LanoMania and Be Cool

 

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DoubleShot DVD/Movie Review: LanoMania plus The Rock in Be Cool

Time for a DoubleShot review. Usually, I try to put together two items that have a common bond, but this one is a stretch even by my standards. Hopefully, when we are done, you will see the link between them though. It all started on my recent trip to sunny Orlando, Florida, home of Total Nonstop Action wrestling. Of course, my life being what it is, I was one day too late of being able to catch the Impact TV tapings, so that meant no TNA for me. I’m sure you doubt my life’s curse, so would it help you to know that while I was down in Florida, Triple H himself had a book signing in my very own Manchester, New Hampshire, AND the tickets for the first ever WWE PPV in Manchester, Backlash, went on sale. Of course, I missed all of it.

While in Florida, I met up with GumGod’s webmaster and his girlfriend. We decided that the four of us (my girlfriend was along for the trip as well) would head over to Downtown Disney on Friday night to get some dinner, catch a movie, and hit a club afterward. Now before I left New Hampshire, I told my webmaster that Be Cool was “off the table” because I had never seen the movie it was a sequel to, Get Shorty. I was very strenuous in making it known that under no circumstances would I see Be Cool while in Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Rock and have every movie he’s ever done on DVD – even Walking Tall thanks to a great sale at Circuit City – but I can’t stand seeing sequels to movies I haven’t already seen. I believe this started way back when I was in High School and I went to see Back to the Future III even though I had missed Back to the Future II. After the first scene I audibly remarked, “WHAT THE F--- IS GOING ON HERE?!!”

I somehow talked my webmaster into seeing Robots after reading a review from, of all people, Scott Keith. Yes, the same Scott Keith whose book, One Ring Circus, both Dave Meltzer and the Torch’s own Bruce Mitchell went out of their way to bury. We arrived at the theatre and decided to catch an 8:45 showing of Robots but since it was only 6:00, we walked over to the Rainforest Café for dinner. What a debacle this was, as the line just to put your name in for a reservation was so long you’d think we were queuing up for the Tower of Terror ride. We waited in line all the way to give our name and found out the wait would be two and a half hours. TWO AND A F---ING HALF HOURS! Can you believe that?! So the group trekked back to the theatre thinking we could see a movie first.

The problem was this, in a theatre that holds 24 movies, almost all of them started between the time we walked over to the Rainforest Café and back. I was asked what I wanted to see and the pickings were slim. I don’t care how good the buzz is, I have no desire to ever see Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Because of Winn Dixie? Get real. We finally got to the front of the line and I was pressured to make a pick, and I ended up blurting out a phrase I still cannot believe I said. “Let’s see Be Cool.

“Let’s see Be Cool.

”Let’s see Be Cool.”

Have you ever said something in your life that you immediately wished you could take back? Under the stress of peer pressure, I caved in and chose the one movie I vowed I wouldn’t see. Welcome to my personal hell.

Along the way to our screen, I got to see all the movie posters for the films coming out this summer, and my mouth was watering. One wall alone had Sin City, Fantastic Four, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Batman Begins. If nerd heaven was a reality, it wouldn’t look unlike the AMC theatres at Downtown Disney. The stadium seating and couch-like seats are exactly how every movie should be seen. The only thing missing is alcohol, which they actually sell across town at the Universal movie theatres at City Walk. Give me enough beer and I could probably sit through Garfield.

On to the movie!

Be Cool

I should probably write SPOILER WARNING here, as I’m sure to write about plot points, but for God’s sake, if you haven’t seen Be Cool yet, you aren’t going to anyway. Be Cool started with John Travolta, as a former mob-guy, now movie producer, watching music mogul James Woods get killed in front of him as Woods was trying to pitch Travolta a movie about his life. All of this made no sense to me, and seventeen hours later, or whenever it was the movie ended, it didn’t mean much more. I thought Travolta was horrible in this performance and was just mailing it in, not unlike how Lex Luger does in wrestling matches.

Anyway, soon Travolta met a cute singer, and she wanted to get out of her record contract. For the life of me I have no idea what this has to do with the James Wood’s character, other than the fact he worked in the music industry, but we’ll skip that for now. Part of the girl’s management team was Vince Vaughn, who played a character straight out of You Got Served. I’m a huge Vaughn fan, so his shtick as a white-guy-who-thinks-he’s-black had me rolling. The Rock played Vaughn’s bodyguard. The Rock was also playing a homosexual, and played it convincingly. Travolta made it very clear he wanted the contract of the cute singer, and laid out the Rock to prove his point. This was not unlike Nathan Jones going down from Brad Pitt’s first shot in Troy. Travolta wanted to know why Rock was hanging around idiots like Vaughn, and Rock said it was just to pay the bills until he got a chance to be a movie star. Travolta told Rock he would do what he could to get him an audition for a film. This made Rock happy.

We are then introduced to a bunch of characters including Uma Thurman, playing James Wood’s widow, Harvey Keitel, playing Vince Vaughn’s boss, and Cedric the Entertainer, playing the Suge Knight-like role of a thug record producer. I guess this whole movie was a huge send-up of the music industry, but since I don’t really follow that industry much, I didn’t get many of the in-jokes. I’ll give some props to Cedric, who did very well with what he had to work with. He was the rich, stay at home dad, who played the gangsta thug in public as to not lose street cred, and his crew, the WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction, a/k/a Dub MDs) had some absolutely jacked black guys that must have had Vince McMahon drooling. Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000 of OutKast) was also one of the WMDs, and was a true highlight of the film as he was absolutely hysterical in every scene he was in.

Meanwhile, the Rock was upset that he never got a return call from Travolta, so he hid out at Travolta’s house in order to jump Travolta when he came home. The Rock was easily thwarted though and, in a good scene, explained he was so bored waiting for Travolta to come home that he was playing his demo tape in Travolta’s VCR. The Rock’s demo is pretty damn funny as it is the Rock, in full cartoonish western cowboy outfit, singing Loretta Lynn’s “You’re not woman enough to steal my man.” This video was actually a lot like the new Burger King commercial with Darius Rucker, of Hootie and the Blowfish, singing about BK’s new Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch burger.

Everyone tried to screw everyone else over in the movie and it all just seems to take forever to get through. For some reason that I can’t even fathom, they included this absurdly long dance sequence with Travolta and Uma Thurman. I haven’t been in that much shock of something that just seemed to never end since The Return of the King’s 20 endings. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, the movie included a surreal performance by Aerosmith in which they are joined onstage by the cute singer. Okay, we just jumped the shark. Singing with Aerosmith apparently “made” the cute singer as we next went to her first music video, directed by Seth Green. On the set of the video, Vince Vaughn and the Rock jumped Uma Thurman and Travolta, and it looked like Travolta was finally going to be finished when it was revealed that Vaughn was deleting Rock’s phone messages. We found this out during one of the seemingly million plugs for the T-Mobile sidekick. I’m not kidding you when I write that you are going to be overwhelmed with product placement in the movie.

The Rock, after realizing that Vaughn had been deleting his messages, saw that Travolta really did line up a movie audition for him, and turned babyface. This all ended in what was probably the funniest part of the movie, as Vaughn’s faux-fur coat caught on fire and he ran screaming through the music video taping. I’m made enough to admit I was laughing my ass off at this and you just knew it would make the final video. The movie finished shortly after by going straight to the MTV music video awards and the cute singer won an award. I have no idea what it was though. In her live performance they had the Rock as one of the dancers, and he totally hammed it up in a good spot. After she accepted her award and she thanked Travolta, they had a blown up version of Vaughn on fire. Funny stuff. The movie ended with Travolta riding off with Thurman as the camera focused on a billboard for an upcoming movie with Nicole Kidman and the Rock. Awwwww.

The Good: The Rock was good in this movie, but not great as I was led to believe by reading earlier reviews. It probably helped that many of the characters were so poor that he looked good just in comparison to them. As a side note, over the weekend I also saw The Pacifier with Vin Diesel. Oh, get over it. Now, when both Be Cool and The Pacifier opened the same weekend a while back, I couldn’t believe that Diesel’s movie trounced the Rock’s in terms of how much money they made. Now I know why. While it had its problems, especially in the third act, The Pacifier is hilarious, with a turn by Brad Garrett that rivals Kevin James’ scene-stealing performance in Hitch. When I think of Vin Diesel, I think of some pretty damn good movies that he has been in including, Boiler Room, Saving Pvt. Ryan, Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious.. Compare that to what the Rock has done. Vin Diesel owns the Rock. I don’t like writing that, but the results speak for themselves. I hope in the future the Rock picks his scripts better, but looking at his upcoming slate, including movie versions of the video games Doom and Spy Hunter, don’t leave me expecting much.

As I stated earlier, Vince Vaughn was hilarious in this film, but it should be noted a little of his act goes a long way. The other three people I went to the movie with started to get sick of his act halfway through the film. I also loved both Cedric the Entertainer and Andre Benjamin. Personally, I think when the funniest people in your movie aren’t even included in the top five billed, you have problems.

The Bad: I’m beginning to think the films I like with John Travolta in them are good despite him, and not because of him. I admit to liking Pulp Fiction, The Punisher, Broken Arrow, and A Civil Action but all of them, with the exception of Fiction would have been better off without him. Can someone tell me how Danny DeVito, with a total of one minute of screen time, gets billing over the Rock?! Because he’s a producer of the film? Welcome to HOLLYWOOD!

The Ugly: Have all the editors in Hollywood died?! Is there no one who has the power to take away final cut from the director? You could have cut 20-30 minutes off of Be Cool and the movie would have been better because of it. The storyline of Uma Thurman being a former roadie for Aerosmith and it tying in to the film’s finale is writing straight out of the WWE. Add that to the whole subplot of the Russian mafia running a pawn shop, and all the Three’s Company-like coincidences, and you just have a lazy script.

Overall Thoughts: Wait for the DVD or go rent Get Shorty, which my webmaster assures me is Be Cool done well.

LanoMania!

You might remember my daily online updates during my WrestleReunion road trip, in which I finally got to put a face to the name, "Mike Lano" . Previously I had only know the name from credits in books like Tributes II and his annual mention in Bruce Mitchell’s Quiz as the Fanboy Oddity. Well, several weeks ago I was sent a DVD from Bob Barnett entitled LanoMania, which is a tribute to Barnett’s friend. I got a chance to finally watch it on the plane trip back to New Hampshire as my girlfriend passed out right after take off.

Here’s the chapter list to the DVD:

Canvas Cavity College
Cornette rips Lano 1994
Lano goofs and is goofed on 2/27/98
Lano the filmmaker rips Meltzer
Lano goes nuts at APW 1998
Tony Rumble’s Mike Lano Chronicles

On to the DVD!

SPECIAL BONUS: I contacted Mike Lano himself to give his thoughts on the DVD and following each chapter, we’ll hear what Lano has to say. As Stan “The Man” Lee would say, this is not a hoax, not an imaginary story, this is the real deal true believers!

(1) Canvas Cavity College: Apparently this is a cable access show that Lano did in the early ‘90s. Or at least it looks that way. For those who don’t know, the “Dr.” in “Dr. Mike Lano” comes from Lano being a dentist. So that’s where the cavity gag comes from. That’s actually not the worst joke, as Lano’s co-host for this segment is an unidentified guy who wears a hockey mask ala Jason of Friday the 13th. Like I could make that up. The whole set reminds me of those Kevin Trudeau infomercials, you know, the guy who claims to have the cure for cancer in a pill. Lano put over Alex Marvez and the Mushnicks as reporters who will always be there to keep the wrestling industry honest. It appears that Phil Mushnick has gotten off his high horse concerning wrestling, but that could possibly be because the sport is in such a down turn he realizes it is a waste of time attacking it.

Terry Funk was interviewed via phone, and Funk railed against wrestling being more spectacle than sport. Funk brought up that WrestleMania III, the WWE’s biggest gate of all time, was based on the public wanting to see Hogan versus Andre, and not pyro and music videos. Definitely a very good point, but those brought up in the old school ways need to realize that it’s 2005 and the wrestling booking of 1970 wouldn’t work today. Funk said that Japan doesn’t have a lot of that type of nonsense and believes that Americans would like a serious presentation of wrestling. Well, Ring of Honor would prove that to be true a decade a later. Lano plugged a show Funk was involved with at the time on CBS, Tequilla and Bonetti, which looked like a poor man’s version of Turner and Hooch.

In other episodes of Canvas Cavity College, Lano talked about the closing of Joel Goodhart’s TWA, which had those great matches with Eddie Gilbert, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk that I always wanted to see. Lano also put over the wrestling sheets at the time including Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly, which I admit to buying in my super mark days, and a HUGE plug for the Pro Wrestling Torch. Lano also mentioned what seemed like a wrestling parody sheet, Pro Wrestling Sushi, that I have never heard about before, and “Alex Marvez’s Three Count.” I never heard of that one either. What rock was I living under for the last ten fifteen years? Lano said all the sheets presented a unified front against the evils of steroids invading wrestling. This is when everything got really strange as the show had bizarre cuts and Lano would say they could edit everything out so they were okay. Seriously, this was straight out of …And God Spoke. The weirdest cut of all ended up with Lano standing in front, chroma-key style, of a giant picture of Homey the Clown from In Living Color.

A montage then aired with, of all people, Mae Young, was among those involved. Mae looked very young at this point. She probably just turned 100. In the WTF moment to end all WTF moments, a picture of Cactus Jack getting his teeth worked on by Lano the dentist stayed on the screen as Alvin and the Chipmunks sang “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” And here I thought the dancing scene in Be Cool lasted forever. Lano gave credit to a ton of people, including Wade Keller (at twice the size of everyone else, no less), as his show ended. In a bit of irony, Bob Barnett’s name is misspelled in these credits. The footage ranges from very good to very, very bad. An interesting look back though, much in the same way that Wade Keller’s old KFAN radio shows are, for Torch VIPers to download and listen to.

Lano Responds: The TV show I did that was actually "syndicated" (I'd have friends around the U.S. like Evan Ginzberg get it on various cable access channels like MNN and Paragon in New York City) was from 1989-2002 when I got too busy with my radio show. It was called Canvas Cavity which I think was the name of the column I was doing for Torch circa 1990-91 covering Japan. The masked guy was one of the top heel managers-Gary "Gearhardt" Kaiser who eventually lost the stupid hockey Jason mask. Gary managed a lot of teams all across the U.S. (he was most famous in the SF territory) like the von Steigers, Von Brauners, the Masked Invaders, etc.

Pro Wrestling Sushi was done by a guy who lives near Dave (Meltzer) and who often corresponded with Wade--Jeff Mullins who sadly lost interest in wrestling.  It was brilliant at times, and I can dig up and mail you copies of it.  It was like Scott Hudson's great Shenanomake Post newsletter-lots of sarcasm.


(2) Cornette rips Lano. Basically, this was a mini-version of a shoot interview. I’ve seen several of Cornette’s shoots over the years and the guy is absolutely hysterical. This particular one was shot with such a red tint that it looks like you are viewing it through the ruby quartz visor of Cyclops from the X-Men. This whole segment is Cornette going off on Lano, calling him a nut, and giving several stories involving himself and Lano. Cornette claimed that one time Lano booked Cornette for a show in Japan before clearing it with Cornette. I know how Cornette feels, as my girlfriend always books double dates for us with friends of hers without clearing it with me first. Cornette commented on Lano’s tape business by saying, “does it look like your four year old has dubbed them without knowing all the buttons?” Cornette then tore into Lano’s dentistry by asking, “who would let him in their mouth with a sharp object?!” Whether you agree with him or not, Cornette is always a blast to listen to.

Lano Responds: I never booked Jim anywhere.  When I'd go to Japan, often for 3 weeks at a time shooting 100's of rolls of film and staying at my editor and friends house (Gong's Wally Yamaguchi aka WWF manager Yamaguchi-San of Kaientai)--anyway, Wally in late '91 asked me to ask Cornette if he and Lane and Eaton would come over for the Universal promotion since a top heel manager had never debuted in Japan--they just didn't really have managers so it would be unique.  I left several messages for Jim, he finally got back that he hated flying and said he just wasn't up for it.  That was the end of it.  He was never booked, nothing.  I wrote that we tried to do that in Wrestling then and now newsletter, that Jim just didn't feel like going to Japan and didn't want to eat the food there (which can be tough on anyone)  and that was that.  I don't know why it got embellished and passed down wrestling's infamous rumor mill; but if Lano was involved,  you could figure it would turn into some goofy urban myth passed down from person to person.  Mick and Abby, like Sheik and others, were dental patients who I actually treated in the office.  Mick's wife Collete filmed me working on him, and later him roughing me up for the magazines in my own dental office.

(3) Lano goofs and goofed on. This segment looked like it was taped at a Cauliflower Alley-type show. I believe Dennis Coraluzzo was the host and Lano was brought in to give a plaque to Dory Funk Jr. Lano gave a speech, followed by Funk accepting the plaque and thanking all the fans for their support. Dory looked 50 years younger than when I saw him last, in January.

(4) Lano the filmmaker rips Meltzer. Now this was bad insider comedy. Lano did a parody of the Stephen Spielberg movie, Hook, as “the continuing saga of the little boy who never grew up, David Meltzer.” The movie starred Jim Herd as Yogi Bear, Jack Petrick as Fred Flintstone and Virgil Runnels (Dusty Rhodes) as Snagglepuss. These were the villains. The film also had Robin Williams as David Meltzer and “Boomer” as “Dad of the dog.” Okay, all with me now, WTF?!!!!!! I believe all of this was laboriously used to set up the gag line, “will Herd, Petrick and Runnells get the hook?”

Somehow it kept going, like some sort of never ending Saturday Night Live skit that starts during the last half hour and ends at 7a.m. They had a person pretending to be Meltzer’s mom off camera telling Dave she wouldn’t give him Chinese food or grapefruit juice till he cleaned up his room. Seriously, this is the strangest thing I have ever seen, and let me tell you something, I have seen some shit. As they said in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, “this makes House Party 2 look like House Party 3!” It all ended with a Cap’t Hook hand ripping up papers, with guys like Jack Herd on them, but sparing a photo of Owen Hart and Madusa Micelli. This must be what it is like to be on acid. It all ended with Lano saying that this was a good natured rib on Meltzer, and gave an address for readers to write Ted Turner and complain how bad WCW was at the time.

In a word: wow.

Lano Responds: This was when I was pissed at Dave for saying my Sam Muchnick/St Louis convention tribute weekend would never happen, that the boys wouldn't trans themselves in or pay their own way.   So I was being petty and putting out Dave's favorite stuff around me when we'd eat--his diet was very strict--grapefruit juice, and only healthy Korean bbq stuff (from Leon White taking us out to Olympiad Korean BBQ just outside of Shinjuke, Japan).   The St Louis convention drew about 380 paid people and I didn't spring for a dime unlike John Arezzi since I got the hotel to donate rooms for all the wrestlers.  Lou Thesz, Red Bastien and Ernie Ladd were my mc's for the 3 day event,  and the boys who flew in included Killer Kowalski, Ivan Koloff, Ox Baker, Kangaroo Al Costello, Pepper Gomez, Pepper Martin, Jimmy Snuka and his entire family, all of the late pat o conner and bobby shane family,  Rip Hawk, Bob Backlund, Jack Lanza, Ted Debiase, Curt Hennig, Rotunda, Kimala, Penny Banner, etc.  All the dealer tables were free and there was a 48 hour wrestling marathon the local Missouri/IL area promoters put together right next door.

Back to the skit, it was pretty stupid and the Robin Williams "Peter Pan" lame movie had just come out and that was my parody on it.  It was idiotic on my part


(5) Lano goes nuts at APW. There was some sort of wrestler sitting in the middle of the ring who introduced Lano, and the whole thing was Steve Corino-like (at least in terms of length). This guy said that Lano was responsible for “the Sam Mushnick roast”, the careers of Sabu, Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher along with ECW and FMW. I have no idea if this was supposed to be a joke or not. Lano came to the ring with a bunch of props, like Carrot Top. Some of these props included WWE action figures and Lano would go into rants on the Internet. This was like one of those 25 minute Raw promos with Triple H that are 20 minutes too long.

Lano Responds: I was a heel manager character in APW in '97 and '98 after doing their commercial tape play by play for over a year.  I had a long program with Donovan Morgan (the face) eventually shoving me, Cornette style, into my own birthday cake.  I also feuded with Max Justice, Vic Grime and Mike Modest--they wanted me to curse and play off my "unearned bad rep" because the promoter/owner--Roland Alexander was also unloved on the net, etc.  So he was sympathetic and just told me to over blow any of that into promos which I was the shits at. The absolute shits--I had no clue.

(6) Tony Rumble’s Mike Lano Chronicles. This segment is actually from NWA New England and is a series of skits and matches involving a wrestler whose gimmick was that he was Mike Lano. Hey, McMahon creating Irwin R. Shyster after he was pissed at the government and was, I shit you not, going to beat up a Panda Bear at a PPV in England after losing the lawsuit to the World Wildlife Fund, so this type of stuff is a time honored tradition in wrestling. After a couple matches we got to see “Mike Lano” backstage at a show and it was his mission to get Jim Cornette to be his manager. Lano claimed to be NWA Champion but always claimed his belt was upstairs in the penthouse getting buffed by the Lano-ettes. I shouldn’t have found that nearly as funny as I did.

Lano finally ran into Cornette, and they caught Cornette stealing crackers in the hotel’s kitchen. I’ll never say another word about how bad SmackDown is ever again. Cornette then challenged Lano to a trivia duel that included such questions as, “who did Frank A Gotch defeat in 1905 for the wrestling championship.” Cornette kept asking questions and this must be something like the fabled wrestling quiz I’ve read Cornette gives OVW students. All of these leads to Lano going back upstairs to his room and being attacked by Mae Young and the Fabulous Moolah. Welcome to Monday Night Raw.

Lano Responds: I never saw any of Tony Rumble's TV;  but I had a knockdown argument with him back in Boston.  I told him if he didn't get off drugs and alcohol he was going to kill himself.  Any of the boys walking into his hotel room, etc would have to cough thru pot smoke, etc.  Tony was a terrific guy, but he resented my telling him to clean up his life--sort of a half assed intervention on my part.  He responded by creating the Lano Brothers--Dr Mike and Ralph because he was pissed at me.  Go figure.

APW's first heel manager in 1995 was a "Dr Mike Lano"  not me or Tony Rumble's guys;  and when I began reporting on the wrongful death lawsuit against APW (APW student Brian Ong who accidentally died during training right at APW's dojo at the hands of "Giant" Dhalip  Singh) in December;  APW responded by creating a "dr. mike" jobber who'd get killed each match.  Obviously, many of us have no more to do with APW and will be covering the big deal San Francisco trail by Ong's family and the State of CA against APW and all it's owners/agents that Bob says won't settle and is definitely going to trial this June.

Finally, I had no knowledge Barnett was doing this tape and things must be pretty slow to make a whole tape goofing on old Dr Mike.  Few have gone around the world several times, shooting wrestling territories backstage and thru the ropes since the 60's, and thank God for storage sites because all the negatives and slides are nearly pushing me out of my house.  Anyone wanting (and I don't know why) edited Canvas Cavity show copies, etc--just contact me.


Overall Thoughts: This is certainly a DVD that will only appeal to the hardest of hardcore insider fans. I just found out that Lano was part of the group that visited Titan Towers back in the day with Wade Keller and Meltzer. That gets an old school, ECW-like, “Holy Shit!” from me. I’ve been reading about that infamous meeting for over a decade. Click Here to purchase the disc and check out all the other videos Bob Barnett has to offer. Good luck though, because unfortunately Bob’s site may be the worst commerce site in the world to navigate through. You better know what you want before you go and have an idea where to find it, because you don’t get much help there. He does advertise a Mexican house show in which in one match someone takes Dave Meltzer’s notebook and throws it into the ring. Now THAT’S something I’d like to see. It has also come to my attention that LanoMania is growing as Barnett is continuing to add to it. He has added at least two more chapters with “Lano (at the ill fated Godon Scozzari show) managing the Sheik and Sabu, as Dr Farouk, w/ a jalaba (towel head) on, where just five minutes earlier he had been photographer Lano. The ultimate kayfabe breaking!” Want to know more? Write Bob!

Special thanks to Mike Roe, Torch Japan’s Keith Lipinski and The Angry Young Man for their help with this review.



Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.