There are so many of us who remember the great Robin Williams so fondly. It's a crying shame that for a while, in his last days, he was often farced as being a somewhat annoying and in-your-face kind of guy. The problem there is that that particular stereotype forgets his great moments such as this - a drama with a nice, comedic edge as only Williams can bring to the screen, but it's subtle here, and as far as I'm concerned, one of his best performances that shows us all of his sides (except maybe his villainous side, which he also plays incredibly well, but that's for a different set of reviews).
Taking place in 1959, the story's central focus is a junior high school kid named Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke in one of his first roles), who is about to attend his first year at Welton Academy in Vermont; an all-male prep school. There, he befriends a senior named Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), who also happens to be his roommate, and through him meets the likes of new friends Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen), Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman), Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero) and Gerard Pitts (James Waterston). But while they all lend themselves well to the film, the carrier is the new school English teacher, Mr. John Keating (Williams)
Keating enters the scene immediately with a set of unorthodox teaching methods that both surprise and amuse his students. Perhaps the most famous example of this is when he has his students literally rip out a chapter of a textbook, thus desecrating it, but proving the point that something like poetry is deeper than anything a textbook has to teach you as some kind of "absolute". Also famously, Keating encourages these boys to "seize the day" and make their lives extraordinary, which is pretty much what the big takeaway from this film is. As Keating mentions in a huddle with these guys, pursuing careers in things like science in medicine is noble, however, things that flow creatively like art and poetry, and emotions like love are what we live for as the human race.
Eventually, however, without giving away any spoilers, things kind of end up getting out of hand. That's not so much with Keating's teaching methods as the consequences of some of these boys bringing his teachings home with them. We see the unopened parental villains here, who would much rather their kid follow in their footsteps, and/or get a promising career and not dilly-dally in any of the artsy stuff where there's no work. It's always been a great movie to show he consequences of what can happen if a parent doesn't just let their kid be whoever they want to be as an individual - a point Keating really drives home in the film, making him incredibly easy to like. I would say that liking Mr. Keating here is a lot like liking Professor Lupin in 'Prisoner of Azkaban'. You can just see him being your favourite teacher if you were there at that school.
I think at this point in the game, most people know how this movie ends, and it's still just as warm and fuzzy as it ever was. It's a happy ending that seems to drive the point of Keating's teachings home, and with any luck, the audience takes a little something from it as well. A lot of this is about one's ability to think for themselves as opposed to following some path set out before them. It provides a good reminder to its viewing audience that we only have one life, so it's up to us to "seize the day", live life well and take advantage of the opportunities it gives us. All in all a very positive movie with a positive message, and even a little bit of a dark but poetic edge to it. You wouldn't think a movie about poetry and the like would be very riveting, but Robin Williams, along with these boys, really do make something worth watching here, if only to give us something to think about.
This particular Screening Suggestion is directed more to the specific audience who appreciates a good coming of age, teen angst comedy that's complete with a good dash of drama. To hint at the kind of thing you're in for, this is one of two written film projects from the director of 'Superbad' and 'Paul', Greg Mottola. In other words, one can expect some fairly low-brow comedy, but perhaps a different style as well. This holds water when you discover that a lot of this was apparently based on Mottola's real-life experiences while working at Adventureland Amusement Park in New York.
That said, I think the real-life attachment is mostly just a backdrop for the film, much like Kevin Smith's experiences ended up making 'Clerks' a thing. It's more about knowing how things work in the environment. Either way, it makes for a pretty good movie that, while not made in the 80s, highlights all of the charm of the 80s. That particular 80s aim goes into the overall plot as well, as there is something of a "Soap Opera"-ish tone to a lot of things happening here. However, fear not, because this is a comedy first. And rest assured that although people like to sit on the fence about its two leads, the supporting cast is made up of comedy superstars who really make it worth the time.
We kick off in 1987 when recent college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) has plans to vacation in Europe upon graduation. However, his parents run into financial problems that amount to James having to get a summer job instead. Eventually, he finds work at the local Pittsburgh, PA amusement park, "Adventureland" where he'll at least be able to work with his old friend, Tommy Frigo (Matt Bush). It's not long before James runs into a spot of trouble during one of the carnival games he's helming, and he's rescued by another games worker named Emily (Kristen Stewart), and soon the two become close, but James feels his feelings just a little bit more.
As these things go, however, James finds himself in stiff competition with Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds); a married man who is having an active affair with Emily, obvious to the audience but not obvious to James. So most of this unfolding love triangle story relates to what I said before about this being for those who like a good teen-angsty comedy. But after all this, my readers are probably wondering what it is I do like about this movie, as it checks off so many things on the "Me No Like" list. To be truthful, actors Eisenberg and Stewart don't necessarily land on that list for me like they might for so many others. I believe anyone in the business has their hits and misses. And quite honestly, they have pretty good chemistry together.
The stand-out thing on the aforementioned "list" would, however, be the whole love triangle plot, which is usually a big "eye-roller" for me. And while even here that's kind of true, it's really all of the supporting cast that gives this movie its ultimate charm. Beyond who I've already mentioned, we also have park runners Bobby and Paulette (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, respectively), another games worker named Joel (Martin Starr, leaning a little towards his "Bill" character from 'Freaks and Geeks'), and this is incredibly random but even Josh Pais shows up (the dude who gave his voice to Raphael in the original 'Ninja Turtles' movie).
Aside from a good cast, however, I suppose there's a certain relatability factor here as well. I can actually see myself relating to James in a lot of different ways here, so I think there's something I understand on a certain level that makes this not just a love triangle story, but one aimed a little more towards me. I might not suggest that this is a classic of any sort, but it was an interesting movie that I found a lot of my peers latching onto at the time. Released in 2009, I would have been in my late 20s and to some degree, there was still a lot more relatability to the story. Nowadays, it's almost a nostalgic reminder of what it means to fall for who could be the wrong person. The whole thing is pretty bittersweet, really. But it does make for a decent summer romance story altogether.
I haven't seen this one in a while, but upon this viewing, I kind of got stuck in wondering if it was "appropriate" for this day and age considering several things within it. Just one example is the idea of Bill Murray being a complete stranger and sharing a room with your pre-adolescent son. It's an example of a movie that certainly has a good idea, but one could almost quite honestly see this as a horror movie these days. More on that later.
The film introduces us to multi-phobic Bob Wiley (Murray). He's a friendly man, albeit a little strange, and has been in and out of therapy for years. This is despite his big fear of leaving his apartment and going out into the world. His current therapist, tired of dealing with him, sends him to Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss); a man with a big ego about his new book 'Baby Steps' who's just about to head on summer vacation for a month with his family. Upon their first meeting, Bob decides Marvin is the one who can help him, but his leaving puts a wrench in Bob's works. And this is sort of where things get creepy.
Eventually, Bob goes through a sort of maximum effort to track Dr. Marvin down to his summer home in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Marvin doesn't take it too well, but well enough that he manages to "help" Bob by telling him to "take a vacation from his problems" whenever they come up. Bob takes it a little too literally and ends up taking a vacation by spending his time getting to know Dr. Marvin's family; wife, Fay (Julie Hagerty); daughter, Anna (Kathryn Erbe); and son, Siggy (Charlie Korsmo). The family finds Bob charming and fun, but all he really ends up being to Leo is a pain in the ass.
As the film goes on, Bob befriends the family in different ways, finding out that he's not necessarily alone with all of his phobias amid various other problems. It's a pretty good way to see the mental health perspective. Some are worse off than others, but I believe it's true that everyone has something they have to deal with, and it's important for those who suffer from mental health problems to know they aren't alone. So there is a level of relatability to this between a mental health patient and the family of a therapist. In the meantime, the patient gets under the skin of the therapist so much, that it even goes so far as to have us question "who's the one with the mental health problem, really?" (not to spoil too much).
Now, as sweet as it all sounds, the truth of the matter is that this still does have a sort of horrific idea looming underneath it all. Imagine you're a therapist and one of your patients tracks you and your family down while you're on vacation because he thinks his problems have gotten out of hand. Your family's first impressions of him are positive, but the truth of the matter is, that this man's a complete stranger. You then see him hanging out with your family members alone, including your wife, your pre-adolescent son, and your teenage daughter. Remember, you just met this guy, you know he has massive problems, he tracked you down because of them...
As far as I'm concerned, Dr. Leo Marvin falls under that category of "antagonists" who were right the whole time. Every bit of his behaviour in this is justified - except maybe being insanely hung up on his son learning how to dive (although it's explained why, it's still kind of strange). Much like viewing 'Ferris Bueller' as though it's Cameron's story, this is also fun to watch again, not so much as the comedy it is, but a psychological thriller of a home invasion movie. Don't believe me? Honestly, check it out. At first, I was gonna put this under Screening Suggestions because I remember loving it when I was a kid... but now I just want people to see it through a different lens.
For yours truly, there really is no better 'National Lampoon's Vacation' movie than the third in the series, 'Christmas Vacation', which can be watched every single year without hesitation around the holiday season. For as much as people tend to agree with me on that, however, it does get interesting when it comes down to what order people place the other films in terms of quality. For my money, I probably have to give it up to the original that started it all.
For many, this first entry is pretty basic and bland. To be perfectly honest there's not a whole hell of a lot that happens here. But what it does do well is examine the family vacation scenario, and give us a comedy based on all of the faults of a family road trip. Really, it works the same way as 'Christmas Vacation', which highlights all of the downfalls of an old-fashioned family Christmas. 'European' and 'Vegas' take things to different levels, and they're entertaining enough, but there's something almost missing in them about the relatability of the family dynamic in the situation. As far as 'Christmas Vacation 2' and 'Vacation' 2015, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't a part of things, just like 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' for Indiana Jones, or everything straight to video for 'American Pie'.
'Vacation' is, simply enough, about Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wishing to spend more time with his wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and kids, Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron). This is probably a good time to mention to those more familiar with Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis in the respective brother/sister roles that indeed, these kids change every time. Anyway, the plan is for a cross-country trip from Chicago to Southern California, seeing plenty along the way, and finally ending up at Walley World for their final destination. In the real world, it would be kind of like travelling to Disneyland. But of course, as one can predict, what starts off as a fun family road trip soon turns into a nightmare of constant disappointments and failures.
Some of these include Clark being tempted by a mystery woman (Christie Brinkley) driving a Ferrari, getting vandalized in a bad neighbourhood, a visit with good old Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), his wife, Catherine (Miriam Flynn), their somewhat twisted children, Vicki and Dale (Jane Krakowski and John P. Navin Jr., respectively) and the hilarious Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) and of course, for anyone who has seen the film, the big punchline towards the end that probably isn't even really a spoiler anymore, but it's kind of what makes the movie worth checking out in the first place. The whole film, again like 'Christmas Vacation' is here to say "you're not alone on all these crazy family mishaps".
Despite it being on the older side of classic comedies at this point, I think there's still a relatability to a movie like this that can't really be denied. AGAIN like 'Christmas Vacation', there's just something along the line here that will pop up having the audience say "been there", even if the film is portraying something a little more extreme. Do bear in mind though that this is still R-rated, and not exactly a family film (although I can't say this is anything "hard-R") so it's a little edgier than the other three. But with that said, sometimes edgy is a good thing, and this is a pretty good example of such a thing for its time. If you're looking for a good, classic road trip comedy, this is definitely a good place to look.
There is definitely something extra special about this movie in that it somehow manages to capture the best parts of a Canadian wilderness retreat (even though it takes place in Wisconsin and is generally filmed at California's Bass Lake). But, as a Canadian, much like the 'Friday the 13th' movies do so well, it captures the wilderness spirit of the... great outdoors... and provides us with the perfect fun-time comedy to throw on during your first night's stay at a cottage. Even though it highlights all that can go wrong, there's something about it that just makes you wanna get out there and go camping or something - at the very least, unplug for a little while.
This one is a scripted John Hughes (who needs no introduction if you lived in the 80s for even a split second) product with director Howard Deutch. This same collaboration would give us some real classics along the way as well, like 'Pretty in Pink' and 'Some Kind of Wonderful' - a couple of solids in the way of portrayal of teen angst in the 80s. But while this has a teeny tiny bit of that concerning one single character, this one's more about the laughs provided by Dan Aykroyd and the late, great John Candy. The way these two play off each other here can get pretty hysterical, and you'd be pretty hard-pressed at the time to find a better Canadian collaboration, concerning the two comic geniuses.
We kick it off with a pretty grand introduction to the Ripley family - happy-go-lucky father, Chet (Candy), his lovely wife, Connie (Stephanie Faracy) and two sons, Buck and Ben (Chris Young and Ian Michael Giatti, respectively); Buck being the one with the eventual teenage love interest on the "girl for the summer", Cammie (Lucy Deakins) who may have the best dimples on the face of the planet. Today, she no longer acts but lives her life as an attorney, and I have to commend her for following her heart with her career decision in the end! Anyway, the family heads out to a cabin in the wilderness that says "camp here!" more than "there's an evil curse here", as general "cabin in the woods" movies seem to go.
It's not long, however, until their vacation is stormed by Connie's sister, Kate (Annette Bening), Chet's brother-in-law, Roman (Aykroyd), and their own set of 'Shining' twins, Cara and Mara (Hilary Gordon and Rebecca Gordon, respectively). From there, the general idea behind the film's comedy is seeing just how many ways Roman can manage to step on Chet's family vacation. The ensuing gags, both visual and verbal, are full of knee-slappers. The physical comedy here, especially on Chet, is something almost to be admired. It ranges from being put through the ringer on his water skis, to a golf ball to the schnoz, to getting whacked in the face while Roman tries to capture a bat.
Beyond all of the physical comedy, you're also introduced to a slew of great, memorable characters who really stand out almost more than this story's mains. The highlights here include Reg (Britt Leach) - a man who has been struck by lighting a significant number of times; Wally (Robert Prosky) - the cabin owner, who likes to look before he leaps; and to top it off, we even get characters in a few critters. These namely include some trash-loving raccoons, who the film gives subtitles to, and of course, the "Bald-Headed Bear", played by Bart the Bear; a talent who has also starred in titles like 'The Bear', 'The Edge', 'White Fang' and 'Legends of the Fall'.
From my perspective, this has always provided me with a good laugh for as long as it has been in existence, and it has never even remotely aged on me (save for maybe a little bit of older technology we see). When you get down to the bare bones of this one, it's sort of a timeless classic of comedy and has a little something for everyone. I can always highly recommend kicking one's Summer off with this title, just to get you in the mood for the beautiful scenery and moments that the summer can yet provide. This highlights a lot that can "go wrong", but when you can relate to these things to some degree, it moves the movie much closer to one's heart. If nothing else, at least check it out as a true, blue John Candy classic!
To begin with, let me just say that if you have little or no interest in 'Jackass' or Bam's infamous 'CKY' videos, or anything associated with that - this movie is NOT for you! It's incredibly off the wall and sort of fits within the realm of Bam Margera's brain at the time (2003). There's a LOT in this that's just random and weird, and it doesn't skip on toilet humour at all. A select few will really appreciate this one these days, but I just so happen to be one of them.
Back in the day, I was into a lot of weird, whacky stuff, and a friend introduced me to not only 'Jackass' (which I was kind of lukewarm on), but the CKY videos - specifically, 'CKY2K'. At the time, this was all a branch from, of all things, 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3', which has CKY's '96 Quite Bitter Beings' as a part of its soundtrack. Liking the song, naturally, I was curious. Other than a few nasty things along the way, the DVD featured more music from CKY (the early, good stuff), introduced me to 'HIM' (one of my all-time favourite bands), a bunch of skate tricks and really random comedy (which I just eat up). Needless to say, I had to check this movie out.
The plot, in question, involves Ry (Ryan Dunn), who has recently just been broken up with by his girlfriend, Glauren (Jennifer Rivell). Already devastated by the breakup, he further finds out that some heavy metal dude named "Hellboy" (Rake Yohn) has been involved with her. While Ry's friends Valo (Bam Margera) and Falcone (Brandon DiCamillo) want their friend to move on, Ry would rather pay them to do things like vandalizing Glauren's house, and doing a bunch of unnecessary deeper digging. A lot of this is hilarious, but fair warning, very low-brow stuff. Most of the humour comes from DiCamillo's physically comedic performance and their shared dialogue.
While that's the gist of the overall story, there's also some side-story stuff going on, including Falcone trying to patent a "reverse microwave", Falcone's ridiculous cousin, Raab (Chris Raab) coming to town (who has, by far, the funniest 2 seconds of the entire movie), Ry living with his hedonistic... I dunno, roommate?, Don Vito (as basically himself) and Bam... well, being the Bam Margera we 'Jackass' fans love. It feels somewhat unfortunate now that 'Jackass' and everything associated with it feels "so early 2000s", but what's crazy is that the heart of this movie, at least for me, isn't even in the "jackassery" of it all.
I said in previous reviews about how these movies have different "volumes" to them in terms of being somewhat cruel to whoever is suffering the loss. Well, this is our volume 11. Now, just to put myself out there a little bit, I think it's safe to say that I have had some really sad heartbreak in my day - as in spending all day in bed, sobbing about it, and having my mind think the worst of everything. That's Ry's character, in a nutshell, and this movie acts as a great reflection for such a situation. For me, it acts as a sort of reminder to, essentially, not be stupid about things, and I still give this a watch when I'm feeling like crap in that way.
However, as I said from the get-go, this is definitely not for everyone. I might sooner recommend 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' for something that gives a similar vibe and is far less random and kooky. I might also give HIM a listen to before attempting this, as almost the entirety of the soundtrack is HIM. Being a huge fan, myself, it's a pretty easy one for me to get through. So, I guess, in the end, this is really only a "Screening Suggestions" for anyone who's ever been a fan of 'Jackass', 'CKY', HIM, and even with all that, willing to take a trip back in time to the early 2000s, and able to appreciate incredibly random comedy that often has toilet humour attached to it... so it may be a select few. Still though, it holds a place in my heart, and it's worth the watch whenever I'm hurtin'.
While I'm in the process of reviewing "movies for the bachelor", I feel it is only fair to forewarn potential viewers that this one is very, very much for the dudes out there. It seems obvious to me that writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt is speaking to his boys here. And while the film is a testosterone-layered dessert from start to finish, it is the final message that saves the film from being much more than what it looks like on the surface. One might call it an "eye-opener" of sorts.
We are introduced to Italian-American womanizer Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt). His passions in life include taking care of his apartment, his car, his body, and of course, his women, which also often lead him to his church for confessional. He takes pride in how good he is at pulling in women for one-night stands, but to him, nothing quite beats the experience of self-manipulation to pornography. We also meet his sideline friends, Bobby and Danny (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke, respectively), themselves womanizers, but Danny is the one constantly striking out. One night at a club, Jon's take-home streak comes to a halt when he meets the "ten out of ten", damn near perfect Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson).
At first, it's all about the standard "dude" play of getting into her pants, but she plays a little hard-to-get, and his feelings end up developing as he starts to see her as something more than a plaything to bring home. In the meantime, as things continue between the couple, the question of exactly what kind of woman she is comes into play. Without spoiling anything, really, we see almost from the get-go that Barb is the type of woman who wants her man to be exactly what she wants. This is a solid bachelor flick for any guy who had to face something like that in a relationship and speaking for myself, it serves as a solid reminder to not let something like that happen again. But the film's message doesn't just stop at "be yourself" and "don't let anyone change you".
On the sidelines is Esther (Julianne Moore), who Jon ironically meets at a class that Barbara wanted him to take. She's probably the most likable character in the movie, although at first, it paints her as a sort of annoying inconvenience to Jon. And while the film does largely give us the push to be ourselves and not change for people (although compromise doesn't hurt), it's also out to show the sex-loving dudes out there that despite how satisfying all of that is, there is something more out there that you may have yet to experience. I'm trying not to spoil anything, but it's so hard not to, as the plot adds a new important element to the story for each of its three acts.
Also joining the cast are Jon's family, Jon Sr. (Tony Danza), his mother, Angela (Glenne Headly) and his ever-silent, phone-obsessed sister, Monica (Brie Larson), who 100% plays this film's version of a "Silent Bob" character. Just check it out and you'll see what I mean. It's also fun to see names like Channing Tatum, Anne Hathaway, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Meagan Goode as fake Hollywood actors. There's also an arrangement of real porn stars in their real porn clips, so fair warning, this isn't a movie that really holds back at all on how open it is with sexuality. It's almost like Gordon-Levitt saying very openly how perverted he might be, all the while having the right message to say in the end.
The uniqueness this one offers in one's healing process is in that it not only lets us know there's plenty of fish in the sea, but the fish you're looking to reel in isn't necessarily what you think you want. Personally speaking, I think that's an important takeaway - especially when I know my taste in women has changed significantly after every breakup I've had. It's also good in letting us "lesser beings" (as far as clubbing goes) than even the kings of the nightclubs have their woman problems.
I'm not, nor have I ever been an expert on how all this "pick-upetry" works (not exactly a pick-up artist or womanizer here), but I still get the sense that this could serve as a good eye-opener to those in that position looking for a little something more. For the rest of us, I might say it helps us out by saying all these 10/10 women aren't necessarily gonna be worth it if they're only out for themselves. There's "better" out there for most, if not all of us, and anyone who disagrees has either already found their "better" or given up hope altogether. But give this a watch and you might see just how unimportant the idea of "getting laid" really is.
Just to start it off, I mentioned in my last review that while all of these movies are very similar at heart, each one is sort of unique in what it offers in the healing process for the viewer. I'm going to try to get those details out of the way from the get-go on the rest of these. Last time, it was about the people who you meet along the way, offering advice and not necessarily having them all be potential love interests. Sometimes a new friend can go a long way.
'500 Days' is a little bit tougher, but it almost stands as a sort of reflection of things the viewer might be going through if trying to heal from a bad breakup. This movie is fantastic at showing not so much the "pathetic" side, but just the hurt side of things. It's one of the most relatable breakup movies I've ever seen, as it not only gives us pain but joy as well. The whole film has to do with his mindset ranging from what it's like to be in love to what it's like to have your heart broken. I suppose it could be said that this has to do more with how one heals oneself over time.
To keep things relatively simple, the film offers a nonlinear narrative, going back and forth in a 500-day timeline that looks at the relationship between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). From the get-go, we know that Tom and Summer have broken up. The story serves as a sort of portrayal of Tom's own memories over the course of that time. I have to say, I quite admire how it's done, as it offers up everything someone goes through in a relationship. One I find most important is the idea of going from fawning to bitter about the same person. It goes to show that we often don't really know what we're getting into, but it also goes to show that sometimes we can be pretty childish about things.
Another thing the film does is show the different angles of advice one can get for their situation. Tom does a bit of a back and forth between his friends McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) and Paul (Matthew Gray Gubler) and his half-sister, Rachel (Chloë Grace Moretz), who happens to be an expert on women at a very young age (this predates her role as Hit-Girl in 'Kick-Ass' by a year). It's not so much the advice itself that I enjoy here, but the idea of who can offer it - even a kid's perspective can offer something very solid.
This might be a tough one for someone to get through if they literally just broke up with their significant other. However, I appreciate how incredibly "real" it all is. Even though there are some fantasy sequences here and there, the right feelings really get across to the viewer. To top everything off, the film has its ending. I won't spoil it, entirely, but it offers up some bittersweet humour to the story, and indeed, leaves us with the idea that "life goes on". It can be a little depressing for a healing process, but it's a good thing to see if you want to move on but can't quite get there. It's a very solid title, especially for anyone reflecting bitterly on a past relationship.
I wanted to take a look at titles "for the bachelor" this month; each one with some specific reason as to why I personally see it as such. To make a life-long story short, I'm more or less a life-long bachelor. Over the years of being perpetually single, there have been a few stand-out titles I like to refer to if I ever feel like I need that extra boost. I might have to say that 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' is one that stands out as, likely, my all-time personal fave under this somewhat obscure category.
One of the reasons this stands out so far for me is that I just so happened to see it with one of my exes - not as though she's an ex recently, but an ex at the time. I remember finding the movie to be pretty ironic because it was essentially showing me everything I needed to see at the time. Admittedly, I wasn't entirely over her at the time, so in many ways, this was a lesson in love for yours truly. It does it all so perfectly, simultaneously showing us how... let's just say "sad" we can be after a breakup while taking us by the hand and saying "here's how we get over ALL these terrible things".
The oh-so relatable lead (at least for me) is Peter Bretter (Jason Segel); a TV composer for a 'CSI' parody called 'Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime'. Also featured on the show are its leads; Billy Baldwin (as himself) and Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), who happens to be dating Peter until one day when she abruptly breaks it off with him, ultimately breaking his heart. He seeks friendship and advice from his stepbrother and good friend, Brian (Bill Hader), but ends up pretty much going against it all, including taking a trip to Hawaii (because Sarah always wanted to check out Hawaii). Of course, by happenstance, once there, Peter runs into Sarah and her new flame, the impossible-to-compete-against Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).
Despite the awkwardness of staying at the same resort, Peter is given a nice leg up on the situation when the lovely hotel concierge, Rachel Janson (Mila Kunis) allows him to have the master suite, as long as he takes responsibility for any cleanup, himself. Over time, Peter and Rachel's friendship begins to blossom, and Peter makes friends with some colourful characters; a tough-loving bartender named Dwayne (Da'Vone McDonald), a newlywed couple with bed troubles, Derald and Wyoma (Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer, respectively), a friendly local named Kemo (Taylor Wily) and, perhaps the best character in the movie (aside from maybe Aldous), a dimwitted, but optimistic surfer named "Kunu" (Paul Rudd).
JUST so I'm not leaving one of my fave comedic actors out, however, Jonah Hill also bears mentioning here. He plays a waiter and super fan of Aldous, and is responsible here for one of my new favourite sayings; "I'll just go f*&% myself" (said as casually as "I'm just gonna go hit the bathroom"). Further names like Jason Bateman, Gedde Watanabe, Kristen Wiig and Carla Gallo cameo here as well, so it's full of some pretty solid names (at least as far as this type of movie is concerned). But of course, these names only lend themselves as a part of my love for this movie.
One thing these movies on this list have in common is the sense of leaving what's hurting you behind, and moving on with something different, and generally something more. The thing is, they each have a certain "volume" to them, if you will (in other words, some are harsher than others). But they all also have a certain detail or two that really help one's mourning thought process while watching it. Here, it's the idea of meeting new people along the way, as part of the healing process involves putting yourself out there. A part of meeting new people is making new friends, and it doesn't end at "trying to meet someone special".
That little tidbit is something I really pushed aside until I saw this; it was like a wake-up call. I've always had friends to talk to about this stuff, but talking about it only goes so far. The various people Peter meets here help him through his hard time, and it doesn't always have to do with the heartbreak part of it. Even Rachel challenges him to leap off a cliff in a gesture to face fears and experience ultimate freedom (and while I appreciate it, that's a big no from me). The married couple shows that even happy new couples have problems, and Kunu has the perspective of "when life gives you lemons, just say f*&% the lemons and bail". When you think about it, it makes perfect sense; turn your back on your problems.
Anyway, I've gushed enough. This is almost the perfect level of taking a look at your recently single situation in a comedic fashion. Along the way, you get to see that you're not necessarily the "saddest" one out there. But it also does a really good job of poking at you with characters like Aldous Snow. Generally, he represents the guy who your partner leaves you for, and he's got way too much over you, it's again, impossible to compete. It's a good reminder that we bachelors aren't alone in situations like this. I've pretty much embraced bachelorhood these days, but that doesn't mean I'll never feel heartbreak again. It's good to know, however, that when I do, I'll always have 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' to help me through it.
Nowadays, we may see director Todd Philips as something of a true artist with his work on 'Joker' and three Oscar nominations under his belt for it. But before he decided to blow us all away with sheer talent, he was best known as something of a "frat boy" director, tackling films like 'Road Trip', the 'Hangover' trilogy and this, which because something of a classic in its own right.
Released in 2003, this became the big college movie of its time, and it seemed to last for quite a while. In many ways, I found this to be my generation's answer to 'Animal House'. The funny thing is that it's not really a college movie. It just takes place on a college campus. It's also something of a benchmark for comedic actors, but more on that later.
The film centers mainly on thee close friends. Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson), who has just broken up with his girlfriend, Heidi (Juliette Lewis); Frank "The Tank" (Will Ferrell), who is soon to be wed to the lovely Marissa (Perrey Reeves); and the not-so-blissfully married to Lara (Leah Remini) father of two, "Beanie" (Vince Vaughn). After the breakup, Mitch moves into a new home located just off the campus of Harrison University. There, Beanie has a party in Mitch's honour to house-warm as well as get him back on the dating horse.
The party is a huge success, but their new hopes fade when the college dean, Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) shows up to ruin the fun. Gordon happens to be someone they used to pick on, and throughout the film tries whatever it takes to get them kicked off the grounds. It all starts by telling them the house is for college use only, and this causes the trio to create a fraternity in the hopes that they can stay. All the while, Mitch tries to make a good impression on his old high school crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), who he runs into at Frank's wedding. However, slowly becoming a campus legend seemingly stands in the way.
Going back to what I mentioned about this being a sort of benchmark movie for comedic actors, it's a good example of a title that seemed to give all three of these guys the boost they needed for mass recognition. In fairness, we all knew who these guys were from various other things, going into this movie. But there was something about the collective of these three that seemed to just work right, and each of them, I might suggest, was far more recognizable after this was released. I suppose, however, it depends on their respective fans. Speaking for myself, that was my experience.
As usual, there are a couple of things here and there that might seem dated, but it's not enough to ruin a good time. This is a great movie to get the guys together for, along with a bunch of beer and have a guy's night in. Of all the titles I've put on this list of "drink-along" titles, it's probably the one I'd recommend highest to the masses, where your taste doesn't have to be all too specific like it might with 'Beerfest' or 'Strange Brew'. It's still a lot of fun after all these years, and it's interesting to watch again, being closer to the ages of these guys now than I was almost 20 years ago. In my opinion, it's most definitely the 'Animal House' of my generation.
It has been quite some time since I've seen this movie, so there were a few things that I didn't take into account. Once again, we have a late 70s classic that has unfortunately dated itself for any newcomers. But, laying my cards on the table, I have to say that despite any aged issues it may have, I still think it's a lot of fun. But one's viewing of it needs to sort of fit a particular scenario. More on that later.
Before I go forward with this one, though, a few things one really should know. First off, this was filmed before 'Dukes of Hazzard' aired. Therefore, do not be too shocked at the presence of a Confederate flag on the Bandit's '77 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am's license plate. Also, akin to the film's time is a lot of the humour involved. In fact, I laughed extra hard at one line in particular because it's so incredibly over the top offensive (or at least probably is to the average person. I tend to have a pretty dark sense of humour).
Bo "Bandit" Darville (Burt Reynolds) is approached by a wealthy Texan named "Big" Enos Burdette (Pat McCormick), along with his tiny son, "Little Enos" (Paul Williams). They offer him $80,000 to haul 400 cases of Coors (yeah, this is a big beer commercial, too) from Texarkana to Atlanta in the span of 28 hour. Even though this sounds like a fairly natural process, one must understand that this film is dated in another way - at the time, in certain locations of America, there was prohibition. So to make a long story short, our man the Bandit here is taking part in bootlegging. As for why the Enos' want this Coors; they are sponsoring a racer in Atlanta's Southern Classic, and want to celebrate in style when their car wins.
The Bandit accepts the task, recruiting his partner, Cledus "Snowman" Snow (Jerry Reed) to do the truck-driving. Bandit's role in this operation is to be a "blocker"; someone who will divert the attention of law enforcement away from illegal cargo. Said law enforcement comes in the form of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and his bumbling son, Junior (Mike Henry). They inadvertently begin chasing Bandit by chance after Junior's runaway bride, Carrie (Sally Field) hitches a ride with him. So much of what we have here is a bit of a Wyle E. Coyote/Roadrunner situation. And I think it's also safe to say that this one is a bit of a time capsule of a film, considering the laws of the time and a few other details about it I already mentioned.
But speaking of going back to things I mentioned, I was talking about viewing this in a particular scenario. Aside from just watching it for yourself, I would recommend that this is a bit of a "dude" film, and therefore needs to be seen with a "dude" frame of mine. This is a movie where you get your buddies together, crack open some Coors (or other beer that suits your taste a bit better) and go along for the ride without overthinking any of the potentially offensive things that might be in it. It's definitely a product of its time, but I do think that with the right frame of mind, this can still be a lot of fun.
While this lands under the 'Screening Suggestions' category, I must admit that I suggest it very loosely. There's nothing particularly special about this title. It's pretty predictable, and nothing about it comes as a surprise. However, it is a neat little slice-of-life movie that features some pretty humanized characters who exist in grey as opposed to black and white.
Revolution Brewing Company employs friends Kate (Olivia Wilde and Luke (Jake Johnson). While their chemistry is solid, they are otherwise involved; Kate with a quiet, humble guy named Chris (Ron Livingston) and Luke with Jill, who's a sweet girl next door type. Eventually, during a night out, the couples meet, and Chris invites Luke and Jill to visit his cottage. While there, the couples spend a significant amount of alone time with each other's partners, so it's pretty obvious from the get-go how things will go down.
However, most of the movie is about Luke's hidden feelings for Kate, and again, I'm just gonna say, this movie isn't exactly full of surprises. But while the main focus is a Luke and Kate story, the film really is about looking at your significant other and whether or not you're right for each other. In that sense, it's a pretty interesting and down-to-earth look at the way we think of things, and I think it's interesting that each character has a little piece of "wrong" and a little piece of "right" to them.
I would probably suggest that if you're looking for some kind of crazy, after-dark comedy about boozin' it up, you look elsewhere. Although this is is something of a romantic comedy, I would say that the drama overshadows it. That said, it's also not what one would consider melodramatic. It's a look at some of the sadder parts of relationships that we have all either been through or may very well face one day. To me, that's the charm that the film brings with it. It's just a nice little package of a story that highlights real-life situations in a way that feels natural.
Just in case you're wondering where this one lies on the taste scale, it comes from director Joe Swanberg. This is the guy responsible for 'The Rental' and 'V/H/S' segment '"The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger". Otherwise, one might be pretty unfamiliar with this guy. He seems to like it in the shadows of indie filmmaking, but I've so far enjoyed his material. I don't "fanboy" over him like I do with Edgar Wright, but I would consider him to be a name to look out for in the near future. He could help bring a more humanized drama to the screen.
Anyway, this is a bit of a hard one to find, so you might just want to rent it for a night in with a few beers or glasses of wine, depending on your taste. The atmosphere this movie gives off feels very "Sunday afternoon", so may I suggest a midday weekend viewing in the middle of Spring or Summer with the light pouring in. That's pretty specific, I know, but for some reason, it feels like it fits. The film is about as casual as its title. It's not aiming for any major awards or anything. It's just a nice slice-of-life title with a bittersweet ending that feels all too familiar.
Going way back to before even I was born, there was a sketch comedy show called 'SCTV' (or 'Second City Television') that ran from 1976 to 1981. This was a proudly Canadian show that boasted such names in their early days as Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Harold Ramis, Catherine O'Hara, the wonderful John Candy (RIP), and this film's stars, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.
While some of these names may not seem familiar to the younger ones reading this, you'd probably be able to recognize most, if not all of them to see them. This show was sort of Canada's answer to 'SNL', and without either, I might not have my beloved 'Ghostbusters'.
Anyway, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas would create two TV host characters named Bob and Doug McKenzie. The pair hosts 'The Great White North', and essentially created the original Canadian stereotype. Almost everything ends with "eh", they love their beer and donuts, they use terms like "hoser", and almost became the pride of Canada for a little while - two authentic Canadians making fun of Canadians? What could be better? These two basically owned the Canadian stereotype until 'South Park' came along and put a whole new spin on it.
It all starts basically enough as another one of their famous skits where they show a theatrical audience a really poorly made movie. The audience gets angry, and the plot eventually gets going after the two have to make an escape from their own movie screening. Upon getting home, they stick a little mouse inside an empty beer bottle in an attempt to get some free Elsinor beer. The Beer Store, however, tells them to complain to the higher-ups. They do so and get slapped with jobs, inspecting bottles for mice, among other things.
What they don't know, however, is what the evil Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) has planned - essentially a takeover using mind control drugs in their bottled beer. The formula gets tested on mental patients and is evidently a success. Meanwhile, there's also a murder plot involving the original brewery owner, John Elsinore (the death), his daughter, Pam (Lynne Griffin), and her Uncle Claude (Paul Dooley). This basically, of course, all comes down to the McKenzie brothers stopping Brewmeister Smith before he can distribute his mind control beer.
I should probably point out that this was made in 1983, and I do have a certain bias towards it considering a bunch of things about it - it's something I saw when I was a kid, a lot of the filming was done around my home town, and it's almost authentically Canadian. To help, it does not take itself seriously one iota. I could see some of the younger audience having trouble with it nowadays, but this really speaks to us Canadian kids of the 80s. It's still pretty fun, so grab yourself a beer and drink-along to this fun-filled Canadian classic, eh.
Not everyone in the world is gonna be altogether familiar with the "Broken Lizard" film series. Those who are familiar tend to lean towards 'Super Troopers' as the best of them - and it's pretty easy to understand why. However, in the meantime, I tend to look at 'Beerfest' as my personal favourite of the bunch. In case anyone's wondering what else they've done - 'Club Dread' and 'Super Troopers 2' is about it, so there's not a whole lot to choose from.
This one had a very limited theatrical release as opposed to the others, and I quite honestly thought it was a straight-to-video deal at the time. Regardless, it has become the Broken Lizard movie that I like introducing people to, even if it didn't do quite as well as 'Super Troopers', critically. Personally, I feel like it's an overlooked comedy title that people tend to turn their noses up at. But for me, it's full of all the hilarious random humour I could ask for, and though low-brow, it's definitely underrated in my opinion. But much like the beer held within, it may be an acquired taste for many.
It all starts when brothers Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, respectively) attend their grandfather Johann's (Donald Sutherland) funeral. There, the brothers are instructed to spread their grandfather's ashes at Oktoberfest in Munich, Switzerland. While in Munich, they stumble upon a traditional underground drinking competition between countries called "Beerfest". It just so happens to be run by a distant relative of theirs, but the German team angrily accuses Johann of being a beer recipe thief, and continues to drink the American brothers under the table, annihilating them from any hopes of competition.
From there, the brothers swear revenge on the German team to defend their grandfather's good name. They eventually recruit old drinking friends from their college days - Binge drinker Phil "Landfill" Krundle (Kevin Heffernan), Jewish scientist Charlie "Fink" Finklestein (Steve Lemme) and now male prostitute, Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar). Together with the help of the brothers' Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman) they train for the next competition while uncovering the truth behind their family's past, and perhaps even stumbling on the perfect beer recipe in the process (if what the Germans say about their grandfather is true).
I feel like as far as the comedy goes in here, there's a little something for everyone even if the movie as a whole isn't necessarily up your alley. For the older crowd, you have people like Donald Sutherland and Cloris Leachman in here, who are both great at tickling that funny bone (even if it is for a short time). On top of that, the Germans as the villains here are hilarious with the way they talk and intimidate - that might sound worse than it's meant to, but just give it a watch and you'll see what I mean. Everything's one extreme or the other with these guys - extremely polite or extremely nasty.
Going back to what I said about this perhaps being an acquired taste, I would strongly suggest giving this a proper chance if you are a fan of 'Super Troopers' and haven't seen it. There's a good chance that you'll still find 'Super Troopers' superior (and in many ways, it is) but there's something about the random and even ridiculous comedy that makes this a lot of fun to watch. It's the kind of comedy you go into knowing that it's gonna be stupid, so I'd suggest not taking any of it seriously at all. It's a movie meant for a good time, so get some drinking buddies together and try to keep up with these guys!
Seeing as I've already thrown the first 'Clerks' into this long list of "Screening Suggestions", we're finally jumping ahead to 'Clerks II' - the review being about as long-awaited as the actual movie. I still remember being under the proverbial rock when this was finally coming out, commenting on a forum, wondering whatever happened to the 'Clerks II' project, and being answered with a trailer. It looked like fun, but I had to say, I was sort of iffy about the presentation.
Watching the original trailer, it showed higher production value, better quality, and colour - all things that 'Clerks' was not. There was something about that, that turned me off. 'Clerks' had become so well-known for that low-budget quality amongst its fans, that it was part of what made it so good. A part of its charm was this look because it felt like Kevin Smith; a newcomer at the time, understood the life of the average Joe a bit more than some of those higher-up directors whose idea of an average Joe job was working in an office, and the average convenience store clerk was some kind of racial stereotype.
To this day, that original 'Clerks' is probably the Kevin Smith film I hold closest to my heart, because, at the time, I was a cashier at a grocery store, also dealing with the general public. To me, 'Clerks' was this amazing portrayal of a couple of guys working retail, dealing with customers, and saying things we only wished we could say to some of our customers. This was just a little too different for my taste, but I did decide that since I was still a Kevin Smith fan, I had to give it a shot. The result was me watching it three times in theaters, and eventually owning a DVD copy the day of its release. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
This takes place ten years down the road for Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) and shows them working the fast food gig at Mooby's (the View Askewniverse answer to the average fast-food joint, with a mascot made to be "as close to Mickey Mouse as possible without getting sued"). The pair work under their manager, Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson), and alongside a bit of a punching-bag character named Elias (Trevor Fehrman), who also happens to be one of the best things about this movie. You see, Elias is the gullible fanboy geek type who, in some ways, brings his punishment on himself with things he says or does.
The restaurant work for Dante and Randal is due to their old stomping grounds, the Quick Stop, being burned to the ground. Terrorists? Nope, Randal left the coffee pot on again. Anyway, now Dante is engaged to be married to a woman named Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach) who, ironically as Kevin Smith's wife in real life, is perhaps the least likable character in the film (on purpose). While Emma lays out a whole future for Dante to basically wander into, Dante's still that stubborn dude who won't disrupt things just so he can sh*t comfortably. In the meantime, Becky may just end up being reason enough for Dante to stay put and not move away with Emma.
A lot like the first 'Clerks', the central focus has to do with a love triangle situation involving Dante while all sorts of hilarious shenanigans unfold involving other comedy relief characters. Apart from Randal and Elias playing super well off each other, we also get the triumphant return of the now clean (but still holding) Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, respectively) who are just as funny sober as they ever were stoned. Once again, so much of this movie's humour comes out of the casual banter these characters have with each other. Some talk about the "dos and don'ts" of sex; some innocent fan feuding about film franchise quality; and SOME pretty damn edgy stuff. But I might suggest that it's satire in this case. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it.
One thing I really admire about Kevin Smith is that he makes his movies for his fans, and not so much to appeal to the masses. He's not after Oscars or even positive reviews from critics (even as I sit and write all this); he just wants to make the people who love him happy, as in to return the favour. Us Smith fans are pretty loyal to the guy, even to a fault. I don't deny that I thought some of his later stuff was "crap", but that's just me. A lot of his fans on the Facebook page I follow are loving his new stuff because it's so off-the-wall and crazy weird. Either way, we do seem to be at square one again with 'Clerks III' as we all anxiously await some kind of first trailer.
This is a fine example of a movie that one might not necessarily see as a "good movie", and I might have to admit to some of the material contained within to be somewhat dated (which I may just have to start referring to as the "General 80s/90s Comedy Warning" (it feels like I have to do that a lot with movies from those eras). However, this is a fascinating example of an all-star cast movie, as it covers a sort of all-over range of performers.
The film is as simple as a cross-country race that starts in Connecticut, and all the humour that ensues, as celeb vs celeb vs celeb races for the finish line. Our "mains" in this include a race car driver named JJ McClure (Burt Reynolds) and his mechanic, Victor Prinzi (Dom DeLuise) who choose do disguise themselves as paramedics and drive an ambulance fitted with a NASCAR engine, as that can cut through traffic like butter. Along for the ride with them is Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam) who they kind of need for the whole operation.
As the race begins and progresses, we meet a group of colourful characters. This is a large cast, so I'll try to keep things simple. First, former F1 racer, Jamie Blake (Dean Martin) and his teammate, Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.) in their Ferrari 308 GTS 1979, dressed as priests. Second, the lovely, but manipulative Jill Rivers (Tara Buckman) and Marcie Thatcher (Adrienne Barbeau) in their Lamborghini Countach. Third, Seymour Goldfarb Jr. (Roger Moore), who's a "Roger Moore look-alike" and even drives an Aston Martin DB5. Fourth, a couple of hilariously stereotypical southerners named Terry (Terry Bradshaw) and Mel (Mel Tillis), driving a replica of Donnie Allison's Hawaiian Tropic-sponsored NASCAR Winston Cup Series Chevrolet stock car.
Now, where the movie will probably really get offensive for viewers involves our fifth racer, Sheik (Jamie Farr), driving a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, and that's all I probably need to say about him. Remembering this was 1981, we still hadn't quite hit that point where "race face" wasn't acceptable anymore. However, speaking of multiculturalism, Lastly, we have Jackie Chan and Michael Hui, seemingly playing themselves, driving a computerized Subaru GL 4WD. That's right, 1981 Jackie Chan, in only his second American movie (the first being 'The Big Brawl', only just the previous year).
I'm pretty sure there are several other characters I haven't even mentioned yet, but as far as the main cast goes, that's pretty much it - two whole paragraphs worth. But despite some of these character perhaps being a little too much at times, there's a lot of real fun to be had with this movie. In many ways, it reminds me of 'Rat Race', which is practically the 'Cannonball Run' for the next generation - a race featuring an all-star cast, and it's much more fun than serious all the way through. I have to say, I got quite a few genuine laughs from this, but I also have to say, there was a lot of it (especially when it comes to the character Shiek) that I had to cringe at. I think this film is perfectly enjoyable IF you can accept the leeway of its time.
Having said that, I would probably suggest that this is far more made with my generation, or even the previous generation in mind, considering its cast. While a lot of those names will jump off the page to some readers, other younger readers will no doubt be asking "who?" So I recommend this mostly as a sort of Sunday afternoon comedy for anyone who knows and enjoys all (or almost all) of these performers. And they really do cover a wide range, from dramatic actors, to singers, to athletic talent, I think there's at least one character here for anyone to route for. Not for everyone, but if you like a good race featuring colourful characters, I might suggest checking it out if you can.
It has actually been long enough since I've seen this that it's almost new to me again, despite a few odds and ends I remembered, when I saw it as a kid, probably around 10 or 11 years old. That said, although I didn't quite remember everything, my memories of it are quite fond. It's like when you go on vacation without a camera, then years later, remember it being fun, but don't remember a lot of specifics.
Moving on, however, 'City Slickers' introduces us to Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal), Ed Furrilo (Bruno Kirby) and Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern), running from the bulls in Spain; just one of several adventure trips the trio makes in order to escape their mundane, everyday. Mitch hates his job, Phil hates his marriage, and Ed just isn't ready to settle down.
On Mitch's 39th birthday, Phil and Ed talk Mitch into checking out a two-week cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. Mitch's wife, Barbara (Patricia Wettig), eventually convinces him, thinking it's something he needs, as he's been a bit of a downer lately. So, indeed, this is another one of those movies like 'Wild Hogs' or 'The World's End', largely about a group of middle-aged men, trying to recapture their youth, or at least do some soul searching in the process. I tend to have a bit of a soft spot for these types of movies, and perhaps this is where it all started, because this is one of the best of them.
Upon arrival in New Mexico, the three guys are introduced to ranch owner, Clay Stone (Noble Willingham); Barry and Ira Shalowitz (Josh Mostel and David Paymer, respectively), who are brothers loosely based on famous ice cream brothers, Ben & Jerry; a young woman named Bonnie Rayburn (Helen Slater); a father-son dentist team, Ben and Steve Jessup (Bill Henderson and Phill Lewis, respectively); and last, but certainly not least, a real, rough and tough cowboy named Curly (Jack Palance), whose performance is pretty great here. I seemed to remember his character just being kind of a jerk towards the guys, but I gotta say, this viewing showed me how likable he really was.
Most of the adventure comes into play after Mitch accidentally causes a stampede while camping, and much of the rest is the group trying to find and round these cattle up, all while developing their respective characters through the experience. I will warn though, there is a calf born here who Mitch takes under his wing, and it really melts the heart - especially when it's given the name Norman, and you see Crystal treat this animal with all the love and respect you have for your family pet. Norman is adorable, and if you were to ever tell me I'd ever say that about a calf, I'd say you were crazy. It wasn't enough to turn me off of burgers, but dammit, Norman's cute!
This move doesn't come without a couple of villains, in the names of Jeff and T.R. (Kyle Secor and Dean Hallo, respectively), but they're basically just bullies through the film. The real challenge here is a men vs nature story combined with a bit of man vs himself and his own mortality. But it does it in a very comedic way, and although I wouldn't call this a dark comedy, I would say it definitely has its moments. One scene involving one particular death actually had me laughing pretty good. This is a great example of a comedy from that era that doesn't have much, if any, moments of cultural ignorance (that I caught, anyway), and I highly recommend giving it a check-out if you need a little slice-of-life comedy in your own life.
When it comes to "feel-good" films, this is a title that's at the top of my list, and has been for quite a long time now. And yes, part of that is, predictably, nostalgia. But there's so much more to this than just a movie I love from my past. This is one of those movies I like to put on if I need cheering up, if I need inspiration, or often, if I'm simply bored. Of course, the presence of John Candy always helps because you simply can't not like that guy.
As sunny winter approaches in beautiful Jamaica, a sprinter named Derice Bannock (Leon) is in the training process to qualify for the 100 meter race in the 1988 Summer Olympics. During the qualifying sprint, he, and fellow athlete Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) are tripped when a young runner named Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) falls during the race. This disqualifies all three of them. But when Derice vents to President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Barrington Coolidge (Winston Stona), he picks up on a potential chance to qualify for the '88 winter Olympics, if only he can get disgraced ex-coach Irving Blitzer (Candy) on board.
With the help of his best friend, Jamaican push cart derby champion, Sanka Coffie (Doug E. Doug), they seek the help of Irving, who they learn lives on the island. At first, Irv is reluctant, but nevertheless arranges a meeting for any Jamaican athletes who wish to become the first Jamaican Bobsled Team. Soon, Derice, Sanka, Yul and Junior end up being the necessary team of four. The rest of the story does play out pretty much as one might expect, with a couple of differences - this inspires in ways far beyond being good at sports, and the way the film ends, without going into too much detail, is actually quite refreshing.
What I do love about this one though is a bit of a list. I'm not gonna say it's the "perfect movie" or anything, but there's a certain something about it. There is a short list of movies that I have in mind that, when they end, I am left with a sense of warmth and happiness. Some of these (just personally) include 'Soul' and 'Love, Actually'. Usually there's something that stands out significantly about it on a personal level. 'Cool Runnings' does it with each of its characters, who match this thing I like to call the "Formula of Four" (and to be fair, credit goes to "Cracked - After Hours" for that one.)
Concerning the "Formula of Four", basically it's a concept we've seen in a lot of different things like 'Ghostbusters' and 'Ninja Turtles'. You have a leader, or heart - a sort of lawful good character (Derice); you have the comedy relief (Sanka); you have the brain, or the little guy (Junior); and finally, you have the "other guy" - often a hot-head of sorts, but also often just the cool one in the group, or sometimes even "the audience" (Yul). For me, especially in re-watches of it, I try to take into account the subtle lessons these guys learn along the way. The big one is simply "don't give up", but there's more in here like "follow your dreams" and "stand up to your parents once in a while".
This one is a timeless classic, almost guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. It should also be pointed out that a big part of this has to do with the Jamaican team being ridiculed for trying something they couldn't possibly be familiar with. They were further ridiculed for... let's just say other things... and quite honestly, John Candy delivers one of my favourite lines here, addressing the issue. As much as I watch this for laughs and a good time, I should also note that there's a few things here and there that need to be seen and heard today. This is a lot of fun to watch, sure, but I daresay it's also somewhat important in today's society. And honestly, that goes for more than just the racial issues the film addresses.