Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Beverly Hills; What a Thrill!

Troop Beverly Hills
Director: Jeff Kanew
Cast: Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson, Betty Thomas, Mary Gross, Jenny Lewis, Carla Gugino, Kellie Martin
Released: March 24, 1989

How did I go this long without seeing this movie? I am shocked that I never saw it in my childhood; it seems like something I would have loved. But somehow I managed to never see this until now. Honestly, I thought I was going to hate this movie or think it was the stupidest thing ever, but I absolutely loved it. Of course, my standards for it weren't that high, so that may have helped its case! I listened to a podcast review where somebody compared Phyllis Nefler to Elle Woods and being that I love Legally Blonde, it makes sense that I would love this movie too. Both characters are seen as ditzy women who only care about shallow things, but in the end they turn out to be stronger and more independent than anyone realized. You could say that Phyllis Nefler walked so Elle Woods could run. This is a bit of an odd movie in that fact that the rich people - crazy, filthy rich people - are the underdogs and you're rooting for them. In what world are rich people ever the underdogs? 

Who is Phyllis Nefler? She is our main character (played by Shelley Long), a Beverly Hills housewife who is separated from her husband, Freddy (Craig T. Nelson), who is living in the pool house until the divorce is finalized. Phyllis's excessive shopping and failure to stick with anything she starts are just some of the reasons Freddy is ready to end their marriage. He's also disappointed because she had "potential" and "energy" and was "so creative". She retorts back and tells him she went shopping to furnish his house and build his perfect image to be his "perfect Beverly Hills wife." The Neflers live in a mansion with a pool and a room that has its own balance beam for their daughter and Phyllis has a walk-in closet so large that she gets lost in it filled with the latest fashions. There's even a landscape mural of a river and green fields painted on the wall behind her bed. They've managed to acquire all of this because Freddy has his own auto shop and is known as "Nefler the Muffler Man." He must have an  international chain of these shops because I don't know exactly how lucrative the muffler business is. 

The Neflers have a twelve-year-old daughter, Hannah (played by Jenny Lewis of future Rilo Kiley fame in her first role; she would be in the god awful The Wizard later the same year - there's even a scene where she's playing Nintendo with her dad, was that a little cross promotion?) Hannah is a Wilderness Girl who belongs to Troop Beverly Hills. Wilderness Girl = Girl Scout. I guess they didn't get the rights to use the Girl Scout name. This Beverly Hills troop has never earned any patches or sold any cookies and they can never get a troop leader to stick with them very long. Phyllis has decided to put in an application to be the new leader for her daughter's troop. When the other leaders in the region gather at the Southern California Headquarters for the Wilderness Girls of America, they vote to let Phyllis be the new leader because her application seems promising. It says her interest include "community affairs" and we see a scene of her gossiping with her friend, another mother of a girl who is the troop. She's being shown a slew of shoes and she point to two pairs of them and tells the salesman, "This one and this one....OUT. I'll take the rest." On her application, she writes that she prides herself on being "honest, resourceful, and thrifty" and we see a scene of her trying on a beaded dress that costs $5600. She manages to knock $600 off when she tells the salesgirls that a bead is missing. Her application says she loves animals and we see a scene of her admiring a bejeweled frog broach at Cartier. 

In total, there are eight members of Troop Beverly Hills. This is a significantly lower number than the number of girls in the other troops, but having only eight girls makes it much more easier to keep track of them. Not to mention it makes sense that this troop wouldn't be that big. Besides Hannah, we also have the following:
-Lily is the daughter of a dictator of a non-specified southeast Asian country. Phyllis refers to her parents as "Mr. and Mrs. Dictator". Not sure why they are in Beverly Hills. Either they are spending summer vacation there or he was exiled. Lily's mother was modeled after Imelda Marcos because she is asked by someone how many pairs of shoes she owns.
-Tessa is the daughter of a Steven Speilberg-esque director who is currently directing a movie with Robert Redford. Tessa is in therapy, because, of course she is. 
-Tiffany is the daughter of a plastic surgeon. She seems to be the one to know the most about money. She doesn't want to go to the first troop meeting Phyllis is holding, so she haggles with her dad. He tells her he'll give her ten bucks, then ups the price to $30 when she says it's not worth it. She asks for $50 and he says, "Forty and that's my final offer" and she replies, "I'll suffer through it" while pocketing the money.  Tiffany is played by Emily Schulman who is best known for playing the bratty neighbor girl on Small Wonder. You remember that show? With the robot girl?  
-Emily (yes, they had a character named Emily and an actress named Emily and the actress named Emily didn't play the girl named Emily...) is the daughter of an actor who is aging out of Hollywood and is having trouble finding work. They aren't doing too well financially which we'll see later. Emily tells him she needs to bring ten dollars for dues, but he says he forgot his wallet. Dude, really? Emily is played by Kellie Martin of Life Goes On and ER fame. 
-Jasmine and her parents are pulled over by a cop on their way to the Neflers. This, unfortunately, is because they're a black family driving a Rolls Royce (I think? I'm not good with cars, but this was a super swank car) in an affluent neighborhood. Despite Jasmine's parents being dressed to the nines, especially her mother, the cop stops them and is ready to write them a ticket for "speeding". Jasmine asks him, "Don't you know who this man is?", referring to her father, who is a famous boxer. "He's the best, he's the greatest, he's my dad - James "The Jackhammer" Shakar." The cop forgets about the ticket and wants an autograph, but Mr. Shakar refuses to sign it on the ticket. 
-Claire is the daughter of a divorce lawyer and a romance novelist named Vicki Spratz (played by Stephanie Beacham; personally I think her name is better suited for a romance novelist!) who drives a DeLorean and dictates notes for her next novel into a recorder. Claire often helps her with the raunchy dictation. She is a child actress who stars in a show called Winnie and the Winklemans. I'm guessing she's Winnie. Claire is played by fellow child actress, Ami Foster, who played Margaux (yes, that's how it's spelled...so high brow!) on Punky Brewster. The only person I remember from that show is the titular one. 
-Chica is the daughter of jet-setting parents who are either in Monte Carlo or Morocco half the time and even forget about their daughter on her birthday. When we first meet her, she is wearing an equestrian outfit. You know the little bee-yotch has her own thoroughbred. Chica is played by Carla Gugino who is probably the best known and most prolific of the young actresses. She was actually a good three-four years older than the other girls as she told the director she was 14 when she was really 16. You can tell she's older because she's a good foot taller than some of the girls! 

Phyllis, who has caviar for the girls at their first meeting, asks them why they aren't wearing their uniforms and they tell her they've never had a leader stick around long enough to take them shopping to which Phyllis replies, "I have a black belt in shopping!" and takes them to the place where the uniforms are purchased. Now I was a Girl Scout when I was in elementary school and I don't particularly remember wearing a uniform. I kind of remember we had a vest or a sash to put our badges on, but I don't ever recall wearing it. But that was a long time ago. When Phyllis sees the uniform she asks, "Do they only come in khaki?" She's absolutely mortified when she tries it on and when she looks in the mirror, she exclaims, "Oh my God! The color's wrong, the collar's wrong, and the material's a nightmare from hell. It's cut badly, it itches and it's not me." She takes the uniform to her tailor, a snooty French man named Henri, who disdainfully asks her, "My God, darling, what is that?" when he sees the uniform. Phyllis asks him what can he do with it and he retorts, "You mean besides burn it?" and uses a handkerchief to take the hanger it's on while making a face. This guy deserves an Oscar, bravo! Henri himself deserves whatever award they give to fashion designers. He creates these impressive, impeccable Wilderness Girls leader uniforms (yes, plural) for her to wear and she has different outfits for different occasions They are on point; they are *muah*, chef's kiss.

The antagonist in this movie is Velda Plendor (Betty Thomas) who is the leader of the Culver City troop who her daughter and her daughter's friend, played by a young, brunette Tori Spelling are members of. This troop wears red feathers in their caps and calls themselves the Red Feathers. This is obviously to help differeinate them from other troops since all the girls are wearing the same uniform.  Velda describes herself as a mother, a widow, and an ex-army nurse. There is a running joke where her own daughter and assistant refer to her as "Miss Plendor, sir" (she refuses to let her daughter refer to her as "Mom"). She runs the first meeting all the troop leaders are gathered at and tells them, "If any of you Betty Crockers out there think you're just going to teach toddlers how to bake cupcakes, then you can leave now." Cue two elderly women getting up to leave.

As Velda tells the other leaders, "When we're looking for new leaders, we're looking for no non-sense women", Phyllis walks in (in heels, no less) wearing one of her new creations, a uniform that has now been tailored to fit her compete with forest green piping and a cape with green silk lining and she's even carrying a cigarette stick. We'll see a reiteration of the cape in another scene, except it's lined with gold lame (pretend there's an accent mark over the e). Not surprisingly, Velda is pretty dismissive of Phyllis and when Phyllis suggests instead of selling cookies door-to-door (to save a little time and shoe leather), why don't they just have a telethon that can be hosted by "Johnny or Merv", she just rolls her eyes. After this, Velda will become obsessed with taking Phyllis down and humiliating her.

Troop Beverly Hill's first big event with Phyllis Nefler as their troop leader is an overnight camping trip. Even though it is summer (I assume, or maybe it's just nice weather since they're in Southern California), Phyllis wears a floor-length white fur coat over one of her newly tailored uniforms. Her daughter points out it's only an overnight trip: "I think we'll be back before winter." The girls are taken to the campsite (which is near the Hollywood sign) in limos and they have a service that puts their tents up for them. Around the campfire, Phyllis makes fondue al fresco for all of them and is about to show them how to make espresso, but then it starts pouring. All the girls run to the tents for shelter, but Phyllis, who is wearing her white fur coat is trying to salvage the fondue, but she ends up falling in the mud, face first (did I mention she's wearing a WHITE fur coat?). After singing a round of "Kumbaya, My Lord" (a song that is quite prevalent in this), Phyllis takes the girls to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Hmm, is Phyllis the one who invented glamping? Was glamping a thing yet in the '80s? Phyllis calls Velda who isn't home, so she leaves a hilarious message that "her recommendation for a campsite was totally unsuitable. There were no outlets and there were dirt and bugs and it rains there. We found a place that's much more us." Haha! I love how she's so indignant that there were bugs and dirt at a campsite! They manage to keep the spirit of being on a camping trip alive by telling scary stories around the fireplace. I had to laugh at the story Tiffany told with all the rich people updates. Instead of saying "It sounded like it was in the den....then it came from the attic" like any normal person, she tells the story as such: "It sounded like it was in the foyer....then it came from the maid's room." Phyllis tells them a "scary" story (the creepy music playing during it was a nice touch) about going to Cristophe's to get her hair done and instead of Cristophe, there was a stranger named Renaldo who styled her hair, but instead of giving her something sophisticated, she looks into the mirror and exclaims, "He permed me!" and all the girls scream in horror. However, I thought everybody had perms in the '80s? Or were the Beverly Hills crowd too posh for that? I can see them thinking perms are too gauche, because most perms (especially from the '80s) are especially that. 

Velda got Phyllis's message so she brings her assistant, Annie (Mary Gross), to the Beverly Hills Hotel to inform Phyllis that she's supposed to be camping. Looking around the large, comfy room, she asks, "This is what you call roughing it?" Phyllis's response is, "One bathroom for nine people? Yes!" I have to side with Phyllis here. Even one bathroom with three people would be pushing it for me. 

Well, hello, l'il Tori Spelling!
The next big event is the annual "Wilderness Craft Day" and for that the girls put on a fashion show where Claire models what looks to be "an ordinary, high-quality backpack", but when you "lift the back and pop the snap", different outfits on hangers are revealed. As Phyllis tells them, "Just because you're out in the woods, it's no excuse not to look your best." Now it's a clever idea and these backpacks will come back later to serve a purpose (though looking good in the woods is not the purpose!), but who cares about looking "your best" when you're in the woods? You should be dressed for the elements, not for fashion. Also, you're bound to get dirty, so what's the point of looking your best? But I digress. However, I still wouldn't have the look of disdain the other girls from the other troops (especially the Red Feathers) seem to have for them. Tori Spelling (I can't be bothered to look up her character's name, so we'll just call her Tori Spelling) asks, "Where are you from? Mars?" Her friend (and Velda's daughter), Cleo, tells her, "Worse. Beverly Hills" and Tori rolls her eyes. I see you Donna Martin, I see you. 

Velda decides to send her assistant, Annie, on an undercover mission to spy on Phyllis and her troop because she is "a threat to everything we stand for." (I think she's being a tad overdramatic here). She tells Annie, "You can infiltrate her organization, win her trust" and "We are going to form a dossier of information on her." This includes Velda cutting out the insides of a book that has a hole carved in the middle and fitting a camera in the book. She also duct tapes a tape recorder (gotta love the '80s!) under Annie's shirt and places a mic in her scarf and covers it with a broach. We will see Annie taking photos not so subtly as the camera makes loud noises everytime she snaps a photo. Probably the line that made me laugh the most is when Annie calls Phyllis to offer her help as an assistant troop leader (while Velda is listening in, of course). Phyllis is pruning an orange tree (honestly, kind of surprised she was doing yard work) and tells her, "I really would love your help. The parents in this neighborhood are so self involved - oh, sh*t, I broke a nail." Oh my God, I died! That got a big laugh from me. 

At the first meeting Annie attends, the girls talk about how much they suck and how much better the Red Feathers are. Phyllis tells them she's going to show them "how to survive the wilds of Beverly Hills". We see the girls go to the aforementioned Cristophe's (luckily Renaldo wasn't there) and get manicures and pedicures. In this world, Wilderness Girls get "achievement patches" which are the equivalent to the badges that Girl Scouts obtain. We get a montage of them earning their badges, some are legit badges (like when they volunteer at an assisted living residence), but others are ones that Phyllis made up. One of those is the Jewelry Appraisal patch. Phyllis and the girls are gathered around a jewelry case at Cartier's as Tiffany is inspecting a diamond that she correctly appraises at $85,000. Two quick things: I'm impressed a twelve-year-old has an eye for this kind of thing and I'm surprised they let a twelve-year-old touch an $85,000 diamond. The jeweler tells them it's called a canary diamond. Phyllis asks him does it sing and when he says no, she presses the jewel against her ear and says, "Yes, it does" and she and the girls start singing "Kumbaya" once again. 

Phyllis holds a ceremony at the marina for the girls to receive their patches. Her uniform is sailor themed and I am here for it. She praises the girls for receiving 36 patches in three weeks and presents each one with the unique patches they earned. For instance, Tiffany earned the Friendship patch, the Shopping patch, and the aforementioned Jewelry Appraisal patch. Lily is presented with the International Affairs patch for teaching them "how to launder money and crash revolution". (You might remember her as the dictator's daughter). Phyllis jokingly gives Hannah the Best Daughter patch, but she has "legitimately" earned the Sushi Appreciation patch, the Fire Prevention patch (that one actually sounds like a real one), and the Gardening with Glamor patch. However, in the end, Velda will make them forfeit the patches since they aren't legit. 

We get an idea of just how destitute Emily's family is when Phyllis informs the girls before the ceremony that they will have to bring 7.50 for the patches. That's seven dollars and fifty cents; not seven hundred and fifty dollars (which would be a bit ridiculous!) Emily gets very upset because she is unable to afford this. Girl, why is you dad driving a fancy-ass car if he can't afford to give you a measly seven dollars and fifty cents?? Luckily, Tiffany, the girl obsessed with money, lends her ten dollars, but not before making a joke about interest. 

Phyllis takes the girl to court for a divorce hearing; they are there "to attest the division of property." She tells the judge, "The workings of the wonderful American judiciary system are something that every child should witness, especially with a woman like you in charge" for the reason why she brought her Wilderness Girls troop. She sure knows how to butter somebody up, which she is doing since she is late. Her excuse? "My troop and I were busy describing the fall fashion to the blind. One man said he could actually feel the colors." I'm guessing these were people who went blind later in life? There's a funny moment where both Hannah and Claire say hello to their fathers since Claire's dad is Mr. Nefler's lawyer. Phyllis finds out that Freddy wants to speed the process along because he is thinking of remarrying; he's been seeing his realtor. 

Annie shows Velda all the photos she's been surreptitiously (except not so much) taking and I noticed there was one shot which is at the wrong angle. We see a photo of the girls when they were at Cartier, but the photo is shown from where the camera (the movie camera, that is) would have been; where Annie was standing, her photo would have been at a different angle. I'm just saying. Even though Velda thinks she has a lot of incriminating evidence, the head of the Wilderness Girls organization isn't fazed by them, so Velda gets the idea for Annie to move in with Phyllis so they can really spy on her. I mean, she is becoming borderline obsessed with Phyllis. When Annie tells Phyllis that her apartment is being fumigated and she won't be able to live there for a couple of weeks, Phyllis is more than happy to let her stay with her (she does have plenty of room, after all!) 

It's cookie time! At a rally all the Wilderness Girls of SoCal attends, Velda informs them the troops who sell more than 1000 boxes of cookies will be able to attend the annual Jamboree. Whichever troop wins the Jamboree will be the poster troop for the following year. I love when Phyllis is excited about this, but then asks what a jamboree is. From what I gather, each troop gives the number of boxes they plan to sell and have to reach that goal. I didn't quite get this because the Beverly Hills troop decides to sell 2000 boxes. But what's the point of selling 2000 when you only need to sell 1000 to attend the Jamboree? And what happens if they don't sell 2000, but do sell at least 1000? Do they not get to attend because they didn't reach their goal? But then why have goals if all they need is to sell 1000? Am I making too much of this? Probably, since in the end it doesn't really matter. 

The Red Feathers do our girls dirty when they sell cookies in their ritzy Beverly Hills neighborhood, including to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It's at that moment when Annie throws away the secret camera and dossier on Annie and is now firmly on Team Nefler. 

Instead of just having the parents buy all the boxes of cookies (well, except for Emily's dad since he can't even afford anything that's ten dollars), Phyllis wants the girls to do something that will "enhance community spirit." This leads us to a fantabulous montage of them selling cookies, which includes putting on a concert and singing an original song called "Cookie Time". Seriously, how was this movie not nominated for Best Original Song? Or best Costume Design for that matter? Inquiring minds want to know! Highlights of this montage include:
-The song! It is a bop and a half. 
-Jasmine wearing a Tina Turner wig.
-Money-obsessed Tiffany getting the line, "Cheap at even twice the price" because of course she would.
-When the girls are shilling out cookies at Spago and someone asks if they take American Express and Jasmine says, "We prefer Visa." 
-Vicki Sprantz signing her new book, "Malibu Bitch" (sounds like the essential beach read) while her TV actress daughter signs boxes of cookies a few feet away from her.

Phyllis calls Velda to tell her, "We didn't sell 2000 boxes of cookies" and you see Velda smiling
smugly, but it quickly vanishes when Phyllis tells her that they sold 4,732 boxes. She invites her to a gala that Chica's parents (I think it was her parents) are throwing for them when their check is presented. At the party, Velda finds out that Annie has gone to the dark side (or has she left the dark side?) Annie is wearing a dress that Hannah found for her in her mom's closet. I was kind of surprised that Phyllis had this dress because it was just ugly and seemed quite plain next to her more outrageous outfits. It looked like Annie was wearing a black trash bag with a pink tutu and two pink ribbons wrapped around her bodice. I didn't buy this dress coming from Phyllis's closest, it was kind of on the trashy (no pun intended) side. I also didn't really care for the dress Phyllis herself wore. It looked like a dyed egg painted for Easter exploded on her! 
We learn that Tessa's dad (the director) has cast Emily's dad (the out of work actor) in his new film that seems to be The Godfather. Now, does The Godfather not exist in this world and her dad is going to be the next Marlon Brando or is this a rendition of The Godfather? Also at the gala is Freddy who is impressed with Phyllis and showers her with compliments.  He tells her that she looks great, that she's turned around completely, that he's proud of her. He tells her he has "something very important" to talk to her about and she think he wants to get back together since he said he broke up with his girlfriend, but he wanted to discuss the custody arrangement of Hannah. 

The Jamboree is coming up  and Velda tells Phyllis that she's not fit to lead the girls, that "somebody's going to get hurt and it's going to be all your fault." Oh, somebody will get hurt on the Jamboree, but it won't be Phyllis's fault. When Phyllis gathers the girls for a meeting and tells them she's not qualified to take them on the Jamboree, they tell her that she can't quit, that they've come this far and she's done so much for them. One of the girls tells her, "You're our role model and our friend." Tessa, the nerdiest of the group (and the one who goes to therapy), tells her, "You took a group of overindulged, unmotivated alienated preadolescents and gave us a renewed sense of self esteem." Even Freddy, who overhears them, tells her that she's come too far to quit now. 

With all that motivation and support behind her, Phyllis, Annie, and the eight Wilderness Girls drive to the 60th Annual Wilderness Jamboree where Velda is a little dismayed (and annoyed) to see them. They drive up in two cars with the words "You gotta believe" and "We [heart] Beverly Hills" painted on the sides of each one. The main (and only, it seems) event is the survival competition where each troop will follow a path that is designated by their flag. Each troop has a different colored flag, blue for Beverly Hills. (Surprised it wasn't cerulean!) There are only four troops; we really aren't supposed to care about any of them except our girls and the Red Feathers. Since only Wilderness Girls and their troops leaders are allowed to compete, Velda does them dirty by firing Annie for really no good reason so Annie, the most experienced one on their troop, won't be able to accompany them. I didn't realize Velda had the power to do this since she's not the head of the entire Wilderness Girl organization (even though she acts like it). Obviously they do this because it would be too easy if they had Annie on their team and they need to have a little conflict for them. Even though Velda is the troop leader for the Red Feathers, she does not compete in the Jamboree since she created the course and knows everything about it. Instead, one of her assistant troop leaders will lead her troop.

When trying to figure out which direction they need to go, Phyllis says, "Gucci is north of Wilshire. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is west. I think the campsite is at Cartier, so to speak." Feeling confident that they figured out their first task, they continue on. We see one of the little brats from the Red Feathers turn a blue arrow meant for Troop BH so they will go in the wrong direction and it leads them to Dead Man's Swamp where they run screaming after seeing a water moccasin. This leads them back on the trail where they encounter a skunk and they seem to be even more scared of it than the snake (look, I wouldn't want to encounter a skunk either, but I'd rather smell bad than be dead!) and hightail it down the path which leads them to the finish line mere seconds before the Red Feathers reach it. The Beverly Hills girls completed the course in 6 hours and 28.5 seconds and the Red Feathers completed it in 6 hours and 29 minutes. As you can imagine, Velda is livid. She blames the skunk since that's the reason the girls were running so fast. The skunk must have chased them because it also crosses the finish line and Velda picks it up (she's brave!) and tells it, "You're going to pay for this!" Pay, it did. The next scene we see is Velda at a campfire wearing a fur skunk cap, and roasting meat in the fire, presumably the skunk.

Since Velda already isn't playing fair, she tells her assistant leader that she (Velda) will be talking over tomorrow because the assistant will have to go home because she will be too sick to continue. For some reason, when she makes this announcement the next day, nobody disputes her. Oh, sure, there are cries of unfairness from the BH troop, but there's really nothing anybody can do about it. We get a little chant from our girls:  "We're the girls from Beverly Hills....Shopping is our greatest skill" complete with these super dorky dance moves. They're doing this as a marching song, but when they stop and do those dance moves it doesn't make sense because it slows them down, it doesn't keep them moving. I will say the "Beverly Hills, what a thrill!" chants are very catchy. 

They come to a rope bridge that has been cut by Velda in order to sabotage them. Phyllis pouts, "It really frosts my cookies that we have worked so hard and we have come so far, and now we have to stop." Hannah points to a large log that is covering the (ridiculously deep) ravine and wants to walk across it. Now as you may remember, the Neflers have a balance beam in their house that Hannah practices on, so we have come full circle. Phyllis tells her it's too dangerous and that "Only an idiot would walk across that... I'm going to do it." 

I'm not gonna lie; this scene made me anxious. It made me jump a few times, especially when it looked like she was going to fall. I knew this wasn't the type of movie where a beloved troop leader was going to fall to her death, but it still made me nervous! For example, when she's reached the middle of the log, she turns her head back towards the girls to tell them, "This isn't so bad", then almost loses her balance and everyone, including me, gasps loudly. A few steps later, Phyllis trips and fall on the log, scaring the girls (and me), but manages to stay on. It appears she's really close to the other side and she could easily scooch herself to solid land. Which begs the question, why didn't she just sit on her butt and move across that way instead of walking? If I had to cross something that high, that's what I would do. Hannah decides she's going to help her mom and also starts to walk across. I understand she's practiced on her balance beam, but there's a huge difference when you're a few feet away from a floor that is covered by a gym mat and when you're 100 feet (I could be a little hyperbolic there, but it did appear very deep!) above your impending death. Hannah gets her foot stuck in a groove and Phyllis gets up and turns around and goes to help her daughter. So basically Hannah went across for nothing because her mom didn't need her help and now she's no longer close to the other side. The mother and daughter make it across (of course) and fix the broken bridge so the other girls can cross it. One of the girls muses that they could have a chance to win and Phyllis tells the girls that they've already won because they didn't quit, they didn't cheat, and they didn't call home when they were in trouble; they worked as a team. 

While all of this is going on, Velda is spying on them with her binoculars and decides to take her girls through a short cut. Tori tells her it might be dangerous because the map says it's for hunters and trappers. Velda replies, "It's only dangerous when you don't know what you're doing" and mere seconds later she falls through a trap hole and is howling about her ankle. Cleo, her daughter, makes an executive decision to carry on without her because she's dead weight and assures her that after they win they'll send someone back for her, but Velda is not thrilled by this. She screams at her troop so loudly that Phyllis and her girls can hear her. Phyllis tell the girls, "It's probably just one of nature's beasts" and she's not too far off. Velda screams some more and Phyllis recognizes who it is and leads her troop towards the screaming. 

Tessa assess Velda's foot injury and seems to know an awful lot about podiatry for some reason. Her diagnosis is, "There's multiple contusions, possibly a cracked fibula, and a severe personality disorder." Ooh, burn! Phyllis wants to take her down for medical attention and Velda accuses her of wanting to know the quickest way to get there so they can win. The girls don't want to help her and think they should just leave her there and make her somebody else's problem. As Phyllis puts it, "It's a real moral dilemma." In a funny scene, the girls huddle, for like five seconds and you can hear someone say quite clearly, "I think we should leave her. She's a pain." Phyllis convinces them to help her and this is when the backpacks they debuted at the Wilderness Craft Day come in handy as they create a makeshift gurney with them for her to sit in. Despite Velda's constant griping, they march forth with her. 

Tessa's dad, the Hollywood director, is at the finish line with a camera and crew to film the whole thing and is shouting out directions for how he wants the shot to look. I would be so embarrassed if I were Tessa! Unsurprisingly, the Red Feathers are first and I laughed when Cleo says, "I'd like to say the other three teams gave us a real run for our money...but they didn't" after she claims the trophy. Also unsurprisingly, their win doesn't count since their troop leader wasn't with them and I saw that coming a mile away. After hearing this, Cleo grabs the trophy and runs away with it. 

Troop Beverly Hills are the second to arrive, but of course they are the real winners since everybody is accounted for. The head of the organization apologizes for not having a trophy for them and they say they don't need a trophy because all they wanted to do was prove that they were real Wilderness Girls. And they did. Awww. They are featured on the 1990 Wilderness Girls poster. Oh, and Phyllis and Freddy get back together. 

If you are curious to see all the outfits Phyllis Nefler wore, somebody ranked all of them.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Taylor Stan

I literally just bought Taylor Swift's new album, but haven't listened to it yet. However, when I woke up to the news this morning that her 8th studio album would be coming out at midnight (it's not even midnight here yet, hehe!), I made a list of my favorite 22 Taylor Swift songs. Ironically, "22" is not on this list, though it made the list when I made my 15 favorite Taylor Swift songs. However, that was three years ago and I only had five albums to choose songs from. This was very difficult; don't be mad if your favorite song isn't on there (but I bet it will be because everyone's favorite Taylor song is the same). 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

You've Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle
Director: Nora Ephron
Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman, Rosie O'Donnell, Rita Wilson, Victor Garber, Rob Reiner, Gaby Hoffmann
Released: June 25, 1993

Oscar nominations: 
Best Original Screenplay - Nora Ephron, David S. Ward, and Jeff Arch (lost to Jane Campion for The Piano
Best Song - Marc Shaiman and Ramsay McLean for "A Wink and a Smile" (lost to "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen for Philadelphia)

The only thing I remembered about this movie is the end where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan meet at the Empire State Building. Ironically, for a movie called Sleepless in Seattle, I only remember the part that took place in New York. I was also trying to remember if Meg Ryan's character lived in Seattle (I knew Tom Hanks's character did), but then I realized that if they both lived in the same city, it wouldn't make any sense for them to meet in New York! 

This movie starts in Chicago at the funeral of the wife of Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks). So right off the bat they want you to know he is now single. He decides he needs a change of scenery so he decides to move to Seattle with his eight-year-old son, Jonah. They don't really specify why he chooses to move to Seattle. He doesn't have any family there or likes the rain or says he got a job there, just seemed to randomly pick it. He and his son move into a house boat where he keeps a roll up map of the United State in the kitchen which he uses to teach his son geography. He gets a job as an architect and makes a friend named Jay (Rob Reiner) who teaches him about dating in the '90s. 

All the way on the other side of the country we meet Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), who lives in Baltimore and is engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman), a man the audience isn't supposed to like because he makes dopey jokes and is allergic to everything so he's always sneezing and blowing his nose. Yeah, not the most attractive, but despite his flaws he seems like a relatively nice guy. It's Christmas Eve and not only is Annie bringing Walter to meet her parents and family for the first time ever, but she also announces they're getting married. Does anyone else find this a bit odd that the family hadn't even met this guy while they were dating? We learn that Annie and Walter met at a sandwich shop when they both ordered a tomato and lettuce sandwich (why not just order a salad with a slice of bread?) and one of them had it on white and the other had it on wheat, but their orders got mixed up. Annie's mom gets out the wedding dress that her mom wore at her wedding because Annie wants to wear it and I'm thinking, girl, really? You really want to wear this very old fashioned and matronly dress to your wedding? Not only does it have long sleeves and a neckline that could almost be a turtleneck, but it looks like the top is a different material from the skirt. This moment is played as very sincere so it's not like we're supposed to laugh and feel bad for Annie in this hideous dress, but man, that dress is awful! Also, if I'm getting married, I want to wear my own NEW dress, I don't want to wear my mom's or grandmother's wedding dress. If they have a piece of jewelry for me, that's fine, but not the actual dress. I feel like this is a big troupe in movies, but it makes me wonder if this thing happens a lot in real life. 

After dinner, Annie and Walter leave and for some reason they're driving separate cars. There's really no reason for this except that the movie wants Annie to be listening to a Delilah-esque radio show called "You and Your Emotions" alone. The host is a woman named Dr. Marsha Fieldstone and the topic tonight is "Wishes and Dreams". Annie gets sucked into the show when Jonah calls in from Seattle and tells the host his wish is for his dad to have a new wife. He explains that his mom died and his dad has been very sad and hasn't been sleeping well which gives him the moniker "Sleepless in Seattle" (and the title of this movie, would you look at that!) Dr. Marsha Fieldstone wants to talk to Jonah's dad so he gets him. I'm honestly surprised that Sam didn't hang up the phone because that's what I would have done. Then I would have a very long talk with my child about calling national radio shows and airing my personal business for the whole country to hear! But Sam talks to her and he catches the attention of many women (including Annie) across the country as he talks about how in love he was with his wife, Maggie. He says when he took her hand to help her out of the car, "It was like coming home; only to no home I'd ever know." He also says it was like "magic" and Annie says that word at the same time, so this is supposed to tell the audience that Annie and Sam are meant to be. We'll see other instances of them where they're supposed to be meant for each other sprinkled in the movie. One example is when we see Annie peeling an apple with a knife in one long strip (I would be too scared to do that in fear that I would cut myself!) and in a later scene Sam will tell Jonah that his mother could "peel an apple in one long, curly strip."

The story goes viral (or whatever the equivalent of viral was in 1993) and Sam starts getting stacks of letters from admirers around the country. Apparently two thousand women have asked for his number. In the grand scheme, of things, 2000 is really just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the female population of the United Sates between 25-45 (my guess of the age range of the women who were writing him) in 1993, but on the other hand, 2000 letters is a lot for one guy to get. 

Jonah tells his dad that he gave out his address (um, that seems extremely dangerous...they could have some unstable woman stalking them (and in a way, they kinda do!)) and Sam (rightfully) asks, "What possessed you to give them our address?" Jonah says they called and asked for it. Sam asks how did they get their number and Jonah replies that you have to give your number to the radio show or they won't let you on the air. Okay, I need to unpack a few things here because I am a bit confused and if I missed something and somebody could clear this up for me, that would be great! I've never called in to a radio show so I don't know if you have to give them your number, but I guess it makes sense if your call becomes disconnected, or maybe it was just a plot device for this movie. I am shocked that the radio show gave out his number when women called asking for it. I feel like there's some law against that? Like a privacy law? I feel like Sam could have a lawsuit against this radio show and sue them for millions. Also, since these women already have his number, why are they calling just to ask for his address (I also find it amazing that Sam never picks up the phone when all these women have called; he must be a workaholic or something); why didn't they just ask to talk to Sam since they already have his number? I don't know; maybe I'm reading too much into this. I feel like there could have been a better way for this to be handled. 

Even though these women know that his name is Sam, all the letters begin with "Dear Sleepless in Seattle". Jonah helps his dad goes though the letters and one of them writes, "You're the most attractive man I've ever laid ears on" to which he rolls his eyes and throws the letter back. Yep, that would be my reaction as well! 

Back in Baltimore, where Annie works as a writer for The Baltimore Sun (presumably she writes fluff pieces) the "Sleepless in Seattle" story is getting a lot of attention. There's this weird line/"joke" where a couple of Annie's male colleagues are telling her that they heard a statistic that it's more likely for a woman to get killed in a terrorist attack than get married over the age of 40. This line was written as a joke (a bad one at that) and wasn't an actual fact, right? Because no way that is correct. I don't know anyone who's ever been killed in a terrorist attack. I know a lot of people who are married and while I don't know how old all of them were they wed, I'm sure there's at least one person who was over 40, so already that statistic is bullish*t. I did a bit of research and found that this was actually a statistic printed in a 1986 issue of Newsweek (and obviously not accurate...where do they even get the data to back that up?) and Nora Ephron was calling out how stupid it was. She probably should have just kept it out of the movie.

Annie and Walter make plans to meet in New York for Valentine's Day because he's going to be in Boston for a few days before the 14th. Annie has a friend named Becky (Rosie O'Donnell) who I think is her editor. Becky is not a fan of Walter and Annie keeps trying to tell her that Walter is a perfectly nice guy but even she has trouble convincing herself of that. Annie decides that she's going to write a letter to Sam and types one up on her typewriter (yes, typewriter; it wasn't even an electric one!) while she and Becky are watching An Affair to Remember. That movie plays a big role in this movie. I didn't even remember the name of it until Rita Wilson's character (who plays Sam's sister...kinda weird that a husband and wife are playing siblings, but I guess it would be way weirder if it were the other way around) mentions it. It seems all the female characters go gaga over this movie which I hated because it was such a stereotype that all women love mushy romantic movies. I've never seen An Affair to Remember, but from the few scenes they show of it here, it does not look like my cup of tea. It just looks boring. In another scene we'll see Sam's sister explaining the plot of the movie to Sam and her husband (Victor Garber) and ends up CRYING while she's talking about it. It's a great performance from Rita Wilson, but honestly, who has ever cried while explaining the plot of a movie? We will also see another scene of Jonah's little girlfriend, Jessica (Gaby Hoffmann) who is watching it and crying, declaring, "This is the best movie I've ever seen!" No, I'm sorry. No way an eight/nine-year-old child is going to say some old time-y romance movie from 1957 is the best movie they've ever seen. Not when Home Alone and Aladdin and The Mighty Ducks are most likely in her video rotation. Also she'll be changing her tune when she goes sees Jurassic Park that summer! I hated the whole An Affair to Remember subplot.

So Annie and Becky are watching the movie and they can both recite all the lines and Annie is swooning over the romance between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Becky says the most meta line of the film: "You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie." I laughed when Annie reads the start of her letter to Becky: "Dear Sleepless and son, I have never written a letter like this in my life" and Becky replies, "That's what everyone writes at the beginning of letters to strangers." She also asks her, "What about Walter?" and Annie dreamily says, "I would give anything to marry Walter." Okay, so then why are you writing to this man you've never met or seen that lives three thousand miles away? Annie's reasoning is, "What if this man is my destiny and I never meet him?" Sometimes I was very confused about what Annie wanted. There's a scene in An Affair to Remember where the two leads meet at the Empire State Building and Becky tells her to write that she wants to meet him there on Valentine's Day. Annie thinks this is a great idea because she'll already be in New York with Walter that day and she'll be able to squeeze in it. Then she realizes what she just said and crumbles up the letter so at least she had that much sense.

Can we just pause here for a moment and talk about this letter from Sam's perspective. You get this letter from a woman who's asking you to fly all the way from Seattle to New York to meet her at a very crowded touristy spot. Um, I'm sorry, but I'm not paying however much it cost to fly from one end of the country to the other in 1993, plus the cost of admission to go up the ESB. Not to mention that a flight from Seattle to New York is a little over five hours long and I'm guessing that's not counting layovers, though I suppose there's probably continuous flights between both cities, but that's not the point. If I'm Sam, no way I'm flying all the way across the country to meet some random woman; I don't care how much she talks about "fate" and "magic". If she wants to meet me so much, then she should come to Seattle and if she wants to meet at a touristy destination with tons of people around, then meet me at the Space Needle. Or better yet, why not a coffee shop? I'm willing to bet there's at least ten within five minutes of Sam's home! But like I said, Annie tosses the letter to the side and Sam never receives it...or does he...? 

Sam starts dating a woman he works with named Victoria. The audience isn't supposed to like her because she "laughs like a hyena" (Jonah's words) and while she does have an annoying laugh, I found it more annoying that she seemed to find everything that Sam said hilarious funny even though it wasn't, so I guess the movie did a good job of making me think she was annoying. Other than that, she seemed like a perfectly nice woman. I guess since she and Walter are in the way of Annie and Sam finding true love with each other, we're supposed to root against them. Jonah is especially a little brat towards her and she is doing her best to be nice to him. There's a moment when he's spying on them when they come home after a date and are standing outside on the deck. Jonah calls Dr. Marsha Fieldstone's radio show to give her (and the entire country) a blow by blow of what's going on. He then screams bloody murder when he sees them kiss and calls Victoria a "ho". Seriously, kid? Also, if this were my kid, he would be grounded until he went to college. Sam is a pretty chill dad as his kid doesn't seem to have any discipline. I guess his wife took care of that. Becky calls Annie to turn on the radio and once again she gets very invested in the story and wants to know who Sam is kissing. 

Annie pretty much turns into a full on stalker when she tries to get information about Sam under the guise she's wring a piece about call in radio shows and another piece on how people handle bereavement. This gets her Sam's number (why didn't she just call the radio show since they were handing out his number like free candy?) and she calls his number where she gets a message from the machine where she learns his last name. She uses this information to look him up on an extremely archaic computer on an extremely archaic database called Nexus City News Bureau. Under "Enter Your Request", she types, "Find Samuel Baldwin" and gets 216 matches. Three things here: First, there's only 216 Samuel Baldwins in the entire United States of America? That's seems quite low; maybe Baldwin is a rare surname? The only Baldwins I'm aware of are Alec, Billy Stephen, and is there another Baldwin brother? Second, doesn't she already have Sam's address? Wasn't she going to send a letter to him before she decided not to? Wouldn't it just be easier to cross reference him with his address? Am I missing something here? Also, for a newspaper writer, Annie is an extremely SLOW typer. I swear, it takes her 30 seconds just to type "Samuel Baldwin".  She does narrow the search to include Jonah's name and gets four matches. From there, she's able to deduce that her Sam is an architect (so I guess there's that new fact she's learning). She sends a fax to a detective agency in Seattle asking for a background check along with a photo on Sam. Okay. I get the background check. You want to make sure the guy you're stalking isn't some crazy maniac, cuz, god forbid! But why does she need a photo? Remember, this pre-dates social media so she can't just look him up online, but the way she gets the photo is so weird and almost invading on Sam' privacy.

Let me lead into how his photo is obtained....Sam is getting ready to go on a date with Victoria (and this is the same date that ends with both of them on the dock and Jonah screaming when he sees them kissing) and Jonah is opening fan mail for his dad. There's one letter that's addressed to both him and his dad so he opens it and surprise, surprise, it's Annie's letter. Turns out Becky sent it. Jonah reads it and thinks it's the most amazing letter and this Annie woman is the woman for his dad. He wants his dad to read it, but Sam's in a hurry so he only reads part of it. Jonah thinks it's a sign because Annie talks about baseball and declares "Brooks Robinson was the best third baseman ever" and Sam also thinks that. So I had to look up who Brooks Robinson was and he played for the Baltimore Orioles in the '60s. Sam dismisses this and says that everyone think he was great. Yeah, I have a hard time believing that just because they like the same baseball player means they're meant for each other. Also, Annie is from Baltimore so of course she's going to like a ball player that played for her city. They don't give any other examples from the letter of why they're meant to be which means the writers of the movie couldn't think of any legitimate reason why these two are meant for each other aside from the fact that it's Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. So while Sam is having dinner with Victoria at the restaurant, the waiter comes by to tell Sam that he has a phone call. Young people, this is what happened before cell phones. You had to use a pay phone or the restaurant's phone to call someone. Turns out it's Jonah who asks his dad if they can go to New York on Valentine's Day because Annie wants to meet them there. Once again, Sam is pretty chill. He's annoyed that his son called him for basically nothing (like he couldn't wait to ask him this later?) I would have yelled at him for calling me during a date for a non-emergency. So this is when the photo of Sam is taken. A man who is on the second level of the restaurant with an extremely LOUD camera that makes whirring noises as he focuses the lens on his subject, then proceeds to make more LOUD sounds as he clicks the camera several times to snap a few photos. He's totally inconspicuous. Yes, that was sarcasm. 

Annie flies to Seattle because she wants to do a story on radio shows (not specifically Sam's story, but radio shows in general), but let's face it: she's going to Seattle to do some stalking, I mean sleuthing. A huge warning bell that she knows what she's doing is wrong is that she lies to Walter and tells him she's going to Chicago. The funniest part of the movie is when she's on the plane and the woman next to her asks, "Don't you just hate flying?" and Annie replies, Yes, I do. And I just told the most terrible one to the man I'm about to marry. Do you feel that any lie is a betrayal?" The woman just looks at her and says, "I said flying." 

It just so happens that Sam and Jonah are at Sea-Tac to see off Victoria who's going...somewhere for....something. I knew that as people started to stream off from a flight that just got in, that Annie was going to be one of those people, and what do you know, I was right! Shocker, I know! Annie doesn't see him, but Sam notices her and he's instantly attracted to her and starts following her, but quickly loses her in the crowd. Jonah tells him that Jessica believes that he [Sam] knew Annie in another life. He asks who Annie is which is quite ironic since he was just following her. I did laugh when Jonah says he knows this stuff because he's "younger and more pure so he's more in touch with cosmic forces." Of course that is what Jessica told him. 

Annie goes to Sam's address and sees them on a small boat in the water, so she jumps back in her car and watches them as she drives across a bridge and she's literally turning her head back so she's not watching for traffic. Lucky for her, there doesn't seem to be too many cars out wherever she is. She then proceeds to hide behind a small general store as she peeks out and watches the father and son play on the beach. She is being such a creeper! It was at this point that I knew there had to be a trailer cut of this movie as a horror/thriller film and I was right. She even tells Becky, "I watched them play on the beach" when she returns to Baltimore. If that doesn't scream stalker-ish, I don't know what does.

There is a moment when Annie is about to cross a busy street to talk to Sam who's at a parking lot of a marina and right before she has the nerve to do so, a woman who she thinks is Sam's girlfriend comes into view and hugs Sam and Jonah. Turns out it's just Sam's sister, Suzy, who is visiting from Chicago, but Annie doesn't know that. She does get the attention of Sam when a truck honks its horn at her because she standing in the middle of a busy street like an idiot. They lock eyes and have a moment as they say "hello" to each other. Then the next scene is her back in Baltimore telling Becky what happened. She claims she just got back in her car and left. Remember this scene because I'm going to come back to it later.

So the young kids have written a letter to Annie pretending to be Jonah's dad and Annie soon receives the letter. This is when she learns that Becky sent her original letter. The letter reads, "Dear Annie, Thanks for the letter. It was great. You sound neat. We're very excited about meeting you in New York on Valentine's Day and seeing if we're MFEO. See you soon." Ha, I can only imagine how Annie, a writer, felt about receiving such an immature letter from a man she feels a connection to. I have to say that Jessica is ahead of her time. She was into using acronyms way before texting was even a commonplace thing. I don't think I've ever come across MFEO but right away I knew it stood for "made for each other". Sometimes her acronyms didn't work so well, like she she meets Jonah's dad for the first time and snottily says, "H and G", then has to clarify that it stands for "hi and goodbye". Honey, if you have to explain your acronyms, then, IDK, maybe don't use them? 

Jonah is still pestering his dad about going to New York to meet Annie, but Sam is not going to fly across the country to meet some woman he doesn't even know. Understandable. I did get a laugh when he asks Jonah if he saw Fatal Attraction and Jonah replies "You wouldn't let me!" as if he legitimately did want to see it. Glad that Sam put his foot down on that one; not an appropriate movie for an eight-year-old! 

Jonah and Jessica decide to take matters in their own hands. Since Jessica's parents are travel agents, she uses their database to book Jonah a flight to New York on the 14th. Turns out February 14, 1993 was on a Sunday so at least he wasn't missing any school! They pool their money (a little over $100) to pay for the flight, taxi fare, and ticket to go up the Empire State Building. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be enough to pay for all of those even in 1993 currency, so I'm not really sure where they got the rest of the money to pay for all of that. I'm guessing Jessica stole one of her parents' credit cards. She puts down that Jonah is twelve so he won't have to have a chaperone. For some reason, even without Jonah's documentation, she is able to book him a flight which seems a little insane. They really kind of gloss over this. Look, I know that just a few months earlier the same plot line was in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Macaulay Culkin flies to New York by himself. But in defense of Kevin McCallister (I can't believe I'm saying this), it wan't his fault that he went to New York. It was an ACCIDENT. He wasn't purposely booking tickets to go to New York and deceiving his father. He just got separated from his dad at the airport and followed some random dude who he thought was his dad onto the wrong plane. And he ran into the woman taking boarding passes and everything got mixed up. It could happen to anyone! Also, the Home Alone movies are almost set in a fantasy world (if you can survive several bricks hitting you on the head, you're not in a realistic movie!) and Kevin McCallister can get away with surviving the streets of New York by himself. Jonah does not process the street smarts that Kevin has and Sleepless in Seattle seems to be set in a more realistic world than Home Alone 2. What I'm saying is that I find this entire subplot extremely absurd. How did Jonah even get to the airport? We just see Jessica buying him a ticket, then the next thing you know he's on a plane Also, NOBODY, NOT ONE SINGLE ADULT, seems to be concerned that this young boy is by himself in New f**king York. I've been to New York. It's a big city. I know, duh. But I cannot imagine being eight-years-old and just getting around by myself. But he's all chipper as he hails a cab to take him to the Empire State Building. The taxi driver asks him what he's going to do there and Jonah replies, "I'm going to meet my new mother." If I were that taxi driver, I would have so many questions, but he just continues to drive. So we see Jonah reach the top and he starts going to every woman in her thirties and asking them if they're Annie. I really feel like this plan was not seen through. First of all, the letters never said a specific TIME to meet. It just said "Valentine's Day". You dummies know there are 24 hours in a day, right? Also, they never specified a certain AREA to meet, just the Empire State Building. Well, I guess they did say at the top, but they still could have been a tad more specific.

Back in Seattle, Sam is ready to go on a little getaway with Victoria. Clarice, the baby-sitter, has just arrived. Sam begins to panic when he can't find Jonah and goes over to Jessica's house where she admits where Jonah is and says he left on the 7:30 flight which is leaving at that moment. Sam books the next flight to New York and he's probably two or three hours behind. 

Meanwhile, in New York, Annie and Walter are having a romantic Valentine's dinner at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza with a view of the Empire State Building that has a huge red heart hologram projected on it. Off screen, Annie tells Walter about Sam and when they come back to them he pretty much tells Annie he needs to go find him. He is taking this break up extremely well which makes me think he wanted to break up with her all along and is relieved that she did it for him. So she decides to mosey on over to the ESB to meet her new future husband and stepson. 

While this is going on, Sam has found Jonah. The ESB is closing so they get on the elevator to go back down. While THAT is going on, Annie is trying to convince the man selling tickets to let her up even though he tells her the building is closed. She mentions An Affair to Remember and the man tells her that's his wife's favorite movie, because of course it is. Because every female in this movie has to love that movie. Just as Sam and Jonah are going down the elevator, Annie is on the other one, getting off at the top. There's clearly no one there, but she asks to look around and finds an abandoned backpack. Now in these days, a bomb squad would be called if such a thing was found at the ESB, but she just goes over and picks it up and finds a teddy bear inside. Of course it belongs to Jonah and he and Sam come back up to retrieve it and that's when everyone is finally united (or re-united?) Annie and Sam take each other's hands and keep looking at each other in this extremely awkward way as they make their way back to the elevator. The movie ends as we assume they're about to start their new life together. 

Did you know that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan share less than two minutes of screen time together in this? That is insane, but it makes sense since they're only together at the end and for a few seconds when she's in Seattle. I mentioned before that I do not like An Affair to Remember being a big plot device of this movie. I also don't like New York being the big set piece for the ending. The movie is called Sleepless in Seattle; maybe utilize the city that's in the title of your movie. If Nora Ephron wanted New York to be a part of this movie, she should have set it there and named it Not Napping in New York; though that doesn't have the same ring to it. 

Remember I told you to remember the scene where Annie and Sam see each across the street in Seattle? Well, when that happens, there's 30 minutes of the movie left. Instead of Annie flying back to Baltimore, this is where I would have had them meet. Get rid of Suzy in this scene and maybe have Sam save Annie from an oncoming truck. Here they can begin their romance and we can have a cute montage of them falling in love in Seattle. Maybe we see them sharing a kiss at the top of the Space Needle! Maybe we see Annie almost getting hit in the head with a flying fish at Pike Place Market! Maybe we see them get caught in the rain without an umbrella! Maybe we see them go to ten different coffee shops in one day! Maybe they hold hands as they walk through Pioneer Square! Maybe they go whale watching! Maybe they take a ferry boat to Roche Harbor for a romantic weekend! Maybe they go fishing off his house boat deck! Maybe we see Sam give geography lessons to Annie too! The possibilities are endless! And we can still have some drama. Maybe Annie admits to Sam that she hired a detective to look into him and he becomes angry. Maybe Annie has to figure out how to break it off with Walter. Maybe they have a fight over where they're going to live, Seattle or Baltimore. I mean, I think the choice is pretty obvious. I've been to both Seattle and Baltimore more than once and as much I liked Baltimore, Seattle is way cooler. Then, at the end of the movie, you could either have them getting engaged or even getting married, take your pick. There. Much better movie! You get rid of all the women sobbing over An Affair to Remember and you get rid of the ridiculous plot line of an eight-year-old child flying to New York by himself. And you have Annie and Sam forming a genuine relationship. I am a genius. You're welcome! 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Great Train Hijacking

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Director: Joseph Sargent
Cast: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Hector Elizondo, Jerry Stiller, Martin Baslam
Released: November 14, 1974

The Taking of Pelham 123
Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Luiz Guzman, John Turturro
Released: June 12, 2009

This is one of those instances where I not only saw the remake before the original, but I did not even know that the 2009 film was even based on another movie (which is based on a book). While both movies have their flaws, I think the original is the superior film. I thought it was going to be slow and boring (and yes, it is a bit slower than the remake), but I can see people in the '70s having a lot of fun watching this movie. Plus, the fashion is outrageously hideous. The whole color palette of this movie is brown, red, and orange. Seriously, why did the '70s love those colors?

The plot of the movies is simple: a subway car train is hijacked and the perpetrators won't release the hostages until their ransom is paid by the transit police. The train is called Pelham 123 because it comes out of Pelham Bay at 1:23 pm.

Let's meet our main players: leading the heist in the '74 movie is an Englishman who calls himself "Mr. Blue" (Robert Shaw). He is joined by three other men who also have colors as code names. There's Mr. Green (Martin Balsam), Mr. Brown (Earl Hindman...you probably know him best as Wilson from Home Improvement), and Mr. Grey (a young Hector Elizondo). I'm guessing this movie inspired Quentin Tarantino when he made Reservoir Dogs! All the men are disguised in trench coats, fake mustaches, hats, and glasses. Mr. Green, who appears to be the oldest of the four men by at least a decade, is sneezing and sniffling right off the bat (and being really disgusting about it...he sneezes right into his hand; doesn't he know he's supposed to sneeze into his elbow?) and I'm thinking that this is going to be an essential part of the movie. I'll give you a little hint: it is. While Mr. Blue is calculating and cold and is able to remain calm under pressure, his successor is...not. In the remake, the perpetrator who hijacks the train is a man who calls himself Ryder (John Travolta) Very clever movie! Ryder is the complete opposite of Mr. Blue. First of all, he's wearing a black leather jacket with a ski hat and has a handle bar mustache and a neck tattoo, so their images are totally different too. There's a lot of screaming and cursing and threats and instability coming from him. He plays this very similar to the way when he turns into Nicolas Cage's character in Face/Off. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's a scene later in the movie where he tells Denzel's character, "Woo wee, you good lookin'" or at least it's very close to that. I have to wonder if the movie would have been a twee bit better if Denzel and Travolta had switched places. I think Denzel would have played it more cool and calculating like Shaw. I had to laugh when I was reading the IMDb trivia for this movie and one of the entries was "Ryder is calmer in the novel and the original film, but angrier in the remake." Yeah, no kidding! Ryder has his henchmen as well but they don't play as significant a role as they do in the original.

Both men and their minions are able to separate the first car from the rest of the train and I believe there are 17 hostages in the original and 19 in the remake, but I could be wrong. When Mr. Blue and the others take out their guns, nobody hardly even blinks an eye except for one woman who gasps. The other passengers are either reading or talking amongst themselves, or in one woman's case, is dead asleep. In fact, I thought she WAS dead for the longest time, but she was just actually really drunk (we see a bottle fall out of her bag at one point) and spends the majority of the movie asleep on the subway bench. Then, when Mr. Blue announces, "Your attention please. Anyone who tries to rise is going to get shot", it is met with laughter. The only one who seems to be concerned is the woman who gasped (and she gasps again here). What is wrong with these people? Do they not see the four men with guns? Do they not realize the severity of their situation? Didn't hijacks happen all the time in the '70s? Shouldn't they be taking this a little more seriously? Someone even makes a crack about how it's usually a plane that get hijacked. I did a bit of research over at the scholarly website known as Wikipedia and it appears that there were more hijackings in the '70s than there were in the '90s, '00s, and '10s combined. So it's not like these people are strangers to hijackings...I guess they just weren't used to one on a subway! An old man asks, "Shouldn't we be let in on what's happening?" and Mr. Blue replies with, "What's happening is that you're being held by four very dangerous men with machine guns." Talk about stating the obvious!

On the other side of the coin, our are heroes. In the '74 film, Walter Matthau plays a transit cop named Zachary Garber and in the '09 film, Denzel Washington plays a subway dispatcher named Walter Garber, so a nice nod to the actor of the original film. Through the majority of the movie, Denzel is just sitting at a desk, looking a bit disheveled at times. He's very pedestrian in this. I guess they wanted to make sure this is just your ordinary guy who's not used to being a hero. It drove me crazy when he referred to the train as "one twenty-three" instead of "one two three", but once Ryder takes over the train, he refers to it by the right name.

Matthau's Garber has a couple of supporting players who help him. There's Operations Lieutenant Rico Patrone (the late, great Jerry Stiller, you probably know him best as Frank Costanza) and a man named Frank Correll who I didn't catch what his title is, but he's someone who doesn't think they should pay the money. When he hears Mr. Blue's demands, he declares, "You're out of your skull!"

Mr. Blue gets in contact with Garber at the control center and tells him he has seventeen passengers and the conductor held hostage and is prepared to kill any or all of them if they don't obey his demands which is he wants them to tell the mayor that they demand one million dollars (pretend I'm saying that in a Dr. Evil voice) in cash for the release of the car and the passengers. He wants the money by 3:13, which is an hour from now and they will kill one hostage for every minute it's late and if anyone intervenes in any way, they will start killing hostages immediately. He tells them there are three things that they should know:
1. Pelham 123 is completely in their control.
2. There are four of them and they are all armed with automatic weapons.
3. They have "no scruples whatsoever about killing."

In the remake, it's basically the same deal, except it appears the going rate for 18 hostages (there were 19 originally, but somebody has already been killed) in 2009 is ten million dollars. Inflation, am I right? He also wants his money within the hour and will also kill one passenger every minute the money is late. I did like the exchange between the two lead actor when Ryder asks Garber when he thinks a fair time limit would be and Garber replies, "Thursday?" and Ryder tells him, "I was thinking more like an hour." Now, it would have been nice to know what day it is (if they said, then I missed it) because it would be one thing if it was Friday and Garber wanted a whole week, but it was Tuesday or Wednesday, I think 24 or 48 hours would be a much more fair time limit than a freaking hour!

The very limited time limit is pointed out in the '74 movie. After Garber tells Mr. Blue that the mayor has agreed to pay the ransom, he is given very precise instructions on how the money (of which he wants all the bills to be old so the serial numbers will be random) should be sorted and prepared. He tells him he has 26 minutes remaining, but Garber says he should turn off his clock since they agreed to pay the money. As he tells Mr. Blue, "Your instructions were complicated. The money has to be counted, stacked, tied, transported, - it just isn't physically possible."While I definitely see Garber's point, I understand why Mr. Blue still has a time limit. If he turns off the clock, it could give the police the excuse to think of another way to try to stop them or not pay the ransom or something. However, 26 minutes is a ridiculous short time to prepare a million dollars in a very specific way even if there were a lot of people helping them. Ha, wasn't there a task on a season of The Amazing Race where the last three teams are at a casino in Vegas and they have to count a million dollars worth of chips and they were having a tough time with that. Of course, there are only two people to a team.

There's one particular tiny change I really loved how they handled in the remake. So in the original it is revealed to the control center that there is an off duty cop on the train as one of the hostages. They know this because there were two cops and one of them got off and reported it when the news got out. They have no idea who the cop is, but whoever it is, they can't do anything anyway. Being set in the '70s, this movie is quite cringe-y with its sexism and racism. Correll says if he was running things, he would just go in and start blasting them (this guy is a real piece of work) and wonders about the cop: "When is he going to start shooting?" Garber replies that they don't even know if the cop is a man to which Correll scoffs, "A woman cop? What the hell good are they?" Then he mumbles something about "her goddamn purse" which I didn't quite catch, but it was clearly sexist and offensive. Then, later, Garber himself dismisses the idea of a female cop when they're talking about the cop again and he says, "There's a bunch of heavily armed men down there. What chance does one lousy cop got? Especially if it's a dame." Ugh, I mean, honestly, I would think if the cop were a man or a woman, they wouldn't have a great chance. Of course the cop turns out to be a man. This is the '70s, after all. But they keep this joke going for a payoff that's quite lame. I'm jumping a bit ahead of myself, but the cop will jump off the train to pursue the perpetrators and gets shot (he's still alive, though) and is laying facedown on the tracks. When Garber sees him, he thinks it's a woman because he has long hair and says, "Everything will be okay, ma'am" or something like that. You know what they did with the cop who was on the train in the remake? They kill him off first thing. The cop tries to stop the men and is immediately taken out. Perfect. Now you don't have to deal with a lame ongoing joke with a lame payoff. Of course the original is a little more comedic than the remake, so I can't see the new one doing that so I think they handled that just right. 

The '09 movie focuses a bit more on the Garber/Ryder relationship than the '74 one does. We get more backstory on both these characters. In the original, while Mr. Blue mainly speaks with Garber, we also see him speaking with Correll and Patrone and he doesn't really care who he's talking to as long as he's getting his money. In the remake, Garber is the first person to talk to Ryder and once a hostage team is assembled with a lead negotiator who takes over (John Turturro), they send Garber home. I guess his shift was over or something. When Ryder realizes Garber is no longer there, he gets very upset and irrational and he kills Jerry, the motorman, who was also a friend of Garber's. He tells them they have sixty seconds to bring Garber back or he will kill someone else. Garber is just exiting the building when they hustle him back in and gets back to the communication center with second to spare. He asks Ryder why he killed Jerry and Ryder tells him the city of New York killed Jerry. Don't think it quite works that way, Ryder. 

Ryder has looked up Garber on the Internet and finds out he is being investigated for allegedly taking a bribe. He brings it up and wants Garber to basically confess with everybody standing around and hearing every word. Garber keeps insisting that he didn't take a bribe.  He tells Ryder that he was the assistant chief transportation officer and part of his job was to go to the people who built the trains, the manufacturers, and bid on contracts for the train. He was accused of taking a $35,000 bid when he went to Tokyo to look at two different trains and chose what he thought was the best train and said it would be the train he would pick anyway. It hadn't yet been decided if he was guilty or not, but he was demoted to answering phones while they waited for the outcome. Ryder, the ever so rational person that he is, threatens to kill a passenger unless Garber admits he did it. He grabs a teenage boy who he has speak to Garber, then tells him, "You've got five second to save this kids life." What else can Garber do than confess to taking a bribe? Whether or not it's true, you have to at that point. He tells Ryder he did take the bribe and when Ryder asks him what he did with the money, he says he used it for his kids' college tuition. Now the movie never lets us know if he did take the bribe or not. Yes, he did confess, and yes, he did have a quick answer to how he spent the money, but saying you used the money for your kids education seems like fast thinking and makes you appear a little sympathetic...it's not like he said he used the money for a vacation or a big screen TV. But he had no other choice but to confess to save that kid's life. When someone wants you to confess to something, even if you didn't do it, and they're holding a gun to someone's head and tells you you've got five seconds to confess, YOU ALWAYS CONFESS YOU DID IT! I did laugh when Ryder tells the kid to say, "Thank you, Garber, for saving my life." Just the way Travolta delivers that line is really funny. 

The bribe storyline isn't in the original, but the fact that it was a Tokyo business trip is clearly a homage to the original when Garber is showing four Japanese men who are directors of the Tokyo metropolitan subway system around. There's really no reason for this except that it provides exposition so Garber can introduce the audience, through these men, to other characters and explain how certain things work. When he introduces them (and the audience) to Rico, he wants him to tell them something exciting. Patrone tells them there was a bomb scare yesterday, but it just turned out to be a cantaloupe. (How do you confuse a cantaloupe with a bomb?) They try to make a joke (a very cringe-worthy one, at that) that Garber thinks they can't understand English and calls them "dummies" and "monkeys" in front of their faces, but turns out they understand English just fine. Why they still remain polite when Garber is being quite rude in front of them, I'm not sure. 

The mayor of New York plays a role in both films. In the '74 movie, the mayor is played by Lee Wallace and in the '09 movie, the mayor is played by James Gandolfini. There is a meeting in the first meeting about whether or not the ransom should be paid; there are people who think it shouldn't, but the mayor decides to pay the ransom because at the very least, he is guaranteed eighteen votes (although two passengers on that train are children, so therefore aren't able to vote...also, at one point I heard a baby crying, but there was no baby on that train!) Here's a fun fact: Doris Roberts plays his wife. I didn't know it was her until I read her name in the credits, then had to go back and watch that scene and I was like, Oh, yeah, that is the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond

In the remake, the mayor is brought to the Control Center where he talks with Ryder who makes a deal with him: he will trade all the passengers for him and he could save the life of seventeen New Yorkers. (The number of hostages to start was nineteen, but after the death of the cop and Jerry, the motorman, the toll went down to seventeen). The Mayor doesn't take his offer and Ryder screams at him that he didn't want him anyway.

Okay, remember the teen boy that Ryder almost kills but doesn't because of Garber's confession? (Or, should I say, "confession"). Well, he has a laptop he's using to communicate with his girlfriend (heh, if they ever did a remake of the remake, they would change that to an iPhone!) In the chaos of the takeover of the train, the laptop gets tossed underneath a seat and the connection is lost. Later, when the power is turned back on, the laptop, which is open and oh so conveniently pointed in the right direction, the girl sees what is going on and streams it live. This allows everyone at the command center to see what is going on inside the train and Garber recognizes one of the hijackers as Phil Ramos (Luis Guzman), a former motorman who killed a few passengers ten years ago when he was high on cough syrup and ran into the platform. He went to jail for manslaughter. 

Ryder has more of a backstory than Mr. Blue does. Pretty much all we know of Mr. Blue is that he was a mercenary in Africa. With Ryder, we learn that he's a Wall Street Guy. He doesn't seem like the Wall Street type with his neck tattoo, but I guess doing hard time in a white collar prison will do that to a guy. It is discovered that his real name is Dennis Ford (but I'll still refer to as Ryder for purpose of this review) and he was released from prison two weeks ago where he served a sentence of nine years, and, -get this- he spent the last four of those years on the same cell block as...dun, dun, dun....Phil Ramos, the disgraced motorman. Why a Wall Street guy and a motorman would be at the same prison is beyond me. 

Ryder was sent to prison for insurance fraud; he stole $20 million. He tried to take a plea bargain for three years, but the judge gave him ten because they didn't recover all the city's money. Honestly, they try to make sure he has a backstory that it becomes convoluted and confusing (seriously, this guy is a Wall Street guy, seriously?)

Now it's time for the money to be delivered. In both movies, they cut it very close to the wire. In the '74 film, Garber asks Mr. Blue for more time, but he says no, not even fifteen or ten minutes more. Once the money is sorted, they have about seven minutes to make it to their location. Garber doesn't think it will be enough time and they still have to carry the money down to the track on foot. Once again, Mr. Blue has strict and precise instructions on how he wants the money delivered: two unarmed policemen will walk down the track. One will have the money and the other will have a torch which he will flash continuously from side to side. Okay, real talk here: when he said "torch", I thought he meant a literal torch and I was thinking, Now I know there were flashlights in the '70s, but once he said "flash" I knew he meant a flashlight. Calling a flashlight a torch is either a British thing or a '70s thing. Perhaps both. Anyway, back to the instructions. When the policemen reach the car, the rear door will be open and the one with the money will throw the bag under the floor of the train and they will both walk back to 28th Street Station. Mr. Blue warns him, "Any wrong moves by anyone, I will kill a hostage" and ends the conversation by telling him that he has five minutes to deliver the money. When Garber realizes the money won't reach its targeted destination by 3:13, he asks Mr. Blue if they can at least get the money to the entrance by that time and Mr. Blue agrees. At least this movie is dealing with a more reasonable villain! When there is a minute left remaining, Mr. Blue is getting ready to shoot someone unless the money is there. Garber makes an executive decision and tells him the money has arrived even though it hasn't (it's been a bit delayed because a cop car has flipped over) and Mr. Blue tells him, "You made it just in time, didn't you?" Oh, if only he knew. An astonished Garber asks him,"If we were a few seconds late, you would have knocked off an innocent person?" Yeah, I have to agree with him. I think most criminals would want to avoid killing people. If you're there to get a ransom, collect your money and go. Why add murder to your conscious? But I suppose threatening to kill someone is a good way to instill fear. Not that I would know or anything. 

During the exchange, things don't go as planned when a gun is fired by a sniper who the police have positioned in the tunnel. In return, Mr. Grey retaliates and ends up killing the conductor. What a shock; once the money is delivered Mr. Blue calls back with more strict and precise instructions: he wants Garber to restore the power to the entire sector, then clear the local track from 28th Street to the South Ferry. He wants all the signals set to green. As always, he promises threats: if there are any red lights, he will shoot a hostage; if he sees another policeman, he will shoot another hostage; any deviation, he will shoot anther hostage. I almost wanted Garber to ask him, "What will you do if things don't go your way?", but better not goad the man with a gun and a greed for a million bucks. However, Garber does get a good shot in when he says,  "Listen, fellow, I hope you take this in the right spirit, but after this is over, you should seek out psychiatric help." Yeah, no kidding. Although Ryder needs way more psychiatric help than this guy does. 

Speaking of Ryder, in his movie, the money is late (surprise, surprise) because of an overturned car and Ryder is about to kill a young boy (he likes to go for the young passengers on his train; I guess he wants to make a statement), but another passenger, an Armed Forced guy who has somewhat made a connection with the kid and his mother, steps in front of the kid and takes the bullet for him. There is also accidental fire shot in this movie and Ramos is killed. There movie differentiates from the original when Ryder wants Garber to bring the money because then the cops won't bother him. That and because his motorman is dead and he knows that Garber was a motorman for over six years. There is talk among others on the command center side if Garber is in on this and I'm thinking, Oh, wouldn't that be a great twist if he was part of this whole setup the whole time? Spoiler warning: he's not. I guess they didn't want to veer too far from the original as the only people who are part of the plot are the four men in trench coats and hats and mustaches and spectacles. 

Ryder has instructions for the FBI agent similar to the ones Mr. Blue had for his Garber: he wants the power restored to the whole sector and the local tracks to be cleared from 68th to Coney Island with all green lights and no cops. With a gun pointed to him, Garber is forced to drive the train to the next station, then Ryder and the two remaining hijackers jump off after rigging the train to keep going...and it will because all the green lights have been ordered by him to stay on. I can't remember how, but Garber also manages to separate from the group and also manages to snag a gun. All the passengers are freaking out because the train won't stop and they realize nobody is driving it, but it manages to stop with no serious injuries. The other two hijackers are killed so Ryder is the only remaining one. Garber has followed him and confronts him on the Manhattan bridge where the police are running towards them. Ryder wants Garber to shoot him before the police reach them or he will kill Garber himself. He gives Garber a countdown of ten. Garber keeps turning his head to yell at the police who are nowhere near him and every time he kept turning his head, I kept shouting at the screen, "Don't turn your head, Denzel!" because I was worried that Ryder was going to grab the gun out of his hand. Of course the police don't reach them at the end of his countdown and Ryder goads Garber into shooting him which he does. Garber is able to pick up the gallon of milk he promised his wife he would get (in other words, he promised he would bring himself home) and most likely his bribery charges have been dropped.

So, yeah, if you're familiar with the original then you know the remake's ending is quite different. Sure, there are a few things they keep the same (like the train speeding down the tracks without a driver), but it goes a different direction, no pun intended. For one thing, Mr. Blue does not want Garber to bring him the money. He already has his motorman who's very much alive (besides, I don't think this Garber was ever a motorman). Garber and Patrone are wondering why they want to go to the South Ferry. Is there a boat or a sea plane waiting for them? They are following the train's moves on the board at Grand Central Tower so if they stop anywhere before the South Ferry, they'll know about it. 

Without any notice the train starts moving and there's a bit of comedy when people ask "what train is moving?" and Garber says, "What's the matter with everyone? How many hijacked trains we got around here anyway?" Mr. Blue tells Garber they're moving because they're trying to put some distance between them and all the cops that are situated in the tunnel.

A cop named Detective Daniels who is keeping in communication with Garber and has an eye on everything from the streets asks Garber if perhaps the hijackers jumped off the train after setting the throttle and while they're chasing the train, the bad guys are sneaking out of an emergency exit behind them. Garber dismisses this and tells him it's impossible because of "a little gizmo called 'dead man's feature'" which is a handle that has to have a hand pressing down hard on it at all time or else the train "stops cold". It was created in the event a motorman ever "drops dead". 

They notice the train stop again and Garber tells Daniels to put detectives on every platform from 14th to  the South Ferry. He also decides to join Detective Daniels so it's Patrone who gets in contact with Mr. Blue. While he wonders where Garber is, he doesn't threaten to kill anyone if he doesn't get to talk to him like Ryder did. When Mr. Blue questions where Garber is, Patrone tells him, "Even great men have to pee." And after Mr. Blue tells him to give his regards to Garber, Patrons tells him, "You can do it yourself at the arraignment." Ooh, snap, Frank Constanza! 

Turns out Detective Daniels was right and the four hijackers have managed to override the dead man's feature so the train is able to keep on running without them. This is when the policeman who is one of the hostages jumps off the train after them in the dark and crouches in the shadows to not be detected. One of them thinks they heard something, but the others just shrug it off. Meanwhile, the train is going fast, about  70 mph and the drunk woman is still passed out while everyone else is screaming. I think this woman needs help; somebody get her to an AA meeting, stat! Garber has a realization that the men must have jumped off the train, so he wants to go back to where the train was stopped for a few minutes. We probably get the most '70s line from the whole movie when Detective Daniels tells another officer, "Turn this thing around and burn rubber!"

We see the four men take off their disguises and put on different hats. I love the way Robert Shaw pronounced "moo-stash-es". You know, it's too bad we don't see a scene of Ryder in the remake peeling off his tattoo to reveal it was a fake one. That would have made a lot more sense because no way a Wall Street guy has a neck tattoo. Mr. Blue instructs them to toss their guns, but Mr. Grey wants to keep his with him in case "something goes wrong". He wants to make sure he has "some heavy artillery" with him. Mr. Blue coldly tells him, "I won't ask you again" to which Mr. Grey retorts with the worst reply he can think of: "Blow it out of your ass, Mr. Blue" and thus gets a handful of bullets in his chest. I mean, he did ask for it. 

The cop who jumped off the train after them and is hiding in the tracks takes his shot at Mr. Brown who comes out from the door and is peering around the wall on the small stoop of steps he's standing on. It is absolutely ridiculous that the cop kills him on his first try. He is laying down so already he doesn't have great aim, but the shot he has for Mr. Brown is narrow, but yet, despite all that, he kills him. It apparently takes a lot out of him because he's lying in the tracks, moaning, and Mr. Blue comes out and is about to shoot him, but this is when Garber shows up and tells him to drop the gun. Knowing the gig is up, Mr. Blue touches the live rail with his foot and electrocutes himself. Dude, if you wanted to kill yourself, why not just reach for the gun you dropped and just have Garber shoot you? I feel like getting shot would be a more desirable death than being electrocuted! Garber is cringing hardcore and I'm like, dude, I'm right there with you. Ouch. 

So the transit police know for a fact that three out of the four hijackers are dead, but where is the fourth guy, known as Mr. Green? They also know the three dead men were not the motormen, so that must leave the fugitive because somebody had to know how to drive the train. They go through a list of motormen who were recently discharged and find they have nine people to look into. We see Garber and Patrone pay a visit to a couple of them before they make their way to the apartment of Mr. Green, who they know as Harold Longman. Before they knock on the door we see the old man doing a Scrooge McDuck and literally rolling around on his bed covered in bills. When the transit police knock on his door and announce themselves, he tells them to wait a minute and hurriedly throws all of his money in the oven. Obviously this guy has never seen Breaking Bad or El Camino or else he would think of some better hiding spots for his money than a freaking oven! I did think it was a nice touch that he flushed the toilet right before he answered the door to make it look like that was the reason it took him a few minutes to answer the door. The cops have some questions for him and he tells them he works nights at Kennedy Airport as a forklift operator and had been home the whole afternoon, taking a nap. Longman is facing his bed when he's talking to the cops and sees a stack of money peeking out under the bed so he walks over and discreetly kicks it under his bed. When Garber asks him if he heard about the subway hijacking, he plays dumb and tells him he doesn't know about him and thinks he's kidding. I love Garber's deadpan reply: "Do I look like I'm kidding? Would I be here if I were kidding?" He does make a good point. 

Right before they're about to leave and come back with a warrant (as Mr. Longman points out, they need a warrant to search his place), Patrone wants to light his cigarette but doesn't have his match, so Longman invites him to use the stove. Now even though the money is in the oven and Patrone was using one of the burners, I thought for sure the money was going to be found or accidentally set on fire. Actually, what I really thought was that when Longman was busy talking to the detectives, his wife was going to come in the kitchen and turn on the oven to start dinner and by then it would be too late to save the money, but he didn't appear to be married. But nothing happens and the two cops leave, telling them they'll be back with a warrant which will give Mr. Green (gotta love that the guy who wound up with the money got the "green" name) plenty of time to hide his money somewhere else.

But then...something happens. Remember how I said all his sneezing was going to come back and play an important part? Well, throughout his phone calls with Mr. Blue, Garber kept hearing a sneeze in the background and at the very moment he and Patrone are about to leave, he hears that exact same sneeze and knows they caught their man. We get a freeze shot frame of Walter Matthau poking his head through the door and giving the man a "Gotcha!" look. The whole thing feels like something you would see at the end of a cheesy old sitcom complete with a "Wah-wah-wah" sound effect. Hey, I just said I preferred the original to the remake; I never said it was a perfect film!