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The Simpsons: Dogtown (2017)
Pros and Cons of Dogtown
I don't care if this review is helpful to you or not
Pros 1. Clancy and Sarah made the right choice returning Ralph to the Stork. I hope they can get a better child this time around.
2. Gill is one of my favorite secondary characters so I'm glad he's getting a big role in an episode for the first time in about 13 or 14 years. Gill shows once again why he's one of the best "butt monkeys" in animation today. I laughed especially hard when Gill ruins his chance to be a hero by getting an egg sandwich and he doesn't even get to eat the sandwich.
3. 4 times in 2 years? I don't know why Michael York is suddenly on the show so much but it's okay by me. He's awesome.
4. I got a big laugh out of Abe chastising Marge for not putting him in charge of watching the kids and then chastising Marge because she DID put him in charge of watching the kids. Equally funny was Bart putting Abe to sleep by turning the temperature up 1 degree.
5. Very nice subtle Nintendo reference: having a place called Mario's Meats and having the store owner look like Luigi, owner of Springfield's Italian restaurant.
6. Thanks for having the court trail not presided by Judge Constance Harm. Good god how I hate her.
7. Best Line Quimby: You were right and we were wrong Veterinarian: Yes, very well, but will you remove my chains? Qumby: Don't push your luck!
Cons 1. Your jumping the gun a little by thanking Taylor Swift for 28 great years. She isn't even 27 1/2 yet.
2. Is this the same angry African-American commentator from "22 For 30" or is it just another loud, unfunny character?
3. I disagree with Bart & Lisa: Homer's "look what the cat dragged in" joke was lame.
4. They actually referenced Turbo? Good god did that movie suck. Dreamworks owes Paul Giamatti an apology for wasting his time with such crap. Whatever they paid Giamatti, it wasn't enough.
Inspector Gadget (1983)
Wowers, What A Show
Recently I finished watching every episode of the original "Inspector Gadget" episode. It's kind of crazy considering I didn't even like the show as a kid.
The main reason for the differences because how I perceive Gadget as a kid as an adult is that when I saw it as a kid, I didn't know who Don Adams was. Becoming acquainted with "Get Smart", I learned what a genius Don Adams was and this gave a lot more credibility to Gadget as Don Adams voiced him. "Inspector Gadget" has long been considered a spiritual successor to "Get Smart". It helps that Gadget said "sorry about that, chief" on a few occasions and even said "would you believe..." once or twice.
"Inspector Gadget" is one of those shows that has a set formula for what happens in each episode but it's so entertaining in action and comedy that even after 86 episodes it didn't seem stale. No matter what happens, you'll still be laughing at Gadget and cheering on his niece Penny & dog Brain as they're the real ones who save the day. You'll probably laugh at the self-destructing messages harming Chief Quimby but I always felt sorry for him.
Of course you can't talk about "Inspector Gadget" without its awesome villain. Dr. Claw is always entertainingly evil (he perhaps gets his name from Get Smart's villain "The Claw"). I never get tired of hearing him threatening his underlings. His pet/punching bag, Mad Cat is also very entertaining, especially when he does random stuff like mimicking Dr. Claw's fish- shaking or tying Dr. Claw's hand to his chair for no reason.
While the show was always good, it declined a bit in the second season. It seemed a tad lazy to use the same chief henchman in 3 separate episodes after all Season 1 episode used a different chief henchman. I was disappointed that they did less travel episodes and keep most of Season 2 in Metro City. The less said about Corporal Capeman the better. DIC thought he's be a welcome addition and they were wrong.
One good thing I can say about season 2 is they had good parodies of movies like Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Godfather and Arsenic & Lace. It's good to see Frank Welker & Maurice Lamarche working on the same show 1 year before they began voicing Egon & Ray in "The Real Ghostbusters".
DIC was no match for Nicktoons or Disney Afternoon but they still made some dang good cartoons.
Pros And Cons of Amadeus
Pros 1. F. Murray Abraham more than deserved his Best Actor Oscar for his unforgettable performance as Salieri. He makes Salieri's frustrations and jealousy completely believable and relatable even for people like me who have never been interested in becoming a professional musician. Tom Hulce, in my opinion, would certainly have won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar if he hadn't unwisely been submitted in the Best Actor category. The decision to make Mozart silly and fancy-free was controversial but makes him more relatable and understandable.
2. The entire supporting cast is great. Even Elizabeth Berridge, who is usually the Amadeus cast member who gets the most flack, does a great job as Stanzi. She shows Stanzi as a woman who gives Mozart when he needs, whether he needs a friend or a kick in the rear. I especially liked all the court members like the Emperor, Chamberlain Von Strack, Count Orsini-Rosenberg and Kappelmeister Bonno as they struggle with Mozart, a music force clearly after their time. Also worth noting is Karl-Heinz Teuber's hilarious appearance as the wig salesman.
3. It's no wonder this film won Art Direction & Costume Design Oscars. The set design and outfits never fail to impress. This was the first big Oscar hit to win for Best Makeup and with the gorgeous old Salieri makeup, it's not hard to see why. The makeup doesn't look fake at all.
4. It goes without saying that a movie about Mozart has awesome music. It's not hard to understand why Salieri thinks Mozart has divine music talents.
5. This movie has no shortage of funny parts: Salieri falling out of a kid's bed, Mozart giggling sheepishly to Katerina Cavaleri when it's revealed he's engaged, the Emperor mocking Mozart's fixation on love, etc.
6. The movie does have a happy ending: Mozart dies tragically young but will live forever in his music and as for Salieri: he fought the God and the God won.
7. Best Line Salieri: (referring to Mozart's Serenade For Winds) On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse: bassoons, trumpets. Like a rusty squeezebox. Then: high above it: an oboe. A single note standing there unwavering... until a clarinet took it over and sweetened it to a phrase of such delight. This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a piece i'd never heard. Such longing, such unfulfillable longing.
What's wrong with Amadeus? Not a dang thing!
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Pros and Cons of This Is Spinal Tap
Pros 1. This movie is full of memorable quotes like Nigels "there's such a thin line between clever and stupid" or Spinal Tap manager Ian hand-waving the band's decreasing turnout at concerts by explaining Spinal Tap's appeal is just becoming selective.
2. This movie has some of the funniest visual gags I've ever seen like the disastrous Stonehenge model in danger of being squashed by a Dwarf or Derek being trapped in a pod.
3. The soundtrack is phenomenal: for a fake band they sure put real effort into the songs and they're all good.
4. The Spinal Tap 3 all work well together and have great chemistry. It's no wonder the 3 have continued to work together, not just as Spinal Tap but also in Christopher Guest mockumentaries.
5. The movie has great brief appearances from people like Fran Drescher, Bruno Kirby, Billy Crystal, Howard Hesseman, Paul Benedict (Spinal Tap was released during The Jefferson's 10th and penultimate season) and Paul Schaffer (reuniting with Harry Shearer after they were SNL cast members in the Fall 1979 - Spring 1980 season).
6. Best Line Derek: (after a big argument about a poorly-designed Stonehenge model caused the manager to quit the band) Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we going to do Stonehenge tomorrow? David: No we're not f---ing going to do Stonehenge!
Cons 1. I never understood the logic of the director asking David & Nigel if they're racist since they're music is usually only favored by Caucasians. That makes as much sense to me as asking the CEO of Toys R Us if he's prejudiced against adults because his company's products are popular with children.
2. During the Stonehenge argument, Ian is listing all the things he does for the band and one of them is "prizing rent from the local Hebrews". I know he's upset about being nagged by the other guys but that's not an excuse for using this tired anti-semitic stereotype about Jews being obsessed with money and charging excessively high rates.
3. When Janine butts in to the Stonehedge argument, Ian responds "this is a band meeting, is she now part of the band?" If the meeting is band only, why is the film crew allowed to attend?
Top Secret! (1984)
Pros And Cons of Top Secret
Pros 1. I was amused to hear Leonard Bernstein referenced since he composed the score for Ghostbusters, a film that stole a lot of business from Top Secret. Speaking of musical references, there's a funny moment when main character Nick Rivers gets top billing ahead of Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra would appear in theaters the following week in "Cannonball Run II" and Stevie Wonder would win an Oscar for a song from "Woman In Red" released later that summer.
2. I was delighted to see Maurice Jarre composed the score for this film the same year he earned a Best Original Score Oscar for Sir David Lean's "A Passage To India". Speaking of Sir David Lean, Omar Sharif gets to show a great comedic side he didn't get to show in "Lawrence Of Arabia" or "Dr. Zhivago".
3. I'm a big Beach Boys fan and I get a real kick out of Nick River's hit "Skeet Surfing".
4. I'm always thankful to get a dose of the awesomeness that is Michael Gouge. It's amusing that Lucy Gutteridge played Gouge's daughter as they both appeared that year in the Christmas Carol film that aired on CBS. Gouge played a charity worker and Gutteridge was the girl that rejects Ebenezer in the "Ghost Of Christmas Past" sequence.
5. Peter Cushing gets a funny scene as a Swedish Book Store Owner. At least he doesn't sexually assault anybody like in "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed". The villain in Top Secret is sexually assaulted by a bull but that's all right.
6. Not growing up in the 80's, I didn't know who Freddie Laker is. After doing some research, I do see the hilarity in Nigel naming Freddie Laker as a communist author.
7. I loved the Pac-Man cameo. This was just 7 months after the Hannah-Barbera Pac-Man cartoon ended.
8. I've had many nightmares about not studying for school. I appreciate Nick Rivers finding torture better than a nightmare about school.
9. The Wizard Of Oz is without doubt the most parodied film in history but that doesn't make this film's "Wizard Of Oz" parody any less funny. It's appropriate as Top Secret was released almost exactly a year before "Return To Oz." Like Top Secret being over-shadowed by "Ghostbusters", Return To Oz was over-shadowed by another Sci-Fi film: Cocoon.
10. Best Line German General: (on the phone) I see, well call if his condition changes (hangs up) he's dead
Cons 1. It seems bad timing for a code-name to be "there are no good white basketball players" when Top Secret was released 10 days after Larry Bird led the Celtics to their 2nd world championship in 4 years.
Purple Rain (1984)
Pros And Cons of Purple Rain
1. Nobody needs to be told how awesome the music in Purple Rain is. The soundtrack is justly considered to be one of the greatest soundtracks ever made and the songs by "The Time" are good as well. Even the Razzie-nominated "Sex Shooter" is a song I enjoyed, though not as much as songs by The Revolution or The Time.
2. It's no surprise that none of the actors here ever received Oscar nominations for acting but all the actors here play their parts well. Prince mostly does a good job as a kid, there are just a few parts where he can be overly-dramatic that his acting flaws show. Apollonia and Morris Day received Razzie nominations for their performances but Day makes an appropriately detestable villain and Apollonia makes a lovable girlfriend with the heart of gold (it doesn't hurt that she has a topless scene).
3. I like how the domestic drama at the Kid's House rises above convention by portraying the father as more than just an abusive deadbeat.
4. Nice cinematography during The Kid & Apollonia's bike ride. It nicely shows the beauty of Minnesota.
5. I'm glad they show Morris regretting a cruel and inappropriate remark he made to The Kid after his father's attempted suicide. That shred of humanity to an otherwise hateable villain is surprising and appreciated.
6. In the VHS closed captions, the first few times the Kid listens to the Purple Rain cassette is noted in the closed captions by purple musical notes.
7. Best Line The Kid: (referring to his father's music) I'd like to hear some more of it. Do you have any of it written down somewhere?
Francis L: No, man. I don't write it down. I don't have to. There's a big difference between you and me.
Cons 1. Some of the domestic drama scenes at the Kid's house can be over-done like a bad after- school special. At least they avoid that most groan-inducing family drama cliché: the parent suddenly showing up at their kid's important performance (Albert Magnoli's next directorial effort, American Anthem, wouldn't be so lucky).
2. Why would the owner of a Minnesota night club wear a Detroit Tigers cap? Perhaps he's clairvoyant and knew the Tigers were going to win a World Championship that year.
Secret Honor (1984)
Pros and Cons of Secret Honor
1. I've longed hated Nixon but this movie definitely raises sympathy for him: he was a lifetime loser who got one lucky break when a committee decided to make him Senator. That one lucky break turned out to be a nightmare as he ended up a puppet in an evil plan. Some people just can't win. It's nice to see at the end when Nikon refuses to bring himself down and basically tells his enemies to go F themselves.
2. Nixon's devotion to his mother is very heartwarming.
3. Nixon's fumbling manner can be very funny, whether he's struggling to properly use the recording machine or telling Roberto to delete a section of his speech.
4. Philip Baker Hall hardly looks like Nixon but that kind of fits with the movie to show this is just a parody and not the true story of Nixon's life.
5. It's amusing to see Nixon supposedly reveal huge secrets like the Shah Of Iran being supplied with boys to please him or JFK winning the 1960 Election due to intrigue in Chile.
6. Best Line
Nixon repeatedly saying "F--- Em" to his enemies
Cons 1. I didn't care for Nixon saying various ethnic slurs. Granted he is drunk.
The Cotton Club (1984)
Pros And Cons Of The Cotton Club
Pro: 1. Nobody needs to be told that Francis Ford Coppola can make a great gangster film. The feuds between the mobsters is intriguing and the action scenes never fail to excite. The fact that many of the gangsters existed in real life makes it all the more exciting.
2. It's not hard to see why the Cotton Club became so famous with all the great acts we see performing at the club in this movie. My favorite is Cab Calloway performing "Minnie The Moocher".
3. African-Americans in "The Godfather" were mostly ignored or scorned. It's great to see them get more focus in "The Cotton Club". The romance between Gregory Hines & Lonette McKee is very sweet. It's a pleasure to see Lawrence Fishburne's gangster "Bumpy" give Caucasian gangsters what they have coming. I was delighted to learn the real-life Bumpy survived to his 60's and died of heart failure when so many gangsters were murdered.
4. My favorite moment in the film is when Frenchy destroys Owen Madden's watch just so he can give Owen a new watch. Even hardened criminals can have a heartfelt moment together.
5. I can see why Richard Gere and Diane Lane went on to do 2 more movies together. They have nice some real nice chemistry. It doesn't hurt that they both have music talent: Lane does a good cover of "Am I Blue?" and credit to Gere for doing his own coronet solos.
6. There's a nice moral to the story: Richard Gere, who favors music and acting over mob violence lives happily ever after while his brother, Nicholas Cage seeks an easy living though mob violence and robbery and lives a very short life (it amuses me that Nicholas Cage is gunned down in The Cotton Club in a phone booth while James Caan was gunned down in The Godfather at a toll booth). It's similar with Gregory Hines. He wanted to kill Big Mike for his cruel treatment but Bumpy tells him his ticket to a better life is his tap dancing. Good think Gregory Hines is able to listen to reason and things end up well for him.
7. Best Line Bumpy: This uppity (n-word) would like to offer you a drink (dunks Big Mike's head in a toilet bowl)
Cons 1. Mostly, this movie does a great job of not appearing to be a Godfather rip-off except for one thing. This movie has two montages of mob violence, one while Lonette McKee sings "Ill WInd Go Away" and another while Gregory Hines tap dances. It's hard to see this and not think of the mob violence montage set to piano music in The Godfather. The first montage of mob violence with Lonette McKee especially resembles the montage in The Godfather with the use of newspaper headlines.
2. What was the point of giving Nicholas Cage's character a fiancé? She never really serves any purpose to the story. I don't remember if we even see her reacting to Mad Dog's death.
Pros and Cons of Ghostbusters
1. This movie justly has a reputation for being one of the funniest movies of the 80's. That's mostly for great one-liners, particularly from Venkman, but the movie has a lot of funny visual moments like Venkman and Egon backing away from Ray after his proton pack is turned on or Egon getting a high PKE meter reading on a man in the hotel and touching him to see if he's a ghost.
2. Ghostbusters earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Visual Effects. After nearly 33 years the special effects still look relatively good today.
3. Ray Parker Jr. earned an Oscar nomination for the movie's theme song but the other songs are great as well: Cleaning Up The Town, Magic and Saving The Day are tunes well worth listening to. Leonard Bernstein composed a fine music score. I especially liked Dana's theme. Bernstein would go on to compose the score for Ivan Reitman's next film, Legal Eagles and his Legal Eagles score sounded like leftover Ghostbusters score.
4. Most people claim Venkman as their favorite Ghostbuster and understandably so but my favorite is Winston. He has a level-headed quality that is a nice contrast to the others. He may not have all the one-liners like Venkman but he couldn't ask for a better final line: "I Love This Town!"
5. Yes, Walter Peck had good reason to suspect the Ghostbusters equipment might be dangerous but the fact remains that he could have saved New York a lot of trouble by keeping the ghost trap on. Peck lost all credibility when he told the mayor that completely fabricated story about Ghostbusters using hallucinogenics to make people think ghosts are real. God is it a joy to see Stay-Puft goop splat all over Peck.
6. Great to see a brief appearance by the future Carl Winslow: Reggie Val Johnson
7. Best Line:
Winston: Ray, when somebody asks if you're a god you say YES!
1. Venkman tells Janine to stop staring at him with her bug eyes but he was talking to her. If you talk to somebody they are going to be looking at you when you're talking.
2. So what happened to the library ghost? Did the library workers just pretend nothing every happened?
3. Since Dana is a professional cellist, it's a shame we never actually hear her play.
4. What's with Slimer attacking the audience? What did we ever do to him?
Pros And Cons Of Songwriter
1. Songwriter made history by joining "Purple Rain" and "Muppets Take Manhattan" as the last 3 films to be nominated for the Song Score Oscar. While I agree with the Academy that "Purple Rain" had the best Song Score, I nevertheless consider Songwriter's Song Score to be phenomenal. This is about a half an hour of wall to wall music and none of it is a dud. I'm a guy who usually doesn't even listen to country music and I loved it all. It's just a shame some songs in an early montage are just snippets, I'd love to hear them in their full version.
2. I'm really glad Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson were able to do this movie together. They have great chemistry and they're able to make their characters just ooze with charm. I especially like the scene where Nelson and Kristofferson take turns making statements so complex they can't properly say them again. Between this and Flashpoint, 1984 was a very good year for Kristofferson.
3. The main women in this film are so lovely and likable. Melinda Dillon is so charming she really lights up every scene she's in (it helps that she doesn't have to wash anybody's mouth with soap). I foremost associate Lesley Ann Warren with playing Katie Holmes' mother in "Teaching Miss Tingle" so it's a nice change of pace to see her in a good movie and she does a great cover of "Great Balls Of Fire". Doc's assistant, Corky is a real trooper: doing what needs to be done without a fuss. Even Doc's 2nd ex-wife isn't as annoying as I might have feared.
4. Beyond the music and the anti-corporate hi-jinks, the movie has a nice message about Doc needing to get beyond his years of partying and be a responsible intelligent adult.
5. This movie certainly has the right villain. It is such a joy when she gets the shaft at the end.
6. Kentucky-Fried German Food? Well it beats eating at Arby's.
7. Best Line
Honey: (Doc is posing as a vacuum cleaner salesman) Long time ago a vacuum cleaner salesman just like you came into my house and knocked me up!
Doc: Probably somebody from our service department.
1. In the beginning, Kris Kristofferson's character narrates the breakup of Doc and Honey. I wish they could have could have done it more visually instead of a character explaining it. Films should be about showing, not telling. After the beginning, Kris Kristofferson's character never narrates again. I wish movies would consistently narrate or don't do it at all.
2. Doc burns down a music studio he owns as part of a plan to get out of his contract with Rocky. He's lucky nobody got hurt. Why would he risk something that could cause him a lot of jail time and further separate him from his family?
3. I'm conflicted about Kris Kristofferson's character ending with Doc's assistant, Corky. It's certainly sweet but it comes at the end and kind of out of nowhere. I wish there had been more of a build-up so it doesn't seem to come out of nowhere