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hausrathman

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156 reviews in total 
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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Good Premise/Poor Execution, 29 May 2013
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A strange supernatural barrier prevents two house-hunting families from leaving the estate of a house they visited. Whenever they try to leave, they always find themselves back at the front door. This is certainly a good premise for a horror movie. It would be ideal for an episode of The Twilight Zone, but Rod Sterling would have properly milked the implications of the premise. The two families, which seethe with tensions and secrets, seem to accept to readily their imprisonment. They don't bother to explore the most basic questions. Why specifically are they trapped in the house? Do they have any links to the place or each other? More importantly, they also have a survivor from a previous imprisonment with them. Although she had been rendered mute by the removal of her tongue, she is intelligent and certainly able to communicate, but they don't even bother to ask her questions for the most part. Still, the film manages to convey some tension and suspense. It also benefits from some good performances. However, it falls apart completely at the end. Near the end we discover that at least one member of each family had some connection to the family that originally lived in the house. Unfortunately, that ruins the film because it ends with two more families being drawn into the building. Did both of those families also wrong the original occupants? What about the two families that we trapped in the house prior to the start of this film. Did they also wrong the original occupants? It doesn't make sense that all of those people have a personal connection to the spirits in the house.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Joke Is On The Audience, 18 March 2013
3/10

This film sat on my Netflix queue for a long time before I finally got around to watching it. Perhaps I should have waited longer. Then, perhaps, I would understand what it was all about. I know the film was supposed to be funny, but ultimately I think the joke was on me. In the film, an absurdly childish priest Father William, played by an unbelievably annoying Steve Little, is forced to take some time off by his superiors. He decides to contact his high school idol Robbie Shoemaker, played by Robert Longstreet, to take a little trip with him. Robbie agrees for no good reason. The two meander down a river on a raft purposelessly and seeming endlessly until you start praying for something, anything to happen. It does when two Japanese tourists and their black bodyguard show up. Sadly, what happens doesn't make any sense either. I have no idea what the filmmaker intended. Steve Little was simply too absurd for the film play as meaningful religious satire. I am giving the film three stars for the soundtrack. John R. Butler's sacrilegious ditty, Hand of the Almighty, is almost worth the price of admission.

Below Zero (1930)
Below Zero - An amiable comedy, 3 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Laurel and Hardy play two street musicians whose success seems limited by the snowy weather, their choice of material (In The Good Old Summertime), and location, i.e., playing in front of a school for the deaf. Their luck changes when they find a cash-filled wallet, but changes for worse again when they invite the local cop out to dinner with them only to discover that it was his wallet!

This film is not one of their classics, but is an amusing film. Laurel and Hardy display their normal interplay. The supporting cast of regulars is excellent. The film simply doesn't build to true comic hilarity -- despite ending with one of their odd "grotesque" gags. It simply finds an amiable pace and tempo and stays with it which is more than good enough for me.

Worth a look.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Dilemma -- What To Do When You're Movie Isn't Funny?, 26 November 2011

Vince Vaughn and Kevin James are best friends and business partners trying to enjoy a perfectly happy bromance until Vaughn catches James' wife having an affair. What to do? I was actually kind of upbeat about this film when I first heard about it. The plot had potential. The actors were good. More importantly, it seemed to be right in the wheelhouse of the good, old Ron Howard, the man who directed "Night Shift," "Cocoon," and "Splash." You know, back before he became an "important" filmmaker.

I wanted to see this film in the movies, but it disappeared too fast for me to see it there. That should have told me all I needed to know. It just didn't work. Howard just never found the balance between the comedy and the drama. Interestingly, most of the comedy was left in the hands of Vaughn rather than James. Vaughn has been struggling of late and, I hate to say it, getting a little too long in the tooth to keep playing this character over and over again. None of his comic set pieces worked. James, on the other hand, is a fine comic actor, but was given too much of the drama and he doesn't have the acting chops for it.

I was really disappointed. Had this story been shot in 1936 at Paramount, it probably would have been a great screwball comedy. It probably would have been a fun, mainstream "racy" sex farce in the 1960s. One thing is certain. Now was not the time for this story -- at least with these people involved.

Come back, Ron. I miss you.

Brats (1930)
Brats -- L&H's first talkie classic, 23 November 2011

Stan and Ollie try to spend quiet evening at home while the wives are out but find their quiet constantly interrupted by their children, also played by Stan and Ollie, who are definitely chips off the old Blockheads.

It is obvious that a great deal of time and money was lavished on this short, as evidenced by all of the over-sized props and furnishings constructed to create the illusion of the boys as, well, boys. It also seems as if more attention was given to the photography of this short as well. Technically, across the board, it was there best sound short to date.

There is essentially no real plot -- only a series of Stan and Ollie's adult diversions being interrupted by younger Stan and Ollie's childish antics. The gags, for the most part, consist of the simple slapstick at which Laurel & Hardy excelled, but the novelty of the situation gives it a fresh perspective. The humor also builds toward a large, climactic gag.

A novelty, yes, but a classic. A must see for people interested in the team.

Blotto (1930)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Blotto -- a genuinely funny short, 22 November 2011

Ollie hatches a plan to sneak henpecked Stan out for a night on the town with Mrs. Laurel's hidden bottle of liquor. Unfortunately, Mrs. Laurel, played by the always reliable Anita Garvin, overhears the plot and substitutes the liquor for a distasteful combination of her making.

Fans and critics tend to be dismissive of film, but I have always found this film to be one of my favorites of their early talkie shorts. There isn't much of a plot, but the sequences are very well-constructed and funny. The interplay between Stan and Anita is very funny. (I like her much better than Linda Loredo, who plays the same role in the Spanish language version.) I also really enjoy Ollie's solo bits on the telephone. Those people who dismiss him as being Stan's straight man should watch that scene. His mannerisms and expressions are priceless.

The nightclub sequence is very funny as the boys proceed to get "drunk" on the illicit "alcohol." The best moment is when Stan is reduced to tears by a melancholy song. The boys would go on laughing jags later in the other films, but nowhere is it funnier than in this film, which also ends effectively with a big car gag -- as so many Laurel and Hardy films do!

Others may disagree, but I consider this a classic Laurel & Hardy short.

Night Owls (1930)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Their best talky to date., 22 November 2011

Cop Edgar Kennedy is in trouble. Their have been forty-two robberies in the police chief's neighborhood and he'll be fired unless he makes an arrest. He gets an idea. Rather than run off two vagrants, Stan and Ollie, he convinces them to rob the police chief's house so he can arrest them in the process. It was a pretty good idea, if Stan and Ollie hadn't proved to be the most inept burglars in history.

"Night Owls" was the team's seventh talkie and definitely the best one to date. The concept itself is funny, and the slapstick gags are plentiful and well-performed. (My favorite bit is when the boys pretend to be cats.) Nor does it hurt that Stan and Ollie are backed up here by Edgar Kennedy and James Finlayson, two of their best foils. Stan and Ollie themselves seem very comfortable in this film. Their interplay has a smooth, naturalistic rhythm that one expects from the boys at their best.

This film isn't quite a classic, but it fine little film. The team had finally found their footing in the new medium of talking films.

The Hoose-gow. A step in the right direction., 22 November 2011

Despite their protestations of innocence, Laurel and Hardy find themselves on a prison working on a prison road crew where they make a shambles of an inspection visit by the governor.

"The Hoose-gow" was Laurel & Hardy's sixth talkie short and a step in the right direction in recovering the energy and verve of their best silent shorts. Shot almost entirely outdoors, this film doesn't have the claustrophobic, studio-bound feel that hindered some of their earlier talkies. The sound mix must have had some level of sophistication. Look at some of the road crew scenes. The wind is whipping up the branches on some of bushes right behind them. With the microphones of the time, that dialogue must've been unusable. The dubbing was fine.

The plot of the film is simple but serviceable. Nothing new, but nice. It works its way to a nice, rice throwing battle, which, if not on the level of "Two Tars" or "Big Business," is certainly adequate. The supporting cast is good, featuring the always reliable Tiny Sanford and James Finlayson.

Not a classic, but worth watching. Up to this point, their best talkie with the possible exception of "Men O'War."

Another weak early talkie, 22 November 2011

Ollie has a late night cold and Stan tries to help him get over it, much to the annoyance of the irritable landlord.

I am endeavoring to work my way through the new release of "The Essential Laurel & Hardy" which finally gives the boys the DVD treatment they deserve in the United States. I have seen all of their films many times over the years, but now I have the opportunity to finally watch them in chronological order. That, perhaps, was not a wise choice. I always found a number of their early talkies weak, and I regret having to report that here in my reviews. "They Go Boom" is another example. The staging of the film feels claustrophobic, and the situation simply doesn't offer enough opportunities for comic inventiveness. There are some good moments scattered throughout, but it overall concept is better executed later in the film "Laughing Gravy."

Not a classic. For fans only.

A Perfect Day, 21 November 2011

Stan and Ollie decide to take their wives and their gout-ridden uncle Edgar on a picnic on a lovely Sunday afternoon. It's a good plan, but they never quite get their in this enjoyable, if slight, short.

It was refreshing to see that the new dynamics of making sound films didn't keep the boys completely studio-bound. The vast bulk of this film was shot outdoors and, as a result, doesn't suffer from the same claustrophobia as "Unaccustomed as We Are," "Berth Marks," and the upcoming "They Go Boom." The film also benefits from appearance of the always reliable Edgar Kennedy, a frequent and hilarious foil. Needless to say, his gout-ridden foot will take a great deal of abuse for the film fades out!

A nice short, reminiscent of Chaplin's "A Day's Pleasure." Not one of their classics, but well worth a look.


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