My friend foogie
's new user icon reminds me of something I've wanted to post about for eons.
As some of you know, in university I edited a campus humor paper called Golden Words
. The GW crew ran the gamut from wickedly funny comics to sweet dorks and over-enthusiastic goobs. There were a bunch of people content to recycle the same cartoons about beer goggles every week, but there were also always a few guys (and girls) who scared me with their insane genius. Elan Mastai
was one of those guys.
I lost touch with Elan after graduation, but I knew he wanted to be a screenwriter and, ferocious as that world is, I had (and still have) little doubt that he would succeed. He's just a brilliant writer and a way cool guy with a really skewed, mordant sense of humor. I could actually never tell when he was being serious and when he was having me on. The last time I saw him was seven or eight years ago at a wedding or engagement party for Colin Stein, another GW genius who I wish I was still in touch with. It was a reunion of sorts and conversation was all "What are you doing now?" Everyone I saw Elan talk to, he gave a different answer: "I'm writing the world's first hypertext novel." "I've dropped out of school to follow Noam Chomsky around the country." "This party is an experiment I'm running for my PhD in memetic psychology." He told me he'd just sold a screenplay about a big city mayor who switches lives with his kids' babysitter.
If you'd asked me then to predict what sort of movie Elan would break into the business with, I'd have pictured something like Pulp Fiction
, except cooler and funnier and edgier still. Well, Elan is in the business now, but his breakthrough project was not exactly what I expected. He was, in fact, the screenwriter of MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate
It is, if you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it, a movie about a skateboarding chimpanzee.
Better yet, it is the sequel to a movie about a hockey-playing chimpanzee. (That would be MVP: Most Valuable Primate
.) The epic trilogy is concluded in MXP: Most Xtreme Primate
, in which the eponymous chimp snowboards, but Elan was not involved, and true fans of MVP regard this final chapter as apocryphal.
A lot of you have already heard this story up to that point. Here comes the value added. Checking out MVP 2
on the IMDB, I came across what is perhaps the best movie review I have ever read
. I quote it here in its sublime entirety:
Like Old Yeller, but with a skateboard, a monkey, and a homeless boy.
Author: cfcarino from United States
I hate skateboarding, I don't care much for chimps, and I'm a 68 year old retired veteran. If my pansy grandson didn't whine like a dog that lost its leg when it got hit by a jeep, and then the dog had to crawl its way back to the house, I wouldn't have watched this movie. I'm glad I did. This chimp knows what 98% of Americans don't: he's gonna die. Once a person comes to grip with their own mortality, they'll ride a skateboard on a big ramp, or close their eyes and shoot until they stop hearing screams. This movie made me smile, it made me think, but most importantly it made me think I was smiling.
If all my men were like MVP, we would've walked out of Hanoi with a few more ears. But they weren't. They wanted out. Did they think I wanted to stay there?! Everyday I think back to what I could've done. Everyday I'm one step closer to dying. I'm glad I saw this movie before I did.
And the piece de resistance
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It's worth clicking through to read all of that author's movie reviews
. Because he's reviewed exactly three movies: MVP
, MVP 2
, and MXP
. And each review is better than the last. Come to think of it, given what I know about Elan's sense of humor, there's a very real chance that "cfcarino from United States" actually is
Elan. Whatever the truth, I salute all three of you: Elan, cfcarino, and MVP.
I want to be clear about why I'm posting all this. Yes, I think it's funny that this really cool, edgy guy I used to know wrote a movie about a skateboarding chimp. But I'm not sneering at it at all. MVP 2
was the biggest-grossing Canadian movie of 2001. And everybody I know who saw it loved it.* So I think it's awesome. Elan is great and I hope he'll be a big success. (Elan also has co-writer credit on Alone in the Dark
, starring Christian Slater and Tara Reid. That film did not get such great reviews
, but I lay the blame for that at the door of director Uwe Boll, who has made a long career
out of turning B-grade video games into Z-grade movies. (See: uwebollsucks.com
, and Penny Arcade on Uwe Boll
: "Vell, first, I am hating ze movies.") But again, lest I sound at all snide: How many Hollywood movies have I written?)
*OK, so I only know one person who saw MVP 2
—my brother J—but he really did like it. My brother's college housemate apparently loves "all movies where animals do human stuff." So J has seen them all, from Air Bud
to um, Air Bud 4: Seventh Inning Fetch
, and MVP 2
, J reports, was the cream of the crop.
I made a head-clearing list last night of all the things I've been meaning to blog about lately—here, at Old is the New New
, at Cliopatria
, and even at the lonely, cobweb-strewn 20 by 20 Room
. They range from intellectual (writing pedagogy, Cliopatria's symposium on Sean Wilentz, Jim Carroll's thoughts on God) to personal (props to L for kicking ass in grad school and surviving unending Canadian bureaucracy, my brother's adventures in China, long overdue thanks to my friends for some wonderful thoughtful gifts) to geeky (the narrativist Rolling Stones rpg that came to me the other night). But wouldn't you know it? The one post I actually get around to writing is the one about the snowboarding, skateboarding, hockey-playing chimp.