It lacks bite (crud, no…) Pretty toothless (no, no, no…) Not too bat (Ah, screw it): “Vamps”

December 2, 2012

posterThis one is kind of a toughie, since Vamps is a pretty slight movie. I mean, it’s pleasant enough movie, inoffensive, and not terribly taxing. Kind of like a retarded beagle or something. Not quite so retarded that it, say, tries to lick the electrical outlet or anything, but instead just sits there, staring at you and wagging its tail. Problem is, that’s pretty much the only thing Rover is going to do. Whether you a throw a ball or those werewolf Nazis from An American Werewolf  in London bust in and begin machine-gunning everyone, its’ just going to sit there wagging its tail. In short, this dog is not Lassie. Wait, we’re still talking about a movie, right? Yeah, okay. Got a bit bogged down in the metaphor, there. Okay, so on to Vamps

Basically, this is kind of a Clueless/Sex and the City with vampires. You know, as will happen. Alicia Silverstone plays Goody, a vampire from the 1840s who lives with her best (vampire) friend Stacy (Krysten Ritter) in a modest apartment in Manhattan. Together the two basically life out the lifestyles of young, single women in the city…as they have been doing for the past twenty years or so.

Not a Pattinson or Lautner in sight. That's how vampires movies should be...

Not a Pattinson or Lautner in sight. That’s how vampire movies should be…

Goody and Stacy are not your typical human-eating vampires (you know, how they used to before the Twilight movies ruined them). Neither one of them much likes killing people, so instead they drink rat blood. This would be pretty gross, but the movie portrays it as Goody and Stacy popping straws into rat carcasses like they were juice-boxes.  To maintain their fix, they work day jobs (so to speak) as exterminators, and the movie presents all this in blithe and matter-of-fact terms.

To keep the need from killing humans at bay, Goody and Stacy attend Exsanguinators Anonymous meetings, which is really just an excuse to use Malcolm McDowell as Vlad the Impaler. And that’s fine, because he’s pretty funny speaking in an exaggerated European accent and knitting.

"Wait...this movie isn't based on a goddam video game, is it?"

“Wait…this movie isn’t based on a goddam video game, is it?”

What little conflict there is in this movie comes primarily from Stacy’s new romance with Joey Van Helsing (Dan Stevens), and yes, he from that that Van Helsing family. Daddy Van Helsing (Wallace Shawn) is not exactly Hugh Jackman, but he can get the job done, and has been whittling down the members of the EA group, and pestering Joey about why his new girlfriend is so pale (Dad obviously never watched Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23).

She pretty much always looks like a vampire

She pretty much always looks like a vampire

Making matters worse, there has been a spate of vampire-related murders committed by Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver) Goody and Stacy’s stem (the vampire that turned them). As played by Weaver, Cisserus is a vain, ravenous ice queen, who regards humanity as little more than a food source. So, while Stacy is trying to make a good impression on Dan’s father, Cisserus is making it tough for him to get past the while V-thing, when she wipes out an entire Chinese restaurant for dinner (“You know how it is. You eat one, you’re hungry a half hour later,” cue rimshot).

You know Sigourney Weaver could actually do this to Wallace Shawn.

You know Sigourney Weaver could actually do this to Wallace Shawn.

There’s some other stuff that happens, but you get the idea. Vamps was written and directed by Amy Heckerling, who also made Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless,  has a knack for making comedies that also serve as soft-focus sociological studies of a particular subculture. The fact that subculture may or may not actually exist doesn’t really make a difference (somehow, I doubt rich Beverly Hills kids look or act like Silverstone and Stacey Dash did in Clueless). The director knows how to realize a world and build into it its own mores and folkways.

She's not in this movie, but...I kinda feel baad for the flack she got for supporting Romney, so...

She’s not in this movie, but…I kinda feel baad for the flack she got for supporting Romney, so…

Alas, the movie’s humor is very hit-and-miss. For every one joke that lands, about another five go wobbling offsides. A lot of those jokes are either old as hell (refer to the above-mentioned Chinese joke) or fairly wan (such as Stacy baring her fangs as she applies lipstick to scare off a vampire-wannabe). So, no, Vamps isn’t hilarious, but it’s warm-hearted enough to remain watchable. Ritter and Silverstone have a nice chemistry, and exude a sweetness that helps carry the movie along (this movie is a nice reminder why Silverstone was such a sensation from 1995 to 1997, and why it’s such a shame Hollywood never figured out what to do with her.)

I won't make the obvious joke about your career...

I won’t make the obvious joke about your career…

On top of that you have McDowell, hamming it up, and probably just happy he’s not playing opposite some weird monsters. Wallace Shawn continues to be hilarious in everything. Finally, Weaver…(sigh)…I’m trying not to make a “chewing the scenery” joke, but she really lets rip here with her comedic gams (she’s probably just happy she’s not acting opposite Taylor Lautner).

So, yeah, that’s Vamps. It was kind of made for DVD or streaming…

One comment

  1. Not related to this review: Why does it say “Feed No Longer Exists”? I subscribe to your feed so I can catch the new reviews but it wasn’t updating and now it appears to be no more. Are you just not using a feed any longer or is there something wrong on my end? Again, sorry for the off topic post but I didn’t see an email to contact you with or I would have gone that route.

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