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The Way Way Back (2013)
There's nothing to dislike about this movie. The actors do a terrific job all around--from the scene-stealing eyepatch kid to Allison Janey's lush to Steve Carrell's first role as a d-bag. Kudos to the kid playing Duncan and the guy playing his...boss? mentor? friend? saviour?--or all of the above. The scenery is lovely and convincingly real--no beach McMansions with $6,500 Wolf ranges. It shows what a real beach community looks like. The '70 Buick Estate Wagon is sublime and had me kvelling.
But it's the story that really makes the viewer smile. Duncan is a lost, lonely, mess...14, stuck with his mom whom he loves (but doesn't really respect), her douchebag boyfriend, boyfriend's daughter, and not much else. He finds his way in a way that defines a coming-of-age story. The Water Wizz guy--channeling Bill Murray in Meatballs in an obvious homage--does a great job, never losing sight of his own challenges in life while helping young Duncan emerge from his painful shell.
Failure to Launch (2006)
Other than Matthew's abs, the always-enjoyable Kathy Bates and...well...that's all there is to this astonishingly formulaic movie. I thought it would be tough to be worse than I expected...but this is one instance where FTL excels. The plot is so bad it's painful. Matthew should limit his "acting" to the aforementioned abs and the most Pepsodent-white teeth extant. SJP is pretty terrible too, trying to channel a little Carrie Bradshaw and simply ending up being obnoxious. And I have to agree with another poster who noted that the friends are so wooden, so unimaginative, and so downright UNfunny that they drag this titanic of a dud down even further. The silly animal jokes, the annoying scene in the gun shop (ps: why were they in a gun shop in the first place?), the totally unnecessary paintball game, the even less necessary mountain biking scene...
Bottom line: SJP should be ashamed of herself for choosing this atrocious role after the equally awful movie she made late last year with Diane Keaton, MM should stick to doing crunches and smiling, and Terry Bradshaw...well, you have to give him props for having the guts to show that ass.
The Family Stone (2005)
holes so big you could drive a bus through them
This wasn't the most excruciating movie I've seen this year--far from it--but it is nevertheless pretty awful. No spoilers herein, and I won't recap the story. I'd prefer to comment on the one post that praises the movie's accurate portrayal of a normal gay couple. It is, indeed, accurate, and heartwarming too. Yeah, it's a little over the top to have the gay couple be interracial AND hearing impaired ("What, no facial scarring?"). And it is heartwarming to see the family rally around its gay member and his partner. I'm aghast at the post from the narrow-minded person from Jacksonville who says this is another attempt to promote the gay agenda but, alas, such is America in the enlightened new millennium. She must have crapped cement at Rent.
Fun with Dick and Jane (1977)
Wacky mid-to-late '70s fun
I love this movie! I saw it with my mom in '77 and even though I couldn't have possibly gotten all the jokes and double entendres, I loved it. Seeing it now (I own it on VHS; they don't put movies like this out on DVD all that often), I love it even more.
Everything about it positively SCREAMS mid-1970s, from Dick's Thunderbird with the 600-feet-long hood to Jane's clunky Mercury Montego wagon to JANE FONDA WEARING HER JEANS ROLLED UP TO JUST BELOW THE KNEE TO SHOW OFF HER BOOTS! If you're a 70s afficianado, you can't help but love the time capsule that this movie represents. Another big bonus is the guy who played Schneider on One Day at a Time, who here plays a loud contractor with a big bullhorn.
As others have noted, the movie is also a time capsule to an era when it was not only OK, but funny to slam African Americans, Hispanics and especially gays. It was a little painful to see George Segal be so homophobic, but I choose to see this as a reflection of how far society has leapt in the last 25 years.
I've read elsewhere that Jane only made this movie for the $ to support then-husband Tom Hayden's political campaign/career. Even still, the late 1970s was Jane's era, in which she cranked out gem after gem, from the Electric Horseman to an incredibly bitchy role in The California Suite to a powerful performance in The China Syndrome.
All in all, FWDAJ is a funny time capsule that has a few messages, but don't be mislead by posters here who say it's a thinly-veiled moralistic movie. IT IS NOT! It's a fun romp, nothing more or less.
PS: Remember when they sold those things called record albums, the sleeves of which could conceal a gun during an attempted hold-up?!
Nine to Five (1980)
It doesn't get much better than this
Other than some very dated office equipment scenes and references to a more laid-back attitude about smoking pot (ahhhh, those were the days), this movie holds up incredibly well. I know dozens of people who freely admit that this movie made them laugh in 1980 and still does when aired on TNT.
I remember watching it over and over and over and over and over again in 1981 on the then-nascent HBO during a rare Atlanta snowstorm. I've probably seen it 50 times, and it still makes me smile. It is unquestionably Dolly Parton's reigning celluloid moment, even though it was her first movie. Lily Tomlin ("Violet Neustead, please hold") is fantastic, even though she inexplicably takes her jacket on and off again at the oddest times. Jane Fonda, playing against type, is a meek mouse...a far cry from her incredibly strong roles in The China Syndrome, California Suite, et.al.) All of the reviews on imdb praise Dabney Coleman, and he was fine, but not amazing.
Most of all, the chemistry between Dolly, Lilly and Jane is perhaps unparalleled in the nearly quarter-century (ouch!) since this film was made.
*really* funny blast from the past
For some reason, a slew of movies in 1980 mark a turning point in my developmental teen years: 9 to 5, A Coal Miner's Daughter, Private Benjamin, et.al. HTBTHCOL is yet another...one that took a long time to eventually come out on DVD.
It's even funnier than I'd remembered. While the story is good and the acting is ok, it's the cultural references circa 1980 that totally make the movie work for me (I'm 36 yrs old in '04). Jane Curtain's '80 Cutlass sucking gas, her oh-so-'70s contemporary house--complete with green bedspread and Buick-sized answering machine, the endless references to inflation, the grocery store cashier actually saying the name of each item before ringing it up by hand ("toy gun, $1.95..."), etc.
Jane Curtain actually does give the best performance, not only for her manic attempts to find cash, but for her impromptu striptease ("are you ready to see 1985, or should we skip right to 1990?"). The chemistry between Jane and Jessica Lange's character is quite good. Poor Susan Saint James...her character is annoying, whiny, and basically she serves as the Curly of this trio. (Yeah, I'd bring my kids to rob a store too...)
In all, this is a cute, silly time capsule to the dark days of inflation, 17% mortgage interest rates, slanted wood houses with lots of poorly utilized space, ferns, etc. One funny note: Jane Curtain's character makes numerous references to prostitution (to the gas station attendant, to the gals at the restaurant, and to Jack--the copy played by Dabney Coleman).