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Totally Awesome (2006)

 Directed by Neal Brennan Written by Neal Brennan & Michael Schur

  Whether you liked them for their clichéd happy endings or the feelings that Hughes (in particular) films had a direct line to your teenage angst heart. One cannot deny the greatness that was given with these films from the eighties. However, good movies throughout any era are just that. There was something about them that was timeless and told stories through teenagers in a way that was profound and relatable in any era. The characters as well were easy to fall for as they represented a bit of ourselves or those we knew around us. So I tend to appreciate when a film comes out with the sole basis of exploiting those films to enjoy them in another fashion, of comedy that is. They even play out the movie as a “Forgotten Film” (like another favorite of mine; Hiding Out) and that while it emulated certain films, was to be enjoyed as its own. What’s more and for anyone whose seen The Office well enough to know the name Mose, will be surprised that he assisted in writing the script along with the writer of Half Baked.

  Synopsis: After moving to California to start a new life, siblings Lori and Charlie attend a High School in which has all the usual stereotypes and fall accordingly in line. Lori having a passion for dance, however finding it to be outlawed on account of people’s feet coming loose in the past. Celebrating with “stand around’s” instead which only seem cruel in that they played music, yet discouraged moving to it. Gabriel (the janitor) teaching a secret dance class in which he invites Lori after having a dance off once caught crying besides the lockers. Charlie getting in trouble after confronted by the most popular guy in school, Kipp. After standing up for himself, decides to propose an all out competition between the two at the upcoming track meet, with the condition to be left alone until that point. All of this on account of him liking to look at his girlfriend, Kimberly. Who eventually does break up with Kipp and gives Charlie a chance, having ulterior motives of embarrassing him in front of the “it” crowd later at a big party. Meanwhile Gabriel’s girlfriend Deb breaks her leg while rehearsing and Lori replaces her as a romance stirs with her teacher. His plans are soon foiled when Deb turns him in and he’s fired after pictures of the two surface. Charlie finding a mentor to assist with the tournament with Mr. Yamagashi who seems to be some ka-ra-te expert. But gets screwed over when only taught three exercises to assist in the meet against Kipp. Everything coming together and everyone realizing who they really were underneath their exhibited persona and we get our expected clichéd ending.

 The Good: Watching the special features for the film showed the Director not giving much input into giving the Actors direction. Though he was lucky to have ones that stood out and were able to give their characters life where others otherwise fizzled. Most of the thanks going to Chris Kattan, Dominique Swain and Joey Kern. Chris Kattan was the Patrick Swayze to Dominique Swains’ “Baby”/female Ren (Footloose). The feathered hair being an added bonus all around. Kern is certainly an underrated Actor in my opinion as is always funny but can just the same be serious when the role calls for such. His loud and condescending laugh echos through the film but was funny every time; especially when putting down Billie (Nicki Clyne) for having such an oily face. “I heard the Arabs are looking for more oil,  they should probably drill in your face!” Daniel’s resemblance to Lea Thompson’s character (Some kind of Wonderful) being uncanny and James Hong being one of the better cameos and a great choice as the questionable zen mentor who asked young boys to do strange things around his house.

 The Bad: While Tracy Morgan is great in 30 Rock and humorous in certain parts through the film, he overall couldn’t hold onto the humor. He tries to teach Charlie how to act black while making fun of Soul Man; which I actually thought was a funny film. He also had a dancing sidekick that was funny the first time around. Ben Stein does narrate which was a nice cameo but for those who have no earthly idea of what are references and whatnot, he explains some from time to time. The range of films going everywhere from Grease to Teen Wolf, forgetting my favorite of them all, The Breakfast Club! But hey, it’s been done to death. I get it. Though if you haven’t seen Some Kind of Wonderful, Can’t Buy Me Love or Dirty Dancing then you won’t get most of the film. Most of the features on the DVD as well were hit or miss. There was 7 minutes of Ad libs that were obvious on why they weren’t chosen. Some of the deleted scenes could have been used but wasn’t a film that needed to be longer than an hour and a half. The pace of the film as well felt a bit slow as far as the comedy is concerned but there are so many references that perhaps built up to being too much in intake. The random cameo by Tone Loc also could have been taken out, with the shot of him punching Charlie not really funny as all.

 The Verdict: It’ll probably be something you’ll love or not get at all and dislike everything about it entirely. Really. It’s at least worth a watch and once you’ve forgotten all about it, worth watching again. It’s the same feel that Half Baked accomplished for stoner flicks but done so in eighties fashion.