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Excellent special--great time warp!
Chances are, if you're a huge "Saturday Night Live" fan like yours truly, you sometimes pine for the days of the Church Lady, Tommy Flanagan the Pathelogical Liar, the Sweeney Sisters, Gumby, Joe Piscopo (OR Phil Hartman) belting out Sinatra tunes (and insults), and long haired Dennis Miller flipping back his "luxurious hair" and giggling his way through "Weekend Update." Maybe you even pine for the days of Gilbert Godfried's short tenure...or maybe you don't. If you liked the seemingly chaotic cast and writing of the early eighties seasons, or prefer the return to greatness bought about by the cast of the mid to late eighties, this is the special for you.
"Saturday Night Live In the '80s: Lost and Found" was a two-hour special that aired on NBC in November 2005, and focused on the eighties era of Saturday Night Live, from the turbulent, almost unwatchable years in 1980-1984, to a sort-of rebuilding that ended too quickly in 1985, a complete downturn in 1985-1986, and a revival that saved the show in 1986. Along the way, we revisit with some of the more famous (and least famous) names of the decade, several of the hosts that saw it all, and the man that came back and used his clever casting decisions to save the show in the mid-eighties, Lorne Michaels. This special has it all.
This was a stellar, solid special. Much of the moments they showed were funny, but unfortunately, much of the clips before the last 45 minutes weren't among the greatest moments. The special itself focuses primarily on what was wrong with between 1980 and 1986, and by the time they showed what went right with the last half of the decade, there was only 40 minutes left! And, to top it off, entire groups weren't represented--missing from the solid 1986-1990 cast was "Weekend Update" mainstay Dennis Miller. Where was he? I never heard of any actual problems he had with the show, but he also did not participate in the tell-all book that came out a few years ago. He did, however, participate in the 25th Anniversary in 1999, which leads me to believe that he had no hard feelings about the show or Lorne Michaels. And Jan Hooks--where was she? She was a very pivotal part of the late 1980s, and yet she isn't interviewed here. However, one of the main reasons I watched (aside for the great clips and even funnier stills), was for Dana Carvey, who has been my absolute favorite "SNL" alumnus for a long time, and he is well-represented here.
I'm not a fan of the early eighties episodes (I'm 23 years old, so I've only seen this decade in reruns), but I could sit and watch the later seasons of the eighties forever. It was actually quite painful at times to watch the clip show of the earlier years--this must have been embarrassing for those involved. You can't blame them for why it was bad--the acting is only as good as the writing effort, and that seemed fairly lackluster. I was cringing at those clips, and I have never had involvement with the show other than being a dedicated fan. It was almost a fresh breath of air to see what the show became as it transitioned in the mid to late eighties, as new faces emerged, and characters became memorable. It's sad though--the cast-proclaimed "glue" that held his cast together and helped save the show--Phil Hartman--died so tragically and did not get the opportunity to participate in what was the come. He would have probably had a lot of nice things to say, but his cast mates represented him well, they made sure to mention his significance.
This was a really well-done special, and a great follow up to "Live from New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live." I hope this will be released on DVD soon--I own the first 5 Years DVD, and would definitely like to see this one on DVD--it is a great special, even if the earlier years are hard to watch.
Bordello of Blood (1996)
Funny...trashy, but funny
Before I write this interview, I wanted to just explain that I have been a Dennis Miller fan since I was 11 (1994), and he was the only reason I saw this movie. I also think he was one of the aspects of this movie that held redeeming value. In addition, purchased it new for less than $10 a few years ago, and it is in my Halloween movie collection. With that out of the way, I'll start my review.
Vampress Lilith (Angie Everhart) is brought to life again after a long rest in one of the far corners of the world by Reverend Jimmy Current (Chris Sarandon) and his partner Vincent. The two establish a bordello disguised as a funeral home to attract "evil" local young men. The men can "get stiff among the stiffs," but men start disappearing. This disappearance of local young men hits close to home for Katherine Verdoux(Erika Eleniak) when her rebellious younger brother Caleb (Corey Feldman) goes missing. So, she hires a Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller) a wisecracking, seedy private investigator with good intentions and a quite unusual case--all involving this mortuary with secrets. Rafe and Katherine put themselves into a mystery that crosses the boundary of the living and the dead--rather, the undead.
This movie, thought quite funny, is a bad movie. That's just how it is. Going into this movie, the title itself is an indication of how trashy or bad it really is. But man, is it a fun trip! I found myself laughing at pretty much all the right scenes and all the right lines. Its as though the lines are tailored for Miller himself, it is perfect shtick for him. Most of the movies he's been in had parts written especially for him, but this was perfect. My first impression of Rafe is that he's a jerk, but I discovered (rather quickly) that he is rather good-natured and good-intentioned, and that he truly wants to help Katherine out.
There are two scenes I absolutely loathed about this movie--the scene where Lilith encounters Rafe in his office (I turn the channel off or fast-forward the tape), and the opening scene of the movie where Lilith is discovered by Rev. Current and Vincent (this is only watchable once). Otherwise, this movie is quite funny and interesting if you plan on getting into it. My biggest beef (spoiler) is that we don't even meet our hero until roughly 20 minutes into the movie! When you're first billed, doesn't this mean you'll show up earlier in the film? I guess someone missed one of the most important parts of film-making, or at least credit order. But, its OK, really, it's not the worst thing about the film.
This is essentially a bad movie. I read another review that says that it seems Dennis Miller is letting the viewers know this. He sure is! This is one of those so-bad-it's-funny kind of movies (why it used to be in the horror section of the video store I have no idea). However, Dennis Miller is hysterical in it!! I loved his moments--he had a lot of good ones.
I liked when he goes to the "Cunningham wake," and watches as the men lift the coffin out of the room, but struggle with it. Guttman, observing the scene, says "Wow, she really was a heavyweight." He does make some of the most classically bad facial expressions I have witnessed in a long time (honestly, after seeing this, I want to know what acting school I have to go to just to learn to "Act the Dennis Miller Way"). My favorite scenes are the Super Soaker scene (I won't divulge on this too much, not to spoil it, but it is a classic scene not to me missed), the scene where he sneaks back into the mortuary to investigate, and when Rafe heads into the coffin drop to visit the Bordello.
So why 7 out of 10 stars? One point deducted for the opening scene, which tends to be long and drawn-out. Watch this once, and you'll understand what is going on. What redeems this film is that after this point in the film, it becomes better, and the plot begins to move a little. One the same point, the entire first twenty minutes of the film is a complete drag. Skip the introduction on the next viewing. Another point deducted for the scene where Lilith encounters Rafe in his office--this scene is just a complete turn-off to me (2, 4, 6, 8--You can watch me masturbate!--yuck). And a third point deducted for the nudity. Yes, I know, it's a bordello, yes, they're supposed to be nude. But, I 'm a female, and I don't take pleasure in watching naked women prance around. But, I'm flexible, so I pushed past that dislike and ignored it. The bad acting isn't even a negative--it adds to the movie's silly nature.
This is a great Halloween movie, but non-Dennis Miller fans may be turned off by it. Maybe not, I don't know. The acting is pretty bad, but that's the point--it's not Oscar-caliber material. I highly recommend this movie--it has its moments that make is memorable (probably not for all the right reasons, but it tries). Some classic scenes make it funny, and you just may watch it more than once (I have!). Just try not to read too much into it. It really is quite an enjoyable diversion.
This special was supposed to be a lead-in to the new millennium, who better to bring HBO into the year 2000 than Dennis Miller, one of HBO's most popular stars of the time (and likely still is).
This wasn't a conventional stand-up routine, as I was expecting. Rather, it was an hour-long "Dennis Miller Live"...set over 1000 years. Viewers get to watch Miller perform his show in different years, ranting on topics of the period, like, for example, the Bubonic Plague. Miller's guest each time is Norm MacDonald, also clad in period clothes. Miller starts the show in the present (1999), and the show goes from there. He does his current events, his rant, and his guest. I don't remember if he did the Big Screen (or some variation of it).
This was a really funny show, and Dennis Miller does a great job. His sarcastic wit and giggle were what made me laugh. He was the bright spot of the show (for more obvious reasons). The use of Norm MacDonald wasn't necessary--Dana Carvey would have been of much better use. MacDonald is funny, but one tends to get tired of him after awhile. You can only go so far saying "uhhh" a lot. I know not everyone would agree, but they could have done without him.
I really liked this special, as it was funny and insightful. I highly recommend seeing it if you can find it. I trashed my tape of this, unknowingly, and I'm still crushed. Eventually this one will have to be released on DVD.
Of course, that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.
Garfield Gets a Life (1991)
Funny...this is how I remember Garfield (may include spoilers)
As a child of the 80s, I grew up on the Garfield of the mid-80s-mid 90s: the Christmas special, "Garfield and Friends," and the like. I never saw this special before, and after seeing it, I knew this was Garfield as I know and love him.
This special is featured as the third episode on the DVD "Garfield as Himself." I took home the DVD from my video store job to watch the weekend before it came out. I watch it at work on Saturdays, and this one always cracks me up.
Jon Arbuckle needs a life. His days are filled with invigorating tasks like counting ceiling tiles and organizing the sock drawer. So he tries several approaches to meeting women--renting at a video, doing laundry at the laundromat, going to the beach ("I can't seem to find my muscles!"), and even going dancing to DISCO music. All fails, and he takes Garfield to a self-help group for people without lives, run my Lorenzo, a guy who sounds like a televangelist on TV, and a little timid man in person. There, he meets Mona, and actually gets a life, while Garfield...well, doesn't.
This special is pretty funny. I have only seen several other Garfield specials--the Christmas one, Garfield On the Town, and Here Comes Garfield (both are also on the DVD), plus I watched the cartoon series non-stop for 7 years (and in reruns now). At 21, I find the humor to be quite refreshing and silly. Garfield is sarcastic, and his point of view is classic. I love the voice--Lorenzo Music is so hard to compete with. It's a shame he isn't around to have done the voice for the movie (which I still haven't seen yet!). I think what makes this work is the animation--it has the best animation of the DVD specials. The other two look like Peanuts specials from the 1970s (same producers from the Peanuts cartoons on the two other DVD specials). Not that its a bad thing, but the animation certainly took a huge overhaul.
My favorite parts are the disco scene ("Wave your paws/Shake your tail"), where Jon finds out that disco died ("What? When?"), the self-help group session when Garfield gets paired up with a loser, and Garfield clinging to the back of the car window in a parody of the famous suction-cup plushes from the 80s. Remember those? But for me, the topper was the laundromat, where Jon hits on a woman by saying about her panties "I couldn't help but notice your little frilly thingy. Are you a ballerina?" and the woman says sarcastically "Why yes I am. I couldn't help but notice the teddy bears on your boxers. Are you a dweeb?" while Garfield smiles and says sarcastically "Why, yes he is!" Classic!!!
This is a good special. I highly recommend picking up "Garfield as Himself" on DVD to see it (it will probably be the only place its available, if only to rent. It's a cute diversion, and I think its worth every moment. It certainly helped me feel better!
Joan of Arcadia (2003)
Excellent, high quality program
Television itself is a barren wasteland of programming upon the ushering in of each new fall season. So many choices, each one with less and less quality to them. Hence, there is one show that pushed past this.
"Joan of Arcadia" is about 16-year old Joan Girardi (20-year old Amber Tamblyn), who is visited by beautiful stranger who calls himself "God." He tells her that because he let her wheelchair-bound brother Kevin (hottie Jason Ritter) survive a car crash that paralyzed him, Joan has to listen to him. Each week, he has her do something new (hold a yard sale, get a job, try out for cheerleading, take AP Chem). It's a weird world out there, and Joan's just got a little weirder.
I remember CBS rolling out the commercials for this program in July, and I was fascinated immediately. I knew I was compelled to watch this show, since I wanted to try to get into shows geared toward my age brackett (the elusive 18-25 group--I'm 21). Joan herself is completely relatable to myself (I wrote an essay on her for a college course 1 1/2 months ago--I got an A). I see that sarcastic personality in her that I had in high school. She's just trying to survive there--that's what I did.
My favorite episode was when Joan was told by God to try out for cheerleading. That cheer at the end was priceless. I was laughing and clapping. Jason Ritter (the son of late legendary John Ritter) is great as Kevin. I really think he's hot, and he reminds me so much of his dad. Thankfully, Jason will carry on the name. As Joan's parents, Joe Montenga and Mary Steenburgen are wonderful--they're like everyone's parents, and aren't most just slightly neurotic??? Absolutely. Michael Welch, as Luke Girardi, reminds me of a young Anthony Michael Hall that I came to know in the Brat Pack movies I fell in love with in the late '90s when I was a love-struck teenager in high school. I know, it wasn't THAT long ago, but still...
All in all, this is quality programming. If CBS knows what they're doing (and what's good for them) they'll keep this show on the air. This is good for whether you're religious or non-religious (I'm non-religious). I'm so glad a program this high-caliber came along. People need shows with a little faith. This is the one!
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Quite frankly, I was only semi-curious about seeing this documentary, mainly because of my utter disgust for Michael Moore, who protested the very war I was supporting (I'm supporting my President, I don't know what he was thinking). But, after finding out that it was a good idea to see it because of my disliking of the 2nd Ammendment and the National Rifle Association, I gave it a shot. I'm glad I did.
Documentarian Michael Moore poses the question: "Are we a nation of gun nuts, or are we just plain nuts?" as he explores the issues behind the NRA and the 2nd Ammendment, and the connection between gun-craziness and the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999. He interviews several people from Littleton, Colorado, meets with Charlton Heston, and presents shocking statistics about gun deaths and the history of dictators, and much more.
Much of this documentary was startling--especially the statistics. Over 11 thousand gun deaths in the United States last year, compared to 39 deaths in China, and significantly lower deaths in other countries? Scary!!!! The footage of dictators to the song "What a Wonderful World" with the final image of the segment being the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was startling at best. However, the lighter fare that "A Brief History of the United States" (I swear, I was hysterical laughing during this segment) is great. It's a short, badly drawn cartoon that depicts the history of our nation in a short, cut-and-dry manner, complete with the patriot with a southern accent stating "I loves my gun! LOVES MY GUN!" was priceless.
I'm a conservative Republican, and there is a major misconception among people who don't have much knoweledge of the political system that Republicans swear by the NRA. Wrong. I don't like the NRA, and many of the Republicans I know don't like the NRA either.
The images I won't soon forget were of the poor Flint, Michigan neighborhoods, the footage of the massacre at Columbine, the picture of 6-year old school shooting victim Kayla Rowland, and the footage of the the evil Charlton Heston shouting "From my cold dead hand!"
I work in a video store, and was able to obtain a demo copy of "Bowling for Columbine," which won't be on video or DVD until August 19, 2003. My boss saw the movie and told me that because of my political beliefs, I would need to see this movie. I'm REALLY glad I did, as I now appreciate the genius that is Michael Moore, even if I don't completely agree with him protesting the war.
I highly recommend renting or buying this when it is released on video and DVD, so everyone can see that we are truly a nation that loves our guns--LOVES OUR GUNS! Sorry, I had to throw that in.
My Brother and Me (1994)
Although this program was very short-lived, it will always hold a fond place in my heart. I'm not really one for African-American sitcoms, but this show was hysterical!
"My Brother and Me"'s main focuses are 12-year old Alfie and 8-year old Dee Dee Parker (Arthur Reggie III and Ralph Woodfolk IV) are brothers living in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina with their mom and dad, Jennifer and Roger (Karen Fraction and Jim Coleman), and their 14-year old sister Melanie (Aisling Sistrunk). Alfie has a friend, Milton, whose famously known as "Goo" (my brother and I found this hysterical!!!), Dee Dee has friends in "token white character" Harry, and annoying Donnell, and Melanie's best friend is fellow cheerleader Dionne, Goo's archnemesis. Goo hits on Melanie, she rejects him, Goo and Alfie hang out at "Comics and Books," and at the end of each episode all problems are solved, much like your typical sitcom, Nickelodeon style. Good clean fun.
It is beyond me why anyone hates this show. My brother and I used to make it a routine to watch this show every Sunday night. It was on at 7:30 every Sunday night for two years (from the time we were in 6th grade until 8th grade), and we always watched it before "The Simpsons." It was great!! It was such a funny sitcom. The father was hysterical!! We always laughed at his jokes, no matter how pathetic they really were. Every time he said "Now that's what I'm talking about," we'd die laughing!!!! His stories were so bad, the family always tried to escape from hearing them. Great concept.
My favorite episode, and the one I remember the best, (for obvious reasons) was when Dee Dee wanted the "Cool Doctor Money" haircut, with the dollar signs everywhere. Since Roger won't take him to get it cut, Goo, the genius that he is, offers to cut it. Of course, it was god-awful!!!!! My brother and I found that funny, until Roger took him to the barber, and Dee Dee came back with a SHAVED head!! That did it--we were practically crying at that point!!!!
This was a great sitcom that should have lasted longer. I wish more people gave it a chance--it was so cute and funny!!!!! Sure, it's cheesy and Nickelodeon-esque (After all, it did air on the "first network for kids") but it was harmless, good clean fun. It still holds a place in my heart.
Dying to Live (1999)
Upsetting, but an overall excellent film
This formula plays like a "been there, done that" deal. Teen Angel/Posthumus Revenge is not new to the film industry. But, that doesn't always mean that previous efforts were always the best ones. That's where this little gem comes in.
"Dying To Live," a 1999 Made-for-TV/Cable film, is about a aspiring marine biologist named Rachel Linden (Hayley DuMond) who has the world on a string--a great boyfriend in high school swim team star Matthew Jannett (Gabriel Mann), and a good friend in cute and sassy Leslie Chambers (Linda Cardellini), who has a heart arythmia and says that she could die at any time. Enter Vanessa Cannington (Shannon Elizabeth), Matthew's jealous ex-girlfriend, who wants Matt back, and will stop at nothing. She spikes his punch with a strong tranquilizer at a school dance, and he takes Rachel outside to the pool. He begins to get disoriented, and plunges off the diving board. Rachel, in a valiant attempt to save him, stumbles on a ladder and bangs her head on it. She falls into the pool and drowns. Matt is so disoriented that he cannot speak, let alone save Rachel. He is hospitalized, but later arrested for killing his girlfriend. Rachel then steps out of her dead body at the funeral and wonders why everyone is crying, not realizing she is dead. A mysterious man named Will (Jonathan Frakes), who is a gaurdian angel, informs Rachel that she must expose her killer to the world so she can go to her eternal life. Rachel wants to live, but must rely on a mutual soul (one that both she and Matthew could trust) to expose the truth. Along comes unsuspecting Leslie. Rachel must use Leslie's body to expose the truth, even though it means risking Leslie's fragile condition. Can Rachel accomplish her task?
This movie was truly upsetting, but I really enjoyed it. It didn't try too hard to be overburdening--it didn't need to. It moved at an even pace, and the story was well-written. I only saw this the other night on the Sci-Fi Channel. The only real problem I had with this movie was how long it took for Rachel to begin trying to expose her killer. It took some stretch of time for any action to begin. But, maybe that was a good thing--the action was forthcoming and excellent. I like how Rachel would temporarily "occupy" Leslie's body to get her point across. Linda Cardellini had so much expression on her face, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses and role models. Hayley DuMond put on an excellent performance, and I could certainly relate to her character. If something happened to me that cut me off too soon, I would want to expose the truth behind it. Gabriel Mann, who I only just found out was Freddie Prinze Jr.'s friend Auggie in "Summer Catch," was also excellent as Matthew Jannet, who just wanted to prove to the world that he would never have killed Rachel. It was another so-so performance for Shannon Elizabeth, who aggravated me very much (but that was probably the point--you wanted to hate her). Jonathan Frakes was decent as Will, and who he really is will shock you at the end.
Ok, favorite scenes: The scene where Rachel first occpies Leslie, and when Leslie looks in the mirror, she sees Rachel and backs up. I think Cardellini has great expression, as I've mentioned earlier. I also enjoyed the scene where the teens were having a good time in the pool earlier in the film, the scenes that Rachel tries to get Vanessa exposed, and the pivotal scene where Leslie, as Rachel, finds the evidence in the bleachers. I won't give away much about this, or the end, because that is my absolute favorite part, and I couldn't spoil it for anyone. That's not my reviewing style.
Anyways, long story short, this is a well-done, well-acted, nice telepic. Just some light fare, nothing bad and certainly harmless enough. The stars are great, and I will definitely enjoy the copy I made of this movie the other night. If you get the chance, PLEASE see this film. You will enjoy it, and certainly not regret it!
I'm not one for the movie-of-the-week genre, but this film was surprisingly good, and it's not only for the reason that Freddie Prinze Jr. is one of my favorie actors.
Shortly before Christmas, Jason Copeland (Rick Schroeder) decides to take out his pent-up revenge on Johnson High School, which he failed out of a year earlier. He enters the school heavily armed and begins firing shots, with no intention to kill anyone, and takes 80 students hostage in the music room. One of them Aaron Sullivan, is a troubled student, much like Jason, who soon becomes the middleman to Jason and makeshift hostage negotiator/small town cop/unlikely hero Skip Fine (Henry Winkler, in one of his many great performances). Aaron must speak to Skip on the phone, explain Jason's demands, and keep his classmates alive. He'll be a hero if he can accomplish these tasks, but can Skip help him to break through to Jason?
The performances in this film are exceptional for a TV-movie. At times, I found myself huddling up, especially the part when Jason puts the gun to a crying Samantha's (Katie Wright) head. He forces lookouts into the hallway, and insists that a cop entering the school or a student fleeing will result in bloodshed. I was so scared every time a student fled going to the bathroom. I was particularly freaked out when Darren, the sole African-American student, was killed being selfless by protecting a classmate. My heart skipped a beat as his determined, hysterical mother tried to find out of Darren was alive. We also saw glimpses of Aaron's scared mother, hoping that her son stays one step ahead of Jason to keep himself and his classmates alive. Freddie Prinze Jr. puts on an incredible performance, and looked so young (he still does). He was only about 20 years old then (my age), and I'm glad a better hairstyle was forthcoming for him. Henry Winkler is a great actor, and he's just the kind of unlikely hero you'd expect. In my opinion, casting on his part was a great decision.
If you like true-life dramas (this was based on reality), and like to see an unlikely individual prevail, then this is a great movie for you. It's well-written and smart, and you'll be left cheering for Prinze and Winkler. Rick Schroeder also puts on a great performance, and can scare and shake up the most unnerved person (myself included). If you can find this movie at your video store, definitely pick it up.
What's New, Scooby-Doo? (2002)
A real treat!
"What's New Scooby-Doo?" You brand-new TV show!!
The lame attempts to recapture the magic of the famous "scooby-Doo" franchise fell flat during the 1980s (remember "13 ghosts of Scooby-Doo" and "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo"?, among several other stinkers). Plus, the addition of Scrappy-Doo in 1979 didn't help matters either. After the last original series ended in 1991, the franchise dropped Scrappy, bought back Fred and Velma, and made a string of decent direct-to-video animated features. But the success of the 2002 live-action feature prompted this cartoon, and a renewal to the famous franchise many of us Gen-Xers have grown to love.
I was never really a fan of "Scooby-Doo" until last year. Sure, I watched the reruns of every weekend from about 1985 until 1991, but that was because my brother liked it, and we only had two TV's in our house (the other was in my parents room, and since they were sleeping, the other TV was the only one we could watch. I survived.) The problem was, in the mid-80s, "Scooby-Doo! Where are You?" was a rarity on the local syndication channels. We had to watch "Scooby and Scrappy-Doo," which was god-awful, and I wouldn't force anyone to watch it. I turned away the cartoons in 1991, after "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" aggravated me. Last year, I saw the live-action movie out of curiosity, and then this cartoon premired on Cartoon Network in March 2003, and I couldn't resist. I was hooked.
It's actually a funny show, and capitalizes on what made the movie fun. It emphasizes bright color, and gives the show a modern-day approach. The beauty part is, they maintained much of the character personalities from the film, and added on to the original concepts: Fred isn't as much of a show-off credit-hogger as he was, Daphne is way more resourceful, and not nearly as "damsel-in-distress-esque", Velma speaks, is shown more, and has GREAT one-liners (I think this may have been because Linda Cardellini was so great in the movie, they most likely had to captialize on what she bought to the character), and Shaggy is great and sounds terrific, due in no small part to the return of the great Casey Kasem, who was sorely lacking in the cartoon movies. Frank Welker as Fred is what makes this cartoon. Welker and Kasem are the heart and soul of this series--it isn't a cartoon without either of them. Besides, Fred has a trademark voice--no one could copy it. Sadly, Don Messick (Scooby's original voice) is no longer with us, and Welker tries to capture that speech-impediment, and it does work. It's a shame that Messick's last original series run as Scooby was in the pitiful "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" (I'm sorry, but I really don't like that cartoon. It's painfully obvious.)
I highly recommend this as a good introduction series for the youngsters, but I would most likely say to watch "Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?", which still is (and always will be) the best. This series is also fun for those who love the original series. It captures the magic of the original, and still holds the charm that made it special--jokes, mystery, and of course, the famous lines. Plus, Fred is sans ascot.
So, What's new, Scooby-Doo? You just got a good review from this 20-year old fan!
Dying to Dance (2001)
Disturbing, but well done
Dancing is truly considered the nicest art of self expression, aside from music, theater, and painting. But those disciplines cannot rival what dancers often painstakingly do for their art. This movie portrays what happens when intensity goes too far.
18-year old Alyssa Lennox (Kimberly McCullough) was accepted into the Metropolitan Ballet Company in New York City, and moves into the dormatories. The letter she received upon her acceptance says explicitly that they recommended she lose 5 pounds. For the already-skinny Alyssa, losing the weight is no problem--until it becomes addictive. Her weight plummets, and the word anorexia is thrown in her face.
This is truly a disturbing story of pushing yourself to the limit. I was a dancer for fourteen years at local dance schools (from 1987 to 2001, from age 4 to age 18), and studied Ballet and Jazz. I never made it to an advanced level, but I noticed that many of the girls who did pushed themselves hard, but I'm not sure if any of them dieted. They all looked seemingly okay to me, although several of them liked excess (drinking and smoking), and this was in high school. But, I noticed in the one college dance class I took, the girls were skinnier and more intense. I heard stories of asprin addiction. The fact that these girls did not have much free time scared me away from dancing again, besides the teacher who turned me off from it. I'm a Communications major for that reason.
I'm not saying I'm built like a dancer (I'm 5'4", about 125-130 lbs., built slimly but have wider hips than most dancers), but I loved dancing and never would have done what Alyssa did to lose the weight. When my weight hit 135 lbs. two years ago, I worked out and danced and ate right, and my weight dropped SAFELY to 125 lbs. The idea that stuff like this can go on behind closed doors is what truly gauls me. It's hard enough to succeed in dance--it's another thing to pressure someone to lose weight so they'll be perfect. And it wasn't even the parents (thankfully) that did it, but it still disturbs me that a prestigious school would pressure their dancers. Obviously, their skill got them there, and if their weight was never a problem, then leave them along. Some of the most graceful dancers I've seen were slightly overweight.
The acting in this film was good, and I was shocked to see that Rick Springfield, Mr. "Jessie's Girl" himself was playing Alyssa's father. Kimberly McCullough turned in a stellar, solid performance as Alyssa, but seriously, give the girl some food--PLEASE!!!! The mother in the movie was much like my mom when I was dancing--protective but not overbearing. She was a great "stage mom," but didn't push me to be perfect. Because of that, I think I know why I enjoyed dancing so much when I was learning it, and actually was pretty good.
This is a good movie to see if you dance, because it shows what no one should EVER have to go through to be a perfect dancer. Perfection is learning the steps--NOT dieting yourself into emaciation. I think dancers--especially college dancers--should see this movie--it might teach a valuable lesson in how fall you should go when persuing what you love.
Cancun Capers (2002)
I guess I'm the only one who remembers this special from last year's MTV Spring Break, but that's ok. I'm amazed that this wasn't even listed on the data base until a week ago, when I submitted it. I'm glad I did!
The human cast of the summer 2002 release "Scooby-Doo", Freddie Prinze Jr. (Fred Jones), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Daphne Blake), Matthew Lillard (Norville "Shaggy" Rogers), and Linda Cardellini (Velma Dinkley), send two groups of spring breakers (one team of 3 girls and another team of 3 guys) on a clue-gathering adventure around Cancun that will lead them to the actors' "Secret Location." The teams find out their goals from the actors by watching portable DVD players. There are four different "mysteries." The final round involved the two teams coming to the secret location and having to answer questions about their clue-gathering missions to gain a key. There are three keys, and one of those keys will open a chest with a prize in it.
This was actually a fun special. It's pretty funny what the two teams had to do to get a clue to advance. I actually was on spring break when it aired last year, so I didn't see it until January, when it was on the "Best of MTV" during the last week of 2002 and the beginning of 2003. I mainly enjoyed it because of the "Scooby-Doo" cast (I absolutely love that movie), and the fact that they intermingled clips of the film with the actual show. The actors truly made the show that much better.
I went on one of these fact-finding mystery journeys when I was starting my freshman year of college in September 2001. We had to work in a group and go around the school to ask people questions about the school that we needed answered in order to get a prize back at the main area we started at. The catch was, the "Cancun Capers" teams knew each other already--no one in the fact-finding groups knew each other. I think that is the other reason I enjoyed it.
But then again, hottie Freddie Prinze Jr. was on it. What's not to love?!
This special, sadly, isn't on MTV anymore, and I'm hoping that next year, Prinze, Gellar, Lillard, and Cardellini will be at MTV's next spring break destination to plug "Scooby 2," (which comes out next March) and maybe do one of these specials again. This was alot of fun, and I would have liked participate in it just so I could meet the cast.
Jinkies! Another fun adventure for Mystery Inc.-wannabe sleuthers.
Lots o fun...a good laugh!
A thoroughly modern twist on a retro favorite is the premise of this 2001 straight-to-video flick starring those meddling kids, and their Great Dane.
Mystery Inc.'s member, ascot-clad, egotist Fred Jones, prett damnsel-in-distress Daphne Blake, prepetually hungry Norville "Shaggy" Rogers, brainy Velma Dinkley, and of course, Scooby-Doo, are observing a video game based on their past adventures, created by their whiz kid friend Eric, when a virus becomes loose in the game. The gang is sucked into the game, and their goal is to capture the virus. Everytime they get one step closer, they travel to another level of the game, until they're at the last level, their hometown, Coolsville. They encounter a Malt Shop, andupon entering, they see cyber-versions of themselves (the original versions). The real Mystery Inc. must team up with the Cyber-Mystery Inc. to battle all of the monsters, no longer men and women in masks, but real monsters...zoinks!
I watched the various "Scooby-Doo" during the between 1985 and 1991 (Actually, the first series I saw, "13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo," came on when I was about 3 yrs. old, and was off the air by the time I was about 4 yrs. old--I never liked this series anyway), rerun episodes of "Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?" (my favorite of all the series) "Scooby and Scrappy," (one of the 4 worst series--"Pup Named Scooby-Doo" follows in its footsteps, as does "Scooby's Laff-a-lympics"-I vaguely remember this one), "Scooby-Doo Movies," and "The Scooby-Doo Show" (which was a decent mid-70s series). I hadn't seen any of the films, except for the live-action version (which I absolutely loved), and "Scooby and the Reluctant Warewolf" (which I couldn't stand), but this was a decent film. I know all of the cases, the monsters, the obvious and inside jokes...heck, I could solve the mysteries within 10 minutes. But this movie kept me guessing. It was really funny to see the characters more modernized, and what the retro counterparts looked like.
While this was a fun movie, the only complaint that I had about it was Shaggy's voice. I know it's not Casey Kasem, and it's too obvious. But once you get past that, it's not a problem. The other characters are voiced decently (they have had plenty of people voicing Velma and Daphne, but if they replaced Fred's voice, it would be a gaping hole--Frank Welker's voice is very key to the character). It's nice to know that some things don't change (like Fred being "all-ego"). But the idea of seeing him sans-ascot was pretty gutsy (that rediculous red ascot MADE Fred in the original series!). Scooby-Doo sounded the same, and he was just as loveable as ever (I never liked the cartoon much until I was the live-action film, but I ALWAYS loved Scooby!!!). Velma, however, is still my favorite character--she's smart, and sometimes has great one-liners. Daphne, for once, isn't the damnsel-in-distress---she's resourceful and smarter than her cyber-countepart. Fred was pretty cool, and Shaggy, as always, is a scene-stealer, but he's Shaggy--he doesn't need a reason.
My favorite scene was the scene where the gang meets their cyber-counterparts in the Malt Shop, and the scene at the carnival. Plus, the villians (REALLY monsters!) were cool--including the Creeper! I LOVED the episode with the Creeper (I kept chanting to myself "Creeper! Creeper!!!!" after seeing this!)
All in all, this was a decent film--plenty of laughs, and lots of adventure. If you like vintage Scooby-Doo, then this movie might peak your interest. The animation is great-and just as colorful as the original! Definitely take a look at this film--it's a cyber chase worth taking!!
Freaks and Geeks (1999)
The teen years are already hard to swallow without all the other consistent pressure of growing up. However, most shows don't represent this properly--or they portray "beautiful people" as the troubled group. "Freaks and Geeks" blows that completely out of the water, and depicts the lives in two unique fringe groups--square geeks and lowly freaks, and their trials and tribulations, as they work to gain acceptance from their unfair peers in an unfair environment--high school.
In 1980 suburban Michigan, Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) is a perfect student--a Mathlete, brilliant, promising. Her grandmother death floors her, and sends Lindsay into a tailspin. She drops the Mathletes and ditches her bookish ways to become a freak--though she is still a smart one. Meanwhile, her brother, Sam (John Francis Daley) is beginning his freshman year with his friends, Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) and Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine), and the boys are immediately thrown into the geek group.
I am a 20-year old college sophomore, and when this show premired in September 1999, I was a junior in high school. I was also unfortunate never to see this show during its initial run, because I was not home when it aired. I remember "Freak and Geeks" being placed in death knell time slots on Saturday and Monday nights, and saying to myself "NBC isn't giving this show a chance." It didnt--"Freaks and Geeks" was cancelled after only 4 months, and several episodes did not make it to air. I was largely disappointed, because I had good intentions on watching this show, and was never home to do so. Much to my luck, ABC Family began airing the reruns, so I taped one to watch. The first episode I saw, "Looks and Books," was hysterical. Recently, I saw the episode with the tuba girl, and this past weekend I saw "Chokin' and Tokin'," where Lindsay smokes potent marijuana that Nick gave her, and Bill accidentally eats a peanut that was jokingly put on his sandwich during lunch. That was the best of the three I've seen.
I attended high school between September 1997 and June 2001, and the school was majority (99%) white, and centrally located in suburban southern New Jersey. My high school had several distinct groups in its structured hiarchy: the jocks, the smart kids, the preps, the in-betweeners, the geeks, and the freaks.
Our freaks were goths--they wore black, clamped dog chains around their necks, wore fishnet shirts underneath t-shirts, dyed their hair weird colors, and were controversial figures--they often wore black trenchcoats and hated everyone who wasn't them. They were burnouts who took classes in the D-Wing, which was where all the woodshop, graphic arts, and special education classes were. In other words, if you were a D-Winger, you weren't the best of students, and were placed there because you were not a productive member of the student body.
Meanwhile, our geeks enrolled in computer science classes, and played role-playing card games in lunch. The geeks were impatient with everyone who didn't understand them, and they always worked as tutors. Basically, I refused to get tutoring for math because of them.
I, on the other hand, was not a geek nor a freak. I was an in-betweener--I got good grades but couldn't compete with the smart kids, well-dressed but not cool enough to be a prep, definitely not of geek appeal, and frightened of anything the freaks did (seriously, they used to stare at anyone who wasn't them). I could relate to Lindsay--I was constantly looking for acceptance, but I got by (I've been better off since I started college). This show portrayed teen angst the way it was mean to be portrayed--among the groups that feel the wrath of high school. Too many times have movies and television shows depicted the angst among the beautiful, smart, rich kids--what do they have to be angry about? It's the rest of us that fought for acceptance. The in-betweeners worked just as hard as everyone else, but our individuality kept us out of the respectible groups.
When I first saw this show, I saw distinctions right away, and similarities to my own school years. I also saw something in Lindsay--I knew she's grow out of the funk she was in once she grew up, and I knew she would do ok with herself. I liked the geeks because they always had something funny to say, especially Sam, who was reduced to stammering "Oh, hi Cindy" every time he saw her. Neal was the one who tried to be cool, but his geekiness held him back. Bill, thankfully, didn't look like anybody I went to school with, although that would have been funny. I also love the time period it takes place in--1980. What's not to love about the '80s???
This is a brilliant that was never recognized. Thankfully, the reruns were resurrected, so those of us who missed it the first time can see it now. I'm really liking this show, and I tape it every time its on (again, I miss the reruns because "Saturday Night Live" is on, and nothing comes between me and "Saturday Night Live"). If you get the chance, and have ABC Family. check this show out--it's 60 minutes of something we can all relate to.
The Wonder Years (1988)
One of the most memorable television programs of recent years
When I think about the programs that my family enjoyed when my brother and I were younger, this one always comes off as the most memorable, mainly because my family spent quality time together watching this show. Now, at 20 years old, this show is still as memorable and holds up against the test of time.
"The Wonder Years" is a period dramedy told from the point-of-view of adult Kevin Arnold (narration of Daniel Stern), and recalls Kevin's adolescence during the turbulent times of the late 1960s and 1970s. Kevin (played brilliantly by Fred Savage) comes of age in suburbia in a neighborhood that many of our parents (including my mom) grew up in. Kevin lives in a ranch house with his parents, Jack (Dan Lauria), an accountant, Norma (Alley Mills) a housewife, and his older siblings, hippie Karen (Olivia D'Abo) and smart-alecky Wayne (Jason Hervey). He has a childhood sweetheart in Gwendolyne "Winnie" Cooper (Danica McKellar), and a best friend in lovable geek Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano). Kevin deals with normal situations that is territorial with adolesence--first loves, heartbreak, middle school, high school, puberty, and growing up. Kevin grows up in uncertain times, much like children are today. Each episode is a chapter in Kevin's life, and follows him between the ages of 13 and 18--the most crucial years of growing up.
When this show was made, they definitely looked at the lives of teenagers. The characters were realistic, and no matter when you grew up, you could relate. Everyone could relate to Kevin, and many felt his adolescent pain. You knew your parents were overburdening, but realized later that they were only trying to help you. Everyone had a sibling like Wayne, and possibly like Karen.
I'm a product of the 1980s, and being born in 1982 put me out of the loop in regard to what the 1960s and 1970s were really like. My parents came of age in this decade, so they easily related to Kevin. The situations were comical, and this show was always good, clean fun. The humor wasn't overburdening, but it was evident, and we always laughed, but it also impacted you and made you think after it was all over. This show premired when my brother and I were only 5, and we watched it with our parents every week until it went off the air. I don't think this show ever was capable of cancellation, but it went out the way it was intended, and it left an indellible impression on this generation. When the reruns returned to television on Nick-at-Nite in 1998, my classmates and I, already in ninth grade, began to watch again. Now, I'm a sophomore in college, and if I can catch the reruns on ABC Family during the week, I'm thrilled. I truly miss this show, and watching reruns brings back great memories.
I don't have a favorite episode or memory--I have many favorite episodes and memories. Two of the moments that I can still remember vividly are when Winnie's older brother died in Vietnam and Kevin and Winnie shared their first kiss, and when Kevin's math teacher died. My mom, brother, and I always used to laugh (and still do) at my dad, who resembles Jack Arnold. We could be talking about something funny during dinner, and my father will sit there, stone-faced, much like Jack always did. I used to love when they'd ask him a question, and he would utter a low growl. While my dad has NEVER done that, he has always resembled Jack. Only now, several years later, he finds it funny that we thought that of him.
This was a wonderful show that never wore out its welcome, and continues to entertain those who catch the reruns. If you have the chance in your hectic day, as I sometimes do, catch a rerun or set your VCR to tape an episode for you. Relive a classic television program that continues to entertain and inspire years later. You certainly won't regret it.
Summer Catch (2001)
Excellent baseball movie
A great sports movie has the potential to inspire, to make us laugh, cry, think. Basically, if its realistic, it can impact us. Such is the case with "Summer Catch."
Ryan Dunne (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a landscaper's son living in pictureesque Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Every summer, college baseball players descend on the Cape to play in the Cape League, a distinguished baseball league that's one step from the minors and paid baseball. Dunne is the first local in seven years to be chosen to play for the league. Then, a beautiful summer vacationer, Tenley Parrish (Jessica Biel), comes into his life, and Ryan must battle his personal demons and blue-collar roots to play the game he loves and be with the girl of his dreams.
I originally went to see this film the night it opened in August 2001, but the movie theater had technical difficulties, and the movie wound up starting 20 minutes late. About 25 minutes into the film, the screen went black, resulting in two free movie tickets for everyone who attended the movie that night. Needless to say, I returned a week later with my best friend Kristin (who went with me the previous week) to see it, and I loved it (actually, we both did)! This is a well-done film that appeals to both females and males, and to baseball and non-baseball fans alike. For the ladies, there's Freddie Prinze Jr. and a whole team of gorgeous baseball players, and for the guys, there's Jessica Biel and baseball. I love baseball and Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard, so this movie was very appealing to me. I also remember reading in a 2001 issue of "Teen People" that within the first 10 minutes we'd see Freddie run around in an orange thong. That alone worth the price of addmission, which is $8 at many theaters. All kidding aside, what comes after that scene is definitely something good.
My favorite scenes of "Summer Catch" were the infamous thong scenes (Ryan Dunne in the orange thong, Billy Brubaker in the blue thong), Ryan and Tenley's nighttime swim in the pouring rain, the climatic scene common to all great baseball movies (which I won't spoil), the scene between the player who likes big girls (and they like him too!), the scenes at the Oasis, the scene where Ryan is cutting the lawn at the Parrishs' house and hits the bird feeder, and the scene where Tenley is cutting the Dunnes' lawn, as Ryan, Billy, and Ryan's dad Sean watch. I also like the fact that Freddie is a southpaw (a lefty), because I am too, and seeing any left-hand actor makes me happy!
For me, this film combines two great elements: hot guys and baseball. This was a GREAT film and an excellent collaboration for Prinze and Lillard, who are both enormously gifted actors. Prinze is sexy, and Lillard has a goofy older brother quality that has made him memorable in many of his humorous parts. On screen, their chemistry works, and it makes you want to see more of their joint efforts (see "She's All That" and "Scooby-Doo"). Jessica Biel is pretty, and a decent actress (although my boyfriend has other words to describe her). This is a great movie for a girlie-movie night, or as a date film (my boyfriend and I both enjoy this film and watch it on digital cable on occasion).
If you like baseball and/or beautiful actors (and who doesn't like beautiful people?), then this is your kind of film. Step up to the plate and take your practice swing, "Summer Catch" is a homerun!
Age 7 in America (1991)
Excellent documentary capable of capturing the hearts of a college class
After the success of the British documentary series that followed a group of children at 7 years old, 14 years old, 21 years old, and 35 years old, PBS took a look at 16 7-year old American children in 1991.
The compelling documentary looked at children from very different social, cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, with varying beliefs and values. These were beautiful children, completely innocent, insightful, and bright. Each child bought something different to the mix, and represented an age group of innocence and fun.
We watched this documentary for an in-class essay in my Argument and Persuasion class (GSS 2121-3) at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey today. My class was not only compelled by it, we laughed and were moved to "Awwws" from some of the commentary. The kids were so adorable and innocent, and reminded us of our childhood, as many of us grew up in the same age group in the early 90s. My teacher wanted us to understand life from several extremes in the United States and see it through the most innocent eyes of all--a 7-year old child.
I can easily relate to this film. I turned 9 in October 1991, so I was in a similar age group to the one depicted. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood and town (I still live here while I go to school) in a family that does well. I attended a 99% white high school, and now attend a diverse state college (RSCNJ, see above). These kids were compelling, and my class REALLY enjoyed it.
Next week, on our last day of class, we are going to follow up with "14-Up in America," and we are THRILLED! I'm looking forward to seeing thse kids 7 years later, and you can bet that I'll see "21-Up in America." If you ever see this documentary, whether its in an educational setting or at home (not sure of its availability), you will certainly enjoy it.
She's All That (1999)
For a teen flick, it works
As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I am not a fan of the teen genre. Many of the films contain a stereotypical premise: "The jock/hunk, the big-breasted blonde everyone wants, the token ethic kid, the nerdy boy/girl, etc." Many of the teen flicks produced in recent years have capitalized onthis formula. for some reason though, "She's All That," while containing some of these elements, works.
Zach Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr., in his breakthrough role) is a guy that has guys wanting to be him, and girls wanting to nail him: He's rich, smart, athletic, has a popular girlfriend, and is student body president. Everything is going great for Zach, although he hasn't chosen a college yet. The film begins when Harrison High School is gearing back up again after spring break. Zach is looking for girlfriend Taylor Vaughn (Jodi Lynn O'Keefe), who is no where to be found. All of a sudden, she breezes into his prescence--with a tatoo, no less--and dumps Zach. It so happens that she has fallen for Brock Hudson, the "dyslexic volleyball player" (who is also fictional) from "The Real World" (played brilliantly by Matthew Lillard) that was ultimately kicked out of the house. Zach makes a bet with friends Dean (Paul Walker) and Preston (Dule Hill) that he can make over any girl and make her the Prom Queen in six weeks. The "lucky" girl is none other than Laney Boggs (Rachel Leigh Cook), a misfit art student. Zach slowly wins over her trust, and begins to show her a good time. Laney, who put up a wall to avoid all of the popular kids, begins to trust Zach. When Zach begins to fall for Laney, he has to remember that this was all a bet. What will he do?
I wasn't all for seeing "She's All That" originally. I saw this film in January 1999 after a grueling week of high school midterms (I was a sophomore) as a means to hang out with my friends. I didn't know who Freddie Prinze Jr. was, and had unknowlingly seen him in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" the year before. After seeing this film, I fell in love with the lanky dark-haired teen heartthrob that girls have lusted over for several years now right then and there, and have liked him ever since. Since I am not a teen movie fan (with minor exceptions--I like "Breakfast Club," "Fast times @ Ridgemont High"--my all-time favorite, and "Down to You"), I wasn't drawn to this film. After seeing it though, I pushed past that conception to allow this to be a treasured film. The acting in it is decent, and each character pulls his or her weight. I have to admit that while Zach is my favorite character in this movie, the scenes that Matthew Lillard did truly stole the show! Lillard is so funny, and he really acts like a doofus, obviously something he's good at. I remember Jodi Lynn O'Keefe from "Step By Step," but I had never heard of Rachel Leigh Cook (I heard she was in "Carpool").
My favorite scenes are the opening scene with Taylor dumping Zach and her explanation, which goes into a flashback scene at MTV's spring break celebration, where she meets Brock Hudson (Zach: Brock Hudson?! What kind of a name is "Brock Hudson"? Taylor: And what kind of a name is "Zach?" Besides, Brock is from "The Real World." Zach: What, like Resceda? Taylor: No, "The Real World," second season), the "Real World" nightmare scene, Brock Hudson's crazy dance to Rick James' "Give it to Me Baby," the prom with the cool "Rockefeller Skank" dance, the scene where Laney comes down the stairs before going to the party, the beach scene, and the end (I won't give this away, but its a treat for the ladies!) My favorite line has to be the one that Taylor says to Zach--"You didn't really think I was going off to college and still be dating you, did you? Oh, you did?. How sweet!" and the reversal of this line when Brock was breaking up with Taylor--"You didn't think I was going to leave for All Star Road Rules and still be dating you, did you? Oh, you did. How sweet!"
I own the DVD of this movie, and quite frankly, it was worth the $19.99 I paid for it. This was a great film, and I am disappointed that more people didn't give it a chance. Kudos to those who did, this film was worth watching. This is a great "chick flick" or date film that's sure to appeal to both guys and girls. With a great cast of young talent and a story that sure to invoke plenty of "Ohhh, how cute!" moments from gushing teenage girls, this is a teen film that is sure to be a favorite for years to come. See this film and find out why it's "all that!"
Down to You (2000)
Charming, a must-see for the romantically involved
WARNING: May contain spoilers...
I guess I should say right off the bat that teen films are not my bag. I don't know why, its just that overly-sappy stories with 20-somethings playing teenagers has never been my thing. However, I do make exceptions (I'm a "Breakfast Club" and "She's All That" fan). This film is kind of a departure from teen love/teen comedy, because it focuses on a more adult topic: that's right, it deals with college kids.
I only saw a few scenes towards the end first time I saw this, and then the next time it was on TV, I only saw the same scenes. I knew I needed to see this film, but it became rare on the pay-per-view channels I saw the ending on, so I went out and paid $29.99 for the DVD. It's ok--it was worth the price. I was almost single at the time as well (my 1st boyfriend and I were on the outs), and was just turning 18 when I bought this movie. It actually helped me through the break-up--I knew things could be worse.
In this spirited 2000 retelling of "Annie Hall," (which I've never seen), a young man and woman find out about love and relationships during their college years. Sophomore Al Connelly (Freddie Prinze Jr.), is a satisfied college sophomore who is studying liberal arts, but wants to be a chef. Freshman Imogen (Julia Stiles) worships artistry, but according to her mother, "art should only be done on the weekends." The two meet in a bar one night (AL: I thought it was a cool place, but that's because they never checked IDs). Al falls for Imogen immediately, sort of like infatuation. The two begin a whirlwind courtship that includes a conversation over cake, psychoanalysis (I'll explain this one better, because its one of my favorite scenes), sleeping together, and just enjoying each other's company. But, the two become distant, and suddenly Al is floored when Imogen dumps him. He suddenly realizes that he needs her to live, and will do anything to get over her, even if it means going to extreme measures.
While genuinely a sentimental flick, this is light-hearted and smart. The viewer comes away a little more knowledgable about the opposite sex after seeing this flick. You can see the chemistry between Al and Imogen, and Prinze and Stiles capture the romantic scenes perfectly. The story is told from both of their points of view, which is good, because the story would not work one-sided. Every now and then, the movie would flash forward to either Prinze of Stiles in present day talking about each other, giving their take on everything, as well as a great voice-over track from both during the film. Anyone who has ever experienced love lost could relate to Al, but I don't know (nor have I heard of) anyone who has ever tried to forget their lost love the way Al did (that was an interesting part). The reason this film works is the chemistry. Although I am completely over the moon for Prinze, he is not the only reason I enjoyed this film. It's funny but doesn't try to be silly. It's sentimental, but not too sappy. It's smart, but doesn't over kill us with too much intelligence. It's never stupid, and certainly never dull. This film works, simply put.
My favorite scenes in this film are when Al goes to Imogen's dorm room with cake ("Something sacred," he says). The two have a conversation over the cake, which leads to "psychoanalysis," ("You know, we're prime for psychoanalysis," Imogen comments). Al lays on her bed and Imogen asks him questions about his vices (sleeping, beer, wine), he asks about hers (smoking, chocolate, a few others), his past relationships (Faith Keenan--Clepto, Megan Brodski--Cheerleader, Haley Heller-- Scientist), her past relationships (Gabe Stiano--New Age, Ted McGurran--Allergic, and Ricky James--hated by the dog), what they love (him--fish), her (art). They also disclosed their first kisses (shown in humorous flashbacks--his was a woman who dropped a ring when he was 12, hers was her gym partner when she was 11 1/2, who knocked her down with a baksetball). In addition, I liked the opening scene in the coffee shop where Al is observing two young lovers while talking to the camera ("Reminds me of my relationship, except Imogen never wore that much jewelry, and I wouldn't be caught dead in those shoes."), the flashback scenes, the narration, the scene where Al attempts to get over Imogen by drinking shampoo (this actually was the one scene I heard alot about before seeing this movie), and the concluding scene (which I will not give away--its too good).
This movie is a must rent/buy for anyone who likes romantic comedies, Freddie Prinze Jr., or Julia Stiles. I'm disappointed that alot of people didn't like this film, nor did it get the box office success it deserved. This film is targeted at teenage and young adults girls, and probably wouldn't interest the general public under the age of 13 or over the age of 25-30. This was a good-intentions film, and a must see for those who are romantically involved, or for a girl's movie night. I've actually owned the DVD for 2 years (2 years as of today, I believe--it was sometime in late October), and the film holds up well with time. Definitely see this film, there's something for everyone!
Head Over Heels (2001)
Sweetly romantic film!
The night this movie opened, my best friend and I braved a rainy and frigid Friday night in early February to see it, and it was well worth the 40 minute drive (we thought the free movie passes my friend had for that particular theater were good for Friday nights--we were wrong). Because of that, and I was short on cash, she offered to buy snacks.
Amanda Pierce,a romance-starved woman, moves into a "model" apartment and spots the man of her dreams living in the apartment across from the one she lives in, but is afraid when she thinks she sees him brutally murder someone in the apartment. But that won't stop Amanda, no matter what. Dashing Jim Winston (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a fashion designer, is really an FBI Agent named Bob Smoot, who is undercover in the apartment, and begins to romance Amanda, and the two find they have fallen head over heels in love. The definition of "head over heels in love" is when you love someone enough to go weak in the knees when you see them. At first sight, Amanda collapses on her jelly-like knees, and Jim falls for her too.
This was a GREAT movie, and I'm shocked it didn't do better in the theater. My best friend and I left gushing over how great it was, while all the younger girls leaving were not saying much about it. In my opinion, it was probably not a movie for younger teenagers (I was 18 when I first saw this). This was a great vehicle for Prinze, who was playing his first adult role after a string of excellent teen movies, among the better that I've seen. It was romantic and a much cuter film than many younger girls would appreciate. I'm beyond teen films (they don't spark my interest, never have), with the exception of "The Breakfast Club," (my favorite teen flick), "St. Elmo's Fire," "16 Candles," "She's All That," and "Down to You." The plot of this film never lags in interest, and kept me interested. I was almost disappointed when it was over, but loved watching Jim/Bob and Amanda together--it was too cute.
My favorite parts of "Head Over Heels" was when Amanda first met Jim, and how she collapsed on her knees (and he says something so cute--"Maybe you should get those knees checked"), when Amanda goes to the party all fancied up, and Jim isn't into the whole party crowd, and the scene where he comes into his apartment and takes the huge power crap while the models are hiding in his bathtub. Yikes! My best friend and I were laughing the loudest during this part!
All in all, this was a great film, and should have been given more of a chance to shine. Freddie Prinze Jr.'s first adult role proved to work for him (he'd go on to play several more adult roles between then and now, including my personal favorite Freddie movie "Scooby Doo"), and Monica Potter was excellent as Amanda. This was a cool movie, and she be given a chance by anyone. See this film, you'll fall "head over heels" in love with it!
Original and smart!
Disney has often followed on a set of "guidelines" to making all of their films work: a beautiful princess in some kind of peril (ie: Sleeping Beauty is under a spell to make her sleep, Snow White ate the poisoned apple, Cinderella wants to go the ball, etc.). These films often work on some level, but originality is often lacking in fairy tales, which always come from some source. Plus, they teach lessons that don't exactly behoove the viewer, often the impressionable young child (lessons in infatuation--what fairy tale didn't have some prince with a superiority complex wanting to be king, and spotting a beautiful girl from across the room, and saying "She's the one."???? You NEVER see Prince Wonderful courting Lovely Lady around, do you? Ok, ok, I'll get off my soapbox now. "Shrek" completely goes against the grain in terms of fairy tale concepts by adding a whole new twist to the genre, and the result is nothing short of spectacular.
Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) is an ugly green ogre living in a ramshackle house in the swamp by himself, without a care in the world. When Lord Farquaad (voice of John Lithgow) banishes all "fairy tale creatures" from the land, Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy), who talks too much, escapes from his owner and the clutches of the people who are taking him away, and goes to Shrek's swamp and begs Shrek to take him in, and Shrek unwillingly does just that. When all the fairy tale creatures are dumped on his property, Shrek complains to Farquaad. Farquaad, a diminuitive lord with a superiority complex, wants to be king, and after consulting his magic mirror, he sees the woman he would like to have for his bride, and tells Shrek that he will remove the fairy tale creatures from his property if Shrek can bring him his future bride, Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz).
This movie is probably one of the funniest animated movies I've seen in a long time. I'm a Disney fan, but I've strayed from their "fairy tale" pictures due to a lack of interest, and have geared my interest to different (and original) animated stories. This one is truly original in every way, even though it recycles familiar fairy tale characters (the 7 dwarfs, Pinochio, Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, etc), but in a humorous way. The actors themselves (Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow) are great in their parts, and the supporting voices and characters are what makes this film great. There are so many inside jokes that this movie would tend to fly right over a child's head. there are also alot of sight gags that the viewer would easily miss the first time around.
I don't have one absolute favorite scene, because this whole movie was hysterically funny and smart. However, some of them stand out in mind. The "gingerbread man" was classic, with the famous cookie lying on a cookie pan, legs broken off, with a glass of milk next to him. His "tourture" was getting dipped in the milk and the threat of his buttons getting ripped off. When Farquaad tells him to confess, Gingerbread Man screams "Eat me!" and spits. Another great scene was the "Merry Men" singing their song, which turns into the suspended-motion scene from "The Matrix" with Fiona lifting into the air in the "karate-kick" motion, the action freezes, the angle rotates, and Fiona kicks two Merry Men at the same time. The part with the magic mirror was also hillarious. I like how the mirror was honest with Farquaad, informing him that "he really wasn't a king, and this isn't a kingdom," to which Farquaad gestures to Thelonious as to what happens to a "lying" mirror (Thelonious punches a small handheld mirror), and the mirror counteracts "...but you can be king," and shows three different women, "Dating Game" style. The scene at Farquaad's amusement park was hillarious, especially with the "It's a Small World"-esque puppets singing.
This was a great film, complete with a great cast, and is a fun story. This definitely breaks all those rules that fairy tales tend to set (and believe me, rules were made to be broken). I am anxiously awaiting the sequel in 2004, and highly recommend this to everyone and their 5th cousin once removed (LOL! just kidding). This is a great story of romance and wonder, and it is sure to be a hit for years to come.
Donkey: Hi, Princess. Fiona: It talks! Shrek: Yeah, it's getting him to shutup that's the trick!
Ok, maybe I'll take this as advice. See "Shrek," you won't regret it!!
Serial Mom (1994)
Unusual and campy (may contain spoilers)
In every little picturesque American suburb, there's always the picturesque family: the loving husband/father/breadwinner, the smart daughter, the ambitious son, and the doting wife/mother/homemaker. There's also that dark side of the norm that the Cleavers and Ozzie and Harriet didn't show, and its depicted in this 1994 John Waters film.
Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is your typical suburban housewife and mother--she keeps the perfect home, recycles, cooks "the perfect meatloaf,"loves her dentist husband Eugene(Sam Waterston), loves birds, and keeps tabs on her two teenage kids, daughter Misty (Waters mainstay/veteran Ricki Lake) and son Chip (Matthew Lillard, in his breakthrough role). Did I mention she was also a crazy and vengeful woman hellbent on serial killers and killing for vengeful purposes? That's right, she's a serial kiler.
Beverly will do anything for her family, even if it means murdering someone. When someone rubs her the wrong way, she immediately plots revenge on them by killing them. Even if its for the smallest infraction to her, it often results in the brutal slaying of someone who was just brutally honest. There's her son Chip's math teacher, Mr. Stubbins, who says that Chip needs more focus due to his high interest in horror and gore films (Chip's the assistant manager of a video store), Misty's ex-boyfriend Carl, who stood her up, Betty and Ralph Sterner, for no apparent reason, Scotty, (Chip's friend) who just aggravated Beverly, Lu-Ann Hodges, who forgot to rewind the video tape, and Juror #8, who wore "white shoes after Labor Day."(sorry, this may be a spoiler!), not to mention the obscene prank calls to neighbor Dottie Hinkle (they were so bad, I won't even say them here!).
Ok, this is just a strange movie, and when I first saw it two summers ago, I was shocked by it. Not only was it outrageously rediculous, it was almost sickening what this woman would do for revenge. I watched it again last night with my brother (who happens to LOVE this movie) and my best friend (who had never seen it), but for some reason, I was enjoying it (scary thought on my part, since I thought "Hairspray" was strange, and "Crybaby" was almost unwatchable). Kathleen Turner puts on an almost memorable performance for this role (I'm wondering how many cartons of Camel cigarettes she smoked prior to making this film, because her voice is SO HUSKY now!) as the murderous mother. How old were Misty and Chip supposed to be? I knew that Lake and Lillard were both 24 at the time this movie was released, but was Chip only supposed to be in high school? Matthew Lillard certainly looked young enough to be in high school, and we noticed it. What a stretch for Sam Waterston, playing this gullible husband. How much did they pay him to do this, coming from an actor on "Law and Order"?! Whoah, that's guts.
My favorite scenes from this movie are: The prank call scene between Beverly and Dottie, the "Ted Bundy Tape" (oh my god, I cracked up watching this!), the part where Beverly kills Lu-Ann Hodges to the tune of "Tomorrow" from "Annie" (we were crying during this part, it was so funny), the video store scene where Hodges brings in the video without rewinding it, and Chip informs her of the $1 charge for not rewinding, and when he asks her why, she informs him "I didn't FEEL like rewinding!" My brother particularly enjoyed this line, because he works in a video store (and they don't charge for not rewinding!), and the "serial mom" scenes, when Beverly acts out her revenge. I LOVED Matthew Lillard in this film (he is so funny and talented, and this was a great start for him, as he has made some memorable performances!)
This was an unusual movie, and may be too strange for those who don't appreciate campy farce. John Waters has done it again, in typical John Waters fashion, and for some reason, this film works. I couldn't begin to tell you how it works, but it does. This may take two watchings to actually enjoy it, but its not bad, just strange. This acting is decent, and this film is a real scream at times. I recommend this film to any John Waters fan, as it is one of his own creations.
Don't do anything to make Beverly Sutphin mad, you'll pay for it later!
MUCH funnier than I thought it would be!
Although I grew up in the 1980s (born in October 1982--I'm almost 20) and my generation loved the "Scooby Doo" cartoons of te 1960s and 70s, I was never completely into them, it was more of my brother's bag than mine. But this movie broke all my misconceptions of America's favorite animated canine. What actually was just an attempt for me to stare at the gorgeous Freddie Prinze Jr. turned out to be a worthwhile watch.
When mysterious happenings begin occuring at Scary Island, its up to the defunct Mystery Inc. to solve the case.
After Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Shaggy (Matthew Lilard) and Velma (Linda Cardelini) go their own ways, and wind up reuniting in the airport, the team decides to go together to solve the case, which involves zombie-like teenagers at the unusual resort of Scary Island. What is actually happening is that the teen's souls are being removed from their bodies and aliens are taking control of them, using the bodies to withstand sunlight. Shaggy and Scooby must save the day when Fred, Velma, and Daphne have their soles stolen. It's not gonna be easy, but Mystery Inc. can do anything.
I assumed this would be as annoying and trippy as the original cartoon, but it was actually hysterical. I always thought of myself as kinda like Daphne, but I realized how stupid she really was. Now, I kind of relate to Velma, whose smart but cool at the same time. The actors were SO good in their parts, and I loved Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred. He was so gorgeous!!!!!!! Sarah Michelle Gellar really played Daphne like an airhead, Matthew Lillard was TOO GOOD as Shaggy (Even sounded like him!!!), and Linda Cardelini resembled Velma, even though I hardly know who she is.
My absolute favorite parts were the part in the airport, the flashback scene where Scrappy Doo pees on Daphne, and the part where the gang keeps accidentally switching bodies over the cool artifact. Shaggy kept checking out Velma's body. Yikes. LOL!!!
I highly recommend giving this movie a chance, because it is really funny. A bit silly at times, but still very funny. The actors are great, and the ending is very funny.
So go ahead, pile your hands up, raise em high in the air, and scream "Woo-hoo!" Definitely see this, you will not regret it!!!
The Christmas Toy (1986)
A Christmas classic!
Imagine being the light of someone's life, the favorite plaything of a child, only to feel rejected when a new plaything gets in the way?
"The Christmas Toy" is a 1986 made-for-TV Christmas special that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC-TV) in December 1986, and centers around a playroom full of toys, including Rugby, a self-centered tiger, Apple, a sweet-natured curly-haired doll, Balthazar, an aged teddy-bear, and Mew, a catnip toy mouse, among others. The toys come alive when no one is around. On Christmas Eve, Rugby learns that he will be "replaced" by a new favorite toy, and is determined to get inside the box of the new toy. Rugby and Mew go on an adventure to the living room, where Rugby opens the box of Meteora, a She-Ra-esque doll that causes havock. When Rugby and Mew go back to the playroom, Mew lags behind, and becomes frozen, just like the cute little clown doll, Ding-a-Ling. Can Rugby still compete for his owner's heart?
This was a great program that, according to my mom, never aired again. It took forever to be released on video, but those of us who saw it in 1986, and even have it on tape, remember it fondly. I have mine on a tape my parents made in 1986, and it has the old "Kraft" recipe commercials, and my best friend and I thought the recipes were disgusting looking. I love how Kermit hosts the program, and the characters are the same voices as the great Muppets we all know and love.
My favorite parts are when Rubgy opens the box to find Meteora, the introduction with Kermit (I LOVE KERMIT!), and the ending, which I won't give away!
This was well-done and beautiful to watch, and a great Christmas story that teaches viewers not to be conceited, and that you're never forgotten. Definitely watch this at Christmas time this year, and remember an undying classic for all ages.
Blind Faith (1990)
When I was in ninth grade (1997-98), my spanish teacher told us about an incident in Bass River, New Jersey, in which a man set up the murder of his wife while en route to their home in Toms River, NJ after visiting Atlantic City. The man was having an affair with the Assistant Principal of a high school, and he arranged with her to make the killing of his wife possible. Now, I'll tell you how local this story really is. My former high school (graduated in 2001), Pinelands Regional High School, was where this principal worked. In 1984, she was arrested on school grounds for the killing of her lover's wife. Bass River Twp. (Burlington Co. border)is less than a mile from my house (southwest Ocean Co.), and I know the campground where she was killed (Bass River State Park). My Spanish teacher witnessed this woman getting arrested at my old school. The thing is, they changed the name of the school to protect it.
I just saw this movie on Sunday, and I realized how eerily local it was. The family lives in an affluent section of Toms River (I think North TR is the most affluent), and Robert Marshall is accused of having a hand in killing his wife, Maria. The movie is about the aftermath, and what the three Marshall boys, Chris, Robbie, and John Marshall go through.
What really amazes me is that this film is as local as it gets. I live about 35-40 minutes from Toms River, but I was only 2 when this incident happened, and not living in the area (I moved to Ocean County in 1985). The fact that this was centered around a principal at my own school was unbelievable, and the fact that my teacher told the story is beyond words.
While this movie was a typical movie of the week, the acting was decent, and the story was played out well. This was a famous story at my school, and I'm glad I knew about it before I saw this. If you catch this on Lifetime, I highly recommend it, especially to south Jerseyans like me, as it is local, and everyone knows almost nothing happens in south Jersey.