@ the movies

   Welcome to the second installment of Verbosity's very own movie review column. This month, we're going to take a look at the movie which broke the Star Wars box office monopoly, Howard Stern's Private Parts. Also, we'll critique Dante's Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan along with with video release of Trainspotting.

Howard Stern's Private Parts

     I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the world's biggest Howard Stern fan. From what I'd seen and heard of the man (not living in a city where he was broadcast daily), the images of Fartman were sometimes all I could call to mind. I promised myself, however, to head into the screen adaption of Howard's biography, Private Parts, with an open mind. I wasn't disappointed.

     This film, starring Stern as himself, chronicles Howard's evolution from a young boy, incessantly berated by his father, with a dream of being on the radio someday, to a gawky college student, to a fledgling disc jockey, and eventually to becoming the self-proclaimed King of All Media. Along the way, he meets and marries a psychology student at Boston University, comes into conflict with a number of station managers turned off by the unconventional style, hooks up with the cast of sidekicks, and slowly evolves into the Howard Stern we all know today. This may sound like a lot of plot for a couple of hours, but a well-written script (turned down by Howard nine times before an acceptable draft was written) manages to handle it exceptionally well.

     What a lot of people don't realize is that this movie is not just about Howard chatting with lesbians and saying "penis" on the air. It's a comedy about Howard's life. Within the opening minutes, Howard has already won the audience's sympathies. At times, the movie seems to be almost a big-screen love letter to Howard's devoted wife Alison. At others, it is detailing Howard's tough struggle to find the radio market that would accept his unorthodox broadcasts. The primary thrust of the movie, however, is letting people know that the Howard Stern on the air and the off-the-air Howard Stern are two totally different entities. What the movie does leave you asking is, "Which one of the two is the real Howard?"

     Stern puts in a brilliant performance playing himself. In his typical manner of self-depreciating humor, he become an endearing character throughout the movie. Even more impressive, though, are the performances put in by Howard's sidekicks -- Robin Quivers in particular. They manage to bring across their often faceless roles to the screen masterfully. Actress Mary McCormack also does a nice turn as Howard's wife in the film. The secondary characters, especially Howard's various managerial nemeses, are also well-portrayed in the film. At times, the jokes get a little racy, but that's really just part and parcel of the Stern experience.

     In final analysis, Private Parts proves to be an enjoyable movie--to avid Stern-enthusiasts and those who hold less interest in the Stern phenomenon alike. The acting is better than in most movies today and the plot is both funny and captivating. Howard repeatedly made the comment while hyping this movie that he hoped it would get Hollywood to stop making big-budget, low-impact comedies like Coneheads. If this really is the new face of Hollywood, it might not be so bad after all. With careful consideration, Verbosity gives Private Parts:

of four possible stars.
Jess Morrissette

Dante's Peak

BOOM!      Okay, Dante's Peak has been out for quite a while now. As a matter of fact, it has already left most major venues at presstime. You're probably wondering why Verbosity is bothering to review it now Well, friends, the answer is simple: we want to warn you about it for when the movie comes out on video.

     I think we all knew when Twister came out that we were in for an entirely new genre of films: the natural disaster flick. Sure enough, Hollywood made a psychic out of me with Dante's Peak (along with the upcoming Volcano and Flood). Although this movie starred credible actors Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye) as the vulcanologist investigating the small town's troubles and Linda Hamilton (Terminator and Terminator 2) as the mayor of the town of Dante's Peak, it was depressingly hokey. Any person who has watched National Geographic would find it hard to believe both the implausible and the outright impossible events taking place on the big screen. But, I digress. The movie is about a small town in the Nothern Cascade mountains, located at the foot of a dormant volcano. This picturesque little village has just been named one of the best places in the United States to live and all seems well. Unfortunately, the town's volcanic namesake has a little indigestion and decides to blow off some steam. The US Geological Survey notices a few early warning signs; hence,sees it coming, enter Pierce Brosnan.

     The acting in Dante's Peak is very good, the cinematography is beautiful, and the special effects are superb. However, when I drop $6.50 for a movie, I expect more than well-spoken lines and some eye candy. The movie is a fun way to waste an afternoon, but if Hollywood expects you to suspend your disbelief, they don't have any faith in their audience. Dante's Peak is almost funny in the stupidity of the characters and is entirely predictable in the plot. The one saving grace of the movie was the truck owned by the US Geological Survey. Not only did the vehicle have enough lights on the front to render the darkest road bright as day, but the engine had a snorkel, enabling Pierce Brosnan to ford a river deep enough to submerge the hood.

     All in all, Dante's Peak is not worth seeing in the theatre, but at the cost of video rental, you might be getting your money's worth. Especially if you split the cost with a friend. For the meantime, we give Dante's Peak:

out of four.
Seth Waddell

on video


   Admittedly one of the most-hyped films of 1996, Trainspotting does indeed live up to its advance billing. Based on the cult novel by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting deals with a subject very much in vogue: heroin. The story centers on four friends: Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie, and Spud. Three of them, Ren, Sick Boy, and Spud are heroin addicts, all just eschewing traditional roles in society and searching for the next hit, living moment to moment. They lie, steal, avoid jobs, family, responsibility, family, and commitments to pursue the junk. They also manage to destroy all of the things around them, friends, women, their parents, as well as, ultimately, each other.

Trainspotting    Some sections of society have criticized this movie as being too much in the way of glamorizing heroin, but I can't really see that. While the scenes showing the drug are pretty cool, with some quite snappy dialogue, (including Sick Boy's James Bond fixation), the movie seems to be an anti-drug message. Some of the most harrowing scenes are the ones in which Renton is trying to quit smack, and he is writhing in his bed, twisting and contorting, having one long nightmare.

   However, the movie is also massively funny. There are several scenes that'll make you wet your pants, even if you aren't doing drugs. For example, Renton's classic characterization as the Scottish being the lowest of the low, or of another character, Tommy, sliding into junkiedom only because of a videotape. Speaking of videotape, having a rewind button makes it easier to comprehend some of the more confusing bits of Scottish brogue that gets thrown around when the film gets a little intense.

   All in all, this movie is one of the best I've ever seen. The cinematography was exquisite, the storyline engrossing, and the soundtrack classic, especially the appearance of the great Iggy Pop. If you like the typical ID4-type movie, then Trainspotting is not for you. But if it's a well written, acted, directed and produced film you're after, then Trainspotting is the ultimate film experience. Verbosity gives it:

of four possible stars.
Kyle Scanlan

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