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I can't remember hearing anything about this flick, so take this as the first blip on the radar screen. The swingingest spy around, Trent Walker came in with this look, so read on about this "Spinal Tap meets ESPN's Sportscenter" flick. Hmmmmmm.... strange....

Hey, Harry; Trent Walker, here. Your site is so damned money...glad I'm finally finding things to pass along.

Got taken to a screening of a (pretty rough) edit of a flick called "The New Jersey Turnpikes" last week, down at DeNiro's haunt, the Tribeca Film Center. (By the bye, not a whole lot of security there, and they do a ton of screenings, so it might be worth it to your New York City moles to hang at the Tribeca Grill and keep checking the back door to see what's going on.)

The flick: Think "Spinal Tap" meets those ESPN Sportscenter ads, with a very nicely recreated 70s thing going on. The Turnpikes are a fictional team in the late days of the ABA (American Basketball Association), trying to make the jump to the NBA by staging wacky promotional nights to keep attendance up. (The flick is a "documentary" about their final days.)

Though it was pretty slow going in the first ten minutes or so, the movie got progressively funnier, and by twenty minutes in, when the team learns the valuable lesson of never throwing "Pet Rock Night" at the same game as "Quarter Beer Night", I was laughing my ass off. I won't give you any more of the great lines, 'cause I hate it when reviews (or trailers, for that matter) give up all the good stuff, but suffice it to say that there's a lot to lampoon about struggling sports teams. And it was nice to see that the humor was about a hundred times more intelligent than the "Major League" movies.

Props to Kelsey Grammer, who does a very nice, very subtle Jersey accent in a relatively minor part, and to Mike Starr, who plays the bigger-than-life team owner. (Okay, one more joke, 'cause I can't resist: Starr, in one of the film's funnier promo ideas, launches a "Turn Her Around" campaign, complaining that New Jersey is perenially looking at the ass of the Statue of Liberty.)

The other money thing about the movie is the period detail. From the team's "Exorcist Night" promotion to an appearance by the team's star on "The Six Million Dollar Man", the filmmakers got it all just right. The music and the clothes are just loud enough to be real, and not some "What's Happenin'?" pseudo-racist exaggeration. (Jesus, did I really just write "pseudo-racist exaggeration"? I've been living among New York liberals for way too long.)

Also, I dug that the flick manages to establish a number of characters in a way so that you can tell them apart...from the zoned-out, white hippy who constantly wants to prove his lack of racism to the militant black who spouts paranoid Oliver Stoneisms about oppression (quite literally, I think, because I could swear that one of his rants comes directly from "JFK") the movie has more interesting characters than most of the comedies I've seen this year.

Complaints: I'm no prude, Harry, but what's the gig with movies where, out of the blue, there are scenes that consist entirely of the f-word? Towards the end of "The New Jersy Turnpikes", there's a bit showing two fans cursing out the team for the benefit of the documentary crew that seems bizarrely out of place...and not funny, which is worse. The film is so much smarter than most broad comedies; the swearing seems kind of desperate. Fortunately, it's a pretty minor quibble. The other complaint, like I said above, is that the first ten minutes aren't very funny...and the rest is so funny that maybe they can fix it. (Judging from the two page questionnaire they made us fill out, and the unfinished special effects, I'm guessing they're still tinkering with it. Hopefully they can fix the little stuff without dicking around with the bulk of it. But it's a studio movie, so who knows.)

Anyway, Harry, I'm happy to report this one's a keeper, especially after sending you a nasty little review of "Living Out Loud" last week. Dunno when it's coming out, but I'll be taking some beautiful babies to it when it does. For now, I'm heading to Vegas. They're gonna give Daddy the "Rain Man" suite.

Ciao, Trent Walker

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