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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Besting Loose at the Oscars

Well, it's that time of year again, when people cut loose their inhibitions and unearth the seething core of their innermost fleshly desires. No, I'm not referring to Mardi Gras. Rather, I'm talking about the fans along the red carpet at the Oscars.

The Oscars are this evening and the producers are promising that this show is going to be different. For one thing, Jack Nicholson will be seated in the second row. I, for one, can't wait for the hilarity of Nicholson trying to squeeze down the aisle past Denzel Washington, Kate Beckensdale, Matt Damon, and Cheech Marin, on the way to his seat. Hang on to those shades, Jack!

However, some traditions are worth continuing, and so, here is our annual roundup of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences' nominees for Best Picture:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - The curious film about a man who was named Benjamin Button and lived to tell the tale. Benjamin's story begin with his conception, in the backseat of a Vaught Corsair that Howard Hughes and Katherine Hepburn are flying. Kate gives the little tyke up for adoption on the grounds that Howard is as daft as gooseberry jelly and Benjamin begins to make his way through a weary and troubled world ...walking backwards.

Benjamin's backwards walking begins to draw stares, disapproving tongue clicks, and outright derisive expletives - from the local naval base and at least one "progressive" schoolmarm. He sees several specialists about the problem but is unable to hear a word they are saying because his ears are pointed in the wrong direction. Finally, someone points out that his shoes are on backwards. This not only explains Benjamin's poor sense of direction but also why his feet hurt so much.

Cured of his aching feet and his tendency to walk into shop windows, Benjamin changes his name to "Sunny" and falls in love with a beautiful, foul-mouthed schoolmarm who believes in giving vultures the vote and is convinced that Charlie Chaplin is a six-armed satyr from Saturn. They have a passionately alliterative romance, which lasts through twelve scenes and fourteen censors.

Finally, they are parted when Benjamin accidentally slips on a pair of loafers that are pointing in the wrong direction. This triggers a relapse of his condition and he promptly walks off the edge of the Grand Canyon. Luckily, he is saved when he lands on Thelma and Louise's automobile as it plummets to the canyon floor below. He immediate falls in love with Geena Davis, setting off a passionate romance that lasts the remaining three seconds before the car crashes at the bottom of the canyon.

Frost/Nixon - Terror strikes America in the late 1970's when a brash young English television personality accidentally fuses himself to the disgraced ex-President. Subtitled "The Thing with Two Noggins and One Foul Mouth" this film brings a new meaning to the words "terror, " horror," and "bipartizan."

The film opens with David Frost flying into the US in a Vaught Corsair (that was simple enough). Unfortunately, his flight path coincides with that of Richard Nixon's old Jenny biplane, flown by Charles Lindbergh (Jimmy Stewart). While Nixon is wingwalking, Frost's Corsair clips him in the "upper thigh," provoking a stream of high-pitched expletives that would make Jack Nicholson's character in the The Last Detail swoon like a dowager.

Just by chance, an eerie beam of gamma radiation is being directed at the Earth by a hyperintelligent extraterrestial species with way too much time on their hands. The beam strikes Frost and Nixon, fusing them into one being, Frost/Nixon (Frost demanded top billing) with two heads, four legs, heat vision, super strength, and ego and paranoia complexes the size of Ron Howard's bald spot.

The two face up to their terrible dilemma and decide that there is only one thing they can do. They immediately hit the chat-show circuit in the States. They juggle chainsaws on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, severely injuring Ed MacMahon's drinking hand. They quote Kierkegaard on Dick Cavett's show until co-guest Jerry Lewis's ears hemorrhage. Finally, they physically savage David Hartman, on Good Morning America, just because of his quaint amiability.

America's chat hosts are saved though, at the last minute, when British chat legend Alan Whicker flies over and tricks Frost/Nixon into interviewing himself (to avoid Whicker doing it). This causes a massive, fiery explosion, and the best Nielsen ratings since Roots.

Milk - The tragic, inspiring, confusing story of a San Francisco city supervisor with such a passion for lactated beverages that he changes his name, this film begins with a young milkman's (Rip Taylor) morning journey to City Hall (Ethel Merman). There he discovers a group of callous politicians (Eminem) making "homo" jokes. Thinking that they are referring to homogenized milk (Ethel Barrymore), the young man sets off on a crusade to change the attitudes of the lactose-intolerant (Rudolf Hess).

The story takes an odd turn when Rock Hudson (Ben Stiller) and Doris Day (Owen Wilson) appear to the young man in a dream. Rock is flying a Vaught Corsair (Joan Rivers) and Doris is his wingman (Rod Serling). Together they do several elabaorate aerobatic manoeuvres (The Village People). However, Rock clearly doesn't have his heart in the work and when the young milkman asks why, he is startled to realize that Rock always wanted to be a helicopter pilot (Harrison Ford).

The young milkman's driving passion for milk (Julius Ceasar), helicopters (Frank Sinatra), 1950's era romantic farces (Julia Roberts), and bodybuilding exhibitions (Torgo) leads him to run for city supervisor. After several political triumphs, including the passage of a law permitting cottage cheese to be sold on the same shelves as buttermilk(Teddy Roosevelt), the young milkman, now in his late 40's, life ends in a tragedy too sad and depressing to be satirized on a silly web site like this (Tommy Smothers).

The Reader - An incredibly boring tale about a young woman who does nothing but read and read and read and then read again is finally rescued in the final thirty minutes when a galactic battle-cruiser lands in her back garden, and the occupants therein demand her to tell them the end of the new John Grisham novel. She refuses on the grounds that they should read the bloody thing themselves, and anyway, she's in the middle of a Nora Roberts "epic."

This leads to a massive battle in which the young literary geek puts her years of reading kung-fu novels and judo manuals (amongst her other pursuits, such as how-to tomes about knitting with bacon, Zhou-dynasty romances, automotive air filter manuals, Oprah's book-of-the-month scam, and the Zurppo series) to good use. She viciously beats the alien invaders to a meaty pulp, using only her page-turning finger (which, given her obsession with reading, happens to be the size of one of Popeye's forearms).

The aliens retreat but are soon replaced by an even worse foe: Alien Nazis. The Reader attacks them with even more gusto, remembering what a crap read Mein Kampf is, and dispatches them into swastika-covered knockwurst with several well-placed flicks of her page-turning fingernail.

The Nazis are replaced, predictably, with pirates and ninjas, who immediately declare the Reader their queen. This all goes horribly wrong when she discovers that the pirates are illiterate and the ninjas refuse to read anything that isn't in scroll-form. She annihilates both groups and finally settles down for a long tussle with Stephen King's latest magnum opus. Unfortunately, she is felled by the mother of all paper cuts when the 17,984 page book falls on her head, slicing her cranium in half like a Vaught Corsair through warm air.

Slumdog Millionaire - This Bollywood extravaganza begins with a young Mumbai boy who grows up thinking he is a Rottweiler. After he is cured from this delusion by extensive hypnosis and a single visit to a local "spay and neuter" lab, he falls in love with the attractive young hypnotist and neuter-girl.

To impress her, he enters a national game show contest to see who can be the first person to try up to fifty varieties of curry in a single hour without an antacid. He messily loses this contest and enters another non-food related game show in order to afford a new suit.

While competing in this second show, he is dressed as Shirley Temple, thrown into a large tank with live lobsters and commanded to locate the manifold on a Vaught Corsair. He realises that the programme is a Japanese game show on tour in Mumbai and, after prying lobster claws off of his bum, departs, having only reached the fifth round. He then enters a final game show to demonstrate to his beloved that he is not a hopeless shmuck, and also to afford plastic surgery for his botty.

Amazingly, he advances to the final round of the programme where he is required to answer ten questions about lobster curry. The psychological shock of this causes him to relapse into thinking he is a dog, only this time a Komondor, to make the whole neutering business quite difficult. The young hypnotist devotedly looks after him, feeding her beloved kibbles and the occasional lamb shank. She eventually enters him in the Westminster Dog Show, where he takes Best of Show with a thrillingly perfect performance, except for the brief and unfortunate tumble whilst the judge is checking his hindquarters.

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