Third Monday Movie Day

Movie of the Month: The Rock-Afire Explosion (2008, Brett Whitcomb)

Do you remember the Rock-Afire Explosion? They were the animatronic rock band at Showbiz Pizza. Do you remember Showbiz Pizza? They merged with Chuck E. Cheese, and The Rock-Afire Explosion was phased out in favor of Chuck E. and his friends.

This documentary is about the whirlwind success and downfall of The Rock-Afire Explosion, brainchild of Aaron Fechter, who once employed 400 people but now runs his company alone. The story is a bummer at times but is ultimately hopeful; fans have kept the "band" alive through the years, and superfan Chris Thrash even bought a set of the band and programs birthday shows for local kids.

The film could focus on big, bad Chuck E. Cheese taking over if it wanted to, but it glosses over the takeover (called "concept unification") and focuses on the idea of lost childhood memories instead. It's a documentary that definitely leaves you with mixed emotions, and at 70 minutes (and on Netflix streaming) I'd definitely suggest it to you.

Otherwise, this month, I mostly focused on zombie movies for some reason. All styles, all budgets, all countries of origin. I guess Rammbock: Berlin Undead was probably the best of them.

What have you seen?

58 thoughts on “Third Monday Movie Day”

  1. Not much this past month.

    Easy A: Good jokes. Emma Stone. Ridiculous plot. Emma Stone. Pointless movie. Emma Stone.
    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: Not moving like Pixar films tend to be, but still funny for adults and great visuals.

    1. Easy A is where my wife first heard the name we'd eventually use for our daughter. She's didn't get the name of Emma Stone's character because of the movie, its just where my wife heard it and thought it would make a really good name. (and I was on board, too, even though we mostly get a lot of old people telling us they haven't heard that name in years.)

        1. Indeed. We wanted to name her something relatively unique without it being weird. Olive was just right for that.

  2. I have vague recollections of what I think was the Rock-Afire Explosion at the Circus Circus in Maplewood, so maybe I'll check that one out.

    I finally saw The Avengers and loved it. It felt a lot like Iron Man 3, but I'm ok with that since the Iron Man movies were the clear winner of the Marvel comics movies over the past couple years, possibly due to Robert Downey Jr. Of course, I didn't see any of the other movies other than Thor, so maybe I'm off base.

    I also watched 6 Days to Air, a documentary showing the creative process of South Park. It was interesting, but I think it showed pretty clearly why the show, for me at least, has been so hit or miss over the past few years. Matt and Trey are basically surrounded by 'Yes' men in the writers room. It was Trey throwing out a joke, and the other four people in the room laughing at it, but never actually providing their own ideas. That sort of thin leads to episodes based on Brittany Spears with half a head.

    That's about it for movies. For tv, I finally got around to checking out Party Down after seeing recommendations here. I've watched about the first 6 episodes, and they are hilarious.

    Season 3 of The League is out now, as well. They were threatening to make it suck when Seth Rogen showed up in the first episode of the season as Dirty Randy. I was laughing for a good ten minutes straight, then he came in and all laughter ended. I'm not sure there is an actor I'd rather watch less than him these days. I'll take a marathon of nothing but Steve Carell before I watch 5 minutes of Seth Rogen pretending he has a quick wit and an "edgy", dirty mind. Other than that, the first third of the season has been great. The end of the "Carmenjello" episode with the exploding paint can and zipper fairies is possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen.

      1. Right, even a stupid idea like Taco becoming a notary public somehow is hilarious.

      2. I think it is because Taco isn't just stupid. He seems to exist in a different reality than everyone else.

    1. I was surprised to see bill hader as such a, for lack of a better word, yes man. I'm not sure why that surprises me, but it does.

  3. I watched Cyrus this weekend. It started out looking like a comedy but ended up a drama. I'm not a big fan of that type.

    1. This. There's nothing wrong with dramas with comedic elements, or comedies with dramatic elements, but when you spend the first half of the movie making me laugh, then punch me in the face with tacked on drama, I just loathe it. It seems like a very popular thing to do lately, and I don't know why.

      1. The worst part was that I watched the first half alone and then my wife joined for the second half. She thought I was crazy since there wasn't a single laugh in tne second half and I described it as a comedy.

      2. It's always been a popular thing to do (well, not so much "popular" as "common"). A comedy still has to have a human element, and a lot of screenwriters cross the barrier in their script where they have to focus on it and suddenly they forget that they have to keep being funny since people watched it specifically because it's a comedy. It's a hard thing to do, keeping up the laughs through the "real" stuff, which is why a lot of screenwriters initially write their scripts in the style that Cyrus apparently did, and then go back and punch it up with the laughs after the first draft is done.

  4. The last two or three weeks have been devoted to Breaking Bad. Linds and I have devoured the first three seasons, and are midway through season four. It's a very good television program, if a little below the radar. You should all check it out.

  5. Saw Hunger Games a week or so ago. I thought the scenes in the Arena were actually pretty good, not predictable, well shot, etc. I haven't read the books but I generally know the plot. I don't get how having this tribute of having teenagers fight to the death keeps the Districts in order, but I get it's probably just a MacGuffin to having the kids battle each other.

    Apollo 18 was dumb, you can skip.

  6. Holy crap it's that time already?

    I went to The Master at the Uptown when I was in Minneapolis last month. Earlier in the day I'd attended SurlyFest, and before the movie I had to rush to drop friends off at the Zelda symphony. So, I'll be honest, I wasn't really in the mood to digest something so dense. It was beautifully shot (obviously), and the performances were great, but I didn't get a lot out of it since I was just exhausted by the time I sat down for the movie. I badly want to watch it again, though. So there's that.

    Other than that, J & I have been mainlining Adventure Time lately. I saw the pilot episode thing many years ago on the internet and adored it, but I never really took the time to watch the show once it started airing. It's a blast.

    I'm actually really sad I haven't got to see Looper yet. I adore Rian Johnson (why in the hell aren't there US Blu-Rays of Brick and The Brothers Bloom ?) and was more excited for this movie than basically any others this year, but I still haven't gone to it. I'm hoping to rectify that later this week.

    1. was more excited for this movie than basically any others this year, but I still haven't gone to it. I'm hoping to rectify that later this week.


    2. I watched Brick on Netflix a couple weeks ago. Pretty good, almost exactly what I expected from the previews I've seen. I don't say that about many movies, for whatever that's worth.

      1. When I first read about it, I figured it would be way up my alley. It was definitely about what I was expecting, so I understand the sentiment.

        Pretty spectacular film.

  7. Ann Arbor, Michigan is the biggest hick town in the world. I know because I saw The Five Year Engagement this weekend.

  8. Watched Lawrence of Arabia and Electra Luxx off Crackle. LoA the movie was what I expected, but LoA the man was not. And Jose Ferrer must have really been the cat's @ss to have gotten such billing for a handful of lines and a few minutes on camera. Meanwhile, EL was on the totally opposite spectrum. Gordon-Levitt had to have owed someone a big favor to be in this one.

  9. Watched Looper. It had the feeling of an adaptation of a PKD story. A bit more violent than I expected, but that didn't really bother me. Overall I liked it, but it wasn't anything special.

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    2. I thought it was more successful adaptation than most attempts at the time travel genre, but:

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    3. If you like Time Travel movies, I was pleasantly surprised by a low-budget one I saw awhile ago called Primer. And of course there's always 12 Monkeys.

  10. Zombie or apocalypse crap I watched this month:

    2012: Zombie Apocalypse. Straightforward. Hilariously bad CGI, but the movie's eager and the performers are committed (if not great, in some cases). There are a couple of interesting twists on the genre - animals can get infected, for instance - but too little time is spent on that, and too much is spent on the same stuff that's in every zombie movie. Also, the movie introduces about five new characters in the last 30 minutes, all at once, and asks us to care about them as much as the people we've been with all movie long. Sorta weird.

    Rammbock: Berlin Undead. A pretty good drama (and at times, dark comedy) about a small group of survivors in an apartment complex. The twists are clever and interesting, and the script is much smarter than the average zombie movie. I love, love, love the ending of this thing.

    Phase 7. This is a Mexican movie about the apocalypse, primarily focusing on a young apathetic couple who lives in an apartment complex that gets quarantined. The first half is full of dark comedy, and I really liked it. It turns on a dime fairly late into heavy drama. That's the movie's intent, but it's still jarring. I can't decide if I like or hate this movie. Certainly, it has some great moments.

    All of these are streaming on Netflix, if anyone's into end-days stuff.

    1. I am in to end days stuff. I'm going to try to check some of these out. Definitely Rammbock now that you have me curious what you loved so much about the ending.

      1. It's just sixty minutes long for some reason. It may be part of a horror TV series over there or something - I don't know. But I connected with the lead character as much as I do in any full-length movie.

        It's subtitled - I hope that's not a turnoff for you. It's not even something I consider, so I generally forget to mention it. It's not exactly packed with dialogue (lots of tense, quiet scenes) so it should be fine.

        Phase 7 is subtitled too. There are several spelling and grammar mistakes in the titling. It's distracting, but I got used to it.

        1. I'm perfectly ok with subtitles. (I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Snow, for instance.) I usually prefer to watch foreign language films with the subtitles, because the english track is always distracting. (Although sometimes there's a movie like Shaolin Soccer where the english dubbing is packed with added jokes not found in the subtitles.)

          1. I suddenly need to watch Shaolin Soccer again. I also need Stephen Chow to direct a new movie. Eight years since Kung Fu Hustle? Too damn long.

    2. I just finished Zone One and anticipate the release of whatever movie incarnation the novel takes. Actually, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it as a heady alternative to the usually predictable zombie genre.

  11. I've almost exclusively watched BSG and Modern Family Season 1 over the past month.

    I'm ready for BSG to be done. We're half-way through season 4. So close. It makes the filler episodes even more obnoxious.

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    Oh, and I've decided

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      1. Thanks. That's what I've heard. Like, 50% of people love it, and 50% of people hate it. I don't have a ton of faith in these writers, so I'm planning on hating it.

    1. I need to go back and re-watch that series. It's been long enough to make it worthwhile.

      Ronald D. Moore(BSG showrunner) created his episode commentaries concurrent to the show airing. It was an interesting way of doing things, especially for the episodes that he hated(Black Market), where he spent the commentary apologizing and discussing exactly why everything went wrong.

      Since you are near the end, I will tell you there are some things coming up that a lot of show devotees at the time absolutely hated(and some of them liked). I personally think that they could have been dealt with much better. It will be interesting to see your take when you finish the series.

  12. Dr. Chop and I took in The Master at the Prytania and I was totally impressed with the performances. I'm not sure that the movie has anything ground breaking to say, but hot damn do the players say it so well.

    1. I also saw Moonrise Kingdom and was so underwhelmed. I generally like wes, and I know that y'all have picked this movie apart already and I don't have anything more to add, but I was really disappointed with the performance the lead turned in. The stilted, rigid acting from the kids really sunk this movie for me. Nothing tops Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murry's relationship in Rushmore, for me, when it comes to Wes Anderson's movies.

      1. I'll secondy-second this in a hurry - though I expressed those sentiments last month.

  13. No one (other than Moss) saw Argo? Really good film. Affleck did a hell of a job putting this one together, and a fine job acting too. (Seriously.)

    Moss spent two hours yesterday reading about the history of US-Iran relations, the hostage crisis, etc. after seeing the movie. We have a lot to be ashamed about.

    1. Does Moss have a live-in babysitter? I know he has young kids yet he seems to get out to a lot more movies than I do. What is the secret?

  14. Just got home from my first day of work...

    Let's see, this weekend I was at a friend's cabin helping him take in his dock. While there, I saw Pride and Glory and Friends With Benefits. PaG was perfectly cromulent, but completely predictable. Still Edward Norton was his usual good self, and Colin Farrell was his usual sketchy self. FwB was actually much, much funnier than I expected for about an hour (the movie within the movie was excellent parody), but, like pretty much every romantic comedy ever made, it completely fell flat during the final third. Oh well...

    Sheenie and I have started The Shield (perhaps that's why PaG seemed so completely predictable is that they have pretty much the exact same plot) and are continuing to plow through Cheers on instant Netflix (we've reached Coach's death, sadly). We also finished up Flight of the Conchords. Season 2 was funny, but no where near the incredibly hilarious standard they set in Season 1. Can't think of much else that I've seen this month (a few episodes of season 2 of Deadwood, just for fun).

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        2. Mine too. I'd probably put Terriers next, honestly. I sure hope Shawn Ryan gets another show that hangs on for a few seasons before too long.

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