Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pool of Rejuvenation

Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, Jessica Tandy, Hume Croyny, Brian Dennehy, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Gwen Verdon, Tahnee Welch
Released: June 21, 1985

Oscar nominations:
Best Supporting Actor - Don Ameche (won)
Best Visual Effects (won (really?!))

People who saw the teaser trailer for Cocoon before it was released were probably really confused and were probably wondering what the hell this movie was about! I would have thought it's about nautical exploration as you see something covered with barnacles and seashells and crustaceans crawling all over it.

Those pods, or cocoons, you might say, are from outer space, specifically a planet called Antarea and have been housing aliens in the depths of the ocean for thousands of years. About a hundred centuries ago, they had an outpost on Earth and when it was time to leave, they were able to retrieve everyone except for the ground crew. A team of four aliens from Antarea have come to Earth to retrieve them. They disguise themselves as humans (good idea if you're an alien visiting Earth!) God, this movie sounds so weird and crazy, but for some reason, I kinda love it. Among the disguised aliens are Walter (Brian Dennehy) and Kitty (Tahnee Welch - she is Raquel's daughter). Along with two other aliens (disguised as dudes), they pay a guy named Jack (Steve Guttenberg), who has a boat to take them out to sea every day for a month. They offer him a nice, hefty sum and since Jack is low on money he is happy to oblige. Hmm, I wonder if the creators of Third Rock From the Sun got their inspiration from this movie? I couldn't help thinking of that show when I was watching the scenes of the aliens disguised as humans!

Each day after the Antareans have collected the cocoons, they return to the house with the indoor pool they're renting and put them in the pool. You know, they never do tell us how these aliens pay for the house and boat they're renting for about a month! Maybe they've been disguised as humans for decades and have gotten jobs to accumulate money to pay for all of this. They do come from a planet where you never get sick or die, so they are immortal. Before he finds out the truth about what the pods actually are, Jack questions Kitty about them and she tells them that they are extremely rare large snails shells and they are taking them to a maritime museum to study them.

This movie takes place in Florida, which means senior citizens aren't too far away and not far from the house with the pool housing the cocoons is a retirement home called Sunny Shores. Often trespassing to swim in the pool are three of its residents: Ben (Wilford Brimley), Art (Don Ameche), and Joe (Hume Croyny). They invite Ben's 12-year-old grandson, David, to come with them one day, but when they see people moving into the house, they abort. Later, they see them unloading the pods (covered up) and think they are up to some shady business and decide if they're up to something illegal, then they won't feel bad about breaking into their pool while they're away. The first time they swim in the pool after the mysterious new neighbors have moved in, there are four cocoons in the pool. They wonder what these strange-looking rocks are, and after determining they're harmless, they all get in the pool. After a few seconds of swimming, they all declare how great they feel and are soon splashing and jumping into the pool like little kids. We get a montage of this with very '80s-sounding music. What is happening is that the cocoons are giving out a life source which makes the old people feel rejuvenated. So much so, that they are ready for some action with their wives/lady friends. Mary (Maureen Stapleton) is Ben's wife, Art is wooing Bess (Gwen Verdon), and Joe is married to Alma (Jessica Tandy, who was married to Hume Croyny in real life. There was a cute behind the scenes featurette where he referred to her as "Jessie". I totally "ahhh"-ed over that.) The ladies join the men in the pool, and soon, they too, start to feel younger and livelier than ever. Mary is able to climb a tree with her grandson. Ben, who failed his eye test pre-pods, returns and is able to read the last line of the smallest print. And most remarkable of all, Joe, who had cancer, soon finds out he is cancer-free.

The older gentlemen want their friend, Bernie, to join them, but he refuses, thinking it unnatural. In a sad scene, when he finds his wife, Rose, who had been suffering from severe dementia, has passed away, he rushes her to the pool, begging her to wake up, but it is too late for her.

Jack discovers his passengers are really aliens when he decides to be a creep and spies on the attractive Kitty through the keyhole while she's getting undressed. Kitty, who has a knack for knowing when someone is spying on her (this is the first of two times when she sense someone peeping at her). Instead of seeking a naked woman, Jack sees a glowing alien. Now this movie won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and if you watch this movie in this day and age, they look pretty bad (hence my "really?!" exclamation). I suppose for 1985 they were a cinematic achievement. Jack is freaked out at first, naturally, but decides to help the aliens with their mission when they tell him they're going to get their friends back with or without his help and that they can just hire another person with a boat. He must really need that money! We see him in a later scene reading a book called "The Complete Book of Extraterrestrial Encounters". The aliens never seen concerned when humans figure out who they really are. This happens again when the three gentlemen are swimming in the pool, then hide in a closet when they see the house guests have returned early. They take off their human forms and this is the second time when Kitty (as an alien) senses someone looking at them through the closet. It's just too bad she doesn't have this extra sense when she's in her human form. While the older gentlemen do tell the police about what they saw, they don't believe them and Walter tells them that he won't press charges against the trespassing senior citizens and laughs off the crazy story. The pool-dwelling senior citizens soon become friends with the aliens and we get another montage (with a very '80s-sounding song called "Gravity") of them playing cards together and the senior citizens grooving at the dance floor at clubs. Art even shows off by break dancing.

Everything comes to a horrible halt when other residents at Sunny Shores hear about this magical pool from Bernie and soon it is overcrowded with senior citizens who are taking out the cocoons (now covering every floor inch of the pool) and abusing them in the process. It's a pretty horrible scene. (Horrible in the way they're treating the cocoons; not the way it was shot). Because of all the people in the pool at once, they have sucked all the life force out of the cocoons and the aliens have died.

Since they now have room on their spaceship due to the cocoons not being able to make the trip back, Walter offers all the residents of Sunny Shores to join them to come back with him and Kitty (and the two other aliens whose names I don't even remember because they're really not important characters) to Antarea, a planet where you never grow old and you never die. All of them are quick to accept except for Bernie who opts to stay and live out his last days on good old Earth. I'm sure the staff of Sunny Shores will be delighted when they find out they no longer have a job since the retirement home is now empty. Ben doesn't tell his daughter because he knows she won't believe him and think he's crazy, but he does tell his grandson. I have a hard time believing any grandparents would leave their grandchildren behind, knowing they'll never see them again just for a chance of immortality. I feel given the choice of living forever, but never being able to see your loved ones again or spending your last days on earth surrounded by loves one, most people would choose the latter. Sure, Ben would be with his wife and his friends from Sunny Shores, but we did see him spending a lot of time with David in the movie, so he obviously had a bond with his grandson. And it's not like Ben or Mary (or any of their friends) were knocking on death's door even though they were old.

But they decide to be selfish and leave their family and get on the spaceship. Seriously, would you go to another planet? You don't know what you're going to find when you get there. All these old people may be getting scammed! They're too naive! And even if where they were going did provide immortality, who would want to live forever? I feel like that would be more of a curse than a blessing. As I was watching this, I couldn't help but think of that whole Heaven's Gate cult fiasco. Do you remember this? It happened in 1997. All of these people were in a cult and followed this crazy old man named Marshall Applewhite who had 38 other followers kill themselves by drinking poisonous Kool-Aid so they could reach a spaceship following the comet, Hale-Bop. One detail I remember was that they were all wearing Nike shoes. It was so weird. I'm surprised they haven't made a movie about this yet. The voyage to outer space in Cocoon isn't as dark since they don't kill themselves, but they do all seem to be brainwashed by the idea of immortality.

They were on a boat in the middle of the ocean when the spaceship beamed them up. The authorities thought they were capsized and drowned and there's a funeral for all of them. Even though they are told they will never return to Earth, they do in the 1988 sequel called Cocoon: The Return. Way to make their journey anti-climatic! I saw it 12 years ago, but I don't remember anything about it. Ron Howard must have gotten angry letters about Ben and Mary leaving their grandson behind, because when they come back to Earth, they opt not to return to Antarea and live out the rest of their days with their family. (I read the summary on Wikipedia).

Whenever Jack was helping the Antareans collect the cocoons from the ocean or any other time they were out in the ocean, they were always surrounded by dolphins. Obviously the life force attracted them. Or maybe dolphins just hang out with people in Florida; IDK! I have to tell you my amazing dolphin story. It only lasted for about five seconds, but I love telling this story. About four years ago I was in Destin, Florida with my brother and his wife and we were on a boat and this dolphin poked his head out of the water right next to our boat. Of course I didn't have my camera ready so I couldn't snap a pic! But he was so close to us, I could have reached out and petted him, but I didn't because I respect nature and I didn't want to get my hand bitten off. Even though they look very friendly, they are still wild animals! We did see a lot of dolphins and I got plenty of videos and pics of them, but we never saw one poke its head out of the water again.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Buckmans v. Bravermans

Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Weist, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Joaquin Phoenix, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves
Released: August 2, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Supporting Actress - Dianne Weist (lost to Brenda Fricker for My Left Foot)
Best Song - "I Love To See You Smile" by Randy Newman (lost to The Little Mermaid for "Under the Sea" by Alan Menken and Howard Shore)

Earlier this year, I watched all five seasons of the TV show Parenthood which is based on this movie. I haven't seen this movie in a very long time that I didn't remember anything about it to compare it to the TV series. I'm pretty sure the last time I saw this movie was when I was a kid so I probably found it really boring because it's mostly about grown ups and their problems...oh, sure, there are kids with their problems, but I'm sure I found that boring too! I find the TV series to be far superior. Of course, they had five seasons to tell different stories and the characters could all have bonding moments with each other. In the movie, they only have less than two hours and you only see the relationships between husbands and wives or mothers and children; you don't really see the relationships between the grown up siblings like the TV show did so well.

It was fun to compare the movie characters with their TV counterparts. So let's compare the Buckmans (from the movie) to the Bravermans (from the TV show)! Gil (Steve Martin) and his wife, Karen (Mary Steenburgen) are the counterparts to Peter Krause's Adam and Monica Potter's Kristina. While in the movie, this family is the main focus, the TV show had enough time to spend on all the families. The main difference are the kids. Gil and Karen's oldest is a nine-year-old boy, Kevin who has "emotional problems" and needs to attend a different school to get the attention he needs as well as go to therapy. Max, from the TV show, is obviously his counterpart and has been diagnosed with Asperger's. While Max has an older sister, Kevin is the oldest and has two younger siblings, Taylor and Justin who are just there to be annoying and bad child actors. Just like in the TV show, the Buckmans are avid baseball fans and Gil wants Kevin to play on the Little League team even though his son doesn't like it. While watching a game, Gil has a daydream where Kevin is the valedictorian at his college graduation and says, "I'm the happiest, confident, most well-adjusted person in this world. And I owe it all to my dad." That daydream quickly changes, however, after Kevin has dropped the ball and loses the game and everyone is heckling him. He tells his dad, "You made me play second base!" and Gil has another daydream where Kevin is shooting a gun at college students from a bell tower and yells the same line. Yeah, I don't think the studio would be able to get away with a scene like that in this day and age! Perhaps a little too dark. Just like Christina got pregnant in the TV show, Karen also becomes pregnant. When she tells Gil the big news, he's not very excited because he's just quit his job (because they gave a promotion to someone who had been there less years than he had), and worries about money and finances, but in the end everything turns out fine.

Young Wa-keen Feenix!
Then we have the single mother family. Helen Buckman (Dianne Weist) is the sister to Gil. She is divorced and has two teen kids: a sixteen year old daughter named Julie (Martha Plimpton) and a son named Gary (played by a VERY young Joaquin Phoenix...he must have been 13 or 14. In fact, he was so young, he's not credited as Joaquin, but rather by Leaf Phoenix, which I guess was a childhood nickname...thank God he changed it back!) Obviously the TV counterpart of this family is the one with Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman and the boy. I call 2016 the Year of Lauren Graham because not only did I watch Parenthood, but I also watched all of Gilmore Girls and I'm super excited for the revival coming on Netflix in November. Super, super excited! By the way, have you ever noticed that LG's character in Gilmore Girls (who also has the same initials as her portrayer) dated her daughter's high school teacher and LG's character in Parenthood dated her daughter's high school teacher? Anyway, back to the review. Julie moves out of the house with her boyfriend, Todd (Keanu Reeves) and they get married much to Helen's dismay. This was probably my favorite of the family dynamics just because there were so many funny moments. Julie and Todd takes some x-rated photos and when they go to get them after they've been developed, Julie realizes the photos she has are her mothers and her mother has the scandalous photos. You couldn't do a scene like that now since nobody ever gets their photos developed anymore since everything is digital! They get into a huge fight and Julie threatens to move out and Helen tells her if she does that, then she can never step foot in their house again. Once Julie has all her stuff packed and is heading for the door, Helen says, "I'm here if you need me! Call me if you need anything!" After Julie gets into a fight with Todd, she moves back in until Todd comes back and apologizes and they get back together again. There's a funny scene where Todd asks Helen, "Where's my wife?" and Helen tells him, "She's still at school....she has cheerleading practice." That just made me laugh out loud...or LOL as the kids say! (Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention they get married?) The movie father of this family is much more of a douchbag than his TV counterpart. At least in the TV show, he attempted to get to know his kids, but the one in the movie has his own new family and doesn't want anything to do with his kids. There's a sad scene when Gary calls his dad and asks if he can stay with him for a few months, but is denied permission so he breaks into his dental office where he works and vandalizes everything. When Helen finds a porno videotape in a sack he's always carrying around (and disguised with a Back to the Future cover), she understands her son needs a man in his life to help answer any questions he has. She asks him if he wants to talk to his Uncle Gil about anything (after she asks him if she can answer any questions he might have) but he doesn't want to. Finally she gets Todd, probably the last person she wants talking to her son. There's a really funny exchange where Todd tells her that Gary got his first boner and asks her, "Do you know what that is?" and she replies, "If memory servers." It's a bit of a running joke that it's been a long time since Helen has any action.

To be honest, I wasn't sure if Nathan (Rick Moranis) or his wife, Susan (Harley may remember her as Jeff Daniel's wife in Arachnophobia) was the Buckman siblings, but after some research, I found out that Susan is the Buckman. I knew this family was the movie counterpart to Julia and Joel. They also have a young daughter, Patty, who is very bright and they teach new things to. Nathan is way more annoying than Joel, though. In fact, I never found Joel to be annoying. Julia was a lot more like Nathan than she is like the more easy going Susan who wants a divorce from Nathan because he is too focused on making sure their daughter is superior than all the other children her age (and he looks down on all his nephews and nieces because they're not as smart as his daughter). Susan wants to have more children, but Nathan says they needs to focus on Patty. She tells him she's leaving him, but he wins her back when he serenades her in front of the middle school class she teaches. There's a scene where Patty is at her cousin's birthday party and Gil is showing all the little kids the thumb trick where it looks like his thumb is being separated (ha, I remember when my friend's dad showed me that and I was completely amazed). I thought for sure Patty was going to tell him how he really did the trick, but instead she screams and runs away. I thought this girl was suppose to be super smart?

Larry (Tom Hulce)'s TV counterpart is Dax Shepard's Crosby. He's a bit of a free spirit and introduces his family to his son, Cool, who's black. The TV show makes a lot more sense where Joy Brant shows up and introduces Crosby to the son he never knew he had. Here, he just shows up with the kid, who's at least five and says he met his mother who was an exotic dancer and had a one-night stand with her. We never see or hear from the mother. Larry gets into some money problems with gambling and has to get help from his father (Jason Robards). Speaking of the parents, while Papa Buckman has a good amount of scenes, their mother is hardly in the movie so they utilized Bonnie Bedelia in the TV show much more better!

The movie ends at the hospital and we see a woman giving birth, though they don't show who it is. We are suppose to think it's either Karen or Julie, who has announced she and Todd are expecting a child. When the woman and her baby are about to be revealed, the camera pans to all the family members. When you see Karen holding a baby, you think it's Julie, but then you see her standing next to Todd holding a baby. That's when you realize the only person you haven't seen yet is Helen and the man who comes out to announce that the baby is a girl is the man she's dating who is also Gary's biology teacher. It was kind of jarring to see they were having a baby since they had only been on one date, but whatever. I felt like they just did it to surprise the audience because I sure as hell wasn't expecting that. I wished it had just been Julie having the baby and we would have seen a nice moment between her and her mother, but instead they had to go for the surprise ending even though I feel like Helen was too old to be having children by then.

So I think the TV show is much more superior, but like I said, they did have five years of story telling to better flesh out the characters and story lines and I guess the show wouldn't exist without the movie. I do think the kid actors from the TV show are much, MUCH better than the kid actors in the movie. I did wonder why it took so long for them to make a TV show based on the movie because it seemed so perfect for a television series. The movie was released in 1989 and the show didn't start until 2010. Well, imagine my surprise when I found out there was a Parenthood TV show before the one we all know and love with Lauren Graham and Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia and Monica Potter and Dax Shepard and Erika Christensen and Joy Bryant and Peter Krause and Mae Whitman and Ray Romano and Michael B. Jordan (okay, I won't list the entire cast!) and all the others we love. This show came out in 1990 and aired for one season on NBC. (Which also aired the 2010 version...I guess enough time had passed! Or maybe NBC has the rights to it). Instead of giving new names to the characters like they do in the updated version, all of them have the same names, but are just played by different actors (though a couple of the kids came back to play the same's not like they'll be cast in anything else!) Imagine my surprise when I found out Leonardo DiCaprio played Gary. Of course, this was before he was famous so nobody cared. And since they didn't care, they didn't watch. I'm old enough to remember 1990, but I DO NOT remember this Parenthood TV show at all! I didn't know who Leonardo DiCaprio was until 1996. MAYBE 1995...I don't remember, but I definitely didn't know who he was in 1990! I guess the show had decent reviews, but was cancelled because of low is the case when shows are cancelled.

Here is the opening credits of the 1990 TV show. I think the song they use is the same one that is used in the movie. It is sung by Randy Newman and it sounds exactly (to my ears, anyway) like the song he sang for Toy Story.  Also, I had no idea Thora Birch (who played the daughter of the Steve Martin Character) was the Cher of her younger years as she only goes by "Thora". Hilarious. What ever happened to Thora Birch? Last time I saw her she played Kevin Spacey's daughter in American Beauty and that's been a long time now!

And because I love it so much, here are the opening credits for the 2010 TV show. I like this song much better before they changed it for the last two seasons...I don't even remember what that song was called or how it went, but I like this one much better:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cop Buddies

Lethal Weapon
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan, Tom Atkins, Darelene Love
Released March 6, 1987

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound (lost to The Last Emperor

Lethal Weapon 2
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, Patsy Kensit, Darlene Love
Released: July 7, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound Effects Editing (lost to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Lethal Weapon 3
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci, Stuart Wilson, Darlene Love
Released: May 15, 1992

Lethal Weapon 4
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li, Darlene Love
Released: July 10, 1998

I had never seen the Lethal Weapon series until just recently when I discovered they were all on Netflix Instant, but I know they were a big part of '80s and '90s action films. Besides being action films, the only thing I knew about them was that they starred Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and the oft-quoted line, "I'm too old for this sh*t!" is uttered by Danny Glover.

Glover and Gibson are Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs (notice how they have opposite initials!) When we first meet Murtaugh, it is his 50th birthday (although Danny Glover was 40 when he filmed this...I would be a little insulted if I were him!) He's married to a woman named Trish (Darlene Love - I mostly know her as a singer) and has three children: a teenage daughter named Rianne and a younger son and daughter, Nick and Carrie, who are probably 12 and 9, if I had to guess. I checked IMDb to see if all three kids are played by the same actors throughout the series and they are. In the first movie, Rianne plays a big role. Murtaugh is not very happy when he finds he has a new partner as he would rather work alone. He's partnered with Riggs, who's in his thirties. When we first meet him, we find out his wife died in a car accident and that he's suicidal. We see an early scene of him pointing a gun to his head, but this was a pretty anti-climatic scene for me knowing that there are three other Lethal Weapon movies and they all star Mel Gibson (and Danny Glover as well, so we know Murtaugh's never in any real danger either!) I thought maybe he would be interrupted by a phone call or the knock door, but he decides he can't go through with it.

It does take awhile before we actually see Murtaugh and Riggs meet (this is the origin story, after all!) and there is a funny scene where we see Riggs working on his own. He's working undercover and wants these drug dealers, who also work at a Christmas tree farm, to sell him all their cocaine and asks them how much. They tell him it will cost him "a hundred", but they'll throw in a tree for free. He pulls out his wallet and starts counting twenties and one of the guys slams his hand over the money and Riggs says, "Hey, man, I'm losing count" and the guys says, " One hundred THOUSAND dollars!" Riggs says that he has a better idea; that he'll "take the whole stash off their hands for free and that they can go to jail" and shows them his badge. Oh, yeah, I'm sure those guys think that's a much better deal!

Naturally, Murtaugh and Riggs don't care for each other when they first start working together, but that will change over the course of the series. They are investigating the death of a young woman who they thought committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of a high-rise. However, an autopsy report says that she had been poisoned before she jumped, so she would have died regardless. I don't know why they assumed she committed suicide because she was so jacked up on drugs, I just figured she was impaired and didn't know what she was doing when she jumped. The case is personal for Murtaugh because the girl was the daughter of a man he knew, Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins) when he was serving in Vietnam.

That's the main storyline, but there's also other unrelated police work they attend to, such as trying to stop a man from jumping off a building. They decide to send the suicidal cop up to the roof to stop him, for some reason. Riggs tricks the guy and handcuffs him to himself and tells him if he jumps, then he'll be taking a police officer with him and will also be committing murder. While all this was going on, there was a big air mattress being blown up below them. Riggs and the other guy had to have seen that, but when Riggs tells him they might as well jump, the guy starts freaking out and they both land on the mattress. Later that day, Riggs and Murtaugh get a tip about a man who may have sold the dead girl the drugs and Riggs ends up killing him after the guy pulls out a gun. Murtaugh yells at him and asks him if he kills everybody he meets which doesn't make any sense because this is the only guy Riggs has far! (Murtaugh was a little more than upset about the suicidal guy, but he didn't die!) There's also another scene where they're at the shooting rage and both are trying to prove they are a better shot than the other. Murtaugh shoots a bullet through the head of the target, then Riggs takes a target and moves it as far back as it can go and ends up shooting a smiley face on the target's face.

Murtaugh and Riggs find out that Hunsaker's daughter was killed by these guys he was working with. He was laundering money for their heroin smuggling operation called Shadow Company, but wanted out. It was run be a retired general, McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) and Mr. Joshua (everyone's favorite Apprentice, Gary Busey). As Hunsaker is telling Murtaugh about this, he is killed by Mr. Joshua who takes him out from a helicopter and Riggs runs after the helicopter and starts shooting it...does he really think that's going to work? Not surprisingly, Mr. Joshua gets away.

Rianne, the teen daughter of Murtaugh gets kidnapped by the bad men. There's a big showdown in the desert and a lot of the bad men's henchmen are killed and Rianne manages to escape, but they capture her again along with Riggs and Murtaugh who are both tortured until Riggs escapes and rescues Murtaugh and Rianne and kills some more bad guys. Mr. Joshua has escaped and goes to Murtaugh's house (because every single bad guy in all these movies all know where Murtaugh lives...he really should have moved!) to kidnap the other members of the Murtaugh family, but they've all been taken to safety before he can do that. Riggs and Murtaugh end up driving a car through the house (and Murtaugh's house is going to get completely destroyed during the course of this series! Again, he really should have moved!) There's a big fight between Riggs and Mr. Joshua and Mr. Joshua is caught and being put in handcuffs but not before he tries to get the gun of the police officer, so Riggs shoots and kills him.

There was a small subplot in which Rianne has a crush on Riggs which was a little creepy since she's a teenager and he's in his thirties, but they quickly nix that in the following movies as he becomes like a cool uncle to Murtaugh's kids.
Seriously, what is that monstrosity? 

This movie is so ridiculously outdated and not in the fun way. You should have seen the "mobile" phone Danny Glover uses. In fact, I found a photo so you can see it! The saxophone solos just scream' 80s. There's even a scene where a man comes in Murtaugh's office and starts going off about "the '80s man" and how "guys in the '80s aren't tough, they're sensitive and show their emotions around women." It was just so cringeworthy and out of date. And don't get me started on Mel Gibson's awful mullet, but I guess only Riggs could pull it off.

This movie was the first screenplay written by Shane Black (who also wrote the screenplay for the last movie I reviewed, The Long Kiss Goodnight) who went on to become a hot commodity for action movie screenplays. I just assumed he wrote the screenplays for the other Lethal Weapon movies, but he's just credited for creating the characters and coming up with the story for the second movie.

In Lethal Weapon 2, which came out two years after the first, we are introduced to a few new characters, including new villains. They are trying to take down these South African drug lords who are hiding behind diplomatic immunity.

Murtaugh and Riggs are assigned with the task of "baby-sitting" a man named Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) who has been placed under protective custody and they need to watch him until he testifies. When they arrive at the hotel Leo is staying at, they meet a squirrelly little annoying man. He introduces himself as, "Whatever you need, Leo Getz. You get it?" He also says, "Okay, okay, okay" a lot. He's a very annoying character, but you kind of learn to love him as he's also in the following two movies (and, honestly, there really is no reason for him to be in those movies!) The bad guys have found out where Leo is and one of them, pretending to be part of the hotel staff as he brings in the room service, pulls out a gun, but Riggs attacks him and he, the bad guy, and Leo all go out the window....they are very lucky there was a pool to fall into because they seven floors up...that fall would have killed them all if not for the pool to break their fall, and even that has to hurt hitting water from that far up! I loved it when Murtaugh gets there and Riggs says, "Why didn't you follow us down?" and Murtaugh goes, "We were seven floors up!" I don't blame him...I wouldn't jump out that window! Needless to say, the bad guy gets away.

They ask Leo what he did for that guy want to kill them all like that and think he must have murdered someone. This surprised me because I would think they would already know why he's in protective custody, but I guess not. Leo tells them, "All I did was launder a half billion dollars in drug money, okay?" Dang, this guy needs to partner with Walter White...think of all the money those two could have made together...although I'm 100 percent certain Heisenberg would have killed Leo! I'm sure Saul Goodman would have loved to take him on as a client! Unsurprisingly, the bad guys who want to kill Leo are also the same bad guys from South Africa who Riggs and Murtaugh are trying to capture.

Riggs finds out that one of the men from South Africa was responsible for his wife's death...yeah, I'm just as surprised as you are. He has a short-lived romance with a woman who is the secretary of the bad guy (and doesn't believe in his politics), but the writers obviously thought they could find somebody better for him as she is quickly killed off by the bad guys. And this happens after she and Riggs are hiding under his trailer home after the bad guys hover over them with a helicopter and shoot at them. This happens while they are sleeping, but luckily Rigg's collie, Sam, barks and warns them to get out!

To be honest, this was my least favorite of the Lethal Weapon movies. Probably the most memorable scene is when Riggs and the other officers haven't heard from Murtaugh in awhile, so Riggs goes to his house to investigate and finds Murtaugh is on the toilet and he can't get off because he's discovered a bomb. He tells Riggs he doesn't want anyone knowing about this and the next scene shows hundreds of people outside his house. With all these guys from the bomb squad, you think they would be able to disarm the bomb, but no, all they do is put a heavy vest on Murtaugh (and Riggs who is going to stay with him) and tell them to dive into the tub. You think they would also give them helmets, but no. I think this is also the first scene of many where they argue when they're counting down to three, if they go ON 3, or AFTER they say 3. (You know, I've had that internal argument many times with myself). The bomb explodes and the toilet goes flying out the window was was a pretty funny scene.

Lethal Weapon 3 came out three years later. We are now in the '90s! Murtaugh is about to retire soon and is keeping a countdown of when he will finally get to hang up his uniform for good. This one begins with an exciting action scene: Riggs and Murtaugh are trying to stop a car bomb parked in the parking lot of an office building. It's Riggs' idea to diffuse the bomb, but Murtaugh, the voice of reason, smartly says they should wait for the bomb squad to get there. Yes, Murtaugh, GREAT idea!  Riggs thinks he can handle it, however when he cuts the wire he thinks will stop it, the timer just speeds up really fast. It really makes no sense for him to put Murtaugh in danger. Riggs has become pretty close to the Murtaugh family; he would never want to leave Trish and those three kids without a father. The two book it out there and the entire building blows up. Luckily, this happened in the middle of the night, so nobody (that we know of!) was in the building.

Because of this incident, the two are demoted to just giving out tickets to civilians and just being on street patrol. While on duty, they see an armored van being stolen and pursue it. After a high-speed chase where one of the guys goes headfirst through the windshield of the van, Riggs tells him, "You have the right to remain unconscious. Anything you say, ain't got to be much." By the way, Riggs is from Australia right? Because I detect some Aussie accent in his voice. They find out the man is in cahoots with a former police officer named Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson) who is selling smuggled guns. Riggs and Murtaugh are back in the field to work this assignment along with an officer from internal affairs, Lorna (Rene Russo) and a romance blossoms between her and Riggs.

There's a scene where Riggs and Lorna check out a lead, only to find the place that is housing the illegal firearms is being guarded by a seemingly viscous Rottweiler. Riggs, being a dog person, decides to try to make friends with the second the dog is growling at him, the next Riggs is feeding him dog treats and rubbing his belly! The dog also decides to leave and join Riggs and Lorna after the infiltrate the place....reminded me of that scene from The Patriot! Speaking of dogs, I didn't even see Sam the collie in this movie.

They find out there are some cop killers on the loose and there's a special kind of bullet than can penetrate a bullet proof vest. It turns out one of these cop killers is none other than one of Nick's friends (the teenaged son of Murtaugh). Nick hasn't seen much of Daryl lately because he dropped out of school. A couple days later, Riggs notices a drug deal taking place and points his gun and badge at them and tells them to show their hands, but one guy starts shooting at him and as he hides behind a building, a couple of the kids drive away. A couple other kids run away and one kids hides in a latrine. Murtaugh comes to help Riggs and tells the kid to come out with his hands up, but the kid opens the door a crack and starts shooting at them. Murtaugh shoots back and ends up killing the kid...and finds out it was Daryl. He's very torn up about this and when he attends the funeral and goes to tell Daryl's parents how sorry he is, Daryl's mom only slaps him. Um, what the hell? He had to kill your son or else he would have died...and your son tried to kill a police officer. Great offspring you have there, woman. But of course she blames Murtaugh for her son's death and for her son having an illegal weapon.

Leo is back, annoying as ever, and for some reason, with platinum hair. He helps Riggs and Murtaugh by identifying Jack Travis for them at an hockey game because he did business with him. There is really no reason for him to be in this movie. He's also trying to sell the Murtaugh's house for them...since when did Leo become a realtor?

There's this scene towards the end where Riggs, Murtaugh, Lorna, and some 22 year old kid brand new to the force are on a shoot out with the bad guys...well, guess which of those four characters I just named ends up getting shot and killed? And the kid just turned 22 that day! Also, on the day of his supposed retirement, Murtaugh decides he doesn't want to retire. If I were his wife, I would be so angry. I'd be like, You've been a police officer for the last however many years and nothing has ever happened to you, so let's not push our luck and just retire now! But of course she and the rest of the Murtaugh family are very supportive of his decision and tell him the city will be a safer place since he's a police officer. I was wondering, before I saw this scene, if he would come out of his retirement for the fourth movie.

The longest gap is between the third and fourth (aka the final as I doubt there will be any others at this point!) movie with six years between them. I was prepared to absolutely hate Lethal Weapon 4 because whenever I listen to movie podcasts and the Lethal Weapon series comes up, everyone always talks about how much they despise that one. Perhaps since I had such low expectations, I didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't a masterpiece, but none of them are.

As we met Leo in the second movie and Lorna in the third movie, we meet yet another new character in the latest installment. Chris Rock plays Lee Butters, a new cop on their force. (And yes, every time they referred to him as "Butters", I thought of the South Park character!) He is married to Rianne and she is pregnant with his child, but Murtaugh doesn't even know any of this. (Apparently nobody told him because he would flip out if his daughter was married to a police officer, but doesn't he have the right to know?!) He does find out his daughter is pregnant in the very first scene when he and Riggs are trying to stop a guy in a flame-retardant suit setting fire to everything in his path. They are hiding behind their car and Riggs tells Murtaugh he needs to be safe because Rianne is pregnant, then Murtaugh, in return, tells Riggs HE needs to be safe because Lorna, now Riggs' girlfriend, is pregnant. Don't ask my why Riggs knew about Rianne and Murtaugh knew about Lorna before the other one knew. I guess they were both sworn to secrecy. I thought the fire-starter guy was going to be pivotal to the story of Lethal Weapon 4, but once Murtaugh distracts the guy by flapping his arms like a chicken in his boxer shorts (okay, maybe I can understand why people think this movie has jumped the shark!), Riggs shoots the guy's fuel tank and he goes flying into a gas station and explodes so obviously that was the last we saw of him!

The real plot of this movie is they discover a large boat with many Chinese immigrants who are involved in a smuggling ring led by a man named Ku (Jet Li). The immigrants are being brought to L.A. to be slaves. Murtaugh takes in a family of immigrants and lets them stay at his home. They are captured and taken by the bad guys who tie up Murtaugh, Riggs, Lorna, Trish, and Rianne and then proceed to set Murtaugh's house on fire (seriously, he should have bought a new house ages ago!), but luckily a young boy hid in the house is unable to untie them from their restraints. There's something involving counterfeit money. Leo is back and he's a private detective so he helps the others hunt down the bad guys. As great as Joe Pesci is, there really is no reason for him to be in this movie just as there was no reason for him to be in the third movie. Yes, there is a funny dynamic between him and our two leading characters, but for the most part he's just there to be the comedic relief...which we don't really need in a movie like this since it's already a comedy. At least Leo no longer has his weird platinum hair! And I will admit I did feel bad for him when he told Riggs his story about his pet frog from childhood, Froggie, his only friend in the world who he accidentally killed when he ran over him with his bike...awww!

There are some great action scenes in this one, including one where Riggs and Ku are fighting inside a mobile home with one side covered in plastic so everyone driving around them can see them. There are also many scenes that don't need to be there. One is when Riggs, Murtaugh, and Butters try to talk to a bad guy who is at the dentist and put him on laughing gas and soon they are all on laughing gas and making jokes. This scene is only here to placate the audience as well as the scenes we have of Leo and Butters having stupid arguments so we can see Joe Pesci and Chris Rock going back and fourth. Amusing, but not relevant.

The movie ends with Riggs becoming a father and Murtaugh becoming a coincidental those two babies were born on the same day! They all take a family photo and everyone is happy. There is a finality to the credits with photo book snapshots from all the movies. There is no way they would ever make another one because Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are quite literally too old for this sh*t!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Double Identities

The Long Kiss Goodnight
Director: Renny Harlin
Cast: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Craig Bierko, Brian Cox, Davis Morse
Released: October 11, 1996

For a movie approaching its 20th anniversary, the action scenes hold up quite nicely and are still thrilling to watch. This was probably the third, maybe fourth time I've seen this movie and I'm still not quite sure the plot of this film! All you need to know is that Geena Davis's character has amnesia and Samuel L. Jackson plays a detective trying to help her. When we first meet our main character, her name is Samantha Caine and she tells the audience she was "born eight years ago", that she doesn't remember anything prior to those years. She has an eight-year-old daughter named Caitlin, but doesn't know who the father is and she is seeing a guy named Hal (who is such a nonentity in the movie that I had to look up his name). She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania and teaches at an elementary school. She's the kind of woman who plays Mrs. Claus in the town's Christmas parade, doesn't curse, and scolds the next door neighbor boy for smoking. 

Memories began to trickle back after she suffers from a concussion after she gets into a horrific car accident when she hits a deer and goes flying through the windshield. This is just one of many scenes where something that should kill, or at the very least, break a few bones of one of the characters, happens. But she's just bloodied and is able to stand up and break the neck of the deer who is still alive and suffering. She breaks the neck with such ease that it makes you wonder if she's ever done this before. She has a dream that night where she's looking in the mirror and sees a woman who looks like her, except her hair is blonde and cut shorter and the woman tells her that her name is Charly and they'll soon be meeting. 

One afternoon, Samantha is cutting carrots and isn't doing a very good job as she cuts her finger, then, all of a sudden, she is cutting the carrots like she's a five-star chef and tells her boyfriend and daughter to give her more vegetables to cut. She declares she must have been a chef in her past life and throws a tomato followed by the knife which pins it to the wall. This freaks out her boyfriend and daughter to which she tells them, "Chefs do that." Another day, she takes her daughter ice-skating, but Caitlin falls on her arm and starts crying and Samantha starts talking to her in a gruff voice, in a tone we've never heard her take with her daughter before. She tells her to stop being a baby and that "life is pain - get used to it." Remember this speech because it will come back later.

A one-eyed man who has escaped from jail after seeing Samantha (or, "Samantha" I should say!) on TV during the Christmas parade (seriously, a small town televises that? And some guy in jail is watching that?) comes to her house ready to kill her. The home fight is very reminiscent to the fight Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox have in Kill Bill with a Home Alone-esque fall thrown in there when the guy slips on some M&Ms that have spilled. In a ridiculous scene, Samantha throws her daughter through the hole the guy has just blown through her house with his gun and into her tree house which is several feet away from the house. Luckily his gun has run out of bullets, but he's about to get a large knife when they're fighting in the kitchen, but she's able to stop him with a lemon meringue pie in the face....well, actually it was the glass pie pan that knocked him out and gave him a nasty gash across the face. She gives the man one final blow to the head and breaks his neck (as we saw her do earlier with the deer). We later learn that in her previous life, Samantha, then Charly, was nearly killed by that same man, but stuck a syringe in his eye.

Knowing that her boyfriend (er, fiance, maybe?) and daughter aren't safe until she gets some answers, Samantha hires a private detective named Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson) to help her. They head out on a roadtrip with a suitcase that is full of clues to Charly's past. (I'm just gonna refer to her as Charly from now on so it doesn't get too confusing.) There's a phone number she calls and reaches a man named Waldman (Brian Cox) who tells her that there are people out there trying to kill her and wants to meet her at the train station the next morning. When she sees a man approaching her, Charly (still in Samantha mode as Charly wouldn't do something so dumb), stupidly asks the man if he's Dr. Waldman and the guy, obviously NOT Waldman, begins to take out a gun, but fortunately Mitch is armed and she grabs his gun and shoots the guy. The main bad guy of the movie, Timothy (Craig Bierko) is also there with his henchmen who are blocking all the exits when Charly and Mitch try to escape. They run upstairs to the third floor and hide behind a wall, ready to shoot at any bad guys, but their plans are thwarted when a grenade is tossed their way. They run down the hall, the only way out is a window which Charly shoots at. Then, as they're falling, she shoots at the frozen lake below them. It's a cool action scene, but highly implausible. First of all, the fact that she was able to use a gun while falling from a third-story building? Please! Second of all, the fact that when they fell in the ice-covered lake, they were lucky to come up in the same spot. Third of all, hypothermia didn't seem to be a factor for them as they get out and run back to their car. And there are scenes that are a lot more insane than this one!

As they're still running from the bad guys, the real Waldman drives up to them and tells them to get into the car. He tells Charly the truth about her past: that she's an assassin working for the U.S. Government. They decide to ditch Waldman when Mitch smartly brings up that he was the only one who knew they were going to be at the train station and how did those guys who attacked them knew they would be there? To be honest, I was never sure if Waldman was a good guy or bad guy because he doesn't last very long in this movie. Hmmm, I guess I just answered my own question as he is killed by a definite bad guy.

Charly and Mitch find another clue that leads them to a man named Luke (David Morse) who Charly believes was one her fiance and is most likely the father of her daughter. He seems like a nice enough guy, but surprise! He's one of the bad guys! The reason Charly has such vivid memories of him is because he was a target and she learned a lot of things about him. Something like that. Waldman, who found out where they went, comes to warn them, but more evil henchmen get to them before they can escape. They knock out Charly, kill Waldman, and lock up Mitch. When Charly wakes up, she's tied to a water wheel which Luke uses to torture her for prolonged amounts of time under the water to get information out of her, but on her third trip under the water (which she insists on taking, so you think that would have been his first clue not to take her under the water again!), she gets out of the rope her hands are tied in and grabs the gun out of the now dead Waldman who is now under the water and when she comes back up, she shoots Luke and rescues Mitch.

This is around the time Charly fully starts to emerge and all traces of the goody-goody Samantha are completely gone. She physically transfers herself by cutting her long curly brown hair and dying it blonde and putting on gobs of makeup which looks absolutely ridiculous. I like the hair, though.

There's this scene where she has to get back to Mitch fast because the bad guys have come upon him and attacking him, so she grabs a pair of skates and starts skating across a pond with a gun strapped to her back. I'm sorry, but in the time it would have taken her to put on and lace up those skates, she wouldn't have been able to get there in time. I also could have sworn that this was the movie where a bad guy dies from getting an ice skate blade across the throat. I know there's a movie out there where a woman escaping from a bad guy is on skates and picks up a child and swings the child around to slice the bad guy's throat with the blade of the ice skates. What movie am I thinking of???

It turns out the father of Charly's daughter is Timothy (guess Charly had to go undercover and get really close to him...eww...) He kidnaps the young girl and locks both her and Charly in a large freezer and turns down the temperature. In a very MacGuyver type move, Charly takes Caitlin's doll, which is filled with gasoline (don't ask) and tries to light a fire with some utensil, but can't, until her daughter gives her a package of matches which she has because she lights a candle every night. Seriously, why did she let her mother try to light a fire for five minutes when she had matches at her disposal? Caitlin asks her mother if they're going to die and I did get a bit of a chuckle when Charly replies with, "No, sweetie, they are" and lights the fire which explodes the entire building. It also knocks Mitch, who is tied to a chair and is about to get shot by Timothy, out of a second story building window and through a billboard sign and he hits a tree. He must have flown at least 100 feet. That should have EASILY killed him, or, at best, broken a bunch of bones. But nope! He is able to stand up and walk away. WTF? He only has a few scratches and there's blood running down his face.

So there's a bomb in a big semi truck and as Charly and Caitlin escape, they are ambushed by the bad guys and Charly tells her daughter to go somewhere safe, so she runs and hides in the truck with the bomb. Charly ends up driving the truck out of the town and there's more excitement as she kills more bad guys and tries to save her daughter. Which she manages to do, but is so exhausted and can't move anymore after she tells her daughter to run away from there. Caitlin does leave, but comes back and gives Charly the exact same speech her mother gave her when they went ice-skating and uses the line, "Life is pain." This awakens something in Charly and she gets up to finish the job of killing Timothy. Let's just say the bomb does its part in killing him.

The movie ends with a nod to Thelma and Louise (which is so much better than this movie, but perhaps it's unfair to compare the two!) as we see Geena Davis driving a convertible and wearing a headscarf. We also see her living a happy life with her boyfriend (probably now husband) and daughter. This movie has some great action scenes, but I found myself not caring about the story.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Scent of a Woman
Director: Martin Brest
Cast: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bradley Whitford
Released: December 23, 1992

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Unforgiven)
Best Director - Martin Brest (lost to Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven)
Best Actor - Al Pacino (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Bo Goldman (lost to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for Howards End)

This movie kind of reminded me of Rain Man, in that there's a younger guy aiding around an older guy who needs assistance and the younger guy learns a lesson from the older guy. But that's about where the similarities end.

This is a movie I thought I had seen before, but when I watched it, nothing about it was familiar to me so I must have been thinking of another movie (hmmm, maybe it was Rain Man? I know I've seen that!) Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) is a student at a prep school who takes a job of taking care of blind, retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino). Frank lives with his niece and her family. They are going out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend and the niece is looking for someone to watch her uncle because she would feel more comfortable if she knew he had someone around to help him. Even though he goes to a private school, Charlie does not come from a wealthy family and needs money to fly home to Oregon next Christmas. The gig pays $300 and seeing that he is the only one to show up for the interview, he gets the job.

When he first meets Frank, he keeps calling him "sir" even though Frank's niece told him not to call him that. It is clear to see that the Colonel is miserable and grouchy and likes to drink. Charlie is unsure about what he's gotten himself into, but since he needs the money, he goes ahead and takes the job.

The day before he is suppose to start his new temporary job, Charlie is at school with his friend George (played by a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and they see a couple guys they know setting up a prank which happens the next day. They fill up a huge balloon full of some kind of goop on a lamp post that hangs over the spot where the headmaster (James Rebhorn) usually parks. The goop goes all over the headmaster's fancy new car AND the headmaster. Charlie and George are both questioned, but neither say anything. They both agree not to tell their parents about it, then Charlie finds out that George has told his father because he's rich and he thinks he can get him out of it.

Before they leave for their trip, the niece tells Charlie to make sure her uncle doesn't have more than four drinks and to water them down. She gives him a piece of paper with the number where they can be reached if he needs to contact them for anything.  To Charlie's surprise, Frank ends up whisking him away on a first class flight trip to New York City. Charlie wants to know what's going on, but Frank says he will tell him "on a need-to-know-basis".  He gets them a room at the Waldorf-Astoria and takes them to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Charlie asks him how he's paying for all this and Frank tells him he saved up a lot of his disability checks and that that is all part of his "plan". Charlie inquires about this so-called plan and Frank simply tells him that his plan is to stay at a first class hotel, eat an agreeable meal, drink a nice glass of wine, see his big brother, and make love to a terrific woman. He concludes his plan by saying, "And after all that, I'm gonna lie down on my big, beautiful bed at the Waldorf and blow my brains out." Needless to say, Charlie is taken aback by this and says, "Excuse me, did you say you were going to kill yourself?" And Frank replies with, "No, I said I was gonna blow my brains out!" It was right at this moment where I told myself, He's not going to go through with it! And remember, I've never seen this movie before...I didn't even know this was a plot point! Okay, maybe it's not a surprise that he (uh....spoiler alert?) did NOT die!

They go to visit his brother for a surprise Thanksgiving visit and nobody is very happy that he's there as he's the black sheep of the family. I can see why the family isn't very fond of Frank. He harasses them and tells inappropriate stories around the dinner table (good thing there were no kids present!) and is very forward. Bradley Whitford plays his nephew and he especially despises his Uncle Frank. He tells Charlie the story of how Frank lost his eyesight: he was teaching hand to hand combat to another lieutenant and juggling grenades. He dropped one and the pin came out and blew up, thus blinding him. He was drunk at the time which explains the stupidity of this act.

The title of the movie comes from Frank being able to tell the type of perfume a woman is wearing. One of the more well-known scenes from the film is when he dances the tango with a young woman who he's trying to hook Charlie up with, but alas, the woman is married. Charlie is worried about Frank's depression so he takes him to a car dealership so they can test drive a Ferrari. The salesman tells them that he cannot let a 17-year-old kid behind the wheel of a $190,000 car with a blind companion. Even though Chris O'Donnell does look young (because he was young in this!), he does not look 17! I believe he was 22 when he filmed this. They should have just made his character a college student. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was also very young in this, but again, does NOT look like a teenager! Oh, well, this was the early '90s when 30 year olds were playing teenagers on Beverly Hills, 90210! Colonel Slade bribes the guy with $2,000 in cash and tell him he's the boy's father and he's a very safe driver and he lets them test drive it. As they're driving, Charlie notices Frank still looks depressed so he takes the car to an abandoned street part of the city (I didn't know there were even places like that in New York!) and lets him drive.

He's driving the car super fast and tells Charlie to let him know when to turn, but Charlie doesn't want him to and he tells him he's going to turn whether he helps him or not, so Charlie finally tells him and he skids the car on a turn. They are eventually caught by a police officer who gives them a warning...and he doesn't even notice that Frank is blind! That seems a bit stupid on the police officer's part! He's even holding out the registration to Frank and asks him if he wants it back.

The big emotional scene of the movie comes when they return to the hotel and Frank says he's going to take a nap and asks Charlie to go downstairs to get him some aspirin. He also wants him to go to a shop and get him some cigars. Charlie makes it down to the lobby and is about to leave, but has a sudden change of heart as we see him turn around and walk back on the elevator. Right after they had returned from test driving the Ferrari, Frank had a bit of a meltdown as he started walking across a busy street. Charlie kept asking him if he was okay and he insisted he was. When Charlie returns to the room, he sees the Colonel is in his uniform and has his gun out. Charlie tells him to give him the gun, but Frank points it at him and threatens him, telling him he's going to shoot him first, that his life's finished anyway since he's most likely to get expelled from school since George is going to tell on him for knowing about the prank. The Colonel begins a countdown from five and when he reaches one and points the gun at his head, Charlie lunges at him and grabs the gun. Frank tells him to "Get out of here!" and Charlie says he's staying right there and Frank, once again, threatens to kill him to which Charlie replies, "You want to do it? Do it!" Charlie tells him to get on with his life, but Frank tells him he has no life and that "I'm in the dark here!" Charlie tells him they should both give up and encourages him to pull the trigger. Oh, I get it. He was using reverse psychology, right? Frank tells him he (Charlie) doesn't want to die and Charlie in return tells Frank he doesn't want to die either. Frank says, "Give me one reason not to" and Charlie tells him, "I'll give you two: you can dance the tango and drive a Ferrari better than anyone I've ever seen." This reveal seems to amuse Frank and tells him, "You've never seen anyone do either." This seems to work because we hear the swell of triumphant music as Frank puts down the gun.

The last big scene of the movie is when Charlie goes back to school the following Monday and there whole school has assembled together to have a hearing about the prank. I feel like if you question a student in front of the ENTIRE school, of course they're not going to say anything! Colonel Slade, who had dropped Charlie off, comes back with his chauffeur and sits next to Charlie for support. To be honest, this entire subplot of the movie with the school prank disinterested me, but Charlie doesn't snitch on his friends and isn't expelled and everyone cheers...for some reason. I forgot to mention there was a nice moment when Colonel Slade has just dropped Charlie off (well, his chauffeur, obviously) and he touches Charlie's face as a way to remember him.

I would recommend this movie, but it is a little on the long side, so be prepared for that. I was about two hours into it and I checked to see how much time was left, and there was still about another hour! While Al Pacino is great as the blind Colonel Slade and deserving of an Oscar nomination, it does seem a bit crazy that he won over Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. It's been awhile since I've seen that movie, but that was more of the Oscar baity role. Well, that's probably why Denzel won for Training Day several years later. If you remember, a lot of people thought it was going to go to Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind, but I knew Denzel was going to win, because, if you remember, Crowe had just won the year before for Gladiator, plus wasn't this around the time he was being a huge prick?  I don't think anyone is angry Al Pacino has an Oscar, but he had some pretty stiff competition. But when have the Oscars ever made sense? Exactly.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Made Man

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Released: September 21, 1990

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Dances with Wolves)
Best Director - Martin Scorsese (lost to Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves)
Best Supporting Actor - Joe Pesci (won)
Best Supporting Actress - Lorraine Bracco (lost to Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi (lost to Michael Blake for Dances with Wolves)
Best Film Editing (lost to Dances with Wolves)

I need to watch Dances with Wolves in the near future to see if I agree with the Academy's decision of awarding that Best Picture over Goodfellas. I call BS on Kevin Costner winning Best Director over Marty Scorsese, though, ESPECIALLY since at this point in time Scorsese had never won an Oscar for directing (and wouldn't win one until 2007 for The Departed....personally, I liked
Goodfellas better, though I will admit it's been awhile since I've seen The Departed). If you remember, back in 2010, I posted several videos about a poll asking which was the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history. Dances with Wolves winning over Goodfellas was on the list, but it was not the one that won the poll and not the one I thought should have win....oh, trust me, there's a much bigger upset! You'll just have to go back and watch to find out, but if you know me, then you already know my answer!

Goodfellas is based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi called "Wiseguy" (damn, I can never remember if book titles are suppose to be italicized, underlined, or in parentheses which is why I just do all three!) Since there was already a show on TV called Wiseguy, Scorsese (smartly) changed the name. I think Goodfellas is a better title anyway. Wiseguy sounds like a comedy. "Ehhhh, Wiseguy!" The book and movie are based on the true story of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), a man who got sucked into the mafia life at a very young age and would eventually turn on his mob family. The movie begins with him saying, in voiceover, "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster." He tells the audience that as a young child and teen in the '50s, he was always awed by the power these Italian-American men in his Brooklyn community held. He was able to get part-time work from them by running errands for them and doing small jobs. This soon became a full-time job and he was part of their family.

His mentor is Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who Henry is in awe of the first time he meets him at a club because Jimmy is just tipping everyone one hundred dollars, like he has money to blow through like it's no big deal. He gives the doorman $100 just for opening the door and the bartender $100 for keeping the drinks coming. When he meets Henry he gives him a couple hundreds, just for the hell of it, really. Jimmy likes to sell things on the black market, such as cigarettes, booze, shrimp and lobster. He gives Henry two important pieces of advice: "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut." Henry will NOT abide by these rules later on in the movie!

He meets Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) a very volatile man which makes him extremely scary and dangerous. One of the most well-known scenes in the movie is when Tommy is telling a story to a group of guys including Henry and the punchline of the story is, "Yeah, I told this guy to go f*** his mother" and then he sees this guy again and he says, "Hey, I thought I told you to go f*** your mother!" All the guys are laughing hysterically, including Henry who says, "You're really funny." Tommy seems to take this more as an insult and asks him, "Funny how? Like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to f***ing amuse you? What do you mean funny?" The whole table is silent and Henry has to try to backtrack what he meant so he's not insulting Tommy anymore than he (apparently!) already is. He tells him he thought the way he told the story was funny and Tommy gets even more angry and says, "How the f*** am I funny?" Henry gets a little freaked out then calls him out and says, "Get the f*** out of here!" and Tommy laughs and says, "I almost had him!" So he was just playing with him the entire time. Although, as it turns out, when he gets angry, sometimes he's not always playing around. This proves to be true in another scene when the guys are playing poker and and a young guy named Spider (played by Michael Imperioli aka Christopher (Christofuh!) from The Sopranos) is serving them drinks. He misunderstood Tommy wanted a drink after delivering the beverages to the table and Tommy says to him, "Where's my f***ing drink?" Spider tries to explain to him he thought he said he didn't need a drink, but this only makes matters worse. Spider asks him if he wants a drink and Tommy says, "Yeah, I want a f***ing drink! Move it, you f***ing bastard!" He thinks it would be hilarious if he made Spider "dance" and takes out his pistol and shoots him in the foot. The other guys are like, "What's the matter with you, Tommy?" and Henry goes over to help Spider. Tommy says, "So what? He got shot in the foot! Big f***ing deal!" Henry and another guy go take him to get his foot taken care of and Tommy says, "Let him crawl there like he crawls to get the drinks!" He is laughing and smiling and obviously does not feel bad he just shot someone in the foot. (Well, he does do worse things than shoot people in the foot and he never feels bad about those either!) He tells Spider, "Don't make a big f***ing thing out of this, you little prick!" and "It was an accident!" At a following game, we see Spider has a cast on his foot. Tommy makes fun of him and Spider tells him, "Why don't you go f*** yourself, Tommy." Big mistake. BIG. MISTAKE! The other guys (except for Tommy who is just sitting there looking mighty pissed!) are laughing and Jimmy jokes that he has respect for Spider for standing up to Tommy. The second he tells Tommy, "You gonna let him get away with that?", I KNEW Spider was a dead man. Because Tommy takes out his gun and just brutally blows him away. All the guys are shocked and Jimmy says, "I was f***ing kidding with you and you f***ing shoot the guy?" And I'm thinking, Well, maybe you shouldn't have egged him on! We all knew this was going to happen!

I wrote in my Breakfast Club review that I grew up knowing Emilio Estevez best as the coach from The Mighty Ducks because that was the generation I grew up with. Well, it probably won't surprise you when I say that Joe Pesci will always be one half of the Wet Bandits from Home Alone to me. I was a kid when that movie came out (and you know I'm a big Home Alone fan!), so I will always associate him with that movie. It only came out two months after this one, but I was too young to see Goodfellas! I don't even think I was even aware of it until several years later. Haha, can you imagine if Tommy DeVito was the character in that movie? First of all, I don't think Kevin would survive! Or Marv after that scene with the crowbar and the tarantula! Second of all, those f-bombs would be dropping every which way!

I heard somewhere that 27 people who were in this movie, would later go on to appear in The Sopranos, which is pretty much the TV version of Goodfellas. I already mentioned Michael Imperioli, but probably the most well-known one would be Lorraine Bracco who plays Henry's wife, Karen Hill. They first meet on a double date they have with Tommy and a woman who is a friend of Karen's. While Tommy and his date are canoodling and having a great time, Henry and Karen aren't talking to each other and show no interest in each other. Another double date is set up, but this time Henry doesn't show up and Karen is pissed about that. We suddenly get voice over from her which was a little jarring at first because so far at this point, we've only heard voice overs from Henry. When she confronts Henry about standing her up, he is attracted to her fiery personality and they soon start dating.  There's a great scene where Henry takes her to the Copacabana nightclub and instead of going through the front doors and waiting in line, he takes her through the back and there's this great one-take scene of them walking through the back halls and the kitchen. Here's the scene:

Man, I tell you, that Marty Scorsese is a great movie director. That is a brilliant scene. This is why I enjoy this movie so much; a lot of the scenes just suck you in like this one. Although I will say I mostly associate that song with Adventure in Baby-Sitting! (I have seen that movie a lot more than this one! This is only the second time I've seen Goodfellas).

Needless to say, Karen is very seduced by Henry and becomes even more attractive to him when he beats up her neighbor with the handle of his gun when he tries to get too handsy with her. Henry hands Karen the bloodied gun and she says she knows this would have scared most woman, but it made her even more attracted to him. They eventually get married, but that won't stop Henry from having some fun with another woman on the side.

The movie begins with Henry, Jimmy, and Tommy driving at night when they hear a sound coming from the trunk. They stop the car and open the trunk to reveal to the audience a bloodied and beat up man who they thought was dead, but is still alive (but barely because he looks really bad). We see Tommy take out a huge knife and stab the poor guy several times and then the movie starts in chronological order. About an hour in the movie, we will find out about the man in the trunk. He is a mobster named Billy Batts and he did a very stupid thing by insulting Tommy. Do these people never learn. You don't f*** with Tommy DeVito! Not if you want to live! Billy is actually an old friend of Tommy who he hasn't seen in several years because they do hug and seem happy to see each other after all this time. But then Billy starts joking around with Tommy about his shoe shining days and this really ticks off Tommy. (Someone needs to go to anger management!) Billy tells him to calm down, that he's only kidding with him. Everything seems to be calm, but then Billy (who must be a really idiot), has to make another crack and this really sets Tommy off and he goes to attack Billy, but is stopped by Henry and Jimmy. Later, when Billy is alone, Jimmy distracts him so Tommy can sneak up on him and start beating the crap out of him with Jimmy's help. They put him in the trunk of the car and head to Tommy's mother's house because Tommy tells them there's a shovel at her house. Here's a fun fact: Tommy's mother is played by Scorsese's real-life mother, Catherine Scorsese (Another fun fact about this movie is that Samuel L. Jackson has a small role. He plays a man who helps the guys with a big heist, but then after he carelessly leaves a trail for police, he is whacked). He tells the guys to be quiet because he doesn't want to wake her up, but she's already up when the enter the house. She ends up making this big Italian meal for the three men in the middle of the night and Tommy takes this huge carving knife and asks her if he can take it because he hit a deer (he explains to her that's why he has blood on his shirt!) and he needs the knife to hack off the hoof of the animal! We then return to the very first scene of the movie and see him use the knife to stab Billy and kill for good this time. Since Billy was a made man, Tommy soon gets his comeuppance and I think we all saw that coming!

Towards the end of the movie, things start to spiral for Henry and he is forced to go into the Witness Protection Program and rat on Jimmy and mob boss leader, Paulie (Paul Sorvino). I just love the way this movie is shot; lots of brilliant camera work. Yes, the movie is very violent, but it IS a gangster movie, after all! It also makes me want to read the book it was based on. I am looking for something to read!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Don't Bug Me

Director: Frank Marshall
Cast: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, Harley Jane Kozak, Julians Sands
Released: July 18, 1990

"Arachnophobia" is a noun defined as the pathological fear or loathing of spiders. Even though I don't particularly care for spiders, I wouldn't say I have arachnophobia. If I see one on my wall or ceiling, I"ll just grab a plastic cup and trap it under there, then place a measuring cup over it to make sure the spider doesn't get out (I don't want it touching me!) I will either toss it down the toilet, or, if I'm feeling generous, I'll let it outside. My most recent "scary" encounter with a spider was about a year ago. I felt something on my leg and I just figured it was my cat's tail brushing up against my leg because that's what it felt like...but when I looked down, I saw a daddy-long-legs on my bare legs. OMG, I shrieked so loud and brushed that sucker off of me! Ughghghghg! I hate the feeling of creepy crawlies crawling on you! 

However, my most terrifying encounter with a spider happened when I was about six or seven years old. I was sitting in my bed, doing whatever (like I remember...this happened a long time ago! I was probably reading or playing with My Little Ponies because those were my toy of choice!) and I had my bedspread folded over. When I unfolded the bedspread, I saw, I swear to God, I am not making this up, the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen in my entire life. It was black and was about the size of a sand dollar and I remember it looking very shiny, like it had this sheen to it. But like I said, this happened so long ago that I may be remembering certain details wrong! Surprisingly, I remember being very calm and went down to the basement where my dad was and told him there was a spider on my bed and he came up and disposed of it for me. I'll have to ask him if he remembers this. I feel like if this spider was as big as I remember, there's no way he would be able to forget about it! 

But other than those two instances, I haven't had any really bad experiences with spiders. I had already seen this movie twice before (and I could have sworn it was rated R, but it's PG-13) but it still make me shriek out loud several times. I scared my cat, who was sitting next to me, the first time I shrieked. This is the beginning of the movie where an American photographer is in Venezuela taking photos of new species of insects British entomologist James Atherton (Julians Sands) hopes to find in the Amazon. They spray this gas up into a tree and all these different insects fall out and into jars that they have set up to collect them. They hear bigger thumps and notice a few spiders, quite large. The photographer asks Atherton if the spider is dead and he assures him it is and he gets really close to the spider with his camera and the spider jumps on the lens! OMG, that made me shriek so loud, thus scaring my poor cat! Then I screamed again, minutes later, when the photographer, who isn't feeling very well and has a fever, takes a nap in his sleeping bag. Unbeknownst to him, one of the new species of spiders has crawled and hidden in his bag and it crawls in his sleeping bag and I screamed when he felt something and opened his sleeping bag and sees the spider and it bites him on the leg. The guy dies and they think it was because of the fever.

He is sent back to his small home town of Canaima, California along with the spider that hitches a ride in the coffin. The spider makes its way outside where it is captured by a crow who drops dead after the spider bites it and it ends up in the woods near a house with a barn. The Jennings family from San Francisco is moving into this house. Ross (Jeff Daniels) is a doctor who has moved to the small town to take over the practice of the aging town doctor, Dr. Metcalf. He has moved here with his wife, Molly (Harley Jane Kozak - yeah, I've never heard of her either) and his kids, Shelley and Tommy. We learn very quickly that Ross has arachnophobia when his son tells him there's a spider in one of the moving boxes and he has his wife come and deal with it. She tells them that the spider is more afraid of them than they are of it. She lifts it up with a magazine and carries it to the barn. Well, guess who else decided to make its home in the barn? The venomous Venezuelan spider. There is an odd scene of the two spiders rubbing legs together as they have fallen in love and now are going to procreate (ugh!) A huge web is spun in the barn and hundred of eggs are hatched :::shudder:::

Molly, who is a photographer, has found the web and takes photos of it, thinking it's beautiful. It is quite an impressive web. She also takes Ross to see it, thinking it might be good therapy for his fear of spiders. His fear goes back all the way to when he was two years old. He claims he remembers being in his crib in his diaper and a spider crawling along his bare skin, paralyzing him with fear and he has never gotten over his arachnophobia. As he's looking at the web, the ladder breaks and he falls into it and a DEAD RAT is revealed to be caught in the web. The Jennings are laughing about the whole incident, but I would be a little concerned that there's a dead rat in the web...spiders aren't suppose to eat rats! That would send alarm bells off in me!

Ross finds out that Dr. Metcalf has decided not to retire and wants to keep his practice so this means that Dr. Jennings only has one patient, an older woman who is a retired teacher. He (half-jokingly) tells his wife he hopes she has a lot of things wrong with her, but she turns out to be quite healthy. She was on heart medication, but he tells her she doesn't need it anymore. When she is found dead in her house a few days later, he admits he took her off the pills and Dr. Metcalf blames her death on that, but Ross is adamant that she didn't need them anymore and wants an autopsy but Dr. Metcalf refuses. Even though she was technically Dr. Jenning's patient at the time, Dr. Metcalf says he has seniority over him since she was his patient much longer than she was Jenning's patient. What actually happened was she was bitten by a spider offspring that had crawled up her lamp and bit her hand when she reached to turn it off. There was a close call earlier when the spider was crawling on the couch her cat was sitting on and she scooped her up just before the spider reached her. There's also a scene earlier when the Venezuelan spider has just gotten out of the coffin and there's a cat hissing at it and a dog barking at it. I was so worried for all the cats and dogs in this movie the first time I saw this, but the only animal that dies is the crow...oh, and the rat found in the web. I can handle that, but I would have been so upset if any dogs or cats had died!

Ross gets more patients when the high school football coach wants him to give his players physicals. During a football game, a spider crawls into one of the player's helmets (after crawling on the bleachers and a handful of people unknowingly having close calls with it) and when the teen is called to be in the game, he puts on his helmet only to collapse seconds after being tackled. He is pronounced dead at the scene and everyone is confused because the tackle wasn't that hard. Can you imagine being the guy who tackled him, thinking you killed somebody? I would never play football again if I were him! Again, Ross is refused an autopsy of the young man. He has been given the unfortunate nickname "Dr. Death" since all his patients have died after being treated by him.

The next victim is Dr. Metcalf himself when a spider crawls into one of his slippers as he's walking on the treadmill. He's going to take a shower and is about to walk to the bathroom when his wife tells him that the floor is cold and he should put on his his wife basically killed him! He puts on the slippers, and, you guessed it, is dead seconds later. Ross and the police arrive at the Metcalf house. Mrs. Metcalf tells them her husband had complained about a spider bite, but one of the police officers thinks he died of cardiac arrest since he had just been on the treadmill. Ross finally gets to have an autopsy performed and the cause of death was caused by an excess amount of venom. Ross wants the two other bodies exhumed so they can see if they were also killed because of spider bites and finds out, indeed, they were. 

He gets in touch with Atherton who says that Canaima sounds familiar to him. Ross soon finds out that the photographer who died on a recent trip to Venezuela was from the same small town and they also find out he died from a poisonous spider bite instead of a fever.

Ross's daughter has a sleepover at her friend's house and he tells the girls if they see any spiders, to run away. We get a scene of the girls scaring each other with spider riddles and songs, and of course, we see a spider slowly making its way down on its web-making material (whatever you call that!) The girls never even notice the spider (and why would they notice such a small creature?), but a doll laying around near them OPENS ITS EYES when the spider descends down. Um, how the hell did a doll manage to open its eyes on its own?? Is this doll related to Chucky or something? Geeze, that was almost creepier than anything with spiders in this movie. There's also another scene where Ross is checking his kids' room to make sure there are no spiders in sight. He checks under the bed and around the room and claims the rooms are "all cleared". Does he really think those rooms are cleared of spiders? Does he know how small spiders are and they can easily hide in every nook and cranny? That would be terrifying if there were spiders around that could kill people within minutes. I'm surprised the entire town wasn't quarantined! 

By this time there are so many spiders that an exterminator named Delbert (John Goodman) is called. His company is called Bugs-B-Gone. This movie is classified as a comedy-horror and he provides most, if not all the comedy moments. He doesn't seem to be a very good exterminator, though, because instead of spraying the chemicals in the rooms where people claim they saw spiders, he just looks around and says, "No spiders here." He does this in the bathroom of the high school coach. The coach's daughter had been taking a shower and she's closing her eyes as she's washing her hair and a spider is crawling along on the curtain rod, then it FALLS ON HER FACE! :::Shudder::: For some reason, she doesn't even notice there's a spider on her face...and she wasn't even under the nozzle! I would understand if she was standing under the water and didn't notice it. The spider crawls down her body and she only notices it when it's on her foot and screams. When Delbert comes to the house, he just looks behind the toilet, but doesn't do a good job because we see that one is hiding behind there!

Atherton sees the photograph of the web that Molly took that's in Ross's waiting room and wants to be taken to the barn because he knows that's where the nest is. He recognizes the web as the same one the photographer took in Venezuela. He goes inside the barn, knowing full well how dangerous these spiders are and knowing he's entering their domain and ends up getting attacked and killed by the OG spider. Delbert later comes into the barn (smartly wearing protective gear...I don't know why EVERYBODY didn't cover themselves from head to toe in hazmat suits) and finds Atherton's body wrapped in the web material. He arrives not long after the spider attacked Atherton so I don't know how the hell he got wrapped up so quickly!

Ross needs to urgently ask the undertake a question, but his phone is off the hook because he and his wife want to watch Wheel of Fortune without any interruptions. They also make popcorn to watch it which seems like a waste of popcorn to me....popcorn should only be consumed when watching movies! That should be a law! He arrives at the house to find both of them dead. I understood why the wife died because we see her reaching for a handful of popcorn (while her eyes are on the TV screen, of course!) and there's a spider in the bowl she grabs. So she must have eaten the spider and died from its toxins...but then how did her husband die? Unless the spider bit her hand, she shrieked and flung her hands and the spider ended up on her husband and bit him too? I guess that makes more sense....but you never see how they were killed, just that they're dead when Ross arrives at their house.

Now knowing that the nest is in his barn, he knows he must go back and kill the "Queen". His house is crawling with spiders and he's trying to get his family out. There's a nice little '80s/'90s cultural reference with Family Ties being on TV and they see a spider crawling down the screen on Michael J. Fox's (aka Alex P. Keaton....yeah, I watched Family Ties!) face. Ross tries to kill the main spider but even throwing it into the fire proves to be unsuccessful as it just leaps out back at him! He ends up shooting a nail at it with his nail gun and all this nasty liquid comes oozing out of it. But before that there was this scene that made me jump out of my skin! He sees the spider go through a pipe and is waiting at the other end with a lighter and a can of bug spray so he can light the spider on fire when it comes out the other end, but he waits and waits and nothing happens. When he takes down the flame, the spider comes rushing past him and jumps on his face! OMG, that scared me so much. I feel like spiders should not be this smart!

I found this movie to be more on the horror side, than on the comedy side! I definitely jumped and shrieked more than I laughed! In fact, I don't think I ever actually laughed! I may not have arachnophobia and I prefer to keep it that way....just keep the spiders away from me!