10A - Michigan Daily - Monday, September 11, 1995
National Lampoon trips]up again
Occasional charm is not enough to save this vicious teen comedy
By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
80s teen films based on physical
humor and "stickin' it to the man"
were always based on clearly de-
fined good youth and evil author-
The principal in "Ferris Bueller's
Day Off" was a spiteful hunter
seeker who got his due.
The principal in "Rock and Roll
High School Forever" was a sadis-
tic automaton who got her due, et
Not so in "National Lampoon's
Senior Trip." In a way, it's almost
refreshing to see a movie where you
can really loathe the annoying high
A gang of Ohioan high school
troublemakers ends up having a
beautiful honor student write a let-
ter to the president of the United
States about the state of education.
The letter is written because the
troublemakers broke into the
principal's house and trashed it. Not
a particularly harsh punishment.
But that's not all.
The letter impresses the presi-
dent and Principal Moss (Matt "Max
Headroom" Frewer) is forced to
accompany the group of evil stu-
dents to Washington D.C. And,
naturally enough, the bus ride pro-
vides opportunities a plenty for
The problem is that this authority
figure isn't a bad guy. He metes out
fairly light punishments, and aside
from being slightly anal retentive,
he's pretty cool. Hell, he even gets
laid in the movie.
The kids, on the other hand, are
virtual hellions. Full of pointless
violence directed at anything
around, the denizens of Fairmont
High School are monsters.
When a Mormon singing group
performs a hilarious lip-synched
version of "Put a Little Love in
Your Heart," the youths can't see
the humor obvious to the audience.
Directed by Kelly Makn; with
Matt Frewer andKevin
They proceed to rip off the singers'
clothes and start moshing to some
rap music instead.
Ultimately, the little group finds
a bigger enemy in an evil senator,
and Moss and the kiddies bond
against the common foe.
The most disgusting moment in
the film is when Frewer delivers
the line: "You want me, after all
the rotten things I've done to you?"
Considering the fact that he put
them in detention while they
drugged him, destroyed his house
and his car, used him for a Happy
Barbie Fashion Makeup Head and
watched him have sex, it might be
more apropos for him to say: "To
Hell with you, to Hell with all of
Still, the movie contains a couple
fine performances although none of
them come from any of the young
Matt Frewer's body is well
showcased in the film, his bun-
gling being both sympathetic and
Kevin McDonald ("The Kids in
the Hall") also delivers a fine un-
derdog performance as the psy-
chotic crossing guard Travis.
Enraged at one of the idiot kids,
he tracks the misfits to Washing-
ton as a Star Trek character, ac-
companied by a blowup sex doll
he's dressed as Lt. Uhura.
Travis is subjected to various
forms of punishment, but all are
due to his own actions instead of
those of the rotten high schoolers.
The rest of the film, however, he
seems to enter only as an after-
thought. But hey, it works.
And finally there's Tommy of
"Cheech and Chong" fame, who
plays the stoner bus driver, Red.
He's a screw-up and plays the
same drugged out character he's
In this movie, though, it kills
him. It's nice to get a view that
drugs can be harmful considering
all the other substance abuse that
goes on in the film.
The film also looks pretty good.
The preponderance of slightly high
angle shots filled with empty back-
grounds is somehow reminiscent
of "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," in a
Too bad there isn't more good
stuff to fill the frames.
"Senior Trip" is a newer, more
vicious breed of teen comedy. The
story really doesn't work that well,
although it isn't without occasional
Continued from page 9
Dangerous Minds Soundtrack
By now, everybody and their mother
has heard "Gangsta's Paradise" by
Coolio (with L.V.). And most of us
have given it the big thumbs-up sign.
Using a sample from Stevie Wonder's
"Pastime Paradise," Coolio has out-
done himself, and he's shown that even
violins have their place in rap music.
Doing the same thing for the wooden
flute, "Problems" (Rappin' 4-Tay) is
another song offthe soundtrack equally
deserving ofpraise. One could easily be
taken away by these two songs' unique
musical sounds; only don't get so en-
thralled by their beats that you miss
On the soundtrack's R&B side, Im-
mature does a nice job with "Feel the
Funk," a song in the tradition of the
group's most recently-released LP
"Playtyme's Over." The best work in
this respect, however, must go to
DeVante for "Gin & Juice." DeVante is
one of a very few singers who can get
away with performing basically gangsta
rap in an R&B fashion; he's treading a
fine line without a hint of falling. Spe-
cial mention must also go to the female
tag team 24-K whose party-rap cut
"Don't Go There" will garner props
from womankind everywhere.
Well, that's most of the good stuff.
But there's bad, starting with Aaron
Hall's "Curiosity." I never thought I'd
be able to say something bad about an
Aaron Hall song, but this one is just so
stupid. Is Hall so desperate to be heard
on the radio again that he'd perform
anything thrown at him? And why, af-
ter performing the brilliant rap "Prob-
lems," did Rappin' 4-Tay go and make
that "A Message for Your Mind" crap?
The Jackson 5 "1 Want You Back"
sample doesn't begin to detract from
the crippled rapping and the phucked
lyrics. While Big Mike did an okay job
with "Havin' Thangs," it didn't have
the usual "umph" most of his good cuts
do. And, though Wendy & Lisa's "This
Is the Life," a very nice, relaxing cut, is
worthy of a listen, its very "white"
sound sticks out like a sore thumb on
The "Dangerous Minds" soundtrack
is about as much ofa 50/50 split as a CD
could ever get. It's got its great stuff;
it's got its wack stuff. It should have
been better, but it wasn't. So, I wish you
luck in deciding for yourselfwhether or
not it's worth buying. If not, I'm sure
you'll at least purchase the Coolio
- Eugene Bowen
You know how some things are so
fresh, accurate descriptions of them
become virtually impossible? If you
don't, Walter Beasley's "Private Time"
will quickly help you to understand.
I've reviewed many outstanding con-
temporary jazz releases. The line of
demarcation between most of them and
"Private Time" is that, whereas I've
had relatively little trouble describing
the other releases, when I attempt to
write good things about Beasley's work,
the words I write gain a life of their
own, jumping off the paper even more
knowledgeable than myself of their
unworthiness and inability to do "Pri-
vate Time" justice.
There are saxophonists, then there
are saxophonists. Then, there are saxo-
phonists. Here's where Beasley stands,
and at a time when many traditionalists
want to vilify contemporary jazz as
watered-down, unoriginal bull, his 11-
cut creation couldn't be more welcome.
In "Private Time" we see a man who is
not afraid to experiment with every-
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thing from pop to R&B to ballads
because he knows that when he puts
his lips to his woodwind, the pure jazz
notes he plays can't be touched. Listen
to his sax mastery in "Freaknic" and
"On the Blackside." Then you'll know
you're not listening to any 'ol novice;
you're listening to a jazz demigod.
Sporting an equally gifted talent for
spotting those with vocal talents to
match his instrumental one, Beasley
invites outstanding singer Liz Withers
("Calling to Me" and "I Will be the
One") to perform with him.
Oh, didn't I tell you Beasley has
some mad vocs himself? My fault.
Singing lead in three songs, Beasley
proves he doesn't need a sax to en-
"Private Time" is a most beautiful
joining of jazz with other musical in-
fluences. It's fresher than baby pow-
der, more soothing than a massage and
more satisfying than the one-night
stand you'll probably be getting busy
with while listening to this CD. Hon-
- Eugene Bowen
D.i. Smurf and P.M.H.I.
Don't let the "smurfy" cartoon name
fool you; D.J. Smurf is no 'rated G'
rapper. The "R.C. Intro" will assure
you ofthis. Smurfstill speaks the same
pro-marijuana,pro-casual sex talk flu-
ent in the rap scene. Regardless of
whether or not you agree with his
message, one fact remains: D.J. Smurf
gots skillz. This versatile, Atlanta-
based rapper has produced an aptly-
titled album which features both East
coast and West coast flow.
"Versastyles" features a 'grade A'
listing of samples. From the harder-
core, though not quite hardcore,
"Scrapin' 4 a Dime" to the party-raps
"Ooh Lawd" and "2 Tha Walls," a
cache of hype samples I'm sure you've
heard before can be found. The oigi-
nal beats found on the 17 cuts of
"Versastyles" are equally fresh. Smurf
places much emphasis on bass, and
most of his songs feature a more-than-
healthy dosage of speaker-bumpin'
Of course, fresh beats can propel a
rap album only so far. On the rap end,
Smurfoffers vocal excellence and lyri-
cal ingenuousness. He feels equally at
home rapping East coast or West coast.
Many of his rhymes are reminiscent of
more well-known guys like the Noto-
rious B.I.G. - not in style, necessar-
ily, but moreso in sheer content and
innovativeness. No, Smurf isn't hard,
and the attempts he makes to seem so
in "Versastyles" are more comical than
anything. Nevertheless, he can hang
with other rappers, most of whom are
just as soft, only they've been able to
package their trumped-up"hardness"
better. His more natural talent seems
to lie in the 69Boyz-like, frilly-rap
scene. Here, his high-pitched voice,
which sounds faintly of the late Eazy-
E, seems more at home.
This debut release establishes Smurf
as one of the most amazing new rap-
pers to hit the scene in the nine-five.
Though a name change would be highly
recommended (Just imagine how em-
barrassing it would feel trying to be
hype about a rapper named after little
blue people with tails.), D.J. Smurfhas
otherwise produced an above-par CD
- something not too common for de-
but rap releases.
Not a Perfect Man
ChristopherWilliams' musical career
has not been the most envious one. He's
had his share ofproblems, controversies
and scandals. This imperfect man is now
trying to salvage, strengthen and in-
crease in size the base of support he
gained in 1991 with his single
"Dreamin"' off the "New Jack City"
soundtrack. "Not a Perfect Man" is Wil-
liams' third, and probably best, release.
Though invaded by a fair number of
shitty singles, This 10-cut LP contains
enough outstanding songs to buoy itself
above the lake of anonymity.
Such songs start the CD off. "If You
Say," with it's choir-like background
singers, is a must-listen-to song, as is
"Learning to Love Again." It is easy to
tell that Brian McKnight produced this
track; it sounds like a "One Last Cry"
remake. In this case that's a great thing.
"Learning to Love Again" is a refresh-
ingly different ballad: a male other
than Babyface given rarely-spoken
male fears surrounding love and com-
Then we run into some problems.
"Dance 4 Me," ahWilliams attempt at
sounding old-school falls flat. And,
"R U Ready" to listen to this song?
Trust me, no. Here, the spectacular
harmony exhibited by Williams and
his backup singers in many of his other
songs was exchanged for the sounds of
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IN THE CLASSROOM
.YJ * I#I, r