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Lost in America (1985)
One of the best
I really enjoyed this film. Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty play a successful yuppie couple who seem to be perfectly happy. A new house, a new Mercedes Benz, etc. This all changes when Albert Brooks is denied a promotion at his advertising firm. Of course, Albert Brooks has a breakdown and convinces his wife into buying a motor-home and traveling across the country. Brooks sees this as the perfect opportunity for he and his wife to let loose, stop being responsible, and find themselves. The results are very funny and very entertaining. Albert Brooks is as likable as ever in this thought provoking and true to life comedy. ***1/2 out of ****.
Very disturbing film
This extremely unpleasant and explicit film depicts the lives of a group of late teens(mostly high-school drop outs) who decide to plan to murder an abusive member of their group(Nick Stahl). All logic is thrown out the window from this point on as the group continues to sustain abuse from this menace and then finally come up with a plan to kill him. The rest of the film is filled with meaningless and almost random sex scenes. The question that most people should ask themselves during and after this film is what could possibly possess these people to actually kill this kid? Sure people can be awful, but why kill them? There is no way that they could ever get away with it. Are there not other ways to punish this kid? Reporting him to the police, pressing charges. That is how ridiculous this film is, it just doesn't make any sense. Nobody could be that stupid.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
A different kind of love story
After seeing this film I have now seen all of Oliver Stone's films. This was by far the turkey of the bunch, but when we are talking about Oliver Stone it can't be all that bad. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play two lovers who were abused as children who now for some reason feel that the best way to spend their time is to travel around brutally murdering people. By the time they finally end up in jail, they end up becoming media superstars and worshiped. This film is basically a satire on America's fascination with criminals and nothing more than that. The cast is terrific including a great cameo from Rodney Dangerfield as Mallory's father. This film does make you wonder what possessed these people to do such things. Watch it with a strong stomach. **1/2 out of ****.
Michael Mann's great movie
This was director Michael Mann's(Collateral, Heat) first and in my opinion greatest film. James Caan plays a self employed diamond thief who has dreams of a normal life, complete with a house in the suburbs, a wife, and a child. He realizes that in order to do this he must give up his career as a thief. This all gets even more complicated when powerful gangster Robert Prosky gives him the opportunity to work with him on one last big score, which will give him enough money to quit and retire to a normal life. He soon realizes that if he stopped working for the gangster, his family will die and everything he owns will be taken away. This is a terrific film about a man with dreams that progessively get destroyed as he descends further and further into the world of crime. ***1/2 out of ****.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Terrific Sports Drama
This is one of the few thoroughly well made sports dramas. Billy Bob Thornton gives one of his best performances as the small town high school football coach that is determined to see his team succeed. We get to see all of the disappointments and mishaps that are involved with sports as well as all of the tension and heartache that occurs behind the scenes.
The aspect that I admired most about this film was that it didn't rely on happy endings and romance to win the audience over. It is a realistic film that tells its story like it is, without any gimmicks or fancy tricks. Tim McGraw was terrific as one of the players' abrasive and abusive fathers. This is a film that tells it like it is. ***1/2 out of ****.
The Party (1968)
Good for a few laughs
In his first non "Pink Panther" film directed by Blake Edwards, Peter Sellers plays a bumbling Indian film extra who accidentally blows up a whole movie set. He is supposed to be sent letter to confirm his firing, but instead the producer's secretary sees his name written down and assumes that he is being invited to the big party that is coming up and sends him an invitation. Of course, Sellers comes to the party and you just know what happens. His bumbling antics destroy the whole party and practically ruin the home of the producer who is hosting it.
This is a film that has basically no real plot or meaning to it, just a lot of inspired slapstick that will at least put a smile on ones face. Peter Sellers makes the most out of almost nothing. 6/10.
Harmless Richard Pryor Comedy
In this silly, but fun comedy from director Alan Metter(Back To School), Richard Pryor plays an engineer finds what seems to be the perfect job. The only problem is that the job is in Idaho, which means that his family would have to sell their home in Chicago and move out to Idaho. Several disasters occur as Pryor attempts to pack up and move across country, everything that could possibly go wrong does. The film is not exactly a laugh fest, but Pryor keeps the film entertaining with his great comic energy. Dave Thomas and Dana Carvey are fun in supporting roles, as well as Rodney Dangerfield as a gambling loan officer. Overall, a harmless film that benefits greatly from the presence of Pryor. 5.8/10.
Broadcast News (1987)
Very well made and often quite moving, but the comedy can be awfully corny
This is a very well made film from director James L. Brooks. William Hurt, Holly Hunter, and Albert Brooks play a group of reporters and producer at a big news network. William Hurt is the new big shot anchorperson who everybody just seems to love, even though he didn't go to college and isn't even very knowledgeable about the news he is reading. Holly Hunter is the producer that cannot stand to see him become so successful because she does not believe that a reporter should be respected and loved just because they "look good" but soon finds herself attracted to him anyway. Albert Brooks plays a highly intelligent and knowledgeable reporter that simply does not have the looks and charisma to become a successful anchorperson. Brooks gets extremely jealous of Hurt because he is so successful and Holly Hunter has romantic feelings for him, which he wishes she had for Brooks himself. This is basically the whole story, and an interesting one at that. The comedy which is supplied mostly by Brooks is often embarrassingly corny and even childish at times. There is one scene where he almost randomly starts singing along with some Spanish song on the radio which really was not needed in the film. Overall a fine film that works better as a drama/romance than a comedy. ***/****.
50 First Dates (2004)
Not a great Adam Sandler movie, but still watchable and entertaining
After a string of truly poor comedies(Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, and Anger Management), Adam Sandler somewhat gets back on his feet with this silly, but good natured comedy. Sandler plays sea animal veterinarian living in Hawaii who enjoys having several short flings with tourists. He spots an attractive Drew Barrymore in a diner one morning and strikes up a romance with her. He goes back again to meet her the next morning, but she has no idea who he is. He realizes that her short term memory gets erases every night and she starts out with a clean slate every morning. He figures that she is worth his time, so he tries to go back to the diner every morning and win her over again and again. The story consists of one running joke that quickly runs thin, but there are still enough funny/touching moments to make it worthwhile. Dan Aykroyd has a fun cameo as Barrymore's doctor and Sean Astin is a hoot as her brother. 6/10.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
A Very Special Movie
Every time I see this film, it leaves me thinking about it for days. The subject of time travel is a fascinating subject and this is the only non sci-fi film that I can think of that revolves around the subject. Kathleen Turner is wonderful as the 40-something year old mother of two who is in the process of getting divorced from her husband(Nicolas Cage), but gets hurled 25 years into the past when she passes out at her high school reunion. This is a truly touching film about going back in time and being able to experience your youth and priceless times that you will never be able to experience again. One of the most touching scenes is when Peggy Sue gets a call from her long dead Grandmother and doesn't know what to do or say. Also, be sure to watch out for some very early bits from Joan Allen, Jim Carrey, and Helen Hunt. ***1/2 out of ****.