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Monday, 18 June
It's An Odd Name For A Skateball Team, Don't You Think?
This weekend, as usual, the wife and I went movie-hunting at our local video store. It's a barren time for this sort of sport: none of the summer blockbusters are out yet, so all you get are the off-season offloads: Breach, for instance, the fairly turgid based-on-real-life story about espionage that features a thickening Ryan Phillippe, another wasted role for Laura Linney, and Chris Cooper mostly just looking like someone is pinching him for two hours. Lame. Lamer still, all the copies of Ghost Rider were rented. I cannot wait to see that film, mainly because of Nic Cage's previous effort The Wicker Man, which set all kinds of new standards for pure embarrassment, ineptitude and people punching other people who are wearing bear suits.
But there was nothing. I couldn't even work up the enthusiasm for any of the transparently crappy b-horror offerings, many of which seemed to feature either alligators, unconvincing zombies, or unconvincing alligator zombies. Then something caught my eye.
It was an older movie that I remembered a friend of mine had offhandedly recommended! Sure, it was from the eighties . . . kinda old, probably cheesy . . . but my friend had thought it was good! He said so! The movie was called Solarbabies. I picked it up.
(A side note: My friend did not recommend this movie at all. My memory just stinks. He had offhandedly mentioned an entirely different movie called Night of the Comet, and in point of fact, he didn't really recommend it so much as just sort of mention it. I apparently just took one eighties movie and, in my poisoned brain, decided to substitute in a different one because I was desperate to find a movie. Also, I'm a fucking moron.)
Solarbabies, huh? Kind of a stupid title. But it's some sort of future sci-fi thing! I like that stuff. I looked closer. Jami Gertz, Jason Patric, Lukas Haas, James LeGros and . . . Charles Durning? Wow, that's pretty . . . odd. But it can't be all bad! For one thing, my friend said he liked it! (He never said any such thing, and he didn't say that about a totally different movie.) And besides! If it were crappy, why would it be here, in my video store, in a brand-new DVD edition? Obviously it was a good movie!
We rented Solarbabies.
Solarbabies is about an orphanage in the future where Earth has post-apocalyptically burned off all its oceans, and so as a consequence, the orphans spend their time playing roller hockey. The Solarbabies play a bunch of meanies called the Scorpions, who CHEAT! And occasionally Adrian Pasdar shows up, displays no emotion, and communes with wild birds.
Then Lukas Haas finds in one of their roller caves--look, I didn't make this fucking thing, but I'm just saying that I suppose roller hockey makes sense in light of a nuclear-ravaged world that also happens to be paved with convenient roller paths every single place you go--a glowing ball named (it has a name!) Bodahi. Having made a new friend with glowing sentient ball, Haas does the logical thing and stuffs Bodahi into a storage trunk.
BUT! He can't keep that secret for long! Not from his roller hockey buddies in the orphanage, which is run by the "E-Protectorate" (the E is for Eeeeeeeeaaaawesome!), whose warden is Charles Durning, but who is ordered around by some terrible asshole in a truly amazing giant blue vinyl fascist zoot suit. He's mostly around to sneer. Adrian Pasdar wanders around some more, and some more birds land on him for some reason (it was clear I needed to step up my drinking early, so things get hazy).
Anyway, the gang discovers Haas' amazing lo-tech glow ball, and there's a truly humiliating Soundball moment (any actors out there?) where they spend joyous moments passing the ball around to each other while Maurice Jarre synths torture the audience. Hey, can you guess what happens when the single black orphan gets Bodahi? Yes . . . he sort of breakdances. It is the breakdance equivalent of Lou Diamond Phillips' speech in Young Guns where he delivers the standard-issue "the squaws were cut down in the night by the army marauders," which is to say, uncomfortably horrible and deeply embarrassing.
Then I think Adrian Pasdar wandered around for a little while more, resolutely not moving his face.
Okay, it wasn't all awful. By which I mean, it was. But we at least were laughing. The same way I guess we'd laugh if we realized that we were going to die in five minutes by being crushed under an avalanche of Swatches. You'd have to laugh, right? There was also, of course, the writing, which was delightfully wretched, featuring such gems as "Get out, you creature of filth!" and Durning's immortal "Stick with us, learn to serve the Order, and you'll achieve a decent life-grid." You have to sort of love terrible sci-fi movies where the writer attempts to create some sort of futuristic nonsense patois (dedicated aficionados of this sort of thing are directed to Sam Shepherd's unintentionally hilarious The Tooth of Crime as perhaps the ne plus ultra of the genre) that they cannot even bother to try and sustain for any reasonable amount of time. The Solarbabies would spend extended periods speaking in entirely conventional English before bizarrely lapsing into some brief comment about "putrid thinking." On my third beer, I was starting to indulge in some putrid thinking myself.
What was the movie that my friend had actually recommended, you ask? Night of the Comet, as I found out later after angrily (and incorrectly) accusing my pal of steering me into some horrible disaster. I don't know anything about that movie either. But I might just check it out anyway. It has to be better than Solarbabies. Right?
And even if it's not, I'll bet it's more fun than Breach. God knows that Solarbabies was.
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Jami Gertz is weird that way, she's this totally realistically hot chick, and her gimmick is that she plays completely unrealistic characters and somehow lends them her own personal realism. I'm referencing Lost Boys here, but whatevs, I'd watch her in anything. La. Except something with Jason Patric in it.
I want to believe it was I who plated the Solarbabies seed in your mind. Like a brainworm.
I guess that makes more sense if I include my name.
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