Monthly Archives: April 2015

“Would you like a nightcap?”-“No, thank you, I don’t wear them.”

I have not been shy about explaining how I was deprived growing up.  Being sheltered from certain viewership helped me be the happy little naive kid that believed in Santa until he was 6 (it would’ve been longer but my cousin was an asshole and spilled the beans-not realizing everybody hates the pretentious kid that does that).

Knowing this, my parents allowed me to watch “The Naked Gun” with them.

I have to admit, during the first viewing, I did not get a lot of the jokes.  I laughed at the funny faces and the slapstick the first time around.

Thank God for public schools.

It was there that I learned from my friends the adult, inside to a lot of the jokes that were in the movie.  After talking to them at school, I tried to think of someone that I could watch it with that could explain things quickly along the way….had to be my cousins.

I sat down with them and turned it on. They had seen it once before, so they knew what was coming and could explain things to me.


I’ll admit…that one I kind of got the first time around; I just wanted clarification.

I feel like “The Naked Gun” was my first exposure to what could be considered an all out farce.  I had not seen “Airplane!” or “Caddyshack” yet (I love both of those FYI) and my parents felt at 11 I still wasn’t ready for those movies.

They compromised with this one and I’m glad they did.

I remember afterwards thinking that my parents had great poker faces through some of the “raunchier” jokes.  Normally my mom would give a judgmental, disgusted gasp through those parts.  I think she knew those parts would go over my head so she didn’t want to give me any ideas and she hoped I wouldn’t ask.  Now that I think about it, she probably didn’t have much time to enjoy a movie while she watched one with me.  Hmmmm.  Never thought about that.  No wonder they didn’t like watching anything over “G” rated with us until we were teenagers.

At the end of the day, “The Naked Gun” introduced me to Leslie Nielsen.  I rented as many movies as he had put out after I saw this.  I liked his comedies.  It was hard to take him seriously in the older dramas that he did when he was younger.  He had found his niche and thankfully stuck to it.

I love his scenes with Priscilla Presley.  Making light of soap opera melodrama is not an easy thing to pull off.  Those two made it look so easy.

Nielsen to me was like Will Farrell.  A little went a long way with him, and he could make you laugh just by entering a room and looking around.

I feel like I can mention some two word phrases–the second word being “scene”–and it will bring back moments from this film.  I’ll start off with some easy ones:

the “queen scene”

the “umpire scene”

the “condom scene”

the “wheelchair scene”

the “clothesline scene” (Remember? The one on the beach?)


When I say these phrases, I smirk.

Again, thank God for public school.  I might have never gotten the stuffed beaver joke.


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“Please, they’re dead. It’s a little late to be neurotic.”

I’m going to write a post on my favorite costume that I wore on Halloween growing up. Psssssssst–it’s from a movie.

My mom took one of those “bald caps,” threaded some white yarn through the top and back all around it; I put on some white paint all over my face, neck and hands, and around my eyes–black paint.

I wish I had a picture.  I’d totally post it side-by-side with the real character…it was a little harder to take pictures in the 80s; apologies.

I was obsessed with this character in junior high, and I couldn’t wait for his scenes whenever I re-watched the movie.

The film opens with a tracking shot over the town that the story takes place in.  At least we think it is a town…

At the end of the tracking shot–at the house at the end of the road–a rather large spider climbs over the miniature model of the home that the majority of the story takes place in.

We meet a younger married couple that is having an average weekend day as they head into town to run a few errands.  They have a car accident on the bridge while trying to avoid a dog.

Cut to the two of them entering their home, drenched.

They start to notice that things are stranger and notice a “handbook” sitting on an end table.  We, along with the couple, soon learn that they did not survive the car accident on the bridge and are now a part of a very bizarre afterlife.

This film was my second exposure to Tim Burton’s work.  I saw “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” when I was in elementary school and I laughed, but the visuals didn’t stick with me like they did from “Beetlejuice.”

Not only are our protagonists, dead, their beautiful home was purchased by people that want to destroy it and make it their own.  They soon learn that the only thing they can do to defend themselves and their home is to become ghosts, with which they learn that they are not good at that–remotely.

Enter Betelgeuse.


This has to be my favorite Michael Keaton character.  I’d be surprised if he is even actually on film 30 minutes in this entire 92 minute movie.  The scenes we all remember and love are his, however.  I get the sense that Burton gave him the freedom to be the actor that he can be at times and this is the result of the best that Michael Keaton can be.  He is funny, indecent, disgusting, and frightening from one second to the next. His voice changes and delivery are amazing.  He also has many opportunities where he displays his physical humor as well (his dance in front of the whorehouse is unforgettable–can’t decide if that’s good or bad…)

It’s unfortunate that it takes approximately one hour for him to get onscreen.  Once he is on, that’s all we want to see.  I think that I have everyone of his lines memorized.

I felt that a lot of the visuals (sets, props, costumes, makeup, etc.) are very “Dr. Seussian” in terms of the odd angles and skewed views.  It is a staple in Burton’s films moving forward.

It is also the film where I fell in love with Winona Ryder for a time.  I remembered her from “Lucas,” I couldn’t forget about her after “Beetlejuice.”

Like “Ghostbusters,” this movie had many different elements working for it.  Humor, drama, terror, and creativity.  I felt the tone of the picture was true from the point of the spider crawling on the home, until we see the ghosts of the football players dancing to “Jump in the Line (Shake Senora)” on the stairs behind Lydia.

Who doesn’t want to float in the air while listening to Harry Belafonte?


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“Hey, that’s no fair. The building guy lived.”

I’ll just say it…I miss Martin Riggs.

Come on…crazy eyes, flaring nostrils, tobacco breath, and don’t forget the flowing locks of that smooth lion’s mane mullet that only Mel could pull off.  That character was priceless.

lethal martin mel

My first experience with him was again under the influence of “edited for television.”  I didn’t care.  That version still had enough car chases, gunfights, and explosions.  I also found it fun to try and pick out which phrases were really curse words from the original version.  It wasn’t that hard; poor dubbing drew attention to it.  I’m sure someone out there thinks they’re very clever with the different phrases they came up with to dub-in alternately; but even at 10 years old I knew what they were saying.

I think everyone knew it wasn’t a real “firing” gun.

I miss Murtaugh too.  Over the hill, on his last legs, he’s still got game, but he hates running, shooting and yelling.  He just wants to bring people in, question them, and arrest bigger bad guys.

old murtaugh

When we first meet Riggs, we’re not sure what to think of him.  He looks like another junky trying to score some “H” on the street, when he lays a bomb of a badge on the table and we’re all in as viewers from that point forward (I personally was “all in” during that shootout at that Christmas tree lot when Riggs decides to wheel-barrel role on the ground while dodging returning fire and plugging about six bullets from his Beretta into the drug dealer trying to kill him).

Emotionally, Riggs isn’t doing well as he appears to have a death wish while on the job and–in his private life–he teeters on swallowing a hollow-point bullet through the back of his head day-to-day.

Enter Murtaugh:

A family man that’s looking forward to getting “off the street” soon.

Of course he’s the perfect man to help keep Riggs focused on the work.

Riggs is the perfect man to help Murtaugh keep up his energy for the “job.”

I know that I have set this up as a cliche buddy cop movie, but at the time of it’s making, buddy cop movies weren’t a cliche yet and even if they were, they weren’t as good as “Lethal Weapon.”  For me, this is the gold standard “buddy cop” movie that the rest of them are measured by.

Oh, and there is a plot.  A good one, and I don’t want to give too many details away.

Just know this, one of–what I feel–the greatest underrated and forgotten actors plays a stone-cold-killer of a villain in this movie.

Now, when I say his name, I know you’ll chuckle.  He has made himself quite a caricature at this point, but at one time–he was an amazing actor in the late 70s through the 80s.  I don’t know what happened to Gary Busey (go ahead, I know you want to laugh) but if you take a look at his filmography, he had some amazing roles in: “The Buddy Holly Story,” “The Bear (as Paul “The Bear” W. Bryant),” “Silver Bullet,” “Let’s Get Harry,” “Lethal Weapon,” and later “Point Break.”

He really stepped out of himself in this role as a very level, silent killer that could frighten anyone just by stepping into the room.

Mr Joshua

All in all, we do watch this film for it’s central relationship.  We want Murtaugh to live because he has put in his time over the years and we meet his beautiful, thriving family.  We especially want Murtaugh to be the man that can bring some form of peace to Riggs and keep him alive.

We see Riggs grow as the protector, giving him a sense of purpose when the stakes are at their highest.  We also see that Murtaugh has PLENTY left in the tank, and he wouldn’t even know that it was always there stirring inside of him, waiting to overflow, if Riggs wasn’t dropped into his life.

Call it another “buddy cop” movie if you want….

To me, it’s the first “buddy cop” movie that I ever saw and have ever seen.


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“I would rather be with the people of this town than with the finest people in the world.”

Oh Daryl Hannah….

My how glorious she was–to look at.

Perfect casting for this film.  After her “awesome bottom” scenes in “Splash” every man and boy that watched her, lusted after her.  She had to be the woman that needs to capture the affection of C. D. Bales and the rest of the small town in “Roxanne.”

I remember watching this with my mom and dad in the summer time.  I knew it was summer because we were able to start and finish the whole movie without going to bed at 8pm for school the next day half way through the movie.

I hated when that happened.  This is one of the first movies I remember watching in its entirety with my parents after we had our VCR.

I give credit to Hannah, equal credit should be given to Rick Rossovich. 


He takes on the role of Chris, the hunky new fireman that is everything but smooth with the women, in a friendly/reckless manner that is both pitiful and charming for the viewer.  His bumbling and comedic timing when he is showing signs of nerves around Roxanne for the first time is priceless.  How many of us have felt that same way around beautiful women?  How many of us have used a “faulty” faucet in the boys bathroom and got water all over our pants? (Yes, I did dammit–I couldn’t escape out a window like Chris though, I was at school and had to get back to class….I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT)


Steve Martin as C. D. Bales, the local fire chief, is amazing as always.  People generally remember the bar scene in which he defends his own honor by taking jabs at his physical “deformity,” making his antagonist look like a foolish ass.  Great scene….deserves the accolades that it has gotten over the years…but, it is not my favorite scene.

I love the scene where Chris is attempting to woo Roxanne while wearing an Elmer Fudd hat to cover up the earpiece that C. D. is using to communicate with him by feeding the lines that Roxanne will want to hear as C. D. is camped out in a surveillance van.  Needless to say there are technical problems, hilarious facial expressions for all involved, and laugh out loud comedy ensues.

Martin also takes advantage of his physical comedy skills in this picture in a very controlled and acrobatic manner in almost every scene that he is in.

The drama that all of the actors are asked to convey is genuine as well.  I appreciated the misunderstandings, the longing, and the discomfort of watching someone else be with the woman that you love so dearly.

In the end, this is a comedy of sorts, but it is a great modernization of an old story.

When I first saw this, I had never heard of “Cyrano de Bergerac.”  My mother explained to me later that it was an adaptation of that play.  I never had any interest to read or watch a different version after my first viewing of this film.

I still feel that way.


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“…death is listening, and will take the first man that screams.”

My dad, like many people, loved the Mel Gibson of the early 80s.

mel baby

He was energetic, showed great charisma, and seemed to enjoy the material that he chose to perform in regardless of its worth/popularity.

Enter “Mad Max.”  These were some of the first films I remember my dad renting after we got our VCR.  I didn’t really get to see “Mad Max” or “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.”  I recall flashes of sounds and pictures as I walked through the room to go outside as I was not allowed to watch those movies yet.  There were a lot of people in black leather, driving large vehicles, explosions, car chases, and “traffic accidents” of an interstate-pile-up-persuasion.  That is just from brief glimpses, on a walk-through or two…(okay 6).

A few years after the release, my dad rented “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and I was allowed to watch it this time.  When compared to the other two films, this one was WAY different in scope.  The costuming was very similar, and I’d say that’s about it.  The locations were well crafted, the open landscape desert visuals were “Lawrence of Arabia” breathtaking, and the performances were what was necessary to move the story–big and BIGGER!


For those of you that weren’t around for Tina Turner in the 80s, she was something more than a rock star.  She was a cross between a legend like Elvis and a POP STAR like Michael Jackson.  So when she decided to take up acting, everyone was like, “Makes sense….”

I write this like it was her first acting endeavor.  It wasn’t…but it’s the one that she will be remembered for, as it should be.

Gibson also flashed a new look that he carried into the early 90s.  His long shaggy hair.  Everyone was used to the clean-cut, sexy blue-eyed ass kicker from the earlier films.  This one was a new Max.  Still the ass kicker, wiser, yet vulnerable in a weird way.  He starts off in the picture getting mugged in the middle of the desert and being left for dead.

Enter the story and the metaphors and you have a picture that I think George Miller and George Ogilvie couldn’t wait to start telling.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking for an intricate plot, this is not the picture for you.  If you want a very well acted action/adventure that takes you to many different places in a short amount of time with amazing stunts, set pieces, and visuals (costumes, sets, props, locations, etc.) this is definitely the picture for you; and in my meager opinion–very underrated and sometimes forgotten.

Years later I sat down with my dad to do a marathon of the three movies.  It was great to relax and talk through these movies together.  It was something that we always enjoyed doing when we had the time to catch up.  For what they were worth, the first two films were well crafted for low budget action films that used the Australian landscape as a vivid backdrop.  Thunderdome stood out, however, apart from the other pictures.  It was the third child that exceeded expectations tenfold and graduated from the Ivy Leagues.

It’s amazing to me what can be done with a decent story when you have the backing from a large studio for your third installment.

My dad and I never said it out loud specifically to each other, but we could tell that the love and care that was put into the third picture was much needed for the franchise, and delivered way better than anyone could have imagined.

Go see it.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised…I hope.


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“You beginner luck.”

Without any explanation, some movies just captivate people.

Some movies touch people for a moment in time.

Some movies touch people and continue to move them for years after they are made.

This film touched people for a moment in time.  I don’t feel that it is timeless, except for those people that enjoyed it on its first release.  It is very campy now and does not hold up.

It used to be my favorite movie for a short period of time when I was 7 years old.

It is the boy that stands up to the bullies that beat him which gave the movie its appeal.  It’s obvious that people like the underdog story.  They were very popular in the 80s.  This movie was no exception.

We follow a boy and his mother on the tail end of their trek to California from New Jersey.  Mom is very excited.  Daniel is anxious.

Daniel attempts to make friends, but only finds people that want to hurt and bully him.  There are plenty of moments when he doesn’t do himself any favors.

At the end of the day, it is his elderly Japanese neighbor that comes to his rescue and fends off the bullies that are brutally beating him to injury.

In “The Karate Kid,” Mr. Miyagi becomes a very necessary friend and father figure for Daniel, and he helps him deal with his bullies, but he also helps him learn how to live his life.

wax on

It is the subtle and warm performance by Pat Morita that makes this movie a success.  As a viewer, we see what he is doing with Daniel the entire time, but we get the pleasure of watching Daniel discover the lessons along the way from a very patient friend who has been looking out for him since he moved in next door.

You know a movie is a big deal when people quote it.

“Wax on, wax off.”

“Look eye.  Always look eye.”

“Finish him!”


“Sweep the leg,”

and everyone’s favorite, “Banzai!”

I was drawn in by the karate, but there is not much of that.  The majority of the film is the growth that we see in Daniel.  He is truly a character that starts out impulsive and dangerous, and then learns how to control himself and focus–not just at a karate tournament, but with his friend and mother as well.

I remember practicing the wax on and wax off on my dad’s car.  I also remember asking my dad to try and punch me so I could “block it.”  Didn’t work out quite the way it did in the movie for Daniel.

At recess in the school yard we used to do the “crane technique” on each other, and I think everyone was Daniel-san for Halloween that year.  The really cool kids wore the Cobra Kai Gi (I was jealous).

The movie would spawn 3 sequels that did decent at the box office.

Like most sequels, I never enjoyed them as much as I did the original, but I saw them regardless.  I was a true fan and for me to leave this movie off of my list for an impact would be disingenuous.

I watched this movie a lot and it truly entertained me.  I never did take karate lessons and I didn’t really want to.  I was content with the “moves” I learned from this film.  I enjoyed the drama, the humor, and the climax.

After all, shouldn’t bullies lose in Hollywood? (80s Child Proverb)


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“I’m really a nice guy. If I had friends you could ask them.”

Hello Tom Hanks.

That is what I think when I remember this movie.

Prior to this, he was the guy that dressed in drag after work, and the guy that tried to karate chop “The Fonz” on “Happy Days.”

Did he make better movies than this one?


Before this film, he was just another actor, believe it or not.

In “Splash” as a child, Allen (Tom Hanks) falls off of a boat into the water and is saved from drowning by a young mermaid.

tom h

They later meet as adults.

Allen does not know that she (Madison–played by Daryl Hannah) is the mermaid girl that saved him or that she is still a mermaid.

Madison the mermaid gets discovered.

He saves her with the help of his hilarious brother (John Candy).


Allen and Madison live happily every after, “Under the Sea!”

I know, it sounds simple…because it is.

I remember it being a very short movie that was able to keep my attention as a child.

It didn’t hurt that I got to see Daryl Hannah’s bare ass as she walked out of the ocean.

daryl h

I remember enjoying every scene that John Candy and Eugene Levy had on the screen.  Both gentlemen are comedic artists–no one would dispute that.  It was interesting to see how well Hanks held up against these two in comedic scenes as well. Hence, “Hello Tom Hanks.”

Watching Levy as the foil throughout this picture is entertaining.  The things that happen to him–some his fault, some not–are ridiculous, but oddly entertaining.  He also gets to redeem himself in the picture, setting up the ending that everybody wants.

In the end, this is a very entertaining and fast moving watch for someone that wants to pop in a simple and creative romantic comedy.

Plus, Daryl Hannah isn’t asked to talk that much, so she isn’t half bad.


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“I think there’s just a couple o’ guys up there and this asshole’s one of ’em!”

I know.  I know.

Not one Western and then I decide to do two in a row.

Go figure.

This is one of my most favorite underrated films of all time.

I say underrated because it did not do well at the box office (historic flop).  It also never really got a chance to be too successful at VHS as that was a rather new media still in 1985–plus they had to deal with the likes of “Out of Africa,” “The Color Purple,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Witness,” “Runaway Train,” “Cocoon,” “Jagged Edge,” “Ran,” “Back to the Future,” “Ladyhawke,” and oh yeah, “White Nights.”

I think this was the first Western I saw that didn’t have John Wayne in it.

I’m going to list the cast right now and you see if you can guess the film–those of you that can, already know the film I’m talking about, most likely:

Kevin Kline

Scott Glenn

Kevin Costner (young)

Danny Glover

John Cleese

Rosanna Arquette

Linda Hunt

Brian Dennehy

and a very brief Jeff Goldblum

Silverado” was a movie that knew what was popular about Westerns (guns, horses, chases through the open range, cattle stampedes, lovable loser cowboys, big rifles, fires, churches, and nasty, nasty villains).

Right out of the gate before the “fade in” from black we hear a gunshot.  Our hero Emmett (played by the silent and deadly Scott Glenn) leaps into action half asleep and defends his ground against two villains that attempt to kill him in an ambush as he sleeps.  If you weren’t paying attention through the credit role, you are now.

The film starts out as a Western “road picture” as we watch Emmett travel through the frontier meeting many different people along the way.  He runs into one of my favorite cowboys, Paden–played brilliantly by the underrated Kevin Kline laying near death in the desert in nothing but his red long underwear.


We get to meet Emmett through Paden and Paden through Emmett over their conversations and join them as they travel from town to town.

The two of them end up rescuing Emmett’s rowdy younger brother Jake (young Costner) from a very snooty little town, and make friends with a fourth man along the way in Mal–Danny Glover.  With their new formed posse they help rescue a wagon train (heading to Silverado) from marauders, and decide to finish the trip with them.  Jake and Emmett have family there, along with Mal who has a kid sister that lives and works there.

Lawrence Kasdan has done an amazing job keeping us engaged on the trek to Silverado, and then the storytelling starts and we are drawn into the past relationships and how they will effect the future of the town.

Brian Dennehy enters onto screen as the notorious Cobb that Paden has been talking about here and there for most of the journey.  Dennehy owns this part better than any other he has portrayed on film.  I mean that as a compliment as he is an amazing, sometimes forgotten actor.  He is the perfect kind of villain.  He seems charming at first and wants to help.  He laughs and has a good time, and then in seconds he shows his ruthlessness and we are at the edge of our seat every time he steps into frame.

Kasdan is a master at telling many stories in one film that conclude at the climax.  He has to be one of the greatest writers that Hollywood has put out.  “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Body Heat,” “Return of the Jedi,” “The Big Chill,” “Silverado,” “The Accidental Tourist,” and “Grand Canyon,” to name a few–all of which I love.  I’d say if you haven’t seen “Silverado” and “Body Heat,” they should be the next two movies you seek out.

At the end of the day, this movie is a testosterone filled adventure that all boys love.  There are plenty of shootouts, but there is also plenty of very well written dialogue.  The scenes between Linda Hunt and Kline are some of my favorite in the film and I get excited to watch those two across from each other every time I see it.

In the end, we have a true western, with very real actors carrying a great formula that keeps us in our seats and delivers what we want.


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“Who are those guys?”

I just realized…I haven’t done a western yet.  My grandpa’s rolling over in his grave.

I’ll hit a John Wayne series later…today is going to be a different western.


I remember watching this movie with my mother on VHS for the first time and she was so excited to get it started.  I sat beside her and noticed her giddy gestures right before her favorites scenes unfolded before us on the television.

From the “knife fight” at the beginning to the “dynamite” on the safe.  From the chase through the wilderness to the free fall into the river.  From the bank montages in Bolivia to the final showdown that fades to black and white.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was my first exposure to Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  After I saw this, I immediately made my mom rent “The Sting.”  (She told me about it.  She could rent it.  I didn’t have to twist her arm.  We can talk about “The Sting” later.)

bc and sk

I had to admit, I was shocked–AT FIRST–that my mother was rooting for these bank robbers.  After about 10 minutes, that wore off and I couldn’t wait to see Newman and Redford interact on screen in each upcoming scene.  The chemistry that those two actors displayed in the entirety of that film is unlike any I have scene two actors share together on film and has never been duplicated to such perfection.  In a matter of seconds, we believe these two know each other better than they know themselves.  Quite honestly, it carried the picture.  The story is very simple; but the correct acting can make any simple story seem special.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love William Goldman, and he wrote some good lines; but without the delivery of Redford and Newman, I don’t know that this film gets the credit that it deserves over the years.  The delivery is crucial as well as the feeling of back story that we get without knowing any of their past.  They make it very easy for us to believe that these two have known each other their entire lives; with the use of subtle gestures, giggles, and facial expressions.  A little says a lot between these two, especially in this film.

I have multiple favorite scenes in this film, but I will always hold the “wilderness chase to the river drop” as the best set of sequences.  It carries our attention through a very crucial time in the film where we could check out if needed, but it is able to keep us captivated with drama, suspense, and eventually–humor.


Is this the best western ever made?

Not in my book.  It may not even be top 5, but it is a very entertaining story because of these two actors and their ability to convey a very “real” relationship.

I always liked to ask people, “Do you think you’re Sundance or Cassidy?”

It was a barometer I used to judge how people thought of themselves.  I had to stop using it after the 90s as I started being around more and more people that had never seen it, which is a shame.  I had a lot of fun conversations with people about that one.

I’m definitely Sundance….I don’t know if that’s good or bad.


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