Monday, January 26, 2015

Ridiculous Coincidences

Director: Peter Chelsom
Cast: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan, Eugene Levy
Released: October 5, 2001

I didn't see this movie when it was out in theaters, but I did see it on a theater screen on February 13, 2002 when my school screened it for free in the auditorium. My dorm was right next to the building with the auditorium so it was very convenient for me! Other movies I saw there (all free...who doesn't love a free movie?) include Vanilla Sky, Pearl Harbor, Not Another Teen Movie, Training Day, The Mummy Returns, and Legally Blonde. Pretty much any movie that was released in 2001!

It doesn't surprise me that they chose the week of Valentine's Day to screen this movie because it is a romantic comedy, but not as vapid and stupid as most romantic comedies can tend to be. You do need to suspend your belief at times with this film, otherwise you might be rolling your eyes and muttering, "What the...." or "Wait a is that even possible?" If you just sit back and enjoy the movie, it's very easy to do.

Sara (Beckinsale) and Jonathan (Cusack) bump into each other at Bloomingdales while Christmas shopping and both grab for the last pair of black gloves they both want. Even though they both have significant others, they shamelessly flirt with each other (and Jonathan even confesses his attraction to her...but who can blame him, Kate Beckinsale is a very attractive woman and she has a very adorable British accent) and share an ice cream sundae at a place called Serendipity where Sara explains to him why she loves the name of this ice cream parlor and what serendipity means. This all happens within in the first five minutes of the movie so they established the title of the movie pretty quickly!

They continue their quasi-date by going ice skating at Rockerfeller Center. Sara falls and cuts her arm and they make it seem like blood is gushing out of her arm, but in the next scene when Jonathan is putting a band-aid on her arm, there is no scratch on her at all! They are still flirting with each other and it's obvious they like each other and it's like just break up with your other significant others already! Sara, being into things happening for a reason wants to be sure they are meant to be together and makes him do things only a beautiful woman with an adorable accent could get away with and still have the guy want to pursue her. She does this because when Jonathan was handing her number to her, a gust of wind swept it away and she thought it was a sign they weren't suppose to have any more contact. Instead she comes up with the idea of writing her name and number in a copy of "Love in the Time of Cholera" and tells him she's going to sell it to a random used bookstore tomorrow and if he ever finds it, then it will be a sign. She tells Jonathan to write his name on a five dollar bill and goes to a newsstand to buy something with it and if that bill makes back to her, then it's a sign.

Okay. Let's think about this rationally. I can buy the book being found even though there has to be hundreds of used book stores in New York. Obviously it's a well-known book and there are lots of copies (as we do see in the movie because he checks every copy of it to see if it's the one she had). But how many five dollar bills are in existence and this particular one could easily travel out of the city. Would it be a spoiler to say that both items come back into the movie?

Before they part ways, Sara has one more crazy experiment she wants to try. They go to the Waldorf Astoria where she tells him they will take separate elevators and if they both push the same button and end up on the same floor, then it's a sign they should be together. Why they just don't give each other their numbers and tell them they'll call the other if it doesn't work out with their current relationships, I don't know. So of course we see they both push the same button in their separate elevators (23) even though there are 47 floors. So that would never happen. Let's be real here. That would be really crazy odds for that to ever happen. Except that Jonathan has a father and a kid (dressed in a devil costume even though it's not Halloween....I guess they wanted to symbolize he was a terror?) who gets on the elevator and the kid pushes all the buttons thus making it take forever for Jonathan to reach his destined floor. He does cheat by checking every floor to see if Sara is there. She waits for him for awhile, but eventually, dejectedly leaves.

A year passes and to show time we have a montage of seasons passing, shadows, sun dials, and clocks. Why they just couldn't have a simple "One year later" on a black screen, I don't know. We see Jonathan at a big gathering where he is being toasted for his current engagement. We never see the woman he is next to, just her hand on his shoulder and we are all waiting with bated breath to see if it is Sara...but as the camera slowly pans over, we see it is not. It is Holly (Moynahan) who has nothing to do except to look pretty and tell Jonathan he's been acting distant lately. Jeremy Piven plays his best friend and gives the toast. Even though Jonathan's set to marry Holly in just a few days, he's still thinking about Sara.

Meanwhile, Sara is in San Francisco. Her best friend is played by Molly Shannon and her boyfriend, Lars (Corbett) is some goofy exotic flute player who has posters of himself with open shirts and does cheesy music videos. She is still thinking about Jonathan and decides to go to New York to "see what happens".  I should mention that Lars asked her to marry her and she said yes.

Meanwhile, Jonathan finds a receipt inside the black glove he kept  (Sara has the other) and sees an account number and sees if he can get Sara's information this way. Eugene Levy plays the salesman who works at the store that can help him, but he blackmails him by making him buy $700 worth of stuff so he can get his commission. He starts getting clues on how to contact Sara, but always ends up one step short in which he has to find another way around to get to the next step. But it's all a moot point anyway because....

....the book and the five dollar bill show up! But I already spoiled that for you! Oh and I should also add that there are several scenes where Jonathan and his friend are going somewhere that Sara and her friend are just leaving. Uh-huh. And then there's a scene where Jonathan gets tangled up in a dog's leash and just a few seconds later, the guy and the dog are going around the block...and then Sara gets tangled up in the leash! Oh, movie! So like I said, Jonathan has been checking all the copies of "Love in the Time of Cholera" whenever he walks past a used book store. Holly has noticed this and what is her wedding present to him but that novel! And of course it is THE novel. Awkward! He finally has Sara's full name and her phone number.

Meanwhile, Sara has decided that coming to New York was a mistake and is on the plane to fly back to San Francisco. Molly Shannon has stayed behind to attend a wedding (oh, I forgot to mention that she and Holly are friends....of course they are! They all see each other at the hotel when Jonathan is conveniently out). While waiting for takeoff, Sara buys a pair of headphones and realizes she has Molly's wallet because their looks similar. In an earlier scene, when the two friends are at Serendipity's (because of course), Molly puts the change in her wallet and we see the red ink with Jonathan's name and number on a five dollar bill! Oooh! Sara sees the familiar bill and snatches it from the flight attendant and runs off the plane. She goes to stop the wedding only to find out that it has been called off.

She and Jonathan find each other at the ice skating rink, kiss, get married, and live happily ever after. (Or at least we see they are still together one year later!)

Like I said, you just need to go with the movie to enjoy it because there are too many things that are way too coincidental and would never happen in the real life. But it is a feel-good movie and came out at a time when that's what people wanted most.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

She's Miss United States

Miss Congeniality
Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner
Released: December 22, 2000
Viewed in theaters: December  28, 2000

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI agent who is a little on the crass side. She snorts when she laughs; she doesn't care how she looks as she doesn't wear make up and has unkempt hair; and she says and does whatever she wants without thinking of the consequences first. So when they find out the Miss United States pageant (I guess they didn't have the rights to use the Miss America or Miss USA pageants!) is being targeted by a madman who calls himself The Citizen, they need an agent to go undercover. The only viable person is on maternity leave so she can't do it. Even though Gracie is a woman and the right age, nobody even considers her as she is not beauty queen material at all. She has no poise or manners and her looks are all wrong. But when they discover she doesn't look half bad in an evening gown, they decide to use her as their under cover agent. She has now replaced Miss New Jersey (as she was involved in a scandal and pulled from the competition) and is using the alias Gracie Lou Freebush. Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen) is the head of the pageant and is incredulous about the idea of Gracie being in the pageant but she enlists her pageant coach, Victor (Michael Caine), who gives Gracie a much needed make over and teaches her how to act like a lady including saying "yes" instead of "yeah" and how to glide. Rounding out the Miss United States panel is the host played by William Shatner.

Gracie's makeover includes a lot of waxing, dental care, skin care, hair styling, and make up. Of course she looks good - she's Sandra Bullock! Her partner, Eric (Benjamin Bratt) is amazed at what he sees and you know by the end of the movie they're going to become an item. I loved when Gracie taunted him with her singsongy, "You want to kiss want to hug want to date me." Bullock is great and hilarious with the physical comedy. Yeah, she probably falls one too many times when she's wearing high heels, but to me, it never gets old. And the scene where she's mocking the pageant winners receiving the crown is so funny. I would say the funniest scene is when she's having trouble walking so she gives Victor all these guns and holsters that are hidden under her dress and it goes on for a few minutes! Victor makes a quip about if she has an armed car under her dress as well. Although I also love the scene where they show a montage of the girls saying world peace is the one thing they want most, but when Gracie is asked the same question, she says, "Harsher punishment for parole violators" and then after a very silent pause she says, "And world peace!"

Gracie spends her time with the same women throughout the movie, the most notable one being Miss Rhode Island, a sweet and naive young girl named Cheryl (when asked what her perfect date would be, she replies with "April 25th because it's not too hot or too cold"), who Gracie encourages to be more confident. The girls representing New York, California, Hawaii, and Texas are really the only ones who have dialogue and we see throughout the movie. Not surprisingly, they all make it far into the competition along with Gracie and Cheryl. It is totally random when Miss Nebraska, of all the states, makes it into the top five and is third runner up!

There are a few things that don't make sense. Gracie has had a bad day and wants to quit but Victor and Eric encourage her not to. We learn she hasn't been on a date in many years and doesn't have many friends and she has a line where she tells Victor or Eric (I can't remember who) that they don't know why she is the way she is...but we never do learn why she is the way she is. Although at the beginning there is a scene of her as a grade schooler where she punches a boy for beating up another boy she likes, then when that boy is mad that a girl defended him, ends up punching him too. So I guess we are just suppose to figure she's always been like that, but why we don't ever find out why. There's a scene where Cheryl is suspected of being the Citizen but Gracie doesn't think such a sweet, innocent girl could ever do anything illegal so she takes her out to a club to have some "girl talk" with her and Cheryl tells her that she was "attacked" by a college professor once and while Gracie offers to teach her some self defense moves, we never hear about the incident again. Like, was she raped? It was just really random especially for not having anything to do with the movie. And Cheryl comes off as a very bubbly, friendly girl...not someone who has ever been "attacked" before. It was bizarre! And this is revealed when Gracie asks her if she's ever done anything illegal. She confesses she once shop lifted, then mentions that...which really has nothing to do with doing anything illegal, so I have no idea why they even had it in there.

The pageant takes place in San Antonio so Miss Texas has a lot of supporters in the audience. The look on her face when she learns she's second runner up is hilarious. I am about to reveal who is behind the Miss United States attack plot, so stop reading if you don't want to be spoiler (although who hasn't seen the movie yet?) It is Kathy Morningside and her son, Frank. She is being fired for fixing past competitions and she vows to give them a "show they won't forget" as she has replaced the crown with another crown that has a bomb in it (don't ask me how that's possible). Gracie realizes this right before the crown is to be placed on Cheryl, who has won the competition. It's very loud and Cheryl can't hear Gracie tell her not to take the crown so instead she has to pounce on Cheryl and claw the crown away from her. This results in a hilarious scene where Cheryl slaps her bouquet of flowers at her. Somehow Gracie punches Miss Texas in the nose (and we later see her with a nose bandage!) It's just a chaotic scene and ends with Gracie flinging the crown into the air towards the large Statue of Liberty replica as Kathy pushes the button that controls the bomb and ends up blowing up part of the statue.

The next morning Gracie is awarded Miss Congeniality by the other women in the pageant for saving their lives.

There was a sequel to this called Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. While watching the ten minute look at it on the DVD, I had no recollection of it whatsoever even though I was pretty sure I saw it since I liked the first one so much. However, when I looked at my movie journal for 2005 (this is a journal where I keep track of all the movies I've seen in the theater since 1999), it was not in there! Then I checked my online journal where I've kept track of all the DVDs I've seen since 2003 (I know, I'm a major nerd!) and discovered I saw it on DVD in June 2005. I probably don't remember anything about it because it's been nearly ten years since I saw it and it was awful as it was an unnecessary sequel. Sorry, but I won't be reviewing it!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Worst move of 2014?

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Nicki Minaj
Released: April 25, 2014

The Other Woman has to be a serious contender for the worst movie of 2014. Lord, that movie was awful! Carly (Cameron Diaz) starts dating an attractive and successful man, Mark (Coster-Waldau) only to discover months later he's married. His wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), suspects something and confronts Carly about it. At first I thought Mark was cheating on his wife because Kate is the most annoying human being in the world and I am not exaggerating. Leslie Mann is just so painfully unfunny in this. I don't think I cracked a smile once when she was doing her stupid physical comedy. (Okay, I may have laughed at that scene where she and Cameron Diaz are hiding in the bushes and she's pretending Diaz's legs are hers and she's stretching them out like she's in a weird pose...THAT wa the only somewhat funny thing that happened in the entire movie!) There's a scene where she's at  Carly's office and has just found out her husband's been having an affair with her and starts having a fake panic attack and asks if she can open a window (they're in a skyscraper in New York City, so she's apparently really stupid!) and it goes on and on and on...and I'm thinking, is this suppose to be funny? Because it's not!

But we soon learn Mark is just a scum bag because he has ANOTHER, much younger woman, Amber (Kate Upton who was only cast in the movie because she's Kate Upton). The wife and the mistress soon get a hold of her and she becomes a part of their team to take down Mark. I thought that happened way too quickly. One minute she's frolicking in the ocean with her married boyfriend, the next she's conniving with his wife (and her other competition) and they become good friends. It literally happens within the span of just a few minutes. At least they took some time with setting up Carly and Kate. Carly understandably doesn't want anything to do with Kate because 1) she's married to the guy she thought she liked and 2) she's the most annoying human being ever to be in a movie...she even followed Carly home from work which is just insane.

Oh, and let's not forget Nicki Minaj who is also in this, playing Diaz's secretary. Good God, she is just truly awful! Who thought it would be a good idea to put her in a movie? Probably the same person who thought it would be a good idea to put Kate Upton in a movie because she's hot at the moment.  What is this, Will and Grace, where we're throwing in random people just because they're super famous? Fact: Nicki Minaj can't act!

In a scene where Carly is on a date with Mark (she's keeping up appearances in order to get back at him so he doesn't suspect anything), he flirts with another woman when he goes to the bar to get their drinks. Why is this guy even married? In the same scene, Carly puts laxatives in his drink and we are treated to a delightful scene of him in the bathroom. You think they would have cut to the next scene as soon as we see him get up and run to the bathroom as he looks uncomfortable, but noooo, we had to endure a few extra minutes of disgusting and pointless footage.

Don Johnson plays Diaz's father and he has a thing for younger woman so he ends up with Amber at the end and there's a joke about Carly saying, "I'm not calling her mom." It's crazy to think that Cameron Diaz is twenty years older than Kate Upton!

This movie is just horrendous and please tell me if you've seen a movie worse than this in 2014 because I  will surely be avoiding those movies as well!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Soccer Rules

Bend It Like Beckham
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Cast: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightly, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Archie Panjabi
Released: April 11, 2002 (UK); March 28, 2003 (US)
Viewed in theaters: April 26, 2003

I own this movie on DVD (I got a good deal on Ebay) and its been in my possession for at least a decade but I hadn't given any thought to it until recently when I started watching The Good Wife (I just finished season 3) and was looking up the cast on IMDb. I was curious to know such things as: What other shows has Will Gardner been in? (Sports Night). How old is Cary Argos because he looks like he's 12....he was 32 in the first season! And then I see that bad-ass investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) played the older sister in Bend It Like Beckham and thought I would revisit it.

This was a small, independent movie that was really popular when it came out. As you can see, it was released in the UK (as it is a British film) a full year before it came to the States. I had heard good things about it and really wanted to see it, but it was only playing at a small theater that only shows foreign and independent movies (I saw it when it was only in select cities; it was later released nationally in August ). That was the first and only time I had ever been to that was OLD. The seats were very uncomfortable. I guess I am too spoiled by being able to recline in my movie theater chairs! But at least this movie wasn't that long. I was living in a small town when I saw Fellowship of the Ring and saw that in a really old, small theater with crappy seats. I should receive a medal for that! At least I enjoyed the movie! 

Bend it Like Beckham centers around Jess (Parminder Nagra) an Indian girl who lives in England with her older sister and parents who are very traditional in their culture and customs. She loves playing football (soccer to us yanks - okay, let's be honest...the rest of the world is right to call it use your feet more in that sport than you do in our American football!) and has a poster of David Beckham (even a person who doesn't know a thing about soccer knows who he is!) on her wall that she talks to everyday when she just needs to vent about something and can't talk to anyone else about it. 

She often plays with her guy friends in the park and is approached by Jules (Keira Knightley in her first major role) who tells her she should play for a  local team and invites her to try out for the Hounslow Harriers. The town they live in is called Hounslow; I had no idea what a harrier was until I looked it up: it's a bird. Who knew? Jules introduces Jess to the head coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Quick sidenote: Who thought it was a good idea to give the three main characters all one syllable names that begin with J?  Joe is impressed with Jess's soccer skills and she is invited to join the team, but when she asks her parents' permission, she is forbidden because her parents don't want her showing her bare skin in the uniform, but mostly it is because her father doesn't want her to get her hopes up in thinking she might be able to get a scholarship at a school to play only to be disappointed when she will be discriminated against which he thinks will happen to her because he has seen it firsthand, so he only wants to protect her which is understandable. 

Jess pretends to get a job so she can say she's at work when she's really playing soccer. She wears street clothes over her uniform and hides a bag with her athletic shoes in a bush outside her house. There's one scene where she has literally stepped out her front door...and her family is still inside...and unzips and takes off her hoodie to reveal her uniform. Good Lord, at least wait until you're out of sight from your house!  She is caught by her sister when her mother asks her to pick Jess up at work but when Kalinda gets there she learns that Jess doesn't work there. Even though she begs Kalinda not to say anything, she is still found out when her parents find out she bought new soccer shoes instead of shoes for her sister's upcoming wedding. Joe comes to talk to her parents saying how great a player Jess is and that she would be a great asset to the team, but her parents still refuse and they are angry with Jess for lying to them. This doesn't deter Jess and she even fabricates a story about staying with a friend for a few days so she can go to Germany to compete in the first international tournament for the Harriers. Now, everyone has heard of lying to one's  parents about sleeping over at a friend's house when they're really at another place they shouldn't be, but lying to your parents about being at a friend's house when you're in an entirely different country seems a bit extreme! But she keeps up the charade by calling her parents from her hotel room and telling them lies about her day. She probably would have gotten away with it except her father sees an article in the sports section about the soccer team heading to Germany and he puts two and two together and discovers Jess has lied...again.

Not only does Jess have to deal with her angry parents, but Jules is also angry with her and has stopped talking to her after she sees a drunk Jess almost kiss Joe at a nightclub, she gets jealous and angry. Jess is confused because Jules told her she didn't like Joe like that. And even though Jess didn't kiss Joe, Jules thinks she did. It's very typical high school drama.  

By far, the worst character is Jules' mother. They were obviously trying to make her the comic relief of the movie, but some of the things she said was just so stupid and narrow-minded, it made me cringe. Like Jess's parents, she also hates that her daughter plays soccer but only for the reason that it is unladylike and she is worried that Jules will never have a boyfriend because she thinks her waif of a daughter is going to get so bulky from playing soccer that no guy will want to be with a girl who is bigger than him. Then she overhears Jess and Jules arguing about what happened in Germany with Joe, but she misinterprets it as them having feelings for each other and thinks Jules is a lesbian (and when she finds out she isn't, she's very relieved, which I found very insulting for the gay community!) But Jules does admonish her for saying there's nothing wrong with being a lesbian. But probably the most cringe worth moment is when she drives Jules to Kalinda's wedding and sees Jules and Jess hug and freaks and rudely tells Jess to take her "lesbian feet" out of her shoes. (Jules gave Jess a pair of her shoes to wear to the wedding). It's like, geeze, lady, could you be any more homophobic? I guess you could say at least she's not racist as she was always very nice to Jess before she thought she was dating her daughter! 

The same day as her sister's wedding is also when a scout from the States is coming to see the girls play and potentially offer them scholarships. With her father's permission, she is allowed to play as long as she makes it back to the wedding. By this time she and Jules have made up. By the end of the movie, Jess and Joe are making out and Jules seems totally fine with it...okay. The scout offers them to come to California and play for Santa Clara (or as Keira Knightly pronounces it, "Santa Clah-rah!" I laughed so hard when she said that). At the airport when they're getting ready to leave, they see Becks and Posh so of course they think that's a sign for good things to come. End movie.

Speaking of Posh (my favorite was always Ginger, naturally!), Victoria Beckham has a song on the soundtrack (which I own because I love the song "Inner Smile"). I think it's played during the club's not very good or memorable and it's a good thing she's found success in her fashion line. Another former Spice Girl, Mel C (aka Sporty) also has a song on the soundtrack and it's actually pretty decent. A lot of the songs have an Indian influence (and made me think of the music in Slumdog Millionaire). There was even an Indian-inspired cover of "The Power of Love" (sadly not on the soundtrack), the Celine Dion power ballad, which ironically is also a cover although no one probably knows that because it is much more popular than the original! 

So if you're a fan of The Good Wife and have never seen it, you may get a kick of seeing Archie Panjabi in an entirely different role from Kalinda.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Treat your friends like your enemies and your enemies like your friends"

Director: Barry Levinson
Cast: Robin Williams, Joan Cusack, Michael Gambon, Robin Wright, LL Cool J
Released: December 18, 1992

Oscar nominations:
Best Art Decoration-Set Decoration (lost to Howards End)
Best Costume Design (lost to Dracula)

I said I would have another holiday movie review for you and I have delivered on my promise. Well, sort of. While Toys begins and ends with a Christmas song called The Closing of the Year (a song that I love, love, love and is probably one of the only good things about the movie!), the rest of it really has nothing to do with Christmas. It's been at least a decade since I've seen it, so please forgive my memory. You would think a movie that came out in December and has TOYS in the title would have something to do with Christmas! So I'm glad I at least gave you a true Christmas movie review with the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Next year I will just have to make it up by doing THREE Christmas movies! 

I really don't know how to describe this movie. It is a flustercluck, for one thing! I feel like I am doing disservice to the late Robin Williams by this being his first movie I reviewed since his passing. I will have to make that up by watching and reviewing one of his better movies in the future. This one is just  weird with plenty of moments where you might go, WTF? 

Williams plays Leslie Zevo and Joan Cusack plays his sister, Alstatia (I'm still not sure how you pronounce that!) Their father, owner of Zevo Toys, a company that manufactures and sells toys, dies and his brother (Michael Gambon) takes it over. Why his brother, a stern, no-nonsense general, is the beneficiary of the toy company and his fun-loving and child-like son is not is because he doesn't think Leslie could be a successful leader. 

Mr. Zevo must have made a fortune selling his cheap toys because his children live in a house that pops out from a story book (and there's even a dollhouse replica in the living room) and they have their own butlers, maids, and Leslie drives a Cadillac. Mr. Zevo even has his own wind-up (life size) ambulance to take him to the hospital for God's sake. I have no idea how he made such a fortune selling such crappy-looking toys, but it apparently worked so well that he was able to afford tons of workers who just sing and dance to a song called "The Happy Worker" (sung by Tori Amos) while they wait for large, colorful machines to spit out toy parts so they can assemble them. He can even afford to pay some guy whose job it is to hold a "Ducks Crossing" sign so people stop to let TOY duckling cross the street, I am not kidding you. The movie never states when it takes place. I was thinking maybe it was the '50s because most of the toys are those plastic wind-up toys of yore, but MTV and video games are also featured so therefore that makes it in the "present" day...or at least in the '80s as I was listening to a podcast (How Did This Get Made?....I highly recommend listening to this one, it's from September 2013) and they mentioned it took Barry Levinson ten years to write it! 

Another way they waste money (but still seem to have overloads of it!) is that they make a lot of joke toys (large attachable ears, fake vomit, hand buzzers, smoking jackets (those are jackets that literally smoke), etc...) and they pay people to research them. There is a really long scene where Leslie and the others are wearing white lab coats while going over different kinds on fake vomit and they are taking it seriously! Now the joke is that while they are discussing vomit, the room they are in is getting smaller because the General needs more room for a project he is working on. I don't understand the appeal of any of the toys that are created at this place. I can't see any kids wanting to play with them. The only visual appeal to the movie is the house they live in and the rolling green hills where they live. (Which I thought was filmed in England, but that was actually filmed in Rosalia, Washington.) 
Levinson must have had his heart set on very particular actors because this family doesn't make any sense at all. The General has a British accent, but everyone else is his family is American. They do sort of address this by him blaming his father for raising him in Britain and that's why he sounds different from everyone else. His (now deceased) wife was a Jane Fonda lookalike and yet they have a son named Patrick who looks like LL Cool J.... I'm guessing he was adopted? And then there's Alstatia who is just an odd character. She eats sandwiches with vitamins or applesauce (ugh!) only between the two slices of bread. Patrick makes a comment that she always looks the same age whenever he sees her. We later find out (spoiler alert!) that Alstatia is a robot that Leslie's dad had built for him because his mother died when he was young and he wanted to make sure Leslie had somebody to take care of him. So many questions! Why did Leslie's father make his son a grown up sister? (Remember, Patrick commented how she never ages, so it wasn't like Mr. Zevo built a robot every year to grow up with Leslie). And why is he selling all these crappy, cheap toys when he can make robots that look like real human beings? Just think how much richer he could have been...and he made a fortune selling crappy toys and paying his employees to pretty much do nothing! 

The General wants to make war toys and video games to train kids for war in the's so weird. And then there's a toy war with the General's toys against the Zevo Toys. It is the stupidest thing! There was a funny line where Leslie says, "Let's fight fire with marshmallows!" because all the General's toys come equipped with guns while you just wind up the Zevo Toys. He does give an amusing speech to his "troop" of toys where he begins with, "Four stores and many Christmases ago..." the speech has some clever dialogue, but it goes on way too long. And another question concerning Alstatia, why didn't they use her in the toy war since she is a freaking robot and can just be rebuilt. I guess since we find this out AFTER the toy war (I cannot believe I just wrote that!) ended, they didn't want to ruin the surprise for the viewer. 

While this movie is called TOYS, it is not for children! Not just because some innocent toys become victim in the toy war, but because Robin Wright plays Leslie's love interest (she was hired by his father the day before he died because he wanted them to get together, which is really creepy if you think about it) and there is a really awkward scene between them where you can't see it, but you  can hear it because the General has his men spying on them and her bra is covering the small robot that is their eyes. And they have one conversation and are pretty much in love the next scene, it is so ridiculous and stupid! 

This entire movie is ridiculous and stupid! The only good thing about it is the "Closing of the Year" song. And that's the only Christmas thing related to it! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Classic Remake

Miracle on 34th Street
Director: Les Mayfield
Cast: Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Richard Attenborough
Released: November 18, 1994

Last year I reviewed the original Miracle on 34th Street for my holiday movie review. I wanted to review this remake at the same time, but last year, for some reason, this one seemed to be difficult to find. So that is why I am reviewing it this year and I do plan on having another holiday movie in the near future.

In this version, Mara Wilson plays Susan, the young girl who is skeptical about Santa Claus being real. This is because her mother, Dorey (played by Elizabeth Perkins), told her he wasn't. Although she does talk like an adult, I didn't find Wilson's Susan as irritating as Natalie Wood's Susan. The most annoying moment for Susan in this movie is when she tells her mom's boyfriend, Bryan (played by Dylan McDermott), that she's trying to cut back on sugar when he offers her a candy cane. But that's not as bad as original Susan telling Kris Kringle that she refuses to pretend to be an animal because she's a girl and she can't have an imagination! Ugh!

The movie is very similar to the original and starts out with Dorey firing the Santa at the Thanksgiving Day Parade because he is intoxicated and hiring a man who calls himself Kris Kringle (played by Richard Attenborough) who happens to be available and tells him to be "himself." He is so good at the job of portraying Santa that he is hired as their Santa at the department store she works at, Cole's, which is a fictitious department store. Now if you remember, the original was set at Macy's, but apparently Macy's did not want any part in this remake so they didn't get their permission to be used. Ouch. And just like the original, Santa tells parents where they can find toys if they can't find them at Cole's or where they can find toys for cheaper if they are too expensive. The rival store in the original was Gimbel's; the rival store in this one is called Shopper's Express. Shopper's Express, really, writers? Couldn't think of anything more original?

Alison Janney has one scene where she plays a shopper who asks the manager if he knows that his Santa is telling customers to shop at other department stores. She has a very strong Brooklyn accent (I'm guessing...I'm not very good with East Coast accents, but whatever it is, it is very exaggerated. I did find one source saying that her character is from Long Island). I wasn't really aware of her until 1999 when she was in Ten Things I Hate About You and American Beauty, and of course, probably best known for The West Wing when it premiered that year, so it was amusing seeing her in a small role five years before she become really well-known. Speaking of people who were in this movie before they became more known, Jennifer Morrison from the TV series House and Once Upon a Time plays an elf at the Cole's Santa display. She was probably around 14 or 15 at the time and I didn't even recognize her and it wasn't until I was looking through the cast on IMDb that I saw her name and looked up to see who she played.

In my review of the original, I questioned whether or not they had any scenes where there is actual proof that Santa IS actually Santa, but even though he owns a Santa suit, claims his name is Kris Kringle, and gives an explanation of how he can visit every child in one evening, there is no proof that this movie takes place in a universe where Santa Claus really does exist. And tell me, why would he be giving advice to parents on where to find toys for his children when his elves make them, hmmmm?

The bad guys from Shopper's Express team up with the guy who was Cole's original Santa (and apparently this is the only gig he has....I wonder what he does in the off season?) and it is soooo obvious that they are bad guys by the way they talk and look. The ex-Santa harasses Kris and even makes a comment about him liking the kids a little too much. Whoa, family movie remake of a beloved classic Christmas film, did you really just go there? Kris is arrested for assaulting and hurting the man and is sent away in handcuffs. In the absolute worst scene of the movie and probably the worst scene of just about any movie in history, we see a shot of the ex-Santa who opens his eyes, then winks right into the camera to let all the young kids watching know that he is okay and is faking being hurt. OMG it was sooooooooo bad. SO TERRIBLE. I cringed when I saw that. It just catered to all the little kids out there and apparently someone thought they were too stupid to know that it was all just a set up so they had to have the actor wink into the camera. I wouldn't have minded if he just opened his eyes to let them know he was faking being unconscious, but my God that wink was just truly horrible film making. Seriously, if I were reviewing this movie on a podcast, I would tell everyone that this movie loses a star just for that scene. It is that bad. And the movie actually isn't too bad, but that one little scene just ruins it for me. If you're going to break the fourth wall, you need to be more clever about it and this movie wasn't that kind of movie to do that. Just awful.

Kris is released, but he has to pass a sanity test but doesn't since he still firmly states that he is Santa Claus. Bryan plays his lawyer and must prove that Santa Claus does exist and the man he is defending is him for Kris not to be sent away. This movie was good practice (hehe...pun!) for Dylan McDermott since he would play attorney Bobby Donnell in The Practice three years later. Do you think David E. Kelley took Michelle and the kids to see this movie and when he saw Dylan McDermott defending Santa he knew he had to have his next TV show be a courtroom drama and McDermott was going to play one of the lawyers. Totally fanfiction, I know, but it's amusing to think that's the way The Practice came to be.

I thought it was a smart move when Bryan questions the prosecutor's wife because when asked if she has told her children that Santa is real, she says yes and since she is under oath, admits that it was her husband who first told them that he is real and that the Santa their kids visited at Cole's was the real Santa. Let's be honest: the old man can't prove he's Santa. The prosecutor questions a man who has been to the North Pole and he claims he has never seen any sign of Santa Claus living up there and Kris bursts out indignantly, claiming that of course he has never seen anything because his workshops are all invisible. Please. A reindeer is brought into the courtroom. (Where do they find reindeer in New York? Where do they find reindeer in the United States? Aren't they only native to, like, Norway and the North Pole? My parents visited Norway and my mom said she had reindeer at a restaurant they ate at. I was very appalled. And this was when I was 14 and knew Santa wasn't real and I was still appalled!) Anyway, Kris is asked to make the reindeer fly and he laughs and says they only fly Christmas Eve. Oh, how convenient! I'm not buying for one second that this guy is Santa Claus, but good on him for wanting to make Christmas a wondrous, magical time for children. There is a nice little montage where people all over the city display signs of saying they believe which may or may not have gotten me a little teary-eyed. It was scenes like that that made me like the movie.

The judge receives a one-dollar bill from Susan in a Christmas card with the motto "In God We Trust" circled and comes to the conclusion that even though the court can't prove that God is real with any real evidence, they still believe in him and that means people can still believe in Santa even if there is no evidence (or very weak evidence) that he is real. So he is allowed to be a free man and everyone is happy.

As in the original, Susan tells Kris that she wants a family and a house. She gets this when her mother marries Bryan on a whim (I don't understand why they just didn't get engaged, but whatever) and find out the house Dorey plans on using for a catalog has been set up for them to purchase by Kris. Nothing like paying for your own Christmas present, especially when it's a house! Personally, I thought the house was ugly with its ridiculously slanted roof, but it does have a gingerbread house feel to it so I can see why it was chosen for the movie. Inside, was a different story (hey, I made another pun!) as all the rooms were lavishly decorated. We are left with the implication that Dorey is pregnant as Susan has also wished for a baby brother.

And it's been twenty years and we have not yet seen another remake, but I'm sure we will get another.

Monday, December 8, 2014

That Bitch Ain't Right

Gone Girl 
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Missi Pyle
Released: October 3, 2014
Viewed in theaters:  November 6, 2014

Hmmm....better safe than sorry, right? SPOILERS AHOY! 

Back in early 2013, I read the massively popular book (which I first heard about from the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast as Linda Holmes raved about it several times) which I was fortunate to read for free and without having to wait for it at the library because my mom's book club was also on the pop culture bandwagon and read it for their book club so my mom bought the book and I was able to read it after her. I enjoyed the book, but in a way, I wish I hadn't read it because it would have been interesting to see the movie not knowing what happens because there are lots of twists and turns. Nevertheless, knowing full well what happens, I still enjoyed the film very much and thought the adaptation from novel to script was flawless, although it probably helps that the author, Gillian Flynn, also wrote the script. She is a former writer of my favorite entertainment magazine, Entertainment Weekly and not surprisingly they loved both movie and book. But I think that has more to do with that they're both legitimately good and they're not trying to kiss one of their own's ass. Although that would have been awkward if they had hated the story and had to write a negative review.

Nick and Amy Dunne, a couple married for four years are played by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Now I'm sure everyone already knows that Reese Witherspoon bought the rights for the movie and was going to play Amy, but David Fincher said he didn't think she was right for the role and cast Pike instead. Although Witherspoon is the much bigger name (I only recognized Pike from that forgettable Tom Cruise movie a couple years ago, Jack Reacher, in which she plays a forgettable character), I think it was a smart decision. I don't know if Witherspoon could have pulled off ice queen as well as Pike does, and I don't think she and Affleck would have complimented each other as well physically since she is so tiny. Also, having two huge stars might have been a little distracting.  

Luckily Amy is anything but an unforgettable character. She is the daughter of wealthy New York parents who made their fortune writing a book series called Amazing Amy which is based after their daughter and the character grows up with her, except that she always seems to be one step ahead of the real Amy. She and Nick were both writers for magazines and moved to Nick's home state, Missouri, when his mother became sick. Amy is unhappy and bored. She finds out Nick has been cheating on her with one of his creative writing college course students. On the day of their fifth wedding aniversary, Nick comes home to find not only that Amy is gone, but that it looks like there has been a struggle in the house and the police find a lot of blood that has been mopped up in the kitchen. Needless to say, Nick becomes suspect #1 in his wife's disappearance. Now if you hadn't read the book, you would have no idea if he was innocent or guilty. There are little clues that seem to indicate that he is guilty such as he is trying to throw the police off a trail that leads to his father's house that a clue Amy left for him (something she did every year for their anniversary) that leads him there. However, the police on the case (played by Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) are keeping a sharp eye on him and find a journal there written by Amy indicating that she is fearful of her husband and afraid that he is going to kill her. It is found in a furnace, partially burned. Nick is painted even more guilty when he is shown smiling at a press conference held for Amy's disappearance (you have to feel bad for the guy; he was told to smile!) and he is ripped apart by Missi Pyle's Nancy Grace-esque TV national news reporter. He becomes harassed by the reporters and can't leave his house with running into them. Even his twin sister, Margo (played by Carrie Coon) questions whether he had anything to do with Amy's disappearance when she finds out he's having an affair.

Affleck hires a New York attorney who is famous for winning difficult cases for his high-profile clients. He is played by Tyler Perry and so I'll just insert my joke about Ben Affleck really needing the Tyler Perry Hidden Immunity Idol that nobody will get unless they watch Survivor.


I'm sure there's very few people who haven't read the book or seen the movie (or both), but I want to cover all my bases! After all that wondering over whether Nick is guilty or not, we go back to the day of the disappearance, only from Amy's POV because she is very much still alive and driving away from her old life and telling the audience that she has set up her husband to take the fall for her "death". Although maybe I shouldn't put that word in quotes since her plan is to eventually commit suicide and have her body found in the river. However, she keeps putting off that little task. She has gained weight and changed her appearance so nobody recognizes her since she is all over the news. Since deciding not to kill herself, her plan changes. She has money, but it will eventually run out...although it runs out much quicker than she anticipates since she is robbed. She seeks help from an ex-boyfriend (played by Neil Patrick Harris) who has a creepy obsession with her and used to stalk her. We find out that Amy has had other interesting conflicts with ex-boyfriends in her past and that she is a master manipulator. In fact, the more we learn about Amy, we find out she is basically a sociopath. In the end, Amy (after killing Doogie Howser who she blames for keeping her captive and was the one who kidnapped her) goes back to Nick and keeps on manipulating him and they continue being a married couple.  This one is sure to get a few nominations come Oscar season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"This is disorder"

Director: Joon-ho Bong
Cast: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Alison Pill
Released: June 27, 2014

Spoilers ahoy!

After hearing about this movie on the many movie review podcasts I listen to and after seeing the trailer, I knew I had to see it. I mean, don't you want to see it too after watching this:

It was Tilda Swinton who sold me. Yes, that woman with the large glasses, buck teeth, and funny accent is Tilda Swinton.  She plays one of the more higher-class citizens who lives on the train known as the Snowpiercer, and as you saw from the trailer, likes to keep everything in order. She believes everyone has their place on the train and that they should all stay where they are.

The movie takes place 17 years in the future and the whole world has iced over due to a government experiment...I honestly don't remember why or what happened, but basically, whatever they did, it caused the entire globe to become a popsicle. (Well, at least Elsa from Frozen would love it!) Most of the world's population died, but the few who were left, boarded the Snowpiercer. It is captained by Wilford (Ed Harris) who built the train's everlasting engine. In a propaganda video we see, the train (I don't know how many cars there are, but it's a fairly long train) travels along a track that goes across the entire world (it helps when the oceans are frozen to do that, I suppose). They have set it up so that  the Snowpiercer crosses a certain section of the world on a certain holiday each year. This way, when they pass a certain landmark, they know it's the New Year and can celebrate another successful year aboard the train.

Now before we get any further, I have to nitpick about a couple of things. The first being, how did the people on the train get chosen to be on the train? Were there not that many survivor that they were all allowed on it? Was there a lottery system? Also, how in the hell did they build the track, especially when it goes over the ocean? Did they do this after the world froze over? (Well, they must have). But that doesn't make sense because they say that anybody who goes outside dies instantly as is evident whenever they pass a bunch of frozen people outside who escaped from the Snowpiercer and didn't make it 100 yards before they froze and died! And how long did it take to build this track? We are not provided with any of these questions. We get a two minute backstory of what happened 17 years ago, then we jump into the "present" on board the train with our characters.

There is a caste system on the train. The wealthy, more affluent people live near the front of the train, which has the nicer, plusher cars while the lower class citizens live in the "slums" of the train, the very rear. They are all crammed together with bad lighting. Everyone is dirty and wears tattered clothes. They are given what are called protein bars to eat and they look like the most disgusting things ever. Imagine a brick of black jello. They even have that jell-o texture. I would probably puke if I had to eat one of those! I would rather starve than eat one of those! We later learn that they are made out of ground up insects so if you thought they were already unappetizing...
Captain Snowpiercer!

Our protagonist, Curtis is played by Chris Evans. Can I just say that as an emancipated (okay, obviously Christ Evans is not emancipated, but Curtis is probably suppose to be on the skinny side since he doesn't get fed very much!) guy with blood and sweat on his face throughout most of the movie, he is much more better looking than he is as the buff, blond, blandy mcbland Captain America? Like 10000 times better looking? I think it's the facial hair. And the fact he looks (much!) better with darker hair than blond. Blond hair is not our friend, Chris Evans! Curtis boarded the train when he was 17, so he has spent 17 years living in the outside world and 17 years living on the train, so after doing a quick sum in my head, that makes our hero 34 years old. Curtist leads a revolt to take over the train from Wilford. He is a mystery to the viewer and we only hear little snippets about him. The characters played by Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, and John Hurt are also part of the revolt. Tanya (Spencer) wants to go because her son has been taken by the people who work for Wilford. Now you may be wondering why people are allowed to procreate on a train that can hold so many people, but young children, as we will see later, are very vital for the success of the train.

Many people want to stop them from getting to the front of the train and therefore ensues many bloody battles (and deaths!). After a quick stop at another car near the back of the train, they recruit Kang-ho Song's character who built the train's security system  and can get them through the doors. He and his seventeen year old daughter (she looks more like she's 12 to me!) join them. They are both addicted to a drug called Kronole which Curtis offers them in service for their help.

They capture Tilda Swinton's cartoonish, Harry Potter character-esque character, Mason, who is Wilford's right hand (wo)man and make her lead them to Wilford. What I like is that we go through all the cars in the same order as our characters: from the back and onward to the front. The movie never jumps from the back, then to the front, then to a random car in the middle like I thought maybe it would. So we're seeing each train for the first time as are our characters. (Well, the ones who survive....we lose a few key players along the way). My favorite car was the aquarium car, complete with a sushi bar. There's also a classroom car (Alison Pill plays the teacher with the propaganda video and gun hidden in a basket of eggs...don't ask...), a dance club car, a sauna car, a beauty shop car...pretty much anything you can think of.


Now I knew Swinton was going to get her comeuppance, but she dies much too soon for my liking. And Jamie Bell dies really early in the movie...once they start the revolt, he was one of the first to get killed. That made me sad. I like Billy Elliot! And Tanya dies and it was sad because she never got to rescue her son. Soon it's only Curtis and the Korean father and daughter. Curtis finds Wilford and it is revealed that Curtis and the other low-class citizens had to engage in a bit of cannibalism to keep everyone alive. He says babies taste the best as he ate baby Billy Elliot's arm and killed Billy Elliot's mother (which Billy Elliot never knew). Curtis felt guilty about that and that's why he took Billy Elliot under his wing. He also feels guilty about never having the courage to cut off his arm or leg  to feed to the others as many of them had.  We find out that Wilford has been keeping Tanya's son under the train to keep the train going because only small children can fit in there. Curtis rescues him and in the process, his arm gets all messed up because of the mechanisms.

Meanwhile, the Korean father and daughter blow up the train because Kronole is not only a drug, but also an explosive! Everyone aboard the train dies except Korean daughter and Tanya's son. They go outside and see a polar bear so we know it is possible that life can live outside the Snowpiercer. So we have a 17 year old girl and 5 year old boy who are suppose to repopulate the earth? Or you're probably what I was thinking: That bear is going to eat those kids.

This movie starts on the right track, but starts to loose steam towards the end. Yes, those puns were intended.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jungle Love

Gorillas in the Mist
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Bryan Brown, Julie Harris, John Omirah Miluwi
Released: September 23, 1988

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Sigourney Weaver (lost to Jodie Foster for The Accused)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Anna Hamilton Phelan and Tab Murphy (lost to Christopher Hampton for Dangerous Liaisons
Best Sound (lost to Bird)
Best  Editing (lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)
Best Score - Maurice Jarre (lost to Dave Grusin for The Milagro Beanfield War)

(I have never even heard of Bird of The Milagro Beanfield War!) 

Despite scenes with cute baby gorillas, this is a pretty horrific film. It's about the true story of Dian Fossey (pronounced Diane even though she's missing the e!) who was a big advocate for gorillas and studied them in Rwanda in the '60 - '80s. I had heard of this movie, but I wasn't familiar with was Jane Goodall who I was always aware of. I wasn't sure what to think of Dian. She was very passionate about her cause, but they sure did make her unlikeable or just kinda stupid at times. When she arrives in Africa for the first time, she has a whole suitcase just packed with make up. Seriously, you are in the jungle studying wildlife...why do you need make up? She starts in the Congo and is given an assistant in the form of an animal tracker (John Omirah Miluwi) who will help her track the apes. Her time in the Congo is very short lived as she is forced to leave by Congolese soldiers who destroy her research site and accuse her of being a foreign spy.

She and her team relocates to Rwanda. She gets very up close and personal with the apes, often just sitting with them. She gives them names and becomes quite attached to them. She does get some human affection when she begins an affair with an attractive (but married!) Australian photographer (Bryan Brown) from National Geographic comes to take photos of Dian with the apes for the magazine. He is there for a few months and offers to leave his wife for her, but his job does not allow him to only stay in one place and Dian refuses to leave so they end their relationship when he has to head off to a new location.

Sadly, many of the apes become victims of poaching and Dian makes it her life's mission to stop it. There was one instance where she steals back a baby ape whose entire family had been killed for the poachers to be able better to get to it. With the baby gorilla in her arms, she marches into the dining room of a hotel where the man who wants the baby ape for his zoo is eating and pretty much berates him in front of everybody for what he did. She tries to take care of the baby herself, but in the end, she has to let him go to the zoo to get her deal for what she wants for protecting the apes. A government minister allows her an anti-poaching group consisting of three men. Gorillas were being poached just for their heads or hands just to make tacky gorilla hand ash trays (I don't even want to know what they did with the heads!) which is just horrible and gross.

There was one ape in particular, Digit, who she had a very close bond with. Needless to say, Dian becomes nearly inconsolable when she discovers that Digit has beheaded and arms cut off by poachers. She becomes very short with the students who have come to studying with her, almost blaming them for Digit's death (because if she hadn't been with them, she could have stopped Digit's murder) and burns down the poacher's camp and probably would have even gone on to kill them if she hadn't been stopped. As a viewer, you become attached to the apes too and while you don't see Digit actually being killed, you do see his limbless body and it is very horrific.

The ending was very odd as we see Dian going to bed after looking at many photos of Digit and we see a shadow creep into her room and attack her with a big knife. Supposedly her death is a mystery and nobody knows who killed her. The happened on December 27, 1985 when she was 53 and the movie came out in 1988, so they didn't waste any time making her story into a movie!

The film ends with upbeat African drums as we see Dian is buried next to Digit, which is actually quite sweet. But I was a little confused by the upbeat music! I guess we were suppose to be happy that Dian and Digit were reunited?

Friday, September 26, 2014

I rank The Cosby Show theme songs

Thirty years ago (!!!!) this month, The Cosby Show premiered on NBC. It aired on Thursdays until 1992 so it was "Must See TV" before "Must See TV" was a thing. (Remember that?) I watched this show when I was younger. I have not seen it in AGES so I don't remember any episodes except the one where Rudy (she was my favorite because she was my age) and her chubby friend are hungry and want to make something to eat (and I'm sure Vanessa was probably baby-sitting them, but was too busy talking on the phone to make them something), so they get out the blender and just make a huge mess in the kitchen and Rudy gets a scolding, then a hug from her mother. Now I could be totally making this up as, like I said, I've not seen an episode of this show in forever but I swear that was an episode!

Anyway, this show used the same song for its theme song, but it had different title openings and a different version of the song for each season (well, two seasons shared the same theme song), so I thought it would be fun to rank them. I'll start with my least favorite and work my way up to my favorite. Here we go!

7. Season 1, 1984

So in all the opening sequences except for this one, all the actors dance (we know how the Huxtables love to sing and dance...remember that show they put on for their grandparent's anniversary? - Hey, that's another episode I remember!) This is also the only opening sequence where it's photographs of the actors in different action shots. It reminds me of the first season opening titles of Beverly Hills, 90210 where those were so different from the ones that were to come. Here we see the Huxtables enjoying a day at the park. It's kinda boring. And it's so '80s. Notice that Phylicia (I could have sworn it was Felica!) Rashad is Phylicia Ayers-Allen. Also notice Sondra is not here but she was a recurring character the first season because I think her character was thrown in as an afterthought. 

6. Season 8, 1991

I went from the first season to the last! It's weird because while I remember the other opening titles, this one, not so much. Apparently they didn't use it for the entirety of the last season because there was some kind of legal dispute with the mural that is used in the background. The mural is very cool, but I prefer the clean, solid color background they often use. I read another ranking of theme songs (I'm not the only one to do this) and the person, who ranked this dead last on their list, said this was the most dated of the opening titles and I have to agree. Especially if you look at their clothes. Yikes! What is Vanessa wearing? And WTF is Raven Symone wearing? And since when did Theo get glasses? I never remember him wearing glasses! That said, I kinda love Sondra's outfit. And who is that woman at the end? I don't remember her at all! It's crazy to see how much older Vanessa and Rudy look compared to the other opening titles.

5. Season 2, 1985

This is when they began their dancing and the following opening titles would follow this format. Much better than the season 1 format! Notice that Phylicia Rashad is not yet Phylicia Rashad, but I believe she will become Phylicia Radshad during this season. I like Theo's dancing the best. I like the "are you serious" face Vanessa makes. Her sweater and Cosby's look like they came from the same designer! Nothing really stands out in this opening title so that's why I put it towards the botttom.

4. Season 4, 1987

This version was done by Bobby McFerrin and I'm not a huge fan of it. I like Sondra's dress, but she is totally wearing the wrong shoes for it! She should be in heels! Vanessa looks like a flight attendant with that hat. The end with Cosby holding up a picture of Lisa Bonet was interesting. I know she left the show for awhile, but maybe she was a recurring character so that was to remind us that she was still around? IDK. The things that do make this middle-of-the-road opening titles not be at the bottom is Theo checking his watch, Vanessa's mouthed "Dad!" exclamation, Claire's dress, and Cosby's top hat...because a top hat always makes everything better! Oh, and the last note.

3. Season 5, 1988

This is the most interesting as it's the only one where all the actors are dancing together instead of each getting a turn with Cosby. Now if I were an actor on this show, I would not be happy because my name would appear when everyone is in the same shot so nobody would know who you were (good thing they did this in season 5, I guess!) unless they knew which actor played which character. I do love the thematic music and dance number. The Caribbean style and backdrop is a little odd since the show took place in New York...I don't think they ever went on an island vacation! But it's something different and you gotta give them props for that. 

2. Season 3, 1986

 I'm not the biggest fan of Latin music (don't listen to it that much (or at all) to be honest), but in this case it works and I like it. The dancing isn't anything too impressive, but once again, I love Vanessa's "are you serious" face to Cosby's dancing. She has the best reactions. And I swear, I had a dress just like the one Rudy wore in this! And I like how Cosby kicks his leg over her because she's so small. The music alone puts this in the top 2. 

1. Seasons 6 and 7, 1989 and 1990

Even the show agrees with me that this is the best opening sequence as they used it for two seasons instead of only one! It's very sleek and smooth. Everyone has had four years to prefect their dancing and it shows. Well, maybe not Sondra because she dances exactly like me! Lisa Bonet is working it with those pants. Theo and Rudy have some awesome moves, but it's Vanessa who's killing it! Vanessa, the one who's always too cool to dance! Who knew that girl had some moves in her? And love the end where Cosby says, "This is the best elevator music I've ever heard." 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my ranking of The Cosby Show opening credits!

So I found that episode I was talking about earlier on YouTube. It's from season 2 and it's a juicer, not a blender that Rudy, and her friend Peter (who was chubbier than I remember!) use to make a snack. I was right that Vanessa was watching them (and was on the phone - I have an awesome memory), but Cliff was home (he was talking to a maintenance guy about a water stain in his office) and so were Theo and Denise (they were outside). Claire was the only one who wasn't home because she had gone to the post office. Rudy and Peter are bored and Vanessa tells them to go make a snack so they decide to make peanut butter and jelly sandiwches, but there's no jelly so Rudy decides to use the juicer to make the jelly and puts grapes in it. Now I remember the mess that is made being much more massive than it actually was. Rudy didn't get a scolding to by her mother (that was Vanessa for not keeping an eye on the kids), but she did get a lecture about using appliances while getting a hug from her mother.