Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

Unleashed (2005)

Cameron Crowe's best movies are about retaining one's humanity in a soul-destroying environment: big-time sports, big-time rock 'n roll, high school. Perhaps you wonder what it would be like if Crowe decided to go one step further, to portray a man trying to retain his basic humanity in the most abject of conditions, something even worse than high school - being retained in white slavery by violent criminals.

It would be a lot like Unleashed.

Crowe did not have anything to do with this film, as evidenced by its frequent departures from the logic and natural laws inherent to the universe we live in, but in the unlikely event that he would take on such a theme, he would have to produce a result something like this. Jet Li is the slave, Danny the Dog, who is kept on a leash like a pit bull, and was raised to turn into a violent fighting machine when his collar is removed. Bob Hoskins is the master, a crime boss who raised his human pit bull from early childhood. The film begins by establishing the routine of the crime syndicate: a visit to someone behind on his payments; a failure to pay; the removal of the collar; mayhem. After the human pit bull has served his purpose, he is thrust back into his tiny cage and thrown scraps as if he were a real dog.

About thirty minutes into the film, a dramatic gangland ambush kills the master and frees the slave, so Danny serendipitously ends up in the gentle household of a blind piano tuner and his talented step-daughter, who adopt Danny like a ... well, like a stray puppy. The ensuing section of the film could easily have been directed by Crowe, filled as it is with the simple pleasures of a wild animal learning to be a human through the love of his new family. Of course, Crowe would probably take the scenario off in another direction from there, but this film is at heart an over-the-top action movie, so the plot will require us to accept that the master, once thought dead, is still alive and will come to reclaim his chattel. After all, Mr. Dog is not being played by Matthew Broderick or John Cusack, but by martial arts master Jet Li, so we have to assume that the film will place Danny and us on our leashes and lead us toward some serious ass-kicking action.

Indeed it does. This time around, the master has a new plan to profit from his unbeatable pit bull, not as a mere enforcer for small-time welchers, but as the superstar of an underground fighting circuit consisting of high-stakes tough guy contests which are fought to the death. They are like cockfights, except with human cocks.

Wave good-bye to the Cameron Crowe section of the evening's entertainment, and welcome Luc Besson back in the door.

It goes without saying that Danny the man will not allow Danny the dog to re-emerge, and that the worlds of the two Dannys will have to collide.

You have to be warned that this is a Luc Besson script, and that it therefore takes place outside our plane of existence. When we watch a fairy tale, we accept the fact that wolves and billy goats can talk. Besson scripts require us to accept similar conditions. Or maybe watching a Besson movie is less like hearing a fairy tale and more like playing a board game, in that you have to understand the rules in order to enjoy it. Besson's personal rule book includes the following:

1. The natural laws of the universe do not apply. You must assume that these stories are preceded by "once upon a time" and take place in fairy-tale land. The characters are not bound by the laws of physics, not even the basic laws, like gravity. If a character has to shoot someone hundreds of yards away, he does not have to adjust for gravity or wind velocity. He just aims and fires and hits. If a character falls upon a car from a fourth story window, there is no attempt to determine how much impact such a fall would really make. In the film, it might seem to cause an impact like a fall from one hundred stories, or it might cause no impact at all, depending solely on the whim of the director.

2. When opposing forces square off, they are not affected by innocent bystanders or legal authorities. In Besson's scripts it is common to have long gangland fights or shoot-outs in apartments or even in suburban neighborhoods, but nobody ever calls the police, and no people are ever seen except main characters and those who directly participate in the brouhaha. Gangsters are free to draw guns or automatic weapons and point or fire them at will in public, at any time or place, without fear of any legal consequences.

3. However, the aforementioned gangsters will not draw such guns when to do so would end some hand-to-hand combat.

4. When the bad guy's evil minions are fighting our hero hand-to-hand, they not only eschew guns, but they also refuse to gang up on him. They stand dramatically posed, like the characters on the covers of Marvel comic books, politely waiting their turns to get their asses kicked.

5. Place names are irrelevant. They are just names. Just because the script says that the story takes place in New York or Aix-en-Provence or Glasgow does not mean that the roads taken by the characters in those places will lead to where those roads actually lead. Nor does it mean that the people inhabiting those places will be like the people who actually live there. Besson New Yorkers can take the D train to New Jersey, and Besson Glaswegians need not necessarily be Scots. In the specific case of Unleashed, some American reviewers mistakenly mentioned that the film takes place in London. It's easy to understand how they made that assumption, even though Glasgow is mentioned many times, and the filming actually was done in Glasgow! This Glasgow includes no Scots at all. Nary a one. Everyone in the film speaks one of three ways: (1) proper upper crust English (2) with a Cockney accent (3) with an American accent. In the case of Kerry Condon, she speaks with the worst American accent ever, even worse than Graham Chapman's Yank in the Monty Python skits, and Chapman was just kidding around! It's the American equivalent of Dick van Dyke's famous Cockney turn in Mary Poppins. I have no idea why they didn't hire an American actress, since they hired Morgan Freeman to play her step-father. Kerry's accent not only sounded comically false, but her vowels sounded nothing like the perfectly modulated standard American tones of the man who allegedly raised her!

I guess you think that I'm going to dump on this film. I've misled you as usual. I'm only preparing you for the levels of disbelief you will have to suspend, for they are numerous, and many potential viewers will not want to make the commitment to suspend them. If you don't have any trouble with the things I mentioned above, you may get a real kick out of this movie. The tone ranges from the cloying sentimentality of It's a Wonderful Life to the jarring violence of Leon the Professional, and everything about it is over-the-top. Furthermore, the logic of the script is often annoyingly stupid. And yet it all worked for me. I just assumed the problems resulted from the fact that it was a fairy tale, so I accepted the talking wolves, and let the film manipulate me.

A lot of things had to come together to make the film work, and they did. Danny the Dog was an unrealistic role, outside of human experience, but action star Jet Li delivered it as credibly as any man could have, and with a lot of charm. Similarly, it would have been an easy matter for the film to turn the little old blind piano tuner into a figure of bathos, but you don't get that kind of result when you cast Morgan Freeman. You get a regular guy, albeit one more sensible and more compassionate than most. Freeman was perfect, as he usually is. Most of the film's scenes have a tremendously effective green-gray look, as if the film's universe were sunless and permanently clouded by a light green fog, all of which which is appropriate for the story of a man/dog who has rarely seen sunlight. The film also includes some spectacular fight choreography, although the fight scenes last too long and are too artificial and stylized for my personal taste.

Bottom line: it hooked me in and kept me interested. That's what fantasy films are supposed to do. As long as you give it plenty of latitude, it might work for you as well.


The critics in the U.K. absolutely despised this film. By the Guardian's reckoning, the average score was one and a half stars out of four. That was a major exception to the general consensus about Unleashed. All our other measurements show "three stars" or its approximate equivalent, yet the British critics panned it almost to a man.


Well, for one thing, they were quite upset by the fact that there were no Scots in Glasgow. To help you Americans understand this, imagine if a story took place in Mississippi but every single character, even the shopkeepers, either spoke with a heavy New York accent or an Irish brogue. Would that put you off? I think it would, and the equivalent of that happened here for British viewers. The Observer declared it to be "set in a Glasgow curiously bereft of Scotsmen," while the Guardian noted, "Bizarrely, it's supposed to be set in Glasgow - but full of no one but Americans and cockneys."

For another thing, the British critics seem to come from the ranks of the literati, and they despise stupidity. The found Unleashed to be unbearably stupid, mawkishly sentimental, totally implausible, lacking in nuance, and unrepentantly violent.

I don't disagree with their evaluation. I just don't see why they consider those things to be negative.

I'm kidding, but you know what I mean. One need not take pleasure only in the music of the spheres and the brighter angels of our nature. Sometimes I am in the mood for well-constructed, unchallenging, over-the-top, juvenile entertainment. Here it is.

Georgina Chapman

Danielle Harley

Laurence Taboulet

Crimson Ghost

Captures and comments from the Ghost.

Devyn Taylor from "Intimate Sessions"


Zipped .avis, caps, and comments by ICMS


In "Das Experiment" (2001), a German movie about a prison experiment, two women show some skin. Maren Eggert's breasts and buns are on display while popular Andrea Sawatzki (1, 2) stumbles upon a a sleazebag who forces her to undress. Luckily there is some rescue under way for this damsel in distress. I haven't seen the film but it is also available on region 1 DVD in case someone is interested.


French actress Virginie Ledoyen (1, 2) wants you to admire her breasts and buns in 1998's "En plein coeur". Can you refuse?

Sin City

Nine more collages from the Rodriguez technical masterpiece, from the master of collages, Zononon Zor
Jessica Alba
Jamie King
Rosario Dawson


'Caps and comments by Hankster:

Today we visit a 1991 movie "Bikini Summer," and I am sure you can tell what this movie is about.

Sadly, it's a horrible flick with only one redeeming feature and her name is Melinda Armstrong. She's not well known but she has done several movies.

 So here are the only highlights as Melinda displays every inch of her absolutely stunning body.


Katie, from The Real World
Bonnie Lee Bakley. Baretta was on trial for (allegedly) murdering her.
Brittany Murphy. HQ of a pretty sweet see-through.
Movie Reviews


Here are the latest movie reviews available at

  • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
  • If there is a white asterisk, it means that there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined there might be something else of interest.
  • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
  • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

Other Crap

HAVE demons been talking to you lately? Don't panic! You can learn loads of valuable information from the chatty minions of Satan -- including tidbits about future business trends you can use to get rich!

True art or a hastily created fake? A quiz.

Condoleezza Rice Releases Hip-Hop Album To Combat Own Whiteness

I don't know if this is the headline of the day, but it's one of the stranger headlines ... "Japan's shy geeks boast huge financial clout"

Conan's Yankees vs. Angels recap, plus the Columbo Day Parade.

Seven clips from the movie adaptation of Doom, the video game

Say it ain't so ... Fox Cancels 'The Simple Life'

Jude Law, Sienna Miller: It's Over

FEMA TOO LATE TO SAVE NICK AND JESSICA'S MARRIAGE ... Beleaguered Agency "Caught Unawares" By Marital Meltdown

  • For his part, FEMA’s head said that the agency had learned its lesson “the hard way” from the Nick and Jessica breakup and would be better prepared the next time: “We are going to be monitoring Ashton and Demi very, very closely.”

NEW ORLEANS RECOVERING FASTER THAN ANDERSON COOPER ... Newsman Still Sobbing One Month After Katrina, Federal Officials Say

  • “The Anderson Cooper situation has been extraordinary in the annals of sobbing. We really haven’t seen anything like this since Halle Berry won the Academy Award.”

I haven't tried to figure out the biggest financial disaster of the year in the movie biz, but here are some contenders:

  • Oliver Twist (2005) was made with a production budget of $60 million. Last week it grossed less in 779 theaters than Capote grossed in 11! It will finish with a domestic box office total below three million dollars.
  • A Sound of Thunder has similar numbers with an even larger budget - $80 million budget, two million gross.
  • Those numbers look relatively worse than the comparable figures for Stealth, but I think Stealth has to have lost more money. It grossed $32 million (and another $30 million overseas), but had a production budget of $138 million.
  • Some sources reported that Son of the Mask had a production cost of $100 million. If so, it is a serious contender, with only $17 million in domestic gross.
  • I was surprised to discover that Kingdom of Heaven is not on the list. It took a shellacking at the box office in the USA, but was a mammoth hit overseas. ($47 million domestic box, but $163 million foreign!!)

Daily Box Office - Monday, October 10 and Tuesday, October 11, 2005. It's interesting to see the difference between a holiday and a normal day.

    There was no school Monday, so Wallace & Gromit completely dominated the action, pulling in more than the next two films aded together. Corpse Bride finished a respectable fifth.

  • School resumed on Tuesday. Wallace and Gromit dropped to third, and Corpse Bride almost dropped off the map, falling to ninth, with only $106 per screen.
  • In terms of revenues per screen, the top film on Tuesday was Waiting ... , the critically reviled lowbrow comedy. In terms of total gross, the top film was Curtis Hanson's chixploitation film, In Her Shoes. In second place was the Pacino sports gambling film!
  • Absent the kiddie market, there's just no champion in the fragmented field.

Crony Jobs - Choice government careers for the taking. No experience necessary.

Van Gogh drawings to be exhibited. "Vincent van Gogh's paintings have a universal appeal, but curators at The Metropolitan Museum of Art hope it will be his drawings that will take New York's breath away. "

"Our friend puberty" (spoof of 1950s sex ed film)

PhotosConfirm Kutcher and Moore Wedding. Kutcher is wearing a white suit and fedora, while Demi is wearing a floral print muu-muu and support hose.

"Dali gave sculpture of Christ to his exorcist." Man, I'll bet the other exorcists were so-o-o jealous.

2005 NFL Cheerleader Tour - Day 22 : Tennessee Titans

Every once in a while a team comes from out of the blue to surprise you. The Titans always had some impressive members, but were hampered by one big problem. Guys. This is definitely a prime example of addition by subtraction.

The website for the new-look Titan Cheerleaders has a lot of nice extras that make it something for other squads to look at. The prime example is the extra photos and video in the bio section. With one look at the easy navigation for the additional photos of
, you can see why this would be a positive addition for other web sites. Some other places that must be visited on this site include the slideshows for Chastity, Lindsey, and Leigh. I would still like to see some more content to this site. There are no photos from games or from community appearances. There is also no mention of any kind of calendar.

They have come a long way. Look for this team to keep climbing the charts for the next few years.

Rating 8.0 out of 10.

Weekly World News: "HOW TO SCORE HOW TO SCORE WITH REAL-LIFE DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES! ... They're not called 'desperate' for nothing.

  • I wonder if any member of the Weekly World News staff has ever been with a woman. If it ever happens, they should do a headline story on that.

The first three minutes of Saw 2

Page title speaks for itself: Cameron Diaz's ass!

Letterman's "Top Ten New York Yankees Excuses"

  • "Due to typo in latest memo, Steinbrenner demanded players give 10%"

Canadian Hinterland: The Petroleum Jellyfish

Britney hires Federline's ex to be her nanny. "They hope that by uniting all of his children under one roof, and creating a cosy, domestic atmosphere, he’ll want to spend more time at home." Because if Britney were to lose Federline, however would she go on?

Jennifer Connelly is in talks to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in director Edward Zwick's dramatic thriller The Blood Diamond"

AstroPic o' the Day: "The surface of Saturn's moon Tethys is riddled with icy cliffs and craters." Incredibly detailed photo.

Comcast proposes video on demand with a DVD follow-up

PETA comics: Your daddy kills animals

PETA comics: Your mommy kills animals.

Pat Reeder -

A Burning Bush Story - The BBC is backing away from a claim that President Bush told Palestinian officials that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and create a Palestinian state.  The White House strongly denied that Bush said God talked to him, and the Palestinian official who quoted Bush now says he didn't think Bush meant it literally.

*  I could believe God spoke directly easier than I could believe Dubya spoke metaphorically.
*  God also issued a statement denying He had anything to do with the Iraq decision.
*  The New York Times headline will read, "Bush Denies God."

Blue Blood - The Belgian arm of Unicef wanted an attention-getting TV ad for their campaign, "Don't let war affect the lives of children."  So they made an animated spot showing happy Smurfs dancing in Smurf village with bunnies and bluebirds.  Suddenly, warplanes appear and napalm them.  The ad ends with Baby Smurf crying, surrounded by flames and prone Smurfs.  They plan to air it only after 9 p.m., but a preview on the evening news left adults shocked and children crying in terror.  The ad agency said they originally wanted to make it even more like a real war, with Smurfs losing arms and heads, but Unicef said no.

*  They had a real battle over it in the conference room.
*  That's the trouble with Unicef: no sense of humor...They should've let the "South Park" guys make it.
*  A real war would traumatize children almost as much as this ad does. 
*  That's horrible!  They shouldn't napalm the Smurfs!  They should napalm Barney!
*  In the words of Oscar Wilde, "It would take a heart of stone not to laugh."

Do You Really Want To Snort Me? - Early Friday morning in New York City, Boy George was arrested after police responded to a call about a burglary at his apartment and allegedly found five grams of cocaine.  However, George's rep claimed the drug was not his and must've been left by a guest.  If convicted, George could get up to 15 years in prison.

*  Although he's instructed his attorney to try for 20.
*  Are they sure it was coke, and not just a pile of face powder?

But Consistently Stupid - Police in Medford, Oregon, are searching for a thief who is sporadically honest.  He rode a bike up to a coffee stand and ordered a cup.  He then told the owner he had a gun and demanded money.  She handed over her cash.  He handed some of it back to her to pay for the coffee, then rode off.

*  Hey!  He's a thief, not a moocher!
*  But he spilled the hot coffee on himself, and now he's suing her.

No Queens Allowed! - Tihomir "Tiger" Titschko of Bulgaria has won the first European Heavyweight Chessboxing Championship in Germany.  Competitors alternate four-minute rounds of chess with two-minute rounds of boxing.  It can go for a maximum of 11 rounds, or until either a knockout or a checkmate.  Titschko beat German champ Andreas "Doomsday" Schneider with a checkmate in the 9th round.  A spokesperson for the World Chess Boxing Organization said, "The basic idea in chessboxing is to combine the #1 thinking sport and the #1 fighting sport into a hybrid that demands the most of its competitors, both mentally and physically."

*  Except the really good chess players are usually weeded out in the first round.
*  The decisive move came when Tiger picked up his bishop and embedded it in Schneider's forehead.
 *  This sounds like the way my family used to play Monopoly.
*  They're thinking of turning it into a triathelon by adding either skeet-shooting or harpsichord.

Eau de Fromage - A study by the Paris magazine Le Point confirmed that the French really are stinky.  The French usually dismiss that image as bigoted slander, but the study found that nine out of ten do not wash regularly, almost one in 25 never bathe, and one in 33 never brush their teeth. However, 90 percent of French women and half the men do apply fragrances.

*  But not enough
*  French women wear perfume to cover up the smell of the men.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - Friday, developers announced plans for a multimillion-dollar sex "theme park" near Piccadilly Circus in London.  But they said the London Academy of Sex and Relationships would not be sleazy and titillating, but an interactive, multimedia educational attraction, teaching about everything from STDs to improving your sex life in an exciting, amusing way.  A spokeswoman said, "It is long overdue that the U.K. faces up to its responsibilities in the sexual arena.  We cannot simply avoid mankind's leading preoccupation and the issues that go with it."

*  Sure, you can!  That's what being British is all about!
*  Leave it to the British to take everything sleazy and titillating out of sex.
 *  And what a great place to go on a first date!
*  Yes, there WILL be a waterbed ride.
*  Wow, Michael Eisner's only gone a week, and Disney takes a whole new direction!

The Smell Of Grant Money - Here are some more Ig Nobel Prize winners, given for the most dubious achievements of 2005.  The prize for Biology went to the University of Adelaide for smelling and cataloging the odors produced by 131 different species of frogs when feeling stressed.  The Nutrition prize went to a Japanese researcher who photographed and analyzed every meal he ate for 14 years.  And the prize for Fluid Dynamics went to the author of a study called "Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh: Calculations on Avian Defecation."

*  And to think, his peers said that study was a pile of crap!
*  He photographed and analyzed every meal the penguins ate.
*  It's being turned into a family movie called "Farts of the Penguins."

The Law And The Profits - Some rabbis are calling for Madonna to be thrown out of the Kabbalah community because her upcoming album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," has a track called "Isaac" in honor of 16th Century Kabbalah scholar, Yitzhak Luria.  They say Jewish law forbids the use of the holy rabbi's name for profit, and Madonna could face divine retribution for releasing this album.

*  Madonna faces divine retribution for every album she's ever put out...What's one more?
*  Madonna's not concerned: she knows she's already going to Hell just for the movies she's made.
*  The only way to make amends is through prayer and giving all the profits to the Kabbalah Center.
*  Catholics are just happy that she's found a new religion to offend.

He Must Be Over 60 - Esquire magazine chose "7th Heaven" star Jessica Biel, 23, as the "Sexiest Woman Alive," replacing last year's sexiest, Angelina Jolie.  But their list also includes three in older age brackets: Gong Li (39), Sharon Stone (47), and Rene Russo (51).  Editor David Granger said, "It's easy to appreciate womanhood without any consideration of age.  Youth isn't the automatic turn-on it used to be."

*  That's true: Ashlee Simpson is young.
*  He's right, you can be older and still hot, like Angelina Jolie.
*  Besides, thanks to PhotoShop, they all look 19 anyway.
*  When they need a sexy leading lady for an actor over 70, they can get Rene Russo.


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