Reviews written by registered user
dweck

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22 reviews in total 
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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Comedic Tingler, 15 June 2000

I was sure I'd imagined this movie until I found it here. I remember watching it on TV as kid and loving it. I imagine it doesn't hold up much nowadays, though.

The theme song will ring around in my head every now and then; it was an infectuous tune with a tinkly harpsichord. "The spirit is willing... Her kisses are chilling... "The spirit is willing... But the body is weak..."

I'd love to see it again.

Loved it!, 15 June 2000

Okay, so I was really *really* nervous about seeing F2000. I LOVE F1940, and I was worried that they'd trounce it.

But once I saw the opening, where sheets of music and cels from the original go floating past the assembling orchestra, I knew we were in good hands. I knew the creative team would honor the memory of the original and take it to new heights.

And boy, did they ever!

The IMAX presentation was worth every effort I made (had to travel 90 miles to NYC) and every penny I paid. To sit there amid the 60-some speakers and just be awash in the music was an experience I'll remember forever.

The short of it is that the criticisms here are, in my book, unfounded. I didn't think the movie was too short. I didn't object to the musical cuts, which only purists would notice anyway. I didn't think the intersticies were bothersome at all. In fact, stick around for the closing credits and a final joke from Steve Martin.

The only thing I will agree with is that "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" looks every bit of its 60 years. Perhaps the original aspect ratio for this segment would have been advisable...

Other than that, a marvelous film. I can't wait to see it again in a non-IMAX theater. The Noah's Ark sequence, for one, had gags aplenty that I'm sure I missed the first time 'round.

Take a bow, Mickey and company. You certainly deserve one!

17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
A Revolutionary Comedy from Bud & Lou, 4 October 1999

Their cinematic effort preceding "TTOTL" is an little unknown comedy called "Little Giant," in which Bud and Lou--showing, perhaps the strain in their personal relationship at the time--act apart as opposed to as a team. "TTOTL" continues that experiment, but produces much better results.

The tail--of a pair of Revolutionary War ghosts (Costello and the beautiful Marjorie Reynolds) trying to clear their names in 1946--has heart. Again, there's comedy here, but also pathos, something Lou Costello was brilliant at playing and for which he received precious little credit. And the *story* is engaging, not just a platform for free-form A&C routines.

The SPFX are top-notch for the day. Watch Costello and Reynolds run at each other and swap clothing. And the performances matter, too. Gail Sondergaard is very creepy during a seance sequence, and even Bud flexes his dramatic-comedic muscles as a fluttery psychologist.

Things are mucked up a bit at the end, when Bud's car goes awry with Lou at the wheel (I guess by then producers felt it couldn't be an A&C picture without at least *one* chase). But with that one transgression forgiven, "TTOTL" is a terrific film (my second-fav of Bud & Lou's, after "Who Done It?").

10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
My Favorite in the A&C Canon, 4 October 1999

By 1942, with the release of "Who Done It?" Universal Studios had learned a thing or two about Abbott and Costello: Namely, that the ridiculous boy-girl subplots and the subpar music (except from the Andrews Sisters) that padded their other features to date where wholly unnecessary. Thankfully, Bud and Lou are given full reign in "Who Done It?" without any extraneous material.

That said, it's easy to see who "Who Done It?" is my favorite of all their features. Not only are "the boys" in top form, but the supporting cast is great as well; Mary Wickes is a perfect foil for Lou (bringing to mind his earlier clowning with Joan Davis in "Hold That Ghost"), and it's a shame the two didn't work together more (even *her* talents couldn't pump any life into "Dance With Me, Henry").

Abbott and Costello comedies are often long on laughs but short on plot. Not the case with "Who Done It?" The ins and outs of a radio spy ring are well crafted, providing appropriate counterpoint to the antics of Bud and Lou.

And what antics there are! Lou is convulsively funny here, from the opening moments where he deals with an obnoxious elevator boy (and "wins" a bet concerning the production of orange juice) to the later chase on the studio rooftop (and clever use of the sign "Vote for Townsend Phelps"). Classic bits--such as the insanity of "Alexander 2222", which reaches a new and self-deprecating conclusion--are here as well.

Sadly, Universal didn't remain knowledgeable about what to do with A&C for long; soon after, the love stories and drippy songs were back. But "Who Done It?" remains as a testimony to what this incomparable comedy team could achieve on its own.

Hawaii (1966)
21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Splendor in the Grace, 19 March 1999

"Hawaii," based on about one-third of the Michener novel, is one of those big, old-fashioned epics, full of wistful vistas, compelling performances, and casts of thousands.

Julie Andrews' acting abilities shine as bright as the tropical sun in this story of a New England woman who accompanies her stodgy husband to the islands on a mission to convert the heathens. Andrews' buoyant on-screen persona is held in check here (as it is in the overly criticized "Darling Lili"), making her Jerusha a quiet heroine. Her childbirth scene is effective for the visceral reaction it creates, and she's got one whopping good speech toward the end, where she finally gives her stick-in-the-mud hubby what-for.

Von Sydow, who would work with Andrews again later in "Duet for One," is all bluster and bellowing, condemning just about everyone he comes in contact with. I find the performance rather one-note; however, the opening scenes in which Hale tries to woo the lovely Jerusha are sweetly awkward.

Richard Harris shows up as a long-lost sea captain in one of moviedom's most impossible coincidences. Harris is all fire and passion, exactly the kind of third-party that a juicy love triangle needs.

George Roy Hill's direction keeps things moving at a brisk pace, despite the lengthy running time. He had a gorgeous palette to paint with, and he takes full advantage. The sea trek--complete with storms--suffers from some very obvious blue-screening, but Hill manages to build an appropriate sense of excitement.

I'm also going to carp with costumer Dorothy Jeakins. Andrews costumes are lovely (but consider what Jeakins had to work with), but Von Sydow goes running throughout the movie with his stove-pipe hat cemented onto his head. Works okay for the New England settings, but once the cast hits the beach, he ends up looking like some kind of absurd Dr. Doolittle (Hugh Lofting's, creation, not Eddie Murphy's).

Jeakins also makes a very brief appearance (her role was trimmed mightily) as Hale's mother.

While on the subject of the supporting players, LaGarde had no acting experience whatsoever (and, hence, drove the production schedule and budget way off base), but she's utterly charming. She more than earned her Oscar nomination.

Funny to see a pre-Archie Carroll O'Connor in the New England sequences. Also watch for Heather Menzies as one of Jerusha's younger sisters. Two years earlier, she had played Louisa von Trapp to Andrews' Maria. Gene Hackman's here, too, as a put-upon doctor.

One last note: If you're going to seek out this treasure, please, please, please opt for the widescreen version. The rocking of the boat sickened many of the passengers on their way to paradise, and likewise, the pan-and-scan version will sicken viewers of this terrific epic.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Five stars for the under 12 set; three for the over, 4 March 1999

The assembly line of classic 1960s television (we're talking my CHILDHOOD, here) into 1990s movies continues with Disney's "George of the Jungle." The original Jay Ward cartoon featured terrible puns, a smarmy narrator, and the dumber-than-driftwood Tarzan-wannabe George.

The film version recreats all those elements with surprisingly good results. Fraiser as George gets away with an awful lot of mugging, but he seems so innocent and unaffected that he puts it over.

The SPFX are good in a Jumanji kind of way; movielovers with even half an eye open will be able to tell the CGI Shep from his real counterpart and the audioanimatronic Ape named Ape. But the HOW of this movie doesn't detract from the WHY... Cleese makes an effective British APE, and SHEP's scenes are downright hilarious (watch him play fetch!).

I also liked the way the movie kept the metahumor aspects of the series--here's a film that is clearly not afraid to make fun of itself. Pages of explanatory dialogue from Ursula, for instance, are dispensed with in speeded-up fashion (a la "The Gods Must Be Crazy"), complete with chipmunk voice.

By the final reel, everything degenerates into poop and pee jokes, which the prepubescent boys this movie is pitched at should find knee-slappingly hilarious.

It's tough to be too tough on "G of the J." All you need is a snippet of that infectuous theme song (Boom, boom, boom-boom ba, BOOM boom...) and you know you're in for a good time.

Sorta made me want to curl up in a big chair with my noo-noo and munch my way through a bowl of Quisp!

Not Bad for the 8- to 10s; Scary for the under 5s, 2 February 1999

When I saw the trailers for "The Prince of Egypt," two thoughts came to mind: 1) the effects animation is brilliant but the character animation looks shoddy and 2) who the heck is this movie for? It runs above the kids but below the adults.

After seeing the movie itself, two thoughts come to mind: 1) the effects animation is brilliant but the character animation looks shoddy and 2) who the heck is this movie for? It runs above the kids but below the adults.

This cartoon "Ten Commandments" has three big scenes that are worth seeing on a big screen: The first is a dream sequence involving heiroglyphs that is a terrific study of textured animation. The second is the arrival of the angel of death during Passover night; it appears as a light that swoops over, under, and through the animated "sets" in much the same way as the spirits in the climax of "Raiders." The third, which everyone has seen in ads, is the parting of the Red Sea.

But to get to those three spectacles, the audience has to sit through a rather pedestrian telling of the Moses story. And it has to endure some truly awful songs (confession time here, folks: I actually slipped out during a musical interlude to refill my popcorn box--something I haven't done in a theater since I was 10).

And back to the character animation for a moment. The design is absolutely off-putting; every character sports a straight-edge nose that make it appear as if they have a butter knife attached to his or her face! And Mirian and Aaron (Moses' sister and brother, respectively) are dead ringers for Julia Louis Dreyfus and Jim Henson, respectively.

I also hated Pharaoh's goofy magician side-kicks, voiced by Steve Martin Short. Neither funny nor sinister and yet trying to be both, they added nothing.

I usually dislike remakes, so as a revamped version of the DeMille classic, "TPOE" ain't all bad. It just could have used some of the true-blue Disney talent--namely a good ear, for songs that further the plot rather than provide a refreshment break, and a good eye for design.

Toy Story (1995)
One of the Top Ten Movies of the 1990s, 1 February 1999

If there's any justice in this crazy world of ours, "Toy Story" will become a classic in the mode of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Snow White." I look forward to its appearing every year on television, as a much anticipated "event."

It certainly is groundbreaking, what with imagery that must've taken a computer system dwarfing the pentagon's to do.

But I love how well-thought-out this movie is. The plot works from beginning to end. The performances are terrific--Tom Hanks and Tim Allen don't just blather their lines onto the soundtrack, leaving it for the animators to do all the work. No, rather, they're really *acting* here, imbuing their characters with as much depth and breadth as if they'd been playing flesh-and-blood people.

Keep a sharp eye, movie lovers, inside gags abound: When Woody runs from an escaped globe, you'll think it looks just like the giant ball sequence from "Raiders," and you'll be right! When Buzz walks amid a sea of tiny alien squeak-toys, Richard Dreyfuss' close encounter "...of the Third Kind," of course, should echo in your mind.

The look of the movie *is* stunning--and, IMO, it "works" in every instance but one: Syd's dog. Instead of looking canine, he looks instead like a fur-covered football.

I wish Pixar had spent a few more pixels refining his "look."

But all that's quibbling. Here's a movie for every kid who whiled away an afternoon while sprawled in front of a toy box and for every adult who ever wondered what happens to those Little Tykes people once you turn off the lights and go to bed...

63 out of 91 people found the following review useful:
Trot Out the Accolades--It's Unparalleled, 1 February 1999

This is my favorite movie musical with no stage forebear.

Consider what's in the mix: A cachet of songs, all tried-and-true from other movies. A cast that was at the top of its form, all the way from Kelly himself to the supporting leads played by Rita Moreno and Millard Mitchell. A script that is, at once, romantic and exciting and sharp and funny.

Stir together with a generous heaping of MGM color and a dash of a director with a stellar pedigree and the result is, well, something like "Singin' in the Rain."

There's not a misstep in the movie's entire 103-minute running time. I love the pokes at early filmmaking ("She never *did* figure out where that microphone was, boss!") and the sheer energy of the musical numbers ("Fit as a Fiddle," "Good Mornin'").

Not only that, but there's not a more romantic scene in all of filmdom that can compare with Reynolds and Kelly dancing to "You Were Meant for Me." Their side-by-side tap dancing says more about how they feel about each other than pages and pages of dialog.

Great stuff!

If you think this movie is just the sequence of Kelly splashing like a five-year-old in a puddle, you obviously haven't seen the entire film. Do so--now! You won't regret it!

PS: In the "rent-this-too" category, if you've seen and love "Singin' in the Rain," check out "The Band Wagon." It skewers the world of theater in much the same way as this film roasts Hollywood!

14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
A Showcase for Julie, 1 February 1999

Hard for me to be objective, here, since I've been madly in love with Julie Andrews since being first exposed to her crystalline voice when I was three.

But I'll try: "Millie's" first half is, to quote the screenplay, "Delish," with Andrews vamping and camping throughout. I am unable to take my eyes off her as she clowns, flirts, cavorts, and also sings and dances (getting her hotel elevator to work results in a showstopper). The vehicle--a pastiche of 1920s conventions (including "moderns") and filmgoing techniques (including iris-outs and title cards)--is the frothy light story of a British import who comes to America and finds true love.

The second half gets bogged down in the overwrought script, with all the machinations of a white slavery plot and a pair of "inscrutible" Orientals who, in this day and age of racial sensitivity, get far worse than they deserve.

Some history: Ross Hunter, the producer, wanted to film "The Boy Friend," the Broadway musical that had introduced Andrews to the U.S. stage. When the rights were unavailable, he devised his own script, using the same setting--the 1920s. A "small" musical evolved.

Then Julie's star went through the stratosphere. And the Universal "suits," smelling another payday, insisted that the movie be a road-show presentation--with a road-show running time(and at which road-show prices could be charged). Little "Millie" had an intermission added, and her running time was increased considerably.

The movie's still a lot of fun and definitely recommendable (especially to Andrews fans), but let's just say that, at times, it more than shows its stretchmarks!


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