Cartoon Rover: just as fat & gormless Rodney
If you are one of those rather odd people that for some inexplicable reason finds Rodney Dangerfield funny then this is probably right up your (rather limited) street. If you, like me, think he is an irritating very unfunny waste of space who is just staggered that this man has achieved success in this (or any) field, then avoid this film the plague. I caught it when channel surfing on late night TV and watched it with exasperated masochistic interest wondering just how something this bad could ever get made. This is no more than a cartoon film of Dangerfield being Dangerfield. As a dog. Seeing as he wrote it and adapted it and wrote the songs in it (just awful – just thinking about it again brings me close to tears) and starred in it, it is nothing more than a Dangerfield-Ego-Stroking-Project. I just don’t know how there is a market for this head-bangingly irritating dross.
What an introduction to the world Audrey Hepburn gives in Roman Holiday as a princess who wants more from life than administrable duties. She is nothing short of enchanting and it is no wonder that she both launched a successful career (winning a Best Actress Oscar) and captured many hearts worldwide out of this performance. On the subject of the Academy Awards, comment must also go to Edith Head’s costume design: One of the eight statues she received in her lifetime, out of a staggering 35 nominations. Both tally’s being records for the highest number ever achieved by a woman in the history of cinema. This film, as well as being a tribute to Rome (all shot in location), is amusing, engaging and just plain fun.
An 80s comedy classic if ever there was one. Oh how I wish for the giddy old days when Eddie Murphy was hilarious, when you knew you were in for a treat when he popped up on screen with his infectious laugh. Sadly those days seem long gone. This comedy caper, however, serves up no end of treats. It has some humorous dialogue (“When I was growing up, if we wanted a Jacuzzi, we had to fart in the tub!”) as well as brilliant sight gags (seeing a bruised and dirty Dan Aykroyd, dressed as the grubbiest Santa you’ve ever seen, stuff a whole smoked salmon down behind his red coat and then nibble on it on the Subway is priceless) and some wonderful comic acting (Aykroyd and Murphy were great, but Denholm Elliott as the subservient Coleman was pitch-perfect). The whole stock market trading scenario is still a complete bloody mystery to me, and if you look at Murphy’s face during the climax you’ll realise he has no idea either!
Most famous for being the first film ever to win ‘The Big 5’ at the Oscars, a feat that has only been twice (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs being the other two) so you know you are in for something special. Reputed as being the first ever screwball comedy, this is essentially a road trip come romantic comedy. Of course everyone knows the plot projection of the rom-com these days… 1. Two totally different people meet and annoy each other 2. These two people fall in love 3. One of them goes off with someone else 4. They get together and we’re all incredibly happy about it. This, of course, being one of the first of its kind is no different. But the fun is not in the plot, but in the dialogue and in the banter shared between Gable and Colbert. The ‘improvised’ scene in the motel when the detectives come to see if the spoiled heiress is in hiding is brilliantly charged with emotion and humour. Capra knows how to make a film well – as he clearly shows in this record setting film. Connolly is excellent as Colbert’s father, bringing real humour to all his scenes.
How had I not heard of this movie?! I haven’t had this much fun from a Christmas film in quite some time. The idea of an older man (voiced by Jean Shepherd, the author of the source material In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash) narrating from the perspective of a 9 year old boy was an inspired decision by director Bob Clark. If your only experience with such things before is Look Who’s Talking (or worse, its sequels) do not judge this by that! It works extremely well here and gives our 9 year old protagonist both an air of sophistication and a worldly wise sense of reason and humour. It is a joy to see things from his point of view. The basic driving plot concerns our young narrator wanting a BB gun for Christmas, but much of the film is actually made of anecdotal snippets of his life – along with his friends and family – around Christmas time. The plot may seem rather disjointed, but it is via these vignettes that much of the random humour is created – the Chinese Christmas turkey scene had me in stitches. This is laugh out loud funny and all actors pull their weight and play their parts to perfection. I cannot wait to see it with my children when they are a little older and can well see this becoming an annual Christmas movie rite. I hope so at least.
If you wanted a 20 something year old to play a teenager in the 80s you turned to Michael J Fox (or maybe Ralph Macchio). Fresh with his hit as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, he continues the teen theme here, playing Scott Howard, aka Teen Wolf, in this typical 80s high school comedy. The title pretty much gives away the plot of the film: teenager realises he has werewolf capabilities. That’s it. Oh, and he plays basketball. It is all rather predictable, but it is entertaining nevertheless. Standing out is Jay Tarses as Coach Finstock, who has the best lines and delivers them with dead pan restraint, “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.” Can’t go wrong with that.
Ahh Steve Martin. Do you remember the days when you were funny? You had Roxanne; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Parenthood all within a couple of years of one another. All hilarious, all immensely rewatchable, all 80s classics. Compare that run of hits to the lamentable brace of Pink Panther and Cheaper by the Dozen (who on earth sanctioned a sequel for either one of those never deserves to work again) and you can see my point. A modern day version of Rostand’s famous Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne will always be infamous for the hilarious ‘20 insults funnier than “Big Nose”’ sequence, delivered with panache by a top of his game comedian.
Films do not get much more tongue-in-cheek than this riot of a film. Engaging from the very beginning, it sets out to send up every action film – especially buddy cop films – of the last couple of decades. Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, Point Break, Leon, Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Trainspotting and a whole bunch more are referenced, parodied and spoofed here. The better you know your films, the more you will enjoy this. But do not let that put you off, as it can also be enjoyed knowing nothing of film history. And therein lies its genius. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (on the surface, a most unlikely action double act, but such is their comic talent, timing and sheer love of film that they work very well) form an improbable partnership that uncovers hidden secrets of the most macabre nature in a peaceful rural English village, “Village of the Year” no less. The city of Wells makes for a beautiful setting, so beautiful that it is easy to be lulled into its false sense of security. The race to uncover the many mysterious deaths is energetically paced, superbly edited (a take off of most Tony Scott action films), full of shocking twists and turns and darkly hilarious all rolled into one. Should it be funny, for example, when a character is impaled by a falling church steeple that lands on top of him causing his head to explode like a watermelon? No it shouldn’t. But it is. Timothy Dalton is also excellent is his role as local supermarket manager.
Wow. This is so startlingly bad that I cannot quite fathom it. It was just embarrassing to watch. For a moment, I even felt bad for the multi-millionaire actors caught up in this car wreck of a film. And then I remembered that they’re multi-millionaires and my pity disappeared about as quickly as one of the punch-lines. I caught it on TV and kept thinking that something funny would happen soon. I mean, surely, something funny had to happen. But I was just kept waiting until the credits. I’d expect this stupid base humour of someone generally talentless like David Spade or Rob Schneider, but I expect more from Adam Sandler – and what was Steve Buscemi doing in there?! It was cringe-worthy. There was no plot, just episodic moments of awkward and stupid behaviour. I’m just angry that $80 million dollars of money was spent making this. Aren’t we supposed to be in a huge recession right now? $80 million! For what? For awkwardness and hitting yourself in the head and hoping this isn’t really happening.
Perhaps more astounding is that it made $271 million worldwide. That makes it a hugely successful movie in financial terms (#28 for the 2010 Worldwide Grosses) and that shocks me. How?!? It’s one thing for a movie this bad to be made in the first place, but it’s another thing entirely for so many people to pay to go and see it. If you think I am being overly melodramatic, let’s just look at a couple of quotes from the film shall we:
Roxanne: [an older woman approaches them] And this must be your mother.
Rob: My wife.
Roxanne: I’m sorry.
Or how about this…
Bean: [as milk is shooting out of Sally's breast] You're wasting it!
[Sally's breast milk gets all over Deanne's face]
Sally: I'm sorry.
Deanne: [while tasting the breast milk] Actually, it's not that bad.
And I rest my case.
Another lonely voice on the internet.