Tag Archives: 80s

“Honey? Did you do a lot of drugs before we were married?”

Prior to conducting the business that is this blog, I would like to take a moment and thank all of my followers.  I have engaged with many people over the last year on both WordPress and the Twits and I have to tell all of you, I have genuinely enjoyed corresponding with ALL of you.  I hope that you have enjoyed your holiday season and I wish you all a happy new year.  2016 will be ours!

Back to it…

This next one is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.  I have seen it way more than any human being should ever have.  I don’t know why…but I still like this damn cheesy horror/adventure movie.

It starts out simple enough with a family moving into a new apartment downtown.  They meet the grumpy neighbor downstairs, the little person down the hall, the grumpy old lady upstairs, and the nice single lady, all very quickly and briefly at first…but we get to know them all better as the story goes on.

In the family we have the wacky-fun dad, the ditsy mom, the cute little “goldie locks” younger sister, and Atreyu.

Innocently enough, yeah?

Of course the little girl has to lose that damn hypnotic ball down the dark laundry room stairway…

FullSizeRender (1)

…which leads to her abduction by an apocalypse wielding troll.

Troll,” as ridiculous as it sounds–is much better than the description I just gave it.  It’s campy, humorous, suspenseful, and…did I mention campy?

My favorite story about this movie comes from a conversation that my mother and her best friend were having over coffee.  My mother’s best friend’s daughter was my best friend…wait what?

Anyways…my best friend and I were playing under feet as my mom and her friend (I called her my adoptive aunt–the best kind) were talking about a strange movie my dad made my mom watch the other day.

Mom: It had Sonny Bono in it.

MBF: Sonny Bono?

Mom: Yes, he’s not in it very long, and he’s terrible…

MBF: Oh! … Is that the one where they turn Sonny Bono into a pickle?

I had to watch this movie after a question like that.

My mother was reluctant…

She let me watch the movie, only after the scene I really wanted to see…she felt it would be too traumatic for me.  Mind you, she didn’t know at this point that I had already watched “Poltergeist.”  I kept that a secret for decades.

So mom wouldn’t let me watch that one crucial scene.  What was I to do?  Who could I turn to?

Yeah, no surprise.  I watched it with Dad one night.  He let me watch the whole thing.  The epic Bono “pickle” scene?   #Unforgettable

After you watch it once and mom finds out about it, she can be mad, but you get to watch it again…you’ve already seen it.

This movie had a ton of the fantasy elements that I was already exposed to in other movies.  Monsters, magic, forests, elves, prophecies, villains, heroes, damsels, and self sacrifice.

Basically, Torok the Troll kidnaps the daughter of the family to use her as his future bride.  He uses magic to take her shape and disguise himself  so that he can terrorize everybody in the apartment by turning them and their environments into his magical minions.

Torok is not the only magical being at the complex.  Eunice St. Clair, Torok’s ex lover is there to stop him and grabs Atreyu as an ally.

Shenanigans ensue, jungles grow, there’s a climactic battle, I think you get the picture.

At the end of the day, it’s a silly little B-Movie with lame special effects, cool costumes, and a very decent score by Richard Band.

I’m really glad my dad let me watch that scene…the movie didn’t make any sense until I saw what sprang from that Bono pickle…wink wink.


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“Hey, man, are you all right?” — “Yeah, I’ll die soon, then it’ll all be over…”

My father passed away over a year ago this last August.  There have been a few of these posts that have been difficult for me.  “The Cowboys” and “Blues Brothers” come to mind.

This one will be another challenge.

Every time I think of this next movie, I think of my dad.  We were only able to watch it together one time, unfortunately. I think that the reason being was that it was hard for him to watch it with other people.

He was a man that had a hard time letting go of his past self.  I might be reading into this (I’m sure I’m going to hear it from my sister if she happens upon this), but it is how I feel.

Make no mistake, even though we only saw it one time together, my father L-O-V-E-D this movie.

67 GTO

My mom and my uncles used to tell me stories about my dad’s 67 cherry red GTO that he used to “rod” and race when he was in high school.  It had a 400 in it and he had a pair of brass knuckles for the handle of the manual gear shift.

I was told he loved it.

My father was a man of few words and if someone else was willing to talk about it while he was in the room, he’d let them.  I used to look over at him when other people were telling his stories.  He always had a mischievous grin under his big beard as he listened sitting in his chair with his arms crossed.

He used to talk about what a mistake it was to ever let that GTO go.

“Man, I could kick myself,” he’d say.

As it pertains to “American Graffiti” I always felt that my dad was reliving his own life when that VHS was spooling through the machine that projected those images of the cars driving around that town in that movie.

AG cars

It wasn’t just the racing that brought him back (there’s really only one quick scene).  It was the culture that was relived in that movie. I can’t think of a movie off hand that knew it’s own tone better than this one, and it never surrenders that message throughout.

The dialogue alone gave my dad flashbacks:

“Oh, rats.”

“Don’t you think the Beach Boys are boss?”

“Hey, man, who cut the cheese?”

“…it only took me one night to realize if brains were dynamite you couldn’t blow your nose.”

People don’t talk like that any more.  The “assumed innocence” that oozed from the 1960s bled out all over the screen after George Lucas created “American Graffiti.”

For my father, this was as nostalgic for him as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “War Games,”Back to the Future,” etc. (you all know where to find the list) 😉 were for me.

I think that as much as he enjoyed it, he wanted to watch it alone where he could reminisce in his own mind.

I remember randomly taking some looks back at my father as he would watch on and he had some tears in his eyes, in moments through the film that seemed out of place.  I think that the movie just moved him very closely and “took him back”…and he knew he really couldn’t “go back.”

Later I remembered asking my dad why he got rid of his red GTO.

“Well son, I wanted to get married and have a family.  That wasn’t a family car and as much as I miss it, I’d never keep that damn thing if it meant I couldn’t have you guys.”

As I sit writing this and choking back some tears, I remember thinking how corny that sounded to me when I was in junior high.  All it does is make me want to cry now. Looking back, it was a rare moment where my father was trying to have an honest conversation with me about how he felt.  Now that I have a son of my own, I understand it.

At the end of the day, “American Graffiti” is a great movie that I will watch hopefully many more times before I pass.

I love the atmosphere, the dialogue, and the “young” actors (Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Charles Martin Smith, and Harrison Ford) that had the energy and zeal that this 1960s portrayal needed.

Trying to explain scenes and plot points in this movie would not only do it injustice, it would confuse the hell out of everyone.

I remember when my parents first rented it.  I asked them what it was about and they couldn’t really explain it.  They just kept saying, “It’s about the 60s,” and “You’ll just have to watch it.”

We did watch it…

…and they were right.


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“…I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”

I watched this next one on HBO, almost as much as “The Beastmaster.”

It was probably my first experience with science fiction.

My first, definitely not “the best,” but it was still very memorable for me.  A big part of it was the bright colors and “enormity” that Mike Hodges decided to use for the sets and costumes.

It’s a movie whose theme song was written and performed by Queen, and has a supporting role from the most underrated James Bond ever.  Need I say more?

As always, of course I do…

Flash Gordon” was one of those movies that I watched with my cousins more than five times.  Even at four years old I knew it was a corny movie, but we enjoyed it regardless, I think because of the scope of the action.  We used to act out the scenes in our back yard with our toy guns…I was the youngest.  That meant I had to be Ming the Merciless.


Pretty easy to kick a four-year-old’s ass at pretend fighting “Flash Gordon” style.

I watched “Ted” when it came out and was pleasantly surprised that Seth MacFarlane chose “Flash Gordon” as the movie of John’s (Mark Wahlberg) childhood that made the most impact on him and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane).  Watching their interaction with the real Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) was very amusing.  It also refreshed some of the memories that I have of the film.

Outside of Queen and Timothy Dalton, the key scenes I remember are Flash almost getting eaten by a very green plant type monster, the feat of strength where you put your hand in the base of a shrub and hope that a random little critter doesn’t poison your arm causing the need for amputation, and of course; the “hawk people.”

Looking back on some of the dialogue for a quote, it was hard not to laugh…so I did laugh a little.  It doesn’t work on just paper, but for some odd reason, as fantastic as the world is, the campy dialogue when presented the way it is, works on this movie…if you’re 4 to 8 years old.

I was visiting my parents a while back before my dad passed.  We were flipping through the channels on DirecTV and came upon “Flash Gordon” right before Flash and the “hawk people’s” assault on Ming.  We had to finish the movie and I had a smile on my face like I was 4 years old again.

One of the great memories I hope I never lose being that it was close to one of the last times I would see my father.

Another example of how movies can be so powerful…when you allow them.


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“I’m a kid that’s my job.”

We watched this next one as a family.  Everyone except my sister.  She was a very busy high school student, had a lot of after school activities, and then came home and studied (she graduated in the top 10 in her class–nerd alert!)

This was one of those movies that I wish she could’ve been there with us to see for the first time.  Her perspective would’ve gone a long way.

I always like to call it the forgotten John Hughes gem.

This was another of our “fall back” movies.  My dad and I probably watched this movie together over 10 times.  He was always game for it.

I don’t think anyone would meet a bigger John Candy fan than my father, and “Uncle Buck” was probably his favorite “Candy Movie.”

The gist: There is a family “health emergency” and the parents of the family have to go and attend to it (mom’s grandfather is very sick and has almost died)…However, they know that it could be a very extended period of time that they will need to be gone and the kids cannot miss that amount of school.  They try EVERYONE and the only option–dad’s deadbeat-jobless-never-invited-to-Thanksgiving-dinner-brother, “Buck” Russell.

buck russell

It’s unfortunate that there was only one movie.  The character Candy was able to make out of “Buck” always seemed to be larger than just one movie.  I thought it would’ve been awesome to see Buck come back to save the day when the youngest daughter got into high school too.  There would’ve been a different dynamic, given that he had a good relationship with her as an adolescent, but at the end of the day, she still would’ve been a teenager….

I digress.

Long story short, Buck is great with the young children, he clashes major with the teenage daughter:


Buck: “When I was his age, I was a guy zooming girls like you. Pretty face, good chip on your shoulder.”

The funniest scenes in the movie come from Buck tormenting the teenager’s (Tia’s) boyfriend, “Bug.”

To spoil you of seeing how Buck torments Bug for the first time would be foul play on my part.  Trust me, there are laugh-out-loud moments, that have a level of discomfort to go along with them.

I remember talking with my dad on our third or fourth viewing about whether or not he would do those things.

Dad: “For my niece?  You bet I would.”

Me: “Niece?  What about Beth?”

(Beth is my sister)

Dad: “I don’t need to worry about your sister, she’d be meaner to those boys than me or Buck ever could be.”

That statement is no bullshit.  My dad prepared my sister very well.  One of the most independent people I know.  Again, I would’ve loved to ask her about her impressions of the Tia character from a teenage girl’s point-of-view.  It would’ve been very interesting.  Tia isn’t a bad person, she was just an angry teenager.  Who hasn’t been one at some point?

The great thing about the conflict in the movie between Buck and Tia, is that I can see both sides to the argument.  Buck has been tasked with keeping his niece safe and does it in the only way he knows how; understanding the male teenager mind.  Tia uses what Buck has become as an adult against him.  Buck’s not the most eligible bachelor, being that he is closer to 50 than 40 and unemployed with no prospects.  Not the best example to be giving out strict orders to a rebellious teen.

We have another brilliant screenplay by the amazing John Hughes, and an actor that was born for this role.  Candy is very underrated as an actor in general.  Most people right him off as a large clown.  Movies like this and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”  prove otherwise.

The greatness with a lot of the dialogue is how Buck engages with the young children too.  He is gentle, but he treats and communicates with them like they are his equal.  He doesn’t try to talk down to them or make them feel that they do not have a voice too.  He is a good listener and acknowledges the things they have to contribute.

buck and kids

I have an “Uncle Buck” in my family too (in moments, I feel I have more than one).  I like to believe that everyone does.  For those of you that don’t, I feel a little sorry for you.  “Uncle Bucks” make family gatherings very interesting….

….and authentic…


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“I don’t want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!”

It’s difficult to try and label this next movie with a genre.

If I had to, I’d definitely say it is a comedy.  There are others though that would label it as a western.  Like “McLintock!,” I feel that it is a comedy and the American West happens to be the backdrop.

I remember this movie being one that I laughed at as a child, and that my parents laughed at as adults.  That is quite a feat for a contemporary comedy (at that time) to be able to throw enough adult humor in, and not cross the line so that your children can enjoy it with you.

That is what I remember doing. Watching “The Frisco Kid” with my parents, multiple times.

The gist:

A Polish rabbi, Avram (Gene Wilder) has been chosen to run a synagogue in San Francisco, CA.  He takes a boat from Poland to Philadelphia, PA where he runs into a small group of bandits that rob him and throw him alongside the road.  Beaten down, he is however determined to get to San Francisco.


Along the way he runs into the Amish who aid him, works along the railroad line for enough money to buy a horse and supplies, and eventually he runs in with his guardian “angel,” Tommy (a very young and wily Harrison Ford).


To divulge on the history and character of Tommy would spoil you of some effective storytelling.  Let’s agree that he is a man that knows who he is.

The majority of the humor comes from Gene Wilder’s Avram.

His thick accent is quite humorous, and his uncanny world view on doing the right thing without judging others is a characteristic to envy in such a goofy protagonist.  There is also some major culture clash along the way that sets up some funny situations when Tommy’s style and Avram’s beliefs don’t see eye-to-eye.

The trek across the old American West is quite a major one, and Michael Elias and Frank Shaw did a great job of showing the common difficulties of that journey in their screenplay.

It is nice to watch a very young Ford fresh off his fame from Star Wars interact in a comedy with the brilliant timing of Gene Wilder.  I feel that Ford learned a lot on this picture and shows his comedy skills (even in moments of his dramas) after this movie debuted in 1979.

For me I will always remember this as a movie we watched as a family when we wanted a laugh.  There are a lot of them, and watching Wilder carry a picture was a joy.  It’s a shame he’s not seen much anymore.  Great talent.



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“Too erudite?”

This next one is probably my favorite movie that I forget about all the time.  I can easily say that I have never seen anything like it (even its sequel) and it will never be remade or duplicated because it was so unique and perfect.  It should always get a mention in my “top ten” when people ask me, but I ALWAYS forget about it.  I need to buy it and watch it once a month.

It wouldn’t get old for me, I love it so much.

There were times when I would come home from soccer and we’d have some movies that were ready to be viewed.  We knew what we were getting when dad rented them–car bombs, gun fights, car bombs, fist fights, car bombs, and death…except for the lead action star.

Just double-checking the car bomb references.  Yep, got ’em.

When mom rented them it was hit and miss.  She wasn’t afraid to give any movie a try (unless she knew it had nudity, prior–then it was notta).  As an eight-year-old boy, it annoyed me when mom rented the movies because I was like my dad…action, action, and more action (I was 8, I don’t know what my dad’s excuse was).  We were not always guaranteed an action movie when mom was the one renting the movies and there were some movies that I watched with them that I did not have an appreciation for until later when I matured.

So, as you can imagine, when I came home from soccer and saw the title of a movie that i did not recognize, and found out that mom was the one that picked it out, I felt defeated (I think we lost our game that day–might have played into the emotions I was feeling).

I almost pouted in my room rather than give this movie a shot…

I am so glad I decided to watch “The Gods Must be Crazy.”

This is another movie in which I wished I could’ve been there when they tried to pitch the story:

“Okay, we’re going to take a tribe of “bushmen” and drop a glass coca cola bottle (they all used to be glass back in the 70s and 80s) in their midst.  We will watch this amazing “tool” destroy their tribe from the inside out until they decide that they need to throw it off the end of the earth.  While this is happening deep in the Kalahari, there will be a rebel force on the run from the government, terrorizing the countryside in their wake, as we also meet a cute teacher and scientist slowly bumble into love over the course of the movie.”


That paragraph is the “gist” of the movie…IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT PITIFUL DESCRIPTION I JUST GAVE.


The “screwball” humor is on par with Hawks’ “Bringing up Baby.” I have never seen “time lapse” used so well and consistently to tell a story on film.  To bring all three story lines together and complete its telling the way Jamie Uys was able to do with a masterful use of character development and storytelling was similar to what I imagine Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz were doing behind closed doors when they started writing “Citizen Kane.” I also had the joy of learning about different cultures along the way.

I learned a very valuable life lesson too…where would any of us be if we didn’t start to trust that our mothers actually know what they are doing?


Not as well off.


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“Insanity doesn’t run in my family, it practically gallops.”

When I posted my “Father Goose” essay, I felt that Grant was always going to be way larger than one post.  He is definitely on the short list of actors that deserve more than just another movie, but a list of the “bests.”

So I’ve decided to do another “Best of,” Cary Grant style.

Topper” was the next Grant movie that I watched with my mom and sister on another weekend that my dad was gone hunting.  I remember watching some scenes and having uncontrollable laughter.  The premise is very creative and I don’t want to give it away.  Roland Young plays the title character and is the straight man through much of the film being tossed between Constance Bennett and Grant. If you like Grant and are able to find this movie, it is a must see.  

Bringing up Baby” is often times mentioned as the first or second choice of Grant fans.  Rightly so.  I don’t know that there was a better screwball comedy duo than Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  Trying to explain this film would do it no justice as from start to finish, you jump from so many circumstances and so many different locations that you have to catch your breath after the first 20 minutes.  Get ready to laugh, it’s going to be harder to stop yourself from it.  

His Girl Friday” Was there a better adapted screenplay in 1940?  The genius move behind this movie was changing the Hildy Johnson character from a man into a woman and casting the talented Rosalind Russell.  Grant and Russell are brilliant with their delivery of the dialogue here.  The timing cannot be matched.  Ralph Bellamy deserves a lot of credit for holding his own between these two verbal aggressors, using their phrases like sharp knives.  There have been attempts to remake this movie (“Switching Channels” 1988). It was a brave effort (Christopher Reeve is the entire reason to watch this movie, taking on the role that Bellamy originally played–makes it worth a view), but the brilliance of Russel and Grant together cannot be matched.  Enjoy!

The Philadelphia Story” Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn (together again), and now Jimmy Stewart…I don’t know that I have to say much more.  This is a movie about being honest with yourself.  The honesty that rings true with Grant and Hepburn comes out in the dialogue that they share and two of the best performances of their careers is a result of that.  …  Jimmy Stewart was pretty good too…

Arsenic and Old Lace” This is my go to Cary Grant movie.  It is hands down my favorite stage play and my favorite Cary Grant movie.  His slapstick, goofy facial expressions, and precise comedic dialogue timing are all on display here.  He plays a man that feels he has to endure the “loonies” that are his family as outrageous shenanigans ensue.  I dare you not to laugh.

Grant worked with some of the best directors that Hollywood has ever produced: Howard Hawks (“Bringing Up Baby” and “His Girl Friday“), George Cukor (“The Philadelphia Story“) Frank Capra (“Arsenic and Old Lace“) Hitchcock (“North by Northwest,” “Notorious,” “To Catch a Thief“) and then some….

Worth a mention: “Charade“–Great plot.  The majority of the movie is Audrey Hepburn as Grant floats in and out of it.  “Operation Petticoat“–Directed by Blake Edwards (one of the best comedic directors) this one kept me laughing.  “The Bishop’s Wife“–Plenty of Grant, not enough David Niven in my opinion, but a great heartwarming Christmas story for the holiday season.

I’ve given you plenty to work with…



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“Just like old times.”– “Yeah. You start trouble and I start bleedin’.”

Before I was old enough to go hunting with my dad on open weekends, my mom and I used to stay in during the cold winters and catch a few movies together.

Shocking! I know.

We would sometimes go to the store and rent some, and sometimes we’d just sit back with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and peruse through our inventory of copied movies.

We had a lot of movies that we would watch when we weren’t sure what we were in the mood for.  We’d call them “fall back” movies, now.  “Jaws” was a big one and “Father Goose.”  There was one movie that my mom and I picked as our “no matter what” movie, however, when we kept searching and reading and suggesting and just couldn’t think of any that’d hit the spot.

It was a movie that had a lot of what we liked:

  • great cast
  • great writing
  • camaraderie
  • comedy
  • drama
  • heroes
  • damsels
  • tragedy
  • multiple characters doing many different things
  • and redemption

It is a movie that rarely comes to mind when you mention “the greats” of all time, but if someone were to mention it as one, I wouldn’t argue with them.  A lot of people have never even heard about it when I mention the title, but when I tell them to go watch it, I have yet to have someone tell me they didn’t enjoy it.

I might be lucky with that last bit of history, but I really feel this movie holds up over time.

Bite the Bullet” is definitely a favorite of mine all time.  Let alone a favorite western, it holds up as pure cinema to me.  A lot of that probably had to do with the multiple viewings that my mom and I shared during those cold Idaho winters, but I highly recommend this film if you have never seen it.

It stars (try and catch your breath by the end of this list):

Gene Hackman, Candice BergenJames Coburn, Ben JohnsonJan-Michael Vincent, and Dabney Coleman makes a brief appearance.  

Those are just the stars.  

The people that played the supporting characters were very excellent in their roles as well including Mario ArteagaIan Bannen, and Walter Scott.  Ian Bannen’s character, Sir Harry Norfolk, has a heartbreaking scene in which I defy anyone with half-a-heart to watch without shedding a tear.  The passion and pain he shared in that scene is ironed-onto my brain and won’t leave, even if I want it to someday.  

Ian Bannen 

Mario Arteaga also comes to a very heroic, self-sacrificing end in a scene that will cause even more tears by the time you get to it.

Wow, I don’t know that I’m really selling this movie…

I’ll talk about the premise and you decide if it is something worth your time.

It is a western about a horse race across the desert.  There are 9 people that enter the race, and we gradually learn about their character(s) in the open of the movie, prior to the race starting.  We join all of them on their own separate adventures along the way.  Some of their adventures intertwine and some of them don’t.  There are characters you love and characters you love to hate.  There are even characters you love to hate that you end up loving…period; by the end. Hence the redemption that I mentioned earlier.

Bite the Bullet,” isn’t just a great title or mantra for this movie.  As the movie goes along, you realize how literal Richard Brooks was when he chose to run with that title.

 With that last comment, you kinda have to see it now, right?


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“…nothing grinds my gears worse than some chowderhead that doesn’t know when to keep his big trap shut…”

This movie was viewed on the down low and never mentioned to my parents.

When you hear the title, you’ll laugh at that notion.  You have to remember that my parents were 80s conservative in Idaho.  That’s like America 50s conservative for the rest of the world at that time…and I’m being generous.

There was A-lot-o ef words used in this movie and slight sexual innuendos (really one scene).

Mom wanted to protect us.

Everyone else I talked to said it was uproarious and I had to see it.

That’s why “heathen” cousins with mom and dads that don’t care what they watch are the best for kids like me in the situation I found myself in.

My cousins rented it and I remember starting it with my cousins, but being that they had already seen it, they were in-and-out as I sat through the entire thing, glued; frame-by-frame.

I remember smiling a lot, laughing out loud, but by the time the film was over, I was satisfied with a very warm, happy ending for an almost begrudging relationship that the two lead characters shared throughout.

It was an underrated masterpiece that I was unaware of in my first viewing.

Damn I wish comedies could get the credit they deserve.

We open with our lead character Neal, sitting silently in a meeting, checking his watch as his superior looks over some photos for an ad campaign.

The superior shuffles through the pictures…back and forth…back and forth…back…

Neal checks his plane ticket and sees that his flight is at 6:00 and is most likely to miss it if the superior can’t make a decision.  Neal wants to get home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eventually we learn that the decision is postponed and everyone is allowed to leave.

This, of course, only upsets our lead (Neal) even more as their presence wasn’t even necessary for the superior to have to come to that conclusion.

Steve Martin is the perfect Neal Page.  Cynical, sarcastic, bitter, and only obsessed with his need to get home in order to keep his wife happy.

Neal PTaA

Neal has a set of obstacles (we find out later that it has only been one obstacle) set in front of him that impede him from reaching his family in time.

Enter Del Griffith (John Candy).

Candy PTaA

He is a long talking, happy-go-lucky, naivete that has placed his luggage on the side of the street to trip up Neal from reaching his first cab.  He also takes Neal’s second cab while he is bickering with another would-be-cab attendant, and he ends up being his companion in coach (Neal originally had a First Class ticket, but was late and got booted) on his flight back home.

Of course the plane cannot land in Chicago…we’re only 30 minutes into the movie.  Due to the weather, the plane is redirected to Wichita and Neal and Del find themselves as companions on their rigorous trek back to Chicago.

Hence the title “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” becomes extremely effective/prophetic.

Later in my life I would watch a movie that I loved called “Tommy Boy.”  One of my favorite comedies.  “Tommy Boy‘s” roots are entwined in this movie.  Not the overall plot and arc, but the subtle comparisons with Candy and Farley and the cynical Martin and Spade on a road trip together create a variety of contrasts and comparisons.

The first shared bed, hotel scene (and the morning after) sells this movie undoubtedly.  We are first given an amazing bit of acting from Candy when he is being persecuted by Martin.  His monologue retort is telling and heart-felt, swaying the audience to his side of the conundrum plot.  We then get one of the most funny scenes ever put on film the next morning when the two find themselves cuddling in the queen hotel bed together.

The “between two pillows” line is the quote that is most notably remembered for this movie and rightly so.  But my favorite line comes after that awkward moment.

“See that Bear’s game last week?”

“Yeah, hell of a game.”

John Hughes is another creator that we never give enough credit to.

He is always written off as a writer/directer of the “80s teen angst melodrama,” but his filmography shows so much more than that:

Director/Writer = “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” (I know, not helping my case for someone that is more than just an 80s teen angst supporter) “Weird Science,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” “She’s Having a Baby,” “Uncle Buck,” and “Curly Sue.”  Outside of “Curly Sue,” I enjoy each of these movies.  Some have already been given an essay and some will be given one in the future.  His movies to me always walked on a line of absurdity, while maintaining a seriousness that justified real actions by the protagonists.

I have only mentioned the movies that he wrote/directed.  He wrote original screenplays for:

ALL of  the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, “Mr. Mom,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “The Great Outdoors,” “Career Opportunities,” and “Home Alone.”

It’s a shame he passed at age 59.  I get the feeling he had one more movie to “say something” in.


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“Stick around.”

Remember when I mentioned that thing about “firsts?”  Here’s another one.  It’s a little more “abstract” for a “first,” but a type of “first” none-the-less.

So, the first Arnold Schwarzenegger movie I ever saw was “Commando,”  Sunday Night Movie and edited for television.  The second was “The Terminator,” also edited for television.

This next one was the first one I was allowed to watch, with my dad, completely unedited on VHS.

It starts like “The Magnificent Seven,” and ends up being “Silver Bullet.”

A special military team is sent into the jungle on what is believed to be a rescue mission.  As we start our journey with them, they prove to be a formidable force.

Prior to reaching the enemy outpost, they discover a multitude of concerning circumstances that no one can explain.  There was another team that went missing on the same mission.  The group stumbles along their aircraft, and can find no explanation as to why it was brought down.  They also find a large majority of the team members corpses, hanging from a tree with their hides removed.  They know it is them because of their dog tags.

Bent on retribution now, they invade the enemy hideaway with stealth precision and eliminate all of them with no casualties on their team.


Dutch (Schwarzenegger) finds out that it was anything but a rescue mission all along and he has been duped by an old “friend.”  They have also been cut off from their transport out, and have to take “the long way” around the South American Jungle.

Little did any of them know that this would be the least of their problems.

At the very, very start of this movie, there appears to be a “Mothership” alien vessel that launches a life pod down through earth’s atmosphere.  I always felt that this would’ve been a slightly more interesting movie if they would’ve left that scene out of the beginning.  Jim & John Thomas developed a great script with disturbing visuals and haunting scenes that created a lot of suspense as we watch our heroes trudge along in the forest, only to get picked off one by one.  Being that we as the viewer are in on the “alien invasion,” we don’t get to be in the thick of it with the heroes as much, knowing that they are being hunted by a monster from another world.

Don’t get me wrong, “Predator” is still one bad ass action extravaganza that changed the way I’d play with my G. I. Joe action figures moving forward.  I remember looking at all of the action figures I had, and compiling a team much like the one in the movie.  I would get all of the similar weapons that they had in the movie and match them up with the character’s and pick them off one by one.  The problem was, I did not have a predator action figure, so that was all make-believe (i.e. me).  I still pretty much reenacted this movie when I played with my G. I. Joe’s, predator available or not.

I remember being so thankful that my mom allowed me to watch that movie with my dad.  I could finally share in some of the conversations my friends had at school about the movie.  It also loosened my parents up a little on future “R” rated movies.

Pretty good “first” …

…even if it is a little abstract.


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