Monday, February 17, 2014

Hands Up

I knew it would happen eventually, but that doesn’t make me any less happy that we are finally living in a time where the ‘90s are considered retro. On one hand, it certainly makes me feel old; on the other, it sure is fine to giggle at how attractive my generation found skater culture and moppy haircuts!

Quick Plot: Anton (Caspar incarnate Devan Sawa) is a lazy teen stoner who takes a few days to discover his parents have been murdered, maybe even by him. After smoking a mixture of spice rack leftovers, Anton's hand becomes possessed by an evil murderous spirit.

First to suffer are Anton's buds Pnub and Mick (Oz himself, Seth Green). Anton's hand sends fatal deathblows to both but since Pnub and Mick are too lazy to walk towards the eternal white light, both end up stuck in a cheerful state of zombiehood that's mostly tempered with duct tape. 

Anton, meanwhile, finds some use out of his condition by sending effective bad boy vibes to his hot neighbor Molly (Jessica Alba, in the typical Jessica Alba role of looking great and acting like imitation wood). Across town, Druidic priestess Vivica A. Fox (go with it) hooks up with local bad boy Jack Noseworthy (best known as 'that guy playing a dick' in every late '90s movie ever made) to help hunt down the possessed appendage.

Directed by Rodman Flender (he of another alum of The Shortening, 1990's The Unborn), Idle Hands was a box office flop that eventually found a minor cult following on video. Part of its initial failure is fairly attributed to its timing (the film was released just a few weeks after the Columbine massacre) but in another way, this is the kind of movie designed for teenage genre fans to pass around in their parents’ basements. Much along the lines of something like Billy Madison, Idle Hands is just a silly comedy that I can see getting a little funnier with repeat viewing. Add in the fact that this is dripping with ‘90s nostalgia and you’re left with a more hit-than-miss comedy that has aged like a nice cup of Surge.

High Notes
Tragically, he only gets the film's prologue, but I would give five stars to the film-stealing talents of the always wonderful Fred Willard. Just listen to how he pronounces "Halloween" in the opening and tell me he doesn't deserve an Oscar

Low Notes
Sure, Anton is supposed to be pretty worthless, but having your protagonist be so jerky that he doesn't even care too much about his parents' slaughter isn't the most endearing aspect of your film

Lessons Learned
It's incredibly easy to give CPR to druidic priestesses

Duct tape: never not the answer to everything

A cornucopia is like a horn of plenty

Electric pencil sharpeners make quite handy (pun somewhat intended) tools for clawing up your nails

Idle Hands is a dumb horror comedy, but let's face it: some dumb horror comedies are an awful lot of fun. Sort of like a slightly less ambitious Jennifer's Body, this is a good little watch for a kick-back-with-a-beer kind of evening. '90s enthusiasts will appreciate some of the timeliness of its references ("I'll make sweet love to you Red Shoe Diaries style," for example) and horror nerds might dig its play on conventions. A peek under the bed AND blatant cat scare in the first five minutes? Yeah, it gets itself.

Shortening Cred: The titular hand (really it's just one) won't be riding any rollercoasters any time soon.

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