Joe Bob Briggs
What are the five most horrifying words a man can hear at holiday time?
You already know, right?
"Take me to 'The Nutcracker.'''
Why do we always PRETEND we wanna do this? Why do we sometimes even convince OURSELVES that we really do wanna go watch the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, even though most of the Sugar Plum Fairies are gawky gals from Miss Mathison's School of Ballet at the mall? Why do we sit there, year after year, waiting for all the women to say: "Look at the little tin soldiers. Aren't they CUTE? I think I spotted little Jason.''
WHY DO WE DO THIS?
Haven't there been about nine million ballets written over the last 300 years? Can't we OCCASIONALLY watch another one?
But no. It's "Firebird Suite,'' "Swan Lake,'' and "Nutcracker.''
"Nutcracker'' and "Swan Lake'' and "Firebird Suite.'' The swans, the toys, and the gal in red chiffon. Just these three shows, over and over and OVER again, but MOSTLY it's the goldang "Nutcracker.''
You know what I do? I wait for the Chinese guy to come out. There's a part where a Chinese guy comes out and hops up and down like a geek. It's the only part I like. But the main reason I wait for that part is because I know, once the Chinese guy does his hippity-hop, we're in the home stretch. The goldurn thing is ALMOST over. It's just a matter of how much money they spent on the artificial snow they're gonna throw around on the stage in the last act.
"Maybe we should skip the artificial snow,'' I said to Wanda Bodine. "If we were to walk out DURING the artificial snow, we could beat the traffic!''
Ask me if this perfectly logical reasoning worked on Wanda Bodine.
You know how I've finally decided to deal with this? When she says, "Take me to 'The Nutcracker,''' I say, "Gee, honey, I'd love to go, but that's your mother's favorite show. I think you should take HER.''
WARNING: Make sure only two tickets exist. Research this in advance. There are only enough tickets for two FEMALES.
Then when they come home you can say: "Ooooo, I wish so much I had been there. Were the little tin soldiers cute? I'll bet they were adorable.''
Guys, listen--there are EIGHTEEN bowl games on the tube this season. That just leaves NO TIME for Nutcracking around, you know? Start plannin' for this immediately. I do not wanna have to tell you again.
Speaking of entertainment options that all women despise, "Hard Way Out'' is the latest from kung-fu pretty boy Don "The Dragon'' Wilson, and it's your basic retired-CIA-agent-trying-to-live-a-normal-life-attacked-by-hired-killers plot, with the added twist that it's set in IRELAND.
Why Ireland? I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that famed low-budget producer Roger Corman was given a free studio and enormous tax breaks by the Irish government in exchange for using Gaelic-speaking crews. So The Rog said: "I'd love to make movies in Ireland. It's a lovely country.'' And Ireland said, "What's the first movie you're gonna make over here?'' And Rog said, "Bloodfist 8.''
So "Hard Way Out'' is actually "Bloodfist 8,'' but for some reason they changed the title at the last minute. Anyhow, Don the Dragon is a mild-mannered math teacher trying to get closer to his 18-year-old son, John Patrick White, after being "away on business'' for 15 years.
It turns out that Daddy was off killing people in Italy for the CIA. Now a bunch of crazed Guidos have found him again, and pretty soon they're buying those Aer Lingus tickets to find "The Major,'' who is, of course, the wise, bearded old man who's always in movies like this to help out renegade CIA agents when they can't trust anyone.
Fortunately, this is one of those movies where the "leak'' in the CIA is so obvious that we know, as soon as Don the Dragon unpacks his luggage anywhere, we're gonna see Uzis blazing and killer assassins jumping out of trees as the Guido Squad from Italy tries to finish him off. Then there's the Irish police, who don't much like it when Don starts blowing away goonies on the streets, and there is, of course, the no-good back-stabbing female he thought was a friend.
Poor Don--he doesn't even carry a gun. He has to kung-fu the would-be assassin and take HIS gun to waste the other pursuers. He must THROW AWAY 10 guns in the movie, whenever they run out of ammo. But think about it--if martial arts is your thing, you can't be seen runnin' around with an ammo belt on, can you?
Twenty-eight dead bodies. No breasts. (A disturbing trend in Don the Dragon movies.) Ten machine-gun shootouts.
Two exploding cars. Exploding character actor. One motor vehicle chase, with crash and burn.
Gratuitous saxophonist, with dog.
Kung-fu scenes, with spine-cracking. Boombox electrocution fu.
Two and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.
Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's temple-trampler comes from Phil Curl of Hampton, Virginia:
"During the dawn of cable television (for me, that's the early '80s), I saw some of my first on-the-tube breasts in a bad death-in-the-shower scene from a really weird movie.
"The flick was about some pimpled, post-adolescent guy with bad hair, an unfortunate name like Poindexter or Mergetroid or something and a possessed computer that ruled his life.
"Now, I seem to remember this guy ripped people's hearts out--or maybe the computer did it (and this was before the Internet!).
"The shower scene involved an older woman, maybe this guy's mom, who got stampeded and dismembered by wild boars under the direction of the satanic computer.
"I also remember that the ending was really weak, with a heart pumping in the background as the manic megabytes claimed their final victim. Is this a classic I've somehow overlooked? I don't think so.''
A video will be awarded to the correct answer. (The winner chooses from our library of titles.) In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick'' questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax them to 213-462-5982 or e-mail them to Joe Bob on the Internet: email@example.com. (E-mail entries must include a postal mailing address.)
1996 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features)
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.