Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012)

Pony doc will have you whinnying

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony

Gender roles have changed greatly over the past several decades. Men are now free to choose any profession they want, rather than being limited to the choice of becoming a lumberjack or bear wrestler. Men can express emotions, even going as far as to cry… provided they have stubbed their toe, or just finished watching the series finale of ALF, that is.

One thing society has not fully embraced, however, is a man’s right to watch a television show aimed at young girls. Thankfully, a movement is in place to change that way of thinking, and that movement is captured in the terrific documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.

You may be asking yourself, “What in the blue hell are bronies?” Bronies are male fans of the My Little Pony franchise, in most cases more specifically of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series. Not only do these men watch the program, but they collect pony figurines, attend conventions and create wonderful works of art inspired by Rainbow Dash and company.

John de Lancie is a veteran actor who has appeared in a few shows with rabid fan bases. He portrayed Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and has also had recurring roles in Stargate: SG-1 and Breaking Bad. So he was certainly used to getting attention. But nothing could have prepared him for the adulation he received from his work as the voice of Discord in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be receiving this praise from grown men.

So de Lancie, along with Tara Strong (the voice of Twilight Sparkle) and series creator Lauren Faust teamed up to produce Bronies. The documentary takes us deep into the world of My Little Pony fandom, and all the mania (or should I say mane-ia) surrounding it. We get to see footage from BronyCon, Galacon, and B.U.C.K., three of the largest gatherings of bronies (and their female equivalents, known to some as pegasisters).

We meet a father who is struggling with his son’s fondness for all things pony. Only a trip to the largest brony convention could break down the walls between them and lead to a greater level of love and understanding.We meet a young man who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and thus does not interact well with others. However the thought of being amongst his pony-obsessed brethren is an opportunity too great to pass up, and he must struggle to shed his inhibitions as he travels alone to the convention.

We are also introduced to some of the world’s preeminent brony artists, tremendously skilled individuals who compose ballads, paint pictures and create elaborate light shows, all inspired by this fine television program.

Not since I first watched Weekend At Bernie’s 2 could I describe a movie-watching experience as being life-altering. But I would definitely say that about this film. Immediately after watching this film, I threw all of my two-year- old son’s “boy” toys out in the trash. That new fire station he got for Christmas was gone, replaced by a Barbie Dream House. Goodbye, Thomas and Friends; hello, Disney Princesses. It is now up to Strawberry Shortcake, Smurfette and Pinkie Pie to mold my son into the man I know he can be.

For the unforgettable characters introduced, and the wonderful message it presents, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony is truly deserving of four hooves up. Hopefully Roger Ebert didn’t copyright that rating system as well.

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011)

Excellence meets flatulence

Zombie Ass

Each year, hundreds of films are produced that feature things being inserted into asses. However, for whatever reason, very few films about things coming out of asses see the light of day.

Enter writer/director Noboru Iguchi. The creative genius behind such influential movies as Beautiful Girl Excretion School, Celebrity Signorina, Take Your Shorts Off! and Veterinary Pet Beauty Big Bust W Cast Teacher also saw a disparity between ass input/output motion pictures, and put crayon to paper to rectify the situation. The resulting masterpiece, Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, may be the most unique film I have ever had the pleasure of viewing.

I’m sure we have all seen movies where a group of young people go out to a cabin in the woods, and things go horribly wrong. Usually there will be a slutty girl, a nerdy guy, and a reserved girl who manages to outlive all of her companions. Well, that also happens to be the basic outline of Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. However, this film strays from the formula in such wonderful ways that it ends up bearing little resemblance to other films in the genre such as Cabin Fever and Cabin in the Woods. This is not so much a tale of cabins or the horrors lurking outside of them. No, it is primarily about asses.

I will do my best to explain what happens in this film, and rest assured, I am not making any of this up. Five young people set out on a carefree trip, but things take a dramatic turn for the worse when Maki, who has modeling aspirations, ingests a parasite which she believes will make her skinny. She begins to experience some major bowel issues, and then the poop really hits the fan… and everything else for that matter! Fecal-drenched zombies emerge from a porta-potty hole while Maki is attempting to relieve herself. But there is no relief in sight for Maki and her companions as they find themselves being pursued by stool-stained stalkers.

These dead do not merely walk; they are filled with more gas than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Farting zombies – nothing could be more terrifying than that, right? Wrong! Not only do these creatures break wind, they break new ground in the zombie genre when parasites begin emerging from their rear ends. Can you imagine the creature from Alien bursting out of someone’s backside? Well, you don’t have to imagine it, because this film pretty much shows you what that would look like. Again and again!

The onus (or should I say anus) for dealing with these flatulent creatures falls on Megumi, a shy schoolgirl who not only can kick some major butt, but do some major damage with her own derriere. This all leads to an ass-tonishing final battle between Megumi and a giant parasite that has emerged from her friend’s gluteus maximus. Who emerges victorious, and who brings up the rear? You’ll have to watch the film yourself to find out.

I had high expectations going into my viewing of this film, and I must say, Zombie Ass is everything that it was cracked up to be. The script, the acting, the music, the visual effects, everything was simply ass-tounding. No if, ands or butts about it, you will certainly want to tap Zombie Ass.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998)

Cross-country Claus chaos

I'll Be Home For Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, and many students will be making it home to join their family to celebrate, well, whatever it is that their particular family celebrates. Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Winter solstice. Milla Jovovich’s birthday. Hopefully each student’s journey is a safe and relatively uneventful one. Maybe you’ll have a run-in with a rude flight attendant. Maybe your luggage will get damaged. I pray, however, that you don’t run into as many obstacles as the main character does in the film that I will be examining this week, I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement) stars as Jake, a somewhat selfish young man who is currently attending college in California, along with his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel). He plans to take Allie to Cabo San Lucas for the holidays, but she puts the kibosh on those plans. She wants them both to head home to New York to spend time with their families. Jake gives in, but not to please Allie, but rather because his father has made him an offer he cannot refuse.

Gary Cole shines as Jake’s father. Cole is best known however for his role as Bill Lumbergh in Office Space. Basically, he tells Jake, “Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come home before 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. So, if you could be here around 6, that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! And I almost forgot, ahh, I’m going to go ahead and give you a Porsche if you make it here on time, ’kay?” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that is the gist of his message.

It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Jake just has to get his and Allie’s patooties across the country, and he’ll land a sweet ride. Well, that wouldn’t make for much of a movie. Luckily, shenanigans ensue. Jake’s rival Eddie and his buddies take Jake (who is wearing a Santa suit) out into the middle of the desert and leave him stranded there. This allows Eddie to swoop in and save the day by driving Allie home.

So while Allie fumes the whole way home thinking that her boyfriend has abandoned her, Jake engages in a series LOL escapades as he makes his way across the country dressed as Santa. He manages to win $1,000 cash by competing in a Santa Claus race, and it looks like he will make it home in time. But things get complicated when he learns that the runner-up was the mayor of the town, who has won the race every year, and uses the money to buy turkey dinners for needy families.

Hold the phone! Up until this point in the film, the writing of Michael Allin, Tom Nursall and Harris Goldberg has been absolutely perfect. But clearly they spent so much time researching college students, family dynamics and the racing abilities of mall Santas that they didn’t know a darn thing about mayors. Let’s get this straight. Mayors divert taxpayer money for their own personal use. They smoke crack cocaine. They inexplicably sprint across the room at council meetings, knocking down any grandmothers in their path. They make inappropriate remarks about their wife’s genitalia. They most certainly do not feed the hungry. Frankly, it would have been more realistic to have had the mayor transform into a helicopter during the race.

Once Jake hears about this preposterous scenario, he feels guilty, and drops the money off at the mayor’s home. The mayor invites Jake in to partake in Christmas dinner with his family, but Jake realizes that he has more than enough to eat at home, and makes one last ditch effort to join his family for their holiday feast.

Does Jake make it home? Does he win back the heart of Allie, and earn the keys to the Porsche from dear old Dad? You’ll just have to watch the film and find out for yourself. The film is available on Netflix, and according to Wikipedia, it has aired on CBC every Christmas season since 1999. Consider that information my Christmas gift to you, and yes, I do expect something in return.

I guarantee you will love this motion picture. Despite the terrible characterization of the mayor, I still feel that I’ll Be Home For Christmas is the greatest holiday offering since a wise man brought myrrh to baby Jesus 2,000 years ago.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus (1959)

Santa vs. Satan showdown Yuletide classic

Santa Claus

“He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town”
“He lives in outer space
He’s abducted children of every race…
Wait, what???!”

There have been countless depictions of Santa Claus in film over the years. I’d reckon there have been more Santa films than Saw and Paranormal Activity installments combined. Everyone from Tim Allen to Whoopi Goldberg has had the opportunity to don the red suit. But there has never been a Santa quite like the one shown in the film I will be taking a look at this week, appropriately titled Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is a Mexican film released way back in 1959. Perhaps due to the fact that it is not a Hollywood production, certain Christmas film conventions are thrown by the wayside. For example, Santa is usually a resident of the North Pole. Well, not in this film. Here Santa lives in space. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more magical, he gets the E.T. treatment.

Elves are usually a staple in Santa stories, but are nowhere to be found in this movie. Instead, Santa is shacking up with Merlin The Magician and children from nearly every nation on Earth. We learn this in the opening moments of the film, as each group of children is introduced, while Santa enthusiastically plays a song native to their country on his organ. It’s like the opening ceremony of the Olympics, only longer. Also his reindeers are not living breathing animals, but are mechanical facsimiles, operated by the turn of a magic key.

The fun and frivolity ends when Santa learns of a plot by Satan to turn children from nice to naughty. Satan has sent his assistant Pitch to Earth to tempt children to commit acts that will result in them getting nothing but a lump of coal in their stocking. Luckily most of the children take the high road, perhaps because they believe Santa is watching. And they are correct in that assumption. Santa has a large mechanical eye that he uses to spy on all of the Earth’s children. Thanks to his buddy Merlin The Magician, he also is able to become invisible, and is in possession of magic dust that puts children to sleep. I’m having some serious reservations about taking my children to get their picture taken with this guy at the mall in a few weeks.

One child in particular stood out to me in the film: a little girl named Lupita, despite being quite poor, refuses to give in to Satan, even though she could land the doll she covets so dearly by doing so. Actually she wants two dolls, one of which she says she will give to Baby Jesus. Sadly, Jesus is never shown in the film, as I’m sure he would have also been given a complete character makeover. Perhaps in this world, Jesus is a two-foot tall robot from the planet Xargot who speaks only in haiku form.

Tired of being foiled at every turn by Santa, Pitch has one last trick up his sleeve. Santa may have access to the world’s greatest magician, more gadgets than James Bond and legions of loyal children, but that’s not going to help him when he comes face to face with a barking dog! I’ve always referred to canines as the Devil’s beasts, it is nice to see my opinion seconded. Will Christmas be ruined forever, or does Santa have enough magic in his sack to overcome the odds? I’ll leave it to you to find out. The whole film is available on YouTube, just type “Santa Claus 1959” and you will be able to watch it in English or Spanish.

Santa Claus is arguably Mexico’s greatest and least harmful export. Sure, the creative team took some liberties with character of Santa, but I feel it was time to change things up, and make Santa more modern. I mean, it’s 1959, people – the times, they are a changin’. So open up your mind, watch this film, and I guarantee you will have a Feliz Navidad.

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All The Way (1996)

Jingle rocks

Jingle All The Way

Christmas is the most wonderful – but unfortunately also the most commercial – time of the year. With all the running around, racking up debt, and obsessing over finding the perfect gift, it is easy to forget the true reason for the season. A long time ago, a very special boy was born, who changed the world for all of us, for the better. And that boy was Andre The Giant. So take a little time out over the next few weeks to think about that.

When you are not worshipping Andre The Giant and trying to track down the latest electronic gizmo for your Aunt Hazel, you should be sitting back and enjoying some gifts from Hollywood. For year after year, the studios fill up their sacks and deliver the finest Christmas-themed films to theatres and TV screens all over the world. This week, I’ll be taking a look at one of the greatest Christmas films of all time. Nay, one of the greatest films of all time, period. It is my honour to review the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Jingle All The Way.

In Jingle All The Way, Schwarzenegger portrays Howard Langston, a father who is so obsessed with his career that he often neglects his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) and son Jamie (Jake Lloyd). In order to get back in his family’s good graces, Howard attempts to acquire the hottest toy of the Christmas season for his son: a Turbo-Man action figure. This proves to be easier said than done.

Taking inspiration from the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the 1980s, Howard’s goal of getting his giant, meaty paws on a Turbo-Man figure for his son provides an endless array of side-splitting moments. While we are lucky to live in an age where you can pick out nearly anything on a computer and have it delivered to your home within days – be it a toy, an iPad or a Russian bride – but it wasn’t always so. Parents used to have to queue up for hours and be prepared to engage in fisticuffs in order to land the toy for their child. It’s a little known fact that the early Ultimate Fighting Championship cards were entirely comprised of fathers trying to win Power Ranger dolls for their young’uns. It was all worth it, though, when your child opened that bloodstained toy on Christmas morning.

Howard develops a rivalry with Myron Larabee (Sinbad), an equally eager dad who also has his eyes on the Turbo-Man prize. Myron and Howard engage in a thrilling and hysterical game of cat and mouse as they encounter a crooked mall Santa (James Belushi), cops, robbers and every obstacle under the sun as they battle it out to see who can win their child’s affection.

Schwarzenegger delivers a tour-de-force performance. It is clear that Schwarzenegger was drawing on his own experiences running around, trying to obtain presents for his children, both the legitimate and illegitimate ones. We always knew that Arnold was a great politician and a tremendous action hero, but Jingle All The Way proves that this man’s true forte is making people laugh.

Speaking of making people laugh, few do it better than Arnold’s costar in this film, Sinbad. I don’t know how somebody with “bad” in their name can be so good, but this man accomplishes it. It takes a hell of a performer to equal Arnold in the laughs department, but Sinbad manages the impossible. This performance netted him the prestigious Blockbuster Entertainment Award for “Favorite Supporting Actor – Family”. You know who has never won that award? Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins and Denzel Washington, just to name a few.

I would be remiss if I did not also single out the excellent work in this film by Jake Lloyd. Lloyd delivers the greatest performance by any young thespian that I have ever had the good fortune to witness. Lloyd shines as Jamie, a boy who desperately wants his father’s love, and a Turbo-Man figure, although not necessarily in that order. It is no wonder that George Lucas cast Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in a grueling audition process that made The Hunger Games look tame in comparison. Lloyd went on to great things, such as providing the voice of Anakin Sywalker in the Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing video game. But he is perhaps best known for his role as the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds video game.

This Christmas season, instead of pumping a bunch of money needlessly into the economy, give your loved ones the greatest gift they could possibly receive. Gather them all in front of the TV, and show them how much you care by pressing play, and watching Jingle All The Way. After that experience, you may never have to buy them another gift.

The Thing With Two Heads

The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

Heads and shoulders above the rest

A wise man once said “two heads are better than one.” That man was Andre The Giant. Philosophers have argued over the exact meaning of this statement for decades. Some believe that it means that more can be accomplished by working together. Others feel that Mr. The Giant actually meant that it is in fact advantageous to literally have multiple craniums perched atop one’s shoulders.

The Thing With Two HeadsBack in 1972, an incredible film titled The Thing with Two Heads was released that examined what would happen if someone were in fact given a second head. So what would happen? Hijinx, hilarity and mayhem, that’s what!

Legendary Academy Award winning actor Ray Milland portrays Maxwell Kirshner, a brilliant doctor whose body is beginning to fail him. In order to preserve his life, he begins experimenting with transplant techniques. As a result, his lab is housing a two-headed ape. Within the first 10 minutes of this film, there is a scene where a two-headed ape runs amok in a supermarket, shoving bananas into both of its faces. This would be the high point of most films, but the fun is only beginning.

Not deterred by the supermarket fiasco, Kirshner presses on, and lets his colleagues know that he would like them to place his head onto someone else’s body.

Shortly afterwards, we learn that not only is Kirshner a brilliant (albeit possibly a bit mad) doctor, but also a racist. New hire Dr. Fred Williams shows up after being offered a job over the phone. When Kirshner realizes he has hired an African American doctor, he quickly tries to retract the offer, and then begrudgingly agrees to let Williams finish out his short-term contract.

The loveable old racist’s health takes a dramatic turn for the worse, and there is suddenly a pressing need for a donor body. Enter Jack Moss (former NFL star Rosey Grier), a death row inmate who may not have committed a crime. He offers himself up to be part of the experiment, in hopes that it will buy him sometime to prove his innocence. Did I mention that Moss is also African American?

When the bigot Kirshner awakes and sees the new body that he is attached to, fireworks ensue between the two. But cooler heads prevail, and the two headed man goes on the lamb, attempting to track down the evidence that will set him free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last.

This leads to a high-speed chase with Kirsher/Moss riding on a dirt bike (joined by Dr. Williams), being chased by an insane amount of police. This sequence lasts approximately 45 minutes, and results in no fewer than 30 cop cars being flipped over.

The Thing With Two Heads ends rather ambiguously, but that is because it deals with some rather complex issues that cannot be easily wrapped up within the confines of a 90-minute film. Issues like racism. And whether or not it is okay to give a second head to an ape. This is a film that you won’t just watch and forget about. It will inevitably lead to further discussion, even passionate debate. The Thing With Two Heads is a film that will require you to use your own head, and perhaps the heads of those you are watching with. That’s a lot of head, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Suburban Commando

Suburban Commando (1991)

You won’t regret going Commando

October, the scariest month of the year has come and gone, so now it is time for the hairiest month of the year. Movember, formerly known as November, is a wonderful time of year when men let their appearance go to hell in the name of charity. That’s not to say that all moustaches look hideous. Particularly not the moustache that stars in the film I will be taking a look at this week, Suburban Commando.

Suburban CommandoHulk Hogan and his moustache star in the hilarious and thrilling science fiction/comedy/fish out of water/action/Bollywood romance/adventure tale Suburban Commando. Hogan portrays Shep Ramsey, an intergalactic warrior who crash lands on Earth after his latest battle. Ramsey must bide his time while his space vessel recharges, and ends up renting a room from suburbanites the Wilcox family. Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future) and Shelly Duvall (The Shining) star as the heads of the household, Charlie and Jenny.

Charlie is instantly suspicious of his hulking new tenant, who displays amazing feats of strength, but very poor social graces. For example, Ramsey encounters a mime, and not familiar with Earth customs, attempts to free him from his invisible box by punching through what he believes to be an invisible force field. The poor street entertainer is knocked out cold. Ramsey also picks up a sofa when he is told to take a seat in a waiting room. It is scenes like these two that really make me think Hogan missed his calling. Sure, he had a great career in the wrestling business, but I really think he could have become a big deal in the comedy world. His moustachioed face could have been up on comedy’s Mount Rushmore with Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Bill Cosby and Carrot Top. As great as Hogan is in the film, it is hard to believe he was not the first choice. The film was originally written for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. Thankfully, it worked out for everyone (except Arnold and Danny) in the end. Lesson learned – whatever the job is, Hulk Hogan should always be offered first crack at it. I called him last week to see if he wanted to drywall my basement. He declined, but I could tell he appreciated the offer.

Charlie eventually discovers that Ramsey is not from France as he initially claimed. In the process of his investigation, he ends up alerting some bad apples from a planet far, far away as to the whereabouts of Ramsey. Mild-mannered architect Charlie Wilcox must tag team up with the seasoned soldier Shep Ramsey to lay the smackdown on a gang of space villains in order to save not only the Wilcox family, but Earth as a whole.

Suburban Commando is a terrific film that, if not for typical studio politics, would have enjoyed a bigger legacy. Personally I feel that it is a better film than Star Wars, but 22 years have passed, and no sequels or prequels have been produced. I also have yet to see one child wearing a Shep Ramsey backpack.

Perhaps the film will experience a renaissance during this Movember season. I assume that most people, like me, plan to watch nothing but movies featuring moustachioed men in the lead role all month long. If that is what you are planning, then for your first viewing of Movember, please watch this film. You will not regret going Commando.