Bruce Willis does Baby Talk in “Look Who’s Talking”

In the late 1980’s, there were a crop of “baby pictures” released, which entailed the main characters looking after an infant. These included “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), “Baby Boom” (1987) ,””For Keeps”? (1988) and today’s subject, Amy Heckerling’s 1989 comedy, “Look Who’s Talking”. The best part that makes the movie stand out from all the other baby related movies? Bruce Willis provides the internal thoughts for the baby!

The plot follows New York accountant Mollie Jensen (Kirstie Alley), who has been having an affair with her married client Albert (George Segal), for quite some time. When she becomes pregnant from the tryst, Albert at first offers to stand by her, but then double crosses her by cheating with another woman, leaving her to be a single parent. After a heated public confrontation between Mollie and Albert, she goes into labour, and happens into the taxi of friendly cab driver James (John Travolta). He gets her to the hospital on time, and stays around to help for the birth of  baby Mikey.

A few days later,  James stops by to return Mollie’s purse, which she’d left in the back of his cab in the ensuing drama.  He immediately bonds with Mikey, and acts as his babysitter in order to help Mollie out. Mollie, determined to give Mikey the best possible father figure, starts dating an assortment of men, but none of them seem to fit the bill.  As time passes, sparks begin to fly between Mollie and James, with Mikey giving his two cents along the way. It’s actually a lot more funnier than it sounds!

Even though the movie may verge into silly territory at times, it works because of the charisma of the leading players. Travolta has been on record as stating that his role of James is the closest to his real life personality. The similarities don’t stop there – both James and Travolta are pilots on the side. He interacts well with Kirstie Alley, and they make a convincing “will they/won’t they couple”. Willis delivers a hysterical vocal performance as the baby. It’s worth noting while Willis and Travolta are the best of pals in this movie, just a few years later in “Pulp Fiction” (1994), they played anything but friends!

Some highlights of this flick include James dancing with Mikey to the Katrina and the Waves hit “Walking on Sunshine”, and again to Gene Pitney’s “Town without Pity” with Mollie in the kitchen, proving that Travolta has still got the dance moves he showcased in classics like “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) or “Grease” (1978). There are also a series of comical imagination sequences, frequently experienced by Mollie. These range from her considering whether or not her various dates will make a suitable father for Mikey based on how they treat the waiter, to her literally hanging atop of a clock tower after being told that her “biological clock is ticking”.

The movie was followed by two sequels- “Look who’s Talking Too” (1991), which features the exploits of Mikey and his young half sister Julie, who is voiced by Roseanne Barr. The second sequel, “Look Who’s Talking Now” (1993), doesn’t rely on the kids’ thoughts being heard, since they’re now old enough to speak for themselves. However, Diane Keaton and Danny DeVito are on board, as the voices of the two family dogs . While both of these movies are enjoyable in their own ways, they don’t compare to the original, in my opinion.

“Look Who’s Talking” earns 4 out of 5 stars, as it’s a warm, engaging comedy that worth seeing if you’re a fan of any of the leads, if you like baby themed movies, or if you fancy hearing Bruce Willis engage in providing the thoughts of an infant, in contrast to his more action orientated roles.  Happy viewing!

Serenades, Boomboxes and John Cusack make”Say Anything” an Endearing Love Story

As per a recent request, I’ve decided to make the 1989 Cameron Crowe romance movie, “Say Anything”, the subject of my newest post. Chances are, many of you have heard of the movie through the excellent 2010 high school comedy, “Easy A”. You may also have heard of the movie through the countless parodies that have been spawned of a particular scene involving a boombox playing Peter Gabriel’s “In your Eyes”. But the question is, how does the rest of the movie hold up in comparison to that scene?

The Plot in a Nutshell: Recent high school graduate Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is a kind-hearted, yet aimless underachiever with no set direction in his life other than kickboxing. Diane Court (Ione Skye) is the brainy class valedictorian with a scholarship in England ahead of her. They’re poles apart, but when they become an item the summer before college, no one is more opposed to the match than Diane’s divorced father, James (John Mahoney). The owner of a retirement home, James has always shared a special bond with Diane, to the point where he has encouraged her to “say anything” to him, hence the movie’s title. The last thing he desires is for his precious daughter to be distracted by who he deems to be an irresponsible slacker.

As the summer progresses, Lloyd and Diane grow more in love with each other, eventually leading to them consummating their relationship in the back of a car. Pressured by her father, Diane ends things with Lloyd. Never one to be deterred, Lloyd attempts to win back her affections, to no avail. Meanwhile, Diane grows to see that perhaps perfection isn’t everything, and that maybe Lloyd is the only person she can truly trust, as her beloved father comes under scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service…

Character/Actor Observations: This movie is one of my favourites in John Cusack’s filmography. In my opinion, Lloyd is one of the nicest, most sympathetic characters that Cusack has ever portrayed on screen. Though his earnestness, he creates a character whom the audience empathizes with. Ione Skye is an excellent choice as  Diane, conveying the unsureness  of a high school girl who, despite having all the makings of success, but has felt alienated throughout her school career as a result. Lloyd admires her for her intelligence, and despite her initially not knowing much about him, they hit it off. The chemistry between Cusack and Skye comes off as being authentic and unforced, and they have several gentle, charismatic moments together.

My Favourite Scene in “Say Anything”: My favourite scene from this movie would have to be when Lloyd and Diane are proclaiming their love to each other after Lloyd’s kickboxing session. After all they’ve been through, it makes for a heartwarming moment that they’re both vowing to be there for each other from that moment onwards.

My Least Favourite Scene in “Say Anything”: Although it’s hard for me to select  a scene from this film that I didn’t think worked well, I have to say that I felt slightly underwhelmed by the famous boombox scene. Perhaps this was due to having seen it relentlessly be lampooned through various forms of pop culture over the years, that when the scene itself popped up, it was something of a letdown for me. While I feel that it’s still a powerful, striking scene in its own right, I was ultimately let down by the hype surrounding the scene in pop culture.

Actors Before they were Famous: In addition to Cusack, his sister, Joan Cusack, appears in a few brief scenes, as Lloyd’s… sister. John Mahoney, of “Frasier” fame, appears in one of his earliest roles, pulling off an impressive American accent which hides his British origins. Finally, future “Six Feet Under” actress Lili Taylor has a supporting role as Corey, one of Lloyd’s female confidants, who advises him “The world is full of guys. Be a man, don’t be a guy”.

My Take on “Say Anything”: “Say Anything” has quite a straightforward story, but treats the main characters with sympathy. What I admire the most about this movie is that through his direction of the material, Cameron Crowe permits for us to view James as a humane character, and not a one dimensional caricature. The two most vital relationships in the movie are ones that Diane has with both Lloyd and her father. For me, one of the highlights I have watching the movie are seeing both of these respective relationships evolve and be altered. To my surprise, I found myself feeling sorry for James, as while some of his actions were questionable, he comes across as any parent who simply wants the best for his child, and not as a one note villain, as some other teen movies may have portrayed him as.

Ratings and Recommendations: “Say Anything” receives a distinctional rate of 5 out of 5 stars from me. Its story make be straightforward, but it’ll appeal to those of you who enjoy watching films which showcase the ordinary lives of teenagers, while not preaching or looking down on them. The narrative understands what it is to be a teenager with a seemingly impossible love.

If you enjoyed this feature, then I recommend some of Crowe’s other works, such as “Almost Famous”, “Jerry Maguire” or “Elizabethtown”. As always, if you have any suggestions for a movie or a TV show that I could review, please feel free to share them in the comments!

A Slapstick Christmas Vacation is to be had with the Griswolds!

Everyone has heard of the National Lampoon movies. In fact, they may have risen to prominence over the last few years. Each of these flicks focus on the zany exploits of the Griswold clan, headed by well-meaning but bumbling patriarch Clark W. Griswold (Check Chase). We’ve followed them on their adventures on “Vacation”, in”Vegas” and in “Europe”, with each outing inevitably getting them into all sorts of awkward shenanigans.

More recently, there was a rather mediocre attempt to replicate the comedy and hilarity of the previous installments in “Vacation”, which features many of the same material, but with less of the charm, as the Griswold son, Rusty (Ed Helms) tries to give his family the same joyous vacation experiences as the ones he was introduced to.

While I  certainly wasn’t a fan of that reboot, my favourite of the series has got to be “Christmas Vacation”, which is the only film where the Griswolds stay at home, with the action primarily circulating on preparing for Christmas. As you might guess, things never go as simply as you may expect, especially if your name is Clark Griswold!

In this installment, Clark is determined to have himself a festive holiday , with the added perks of a Christmas bonus from his job with his patient, long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids Rusty and Audrey (here played by Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis, in keeping with the running gag of the Griswold kids having different actors each movie). But alas, it’s not to be, Clark gets into all sorts of antics over the season. From Clark’s goofy Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) who lives in a Recreational Vehicle, snobbish neighbours Todd ( Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis Drefus), and Mary (Nicolette Scorsese), a comely lingerie saleswoman who somehow sends Clark into a fluster, especially when his son Rusty cottons onto him! Add a feral squirrel, a kidnapped boss and a hostage situation, and you’ve got one heck of a Christmas!

The humour of the “National Lampoon” movies might not appeal to everyone’s tastes, as they contain slapstick pratfalls, toilet humour and plain old cringy moments, mainly at the expense of Clark. But somehow, the cast makes this material work, no matter how outlandish or over the top it may seem. Chevy Chase, in particular, continues to play Clark as the bumbling, put upon guy we love to watch. The selling point of this flick  for me is definitely just Clark’s interactions with his Cousin Eddie .  Whether he’s nonchalantly watching him pour his sewage all over his front lawn while wearing a skimpy bathrobe, or reacting to Eddie kidnapping his boss after a rhetorical request gone awry, you just know that there’s some laughs lined up!

In fact, Quaid’s Eddie proved to be so popular that he was given his own TV spin off movie in 2003. Unfortunately, I recommend that flick even less than I do the new revamped “Vacation”.

“Christmas Vacation”  may not have much to recommend it, and contains no Oscar worthy performances, but if you’re in need of a chuckle just after Christmas, then I suggest watching this flick. “Christmas Vacation” gets three and a half stars.

Peace out,  and have a Fantastic New Year!

 

 

“Teen Witch” is not the Finest Hour for Witchcraft

Resuming my reviews of 80’s movies which are fantasy or thrillers, I am going to take you back to 1989’s corny movie, “Teen Witch”. You may have heard of the flick through the popular web video vlogger, “Nostalgia Chick”, when she reviewed it way back in 2008. The video inspired me to check it out for myself. And boy, was I in for quite a ridiculous, if entertaining watch!

“Teen Witch” was made to cash in on the success of the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy “Teen Wolf”. However, it mostly catered towards boys. The solution for a more female orientated version? Make the female lead a witch. It concerns Louise Miller (Robyn Lively, sister of “Gossip Girl” actress Blake Lively), a dorky 15 year old girl who pines after star athlete, Brad (Dan Gauthier),but he’s oblivious to her existence, and is happily dating the perky Randa (Lisa Fuller). If that wasn’t bad enough, her sadistic English teacher Mr Weaver (Shelley Berman) continually harasses her on a regular basis in front of the entire class.

The week before she turns 16,  she has a chance meeting with psychic Madame Serena (Zelda Rubinstein), who reveals that Louise is one of the descendants of the Salem witches,and will inherit her powers on her 16th birthday. Louise’s powers enable her to exact revenge on her tormentors, make her nerdy date David disappear (who, despite being seen as less desirable than Brad, actually reminds me of a retro Buddy Holly), and turn her annoying kid brother (Joshua John Miller) into a dog, with water reversing these spells.

As Louise’s powers manifest, she uses them to make herself popular at school, and Brad eventually falls victim to her charms, so to speak. But her new found popularity causes friction with her best friend Polly (Mandy Ingber)…

“Teen Witch” is a movie more renowned for its mediocrity than its credibility. In fact, most of you who have been brave enough to watch the movie the entire way through might only remember the cheerleaders prancing around the locker room to a “new cheer” and declaring that they “like boys”, which seemed to be a thing in the 80’s. The boys in this flick aren’t immune to spontaneous dances either, as a trio of wannabe rapper guys periodically strut around the school corridors, with nobody appearing to bat an eyelid at how random this spectacle is. They come to fruition again when Polly faces off against their leader, Rhett (Noah Blake), thanks to Louise’s confidence boosting powers.

My general consensus of this flick is that it’s watchable enough, as long as you don’t take it  too seriously. Although I may mock it every time I see it, “Teen Witch” remains one of my all time favourite Halloween viewing movies. For that reason, it receives a score of 2 and a half stars from me. Top that!

Three Quotes/ Three Day Challenge -Day Three Robin Williams

Thanks once again to Mrs N of “Princess of the Light” for selecting me to partake in the “Three Quotes for Three Day Challenge”. The rules are to choose a quote on any subject, then tag three bloggers to participate in the next challenge.

For my final quotation, I look to the late, great Robin Williams for some words of wisdom.

Today’s nominees are as follows:

Badfish

Stevenjcurtis

IMPREINTofficial

Hope that you all rise to the challenge!

Meet the Goofiest Uncle on the Block!

In honor of the upcoming reboot of John Hughes’ classic family comedy, “Uncle Buck”, I watched the 1989 original movie version in order to take a trip back down memory lane, as I hadn’t seen the movie since I was a youngster. Nevertheless, I was determined to view this flick from a more mature standpoint, and compare to how much my opinion of it since I last watched it.

Buck Russell (John Candy) is a slobby, yet amicable guy, who is unemployed, and is frequently nagged by his long-suffering girlfriend, Chanice (Amy Madigan) to find a real job, settle down with her and have kids. Buck, the “black sheep” of his family, is adamant that he doesn’t want to marry or have kids. But this mindset is changed when his brother Bob (Garrett M. Brown) calls him with an emergency- his wife Cindy’s (Elaine Bromka) father has suffered from a heart attack. Buck is left in charge of Bob and Cindy’s three children while they drive to help.

Buck soon acquaints himself with his nieces and nephew- inquisitive 10 year old Miles (Macaulay Culkin), adorable 6 year old Maizy (Gaby Hoffman) and Tia (Jean Louise Kelly), a typical sarcastic teenager. Although Buck hits it off immediately with the two youngest kids, cynical Tia makes Buck a prime target for her offbeat quips.

Buck soon busies himself doing the day to day household duties, whether it be microwaving Maizy’s socks following a mishap with a washing machine, making comically enormous pancakes for Miles’ birthday, or trying to protect Tia from her loathsome boyfriend, Bug, “as in spray” (Jay Underwood). Will Buck manage to get Tia to warm to him before her parents return?

“Uncle Buck” is a character that John Candy appears to be quite at home playing. Although Buck may seem to be a nutty ,cuddly teddy bear on the outside, he ultimately proves to be a watchful and vigilant protector when anyone dares to mess with his nephew or nieces. In my opinion, nobody else could have portrayed Buck to the perfection that Candy did here.

Offering fine support are Macaulay Culkin in a role not unlike his later famous role which catapulted him to fame, as Kevin McAllister in the first two “Home Alone” movies, (Fun Fact: in the scene where Miles is peering through the door flap at Chanice when she comes to call on Buck, and instead sees a trio of crooks, gave Hughes the idea to write a movie with that premise), Jean Louisa Kelly as his rebellious foil, and Amy Madigan as his no-nonsense girlfriend.

“Uncle Buck” gets three and a half stars out of five from me, due to its engaging plot and humor, mostly from the title character. However, parents should be warned that the content isn’t entirely family friendly, with swear words being uttered by kids and adults alike, and Buck smacking a drunken birthday party clown. There’s additionally talk of Tia’s repulsive boyfriend pressuring her to go all the way with him. Proceed with caution!

Steel Magnolias is a Fantastic Weepy about Female Friendships

Upon hearing the premise of “Steel Magnolias” (1989) – a group of southern women share secrets and advice in a Louisiana beauty parlour- I was a tad skeptical as to whether this flick would be any good. However, the inclusion of renowned actresses such as Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah and Shirley MacLaine in the cast, not to mention the successful stage play off which it is based, I was convinced to check out this movie. And boy, am I glad I did.

As the story opens, nurse Shelby (Julia Roberts) is due to be wed to Jackson (Dylan McDermot), a hotshot lawyer. Her loving, yet shielding mother, M’Lynn (Sally Field), frantically assists her in preparing for the nuptials. Also at the centre of the story are sunny beautician Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton), Annelle (Daryl Hannah), her demure, recently appointed assistant with a questionable past, and Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) and Clairee (Olympia Dukakis), a pair of wealthy widows who occasionally butt heads more often than not.

These six women are there for each other, through thick and thin. When Shelby, a diabetic, announces her pregnancy shortly after the wedding, M’Lynn is cautious of the risks having a child could potentially bring to her daughter’s body, but is nevertheless supportive of the decision. As Shelby’s disease starts to take its toil on her, M’Lynn soon realizes that she needs the friendship of the group at the beauty salon more than ever…

The playwright behind “Steel Magnolias”, Robert Harling, based the character of Shelby on his sister, Susan, who also battled against diabetes for most of her life, and eventually finally succumbed to the condition. Harling himself cameos as the pastor who marries Jackson and Shelby at the beginning of the movie.

While the male actors are decent enough, with Dylan McDermot, Tom Skeritt and Sam Shepard all delivering strong performances, this is ultimately a woman’s picture, as their distinctive personalities and problems drive the story along. They are all given a chance to come into their own. MacLaine and Dukakis offer some comic relief in addition to the harrowing main story line with their witty verbal banter. Daryl Hannah is unrecognizable as the initially frumpy Annelle, who gradually becomes her own person throughout the flick, thanks to the nurturing of  Dolly Parton’s  Truvy. Hannah was seen as being too attractive to portray Annelle at first, but the filmmakers reconsidered when Hannah turned up to her audition dressed dowdily.

At the heart of the story is Shelby’s relationship with M’Lynn. The two actresses are suitably effective, with Field giving her performance her all as the distraught mother determined to do right by her daughter. Roberts is just as impressive in one of her earliest roles, going on to receive an Oscar nomination in the process.

I hereby award “Steel Magnolias” a total of four out of five stars for its ability to tug at the heartstrings. Be warned, you will need plenty of tissues on hand towards the end! I would also recommend the 2012 television version, featuring Queen Latifah as M’Lynn.