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There's a line in the movie about jumping on the retro bandwagon and retreading classics just for the sake of it - and this movie does precisely that. Unlike "The Brady Bunch" or "Starsky and Hutch" which were smart, funny and affectionate tributes, this was an *insult*.
I found myself thoroughly bored after just 20 minutes - none of the characters engaged me, the plot was a travesty... the whole thing was a waste and an embarrassment. I actually cringed with shame every time I saw Elizabeth Montgomery's image on the screen. The longer this mess went on, the more annoying Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman became, and both Sir Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine were simply wasted.
I really don't understand what the point was - I was wary when I first heard of this project, sceptical when I saw the trailer, and then just appalled by the movie itself.
Enough of remakes, retreads and revivals - leave Bewitched, Jeanie, Greenacres, et al to *reruns* where we can enjoy the real thing.
Die Laughing (1980)
Kudos to the monkey
I've never understood how people can have the audacity to say that Ed Wood made bad movies when there are films like "Die Laughing" out there. I'll admit, I'm a "Harold and Maude" fan, and so naturally I decided to see what else Bud Cort had made in his career. He was great as Harold, he was fun in "MASH", I liked him a lot in Faerie Tale Theatre's "The Nightingale" - pretty good track record, I thought.
I think the fact that this is the first movie he made after nearly dying in a car crash speaks volumes, really. No doubt there were hospital bills to pay, and the inevitable movie-making horse to get back on.
There are points in this movie where you can practically see the desperation written on his face. "I was in 'Brewster McCloud' you know..." His is a minor part, however, a very camp, over-the-top part, but a secondary one nonetheless. "Die Laughing" was a star vehicle for Robbie Benson - the latest in a long line of asexual, clean-cut 70s teen icons. Frankly, it could have been Andy Gibb or Lief Garrett in this movie. Robbie Benson manages to mug, gag, slapstick, and almost dribble his way through this. At one point, his mugshot is displayed, and my ex commented that either he was in some way mentally challenged or the photo was shot whilst he was experiencing an enema.
It never really gets better than this. The best actor in the whole thing is a monkey. Quite why a monkey appears in this movie is only revealed in the last fifteen minutes, by which time I'd already invested over an hour and was just waiting to see Bud Cort in spiky boots and 80s glasses, purely for comic relief.
Quite a lot of people must have had hospital bills to pay - Charles Durning, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Coyote - not lightweights when it comes to acting chops. Maybe there was something in the drinking water in the early 80s? But by far the most ludicrous point of all in this overlong, overstretched and preposterous pile of monkey business is having to believe that a late-Punk, early-New Wave rock audience would go nuts for a third rate John Denver sound-a-like, because yes - Robbie sings! There he is crooning about a barbershop quartet! Watch him warble about lurve just before he gets off with his ex-girlfriend's sister! See him win a talent contest with the power of schmaltz! "That man has KISS tickets all over his body!" he shouts to the audience, who five seconds previously were swooning to his special brand of Eezee-Lite Muzak.
I'd like to say that this was the one that MST3K missed - but I think even they had standards. And for that, we should be truly grateful.
A Slice of Rock History
I have absolutely no idea what movie the vast majority of commenters were watching... For a start, Pennebaker's style of documentary is grainy and gritty through *choice* not "amateurism". It's called REALISM. I first saw "Ziggy" in a movie theatre in Germany and was completely blown away by its energy and freshness. I think it's a sad state of affairs that modern audiences are so dulled by CGI and DVD extras, that they can't appreciate a mind-blowing piece of cinema verite like this. This movie captures all of the sweat, hysteria and sheer balls of Bowie's final performance as Ziggy Stardust, and it's incredible.
Bring it back!
Excellent late night show where guests and host, Ruby Wax, would chat about a variety of subjects, as if at dinner. As well as featuring an eclectic mix of guests (this was the first time I had ever seen, let alone even heard about David Sedaris), it was refreshing to hear celebrities just talking rather than plugging their latest project. Often there would be heated debates, sometimes there were personal insights, and although the format could be somewhat chaotic, it was always entertaining. I've yet to see another show exactly along these lines - and would love to - there have been some attempts over the years to do similar things; party chat etc, but none have come close. Again, it was also good to see Ruby in a more mellow and relaxed way chatting rather than her usual strident pontificating and mugging to the camera. Would love to see this repeated or even a DVD!