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October 14, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-10-14

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Monday, October 14, 1991

Page 5

The importance of
being Ernestly stupid

Ernest Scared
Stupid
dir. John Cherry
By Mike Kuniavsky

T he first mistake of Art is
assume that it's serious.

to

-Lester Bangs
What a career move! Eartha Kitt,
once a Shakespearean actor, once a
cabaret singer, once Orson Welles'
lover (he called her "the most excit-
ing woman in the world"), once Cat-
woman, is now... Old Lady Hack-
more, foil to Ernest P. (for "Po-
wertools") Worrell. That sends my
Chuck Taylors a-walkin' every time
I think about it.
Obviously, having done Cat-
woman, Kitt doesn't take herself all
that seriously, but wouldn't it be

it's sometimes hard to tell if she's
overacting or if she's acting like
she's overacting. In any case, she's
probably the second-best thing in
this, the weakest installment of the
Ernest series so far.
The problem with the film is not
the bad script or the bad acting -
that's all to be expected as an impor-
tant part of the series' character -
but the fact that this time around,
there was just too much money to
work with. I presume that after the
success of the previous films, the
studio was willing to give John
Cherry and Jim Varney a lot of
money. Regrettably, now that they
have it, they can't be as experimen-
tal or as dumb as they have been in
the past. This time, it seems, they
have to include some socially re-
deeming value.
Fortunately, the socially redeem-

movie. The third grader with whom I
saw the film even realized this. Var-
ney has really missed his mark.
The previous installments of the
series were more like Pee Wee's Big
Adventure, in that they were stories
about dumb adults full of in-jokes
for smart adults. Now there's lots of
stuff that's directly targeted toward a
specific PG market, so when Ernest
gets his head smashed by a troll trap
(looking like a Brontosaurus-sized
beartrap), all we see is his hat flying
off. It's a shame, and it shackles the
whole film to a boring PC level of
wimpitude (cf. George Bush).
The story itself is much more cli-
chd than before and it (sigh) features
a bunch of self-important, soon-to-
be-has-been-coke-addict, overacting
kids. They do what you expect kids
in kid movies to do: love their
parents, scream a lot and finally save
the day. Regrettably, that's not what
makes a good Ernest film. In a good
Ernest film, Ernest has to screw
something up terribly, misunder-
stand what he's done, and, through
the combined virtues of stupidity,
naYvetd, and good-heartedness, fix it
when all of the "normal" adults are
paralyzed by their so-called maturity.
In a way, Ernest does that here,
too, but it's not the same thing be-
cause the kids play way too big of a
role for their respective humor con-
tent (after all, they are "normal"
kids, and anything "normal" just
isn't funny.) The old Ernest was a
loser who would win when the win-
ners couldn't; the new Ernest is a lo-
ser who wins, but only with the
help of the winners, and so, really,
he loses. This is not the kind of
message we want to send to kids.
But like I said before, the film
isn't all bad, it's not even half-bad
- it's actually pretty entertaining.
The first third is the worst part,
where the whole premise of the film
(Ernest lets out trolls buried by his
ancestors. They cause havoc) is built
up, one boring monologue after an-
other. After that, though, the film is
consistently funny, because Cherry
See ERNEST, Page 8

>L' °

Is Guarneri String Quartet cellist David Soyer (the guy in the front of the line) dead? Let's examine the facts.
He looks kind of sad, doesn't he? And notice, only one of his arms is visible! And his shadow is in the shape of
the Roman numeral "V," and if you add one to five, you get six, the number of the beast! Case closed.
GuarneriString Quartet came
together, carried that weight

Hey kids, here's a fun activity for those boring Econ. 201 lectures. Cover
the right side of Ernest's face with your hand. See nice normal Ernest.
' Now move your hand over to the left side. Laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh, by the
way, the best part of the film's Chekhov-esque dialogue is, "How about a
bumper sandwich, booger lips?"

by Julie Komorn
S ome things never change. The
Guarneri String Quartet, for exam-
ple, has kept its original players
since its founding in 1964. Still go-
ing strong, the members have re-
turned for yet another performance
- their 25th in Ann Arbor.
Guest violinist Ida Kavafian
will join the Quartet to kick off the
29th Annual Chamber Art Series of
the University Musical Society.
Violinists Arnold Steinhardt and
John Dalley, violist Michael Tree,
and cellist David Soyer will per-
form Mozart's Quartet in F major
K.168, Bart6k's Quartet No. 6
(1939), and Dvorik's String Quintet
in E-Flat, Op. 97.
By the end of last summer, the

ensemble had given over 2,000
recitals, including numerous tours
of Europe, Japan, South America and
Australia. The Quartet has annual
series in New York at the 92nd
Street Y, Lincoln Center and the
Metropolitan Museum of Art,
along with various other regular
performances.
The members of the leaderless
quartet don't seem very surprised by
their long-lasting success. "How
does a marriage last for so long?"
asks Dalley. "There are many fac-
tors that contribute. There is some
luck involved, mutual respect... it's
never really been an issue."
The four musicians have cer-
tainly not been shy around the me-
dia. The Quartet has many record-
ings (on RCA Red Seal and Philips),

some of which have received inter-
national awards. The group has also
been featured on many television
and radio specials in North America
and abroad, and has also been the
subject for several books, including
Helen Drees Ruttencutter's Quartet
and David Blum's The Art of
Quartet Playing: The Guarneri in
Conversation with David Blum.
The Quartet even made a film in
1988, High Fidelity, directed by
Alan Miller. "We interjected a lit-
tle bit," says Dalley on the making
of the film. "We let Alan Miller
do what he wanted to do and stayed
out." The film, which was shown
yesterday at the MLB, portrays the
dynamics and relationships within
the Quartet.
See QUARTET, Page 8

great if more so-called serious stars
slummed in cheesy roles instead of
making big, dumb, so-called serious
films (cf. Deceived)? Picture Sly
Stallone as a drunken waiter in a
second-rate John Landis film, or Har-
rison Ford and William Hurt as a
pair of wacky pastry chefs - now
that'd be something.
Kitt's not bad in her role, though

ing values that they put in are pretty
superficial, and the main one - that
drinking milk is good - obviously
mocks the whole idea. Nevertheless,
the sheer fact that they attempt some
kind of message really waters down
many of the potentially goofiest
scenes. Also, adding to the watered-
downness, Ernest Scared Stupid is
now directly targeted as a "little kid"

Foxx dead at 68
Most people only knew the late
Redd Foxx from the classic '70s
sitcom Sanford and Son. But the
raunchy Foxx, born John Sanford
(his brother's name was Fred),
was a blue stand-up comedian
when Andrew "Dice" Clay was
just a sperm. Paving the way for
such creatively vulgar comics as
Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy,
Foxx eventually went on to create
the unforgettable Fred Sanford.
Who could forget those constant
jabs at Aunt Esther? ("They could
take raw dough, slam your face in
it and make gorilla cookies!") Or
how about Lamont's back-to-
Africa phase? Fred was pissed! Or
how about when he set up a
church in the living room to avoid
paying taxes? Remember when he
snuck into Lena Horne's dressing
room, or when he tried to get on
The Gong Show? Foxx was on the
set of his new CBS sitcom, The
Royal Family, when he died of a
heart attack.

An 'industrial band' that reads!

by Kristen Knudsen
The Ellen James Society. With no
one in the band named Ellen James, I
was inclined to ask why. "We
named ourselves that, not so much
because of the Ellen Jamesians
themselves (from John Irving's
novel The World According to Garp
), but because it's, like, an Irving
reference that people would recog-
nize," says Chris McGuire, lead vo-
calist and guitarist of the band.
"More about Irving's sense of the
tragic being comic and the comic be-
ing tragic."
Whatever their intentions may
be, the Ellen James Society - com-
posed of two women, McGuire and
co-vocalist/guitarist Cooper Seay,
and two men, bassist Bryan Lilje and
drummer Scott Bland -produces an
original blend of intense music that
is not easy to classify. McGuire
doesn't mitd being compared to
other bands, like R.E.M., early U2
and Patty Smith, however untrue
those comparisons may be.

"I think that people are in-
evitably going to compare you to
somebody. People go 'What do you
sound like?' and what they mean is
'Who do you sound like?"'says Mc-
Guire. "I think it's a tool that any-
body, or most writers, use to let the
audience have an idea of what they're
going to be hearing, even if you
don't sound anything like that.
"I mean, I don't really get the
R.E.M. comparison, but perhaps that
we're both Southern bands. I don't
know. You never know what some-
body hears when they listen to a

band or what they're paying atten-
tion to. Maybe it has more to do
with that R.E.M. isn't a straightfor-
ward band. Their songs are not
straightforwardly presented and we
don't do that either."
McGuire is at a loss when asked
to describe her band's sound more
specifically. "Oh, I hate that," she
winces. "I'll tell you a funny story
and this'll give you an idea of how
difficult that question is. We are up
for these... awards in the New
South Music Awards this year, and
See ELLEN , Page 8

i . ___ _

U I

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* beautiful handknit sweaters
* hats
. gloves

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