Tips for Nervous American Tourists

Link to my article:”Five Tips for Nervous American Tourists Abroad.”

Five Tips for Nervous American Tourists Abroad

Fear Not, Gun Lovers! (National Lampoon Article)

Link to my article “Fear Not, Gun Lovers!” on

Subject: Fear Not, Gun Lovers!


Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne is a Real Kick … in the Balls

Reviewed by Sonny Thompson for DecimalPointless and  Jason_Bourne_(film)

(Editor’s note: Film critic Sonny Thompson is recently divorced and openly bitter about the failure of his marriage. Keep this in mind when reading the following review, which is for entertainment purposes only.)

In the latest Jason Bourne movie, which is appropriately titled Jason Bourne for those moviegoers too stupid to remember an actual title, the titular protagonist is back and more dangerous than ever. Bourne has finally put that whole amnesia thing in his rearview mirror, and now he makes his living as an underground fighter. This storyline is clearly a metaphor for the horrors of marriage. Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne represents the married man: an emotionally exhausted, spiritually castrated individual, so lost and confused that he literally loses his identity, thanks to the soulless vampire who latched onto his neck and sucked the remaining life from him the moment he said, “I do.” As a result, Bourne (or the married man, if you will) must begin a desperate, at times violent, search for his lost manhood, a search that will cost him his sanity and inevitably lead him into one perilous situation after another.

For the record, Damon is awesome in this role. There are times when his distant, stony gaze says it all, no words necessary. For example, during an extended car chase sequence, there is a moment when Damon glares into his rearview mirror, and in that moment we, the audience, can tell that he’s thinking about that time when he forgot to do the dishes after working a double shift and his wife totally went nuts on him for absolutely no good reason. And it’s like, what the hell, man! How many times can I say I’m sorry? They’re just dishes. Chill! I mean, it’s not like Bourne forgot to feed the children or pay the mortgage or something. I mean, God forbid the dishes sit in the sink for a few measly extra hours. I’m sorry, but Bourne has a lot on his mind, too. I mean, it’s not like people are trying to kill you, Linda. Ever think of that? Of course not. Because Linda only thinks about Linda. And, let’s face it, it’s not like your job is more important than Bourne’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with risk management, but you’re not exactly curing a disease or walking on Mars, so maybe you should get over yourself and try to consider what life is like for Jason Bourne.

Okay, sure, it was a mistake for Bourne to say that the brown dress wasn’t very flattering to your figure. Bourne acknowledges that. But I’m sure he was just trying to respect your intellect by sharing an honest opinion with you, Linda. Maybe Bourne had just never seen anybody wear a brown dress to a cocktail party before. Oh, and by the way, it is an absolute crime that Jason Bourne has to live in an unfurnished studio apartment on the fifth floor of a six-floor walk-up, while you get to keep living in a four-bedroom house that Bourne continues to pay for. Your parents have money, Linda! Don’t deny it. Admit it, you’re only making Jason Bourne live like an animal because you’re a spiteful she-creature who finds nourishment in the suffering of others. Here’s an idea: go to the park and throw rocks at the ducks if you need to be cruel to innocent living things, and leave Bourne with the last dangling shreds of his dignity. Or go hide among the haystacks in an abandoned barn with the other shrews. But please, please, for the love of all things holy, remove your fangs from Jason Bourne’s swollen, puckered neck and let him get on with the rest of his life.

Oh, and Alicia Vikander is pretty good.

I give Jason Bourne 3 viperous divorce lawyers out of 10 and exactly half of everything I own.

(Jason Bourne is rated PG-13 for adult language, violence, stubbornness, refusal to have a civil conversation, the employment of jerk-face lawyers, the inability to take the dog for regular walks, and a total lack of sexual content for more than a year.)

Lights Out

Lights Out: A Scary Movie for People Who Suck

Reviewed by Shirley Franks for DecimalPointless and Lights_Out_2016_poster

(Editor’s note: Film critic Shirley Franks is an insanely busy soccer mom who hasn’t had a vacation in more than three years.)

     Lights Out is a sometimes-clever, often-spooky horror film that absolutely drips with atmosphere. It’s the kind of shriek-fest that I would’ve loved 15 years ago, back in those halcyon days before I met my ass-bag husband and started pumping out ungrateful children by the bucket load. However, now that life has crapped on my dreams, blackened my heart, and shriveled my once-beautiful body, I find this movie endlessly annoying and relentlessly un-scary.

The story of Lights Out concerns a mysterious ghost-lady with Medusa hair and terrible posture who appears in the dark and disappears in the light. Oooh, I’m sooooooo scared! Shadowy ghost bitches aren’t scary … Five kids and 1 bathroom—now that’s scary. The appearance of varicose veins at 35—now that’s scary. Working 40 hours a week reviewing idiotic movies aimed at mouth-breathing teenagers, only to come home to a filthy house where I’m greeted by a sea of dirt-smudged faces screaming, “What’s for dinner?”—now that’s scary.

Teresa Palmer stars as the film’s sweet little cutie, who always looks daisy-fresh and is decades from worrying about stretch marks and episiotomies. So, basically … UP YOURS, TERESA! Enjoy that tight body and that silky-smooth skin while you can, sweetheart, because one day—maybe even soon—you’re gonna wake up in a bed filled with potato chip crumbs, next to a snoring, wheezing, ass clown that tricked you into getting married and then effectively stole every ounce of your youth, beauty, and zest for life, leaving you a soulless husk with prematurely gray hair and the disposition of a demon in church.

About 25 minutes into this obnoxious teen spookshow, I realized that I was still wearing my slippers and a pair of sweatpants dotted with scores of oozy, drippy stains whose origins are as mysterious and frightening as the identity of Jack the Ripper. Not to mention the fact that my ass-bag husband (in fact, let’s just refer to him as Ass Bag from here on out) forgot to fill the station wagon with gas, so I basically coasted to my critics’ screening of this film on fumes. Thanks, Ass Bag. Love Ya’. Oh, and I haven’t slept more than two hours straight in about six months. And I’m supposed to find this movie scary? Really? Give me a freakin’ break, Hollywood!

The only truly positive thing I can say about Lights Out is that I fell asleep for about a third of the film and woke up feeling more refreshed than I’ve felt in weeks. Not refreshed enough to recommend this garbage movie, mind you, but refreshed nonetheless. So, in conclusion, if you’re under 40, single, and childless, I’m just certain you’ll love Lights Out. Why the hell wouldn’t you? Life is a parade for you people. Every movie is a celebration. Every breath is a joy. You people make me sick. So, go ahead, see Lights Out and have a ball—and then choke on it.

I give Lights Out one stink-filled diaper out of four and every ounce of bile my liver can produce.

(Lights Out is rated PG-13 for “adult” language and “adult” situations … As if these people have any idea what it means to be an adult. It also contains prancing nubile bodies, the overt flaunting of youth, and the potential to induce rage in anyone with a pulse and half a brain.)


Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond Comparison

Reviewed by Miles O’Bannon for DecimalPointless and  Star_Trek_Beyond_poster

(Editor’s note: Film critic Miles O’Bannon is an extremely gullible man, prone to lapses in critical thinking. Since he has a history of believing nearly everything he is told, we urge readers to remember that his reviews are for entertainment purposes only.)

First things first, as much as I enjoy the new Star Trek film—and I really do love it—I have to admit that it isn’t worth the $500 ticket price. As a professional film critic, my tickets are usually free of charge. So imagine my surprise when a theater employee demanded that I not only pay the new ticket price of $500, but I also had to use a credit card, and I had to disclose my PIN number “for security purposes.” Whatever that means. And since when do theater employees wear leather jackets and have forehead tattoos of pentacles? And, as if that weren’t enough, an usher (this one wore a red bandana and had a series of teardrop tattoos on his face) informed me of a newly instituted $100 seat tax. After paying this second unexpected (and exorbitant) fee, I immediately called my boss to make sure I would be reimbursed for these costs, since they are clearly work expenses. She told me that she was too busy washing her hair to talk about it at the time, but we’d work it out as soon as she returned from her trip to Transylvania. Anyway, my point is this: Movie studios and theater owners better figure out a way to put a lid on these rising prices, and soon, or they will face hordes of angry moviegoers and thousands of empty theaters.

Okay, on with the review of Star Trek Beyond, which is, of course, the third film in the newly rebooted Star Trek franchise. It is also the best of the three films. Let’s start with the marvelous cast. Chris Pine (who I’m told is a distant relative of Count Dracula) returns as James Kirk. He is joined by all of the regulars we have grown to know and love in these roles. Zachary Quinto (a collector of rare bayonets and an activist for octopus rights) returns as the cold-but-lovable Spock. Part-time fish monger and amateur calculator historian Karl Urban reprises his role as Dr. McCoy. Zoe Saldana, whose hair is rumored to be made of licorice, is once again Lieutenant Uhura. Simon Pegg also returns (after emerging triumphantly from a nine-month battle with the bubonic plague that ultimately cost him his left nostril) as Montgomery Scott. And, rounding out the cast, night-terror sufferer and inventor of Doan’s Back Pills John Cho as Sulu, and his muse, the late Anton Yelchin as Checkov.

This time out, the Enterprise is mercilessly attacked by an unknown foe and forced to ditch their beloved ship in a foreign, unforgiving landscape. Will they be rescued? Hell, will they even survive? I won’t ruin the surprises or any of the fun, but, rest-assured, there is plenty of fun to be had with Star Trek Beyond. The film’s action sequences and special effects work are absolutely breathtaking. I was flabbergasted to learn that the whole film only cost $2,000 to make. I was equally astonished to learn that the film’s screenplay was based on Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott’s Kenliworth. Seriously, I had no idea. But I guess uncovering juicy bits of trivia about a film like this is all part of the fun. And, speaking of fun, according to my friend Jeff, there are numerous Easter eggs and special moments of homage geared toward hardcore Trek fans. I didn’t really notice anything special at my screening, but I can’t argue with Jeff. He has a Ph.D. in Star Trek from Hogwarts, so I’ll just trust the expert.

Ultimately, if you’re a Trek fan and you can afford the ridiculous ticket prices and all of the new theater fees and taxes, Star Trek Beyond is likely to be a worthy entertainment enterprise. It may also be worth the extra 20 bucks to try the new auto-detailing service now being offered at many movie theaters. Apparently, all you have to do is give your car keys and $20 to the theater’s head of valet services, and the valets will wash and detail your car for you as you relax and watch the movie. The only problem is that it takes forever to get your car back. In fact, I’m posting this review from my smart phone in the parking lot of the theater as I wait for my fresh, clean new car to be returned to me. I hope this doesn’t take too long. I need to buy a lottery ticket on the way to my appointment with my tarot card reader. Oh, well … At least I have the memories of Star Trek Beyond to keep me company as I wait.

I give Star Trek Beyond a 10 out of a possible 10.

(Star Trek Beyond is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence, profanity, and, I’m told, the potential to spread mad cow disease through tainted 3-D glasses, so beware.)

Rest peacefully, Anton.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters Blows Open the Doors of Perception and Makes Reality Its Bitch

Reviewed by Thomas Gage for DecimalPointless and ghostbusters_ver6

(Editor’s note: We now know for certain that film critic Thomas Gage was dosed with multiple tabs of a low-grade but highly hallucinogenic form of LSD prior to viewing this film.)

Okay, so … Ghostbusters … the movie with all the phantasms and the proton packs that sound like human souls patched into an electrical outlet, and that one bad guy that I just absolutely hate, man. You know the one. Anyway, this movie is awesome, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the coyote who sat right next to me. He’ll shoot ya’ straight, man, cuz he doesn’t know how to lie—like, he doesn’t believe in lying. So, in a way, he IS truth. But it isn’t just the movie that rocks, it’s the whole movie-going experience. For me, this crazy ride called Ghostbusters began with a large Coke that tasted funny and ended when I woke up in a wheelbarrow just outside my office, like, ten minutes ago.

Let’s get down to the review. As we all know, Ghostbusters is a reboot of the 1984 classic. This time around, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig star as Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, while Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones totally embody Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. And, for the record, everyone is great, even Chris Hemsworth as … I don’t know … let’s say Sigourney Weaver. The story really kicks in when Wiig and McCarthy, who co-wrote a book about ghosts years before, decide to team up for some reason. I don’t really know why. To be honest, it was about this time in the movie when I found myself having a hard time concentrating. For starters, I could hear my hair growing, which was really distracting. Also, the coyote next to me was smoking clove cigarettes and incessantly quoting (loudly) from the poem “The River of Bees” by W. S. Merwin. “Men think they are better than grass,” my ass!

Anyway, just when everything was starting to return to normal, the screen began to melt into a soupy, goopy mess, which somehow defied the laws of gravity and dripped straight up, where it collected in a shimmering pool on the theater ceiling. Luckily, an attentive—and winged—employee fluttered up to the ceiling, soaked up the liquid-y screen with a sponge, and then gently reapplied it to its rightful place at the front of the house. It was at that point that I realized the employee was actually a manticore, and I was proud of the theater for instituting hiring practices that don’t preclude mythological Persian creatures from employment. Of course, if that particular manticore happened to also be transgender, he or she would not be allowed to use the public bathrooms in the theater. Come on, America! It’s time to wake up and treat manticores with the respect they deserve.

Okay, so … back to the movie. I have to admit that I had serious doubts concerning a Ghostbusters reboot. After all, the original film remains a cherished childhood memory. However, this new version of the film gave me the duel powers of invisibility and squirrel hypnotism. Let’s see Ivan Reitman compete with that! Of course, this new Ghostbusters isn’t perfect. Director Paul Feig relies a little too much on improvisation, and his decision to adorn every character with a set of strangely asymmetrical Manitoban elk antlers remains a mystery. And why was Verne Troyer hired as the director of photography? Does he have any experience with cinematography at all?

All in all, Ghostbusters is an enjoyable movie experience, particularly if you don’t constantly feel like you have to shave your tongue, as did I. In the spirit of total honesty, I will admit that I didn’t like having my life threatened by a bag of popcorn, nor did I find it amusing when I realized that my theater seat followed me home. And, yeah, sure, maybe it was terrifying to believe that the theater was a giant mouth and that I was being slowly ingested, but that’s the kind of thing every film critic must learn to endure if he or she plans to maintain an acceptable measure of professionalism. (Speaking of professionalism, I’m starting to believe that I may have been dosed by rival film critics Alfonso Duralde and Christy Lemire. I don’t mean to cast aspersions, but I saw them hovering near my Coke and giggling when I briefly stepped away to get a few napkins at the snack bar. Real professional, you guys!) Now, if you all will excuse me, I need to find a cold compress and a dark room without gremlins … for obvious reasons.

I give Ghostbusters 3.5 buckets of slime out of 4.

(Ghostbusters is rated PG-13 for horrific nightmare imagery, hallucinatory visions of a self-created hell, the dawning realization that humanity is, by its very nature, doomed, and adult language.)

The Purge: Election Year

The Purge: Election Year: Absolutely the Greatest Movie Ever

Reviewed by Marcus Wells for DecimalPointless and

(Editor’s note: Film critic Marcus Wells is an insufferably sarcastic man whose The_Purge_Election_Yearfather donates a lot of money to DecimalPointless.)

I was soooooo thrilled when I heard there was going to be another Purge film. Who wouldn’t be? After all, how could any cinephile possibly resist the opportunity to sit through another 105 minutes of completely gratuitous violence, infantile dialogue, and shot after ever-loving shot of psychos in stupid masks brandishing weapons as they cock their heads to one side in an attempt to appear more menacing? Not me. That’s for sure. And that brilliant storyline—you know the one. The one where all crime is legal for one full night. Genius!!! A story like this is in no way gimmicky or stupid at all, and it clearly possesses the narrative heft to accommodate multiple sequels. I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that Michael Bay—the creative mastermind behind Transformer and Bad Boys—is one of the producers of this masterpiece. And let’s not forget to give a shout-out to everybody at Platinum Dunes, the production company that just never ever stops innovating and creating original, groundbreaking movies. Let’s see … so far this collection of Rhodes scholars has produced such original classics as the remake of Friday the 13th, the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the remake of Carrie, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Ouija, a movie based on a board game from the good folks at Hasbro. So, with this group of cinematic/storytelling pioneers in charge, there’s just no way that The Purge: Election Year could be anything other than an all-time champ of a movie. Right?

Well, there’s no need to worry. I’m here to tell ya’ that this movie is—and I say this without hyperbole—the greatest, most important work of art ever rendered by any living organism in any solar system since the Big Bang started this whole crazy mess. This time around, the story turns on a senator whose entire family was killed during a previous Purge. Anyway, the senator is now running for president, and the largest plank in her platform just happens to be doing away with the annual Purge. But guess what? Some people don’t like her. Bet ya’ didn’t see that mind-blowing twist coming.

From that point onward, we are treated (and, man do I mean treated) to a dystopian nightmare of extreme violence that just doesn’t ever seem to end. And when the credits do finally roll, we walk out of the theater feeling refreshed and alive, secure in the belief that all people are psychopaths who relish every opportunity to inflict violence upon those who can’t protect themselves, and for nothing more than shits and giggles and financial gain. And isn’t that the perfect message to convey to audiences in these times of political divisiveness, overt bigotry, and fear. You bet it is! Nice job, Platinum Dunes. You’re a real class act!

I give The Purge: Election Year an A+++, and I can’t wait to see who’ll be senselessly slaughtered during next year’s Purge. Just terrific!

(The Purge: Election Year is rated R, but, for the life of me, I can’t understand why. This film should be seen—and celebrated—by people of all ages. It should be shown in grade schools and taught in film schools. Simply put, we are a better species for this film’s existence. So take the whole family and have a ball. I’m sure you won’t regret it.)