The Films of Michael Davis
Eight Days a Week
100 Girls (March 6/02)
Midway through 100 Girls, I couldn't help but think of a movie from a couple of years ago called 8 Days a Week - in which the central character, obsessed with his beautiful neighbor, vows to spend the entire summer camped outside her house. The film was chock full of movie references and various musings on the relationships between men and women. 100 Girls features a similarly girl-obsessed protagonist who, after spending a glorious night in a dark elevator with his dream girl, becomes obsessed with finding her again - even though she's one of a hundred girls in a dormitory.
The film's aimless structure - the entire plot can easily be summed up in one sentence - becomes a little tiresome after a while, though the enthusiasm of the cast and the occasionally witty script make up for it. Writer/director Michael Davis (who, not surprisingly, also wrote and directed 8 Days a Week) keeps things light and frothy, which gives the flick an air of carefree innocence - though really, how innocent can a movie featuring an apparatus for penile improvement be?
It helps that star Jonathan Tucker is so amiable; this is the sort of guy it'd be real easy to hate. His obsession with the fairer sex borders on creepy, but in the hands of Tucker, the character becomes endearing and even a little sweet. Ditto the girls, who run the gamut from butch to shy to ugly to goth. And as embodied by the various actresses (from Roswell's Katherine Hiegl to On The Line's Emmanuelle Chriqui), they're an agreeable bunch. 100 Girls isn't exactly a spectacular film on any sort of level, but given that the resurgence in teen flicks has churned out some real stinkers like American Pie and Scary Movie, you could certainly do worse.
Monster Man (November 1/04)
From Michael Davis, the director of decidedly non-horrific fare including Eight Days a Week and 100 Girls, comes this enjoyable amalgam of various other scary movies (ie Jeepers Creepers and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). The story involves two friends - one a repressed nerd and the other a Jack Black-esque nutcase - that head off on a road trip to an old friend's wedding, where they find themselves stalked by a maniac in a monster truck. Davis brings the chatty sensibility of his earlier films to Monster Man, a choice that allows us to really get to know these two guys before the extreme violence kicks in. And while it's hard to ignore some of the more derivative aspects of Davis' screenplay - the homicidal family towards the end is right out of Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Davis imbues the film with enough energy and humor to overlook such deficiencies.
Shoot 'Em Up
While there's little doubt that Shoot 'Em Up effectively holds one's interest for the duration of its 86-minute running time, the styleless, downright bland visual palate employed by filmmaker Michael Davis ultimately ensures that the movie rarely evokes any kind of vividly visceral reaction within the viewer. Davis does a nice job of keeping things moving at an exceedingly brisk pace, however, and it's certainly impossible to deny the effectiveness of the three central performances. Clive Owen stars as Smith, a British hobo who grudgingly delivers a baby during a shoot-out and subsequently must protect said infant from Paul Giamatti's sinister Hertz (Monica Bellucci co-stars as a helpful hooker). Peppered with gleefully over-the-top interludes of violence and silly one-liners (ie after jamming a carrot into a goon's throat, Smith wryly mutters "eat your vegetables"), Shoot 'Em Up has clearly been designed to resemble a live-action cartoon with absolutely no basis in reality (Giamatti's scenery-chewing, unapologetically broad performance is alone proof of this). Its lack of thrills notwithstanding, the film generally succeeds in fulfilling its modus operandi and Owen makes for an expectedly compelling hero - yet, admittedly, the whole thing does start to run out of steam once it hits the one-hour mark (ie there's only so much mindless violence one can take). And because Owen is basically playing Bugs Bunny, there's never a point at which the viewer even partially fears for his safety - which, of course, removes any trace of suspense from the proceedings. Still, Shoot 'Em Up is propulsive fun that mostly fares better than the majority of contemporary actioners (ie Live Free or Die Hard).