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Monday, August 10, 2009

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I knew my son was destined to be gay when I found he had taken his GI Joe doll (oh, excuse me, boys, I mean *ACTION FIGURE*) and glued a Barbie™ wig on its head (even MORE “lifelike” hair, but absolutely no “kung fu grip”), crammed the soldier’s muscular frame into one of Barbie’s teensy dress and sweater ensemble sets and cast off Joe’s plastic combat boots to glue the big guy’s feet (barely) into a pair of the teen queen’s wedgies. Such an indignity for the American Hero doll (er, I mean ACTION FIGURE). I couldn’t imagine GI Joe could ever look quite so ridiculous, and then this came along: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Okay, so what can you expect from a movie based on a Hasbro™ toy? Just because Transformers made enough money to delude the world into believing that when Megan Fox heaves her plastic funbags up and down she is giving the equivalent of an Oscar caliber performance that rivals those of a Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis from Hollywood’s Golden Days, producers think anything now amounts to something. So why not try to take another ‘60s Hasbro do—ACTION FIGURE and see how far they can milk this money cow? Apparently dry, if the script is any indication because the story of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is as dusty as Britney Spears’ purity ring, but guess what? I don’t care, because I had fun even if everything in the movie is dopey and derivative of some other film, from Star Wars to Thunderbirds. Heck, even the leading lady comes used ~ by many.

I’m always suspect of a film that doesn’t have opening credits to tell us who is in a movie. That’s usually a clue that the producers are ashamed of the cast or figure the audience won’t know who anybody is (or the cast themselves are embarrassed of how low they’ve fallen to fill these roles). In the case of villainess Baroness Ana deCobray, when she makes her entrance in a skin-tight black leather catsuit amidst a cadre of iron-clad bodyguards loaded with space-age gadgetry, there is no mistaking the stench of the infamous Bimbo of Broadway, that Nympho of New York, the Whore of Hollywood herself Sienna Miller (The Edge of Love) hiding under a black wig and pretending she can act. The skin-tight catsuit is there to hold her lady-parts together because everyone knows that Sienna has had more gentlemen spend a night in her (bed) than Holiday Inn could ever hope to accommodate over the course of a decade or so. In the screening I attended her appearance was greeted with the cheers (or jeers) of “GI Ho!” every time she made an entrance, guaranteeing that the eventual DVD release of this movie will spawn a drinking game on college campuses across America.

This is exactly the kind of silliness that makes G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra such fun. It doesn’t even pretend to be anything more than foolish tongue-in-cheek fun. The “main Joe” of the GI Joes, for, yes, there are many, is ‘yet-to-be Joe’ Duke, played by gosh-darn-purty-boy Channing Tatum (Public Enemies), given a barely-there facial scar to butch him up next to manly-man ball-buster General Hawk (Dennis Quaid; Vantage Point). Poor Dennis. He is beginning to look more and more like his hound-dog brother Randy with every year. Someone needs to drag him out of the California sun and douse that guy in some Lancombe™ products ASAP. As usual, he is chewing the scenery as much as his ever-present cigar, but mostly he is chewing the ass of the GI Joes as they carry out their mission, in this case the recovery of four missiles which carry “nanomite” technology capable of dissolving matter wherever it hits and continuing to do so until turned off by a trigger stop switch elsewhere, meaning that just one of these missiles could actually ~ GASP! ~ destroy the entire world if it were to fall into the hands of a madman, which, of course, it does! Queue the dramatic music!

This madman is played by former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising), who left the iconic role of The Doctor so he’d be remembered for something else. Presumably it isn’t this. The real shocker though is that somehow long-time Indie darling Joseph Gordon Levitt (500 Days of Summer) shows up here as a would-be Joe turned villainous nutcase curiously enough named The Doctor. When The Doctor first makes his inglorious appearance he is dressed in a black outfit with gold piping, his lower face covered with a bizarre mask reminiscent of Darth Vader’s breathing apparatus but looking more like a cheap Conair steam iron glued to his mouth and nose. With ghostly pale white make-up and a long black wig I half-expected him to moonwalk across the set and ask where Blanket and Paris were. Is it too soon to start back to making Michael Jackson jokes again? I don't care. It's true.

Two hours of CGI ‘ordinary’ effects (I can’t call them “special” because they pretty much look computer-generated and less than realistic) don’t help the already clichéd story and bad acting, but I’ve seen worse. Somewhere. It was probably last August around this time when the studios made it a point to roll out their less than “alleged blockbusters”, the ones marketing and focus groups already let them know stunk like cat poop in the noonday sun. Remember Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Wish you didn’t? Me too, but I can safely assure you that at least this August’s big ticket action sci-fi flick will have you laughing with it and not at it. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is what I’d call a high-class bad movie, but the type with a good enough pedigree to deserve the obvious sequel it has to spawn. After all, ‘The Cobra’ of the title doesn’t even rise until the last five minutes of this film, so ~ duh! Now you’re obligated to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in order to be prepared for the next chapter in 2011 or so. Oh, and in the meantime, the same folks are already at work on their next Hasbro™ production… Legos: The Movie (I’m not kidding).

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