For as popular as this film seems to be, I probably never would have heard of it if it wasn't for a Chris Farley sketch on SNL where he dubs it an "awesome flick" while "interviewing" Jeff Daniels, who plays the starring role here. Despite Farley's opinion, It was never really on my list of things to do. However, recently, someone in my life recommended it for my "romantic comedy" catch-up theme, so I finally decided to check it out.
The film really hits the ground running, as it introduces us to Charlie Driggs (Daniels); an uptight investment banker who skips out on a restaurant bill. Catching him in the act is the free-spirited Audrey Hankel (Melanie Griffith), calling herself "Lulu". Their confrontation ends on a friendly note, however, as she offers him a ride downtown. Instead of going downtown, though, she throws his beeper out of the car and heads for New Jersey while openly drinking and driving. While hesitant about all of this at first, Charlie soon finds himself falling for the free spirit, all culminating towards her taking him to her high school reunion, posing as her husband for the evening.
Things start to take a turn when Audrey's old flame Ray (Ray Liotta) runs into them at the reunion and isn't too keen on giving up what he once had with her. The whole thing sort of turns into loser vs bully for the woman's hand. As with most stories like this, the "loser" has to try to learn to be a bit more confident through trial and error as the woman takes him by the hand. Meanwhile, the bully is ultimately possessive, even if he acts kind of friendly to begin with. So, in my mind, I just feel like I've seen this sort of thing before. Whether or not it's been done better though; perhaps, but I have to admit that I still enjoyed this for what it was. If nothing else, I had fun with it.
I think what really helps this movie stand out from others like it is the somewhat surprising dark turn it takes towards the end. I might not consider this film as much a comedy as a light drama with comedic elements, but that part of it is the first two acts. When we get to the third act, it does sort of turn into a thriller of sorts, and the climax isn't entirely something one would expect. With that said, I can't say the surprise twists and turns were very shocking as we've pretty much come to expect Ray Liotta's face to be that of someone who will kick your ass into your own face if you so much as look at him the wrong way. I mostly know him as something of a "tough guy", so it's no surprise to me to see him "Goodfella" things up here.
About the only other thing I have to say about this is that it is very hard to find. This is one of those titles that may very well be fading into actual extinction, as according to 'JustWatch', you can find this on Hoopla (which I'm unfamiliar with), Tubi (with ads) and the Criterion Channel (which I didn't know was a thing). I managed with Tubi, but ads are SO annoying when they cut in so randomly. In saying that, I might not recommend looking too hard for this one, unless you're genuinely curious. I feel like it was something far more special for its time than for now. While I did have fun with it, it stands out as very "80s R" - sex, drugs, language and violence all there, but toned way down from what we have these days. If you have a Sunday afternoon to kill, check it out, you could have a good time.
Truth be told, I always knew 'Annie Hall' to be one of the most famous rom-coms of all time. However, I never realized that it seems to have reached such legendary status as a film, let alone a romantic comedy film. The list of this thing's accolades is extensive. But even if we ignore the Oscars or any other awards, it's widely seen as Woody Allen's (possibly) best film, holds a Rotten Tomato average of a whopping 94.5%, and happens to be one of the first fourth-wall-breaking movies.
In taking a look at that fourth wall that 'Deadpool' has since perfected, this is only really predated by various whacky comedies that include skits from 'Monty Python' and 'Laurel & Hardy' and a 1918 silent film called 'Men Who Have Made Love to Me'. It could be said that before 'Deadpool', this was the big 4th Wall movie (if not 'Ferris Bueller', which 'Deadpool' delightfully parodies... but enough about 'Deadpool', already). Another fun fact is the idea that the role of Annie Hall was actually written specifically for Diane Keaton. That alone seems like it gives a certain authenticity to things.
As far as plot goes, it's really quite simple. Annie Hall (Keaton) ended a relationship with Comedian Alvy Singer (Allen) a year ago, and Alvy spends the film trying to wrap his head around why. The story is generally told in a (once again) fourth-wall-breaking flashback of their relationship, and in many, many ways reminds me of '500 Days of Summer'. I suppose I could say this is the '500 Days' of its time. The thing is, however, there's nothing about this that feels "old" or "outdated", and I'd say '500 Days' owes a lot to it. That said, I do love both in their own ways, and would recommend both for different reasons. However, 'Annie Hall' might be the one a touch more relatable on a personal level.
Part of what makes this film so good is Allen's honest performance as a somewhat nervous wreck of a man. The question is constantly "why did this happen?" when we see, almost from the get-go, exactly what the problem is. It's a good example of a movie that might make someone asking the same questions take a good look at themselves. I mean, I can admit to being "that guy" in the past, so this ended up being pretty relatable. There was a lot here that made me laugh off some of my past insecurities, and ultimately, it was sort of healing. Maybe that sounds weird, but maybe it's another thing that makes this movie so legendarily good - it can serve as a personal eye-opener.
'Annie Hall' takes on everything that sucks about breaking up with someone, and everything leading to the breakup, giving it a great comedic edge. The thing is, there's no real side to choose from here. There's something ultimately realistic about this in that the main protagonist just so happens to be the problem. Allen's role here reflects that perspective of considering yourself to be the star in your own movie that is your life, but not taking into account the others around you who are starring in their own movie. Maybe that's a little deep for what this really is, but it was kind of my takeaway from things here; the idea that maybe the relationship fell apart because of you.
Again though, the film doesn't send its message in such a harsh manner. Instead of making it almost insulting, it acts as more of a reflective story, and I'd recommend it pretty highly to people even today. You could do this and '500 Days' back to back, and it would make for a really solid night of good break-up movies. I know how bad that might sound, but sometimes, us perpetually single guys need a good movie like this to remind us of how things really are as opposed to how we really want them. I think I'll be adding this one to my list of things to watch upon heartbreak. It speaks truth, but it's also pretty hilarious, and being that this is my first viewing of it, I might say timeless as well.
For a very long time, I never really considered romantic comedies to be my cup of tea. While the fact remains that I still see them as almost all the same (the generalized version being "unlikely couple get together in the end"), there are a few that stand out as famous titles under the category. So, I decided to take a look at some of the titles best known as classic romantic comedies that I've honestly never actually seen before now (at least not all the way through).
One of the all-time greats, according to audiences, is 'When Harry Met Sally'. I've gone all these years assuming that the movie was essentially what the title says "these two meet, fall in love, the end", so I've foolishly deemed it to be ultimately predictable, and certainly not the type of movie I'd ever seek out. However, I'm happy to admit that I definitely see why this has its staying power. It's a pretty interesting story of how chance can bring two people together, it tells its story in a matter of 5-year gaps, and two of the most charmingly funny leads of the time are its headliners.
We begin in 1977, when Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) meets Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) through his girlfriend, Amanda (Michelle Nicastro). Upon graduation from the University of Chicago, Harry and Sally drive together for convenience purposes to New York City, where she plans on starting school for journalism and he plans on starting a new career. They eventually part ways on somewhat bitter terms, mostly based on their differing ideas of relationships; namely the idea that men and women can't be friends because the "sex thing" gets in the way (in other words, one ALWAYS has sexual feelings for the other, despite any current relationship status).
I'm not gonna drag it all out, but through the years; once in 1982, and once again in 1987, their paths keep crossing. Eventually, their friendship leads them to have feelings for one another, despite the fact that they both seem to want to just be friends. Because of the stubbornness on both their parts, there can be times that the movie gets frustrating. But I also believe that's all part of it - it wants you to feel what these characters are feeling, which is this insane amount of pressure between maintaining a friendship, forming a relationship, and which is the right move.
One thing I really enjoyed about this movie (aside from that great, famous scene everyone knows and loves) was the overall charm it put forth. Not only do we get the likes of Crystal and Ryan (and Carrie Fisher as NOT Princess Leia), but we have a pretty solid soundtrack, consisting of classy music, and elderly couples reminiscing about how and when they met. You follow along with these stories with a grin on your face because you can't help but fall in love with all these couples, even if they are putting forth their little quirks that can make the relationship tough. My favourite was a couple that kept talking over each other, only to sort of land on the same conclusion to the story.
There is something SO lovable about an elderly couple reminiscing on their love life, and this film has it in buckets. At times, perhaps it's a bit sappy, but I can't help but take these sweet stories to heart. This was a movie I'm glad I finally checked out for myself. Although I probably won't rush back to watch it again, it was entertaining, charming, sweet, and it just hits the right spot. One thing to know going into this is that it's really not raunchy by any means, so don't go looking for it. If anything, I'd say this is a near-perfect date movie for a nice night in.
This, to me, has always been one of the strangest recommendations given to me. This "reader suggestion" doesn't actually come from one reader in particular, but several - and its recommendation also dates all the way back to its initial release in 2001, first coming from several peers at school. I, however, would consistently avoid watching for the plain and simple reason that I felt I couldn't truly appreciate something that juggled medieval times with a modern soundtrack. The key song, of course, being Queen's 'We Will Rock You', which is a solid enough tune to be able to appeal to a mass audience. More on that later.
Taking place in 14th century Europe, a great jouster named Sir Ector (Nick Brimble) has died, leaving behind his squires, William (Heath Ledger), Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk). Being in the midst of a tournament, Ector was close to winning. Now destitute, however, William gets the bright idea to dress up as Ector, impersonate him, and win the tournament and all that comes with it. He naturally wins, and with the win comes the want to make a life of it, collecting riches along the way. Only nobles are allowed to compete, however that's resolved with real-life 14th century writer/poet Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) comes into the picture, as he writes them a patent of nobility and gives William the name of Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein" from Gelderland; also real with details of his early life spotty at best.
This eventually becomes a love story when William meets the likes of Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon); a noblewoman who he falls head-over-heels for. He continues to fight and joust in an attempt to win her heart, but is rivaled both in battle and love by Count Adhemar of Anjou (Rufus Sewell). So basically what we have here is a work of historical fan fiction, as it uses real people and real concepts, but the artist gives it their own spin. A good comparison of this would be something like Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'. And truth be told, the actual story is pretty good, and it does it with a certain sense of humor that does suggest not to take things too seriously.
The thing is, however, I've always had a bit of a personal issue when it comes to matching era with music. I'll probably always feel that the music should fit the time period in some way, and to modernize it takes care. I would argue two examples of movies that did it right were 'The Great Gatsby', with it's modern hip hop take on swing music; and 'Guardians of the Galaxy' using retro pop music in an otherwise very futuristic setting with a story behind the music. But while this actually does have a solid soundtrack, nothing about it makes sense to me, and it just feels completely out of place. If you were to play this soundtrack for anyone who had absolutely no knowledge of this movie, I frankly doubt they'd be able to land on anything with a medieval theme. So it's an odd combo of decent movie, decent soundtrack, disappointing results.
Once again though, I do feel like this is a movie not to be taken seriously, and the whole soundtrack thing really is just a personal nitpick. All in all, I was still pretty entertained by it, and it was actually somewhat a breath of fresh air to see something taking place in that time period that didn't feel like it needed to be "epic". When you get right down to it, there's a hell of a lot of time period movies that are serious, dark, and want to keep an audience on the edge of their seats - which is awesome, and I love it. But this viewing did provide me with further proof that thngs don't necessarily have to follow a formula to be entertaining. Though I still think this was passable at best, and couldn't hold a candle to some of the bigger productions out there, similar, I can't deny that I had fun.
This month for Catching Up, I have finally put my foot down on getting caught up on Kevin Smith's non- Jay & Silent Bob movie collection. I consider myself a Kevin Smith fan based on those movies, as well as his 'Evening' trilogy, but I haven't really bothered much with anything else he's made for some reason. Once I finish this month's series of reviews, I'll be all caught up on what I've seen. I also hope that some of the others turn out a bit like this one, in that, I find it's honestly not quite as bad as people let on.
A media publicist in New York City named Ollie Trinké (Ben Affleck) is living a happy life with his wife, Gertie (Jennifer Lopez), but it only goes as far as the birth of their first child, where Gertie tragically dies in childbirth. At first, Ollie is distressed and puts his work in the path of his childcare, passing things off to his father, Bart (George Carlin). The stress gets the better of him one day when he flat out insults Will Smith in front of too many reporters, makes a public ass of himself, gets fired, and moves in with Bart in New Jersey along with the baby, who he names after Gertie. After his screw up, he promises the baby Gertie that he'll be a better father, and presumably becomes a great father over the next 7 years.
Now 7, Gertie (Raquel Castro) has a bit of an obsession with renting movies from the local video store, where they both meet the lovely Maya (Liv Tyler) who soon enters their lives. To make a lot of this short, much of the rest of the film eventually leads to Ollie's struggle between the happiness of his old life and the comfort of his new life. Everyone he loves, including an impressionable Gertie, is perfectly happy with their lives, but there's a big part of Ollie that ends up wanting his old life back. It's a movie that plays with the ideas of parenthood, and just how complicated a situation can get. That said, it's pretty predictable as far as its ending goes, but at the same time, I do find it to be a sweet movie - even if it's a little over the top with the drama sometimes.
Usually, this is toted as one of Smith's worst titles, but I sincerely think there are worse. I'd say one of the more important things to keep in mind as far as Kevin Smith is concerned is that he makes movies for his fans, not critics, and he also creates from the heart. There's a bit of a personal touch to his movies, no matter what he's creating, and this one was a dedication to his late father. It was also inspired by his own life as a new father to one, Harley Quinn Smith, so to truly criticize this movie just feels like a dick move to me.
If I had to pull something from it to nitpick about, it's that it often gets a bit overdramatic, and some of it's heavy-handed. But I just can't reach that deeply into this to look for the dirt. I see it as a love letter to his Dad and his Daughter more than anything, and I can't bring myself to pick on that, or be selfish about not getting what I thought I was gonna get. Actually, I got pretty well what I figured. I just thought it was sweet, and though it's not without its problems, I've seen much worse. It's a simple slice of life kind of story, and I think it gets much more flack than it deserves. It won't be for everyone, but if you're a Smith fan and haven't checked it out yet, you might surprise yourself.
This film opens with a kindly dedication to all dogs, be they "ladies" (trained, housebroken dogs) or "tramps" (strays). It suggests that money cannot buy the wag of a dog's tail, and anyone who has ever owned and loved a dog really knows this to be true. To me, the beginning of the film is actually perhaps the most charming part of it, as it speaks a truth all dog-owners understand to be true. But for as promising as this sounds, there's a lot of stuff about the film that I'm not too fond of, and it's another title in the Disney collection I could totally take or leave.
This one also opens on Christmas, at a household where a man named Jim Dear (Lee Millar) gives a gift to his wife, Darling (Peggy Lee); a cute little cocker spaniel with a bow she calls "Lady". The first night is actually pretty adorable, as Lady gets lonely and tries so desperately hard to join her family in their bed. She manages, but they lay down the law that it's JUST for that first night. Naturally, however, the trend lasts much longer, which was something I found they got pretty spot-on for dog-lovers, or even pet-owners in general. In this house, we let both dogs and cats up on the bed, as we appreciate the company, and I know many who do the same.
At around six months, they get Lady (now voiced by Barbara Luddy) a dog license, and she shows it off to her friends, a Scottish Terrier (Bill Thompson) named Jock and a Bloodhound named Trusty (Bill Baucom), who has no sense of smell. We get the sense that Lady lives a very happy, comfortable, perhaps even spoiled life with her owners (by the way, do not feed your dog coffee and donuts like they do here!). Lady's owners are very fond of her, she's got them wrapped around her little paw, and life is good.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to "Tramp" (Larry Roberts), a stray mutt who sleeps at a construction sight, eats the scraps from a friendly Italian restaurant (probably at least better for dogs that coffee and donuts - seriously, don't do that). He lives his life day by day, outrunning dog catchers and socializing with the local strays. One day Tramp comes across Lady having a conversation with Jock and Trusty about the baby Jim and Darling are about to have. Tramp warns her about what's going to happen, but his opinion is at first tossed aside.
Some time after the baby is born, however, Jim and Darling go on vacation, leaving the baby with Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton) who, along with her racially insensitive siamese cats, treat Lady like some sort of unwanted mongrel. This leads Lady out onto the streets, taking her chances with Tramp, who seems to have been right in his opinion about humans the whole time. But will she be able to adjust to the Tramp's lifestyle? Or is she too adapted to her home life?
Much like with 'Cinderella', this is one of those Disney animated films that isn't entirely up my alley, but that doesn't mean it's bad. If you take away some of the racial controversy, the story is actually pretty charming - that is, if you can make it past some of the dog noises that are way too overexaggerated here. The dog pound scene, for example, is pretty brutal - like watching one of those SPCA commercials but instead of being heartbreakingly sad, it's this odd combination of annoying, sad and even kind of scary. If you really love dogs, this movie might hit you harder than most.
In many ways, the film brings back fond memories of the dogs I had in my life, who I developed very strong and close relationships with. A lot of the charm of the movie does appeal to dog lovers, but a lot of the darker moments here are actually kind of upsetting. I really wasn't a fan of the "taking the long walk" scene, where a very upbeat dog at the pound gets put down behind closed doors. It's a bit much, and doesn't really need to be there other than to pull at heartstrings. In fact, the film does a lot of that, some of it feeling quite forced.
Other than a few things that haven't aged very well since 1955, this isn't a bad movie for the right audience. This will appeal to dog lovers easily enough, and has its charm despite not quite being everything I look for in a Disney animated film. It might make for a pretty good date movie, but I otherwise prefer something a little more upbeat because for as charming as this can be, it can get just as dark, and moments of sadness are really crowbarred in. It's made for that soft spot a lot of us have within us for dogs, but it's bound to work better for some than others.
Coming to us from acclaimed director, Cameron Crowe ('Jerry Maguire', 'Almost Famous' and more recently 'We Bought a Zoo') brings us his directorial debut. It has since gone down in cinematic history as one of the best modern romances, complete with the famous scene everyone knows about, involving a bedroom window and a boombox. But being from the 80s, how well does this still hold up?
Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), and army brat, has some strong feelings for fellow high school graduate, and class valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane lives a life of achievement and excellence with the guidance of her loving, divorced father, Jim (John Mahoney), who owns a nursing home. Diane's most recent achievement is receiving a prestigious fellowship to study in England, which Jim uses to try to pump her up as she's not quite as self-confident as she should be.
Lloyd has recently returned to the US to finish high school, while he lives with his (real-life) sister, Constance (Joan Cusack). He has no real aspirations, kick-boxes as a hobby, and dreams of doing something big. He does still, however, want to date Diane, who is widely believed to be out of his league, considering all of her achievements. In accepting a date with Lloyd, she soon finds herself falling for someone who wants to spend as much time as he can with her before she leaves. This causes her to second guess her fellowship, and wonder if the unlikely Lloyd might fit in her life better. And, while one path certainly seems to make for a more promising future, certain events involving her father may taint that particular viewpoint.
In this day and age, there aren't a whole lot of romantic gestures in earlier film that have aged well. Many of them come off as obsessive, or even stalker-like, when back in the day, they were considered dreamily romantic. In this one, there is a little bit of that, but by the end of the film we definitely do see him as a good guy and not a weirdo. Perhaps a bit obsessive, but the famous boombox scene is about as far as things go. It's easy enough to overlook, and the supporting characters really help us see him as the nice guy, or potential friend zone material, making him a little more human.
So yeah, it holds up pretty well. It's a solid coming of age romantic comedy from the 80's that I've overlooked for far too long. This almost fits in the same vein as some of John Hughes best work, but with that said, this may be a bit darker as well. There is a side plot involving Jim being accused of some criminal activity within his nursing home. I won't say what, but I will say that you don't have to worry about him physically abusing anyone.
It's another one that I have only just seen for the first time, but others know it pretty well. I'm happy to say that I still got plenty out of it, and though the main plot has been done to death (one about to leave, the other wanting to spend time and/or wanting them to stay, some unanimous decision for a happy ending), it's executed well here, and the side story helps to ground things a bit. I'd recommend this one for a good stay-at-home date, if you feel like a bit of a classic.
Another flick from the 80's that went right over my head. This was a title I was always familiar with, but not a lot of people ended up talking about it within my circle of friends. It pretty well faded into obscurity, but I stumbled on it again when looking for some "coming of age" titles from the 80's I haven't seen yet. Luckily for me, this was a good choice.
We meet Lane Meyer (John Cusack) who is dumped by his girlfriend, Beth Truss (Amanda Wyss) for a cocky jock skier named Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier). Obsessed with her, Lane spends most of his days thinking of a world without her, and thus considering ending his life. His other option is to go through with his challenge to Stalin to race him down the dangerous K12 slope, which Stalin has set a ski record for. In doing this, he hopes to impress Beth and win her back.
Meanwhile, Lane's neighbors, Ricky Smith (Dan Schneider) and his mother (Laura Waterbury) take in a French exchange student named Monique (Diane Franklin). She has to live with Ricky's creepy affection for her, as well as his overbearing mother, who treats her as her own child, giving her next to no freedom. However, she meets and befriends Lane at a party, and could be the answer to helping him out on the K-12, along with a few other things.
In the background, we get a lot of good genuine laughs with Lane's family, alone. His Dad (David Ogden Stiers) sees him as going through a phase, and tries very hard to keep up with the lingo of the time, failing miserably. His Mom (Kim Darby) is a running gag through the movie as she keeps trying to cook, having it always end horribly. Lastly, his kid brother, Badger (Scooter Stevens), has no dialogue through the whole movie, but might be the best side note of it. He's constantly tinkering away in his room, making awesome inventions, and researching how to pick up women. It makes me wonder if anything about his character was an inspiration for Stewie Griffin, but it's hard to find details about Badger. Either way, a very likable background character for me.
Now, speaking only for myself, it's actually a treat to see a movie that doesn't make fun of suicide, but makes light of the idea that ending things based on an obsession with one person is just plain silly. It does a good job of reminding the viewer that no matter how distraught you are over a breakup, or someone who just plain isn't interested, it's not the end of the world. Remember that there's a bright, beautiful world out there, full of possibilities, and one person doesn't actually matter nearly as much as you feel they do at the time.
This was a film that really hit home for me. The comedy was creative and often cartoonish, which is right up my alley. That comedy is consistent in the visuals when it comes to things like Mrs. Meyer's cooking, and moreso, Lane's imagination. Hell, there's a full musical number here involving claymation burgers. But the best running gag here involves a punk paperboy (who I now realize the 'Dennis the Menace' movie totally payed homage to) named Johnny Gasparini (Demian Slade). He's like a little mob boss who is always chasing down Lane throughout the film for $2 that Lane refuses to pay. The end result is laugh out loud hilarious.
I could go on and on, but clearly this is a title that has earned my praise (as far as that goes), along with its director, Savage Steve Holland. This is a guy who has an array of titles I haven't seen yet, and I might just make him the subject of next month. This was my intro to him, I loved it, and I feel like I could be missing out on some pretty solid material. Or at least material that's a little more up my alley than others. Whether or not any of them are good or bad, I will say this - 'Better Off Dead' is now on the list of go-to titles when I find myself struggling with my thoughts, and if you have an open enough mind, I'd recommend it to anyone else for the same reasons.
For a little bit of a tweak on the regular coming of age movies that largely have to do with the junior high/high school era of life, this one takes a look at seven University graduate friends, and the life that unfolds for them after graduating from Georgetown U. Struggling with love lives and their careers, it's an interesting look at the angst we all get upon being released into the world, and adulthood.
Alec (Judd Nelson) is chasing a political career, switching sides from being a democrat to a republican. He wants nothing more than for his girlfriend, Leslie (Ally Sheedy) to make up her mind on marrying him, so they can start a life together, but his political turn kinda freaks her out. As an independent, budding architect, she feels she needs to find herself, and make a name for herself before settling down with someone. They live together, in the meantime, but her refusal to marry him makes him think he can get away with womanizing, as well.
Kirby (Emilio Estevez) aspires to become a lawyer, paying for law school from his own pocket, working as a waiter at the group's primary hangout, St. Elmo's Bar. He shares an apartment with his friend, and struggling writer, Kevin (Andrew McCarthy). These two mostly struggle with romance, Kirby reconnecting with a former university love interest, Dale Biberman (Andie MacDowell), who has since become a doctor. There is no way his passable obsession with her would fly in a movie today. We're talkin' "he's a stalker, but a good guy" levels of naivety. Kevin, on the other hand, largely keeps to himself, waiting for the right woman to come along.
Billy (Rob Lowe), the most irresponsible member of the group, is married with a kid. However, the joys in paying the sax at St. Elmo's, and sleeping around, are just more appealing to him. He's the one who can't grow up. Interested in him, however, is the good-natured and sheltered rich girl, Wendy (Mare Winningham), who works for social services. A lot of their problem is Billy's willingness to take advantage of her admiration, often resulting in nothing.
Jules (Demi Moore) is the, shall we say, "train wreck" of the group? She works for a bank, where she has an inappropriate relationship with her married boss, does a lot of drugs, and her biggest joy seems to be laying into her sick and dying step-mother, whom she refers to as "stepmonster". We'll say that she's also, in a way, the glue that holds the group together, as her well-being is also the biggest concern for them all. It all comes to an interesting climax that begs the question of whether or not a circle of friends can remain intact after graduation... which is also the focus of several high school movies, but I like how this is more "out into the world" than "moving on to college, or work prospects".
But to say the movie is good is a challenge. There are some things to appreciate about it, but for the most part, everyone's underlying issue is a frustration to watch. The worst of them has to be Kirby, who is quite literally an obsessive stalker who makes things pretty uncomfortable, but Dale is just far too forgiving and easy-going about it. It makes me wonder how many people saw this and thought that his behavior was "okay because it's Emilio Estevez playing it for laughs". The rest of it seems to be a lot of obvious solutions that these characters can't seem to reach. It really is one of those "yell the obvious at the screen" kinda flicks.
I know that this is a title that seems to have a spot in a lot of people's hearts, especially if you found yourself confronting your 20's in the 80's (I was 2 going on 3 when this came out, myself), and if that's the case, don't let me sit here and ruin it for you. But I might recommend a rewatch, 'cause there's plenty here that is completely dated. It's one of those movies that has a cool idea, but the execution is mostly poor, despite its great cast. If this got a remake today, to bring it up into the present, you wouldn't hear me complaining. Just avoid having the guy who once put nips on Batman do it.
One of the bigger titles I felt I truly missed out on in 2017, was 'The Big Sick'. Being such a huge fan of '50/50', I thought it would be interesting to see another comedic, but respectful take on serious physical illness. I'm not entirely sure why I let it pass me by, but it did, and it was an easy pick for this month's 2017 catch-up theme.
The story is based on the real-life relationship between stand-up comedian, Kumail Nanjiani (as himself) and Emily V. Gordon (Zoe Kazan). The pair meet during one of Kumail's acts, and they hit it off extremely well. In its portrayal, you can't really help but route for them to make it. They just played so well off each other, you could believe it was real.
Soon, however, a sudden illness takes Emily over, forcing her to be put into a medically-induced coma so that the doctors can get to the bottom of things. During this time, Kumail meets Emily's parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). In getting to know them better, he finds himself questioning who he is and what he really believes, potentially having to abandon his routes for his happiness.
By the end of it all, I'm happy to say that everyone was right when they told me this was something I was gonna enjoy. I can't help but admire the idea of a movie that takes such serious subject matter (not necessarily stopping at Emily's sickness), and sheds a somewhat pleasant light on it. It doesn't make fun, or make light of the situation, but it does allow its audience to see it as a part of life, and a potential way to deal with things instead of just allowing it to ruin your life.
Speaking for myself, I see this as an all-around feel-good movie, but a somewhat more realistic, slice of life story. Nothing here gets too crazy one way or another, and it handles all of its dark moments with the best sense of humor. The big stand-outs for me were getting to know Emily's parents, and a peek at how difficult some lives can be in some cultures with Kumail's family.
The film ends on a wonderfully bittersweet note, that I assume is based in reality. I won't spoil it for you here, but it is a good way for the story to end with the fact that you can't always have your cake and eat it too... but it's also pretty damn extreme, and I could see audiences being disappointed in it. However, for me, it just amps my admiration for it. I was very happy with the bittersweet ending, as opposed to a sunshine and rainbows ending it could have easily had instead.
If you haven't checked this one out yet, it ends up being a relatively high recommendation from yours truly. I'll even go so far as to say that this parallels '50/50' in its whole atmosphere. It's mainly a comedy, but it still manages to provide a wide range of emotion. It's good to watch for something just deep enough, without having it rack your brain completely.
This one has been on my "to-see" list for quite some time now. I'm not entirely sure why, but for whatever reason, I never really gave this one a second thought. Perhaps it's just not talked about as much as other comedies of the era, but I have to admit that upon finally seeing it for myself, I'm sorry it took so long.
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the sole heir to the throne of the fictional land of Zamunda, somewhere in Africa. His parents, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) and Queen Aoleon (Madge Sinclair) see to it that he gets the royal treatment, which includes things like getting bathed by maidens, and walking on flower pedals, but Akeem sees the whole thing as a bit much.
Akeem is arranged to be married to the lovely Imani Izzi (Venessa Bell), but he is somewhat turned off with her servitude upon learning that she'll simply do anything he wants, and her interests are whatever he likes. He then requests to explore America to seek out something more. His father sees it as an opportunity to sew his royal oats, though, and allows him to go with his servant and best frend Semi (Arsenio Hall) to check things out.
Eventually, things lead to Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), a woman with all the qualities that Akeem is looking for. However, a jerk named Darryl Jenks (Eriq La Salle) stands in his way, being Lisa's boyfriend, wealthy due to the family business, and favored by Lisa's father (John Amos). Without any pressure, Akeem does what he can to respectfully win Lisa over.
Keeping in mind that I really didn't know much about this movie going into it, I can recommend it highly as one of the most thoroughly acted Eddie Murphy performances. I say this, as he shows range playing a variety of characters that besides Akeem include an obnoxious barber named Clarence, a Jewish man named Saul, and a reverend named Randy Watson. It's a good one for Arsenio, too, taking on the characters of Clarence's friend, Morris, Reverend Brown, and a woman who hits on the two of them in one of the funniest scenes of the film.
While the story is kinda overall predictable and basic by today's standards, it does stand out as one of the funnier romantic comedies of the 80s, that probably wouldn't be classified by anyone as a "chick flick" (for lack of a better term). It's very much an Eddie Murphy fueled comedy, and it gets the laughs, especially when Arsenio helps it along as a good contrast to Akeem. But it's also very sweet, and the whole theme is about liking someone for who they are, not what they have. Think of it like 'Aladdin', but reversed.
I had a good time with it, and I think it makes for a nice movie to throw on for a Sunday afternoon laugh. Nothing here gave me a knee-slapping laugh, but there were still some genuine giggles here and there. My only slight problem with it is that I felt it ended very abruptly, as though there may have been a scene missing. But with that said, the rest of it is a good time, and it'll probably still put a smile on your face.
Being that this title has evidently been a strong Christmas title for decades now, I finally decided to check it out this year. The main reason I've kept away from it, is because an old school Christmas musical just isn't exactly my cup of tea. Musicals are extremely hit or miss with me; not among my favourite genres, but every now and then, one comes along that will sweep me off my feet (for example, I loved 'La La Land').
So, exactly how well did this special do with me? Admittedly, I just kinda meet it in the middle. It's perfectly fine for what it is, I can recommend it to people, but I might end up being the odd man out in my overall appreciation for it.
Two soldiers, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) leave the army after World War II to become a hit song and dance act. The pair end up following a sister act, featuring two lovely young women named Betty and Judy Haynes (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, respectively) to Vermont. The group finds themselves at an inn, owned by their old General, Waverly (Dean Jagger), trying to save it from failing with various song and dance numbers put on for the inn's audiences.
In the end, at least for yours truly, it ended up being perfctly enjoyable. However, its probably not a title on the ever-growing Christmas movie list that I will end up revisiting time and time again, making it a sort of tradition. For me, there are several other Christmas movies that FAR surpass this - and classics, too. The 1951 'Scrooge' film, featuring Alastaire Sim, or even 'It's A Wonderful Life' are just so much better for getting a grasp on the spirit of things, in my opinion.
With that said though, again, I'm not here to tell you this movie is no good. It's perfectly fine for what it is, and I honestly have no real criticism about it as a whole. I liked it more than I disliked it, appreciated the song and dance numbers, acting and the fact that it's not what you'd call an all-out musical, so much as a bunch of stage performances thrown together (in other words, no random breaking out into song). I tend to like random breaking out into song, but things for this film just flowed nicely with the idea of stage performances. Perhaps this is due to who is acting in this, and it makes it feel more classic.
For some, THIS will be their Christmas classic tradition, and I can agree with anyone who loves it that it's well worth checking out, to see where you stand on it. Personally though, it just doesn't strike the right chords with me, and its a title that may just kinda linger with other Christmas titles I don't tend to check out for years at a time.
Next up, I confess I have a replacement review. This was gonna be 'The Man in the Iron Mask', however, a few days ago, she requested this one as a replacement, and I was happy to oblige. I'll still to that one some day, but for now, we're gonna go with The Dude and his brother. There's a combination of things going on here for this request.
For starters, Mom knows I like Jeff Bridges an awful lot, especially as The Dude. Call it a "Dude crush" if you must (pun definitely intended), but this guy is just one of my favorite actors from things I HAVE seen him in. Of course, this will soon lead to a Jeff Bridges month for this particular section of the site.
Secondly, I'm really quite unfamiliar with Beau Bridges' work, for the most part, and this was a good role for him, and a good film to tackle two birds with one stone. Of course, a dash of Michelle Pfeiffer certainly doesn't hurt either, and she's really quite good here.
The film itself has to do with two brothers, Jack (Jeff) and Frank (Beau) Baker. They are two talented jazz pianists, who play various lounges and jazz clubs, making a living at it. While Frank handles the business, Jack is starting to get bored with the same old routine, and suggests they bring on a singer for their act. This leads to the brothers hiring the lovely Susie Diamond (Pfeiffer) - an ex-call girl, looking for something more in her life.
Eventually, Jack and Susie begin to develop feelings for one another, which begins complicating things as well. All in all, the story goes pretty much as one would expect for this kind of movie, so it may feel a bit dated for some. But, truth be told, I still enjoyed it for what it was, and there's very little to actually criticize about this one.
I can't quite put my finger on what the best parts of it are, but I think it's just these performances as a whole. The cool part about it is having two real-life siblings play sibling on the screen. There will always be a certain chemistry between the actors that wouldn't be there otherwise, and it really comes through here between Jeff and Beau. Pfeiffer even got a nomination for her performance here, which is always impressive, and I'd say pretty well-deserved. She lent her own vocals to her singing, too, which always warrants respect from me.
This is one of those movies I'd recommend throwing on during a rainy Sunday afternoon with the lights dimmed, a fire going (if you can) and a nice hot cup of coffee. I know, specific, right? But still. Give it a watch for yourself, and see if you get a similar vibe from it.
Taking place in 1994, New York City, we meet Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley) and his teenage patient, and pot dealer, Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck). The two have a deal that Luke pays for his therapy in grams of weed, and it works out pretty well between them.
Getting to know Luke, we learn that he actually deals his pot in order to support his family, which is otherwise falling apart. He eventually meets Steph (Olivia Thirlby), a lovely, free spirtited girl who, of course, he falls for hard. It also turns out, however, that she's Dr. Squires' daughter.. I guess that's a bit of a twist, but you find out so early on it's not much of a spoiler, and the rest of the movie is pretty much based around it.
As for Dr Squires, he's kinda stuck in some sort of mid-life crisis, having lots of trouble at home with his wife (Famke Janssen), who seems to be ignoring his existence lately. His first turning point is smoking weed, but things do go a bit further. It's strange, though. At times, you feel for him, and can be empathetic, but at other times, you see him as a total creepy sleaze. If nothing else, it's just a hell of a performance. You laugh about as much as you cringe with this guy, but bottom line, it's a great performance. It's a situation where the supporting actor outshines the lead actor. For me, Luke was a little less likable, and sometimes even felt kinda awkward.
For me, the chemistry that Dr. Squires and Luke have together sort of shines through. It's interesting to see a, for lack of a better word, "crooked" therapist and his friendship with his drug dealer, who is also his patient. It's not quite a father - son deal, but more of a fun uncle - nephew deal. Of course, taking into account that Steph is Squires' daughter, that might not be the best analogy.
Otherwise, this movie does have plenty of elements that meet my criteria for what I consider "good". For one, there's plenty of creative transitions, and at times it can get a bit artsy. Secondly, the soundtrack is pretty awesome if you feel like hip hop but want something nostalgic, which was largely my taste in music back then. Lastly, it makes the lead characters very three-dimensional, giving us some leeway to care about what happens to them in the end. Add to that a decent sense of humor; I can't deny a few genuine laughs, mostly from Kingsley.
One thing I could compare it to in style is something like '50/50', where it's pretty dark, but carries the humor through it. And that particular comparison involves the same director. Other titles under his belt are 'The Night Before' and 'Warm Bodies', so be prepared for somewhat similar style. But this is definitely one of the darker ones on his list. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and could see revisiting it in the futre.