Sight Unseen: Taken Aback By King Vidiot – Taken 4 Starring Jon Gries

So I was out at the bowling alley on Archery Night and the owners forgot it was Archery Night. There was a huge mess of people there with balls and arrows, trying to do two things on the lanes. It was a big mess. So Ed and Richie called me up and said they’d offer me as much as a buck two eighty and all the garlic fries I could eat until 7:30 if I could come out and straighten up the mess.

I went and put targets out on the odd numbered lanes and left the even numbered lanes for bowlers. Now I know what you’re thinking: “If they get so many archers in there for archery practice then why did Ed and Richie expand and build eight more bowling lanes instead of some legitimate archery shooting areas?” And the answer to that is because Ed and Richie can do what they damn well want because this isn’t Communist Russia.

I mention this because that’s why I missed the call from the editor who wanted me to go out and write another review. I pressed the button on the answering machine and he told me I needed to go out and see Taken 4 and that if I was gonna try to expense this I needed to get receipts. “Real receipts, from legitimate purchases. Not a piece of paper that said Bruce Lee was America’s Finest Ambassador and expect a twenty.” At least I knew that man was gonna put my pockets on the outside of some money.

On the plus side, the movie was being shown at the 71 Drive-In, and not some miserable hardtop. So I could get a legitimate look at this movie from the comfort of my car, as God intended, and not some cramped, awful experience with volume you can’t control. I wasn’t gonna get an advance so I had to ask a date to meet me at the Drive-In because I couldn’t pay.

I knew LouMae wouldn’t have any trouble meeting me at the DI because she’s got her new salon up and running. She started renting that chair at the Curl Up N Dye salon on 62 in the converted mobile home. She’s got big plans for taking over the business. I suggested she could hire me to paint a big ol’ picture of her on the side of the mobile home when she does that to help bring in business. She said she’d think about it.  Anyway. I rolled into the lot, parked the car, and went to the concession stand to meet up with LouMae. Hopefully she’d bought our food and kept the receipt.

When I walked in that concrete block fortress, she was standing there with a beehive hairdo that was so big I wasn’t sure it would fit in the car. Add those skintight satin jeans and her matching satin jacket – she had a lotta tongues hangin out of a lotta mouths there in the concession stand.  She saw me and I saw her pout. I knew there was trouble.

I put my arm around her and she said right away “You lied to me.”


“You told me this was going to be a documentary about how they keep taking hair from horsetails to make wigs. I found out that wasn’t this movie at all. It’s some dumb action movie with some guy who used to be English or something and they take his kid. And then there’s that guy with the lazy eye who was king of Africa or something and then there’s that guy who was in Napoleon Dynamite. And HE doesn’t even talk that much in this movie, and that’d be the only thing I like. You know how I love Napoleon Dynamite. Why can’t you take me to see Napoleon Dynamite?”

Now, I’d already seen the cast list for this film, and I knew who she was talkin’ about. Not that English guy or that guy with the eye. No. She meant Mr Jon Gries. King Vidiot in the Drive-In Classic Movie Joysticks. Sure, Napoleon Dynamite was a hardtop movie, not a drive-in movie, but King Vidiot will always have me. He was also the long-haired freak in Real Genius and the half-assed cop in The Best Movie Based On A Novel Written By The Guy Who Wrote The Novel Fletch – Running Scared. I know, I know, Billy Crystal is in it. But it’s still good. Trust your Drive-In Movie Master.

Jon Gries is the only reason I was looking forward to this movie, since I hadn’t seen Taken or Taken 2 or Taken 3. And I apologize to Mr Gries for this oversight. But tonight, me and LouMae are gonna make up for lost time and watch Taken 4 and get back on the Gries Horse. But first I had to correct her.

“LouMae, hun,” I said, trying not to sound too much like I was trying to sell her an RV, “you’re thinking of the first three Taken movies. This is the fourth one. Jon Gries is the star this time. He was just the amazing help in the other movies. His star power finally showed through and we get to have all him all over the screen. It’ll be a night full of Gries-Fu.”

The whole concession stand stopped to look at us. We were all in for a helluva movie. LouMae finally said “I’ll get some napkins then” and turned and we all watched her walk in those pants if you know what I mean and you know I do. “And some Raisinettes,” I added, as she walked to the counter. She looked at me. “I’ll just take this to the car,” I said, gathering up our drinks and popcorn.

The previews and ads had started on one of the other screens but ours was still dark. I knew it would be since the movie was shorter than usual. I mean, you just pop a Gries on screen and he’s so badass the plot takes care of itself. I got in the car and pushed that shift knob to third because, as I’ve mentioned before, the Chryslers let you get that shift knob way up outta the way almost plumb up against the ashtray so you can slide in and out across the bench seat to your heart’s content. In this side, out the other, no problem in a Chrysler. I used to write them letters suggesting that as their ad campaign and once they even responded with a leatherette keychain with a Chrysler medallion on it. Good people there at Chrysler.

Anyway, I’d parked on the left side of the speaker spike so I left it to LouMae to put the speaker on when she got back so it wouldn’t chip the window what with all the opening and closing of the door. She comes back working her hips in those pants and slides in the car. She put the Raisinettes on the dash and asked when the movie was gonna start. “Gotta put that speaker on the window so we can hear it, hun,” I said, reminding her. She shifted in her seat. “Roll down the window and grab the speaker and then…”

“I’m not touching that filthy speaker. I don’t know who’s touched it before!” She huffed at me and folded her arms. Then she patted the back of her hair to make sure, then folded her arms again.  “OK OK OK,” I said, and got out to go around. The ads had started. “Roll down your window,” I said, and grabbed the speaker from the spike to put in. “What?” she said, through the rolled-down window. I tried to make a rolling-down-the-window motion while showing her that she needed to roll down the window because, dammit, she needed to roll down the window if we were gonna hear this movie.

“What?” she said again, muffled by the glass again. I bent in to try to shout through the window to get her to hear me and she opened the door.

THAT’S RIGHT, PRAISE JESUS! The voice bellowed through the spike speaker laying next to my head.  I was laid out in the gravel lot and the cars all around me were listening to Reverend Chet’s Sunday Service.  He holds service at the Drive-In because his church ain’t got enough money yet to build a church but the real reason is that it’s easier to find God when you’re in your car. I go to his sermons every week when I wake up hungover in my car from the Stallone marathons they sometimes have.  It’s better than hearing church bells anyway.

LouMae was gone, but she left my car.  She took the receipts, though, of course, and I bet she’ll hit up my editor for the ready cash. But Gries was fabulous. He was a total badass as usual. Taken 4 gets, naturally, 4 stars.

@scearley (Luscious Dick Tacoma) lives 18 inches above the Columbia River

editor’s note: this post is part of our Sight Unseen series in which people review movies or they have NOT seen or read. Guidelines for submitting to Sight Unseen can be found here

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