Machete: $10 Worth of Topless Girls and Bloody Special Effects

Plus: Don't travel any distance to see Going the Distance

Machete originated as one of the fake, ’70s B-movie, horror/suspense trailers shown during Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. The trailer of Machete was so popular that the idea was green-lighted and developed into this gruesome (but kind of entertaining) full-length picture about vengeance. Machete (Danny Trejo) is a Mexican Federale who is adept at killing people with a machete — and out for revenge after a drug lord kills his wife and daughter.

But people are not paying $10 for plot or great acting. People are there to see topless women and bloody special effects. They’re there for the machete. And for that, they will get their money’s worth.

In the explosive first moments there are several beheadings, a behanding, some impaling, a bullet-ridden body, a flamethrower, a naked woman (credited as Chica Naked Girl) and Stephen Seagal (who is thicker, older, and, for whatever reason, dressed like Kim Jong-il).[SIGNUP]

That’s how it starts. And that’s pretty much how it continues.

Someone’s guts are used as a repelling rope, a meat thermometer is stabbed into someone’s neck, a priest gets crucified, etc. … It’s like a Choose your Own Stabby Adventure. Hmm … for my weapon, I choose a high heel. For the target, how about that guy’s eyeball?

Yep, it’s in the movie.

Be forewarned, any time the camera lingers on an object … ANY object, you better believe it will be sticking out or through someone shortly.

If you are looking for great acting, you will sorely be disappointed. But, really, you shouldn’t be surprised when actors have to say things like: “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us!” Instead, the talented cast (Trejo, Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba) acts alongside the untalented (naked girl, topless mom, sexy nurse #2). Like a John Waters’ film, this creates a dynamic, almost amateurish feel to scenes. It’s like you’re watching these adults at play, knowing that they are having the times of their lives saying and doing these outlandish things.

[Unfortunately, I do need to mention a low point among the actors: Lindsay Lohan. She is simply painful to watch in this movie. From the nudity to her blank, expressionless acting, it saddens me that this was once the capable star of Mean Girls.]

If you can quote Cheech Marin’s speech in From Dusk till Dawn, if you laughed at the accidental shooting scene in Pulp Fiction, or if you’ve already seen Piranha 3D, you will like (if not love) Machete. If you are not partial to gore, breasts, or profanity, well … you might want to see Eat Pray Love instead. (In theaters.)

My Grade: B-

Even rote storylines (i.e., a bicoastal relationship) can be the basis for great movies, unless you heap on rote dialogue, a rote title, and rote scenes on top of the rote storyline. Then you have Going the Distance (R) — a messy, unfocused comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as two people who meet in New York and begin a long-distance relationship.

So just how rote is it? Well, let’s examine the evidence: (1) scene where Long doesn’t know how to work the spray tan booth (which I think was a storyline on Friends … 10 years ago); (2) obligatory angry phone calls because the long-distance is so hard; (3) scene where Long runs after Barrymore in the airport to confess his love; (4) a candlelit path leading Barrymore to the bedroom; and (5) the title (which would be better used on a Mitch Albom book cover).

To compensate for its unoriginality, the writer and director cram in as much randomly vulgar dialogue and as many raunchy scenes as possible. While phone sex, poop, penis, and dry-humping jokes may work in other movies, here they seem completely discombobulating. Like trying to turn Sleepless in Seattle into The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

While I have higher hopes for Drew Barrymore movies (mostly because I love Never Been Kissed), Going the Distance does little more than make the likable cast (Barrymore, Long, Christina Applegate, Jim Gaffigan) seem less likable. (In theaters.)

My Grade: D+

To find any Aaron Mettey movie review from 2010, click here.