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by Bill Gibron

4 Jun 2009

With Land of the Lost slinking into theaters like the dying 800lb $100 million gorilla it is, the Kroffts better take stock of their entire creative canon before another high concept idea comes along to destroy their nostalgia heavy cred once and for all. An oeuvre as tenuous as the one the puppeteers crafted during the ‘60s and ‘70s can’t survive another smart-assing at the hands of Hollywood talent that believes anything coming out of their craw is uproariously irrelevant, and with the beloved psychedelic kid crack known as H. R. Pufnstuf next up on the remake/revision/reboot chopping block, there’s much more than trouble afoot. The aging brothers had better be careful, less they turn over their story of Living Island and a young flute-playing boy named Jimmy to Shawn Levy, a solo Jonas Brother, and a dragged up Eddie Murphy as Witchie-Poo.

In fact, what makes Land of the Lost such an underwhelming pile of junk could have easily been avoided had the Kroffts committed to doing something akin to their old show, only with bigger special effects and less artistic (re: budgetary) restraints. The original series relied on the innovation of Star Trek‘s David Gerrold to guide it in a more serious direction. On the big screen, it was a copy of Jokes from the Dinosaur John that seemed to inspire the screenplay. Clearly, the brothers are caught in a post-modern mainstream conundrum. Stick too close to the original material and people will think you’re merely cashing in - memory lane wise. Go too far outside the reminiscence, and you end up with a flailing funny man, an overused character comedian, and a nubile young Englishwoman running around with a mini-sasquatch acting like an extra from VH1’s Tool Academy - Paleolithic Edition.

So we here at SE&L have decided to do the right thing, and give the Kroffts our unsolicited, and probably unneeded, advice on where to take the remaining items in their catalog. We have purposefully avoided a few shows (let’s face it - nothing could save Dr. Shrinker) and avoided what could best be called the duo’s Love Boat Lite franchises - aka shoddy celeb-athons Lost Saucer and Far Out Space Nuts. No, the best material for a cinematic jumpstart remains the more fantastical shows they forged. Land of the Lost may have tapped into a growing underage fascination with all things…um…Jurassic Park, but for our money, nothing spells mega-bucks like singing animals, talking head gear, and a slimy creature from the deep blue sea bunking with a couple of hormonally uneasy California teens. Cue Johnny Whittaker… 

The Bugaloos

Billed as “The British Monkees” at the time - which is odd, considering what the Pre-Fab Four were marketed as during their brief TV tenure - this tale about talented insects doing battle with a fame-whoring battleaxe who lives in a giant jukebox seems perfect for today’s Hannah High School Camp Rock Musical crowd. Even better, the filmmakers can hand pick a uniformly unknown cast, raise ‘em up Disney style, and the market the crap out of them until puberty - or the lawsuit - hits. For the Kroffts, it could/would their own pre-teen cash machine. For the role of superstar wannabe Benita Bizarre, a failing one time beauty who is desperate to have a few more moments in the limelight, we say stick with what works - Janice Dickenson, or perhaps another certified plastic surgery disaster, Cher.


This will be a tough one, but follow us here. First off, whoever tackles this project will have to clean up the horribly un-PC elements involved in the original series. After all, these living chapeaus used to mimic the kind of stereotypes one expected to wear them, leading to goombah fedoras, hayseed straw hats, and worst of all, a cigar story “injun” stove pipe model. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Do a little motion capture, get an up and coming child star to fill the shoes so ably accessed by one Butch Patrick, and turn this story of a boy trapped in a magician’s hat (and the land of talking toppers within) into a full blown F/X extravaganza. Of course, no Krofft production would be complete without a certified star turn as villain. And who does SE&L suggest for HooDoo, the ‘flamboyant’ evil prestidigitator? John Travolta - he’s great at fey wickedness.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

This is the biggest no brainer of the bunch. A young boy keeping an ocean creature as a pet has been all over the Multiplex as of late, what with The Water Horse and…well, The Water Horse vying for quality kid vid attention. In this case, one could skew the material a little older, and go for a couple of Friends of Apatow in the leads - say Michael Cera as Johnny and Jonah Hill as Scott. Grab another Superbad alum - Emma Stone - as the hottie down the street who our hero pines away for (complete with pimply pop love songs) and a gaggle of celebrity voices for the all important roles of CG sea monsters Sigmund, Big Momma, Big Daddy, and brothers Burp and Slurp, and one can’t imagine the cash not rolling in. Perhaps the most important element - no small humans in suits. We were dumb in the 70s. We’d believe anything. But post-millennial moviegoers can sense a little person in a costume a mile away.


Let’s face it - Lindsay Lohan’s stock and trade in Tinsel Town is at an all time low. She’s so last week that she can’t even get arrested for getting arrested. What better way to start the slow and painful road trip toward entertainment rehabilitation than co-starring in this blatant Love Bug rip-off about a car with a mind of its own. Sure, she’d have to share the set-up with adolescent male buddies Barry and C.C., but she needs to get used to such subpar billing. Of course, as with any animated vehicle…vehicle, Wonderbug and his normative alter-ego Schlepcar would have to be state of the art. Maybe the Kroffts could convince the Wachowskis to step in and handle the directing duties. They probably have a warehouse of Speed Racer leftovers they could retrofit for this project (it’s not like anyone’s calling for a sequel to that notorious, non-starter, right?).

ElectraWoman and DynaGirl

Sincerely, of all the semi-serious ideas being tossed around here, the notion of a big screen Dark Knight like look at two fetching female super heroines has the feeling of Thelma and Louise with less whining and more Electra-powers. By days, these babes work as journalists. By night, they are spandex wearing, take no prisoner bad-asses, cleaning up the violent city streets and looking fab-u-lous in the process. With Hollywood currently going ga-ga over any under 30 waif with a non-existent waistline and an even smaller resume, this would be the perfect vehicle for a pair of our more ‘seasoned’ sexpot performers. Give Quentin Tarantino the greenlight, let him hire his dream duo, and get ready for the real grindhouse experience, comic book Kill Bill style…or something like that.

by Sarah Zupko

4 Jun 2009

New Zealand’s the Clean is putting out their first new music since 2001’s Getaway. Mister Pop releases via Merge Records on 8 September. Their trademark jangle pop is very much in evidence on this download, “In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul”, from the new record.

01 Loog
02 Are You Really on Drugs?
03 In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul
04 Asleep in the Tunnel
05 Back in the Day
06 Moonjumper
07 Factory Man
08 Simple Fix
09 Tensile
10 All Those Notes

The Clean
“In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul” [MP3]

by Matt Mazur

4 Jun 2009

Maybe the most horrible thing I have seen this year, but someone sure looks comfortable dancing around in his pumps. Joe apparently drew the short stick, but is doing a parody of Justin Timberlake doing a parody of Beyonce really even remotely funny? This hopefully will detract anyone from buying their stupid record.

by Mike Schiller

4 Jun 2009

Nintendo's Wii Music

Nintendo’s Wii Music

Wii Music is where it started, I think.

Somewhere along the way—sometime in the first year during which Wii Sports was starting to show up in retirement homes, schools, and libraries across the nation (not to mention more homes than any game, like, ever), Nintendo came up with a strategy to try and maintain their new constituency, an audience that defied easily-formed generalizations.  Namely, they decided that it was in their best interest to not offend anybody with their first-party software.

Wii Music was derided, and rightly so, for being a joke of an entrance to the world of music.  As a little toy for me and my kids to fire up when we were bored, it was fine, but even in that context, its replay value was terribly limited.  The point of Wii Music was to be as inclusive as possible, to give anyone the opportunity to pantomime—and, in effect, “play”—any instrument pretty much immediately.  “Playing” the violin was easy as moving the Wii remote like a bow, “playing” the drums involved flailing around with the Wii remote and nunchuck (and, optionally, the balance board), “playing” a trumpet involved holding the Wii remote up toward the player’s mouth and alternating the ‘1’ and ‘2’ buttons.  It was all terribly easy to “master”, if “mastering” it was the goal, and those looking for some sort of challenge—some sort of game—were left disappointed.

It would have been easy to believe that this was some sort of one-off, a case of Nintendo’s pandering teaching a valuable lesson, but the recent beginnings of the coming flood of Fitness apps for the Nintendo systems is telling a different story:

Nintendo’s too nice.

Nintendo's Wii Fit

Nintendo’s Wii Fit

Look at Wii Fit, the one that started it all.  It starts off well enough, by measuring your weight and turning your Mii into a distorted, roly-poly version of itself if you’re in the overweight or obese categories, and it allows you to set a goal for yourself, to lose (or gain) however many pounds you like in a certain amount of time.  And after that…what?

On my second day, I gained weight.  Wii Fit was still being nice to me.

On my third day, ashamed as I am to say it, I gained a bit more weight.  Wii Fit was still being nice to me.

On the fourth day, when I held constant to the previous day’s weight, Wii Fit‘s only admonition was the acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, I might not meet my weight loss goal.  And then I was free to keep doing as many (or as few) of Wii Fit‘s “exercises” as I wanted. 

Nintendo's Personal Trainer: Walking

Nintendo’s Personal Trainer: Walking

Personal Trainer: Walking, on the DS, suffers from the same problem.  It sets a goal for you, records your progress, and is full of encouraging words.  If you meet the daily goal (which starts at 3,000 steps, which is actually obscenely easy to reach if your ass hasn’t grown roots in your sofa yet), it says “hooray for you!” and your Mii does a little dance.  If you miss the goal, the shortcoming is barely even acknowledged, and the game just moves on.  The only penalty?  A red stamp on your calendar instead of a green one and slower progress toward unlocking the little treasures in the game’s cutely-designed “Walk the World” and “Space Walk” (the latter of which owes a tip of the hat to Noby Noby Boy if I do say so myself) diversions.  Other than that, it just moves on.  No “what happened?” or “what the hell is wrong with you?” or “what, you didn’t even have it in you to pretend to want to get in shape today?”  Just a “hey, whatever!” and the game goes on.

Now, these games are not meant as standalone weight-loss tools; I can respect that.  They’re tools, guides to help you along the way, but not full-fledged plans.  Fine.  This seems all well and good until you start up with something like EA Sports Active, whose goal seems to be to kick you in the ass and get you into shape if it kills you.

Electronic Arts' EA Sports Active

Electronic Arts’ EA Sports Active

EA Sports Active will, on your first workout with it, very likely make you sweat, huff, and puff more than all of your “workouts” with Wii Fit combined.  It places particular emphasis on the upper legs toward the beginning, building muscles that are going to make running long distances seem like much more feasible an activity.  It does this by telling you it’s going to put you on a program based on your current weight, giving you a set of 20 or so workouts to do back-to-back, and making sure you do them in a manner that will maximize the return on your investment, as measured by muscle mass (not to mention the ache you’ll have the next day).

The point is that by not being afraid to crack the whip a bit, EA Sports Active feels like far more effective a “tool” toward fitness than Wii Fit‘s software component ever could.  It offers a lesson that Nintendo might do well to learn: stop pandering to us.  Most of us are mature enough to take a little criticism, to be offered a challenge.  In fact, we crave a challenge, and without being challenged, all we’ll take your products for are disposable toys.  While they’re very slick, very well-designed toys, they can’t help but leave a bad taste in our mouths when our expectations are so dramatically better fulfilled by third-party entries into the same arena.

Oh, and since I started the 30-day program in EA Sports Active?  Four pounds down and counting.

by PopMatters Staff

4 Jun 2009

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The last book that made me cry was My Friend Leonard by James Frey. It’s the follow up to Million Little Pieces. I really don’t care how much is fact and how much is fiction, it’s just an emotional read.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Barney Rubble from The Flintstones.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Revolver by The Beatles. You could pick any album really. Anyone who thinks they are not the best band ever is just being contrary.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I prefer Star Wars to Star Trek.

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