialog yelling at each other.

Just so this won't be a total sausage fest, there's spunky telekinetic Mar (Tara Macken).

The final member of our daring band is the enigmatic very large deaf-mute black guy they call Sky (Isaac C. Singleton, Jr.) He's a foundling, taken in by Cage's family as a young child and fed lots of vitamins and protein shakes. He's absolutely devoted to the two brothers.

Guess which two of our group will die first?

The clan gives Cage the keys to their SUV -- which despite being somewhat in need of a wash is otherwise absolutely cherry and runs like a top, even after a nuclear holocaust and however many years it's been since its last scheduled maintenance. Tooling through the wasteland on their way to Grandmaster F's, they drive past a city, which, incredibly, is still blazing away after all these years. ("Kingsford cities: they light faster, and burn longer!")

After a while, they decide to pull over and walk the rest of the way to the rendezvous. Cage reminds everybody of the truce and orders them to stash their weapons in the SUV. Which they leave unlocked, with the windows down. Besides creating the ideal conditions for ninjas to flourish in this part of the West Coast, I guess the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust has an upside, after all. Life may be cheap, but at least everybody seems to respect each other's property.

On their way to the fallout shelter they encounter Cage's bitter rival, Becker (West Liang), who tries to taunt the Lost Ninja contingent into starting a fight and breaking the truce. Cage, finally pushed too far, is about to obliterate Becker with his super-duper Emperor Palpatine Electric Hands move, when Grandmaster F's assistant, Hiroshi (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) shows up and scolds them into submission.
He had to scuff his feet on the carpet for a week to do this.

(Somewhere along the way we're clued into the fact that everyone had expected Grandmaster F to appoint Cage as his assistant, instead of Hiroshi. But Cage nobly refuses to question the Grandmaster's decision.)

The group proceeds to the entrance to the fallout shelter. Judging from the CGI, the Moon got sort of blown up, and big chunks of it are floating in the sky. 'Kay ....

It blowed up real good!

As they ride the elevator down to the Grandmaster's crib on Level 20, Trillion -- always ready with the timely exposition -- informs the others some of these old shelters went down a hundred levels. When asked what's below Level 20, their ninja elevator operator replies that no one who goes there returns alive.

Down on Level 20, all the ninjas got their hands in the air like they just don't care. There's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Vipers Clan from the Eastern Desert, whose costumes suggest their ancestors were refugees from a Tae Kwon Do class at the strip mall. They've all got bad cases of acid-green, flaking acne on their cheeks and foreheads; their fangs appear to have come from Halloween costumes purchased at the local Dollar General. There's also an all-female group of sultry brunettes, the lusciously lethal Salmahayeks, whose tight black leather bustiers don't resemble any ninja costume I've ever seen.
In fact, that whole "black pajamas and a hood" thing seems entirely optional with these clans. Maybe the "ninja" bit is really more of an honorific ...

Grandmaster F addresses the assembly from a platform beneath his Plasma Ball of the Gods. He warns them that the Eighties Hair Banders have been scoping out ninja territory, then calls for a year-long truce among the clans to meet this new threat. This gets everyone really psyched; they start pumping their fists and chanting "Fumitaki! Fumitaki! Fumitaki!"

Suddenly, disaster strikes! From out of nowhere Grandmaster F takes a shuriken to the head!
"I'm a wild and crazy ninja!"

Worse, eyewitnesses from the other clans swear they saw Cage commit this dastardly deed. With every hand now against him, Cage and his companions must fight their way back to the surface.

That's right, the film just morphed into a numbskulled martial-arts-themed remake of The Warriors. Except that instead of being relentlessly pursued at night through a sinister urban landscape, our protagonists scurry around aimlessly in a dingy and poorly-lit basement. And in place of suspense, atmosphere or a coherent story line, this one has near-continuous martial arts/magic ninja action.

While Oliver and company probably won't be nominated for any major acting awards, as far as their stunting is concerned they do appear to know their stuff. If you're the kind of person who can literally never get enough chop-socky and kendo, then this is your movie.

Because, boy howdy, the next forty-five-or-so minutes of this thing are jam-packed with magic ninja tricks, fireball-throwing and sword-play.

The situation even becomes so desperate at one point that Trillion is forced to unleash his devastating 'pit reek.
Okay, I am exaggerating just a tad: besides the fighting, there are a couple of brief interludes in an abandoned bar somewhere on Level 20, when the attacking ninjas apparently decide to knock off and go somewhere to take a smoke break. This gives all the boys but Sky a chance to work in some shouting and getting up in each other's grills. They also find the time to hold a short funeral service for Mar, who -- with her unerring instinct for not remembering which way the others went -- got separated from them early on. (As Cage declares in his eulogy, she was truly a shining example of a Lost Ninja.) Mar spends about ten minutes fighting off hordes of ninjas single-handed before she's vanquished.

"'All for one' my ass!"

But hey, she was interfering with the ambient testosterone level by her mere presence. She had to go.

The boys eventually find an elevator, but it's a trap: an eighty-level near free-fall which merely jolts them a bit when it hits bottom. It's at this point that the filmmakers decide to vary their antagonists by bringing in the Big Enchilada of post-Apocalyptic cliches: flesh-eating zombies! With which the vicinity just happens to be crawling. (If your fallout shelter's basement is infested with cannibalistic reanimated corpses, should you try trap-and-release first, or go right to the chainsaws and flamethrowers?)

But just like our guys are no ordinary, run-of-the-mill ninjas, these are zombies with a difference: when you slice them in half, the pieces slither back together and rejoin! Then they're good as new and ready to shamble!

Like their ninja counterparts upstairs, they're also surprisingly considerate. First they're swarming out of every nook and cranny, then they mysteriously disappear the minute the boys chance upon a room full of TV screens. A message from Hiroshi starts playing on all the TVs, but Cage, with his trademark combination of hair-triggered reflexes and stark stupidity, puts a throwing knife into one of the screens a couple of microseconds after it begins. This lucky shot apparently hit the master TV screen, so all they get is an endless loop of the first part of Hiroshi's message.

The new Grandmaster claims he knows Cage is innocent and wants to help him and his mates. But they'll have to make their way to him on their own. Unfortunately, due to Cage's little faux pas, the recording flakes out and re-starts just when Hiroshi's about to tell them where they can find an elevator to take them back up. 

So we're in for more running and shouting and zombies getting the Benihana treatment by the dozens, until eventually the boys locate another elevator. Cage, Surge and Sky hold the zombies off while Trillion desperately attempts to hot-wire the door. He succeeds, although he receives a couple of bites in the process. When it looks as if the zombies will crowd into the elevator, Sky sweeps them back with a mighty shove and heroically sacrifices himself to save his friends.

But this isn't the Surface Express. It's taken them to the lair of the Salmahayeks, instead. Just when it looks like our boys may have hit the jackpot, these leather-clad hotties sprout Lee Press-On Fingertip Knives, with which they commence to slit Surge and Trillion up a treat. When the Salmahayeks' zombie ex-boyfriends crash the party, the trio manage to escape and get back to the elevator. But Trillion tragically succumbs to his wounds just as they finally make it to the surface.

Remember how he got bitten by the zombies? Are Cage and Surge about to find themselves pitted against their erstwhile friend, who's now an unstoppable ninja zombie!?!

Psych! Too bad, that might actually have been worth watching.

Cage helps his badly wounded brother back to their SUV. Man, are they ever gonna have some splainin' to do when they return from this road trip.

They're attacked by two more exceptionally badass ninjas. After finally disposing of the pair, Cage turns around, and is amazed to see his exact double standing next to Surge. He's even more nonplussed when he sees himself stab his brother in the chest.


Cage's evil doppelganger reveals himself as Hiroshi, who Cage now realizes was behind it all from the start! He was the one who assassinated Grandmaster F, using his ninja shape-shifting power to impersonate Cage, as part of his power-mad scheme to rule the ninja clans.

"Wait 'til you see the olives I'm gonna stick these in!"

Time for a big showdown chock-full of magic ninja CGI. Although Cage defends himself valiantly, his recent ordeal has taken its toll. Cage is finally beaten down. As he lies helpless on the ground, Hiroshi, gloating maniacally, raises his electrified sword for the killing blow -- and he's shivved from behind by Surge. Who's in surprisingly good shape despite getting about fifteen inches'-worth of wakizashi rammed into his lung just a few moments ago.

The brothers are reconciled; Surge shrugs off a wound which would have had any less ninja-y mortal gargling with his own blood. The other ninjas, even including his rival, Becker, proclaim Cage the new Boss Ninja. Cage and Surge ride off in triumph, but on the way back to their village miss their turn and drive over the edge of a cliff, plummeting together to a fiery death.

The clan shall never see Lost Ninjas like them again. And if we're lucky, neither will we.