Thursday, August 21, 2003

That old-time drive-in experience
(Car sale part I, reviews of “American Pie 3”, “Charlies Angels 2” and “Feardotcom”)

So Saturday I sold my car and went to a drive-in double-bill.

I know that sounds odd, but (a) dream-buyer Steve didn’t take possession until Monday, and (b) I went in someone else’s vehicle.

I mean, if you went to the drive in and everyone took their own car it’d just be silly.

My phone had not run hot following my three-day ad in The Age. Dream-buyer Steve was actually my only caller on the Thursday. Over the weekend I had a few other private inquiries – but most were from dealers or auction-houses. I listened politely, took their numbers and asked what they could offer (no more than $8,500).

I also phoned a dealership’s second-hand buyer who was genuinely helpful about who I should be speaking to and what price I should expect.

Saturday did not run to plan. The only car-detailers I could get on short notice arrived late and didn’t finish with the car until after 2 pm. Steve cancelled his morning inspection. My sale was floundering.

I did the only sane thing. I went to brunch with a friend I’d not seen since the penguin escapade.

The detailers did a spanky job though, the car looked dewy-fresh and was heady with that dry-cleaner fresh smell.

Steve showed up in the afternoon; he was friendly, clearly knew a bit about cars and didn’t muck me about. He offered $9,600 and settlement on Monday. It was a good price and a quick sale – so we shook hands and he left a cash deposit.

Celebration was a drive-in all-sequel double-bill of American Pie 3 (“American Wedding”) and Charlie’s Angels 2. Sometimes, cinema is so bad, you can’t help but enjoy it.

Pie 3 is dominated by Sean William Scott. It could be titled: “Stiffler screws up, grosses out, then saves the day.” It was amusing, but I needed to be much drunker.

Stiffler’s half-assed “rehabilitation” turns on him realising that “really gay” does mean “stylish and sophisticated”, and that you could do things both for your friends and to have sex with a bridesmaid.

The earlier films were only redeemed by Eugene Levy as the Dad. Taking your son to emergency when he’s super-glued his hand to his genitals in a masturbatory accident is pretty much the kind of practical, non-judgemental assistance fatherly love is about. His role, along with Alyson Hannigan’s, was diminished for Stiffler’s sake and the slender merits of the series suffered accordingly.

What disturbed me was the hordes of 8 year olds people had brought to the Coburg drive-in. Hello? Sex references? Nudity? The film features strippers, clearly present for the male age demographic of 12 to dead, who were at least they were kind of funny. But appropriate for 8 year olds?

I’ve watched “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” before. See it drunk and it’s forgivable. Sober, it’s tolerable – except the final fifteen minutes.

That ending is even worse a second time round: long, ludicrous, painful. It’s like the writing team, confronted with the sheer existential horror of their wasted lives, gave up and the mail-boy had to complete the script by stapling on ten discarded pages from “Spider Man”. Seriously, people start shooting webs, flying, and swinging between buildings on cables.

The opening sequence is priceless, though, and the fight against the “O’Grady clan” isn’t too bad. The car wash scene in the closing credits is simply gratuitous.

I spent a lot of time glancing over to the ridiculously stylised “Feardotcom” on another screen. I think I got most of the plot: women are kidnapped and tortured on demand for a sicko webcam site.

It also features poltergeist weirdness involving a little girl with white hair, in a white dress, playing with a white ball. Spooky.

Everything is shot on an angle, through a blue filter. Most of the cyber-cops die. I presumed good triumphed over evil - despite rooms that seeped blood, cockroaches or “eerie” video montage.

Conclusion: scary films aren’t very scary without sound.

Overall, I had a fantastically tacky night. Only an extra six-pack could have improved it.

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