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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Leon Rippy

The Color Purple (1985)

Men are always bringing women down. Doesn’t matter the race.

Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) has had a pretty rough life. At a very early age, she was impregnated not once, but twice by her daddy and rather than getting the chance to raise the spawn of his seed, they were taken away from her and sold to a family that was willing to pay a healthy price for the children. And honestly, Celie couldn’t do anything about it. After all, she was an African-American woman living in the South, during the early-1900’s, where not only did black people of every kind face all sorts of harsh treatment and inequality throughout society, but most of all, women especially. But the pain and torture for Celie doesn’t stop there; eventually, she gets married off to the wealthy, but equally as abusive “Mister” Albert Johnson (Danny Glover). While she’s given a spacious place to live in and a few stepchildren to care for, mostly, Celie’s time spent here is filled with utter torment, and Albert is not only a mean person, but one that does not care about making it known about his extramarital affairs – something that would absolutely upset Celie, however, she’s just too numb to feel anything. The only glimmer of hope in Celie’s life is the idea that one day, possibly, she will be reunited with her sister, who is apparently out and about in Africa, learning all that there is to learn of the native land.

Cheer up, Celie. At least your sissy may still be alive, right?

Cheer up, Celie. At least your sissy may still be alive, right?

Steven Spielberg, in hindsight, may have been an odd choice for this sometimes cruel source material. Considering that he isn’t a man of color, but also, at this point in his career, wasn’t always known for his deep, dark and disturbing dramas. If anything, he was most known for the summer blockbusters he churned out to both critical, as well as commercial acclaim. Nowadays, we know and can usually depend on Spielberg for these kinds of dark dramas, but in 1985, it was a hard idea to fathom that Spielberg would take source material as coveted and as regarded as this.

But still, Spielberg being Spielberg, he makes it his own.

The Color Purple is, by all means, a very disturbing flick. Right from the very beginning, when we find out that Celie’s father has been raping her, impregnating her, and giving her children away for money, it’s a huge shock. Most movies/stories would have that be its final twist at the tail-end, when people aren’t ready or expecting hard, messed-up truths like that to come out. But nope, Spielberg allows for the movie to get as grim as can humanly be, right off the bat; it’s not just a shocker, but a smart move, as it allows for the rest of the film to play out as terribly disgusting and inhumane as can be.

But it’s all worth it, as odd as that sounds. Spielberg isn’t just allowing for Celie’s story to play out, one scene after another, in which she is assaulted in every sorts of way imaginable. Sure, you could definitely pin-point the movie as being all of that, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like that. The movie moves at a steady pace where we’re able to be horrified by the atrocities, but also get an understanding of who these people are involved with said atrocities; in fact, that actually helps the movie a whole lot more as we learn to care extra for Celie and those around her who may be on the receiving, or giving end of certain assaults and whatnot.

It may not sound like much, but it goes a long way to help us grow more immersed with these character’s lives and the world around them.

And because of that, the Color Purple can sometimes be a rough movie to sit through. In a way, you almost wish that Spielberg himself would look away, or take a moment to pause from all of the brutality and instead, move the plot forward, but all of the rough and nasty edges are what sort of make this story all the more heartfelt. Had Celie, as well as those around her, had been assaulted once or twice throughout the whole two-and-a-half-hours, the movie wouldn’t have as much of an emotional impact. But because Celie and all of the other women are treated so awfully, basically throughout, it makes a whole lick of difference and makes us feel like their situation is way worse than we could have imagined.

Those eyes, though.

That look, though.

Though Spielberg is one for sentimentality (like he shows in the last-act), he still doesn’t forget about the mean realities in life that plague our society. That’s why, for all of the silly choices Spielberg makes – like, for instance, allowing for a score to play just about throughout the whole run-time in a rather obnoxious manner – he still gets the meat and the crux of the story right. This is a story about women – black women, in particular. And they aren’t growing up in any certain time like today – it’s the South and it’s the early-1900’s.

The times weren’t pretty and they don’t deserve to be seen as such.

And as Celie, Whoopi Goldberg is quite great. There’s a lot of staring and crying that she has to do, which may make it appear like she doesn’t have a whole lot of range, but what Goldberg is doing so well, is that she’s bottling everything about Celie up that, once we get to a certain point, we see that she’s about to ready to explode. And yes, when she does in fact, explode, it’s a great scene and reminds us all why Goldberg, her View-shenanigans aside, is a great actress and is more than willing of that Oscar she achieved some sixteen years ago (yes, I know it was for Ghost, but you can almost think of it as an “apology Oscar” from the Academy for not giving it to her here).

But it’s not just Goldberg who is great here. Playing the strong-willed and sassy Sofia, Oprah Winfrey reminds us that she’s a great actress too, showing us a funny and honest character who, despite always having something to say, may also be her own worst enemy and is almost deserving of her own movie entirely; Danny Glover is downright terrifying and vile as Albert, but rightfully so, and in some brief instances, we do get to see a certain level of humanity, making us see this man for what he is: A human; and as the lively and sexy Shug Avery, Margaret Avery shows us the more positive sides to being a black women living at this time and also awakens something of a sexual desire within Celie that brings out the best in both of them.

And thankfully, the women here all got Oscar nominations. Though, of course, they didn’t win.

Big surprise, right?

Consensus: Though it isn’t without the occasional misstep and Spielberg indulgence, the Color Purple is still a hard-hitting, effective and surprisingly emotional tale of racism, bigotry and violence that’s as disturbing as it should be.

8.5 / 10

Do it, Celie! What you've got to lose!

Do it, Celie! What you’ve got to lose!

Photos Courtesy of: Blu-Ray, Cinematic Fanatic

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The Patriot (2000)

Ah. The good old days of when people could actually trust in Mel Gibson to save the day.

During the American Revolution in 1776, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French and Indian War, declares that he will not fight in a war that is not his own. However, his oldest son (Heath Ledger) thinks differently and decides to enlist himself. Though Benjamin is upset with this decision, he knows that it is up to his son to make his own decisions and to be able to live with them, just as he has done with his own. But one fateful night, his son comes back, bloody, beaten-up, battered, and in need of some shelter; Benjamin, obviously, gives it to him, thinking that this will be the last time his son sets out for battle ever again. But Benjamin is proven wrong when, early the next morning, the British come looking for him and want to take his son away. Obviously, Benjamin is against this, as well as the rest of his family, which is when one of his young sons is shot and killed. This is when Benjamin decides that it’s time to quit being a pacifist and to pick up his sword, his gun, and his tomahawk, in order to extract some revenge, the good, old-fashioned way, baby!

Evil.

Evil.

Obviously, seeing as how this is a film from Roland Emmerich, I wasn’t expecting there to be any sort of complexity involved with the occasion. However, what’s different about the Patriot, apart from most of Emmerich’s other movies, is that it seems like he’s actually trying to make this an emotionally-gripping, detailed-story about how one man fought for the love and honor of his family, even when all the odds were stacked-up against him. This, on paper, all sounds heartfelt and kind of sweet, but the way in which it plays out?

It’s the furthest thing from.

For one, as soon as Gibson’s Benjamin Martin picks up his tomahawk, it’s go time right from there. People are shot, decapitated, split-open, spit-on, bled-out, and all sorts of other lovely actions involved with war. To be honest, I’m not one to back away from a movie that contains an awful lot of violence (especially when the violence is as graphic as it is in a big-budgeted blockbuster such as this), but there’s something here that feels incredibly off about the whole movie, that put a sour taste in my mouth.

Because, to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Emmerich gives much of a hoot about whether or not Benjamin actually feels fulfilled when every Redcoat is dead and gone away with; he cares more about how many people get killed, and in how many ways that make people go, “Aww yeah!”, or “Ooh!”. You can’t hate Emmerich for wanting to please his audience, but you can hate him for trying to pass all of that death and destruction with something resembling a peaceful; it’s just stupid and feels ill-written.

But, if I did have to rate this movie as a summer blockbuster, it’s an okay one.

It sure as hell did not at all need to be nearly three-hours, but considering the huge budget it has to work with, it’s nice to see that, at one time at least, Hollywood was willing to put all of their money into a history epic that featured as much gritty and raw violence as a single season of the Sopranos. Though the violence is oddly thrown in there with an inspirational message about standing up for your rights and taking down those who take what means most to you, it’s still effective; through the many war-sequences, we get a certain feel for just how dangerous and hellish the battlefield was, without any bullshit thrown in there.

It’s literally just blood being shed, lives being lost, and more disturbing memories for the generations to come. If anything, that’s as deep and as far as the Patriot is willing to go with any life-affirming message. For the most part, it is, like I said, concerned with just showing how many people can get killed, in all sorts of graphic ways that may, or may not please people.

Naive.

Naive.

Depends on who you are, I guess.

Though the movie tries to dig deep into Benjamin Martin’s psyche, eventually, it just stops and allows for Mel Gibson to do the leg-work for them. Which was obviously a smart idea, because even though Gibson seems to be, once again, playing another man on the search for getting justice and revenge for the loss of a loved-one (see Braveheart and/or Mad Max), the role still fits him like a glove that it doesn’t matter how old it seems for him to be playing. He has that perfect balance of being just vulnerable enough to make you think that the odds could topple over him, as well as being just mean and vicious enough to make you think he could kill whoever he wanted, how he wanted to, and whenever he saw fit. It’s actually quite scary, but it’s the role Gibson’s worked well for as long as he’s been acting and it’s only gotten more dramatic as he’s gotten older.

A lot of other people show up here and seem to be trying on the same level as Gibson, but they’re sadly tossed-away once the movie decides it doesn’t have time for them to stretch their wings out. The late, great Heath Ledger, Rene Auberjonois, Joely Richardson, and Chris Cooper all seem to have shown up, ready for work, but they don’t have anything worthwhile to do. After all, they’re in a Roland Emmerich movie, and when was the last time when of them was actually about the solid performances on-display?

No seriously – when was that? Cause I sure as hell don’t remember!

And the main reason why I didn’t include the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Jason Isaacs in that last paragraph, is because they are sadly given the roles as “the British” here, which means they play, either, nonsensical idiots, or blood-loving savages. It would make sense why the British would have a problem with this movie to begin with, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that two immensely talented actors like Isaacs and Wilkinson were given roles, so limited in their development and scope, that even they couldn’t save them. Sure, they went through the motions and collected the nice, meaty paychecks, but is it really all that worth it?

Consensus: As a summer blockbuster, the Patriot is more violent and bloodier than you’d expect it to be, but also happens to be a Roland Emmerich movie, which means it’s basically all of that, and hardly any depth beyond.

5 / 10

Heroic.

Heroic.

Photos Courtesy of : Super Marcey, Rob’s Movie Vault, Popcorn for Breakfast

The Lone Ranger (2013)

It’s a 2-hour version of Cowboys and Indians, with Jack Sparrow thrown into the mix somehow.

Once upper-class lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) shows up in Texas, hell breaks loose. A known murderer and criminal, Butch Cavendish (David Finchter), escapes from custody; an Indian by the name of Tonto (Johnny Depp) is thrown into custody; and his brother (James Badge Dale) is all-of-a-sudden killed by Cavendish and his league of fellows murderers. Needless to say, Reid finds this killing as a perfect tool to not only put Cavendish away for good, but get a bit of revenge on his own time. However, Tonto somehow escapes from prison and begins to follow Reid around, calling him “the chosen one” or, for lack of a better term, “The Lone Ranger.” There’s the title. Happy!?!

Right from the get-go, it seemed so obvious that everybody involved was trying to make this like another Pirates movie, but I still didn’t want to believe it. Something, somewhere, told me that it wasn’t just made strictly for money and to make it into a big franchise, it was made out of tenderness, love, and care, as well as for the sake of entertaining the hell out of people. Surely Johnny Depp, hell, Gore Verbinski is better than that, right?!?!

Well, I sure as hell was wrong and unbeknownst to me: it’s exactly what I thought it would be, a total money-grabber.

That's so silly! Native Americans don't use umbrellas, especially NOT in the desert. Wow!

That’s so silly! Native Americans don’t use umbrellas, especially NOT in the desert. Wow, that Tonto! I’ll tell ya!

That’s a very sad reality too, because this movie seemed like it was destined for some real, honest fun from beginning to end. Not only has the Lone Ranger character been one that’s been begging for a movie-adaptation, but also seemed like it could have only been done justice, if Verbinski was in fact attached to making it. Problem is, what seemed almost irreplaceable, actually ends up killing any sort of steam or momentum for this flick, and turns into a bit of a bore. Never expected that to happen with this movie, especially since the first 10-15 minutes are fun and exciting, but once the plot kicks in and Verbinski decides to get serious on all of our simple-minded asses; things begin to get too dark, too quick.

It’s almost like Verbinski loved this material so much, that he actually some actual racial-conflict between Tonto and all of the other characters surrounding him. Little does he know that it’s just a silly movie, made for kids, as well as the adults who will most likely get roped into taking them to this. For the kids, they may have a good time, depending on how much they like Johnny Depp, being Johnny Depp, but the adults may be a little distraught with what to do here. See, this flick can be all about fun, games, and all of the goofy things that the character of Tonto can, and most likely will do, but there are times throughout the duration of this movie where it gets pretty disturbing, pretty quick, and it’s tonally messed-up. One scene will have Reid and Tonto goofing-around about why he should wear the mask, and then the next scene will have Cavendish eat out some dudes heart and wipe the blood off of his face, just 2 seconds after performing the act of cannibalism. Yep, pretty fucked-up, and not just for a kids movie: but for a fucking Disney movie!

Beware on that one, adults.

And even despite the odd-tone this movie seems to have throughout the whole, 2-and-a-half hours, the movie doesn’t even seem to be hitting the marks it aims for more than often. It rarely ever had me laugh, even as the flick strained so hard to make me; the plot is a bit too heavy and features more than enough exposition for any Western-type of thriller; and the heart of the story, gets lost under unintentional racism. If people don’t remember too fondly already, back in the day when this flick was getting ready to be made and whatnot, people were already pretty pissed-off by the fact that Depp, an American actor, would be playing Tonto, a Native American. Obviously any Native American in their right mind would be ticked about this, but knowing the type of humble dude that Depp is, he made it clear that he wouldn’t take the role unless there was respect and care for this character. Because if you think about it: Tonto is the most-definitive, Native American character in film, so if you screw him up, you screwed yourself up basically.

Problem is, the movie screws it up big-time and it’s so noticeable. Not only does Depp run around like a fool the whole time as Tonto, but they make Tonto out to be some snidely, jackass-of-a-person that fucked up everything and everyone he knew because he was a dumb-ass, Native American. The movie also presents some mean looks at the Native American tribes, more than likely, they’re just flat-out cruel, but the treatment of the character Tonto pissed me off because this dude could have been pretty fun to watch and bad-ass for that matter, but just wasn’t. He was always off-kilter, always acting strange, and never allowed to do anything else other than goofy faces. That’s it.

And yes, even for an actor like Depp; it’s a bit too much. Granted, at times, Depp does seem to be the best, freakin’ thing about this movie for awhile, but once the act runs dry and he, and Verbinski pull out whatever type of “humorous material” they can find in their artistic-asses, then we all begin to realize that this is just another Jack Sparrow performance, used in the form of a Native American, and not a savvy-pirate. Depp can play any type of bonkers characters like this in his sleep, but at times, it literally does seem like he’s sleeping or just in another form of autopilot. Tonto seems smart, like he has a way of making out any situation, just by the look and feel in the air, but here, he’s played up simply for hijinx and comedic-relief. Nothing new, or even remotely funny.

However, it’s not bad to make Tonto the lead character if you’re going to give him something interesting or cool to do, but they don’t even do that. They make the main star of the show, The Lone Ranger, more of the sidekick and that’s all because Hammer isn’t as big of a name as Depp is. It’s all true in the world of Hollywood, but that’s maybe a bit too cynical, especially because it ruins the flick of any promise it ever seemed to have. Hammer is fine as the Lone Ranger, has a bit of wit and charm to his act that goes a long way, but all gets bogged-down once Tonto takes over and it becomes “The Johnny Depp Show” after awhile. Hell, I’d probably watch that show too, if I had the chance, but not for a near, 2-and-a-half hour movie! That, to me, is just overkill! It’s even worse because Hammer seems like a nice fit for the role; he’s just never given the chance to fly with it. He’s practically the side-kick.

"Hey, Armie? Could you move a little to the left you think? You're sort of in my shot."

“Hey, Armie? Could you move a little to the left you think? You’re sort of in MY shot.”

But at least the rest of the cast is bearable to watch, right? Well, not really. If there was anybody in this cast who seemed like they really had a grip on what movie they were apart of and what was supposed to be used to make it a fun, movie-going experience for everyone, it was William Fichnter as Butch Cavendish. Fichnter is a villain in almost anything that he does, but with a role like this, you can totally see why since he’s a slimy dirtball that you never feel an ounce of sympathy for, no matter how much he may perk-up once the violence and the threat of death gets thrown onto him. Just goes to show you that Fichnter should be in more stuff, even if it is with MutantTurtles.

Aside from Fichnter’s show-stealing, scenery-chewing, everybody else is pretty dull and uneventful to watch, as if they were just ready for the healthy paycheck they were about to receive. Ruth Wilson is a bit of a bore as Reid’s sister-in-law, who just so happens to be his old-school crush, that never became a reality; Tom Wilkinson’s role is obvious from the start, even if the guy is a champ at playing it, before he starts to delve into over-the-top theatrics, made for a totally different movie with a higher-care for characters and development; and Helena Bonham Carter, despite being heavily-advertised like she’s a big part of the story, is in it for maybe 5 or 6 minutes, and that’s just a untrained guestimation of mine. It’s probably less, now that I think about it.  Oh, and Barry Pepper! What the fuck happened to your face, dude?!??!

Consensus: The Lone Ranger may feature just as much disdain from parents, as much as it may feature pleasure and happiness from the kids that are bound to see it, because while this remains a rather joyless-experience, rest assured, the movie will still make millions of dollars at the box office, and may even be granted a sequel, in hopes that Verbinski, Depp, and co., score the next franchise hit they oh so desire.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Seriously, dude! What the fuck did I just tell you?!? Back up!!"

“Seriously, dude!?!? What the fuck did I just tell you?!? Back up!!”

Stargate (1994)

Let’s just stay in this universe and not fuck anything up. Thanks.

Prof. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) believes there is more to our humanity but yet, nobody will care to listen to him because they feel as if he is just another nut with a microphone, and a head that’s a bit too big for his britches. That said, somebody takes notice to this freak-o and makes him apart of a secret mission to uncover an ancient portal known as the Stargate. Along with a couple of soldiers, lead by Colonel Jack O’Neil (Kurt Russell), they take a trip through this other dimension to see what’s shaking and baking and the answers they come up with are sure as hell not pretty.

We can all come to terms with the fact that Roland Emmerich isn’t the type of guy we can expect to see new-bread, highly-intellectual classics from, but at least we can expect one thing from him no matter what the story may be that he is tackling: fun, fun, and more fun. That’s all there is to it with Emmerich and even though Godzilla pissed almost everybody and their Chinese relatives off, and 2012 didn’t quite predict the future so well, at least the guy had fun with it, right? I’d say yes, but then again, I’m usually a sucker for these movies that don’t lose their enjoyment, no matter how stupid or idiotic they may actually get. This movie is the one where I drew the line with Emmerich and all of his stupidity that follows.

What I’m about to say is probably going to lose me a lot of street-cred but hey, so be it. The problem with this movie, right from the start, was that it was just so damn terribly boring, almost to the point of where I was actually contemplating turning it off, checking out another movie, and acting as if this one never came anywhere near me or my mind. I was very, very close to doing this but sadly, I stuck with it and it rarely ever got better for me. Emmerich tries his hardest by building up a story, showing us all the details, but also trying to leave some out for good fun, but it’s almost too much to where we don’t even feel like we know what the hell is going on at all.

Cool cut though.

Fresh cut though.

We get that these guys have to go to a different dimension, look for species, figure shit out, and take notes down, but that’s about it. Oh, and need I forget to tell you that Russell’s character has actually been given the direct order to bring a bomb with him and detonate it whenever he senses danger on this other universe. You know, a universe that may have human-beings alive on it and other materials that may be useful for the world we live in. Nope, just blow that shitty place up and act like it was all good in a hard day’s work. Because let’s face it, that’s what the military does, right?

That aspect of this movie seemed really stupid, but I was willing to drop my pants and my brain for a healthy-dosage of fun and entertainment, and I barely even got that. The first half of this movie is simply dedicated to these dudes running around this strange land, being acquainted with the natives, and trying to figure out what the hell is up with this land, even if there isn’t really anything wrong with it in the first place. This all plays out as if it was a shitty, low-budget remake of Dances with Wolves, but instead of having Navajo natives, they got these weird, slightly-colored people to speak total gibber and gabber, and consider that a “foreign language”. Seriously? That’s the best you could come up? Give me a damn break!

Don’t worry though, because it does get worse. As soon as the problems do actually show their faces, the movie still continues to make no sense as to why this person they have to face-off against is evil, why the hell he cares about these dudes showing up on their land, and just what does it all mean in the grand scheme of things. Sure, you could probably say that I was looking for a little bit too much in something that was just a typical, sci-fi yarn, but when a movie that is so focused and hell-bent on describing it’s ideas, plot, and exposition, I at least expect there to be some sort of reasonable explanation to it all. Not a whole lot, but just some, and this movie just never gave me that nor did it do anything to excite me. A couple of action scenes here and there fly by, but that’s about it and something felt like Emmerich just wanted to cut-loose, get crazy, and start blowing the shit out of random things like people, pyramids, and most of all, hairy monsters that are just there for show.

If there was any hope in this movie that it wouldn’t be the total shit-box I was expecting of it to be, it was at least that the cast could save the day, and apparently even that was asking way too much. James Spader is a very talented actor that can usually make any type of role work, but he just is so nerdy, so gullible, and so spazzy, that it gets to a point of where it’s annoying. I didn’t look at this guy in any other way, other than just by seeing him as the usual bookworm that thinks he’s way too smart, doesn’t know how to act in situations where the shit gets hot, and worst of all, doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Something tells me that a dude like James Spader doesn’t quite need help with the ladies but I guess Roland Emmerich saw something that I didn’t. Strange.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Okay, maybe he does need some help.

Thankfully, this is where Kurt Russell shows up to pick the slack up from here and shake things up, Snake Plisskenstyle. Okay, maybe his character here isn’t that awesome or cool for that matter, but it’s Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell, and for a movie and role like this: we really needed to see that come alive within the dude. Russell is constantly cool, a bit dangerous, a bit mysterious, but always bad-ass and shows that he can take even the shittiest-material, and make it his own little bitch. He seems like he really wants to get wild at some points, but he keeps it grounded and humane, just the way I like to see Russell play it. Although it doesn’t hurt to want to get up and start hacking people off left and right. Especially wouldn’t have hurt in this movie, anyway.

The strangest person in this cast, who still has me scratching my head as to whether or not he was actually good, or just plain and simply ridiculous was Jaye Davidson as the Egyptian king that wants this pretty place to himself, with nobody else’s grubby paws getting in the way. Davidson is the person most of you may now from the Crying Game (yeah, you know who the hell I’m talking about) and is fine here, but dresses so strange, looks so weird, and has this voice that’s a mixture between Barry White and Satan, that it just didn’t do a single thing for me and had me laugh at him the whole entire time. It seemed as if Davidson just got back from a drag-queen show every time he showed up on set and decided to now waste the time getting ready to suit-up, and kept the clothes he had on originally. Does it work? Yeah, maybe in a campy-way, but this movie isn’t campy enough and is always so self-serious that this villain, this performance, and this look that Davidson carries on throughout the whole movie just seems idiotic and totally out-of-place. Still have no idea why the hell this dude jumped off the face of the Earth after this movie hit, but who knows. Maybe he got stuck in another universe after all!

Consensus: Sci-fi junkies will probably eat this shit for breakfast, spit it right back out, and chew it up again for fun, but for a person who just wants a good story, realistic characters, and a bunch of fun and action, Stargate doesn’t even fill me up after the appetizers. It feels as if it wants to be a goofy, over-the-top movie but plays it so serious and so dramatic, that it never gets off the ground. It just stays there and sinks into the sand.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Trust me, it's a dude. I think...

Trust me, it’s a dude. I think…