Molly Ringwald’s Baby Blues in “For Keeps”?

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) ,”Look Who’s Talking” (1989) and today’s topic, “For Keeps”? (1988). It is notable for starring 80’s favourite, Molly Ringwald, in her last leading role. Famous for her collaborations  with director – writer John Hughes in the “Brat Pack” movies, she eventually decided to sever ties with Hughes out of fear of becoming typecast, and wishing to pursue more adult film roles.

Ringwald plays Darcy, a high school senior who dreams of becoming a journalist. She is very much in love with her boyfriend, Stan (Randall Batinkoff). That gets tested when a weekend of sex leads to Darcy becoming pregnant. This prompts Darcy and Stan to have to face the consequences of their actions, and grow up beyond their years. Both of them face pressures from their parents regarding what to do about the baby. Darcy’s single mother Donna (Miriam Flynn) wants Darcy to get an abortion, while Stan’s devoutly Catholic parents (Kenneth Mars and Conchata Ferrell) urge them to go through with adopting the baby.

Ultimately, the young couple decide to keep their baby, and so drop out of high school and get married, but find that the responsibilities of young parenthood clash strongly with their ambitions for their future. Will they manage to tackle their newfound roles, or will they crumble under the pressure?

“For Keeps” had the best of intentions, but the production of this movie ultimately proved to be quite a troubled one. Ringwald mentioned that she originally signed on for the project to alert teenage girls about the realities of becoming parents at an early age. She would later go on to star in the ABC Family (now Freeform) series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, where she portrayed the mother of a pregnant teenager (Shailene Woodley), for much the same reason.

They also wished to showcase a successful instance of teenage  marriages, and that not all of them end badly. The film’s director, John G. Avildsen, who was known for directing such classics as “Rocky” (1976) and “The Karate Kid” (1984)clashed with Ringwald . Ringwald and Avildsen had differing perspectives on how to address the issue of teen pregnancy, and the script reportedly had to be altered numerous times. Ringwald envisioned the project as a “funny, cautionary tale, whereas Avilsden had “an engaging love story” in mind.

To the movie’s credit, it did address some of the drawbacks of pregnancy, such as financial difficulties and postpartum depression, as Darcy and Stan move to a small apartment, and Darcy struggles to give daughter Thea (short for Theodosia!) the support and care she requires. However, this is presented in an over the top, melodramatic manner, that it can be tricky to care about their problems when they are constantly fighting in an overzealous fashion. It has been acknowledged that Ringwald hoped that this movie would pave the way for more mature projects, and judging from her overacting in some scenes, it is rather apparent. That being addressed, her scenes with Batinkoff come off as touching and emotive. Batinkoff didn’t go on to any major roles after “For Keeps”, but he gives a mature, nuanced performance for the most part.

While “For Keeps” didn’t exactly catapult the careers of anyone involved, it is notable for having an up and coming Pauly Shore in a minor role as one of Stan’s friends. The ending ends on a positive note, but it seemed like everything was tied up a little too hastily and tidily.

I’d recommend this movie if you’re a fan of Ringwald and her earlier work, or enjoy coming of age stories. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of “For Keeps”, I didn’t despise it, either, as there were some moments that were done well, yet some others (such as a toppling Christmas tree) seemed to be thrown in just to illicit some slapstick and laughs into the gravitas. In summation, “For Keeps” earns 3 out of 5 stars.

 

Join Peggy Sue on an Adventure 25 Years into the Past…

Hi, everyone! I don’t know about any of you, but I have always been entranced by stories which feature the characters either time travelling to the past (likely before they were born) or to the future. When it comes to time travel movies, there are the classics (“Back to the Future”), the abysmal (the 2002 remake of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”, starring Guy Pearce), and the tremendously goofy ones (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”). That brings me to today’s movie, “Peggy Sue got Married” (from 1986), where Kathleen Turner gets the chance to relive her high school years.

The Plot in a Nutshell: Life isn’t looking too bright for Peggy Sue Bodell (Turner). She’s on the cusp of divorce from her wayward husband Charlie (Nicolas Cage), whom she married at the end of high school when she got pregnant. When she goes to her 25th high school reunion with daughter Beth (Helen Hunt) in tow, she meets up with her old school friends, including Richard (Barry Miller), former class nerd turned billionaire inventor. When she, alongside Richard as her King, is crowned as “Reunion Queen”, she ends up fainting on the stage.

When Peggy comes to, she’s shocked to discover that it’s 1960, and she’s been transported into her senior year of high school. After her understandable shock, Peggy is determined to do things right the second time around, as Peggy Sue Kelcher, where she’s expected not to drink, have sex or experiment with drugs. Peggy confides her  dilemma to the teenage version of Richard, and in turn for his solution to her time travel conundrum , offers him advice about future inventions in the 1980’s.   She becomes closer to her parents (Don Murray and Barbara Harris) and little sister Nancy (Sophia Coppola), fools around with mysterious Bohemian poet Michael (Kevin J. O’Connor), and attempts to prevent herself from getting tied down by Charlie at an early age. But will Peggy discover the reason she fell for Charlie in the first place, or does destiny have other plans in store for Peggy Sue?

Cast and Acting Observations: Kathleen Turner was 32 years old when she made this picture, yet she convincingly plays both a high school teenager and her 42 year old self. This isn’t an easy feat to achieve, but Turner pulls it off with enough charm to make this unlikely scenario plausible by just her performance alone. Nicolas Cage adopts a dodgy accent as Charlie, but nevertheless delivers all the right notes as a character who has more layers to him than Peggy or the audience initially gave him credit for.

Actors Before They were Famous: When I first watched the movie, I was greatly amused to see Jim Carrey in a supporting role as Charlie’s goofball of a best friend, Walter. In addition, future “Lost in Translation” and “The Virgin Suicides” director Sofia Coppola is Peggy’s preteen sister Nancy, five years before she become known for her less than stellar, but not downright horrible, turn as Mary Corleone in “The Godfather Part III”, which, like “Peggy Sue”, was directed by her father, the legendary Francis Ford Coppola.

My Favourite Scene(s) in the Movie:  I (and those of you who may detest Maths as much as I always have) got a kick out of the scene where Peggy awesomely lectures her sadistic teacher on how she won’t have have any need for Algebra in the future. But the real scene that makes the movie for me is when Peggy answers the phone in her home, only to realize that she’s talking to her long deceased grandmother (Maureen O’Sullivan). Overcome with emotion, she hurriedly flees, with her mother having to comfort her without realizing the true instigation behind her daughter’s outburst. Anyone who has ever lost anyone close to them can easily empathize with Peggy’s plight.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in the Movie: While this may just be a ridiculous nitpick in an otherwise enjoyable movie, there was one scene that I found to be a little awkward. After Peggy has revealed her strange situation to Richard, they’re confused as to whether she’s in limbo or dead. Then Richard proposes testing out the “dead” concept, and proceeds to shove Peggy onto the path of an oncoming fire engine to determine this theory. While it’s rather short-lived (with Peggy leaping out of the way just before the engine hits home), it still unsettled me. If she hadn’t jumped away just in the nick of time, then Richard would have been accidentally, but directly responsible for her demise. I know that it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but still.

My Take on “Peggy Sue got Married”: I immensely enjoyed the movie, as I felt that it was a fantastic representation of time travel movies. It may inevitably draw comparisons with the similarly themed “Back to the Future”, which was released just a year prior to this this flick. However, “Peggy Sue” is a remarkable film in its own right, and an unexpected picture from the man who directed “The Godfather Trilogy”.

My Rating and Recommendations: “Peggy Sue Got Married” gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book, as it’s a compelling movie with sympathetic and engaging characters. If you’re intrigued by movies concerning time travel, then please feel free to check out my reviews for “Back to the Futureand Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure“.

Dustin Hoffman proves that he’s no Drag Act in “Tootsie”

Hi, everyone, it’s me, Bibliophile96, back from a long hiatus to critique some more flicks from my favourite decade: the 1980’s! I’ve been insanely busy as of late, so much so, that I’ve been neglecting this blog! Well, I’m back to remember some of the most memorable, (and in some cases, the not so memorable) movies which were released in the 80’s, although occasionally I gravitate towards movies or T.V. shows which use the 1980’s as a backdrop. So if you have any ideas for anything I should review, please let me know!

Today’s review will focus on the ultimate drag movie, at least since 1952’s “Some Like it Hot”- “Tootsie” (1982), which proved to be one of Dustin Hoffman’s finest performances to date, in my own personal opinion. Although it’s billed as a comedy, with the main plot being about a man who crossdresses to land a role on a primetime soap opera to earn extra cash, it actually runs a lot more deeper than that simple concept. This leads me to describe:

The Plot in a Nutshell: Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) is an actor who is known for being notoriously difficult to work with. After his friend Sandy (Teri Garr) auditions for, and subsquently fails to get, the plum role of “Emily” in “Southwest General”, a parody of “General Hospital”, a similar real life series also set in a hospital, Michael is desperate for an acting job, as well as money to finance a play scripted by his wisecracking roommate, Jeff (Bill Murray). In fact, he’s so desperate that he auditions in drag for the exact same role- as “Dorothy Michaels”. Once he lands the role, he becomes acquainted with his co-workers, such as glamourous single mother Julie (Jessica Lange), belligerent, sexist show director Ron (Dabney Coleman), aging costar John (George Gaynes)and Julie’s widowed father, Les (Charles Durning).

But as “Dorothy” becomes increasingly more successful, Michael finds himself developing feelings for Julie which greatly exceed friendship, which doesn’t help the fact that she thinks he’s a woman. Michael starts to date Sandy after she walks in on him  scrutinising her clothes in order to generate more ideas for Dorothy’s outfits, but covers this up by sleeping with her in order to keep his secret hidden. And if that wasn’t complicated enough, both Les and John make bids to court “Dorothy”, which inevitably leads to many comical misunderstandings. Will Michael’s dual identity take its toll on him, or can he find a way to extricate himself from this compromising situation?

My Take on “Tootsie”: On paper, you wouldn’t think that a film such as “Tootsie” would really work, due to how implausible the plot seems to be. However, this turns out to be a charming, hilarious comedy. This works primarily because of Hoffman, although the support of the other actors helps as well. Hoffman actually convinces as a woman, not just through his clothing choices, but through his demeanor and mannerisms. It’s worth noting that during the making of this movie, Hoffman dressed up as his daughter’s “Aunt Dorothy” for a parent/teacher conference in order to test whether the costume would be effective on other people outside of the film. As a result, the teacher  was fooled by the deception, therefore showing how successful Hoffman was.

Actor Observations: Aside from Hoffman’s remarkable ability to convince as a man and a woman, there are copious  supporting cast really shine. Jessica Lange delivers a well deserved Oscar Winning performance as love interest Julie, almost 30 years before “American Horror Story” would resurrect her career, so to speak. The always brilliant Bill Murray delivers his usual wry, deadpan jokes, particularly at the expense of Michael’s situation. The film’s director, Sydney Pollack also gets some interesting lines in as Michael’s long suffering agent, George. In addition, watch out for a pre-fame Geena Davis (as Julie’s co-nurse on the Show within a Show) and Estelle Getty (Sophia from “The Golden Girls”, in a bit part towards the end of the movie).

My Favourite Scene: It’s a tough call, but the two scenes which tie for being my favourite scene is when Michael, in his Dorothy guise, is invited to stay for the holidays with Julie, Les and Julie’s baby, Amy. It’s such a gentle, tranquil moment, set to the movie’s theme song, “It Might be You”, by Stephen Bishop. It strikes a chord with me because it shows that Michael is starting to really embrace his role as a woman, which fits in with the overall concept of “a man learning how to be a better man by becoming a woman”, of the movie.

The other scene which is a strong contender for the distinction of being my favourite scene is when Sandy suspects Michael of cheating on her after seeing a strange woman (“Dorothy”, naturally!) exit Michael’s apartment. The scene, along with Teri Garr’s bombastic chewing of the scenery, has to be seen to be believed!

Would I Recommend Watching this Movie?: I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who’s a fan of Hoffman’s work, or just likes comedy movies in general.

My Rating of “Tootsie”: I would give “Tootsie” 4 and a half stars out of five, as it’s very entertaining and iconic!

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Reinhold Swaps Bodies with Fred Savage- and Vice Versa!

We all recall the body swap movies of yore which seemed especially prominent in the 80’s- such as “18 Again”, “Like Father, Like Son”, “Dream a Little Dream”, and “Big”(which deviates from the standard formula in that Tom Hanks plays himself at a different age). All of those movies were released around the same time period of 1987-1989.

However, one that stands out most from my childhood is the Judge Reinhold – Fred Savage vehicle “Vice Versa” (1988). It tells the tale of Marshall Seymour (Reinhold), a harried executive  of a Chicago department store who is too busy to make time for his girlfriend/co-worker, Sam (Corinne Bohrer), or his 11 year old son, Charlie (Savage). When Marshall and Sam travel to Thailand, a mysterious bejeweled skull accidentally ends up in Marshall’s possession.

Upon his return, his ex-wife, Robyn (Jane Kaczmarek) announces that she’s booked a vacation with her new husband, so is dumping Charlie on Marshall for a few days. Neither one is satisfied with this arrangement, which isn’t helped by the fact that the two have a strained relationship.

Things come to a head one morning when Marshall and Charlie get into an argument regarding each other’s lives and simultaneously wish to switch places, whilst both are holding onto the skull. What happens next terrified me for ages after watching it- Charlie, who struggles with being small for his age, begins growing rapidly right as Marshall literally shrinks down to Charlie’s level, all with spooky music and lighting only serving to intensify the creepiness of the transformations.

Now trapped in each other’s bodies, Marshall and Charlie need to cope  with living the other’s life. Marshall realizes that school is tougher than he remembered, with school, bullies and hockey practice. Charlie is now “6′ 2 with the brain of an 11 year old” who has to cope with being the head of a department store, as well as trying not to screw things up with Sam for his dad’s sake. Adding to the complications, crooks Tina (Swoosie Kurtz) and Turk (David Proval) are on the prowl for the skull, and will go to sinister lengths to reclaim it…

While “Vice Versa” won’t be as memorable or recognized as the best 80’s flick of all time, but it’s full of laugh out loud moments. Savage is more convincing as the reasonable adult into his son’s body than the flighty kid, similar to his “Wonder Years” character. Reinhold has fun has the kid inside the adult’s body, particularly in the scene where he gets back at the bullies who tormented him, or when he’s dancing to “Mony Mony” after the swap.

I rate “Vice Versa” a total of four out of five stars, as it contains decent performances. I’d recommend this movie to kids of 12 and older. However, this flick contains swearing, with the majority of it coming from Marshall as Charlie, who additionally indulges his woes in cocktails in quite a few scenes. Nevertheless, it still manages to come across as an enjoyable flick.