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|9942 reviews in total|
The Breakfast Club (1985)
**** (out of 4)
Some great movies are works of art that should be studied by all generations. Some examples of this include GONE WITH THE WIND, CITIZEN KANE, PSYCHO and RAGING BULL. Other great movies are simply those that aren't really art but they succeed at being tremendously entertaining and manage to put a smile on your face no matter how many times you see it and that's where something like THE BREAKFAST CLUB falls. The story of five different types of high school students having detention is such a simple idea but writer/director John Hughes managed to make it speak to a generation of people much like REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE spoke to those in the 1950s. Again, this here isn't a piece of art to be studied but there's no question that it's a true gem. A lot of credit has to go to the screenplay because it perfectly shows how different types of people are usually haunted by the same emotions or fears. I really think the film does a very good job at shining a light on teenager's hypocrisy and how most simply don't like others because they don't really know them. There are so many great comedy moments in the film but some of the most memorable stuff comes towards the end as the drama starts to make its way to the center of the story. It also doesn't hurt that the cast was spot on perfection. Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy are simply perfect in their roles as is Paul Gleason as the mean teacher. All of them perfectly nail their characters and there's not a single frame where you don't believe that you're seeing real characters with real emotions and flaws. Add in the now famous main song, the witty dialogue and the overall fun nature and it's easy to see why this film connected with people in 1985 and remains popular nearly thirty years later.
The Lego Movie (2014)
*** (out of 4)
Entertaining, if a bit overrated, animated feature about an average LEGO man who is mistaken for a MasterBuilder and is selected to lead a charge against an evil man wanting to put glue all over the city. THE LEGO MOVIE has become a huge hit with people and I must admit that I'm a little shocked. Yes, everyone knows what a LEGO is but when I first saw the trailer for this film I never thought it would connect like it has. With that said, I found the movie to be slightly entertaining but in my opinion it has been overpraised and over-hyped by some. Tastes certainly will vary but perhaps my dislike of playing LEGOs when I was younger had something to do with me not connecting with the picture more. However, even my four-year-old didn't seem to be caught up with the film like he has been with some previous pictures including FROZEN. I thought the animation was clearly the greatest thing about the picture as you can't help but sit there and watch this made-up world and be amazed at how realistic they were able to make it look. Everything is made to look like a real LEGO and the way they pulled this off was simply amazing. I also thought the vocal performances were very good with Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks and Will Ferrell really standing out. I'm not going to reveal the twist at the end of the picture but I thought it worked extremely well. There were some issues that I had with the film including the rather bland leading character and the fact that we're given yet another story that was just way too predictable and standard for its own good. Still, THE LEGO MOVIE has enough going for it to make it worth viewing.
Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal (2003)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Highly entertaining documentary taking a look at Michael Larson, an out of work ice cream truck driver who made his way from Ohio to Los Angeles where he got on the Press Your Luck game show and ended up walking away with over $110,000. How did Larson do it? For months he studied the game at home and caught a pattern that would allow him to rack up the big bucks without hitting a whammy. To say this is the biggest scandal in game show history might be an understatement. There's certainly something interesting about what Larson did as some are going to call him a genius while others are going to call him a cheat. Personally speaking I can't help but call him a genius and I would never use the word cheat since there was a way to break the board and he found out how to do it. I think most of the blame has to go to the network for not having a plan in case something like this ever happened. The documentary does a very good job at telling the story of how a man from Ohio won a ton of cash from CBS who were pretty much dumbfounded by what was going on. The documentary features host Peter Tomarken talking about what was going on during the taping of the show but we also get interviews with the director, creator and others involved in the show including the two other contestants that Larson was going up against. The film also features the entire episode that was originally aired over two days but was never seen again until this documentary. Fans of the show or just scandals in general will certainly want to check this out as the entire thing is just bizarre to say the least.
The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank (2006)
*** (out of 4)
Fans of the game show Match Game are certainly going to enjoy this 43-minute documentary and there's no question that they're going to want to watch it but at the same time one wishes more had been done with it. If you know about the history of the show then you know it really came into its own starting in 1973 when Gene Rayburn, Richard Dawson, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly made it the number one show on daytime television. Even though the thing was off the air before I was born, it's hard not to love this show just because it seems like everything was being made up on the spot and the four stars were just so priceless in the ways they were willing to entertain those watching. As it's touched on in the documentary, part of the fun was that the viewer could answer the questions and then see which celebrity they would match. The documentary features interview segments from Rayburn who was deceased by the time this was released. Somers gets to answer a few questions and Dawson is also seen in brief interviews. The problem is that the film is just too short and there's just so many panelist who are not interviewed. This includes Reilly and countless others who were alive when this was made. Even Dawson, a major force on the show, is just briefly featured. It's really too bad more people weren't interviewed but with that said, if you're a fan of the show then this is still a must see.
One Night in March (2013)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Good documentary taking a look at the 1963 Mississippi State basketball team who defied certain members of their school and state by deciding to take the offer to play in the NCAA Tournament. In previous years, when Mississippi State were invited, they turned down the opportunity because the school didn't want their white players going up against teams with blacks. ONE NIGHT IN MARCH tells a pretty important story but if you're expecting the same level or quality of ESPN's 30 for 30 series then you're going to be disappointed. I'm not sure if there's a longer version out there but the one I watched ran under 30-minutes and this just wasn't enough time to give us more details, which were needed. The film pretty much gives you all the basic facts about what happened from the team winning the invite to sneaking out of the state and then their game against Loyala. While watching the film its hard to imagine that these events took place such a short time ago. It's hard to believe that teams were kept out of the tournament because of certain beliefs that they shouldn't play against colored teams. The film does a good job at telling us about what happened but there's no question that more details were needed.
Spider Baby (1968)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Jack Hill's cult favorite about a loving caretaker (Lon Chaney, Jr.) who takes care of three mentally disturbed kids who just happen to enjoy killing. Over the past decade or so, SPIDER BABY has become one of the biggest cult films out there and it's easy to see why because it's just so strange and contains such a bizarre atmosphere that you can't help but get involved in its weirdness. I'm not going to sit here and say this is a great film or even a good one. I think there are all sorts of problems with the picture including a pacing issue but there's still enough here to make it worth viewing. For starters, people must remember that this was shot long before NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD so there's some fairly graphic moments here. Another thing that really works well are the performances, which I'd say are the greatest thing going. Chaney gives an extremely good performance and he really makes you feel as if his character loves this kids and would do anything for them. Visually you can tell the actor is in the middle of his alcoholic days and this tough look really just adds to the softness of the character in a strange way. Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner and Sid Haig are all terrific as the three mental cases and all of them really do a fantastic job with their performances. They're not Oscar-worthy performances but they certainly nail the weirdness. Mantan Moreland appears briefly and is very memorable as well. What really separates this film from many other "B" movies that were made during this era is its atmosphere. There's no question that the ultra low-budget helps but there's just something rather creepy about the entire atmosphere. SPIDER BABY isn't a masterpiece but there's certainly not another film out there like it.
Father of the Bride (1991)
*** (out of 4)
Very funny remake of the Spencer Tracy-Elizabeth Taylor classic has Steve Martin stepping into the role of the father who finds himself losing his mind once he learns that his daughter is about to be married. The original version of this film is a pretty straight-forward comedy that plays itself out as a rather down-to-Earth and realistic film. It certainly deserves its classic label and this remake is actually a lot funnier, although it does go for a more slapstick approach. I think what makes this film so memorable is the performance of Martin who was clearly given a type of role that would allow him to deliver his comic talent but also give him a few tender scenes. I thought this was pretty much a greatest hits type package for the actor because there's a wide range of comedy going on here and he perfectly nails all of it. It could be the various weird faces and reactions he gives and this is on perfect display when he first hears about the wedding. He's given some physical comedy, which is perfectly done during a sequence where he's in the in-laws house causing trouble. Then you've got some over-the-top but hilarious moments with the best being inside a grocery and involves hot dogs and buns. Martin's given a nice supporting cast including Diane Keaton as his wife, Kimberly Williams as the daughter and then there's Martin Short who's perfect as the wedding planner. The film obviously goes for the big laughs and it gets plenty of them. The screenplay is pretty straight-forward and as you'd expect there are the funny moments but we're also given some more quiet and tender moments, which actually work quite well and especially the wedding sequence. FATHER OF THE BRIDE is a great example of a remake that actually works.
Violets in Spring (1936)
** (out of 4)
Mildly entertaining two-reeler from MGM has Charlie Hall (George Murphy) and Mary JOnes (Virginia Grey) working in an office together for four years and finally agreeing to go out on a date. The two quickly fall in love but soon this threatens the working relationship. This musical really isn't all that memorable but there are a couple things that keep it watchable. One is getting to see Grey in a somewhat early role. She's certainly the best thing about the film as she has a certain charm that manages to shine through even though the screenplay doesn't give her much to do. Murphy wasn't nearly as memorable but he too was good enough and the two stars at least had a little chemistry working. Another good thing about the picture is that it somehow goes by rather quickly, which really shocked me because of how unoriginal most of everything is. The film gets off to a really bizarre start and especially once you hear the opening musical number about people getting out of bed and heading to work. The other musical numbers are just as bland but they're at least not as strange as the opening one. There's really nothing overly good here but at the same time the thing isn't the worst that you're going to see.
The Karate Killers (1967)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
A secret formula is stolen and broke off into four different parts so Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) must travel around the world and try to catch the evil man trying to get it. THE KARATE KILLERS is a feature-length version of a two-episode entry in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series. I should probably admit right from the start that I had never seen an episode of this show so I really can't say how well this movie is or how good the two episodes are and how they compare to other episodes in the series. For the most part I found myself having a pretty good time. I will admit that I found a lot of this to be rather campy and I'm not sure if this is just how it's aged or perhaps the series was always meant to be campy. Either way, there were a lot of fun moments scattered throughout the picture with some of the highlights including the opening sequence and another very good one where McCallum finds himself heading towards an ice breaker, which will certainly kill him. There are several sequences here that manage to capture that cliffhanger feeling that people saw in serials back in the day. Another thing that kept this film moving were the countless celebrity appearances including Joan Crawford, Herbert Lom, Leo G. Carroll, Telly Savalas and Kim Darby. Seeing all these stars pop up in small roles was nice. The two leads were also extremely good and fun. THE KARATE KILLERS, I don't think, was meant to be taken too serious so as long as you turn your brain off there's some fun to be had.
*** (out of 4)
Lawyer Barney Stafford (Paul Burke) is trying to close a major land deal but the wealthy Della Chappell (Joan Crawford) refuses to sell some of her property. Della is known as a recluse who has stayed locked up inside her mansion for fifteen-years but when the lawyer goes to see her he meets her daughter Jenny (Diane Baker) and the two quickly fall in love but there's a family secret that's going to come up. DELLA is a film that has pretty much been forgotten for one reason or another. I think the main reason is that Crawford was making all sorts of campy horror films around this period so when fans watch the actress in a movie from this era they just aren't searching out this melodrama. I'm not going to sit here and say this is some sort of masterpiece or anything like that but I actually really enjoyed the film. At an incredibly short 70-minutes, there's no question that the film moves at a very good pace and we're given a terrific cast. Not only is Crawford, Burke and Baker on hand but we also get Charles Bickford, Richard Carlson and Otto Kruger. The performances are good for the most part with Crawford playing the type of eccentric character that she was normally doing during this period of her career. Since this doesn't go into the exploitation field, she's able to stay more laid back without being forced to go over-the-top. I thought both Burke and Baker were good in their parts and it was fun seeing Bickford in his next to last film. Bickford and Crawford get to share one scene together and it was great seeing the two vets working together. The screenplay certainly isn't anything great but it at least keeps you entertained up through the big secret. DELLA is mainly going to appeal to fans of Crawford who want to see what the actress was doing in this period outside the horror films.
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