Reviews

31 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Big Guns 2 (1999 Video)
10/10
Hot times on the shooting range!
13 November 2001
Absolutely not a family movie! But for those who like to see big guns, this is it! And we're not talking guns made out of steel that load lead bullets and go "Bang". While most men have calibre 6 guns, Brandon Lee shoots with a calibre 9 magnum. He's definitely a big gun, not a derringer.

Lee stars in this movie, as he did in 3 other movies for Catalina, all shot in 1999 before Brandon moved on to bigger and better things. See also "Fortune Nookie", which is my favorite in this bunch of big gun movies.

Brandon's appearance is famous, and it's not just his face that we remember. An American man of Asian ancestry, Brandon must have had extra milk or hamburgers or something special to make him grow into the fantastic shape he demonstrates in this movie. While lots of big gun movies have been made, ones with an Oriental star are quite rare and therefore a special treat to watch.

Ripped doesn't begin to describe the definition and bulk of his muscles. And that's not just those muscles he can safely show off in the gym. He's a treat to ogle, from the top of his head to tip of his toe, and all parts in between. And there's parts in between that our eyes are bound to linger on.

Wondering how he developed that deep dark all over tan gives new meaning to the word "metaphysics".

Not only do we see all the guns these movie men are packing, we get to see some uses for those guns that we didn't learn on the Boy Scout shooting range. Gives new meaning to the expression "Target practice"! And watching this movie makes you want to draw your own pistol, and make your own pathetic attempt to match these guys on the shooting range.

If you're going to be stuck on a deserted island all alone with no one to practice shooting with, buy this movie and pack your VCR. You'll have fun!
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Nico and Dani (2000)
9/10
Two boys play; one's gay, one's not?
28 September 2001
Two best friends spend the summer of their 16th year together at a beach house. Dani has realized that he has gay feelings, and this is the summer he will sort out his orientation. Nico is quite happy to play along with Dani. The "Krámpak" in the title is Spanish for mutual masturbation.

But their adolescent fumbling has different meanings for each boy. Dani has much deeper feelings for his pal than Nico seems to reciprocate. Dani knows he's gay, but is Nico gay?

This dichotomy is classic for boys at that age. Many boys engage in play with another boy, some discard it after a while, and others decide that this is their life choice.

The acting is a little wooden in this movie. However given the controversial theme of the script this is not hard to forgive. Both boys are good actors playing your typical adolescents with a sexual twist.

There is no heavy trauma in this movie. The ending will surprise the viewer. Not too many movies have treated adolescent gay sex in so positive a light. Three cheers for that! It is now the start of the new millennium - it's OK for boys to be gay. Yet in being gay there are still the difficulties in any relationship that all teenagers have to grapple with. And the real strength of this movie shows that even when two boys are ready to play, the course of true love is not easy.
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8/10
Boy and animals out shine the adults
14 January 2000
Jamie Williams, then 12 years old, stars as the man-cub Mowgli in this movie adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling story. He is supported by an outstanding cast of animals, such as Baloo the bear, Baghera the panther, and Shere Khan the tiger.

The story is too well know to bear repeating. But playing against Williams are characters representing the Yankee "collector" for P. T, Barnum's circus (Bill Campbell), a couple of eccentric British army officers and their wives, an Indian hurdy-gurdy player complete with trained monkey, an Indian prince who is really Mowgli's uncle, and a positively weird tracker with his trained python.

There is also an appearance by Roddy McDowall, who was himself a very famous child star (How Green Was My Valley, Kidnapped (1948)) with over 158 movie appearances in his career.

The boy-cub, his wolf brothers, and all the animals out shine and out star the adults in this movie. The animal trainers are the invisible stars, directing the animals in major roles, not just quick appearances.

Williams is exceptional in his role as Mowgli. I wonder at his stunt abilities. It must be hard to use a body double for a 12 year old boy. See him climb and leap about in trees, run with the animals, dive into rivers, and clamber around on the roof of a moving train.

And he's cute, to boot! Tanned, smooth skinned, and lithe. With a grin to light up a city. It's a joy to watch him run though the jungle swinging from tree to tree. A young Tarzan comes to mind. Maybe in a few more years when his body has filled out, Williams could replace Johnny Weismuller?

Watch this movie as an antidote to the dreadful cartoon version of the novel, with the singing bear. It is an extremely realistic portrayal of a feral boy, his jungle friends, the jungle itself, and those adults who would wish him ill. It belongs in that category of serious movies that star children, but are not just children's stories.

This story was not one of Kipling's best, in my opinion. It is rather fantastic. For his best story made into a movie, I refer you to "Captains Courageous" which was filmed in three versions.
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9/10
Dotty characters every one!
12 January 2000
This movie made from Agatha Christie's novel is all about dotty characters, and not really about crime. Christie was the master at crafting characters and places. These were the essence of her novels, which placed them apart and well above more routine mystery stories.

There's Miss Marple, the epitome of the spinster lady of good manners and breeding, if a little on the inquisitive side. Always aware of what's going on around her, collecting all gossip and facts which she will use to solve the murder that baffles the police. Joan Hickson played the best Miss Marple; she was Miss Marple - all cardigans and tweed skirts.

There's Col. Luscombe the old bachelor who couldn't be more unsuited to his role as guardian of a comely girl. Clueless as to parenting, and as unfeeling as only old bachelors can be.

There's Lady Selina Hazy, a dotty old dear if there ever was one. Ever gossiping, knowing something about just every one, she's the quintessential lady who rattles on and on. See her stick to Miss Marple like gum to a shoe. And Miss Marple is gentlewoman enough to allow her.

Chief Inspector Davy is the dull, if gentlemanly copper. Played by George Baker, who's also Chief Inspector Wexford in the Ruth Rendell mysteries. Hangs about the Betram Hotel eating muffins, while undercover to investigate some robberies.

Canon Pennyfather is the old gent gone vague, the absolutely most absent minded fellow there was. Definitely bats in his belfry.

Miss Gorringe is the receptionist at the hotel, ever stuffy and condescending to the guests.

Henry is the doorman, or concierge since we are in exclusive Mayfair, London.

Ladislaus is the oily racing car driver and two-timer.

We see a fabulous cameo of an Indian waiter played by Rashid Karapiet, who had played Dr. Das in Passage to India (1984).

Don't watch this movie for the crime, or the brilliant detective work and clever solution. But do watch it if you enjoy characterizations that amuse. Do watch it if you enjoy a brilliant author at her best, expertly crafting the oddest bunch of characters to ever fill a hotel.

Compliments to the director for bringing these characters to life!
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Big Daddy (1999)
7/10
Sweetie hooks a big daddy
4 January 2000
This movie follows the homeless and unwanted Julian (acted by the twins Cole & Dylan Sprouse) as he trys to find a dad. The target of his affection is Sonny (Adam Sandler) who acts and lives as if he was a 12 year old boy himself.

Needless to say, movies like this have happy and predictable endings. The fun is in getting there, in seeing Sonny who initially rejects taking in Julian turn into a father in the end. With many hilarious adventures along the way, most based on bathroom humour.

The twins have that waif look so necessary for movies on this theme. Blonde, with big eyes, and ears that stick out, Julian is the boy to open the hardest heart. Who could resist such an attractive waif? Who wouldn't wish him success in finding a dad?

The girls certainly can't. For Adam discovers that girls like men who are fathers, and they like the little kid too. Julian helps Adam to win his girl, so finding himself a dad and a mom.

Three comparable movies come to mind. Similar themes, of a homeless and unwanted child finding a dad, but all treated in a more serious fashion. None of them are comedies like Big Daddy, though they all have comic moments.

In 1934, "Bright Eyes" starred Shirley Temple as Shirley, the little orphan girl. Shirley loses her mother to a car accident, and her father to an aeroplane crash. Her father's best friend, Loop Merritt (James Dunn, who was almost as famous an actor as Shirley Temple) becomes her new dad. Like Sonny, he starts out reluctantly in the dad role, and becomes converted to this position.

In 1980, "The Earthling" starred Ricky Schroder as Shawn, the 10 year old boy orphaned by a crash of his family's motorhome in the Australian bush. He is found by Patrick Foley (William Holden, in one of his best roles), who is fatally ill and not looking for a companion. Neither does Shawn particularly want a father, but he needs someone to look after him in the wilderness. See the two warm to each other, ending in a dad-son relationship.

In 1998, "Goodnight Mister Tom" starred Nick Robinson as Willie, and John Thaw as Tom Oakley. Willie is evacuated from wartime London to Tom's village, and billeted with the crotchety old man. Willie's mom is killed during the Blitz. The two develop a trust in each other, and recognize the benefit of a love between them. Each fills a need in the other's life.
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8/10
Wacky version of G&S operetta
29 December 1999
Cuties Chris Atkins and Kristy McNichol, he of the blonde curls and she of the blonde curls, star in this wacky version of the old chestnut, Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan.

Atkins plays Frederic the boy pirate who falls for McNichol's Mabel. He was 21 at the time, two years after starring in Blue Lagoon, yet he retained the perennial look of a fifteen year old teenager. McNichol was a famous star at the time, but this is her first role as a femme fatale, not as a tomboy.

This movie could be a musical version of Blue Lagoon. See Atkins and McNichol cavorting in the skimpiest of costumes designed to show their pretty legs and other bits. Surprise, both of these two cuties can sing, and even dance a bit!

The story is too well know to bear repeating. But there are a couple of wacky twists, in the best tradition of the British music halls. Except this movie is an Australian production!

Of course we get the model of the modern major-general (Bill Kerr) with his famous solo song. But we also get a light sabre from Star Wars. We get Inspector Closeau from Pink Panther with a hilarious word play on "pirate" and "parrot". We get a bit of Indiana Jones. And the stars make those asides which are British music hall tradition, stopping in mid-scene to address the audience.

There's lots of double entendre jokes, again another British music hall tradition, where simple words are used with a possible vulgar or sexual meaning. See Frederic at the mercy of the pirate's sword say "nuts". To which the pirate points his sword at Frederic's boy treasures and says "But you'd still have one left".

A jolly good movie. One for a cold winter's evening to warm the heart. Even the old Victorians would approve of this one.
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Get Real (1998)
9/10
Realistic gay film of two boys who fall in love
23 December 1999
Ben Silverstone looking like a young version of Mr. Bean plays Steven the sixteen year old gay schoolboy. Brad Gorton looking like a young Hugh Grant but with curlier hair plays John, the Head Boy at their school.

This movie is teen angst with a few twists. Now that we're in the late 1990's, gay love among young boys can be shown on the screen. Steven knows he's gay, has known this since he was 11 years old, and has no problems with being gay. His problem is the universal teenager's problem, how to find a good partner. So his partner has to be a boy, but this is no big deal. Matter of fact he has things a bit easier than other boys who are looking for girl partners. Steven's a thoroughly modern boy.

But John has problems accepting that he is gay. Still, he falls for Steven. See them deal with the universal problem, how to spend private time with a lover without both sets of parents finding out. Of course, John has the much bigger problem of concealing his gay nature from everyone except Steven.

Two other films come to mind with similar themes.

"Wild Reeds" from France also deals with gay love between two schoolboys. And it used a terrific soundtrack of 1950's pop as an effective background, just as "Get Real" uses a 1990's pop sound track. However, in France of the 1950's neither of the boys could be openly gay, or even freely accept gayness as part of his being, the way Steven can.

"Grease" also uses a terrific soundtrack as background to teenage angst. Though in this case it's all boy-girl romance and there isn't a gay hint to the movie. Yet some of the situations are the same - how to make the object of your love return the affection, how to meet privately, and how to consumate the romance.

The only unreal part of this movie is the Hollywood portrayal of Basingstoke in England - upper class suburban, all nice houses and cars, two parent families. And quite unlike today's England, not a minority person in sight!

"Get Real" with its realistic portrayal of gay adolescence should be mandatory viewing at all schools. To show the kids that it is OK to be gay. That it's OK to be gay and happy. That tolerance and understanding are best. That it's not OK to beat up on gay kids just for being gay.
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10/10
Boy caught in Edwardian love triangle in his 13th year.
24 September 1999
Winsome Dominic Guard plays Leo in this movie made from the novel by the famous English physician and author, L. P. Hartley.

This was the first movie made by young Guard, who was 15 years old but playing a 13 year old boy. Guard went on to a movie career ending with a role in Gandhi (1982). He carries off the role of young Leo to perfection, with his long hair and fetching smile.

It is high summer in Edwardian England. Leo is from a single parent home, his father is dead. And his mother lives in reduced circumstances. His pal from boarding school, Marcus (played by Richard Gibson) brings him home to the family estate in Norfolk to spend the summer. England is having a heat wave that year, and the weather and scenery play as much of a role in this movie as do the actors.

Marcus' big sister, Marian (Julie Christie - Dr. Zhivago, etc.) has fallen for Ted (Alan Bates) the tenant farmer. This was a big no-no in the society of that time. She enthralls Leo, and uses him as the go-between, delivering messages for trysts with her lover.

Leo is turning 13 that summer. And he has a burning interest to find out "what happens after spooning? I don't know the word for it". Typical of a 13 year old boy. See Guard at his best acting the wondering Leo asking this question of his new pal, farmer Ted. Such wide eyed innocence.

Needless to say, Leo does find out the answer, somewhat to his horror, at the climax of the movie. This happens during his birthday party, which turns out to be the party from hell when his, Marian's and Ted's secret comes out.

It's a horrid end to a fabulous summer for the boy. He turns 13. He made new friends with Marian and Ted. The rich family of his pal Marcus treat him well. He even befriends Hugh, the viscount engaged to Marian. He makes the all-star catch at cricket to win the game for his side, even though it puts out Ted, the champion of the village versus the manor game.

Yet he also discovers betrayal, and lying. And all the charms of growing up.
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10/10
Boy grows up in Flanders
7 September 1999
This heartwarming film is based on the 19th century children's novel by Ouida Sebestyen. It has been made into a movie several times, starting in 1914 with a woman playing the starring role of the boy Nello. In the 1959 version David Ladd played Nello.

Now in 1999 two wonderful boys play Nello. First, Jesse James plays the young Nello at about 7 years of age. He plays the orphan lad to perfection, tugging at our hearts with his waif looks and shaggy blonde hair. Jesse's previous acting experience includes the movie "Message in a Bottle" and a series of Tommy Hilfiger ads.

Later, the older Nello, aged 12, is played by Jeremy James Kissner. His previous movie was a part in "Great Expectations" in 1998. Again, Kissner plays the orphan boy perfectly. See him and the dog, after whom the novel and the movie are named, earning their living delivering milk in a little cart pulled by the dog. This was how that breed of dog, Bouvier de Flanders, earned their keep in the 19th century.

In the style of the Victorian dramas, the poor neglected orphan boy finally wins the prize. Its the getting there that's the interesting part of the story.

Interesting side bar: Jack Warden plays Nello's grandpa. Warden played this role nearly 30 years ago, as the grandpa to Charlie, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - another story of a poor boy who wins his reward after much effort.

Watch for these two boys in more movies. There's lots of parts calling for comely blondes with haunting eyes. These boys really make you want to take them home, feed them, give them a hot bath, new clothes, and take them into your heart. Its a long tradition starting with Freddie Bartholomew in the 1930's.
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Goodnight, Mister Tom (1998 TV Movie)
10/10
Boy melts the heart of an old grouch
31 May 1999
Warning: Spoilers
John Thaw, of Inspector Morse fame, plays old Tom Oakley in this movie. Tom lives in a tiny English village during 1939 and the start of the Second World War. A bit of a recluse, Tom has not yet recovered from the death of his wife and son while he was serving during the First World War. If you can imagine Inspector Morse old and retired, twice as crochety as when he was a policeman, then you've got Tom Oakley's character.

Yet this heart of flint is about to melt. London children are evacuated in advance of the blitz. Young William (Willie) Beech is billeted with the protesting Tom. Willie is played to good effect by Nick Robinson.

This boy is in need of care with a capital C. Behind in school, still wetting the bed, and unable to read are the smallest of his problems. He comes from a horrific background in London, with a mother who cannot cope, to put it mildly.

Slowly, yet steadily, man and boy warm to each other. Tom discovers again his ability to love and care. And the boy learns to accept this love and caring. See Tom and Willie building a bomb shelter at the end of their garden. See Willie's joy at what is probably his first ever birthday party thrown by Tom.

Not to give away the ending, but Willie is adopted by Tom after much struggle, and the pair begin a new life much richer for their mutual love.

In this movie, Thaw and Robinson are following in a long line of movies where man meets boy and develop a mutual love. See the late Dirk Bogarde and Jon Whiteley in "Spanish Gardener". Or Clark Gable and Carlo Angeletti in "It Started in Naples". Or Robert Ulrich and Kenny Vadas in "Captains Courageous". Or Mel Gibson and Nick Stahl in "Man Without a Face".

Two points of interest. This is the only appearance of Thaw that I know of where he sings. Only a verse of a hymn, New Jerusalem, but he does sing.

Second, young Robinson also starred in a second movie featuring "Tom" in the title, "Tom's Midnight Garden", which is based on a classic children's novel.
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