The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark


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GLOW, or: Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab

Sometimes (and always) we’re so in tune on the Blog Collab that we do the same things whether we intend to or not.  Our latest brainwave came in the form of the Netflix original GLOW.  We were there for the glam ‘80s hair and glitter, but stayed for the zany wrestling personas and the show’s surprising emotional depth.  This month is inspired by GLOW, and the documentary that spawned the TV show is kicking us off to celebrate the Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab, or:  GLOBC…?  Doesn’t have quite the same ring as GLOW.

The Film:

GLOW:  The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Uncondensed Version:

In case you haven’t watched the original ‘80s show or the updated Netflix series, GLOW was the first women’s wrestling show on TV.  It was surprisingly successful, especially considering that it began as more or less one extended infomercial…with comedy sketch bits, song/dance numbers, and some rather cringey rapping.

Despite the blatant sexism and stereotyping, the women cast on GLOW consider it revolutionary as it allowed them to feel strong and empowered while looking and feeling fab.

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SO MUCH GLITTER.

The show did not begin with great promise–Mando, a real wrestler, trained the women (hired mostly based on looks rather than wrestling prowess) in a run-down gym without proper equipment or safety practices.  After training, things sped along quickly as the GLOW ladies were moved to a hotel in Vegas (because, honestly, where else would this have happened if not Vegas).  As depicted in the show, the ladies are supposed to always stay in character and obey strict rules on curfews and partying.

One of the few wrestlers on the show was Matilda the Hun, who had been trying in vain to find wrestling partners.  She was so hardcore she once literally wrestled a bear and may be my new personal hero.

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In case you’d like some glitter to go with that glitter.

Initially, the creator of the show clashed with the director, who envisioned an over-the-top, campy variety show.  These issues were quickly resolved as the director was also the one with the money behind him.  Some of the ladies look back fondly on their working relationship with the director, while others think he was borderline abusive.

Several of the more memorable personas were Big Bad Mama, a Louisiana voodoo priestess, and the Heavy Metal sisters, who cut things up with a chainsaw and lit shit on fire in the ring.  Ninotchka was the Russian stereotype whose confidence boosted the wrestler herself and made her feel powerful.  The wrestler shares a rather touching moment when she realized her boyfriend was in love with her persona’s confidence–not her.

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Love love love love love.

Just as Machu Picchu is the heart and soul of the Netflix show, Mt. Fiji is the star of the original GLOW (and the documentary).  Fiji was an Olympian and by all accounts the sweetest lady on the show.  It’s heartbreaking to see her current health problems that have largely confined her to a hospital bed.  Many of the women suffered injuries and dead-end careers after GLOW‘s abrupt cancellation.  Several speculate the businessman funding the show stopped because of marital problems that arose as he spent so much time with all of the ladies of GLOW.

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WHOEVER IS CHOPPING ONIONS RIGHT NOW NEEDS TO STOP.

Because the show ended so suddenly, no one felt a sense of closure…which is about to change when one of the wrestlers decides to host a reunion.  If you don’t get emotional seeing the ladies of GLOW reunited, you may have a heart of stone.

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Like the new Netflix show, there is plenty of glitter and over-the-top wrestling mayhem along with lots of heart.  It’s really hard to see the physical and emotional toll the years of wrestling took on these women even though all seem to remember the show fondly whether they found happiness and success in later years or not.  Though all of the ladies were thrilled to be part of a ground-breaking series, they also suffered greatly at the hands of the entertainment industry.  Like most things to emerge from the ’80s:  come for the glitter, stay for the genuine heart.

Would my Gorgeous Lady of the Blog Collab hit it with a bodyslam and leave it down for the count…or crown it champion of the ring (and the collab)?  Find out here!


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Blow Out, or: Another Reason to Celebrate the Death of the Pay Phone

April brings us another round of Blog Free or Die Hard, one of my favorite themes next to Ewan McGregor/Hellraiser month…and every other theme of the blog collab.  This week we opt for a throwback featuring John Travolta, dramatic ’80s scores, and sketchy, sketchy payphones.

The Film:

Blow Out

Where to Watch:

Netflix UK apparently

The Uncondensed Version:

John Travolta has been the sound editor for low-budget horror for the past couple of years.  It’s a living.  The latest picture is presenting a challenge, as he can’t seem to get some of the sounds right, in particular the screams of the slasher victims in the film.  To gather sounds for the film, he decides to somewhat sketchily hang around parks at night and record general nature sounds.  What could possibly go wrong?  You might ask.  Naturally, JT (conveniently, for both John Travolta and his character, Jack Terri) sees something he’s not supposed to see…or rather hears something he shouldn’t.

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Owl be seeing you?  (Not sorry.)

Just before a car dives headlong into the river, passengers inside, JT hears a gunshot and realizes this crash isn’t an accident.  His deep sense of moral conviction doesn’t permit him to remain a bystander, so he jumps in shortly thereafter to help the surviving passenger, a young woman (of course).

While at the hospital, JT learns the victim of the car crash was none other than the fictional Governor McRyan, top contender for the presidential nomination in the upcoming election.  JT is encouraged to keep quiet about the presence of the young woman as this news would only upset McRyan’s family further.  He reluctantly agrees to do what seems like the honorable thing…but is it?

The young woman, Sally, is very confused and agitated in the hospital and eager to leave.  JT brings her to a motel so she can rest, but also so he can obsessively play his recording of the crash to figure out what happened with the accident and why.  Meanwhile, we learn someone really is destroying and covering up evidence surrounding the crash.  Spoiler alert:  It’s John Lithgow.  As we learn soon after, John Lithgow escalates things super fucking quickly.

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Damn it, John.

JT tries to get more information out of Sally about her relationship with McRyan, but she doesn’t take well to this line of questioning.  At this point JT does get really fucking irritating and insists they get a drink since he did save her life and all.  FFS, save a woman from drowning because it’s the right thing to do—not because you expect her to get a goddamn drink with you.

Annoyingly, they do get a drink, but mostly so we can learn about JT’s tragic backstory investigating police corruption.  I sometimes worry about the lack of empathy I have for characters in realistic scenarios, but his story came off as a bit melodramatic and led to some pretty cringey Travolta overacting.

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Nice rabbit foot…

As it turns out, Sally has a dark past of her own, and was part of a conspiracy to ruin McRyan’s political career.  This is apparently all too much for the honorable JT, who you know…probably never saw anything worse in his days of investigating police corruption.

But to return to John Lithgow.  Remember how he was going to take shit too far suddenly?  As part of the conspiracy to eliminate McRyan from the competition, John Lithgow decided to just straight-up eliminate him by shooting out his car tire.  But the plan included Sally’s death and, since she’s one of the few people who can tie all of this back to the conspirators, she needs to die.  John Lithgow actually becomes a serial killer with a fucking garrote watch and all, targeting sex workers who look like Sally so her death won’t seem too out of the ordinary.  TWIS.  TED.

What will happen when John Lithgow poses as a journalist trying to get all of the evidence connecting him to the crime?  If you’re squaring off with someone who has a garrote watch, it’s probably not going to end well.

The Review:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

The plot is solid, and John Lithgow is obv a delight.  To the extent sociopathic serial killers with goddamn murder watches can be considered a delight.  In true film noir style, the entire movie is incredibly dark, and the ending doesn’t shy away from that.  This is an indictment on politics, Hollywood, the media…virtually every angle of American life.  Since some of the elements of this film are right out of the ’80s thriller playbook, I expected a cop-out ending, but ended up really impressed.

On the other hand, there’s just something that vaguely irritates me about John Travolta no matter what…?  I think I watched Grease too much growing up, and he was one of the first men to disappoint me with his stupid expectations for women.

I also had such a problem with the roles for women in this film, who are all props without exception.  I really wanted to like Sally, but she just felt like a pawn with no real dimension, and she was soooooooooooooooooooooooo naïve for a woman who agreed to a sleazy plot to set up a politician, And as a minor point of irritation–her voice was really grating.  She brought up shades of Lina Lamont from Singin’ in the Rain to me.  Is it me or is Lina Lamont still more of a feminist icon than Sally in this movie?

Would Christa dive off a bridge for this one or let it sleep with the fishes?  Find out here!


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Dirty Dancing, or: The Other St. Patrick

This month we both celebrate and mourn the end of summer by giving our brains a break.  Apparently that means ripping our own hearts out and dragging them along the ground because that is approximately the ease with which I objectively approached the beautiful dream that is this classic.  Objectivity is overrated anyway.

The Film:

Dirty Dancing

Where to Watch:

Please borrow my copy if you’ve never watched this because it hurts my heart to think about knowing anyone who hasn’t seen this movie

The Premise:

For the love of all that is holy, please stop and watch this damn movie.  I’ll make you popcorn.  Actually, I think I’m out of popcorn.

The Uncondensed Version:

It’s 1963 and Baby is off to the swanky summer resort where her family stays every year.  (Or, you know, the ‘80s version of the ‘60s because so many of the hairstyles/songs are completely anachronistic but IDGAF.)  Baby is such a goody two-shoes that she can’t imagine any man as great as her dad (vomit).  That is, until…okay, not yet.  NOT.  YET.

We need a teensy bit more set up.  Baby has her future mapped out:  she’ll study the economics of developing countries at Mt. Holyoke, then join the Peace Corp and save the world.  Her heart is in the right place, but she’s so idealistic it hurts.  Also really bad at dancing, which is unfortunate because it seems like the only activity available besides wandering around at night wearing a knitted sweater.

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I also make this face when I have to talk to boys.

Baby’s father keeps setting her up with dick-bag Ivy League types whose self-confidence is matched only by their sleaze.  Is it any wonder, then, that Baby is immediately drawn to Patrick Swayze, who walks up late wearing sunglasses (inside) and knocks things off of set tables, thus establishing his role as bad boy who gives zero fucks?  He also does a very nice mambo and has extremely controlled hip movements, which doesn’t hurt.

So Swayze’s character is named Johnny Castle, which I just hate.  It sounds like the name of a White Castle knock-off, doesn’t it?

But I digress.  After several evenings of wandering around, Baby finally gets into the cool kids club by famously carrying a melon.  As it turns out, what the cool kids do all night is practice some rather risqué dance moves in the ‘60s version of a rave/hotbed of sin.  The most valuable piece of intel Baby gathers is that Swayze is NOT dating his super gorgeous dance partner, Penny.  And that his hips are magical.

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Literally made of magic.

Baby continues to dodge sleaze balls and participate in the resort’s tacky entertainment until one night she finds Penny crying alone in the kitchen.  Baby has a good excuse to track down Swayze and learns that Penny is pregnant.  Who’s the baby daddy?  Not Swayze, contrary to literally every single person’s assumptions.  It’s actually the creepy waiter who is attending Yale and sort of dating Baby’s sister.  When Baby confronts him about the pregnancy, he acts like a total dick bag and recommends The Fountainhead.  Honestly the complete embodiment of being a dick bag.

With no alternative, Baby asks her father for the money needed for Penny’s abortion, supplying an “It’s really important” line as her only explanation.  Surprisingly, this works(??!).  I think I’ve just never had a good enough reputation for people to take me at my word.

Of course the major complication is that Penny can’t miss this big performance at another resort and no one else could possibly fill in.  Right, Baby?  Esp. when Patrick Swayze emphatically insists there’s no way she could.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand cue “Hungry Eyes.”  In every sense.

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This scene.  ❤ ❤ ❤

Everything leads up to the big performance, which goes okay, and Penny’s abortion, which does not.  Guess how safe it is to get an abortion when men try to restrict women’s reproductive rights?  Baby needs help from her father yet again, though he’s not so understanding this time and forbids her from seeing Swayze or any of his crowd again.

…Which, you know, means she goes directly to a shirtless Swayze’s room.  And I got chills during this entire scene because not only is it such an emotionally raw scene, but it’s so sexy even though there’s not a ton of nudity.

I feel any further plot summary gets lost in translation, so let’s wrap it up.  You either know the rest and worship at the altar of St. Patrick Swayze or you have a heart of stone.  Amongst the many obstacles facing Baby and Swayze are sleazeballs, prejudice, assumptions, cougars, arbitrary rules, and theft.  And this is all before we’re even close to cueing “She’s Like the Wind.”

Needless to say, I was dead emotionally well before the heart-stopping classic line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”  Flat lining.

The Rating:

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

For a movie remembered as an ‘80s teen fantasy, this one explores some dark themes.  Abortion I think is the obvious one, esp. the real dangers women faced in finding a safe, affordable operation during a time when it was illegal.

On a related note, privilege also receives a lot of attention.  With enough money, even a total sleaze like Robbie the waiter can coast by relatively unscathed; he loses a recommendation letter, but is there any doubt he’ll land on his feet after the summer ends?  Penny, on the other hand—what will become of her?

Baby naively believes everyone deserves the same opportunities in life and realizes for the first time how untrue this is and what an unfair place the world is.  There is a stark contrast between the future she has ahead of her vs. Swayze, whose character will be lucky if he ends up with a steady job painting houses.  Swayze also feels completely used by the wealthy older women who want, ahem, private dance lessons from him.

There’s a bittersweet yearning for the past since this film is a coming of age story, the end of an era, but also the transition to a better future.  Baby isn’t so sure what she’ll do by the end of the movie, but she has definitely decided to reject the life her parents chose and the cocoon they built around her.

Okay, yes, Baby’s growth as a person is triggered in large part by her relationship with a man, but it’s her love of dance that gives her freedom, power, confidence, and self-expression over (even) Patrick Swayze.  Ultimately, both Baby and Swayze learn from each other, and not in the way of weird old Hollywood movies where he’s her teacher/guardian/lover (looking at you, My Fair Lady).  Baby’s empowerment actually improves all of her relationships, even with her dad as he learns to respect her autonomy.

Moral of the story:  EVERY.  SINGLE.  LINE.  In this film.  Is classic and beautiful.

I said Patrick Swayze should be sainted as an offhand FB comment, but I stand by it.  Patrick Swayze is my religion.  Those hips have performed miracles.  (But seriously, please don’t smoke.)

Let’s not even pretend:  Christa is a living human being.  She loves this film.  Find out how much here!