>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson
May 21, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: bumhungry (definition hint: feast for the ass/eyes)

In my mind, movies and summertime are inextricably linked. For nine months of the year, theaters could show nothing but ferret autopsy footage for all I care. I won’t set foot in one until at least June. And that has less to do with the yearly onslaught of summer blockbusters than it does the “make-Al-Gore-weep” industrial air conditioners. Those, I love dearly. If I could, I’d let them issue their freon emissions directly onto my popcorn.

Why the indifference to the films themselves? I’m saddened by the lack of originality. Film used to be a vibrant, kinetic medium where futuristic pantherbots could mingle with breakdancing Mafia Dons, if the writers were rad enough to think of it. Not anymore.

Now, filmmakers are content simply to stripmine crap from the 80’s and make it into films. Creativity is deader than Tupac and Kurt Vonnegut combined. I see the coming attractions and I think: was there some sort of contest where collecting enough Doritos Snack Points earned some kid the right to make a major motion picture?

Last year, I turned the eye of scrutiny on movie sequels, and questioned their necessity by comparing them to everyday objects. Sure, you might think that Ghostbusters 2 and cornholders have very little in common, but you’d be wrong. Now, I’ve realized that there is an even greater affront to originality than the sequel: the so-called prequel.

“People wanted to like all the prequels, but George Lucas is like an abusive pimp.”

I don’t know why filmmakers think it’s necessary to provide useless backstory to an established hit. Did Rodin need to sculptwhat The Thinker was doing the day before? Besides, I’m perfectly happy filling in details myself. For example, when I see Erotic Cheerleader Confessions #4, I can reasonably assume the protagonists had traumatic childhoods, and fathers with boundary issues. I don’t need it spelled out in a prequel.

As before, I’m going to examine a bunch of prequels and rate them by equating them with objects that reflect how necessary or unnecessary they are. And for the record, I do realize this article is, essentially, a sequel to an article about sequels and how much they suck. Hooray for irony.

Batman Begins

From Tim Burton’s original through to Joel Schumacher’s piles of cinematic compost, it’s been a bumpy road for the Batman franchise. However, Batman Begins does a good job of returning to the cool, dark origins that made Batman such a success. There’s a lot of ninja training, and also a role for Morgan Freeman. You’ve got to admit: these features alone would be welcome additions to any film you could name.

If I could interview Schumacher, my first question would be, “Why do you hate Batman?” and my follow-up question would be,“I’m going to kick you in the face.” For God’s sake, Uma Thurman made her “sexy” entrance wearing a gigantic pink gorilla suit. Shewore it for the whole damn scene. At least Batman Begins left out the neon set design, and the perplexing rubber Bat-nipples.

Necessity Ranking: Toilet brush

And it’s not hard to figure out why. I won’t lie to you, my toilet takes a lot of abuse, but a brush is always handy if I need to impress a cute health inspector or something. Likewise, Batman Begins is the only thing that can scrub away the fetid stink of the previous two films in the franchise.

Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power

This piece of drek was direct-to-video, which should tell you everything you need to know. Over the course of the film, we see the title character’s rise to power, which is probably why it wasn’t titled Carlito’s Way: Hey, I Smell Tacos. Al Pacino wisely does not appear, proving that, Ocean’s Thirteen aside, he’s not a total retard at picking scripts.

Though it’s set six years prior, Rise to Power doesn’t bother to tell the audience what sent Carlito to prison in time for the original. If you’re making a gangster flick prequel, the first rule is: Tell us how the characters wound up in jail. A second rule shouldn’t have to exist,but if it did, it would be about filling time between knife fights with musical montages of ethnic strippers. No luck there, either.

Necessity Ranking: Rubber vomit

It’s not particularly necessary, and there are a great many who would find it downright offensive. On the other hand, it’s secretly kind of hilarious that anyone would have the idea to make it in the first place. But at the end of the day, it’s just a horrible thing to have to lookat.

Hannibal Rising

Opinions were sharply divided about this one. Some felt it was a chilling, worthy prequel to the Lecter saga, while others felt it was a toothless, overwrought turd of a movie. And not even a healthy turd, but the kind with corn niblets and peanuts that are really gross and hard to pass. In it, we see the events that make Hannibal into a monster. I always thought he turned to cannibalism just for the rhyme factor, much like Dora became an Explorer or every girl named Patty eventually turns into a lumbering fatty.

Anthony Hopkins left some big shoes to fill, but most critics agreed that Gaspard Ulliel turned in a decent performance as Lecter. Mind you, I bet he can’t make the liver/fava beans/nice Chianti noise.

Necessity Ranking: Pager

Pity the lowly pager. Taken on its own, it was really a clever and useful little item. But now that everyone on earth except for two Bantu tribesmen and a Mongolian Yak herder has a cell phone, the pager is totally robbed of its utility. Hannibal Rising is correspondingly hampered by the fact that there has already been a prequel to Silence of the Lambs (Red Dragon). At this rate, the next installment will feature a homicidal young fetus trying to slash his way out of the womb.

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

I’ll keep this short: Endless rock puns. Stephen Baldwin. The Great Motherfucking Gazoo. I weep in terror. The end. If you were that desperate to know how Fred/Wilma/Barney/Betty all met, you really shouldn’t be browsing a complicated site like Points in Case without the assistance of your government-provided helper, as mandated by state law.

Necessity Ranking: A used condom full of centipedes, rancid yogurt, and crusted-over cold sores

Actually, maybe I’m being too harsh. The yogurt doesn’t have to be entirely rancid.

The Scorpion King

This action movie served as a prequel to The Mummy franchise, and was the breakthrough vehicle for wrestling star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That’s all well and good, but everybody knows the very pinnacle of wrestler thespianship won’t occur until George “The Animal” Steele stops eating turnbuckles long enough to appear in the remake of Citizen Kane.

I gotta be honest here: The Rock has about 15 seconds of total screen time in The Mummy Returns, and most of that is spent as some kind of digital scorpion monster. No one was crying out for the backstory to this. Nevertheless, he was a bankable commodity back in 2002, so the producers wanted to throw him up against something other than atomic spinebusters and steel chair shots. Instead, they pit him in a handicap grudge match against historical accuracy and running out of chest oil.

Necessity Ranking: 20-sided dice

I imagine there’s a subculture out there for whom these dice are necessary. I’ll be damned if I ever see them in daylight, but I know they’re out there. Likewise, I’m guessing The Scorpion King is an integral topic when wrestling fans have forums to discuss things like whether the reverse piledriver should be banned, and The Undertaker: Misunderstood Hero, or Unstoppable Zombie?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

This film was a prequel only because the directors didn’t want to use Nazi villains again. But it’s safe to say that decision was not made out of sympathy to them, given Spielberg’s involvement. In any event, Temple of Doom sees Indy, Kate Capshaw, and Asian Robochild #8 try to steal magic rocks from an evil Indian cult of satanists. Or something. Who cares about plot, that mine cart chase was pretty cool.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the best movies of all time, so Temple of Doom had a lot to live up to. Much like a one-legged hooker, I think it was perfectly serviceable and fun even though unfavorable comparisons are inevitable. Even walking beanbag Roger Ebert called it one of the greatest Bruised Forearm Movies ever made. And he risks bruising his forearm every time he shovels down an armload of gummi bears.

Necessity Ranking: VHS Porn

Given the alternative (the internet), VHS porn isn’t really that necessary. And yet there are times when it fits the bill perfectly (often because surfing one-handed is kind of a pain). Similarly, Temple of Doom will never measure up to Raiders, but taken on its own, it’s really very pleasing. Apparently, it’s even better to watch with someone who will bruise your forearm during the exciting parts. Indiana Jones, that is, not VHS porn.

Star Wars, Episodes I, II, and III

At last we come to the very embodiment of the prequel: The Star Wars franchise. The original trilogy redefined not just a genre, but also how we, the public, looked at movies in general. And I’m sorry if that sounded like the opening paragraph of some douchebag film student’s thesis, but it’s objectively true.

These great films were meant to have prequels all along. So for 20+ years we waited patiently as special effects technology evolved, and George Lucas got crap like Willow and Captain Eo out of his system. So how does the prequel trilogy measure up? Well, let’s just say that the force is not so strong in this one.

Honestly, Phantom Menace was such a mess, it’s hard, as a writer, to decide what part of it to eviscerate first. Let’s see… Darth Vader is an adorable moppet owned by a floating Jew… pratfalling Ebonics-frogs… plot hinging on some kind of C-Span trade dispute… the force is really invisible plankton… I could go on, but there’s no need. A team of lobotomized Turkish rapists could have made a more coherent movie.

And though it’s hard to believe, Attack of the Clones was somehow even worse. For starters, the dialogue is so inane that I have to wonder if George Lucas simply hired a gorilla to smash typewriters together until a working script fell out. In one of the film’s tender moments, Anakin tells Natalie Portman that he likes her because she’s not like sand. I’ve tried that as a pick-up line and it’s surprisingly ineffective.

Film buffs and internet geeks alike agree that Revenge of the Sith is the light at the end of a very dark and smelly tunnel. Sure, it filled in all the holes nicely, but I think this popular reaction had apologist overtones. In other words, the ambient shittiness of the first two resulted in some accumulated goodwill for the third. This allows the audience to overlook minor nonsense like robots with emphysema.

People wanted to like all the prequels, but George Lucas is like an abusive pimp: The first time he punches you, you’re shocked. Then when he slaps you around some more, you might be convinced that you deserve it. And after the third time, you try to convince yourself that you liked it.

Necessity Ranking: Brussels sprouts, pond water, and sex with a fat chick

Here’s where my metaphor system gets a little tricky. The Star Wars prequels were, strictly speaking, necessary. The problem is that they were so badly executed that it’s easy to lose sight of this. So, what are three, real-life things that are absolutely necessary? Food, water, and procreation. But the Star Wars prequels represent the worst iterations of these necessities. You could live on ‘em, but it wouldn’t be much of a life.

Essential New Word of the Week:

bumhungry adj [‘bUm‘hUngri]

Staring at girls’ asses is a wonderful thing. It’s satisfying on a visceral level, and yet it falls short of an indictable offense. Today’s ENWotW is descriptive of the garments that make quality ogling possible. When a girl is wearing tight pants, that’s awesome. When the fabric around the ass is making a beeline for the colon, that’s even better. Such a pair of pants can be called “bumhungry.”

The optimist in me says that girls don’t fart, and their asses are as pristine as Barbie Dolls fresh out of the box. Of course, the realist in me says that bumhungry pants look great, but probably need to be laundered, like, every other day to remove the inevitable stains. Still, well worth it.

This word comes courtesy of my friend Joel, who can spot a visible panty line at 800 yards. In a way, he himself could be described as bumhungry.

And now a quick joke...

When porpoises work out, do they get a rush of endolphins?