Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman, Polly Holliday
Released: June 8, 1984

This movie is INSANE, y'all! I first saw it when I was eight or nine and it scared the everliving crap out of me! I have seen it again since then, but the last time I saw it was probably in the early 2000s, so it has been awhile. In fact, it's been so long that there were quite a few things I didn't remember or remembered wrong. I'll address those when I come to them. Even though this movie is 33 years old, I'm sure there is an entire generation who hasn't seen it so there are spoilers! Like The Goonies (which came out a year later and has its own Gremlins reference), it was also written by Chris Columbus, produced by Steven Spielberg, and Corey Feldman is in it.

The movie begins with the father of the main character, Mr. Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), looking for a Christmas gift for his son. He's in Chinatown looking through an old shop with lots of strange and mystic stuff while an old wise Chinese man oversees him (the whole thing reeks of stereotypes) and he comes across a strange (and SUPER ADORABLE!!) creature known as a Mogwai. I didn't remember it ever being called a Mogwai, I always just thought the creatures were known as Gremlins whether they were in the cute and furry stage or the, ahem, monstrous stage. Peltzer tells the shopkeeper he has to have it and "it's exactly what [he's] been looking for." Wait a sec. A strange creature he has never heard of or seen in his entire life is exactly what he's been looking for? How is that even possible? He says he'll pay $100 for it, then ups it to $200. The shopkeeper tells him a firm no because he really is wise. He tells Mr. Peltzer that a Mogwai "comes with much responsibility" (and boy, does it!)  However, his young grandson tells Mr. Peltzer to meet him around back and secretly sells him the strange creature because they need the money. There are three rules (simple rules, really!) when it comes to owning a Mogwai:

1. Keep it out of light, especially sunlight. It could kill the Mogwai.
2. Don't get it wet.
3. And most importantly, whatever you do, never, ever, EVER feed it after midnight.

I, like many, as I'm sure, have a few issues with these rules and I will address these more as I continue on with my review. You'll notice the kid only tells what happens if you don't keep the Mogwai out of sunlight: it will die (which seems way more important than the third rule!) He never says what happens if you get it wet or feed it after midnight. Maybe if he did, then the Peltzers would be a little more careful with their new pet! Hmm, you think? Oh, and guess how long it takes before the rules are broken?

Because Mr. Peltzer is an inventor (and a crappy one at that - he's invented a "bathroom buddy" that's way too bulky and shoots out toothpaste, a juicer that explodes when you put the fruit in it, a coffee maker that pours out sludge, and a wireless phone (hey, I guess he was before his time, but if it only worked!)), he names the Mogwai Gizmo and gives it to his son, Billy (Zach Galligan), that evening, a few days before Christmas. I could have sworn that Billy was a young kid. I would have guessed anywhere between eight and thirteen years old. But he's not! Billy Peltzer has a job at the bank, he drives, he hangs out at a bar. I'm not sure exactly how old he is (Galligan was 19 when he filmed this), but he can't be any younger than eighteen. When we were first introduced to Billy working at the bank, I just assumed he was the older brother of the main character and he was going to be involved in the plot. I didn't realize he WAS the main character until his father gives him the gift. I think this movie would have worked much better with a younger protagonist. I really can't see a teenager (or someone in their early twenties) wanting a pet for Christmas. (Especially if they already have one, as Billy has a loyal dog named Barney). A teenager wants a car or something cool to wear to impress everyone. Now it's possible I was thinking of Corey Feldman who was probably 11 or 12 when he filmed this, but I do remember him not being in this movie as much as he was in The Goonies or Stand By Me or The Lost Boys (he only has a couple scenes). I guess I just assumed he plays the friend to a kid, who is, you know, his own age!

Billy opens his gift and this is when the audience is first shown Gizmo and OMG HE IS THE CUTEST LITTLE THING EVER!! He's so wittle and cute!!! I want one so bad!! Well, maybe not. As we will find out, this adorably cute little guy can cause A LOT of problems, especially if you don't follow the rules (And, obviously, I would follow these rules!) I also want to point out that NONE of the mayhem that will soon occur is Gizmo's fault, NONE OF IT. He is perfectly blameless in all of this mess. He is an innocent little bystander. They created Gizmo and the Gremlins with puppetry and animatronics. As you can see in the film, Gizmo is super tiny. When they showed close ups of just his face they used a large animatronic head. Sure, there are some scenes where it's super obvious Gizmo isn't real, but you have to admire they weren't using CGI (since this IS 1984) and had to create something that was actually in all the scenes with the actors.

Billy's dad tells him the rules of owning a Mogwai. You know, I felt really bad for Barney because Billy has dropped him like a hot potato and is spending all his time with Gizmo. Barney is probably thinking, I've been Billy's loyal pet for however many years and now I'm being pushed away for a cuter pet who can play the piano AND talk. (Gizmo is voiced by Howie Mandel. I thought that name was familiar and realized I know him best as the host of Deal or No Deal. Haha, remember that game show from the mid-2000s?) He can't talk in full sentences, but he does say phrases. Whenever Billy turns on a light, he'll say, "Bright light, bright light!" so Billy can turn it off. He also says "Uh-oh!" a lot (and with good reason!)

When Gizmo gets a boo-boo on his head (because he falls into the trash because Billy shows him his reflection in the mirror after putting on a Santa hat, so this is all BIlly's fault, mind you), Billy takes him to the freaking bathroom of all places to put a bandage on him. Now, I don't know about you, but my bathroom sink and counter is usually wet! WTF are you thinking, Billy? Can't you leave Gizmo in your room and get the bandages from the bathroom? I thought for sure something was going to happen in this scene, but it doesn't. Gizmo is so cute!!! I just wanna cuddle him and give him kisses on the top of his head, awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! He's so cute, he makes me cry.

The next day Corey Feldman comes over to deliver their Christmas tree. He grabs a glass of water and goes upstairs to Billy's room, which is in the attic, where Billy introduces him to Gizmo. Corey, his glass of water, and Gizmo are all on the bed. Seriously, why isn't Billy saying, "Damnit, Corey Feldman, get your glass of water away from my pet." Cuz that glass is tipping towards the Mogwai. But nothing happens...yet. Billy takes him over to his table where he likes to paint. There is a glass of water for cleaning brushes. Guess who clumsily knocks over the glass and spills water all over poor Gizmo? Now you can blame Corey Feldman all you want, but I'm blaming this all on Billy. Corey didn't know about the rules. Billy, however does know about the rules and brings Gizmo over to a table that has a glass of water on it. Moron. The water causes Gizmo to shriek in pain and his fur starts to boil and a small ball of fur (a hair ball, you could say) pops out of his back. Billy and Corey are more interested in the small ball of fur and don't seem to care that Gizmo is writhing in pain. I wanted to smack Billy so hard across his face. Four more of these small balls of fur pop out of Gizmo's back and start to grow until they become the size of Gizmo. Billy now has five more Mogwai! While all this is going on, Barney seems very concerned. In fact, the damn dog (and Gizmo, of course) is the only one who seems concerned about this. Poor Gizmo looks so sad and is shaking his head. He knows what's up! (And it isn't good!) Corey wants one since there are now five more, but changes his mind when one of them bites him when he tries to pet it. This one has a stripe of white fur across his head and he will eventually become the leader and go by the name Stripe.

Billy tells his father about what happened and he thinks this will be a great way to create and sell more Mogwai to kids and that it will become the new popular pet. Their plans for this will soon be sidetracked, but how would that even work? You might be able to sell a couple, but if other kids wanted one, they could just ask their friends for one and all they would have to do is throw water on their Mogwai. If you can make things multiply by five just by adding water to it, then it wouldn't be that rare! Billy also brings one to his science teacher and multiples another Mogwai. The teacher asks if he can keep one so he can run tests on it.

Now I remembered these creatures being good when they were in the cute and furry Mogwai stage and thought they only turned evil when they became the scary lizard-looking monsters, but that's not the case. Even when Stripe and the others are in the Mogwai stage, they are all mischievous and up to no good and have a sinister look in their eyes. In their Mogwai form, Stripe spits at Gizmo (so mean and uncalled for, Stripe!), ties up Barney in Christmas lights (totally uncalled for and how did five little creatures manage to do that to a pretty good sized-dog? They must have super strength? Also, why didn't Barney start barking the minute the Mogwai had him? He doesn't start whimpering until after he'd been tied up), AND they trick Billy into feeding them after midnight. They had unplugged his clock so when they're all begging for food, he think it's only 11:35 and grabs them a plate of chicken which they all eat like they're piranhas. See, this is a reason you could never make this movie today because all he would have to do is look at his phone! The feeding after midnight rule is a little confusing, because when, exactly can you feed them again? When the sun comes up? But, technically, it's still after midnight. Also, even if Billy does think there's still twenty five minutes left before midnight, doesn't he need to account for the food being swallowed and digested? I know, I know, I'm reading way too much into this. Point is, the Mogwai trick him and he feeds them after midnight. He even offers Gizmo some chicken, but he refuses. Meanwhile, at the lab, the stupid science teacher leaves his sandwich in plain sight right in front of the cage where he's testing the Mogwai so he's able to easily grab it. ("Yum, yum!") Now, to be fair, I don't think Billy ever told him about the rules. Geeze, Billy, when you introduce people to the Mogwai, you think you might want to tell people about the three rules?

The next morning when Billy wakes us, he sees these weird pod things. He shows his mother and realizes that the cord to his alarm clock was chewed through and that he did, in fact, feed the Mogwai after midnight. He seems to have no concern at all that these weird shells are in his room. He goes to the school to speak to the science teacher where he's looking at the pod in the cage. Now, until this moment, the movie has been a cute story about a boy and his strange pet ala E.T., but from now on it turns into a straight up horror show. Sh*t is about to hit the fan (and a couple of Gremlins too, ba-ba-ba). Billy's mom hears something coming from upstairs. She gets a phone call from Billy warning her to get out of the house after the Gremlin at school has killed the teacher with a lethal dose of something (why is something so dangerous at a school, anyway?), but one of the Gremlins has disconnected the phone. She then hears Do You Hear What I Hear? playing downstairs. Hands down, that is my favorite Christmas song of all time (I'm partial to the Whitney Houston version), but man, is it ever creepy when they play it in this scene! Mama Peltzer has her carving knife (from baking gingerbread cookies...don't ask) and she's about to go to town on these little demon monsters. Let's see: she throws one into a huge industrial blender, she sprays bug spray into the eyes of another until it backs up in the microwave and she nukes it until it explodes, she straight up stabs another one...Mama P. don't play around! She is attacked by the fourth one, but Billy comes home in time to knock it off of her and send it into the fire. Fun fact: this movie (and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is the reason the PG-13 rating exists. The studio didn't think this movie should have been rated R, but it was defintely way darker for the PG rating it did get, so thus became PG-13. This movie almost got an R rating because it was supposed to be A LOT darker than it turned out to be. For one thing, the poor dog and mom were supposed to be killed by the Gremlins (and in quite gruesome ways!)

Stripe is the only Gremlin left and he runs to the YMCA where he jumps into the pool, producing hundreds of other Gremlins. I would have guessed that these creatures are only able to multiply when they're in the Mogwai form, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Stripe and the rest of the Gremlins wreck havoc on the town of Kingston Falls. This includes terrorizing Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday), the old mean lady who lives in town. We have been introduced to her earlier, and, boy, is she a nasty old witch. She threatens to kill Billy's dog (more than once) and she doesn't care about anyone. You just know she's going to get a nasty comeuppance, and boy, does she! She has one of those mechanical chairs attached to the wall that takes her upstairs/downstairs and a Gremlin messes with the mechanics of it and when she sits on it to go upstairs, it speeds out of control and she goes around and around (the house is only two stories, but she is going up way more than that) and it sends her flying out the window and crashing into the snow. A pretty horrifying, yet satisfying and hilarious death for a horrid character. Oh! Speaking of snow, all the Gremlins are all out in it. Why aren't they multiplying?

Billy, Gizmo, and Kate (Phoebe Cates), the girl Billy works with at the bank and has a crush on try to stop the Gremlins. Kate tells Billy that this is just another reason for her to hate Christmas. Why does Kate hate Christmas, you ask? (Oh, as if you didn't know!) Even if you haven't seen this movie, you're probably familiar with this crazy monologue Kate tells about the day she discovered Santa Claus wasn't real...which is the same day her father died. When she was nine, he had dressed up as Santa and gone down the chimney, but had slipped and broken his neck and died instantly. They didn't discover him until they had started a fire and smelled something and the firemen came out and pulled out his body. Just a few questions: why was Kate's dad so stupid? And how did he fit down the chimney? I'm pretty sure nobody can fit down a chimney. Everyone knows Santa uses magic to go down them, duh!

All the Gremlins have assembled at a movie theater where they're watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (I was surprised Disney gave a Warner Brothers movie permission to use one of their films) and Billy and Kate sneak into the broiler room where they set off an explosion, killing all the Gremlins except for Stripe who has managed to escape to a nearby Montgomery Ward. While Billy is trying to ward (no pun intended, honest!) off the little demon monster, Kate is trying to find a light switch. Stripe has a chain saw and is going after Billy who is holding up a bat to stop the chainsaw. You would think the saw would easily go through a bat, which is made out of wood, but nope. I mean, it does go through it, but quite slowly so Billy has time to escape when Kate finally is able to turn on the lights. Also, Billy is a bit of a wuss. Here is his mother who singlehandedly butchered four of these creatures in a matter of minutes and he can't stop a little two foot creature from throwing balls at him. Just kick it. Stop being a baby, Billy! However, it's Gizmo who saves the day by pulling up a shade when Stripe has put his hand in a fountain and is about to produce more offspring. I laughed so hard when Gizmo pulls the shade because it's so freaking obvious they just attached a Gizmo-like stuffed animal to the cord and it just sort of falls. OMG, it is the funniest thing! It was also really super cute when he says "Bye-bye!" Spike is killed and all is well. Interestingly, Gizmo was supposed to be the evil leader (obviously he was intended to change into a Gremlin), but Spielberg knew that the audience would (rightly) fall in love with him and wanted to keep him pure and good (and super adorable!)

The old wise Chinese man comes to claim Gizmo, saying Billy isn't ready for a Mogwai. Yes, I agree, but where was he in the first place? A couple days has passed since his grandson sold Gizmo to Mr. Peltzer. Surely he noticed the Mogwai was missing before then? Billy is a little upset that Gizmo is being taken away from him, but if I were him, I would be bawling! Gizmo is so freaking adorable and he can talk and play the piano! And he's soooooo cuuuuute! Super cute! However, I was all for the old Chinese man taking him back. Aside from the mother, these Peltzers don't know how to take care of a Mogwai.

An '80s classic for sure!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Carol of the Muppets

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Director: Brian Henson
Cast: Michael Caine, Steven Mackintosh, the Muppets  
Released: December 11, 1992

I remember going to see this film as a kid with my dad and older brother, but the projector broke and they weren't able to show it. They either let people get a refund or go see another movie that was showing around the same time. We went to see Aladdin which was starting just a few minutes later. We did eventually see this one, probably the next weekend.

In my review of Scrooged, I mention that this is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. Now, to be fair, I really haven't seen many renditions of the Dickens classic. And there's been A LOT of them, both theatrical and TV adaptations. I think the only other version I've seen is Mickey's Christmas Carol where Scrooge McDuck plays Scrooge (who else would play him??) Even if I did see all 100 (I may be exaggerating a little there, but not much!) adaptations of A Christmas Carol, this one would still remain my favorite because of the nostalgia factor, and, c'mon, who doesn't love the Muppets? Not only is it my favorite version of A Christmas Carol, it's also my favorite Muppet movie.

The movie breaks the fourth wall with Gonzo as Charles Dickens talking to the audience and narrating the story. He even says, "Hello and welcome to The Muppet Christmas Carol", acknowledging that this is a story within a story. I watched the commentary with the director, Brian Henson (who, as you probably guessed, is the son of Jim Henson) and he said they took much of the dialogue from the novel, so this retelling is pretty faithful to the original. Gonzo/Dickens is joined by Rizzo the Rat who plays "himself" and is there to be the comic sidekick and to ask "Charles Dickens" any questions the audience might have. He is the only Muppet (well, maybe besides Animal) who plays himself. The other Muppets are characters from the novel, the main ones being Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, Emily.

Ebenezer Scrooge is not played by a Muppet, he is played by Michael Caine. It amused me that in this world real humans and Muppets interacted together, as did real animals and muppet animals (and when I say muppet animals, I do not mean the likes of Kermit or Miss Piggy even though they are technically a frog and a pig, respectively, I am talking about the likes of Muppets that don't talk and act like their real life counterpart, much like the Muppet cat that attacks Rizzo. It only meows and walks on all four legs, instead of two like the other humanoid Muppets). In the commentary, Henson said when they created the sets, they built it up a level because they needed the puppeteers to hide underground and control the puppets. There were both floors and open spaces on the set.  Since they also had real actors, they had to choreograph where they could walk, as they obviously couldn't walk in an open space where the Muppets were. There are a few shots where Michael Caine walks with Muppets on either side of him and he did that by walking on a wooden plank.

There is a scene that made me laugh very hard, even though it's not suppose to be funny. A Muppet named Mr. Applegate has come to talk to Mr. Scrooge about falling behind on his payment on his mortgage and Scrooge picks him up and throws him out the door. It was a terrible thing to do, but it just made me laugh because it's just Michael Caine picking up a Muppet and throwing it out the door. Maybe I'm just easily amused. On second thought, even though it does show us what a horrible person Scrooge is, maybe it was suppose to be funny.

Scrooge is a curmudgeon who doesn't care about anyone. His nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh), stops by to invite him to Christmas dinner, but he refuses. Two charity collectors (played by Dr. Bunsen and my personal favorite Muppet, Beaker) come to ask him for money to give to the poor and homeless and he refuses to give them anything (even though he has the means to give) and basically tells them it would be better if they just died to "decrease the surplus population". ("Oh dear, oh dear!") He also almost doesn't let Kermit/Bob Cratchit and the rest of his employees get a day off on Christmas. When he tells Kermit/Bob he'll see him tomorrow at 8, Kermit/Bob says, "Tomorrow is Christmas" and Scrooge replies with "8:30 then." He does reluctantly let his employees have the whole day off when Kermit/Bob tells him no other business will be open that day.

That night, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley, played by the two old geezer Muppets, Statler and Waldforf (yeah, I had to look up their names) who are always heckling and jeering other Muppets. They tell Scrooge (through song, as this IS a musical!) that he will be visited by three ghosts that night and the first one will arrive at the strike of one. I laughed when Scrooge says, "Can't I meet them all at once to get it over with?"

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a creepy child apparition with red hair and blue eyes and has a flowing white gown. Obviously, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is suppose to be the scariest, but honestly, if I saw this ghost, it would haunt my nightmares forever. Even though she is a child and suppose to represent innocence and childlike wonder, she is hella creepy. Henson said she was a puppet that they submerged in a tank of baby oil (and later, water) to get that flowing effect. She takes Scrooge on a journey to the past and they come upon the school he attended as a young boy. He tries to say hello to his old chums (I was surprised he actually had friends as a child), but she tells him they can neither see nor hear him. It made me laugh when we see the busts of famous scholars such as Dante, Shakespeare, Moliere, and Aristotle and they all have Muppet features. All the students are real boys and the headmaster is played by the Muppet Sam the Eagle. There's a funny fourth wall-breaking moment where the Headmaster is telling the young Scrooge that he needs to work and study hard and will become a man of business and that "It is the American way". Gonzo (for some unknown logic the people in Scrooge's past can't see him, but they can see and hear the narrator of the story), takes him aside, calls him "Sam" and whispers something to him. The Headmaster corrects himself and says, "It is the British way!"

Even as a young lad, we see that Scrooge had no interest in playing with other kids his age and didn't care about Christmas and just wanted to study and read all the time. The creepy child ghost next takes Scrooge to a Christmas party thrown by his then employee, Mr. Fozziwig (played, of course, by Fozzie Bear. The real name of the character from the novel is Mr. Fezziwig, so they lucked out with the similar names!) he attended as a young man. This is the only scene Animal is in. He screams at everyone to be quiet when Mr. Fozziwig is trying to make a speech. A young Jacob and Robert Marley are there as well and they heckle their boss. We also see Rowlf the dog (playing the piano, of course) and the Swedish Chef make cameos in this scene. At this time, Scrooge is a young man and this is where he meets and falls in love with a young woman named Belle (played by a real woman; would be a bit unsettling if she was played by a Muppet!) Scrooge begs Christmas Past not to show him the next Christmas he spent with Belle because that was the one where he chose money over her. Scrooge starts crying and begs her not to show him anymore. Still crying, he finds himself back in his bedroom and the first ghost is gone.

The Ghost of Christmas Present was obviously a human inside a Muppet costume. He starts out as a giant, but then shrinks so he is the same height as Scrooge and is able to walk alongside him. He's very jolly with a red beard. Think Santa Claus mixed with Hagrid. He shows Scrooge how his family and employees are spending Christmas. They first go to Fred's home where and his wife, Clara, are having a Christmas party. They are playing a yes or no game where everyone is trying to guess of the thing Fred is thinking of. The clues have been narrowed down to it's an "unwanted creature" but it's not a mouse, rat, leech, or cockroach. Clara excitedly says she knows the answer and that it's "Ebenezer Scrooge". You feel really bad for Scrooge in this scene as his face falls. He begs Christmas Present not to show him anymore, but he is next taken to the Cratchit home where he will hear more of people talking badly about him (mainly Miss Piggy/Emily). Scrooge sees the meager Christmas meal Kermit/Bob and Miss Piggy/Emily are having with their children (twin girls who are pigs, an older boy frog and a younger boy frog with crutches who is obviously Tiny Tim). Kermit/Bob raises his glass as a toast to his employer and calls him "the founder of the feast." This does not make Miss Piggy/Emily happy and she rips into her husband's employer.

The last ghost to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, or the Ghost of Christmas Future. He takes Scrooge on  bleak journey to the future where he is dead and nobody is too upset about it. He's not the only one who has died, though. He visits the Cratchit home where Tiny Tim has died and Kermit/Bob returns home after putting flowers on his grave on the hill that overlooks the river because he loved watching the ducks on the river. It is a pretty bleak moment for a Muppet movie! The entire segment with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is bleak and even Gonzo/Dickens and Rizzo tell the audience they can't be part of the narration anymore because it's gotten to be too scary and tell the audience, "See you at the finale." I do love the moment when Scrooge has woken the next morning and everything has gone back to normal and Gonzo/Dickens and Rizzo return and Rizzo says, "We're back!" and Gonzo/Dickens adds, "We promised we would be!"

Ebenezer Scrooge is now a changed man. He declares, "I will live my live in the past, the present, and the future" and "I'm as light as a feather! I'm as happy as an angel! I'm as merry as a schoolboy!" He also decides to buy the biggest turkey (which is twice as big as Tiny Tim, which, if you think of it, isn't that big since Tiny Tim is a little frog!) for the Cratchit family AND to give Kermit/Bob a raise. On the way there, he sees the two charity collectors and gives them money. In return, Beaker gives him his red scarf and that got me a little teary eyed. Also, on his way to the Cratchit home, Scrooge makes a couple of stops along the way to give gifts to Fred and Clara, Mr. Fozziwig (who they made look older by adding a white wig) and his old school headmaster. He even gives cheese to the mice who live in the walls of the buildings. While this is going on, he is singing a catchy merry little tune that all the other Muppets walking along with him are also singing. The film has a handful of songs, and the first ("Scrooge") and the last one are my favorite and the most catchy. The movie ends with Scrooge and every Muppet in town all around the Cratchit dinner table ready to eat the turkey (good thing they got a huge turkey!) and Tiny Tim saying, "God bless us" and Scrooge agreeing and saying, "God bless us, everyone!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

There's No Crying in Baseball

A League of Their Own
Director: Penny Marshall
Cast: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, Bill Pullman
Released: July 1, 1992

When people think of baseball movies, I'm sure this one is always at the top of the list. And when people think of movies with a predominately all-female cast, I'm sure this one is also at the top of that list. It is set during 1943 which means since there is a war going on, there is no longer anymore Major League Baseball since all the men are overseas. This movie tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (or the AAGPBL (it's still quite a mouthful even when it's abbreviated!)) 

Sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit Hinson (Lori Petty) who live in Willamette, Oregon are recruited by an AAGPBL scout named Ernie (Jon Lovitz) who wants to take them to Chicago to be on a team. Correction: he only wants to recruit Dottie who is an exceptionally good player (she can easily catch a ball without a glove and without any warning a ball is being thrown to her). Dottie has no desire to leave her rural farm life and wants to wait for her husband (Bill Pullman) to return home from the war. Her younger sister, Kit, who loves baseball, but isn't as good as her Dottie really wants this opportunity and Dottie tells Ernie she'll go to Chicago, but only if Kit can also go to which he agrees. 

They make a pit stop in Fort Collins, Colorado so Ernie can check out a ball player named Marla that he hears is really great. And she is really great and she's ready to sign her and take her to Chicago until he gets closer to her and she lifts her hat up so he can see her face and it is revealed she is quite homely. At first he doesn't want to sign her, despite her being a great hitter, because image seems to be the first and foremost priority of the team. They are looking for beautiful young women to wear short skirts (although what's the point since the majority of their target audience are overseas, anyway?) However, Dottie and Kit refuse to go on unless Marla also goes with them.

They find out they will be playing for a team called the Rockford Peaches (such a...wussy name....haha, that reminds me, my dad and I went to someone's house once (I forget who or where or what for) and they owned a cat named Peaches (because it was orange) and after we left, my dad said that was a wussy name). We meet some of the other players, most notably "All the Way" Mae (played by Madonna - I think you can guess why they call her "All the Way Mae")  and her smart mouth friend, Doris (played by Rosie O'Donnell). There's also a player who can't read and needs help from another player to see if she made the team because she wouldn't know if her name was on the list or not. In another scene, we see Mae (whoops, almost typed Madonna!) teaching her how to read on the bus, using an erotica (no pun intended, I swear! I forgot for a split second that that's a name of a Madonna song) novel. Tea Leoni is also a player and last, but not least, there's a woman who has a young son who is a complete and utter brat and she has to bring him along to all the games.

The first time they are all gathered is when they learn they'll be wearing skirts which they think is ridiculous because how can they slide in skirts?  This is also when we learn they'll be going to charm school because this was 1943 and everything was so sexist back then. One of the instructors gives a stylist advice on what to do with each player's hair and/or skin and when she comes to Marla, she doesn't have any advice to make her look any better.

We see a montage of the girls being photographed for newspapers and magazines and one of the headlines is (and get ready to roll your eyes!), "Trading oven mitts for baseball mitts!" Ugh. Just ugh. Oh, wait. That might not be the worst part. There's a TV ad about the new league and a voiceover says, "Girls playing baseball?" Yes, I don't know which one is worse. We also get a montage of many of their games and this is where we see Dottie catching a ball while doing the splits and a huge nasty bruise on the back thigh one of the players received after sliding onto one of the bases. I thought for sure it was just make up because this thing is huge, but after doing some research, apparently it was real. Ewww. And ouch!

The Peaches' coach/manager is former player for the Cubs (he hit 58 home runs in 1936), Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) who is not thrilled to be coaching a bunch of women at first and spends most of his time drinking, but does come around in the end. He gives us the most famous line in the entire movie, "There's no crying in baseball!"

There's a very odd scene where he has to deliver bad news to one of the players that her husband has been killed in the war. It's odd because we first get a mail carrier who comes to the locker room after a game, announcing he has a telegram for one of the ladies from the war department. Well, this could only be bad news and all of them (well, the ones who are married and/or have a loved one overseas) are all understandably apprehensive about this news. The mail carrier is being really callous, saying how this should have been sent personally for someone to find out that their husband is dead. He looks through the list which doesn't have the name of the receiver and tells them he has to go back to the post office to straighten it out. Seriously, you just told this group of women that one of their husbands is dead, and now you have to go back and straighten something out, only making it more agonizing for them to have to wait any longer to find out who is getting possibly the worst news of their life? Yeah, that just seems really unprofessional and something that would never happen in the real world. By this time, Jimmy has taken a liking to his players now and demands that the carrier give him the telegram. He has to snatch it out of his hand and push him out of the room with the carrier protesting about it being "official war business." Dugan opens the letter and reads it, finding out who is about to get bad news. Now I realize there's no good way to tell someone their spouse is dead, but I think in this instance the best way would be for Jimmy to announce the name from where he's standing. Instead, he slowly starts to head to the brand new widow, making the other women he passes fearful that it might be one of them who he's headed to. This includes Dottie who is very scared that her husband, Bob, is dead. Of course, the woman he is headed to, Betty Spaghetti (I think they call her that because she makes a mean spaghetti?), is towards the back, so therefore he passes many women on his way to deliver her the telegram.

In the very next scene, Bob has arrived in Rockford after being discharged from from the army. This literally happens thirty seconds right after Betty received her telegram that I was sure that this was a dream sequence and Dottie was imaging her husband was with her, after hearing the horrible news about Betty's husband, but no, after a few minutes, I realized that this was reality. This is around the time where the Peaches lose a few of their players. Obviously Betty doesn't come back after losing her husband. Dottie decides to leave when her husband returns because she wants to starts a family with him. Despite her looks, even Marla finds love and marries a man she met at a club all the players snuck out to one night and marries him shortly after.

Because of the Hinson sister's rivalry, Kit has been traded to the Racine Belles (yeah, female sports teams sure had some wimpy names). Wearing skirts comes in handy for them because their motto is "Dirt in the skirt". Dottie has decided to play until the end of the season so she is playing against her sister when the Peaches and the Belles are playing against each other in a game that will determine the champion. Dottie gives the pitcher advice since she knows her sister and Kit misses the first two, but hits a home run. Dottie had caught the ball, but dropped it, declaring Kit safe.

The movie starts and ends in "present day" 1992 where Dottie is going to visit an exhibition of the AAGPBL at the Baseball Hall of Fame. At first I thought it was Geena Davis in old age makeup, because that was certainly her voice I was hearing, but it didn't quite look like her. I found out they got older actresses to play elder Dottie and Kit, but had Geena Davis and Lori Petty do the voiceovers, which was very odd. The young boy who used to be a nuisance is now a middle aged man and comes to pay his respects to the team and tells the others that his mother has died. We also learn that Jimmy has also in 1987.

The movie ends with Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground" playing over the credits. I was familiar with that song, but I had no idea it was used in the movie. It's a bit of a downer song for it: "This used to be my playground, this used to be my childhood dream. This used to be the place I ran to whenever I was in need of a friend....why did it have to end?" Yeah, pretty dreary lyrics! They could have at least changed the title to "This Used to Be My Ball Field."

I believe this is the only Madonna movie I've seen and she's really only a background character. Her one big scene in the movie is when they sneak out to a club called the Suds Bucket and she swings dance, which she's quite good at (I'm assuming that was really her!) This is probably smart of me that A League of Their Own is the only Madonna movie I've seen because from what I've heard, she's a terrible actress. I never saw Evita or the one where she has a baby with her gay friend or any of the ones she made when she was married to Guy Ritchie.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I haven't listened to Taylor Swift's new album yet (won't have time until Monday or Tuesday), but I did make a list with my fifteen favorite songs of hers:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Director: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts
Released: June 8, 1984

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
Best Original Song - Ray Parker Jr. for "Ghostbusters" (lost to Stevie Wonder for "I Just Called To Say I Love You" for The Woman in Red)

I remember watching this movie a lot as a kid, although it must not have been that many times because there were things I didn't remember during my recent re-watch or just thought had happened differently. I do remember the Ecto Hi C Cooler, although I don't think I ever drank it because it looked pretty gross. I remember the cartoon. I do know there was a sequel and that I saw it, but I could not tell you anything about it. And I definitely remember the catchy theme song by Ray Parker Jr. They even still play it on the radio around Halloween. (The remake of the song they play in the 2016 version of the movie is TERRIBLE!) 

Everyone's seen this movie, right? I don't really need to do a plot synopsis, do I? Well, in case you haven't seen it or don't know what it's about for some ungodly reason, our four main characters: Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), all go around NYC to bust ghosts, hence their name. They all have cameos in the 2016 rebooted Ghostbusters (except for Ramis who passed away).

Slight spoiler for Stranger Things 2 coming up, but nothing that will ruin the plot of the season: So I love the second episode where the four boys dress up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween and wear their costumes to school. The montage scene where the theme song is playing and their mothers are taking their photos is very adorable. I loved when Mike and Lucas were bickering because they both came as Venkman and Mike says there can't be two Venkmans (Venkmen?) and thought they had decided on Lucas being Winston (pretty much because they're both black), but Lucas doesn't care for Winston as a character because he joins the group later (he joins about halfway through) and isn't a real scientist. Personally, I would have thought Egon would have been the character to fight over being as he is the best one, right? Well, he is my favorite Ghostbuster. I suppose Venkman IS the main character and he has more of the funnier lines and he gets the girl in the end. But when I think Ghostbusters, I think Egon.

Oh, and I also think of Slimer...who is barely in this movie. I remember him being the mascot of the Ghostbusters. Am I thinking of the second movie? Or am I thinking of the cartoon? He's not even given a name in the movie. The Ghostbusters (minus Winston since this is before he joins the team) gets a call from a fancy hotel about a ghost terrorizing the place. Their receptionist, Janine (Annie Potts) takes the calls and tells the hotel that "They'll be totally discreet" and we see their car zooming down the street with all its bells and whistles making a huge ruckus. They do get Slimer when they lock him into the ballroom of the hotel where it looks like a function is about to start soon and end up just destroying the room while they try to capture the poltergeist. We briefly see him again when all the ghosts are released due to Walter Peck ordering their operation to be shut down, thus realizing all the ghosts that have been captured, but that's about all you see of Slimer in the first movie.

Another thing that I remember differently is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The reason he comes to exist is because Gozer, the Big Bad of the movie tells the Ghostbusters that whatever they think of, that will come to life and destroy the city. Three out of the four Ghostbusters manage to keep their minds clear, but Ray ends up thinking of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man because it was the least harmful thing he could think of. (I guess he didn't realize it would be the size of a Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon!) I do not remember the Marshmallow Man being created this way at all. I could have sworn it came to be in Dana's kitchen cuz all that weird stuff happened with the eggs cracking and cooking by themselves on her counter and when she opened her refrigerator, she saw a Hellscape. I do remember those moments and I also remember she bought a bag of the Stay Puft Marshmallows, hence is why I thought the Marshmallow Man was created in her kitchen.

Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) calls the Ghostbusters about her freaky fridge situation and is one of their first clients. Peter takes a liking to her (and some of the comments he makes to her are very unprofessional). Luckily he is there when she becomes possessed by Zuul and when she starts talking to him in a deep guttural sound, he tells her, "What a lovely singing voice you have." Peter isn't the only one who has a thing for Dana; so does her nerdy neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) who lives in the same apartment building. He's always inviting her to his parties which she politely refuses. Forget Venkman; I would say Louis is the funniest character in the movie. We see him throwing one of his parties and telling one of his guests, "I'm giving this whole thing as a promotional expense which is why I invited clients instead of friends." At that same party, he takes the coats of two guests who have just arrived and throws them into the closet not seeing the demon-dog sitting in there. When he hears the growl, he asks his guests, er clients, "Okay, who brought the dog?" You kind of have to see his scenes to appreciate how funny he's his line delivery that's great.

This movie scared me as a kid, but yeah, it's not scary at all. There might be a few jump scenes, but nothing too bad. Also, the "special effects" are just terrible, especially the demon-dogs. They looked good when they were just standing still, but whenever they jumped or ran, it just looked terrible. Anytime they used puppets for the ghosts, it looked fine, but there's a lot of things that just look bad. I suppose for 1984 it looked good... 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Wonder Years

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

I recently watched The Wonder Years on Netflix (thank goodness I was able to watch them all before the show was taken off Netflix or before my computer went kaput!) and wanted to share my 10 favorite episodes from the 6 seasons (technically they had five and a quarter seasons since the first season was only six episodes!

I'm going to say it: I think Fred Savage is the best TV child actor ever. Sorry, Frankie Muniz. Sorry, JTT. Sorry, Ron Howard. Sorry, Finn Wolfhard. But it's just true!

Did you know that Fred Savage was the youngest person to be nominated for an Emmy when he was 12? And he is the third youngest person (13) to host SNL after Macaulay Culkin (11) and Drew Barrymore (7). 

So here are my ten favorite episodes The Wonder Years:

10. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Season 3, Episode 14)

Okay, I admit, I may only have this episode on my list because Cory Matthews is in it. I knew Ben Savage was in an episode of The Wonder Years (only makes sense since Fred was in an episode of Boy Meets World!), but I just didn't know what season or when he would show up, but as soon as I saw him, I knew it was him. But even without Fred Savage's real-life little brother, I still would have liked this episode. Kevin's trying to win Winnie Cooper back and makes her a Valentine's Day card. Ben plays a student dressed as Cupid and Kevin tells him which locker to put the Valentine. There is a funny exchange between the two of them as Kevin (who is in 8th grade) is skeptical that the kid is in 7th grade (in real life, Ben is four years younger, so he would have been 8 or 9), but he says he skipped a grade. Uh, more like a couple of grades! Unfortunately, Ben (I don't think his character had a name), puts the Valentine in the wrong locker. Not only does it not get to Winnie, but it ends up in Becky Slater's locker. She is Kevin's ex-girlfriend/nemesis and she thinks Kevin wants to get back together. Whoops!

9. Don't You Know Anything About Women? (Season 3, Episode 11)

You know nothing, Kevin Arnold! This is just one of many episodes where Kevin is a total jerk. He has a crush on a beautiful blonde named Susan who is already taken and his lab partner, Linda, who he calls "comfortable" and "a great guy" gives him advice to ask Susan to a dance. Kevin tries to, but loses his nerve. Linda suggests that they go to the dance together "as friends" since neither of them have dates. Kevin agrees. Of course as soon as that happens, Susan reappears and tells Kevin to "save her a dance" at the dance and he is elated. He's trying to think of a way to weasel out of going to the dance with Linda, but decides he can't let a friend down. He even mentions it's "like going to the dance with Paul...only not at all" once he sees Linda in her dress and she's all made up. He almost seems like he made the right choice in going with her, but he gets his dance from Susan. Afterwards, when he's getting them both a drink from the punch bowl, Linda comes up and starts to take the drink, thinking it's for her, but he tells her it's for Susan and that she will be back soon. Clearly hurt by this, Linda leaves to look for the guy who initially asked her to the dance. He justifies this by thinking that while Linda was a great girl, he didn't like her the way he liked Susan...only to look up and see Susan dancing with her boyfriend, who she made up with. I thought the girl playing Linda looked familiar and she also played Sara Andrews in Adventures in Baby-Sitting, you know the one obsessed with Thor?

8. Carnal Knowledge (Season 5, Episode 19)

The Netflix synopsis of this episode spoils what happens, but I'll get to that later. Kevin and his friends are 16 and they are excited about a new movie called Carnal Knowledge (I looked it up, and yes, it is a real movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, and Ann Margaret and it came out in 1971 which would coincide with the timeline of the series) which features a lot of sex and apparently, according to one of Kevin's friends, it shows "everything". Since they are only 16, they plan to sneak into the movie with fake IDs, only problem is there is a misunderstanding and the guy who was suppose to get the IDs doesn't have them. Before that we get a funny scene where Kevin's mom is trying to get her husband to see the movie (the same showing he was planning on seeing), but Kevin convinces his dad to stay home and watch the John Wayne marathon instead. Kevin and his friends try to get Paul to see the film with them, but he can't because his mom's friend from college is visiting with her family which includes a college-aged girl who we meet briefly. They are annoyed with him because what teenaged boy wouldn't want to see this movie? Well, it turns out he lost his virginity to the college girl while the other guys were trying to see the sexually explicit movie. Which is pretty ironic if you think about it cuz they were giving him grief about not wanting to see it. This is spoiled in the Netflix synopsis because it says something like "Kevin tries to sneak into an R-rated movie, while Paul is having his own R-rated night." Or something like that. It pretty much implies he has sex, so I wasn't as surprised as Kevin when it is revealed. After his failed attempt at seeing the movie, Paul comes over and is trying to tell Kevin what happened and Kevin sarcastically says, "Did you make passionate love on the kitchen table?" and Paul says, "Well, it wasn't in the kitchen..." which Kevin wasn't expecting at all.

So the remaining episodes on my list all made me tear up or flat out bawl!

7. The Hardware Store (Season 5, Episode 3)

I thought this episode was from an earlier season, but I kinda watched them all in a big clump, so that's probably why I thought that. I guess since this episode is about Kevin's very first job, I thought he was younger than 15, but I suppose that is pretty young! But in Wonder Years years (heh), 15 is on the older spectrum for Kevin since we first meet him when he's 11 and the show ends when he's 16 (or maybe he's 17...I don't remember). Anyway, this episode shows us Kevin's first job, which you may have guessed, is at the local hardware store. He just sorts stuff and helps out his boss, Mr. Harris, who is a curmudgeon. Kevin hates his job and wants to get a job at the mall food court, where his other friends work, and the pay there is....get this...$1.60/hour and he's thrilled about this. I was like, huh. I mean, it IS 1971, but that still doesn't seem like enough. This is ten cents more than his job at the hardware store and when he tells Mr. Harris this, his boss tells him he'll give him a 15 cent raise, thinking this is about money, although it's not, so Keven is forced to stay at the job. However, it doesn't last too long and he quits to take the job at the mall so he can hang with his friends and have an easy job. It turns out Kevin did learn a lot while working at the hardware store because his dad needs to fix something and Kevin seems to know exactly what kind of tools he will need, thanks to his apprenticeship. Looking back, adult Kevin narrates to us, "When I left [the mall job] a month later, no one cared, but every time I pick up a flat head screw, I think of Old Man Harris and how those cowbells clanged as I walked out that door. And even though I can't say exactly what I gained, I know I can't measure what I lost." Uh, that made me lose it and I started to cry!

6. Grandpa's Car (Season 5, Episode 12)

Kevin's grandfather (Jack's dad) has been a recurring character throughout the series. In this episode, he has been having trouble with driving safely and he is furious when Jack and Norma want to take his car away from him. He tells him he's leaving so Kevin drives him to his house and will take a bus back. Once they are out of sight from the Arnold house, Grandpa Arnold makes Kevin pull over and get out so he can drive. They visit many sites along the way which annoys Kevin at first, then realizes that all of these places serve as important memories for his grandfather and learns to appreciate spending time with him. Grandpa Arnold also realizes that he really shouldn't be driving after he has a near collision (which really wasn't that bad...Kevin was totally overreacting when he said they were nearly killed) and sells his car to Kevin for a dollar. What a great deal...even for 1971! The last line made me a little teary-eyed. Kevin says he remembers his first car "not because it was my first car, but because it was my grandfather's last." ::SNIFFSNIFFSNIFF:::

5 . A Very Cutlip Christmas (Season 4, Episode 9)

The 4th season takes place during Kevin's last year in junior high as a ninth grader. In another episode from this season where he says he's a ninth grader and was still in junior high, I was very confused. I had no idea that back in the day 7-9 was junior high and 10-12 was high school. Now I knew that sixth grade used o be part of elementary, but I just assumed junior high was only 7 and 8! I guess it would make more sense to have three grades in each school. This is also our last season with Coach Cutlip, Kevin's gym teacher who is a major hardass and nobody likes him. One day, while at the mall, Kevin sees a familiar man dressed up as Santa and recognizes him as his gym coach which shocks him because it's such a different side to the tyrannical coach. Cutlip sees that Kevin sees him and the next day at school he tells him "Kids like me when I'm Santa." He doesn't want Kevin to tell anyone, so he starts being really nice to him, which makes the other kids suspicious. Kevin doesn't plan on telling anyone, but he does let it slip that Cutlip "works at the mall" and the others are determined to go and find him and laugh at him. I'm assuming they think he works at one of those kiosks or somewhere at the food court. I really have no idea why they want to waste their time going to the mall just to look for their teacher, but then again, they are teenagers and it is the mall and teens love hanging out at the mall. When they see Santa, they are also like Kevin in that they see this guy giving small kids joy and they can't make fun of him. Maybe not the most memorable Christmas episode, but a very sweet episode, nonetheless.

4. Birthday Boy (Season 2, Episode 13)

Kevin and Paul's birthdays are only four days apart and they usually have joint birthday parties, but this year (1969) is different because they are turning 13 and that means Paul, who is Jewish, will also be celebrating his bar mitzvah. Kevin is livid when Paul tells him it's on his (Kevin's birthday), March 18. (I always like it when we know the birthday of a TV character...makes them more real). Paul invites his best friend to one of the most important events of his life and Kevin is a total jerk and tells him no, that's HIS birthday and HE has plans. Kevin, calm down, it's not like you can't celebrate your birthday another day. It is clear he is jealous that his best friend is having this HUGE party filled with tons of guests, tons of food, and tons of presents on his birthday. On March 18 we see that Kevin really didn't have any big plans and both of his older siblings leave as soon as Kevin has opened his presents and his mom seems to be the only one who wants to make the day special for her son. We cut to Paul at his bar mitzvah ceremony and Kevin enters the synagogue and Paul sees him. This is when I start crying and then we see Paul and Kevin celebrating and dancing with Paul's family and I am still crying.

3. The Accident (Season 4, Episode 20)

This was during the time Winnie Cooper went to a different junior high because her family moved. She's hanging out with new friends and acting very erratic and Kevin is worried about her. The accident the title is referring to is when Winnie gets into a car accident. What I really love about this episode in particular is the music. We have "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson playing when Winnie is skating with her friends at the  roller rink (while I knew the song, I had to look it up to find out the title). It goes very well with the 1970 vibe of the scene. But most of all, I love the inclusion of "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger at the end. Although I looked it up and that song came out in 1978 (according to Wikipedia) and this episode takes place in 1970. In fact, it's 1973 when the series ends. Huh. Oh, well, I think it's the perfect song and I love that song. After Winnie comes home from the hospital, Kevin is waiting at her house to see her, but her parents tell him that she doesn't want to talk to her. This song plays as Kevin sneaks up to her bedroom window to mouth "I love you" and she does the same. It's a very sweet moment and you can bet it brought tears to my eyes.

2. Square Dance (Season 2, Episode 15)

This episode introduces a character named Margaret Farquhar who is only in this episode but leaves a huge impression. She's this really weird, nerdy girl who wears glasses and has three braids. She's into bugs and even has a pet bat. She doesn't have many friends and is often shunned. Kevin refers to her as the least popular girl in their grade. She's annoying because she is constantly asking really stupid questions. She also didn't seem to have any self awareness that nobody liked her which made me cringe. Throughout the series, Kevin has always been worried about being cool, but more so when he's in the seventh grade. In this episode, the boys and girls gym classes are working together because the kids are going to learn to square dance, so they're going to partner up together and this will last for a week. Kevin and Paul are total jerks and tell each other they hope they don't get stuck with any loser girls. Paul is thrilled when he is paired with a pretty girl, but Kevin's worst nightmare comes true when he is partnered up with Margaret Farquhar. After all, he tells us, being paired for a week in middle school is equivalent to eleven years! Everyone makes fun of him and Kevin is worried about his reputation. Kevin does dance with her because his mom tells him to be nice to her, but then she starts talking to him in the hall and cafeteria and he doesn't know what to do. His classmates start teasing him that he's in love with her. At the next gym class, he snubs Margaret by telling her that he sprained his hand so he won't be able to hold hers. He thinks she's gotten the message, but she comes over to his house that afternoon and brings her fruit bat named Mortimer. He tries to get her to leave, but Mrs. Arnold comes in and tells Margaret to stay. Kevin spends an hour with her and finds her very interesting "in a weird way". When Kevin asks her why she has three pigtails, she replies, "Cuz you never know when you're going to need an extra rubber band." He learns a lot about her and they seem to bond. In a haste to get rid of her before Wayne got home and started teasing him, he promises that he'll come over to her house for dinner. He does arrive at the house, but then starts freaking out that somebody is going to see him (even if they did, do they know that's the Farquhar house?) and runs away after ringing the doorbell. The next day at school Kevin tells her that they can talk to each other, but not at school or at his house or in front of anybody. Basically, they can be "secret friends". He is super proud of his "solution", but Margaret, is rightfully pissed off. She doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be friends and starts yelling at him which causes a commotion and Kevin's classmates start making fun of both of them. Narrator Kevin tell us he wished he had been braver and he could have stood up for Margaret and been her friend, but instead during their last square dancing lesson he said he danced alone as Margaret wouldn't look at or speak to him. He talks about her being one of the kids in his yearbook that he will never forget. She became a professor of biology, a mother of six, and remained a friend to bats. This episode definitely made me cry!

1. Goodbye (Season 3, Episode 20)

There is an arc in season three with Kevin struggling with his math class. He doesn't much care for his teacher, Mr. Collins, and is appalled when he suggests that he come to his tutoring classes because only the uncool people go to those and Kevin doesn't want to be associated with them. In another episode, he cheats on his math test because some of the other boys in his class are doing it after finding a book in the library that has all the teacher's answers. He and Mr. Collins do find a respect for each other, but in this episode, Kevin resorts back to being a jerk to a reasonably fine teacher. Kevin has been getting C's on his papers which he thinks are pretty good for him, but his teacher tells him he knows he can do better. He starts to tutor Kevin, but about a week before the test he tells him he won't be around and won't be able to tutor him. This makes Kevin angry and he feels betrayed by his teacher. When the test is given, we know Kevin knows all the answers, but to be a huge jerk, he writes responses like "Who cares?" and "I don't know" for the answers and when he gives Mr. Collins the test, he tells him something like, "Don't even bother grading it". This happens on Friday and by Monday, Kevin has regretted what he's done and Monday morning he tries to find Mr. Collins and asks the vice-principal where he is who has to give the Kevin the sad news that Mr. Collins had died. Even though I didn't know that is what happened, I could sense that was coming.
Even before he heard the news, we know that Kevin feels horrible for what he did, but after hearing that his teacher died and he never got the chance to apologize...oh, man, what a gut punch! The VP is the one taking over the math class and after handing out the math tests, he tells Kevin that Mr. Collins doesn't have his test and asks Kevin what he thinks he should do to which Kevis isn't sure. The VP tells him that Mr. Collins had a thought and gives him a brand new test with his name on it that Mr. Collins had written, so his math teacher had given him a second chance on the test posthumously. Kevin takes it and tells the VP he knows it's already an "A", then we see him look back at the teacher's desk where he sees an image of Mr. Collins and says, "Good job, Mr. Collins." Cue the tears! This episode had be BAWLING!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Say Hello to Your Friends!

The Baby-Sitters Club 
Director: Melanie Mayron
Cast: Schuyler Fisk, Rachael Leigh Cook, Larissa Oleynik, Bre Blair, Marla Sokoloff, Ellen Burstyn
Released: August 18, 1995

When I was in elementary and middle school, I was obsessed with the Baby-Sitters Club. I had the books. I had the videos. I had the calendars. I had the day planner. I had the board game. I had BSC postcards. I had the Chain Letter and Secret Santa thing-ies (if you're a BSC fan, then you know what I'm talking about!) I was first introduced to them when I was eight and my aunt gave me a few books for my birthday. While I don't remember which book was the last one I read (I think somewhere in the 60s), I will always remember "Dawn and the Impossible Three" was the first one I read. Don't ask me why the fifth book in the series was the first one I read; I must not have been given "Kristy's Great Idea" for that birthday. I actually started reading the Little Sisters series, the spin off series with Kristy's stepsister, Karen Brewer, first because she was closer to my age at the time, but within a few months I was reading about the much more mature lives of the 13-year-old members of the Baby-Sitters Club. I remember I always had to go to my mom and ask her to read any entries Claudia wrote because I could never read her awful cursive handwriting. I once wrote a BSC fanfic and I had a lot of fun writing her letters because all you do is just spell everything atrociously. Here are a few examples from my fic:

Dear Mom, Dad, and Janine,
I am haveing the best time in NY! Alredy we have bean to the Nashural Hestory Moozeum and Times Schware! There are lots of grate shops in Times Scware! There was one that suld lots of chaclite!
Love, Claudia

Daer Ashley,
Oh my Lurd! Yoo our nefer going too baliv wut I did! I haf a chilly noo look. Yoo well bee sow saprized wen yoo see me! I mett a guy frum Awstrayleea. He wus really meen too me. He thut I as dume! Who rood!

Yore freind,

P.S. NYS is grate! 

Haha, I remember once reading a BSC/CSI fanfic crossover and Stacey is found dead in the first chapter and Gil Grissom says, "Don't tell mom....the baby-sitter's dead." That STILL makes me laugh when I think about it. I am so easily amused. 

I remember going to Waldenbooks every month when a new book was churned out and spending part of my allowance on it. When the Super Specials came out, it felt like Christmas. The Super Specials were...wait for it...super special! Like I mentioned above, I'm not sure which book was the last one I read. I probably stopped reading when I turned fourteen since I was then older than the girls. I know I stopped reading before Abby was introduced (why did they need a new baby-sitter anyway? They had plenty of members!), before Mallory was shipped off to boarding school, and before Dawn moved to California permanently. God, remember how obnoxious Dawn was about California? ("Everyone in California is blonde and tanned!" Everyone in California hates junk food and only eats health food like tofu and rice cakes!" "The sun is always shining in California!" "I hate winters in's so cold." God, shut up Dawn. (In my fanfic, I had Dawn wear a shirt that said "We got more bounce in California than all y'all combined" because YOU KNOW she would totally wear a shirt like that!))

About five years before the movie came out, they had the Baby-Sitters Club TV show. You might remember the theme song: "Say hello to your friends! Baby-Sitters Club!" I believe they aired on HBO, a channel I didn't get it, but luckily I was able to own all the episodes (13!) on video. I remember I used to act them out with my friend and her younger sister. Yes, we would watch them so many times we had them all memorized and could act them out. True, they were only about 25 minutes, and true, the dialogue was pretty easy to learn. Now I'm sure you're probably wondering: how did you act out the episodes if there were only three of you and there are seven main characters, not to mention all the ancillary characters like their charges and the parents and random people like Zach Braff and Grandma Gilmore (yes, imagine my surprise when I found out Kelly Bishop was in an episode!) Well, we would strategically choose which characters we would be. For instance, the first episode involves around a Mary Anne and Logan plot with a girl, Marcie, who is trying to steal Logan away from Mary Anne. (Why didn't they just have that actress play Cokie Mason? Duh. Marcie is a character we never meet from the books...) Anyway, one of us would play Mary Anne, one would play Logan, and one would play Marcie and then we would divvy up the other characters and just make sure if two characters had a major scene together, then one person wasn't playing both those characters. There's a scene where the girls are in the park and throwing popcorn and catching it in their mouths and we actually would have real popcorn and do that...that's how dedicated to our craft we were! 

Probably my favorite episode was "Stacey's Big Break" when Stacey becomes a model (huh?), but then decides it's too much for her and is missing too many important things and Kristy tells her, "Anybody can be rich and famous...but not everyone can be a member of the Baby-Sitters Club!" and she and Stacey high-five each other, like that's suppose to make Stacey feel better. Also, not everybody can be rich and famous so that doesn't make any sense. Speaking of things that don't make sense...the girls are helping their chargers put on a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and Charlotte Johansson (I'm pretty much writing this assuming you know the names I'm mentioning because I'm assuming you're only reading this if you're a BSC fanatic too!) is playing Snow White, but needs help with her lines and she and Stacey make up a memory tactic where Stacey will cluck her tongue and Charlotte will automatically remember her lines. Huh? How is that suppose to help with her lines. Wouldn't it be more practical if Stacey started saying the beginning of the line? But during the production, Stacey clucks her tongue when Charlotte forgets her line, but then remembers it! WTF?

The episodes are up on Hulu and I encourage everyone to check out these masterpieces and you can also imagine three young girls acting these out!

It's always fun to ask, Which BSC member are you? I feel like I'm a mixture of a few. Physically, I'm the most like Mallory as I'm a redhead and she's the only redhead member. I also could relate to her, because as a pre-teen, I also hated the way I looked...I had the curly red hair, the freckles, the glasses, the braces...Mal, I FEEL YOUR PAIN! It was awful! Looking like that is the worst! I hated being a redhead until I was 17 and saw Titanic. Luckily, I got to leave that awkward stage of my life, but somewhere Mallory Pike is still eleven-years-old because Ann M. Martin kept her characters in this weird time paradox where they never age. I also probably have the most in common with Mallory interests-wise, because I like to read and write (though I did not draw like she did) and once upon a time I was into horses (even took horseback riding lessons which I think she does at one point). The member I'm most like internally is Mary Anne because we're both shy and hate being the center of attention. She's a total cat person and I love my kitty. I'm not as patient as her, and probably not as sensitive as her either, but I can pretty much cry over anything like she does. The main difference between us is she had a boyfriend at 13 (who the eff has a steady boyfriend when they're freaking 13...a crush maybe, but a steady boyfriend? The hell?) and she was raised by a strict father because her mother died. Speaking of which, the member whose family life is most like mine is Claudia. I can relate to her with having an older sibling that is better than you at everything.

Okay, so I've talked about my history with the BSC, BSC fanfiction, the TV show, the members I'm most like, what am I forgetting....oh yeah, the movie! See, I have so much history with this fandom it took me awhile to get here.

I didn't see the movie in the theater because by that time I was 14 and much too mature for the BSC! I did eventually see it on video. I think this is only the second or third time I've seen the movie, so obviously I didn't see it hundreds of times like I did with the TV episodes. I think this is the reason why I always picture the actresses from the TV show as the girls in the club. Most of the actresses in the movie are much more well known than the TV actresses (who are a bunch of people you never heard of...though I once saw the girl who played Jessi on an episode of Clarissa Explains it All...haha, remember that show?) and they are actually the age of the characters. The TV show actresses look to be around 14 - 16, maybe even older. I remember being SHOCKED at how young Mallory and Jessi looked, they honestly look like they should have been baby-sitting charges, not the sitters, but then again, they were only eleven which seems ridiculously young for a baby-sitter. I will go through each member and I've put them in order from most important to the story to least important.

1. Kristy Thomas (played by Schuyler Fisk aka Sissy Spacek's daughter) - It makes sense that Kristy is the main character and narrator of the movie because she IS the club President, after all. She has the great idea (of course) of having a daycare at the Schafer/Spier residence during the summer for the kids they sit for. However, her main storyline is about her estranged father coming to Stoneybrook to visit her (and ONLY her, not any of his biological sons). The whole thing is really shady. I thought this was an interesting plot development because in the books we know that Kristy's biological dad walked out on his family when she was young (well, she's young now...but probably when she was five) and she, according to the books, has never heard from him...until now. I have no idea if he ever makes an appearance in the books after the movie came out (and I have no idea if the events in the movie are even mentioned in any of the book that came out after the movie. Like, did Mary Anne ever say to her, "Hey, Kristy, remember that one summer [the 8th one they spent as 13-year-olds!] when your dad came to Stoneybrook?"). So, like I said, it's totally shady because her dad doesn't want her Kristy telling her mom that he's in town. He doesn't want her telling ANYONE. Uh... However, she does tell Mary Anne who does keep the secret. There's this scene where they see Kristy get into her dad's car and Stacey thinks she's dating an older man. Seriously, Stacey? I thought Claudia was suppose to be the dumb one. Anyway, while the girls are a little concerned that their 13-year-old friend is getting into the car of a 40 something man, they're not concerned enough to tell her mom. Also, why did nobody come to the conclusion that he was her biological father. Duh. It's much more plausible (and not as creepy) than thinking she's dating a much older man. Eww. But to be fair, her dad has never made an appearance in her life until now, so I can kind of understand why they wouldn't automatically think that. Oh, wait. I said she was 13, but she's actually 12 in this. :::rolls eyes::: They only do this because Kristy's dad wants to do something special for her birthday and they mention she is turning 13. Aurgh. It's so stupid. I always hated that Ann M. Martin didn't let the girls age at all. Seriously, being 14 isn't that much difference than 13. She could of at least aged them a freaking year! I know she aged them from 12-13, but she could have also aged them at least another year. But, I disgress...  Anyway, guess who doesn't show up to meet Kristy at the carnival? Yep, her dad has left town and Kristy finally confesses to her mom what happened. There's also this weird scene where Kristy wears a dress that her dad gave her to play baseball with him. First of all, Kristy would never wear a dress, especially to play baseball, and this should give her a clue of how crappy her dad is because he should know this about his daughter.  

Stacey would never
wear this outfit!

2. Stacey McGill (played by Bre Blair) - When we are first introduced to Stacey, we see her hailing a small town Stoneybrook to show us what a city girl she is. Uh....pretty sure there are no taxis in Stoneybrook! That was...weird. Anyway, a Stacey storyline wouldn't be complete without her falling in "luv". She has a sitting job for Rosie Wilder and her cousin Luca who is from....somewhere in Europe. It turns out Luca is seventeen and Stacey is smitten with him. He was suppose to leave, but decides to stay when he sees Stacey. Keep in mind he doesn't know how old she is (I think she tells him she's 15 or 16). Um, if I were Rosie's mom, I would NOT pay Stacey because what's the point of her being there if Luca is already there? Duh. Also, they pretty much go on a date (they go out for ice cream) with a seven-year-old. It's so weird. At one point Rosie even asks Luca if he's going to kiss Stacey and they just laugh it off. When Stacey tells the other how old Luca is, Kristy says, "That's ancient!", which kinda is if you're 13! There's a really "dramatic" moment where Stacey faints when she's taking a hike with Luka because she didn't eat enough and she confesses she has diabetes. Luka learns the truth about Stacey (heh, see what I did there? Only true BSC fanatics will get that) when they go to a "teen club" in NYC and she's not old enough. Haha, Stacey, you're not even old enough to get into a "teen club". He is aghast when he finds out how she is. ("You're THIRTEEN?") However, it turns weird when he continues to pursue her and her mom encourages her to go for it. Uh, excuse me, Maureen, but you do know that a seventeen-year-old boy is trying to creep on your 13-year-old daughter? Stacey and Luca share a kiss (so wrong) and Stacey reminds him that she will soon be fourteen. So what, Stacey? A fourteen-year-old with an eighteen-year-old is not any better than a thirteen-year-old with a seventeen-year-old. And let's not forget, Stacey, you NEVER age! Bre Blair is 37, but Stacey McGill will always remain 13. 

3. Mary Anne Spier (played by Rachael Leigh Cook) Fun fact: this was RLC's first movie. We know this movie takes place after the book where Mary Anne gets her haircut because she has short hair in this movie (although I think it's actually cut shorter in the books). Like I mentioned in the Kristy blurb, she's the one who keeps Kristy's secret for her and the other members get mad at her. She even tells Kristy it's difficult for her to keep her secret because she "tells Dawn everything, but Logan even more." This makes no sense...what is more than everything? Also, I always assumed she was closer to Dawn than she was with Logan since, you know, they were STEPSISTERS and lived together. Of course Dawn does move back to California, but this is before that happens. Anyway.... there's also a subplot where Cokie Mason (played by Mia Sokoloff) is trying to steal Mary Anne's boyfriend, Logan (played by Austin "Last Action Hero" O'Brien). She asks him to attend a Smashing Pumpkins concert with her and while he doesn't say yes, he also doesn't say no. There's this really inappropriate song playing where the lyrics are "Let's get busy"every time Cokie approaches Logan. She is really obsessed with trying to mess with the BSC  (it's really pathetic), but theay are always one step ahead of her, and gets really mad when one of her friends tells her that they seem cool.  

4. Dawn Schafer (played by Larissa Oleynik) Dawn actually doesn't come across as self-righteous or irritating like she does in the books or the TV show. Like I mentioned, the BSC is having a summer daycare for the kids they sit for and it's in Dawn's backyard. An older woman lives next door (Ellen Burstyn....I was surprised as you are when I saw her name in the credits) and she is (rightfully) annoyed by all the children who are throwing things over the fence. She warns Dawn that if it happens again, she will call the police and have their organization closed down. But she and Dawn bond over...something (probably flowers). Also, there's another subplot where Alan Gray is helping the girls watch the kids and he has a crush on Dawn and asks her to the movies. Uh...I thought it was Kristy who he had the crush on? I don't remember this being a storyline in the book. But I guess it is kinda cute.

5. Claudia Kishi - (played by Tricia Joe) Claudi's main (and only!) storyline is the same storyline she has in one of the TV episodes and I know it also happened in a few of her books: she's failing a subject and if she doesn't pass the next test coming, she will have to quit the BSC! Oh no! Seriously, how many times has that been a storyline for Claudia? The BSC help her by making up a song for her test and it helps her and she passes. Yawn. There were some nice touches to her character where we saw her artwork or we would see her pulling out junk food from a hiding place in her room. I was SOOO disappointed in the way she was styled. First of all, she always just wore her hair down. She never wore it in a side ponytail which she does a LOT on the cover of the books; she never wore any crazy headbands or barrettes in her hair; and she never braided it or did anything fun with it. She just wore it down with NO hair accessories. It was so boring! That's not Claudia! Even though she may wear a shirt with a wild print, her clothes are very disappoint too. Let me give you an example of what a usual Claudia Kishi original consists of (thanks to this great website):
-Purple capris with suspenders
- Plaid purple shirt with a matching hat
-White tight with clocks on them

-Lobster earrings (I have lobster earrings!)
-hightop sneakers

In my fanfic I had her wear orange day-glo parachute pants with an orange vest with black trim, an orange scrunchie in her hair and orange rubber boots. My story took place in New York and she got inspiration from a traffic cone. Claudia is always the most fun member to write in BSC fanfics because of her atrocious writing and outrageous outfits. 

So there's also this subplot where the girls are thinking of buying a greenhouse to hold their meetings. I wasn't quite sure what was going on because I was confused. Why would they want to uproot their meeting place from Claudia's house (where she has her own private phone line...hence the reason why they hold them there!) to some random greenhouse? This makes no sense! They would have to get a whole new phone number and that would be a pain having to tell all their clients. Instead, they let Ellen Burstyn (I didn't care to remember her character's name) have it for ...something. 

6. Mallory Pike (played by Stacy Linn Ramsower) and Jessi Ramsey (played by Zelda Harris) - the two 11-year-old members are tied for last place because they're just...there. Seriously, does anybody care about these two? I have never met a BSC fanatic who said one of these were their favorite member. (My favorite? Stacey when I was younger, but now, I would say Claudia). We get a line from Mallory where she says she's working on a novel and we hear Kristy narrate how Jessi loves to dance. Other than those throwaway character traits, they're just really immature. Jessi tells Dawn that she heard that Alan likes her and Mal says, "Does he like her or like like her?" and they both giggle. Seriously, girls, how old are we? Oh, right. Eleven. Then there's a scene where Stacey tells everyone how much money they made the first day at the camp and Jessi says, "We almost have enough to buy a car!" (I don't remember the amount, but I'm pretty sure it was nowhere enough to buy a car) and Mal replies, "And in five years we can drive it." Uh, no. Because you will remain eleven forever!

If you're a fan of these books, I highly recommend the podcast The Baby-Sitters Club Club.