Ha ha!

You just never know what he'll review next!

Thursday 29 December 2022

Burl reviews Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers! (1980)


By the whiff of the stinking rose, it’s Burl, here to review a picture by the marvelous documentarian Les Blank! Ha ha, I once attended a screening of his great Leon Russell movie A Poem is a Naked Person, and that was back in the days when Blank had to be in attendance for it to be screened legally, so he was there, and afterward I and some others went out to a nearby bar with him for a few beers! He was a nice fellow and awfully good company, and those qualities can be seen in the movie under review today, Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers!

Now, whether or not that specific equivalence is accurate, the movie makes a strong case for garlic as a curative and as a flavourer of food! No scientists are trotted out to make the case; neither Julia Child nor Edna Lewis nor any other celebrity chef of the day appear; instead, Blank visits a parade of bohemian food lovers who proselytize about the aliment and its many uses and benefits! Ha ha, I’ve always used garlic in my own cooking, so I was naturally sympathetic to these arguments!

The impression left is that there must be a thriving subculture of garlic-mad neo-hippies out there, cooking like maniacs and shoveling in the allium sativum as quickly as they can! Blank talks to chefs and enthusiasts, and spends time at a California garlic festival, and all of this is arranged in a wonderfully haphazard and aptly organic manner! There are some unexpected ingredients in this concoction: for instance, a bewildered Werner Herzog, whose mug we recall from the bad-guy role in Jack Reacher appears in order to give his two cents on garlic’s efficacy on vampires, and why he didn’t include that aspect in Nosferatu!


The heart of the picture are its many scenes of meal preparation, which make you want to rush to your kitchen and start cooking up a feast yourself! Vegetarians will not take to the movie, though – there are plenty of dead animals here, and meat being ground up in close shots; but cuisineries both committed and, like myself, casual, will find themselves transfixed by the lovely 16mm colour images!

There’s not a propulsive or coherent story being told here, but nor should there be! It’s a grincingly effective love-chaunt to an oft-maligned foodstuff, and at 51 minutes it’s just about exactly the right length! There’s some good music being played and some wonderful eccentrics appear, and if you like the way Les Blank organizes his movies, you’ll like this one as much as Burden of Dreams or In Heaven There Is No Beer? or any of his other fine works! Ha ha, I recommend it heartily! I give Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers three staring animal eyeballs!

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Burl reviews Lethal Weapon! (1987)


Getting too old for this shit, it’s Burl, here to review 80s buddy-cop carnage for you! Of course there had been buddy cops before this movie came out, and even black and white buddy cops as we have in this picture (Number One with a Bullet, anybody? Ha ha, anybody?), but the success of this particular duo led to an explosion (often literal) of buddy cops – in only the year and change after this one’s release we had alien/human buddy cops in Alien Nation and The Hidden; living/dead buddy cops in Dead Heat; American/Russian buddy cops in Red Heat; natty/slobbo buddy cops in Tango & Cash, and army/civilian buddy cops in The Presidio! And the movie that kicked this genre into high gear? Ha ha, Lethal Weapon, of course!

And as we know, the picture canonized another tradition: setting action movies around Christmas! Earlier action pictures – First Blood, To Live and Die in L.A., Cobra – had already flirted with a touch of noel flavouring, and then Die Hard came along the very next year to solidify the trend, and Die Hard 2 to lacquer it, but I think it was Lethal Weapon that made it a thing! Certainly it popularized the use of incongruous holiday music to make some kind of ironic point! And it goes that extra Christmas mile by casting Phil Spector’s Christmas Album superstar Darlene Love as Danny Glover’s wife!

The setup and story hardly bear repeating, but here goes! Mel Gibson, whom we recall from his roles in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Conspiracy Theory, plays Martin Riggs, so archetypally the emotionally hollowed-out cop that he seems a parody of the form; and whether he’s putting a gun in his mouth or sharing his dog’s breakfast or acting all bugeyed and crazy, he doesn’t seem much like a real person! This behaviour had more impact back when it was fresh, but it was never very realistic! Meanwhile, Danny Glover, well beloved from his role in The Dead Don’t Die, is Roger Murtaugh, whom I used to think was so old but is only just turning fifty as the picture opens! And just as Riggs is a near-parody, of course Murtaugh is the very model of the too-old-for-this-shit family-man cop still doing the job, but with half an eye on retirement and his driveway watercraft which ought to be named the Midlife Crisis! The introductory scene where he’s relaxing in his bath and the whole family bursts in to give him a birthday party while he’s in his birthday suit always struck me as odd, but I guess that’s the repressed North American in me!

The action is kicked off in the opening moments by a naked lady, zonked on the devil’s dandruff, plummeting to her doom from the top of a luxury tower! This unfortunate lady turns out to be the daughter of none other than Tom Atkins from Halloween III and Night of the Creeps, playing an old pal of Murtaugh’s called Hunsacker! Then we have the obligatory scenes in which Murtaugh meets-cop with Riggs and reluctantly becomes his partner; Riggs acts crazy and near suicidal and Murtaugh becomes upset; and Riggs comes over to the Murtaugh house for dinner and relations between the two buddy cops soften into a true partnership! Ha ha!

The baddies are a bunch of drug-smuggling army fellows led by a pocky old general played by Mitchell Ryan from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers! The plot particulars are actually a bit murky, and there’s a sense of the filmmakers not really caring much about the mechanics of it, or how Hunsacker’s daughter's death plummet fits in! The important thing is how evil these fellows are, particularly Gary Busey from Silver Bullet playing Mr. Joshua, the general’s right-hand man, who literally offers up his right hand to be burned by a cigarette lighter on the general’s casual instruction just to make a point! And of course, ha ha, there’s perpetual hench Al Leong as Endo, who’s forgotten more about administering pain than the rest of us will ever know! Mr. Joshua’s pain endurance capabilities are not really explored beyond the cigarette lighter scene, and Endo’s legendary talents as, conversely, an inflictor of agony don’t seem to stretch beyond crude car battery electrocution, so in these senses the movie is more talk than walk!

But in other respects it’s a perfectly-wrought 80s action extravaganza, right down to the climactic front yard punchfight, complete with MTV effects provided by a spurting fire hydrant and a hovering helicopter spotlight, and cops kept at bay by only a few words from Glover! Richard Donner, who'd earlier brought us The Omen, directs the thing with about the right amount of flair, and the performances, as clichéd as they may seem to us today, are on point! It hums along like a well-tuned engine, and never mind how sketchy the plot is or how contrived the events! The bad guys all get their just desserts, and then Riggs, who invites himself over for Christmas dinner, presumably gets some dessert too! Ha ha! I give Lethal Weapon two and a half dashboard grenades!

Saturday 24 December 2022

Burl reviews Toys! (1992)


Ha ha and z-z-z-zinnngggg! it’s Burl, here to give a review to a bomb of whimsical proportions! And I’ll tell you, I went to see this one with my buddy Pellonpaa and we employed a little electric lettuce to become high as kites before the screening! And at some point during it, there was a moment so surprising and funny that both Pellonpaa and I literally fell off our chairs and rolled on the ground! I watched it again the other day, but straight this time of course, and wondered if the hilarity of the moment would repeat!

Anyway, the movie is Toys, and the answer to my wonderment is no, it wasn’t as hilarious a moment this time around! It was still funny though! The picture is a slick and strange big-budget affair featuring Robin Williams from The Best of Times and Club Paradise as an ill-defined manchild called Leslie Zevo! He’s the son of toymaker extraordinaire Ken Zevo, who’s played by none other than Donald O’Connor from Francis in a sweet low-key performance, and who dies very early in the picture!

Because he deems neither Leslie nor Leslie’s dopey-sweer sister Alsatia, played by Joan Cusack from Grandview U.S.A. and The End of the Tour, to be ready to take over the toy factory, Ken asks his warmonger brother Leland, essayed by Michael Gambon from Sleepy Hollow and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, to assume command! Leland’s wingman in this venture is Captain Pat Zevo, his son, played bumptiously by LL Cool J from Deep Blue Sea and Halloween H2O! All of these characters get nearly as much screen time as Williams's Leslie, so it ends up feeling more like an ensemble picture than it was marketed as! But Williams can't help but be a showcase, and he gets to be goofy, eccentric, and weird, and also gets nearly serious in moments when he's realizing what his uncle and cousin are up to!

From here it becomes a battle of wills (though emphatically not of wits) to determine whether the factory will continue with its tradition of making wind-up mechanicals and other sundry geegaws, or transition into violent war toys and indeed drone technology as the General fervently, even dementedly, desires! On Leslie’s pacifistic side he has pretty love interest Gwen, played by Robin Wright from The Princess Bride; Owen Owens, the old toy factory factotum played by Arthur Malet, the graveyard keeper from Halloween; and of course his sister Alsatia, who is revealed later in the picture to be not quite what she appears! (Or maybe it’s that she turns out to be exactly what she appears, ha ha!) And Captain Pat has a change of heart and joins the good guys as well

In the margins of the cast are familiar faces like Jamie Foxx from Django Unchained, Yeardley Smith from Maximum Overdrive, Steve Park from The French Dispatch, and Debbie Mazar from Singles, while the old Zevo grampa is played by Jack Warden from Dirty Work in makeup that makes him look exactly like Lionel Stander! But as committed as all these people are to their roles – and I do really like Williams’s performance here, which to me recalls his mumbling work in Popeye – the people are not the stars of the show! No, it’s the sets and the props, which are spectacular and occasionally clever, like the crossword-puzzle room that reduces even as its occupants are trying to have a serious meeting about fake vomit! And the whole world of the movie is either invented, studio-bound fantasy-adjacent confections, or rolling green fields with a road winding through them! But mostly it's sets, with machines and robots and wind-up mechanicals and lots of extras all labouring in the background!

And it was these sets that most captivated me back when I saw this movie on the big screen, as I recall! The plot seemed a garble, not, it turns out, because I was stoned, but because it actually was, and is, an incoherent mess! The central conflict is simple enough, and so is the message, but the storytelling is about as organized and cohesive as an elevator fart! Ha ha, I’m sorry to make such a crude joke, but it’s much in the spirit of the movie under review! Anyway, it’s an extraordinary movie in many ways, and a very bad one in many others, and unfortunately the bad is a pretty fundamental part of the whole enterprise, and the impression left is of a bad picture! But I liked Williams and the rest of the actors too, and there were a few sharp gags and lots of clever visuals, so it’s hardly a total loss! I’ll give Toys one pea and one carrot!

Monday 19 December 2022

Burl reviews Ronin! (1998)


With a screech and a roar and a “Hey you guys!,” it’s Burl here to review some underappreciated 90s stealth Christmas action! It’s a picture I saw and enjoyed on the big screen, and its several scenes of realistic car-crunching chaseology makes good solid sense when you take into account that the picture is a late work from John Frankenheimer, crusty gent and director of Prophecy and The Train! Ha ha, yes, naturally the picture I’m talking about is Ronin!

The movie is all about how things are done, and much less about why they are done! It’s a crime procedural, I guess, and involves a group of folk living on the grey side of the law who gather in France to wrangle a silver case, contents unknown and irrelevant, away from the shady parties who possess it, and get it into the hands of the Irish! Representing the people of the shamrock is Dierdre, played by beauteous Natasha McElhone from The Truman Show, and her crew includes Sam, an American played by Robert De Niro from Mean Streets and Mad Dog and Glory, whom the other characters take to be ex-CIA (but is he ex???); Jean Reno from Godzilla playing Vincent, the man who can get what’s needed; Gregor, a German who used to work for the Russians, played by the Swede Stellan Skarsgard, whom we know from The Hunt for Red October and The Avengers; and the clearly out-of-his-depth Spence, essayed by Sean Bean from How to Get Ahead in Advertising, who’s always good at characters like that, though he can play other types as well!

Ha ha, and we know Bean from GoldenEye of course; and the picture also includes prominent roles for Michael Lonsdale from The Day of the Jackal and Moonraker and Jonathan Pryce from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Tomorrow Never Dies! So there we have a total of three James Bond antagonists in the same movie! Here, one of them plays a bad guy, one a good guy, and one is neither! And there’s also a little smiley cameo appearance from Amidou, whom we might recall from Sorcerer!

The caper involves, or at least results in, several crackerjack car chases, which are without question the highlights of the movie! But with that terrific cast and dialogue from a pseudonymous David Mamet (“You ever kill anybody?” “I hurt somebody’s feelings once”), and a general air of what we might call “invented realism,” the picture is a totally enjoyable bit of non-comic book action! And as I say, like Cobra and Die Hard and Lethal Weapon and Die Hard 2 and To Live and Die in L.A. and Invasion U.S.A., this is an example of 80s Xmas Action – that is, it’s set over the Christmas season and features a few holiday accoutrements, in this case some carolling, a background appearance by Pere Nöel, and a few words of Christmas-related conversation here and there!

It’s hardly a perfect movie, though! It somehow doesn’t fully grip in the way it should, which is probably because it’s so procedural that it doesn’t bother with any of the other niceties of drama, like characters and plot and emotional stakes! It seems at times like an exercise put together by old pros as a display item, for which they concentrated on surface effects rather than substance; but on that surface level it excels! It’s a good, grown-up crime film, sort of a spiritual stepson of Melville’s great policiers, though not their equal, and I’m a fan even as I recognize its unidimensional characters and cereal-box plot! Ha ha, I’m giving Ronin three spilled cups of coffee!

Sunday 11 December 2022

Burl reviews Call Northside 777! (1948)


Ring ring, it’s Burl, here with newspaper drama! Yes, ol’ Burl is a big fan of the newspaper genre – I really like All the President’s Men of course, and His Girl Friday, and Ace in the Hole, and I even found lots to like about The Paper – not least, ha ha, that it was a newspaper movie! And I’ve just watched one I’d never seen before, a little joint called Call Northside 777!

The title refers to a wee classified ad discovered in the paper by newshound P.J. McNeal! McNeal is played by James Stewart, well known from Thunder Bay and Rear Window, and, following up the ad, he discovers an old floor scrubber named Tillie Wiecek in despair because her son Frank has been in jail these last eleven years for killing a cop! Of course she claims he didn’t do it, and hopes her ad, and the $5000 in reward money she’s spent the past decade on her hands and knees earning, will help bring forth a witness who can clear Frank’s name!

McNeal is initially dismissive, not willing to give a cop killer the time of day! But as he digs into the case, and once he goes to the jail to meet Frank, who’s played very well by Richard Conte from Ocean’s Eleven and is an incredibly sympathetic character, he starts to think, hey, maybe this fella Frank is innocent after all! The great Lee J. Cobb from Gorilla At Large is McNeal’s editor, and, as the story starts to catch the public attention, he encourages his reporter to follow it up!

McNeal does so, occasionally going home to visit his wife, played by Helen Walker from Nightmare Alley and The Big Combo, where they sleep in separate beds as per bizarre Code rules and she makes him sandwiches when he has insomnia worrying about the Wiecek case! I guess he couldn’t make his own sandwich for some reason! McNeal gets on the trail of a witness called Wanda Skutnik, who proves to be just as unpleasant as her name, and he often returns to the Statesville prison, where an unbelievably accommodating warden accedes to his every request! Wiecek is at first justifiably angry about the negative attention the publicity is giving his wife and son, and demands that McNeal lay off! But this reporter is too dogged for that!

E.G. Marshall from Creepshow appears as the kindly (or as kindly as Marshall can manage) man whom Wiecek’s wife marries while he’s in prison so that their son can live a more normal life; and here’s where the movie really shines: in laying out the terrible difficulty of having a husband and father supposed by everyone to be a cop killer! You really feel for these Wieceks, and want Frank to get out of gaol and that post-haste, ha ha! But this movie is an occasionally long 112 minutes, so before that happens there’s plenty of time to watch all the details of how a polygraph test is administered, for example!

Because that’s the other thing: the movie is a gallery of all-new police techniques, like polygraph machines and forgery detection and photo enlargement processes, and a fantastic sort of proto-fax machine that whirls around like a lathe and sends pictures across the wire – but, ha ha, you have to develop them on the receiving end before you can see them! But they really wanted to keep it real for this movie, so when it comes to the lie detector scene, they got the guy who invented the gosh darn machine to play the fellow administering the test, and they take care to depict every intricacy! And McNeal, the newsman, is all the while asking the sort of questions any layman would, and getting detailed explanations of the technologies!

So there’s occasionally the feeling of watching an educational film or a sponsored documentary, but the olde-tyme tech aspect is really interesting, to me anyway! And, as I say, you get really caught up in the family’s situation, so by the time the boy is running toward his freed father, shouting “Daddy! That’s my daddy!” you may shed a happy tear! I don’t think I’m giving anything away to reveal that Wiecek is in fact proved innocent, but another thing about the conclusion, foregone as it may be, is that it doesn’t really follow up the hints of conspiracy and cover-up that are teased in the first half! I suppose we’re meant to take the railroad job done on Wiecek as just one of those things, and the subsequent cover-up as just what any sensible authority figure would do after committing a horrible blunder! Ha ha, some of the sensibilities are a little out of date, I guess, and this fealty toward authority is among them! But the movie has lots to recommend it, and Stewart is always good, so I give Call Northside 777 three linotype slugs!

Saturday 10 December 2022

Burl reviews The Dark Half! (1993)


By the squirrels of autumn it’s Burl, here to give you a new film notice! Yes, we find ourselves once again in the company of the great Beardsman of Pittsburgh, the zombie maestro who brought us excellent films like Dawn of the Dead, along with some less excellent but still perfectly watchable works like Monkey Shines! It’s Mr. George A. Romero of whom I speak of course – ha ha, sadly I never met Mr. Romero, but I did once get to see him introduce a  movie close to his heart, Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffman! One fails to discern the Archers’ influence on the picture under review today, however: The Dark Half!

It’s a Stephen King tale, based a little bit on his own life and how he was outed as the maniacal overachiever who wrote so many books that he had to publish some of them under the name Richard Bachman! (I read Thinner when it was still unknown that Bachman was King, and thought to myself “Boy, this guy sure writes a lot like Stephen King!”) Timothy Hutton from Turk 182 stars as the King stand-in, Thad Beaumont: here not a gargantua-selling horror novelist but one of those cartoonishly “serious” writers King features so often, and somewhat longingly, in his stories! And yet Beaumont has a sideline in writing punchy pulp novels under the name George Stark, featuring an amoral killer as a hero, and, after Stark is revealed to be Beaumont and Thad conducts a mock burial of the pseudonym, it’s this aspect of Thad that starts to make trouble! 

Amy Madigan from Streets of Fire plays the wife who wonders what’s going on, and Michael Rooker from Cliffhanger is the cop-acquaintance who suspects Thad when the Stark persona corporealizes somehow and starts killing people in gross and violent ways! Ha ha, the parade of victims start with Robert Joy, whom Romero used again in Land of the Dead, and who plays a sleazy guy who tries to blackmail Thad about his double identity! The carnage continues with the magazine writer of the story, essayed by Kent Broadhurst who’d Kinged before in Silver Bullet; Thad’s literary agents, played by Rutanya Alda from The Stuff and Tom Mardirosian from Trading Places; and then some old geezer with a false leg! I feared for the lives of Julie Harris from The Haunting, playing Thad’s university colleague, and Royal Dano from The Right Stuff as the local gravedigger (named, of course, Digger), but needn’t have as it turns out!

Of course the premise is utterly goofy (though not the goofiest in King’s canon – ha ha, The Mangler, anybody?), but I don’t blame King, because after all the idea was designed for print, not film, and it’s much more palatable, not to mention thematically apt, on the page! Putting this concept in a movie significantly exposes the utter impossibility of it, and in response the cast all work extra hard to sell it! Rooker in particular expresses how he’d be more likely to believe the culprit was a ghost rather than a name that never was! Romero also treats the premise seriously, perhaps too much so; but now and again, as in some nice scenes early in the picture involving birds and brain operations, it pays off!

As King/Romero collaborations go, it’s no Creepshow, and Creepshow isn’t even all that great I guess! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a highly enjoyable omnibus horror picture, but it’s just no masterpiece! The Dark Half is a few rungs below that, though it has elements to recommend it: some strong autumn atmosphere (I’ll admit that I watched – or rewatched, since I first saw it in the theatre way back when – the picture this past October and am only getting around to reviewing it now, and the fall miasma struck a sweet chord at that time); nice photography from the most unlikely of cinematographers, Tony Pierce-Roberts, who usually shot highbrow British stuff like A Room With A View and Howard’s End; and a strong cast! It’s got some effective moments, but, like its antagonist, lacks the cohesion necessary to triumph! I give The Dark Half two black pencils, freshly sharpened!

Friday 2 December 2022

Burl reviews Better Off Dead! (1985)


Friends and neighbours, ahh, listen to me now! Ha ha, it’s Burl here again with a movie review for you, and this time it’s a beloved 80s teen comedy set at just around this time of the year! Well, it covers December and goes into January I guess, so there’s a little bit of Christmas cheer in there, much as we find in another, lesser, 80s teen pic, Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home! But this one is fondly recalled by me and by my friends, and by, I gather, quite a few other folk as well! It’s Better Off Dead!

Of course the movie stars John Cusack, and with this he was following up yet another vaguely Christmastime teen comedy romance, The Sure Thing, released the year before! Here he plays Lane Meyer, a prototype for the character he’d play later in Say Anything: a guy who’s kind of sporty (Lane, or at least his stunt double, ha ha, is a decent skier), sort of cool (he has a cute horseyface girlfriend and a hot, if immobile, car), but also a little bit of a nebbish, loser, and geek! So I guess they’re trying to have and eat cake at once by making Lane an Everyman, but with movie protagonist qualities (good looks, athleticism, a Camaro) that the genuine Everyman rarely possesses! His best and seemingly only friend is Charles De Mar, an eccentric who wears a top hat, snorts anything he can coax up a straw, and is played perfectly by Curtis Armstrong of Revenge of the Nerds fame; and Charles, I suppose, by his stovepipe whimsicality is meant to provide hard evidence of Lane’s mid-to-lower level social station!

Lane’s girlfriend Beth, played by Amanda Wyss from A Nightmare on Elm Street, dumps him right off the bat, and this provides the motivation for what slim narrative drive the picture offers! Mostly it’s a shapeless accumulation of incident, some of it almost realistic teen angst comedy, like the breakup and the ski race against blonde bad guy Roy Stalin; some more fanciful, like the demoniac paperboy or the two Japanese brothers who street race against Lane every chance they get, colour-commenting on the race in a Howard Cosell voice over loudspeakers on their car; and some much crazier still, as in the scenes where Lane’s mute little brother creates a laser gun or a bedroom brothel or a home-built space shuttle! And Lane himself spins off into fantasyland regularly, imagining himself as a Dr. Frankenstein creating living hamburgers who sing and play like Eddie Van Halen! Of course there are the repeated, if halfhearted, suicide attempts, which had aged badly even between the time the movie was shot and when it came out, and haven’t gotten any better since! There’s not a lot of hilarity to be wrung from teen suicide when you get right down to it!

In the course of the movie we also meet Lane’s father, who is perpetually annoyed with the immobile car and with other bizarre family behaviours, and who is played by David Ogden Stiers from The Cheap Detective and, in a later reteaming with Cusack, Shadows and Fog! Lane’s mother is played by Kim Darby from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and she keeps busy wearing crazy costumes and cooking unpalatable meals! Across the street is a yet more grotesque family: Mrs. Smith and her bulbous, crochet-loving son Ricky, but they have as a houseguest a French foreign exchange student played by supercute Diane Franklin, known from The Last American Virgin and Amityville II: The Possession! Ha ha, and when she wears a ballcap and gets automotive grease all over his face, she’ll simply capture your heart just as she does Lane’s! And let’s not forget Dan Schneider from Making the Grade and Hot Resort as the neighbour Ricky, who shows off some excellent physical comedy skills in the course of the picture! Ha ha, that little futile jump he does when trying to get his balloon back is priceless!

This was director Savage Steve Holland’s feature film debut, and he recruited Cusack again the following year for One Crazy Summer! That one never developed the legs of its predecessor, though – ha ha, back in the old VHS days, Better Off Dead got the repeat replays from my friends and I, while the follow-up got maybe one viewing in toto! That doesn’t mean Better Off Dead is a great film – ha ha, far from it! It’s as shapeless as a sea-level blobfish and lots of the jokes don’t hit; but on the other hand plenty of them do, and it’s got an antic sense of absurdity that carries it along nicely! We get some fine comic performances, and the bit with the math teacher, played by Vincent Schiavelli from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, whose students hang on his every word and live for his homework assignments, is a good example of how the movie occasionally strikes a relatable chord for all of us Everymen but does so in a way that’s both overextended and baggy, yet still pointed and funny! Anyway, its good nature goes a long way, and so I give Better Off Dead two dollars and a fifty cent tip!