Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I am so far behind on my reviews that I will simply offer ten films from the bottom of my list which I watched so you don't have to:

TEEN WOLF (1985) - This is a bad/fun '80s flick that I had the pleasure of watching with my son. I still remembered several lines and moments from enjoying this as a teenager. Tom Freeman used to mimic Teen Wolf voice to say "Give me a keg of beer." which always left me laughing. Who can forget Stiles surfing on top of the Wolfmobile? Other than the trite Hoosiersesque third act, the structure of the film is actually pretty creative, with the wolf affliction coming on like a nasty pimple and then full blown wolfdom, although unusual, is not even enough to stop the basketball game.

MR BROOKS (2007) - This starts out really cool and there are some aspects of the story that I really like. Brooks is an honorable citizen, well-known in his community, but he harbors a secret addiction - killing people. It doesn't quite add up because people who love to kill people, usually get off on the carnality of using knives or their bare hands, whereas Brooks stalks them and shoots them, then rearranges the bodies into intimate poses. What I like is how careful his killing routine is, with the missing vacuum bags and the incinerator covering up the forensics. They try a cat-and-mouse thing with Demi Moore piecing it all together, but that doesn't work at all. The fun angle is when Dane Cook shows Brooks incriminating photos and then demands to be mentored in the art of killing. Another misfire is having William Hurt appearing as Brooks' imaginary alter-ego. It is kind of fun but kind of stupid. There's a good black comedy in this material but these filmmakers missed it.

SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) - It's a little bit campy and has the same sort of vibe as the Bryan Singer X-MEN movies. In short, it did nothing for me. It was a reboot of the franchise but two summers have passed without a sequel so everyone must feel about as I do.

SWING VOTE (2008) - I saw this on the Disney Cruise the day before it went national. I've been longing for Costner to play anything other than a lovable loser for the better part of two decades. He breaks the mold in MR BROOKS but not here, where he portrays his umpteenth lovable loser, non-baseball division. He doesn't give a whit, but his daughter is politically aware and attempts to vote, but misadventure ensues and suddenly Costner's vote is the one that will determine the next POTUS. The incumbent and the challenger descend on Costner and build their campaigns around whatever throw-away thoughts he voices on CNN. By the end, he is an engaged citizen, and we feel good for his character growth, though we will never know which guy he votes for since the LIMBO-like ending leaves us wondering.

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS (1989) - More harmless fun from a bygone era to watch with the kids, who know this film only from the Walt Disney World attraction. It is entertaining but silly and amazingly old-fashioned with the big props, the bad special effects, and the dorky guy from GHOSTBUSTERS. It isn't bad enough to give you fits but not good enough to want to see a second time.

KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004) - I stayed up late to watch this on Spike when I saw it was coming on. It is first class silly with a few hilarious scenes but mostly it was not as good as I was expecting. I had a great laugh at one scene in which the hero is trash talking to the townsfolk about how tough he is and how he will destroy any challenger. He says "You, with your mouth open, you want to challenge me?" The retarded-looking man stands up and he is nearly eight feet tall. "I didn't think so! How about you, old man?" The old man makes his way to the front of the crowd and he has Lou Ferigno's body. The hero tries one more call-out, beckoning a boy to come forward, which he does, only to show that he has the exact same body as the old man. Comedy comes in threes.

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1941) - I guess the Frederic March version is considered the good one. This one has Spencer Tracy, one of my favorite actors, and Ingrid Bergman, one of the all-time leading over-actors. It is fairly tedious and overlong. We have to watch Tracy time-lapse in and out of Jeckyll-face about half a dozen times as if we've never seen a wolfman movie. Tracy uses the front door of his lab when he is socially acceptable and the back door when he visits the seedy parts of London and visits his 'bad' girlfriend. We root for him to get over his affliction, but in the end, when he is gunned down, it is a fine alternative.

NANCY DREW (2007) - Not much to see here. It's a film best viewed by little girls. The only takeaway for me is when Nancy says "I like old-fashioned things." I've been using the line ever since to explain why I would rather watch Ozzie and Harriet than Drake and Josh.

A KING IN NEW YORK (1957) - It is well-made enough in that the camera is steady and the frame uncluttered, but it just doesn't work at all. It is Chaplin's last starring role and he does an admirable enough job holding the screen but he is so determined to get his lefty politics in that the story just pales to the point where the film is best viewed as a series of vignettes. It was a wee bit funny in spots but not clever enough that I will ever lend it two more hours.

CLOAK AND DAGGER (1984) - I hate to rank it last, but watching it as an adult destroyed everything I loved about this film as a teenager. I would like to think I enjoyed it when I was 10 but judging by its year of release, I must have been 15 when I watched it over and over on HBO. It's sort of a fun childcentric adventure but it is also preposterous from the get-go. I know that parents don't tend to matter much in kid movies (see Nancy Drew for confirmation) but this story actually requires the little girl to be on a bus to the airport as the clock ticks down to midnight. Well, there's a bomb in her walkie-talkie, you see. That's the least of her problems if her parents are so withdrawn that she can be on a bus to the airport when she should be tucked away sweetly for beddy-bye. Some films, like OLD YELLER are great when you watch as a kid and even greater when you watch as an adult. This is not one of those films.

1 comment:

Tom said...

I have seen all of the older films on this list and only the Superman movie from the last few years.

I seem to like old fashioned things too, also appreciating Oz and Thorny.

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