Monthly Archives: June 2015

“Bullshit. What’s the Job?”-“I love it when you talk dirty.”

I’m still surprised how early I was allowed to see “Blazing Saddles.”

So, one weekend every summer, my mom went off to a woman’s retreat, leaving us home alone with dad.  We lived on eggs, cereal, hot dogs, and Ramen Noodles.

Yep.

Now, dad was a little more lenient than mom when it came to TV and movie viewership.  We (me and my big sister and little brother) knew that.  Did we take advantage?

Hell yes.

A few weeks prior to my mom leaving for her retreat, I remembered walking through the living room and observing my parents laughing at what they were watching, until they noticed me.

Mom: “This isn’t for you to see.”

Me: “What is it?”

Dad: “A Funny movie.”

Mom: “It’s for adults.”

Me: “What’s the name of it?”

Dad: “Blazing Saddles.”

Game over.  I had a title.  I knew mom was leaving.  It was a matter of time before I talked my dad into letting me watch it.  It wasn’t hard.

Me: “Dad, can we watch ‘Blazing Saddles‘ with you?”

Dad: “Sure….don’t tell your mother.”

Did I get all of the jokes?  Hell no.  But I had a dad that was more than happy to explain them to me.

I always thought my dad was an impatient man, and he was about certain things.  He was very impatient with my ability to complete chores.  That was my major interaction with my dad, so I, of course, always felt that he was an impatient, short tempered man.  Looking back, there are plenty of moments where he displayed patience regularly.  Watching movies with the kids is one of them.

Me: “Dad?  What’s a shitkicker?”

Dad: (giggles) “It’s a mean name for a cowboy.”

Me: “Oh.”

That was most of the movie.  Luckily dad had seen it enough to humor us throughout the viewing.  Listening to my dad laugh along with us was like hearing The Beatles for the first time. It was something new and wonderful and you didn’t want the song to end on the radio.  I have mentioned before that my dad was not one for laughter often.  A trait that I have inherited from him.  Watching “Blazing Saddles” with him was like listening to 5 of The Beatles greatest hits in a row on the radio.

My dad loved the ability to “pause” tapes.  He grew up without a VCR and never had a chance to “stop” the things he was viewing.  It seemed like we were giving him a chance to control the world when we had a question and he could grab the remote, click “pause,” and explain a scene to us.  He enjoyed it, and he was good at it.  This happened every time we watched some dialogue we didn’t understand and dad had a huge laugh.

I remember laughing at the funny faces, sounds, and slapstick of “Blazing Saddles” when I was younger.  Viewing it as I grew, I started laughing at the scenes my dad laughed at.

What an amazing movie.  The courage to take on a film like this deserves accolades itself.  No way could this movie be made in this day and age of political correctness.  Is that a good thing?  Probably.  Am I thankful this movie got made? Yeppers.

Mel Brooks to me, is the godfather of Farcical Comedy, without a lot of competition. He makes films that can make a child laugh for the reasons I mentioned above and have the wit to keep an adult’s attention with clever writing, and satire that strikes true.  That is not an easy thing to do and he will never get the artistic credit that he deserves.  It’s a shame that comedies–aren’t taken more seriously????

What the hell do I know?

I know three things in retrospect watching “Blazing Saddles” over 5 times over the years: 1) Richard Pryor is one of the greatest comedic writers of all time 2) Adults enjoy the layers of wit that occurs in the dialogue of EVERY Mel Brooks movie 3) Campfire farting scenes will always make any person laugh-out-loud.

Basically, the film is about a greedy railroad entrepreneur that cannot get a town to yield their land.  They try to strong arm them, but that does not work.  They send in a black sheriff to help them, with the idea that it will cause internal strife so that they will destroy themselves from the inside out.  Shenanigans ensue on many, many, many, different levels–including breaking the “5th wall,” in which they fight into another Hollywood set of a musical production.

The cast is amazing:

cleavon

Cleavon Little,

gene wilder

Gene Wilder,

harvey korman

the underrated and amazing Harvey Korman,

slim pickens

Slim Pickens,

madeline kahn

Madeline Kahn,

dom deluise

and a short/hilarious performance by Dom Deluise.

Reading through the quotes to pick one for this post was a mild joy.  I laughed reading them, visualizing the scenes again in my head.  Rarely can a movie do that and it is pure exuberance when that can happen.

What people need to understand before they watch this movie is that it is a total satire-farce on every level and is never supposed to be taken seriously.  This is not a film for the easily offended, but for the person that can think about what the writers are trying to say between the lines…and snicker with them.

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“Let’s get to the rat kill’n’.”

I was having a discussion with author Chad J. Stone @AuthorCJStone about how I wanted to do a post on my favorite John Wayne movies growing up.  He said it’d be a good idea so I’m doing it.  I won’t split it up like I did Hitchcock…

…I shouldn’t make promises like that.

We’ll see how this goes…I’d like to start off with some impressionable JW films and then I’ll leave my favorite of all time for last.  “The Cowboys” is on this list somewhere in the middle and hopefully you have already checked that post out.  One of my favorite posts in retrospect, but it was a tough one to get through.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance” had one of the best cast compilations of its time.  Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, and of course John Ford directed.  Valance, played by the haunting Lee Marvin, is a bully of a man that terrorizes everyone in the valley.  Jimmy Stewart as Ransom Stoddard is the local would be politician that would stand up to Valance, because he doesn’t know any better.  John Wayne as Tom Doniphon is the “man’s man” (of course) that is there to help Stoddard along the way as Doniphon is the only man that Valance would not dare cross.  Would you?  It is a well told story with old western politics as the back drop for a movie about bullying and standing up for what’s right.  Great performances all around.

The Searchers” is a very interesting performance by Wayne.  He is such a hater as Ethan Edwards in this movie that it is hard to like him, even if you think his hate stems from the “just” side of things.  This movie is daunting, ensnaring, and suspenseful, right up to the climax.  I’d like not to give anything away, other than Edwards is a man searching–for what feels like a lifetime–for his niece that has been taken by a Comanche tribe.  A must see for film buffs.

El Dorado” is just a fun movie.  Along Wayne it stars Robert Mitchum (one of his real life drinking buddies), and a very young James Caan.  There is a story about water and land rights that gets in the way of the chemistry of Wayne, Mitchum, and Caan.  The scenes they share together are electric and I wish they had more.  It’s an entertaining Western with high comedy, action, gun fights and horse chases.

Rio Bravo” is another entertaining Wayne film, but it is not just about the humor.  Though there is plenty humor, there is tension, drama, suspense, action, and of course, gun fights.  Get a load of this cast: Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, and Walter Brennan to name a few that you will remember.  Quentin Tarantino has been quoted mentioning this as one of his top five favorite films of all time, along with “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” I would say it is a favorite Wayne film, but it is also one of the greatest Westerns ever made. Check it out.

McLintock!” fits the mold of a romantic comedy that happens to be set in the old west.  That is one of the great things about it.  You won’t find any gunfights here.  Just some very well written humor of all types including sarcasm, sass, and slapstick; all of which Wayne and Maureen O’Hara find themselves at home in, as a couple that is struggling to make their complicated marriage work.  There are some great supporting performances by Chill Wills as Drago and Patrick Wayne–John Wayne’s real life son who plays the love interest of McLintock’s (Wayne’s) daughter Becky in the movie.  A mouthful I know.  Campy comedy.  Go see it.

Red River” is probably the most well crafted Western that I have ever seen.  It centers around a cattle drive by a baron, Thomas Dunson (played by Wayne in his best acting performance that I can recall), who is a ruthless man.  During the drive, Wayne becomes so cruel that his adopted son Matt (Montgomery Clift) revolts and leaves him on his own out in the wilderness.  The cattle men on the drive are more than happy to follow Matt.  The movie takes a turn here and we follow both story lines as they are set for impact at the film’s climax.  Hands down the feature that should be rented first for film buffs.  Don’t hesitate.

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“Right. When you’re right, you’re right, and you’re right.”

Writing this essay, I remember what a HUGE impact this movie had on me and my taste as a young child.

It is a moving picture full of plot, intrigue, interesting characters, fantasy elements, action, violence, and witty comic relief (thank you Dom).

This animated feature is the story of a mother with a dilemma.  It is “moving day” when everyone leaves their hovels for the spring as the farmers begin to plow their fields and grow their crops.  The problem, her son Timmy has a terrible case of pneumonia, and any attempt on a move from his bed could kill him.  What is a mother to do?

Did I mention mom is a mouse?

Mrs._Brisby

The Secret of NIMH” is one of the first full length animated feature films that I remember watching, on HBO, for the first time while sitting in my home without getting up to go do something else. I didn’t want to look away.  There are things in my life that have stayed with me from that film to this day.  There are a lot of cool names to give your pets from this movie.  My favorite being Brutus, which I named my first dog ever.  He was a pit bull and he was my best friend.  I feel that if I ever got a dog again, I’d name it Brutus for a boy or Brisby for a girl.  The names are so cool.

Another great name, villainous as it was, is Jenner.  Our villain that shows up late in the game like all of the best of them.  I’d probably name a male cat Jenner…or a Pomeranian.

Mrs. Brisby sets out on a quest to save her youngest child Timmy, and seeks guidance from The Great Owl, who informs her of the Rats of NIMH that preside in the rosebush by the farmer’s home.  They should be able to aid her in moving her home so that Timmy can stay safely in his bed, while placing their home safe from the farmer’s reach.  Along the way she learns so much about her recently deceased husband Jonathon and why everyone seems to know how important he was…that is, everyone except her.

There are subplots of murder that arise among the politics within the Rats’ new society.  Mrs. Brisby is caught right in the middle of one of the most important periods of the Rats’ community as she seeks their aid in saving her son’s life.

I mentioned there was comic relief as well.  Jeremy the klutzy crow, voiced by the late great Dom DeLuise steals the show with very limited scenes.  He is another line of “lovable loser” that not only trips over everything, he gets used and abused by almost everyone he interacts with.

At the end of the day, the names in this movie stick with you: Nicodemus, Jenner, Brutus, Mr. Ages, Sullivan, Brisby, and who could forget–nay, who hasn’t had their very own–Auntie Shrew.

I think the name Brutus resonates with me because of the affect it had on my parents when they viewed the movie.  Brutus, in the picture, has no lines.  He is a wild eyed rat that guards the rosebush with a rather large, menacing spear.  We see him in one unforgettable scene when he terrorizes Mrs. Brisby when she tries to enter the rosebush for the first time.  After the assault, she runs into Mr. Ages who aids her in accessing the rosebush.  She makes it clear to him that she cannot go back the way she just came as a rat almost murdered her for doing so last time.

“That’s just Brutus,” said Mr. Ages as an annoyed afterthought.

My parents laughed at the name, and found it very fitting for the homicidal rat that we had just witnessed.  That experience has stuck with me all of these years, and I have always enjoyed that name ever since.

This is a great family film for all ages, with a great theme and story line that maintains a great pace.  Take the time to listen to the song through the credits.  It states clearly the “key” to unlock any door.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo concur.

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“JUST a bit outside.”

The only thing I think I like more than a movie with heart, is a movie that tricks me into believing it is just another screwball comedy; but then it develops into a film with a decent amount of heart.

That is precisely what this next feature did to me in my experience with it.

I know, two sports movies in a row, but they are completely different.

Hoosiers” is a flat out well crafted high school basketball drama. “Major League” is about baseball, and does have a lot of screwball comedy elements, but it uplifts us in the end unexpectedly.

I loved watching comedies with my dad.  He didn’t laugh a lot.  When we had a movie that could get him to chuckle, we all enjoyed it.  He had a great laugh.  It might have been great to all of us because it was so infrequent.  I just remember loving the sound of it.  This movie made my dad laugh-out-loud frequently.

Like most comedies, the premise is quite simple.  The owner of the Cleveland Indians wants to move the team to a more pleasant city.  Her plan, fire all of the best players and managers and hire a group of “has-beens” and green “up-and-comers” so that she can pay them less money, they’ll stink, no one will come to the games–thus, it will be easier to move the team.  The General Manager doesn’t like the sound of that and helps put together a team that looks like the one the owner is trying for, but really has the ability to be great if they can pull it all together.

And we’re off.

The cast is amazing.  Tom Berenger is the lead “has-been” catcher, who is tasked with helping Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen in an underrated performance) get his rocket arm under control.

My family and I for the most part love Tom Berenger.  I call him “Rutger Hauer” lite.  I especially like him in comedic roles, but he has the presence to be haunting as well like he was in “Platoon.”   I have to plug one of his lesser known films here, “Last of the Dogmen,” he’s great in it along with Barbara Hershey, again.  Great story.  Go see it.

Along with Berenger and Sheen we have Corbin Bernsen as an overpaid “has-been” that is not playing as hard as he should.  There is also Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes, the best named character in the movie, he’s a young up-and-comer that is as fast as Rickey Henderson.

My favorite casting in this movie, however, is the gruff James Gammon as the man hired to manage the team.

brown

Gammon is one of those actors that you are familiar with because he gets a lot of different roles in a lot of different kinds of movies, but he is never a lead.  This is the movie I will always remember him for.  His reluctance to take the job when he is first approached by the GM is one of the first laugh-out-loud moments that my father and I shared.  Well written and acted.

Add in Rene Russo, veteran Chelcie Ross, and a very young and buff Dennis Haysbert and you have a mostly undiscovered cast of future talent ready to explode onto the screen.

The written quote I listed for the title of this post doesn’t give it justice.  The delivery by my favorite play caller of all time, Bob Uecker, makes it one of the funniest situations and lines in the film.  I get excited for every scene in which he gets to make a call in this movie, and his comedic timing is priceless.

bob ueker

Comedies are the most impressionable movies on children.  You learn so much from them.  There are elements of comedy that are precise, calculated, and well executed; and sometimes, a baseball hits someone in the balls and we laugh.  This movie has all of these elements and doesn’t come off as too heavy on either end of the spectrum.

Back to the heart.

This is a movie that forces you to laugh given the comedic situations that the writer has created, but the climax of the film gives me goosebumps.  Every decision that writer/director David S. Ward created for the “big game” was done as well as any sports drama and to be surprised with the “plan” and not the outcome is a pure joy to experience and watch, not only for the first time, but again and again.

This is a movie my dad and I used to catch on television when we were flipping through the channels.  It always caused pause.

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“You know, if everyone is as nice as you, country hospitality is gonna get an awful name.”

In the late 80s early 90s, my dad and I started filling out March Madness Brackets and entering them into a pool where he worked at the local brotherhood of electricians bureau.

He and I never won, but we had fun filling the bracket out, talking strategy, and picking the underdogs we wanted to win.

From an NBA perspective, I remember watching the L. A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics playing in the finals throughout the 80s.

Sports was another thing that my father and I enjoyed doing together.  I don’t think he missed more than a handful of my soccer games my entire life, including college.

The same joy a father has watching his sons play or a son having his dad there at a game, is the kind of joy that exudes from every pore of David Anspaugh‘s “Hoosiers.”

There are a lot of great “sports” movies.  “Bull Durham,” “The Natural,” “Rudy” (also by Anspaugh), “The Longest Yard,” etc.  “Hoosiers” stands well above the rest of them.  I remember us (my dad, mom, me, and my little brother) watching it two days in a row when we rented it.  That’s not something that we did together consistently unless ALL of us were really excited about a movie.  “Hoosiers” was one of those movies.

The “based on a true story” element is what makes this movie so great.  If this were a made-up Hollywood script, we’d be annoyed with the cliche ending.  There is something about the underdog story that compels me to excitement, and when it can happen for real, well that just gives everyone in America hope.

We start off with a gruff coach in a small town.  The town does not want to embrace his philosophy for the local High School Basketball team.

I have talked about Alec Guinness quite possibly being my favorite actor of all time.  Gene Hackman is 1B.

gene

I can’t think of a line that he has delivered on film that I didn’t feel he believed as the character he portrayed.  His subtleties with voice inflection and expression give us a lot of communication–while still being very small on the screen.  Making that look easy is why actors like Guinness and Hackman become film legends.  If anyone has seen themselves on tv, be it a home video or the like, it is very easy to tell how “big” your expressions become when the camera is rolling.  The camera doesn’t miss a lot.  Hackman is very controlled, even when the script requires him shouting to his team from the sideline, or when he needs to coach a kid on the bench.

I know that I have not talked about the movie that much.  I am doing that on purpose.  For those of you that read this blog and have not seen it yet, I’d jump “Hoosiers” to the top of your list.  There are great performances from Hackman (as always), Dennis Hopper (who got himself an Oscar nomination for that role), and Barbara Hershey (a woman that I feel is very underrated in terms of the roles she has portrayed on screen–check out her filmography.  She’s really good–a favorite of mine is “The Stunt Man“).

I dare you not to have an emotional reaction to the ending of this film.

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“I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”

I have to do a “two-for” every now and then.  These are definitely worthy.

The evolution of this story, like so many others, started with my mother.  I remember her always referring to the first movie in the series as the “scariest movie” she’d ever seen.  She mentioned it in passing when I was about 5 and I never forgot it.  I was not allowed to watch it at that time given my age.

Approximately 6 years later, the sequel was the Sunday Night movie on ABC (I think–one of the big four networks, anyway).  My father was very excited when he found out and started queuing up a tape.  I remember the ominous score at the beginning as a very small spacecraft was docked onto a larger one.  The speed with which the engineers cut through the metal doors is an image I will probably never forget.

This was my first exposure to what would be the greatest hero I have ever seen captured on film.

Ripley

I both loved and hated Sunday Night movies.  It gave me plenty of opportunities to be exposed to a number of different movies and it was edited for television, so my parents generally always let me watch them.  I still had an 8 o’clock bed time and that meant I never got to finish the movies unless we recorded them.  I got an hour at most (more like 40 minutes of real time due to the commercials) and I always slept poorly on those nights because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  I remember being able to vaguely hear some of the louder action scenes from where I laid in my bed that night.

The last scene I remember before having to go to bed is when Bishop did the famous “knife trick” over Hudson’s hand.  There was much that I was already confused about, like when Ripley discovers that Bishop is an android and she loses her shit on him and the rest of the command crew, why she was having nightmares, etc.

The next day, I decided rather than finish this movie, I’d rather watch the original.  I was already getting my arguments ready for my mom in my head right before I asked her.  I didn’t need them.

“You’re old enough now,” she said.  “You have to watch it with me and your father though.”

Deal!

My mom was not lying.  “Alien” was a creepy trip.

The quiet, anxiety tone that they create builds the perfect tension for later “jump” scenes.  The concept of a “birth” occurring and unleashing one of the greatest murdering-machine villains of all time is beyond creative.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard of.

sleep

My mom told me after we watched it why it was so scary for her the first time around.  My dad took her to this movie blind.  She knew nothing about it, had not seen any previews, and did not know what to expect.  She was not mentally ready for what she was going to view.

Luckily, she was kind enough to give me 6 years to mentally prepare for my first viewing.

I mentioned that Ripley is the greatest hero ever seen captured on film.  That wasn’t bullshit, or an overstatement.  She is my favorite hero to watch to this day.  She is smart, calm under pressure, inventive, and does not like to take any chances (listening to her discuss their options with the rest of the crew is one of the best bits of acting and dialogue in this well written feature).  She is willing to do everything necessary to keep herself and her crew alive.  Unfortunately, her foe is just as crafty, and about 100 times stronger in a physical contest.  Watching Ellen Ripley develop from a “background” character into the leader and survivor that she becomes is a joy.

aliens sleep

The sequel, “AlienS,” is a very appropriate title.  Our heroes, a crew of marines, go to the planet that Ripley and her original crew found the first alien on.  The planet is now inhabitable and has a small town of people mining the resources there…that is, they thought they were and have now lost contact with them.  Ripley is eventually convinced to go and tries to warn everyone as to how things are more likely to go poorly before they get better.  The prideful female marine, Vasquez, interrupts her warning and arrogantly lets her know that if Ripley shows her where they are, she will take care of the rest.  Ripley wants to believe her, but we can see and hear it in her voice that she doesn’t.

Remember how I said “AlienS” was an appropriate title.  They didn’t bring enough bullets.  Their first encounter is a disaster and more than half their company is wiped out. Maybe three aliens get killed in the process, one of them by Ripley when she takes charge and drives their RV into where the retreating marines are, to extract them.  Whatever confidence the marines had is now lost and people start to take Ripley seriously.

I love both of these films for very different reasons.  “Alien” is an imaginative horror story all about mood and tone and begs us to ask “what is going to happen next?”

Aliens” is a very well written and acted action extravaganza with amazing set pieces, props, special effects, camera tricks, and a well developed multi-dimensional calm and collected Ellen Ripley.

Aliens” also has one of the best action scores ever written.  I made mention of James Horner when I wrote about “Krull” and listed “Aliens” among the best of his work.  It holds up today and ad agencies still use it in their trailers.

For those of you that have not taken the time to watch these, prepare yourselves.  Dedicate some time and watch them back-to-back, preferably with someone that has already seen them and loves them.

Is there a greater way to watch a movie new to you?

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“Look, stars! Ready when you are, Raoul.”

The amount of layers with which this next film is brilliant on is what makes it a marvel.

We say that movies are “fun for ALL ages” quite often.  I honestly believe there is no better truth or way to describe this next film.  It has everything: excellent dialogue, a well crafted plot, suspense, great acting, wonderful set pieces, and cartoons…?

Yes, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” might be one of the most daring projects ever undertaken by a film company.

Now, before I go off on how amazing this movie is, I have a confession to make.  At the time of its release in ’88, I was in emotional movie limbo.  I was turning eleven and I was starting to be influenced by friends at school who were “too cool” for cartoons.  I also regrettably did not know who the late great Bob Hoskins was at the time and was not excited to see the film with him in all of the trailers.  Well, I knew who he was after this movie and I appreciated this movie for what it was about 10 years later.

It is a masterpiece.

We have a gumshoe plot set in a world where “Toons” (Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daffy Duck, etc.) live in our world and are actors and performers just like any other in Hollywood.  They reside in Toon Town and interact with live action people all throughout Los Angeles.  This premise alone is quite an undertaking, but to have the writers Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman get the dialogue tone and the plotting as perfect as they got is another layer of remarkable.  Add in the acting of Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd (the two live action people that engage with the “Toons” the most) and you have almost everything you need as a director.  Robert Zemeckis had his hands full on this picture, but he wasn’t unfamiliar with big budget films (“Romancing the Stone” and “Back to the Future” just to name a few of his smaller big budgets…*wink, wink*).

I feel that there was also a part of my subconscious that wanted to hate this movie because Zemeckis delayed the completion and release of the “Back to the Future” sequels in order to complete this project.  In retrospect, brilliant move.  The eleven-year-old me did not think so.

The “props” department for this film also should be given accolades for adding to the performances by Hoskins and Lloyd.  They created 3-D objects that responded to the action the way the cartoons were supposed to on the page.  For example, Hoskins wore a spring-loaded metal object shaped like a rabbit that popped out of his shirt on cue like Roger was supposed to in the scene where he hides him under his trench coat.  They would later add the animation over the props in post production on Hoskins best take.

Spectacle aside, you have to tell a decent story to be remembered.  I feel that they did an excellent job.  There are murder mystery elements, characters that return from someone’s haunted past, and multiple reveals that are hard to see coming but make sense after we add it all up.

Oh, I forgot to mention Jessica Rabbit…failure on my part.  She is voiced by none other than Kathleen Turner.  You all know my infatuation with this woman at this point if you have read previous posts…not gonna lie to you, this movie helped that along.

In the end, a lot of this movie will be remembered for its animated visuals paired very well with its live action counterparts.  That is great, but this is also a movie with a lot of originality, intrigue, suspense, and above all, heart.

Where else could you see a taxi cab character open the door of a real car, get into the driver’s seat, and drive the car?

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“I KNOW what a ‘BURRITO’ is!”

You don’t realize until way later that you have discovered a movie star for the first time.  There were many not yet discovered in this film that would be discovered later.  The person I remember wanting to see more of, was Nic Cage.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had seen Cage perform in other movies that I loved him in (briefly in “Rumble Fish” and again briefly in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High“), but after watching “Peggy Sue Got Married” I wanted to see even more.

To boot, Kathleen Turner was in it.  My God…I loved her.

PS

I’ll get to that, just give me a sec to talk about my man-crush on young Nic…

His voice inflection alone in this movie is worth a viewing.  He is also a key component in a “doo wop” group that features an extremely young Jim Carrey who had an opportunity (however brief) to show off his comedic talent in the limited amount of time he has on screen.  If you decide to take a viewing, watch for him.  Nic, Jim, and the other guys CAN really sing; quite impressive.  I feel that this was that early role that Nic Cage took advantage of and put himself ALL IN and showed what he “wanted” to do as opposed to what he “could” do.  It didn’t hurt that his uncle was the director.

charlie

At the end of the day, the story is remarkable and inventive.

At her 20 year reunion, Peggy Sue (Turner–obviously) faints and wakes up in her old life back in high school.  We know very little about her current circumstances–only that her marriage to her high school sweetheart Charlie (Cage–again, obviously) is over and ended on very heartbreaking terms–all of which we piece together with subtle bits of dialogue from conversations she has with her daughter (played by a yet to be discovered Helen Hunt–there’s more where that came from).

Peggy Sue obviously remembers everything of her future now and wants to make major changes to her life based on what she has learned.

Who the hell wouldn’t want to do this?  I have yet to meet anyone that wouldn’t…that whole, “Youth is wasted on the youth” notion.

I remember learning so much about the culture that Peggy Sue (and my mom) grew up in.  There are very many 1960s pop culture references.  Peggy Sue would say something, I’d ask mom to pause it and explain.  She did.  It was a lot of fun, not just to experience a great story, but to learn about the times that my mom grew up was interesting and exciting for me too.

Watching Cage’s Charlie do an emotional tango with Turner’s Peggy Sue is entertaining on a comedic level, while it builds into a very dramatic waltz when the stakes are at their highest toward the climax of the film.

Definitely worth a viewing, and thankfully, Charlie never took Peggy up on her offer to sing “She Loves You” for the first time.  The “Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs,” can continue to be as timeless as they are now.

That last little bit kind of dares you to watch this movie.  I hope you catch the reference.  It’s by far my favorite 1960s pop culture mention in the movie and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it.  

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“This is the woman who I couldn’t live with as a husband, and now I’m going to be her son.”

I like to call this one “Big-Lite” even if that is a little mean.

A family movie that my parents watched when they were younger and then my siblings and I watched when we were kids was the original “Freaky Friday” with Barbara Harris and a very young Jodie Foster.  This was the original.  Had this concept been made before this one, I haven’t heard about it and don’t care to.  This premise has spawned at least a dozen more other films of the like, including the recent (and terrible) “The Change-Up.”

I feel that “Vice Versa” surpasses “Freaky Friday” in the overall entertainment department.

Judge Reinhold is one of the most enjoyable comedic actors I watched growing up.  No one I know can make the large and hilarious facial expressions that he can–without saying a word–and make people laugh-out-loud like he could.  I loved him in both “Beverly Hills Cop” movies (I know there was a third one, I don’t count it), “Ruthless People” was good when he was on screen, and his guest appearance on “Seinfeld” as the boyfriend of Elaine who was obsessed with being with Jerry’s parents was one-of-a-kind (he received an Emmy nomination).

Vice Versa” is Reinhold at his best.  I feel that “the sell” for movies like this, is having the actors create such distinct characteristics when they are in “their own skin” that when you see them portray their counter-part…it is believable.  I feel that Reinhold and Fred Savage did a great job communicating off screen about their approaches–and it shows very well on screen.

Reinhold has a child-like joy in his eye at each moment after the “change” and he never waivers from it.  Savage needs to be given credit as well for creating an “adult” child that reminds me of Spok in a way.  This comes out in a scene where he is being bullied by kids at school and tries to use “logic” as a shield.  It doesn’t work out.

I have many favorite scenes in this film, most of them involving Reinhold.  I think my favorite is when Reinhold gets his revenge on the bullies at school.  It’s not what you might expect, but the punishment exceeds their past crimes and gives us a great laugh.  Watching his elation in the hallway after doling out their penance is electric and those of us that were bullied (everyone) wishes they could do the same.

At the end of the day, this is a family movie for all ages and a father and son learn how to truly respect and enjoy each other on this journey that they take together.

I don’t know anything about Judge Reinhold the person.  We always hear stories about Tom Hanks and how wonderful a person he is and that he is friendly.  I want to believe the same about Judge Reinhold.  In the interviews that I have scene, and the film choices that he has made, he seems like a person that would have a lot of great stories to tell on “game nights” with a cold beer in his hand.  I want to keep that impression of him in my mind and “Vice Versa” has a lot to do with that.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to play horseshoes, and he can tell us about being noticed by some fans in the airport as the guy who was “jerking off.”

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LINKS TO EVERY POST

I thought it a good idea to make hot links to every post that I have in one place for those that wanted to catch up on ALL of them.  I hope this is helpful.  Thank you all for your support.  Please join my email list if you’re so inclined.

Growing up movies…

Disney’s “The Jungle Book

E. T.

The Return of the Jedi

Ghostbusters

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Gremlins

Poltergeist

Clash of the Titans

The Dark Crystal

Krull

The Goonies

The Neverending Story

Jaws

Superman

The Last Unicorn

Lucas

The Lord of the Rings” (1978)

War Games

Back to the Future

Ladyhawke

Little Shop of Horrors

The Guns of Navarone

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Blues Brothers

The Great Escape

Hitchcock 1

Hitchcock 2

Stand by Me

Cloak & Dagger

Explorers

Tootsie

The Bridge on the River Kwai

Mr. Mom

James Bond movies

Fright Night

The Princess Bride

The Terminator

Big Trouble in Little China

Dirty Harry

The Golden Child

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Silverado

Splash

The Karate Kid

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Roxanne

Lethal Weapon

Beetlejuice

The Naked Gun

Blind Fury

Teen Wolf

The Cowboys

Short Circuit

Romancing the Stone

Raising Arizona

Innerspace

The Beast Master

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Big

Vice Versa

Peggy Sue Got Married

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Alien/Aliens

Hoosiers

Major League

The Secret of NIMH

Clintington’s Best of John Wayne

Blazing Saddles

Bull Durham

Commando

The World According to Garp

Field of Dreams

Father Goose

Growing Up Disney

Cat’s Eye

Predator

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Bite the Bullet

Best of Cary Grant

The Gods Must be Crazy

The Frisco Kid

Uncle Buck

Flash Gordon

Popeye

American Graffiti

Troll

No Way Out

The Godfather

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Dances with Wolves

When Harry Met Sally

Glory

Batman

Worthy unmentionables.

Total Recall

The Silence of the Lambs

Quigley Down Under

Tremors

JFK

Point Break

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Boyz n the Hood

Hot Shots!

Aladdin

Quick Change

Wayne’s World

The Man Who Would Be King

Cape Fear

The Fisher King

Kindergarten Cop

Memphis Belle

The Freshman

Sleeping with the Enemy

Flatliners

Dick Tracy

The City Slickers

Defending Your Life

The Hard Way

Grand Canyon

My Cousin Vinny

Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

Unforgiven

Signs

Fight Club

Army of Darkness