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!

Michael J. Fox is just your Average “Teen Wolf”

Happy October, folks! My apologies for not blogging much as of late. However, I look forward to bringing you some fantasy themed 80’s flicks over the coming month, to prepare for Halloween. Today’s first flick is 1985’s “Teen Wolf”, which later became one of the inspirations for the hugely popular MTV TV show of the same name.

This movie stars Michael J. Fox in one of his most notable outings in the 80’s, albeit one in which he doesn’t travel to the past or to the future in a time-travelling Delorean. He’s Scott Howard, a picked on, socially awkward nice guy, who, of course, pines after blonde cheerleader Pamela (Lorie Griffin), while being oblivious to his best friend Boof’s (Susan Ursitti) affections for him. He is far from the best on the basketball team, with the rival player on the opposing team, Mick McAllister (Mark Arnold), taking particular relish in routinely taunting him. Scott just longs to be seen as special.

And that’s just what he becomes when he involuntary grows hair all over his body during a full moon ,thanks to a hereditary condition possessed by his family in which all the members gradually undergo a complete transformation into (you’ve guessed it) werewolves. Scott confronts his father, Harold (James Hampton), who explains that the curse sometimes passes by a generation, and was hoping that it would be likewise for Scott. (“Well Dad, it didn’t pass me by. It landed on my face!” he exclaims).

After Scott’s secret inevitably gets found out,he almost immediately becomes the host of his high school, due to a teenage wolf being a rarity in a sleepy, suburban town, naturally. But with his friend Stiles (Jerry Levine) looking to exploit him beyond his limits, and Pamela suddenly becoming interested in his wolf persona, can Scott tame his wolf side and win the major basketball game?

First things first, “Teen Wolf” is a silly, at times unrealistic, movie, but it has enough laughs and one-liners that make up for the overall absurdity that is the plot, mainly in the form of Michael J. Fox. “Teen Wolf” came out a month after “Back to the Future”, after Fox was just basking in the success of the latter movie. He has gone on to say that he regrets being part of the former movie, and wisely refused to come back for the sequel, “Teen Wolf Too” (1987), which features a young Jason Bateman as Scott’s cousin, Todd, who tries to balance college life with the trials of being a werewolf (seriously, don’t waste your time with this sequel).

Nevertheless, “Teen Wolf” is a feel-good flick. I’d recommend it if you love seeing Michael J. Fox act as someone other than Marty Mc Fly, and if you want to see a werewolf surfing on a moving van to the strains of the Beach Boys’ “Surfing USA”, or if you like your movies to have a bit of a bite! This flick earns three out of five stars from me!

Grease 2- A Guilty Pleasure Sequel

Everyone knows the original “Grease”, from 1978. Basically, a teen cool boy and studious girl spend one idyllic summer together on the beach before they go their separate ways- him to Rydell High School, her to Australia. Then they meet up again weeks later in school, only for her to find that he’s the leader of cool clique, the T-Birds, and doesn’t want to tarnish his reputation. After many sing songs and teenage angst, she changes her appearance, they fly off in a car together, The End.

That movie has always been somewhat of a guilty pleasure to me. But what even a greater guilty pleasure to me is the sequel, “Grease 2”, which succeeded the first movie by four years. Many fans of “Grease” tend to disregard the fact that this sequel even exists. I may be in the minority, but for a while, I favoured “Grease 2” over the original. It’s not that the original was bad, per se, I just felt that there was more going on in the sequel.

“Grease 2” is merely a rehash of the first film’s plot, only this time round, it’s the guy who changes for his love interest, who is a member of the Pink Ladies, and not vice versa. To me, the songs are catchier, the comedy doesn’t feel as forced, and it’s so corny you’ll actually enjoy it all the more. There had been plans to make a franchise of “Grease” films, as well as a TV show, but once the sequel proved to be a bomb at the box office, those plans were well and truly thwarted.

In 1961,Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) is an exchange student from England, and cousin of “Grease”‘s Sandy Oleson (Olivia Newton-John). He falls in love with Pink Lady leader Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer), but he learns from Frenchie (Didi Conn), one of the only returning characters from the original, that he needs to be a T-Bird in order to have a chance with her. What’s a nerdy guy like him to do?

Obviously, this entails doing the T-Bird’s homework for cash, learning how to drive a motorbike and moonlighting as a mysterious bad boy biker, with only goggles to obscure his face. (This disguise somehow fools everyone,  despite half of his face still being visible, but I digress). While Stephanie likes the smart, nice guy side of Michael, she becomes smitten with his cool biker persona. Will Michael win her heart by just being himself? Only time, and corny, angsty tunes, will tell.

The thing about “Grease 2” that I never used to like while growing up was the fact that there are only a handful of characters returning from the first movies, such as Frenchie, Principal McGee (Eve Arden), her scatty assistant Blanche (Dody Goodman), Coach Calhoun (Sid Caesar) and butt monkey geek Eugene (Eddie Deezen). It’s nice to see a few familiar faces, as none of the former cast members appear, although we never find out what happens to the original characters, namely Sandy and Danny (John Travolta).  Frenchie, my favourite character from “Grease”, has a mini subplot about going back to Rydell after dropping out in the original, but promptly disappears halfway through the run time, and it’s never properly resolved. This is partially due to the script having not been completely finished by the time filming commenced.

The songs of “Grease 2” may not hold a candle to “You’re the one that I want”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, or “Summer Nights”, but I couldn’t get the songs of the sequel out of my head for days after watching this flick. Notably, there’s “Let’s do it for our Country” (where T-Bird Louis (Peter Frechette), attempts to trick uptight girlfriend Sharon (Maureen Teefy) into being intimate with him, under the pretense of a war breaking out, but she, for some reason, thinks he’s alluding to joining the army!)  “Cool Rider” (where Stephanie expresses her desires for, you’ve guessed it), “Score Tonight” (a song about hooking up, disguised as a song about bowling, with a plenitude of double meanings to boot) and, most famously, or rather infamously, “Reproduction” (where a nervous substitute teacher (Tab Hunter) tries to give a talk on sex to his class of hormone driven 20 something teenagers, who are becoming more  experienced in that particular subject matter. Yes, it’s just as hilariously creepy as it sounds).

Most of the acting is strained, to say the least. Maxwell Caulfield blamed the movie for ruining his career, but I feel that he comes off as very likable, compared to Adrian Zmed’s Johnny, Stephanie’s ex and T-Bird leader. Michelle Pfeiffer, in her first major role, is not at her best here, but she has her moments of interest as well.

While it’s no “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Godfather Part 2”, “Grease 2” still manages to be an entertaining, if tremendously silly sequel, and for that reason, it earns three stars out of five. It’s worth viewing for “Reproduction” alone, if only to see how unbelievably over the top the number really is, as well as the supporting cast members. Even if you weren’t a fan of “Grease”, I’d recommend viewing the sequel just to giggle at the overall silliness of the movie. Grease 2 is the word!