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|91 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember seeing this on HBO in about 1987 about some 15 year old kid who's wrongfully accused of robbing an elderly woman and taken to juvenile court and put in jail. What's so crazy is that even as recent as the 1980's how things have changed so much. For instance, there are scenes when the man questioning him grabs him and threatens for him to tell the truth and another scene where a guard tells him to disrobe and change into his prison garb and stares at him checking him out, then slaps him because he won't cooperate. In today's world, those types of incidences would be all over the news and lawsuits (is it a wonder kids are so out of control now?). Anyway, what makes it so ridiculous is when the truth is revealed and he's not the one. So why did they make a story of it in the first place?
Until now, I don't think I'd seen a decent teen movie since Dazed and Confused and love the satire of portraying the "popular" teen girls as malicious ho's and the average white teen always living in upper-middle class affluence. Lindsay Lohan has come a long way from her Parent Trap days as the, in my opinion, down to Earth home schooled girl trying to fit into a mainstream high school for the first time, only to find herself making friends with two extremes, a semi-punk gay guy and lesbian girl ( I thought even today if you were openly gay in high school, you were setting yourself up for murder), and the three most popular girls as conniving trying to make her one of them.
This was a movie that Robert Duvall had intentions of making for many years and finally got the project going when he made this feature portraying a Pentecostal preacher with flaws (just like any other human being) without making him into a backwoods caricature or self-righteous charlatan, as in the case of many productions, since few movies have ever made a minister of the gospel the main character, much less show him preaching a sermon. Duvall's "Apostle E.R." portrayal is wonderful as a man trying to start over again after accidentally murdering his wife's lover, then moving on to a southern Louisiana community pastoring a small decrepit church. Billy Bob Thornton also has a great brief role as a troublemaker who comes to the church during a sermon whom the Apostle has a fist fight with.
This reminded me of Alan Parker's previous work in Midnight Express, rewriting the actual story to achieve the desired sensational effect. But nevertheless, it was well-directed and photographed, the cinematography portraying a typical impoverished south in the 1960's. Gene Hackman and Frances McDormand by far had the best performances and unfortunately Willem DaFoe suffered in comparison as his more younger and uptight partner. There was one really chilling scene where the head person of the KKK in their community is giving a speech about white pride and how they're lucky to be in a community where blacks cannot run over whites and shows a few brief shots of small children engrossed from his speech and cheering him on. Michael Rooker plays a smaller role perfectly as a totally ruthless, self-hating redneck, who plays a major part in the case of the missing workers. One strange thing I noticed is that it seemed like all the places occupied by blacks in the movie,usually homes and churches, were shotgun shacks, but in one of the final scenes was a very elegant church, pastored by Frankie Faison!
I saw this movie when it first came out and being 16 at the time, I thought that if adults and other "cliquish" teens would just see this movie, they would finally understand and get the message and quit being so shallow and superficial. But anyhow, I now find the movie rather cheesy, not to mention pessimistic. I have to keep reminding myself that teenagers for the past 10 years for the most part are a lot more cheerful and positive, mainly for the fact that they were small children in the 80's and 90's when the baby boomers had cherished and protected their children, rather than the X generation that was neglected in comparison. Anyway, I liked the John Bender character the best, even though he was the nastiest and most street-smart of the bunch. Mainly for fact of it was that he was at least sure of himself and had already known the school of hard knocks. And John Kapelos has a great scene in the movie as the school janitor who blackmails the detention teacher for looking at confidential files. Great time filler on a rainy day to reminisc about the 80's, but not much else.
Like another reviewer said, I think this should be a mandatory film for young kids. It'll always be a mystery to me as to why kids still get into drugs despite the warnings they get from parents and educators, good homes or not, but of course we know better than adults at that age (yeah right!). Then again, this was made in the heyday of Generation Xers in high school, the most historically neglected and malingned generation of kids ever. Setting the preaching aside, I knew of David Toma, but didn't remember the rest of the cast at the time I saw it, with the exception of the cute redhead from Nightmare on Elm Street II in a brief role, and it surprises me that Dermot Mulroney and David Faustino had parts as main characters. Toma pulls no punches explaining the horrors of what drugs did and could have done to him. One of the best Afterschool specials ever.
Sean Penn must have impressed audiences with his performance in this film after his first major role as a lovable goof and pothead in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, playing in his more familiar territory of sinister and brooding criminals. As film critic Roger Ebert stated for this movie, Sean Penn's character isn't just some misunderstood kid who's just lost and needs a little love and understanding (though he does seem to become a somewhat better person throught the movie). The first part of the movie opens with him robbing a woman breaking into her car, slugging a man trying to retrieve the womans purse, and then attempting an armed robbery from a fellow enemy of his selling drugs (with Spin City's Alan Ruck helping out). Anyway, I thought the movie was a very realistic and unexploitative film depicting inner-city youths of the early 1980's (though I think the film would do well today too and doesn't seem dated). All performances were great, but I thought the best performances came from unknowns Eric Gurry as Penn's brainy, but very crafty cellmate and Jim Moody and Reni Santoni as firm, but fair and compassionate counselors in the detention facility.
Despite all the technological advances over the years, this is still my favorite of the series and I actually enjoyed it best when it was a borderline B-movie without all those added special effects in the 1990's. George Lucas made this movie on a shoestring budget (by todays standards) and had a no name cast at the time it was made except for a couple of British veterans. Anyway, this is check-your-brains-at-the-door escapist entertainment at its best. By the way, the bantha that the Tusken raiders were riding was actually an elephant in disguise.
Back before political correctness had a stronghold in American culture, writer/director John Hughes seemed to have a fixed sneer on any characters in his films that were not white, upper middle-class suburbanites, usually his targets of ridicule were poor rural whites, blacks, and orientals. Nevertheless, this was one of my favorite 80's comedies, yes, some of the jokes are pretty flat, but Chevy Chase is always great as the all American suburban/loser dad trying to do his best for his family with disastrous results. Randy Quaid is great as his wife's cousin Eddie, an unemployed factory worker with 5 kids and a still-growing family who can still manage to whip up a decent family meal (how do you like your bun?). Christie Brinkley appears in the movie not as someone to get to know, but as mere eye candy. And then finally at the end, Magic Mountain is in disguise as Wally World with John Candy as a bumbling security guard.
I run across TVLand every once in a while and it seems that every episode of Gilligan's Island they show, I've seen. I never realized the show ran for such a short time. My personal favorites are the ones where they run out of fresh water and Gilligan finds an underground spring (they used that same set for the spring in a few others),one with some giant spider-type creature harassing them, and where some mad scientist on a neighboring island visits them and they go to his castle finding a cat that barks and a dog that meows (I really cracked up on that one). Plus even goofier in that episode, they take a small outboard motored boat back to the island without a thought of using it to leave (!) Bob Denver did a great job as the inept, but well-meaning Gilligan. I think today he his character would be diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome. And yes, I definetly liked Mary Ann more than Ginger.
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