Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride, starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn, is considered one of the 80s' classic films. I am actually embarassed to say that I have never seen it until this point. Now, however, I can attest to its awesomeness.

It's the classic spoof fairy tale. The story that everyone knows. The evil prince wants the beautiful girl that rose from rags to riches. She wants the commoner over the prince because she is in love with the commoner and not the prince. Anything for love. The commoner outsmarts the prince and his goons with the help of his brutish comic relief side kicks. In the end, the prince is a coward, and the commoner is victorious. He rescues the damsel in distress, and all is right with the world.

This story describes an innumerable array of fairy tales. So why is this film that uses that template so popular as a film in the 80s aimed at teenagers and adults?

Because, just like the 80s, it's completely cracked. If it weren't Rob Reiner, it would be an obvious Mel Brooks film.

It's difficult to even discuss this movie in terms of the plot, though, because it is truly the characters that make it. Wesley's cunning. Inigo's combination of savageness and manners. Fezzik's melding of brute strength and gentleness. Humperdink's crooked cowardice. And, of course, any cameo by Billy Crystal is bound to be hilarious.

The way the story is told is also clever. It is told as a grandfather telling the story to his grandson in modern times. Typically, it is not men from Chicago that are interested in fairy tales. But that's what makes it ironic and, in itself, humorous.

This is a truly remarkable film. To describe its majesty, it only takes 12 words:

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed by father. Prepare to die." Brilliant.

Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II

Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd

Now I know that we were supposed to do a movie that we haven’t seen, however, let me explain the logic behind choosing Back to the Future Part II. The last time I have seen this film I think I was about eight years old and didn’t have the same intellect that I have today. The other day, I revisited this film in an effort to revive the memories that I have from watching it when I was a kid.

In the 1989 sequel to a classic film of the 80’s starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and my personal favorite Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmit Brown, the two venture 40 years into the future to save Marty’s kids. While in the future an elderly Biff steals the time machine and alters the past making himself incredibly wealthy thus effecting the entire city of Hill Valley. Now in an alternative reality to Doc and Marty, they must travel to the past to stop old Biff from making the young Biff wealthy. We are on a thrill ride with the Delorian which ultimately ends us looming for more as Marty will have to rescue the Doc from the old west in the final chapter of the trilogy. I definitely recommend that everyone sit down and watch the entire trilogy if you haven’t already seen the films. Both Marty and Doc always seem to be battling to uphold some sort of ethical standard from the highly ethical challenged Biff and his relatives. I would, however, recommend that you look at these films without an analytical eye and kick back and take them for the pure enjoyment factor as well as the eerie question of time travel.

Check Out This Movie...

Memorable Quotes:

"Hey, Doc, you better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88.
Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads"

"Party's over Biff. There's a little matter we need to talk about. Oh yeah money right well you can forget it. No, Greys. Sports. Almanac. You heard him ladies party's over."

Greg Morris

Friday, September 08, 2006



Tom Hanks
Sally Field
John Goodman

Punchline is the coming-of-age story of Lilah (Sally Field), a housewife with aspirations to be a stand-up comic, and of Steven (Tom Hanks), a med-school washout with the natural gift for making an audience laugh. He takes Lilah under his wing, dragging her from gig to gig, while Lilah learns ropes, all the while trying to juggle home life—cooking dinner, getting the kids ready for school, and maintaining a relationship with her disapproving husband (John Goodman). It’s a real circus act. In fact, the soundtrack for the madcap dinner preparation is the music from a three-ring circus. You half expect to see trapeze artists doing midair acrobatics. Instead you see the table being set.

Meanwhile, Steven, broke, is fretting about a talent scout who saw his performance and loved it. This could be his big break. And the anticipation is shattering his nerves. The talent scout shows—and Steven chokes. Badly. It’s brutal viewing. To see a man die like that. He eventually breaks down into tears on stage.

But as he star seemingly crashes, Lilah’s begins to rise. She is finding her voice. At the orders of Steven, she discards the hackneyed jokes she’s been using and speaks from the heart, just going with it. She kills. The audience loves her.

The movie climaxes when a contest called “Open Audition” is held. The winner gets a spot on Johnny Carson. Will it be Steven, whose fallen inexplicably in love with Lilah? Or, will it be Lilah, who still loves her husband? Well, I guess I’ll be a jerk and ruin the ending for all of you. But if you don’t wan to know what happens stop reading here. The winner is…drum roll…Lilah. But she turns it down, and walks out—with her hubby. She chooses family life over fame. A smart move. So, instead, second-place Steven get the spot.

The verdict: It’s not the best movie in the world, but it’s worth a watch. Sally Field and Tom Hanks have decent on screen chemistry. Plus, it’s cool seeing all the snippets of other comic’s routines. Some are pretty funny. Seven out of Ten.

View trailer here:

Action Jackson


Carl Weathers
Craig T. Nelson
Sharon Stone

Carl Weathers—the only person in Predator who didn’t become governor—stars in Action Jackson as Sgt. Jericho “Action” Jackson, a rogue Detroit copper with a grudge against Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson; frickin’ Coach! how great!) a powerful car dealer, who cost Jackson his “stripes” when Jackson nearly “tore off” the arm of Shawn, Dellaplane’s son, during a sexual assault investigation.

Before I begin with the synopsis, let me just say, Action Jackson is a cheesy movies with nothing but two-dimensional characters—it’s what provides the charm—the characters are either portrayed as all good or all bad, with perhaps the exception of Sidney, a junkie lounge singer, who works for Dellaplane. She grows from a heroin addict to heroine, and by film’s end, kicks the horse. No more riding the white pony for Sid. Good for her.

The plot revolves around a scheme of Dellaplane’s to take over the Auto Workers Association (AWA). He kills off several key members of the board. Jackson learns of the plan from his friend Tony Marcetti (later killed). Now all Jackson needs is the evidence to bring him down. So, he turns to Dellaplane’s wife (Sharon Stone). She feeds Jackson info. For her efforts, Peter puts a bullet through her heart, coldly telling his bodyguard after that “The gun works” as he tosses the murder weapon to him. Boy, witnesses are dropping left and right. Yes, sirree bob. What’s worse though for our hero, he’s being framed for the wife’s murder. Dum…dum…dum! Dellaplane’s cronies dumped her body in Jackson’s crib.

So, finally, Jackson turns to Sid, the aforementioned junkie. With her assistance they lure Oliver Rooney, a partner of Peter’s to an isolated spot where Jackson beats out the info Dellaplane plans to kill off the leader of the AWA at his birthday party. Sure didn’t see that coming. But Dellaplane has tracked Jackson, and he captures him. From there Dellaplane proceeds with the standard villain monologue where he reveals all his nefarious plans, and then leaves before watching the job finished. Stupid. With Dellaplane gone, a bouncer from Sid’s club rescues Jackson—ah, the deus ex machina—and Jackson saves the day.

This is not a good movie. It is a bad movie. But is so colossally bad as to be good. Funny paradox that. If you want a cheesy movie to laugh at its stupidity, check it out. But don’t expect The Godfather.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Driving Miss Daisy

Everybody raves that this is such a great movie. Now I know why.

Driving Miss Daisy, starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, is absolutely brilliant. It's a character study--my favorite kind of movie. You can take your complex story lines and special effects. We don't watch movies or television for that. We watch them for the characters, and this film has two of the greatest that I have ever seen with an even more incredible relationship.

Daisy Werthan (Tandy) is a stubborn old woman who will not let her son or anyone else get in the way of her liberty. She says what she wants, does what she wants, and answers to no one. She is prejudiced, though she makes a big deal over the fact that she isn't. She's rich, but she makes a big deal over the fact that she didn't used to be. She hates to admit that she is getting on in years and needs help. She is a sassy and stubborn steel magnolia, but inside--deep inside--she is caring and loving in her own way.

She is beautifully countered by her driver, Hoke, played by Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman is, of course, the finest actor who has ever lived, anyway. But he is truly remarkable in this role. Hoke is the happy-go-lucky driver who is the only person in the world that is just as stubborn as Daisy. She refuses to use his services, and so her son is paying him for nothing. Hoke will have none of that. It takes him nearly a week, but he wins Daisy's trust, and eventually her heart. He is a smiling, jolly old man who knows exactly how to treat his white "superiors" in the Georgia of the 1950s and 60s. But he is not pushed around or pushed down. He won't let Daisy treat him like a black man. As stubborn and as rude as she is, he makes her treat him like a man.

The relationship between the two characters is even more amazing than their individual characters. They are so different, and yet so alike. A rich Jewish woman and a poor black man did not often associate, much less form a friendship, in Georgia in the middle of the 20th century. Their personalities differed as much as their heritages. The viscious old woman and the kind-hearted gentleman. But they are more alike than meets the eye. Both are ambitious but held back; Daisy is held back by her son and Hoke is held back by society. Also, both are stubborn and will not settle. Hoke is the only one who can put Daisy in her place, and Daisy almost appreciates that someone has the nerve to argue with her. A friendship is born out of this mutual respect.

This movie follows a friendship of more than 15 years, formed by the two most unlikely friends. It is both charming and inspirational and worthy of the title of "Best Picture" of 1989.