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
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 $10 million in debts
he owes to a private funder, a daughter (Janeane Garofalo) that
doesn't love him and a film bio that reads like a 2 AM cable
programming guide. When he sees that a local killer has been
convicted on 63 counts of murder (a state record), he decides to
base his next film on the killer's life story.
But, forget all of that plot, because that
is just a way to give writer/director Stephen Kessler a way to show
"scenes" from some of Fineman's other 427 films...and, this is some
of the most hilarious stuff you have seen in years, trust me. I
won't give any of them away, because there is so much schlocky shit
to laugh at here. But, Kessler gets cameos from Ron Howard,
blaxploitation star Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Fred Dryer (from
the TV series "Hunter"), Nick Cassavetes and horrormeister Roger
Corman to spice things up. Stiller is perfect for this role, and
his overacting is so funny people in my theater were losing their
The best part? It's easily the end credits,
which show the faux titles of Fineman's film biography...you have to
stay the extra five minutes to see them all, but this is honestly
worth the admission fee alone. If you can get your hands on this
film, run out right now, leave the kids at the babysitter, and call
in sick to work tomorrow...it's ALL good in the hood.
Rating: Opening Weekend
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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