Tag Archives: Terry Crews

So You Don’t Have To — “The Ridiculous 6”

by Gabriel Valdez

In the first five minutes, hell – the first 30 seconds – “The Ridiculous 6” establishes itself as intentionally offensive. The new Adam Sandler movie is a Western spoof, and these first five minutes involve racial slurs, unwanted groping of a woman, and rape threats of her by five men.

Now, the racial slurs might be claimed as “historical accuracy,” but nothing else in the film is concerned with any kind of historical accuracy. More importantly, those slurs are used in ways that aren’t historically accurate. So, there’s really no leg to stand on here, though I’m sure someone will try.

Here’s one of the film’s early jokes:

Attempted rapists call an Apache woman “Pocahotness.” Don’t worry, her real name is “Smoking Fox.” She’s saved by the white orphan her tribe raised. That’s Adam Sandler. His name is “White Knife.” He’s special. Why? Because he’s better at everything his tribe does than they are. He can run at super speeds, throw knives with pinpoint accuracy, and shoot arrows and catch them in his teeth.

Indigenous Americans are posed as warlike and savage. When a white traveler happens upon their tribe’s riverside camp, everyone hollers and brandishes a weapon, including a toddler with a hatchet at the ready. That’s all these people are, the film says: violent, savage, uncultured. Adam Sandler is our window into their souls, and he is better at all they do than they are because he is among them, but not of them.

All the Apache women want him, but they don’t want the actual Apache men they’re with. The white man among them has genetic supremacy, breeding supremacy. Breeding supremacy is the kind of shit we once argued so that we could justify the rape of indigenous peoples. By forcing them to have half-white babies, the idea was we were breeding the genetically inferior parts of them out. It’s “Manifest Destiny: The Fucking Movie.”

There are some jokes at the expense of whites, but the film uses these briefly and early before forgetting them, as if to clean the slate so that it can get away with being profoundly racist toward the Apache and then say, “Oh, but we made two jokes about whites.”

Take Rob Schneider. He plays a Mexican who has sex with donkeys. When we first meet the donkey, it shits all over the wall for 10 seconds. That’s his special power. The donkey projectile shits all over people. Mexicans, amirite?

Poor Taylor Lautner, who actually delivered a decent parkour film earlier this year in “Tracers,” is the leading Native American actor in the film. The first thing we learn about his character is that he’s a virgin (breeding supremacy). Actually, the first thing we learn about him is that he’s mentally handicapped (genetic supremacy). Don’t worry, though, he’ll get a blowjob from the donkey in his second scene while Rob Schneider looks on approvingly and pets the donkey. A Native American actor, a Mexican character, and animal sex. Only the white actor playing a white man looks on disapprovingly.

The joke is that all of these people are White Knife’s brothers from different women. In order to rescue their father, they need to band together and steal $50,000.

Jorge Garcia is next. The Chilean/Cuban actor made famous by being the most charming character in “Lost” here plays a mentally handicapped man who can communicate only in grunts (genetic supremacy). The joke is his mother’s too ugly for anyone to have ever had sex with her (breeding supremacy). Yes, there are two mentally handicapped characters in the film, treated with all the sensitivity of a boot.

Luke Wilson and Terry Crews join on as the final two brothers. Thankfully, Crews gets away without too much racism aimed his way (aside from sexual stereotypes). There’s even a scene where Crews reveals to the others he’s Black, just in case they were thinking of making slurs without knowing. Given the cachet Crews has in the industry, one has to imagine he wouldn’t have done the movie if the same hate was directed toward Black characters.

Others don’t have that sway. Here are the other Apache women named:

Never-Wears-Bra

Beaver Breath

They’ll come across a man in the wilds inventing baseball. He’s got a team of Chinese workers, but they need a team to play against. The jokes contained here are that the Chinese are bad at everything (genetic supremacy), scared of the ball, and they’re short (breeding supremacy). What wit.

The jokes about baseball itself actually work. Because he keeps losing, the inventor makes the rules more and more complicated as he goes. It’s a rare moment of actual wit and creativity in an otherwise profoundly lazy-ass film.

The only other humor that works:

“Sometimes, the white man speaks the truth. Like, one in 20, 25 times. I believe this is one of those times.” In fact, any of the lines Saginaw Grant says work – he’s the most accomplished comedian here. He gets about three real jokes, two of them aimed at whites. These are the only jokes made about whites in the whole film. That’s fewer instances than Rob Schneider sings about a fucking taco tree.

The pairing of Will Forte and Steve Zahn as outlaws is effective, though very underutilized. Really, a buddy film about their characters and interplay might have been more worthwhile.

That’s all I’ve got on things that work.

There are things that should work, but don’t because the film’s already lost so much trust. The stunt casting of Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain fails. David Spade as General Custer is pointless. Whitney Cummings is essentially used to show off her breasts. It’s all just names on the packaging that get you to watch and wait around for their 30 seconds apiece of screen-time.

Regardless of all this, the film is already dragging inside the first 10 minutes. Most of what Adam Sandler does is stand still, look stoic (read: disinterested), and grumble. Sandler has done anger surprisingly well as a dramatic actor – just look at “Punch Drunk Love.” Yet it’s something he can’t succeed with at a comedic level. That’s especially true at this point in his career, when he’s sleepwalking through so many roles for the paycheck. Whatever manic energy he was able to capture when young has left him. There’s nothing he brings to this that any other comedic actor couldn’t double.

Even without commentary on its negative social value, the film just doesn’t work as a comedy – even in the Adam Sandler style. It’s a shame Crews, Garcia, Lautner (yes, Lautner), and Wilson aren’t used in different ways. Sandler and Schneider are sleepwalking through this. The number of missed opportunities later in the film is ridiculous.

As a satire, it’s non-functional. It doesn’t understand anything more than the most basic cliches of a Western. It has nothing to say and it doesn’t understand what it’s lampooning. Less than five minutes of making fun of baseball – that’s really the only satirical thing that you’re sitting through the film to see.

Your time is far better spent re-watching “Blazing Saddles,” a film that understood its genre, why satire exists, and didn’t struggle with the most basic comedic timing in acting and filmmaking.

Or stick with “The Lone Ranger,” which had so much more to say than critics realized and boasted some beautiful cinematography and action scenes. Or check out Natasha Leggero’s “Another Period” for this style of genre satire done right. Or just watch “Drunk History” for something with a true awareness of how the world sees it.

“The Ridiculous 6” is hands-down the worst movie I’ve seen this year, and I had to watch Nicolas Cage’s Chinese martial arts epic.

Does it Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

If you read my reviews, you know I’d normally give this section a more thorough rundown. “The Ridiculous 6” doesn’t deserve it. There are a few lines shared between women, but they’re all about how desirous they are of Adam Sandler. This film forgets women except during brief moments to make fun of the idea that women have sexuality or to pose women as damsels to be saved from rape and murder.

Propping Up a Corpse — “The Expendables 3”

Bad Grammer

There stood their names, 20 feet tall: Stallone. Li. Statham. Grammer. Snipes. Schwarzenegger…wait. Back up a few. Grammer? Kelsey Grammer?

That’s when my hopes for a franchise in its death throes were renewed. Maybe we would finally get the chance to see Frasier lay the smackdown on Rocky and the Terminator, as the gods of 80s and 90s action never intended. Alas, it isn’t meant to be.

Grammer works as the on-screen casting director of The Expendables 3, an intelligence operative who finds a bevy of younger, one-lining toughs to replace Sylvester Stallone’s rag-tag mercenary outfit of older heroes as they set out to assassinate an arms dealer. Needless to say, nothing goes as planned, and old and young eventually have to work together.

While I never truly anticipated seeing Grammer throw down, it’s a disappointment that so many of the names advertised are barely in the movie. I expected not to see much of Schwarzenegger or Harrison Ford. Arnold chews through all of his best catchphrases from other movies – and I do mean ALL of them – in about 10 minutes, while Ford alternates between downright feisty and like you just caught him sleepwalking.

Expendables 3 Banderas

What isn’t expected is that franchise regulars pumped up in the advertising, like Jet Li and Terry Crews, only appear in glorified cameos. Jason Statham gets a lot of screen time – he has the best chemistry with Stallone – but he’s pushed to the side most of the film, as are Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture. Replacing them are Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes. While they’re both riots in their scenes, it’s disconcerting that the comic relief is chiefly left to the Hispanic and African-American characters. In particular, Snipes’s routine most closely echoes Robert Downey Jr.’s satirical blackface performance in Tropic Thunder. It feels like too much of a “down-home” put-on for an actor who’s proved he’s capable of so much more.

As fellow critic Justine Baron points out, it’s also odd that Snipes joins the team just as Crews is laid up. Is there only room for one black action hero at a time? We barely get to see them share the screen together.

That youthful team that Grammer helps Stallone recruit? It’s not strong on the acting chops, though Kellan Lutz is very likeable. One person makes up for it, however, and that’s mixed martial arts star Ronda Rousey.

For an 80s-style actioner, the film gets bogged down most when it’s just lines of people shooting at each other. Throw in a car chase or some hand-to-hand combat, however, and the movie energizes. Snipes and Jason Statham, the only other two actors with truly extensive martial arts training, each have their moments (MMA star Victor Ortiz co-stars, but is largely left off the screen). Yet it’s Rousey whose fistfights own the screen. Her punches are the only thing more painful than her dialogue, but in a movie like this, the punches matter more. It’s to the film’s credit that it allows Rousey to be the toughest actor up there, where other movies might shy away from having her outshine the men.

Expendables Ronda Rousey

As for the villain, how do you solve a problem like Mel Gibson? The guy’s a legend on-screen, but a disaster off of it. He acts circles around everyone else involved in this, but when the inevitable throwdown with Stallone happens, it’s difficult not to recall that these are the two actors in this whole thing who’ve had major domestic abuse issues. I’m trying hard not to judge – they both had rough upbringings which themselves may have included abuse, but our awareness of these facts marks how differently we watch movies today than we did back when Stallone and Gibson together would’ve guaranteed the biggest movie of the summer. Truth be told, I’m out of words after addressing what happened to my friend last week.

That’s a lot of issues in one movie and I haven’t even mentioned the plastic-looking visual effects, but I’d still give it a light recommendation. Gibson and Banderas carry the dialogue, Rousey and Stallone carry the action. Everyone else is just passing through.

It’s not for everybody, but if you’re at all a fan of the action franchises like Rambo, Blade, and The Transporter that helped get these actors here, you should enjoy it. Guardians of the Galaxy remains by far the best blow-em-up for your buck in theaters, but this Expendables hits the spot if you’re looking for something a little more traditional.

The Expendables 3 is rated PG-13 for violence and language, though it’s on the harder side of that rating.