Thursday, October 26, 2006

Caddy Shack (1980)

This movie is completely without a plot or real character development. That is not to say that it isn’t entertaining and very funny, it just lacks any kind of real substance. The only real plot is development is of the main caddy boy and his girlfriend, which ends up going pretty much nowhere. It is entirely composed of one-dimensional subplots that don’t really seem to resolve themselves or have any substantial connection. In many ways the lack of plot is part of the film’s appeal.

Needless to say, Bill Murray’s character is creepy. He talks to himself (most of the time about things that don’t make sense,) follows around old women, and is obsessed with hunting a gopher. If taken at face value, the movie is very funny and fun to quote, but if you try to look deeper there isn’t much there…not that there is anything wrong with mindless entertainment. It definitely falls into the category of movies that are better the second time you watch them. Much like Anchorman and Zoolander, the first time you watch them they don’t make any sense, but something happens with that second viewing that makes what once seemed to be utter nonsense become brilliantly funny. If you have never seen it, I suggest watching it and waiting a week or so and watching it again. Its much better the second time.

See the Trailer here:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The King of Comedy 1982

"Everyone's mom was a big influence on them growing up. If my mom were here today, I'd say, "Mom--what are you doing here? You've been dead for seven years!" --The best joke of Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy

Leave it to Hollywood to create a film where fans go ga-ga over famous performers, and the average man can't make it in the biz. Rupert Pupkin, Robert De Niro's character, just wants to be a rich and famous TV star, like his idol, Jerry Langford, played by Jerry Lewis.

Rupert has to sneak his way into Jerry's car after the taping of a late night talk show to try and get an in in Hollywood. Jerry comes off as sick of his fans and their constant adoration, and Rupert wants to use him as a step on the ladder towards fame and fortune.

But, unfortunatly for Rupert, his stand-up act stinks. After repeated attempts to get through Jerry's office and grab a spot on his late night talk show, Rupert becomes a kidnapper and finally gets his act across the air. The problem is, the only funny joke is the one I quoted above (which could use some re-working).

Rupert's cohort in bad stand-up is Sandra Berhard, in perhaps the role which best depicts her whole career--a floundering wannabe. Problem is, Martin Scorsese's otherwise good film demeans the average underdog, and praises the Hollywood hero.

If you're looking for a side-splitting comedy, like the title would suggest, this ain't it. But, if you want a study of a delusional untalented comedian who performs to cardboard cutouts in his mother's basement, than this is it.

Bad Jokes

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Princeton could use a guy like Joel?

"Sometimes you just have to say.. 'What the fuck?'"

Risky Business is a classic of the 80's decade that crafts a teenage hero for every kid feeling the pressure of grades, parents and their futures. Joel, played by Tom Cruise desperately wants the grades and SAT scores that will qualify him for Princeton University. His parents seem to be the only people that want that even more than Joel.

Mr. and Mrs. Goodsen have high expectations for their son, and they both run a very strict household. The scene in which both parents give him an endless briefing before Joel will be home alone for a few days reveals interesting camerawork. The camera points directly at his parents for a the duration of the scene. They give the details to the audience; it is as if the viewers get a first person perspective of Joel as his parents babble on. It further emphasizes the demand for Joel to be a responsible teenager. A relationship with the audience is established, and many teenagers can relate to Joel's situation.

The next few scenes show his relief upon his parents' departure. Joel is ecstatic, but does not do anything too rebellious. He dances around in his underwear to the tunes played on his fathers stereo and drinks whiskey with a TV dinner.

His friend convinces Joel to order a prostitute with the famous line, "so your folks are goin' outta town for a few days.. what the fuck? This friend is going to Harvard in the fall. At first, he calls the prostitute for Joel, who is extremely reluctant. The prostitute arrives and he is a large man in a dress. This prostitute gives him a number for a girl that "all the white boys on the lake want." He later calls this number, introducing himself as Ralph.

This film is so hilarious because of the character and the situation he gets himself into. He is in every way a "good kid," perhaps raised with such restrictions causing a desire to do anything rebellious and fun (he is easily influenced by piers.) Leave it to Joel to make one mistake that puts his entire future in jeopardy. He orders a prostitute, who is reluctant to leave the next morning. He is then robbed. Joel must search for her with his friend, and he is chased by "Guido, the killer pimp" soon after finding her. So many other problems occur when his parents are away. He is goated into taking out his father's Porsche, which rolls into Lake Michigan later in the evening. He misses his finals which drastically bring down his grade point average. And he has an interview with the dean of Princeton during his whorehouse fundraiser to replace the Porsche. The interview is so embarrassing and awkward, Joel shouts, "looks like the University of Illinois!" after the dean leaves.

Joel is transformed from the straight-laced adult his parents want him to be to the confident improviser that his future depends on. His grades and SAT scores are no where near Princeton's range, but Joel's radical ways lead to his acceptance into the University. It proves that taking risks and being wild can work to one's advantage, at least in Joel's case. This notion also defines the hero of the 80's teen. The entire theme is reproduced in "The Girl Next Door" (2004.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This is Spinal Tap

What an unbelievably brilliant movie. I mean, I have heard of its majesty, but I never could have predicted how truly fabulous it is.

This is Spinal Tap is a satire of a documentary--I'm sorry, a "rockumentary"--about Britain's loudest band, Spinal Tap. Michael McKean as David St. Hubbins leads the band as he and his band mates live and tell their story in front of the camera of filmmaker Marty DiBergi, played by everyone's favorite meat head, Rob Reiner.

The satire is brilliant. What's truly amazing about it is how not far off it is from the way a washed up rock band probably is. They think they're still someone. They think someone still cares. So they act like they're the greatest thing ever and act like jerks trying to get people to do things for them, but nobody actually cares. The ego, the girlfriend that breaks up the band, the fight with the manager, the failed publicity attempts, the many changes in images, the bold album covers. It could absolutely be mistaken for real, even though it is on the floor hilarious.

My favorite parts are the scenes where DiBergi is talking to Nigel, played by Christopher Guest. The discussions are stated so matter-of-factly, but what they're talking about is completely ridiculous. I have a great appreciation for both satire and nonsequiter humor, and these scenes embody those types of humor perfectly.

I've never seen a movie like this before. There are very few that fit into the genre of the fake documentary, other than, perhaps, The Blair Witch Project. It's both intellectually amazing and outstandingly funny. Who could ask for more in a film?

"These amps go to 11," baby!