Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Family Guy (1998)
Still too soon to know
Family Guy has just come over to England, aired in Rupert (Fox) Murdoch's Sky satellite service (like The Simpsons, The PJs, King of the Hill and Futurama before it). It's being aired straight after the much-hyped (and not bad at all) Futurama, but it doesn't suffer in comparison to Groening's new opus; in fact, given the weight of expectation on the "Simpsons in Space" it's started off better. Creator Seth MacFarlane (only 25, doesn't it make you sick?) has diligently combined several successful formats - dopey but loveable Homer-type dad, over-the-top Dr Evil-type villain (except in nappies), wiser-than-his owner dog (as in Wallace and Gromit, a massive UK claymation success less well received in the States). But characters are nothing without writing, and where Family Guy scores high is the rapidfire joke quotient - and in particular the TV references; nearly a dozen in the second show alone, from witty skits of NYPD Blue, Roadrunner and Scooby Doo to quick references to such TV tittletattle as Rosie O'Donnell's adoption of a child. Maybe MacFarlane has set off at too high a pace and the series will lag, but in the meantime, buckle up your seatbelt and enjoy intelligent TV for the short attention-span generation.
The Secret Pact (1999)
It's tough being a kid sometimes. Especially when you watch a hit-man murder both your parents in front of you in cold blood. So you're put on the Witness Protection Program. You find a friend, and it seems like maybe this world ain't so bad after all. Then it turns out that your new buddy works for your parents' killer. It all adds up to a tragic life for one kid, meaning we get to sit and watch a passable thriller for two hours.
Irish American story
Matthew Settle portrays an Irish American involved in dodgy stuff in New York. Eventually, the unloving attentions of a violent gang (is there any other kind?) persuades him to leave the girlfriend behind and legs it out West. Funnily enough, he faces similar problems there too. So is he a bad apple from the Big Apple? Course not, he's misunderstood. Is this a stereotyping drama? To an extent. Should you watch it? Depends whether you have anything more pressing to do, like ironing the carpet. There again, you could watch it to see what Linda Kozlowski gets up to when hubby Paul Hogan's not around.
The Royle Family (1998)
Hilarious minimalist working-class laughs
An excellent cast given a superb script creates a minor comedy gem. Set in the downtrodden post-industrial north of England, the action rarely strays outside the living room of the titular wisecracking family, as tightwad patriarch Jim Royle (Ricky Tomlinson) holds court, kept in check by long-suffering wife Barbara (Sue Johnston, who had previously played Tomlinson's wife in the soap Brookside) and ordering around young son Antony (the remarkably assured debutant Ralf Little). The storyline of the first series revolves around the impending marriage of daughter Denise (Caroline Aherne) to her boyfriend Dave (Craig Cash), but the show is more about one-liners and character interplay than plotline; writers Aherne, Cash and Henry Normal keep the gags coming relentlessly as the action meanders in real time. A second series is in the works.
A Father for Brittany (1998)
Can a man adopt?
Andrew McCarthy pays the bills as a grieving widower who wishes to adopt a poor little baby girl. Trouble is, The Man (ie the unfeeling authorities) don't fancy letting a man look after a child on his own. Hey, it's the 90s, dudes. Lighten up.
The Silence of Adultery (1995)
The plot goes like this. A man takes his autistic child to an unconventional new therapy centre. There he finds a doctor who wants an affair with him, and so they have one. This doesn't help the therapist's already shaky marriage. I don't see why I should bother giving you a critical analysis of a film this bad. It's hackwork from a man who's directed 40 straight-to-cable films in ten years. It was probably designed by committee around the title; they then thought, let's make the woman the sharky marriage-wrecker, and let's have autism in there for the sake of cheap sentimentality.
As if you couldn't guess
An attempt at a female buddy-movie. Three about-to-be-newlywed chums are taken to Australia for a photoshoot; there, things transpire, skeletons emerge from closets, ghosts from the past come back for a haunting, and the vampires who suck the blood of love seem set to transform the impending marriages into the undead. Which is all you'd expect from a film helmed by TV-series director Gwen Arner, with the three leads being Connie Sellecca (cable-movie stalwart), Shawnee Smith (who lives for roles in Stephen King adaptations) and Twiggy (famous for nothing other than being thin thirty years ago).
Blind Witness (1989)
You know the film Mute Witness, a cracking mix of comedy and thriller in which a mute woman witnesses a snuff-movie murder? Well, that's a good film. This similarly-titled shambles isn't. What happens is, blind woman Victoria Principal (yes, the one from Dallas) suffers from having her home broken into and her husband murdered. She vows revenge, as you do, but get this: the baddies mean to kill her too. And that's supposed to be a twist, as if they wouldn't kill her anyway when they realise she's on their tail. Luckily, she gets a bit of help from nice policemen Paul (American Graffiti) Le Mat and Matt (Grace Under Fire) Clark, who probably shudder when they remember this waste of celluloid.
Sex with the Stars (1980)
No stars, in every sense
Typically witless sex comedy. Plot? A magazine astrologer is put under pressure by his vulgar American publisher to bed women of each different star sign in order to spice up his flagging column. Fill in the blanks.
Old cops together again
You can't trust the specials like the old-time coppers, so when a new tough-talking DA wants to clean the streets of crime (don't they all?) he ropes in three ageing police officers to wipe the city clean. Oh, and just to insert some spurious interest, he throws in with them a similarly venerable (and retired) con man. Hey presto: comedy.
Sunset Beat: One Down, Four Up (1990)
Only one reason this is on...
This is a standard adventure in which the protagonists are crime-fighters, the bad guy is an extortionist and of course he's psychotic. Some of the 'stars', such as Michael Deluise, Markus Flanagan and Erik King, you may never have heard of, and quite right too; however, someone else featuring in this film is George Timothy Clooney, two years after being attacked by killer tomatoes and four years before he started dressing in green smocks, and his subsequent (and unrelated) rise to fame is the only reason this nonsense is still being aired today.
American Harvest (1987)
The trouble with men
Men, eh? They soon build up intolerance toward each other. It's all that testosterone, you know. Anyways, like Macduff in "Macbeth", you gotta combine the typical male qualities (strength, kicking people's heads in) with the typical female qualities (trust, honesty, belief) to succeed. All of which has only very little bearing on this TV drama. Things are going bad for the Duncans, dirt-poor wheat farmers. In times such as this, you need good neighbours; trouble is, Walter Duncan (Wayne Rogers) can't stand the sight of neighbour Krab Hogan (Earl Holliman) - well, would you trust someone called Krab? And while you're pondering that, would you starve or ask someone for help? That's the story. Goodnight.
A Taste for Killing (1992)
With friends like these...
You know how it is when you start somewhere new: you very quickly make a "friend", who you soon regret meeting and spend the rest of your time trying to avoid. That's an embarrassing social situation, but it's a lot easier than the stuff that happens to the two students in this film, struggling to fit into the macho world of the oil rig. They make a mysterious ally in enigmatic co-worker Michael Biehn. Then he reveals his true colours, and they aren't too pretty.
From Hollywood to Deadwood (1988)
As Burt Bacharach might have written, what the world needs now is another detective spoof. But hey, this only claims to be entertainment. An odd couple of Californian private investigators get a bit desperate for cash; luckily, a small Hollywood film company (where do these writers get such varied inspiration?) hires them to track down the leading lady who's legged it mid-shoot. With $25,000 riding on it, the gumshoes are only too keen to find the woman, and the usual chaos ensues.
The Baby Dance (1998)
Another from the Stockard stockyard
The world was Stockard Channing's oyster when she thrilled us with Rizzo in "Grease", but since then her orbit has been somewhat lower. She's carved out a nice niche in the upper echelons of made-for-TV melodramas, and nearly every year she gets nominated for some award or other. It was the Golden Globes this year, for this performance. She seems particularly adept at playing women in tug-of-love battles over children (see also `An Unexpected Family'), and here she and Peter Riegert are the anguished but wealthy childless couple who throw money at poverty-stricken trailer-trash mother-of-four Laura Dern, hardly happy about the impending appearance of kidling number five; Dern and abusive hubby Richard Lineback are only too happy to sell the superfluous sprog. So far, so usual, but the twist (unlike most TV movies, there is a twist) comes when complications at the birth raises the possibility of brain damage. Will the yuppie couple pay for damaged goods? Will love of child conquer love of money for the trailer trash?
Blood on Her Hands (1998)
A guileless "Last Seduction"
A conniving temptress, as I believe these women are known under the circumstances, persuades her rather stupid lover to ice her husband. Heard it before? Yes, that's right, in the infinitely superior "The Last Seduction". Watch that, or do the garden, or walk the dog, but don't waste your time with this.
A Change of Heart (1998)
Gay husband shocker
A blisteringly honest, fair-minded appraisal of bisexuality within marriage is just what the world needed. However, it got this instead. Happily-married wifey comes home and finds her hubby in bed with another person - oh alright, another man. That's the story. Enjoy.
Village of Daughters (1962)
British comedy, like it or hate it
Take a comic genius (Eric Sykes), sprinkle in a collection of regular British TV comic actors (John Le Mesurier, Warren Mitchell), simmer over a simple but dated comedy premise (a salesman discovers an Italian village full of nubile women) and you have the comedy-movie equivalent of potatoes: archetypal and essential, but a bit bland.
Earth Minus Zero (1996)
The kind of zoo that shouldn't exist
An alien lands on Earth, seeking to capture a few humans for its intergalactic zoo. One of those films which inspires phrases like "all manner of chaos", "hapless hero", "light-hearted family adventure" and "where's the remote"? And that's all it inspires. Some star names for you: Pat Morita, Brock Pierce, Marcia Strassman and Sam Jones. Get the picture?
Still crazy after all these years
Jim Garner appears to have realised that he is most fondly remembered for Maverick and The Rockford Files; being a bit old for frontier fun, he's regressed to his detective incarnation, which debuted in a 1974 TV movie. In this, the seventh in a recent spate of Rockford TV movies, he helps a chum investigate two shady cops suspected of vice offences. One imagines he might have a mobile phone now, so you don't have to leave him a message.
In My Sister's Shadow (1997)
Shadow of the shower
It's a tragedy, really. But it's worth remembering that 15 minutes of fame don't neccessarily set you up for life. Janet Leigh, who took part in just about the most famous scene in movie history (the Psycho shower scene, if you've not seen many movies), has been reduced to this level of inane dross. It alleges to be a suspense thriller, but it must feel like a bad comedy to someone who worked with Hitchcock. As far as the plot goes, a naive woman gets caught up in a twisted revenge plan hatched by her sister's deranged ex. Nancy McKeon and Alexandra Wilson also star.
Silent Lies (1996)
The drugs don't work
Do two wrongs make a right? Is blood thicker than water? Does love conquer all? Watch in amazement as all these questions and more are answered in this tense drama. Cluck in sympathy as a teenage girl struggles against her abusive father. Gasp in awe as she sets him up to be caught slap-bang in the middle of a drugs deal. Cluck in sympathy as her in-bred (careful, now) instincts get her to change her mind suddenly and dangerously on the very night in question! You will be amazed!!
Shepherd on the Rock (1993)
...ain't no big surprise
It's a decision we've all faced. There you are, a small-time Scottish farmer minding his own, when the big-shot developer from the city wants to buy up your land and force you out. You hate him, right? So when you get the chance to save his life, what do you do? That dilemma is at the heart of this farmer drama, starring a sprinkling of well-respected, mainly TV-bound British (but not Scottish) actors such as Bernard Hill and John Bowles. Oh, and unlike a few recent releases, there is no subtitling or redubbing; this is Scotland-lite, with the right amount of breathtaking scenery but none of that Irvine Welsh-style talking like the locals do.
Soigne ta droite (1987)
Moi moi moi
Don't you hate self-obsessed writers, directors and stars? Perhaps not after this. Jean-Luc Godard is all three in a wry drama looking very close to home. The lead character, y'see, is an annoyingly perfectionist film-maker determined to wring every last drop of the finest performance possible from his stars. No lengths are too long for this guy as he begs his players to put their souls into their performances. Perhaps it's an overdue, overwrought apology to the actors he's worked with, but Godard fashions a watchable, knowing drama. If you liked "Living In Oblivion", this is a good companion piece: it's not always the case that troubles are anyone's fault but the director's.
Strange Voices (1987)
As you'd expect
A chirpy, happy-go-lucky teenager begins to complain of voices in her head. Before you know where you are, she's descending into schizophrenia. Er, that's it.