Friday, August 18, 2017

Trading Places

Freaky Friday (1976)
Director: Gary Nelson
Cast: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, John Astin
Released: December 17, 1976



Freaky Friday (2003)
Director: Mark Waters:
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mark Harmon, Chad Michael Murray 
Released: August 6, 2003



I'm not sure what is considered to be the better movie between these two Freaky Friday films (and actually there is a third, from doing research I found out there is a Freaky Friday TV movie starring Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffmann that came out in 1995, but I doubt that one is even in the conversation), but I think the remake is far more superior. I had never seen the original until just recently and this was the third time I've seen the remake. I had a lot more fun watching the remake and while the original had it's fun moments, I was mostly bored during it. Also, there were a few moments that made me cringe because it's sooooo outdated and gets a tiny offensive at times, but that's not the (main) reason why I prefer the remake. The remake just makes so much more sense in a plot that is absurd, but at least they try to keep it as realistic as possible. 

As far as body-switching movies go, this is one of the more popular. You probably all know the premise: a mother and her teenage daughter switch bodies for a full day (which, as you may have guessed, is on a Friday!) They are total opposites and don't get along, but after living as the other for a day, they learn to appreciate each other more. A very young Jodie Foster is 13-year-old Annabel and Barbara Harris is her mother, Ellen Andrews, in the original. Lindsay Lohan is 15-year-old Anna and Jamie Lee Curtis is her mother, Tess Coleman in the remake. 

Before the big switch, we see how mother and daughter don't get along. Annabel is a tomboy who bitches about how uptight her mom is (and she's right, her mom IS uptight....Anna really has no reason to complain about her mother!) saying how she's not allowed to do this or that. She whines to her friends that her mom is always pushing her around or telling her what to do. Ellen tells her husband, Bill (John Astin) that Annabel doesn't have a clue about her life. They both think the other has it easier. They take a little more time establishing the relationship between mother and daughter in the remake as it actually starts on Thursday and the original starts that Friday morning. While Ellen is a housewife (of course she is), Tess is a psychologist who has recently written a book about communication although she can't seem to get through to her daughter. She is busy with her upcoming wedding to her fiance, Ryan (Mark Harmon) which Anna isn't happy about since her dad died three years ago. Anna is in a band with her friends and they have the opportunity to play at a Battle of the Bands gig, but it just so happens to be the next day which is night of the rehearsal dinner and her mom says no. 

I'm going to touch on similar plot lines/characters from each movie:

The switch: As I already mentioned, the body swapping happens much sooner in the original. And it's really stupid and doesn't make any sense how it's done. While Annabel is at the ice cream parlor with her friends before school (who goes to an ice cream parlor before school?) bitching about her mom to her friends and while Ellen is at home doing the dishes and bitching about her daughter to her husband, they both simultaneously say, "I wish I could switch places with her...for just one day." We get a terrible special effects graphic (I know, I know, it WAS the '70s) where they switch bodies. Oh, sure, we get the initial surprise that they're in each other bodies, but neither really seemed that concerned about it. Case in point: Ellen in her daughter's body calls home and her husband answers. She keeps calling him "Bill" and Bill, thinking it's his daughter, is angry that Annabel keeps calling him by his first name. I thought for sure she was going to ask to speak to her "mom", but no, all she does is ask if "Mom" is acting funny and Bill confirms this. They won't see each other again until the end of the movie which is really odd. You think they would immediately meet up and see what's going on. Once they realized that they said the same thing at the same time, then all they have to do is say something to un-switch them (which is what eventually happens). 

At least in the remake, they have a reason for why they switch and they actually try to figure out how to get their own bodies back. And it's a lot funnier. They don't switch bodies right away. Thursday night the whole family goes out to eat at a Chinese restaurant and the owner sees them bickering. The daughter tells her mother not to meddle, but the woman each gives Tess and Anna a fortune cookie and we see them reading the fortune at the same time and there's an earthquake that only the two of them can feel. It's not until when they're both in bed and the clock turns to midnight when they turn into each other and wake up to find themselves in each other's bodies. We get some of the same moments in the original like seeing Jamie Lee Curtis and hearing Lindsay Lohan's voiceover thoughts and vice versa and when they're feeling their new body parts and thinking, "That's not mine!" 

Since they're both in the same location when this happens, they are able to try to figure out what happened. Anna suggests that they go see a doctor, but her mom says they can't do that because nobody would believe them. Thank you, movie. This is something the original did not get right at all. Both Ellen and Annabel tell people that they are their mother/daughter. Ellen in her daughter's body tells Ellen's friends that she is Mrs. Andrews and they all just laugh and say, "This is a fun game! Let's pretend to be each other's mothers!" Annabel in her mother's daughter tells the boy she has a crush on she is actually Ellen and of course he doesn't believe her either. Why are they even trying to tell others the truth? There is no way they can prove it! It's so stupid! I'm glad the remake realized how stupid it is and never once do they tell anyone what's actually going on. Now, of course they don't do the best job of trying to get through the day as each other as we have Tess in her daughter's body acting very motherly to Anna's friends and we have Anna in her mother's body talking like a teenager when she tells her mother's fiancee, "Could, you like, chill for one sec?" 

Tess and Anna at least try to figure out what happened and try to switch back. Sure, it doesn't really work when they run into each other at full speed, thinking they can unswap bodies that way, but at least they try something. Can't say the same for the original where they literally don't do anything to try to switch back. They visit the Chinese restaurant where they learn that the only way to reverse the "spell" is to show a selfless act of love for the other. So at least there's a reason why they switched bodies and a way for them to switch back. 

The husband/fiance: As you may have guessed, the daughter being in her mother's body might be a little awkward around her dad/ mother's fiance. The remake handles it much better. When Ryan tries to kiss who he believes is his fiancee, Anna quickly backs away or tells him she's getting sick or makes ups some excuse not to kiss him. Now, the husband never tries to kiss his wife in the '76 movie, but Annabel as her mother calls him "Daddy" a couple times and he asks her why she's calling him that, but you can tell he likes it and it's soooooooo creepy. So creepy! It's supposed to be played for laughs, but no. It's creepy as all hell. Even though Anna doesn't like her stepdad at first, he is a good person and she will come around to accepting him into their family. Bill, on the other hand, well, he's kind of a jerk. He calls his wife (actually his daughter) and asks her to make a dinner for 25 people that might. Anna thinks he's great as a father, but terrible as a husband. When Ellen in her daughter's body goes to visit Bill at his office, she is not happy to see his extremely attractive assistant who he's never mentioned before. 

The younger brother: The teenaged girls have a little brother who they can't stand. Harry is Anna's little brother and he's your typical annoying little brother where he provokes his older sister and you understand why she doesn't get along with him. The poor kid is confused because his "sister" is being super nice to him and his "mother" is being mean to him. Ben is Annabel's little brother and he's a "neat freak". Uh...in what world does a little kid keep his room clean and fold his clothes? I have never met a kid like that in my life. Granted, I don't know many kids, but my God...the remake got the younger brother much more realistically. Annabel can't stand her little brother because she's such a slob and he makes her look bad. Both girls, as their mothers, will learn that their brothers both look up to their sisters, confessing this to their mothers (who, of course, are actually their sisters). 

The crush: Both teenaged girls have a crush on a boy. Anna likes a boy at her school, Jake (Chad Michael Murray). And I get it He's very good-looking and super cool with his own motorcycle which he offers to give Anna a ride on, but she knows her mom will ground her for eternity if she did accept the ride, so she has to refuse. Annabel has a crush on her neighbor, Boris. I don't understand the appeal of him at all. He's more of a nerd, but he's not even a cute nerd. He has allergies and is always wiping his nose and he has this weird squeaky voice and in what world is he suppose to be hot or cute? Is this what 13-year-old girls in the '70s liked? I don't get it. He also seems like a huge ass. He totally disses Annabel to her mother (who is actually Annabel!) and he makes snide comments about the appearance of Annabel's messy room which Annabel (as her mother) tells him it's Ben's room and he proceeds to make fun of the kid for having "girly" items. So yeah, he's a real prince. The males in the original are just jerks. Even little Ben, who, despite being the most unrealistic child in the history of the universe doesn't really bother me UNTIL Annabel as her mother gets called to the school to have a meeting with her principal about herself and calls Boris to watch Ben and the oven where she's cooking a turkey for her dad's co-workers. She asks Boris if he can whip up a chocolate mousse and Ben says, "Isn't that sort of a sissy thing to do?" UH, WHAAAAT? No, you did NOT go there, movie! Wow. I was SHOCKED when I heard that. Holy crap. First of all, is it "sissy" because it's a dessert the guy has to make or just cooking in general is "sissy"? Also, little boy, isn't folding your clothes a "sissy" thing to do? F*** you, movie!


Anyway! Both Jake and Boris end up falling for the mothers, so of course that means they actually like the daughters. Jake and Anna as her mother bond over shared musical interests and Boris and Annabel as her mother bond over...I'm not really sure, actually. I guess Boris just think she's a hot housewife and that's why he wants to spend more time with her? In the end, when the teenaged girls are back in their own bodies, they begin to date their crushes. Still don't see the appeal of Boris. The actor who played him has a cameo in the remake and his name was also Boris.

The daughter as her mother: Both movies have amusing scenes with the daughters as their mothers (and vice versa, of course). Annabel quickly learns what a crappy life her mother leads just being a domesticated housewife. While doing laundry (and seriously, what 13-year-old doesn't know how to do laundry? You're f***ing 13, for God's sake!) Annabel stuffs EVERYTHING into the washing machine. This not only includes clothes, but very thick shaggy rugs and shoes. She pours a bunch of detergent (which is the powder kind and not liquid) into the machine and of course it goes haywire and starts spewing bubbles and clanking everywhere. While this is going on, all of her mother's scheduled appointments start showing up: the carpet cleaners, the window drapers, the neighbor who needs something, and the maid. I feel like I'm forgetting somebody. During this whole fiasco, the pet basset hound keeps getting passed around from person to person. I realize this is played for laughs (though it's not funny!), but why are they passing around the dog? Why does the dog need to be held? He's perfectly capable of walking around...just put him on the ground...it's so stupid! If somebody passed the dog to me (and he's a full grown basset hound, so he looks pretty heavy), I would just put it down. There's no reason for it to be held! UGH! 

Annabel ends up firing the maid which is something similar that happens in the remake when Anna fires her mother's caterer for the wedding. Since Annabel can't drive, she and Ben walk to the grocery store to get groceries for her dad's big dinner party. This is when she bonds with her brother and they play a game of baseball in the park with other kids. 

The first thing Anna does as her mother is go on a shopping spree and gives her conservative mother a more outrageous look. She cuts her hair and pierces the upper part of her ear...something that Anna always wanted (although when they switch bodies back, she's not going to have that anymore!) Both Anna and Tess realize they're going to have to spend the day as each other as Tess has patients at her practice and Anna has an important test at school. Tess tells Anna to not say anything to her patients except for, "How does that make you feel?" Anna, in her mother's body, follows this until she meets with a woman who confesses she went through her daughter's journal and Anna explodes on her.

Ryan surprises "Tess" with a television interview about her new book, which Anna has never read and has no idea what it's about. She wings the interview and ends up being a big hit. Jake sees this on TV and tells "Anna" how cool her mom is and this is the start of his infatuation with her. 

The mother as her daughter: Both mothers have to navigate through a day as their daughters. I didn't really think Annabel had it bad at school. You definitely feel more sympathetic towards the mother having to deal with all those chores and a male chauvinist husband. The reason why "Annabel" has a bad day at school is because her mother causes it. When they are taking a typing test (with typewriters!), she is confused why she can't type anything and it's because it's an electric typewriter and has to plug in it and turn it on. It won't work so the teacher tells her to find another one so she plugs in one that says "OUT OF ORDER" (can she not read?) and it causes a shortage of all the typewriters. Then we have a scene of her in history class where she's being a know it all in history class and getting all the answers right and is made fun of by her classmates. She's late to her photography class and opens the door to the dark room and turns on the lights. Obviously, if this were the real Annabel, she wouldn't make those mistakes. After school, there's a big field hockey game which Annabel is very good at, but her mother, not so much. She makes a goal for the other team. Does she not know that the goalie wearing the same color as her is ON HER SIDE? Is she colorblind? It's one thing not to be athletic, but my God, does she not know the basic structure of sports? While I was watching this, I was thinking, what is so horrible about Annabel's life? She has friends, she's good at sports, and, in that meeting that "Ellen" attends, she's very smart, but just needs to apply herself more. The reason "Annabel" has a horrible day is because it's her mother and she doesn't know what she's doing. It's not like Annabel has to do with bullies or bad grades or peer pressure.

Even though Anna is your typical bratty teenager, the movie does a good job of showing that she does have problems and this is evident to her mother when she goes to school as her daughter. For one thing, Anna is smart, but she has a teacher who keeps giving her bad grades and sending her to detention. We learn that this teacher knew Anna's mom back in high school and asked her to a dance, but she had a boyfriend and said no. Tess, as Anna confronts the teacher about this. There's also a girl who's really mean to Anna and we find out that they used to be friends (a long time ago), but had a falling out. Tess tries to make amends with her, but the friend tricks her and framers her for cheating on their big test. Tess gets back at her by finding the girl's test and sabotaging it. I thought that was a little out of character for her. I understand she's getting back at the girl for being mean to her daughter, but that was a little too much for her. And, of course, Anna is upset that her mother is getting remarried so soon.

I liked the moment when Tess and Anna are driving to the Chinese restaurant with Anna as her mother driving since she has the license and Tess as Anna eating fries because, now that she's in her daughter's fifteen year old body, she doesn't have to worry about gaining weight.  I liked how in that scene they were both taking advantage of their new ages. The remake doesn't do that.  

During the Battle of the Bands, obviously Tess has no idea what to do, so Anna has to hide behind the stage and play the real notes while Tess pretends to play. 

The un-switch: In the remake, Tess and Anna are returned to their own bodies after a heartfelt speech at the rehearsal dinner. There is another earthquake (which everyone seems to feel that time, although only Anna and Tess felt it the first time, but whatever) and they are back in their own bodies. They now have a new appreciation for the other and become closer.

In the original, there's some stupid water skiing competition which Annabel is involved. Ellen, as Annabel, tells her coach she can't do it, but he tricks her and she ends up on the skis. Annabel as her mother is driving in a car with Boris and Ben. They need to get the food to...somewhere because Bill has called his "wife" and demands to know where the food is. Because of her terrible driving (it IS a thirteen-year-old driving after all), she is pursued by the police. At the same time, both exclaim, "I wish I had my own body back!" But here's the kicker...instead of just switching minds like they do the first time it happens, this time they also physical switch bodies...wait, what?? This absolutely made no sense! So now Ellen, who was originally in her daughter's body on water skis is now in her own body but still on water skis ("Right body, wrong place!) and Annabel, who was originally in her mother's body driving the car is now in her own body driving the car. In the words of Regina George, "God movie, you are so stupid!" Oh, and Boris and Ben who are in the car with Mrs. Andrews? They're all like, "Where did you come from, Annabel?" and "Where did Mom go?" They're shocked for a second, but then it's like, whatever. No big deal a completely person is driving the car! 

While Ellen is still continuing her water skiing (and why doesn't she just let go? Like, duh!!!!), Annabel is trying to get to the lake to help her mom but is still being chased by the police. We get a chase which is supposed to be played for laughs, but uh, in real life would have killed dozens of people. They're in a Volkswagen and go across this very narrow bridge. People are on this bridge and in order to not get run over, they have to hang from the bridge from a very high overpass with traffic underneath. If they fall, they're dead. Then, once the people get back on the bridge, here come the police cars and this time the civilians have to duck under the cars as they are too wide too fit on the bridge and use the railing of the bridge to drive across. Then, we have Annabel driving erratically around a concrete wall and one of the police cars hits the wall head on, and instead of the driver and passenger being killed (from, you know, hitting a CONCRETE WALL HEAD ON!), the car just splits in half so one side of the car is on one side of the wall and the other half is on the other side. Oh, and then we end this ridiculous car chase with Annabel, her brother, and Ben ending up in the lake. Luckily, they don't drown because the top of the car is already down. Ugh, just so ridiculous. Annabel and her mother are reunited and they learn their lesson.

Both movies end in similar fashions with the younger brother and the dad (or, in the remake's case, the grandfather) looking like they're about to switch bodies, but it's just a close call!

Look, I'm not saying the remake is a perfect movie. It has its flaws too. But compared to the original, it is a masterpiece. The relationship between mother and daughter was fleshed out more, things made more sense, and it was also funnier and more enjoyable. Skip the original and watch the remake. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fumblerooski

Little Giants
Director: Duwayne Dunham
Cast: Rick Moranis, Ed O'Neill, Devon Sawa, Shawna Waldron
Released: October 14, 1994



This movie is very similar to The Mighty Ducks, except just replace hockey with football. There are a few differences, but in the end it's about a group of kids who suck at football but have a coach who believes in them and tells them they're out there to have fun and they end up beating the Big Bad Team in the final game. (Well, in this movie, it's the ONLY game that's played!)

The movie begins in 1964 in the small town of Urbania, Ohio, where we meet brothers Kevin and Danny O'Shea. Kevin is the cooler, more athletic older brother who is a natural at football. So much so that he will go on to win three high school championships, a National Collegiate Title, an All-American title, and a Heisman trophy. The town's water tower boasts it is "The Home of the Great Kevin O'Shea." Danny is the dorky, non-athletic younger brother who wants to play football but is never picked to join either team. Kevin tries to make him feel better by telling him that he's so good it makes Danny look bad.

We then fast forward to "present day" 1994 with Ed O'Neill as Kevin and Rick Moranis as Danny. Kevin owns a car dealership called O'Shea Chevrolet (love how that rolls off the tongue) which is very heavily football-themed and coaches the town's Pee Wee football team, the Cowboys. His assistant coach is named Coach Butz and that made the twelve-year-old in me giggle every time I heard it. Danny runs a gas station and has a pre-teen daughter who is trying out to join her Uncle's team. Her name is Becky, but she goes by Ice Box and she is clearly good enough to be chosen for the team. Now, all the kids should have made the team, but Kevin wants to put together the best team he can so he can win a Pee Wee State Championship. In the end, only four kids don't make the team and they're all devastated and you feel really bad for them. Oh, don't get me wrong, with the exception of Becky, they all suck, but they shouldn't have been left out. You have the kid who can't run and cries a lot, you have the kid who can never catch the ball, and you have the fat kid who farts a lot (clearly the Goldberg of Little Giants) who wheezes when he runs. It's only four kids, so I think he could've found room on the team for them. He explains his reason for cutting Becky is because she's a girl and girls shouldn't play football, but rather be cheerleaders on the field. Even though he's clearly a misogynist, he and his niece do have a loving relationship, but he should have just used nepotism as a reason why he didn't want Becky to join his team. Or, you know, if he had just let everyone join the team who wanted to in the first place, then this wouldn't even be a problem.

With good reason, Danny is angry at his brother and ends up starting his own team, the Little Giants, with Becky and the three other rejects. They start recruiting other kids to play on their team, and they pretty much just recruit any kid they see, no matter if they've ever played or even like football. There's a scene where Danny goes up to a kid named Timmy on one of those mechanical horses outside a grocery store and asks him, "You ever play football?" ("No".) "You like football?" ("No".) "Great, you can be on our team!" There's a kid named Johnny who is having abandonment issues because his dad is always going on business trips and never gets any attention from him. I thought this was going to give us a very poignant and emotional scene, but it's just used for the kid to score a point during the Big Game. His dad has just returned from a business meeting and is walking up to the field to see his son's game and Johnny has the ball and sees his dad and starts running towards him and scores the team a goal. One of the more memorable kids (and I had never seen this movie until now, but even I remember this kid from the trailers!) is Jake Berman who goes by the nickname "The Berminator". He is the little scrawny kid who wears these magnifying glasses which make his eyes look huge. His mother brings him to Danny and explains to him that he was one pound and one ounce when he was born and was in an incubator for the first three months of his life and is allergic to everything. He looks like he would easily snap in half and the mom tells Danny, "I think football is just the medicine for him" and the kid says, "My shrink told her I gotta get out more!" Cracks me up that this ten-year-old has his own shrink. When he shows up for his first practice, he's wrapped in this foam padding with duct tape because his mom didn't think the padding he was given would do the trick.

Since there can only be one team in the town, they decide to have a play-off in a couple of weeks and whoever wins that will get to be Urbania's Pee Wee Football team.

Devon Sawa plays Junior Floyd, the Fulton Reed of this movie. He is recruited by the Giants when they see him at a grocery store throwing individually wrapped toilet paper rolls into a cart. One of the kids says, "What a throw!" Another says, "What a find!" And Becky, who is also there and spying on him through a shelf, says, "What a hunk!" Of course she has a crush on him despite telling herself she's the Ice Box and doesn't get crushes, it's Devon Sawa for God's sake! Every preteen girl of the early '90s had a crush on Devon Sawa. He is one of two names of the young cast I was familiar with. The other one was Kevin's youngest daughter who is played by a very young (like probably five or six years old) Alexa Vega. I didn't even know it was her until I looked up the cast on IMDb. When Danny and Becky go to the Floyd home to ask him to join the Giants, we find out that his mother is Patty, who Danny had a crush on when he was young and we do see her in the 1964 scene. At first, I thought maybe Kevin had married her because we see his wife is also blonde, but nope, here she is, a single mother, and apparently had no idea Danny was still living in the same town (and Danny didn't know she was still in Urbania either).

Kevin finds out from his older daughter (who also has a crush on Junior, because she is also a preteen girl) that Junior is on the Giants and takes Butz (still makes me laugh!) to spy on his brother's team. Danny is alerted by the smart bespectacled blond kid who he hired as his assistant that there are spies and he calls the police to pretend he's an 86 year old woman and warn them about old men in their underwear peeping at young boys. He even uses one of the kids to pretend cry and to tell the police to "Please hurry!" Wow, I cannot believe this movie went there! You really could get away with a lot more in kids' movies from the '90s! There is an article in the paper the next day with the headline, "Local Hero Arrested."

One thing I didn't understand was why Junior never tried out for football in the first place. He is good at it and seems to have a love for it because he asks Danny if he think he can get his brother's autograph. Also, how come we never see a scene of Kevin going to Junior and asking him if he wants to be on the "legitimate" team, the Cowboys? He's good enough he could have made Kevin's team and I'm sure he could have made room for him. Though I don't know if Junior would have accepted the offer because he never seems angry that, aside from Becky, all the kids on his new team suck. If anything, he's very encouraging, so I don't think he would diss the Giants like that.

We also have a reverse Adam Banks situation where a player, who is very good at his sport and is brought in to help the team, starts on the sucky (but "Good Guys") team) and ends up on the really good (but "Big Bad") team. The kid's name is Spike and it was like he was bred in a laboratory for the sole purpose of playing football. He's this huge ten year old who is carrying a refrigerator on his back when we are first introduced to him. We are given these impressive stats about him and football from his dad. Basically he's a lean, mean, football-playing machine. He also refers to himself in the third person. When he has his first practice with the Giants, he says, "Spike's in Pee Wee football hell!"

The acquiring of Spike is amusing, but doesn't quite make sense. You see, when the Play-Off between the Cowboys and the Giants is first brought up, there is a group of old men at a diner who are betting on who will win. While one old man is calling Kevin to tell him about Spike, another old man is calling Danny to tell HIM about Spike. Both brothers are racing to get to Spike's house first to recruit him and Danny reaches it first after Kevin has to stop and wait for a train to pass by. Spike's dad asks Danny if he's Coach O'Shea and Danny says he is, because, technically it's true. Mr. Spike then goes on to gush about what a big fan he is of his and how his family moved to Urbania because of him, clearly thinking he's the famed football player from this town, but is quite surprised by how small he is for a football player. Uh...if this guy is such a fan of Kevin O'Shea, wouldn't he know what he looks like?? Unless he just listened to all the football games on the radio?? Still...you think he would have seen a picture of him in the paper? This didn't make any sense at all! However, Kevin tells Mr. Spike he's the real coach and Mr. Spike tells his son he's going to play for the "real" team and Spike is like, "Thank the football Gods!" Now, why did Kevin never do this for Junior and take him for his team? But, like I said, it would probably be a moot point anyway because I don't think Junior would take the bait.

Speaking of Junior, Becky still has a huge crush on him, but doesn't think he sees her as a girl since she's "one of the guys". She thinks Junior is more interested in her cousin, Debbie who is a cheerleader. There's a scene where Becky and Junior are hanging out at a lake and a couple are in a rowboat making out and Junior is just disgusted by it. This boy absolutely has no interest in the opposite sex at all. Not at this point anyway. This scene kinda reminded me of that scene in Now and Then between Devon Sawa (coincidentally! But that's probably why I was reminded of it!) and Christina Ricci who also plays a tomboy where Sawa wants to kiss Ricci but she's having no interest in it at all, only here the roles are reversed where Becky wants to kiss Junior and he has no interest. In a very bizarre line, Becky tells him that it might be important to learn how to kiss to have kids or a job. Junior points out you don't need to know how to kiss to have kids, which, technically, he's right. But what the hell? You have to know how to kiss to get a job? Maybe if you're an actor...but....huh???? Who is telling this girl that? That makes no sense at all!

Becky wants to be so liked by Junior that she decides to be a cheerleader at the Big Game instead of play in it. :::MAJOREYEROLL:::: You're killing me, Ice Box! All the kids are freaking out because they've lost their one good player (aside from Junior) and some pretty gruesome lines are brought up such as when one kid says, "Without Becky, Spike's gonna open my face and wear it for Halloween!" And when Danny reveals the new uniforms, one kid calls them "death shrouds" and after Danny tells them the uniforms have their names on them (more like nicknames), Jake says, "So the guys at the morgue can identify the bodies."So these Giants have no confidence at all and are pretty sure they are all going to die!

There is a hilarious moment with the Cowboys in their locker room where they are about to pray with a priest that Kevin has brought in, but all the boys are being rowdy and their coach yells at them, "Quiet down for Christ's sake!" OMG, that cracked me up! That was good. The first half of the game, the Giants are sucking really bad. The kid who can never catch the ball puts some tar on his hands (or something..didn't quite catch what it was), but when they have a huddle and all the kids clap their hands together, he also does and his hands are stuck together. D'oh!

Of course Becky ends up playing in the second half after Spike is being a big bully and injures Junior, so she puts on her gear to join the game and there's a cute scene where her dad says, "You sure you want to do this, Becky?" and she replies, "Call me Ice Box" and Junior says to her, "Hey, Ice Box, kick some butt" and she replies, "Call me Becky."

Somehow, (I guess it was the encouraging speech they were given by their coach at halftime), the score is tied and there are only four seconds left in the game. The Giants win it (big shock, I know) with a little play the bespectacled blond kid dubbed "The Annexation of Puerto Rico." Look, despite living in a football-crazed state, I know nothing about football....absolutely nothing. Do I look like I watch the Super Bowl? (Cuz I don't!) Basically, The Annexation of Puerto Rico was taken out of Steve Madden's gameplay book (who makes a cameo in this movie along with Emmit Smith and three other football players whose names I didn't recognize (cuz I don't follow football)) and it's a trick play that involves making the opposing team think someone else has the ball when in fact another player actually has it. I did some research on this and Time did a piece on Film's Seven Greatest Trick Plays which you can read here if you click the link. The Annexation of Puerto Rico made #2 on their list and it is a good read to see what the play is rather than me trying to describe it!

When the Giants win the game, Becky and Junior are holding hands and jumping up and down, excitedly saying, "We won, we won!" There's a moment where it looks like they're going to kiss, but they don't and continue their excited chant. Perhaps it's a good thing they're not going to start anything romantic because Becky's dad asks out Junior's mom and THEY kiss. Okay, seriously if I had a crush on a guy who looked like Devon Sawa and my single dad started dating the cute guy's single mom, I'd be a bit peeved! But Becky never seems angry about it...and she knows her dad likes Junior's mom. It was just very odd. There's a very good chance the guy she likes could become her STEPBROTHER! Ewwwwww! I did read that there was suppose to be a sequel to this movie, but obviously that never happened. I'm sure there's some twisted fanfic about this out there somewhere.

The brothers agree to combine the teams into one big one so everyone can play and they will co-coach it together. I would feel bad if the kids who were really good at football and tried out to be on a team wouldn't even get to play. The Hawks may have lost to the Ducks, but they still got to be on a team and play hockey at the end of the day, so I like that all the kids in this film get to be on a team and represent their town, though I wonder if they were the Cowboys or the Giants? The Little Cowboys? The Giant Cows? 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Off the Grid

Cast Away
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Chris Noth
Released: December 22, 2000
Viewed in theaters: 22, 2000

Oscar nominations:

Best Actor - Tom Hanks (lost to Russell Crowe for Gladiator)
Best Sound (lost to Gladiator)


Yeah, spoilers, obviously! So if you've never seen this and don't know what happens, don't read if you ever plan on watching this in the future! 

Not since Rosebud in Citizen Kane has there been another well-known inanimate object in a film until Wilson the volleyball came along in Cast Away. Watching this movie is probably the only time I will ever cry over a volleyball (let's hope so, anyway, or else I have some serious issues!), but we'll get to that later.

I had seen this movie a couple times before. I saw it in the theaters and I've also seen it since then, but it has been awhile. I didn't remember the fate of Wilson and I thought most of the movie takes places when Tom Hanks is stranded on the island. While that is a good chunk of the film, there is a good portion that takes place in the civilized world before and after the island life, but it is a two and a half hour movie.

We first meet Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) in Moscow where he works for Fed-Ex as the person who makes sure packages are getting to their destinations on time. Because of his busy schedule and constant traveling, he doesn't get to spend much time with his girlfriend, Kelly (Helen Hunt). Even the Christmas holiday they're spending together with family is interrupted when Chuck has to fly to Malaysia. Chuck and Kelly exchange Christmas gifts in the car before Chuck gets on the Fed-Ex plane. Kelly gives him a pocket watch that's been in her family for generations with a photo of herself on the inside. Not just any photo, but Chuck's favorite photo of her. Chuck gives Kelly a pager, a journal, and hand towels. It's not until the last minute when he gives her a small wrapped box that is clearly an engagement ring and tells her she can open it when he gets back home. (And pretty much tell him her decision). As he walks to the plane, his last words to her (for awhile, anyway!) are "I'll be right back!" Uh, not quite!

The only other people onboard with Chuck are four pilots. Chuck is in the bathroom when the plane starts diving down and we will learn later in the movie that it is never resolved why the plane went down. There was a pretty nasty storm going on, so that most definitely didn't help matters! The most terrifying part of the crash is that Chuck, who is holding on for dear life in the back of the plane, can see the ocean getting closer and closer as the plane descends at a rapid speed. How he survived the impact, I'll never know (the pilots all seemingly died instantly), but the plane breaks apart and he manages to swim away. He is smart to think to grab the raft, but the cord gets caught on one of the plane parts and he has to swim down to untangle. Just keep in mind he's been underwater for a few minutes already. If that were me, my instincts would have been to just leave the raft because my brain would have been screaming at me to get to air. That is just the first of many reasons why I would never survive in a scenario like this! There is a scary moment where one of the plane's (still moving!) propellor is right behind him and if it doesn't kill him first, it most defintely is going to shred his raft. He starts paddling very fast, but the propellor explodes and blasts Chuck from his inflatable raft. At first, I thought it had gotten the raft, but he manages to get back on it and it's still in one piece, luckily! He has a very harsh ride on the raft with large waves crashing over him while the storm is still raging. The camera pans away so we can see just how vast the ocean is and how there is no land in sight. No land for Noland! Oh, I get it now!

He has washed up on an uninhibited island (which we will later learn was 600 miles south of the the Cook Islands) and his first priority is to get the hell off the island. He traces the word HELP in large letters in the sand only to have it washed away by the tide, then he uses logs to spell it out, but that is to no avail either.

There is a moment during the first few days of his strandedness when he sees a ships light in the very far distance during the night and gets his puny flashlight to signal SOS (which he sort of makes up on a whim). Does he really think anyone will be able to see that? He gets his raft and starts paddling out, but the waves are too powerful and they puncture the raft and he gets a nasty gash on his leg from some coral.

Packages from the downed Fed-Ex plane start floating ashore and instead of opening them right away which I thought he would do, he keeps them organized. I guess he is still optimistic that he is going to be rescued soon and will still be able to deliver the packages. He does start opening them a few days later, though, and a few items prove to be helpful. He uses the bubble wrap from the packages and laces of an ice skate to wrap around his gash. The blades of the ice skate help him open coconuts. We see him trying to open one before he has the skates and it is a chore. I have only seen coconuts with the round brown husk, but they are also covered by a green shell. I usually only get my coconut shredded, so it comes in a plastic bag! They just seem like a pain in the ass to to open, especially when you don't have any tools. He even breaks the rock he's hitting it with and only gets a teaspoon of coconut milk when he opens it because most of it spills out.  He learns to create a funnel and use that to drink the liquid from the coconut. The blades also come in handy when he's sawing branches off of trees. There's a really ugly dress (brown and black...who would wear that thing, whoever it was for is lucky she never received it!), but it does have netting which comes in very handy when trying to catch fish. The tape from many video tapes also proves to be useful for later events. It is 1995 when the movie begins so we are in that transitional period of people still watching videos, but DVDs are just around the corner. I know it is 1995 because the body of one of the pilots washes onto shore. Chuck takes his flashlight and his shoes because he lost his in the crash. They don't fit him properly so he has to cut off the top so he has room for his toes. He buries the pilot (not sure where he got the shovel...) and puts a photo he finds in the pilot's wallet of him with his two sons in his shirt pocket. On a large rock wall he writes the pilot's name and the years of his birth and death.

And, of course, one of the packages he opens is a Wilson volleyball which was intended to be the birthday present for a young boy from his grandparents. We don't see the volleyball again until Chuck is trying to make fire. He's tried to eat fish and crabs, but since he has no fire to cook them with he has to eat them raw and he is disgusted by that. Now as we all know from watching Survivor, unless you have flint or your torch from Tribal Council, it is very difficult to start fire. There have been a couple people on the show who have started it by using their glasses, but Chuck appears to have 20/20 vision. While he is rubbing two sticks together, he gets a very nasty gash on his hand and in frustration he grabs the volleyball and throws it. The bloody handprint looks like a face and Chuck etches in the eyes, nose, and mouth and the rest is history. Haha, I found a meme of a scene of the movie with Tom Hanks and the volleyball and it said, "Still a better love story that Twilight." That made me laugh, because really, it's pretty much true! Also, Tom Hanks and Wilson were nominated for Best Duo for a MTV Movie Award (they lost to the ladies of Charlie's Angels, which doesn't even make sense since there's three of them, but whatever). Wilson got snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar!

After rinsing his hand in the ocean (and wouldn't that sting with the saltwater? He wasn't wincing in pain or anything) and wrapping his wound with the fabric of the ugly dress, he attempts to make fire again, this time with Wilson "watching" him. Chuck looks at the volleyball and says, "You wouldn't have a match on you, would you?" He finally manages to create fire and is extremely ecstatic. ("FIRE!!!") He is now able to cook his seafood delicacies and enjoy them without gagging.

He does some quick calculations (which is pretty impressive without having a calculator and comes to the conclusion that they're in a search area of 500,000 square miles which is an area twice the size of Texas. Basically he realizes he's f***ed!

Worrying about how to get off the island and making a fire has taken his mind off the tooth that has been giving him pain since even before he flew to Malaysia, but he never make an appointment with his dentist and now that he's not distracted anymore with how to find food or start a fire, the pain is the first thing in his mind and is getting more excruciating by the day. He uses the blade of one of the skates as a mirror to look at the tooth and, in a scene I remember the most from viewing it in the theaters mostly for how much it made me cringe, he uses a rock to knock the ice skate's blade toward his mouth and it knocks out his tooth. It also knocks Chuck out and he hits his head hard on the ground very close to the fire. That part was almost worse for me than the actual knocking out of the tooth, but I remember just cringing and covering my eyes during that whole sequence!

The movie has a time lapse and four years have gone by, now making it "present day" 2000. So he has basically missed out on all the current events that happened in the late '90s. That would be so weird to not know what's going on at all in the world. That would be like if someone had just been rescued from being stranded on an island since 2013 and they'd be like, "Wait, Donald Trump is the President now? How in God's name did that happen?" (That's what I would say!) And then I'd say (half-jokingly, of course!), "Take me back to the island!"

Chuck has lost a lot of weight and has a full grown beard and unruly long hair which has been lightened by the sun. They filmed the movie in two parts where Tom Hanks gained fifty pounds for the first half of the movie, then they took a year hiatus where he shed the weight and grew out his hair and beard and filmed the second part. He has now seemed to adjust to island life, catching fish with ease and maintaining a fire. I think the most difficult part of being in a situation like this would be the lack of social interaction. Even though I only go out with friends about four times a year, I still see people every day with work or going to the grocery store or a coffeehouse or just walking around my neighborhood. I think you're just used to having people around you every day. Wilson represents the only "person" he has and while working on a raft to escape, they have a "conversation". Wilson represents the part of Chuck that thinks it is too dangerous for him to leave and Chuck gets angry and tells Wilson he's rather risk his life on the ocean than stay on this s**thole island for the rest of his life and talking to a damn volleyball and kicks Wilson out of the small hole in the cave he has made home. Even though only a volleyball, Wilson still represents Chuck's only friend and Chuck feels bad the minute he tosses Wilson out and goes out to find him.

The doors from a portable toilet wash up on shore and Chuck uses them as sails / a windguard for his raft which he has fashioned together with logs tied together by the tape from the videotapes. When he has deemed the wind good for sailing, he secures Wilson to a post with the tape and tells him, "I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on!" With his sails he is able to get past the worst part of the ocean with all the twenty foot waves that crash down on him. However, during a nasty storm, he loses the makeshift sails.

During the film there are three instances when the viewer notices something before Chuck. The first is the ship's light in the distance during the first week he is marooned on the island. The viewer is aware of the barge that will eventually rescue Chuck before he is. And, before that moment, the viewer sees Wilson drop from his secured perch and into the ocean while Chuck is asleep on the raft, his back turned to the volleyball. When he awakes a few minutes later, he is scanning the water frantically and when he turns around, he sees the volleyball has floated several feet away. He starts swimming to retrieve his one and only companion, but as he gets further away from the raft (and Wilson is being carried even more further away from him by the waves), he knows he has to let Wilson go. Not gonna lie: this scene made me cry. I felt so bad for Chuck when he gets back on the raft and just starts crying and saying, "I'm sorry, Wilson!" I found this scene to be much more emotional than the eventual reunion he will have with Kelly. Like I mentioned earlier, I had forgotten the fate of Wilson, but I think this is the only way to continue the movie. You need this scene. Wilson is representing a part of his life he has to let go. It just wouldn't work if he still had Wilson when he's rescued and took him home with him. That might be a tad weird.

I don't know how long after that Chuck continues to float before he is rescued, but luckily he is because his raft is starting to fall apart and he is looking like he is knocking on death's doors. It takes four weeks for him to get back to his home in Tennessee. There he discovers Kelly has married another man (Chris Noth) and has a young daughter. Now, if you think about it, four years really isn't that long (unless you're stranded on an island!) so she seemed to move on pretty quickly despite telling Chuck he was her one true love and she always knew he was alive. Think about it: she had to meet the guy, then date him, then get engaged to him, then get married, then have a child and I'm pretty sure the kid is at least two...so yeah, she moved on pretty fast! Maybe if she was only engaged to the guy, then maybe that would have made more sense. I guess they just wanted to let the audience know for certain that they are never, ever getting back together since Kelly has a family now. All the time, Chuck has hanged onto the pocketwatch Kelly gave him and is able to return it to her since he thinks it should stay in her family.

Chuck's friends have a welcome back party for him and they serve crab legs! Seriously, the guy has been stranded on an island for four years with nothing to eat but fish and crustaceans and they think crab legs is the way to go? The movie ends with Chucks at a crossroads (and what a great metaphor because he is now at a crossroads in his own life) and a woman stops and tells him where each road leads and is up to him to decide where he's going to go.

This movie came out the same year Survivor premiered and I was reminded of that show while watching it. Can you imagine if Chuck Noland was on that show? I can just see him now in a confession: "These other people have no idea how to survive. They've never set foot on a tropical island. I was stranded on an island for FOUR YEARS. I can make fire without flint. I can catch fish without winning fishing gear." I can also see him getting irritated with the contestants whining about how hungry they are. "We've only been out here for three weeks and everyone is complaining about how "starving" they are! Ha! Try doing this for FOUR YEARS! And we just had a huge feast two days ago!" Oh, and if he gets hurt and the medical team try to take him out of the game, he would tell them, "When I was stranded on an island, I didn't have any doctors to fix me. I couldn't get medical treatment because of some sand in my eye or because I was dehydrated. I got a huge gash on my hand, a huge gash on my leg, I had to knock out a painful tooth with a rock myself. If I get an injury in this game, no way any doctor is going to tell me I have to leave the game." I can see Jeff Probst asking him about his experience on the island in comparison to playing the game at every single Tribal Council. As far as he would get in the game, I think he would make it past the merge because people would want him around because he has experience with the island life, but after that people would get rid of him because his "story" is way too good. If he made the final two (or three depending on which season he would play on!), he would win because people would want to award somebody who literally did survive on an island! Oh, and his luxury item? A volleyball, of course!