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Movie Madness (1982)
Dreadful! This is the kind of movie you wonder how the cameras ever started rolling. Aside from anyone getting a paycheck, you can't imagine why it was ever completed. It must have been in the can for months while they figured what to do. No point in ever watching except for seeing again that a great cast can do nothing with a terrible, terrible script. You wouldn't laugh on a dare watching this. I agree with the previous contributor who stated his is much worse than "Plan 9." The fact is big Hollywood films like this that don't try are much worse than the small no dollar indies that are making an effort. This is why even an Ed Wood is better than trash like this film or say "Endless Love." Perhaps the unfunniest comedy ever made. As Widmark says at one point, "Kid, you can really be boring."
Hustling for Health (1919)
Back in availability
This short is now available on the Hal Roach DVD "The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy Vol. 1". The liner notes on the DVD identify the poor sap Stan knocks over at the train depo as Dwight Frye, although this is 10 years earlier than any film listed on the IMDB Frye credits list. The print is worn but relatively good shape with Stan's makeup looking very heavy and almost mime-like at times. Actually everyone's makeup is heavy as several of the "suffragette" types have "racoon eyes." The sets are quite primitive compared to his later shorts. But, he's still funny as a the classic put-upon sap, especially when loaded down with boxes or pulling a wagon. I loved his love-lorn gazing at the pretty neighbor unfazed by the drenching downpour. quite an artifact.
Wild Wild West (1999)
Why did they bother?
Tied with the awful Avengers for the worst adaption of a classic 1960s TV series. It makes me wonder why anyone would bother to pay for the rights if they aren't going to make anything that bears much resemblance or makes good use of the original's concepts. Sonnenfeld who did such a great stylish updating of the Addams Family seems to have been drinking absinthe when he cast Will Smith as James West. Smith is a fine actor but he's no more suited for the part than Jim Carrey or Tom Hanks would have been either. Did no one notice he and Kevin Kline didn't have one tenth of the chemistry that Robert Conrad and Ross Martin did? The reinvention of Dr. Loveless is not only Kenneth Branaugh's worst performance but an insult to the great work Michael Dunn did on the original series. The whole film misses the charm of the "James Bond in the old west" that allows for the fun of repeated viewings of the classic episodes. Atrocious attempts at humor add nothing. Perhaps Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could have captured the arch flavor of Conrad's work. A sad waste of another beloved childhood favorite.
A Simple Plan (1998)
The best film not nominated for Best Picture of 1999
Easily the best film not nominated for Best Picture of 1999, A Simple Plan is riveting and thoroughly suspenseful. Some of the best performances I've ever seen in any American film.
Probably Bill Paxton's best work. The brother played by Billy Bob Thornton is one of the screens most subtle and tragic characters of modern cinema. The outstanding cinematography that place the action in stark snowscapes underline the quiet descent of corruption that eats away the souls of the characters. Sam Raimi also deserved a best director nod. This film is his best showing a major leap of maturity and subtlety in his work. Elfman's score is also effective.
Get Shorty (1995)
An inside joke
Not a bad film, but very disappointing. It plays too much like a Hollywood inside joke that not enough of the audience is in on. Travolta is his usual charming personna, but Rene Russo is badly miscast. Gene Hack seems to be having the most fun by doing a great take on schlock director Ted V Mikels, down to Ted's trademark horn necklace. I did enjoy the poster of Danny DeVito as Napoleon.