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January 10, 1995 - Image 10

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-10

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'Richie Rich' offers empty riches

By TED WATTS
Just like "Batman," "Richie Rich"
takes a rich cartoon hero and, bucking
popular perceptions of the character,
clothes him in black and gives him a
dark personality.
That's right, Richie is a malicious
little industrialist bastard, just like the

Richie Rich
Directed by
Donald Petrie with
Macaulay Culkin
and John Larroquette

industrialist, but he still won't close
the bankrupt factory. And while his
parents don't seem like they've ever
touched other humans without giving
them splinters (i.e. they're wooden),
Richie seems to have retained a strong
sense of family and can hit a baseball
pretty good. Maybe it has something
to do with all the gushiness of the
affection between Mr. and Mrs. Rich.
That would twist anyone.
They also have an antihero butler,
Cadbury, that tries to steal as many
scenes as possible. In the comic,
Cadbury was a big, nearly superhu-
man bald guy, devoted to the family.
In the film, he's a normal kind of guy
with quick quips from the hip for his
family, a la Mr. Belvedere. He even
gets to tongue kiss someone, and dress
like Keef Richards. But still he loves
the Riches. Isn't that just dreamy?
The movie proceeds in its mixed
"It's not money that counts, it's the
people" themes. Richie finds that being
rich won't get him friends. So he feels
bad. Then noble Cadbury pays some
poor kids to come and play with him.
Apparently, the money can be useful.
But in the end, the poor kids who were
mean towards Richie do a 180 and

become his best friends and "Mission:
Impossible" squad when the elder
Riches get blown out of the sky by the
scheming Lawrence Van Dough (John
Larroquette). Oddly enough, Van
Dough is the only character who is
unambiguous in the film. He's unabash-
edly nasty and everyone knows it. Still,
the audience just knows that when he
says "I don't think the boy prince will
be much of a problem" that he hasn't
seen "Home Alone."
Everything goes along pretty much
as you'd expect. The movie
unapologetically rips off "North By
Northwest" and the Three Stooges
while it coasts unsurprisingly towards
a happy ending. Ho hum.
In keeping with the comic book, the
movie uses obviously impossible but
real cool-sounding inventions. But in-
stead of a bottomless wallet or a me-
chanical maid, the Riches are the proud
possessors of aradio controlled bee and
theirown private mountain, carved with
their visages and filled with their most
valuable objects: their mementos
(bleah!). The movie is filled with the
puns and lame-ass jokes that have al-
ways littered the Harvey comic-scape.
More money jokes are in "Richie Rich"

'80s that would have spawned him.
He's lost the short pants and crappy tie
like a bow, and is poised to kick indus-
trial butt in his slick swept back hairdo.
That's pretty cool. No one else
could be more suited to be in the
Billionaire Boys Club that old Richie.
But does he kill his broker and try to
cover it up in true '80s style? Noooo.
Richie's a nice little prick. Sure,
he's been trained to be a cutthroat

Damn! No matter what they think, Richie and Cadbury are not smooth - no way, no how, nowhere.

than corpses in a Tarantino film. So of
course Richie's dog Dollar is in the
film, with neatly drawn or carefully
bred dollar signs spotting his pelt.
Most surprising of all, is that the

shallow characters and poor writing
actually work. It seems as if it is inten-
tionally trying to be stylistically like a
poorly-written comic, and is pulling it
off in a lame but relatively entertaining

way. Who'd have guessed? Remem-
ber, the "Casper the Friendly Ghost"
movie with Christina Ricci is on the
horizon.
KH RICHis plaing at Showcase.

w

'Chariots of Fur' flies to the finish line

By TED WATTS
Not unlike the characters of the
movie it takes it name from, "Chari-
ots of Fur" doesn't stand up too
well. And that's disappointing, com-
ing from Chuck Jones and Maurice

Chariots of Fur
Written and produced
by Chuck Jones
art direction by
Maurice Noble

beat out of him while the bird taunts
him by staying barely out of reach.
It's still the desert. And "Acme" is
still the mail order house of choice.
And that could be good enough.
But Jones and Noble seem to have
bobbled the visual style. Chuck
Jones cartoons used to have a cer-
tain spindly look to them. Jones's
Roadrunner cartoons used to have a
similar feel. But "Chariots ..." does
not have that style.
The figures are stiff in their
movements and, for the most part,
do not distinguish themselves in
their appearance. The notable ex-
ception is the huge mouse that shows
up to pummel Wile E. for putting
out a huge mousetrap. He lushly
illustrates what anabolic steroids can
do. But overall, the visual magic is
gone.
The same goes for the lack of
style. The backgrounds are barely
noticeable and have none of the dra-
matic flourishes Maurice Noble
brought to- the cartoons he worked
on.
There is also the disturbing pres-

ence of signs. The use of one or two
"Help" or "Sucker" signs were al-
ways amusing, but "Chariots ..."
keeps shoving them down our
throats.
Roadrunner doesn't need to in-
dicate that "It's not cool to laugh at
the Surgeon General," because*
there's a heapin' helpin' of pain
inflicted on Wile E. to teach that
lesson.
As for noise, the music is better,
but is too loud in relation to the
sound effects. You can listen to clas-
sical music anytime, but it's not
everyday that you can hear a coyote
die in digital surround sound.
The cartoon does have some*
beautifully electric-looking light-
ning bolts, but the visual impres-
sion as a whole isn't so hot.
While it fails to brighten Warner
Brothers' quiver of cartoons, at the
very least it is a new theatrical
Looney Tune.
Too bad it wasn't a rabbit or a
duck.
CHARIOTS OF FUR is playing
with RICHIE RICH at Showcase.

Noble, the creators of "What's Op-
era, Doc?," the cartoon voted as the
best animated short of all time.
Still, it is Chuck Jones's first
theatrical Looney Tune in 25 years.
And while the rust is really in evi-
dence, it's still nice to see a new
Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote
cartoon.
Actually, there isn't that much
new. It's still episodic sight gags
with the mammal getting the shit

Evidently, the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote haven't quite decided which direction the race is running today.

RECORDS
Continued from page 9
Branford Marsalis
Buckshot LeFonque
Columbia Records
Jazz has for years stood alone as
the heart of all Black music. Jazz has
its own unique sounds, moods and
ways of affecting the listener. As such,
one would never dare to assume that
the sounds of musical forms like rap,
R&B, traditional gospel or African
music would ever have their place
within the disparate world of jazz.
Marsalis first challenged this be-
lief when he wrote the soundtrack for
"Mo' Better Blues," which included
influences such as rap andR&B. Now,
in what is perhaps the best jazz CD to
come out since "Mo' Better Blues,"
Marsalis produces an even more un-
orthodox - and equally more stun-
ning - collection called "Buckshot
LeFonque." This jam-packed, 15-cut
LP will shock you with its '90s inter-
pretation of jazz's place in the musi-
cal realm.
"MonaLisas" will titillate you with
the sounds of jazz as influenced by a
variety of musical types, most nota-
bly gospel. "I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings" features the powerful

voice of Maya Angelou rapping poet-
style to the accompaniment of
Marsalis' sax. "Some Cow Fonque"
is a shock-tactic song which will offer
a pleasant surprise from jazz as usual,
rap as usual ... music as usual.
In "Buckshot LeFonque," Marsalis-
a musical surgeon-skillfully facelifts
traditional jazz and gives it a beauty
many once thought could never be.
Jazzmay beanolderformofBlack
music, but it is far from dead; it con-
tinues to thrive in the works of men
like Marsalis. Branford Marsalis is
jazz incarnate.
- Eugene Bowen
Bent Lucy
Clowns
Rustbelt Records
Hey, look! The Verve have moved
to Detroit and released an EP on the
Motor City's own Rustbelt Records!
Those ringing guitars, those gauzy
melodies, those swooning vocals ---
oh no, wait. It's only Bent Lucy, do-
ing one hell of a Verve impression.
If I were kind, I'd say the results
were mixed. I'm not, and this EP is dull.
Bent Lucy do indeed display all of
the aforementioned qualities on this
effort's six tracks. What garnered the
Verve quite an audience on
Lollapalooza's second stagejustdoesn't
work for them, however, largely due to

the fact that Bent Lucy attempt to-but
don't - offer the shimmering, tex-
tured, lush guitars that band does.
The latter band tries for an atmo-
spheric swirl of guitars and Bonoesque
vocals, but they never quite succeed.
Bent Lucy more often puzzle than de-
light, as on the opening track "Fortune
Cookie." It's more amusing than af-
fecting to hear the somber wails of
"fortune cookie, fortune cookie" amid
Robin Miller's swirls of feedback.
Matthew Ruffino's vocals on the slow-
paced "Neptune'sOcean" far tooclosely
resemble "War"-era U2. Not that this is
a bad thing, it's just too familiar to be
credible. The rambling, 10-minute
"Thoughts" wades out into the pseudo-
deep end and drowns with lyrics like "Is
God dead? Where is the life to be
found?" I feel your existential pain,
man, but really.
The quiet, acoustic closer "Ever-
lasting Short Lived" is winning,
though. It merely proves that Bent
Lucy aren't bad when they're not
trying so darn hard to be dreamy.
"Clowns" would be fine, but who
needs another mime?
- Jennifer Buckley
Corrosion of
Conformity
Deliverance
Columbia
Southern boogie meets punk-laced
gloom metal? ZZ Top on crack mo-
lesting Henry Rollins? Black Sabbath
covering Lynyrd Skynyrd after a
Noam Chomsky speech? OK, these
were not the images I was expecting
from the legendary punk/metal pio-
neers, but that's certainly their new

direction on the first Corrosion of
Conformity album in three years.
And times have changed for the
band. Gone are vocalist Karl Agell,
who's monotonous growl never quite
gelled with the restof the band, and with
him the slightly more industrial and
doom metal influences that touched
their brilliant 1991 release "Blind."
Meanwhile, formervocalistMike Dean
has returned, but only to play bass.
Current guitarist Pepper Keenan has
now taken over vocals, lending the group
with a husky Southern touch.
But COC has never been about
doing things the right way. This was
once the perennial hardcore band, an
influence that now is only reflected in
their lyrics. Instead, there are songs
like "Seven Days" that wouldn't sound
completely out of place after Bad
Company on a classic rock station, if
classic rock actually played songs with
intelligent, angry lyrics. Another sur-
prise are the several gorgeous and
eerie acoustic breaks that provide re-
lief from blues-drenched grunge like
"Senor Limpio," an extremely heavy
song that proves Reed Mullin is the
best drummer in the world.
Even with its '70s homage and
occasional lapses into Sabbath clon-
ing, it's hard to beat a band that can
redefine album rock into something
palatable and brainy. After all, it's not
all that different from Soundgarden.
-Kirk Miller
Engine Alley
Engine Alley
Mother Records
Coming straight at you from Brit-
ain, er, Ireland, is a little five-piece
called Engine Alley.

After listening to their self-titled
debut, you would swear they are a Brit-
ish band. It's all there: the simple drum
beats, cute lyrics and the guitar melo-
dies made up of only a few chords,
especially on "Mrs. Winder" and "Dia-
mond Jill and Crazy Jane." "Old Lovers
In A Basement Flat" has an especially
poppy sound, complete with Beatlesque
background harmony.
Engine Alley spreads the cheese on
with the love songs "Song for Some-
one," on which Kirsty MacColl sings
backup, and "Desperate Eyes." The
sweet, dreamy mood both singers strive
for cannot be attained because of silly
and repetitive lines like "I am not sur-
prised / No, I am not surprised / Your
desperate eyes." In trying to express
sentiments simply, nothing is said. The
occasionally off-key vocals of Canice
Kenealy blending with the out-of-tune
voice of MacColl doesn't help either.
Towards the end of the album, how-
ever, the band experiment, adding more
noise to their tracks. The electric guitar
soars and echoes in these songs, giving
them an almost surrounding quality. In
both "Insignificance" and "Summer-
time Is Over," the lyrics become sec-
ondary to the instrumentation, while
the instrumental "Spare Me" is rather
dreamy with its blend of tinkles, wind,
and guitar notes. Then there's "The
Flowers," which possesses an edgy,

slow, steady melody and a wailing gui-
tar that is reminiscent of the Cure.
Engine Alley made a decent debut
with "Engine Alley." Though you can't
quite put your finger on their sound, the
quality of their album is obvious: it's
average.
- Ella de Leon
Orange l
Pill
Thick Records
As a Michigan student, one would
be led to believe that everything from
East Lansing sucks. Unfortunately,
Orange's album does nothing to dispel
this myth. A monument to mediocrity,
Orange's album is almost completely
unlistenable.
It is very probable that Orange read
somewhere that if you take one part
Smashing Pumpkins, one part
Soundgarden and one part Pearl Jam
you would have an instant grunge hit.
Orange's musical pastiche however is
worse than the sum of its parts; the
album is hopeless, convoluted and has
no coherent musical grounding.
With song names like "Weasel,"
"Horse" and "Valium," one could ex-
pect to at least have some interesting
drug induced music, but even that hope
is squashed. Orange's album is a very
bitter "Pill" to swallow.
- Ben Ewy

The Office of qcademicMulticultural 9hitiatives
is now taking applications for
Student Leader
positions for the KinglChfdvez/parks
College Day Spring Visitation Program
Application Deadline is January 27,1995
Student leaders accompany visiting middle school
students throughout the day serving as guides
and role models while providing information about
the college experience. Student leaders usually
work in teams of three. They should be fairly

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