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"The Independent"

Directed by Stephen Kessler.
Written by Stephen Kessler and Mike Wilkins.
Starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. 
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  2/21/02 


Good comedy is hard to come by.  And, my brand of comedy (that of the silly, raunchy, oftentimes racist variety) is even harder to find.  So, while I loved "Rush Hour 2" and "Made" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" last year, I usually expect to find similar films during the summertime only, in-between more serious movie seasons.  Well, with "The Independent", I am pleasantly surprised much earlier in the calendar year than I am used to!

My friend Heidi invited me to a screening of this film, which is just now debuting despite the fact that it was actually made two years ago.  Usually if a film gets shelved it is because it sucks (see: "Rollerball"), but this film is friggin' hilarious!  Jerry Stiller, Ben's dad and star of "The King of Queens", plays B-movie director Morty Fineman, an Ed Wood of our generation that has directed an insane 427 films and is struggling to put his next film together.  Morty has got $10 million in debts he owes to a private funder, a daughter (Janeane Garofalo) that doesn't love him and a film bio that reads like a 2 AM cable programming guide.  When he sees that a local killer has been convicted on 63 counts of murder (a state record), he decides to base his next film on the killer's life story.

But, forget all of that plot, because that is just a way to give writer/director Stephen Kessler a way to show "scenes" from some of Fineman's other 427 films...and, this is some of the most hilarious stuff you have seen in years, trust me.  I won't give any of them away, because there is so much schlocky shit to laugh at here.  But, Kessler gets cameos from Ron Howard, blaxploitation star Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Fred Dryer (from the TV series "Hunter"), Nick Cassavetes and horrormeister Roger Corman to spice things up.  Stiller is perfect for this role, and his overacting is so funny people in my theater were losing their mind.

The best part?  It's easily the end credits, which show the faux titles of Fineman's film have to stay the extra five minutes to see them all, but this is honestly worth the admission fee alone.  If you can get your hands on this film, run out right now, leave the kids at the babysitter, and call in sick to work's ALL good in the hood.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09