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Well, I liked it
It's interesting that the week after I saw a movie where male actors play female characters, I saw another movie where the same thing happens, only the male actors are playing male character pretending to be female. So the difference is that in the movie I saw earlier, the audience is supposed to believe the characters are female. In this one, only the other characters are supposed to believe this.
I believe I have seen one, if not two, Big Momma movies. I was getting this mixed up with Madea, But I like both franchises.
The disguises work really well. I would have believed these were women, more so than in the other movie. Malcolm makes a really good house mother as "she" deals with basically good but rebellious teens at a girls' arts school. Trent, his stepson, is not quite as convincing when he tries to talk, and his attraction to women is clear, and quite funny, at least to me. But one wonders in those situations how Trent can pass for a girl except for the fact that Charmaine COULD be a lesbian. And while no one mentions Charmaine's obvious appreciation for the female body, perhaps that would have worked.
Wait until you see Big Momma get nekkid for art class. No, with her fat suit, she can't really do that, but she comes quite close. The fat suit is really convincing.
Trent's reckless behavior in the face of danger is a constant presence. Malcolm's hardest job is keeping his stepson safe as Trent takes risks in order to be with the beautiful Haley. Actually, his hardest job may be fighting off the advances of the overweight security guard Kurtis Kool, who is strangely attracted to Big Momma. But Kurtis may be the key to finding the important flash drive that will solve the case for the FBI, and save him and his stepson from being killed by the bad guys. And even Charmaine has the opportunity to ask the right questions of the other girls.
While the other movie is clearly superior, I thought this one was pretty good and quite entertaining. Martin Lawrence gives a good performance (I mean for this material) both as Malcolm and even better as Big Momma. No one will win Oscars here, but several of the performances are equally good or better.
Jessica Lucas is quite appealing as an actress and a talented singer and pianist (I assume she is the one playing). Her romance with Trent is bumpy but somewhat appealing, and does have some positive results. Though I think you can predict what will happen later. The question is how.
Faizon Love is very entertaining as well. I wasn't crazy about him but I believe he will appeal to others.
Brandon Jackson is better when trying to be Charmaine than he is as Trent, but he is also a good rapper, if there is such a thing. Seriously, I do like old school in some cases. Speaking of which, there is a nice moment as Trent and Malcolm try to mix The Temptations with rap.
Ken Jeong has a sort of humorous cameo as a mailman being attacked by Malcolm, who has no right to do what he did to a postal worker, even if he is FBI. I think both professions should have been shown more respect than this scene gave. But Malcolm was desperate to learn if his son got into Duke. If you can forget about the ethical issues, just enjoy it.
I'm sorry to say that, while this movie has a Heather like the other movie did, the nasty anorexic ballet dancer only manages a few genuinely funny lines and turns out not to be nearly as bad as we first thought.
Luckily for our heroes, the bad guys are bumbling idiots, but still quite dangerous.
If you immediately hate the idea of watching either Big Momma or Madea, don't bother. But if you find this sort of thing appealing, this just may be for you.
Northern Borders (2013)
Good family film, but not for the little ones
In Kingdom County, Vermont in 1956, Austin arrives on the train. His grandfather, also named Austin, picks him up in an old truck. It is never made quite clear why young Austin is there, but his grandfather doesn't seem very nice, at first. He describes himself as the meanest (bleep) in Kingdom County. The word is actually used one time but bleeped the rest of the time the expression is used, with the character's mouth blurred. Austin Sr. can actually be quite loving.
Austin's grandmother Abiah is there when they arrive at the house, and she seems nicer. But there are times when she will be the meaner of the two. The house has a phone but no electricity, and Abiah will not have it in her house even though she always having to deal with flies and electricity would make that easier. Austin Sr. is quite conservative as well, so one would think he's the one who doesn't want electricity. But he has a sawmill to run, in addition to his many farm-related duties, so if the power company wants to run a line there, he is all for it regardless of what his wife thinks. He has maple trees for sap, and Gram has an apple orchard. There are also cows and chickens. There's lots of work, and young Austin is expected to do chores even though he doesn't like them. Austin Sr. also expects Austin to go hunting with him, but again Austin doesn't like the idea.
Now why did I say Abiah has an apple orchard? The two are living together but that's about it. They have been in the same house for 50 years and had three children (one wonders how), but young Austin figures out if he wasn't there neither one would say a word to the other. It turns out Austin Sr. was married (not legally, but they considered themselves married) to an Inuit nicknamed Mira because that was short for the English translation of her name. Austin Sr. never got over her death and settled for Abiah. Abiah is obsessed with Egypt, calling Austin "Tut" because he looks like the boy king, and the daughters Nefertiti and Cleopatra have careers Austin Sr. doesn't approve of (but the rest of the world would consider them a success).
Austin Sr. doesn't approve of education because he thinks it will take away from work. He doesn't approve of his son's career as a teacher. Austin's father comes up for visits occasionally, but young Austin stays for a long time and even goes to school, because despite Austin Sr.'s attitude, children have to go to school. There, Austin meets Theresa, whose family is poor, though Theresa seems happy. Austin Sr. doesn't seem to approve of helping the poor, blames the Dubois family for being poor because they're French, and does not see anything good about Adlai Stevenson. Still, he's not as mean as he seems. There's also the bully Hettie.
Later, the grandparents enter the maple festival's syrup contest, competing against each other.
Austin learns a lot about life and family, and responsibility. There are occasional laughs and some tragedy.
This is a family film, if not one appropriate for younger children. It could have easily been a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, because it reminds me a lot of those films. I don't recall any bad language except for that one word that keeps getting repeated and bleeped. There is some minor violence, and a death, and some difficult topics, but it's a film older children could watch. And maybe even some tough younger children.
Bruce Dern gives an Oscar-caliber performance, though I imagine this film didn't get noticed and there could just have been too many equally good performances.
Genevieve Bujold also does quite a good job.
Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is good too.
Because of the popcornflix.com logo at the beginning and credits that go on for days with the type information movie credits wouldn't normally have, I believe this was an independent film. That usually means quality, and that's certainly true in this case. I've never seen a film with so much participation by colleges.
It's a worthy effort.
First Period (2013)
Insanely hilarious but also meaningful
It is like, so totally the 80s. If you can't tell from the movies, celebrities and TV characters mentioned, or the girls in one scene wearing "Flashdance" outfits, certainly you can tell that a viral video of an embarrassing event meant for blackmail is not captured and sent using a phone, but collected as a series of still photos using a technology where you watch the photo appear on a white square that ejects after the photo is taken.
Cassie's mom has lost her job and returned with her teenage daughter to the town where they used to live. Cassie is the new kid at school, but this does not bother her. As she writes in her diary, narrating for us, she is very confident and feels very good about herself. Not that she has reason to: she looks and talks like an overweight drag queen. From the first word she speaks, you know a male actor is playing the part. But this is only a problem for narrow-minded people. She is a typical teenage girl, with clothes and bedroom décor that suggest early hot pink trailer trash. Cassie believes she will easily make friends with the popular kids and become popular herself.
This is not going to happen. Heather and Heather are the popular girls, and Dirk and Brett are their boyfriends. The guys seem nice but must do everything their girlfriends say. Dirk must take off his shirt whenever he has done something wrong, for example. Heather and Heather are unbelievably cruel, even going so far to state in class that all uggos and fatties need to make themselves look good or go away, so we can all be happy.
But Cassie isn't bothered. She meets Maggie, who is a lot like her. Well, not quite. Maggie also has a very masculine look and voice, but she is definitely a girl (at least that's what we're supposed to believe, even though we know for certain that's really a guy). However, Maggie seems happy but is very insecure and gullible, and easily persuaded to change her mind.
Why is a man teaching female anatomy? Even worse, he is about as sensitive and politically correct as Donald Trump. Maggie is asked to leave since the class is for girls. Maggie insists she is one. "For how long?" the insensitive teacher asks. Heather and Heather state their outrageous opinions while another girl speaks for the other side. The girls watch a film which starts out like those corny films every school child supposedly watched in the 50s, but it turns into a hilarious and bizarre mess that even includes Dracula. A separate Dracula, according to the credits, appears in one of Maggie's fantasies.
Despite the way they are being treated, Cassie and Maggie are determined to be popular. There is a talent show later in the week, and Maggie is quite a good rapper, even holding her own in a contest against John, who is African-American. Maggie is a little concerned that when white people do it, it's racist, but this does not seem to be a problem. Cassie doesn't really have a talent but she doesn't let that stop her. Plus she is determined to get everyone to come to her Sweet Sixteen, also later in the week.
Heather and Heather show signs of coming around to a kinder attitude, but you can almost be certain that when they are nice, they are plotting something (especially Heather). Dirk and Brett really are nice, and they end up dating the "freaks" after their girlfriends have supposedly broken up with them. I'm not really sure. Both guys are kind of dense. By the way, there are hints both guys might be bi and attracted to each other.
Cassie and Maggie endure ups and downs as they continue their quest to no longer be freaks. Both girls end up in embarrassing situations before an ending that is satisfying.
This is not your typical formula teen mean-girl movie, although after a while it does seem remarkably normal. Most of the leading actors do a really good job, and the two guys playing the female leads are among the best. At no time do they convince us that they are female, but that doesn't seem necessary. It does require imagination.
Cassandra Peterson, best known as Elvira, is so unbelievably nice and quite pretty as Cassie's mom. Mostly nice, anyway.
By the end of the movie, we have heard positive messages that give this movie some significance beyond being just silly, and we learn a lot about what made certain characters the way they are.
At first I was going to say that college students who need a safe place because they are easily offended should stay far away from this movie. But the Sue Sylvester level of cruelty doesn't last that long, and as I said before, later in the movie it's just the ordinary mean girl stuff. And most of the characters have the right attitude, at least by that time. Early in the movie, the combination of unbelievable confidence in the absence of a reason and unthinkable nastiness gives us hilarious results. The movie can't keep up that level of hilarity and it's just not funny at times later, but doesn't have to be. The seriousness is appropriate and needs to be.
Overall, it's wildly insane and certainly worth seeing.
The Amazing Wizard of Paws (2015)
Mostly pleasant and inspiring family film
A man who looks like Merlin is being chased through the woods by a bearded man in a black robe who reminds me of a Harry Potter villain. They are being watched by a dog.
We see the same dog as Bobby, who is about to turn 5, is playing catch with his father Jack who is not home much because he is about to become salesman of the year at his company.
One night Jack is driving home and he is disoriented by bright lights. The next thing we know, a man who turns out to be a psychiatrist is talking to Bobby, along with teaching him magic. The psychiatrist explains that Bobby's problems are the result of losing his father.
The dog keeps showing up, and eventually Bobby names him Oswald or "Ozzy" and persuades his mother that they should keep him. The villain from the woods shows up claiming the dog is his, but something isn't quite right and his mom calls the cops. Eventually, Ozzy is trained to be Bobby's service dog.
Seven years later, Bobby is an expert on magic and while that helps make him popular at school, bullies make fun of him for having a service dog. Bobby's mother has lost her job and they may lose their nice house. And Tiny, a huge man who runs a diner, doesn't care what Bobby is allowed to do. That dog stays out! However, Tiny has a boss who disagrees, and later, Tiny regrets his actions. It's really funny.
One day Bobby goes in a bookstore and a mysterious book appears. Bobby is curious and it turns out he has just enough money to buy it. The wizard from the woods shows up and explains to Bobby that he is responsible for taking care of the book. And bizarre things start happening. Bobby has the ability to do magic, not just fool people the way contestants on Penn & Teller's show do. And one more thing: Ozzy can TALK! And he has lots of advice for Bobby, as he explains that he was sent to Bobby and has been protecting him for years.
Bobby figures out that his newfound abilities will help save him and his mother from being kicked out of their home. Meanwhile, there are plenty of obstacles in his way, including the fact that the villain from the woods shows up in a movie Bobby is watching (actually, it looks very much like the opening scene of this movie), and as one of the other people in the theater describes it, the 3-D effects in that movie are spectacular.
After going through a very difficult process that includes several disappointments and failures, and plenty of laughs for us, Bobby gets his happy ending. It may not be the one you would expect, but it is quite satisfying.
This is a mostly pleasant family movie, one appropriate for the entire family, though a few parents may be concerned about some minor details. It is kind of scary at times, and there is the loss of a parent (which is handled about as gently as it could be) but there is nothing particularly harmful.
Will Spencer is quite good as 12-year-old Bobby and while there is sort of a formula here, this movie offers plenty of surprises.
Jacob Whitkin does an impressive job as both the psychiatrist and the man who looks like Merlin.
Numerous annoying inspirational songs from different genres show up from time to time. There was one song even I could like. I would describe the style as somewhere between Karen Carpenter and Feist.
The visual effects are pretty impressive but not groundbreaking.
It's pretty obvious more than one dog is used for Ozzy, and that some of the dogs may not be real. In fact, Ozzy generally looked kind of weird and unrealistic. Just use your imagination.
It's a good family film with nothing really harmful.
Dirty Dancing (2017)
Entertaining, deals with issues not well known in 1963
It has been so many years I don't remember much about the original movie. I remember Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze on their knees and that's about it. I don't remember having feelings for either of them.
Abigail Breslin was different. Here, it took a while for me to see it but she gave us a fine performance and a character I could really like. She can sing and dance quite well. While not as pretty as her sister, and kind of a loser if you are one of the "cool kids", this Baby is sweet and kind as well as strong and intelligent. She stands up for what's right even if her morals are a little questionable. In 1963, her behavior would have been shocking, though probably not that unusual and more likely to be hidden. But she's basically a good girl.
I know Sarah Hyland mostly as a gorgeous, sometimes bubbleheaded, spoiled and slightly naughty teen and later college student. She's quite similar here and the personality of the other character still shows to some degree, but she's not quite as naughty as one might think and somewhat smarter, though not a brain like her sister. She's likable too, and quite talented as a singer.
Colt Prattes has to follow Patrick Swayze in what may have been a career-defining role. I don't recall liking Swayze's Johnny but I liked this one. It took a while, since he's kind of a bad boy. But Prattes is great as a bad boy and even better at being not as bad as he seems. And he can certainly dance and sing.
Debra Messing stands out more than I expected. I have no memory of the original Marjorie but she went on to be an uptight but somewhat likable rich mom to the "Gilmore Girls". So I have a hard time imagining that the character started out like this. Thanks to a newspaper article I read, I suspect that isn't the case. For 45, Marjorie is gorgeous and we can see where Lisa got her looks. Messing is even older. And she gives us a strong and determined wife who wants more out of her life than to be June Cleaver to the successful Ward in 1963. And yes, she wants sex. And she can sing!
Bruce Greenwood is uptight but loving, and Dr. Houseman has a warm bedside manner when called on for medical advice in the middle of his vacation.
Nicole Scherzinger stands out as Johnny's dance partner and gives us a wide range. She seems Latina even with that name. She has that tough New York City quality about her (with some vulnerability) that reminds me of Jennifer Lopez, who I believe could have easily played this role years ago. She can dance as well as act.
Another standout performer is Katey Sagal. Who knew she could sing like that? And not since she ended her famous relationship with Sarah's grandpa has she been such a bad girl. She makes a good bad girl, plus she's gorgeous for her age.
Quinton Johnson does quite well as Marco, a musician who is black and has a potential romance with a white girl. Uncle Tito does not approve--at first.
Speaking of Tito, Billy Dee Williams does quite a good job. I didn't know who he was, but while he seems kind of subservient at first, he is his own man. Tito's music is great, and I'll get to that. I have no idea if Williams contributed to that in any way.
Unlike most of the TV musicals in recent years, this one has only a few major dance numbers with lots of dancers, but of course these are great. Most of the dancing is done by two people at a time. And a lot of that is Breslin and Prattes. They are quite special together.
The newspaper article I read said this version would deal with controversial topics more so than the original. We have abortion, which is never mentioned but it's quite obvious what happened. We have interracial romance or at least the potential for it. And we have married (or formerly married) people who are no longer as romantic as they once were, and two drastically different ways of handling it.
And what about the music? A lot of it was great. I'm not referring to the evil rock and roll, though if that's your taste it was quite well done too. And some of the music in the middle between the two extremes gets played on radio stations I like these days (and the "good music" stations generally have to be online since few can be found). It was surprising to see uptight parents in 1963 enjoying "Big Girls Don't Cry", though that wouldn't be surprising today. Most of the "good music" is performed by Tito's orchestra. On the other hand, there are three songs from the 1980s (from the original movie) which have no business in a movie set in 1963 (my opinion). There's no attempt to make them fit. It's obvious the instrumentals don't come from the 1960s unless you count little green men that we were concerned about back then. The vocals from THE song come from the people you would expect, and from a couple of vocalists who might surprise you. They're quite well done, even if the instrumentals are faithful to the original version and couldn't have been around in 1963.
It's an entertaining effort with lots of important messages.
A Thousand Words (2012)
Funny and meaningful, at least when it is good
I've enjoyed many of Eddie Murphy's movies over the years, and most of them are quite funny. He continues to show talent, but somehow I felt something was missing, even though Jack's attempts to communicate were hilarious. Ultimately, while this isn't as special as many of his earlier efforts, Murphy is pretty good here.
I didn't recognize Kerry Washington, and maybe it's just as well. Considering that she is currently regarded as one of the best actresses on TV, I didn't see anything here to support that idea.
As Jack's poor assistant Aaron, Clark Duke's performance varies. It may be just me, but I didn't care much for him at first. But he is hilarious trying to act "street" with professional people thinking that's how Jack would talk, and failing miserably at impressing them. And later Aaron is quite good at helping Jack deal with his problems.
This is mostly a comedy, but toward the end it has a deeper meaning and an important lesson, making it more than just the silly mess it started out to be.
I want to point out two more acting performances, one brief and one more significant. John Witherspoon is wonderful as the father of the President of the United States in "The First Family", and while he is only on screen for a few seconds as a blind man trying to cross the street, he shows just as much talent as on his TV series, in a scene that is one of the movie's funniest.
And Ruby Dee as Jack's mother who is losing her memory gives the movie's standout performance. She doesn't say much early on, but later she has a brilliant scene. It's not so much that she is losing her mind. She seems quite normal and intelligent except for the fact she can't comprehend that the man in the room with her is not her husband.
I was also impressed by a couple of scenes which I didn't quite understand. Either Jack's young son has gotten older and is telling his father he misses him, or Jack is seeing his younger self. The boy in the scene does quite well.
It's not a bad movie, really. Just don't expect anything like Murphy's past successes.
Good job but depressing
The title of this movie is misleading, since it is not about the soldiers but about those they left behind. "Greencard Warriors" refers to soldiers trying to get their green cards and, in some cases, green cards for their families.
Jesus is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. He is determined to achieve the American dream, but for now he seems to have several jobs that aren't very desirable but are all an illegal alien might be able to get. Though they don't listen, he wants his family to speak English because they're in America now. Jesus has a wife Rosa? and three children including a young girl. Angel is 14. Early in the movie, Benito ("Beto") joins a gang but says Angel can be a mascot but shouldn't join. The gang members care strongly about each other and it is understandable that a young person might want to join them, even if some of their activities are not quite legal. Jesus has a cousin who needs a place to stay.
At school, Beto watches a presentation by two soldiers who explain that illegal immigrants can get a green card and get their families legal status by joining the military. It is a risk because at the time, the U.S. was fighting in Iraq. President George W. Bush comes on TV later in the movie to praise the efforts of our men and women serving in Iraq. Beto wants no part of this, but the soldiers come to his house and inform the family that joining the military is a way to become legal, and if Beto doesn't, the family could be at risk.
Meanwhile, Angel goes to the local store where he meets Jasmine, who is black and really nice. They hit it off. Jazmine's father LB, a cop, doesn't want her hanging around with one of "them" (and the gang disapproves of her because "they" are the enemy) and he takes her home to her mom Gabrielle. Dre, Gabrielle's boyfriend Dre answers the door. Dad doesn't approve of Dre. Gabrielle has a successful business of some kind which apparently involves cooking. I say successful because she is later shown driving a Mercedes, even though she does live in the 'hood. She's not the type to deal drugs, though Dre might be.
Jesus finally persuades Beto to join the military.
The rest of the movie is not pleasant, but the writing and performances are worth seeing. Bad things happen, and not everyone gets a happy ending. In fact, few of the cast get anything close to a happy ending.
Manny Perez as Jesus delivers a passionate speech to the soldiers, complete with what appear to be all the major curse words, explaining his desire to be an American and why Beto shouldn't have been persuaded to serve.
This movie is respectful of Latino culture and portrays positive images when it can, but of course much of the movie is devoted to the negative. There are a lot of subtitles. Some words are blurred and the sound goes out a lot, whether the character is speaking Spanish or English. The F-word got missed by the censors once. No, this is not for kids. There is some violence but it's not really too bad. Much of it is, in fact, the initiation into the gang.
I wish the music had been better. Most of it is rap, and not Spanish rap either. Some music is Spanish language, and the music with the closing credits is quite good. Background music is often pleasant and Latin-flavored.
It's worth seeing. Just don't expect to be happy a lot of the time.
Tio Papi (2013)
Pleasant and inspiring family film
Ray Ray is a bachelor who has held the same job in New York City for 22 years, with no problems according to his understanding boss Wilson, though he is frequently late paying the patient Gilly the rent on his apartment, and a little irresponsible. He likes hanging out with the guys and living his own life, with nothing to keep him tied down. Eventually, his dream is to move to Miami.
Ray Ray's sister Daniela and her husband Raul are very happy. They have six kids and although they are having some financial trouble, they are determined and they will make it.
The six kids show up at Ray Ray's door with Elizabeth Warden, a child services worker. Ray Ray's situation is not ideal, but he is the only family they have, for now. Eventually, Elizabeth hopes to find homes for all the kids, but of course it is unlikely one family will take all of them. And the teenagers will be harder to place.
Manny is the oldest and he is bitter over the situation. Vanessa is also a teenager and seems to be coping better. Angelo and Angela are in the middle and somewhat mischievous. The younger kids are really sad and want their parents. Lola and Nico are the youngest, and Nico won't talk and gets upset easily.
As one might expect, things get hectic. The kids can't move back into their old house because their parents couldn't pay the mortgage. The younger kids are out of control (not really), and Ray Ray is unprepared when Elizabeth makes a surprise visit and sees how bad things are. Ray Ray begs for a chance and she reluctantly gives him one. With the help of friends including Cheeky, a potential romantic partner, Ray Ray intends to make things work.
Cheeky isn't interested in Ray Ray in that way. And besides, she has a good teaching job in Miami lined up and just weeks to go before she has to move. But she will help out ... for the kids.
These are good kids. Knowing they have to behave and help out to make everything work, they all pitch in and work together. Manny isn't as cooperative, but he eventually comes around. Yes, I believe we all know where this is going.
The family has comic adventures, and sad moments, and touching moments. The kids go to new schools, and Vanessa finds a potential boyfriend in the fine upstanding Brandon, who plays basketball. Manny joins the team.
The family needs a miracle, and they get one. Though it's not a miracle from the right source, if you know what I mean. There are moral decisions to be made. Detective Johnson gets involved with this, and she is really nice (I seem to recall her having more attitude on "Fame").
And a judge must make the decision about whether Ray Ray gets to keep the kids. Elizabeth is not on Ray Ray's side, and her lawyer is nothing short of a villain. Though Ray Ray has his own determined lawyer in Marsha. And something happens that puts the whole plan in jeopardy.
But this is a movie. I bet things are going to work out.
This is a movie the entire family can watch. And of course it's a formula, but it's a nice formula. Maybe, just maybe there are strict parents who would have a problem with younger kids seeing it, but there's nothing worse than the scene with both Seymour and Mrs. Butz. Yes, you know what will happen there.
Although this is a movie about Latinos, it is respectful of the culture and doesn't deal in stereotypes. It could be about anyone. The music is great, for the most part. Even white people liked it back in the 50s and 60s. And I like it now. Although "America's Funniest Home Videos" shows that the pinata has been made a part of white culture as well, the Latinos did this first and they do it here. The Catholic Church is also important to these people.
All the leading actors give good performances. Other than the evil lawyer who wants to take the kids away from Ray Ray, no one is stereotypical or cartoonish.
Good moral values are taught here, even though temptation is there. Some characters are surprisingly well-behaved compared to what one might expect in films of this type.
It's a good family film.
Evel Knievel (2004)
At the start of the movie, Evel is about to do one of his stunts in Las Vegas.
Then it is 1950 in Butte, Montana. Bobby steals the hubcaps off this amazing car whose radio can play songs that won't be recorded for several more years. Bobby is chased by a cop with a car that won't be available to the general public for eight more years. He is thrown in jail with a drunk named "Awful" Knoffel, and at that time is nicknamed "Evel".
Fast-forward to 1958. Bobby is working in the local mine and hates it. He would rather ride his motorcycle (the drunk he met in jail is the one who works on it). And he does stunts for anyone interested. He jumps over a Volkswagen Beetle which is a style not actually sold at that time. He meets Linda, and they fall for each other right away. Her father wants him to stay away from her, but do you honestly believe that will stop him? No, he kidnaps her (she later says she went willingly) and gets chased by that same cop, still driving that same car after all these years, but now anyone can get one like it.
In 1965 Bobby and Linda are married with two boys and living in Washington state. He has sold insurance but didn't seem to like it. He works for a motorcycle shop but what he really wants to do is stunts, and he sets one up and charges $1 to anyone who wants to watch. It doesn't go as well as expected, but "Evel" isn't hurt too badly.
Several years later Evel is preparing to do his biggest stunt yet, and he has to convince the man who runs Caesar's Palace to let him do it. Jay Samo is willing to take that gamble. Men want to see him crash and women just want to see him. Again, things don't go quite as planned. It is actress Linda Evans whose film documents just what happened, and we see what must be that film, along with new material with a stuntman. Considering Evel was hospitalized for a month, this was a very good stuntman who did what was also shown in the Evans film. Evel is told he might never walk again and that he certainly will never ride again. Oh, really? You don't know Evel!
The movie is halfway over and the only successful stunt we have seen is the jump over the Volkswagen. Still, Evel Knievel is a major celebrity and he is already talking about jumping the Grand Canyon. He has a tractor-trailer to haul him around. He tells exaggerated stories, such as how he met Steve McQueen and it was McQueen who first called him Evel. He loves his country. He has a nice house with a pool, though wife Linda wishes he would spend more time there. She looks great in a bikini, but Evel can't resist temptation on the road, and she knows it. Yet for some reason, even though he doesn't seem to treat her right in the scenes we see, she stays with him.
The Grand Canyon is out--the federal government won't allow it--but Snake River Canyon is another possibility. ABC's "Wide World of Sports" seems interested, but the only way to watch it live is in arenas that offer closed circuit TV. A NASA engineer is hired to make the jump happen, but things don't look good in the early preparations. But I have heard of Evel Knievel so you know he must be doing something right.
And a man sells Ideal on a competitor to Barbie and G.I. Joe--the Evel Knievel action figure. Ideal, the company which according to this movie already made Rubik's cubes in 1970, and had a giant unsolved one in a conference room.
I won't go into all the details in case you don't know his full story, but this is quite an exciting movie with a charming if temperamental lead character who thinks he is the white Muhammad Ali. No, wait, Ali is the black Evel Knievel.
It's not an award-winning movie by any means, but there are some good performances. George Eads is quite talented, for this material, with this unbelievable confidence and charm. Fred Thompson does his usual fine job as the man who runs Caesar's Palace. Evel's nurse has only a couple of lines but Quancetia Hamilton makes the most of them. Jaime Pressly, before she ever won her two Emmys for "My Name Is Earl", certainly showed what she was capable of. I was particularly impressed with a scene where Evel pretends to have an accent while talking on the phone in a phone booth.
As is often the case with biographical movies, this movie puts a little too much emphasis on the angry moments. I'm pleased that they didn't go overboard making Evel's home life look bad. Linda really was committed to the "stand by your man" attitude, for whatever reason. The real footage, while not high quality compared to what is possible today, is quite effective.
I didn't know a lot about Evel before I saw this movie. I actually thought the Grand Canyon stunt had really happened. So I didn't know what was real and what wasn't. After looking up some real information about the man, I see the movie left a lot out and made some things happen at different times than they really did, but for what this movie is, it's pretty entertaining and there's no point in getting too concerned about what they got wrong. The important information is there.
It was an entertaining effort.
Without a Paddle (2004)
Fun adventure, not great except for Reynolds
Before I saw this movie, I saw its "sequel". More on that later.
Three friends from high school meet up after they have become established in their careers (for those who have careers). Billy has died. Dan is a doctor but still kind of a loser. Jerry has some type of uptight corporate job. And Tom--well, we just don't know. He's actually a loser in his professional life, but he's quite likable.
Over the years, Billy has added to a box that contains souvenirs from the friends' lives, including a map to the treasure of D.B. Morgan. They just have to go in search of this treasure.
Road Trip! The guys end up in Oregon and rent a canoe to travel down a raging river. Where have I heard this before? The guys end up going over a high waterfall and losing most of their possessions. Also familiar.
And while trying to find their way back to civilization, they stumble onto the pot farm of moron hillbillies Dennis and Elwood. Actually, Dennis seems halfway intelligent and Elwood seems smarter at times than his "My Name is Earl" character. But don't worry. Even though they chase our heroes with enough firepower to fight a war in the Middle East, they're not too bright (although these guys eventually do get some help). Again, seems familiar.
Our heroes also find a couple of gorgeous hippie girls living in a tree to keep the forest from being cut down. Once again, I've seen this before.
Finally, it turns out there is a man who has been living in the woods for 30 years and appears perfect for "Duck Dynasty". This time, there are similarities to what I have seen, but this time, a superior actor gives the movie's standout performance, with a worthwhile story. That man is Burt Reynolds.
Do the guys find their treasure? Depends on how you define treasure.
Yes, I keep bringing up the sequel. That's because unlike most sequels, that movie has only similarities to the plot of this one, not any of its characters or actors. I had more room here to do this.
This is a silly adventure, and in some ways it is superior to the sequel. But I had more fun watching the sequel. Dax Shepard as Tom gives a performance that is entertaining and makes us like his character, much like Zach in the sequel, except Tom doesn't have an equivalent in that movie.
I mostly feel sorry for Seth Green here as Dan, but he has his moments. Jerry is the Ben type character and more of a voice of reason. Matthew Lillard is okay.
Ethan Suplee and Abraham Benrubi both scare us and make us laugh as the hillbillies.
Rachel Blanchard and Christina Moore don't quite measure up to their counterparts in the sequel. They do okay, but they mostly look good.
Burt Reynolds really stands out. He makes the movie worth seeing.
Don't let the kids watch this. It's too naughty.
It's not a classic by any means, but it's okay.