Ratko: The Dictator's Son


Ratko, the new freshman foreign exchange student at Our University, is the son of a dictator who rules his country with an autocratic cult of personality and a particularly deplorable human rights record. His country is at the junction of Asia and Europe, so the most comparable real-life dictator would have been Niyazov of Turkmenestan.

As soon as Ratko arrives, he throws around enough money to take over the entire dormitory, which he then remodels into a palace. He relocates all the other students to a luxury hotel, but he keeps his assigned roommate within the palace/dorm, because college is all about getting to know a roommate from a very different background. As Ratko settles in, he meets the girl of his dreams, but she turns out to be a political activist who will have nothing to do with him when she finds out who his father is. He's not clear why she would respond in this manner because he has been sheltered from any knowledge of his father's atrocities. He resolves to find out the truth. Will he reject his father? Will he get the girl? How will his father react?

In general, the plot of Ratko is predictable and boring and the comic ideas are lowbrow and derivative. You've seen the best ideas before, in better movies. This National Lampoon production is a cross between Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School and Borat, and it freely borrows ideas from those two films, as well as many others. For example, two girls accompany a video game competition with an insult war based on "You're so skanky that ..." You've seen this scene already, with only minor variations, in The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, where Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd play a video game and exchange "You know how I know you're gay?" taunts.

Of course, a copycat comedy may still bring a few laughs, and Ratko does have its moments. In fact, I thought I was going to love the film after the first two minutes, which consist of a newsreel documentary about Ratko's homeland. (Film clip here. Only brief anonymous nudity, but an entertaining clip.) The film was directed by Savage Steve Holland, who wrote and directed two of my favorite comedies more than 20 years ago. He also created the bizarrely entertaining Eek! The Cat! series in the early 90s. I've been wondering why he's had such a long dry spell since then, so I'm glad to see him back in the game, even if this movie has to be considered merely a minor league rehab start, since he was basically just a director-for-hire on this project and didn't write the script. According to the IMDb, he may get a major league start soon enough. He is listed as one of the writers on the upcoming Howard Stern remake of Porky's. That should be right up Holland's alley, since Porky's provided the template for 1980s coming-of-age comedies, and Holland mastered that genre.

You have to love the cast of this movie. The lead role is played by Efren Ramirez, "Pedro" from Napoleon Dynamite. Some other familiar D-list faces make appearances. Ratko's sidekick is played by the official second banana from all 1980s coming-of-age films, Curtis "Booger" Armstrong, who also played John Cusack's sidekick in Savage Steve Holland's Better Off Dead. The part of Ratko's father, the mad dictator, is played by Adam "Batman" West, whose ability with foreign accents is not likely to take much work away from Meryl Streep. The dean of Our University is played by Dennis "Principal Belding" Haskins.

Now come on. How can you pass up on a film with Pedro, Batman, Booger and Belding? If that isn't enough inducement, Kato Kaelin has a cameo role, and there's a whole passel of nekkid boobies on display:

Christine Connolly, Elisa King, and Angela Fong

Ildiko Ferenczi and Lucia Oskerova

Leslie Zagers and Michelle Bailey

Olivia O'Leary, Luscious Lopez, and Rucca Paige


  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








Boys Don't Cry


Chloe Sevigny film clips

samples below

Hillary Swank film clips

samples below


Scoop's notes:

The success or failure of movies made from real-life stories always lies in the execution. You know that the premise and the payoff must be interesting enough to inspire someone to make a movie about it,  right? So the execution is what distinguishes the soporific real-life stories like Silkwood, which plays out like a PBS show, from the taut and tense  real-life stories like The Insider, which plays out like an international espionage flick. 

"Boys Don't Cry" has two potentially fatal flaws to overcome:

(1) The dramatic conflict itself is not inherently unique or particularly interesting. If the filmmakers had made the exact same movie without telling people that it was a true story, it would have been yet another made-for-TV movie.

(2) The backdrop is boring. It's like Silkwood in that when it isn't engaged in the main premise, it's just down home folks doin' some down home stuff: drinkin' beer and tippin' cows and actin' like illiterate assholes. 

Am I trashing the movie? Not at all. I'm just setting up the next statement, which is that it overcomes those obstacles beautifully, much like The Insider. Just about every minute of this film is charged with tension. Will the impersonation be discovered by someone? Will the white trash cons erupt into violence? How the hell will Teena/Brandon make love to a woman without her discovering the secret? Will the cops catch their various evil doings? Will the cops unearth the criminal activities in Teena's past? Because it is effectively directed and performed to maintain the tension, and because the performers carry off the mood exactly as it should be, this is an excellent piece of filmmaking.

Did I like it? Not one bit. I did think it was a tense and powerful and gritty movie, but I'll never watch it again. I admired its artistry and I was impressed by the cast, but what is there to like? Teena didn't want to overcome his/her sexual identity crisis in order to save the environment or create an inexpensive eternal light bulb. Nope. She only wanted to prove that she could be a lyin', stealin', fightin'-fer-no-reason, drunk drivin', longneck drinkin' and burpin', work-evadin', chain-smokin', shopliftin', buyin'-booze-fer-minors, no-account trailer trash scumbag. So if Teena had been accepted, she/he would have settled into a life of robbin' Circle K's. Do we need more of those guys? Lookin' out my windows, we seem to have plenty of 'em here in Texas, iff'n you Yankees have an acute shortage.

Whether she ended up a lesbian, or a transsexual, or a transvestite, or something completely unique, the bottom line is that she wasn't really a very good person. Even when she suffers, you have a hard time opening up your heart to touch her pain, because she always could have made the choice to integrate into life as a decent man instead of hanging out with criminal sociopaths. Jeez, Brandon. Dress like a guy, get an education, make a few bucks, get the operation, change your name legally. Bingo, you're a man, and nobody is the wiser about your past.



The Private Lives of Pippa Lee




Dree Hemingway

Mena Suvari cameltoe

Anna Breuer in Beast Within

Glori Gold in Hot Springs Hotel: Bachelorette Party

Glori Gold in Hot Springs Hotel: Corporate Raiders

Glori Gold in Hot Springs Hotel: Fantasy

Glori Gold in Hot Springs Hotel: Theo and the Model

Ok-vin Kim in Thirst

Michelle Maylene in Co-Ed Confidential, s3, e2


Michelle Maylene in Co-Ed Confidential, s3, e13



Film Clips