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Lost in London (1985)
Basically a modern-day "Oliver Twist".
This is just, really, a retelling of "Oliver Twist", with the character's names (and some of the storyline) changed. A young boy without parents has to rely on the seedier element to survive.
There are many of the same characters from Oliver Twist (Fagin, Mr. Sykes, The Artful Dodger) in this story, but with their own twists (and new names). Emmanuel Lewis portrayed the Davey Williams (Oliver) character at the height of his "Webster" popularity, and his adorable "little boy in trouble" routine shone through quite well.
This movie is to Oliver Twist what "Roxanne" was to "Cyrano de Bergerac". It's an updated, twisted retelling of a classic story. Sufficiently well-acted, I would enjoy seeing this made-for-TV film again... but I'm not dying to add it to my personal collection.
"Iron Chef America" comes close to "Ryori no tetsujin", but just misses.
In this four-episode series tribute to "Ryori no tetsujin", Food Network put countless hours of time and effort into returning to the glory that is "Iron Chef". They almost succeeded.
One element that absolutely captures and vexes the audience of "Ryori no tetsujin" (the original Iron Chef series) is the flamboyancy and commanding nature of the wizened "Chairman Kaga". Here, replaced by his "nephew", (Mark Dacascos, whom I highly doubt has any true blood relation to Kaga) the mantle of "Chairman" is lacking.
Our new Chairman is stone-faced, and definitely does not dress the part. He attempts to harness Kaga's former command by shrieking "Allez Cuisine!" at the top of his lungs like an insane Samurai, rather than bellowing it with joy as Kaga would.
With the judges, I found them to be good selections all around-- but a bit biased. I felt strongly that the true "fairness" on this competition would be more even if two of the judges selected were American, and two were Japanese. (I realize that NONE of the judges in "Ryori no tetsujin" were ever American, either-- but this episode wrenches our Iron Chefs French and Japanese from their environments, and they now are faced with the challenge of suiting strictly American palates... which our Iron Chefs America have had the lifelong luxury of doing. Hey, some Americans don't LIKE eating horse fat!) The even balance of two Japanese judges and two American Judges would have given us all the real "thrill of the battle". It would have been like watching the SuperBowl.
As for bright spots in these shows, it was all taken quite seriously. Alton Brown, as usual, does a spectacular job. He is as charismatic here as he is famous for his own Food Network show, "Good Eats". Alton conveys a true feeling of anticipation and excitement as the competition rages, and his nervousness and passion is easily detectable in his voice. If we could not have had Kenji Fukui (dubbed, obviously, by Bill Bickard), then Alton is an excellent replacement. However, Kenji and Alton would have made a superb commentating team, accompanied by translators for each other's benefit, of course. I also missed Ota running around and getting all of the information he could present to us.
Another thought is, why three Iron Chefs America, and only two original Iron Chefs? It was my original hope that Bobby Flay would face Hiroyuki Sakai (which he did), Mario Batali would face Masahiko Kobe (Iron Chef Italian - a natural archenemy for Batali), and Wolfgang Puck would challenge Masaharu Morimoto (which he did). Perhaps in a future jaunt? One can only hope.
In conclusion, Chairman Kaga is sorely missed. The judging needs to be more even and fair, and more of the original Iron Chef elements should be returned to the new Kitchen Stadium. Food Network should pay Takeshi Kaga whatever he wants for his return. He is worth it, and so are the ratings.
Take another stab at this, FoodTV. You've almost got it.
The Pirate Movie (1982)
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!!!
I was a kid who was lucky enough to have HBO growing up. Around 1983, I was 7. That was right around the time that they began playing "The Pirate Movie" OVER and OVER again-- much to the delight of myself and my brother.
We watched it every time we saw that it was coming on. The songs, the choreography... the FUN!! Oh Lord, the amount of FUN these lucky actors must've had filming this movie!! I can't even begin to imagine! They get to wear cool pirate get-ups, swords round their waists, (--and they used FENCING Foils instead of Rapiers... go fig.) and they get to romp around on Caribbean beaches with a bunch of scantily-clad young women and act silly! --and they got PAID for this??
The Pirate Movie was very well made, and I don't care what anyone says-- the song parodies were WONDERFUL tributes to Gilbert & Sullivan. The music is wonderful-- which is immediately obvious by the front-running song "Victory!" at the opening credits.
Granted, there are a number of sexual innuendos... but they are fairly-well masked-- so as to go straight over the heads of younger viewers. The Pirate Movie is a wonderful summer movie for a kid to watch. It's chock full of romance, action, swashbuckling, excitement, and HUMOR! Kids will laugh their tails off at this! I just bought a new copy for myself, and when my 5-year-old daughter turns six, I think I'll let her watch it, too. I want her to be able to get SOME of the jokes, after all...
I would say that the only thing I DIDN'T like about "The Pirate Movie" is the title. I mean, c'maaan! After being SO creative in re-writing "The Pirates of Penzance" so well-- the best title they could come up with was "THE PIRATE MOVIE"?? Oh well...
In closing, "The Pirate Movie" is absolutely, definitely one of my FAVORITE movies of all time. It's better if you first see it as a kid... but it's still full of chuckles as a grown-up.
10 out of 10.
Good God, I miss MacGyver...
Okay, here's yet another one of my famous nostalgic-experience stories from my youth.
I'm writing this in 2002. I was born in 1976, so that means when "MacGyver" premiered in 1985-- I was nine years old. My father and my older brother used to watch it, but it never really kept my interest as I was too young to understand and appreciate the intelligence and physics of everything. MacGyver-- along with "Hill Street Blues"-- was blown off by me when it started... only to be embraced whole-heartedly by me in my teen years.
When I re-discovered "MacGyver", I was in junior high, and had begun watching it on a daily basis in syndication on the USA Network. It came on at a great time-- 5pm. I was out of school by 3:30 every day, and had plenty of time to get home to watch it 5 days a week. True, I saw the same episodes over and over again, but I loved it so much, I didn't care.
One of the best things about this show is that MacGyver was the perfect role model for young guys who grew up watching the show. He didn't smoke, he didn't drink, he gave his rewards to charity, he never swore or got angry, he hated guns, and he used his WITS to get himself or others out of trouble.
--and "MacGyver" used an aspect not seen (to my knowledge) since the days of Sam Spade... the show used "Film Noir"-- basically, you hear the person's thoughts in a voice-over while they're doing what they're describing.
Now, I can appreciate the biggest complaint about this show: some people don't like it because it's unrealistic that a man could make an explosive device with a lightbulb, a paperclip, and some cleaning supplies. Yes, some of the "MacGyverisms" were eye-rollers... especially in the series finale-- when he and his newly-found son escape out of some kind of pit by strapping fire extinguishers to their backs and setting them off. Yes, that's stupid. But come on, people! This is SEVEN YEARS of thinking up MacGyverisms! They can't ALL be gems! But most of them were REALLY clever and REALLY worked!
I know for a fact that this show inspired me to be a better, more-helpful person to others... and to use my mind to remedy situations. I've tried to watch "Stargate SG-1" with Richard Dean Anderson... but it just makes me sad, because I want to see the long hair and the brown leather jacket with the red plaid interior lining.
From what I understand, "MacGyver" is only playing at 10am Monday through Friday on WGN (a Chicago station) nowadays. USA dumped it (jerks) and I haven't seen it since. But I'm dying for another reunion show. I miss Jack Dalton. (Bruce McGill) I miss Pete Thornton. (Dana Elcar-- who's gone blind from Gloucoma, bless him) Both are fine, fine actors who added greatly to the show.
But... sadly, all good things must end. It's been off the air for years, but I still think about the show all the time.
If you've come here for a review to see if the show's worth watching, it absolutely is. Let your kids watch it. It's a wonderful influence, and I think you'll really love the outcome you'll get from letting them watch it. Hey, watch it yourself. You'll probably get hooked too.
The Jazz Singer (1980)
What's the Deal? Need more NEIL!
Okay... all these submissions below? Ignore them. Here's the real scoop.
The biggest problem most folks have with this film is that they're comparing the two male leads' acting ability. BIG MISTAKE.
One is Neil Diamond-- one of the greatest singers of all time. The other is Sir Laurence Olivier-- one of the greatest ACTORS of all time. Think of it this way: if Sir Larry accompanied Neil in a recording of "Cherry, Cherry"-- people would rave about Neil's performance, but then spend an hour going on about how much Olivier sucks.
The fact is this: neither of them suck. Everything is great! Neil Diamond is a fine actor. (Not an AMAZING actor, mind you... but a fine actor.) He'd even beaten out Dustin Hoffman for the role of Lenny Bruce in "Lenny", but turned it down... leaving the door open for Hoffman.
I made the mistake of reading all of the below jeers and whines about Neil Diamond's "terrible acting performance" in this movie. I then watched it over at my girlfriend's house with very low expectations. But I was very impressed, and greatly enjoyed the film. Granted, there are some times when Neil's performance isn't exactly as dramatic as it should be... (i.e., when his father shrieks "I HAVE NO SON!!", Neil doesn't exactly seem to be heartbroken.) But then, there are times when he manifests a great deal of emotional power... especially in the scenes where he gets angry.
Okay, so I'm a huge Neil Diamond fan, yes. I love his music, and I think it's cool that he's had a lead in a major motion picture. BUT-- from an acting perspective, he has my respect. From one actor to another. (YES, I consider him an "actor" too... and so does the IMDb.)
I only have two complaints: one is that this is the only movie he's been in until Saving Silverman-- where he had just a cameo. That sucks. I want to see Neil in more movies.
The other complaint is what everyone else doesn't like: "The Jazz Singer". AL JOLSON sung Jazz. NEIL DIAMOND sings Pop. Soooooo... couldn't it have been called "The Pop Singer", and had an addition in the credits that read, "Based on 'The Jazz Singer' by Al Jolson" or something?
Anyway... the music is great, (even "Love on the Rocks"-- and I'm not a big ballad fan... as they depress me. But I can't dislike a Neil song.) the movie is a great story, and the acting is FINE. Watch it. If you're a fan of Neil's, or even just a fan of 20+ year old movies that have good stories.... check out "The Jazz Singer".
--and by the way.... neil diamond rules. thank you.
Introducing... Janet (1981)
**ATTENTION: Bit of a spoiler below. Nothing too entrusive, but a basic outline is printed below.**
As I perused the other readers comments, I noticed the repetition of three specific things: "After-School Special", "misleading", and "BAD". Honestly, there's not any other words I myself can use to describe this steamy pile of entrails that would be better than these.
* - "After School Special": Absolutely. Girl tries something, Girl fails. Guy tries something, Guy succeeds. Girl gets depressed. Guy meets Girl, Guy encourages Girl. Girl tries again, Girl succeeds. The End. Yay.
* - "Misleading": As I added before, what we started with was a 1983 Made-For-Canadian-TV 40 minute After-School Special entitled "Introducing... Janet". For almost twenty years, this slab of vomitous dung went shelved, where it belonged. (as I can assure you, there was NO great uproar about THIS production in Canada in 1983. THEN... oh yes, "then"... along comes "In Living Color", "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective", and "Dumb & Dumber." James "Jim" Carrey is now a household name. So, what happens NOW? Oh, of course!! Vidmark... that fine, fine marketing company thinks, "Hmmm. Didn't we... a LONG-butt time ago... make something with this Carrey fellow in it?" Then, out from the ol' archives comes a dusty original print of "Introducing... Janet", starring a tubby, unfunny, unknown girl named Adah Glassbourg. Now that they've found it, what do you think our VidMark execs are thinking? "Oh, EUREKA!! It's a Jim Carrey GOLD Mine!! Let's re-release it... annnnnnnnnnnd.... ooh! We'll rename it "Rubberface"! Yeah!! --and we'll give JIM CARREY top-billing!! People will come from miles around to watch this movie that looks JUST as funny as "Ace Ventura!" Then what happens? Yep, people fell for it. But why shouldn't they? Look at the box on this page! What would YOU think? For crying out loud, even here on the IMDb, Jim Carrey has ELEVENTH billing!! ELEVENTH!! AAAGGHHH!!! C'mon, people!! Does this scream "Jim Carrey Movie" to you?? Oh wait, here! Let ME answer for you!! "NO!!"
* - BAD: The jokes aren't funny-- my grandmother's written better scripts in birthday cards-- and it's 40 boring minutes that leave the viewer wondering what the point was, and caring less about the prior 40 minutes of their lives.
In short, I would say that Jim Carrey's current success is probably a gift from God to recompensate him for having to be in such a disgustingly-wretched mini-show in 1983. It's almost as bad as Hulk Hogan's "Santa With Muscles". Pardon me, while I dry heave a couple more times.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Changed my whole personality in my high school years.
The first time I ever saw "The Blues Brothers" was in 1992. It appeared on TBS, edited of course. I wasn't even watching it... I just had the TV on while I was doing some work on my computer.
Then... the mall scene.
The stunts... the sounds... the people diving for cover... the one-liners... and the music, oh the MUSIC! I had to turn around and watch, as it even caught my attention with my back turned.
After watching for 5 minutes, I turned it off and left. Not because I didn't like it, mind you... but because I could see that the "bad words" had been dubbed over (obviously), and it ticked me off that they did this to a movie that was so entertaining to me. So, I turned it off, jumped in my car, and shot over to Blockbuster and rented it.
I watched it twice when I got home. Heh... I'd NEVER done that before. Not since I was a kid, anyway. Never actually stopped a movie when the credits came on, rewound it, and then watched it AGAIN. OH, but I loved it! Everything about it... the attitudes, the singing, the car chases, the clothes... the fedoras... the sunglasses.
If you haven't seen this movie, please watch it. I'm proud to say that "The Blues Brothers" is known as the first "big-budget" movie in history. If you don't believe me, watch what happens in the movie when they finally get to Chicago.
Listen... I just-- can't say enough about this movie. I own a framed original movie poster from 1980. I've been to the House of Blues in Chicago... I bought a Black fedora and Wayfarer Ray-bans-- I know-- I know: geeky, perhaps. But that's HOW STINKIN' GOOD this movie was!! It MAKES you wanna be geeky and like them! Well... it makes ME, anyway. I don't know... maybe I'm just a geek, and you're all laughing at me right now. But it STILL wouldn't change the fact that "The Blues Brothers" is ONE GREAT MOVIE!!
A plethora of childhood memories wrapped up into one (incredibly-long) show
In my youth (I am now 26), I had a yearly habit of visiting my Grandparents for a month during each Summer.
There was never much to do-- but thankfully, my late Grandmother could provide me with an endless supply of peanut butter and cable.
My show of choice was "Pinwheel". Within this 8 hour show (Yes. It aired from 6am to 2pm, I believe), I would sit for hours and watch "Hattytown Tales", "Simon, In The Land of Cartoons", "Paddington Bear", and "Chapi Chapo".
I was never a big fan of the puppets and the sketches they were included in. I loved the vignettes they included in the show, such as the ones I listed above. I always had to tune in to see what light-hearted predicament Sancho and Carrots would encounter today... or what mischief Paddington would get into to again infuriate Mr. Brown. What colors would Chapi and Chapo dance with in the World of Shapes? What would happen to Simon as he jumped the fence into the land of Cartoons this time?
My desktop wallpaper is a screenshot of "Hattytown Tales" and my "Start Windows" and "Exit Windows" sounds are the Hattytown theme song. I also downloaded the 1971 intro to "Chapi Chapo"-- a French claymation sketch-- and showed it to my 4 year old daughter. When Chapi and Chapo finished the song and danced away into the World of Shapes, my daughter began crying... because SHE wanted so badly to go with them.
Overall, "Pinwheel" was a blessing to many, many children born in the '70's and '80's. I only wish I could find some copies of the show or it's sketches so that my daughter can grow up with the same joys it brought me.
10 out of 10.
Do yourself a favor-- don't judge from these reviews, watch it yourself.
My personal opinion of this movie is that those that did not like it say they did not like it because they didn't understand it, or they didn't have the tolerance for "annoying humor". That's what this movie is all about. Hoffman & Beatty play two very passionate, ambitions characters-- but they're also very annoying. --But they're SUPPOSED to be!! They sing horribly-annoying songs that THEY think are brilliant! They think they know "the business" back and forth, and they really don't know squat!
I watched this film years ago over a Thanksgiving vacation, and it sticks with me to this day. Now I'll not go so far as to say this film was BRILLIANT.... as, yes-- it did have its moments of tedium... but there were some really REALLY funny and memorable scenes in it that I've told people about over the years. Watch it. It probably won't be your favorite movie-- but there are some side-splitters that completely make up for the times it gets dull. Before the men actually GO to Ishtar is the best part, in my opinion. But, it does keep you entertained throughout.
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
One of the 10 funniest films of all time.
I write this in 2001. Sadly, at this time, all three of the "Grumpy Old Men" (Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Burgess Meredith) have now passed on. But this film will show that some of your best work can come in your golden years.
I first saw "Grumpy Old Men" against protest. Though I'd heard of its legacy at being "SO funny!"-- I rebelled against the idea of seeing two foul old guys yelling at each other. One night, my parents rented it-- and I happened to be staying at their house that night-- so I popped it in the VCR and watched it.
I went to bed in pain that night because my abdomen was sore from laughing so hard. It took over 3 hours for me to watch the whole movie because I kept rewinding and watching the funniest parts over and over again.
Though the movie stars all VERY-seasoned and excellent actors & actresses-- one tends to forget that... and only sees "John and Max" going at it again. It's a fifty-year fight between these two mischievous old bags of hot-air. The movie becomes more exciting as it progresses-- because you get to wonder who's going to strike next and humiliate the other... Gustafson or Goldman?
Aside from a wonderful story line and script, there are some very memorable one-liners and quotes from both this and "Grumpier Old Men" (the sequel). The soundtrack is sprinkled with wonderful old songs, along with festive polka songs to set the atmosphere for the town of Wabasha, Minnesota-- a small Swedish-settlement in the North.
If you've not seen this movie, and you have a great sense of humor-- do yourself the favor of renting "Grumpy Old Men". It's a heart-warming, happy film that leaves you feeling good after seeing it. God rest all the souls of the stars of this film that are now no longer with us-- but enjoy one of their last gifts to us before they left.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Almost 30 years old, and still reigns as the king.
Few films in existence even today have the effect that TCM has left on millions upon millions of viewers. The feelings of anxiety, curiosity, horror, empathy, and outright terror are extremely strong typically with first-time viewers. --and while the film can be a bit gross at times, it does not use much gore. Rather, it relies on the actual horror-aspects of multiple situations. (i.e., we get to see Leatherface impale a perfectly-healthy girl on a meathook-- but it doesn't stop there-- oh, no. Between her screams of agony behind clenched eyes-- her only reward for opening her eyes while enduring that pain is watching this enormous madman chopping-up her boyfriend's corpse-- and realizing that she is next.) All-in-all, the memorable quality behind TCM is its ability to chill one to the bone with the horrible situations. (and the remarkable facial-acting by Marilyn Burns (Sally Hardesty) is so believable that one tends to forget they're watching a movie, and are living this madness along with her.)
This movie far surpasses the sequels-- which, to me, didn't even seem to care about the importance of the story to the people who loved it. I, personally, wanted to see what had happened to Sally Hardesty in TCM 2-- and have her heavily involved in the story line. But instead of following with a plausible story (like the original)-- TCM 2, 3, & 4 went with humor factors, stupid plot lines, and bad acting.
TCM was Tobe Hooper's "baby". He made it what it is today-- and no matter how bad any sequels might be-- no one can ever take away his masterpiece: the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Santa with Muscles (1996)
Santa Without Talent
Okay.... umm... okay. I-- noooo.. I ... Okay, I-- I really, really, REALLY can't find the words to describe the..... UTTER HORRIBLENESS of this movie. It shouldn't even be called a film. I hate to say this... but Ed Begley Jr. and even CLINT HOWARD should have looked at this script and said "This is crap." and threw it in the garbage. It's a worthless "Look at me, I'm Hulk Hogan and I'm tan and strong-- not OLD" movie.
You'll have more fun juggling your eyeballs than watching "Santa With Muscles". This movie makes "Manos: The Hands of Fate" look like a Spielberg epic.