why Cranky is in pain
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Independence Day

Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum,
Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein,
and Brent Spiner
Directed by Roland Emmerich

The management of Entertainment Drive regrets to inform you of the death of the Cranky Critic, on July 3, 1996. We told him to get out of New York City. But nooooooo, Cranky had himself a large, rent-stabilized apartment in midtown Manhattan and "no refugee from a Spielberg-Lucas flick is about to scare me out of it." We told him that it was probably a sign that every E.T. collectible on the planet melted upon first sight of the alien arrival, but Cranky said it was the exhaust from the spaceships messing up the ozone layer. We offered him a date with Senior VP Jeffrey King's pal, Jenny McCarthy, and Cranky said she could join him for the fireworks on the Fourth.

Little did he know that the fireworks were coming a day early. We begged him to take a day off and go out to Princeton and play with his niece and nephew, but ol' Spanky (that's what we called him in the office, don't ask) said he had too much work to do.

"Besides," he said, "my back's been bothering the heck out of me. I'm just gonna take a pill and sleep it off."

Go ahead. Take a pill. You'll not be able to sleep through Independence Day, a rip-snorter, eardrum-buster of a disaster flick. We saw it coming. Thousands of downloads of ID4 images and QTs from the eDrive libraries. Audiences cheering wanton destruction of our greatest cities, and a House painted White, in the trailer that has been playing since January.

It just goes to show; you should NEVER take anything alien that doesn't belong to you because sooner or later Mommy and Daddy alien are gonna want it back. And they're mean suckers. When the ships arrived on July 2, thousands if not millions of people got happy feet, doing their little happy dances to celebrate the early arrival of the Millennium and the dawning of a great new era.

Not Cranky. He was counting on the long weekend to get some much needed r&r time. Everyone at eDrive was telling him that he was looking way too pale, so he planned to lather on the SPF factor and come back to work on Monday with a killer gleam. Then the flying manhole covers appeared and blocked out all the light. It made Cranky, well, VERY cranky.

Then the manhole covers opened up and melted New York City down to its rocky core, and that was that for the old Crankster. All those dancin' Californians saw their happy feet turn to hot feet just before the LA basin turned into a taco-shaped firepit.

Reality check. Cranky had a screening booked when the ID4 release was pushed back a day. So when he got out of that previous engagement, he grabbed three hours of sleep and headed crosstown for the 7:00 a.m. showing of ID4. Between the exhaustion, and the back pain, and the incredible anticipation built up for the flick, could Cranky have been anything but disappointed in the result???

Nope. No way. ID4 is not a lame story existing to tie great effects together. It's a goofy story tying together magnificent computer-generated effects. Don't get me wrong. Goofy, in this case, is good. Roland Emmerich and partner (writer Dean Devlin) could have gone for the super-heavy drama, gore-splattering shock-slash scary kind of movie, but they didn't. They dialogued a whole bunch of off-the-cuff, off-the-wall humor and cast a whole mess o' popular television actors to keep everything fun.

What makes ID4 satisfying is that there actually are interesting stories playing out while the aliens go to town. Will Smith is a fighter pilot, a frustrated would-be astronaut. Jeff Goldblum is the cable guy (really) who figures out the aliens' code. Bill Pullman is the ex-fighter pilot President, fighting his new image as a wimp decision maker. Randy Quaid is a Vietnam vet who was once abducted and abused by aliens (so he says) and wants payback.

And a lot more happens, even while the great cities of the world melt before our very eyes.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Independence Day, he would have paid . . .


You may very well sit there and think, "I've seen these exact same effects sequence in Star Wars," or "I know this plot device from Star Trek: The Next Generation." Cranky did, but Cranky says you can't lift from better stuff than that.

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