The 'yeas' & 'nays' of the video store

By Jon Roig (
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 3, 1996

By Jon Roig (

Flirting With Disaster
In theaters now

You know, I never saw it, but I bet the preview for this film was really good. This movie would've been really entertaining if they cut out the 90-plus minutes of filler and just left the funny parts, edited together to a funky techno beat.

Essentially, it's a series of vignettes during which Ben Stiller does his best Woody Allen New York intellectual, and wanders around trying to find his real parents who gave him up for adoption. Much zaniness ensues as he encounters such entertainment luminaries as Mary Tyler Moore and Alan Alda.

The film isn't so bad that it causes extreme pain, so I guess that's a plus ... but I couldn't recommend it to anyone.

On video

Sylvester Stallone plays an aging killer who gets caught up in a world wide web of intrigue when he decides to switch sides to save the beautiful hacker who was once his mark. It is, however, Antonio Banderas who comes out the big winner in this fantasy of male bravado.

Both creepy and seductive, Banderas earned his two-gun John Woo merit badge in "Desperado," and returns to the screen to challenge Chow Yun Fat as the world's coolest hired killer.

It's not the world's greatest film - I doubt you'll gain any mind-blowing insight about the world's problems from "Assassins," but if all you're looking for is a quick adrenaline fix, this'll fit the bill.

Empire Records
On video

OK, I admit it ... I've got a problem. If anyone knows of a 12-step program for Gen-X flicks, sign me up. I need help.

Apparently, this movie was supposed to make a theatrical debut sometime over the summer; rumor has it that it did in certain markets, but I somehow managed to miss it. Essentially, it's a feature-length commercial for the soundtrack; while some may view that as a bad thing, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Although it wasn't as insightful as "Clueless" or as quirky as "S.F.W.," "Empire Records" brings a certain hip MTV-style sensibility to the world of Gen-X films, reminiscent of the work of the once-great John Hughes.

Which is, perhaps, not surprising as director Allan Moyle was responsible for the cult classic "Pump Up The Volume." There are a lot of recognizable names associated with the film - Renee Zellweger is a veteran of several Richard Linklatter projects and Liv Tyler is Steven Tyler's (Aerosmith) daughter. You've seen her on MTV.

Essentially, it's 90210 in the hippest record store on Earth. The kids who work there are all cool and somewhat stereotypical, but not one-dimensional. It's all very reminiscent of "The Breakfast Club" - there's a slut, an artist, a rocker, a prude, etc. And, although they don't get along all the time, they band together to fight against The Man, who wants to turn their independent store into another personality-free chain outlet. 'Cause, dude, they're selling records ... but they're not selling out.

OK, so it's stupid. But what fun would it be if it wasn't?

Deathstalker II
On video

The legendary fabled swordsman, Deathstalker, returns to help a beautiful young peasant girl regain what is rightfully hers. But, things don't go well for our muscle-bound hero, as he encounters the myriad forces of evil that seek to thwart his mission.

Essentially, "Deathstalker II" is to "Deathstalker" as "Evil Dead II" is to the first "Evil Dead" movie. Half-parody, half-tribute to the barbarian genre, this is a perfect film for fans of TV's "Hercules" who want more blood, action and breasts.

As an interesting side-note, "Deathstalker II" was directed and written by Jim Wynorski, the man responsible for 1986's "Chopping Mall" and who also went on to make Roger Corman's classic "Dinosaur Island" (which I also heartily recommend to anyone who loves dinosaurs, half-naked women and army men.)

I think the whole cast and crew was reassembled for "Muchie," the sequel to "Munchies." That in itself should be enough to make you run out and rent the film.