#23 Kiss of Death

#23 Kiss of Death
Year: 1995
Director: Barbet Schroeder
MPAA Rating:
Epic Co-stars: David Caruso, Samuel L Jackson, Helen Hunt, John Costelloe, Stanley Tucci, Ving Rhames, Philip Baker Hall
Running Time: 101 mins
Cage Time: ~25%
Cage Kills: 1
Cage Flip-outs: 4
James's Review: After watching Kiss of Death can I say that I'm surprised that I'd never heard of this movie before despite it's start studded cast?  No, I cannot.  What I can say is that the start studded cast does almost nothing to improve it's cinematic quality and that the story is basically total garbage.  Now that I have the truth out of the way I can get to the good stuff:  despite this movie being basically unforgettable on most fronts, it should still be considered Classic Cage based on his ridiculous performance playing a completely ridiculous character.

Nic Cage plays "Little" Junior Brown, a ruthless gangster who (according to the movie tagline) "rules the streets" and "owns his game", but unfortunately for him "doesn't own all of the players".  Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) plays an ex-con trying to get his life back together and clean up his act.  He got a cute wife (Helen Hunt) and things seem to be going well until his inner moron comes screaming back to the surface and he gets sucked into little Junior's ring of crime.  Fast forward: Kilmartin wants his life back, cops get involved, "juicy" story unfolds.  

This pretty much sums things up - Kicking ass.  Taking names.  Short hair.  White Jumpsuit.
As I've said in previous reviews, for a Cage fan none of this really matters.  What does matter is that Cage plays is a psychotic career criminal with a strip-club whos hideout is a stripclub (i.e. plenty of nudity: all boobs no bush and it also seems the director had some trouble making David Caruso keep his shirt on).  He stays in shape by bench-pressing strippers, wears a terrible white outfit at all times, and hates the taste of metal in his mouth.  None of this really makes sense either in the real world or in the context of this movie, but that is generally what we're looking for with these types of films.  

The all powerful master of his ultra bad-ass strip club lair.
Although with Kiss of Death viewers are not in for wholistic cinematic quality, those who stick with it through for the long haul are in for a few treats.  Cage breaks all of the rules by having what sounds like a Boston accent despite his character being from Queens NY.  His hair is like we've never seen it; tight on the sides with a surprisingly small amount of fluff or bounce up top.  He pushes the bounds of human behavior by  performing some sort of strange cry-rage exercise dance that is both fascinating and extremely pleasing to the viewer.  Also, there are a couple of deaths (including Helen Hunt) that are pretty awesome...

Bottom line:  Watch for a great Cage performance and a few good deaths / special treats (see below), but not much else.

Only Nicolas Cage, nobody else.

Movie quotability:
  • "Now!  Fucko!"
  • "I have an acronym for myself. Know what it is? B.A.D. B.A.D... Balls, Attitude, Direction. You should give yourself an acronym... 'cause it helps you visualize your goals."
  • "You know what I hate? I hate the taste of metal in my mouth.  Thanks why I never use silverware, forks and knives."

Plot Holes:
  • Jimmy Kilmartin is the only guy who can drive a truck.
  • Chopping a Rolls Royce is worth more than just selling it straight up.
  • "Good family people" leave toddler unattended in a kiddie pool.
  • David Caruso can handle himself on a prison basketball court filled with 6'4" 250lb black guys.
  • David Caruso appears partially nude in half of his scenes.
  • Good guys get to keep stolen cars.

Exceeds Expectations
!Stayed in the Cage!

#22 National Treasure

#22 National Treasure
Year: 2004
Director: Jon Turteltaub
MPAA Rating: PG
Epic Co-stars: Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel
Running Time: 131 mins
Cage Time: 90%
Cage Kills: 0
Cage Flip-outs: 1
Skyler's Review: 
This movie was written by a high school Social Studies teacher that was trying to pique the interest of her students to learn about US History. She was a fan of the Cage and totally in a rage that Nic was not chosen to play the lead in the Da Vinci Code; instead they got Woody from Toy Story, an odd choice. She basically took the identical plot from Dan Brown and adapted it to US History, and National Treasure was born.

I'm not going to discuss all of the plot holes, since there are many and we recorded them below, but the story goes like this:  The Gates family for six generations have been trying to find the long lost National Treasure, because they received a clue: "The secret lies with Charlotte". For six generations, each Gates patriarch has wasted 10-20 years looking for the treasure. What they were each doing for 20 years is beyond my comprehension, because they each made ZERO progress as to what the hell the clue even means.

Enter Nic Cage.

From studying Social Studies and US History, he is about to get RICH!!! (see kids, Soc. Studs. is important, you could get rich; and the hot girl) Nic (Ben Gates) first realizes that Charlotte is the name of a ship and he finds it, leading to another clue!!! This is HUGE progress over the last 6 Gates' hunts. 

Let's rub household chemicals, including citric acid, all over the Declaration of Independence.  What is the worst that could happen? (Nothing bad happens)
When Ben goes to his Dad to show him the great breakthrough, his dad says "Don't waste your time! It will just lead to another clue, and another clue, and another clue..." Ben retorts with "Like, when has that ever happened to you dad, solving a clue, I mean?" His dad's eyes stare off into space; Ben's dad pulls out a sword and says "This is George Washington's actual sword that he carried during the crossing of the Delaware...and I am a failure! (sobbing)" and he falls on the sword.

It doesn't go exactly like that, but close enough.

Basically the rest of the movie involves the curator of the Declaration of Independence being cool with dumping acids on the real, genuine document. The hot chick falls for the comely Nic Cage, and not his more age-appropriate sidekick. But will they find the treasure? You will have to watch the movie to find out! (there is a National Treasure 2, and NT3 has been announced)

Just like real life.
Overall this movie is great for Cage fans that like kooky heist action movies. Plus it's fine for kids of any age.

Fun fact! If you look up "STOW, Declaration of Independence" on yahoo (like Sean Bean does in this movie), the first result actually IS "Liberty Bell" just like it is in the movie. The second result is "National Treasure movie corrections." Interesting. Also, you may recognize Agent Johnson (aka that blond FBI guy) as Jacob from LOST or the Blond Treehorn Thug from the Big Lebowski.

Movie quotability: 1/5
  • "A toast. To high treason. That's what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and- oh! Oh, my personal favorite- had their entrails cut out and *burned*!"
  • "She really can't shut her mouth, can she?"
  • "You're shouting again."
  • "Not cool. Not cool." (while chasing a fleeing Abigail)
  • "We need more juice. We need more heat."

Plot Holes:
  • Long-lost revolutionary war ship Charlotte is buried under 3 inches of snow. 
  • Of any part of the ship, Nic Cage conveniently first uncovers the bell, which has the ship's name on it. (Oh, I guess this is the right long-lost ship, then.)
  • Etched message revealed by rolling bloody pipe on paper is way too long to fit on said pipe's circumference.
  • Nic Cage's ancestors have had that same damn "secret lies with Charlotte" clue for six generations, but none of them ever moved beyond that first clue despite devoting their entire lives to it. Yet Nic Cage barrels through ALL the clues in one movie. And his dad goes on and on about "this clue will lead to another clue, and another clue" even though he has NEVER SEEN ANOTHER CLUE.
  • Gunpowder wouldn't burn, just explode.
  • Sean Bean says to run before someone sees the smoke, but they're in the middle of nowhere in the Arctic circle.
  • Nic Cage reads whole paragraph of Declaration of Independence in husky, solemn voice without giggling. 
  • Nic Cage is wearing John Travolta's outfit from Pulp Fiction. Wait, is that John Travolta??
  • You could not raise the temperature in a thermometer that fast, even with a one-watt laser.
  • Diane Kruger does not wash her hands all day after opening the pin from Nic Cage. And the residue doesn't rub off on any of the other things she touches between mid-day at the office and evening at the gala.  
  • Supposedly professional criminals miss every shot, including one from a meter away with adequate time to aim. 
  • They decide not to tie up Abigail, even though she has no reason to not run away.
  • "Professional" archivist decides that it is OK to rub lemon juice all over the Declaration of Independence and take a blow drier to it.
  • After hours of waiting to get all of the letters to the cipher from the Silent letters, Riley decides to leave before getting the last four letters; even though EVERY time he has made a guess about a clue so far he has been completely wrong.
  • They do not sell bottles of water at Urban Outfitters
  • Nic Cage easily cuts a brick out of a wall with a pocket knife.
  • "Ian has nearly unlimited resources."
  • Random Black lady is sassy. No, just kidding. That makes perfect sense.
  • Nic Cage is supposed to be really smart, even though everyone knows he's a Scientologist. 
  • Nic Cage pops up out of the river, somehow "safe" although he is clearly still within eyesight of the dock (not to mention the helicopter).
  • Everyone keeps saying "Heere, spelled with two E's," although "here" has two E's and "heere" actually has three.
  • Nic Cage kisses girls with his mouth closed.
  • Wooden chandelier does not burn.
  • Weak woman saves "thick" grown man from falling into bottomless pit (that was dug by freemasons).
  • Ancient stone statue rocks like a piece for Styrofoam when punk kid hugs it.

Exceeds Expectations
!Tapped out of the Cage!

#21 It Could Happen to You

#21 It Could Happen to You
Year: 1994
Director: Andrew Bergman
MPAA Rating: PG 
Epic Co-stars: Rosie Perez, Stanley Tucci
Running Time: 101 mins
Cage Time: 95%
Cage Kills: 0
Cage Flip-outs: 2
Shauna's Review: 
It's no wonder that this movie is rated PG, because the story was clearly intended to appeal to the 12-and-under crowd. The plot has all the complex facets and unpredictable plot twists of a Disney  channel made-for-TV movie. Charlie Lang (Nic Cage) is an utterly wholesome and self-righteous cop who lives in Queens. He is so staunchly, boringly good that you could almost start to sympathize with his wholly greedy wife, Muriel, were she not played by the singularly irritating Rosie Perez, who has a voice like the Hispanic love child of Fran Drescher and Steve Urkel. She is as flatly selfish as he is unselfish, and it's apparent from the beginning that we are supposed to be hoping that Prince Charlie will find a way out of his marriage to the Evil Queen. 

I am SO GOOD at Photoshop. 
Luckily, we spot Cinderella (the ponderously named Yvonne Biasi, played by Bridget Fonda) almost immediately. Poor Cinderella is broke as a result of her marriage to a terrible villain, er, actor, and is adorably cranky when she meets Prince Charlie in the coffee shop where she works. Prince Charlie is disproportionately distraught not to have enough cash for a tip on two cups of coffee, and offers Cinderella half of his hypothetical lottery winnings from tonight's Powerball. Spoiler! He wins $4 million and is staunchly determined to keep his promise, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it will obviously ruin his marriage. Anyway, the rest of it's pretty straightforward-- the villains act greedily and selfishly, the heroes act honorably and unselfishly, movie justice prevails, etc. 

The primary problem with this movie is that Cage was cast as the hero, rather than the villain. Rosie Perez is in a near-constant state of hysteria, which I think is really Cage's area of expertise. To see him in a boring haircut, with a sub-normal amount of rage and virtually no violent tendencies is really a waste of his talent. I can imagine a movie where Bridget Fonda plays the sweet, emotionally battered wife to Cage's volatile, almost frighteningly greedy and selfish bastard of a husband. They win the lottery and she wants to give the money away, he stalks her around Queens like Death in Final Destination. Hilarity ensues! Now THAT's a rom-com I could get behind. 

Or Nic Cage AS Rosie Perez-- that would also make an excellent film. 
If you liked Moonstruck, but wished that it were a bit more predictable, you might like this movie. If you are twelve and a girl, you might like this movie. If you are able to discuss what Bridget Fonda's nipples may or may not look like for approximately an hour and a half, you may stay awake during this movie. Otherwise....

Seriously, what is up with those boobies?
Movie quotability: 0/5
  • "The veins, they're bulging out of your neck.... You look like a psycho."
  • "Decaf, please. I've reached my target heart rate for the day."
Plot Holes:
  • Mad scientist works at a crappy diner. 
  • Rosie Perez flips out instead of Nic Cage. Many, many times.
  • Too many white people live in Queens.
  • Nic Cage: "Is anybody here?" while Bridget Fonda is sitting in a booth 6 feet away.

!Fell asleep in the Cage!