Why We Won’t Forget About “The Breakfast Club”

 

There are some movies out there that are simply iconic, whether they define a certain genre. “The Godfather” is considered the ultimate gangster thriller, “Rocky” as the top sports flick, and “Star Wars” as the greatest Space fantasy epic. But when it comes to high school movies, one is nearly always lauded as being the one that nearly everyone will remember as being the one flick which actually gets what’s its like to be a teenager- 1985’s “The Breakfast Club”, written and directed by the  king of 1980’s teen movies, John Hughes (1950-2009).

The Plot in a Nutshell:   March 24th, 1984, Shermer High School. Five high school students, all different stereotypes, who would never interact with each other under normal circumstances,  are forced to spend a  Saturday together – in detention. There’s John Bender, the aggressive, rebellious tough guy (Judd Nelson), Brian, the intellectual, amiable nerd, (Anthony Michael Hall), Claire, the pristine and pampered rich girl (Molly Ringwald), Andy, the acclaimed wrestler (Emilio Estevez), and Allison, the anonymous eyeliner-clad   loner (Ally Sheedy). They appear to have nothing in common except for their detained status and contempt for their overzealous, pompous principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). Initially, they do nothing but snipe at each other, and keep their distance, but as the day gradually wears on,they begin to learn about each of their home lives, and how there’s more to each of them than their first impressions suggested…

Actor/Character Observations:   Everyone gets a chance to shine, and not a single cast member can be faulted for their performances.  Hall is appealing as the sweet, vulnerable nerd with a hidden dark side, and Ringwald manages to make a typical snobby popular girl archetype into a sympathetic character. Estevez shows off his emotional acting chops in a rather touching scene. Sheedy makes the most out of playing a character who doesn’t even speak for most of her screentime, so she has to rely reacting to the others, until she slowly comes out of her shell .She and Estevez get some engaging moments together.  Nelson is at the core of most of the proceedings as  the thug whose wisecracks and bravado mask some deep-seated emotional problems.

The adult characters aren’t as strong as the teenagers, but Gleason delivers in his role as a grouchy disciplinarian who has lost touch with his youth. Finally, John Kapelos, as Carl the Janitor, acts as a foil to Vernon, in that he can easily relate to the kids, and has much more common sense than Vernon.

 My Favourite Scene(s) in “The Breakfast Club”: Where do I even begin with this category? There’s the crazily awesome dancing sequence where the gang just lets loose and dance together in the library, the club’s big emotional therapy session, and Bender’s “Eat my Shorts” verbal smackdown to Vernon (which may or may not have influenced Bart Simpson’s catchphrase only a few years later) .

But the most poignant moment has to be that after the group have emotionally opened up about their respective issues, they deduce that they’ll never be like their abusive parents. This prompts Allison to utter  “When you grow up, your heart dies”. This line alone sums up the belief that once we grow up, we lose all touch of the innocence and the possibilities that supposedly attends our teenage years. It’s after this scene that our protagonists appear willing to defy the  fate of becoming just as cold and uncaring as their parents before them.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “The Breakfast Club”: The scene that I always find difficult to watch in an otherwise fantastic movie is the one which takes place after Claire shows off her “lipstick trick” in front of the others (i.e. her ability to put on lipstick using her breasts). Bender is the only one who is unimpressed, and proceeds to cruelly mock and belittle her in front of everyone else.  Granted, he did have a rough home life, but it was still no excuse for reducing the poor girl to tears.

Ratings and Recommendations: So, after watching the movie again, do I still like it as much as I did? Well, after watching it again, I have to admit that it’s still one of my top movies. Even though it had been a while seen I had last viewed it, I still recall relating to the characters and their plights. The reason that this movie continues to relate to modern audience  members is because nearly everyone can identify with the protagonists. Even if you don’t empathize with the kids, you can still feel for Carl and Vernon, much like my friend. It delivers the underlying message is that nobody is alone, and we’re all going through similar issues in our lives, without being preachy.  “The Breakfast Club”earns a total of 4 and a half out of 5 stars from me.

So what do you think?  Is “The Breakfast Club” a classic or just plain overrated? Which clique did you fit into in school? Feel free to let me know! But for now, I’ll let Simple Minds have the last word with their iconic ditty, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. Until next time!

“Secret Admirer”- Possibly one of the Oddest Teen movies of the 80’s?

Greetings and salutations, everyone! My apologies for my prolonged absence from this blog. I hope to remedy this problem with my next selection of reviews in the foreseeable future, so please stay tuned for more 80’s content!

I have seen my far share of corny movies in my time. Some can be charming in their ridiculousness.However, some can seem to  have all the makings of a typical 80’s teen romp, yet attempt to do do more than its material knows what to do with. This brings us to today’s subject: “Secret Admirer” (1985). The plot synopsis appears to be rather straightforward at first glance, but as the movie progresses, you’ll find that it’s anything but simple!

The Plot in a Nutshell: Michael Ryan (C. Thomas Howell) is your standard 80’s high school student who is infatuated with the blonde, seemingly unattainable Deborah Anne Fimple (Kelly Preston), while his brunette platonic friend Toni (Lori Loughlin) harbors a covert crush on him from afar. When Michael receives an anonymous letter in his locker, his buddy Roger (Casey Siemaszko) convinces Michael that Deborah Anne is the sender, despite her already having a college boyfriend in Steve (Scott McGinnis). He decides to reciprocate by sending Debbie a letter of his own. However, he proves to be less than a skilled writer, so Toni secretly doctors it before delivering it to Debbie, who instantly becomes smitten with Michael.

At this point, you’d think you know what to expect from a movie in this genre, right? Well, not so with this one! You see, the love letter ends up in a bag belonging to Michael’s father, George (Cliff DeYoung), who is taking a night school business class from Debbie’s mother Elizabeth (Leigh Taylor Young ). Naturally, George mistakenly thinks that the letter is from Elizabeth, and they engage in one of those comedic tropes I’ve always loathed, in which two characters talk about two completely different things, but somehow think that they’re discussing the same subject, which is typically laden with a string of sexual innuendos. It would be easier if they could just figure out the misunderstanding and sort it out, but then we wouldn’t have “hysterical” shenanigans!

Meanwhile, Debbie and Michael start to date and hit it off, much to Toni’s jealousy. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Debbie’s tough police officer father, Lou (Fred Ward) uncovers the letter in his wife’s purse, where Debbie had previously hidden it, and suspecting the worst, seeks out the help of George’s wife Connie (Dee Wallace Stone) in order to catch out their offending partners in the act. How’s this one going to pan out?

Actor/Character Observations: Lori Loughlin, as Toni, delivers possibly one of the more rounded performances in this picture, and is likable enough that you want to see her get the guy. C. Thomas Howell is credible enough in this movie, although wooden in places, and Kelly Preston is convincing enough for the most part as the stereotypical blonde popular girl. The adult actors do try to make the material they have to work with plausible, but it comes off as being preposterous.

My Favourite Scene(s) in “Secret Admirer”: Although many scenes in this movie are way too outlandish and over the top to take seriously, especially those between the adults, there are a few genuine, tender moments between the teenagers, especially the conversations between Michael and Toni, which compensates slightly for the more hammy and forced hiumours involving the adults. The actors have just the right amount of chemistry together which makes it seem believable that they could be close friends.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “Secret Admirer”: One scene which made me cringe, in addition to the aforementioned “double meaning conversation scene”,  was a confrontation between the parents late in the movie, where a tense meeting during a card game gradually segues into a full scale brawl between Lou and George,  culminating in tables being overturned and food splattering everywhere, which is obviously designed to be funny, but mostly comes off as being awkward and try hard. In general, many of the parent’s scenes feels as though it belongs in a separate  movie involving cheating spouses and adultery, and not as a side plot to a light-hearted teen comedy.

Actors Before They were Famous: A few years after this movie, Lori Loughlin got her big break from portraying Aunt Becky in “Full House”, which incidentically had an episode play out like the plot of this movie. The late Cory Haim appears in a bit part as Michael’s bratty kid brother, Jeff, who by stealing the letter, sends most of the plot into motion. Finally, Casey Siemaszko would pop up in “Back to the Future”, which was released a month after “Secret Admirer”, as one of Biff’s cronies.

Ratings and Recommendations: I award “Secret Admirer” a total of 2 out of 5 stars. While it’s generally an inoffensive, harmless teen movie, some of the characters aren’t that likable or relatable, with the exception of Toni, and many scenes just feel gratuitous, as though they’re present merely to increase the movie’s running time. Even though I gave “Can’t Buy Me Love”(1987) some flack for being too formulaic when I critiqued it, at least I can give it some credit for knowing what kind of story it wanted to tell.

In my opinion, “Secret Admirer” might have been better off if it had focused solely on the teenagers and their romantic entanglements, and not so much on the parents. I may not have enjoyed this movie to the same extent as other teen movies, and while it certainly isn’t the most memorable, you’ll enjoy the sheer ridiculousness of it all if you don’t analyse it too much. Until next time!

“E.T.”is a Magical Classic that Never Fails to Enchant

Greetings, fellow bloggers! For my Halloween review, I have decided to review the 1982 Steven Spielberg classic, “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial”. Spielberg considers it to be a loose sequel to one of his previous works, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977). It’s regarded as a children’s film, but it appeals to the entire family as well. It’s undeniably a classic, for both old and young alike, and is iconic for featuring memorable scenes and quotations. I had originally penned a review for “E.T.” elsewhere on the site, but decided to revisit the movie again, after binge watching many a “Stranger Things” episode!

The Plot in a Nutshell: 10 year old Elliot (Henry Thomas) is a lonely, alienated kid living with his sarcastic older brother Michael (Robert McNaughton), precocious little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and his single mother Mary (Dee Wallace), who is still reeling from her husband having left her several months previously for another woman. Elliot is fetching a pizza in his back yard when he gets the feeling that something, or rather someone, is closely watching him.

It’s none other than the eponymous character, E.T., an alien who has been left behind by his own kind. Elliot is at first petrified of E.T., but then discovers that E.T. is just as lonely as himself, and wants to “phone home” to contact his own family, and alongside Michael and Gertie, makes it his mission to protect his new found ally from being discovered by their oblivious mother. Alas, sinister government agent “Keys” (Peter Coyote) seeks to take E.T. away…

My Favourite Scenes of the Flick: In a word, this movie is… timeless. Everyone remembers one significant scene from their childhood memories from this movie. That’s why it’s hard for me to choose just one moment. There’s the famous moon shot with the bicycle levitating across it, Elliot using  “Reese’s Piece’s” to lure E.T. out of hiding, E.T. going out treat or treating with Elliot and Michael at Halloween, and gleefully mistaking a kid dressed as Yoda from “Star Wars” to be one of his own kind, and my personal favourite, E.T. getting drunk off of some beer in the fridge, which causes Elliot to feel the effects of this in class, and revolt and unleash a gang of frogs from being dissected: “back to the rivers, back to the forest”!

While this is happening, E.T. watches “The Quiet Man”, the classic 50’s movie starring John Wayne as a retired boxer. As soon as the scene where he forcefully kisses Maureen O’Hara materialises, this causes Elliot  in his inebriated  state to kiss one of his pretty blonde school mates (Erika Eleniak)… only to find that she’s much taller than him. Thankfully, one of his buddies decides to help him out by allowing Elliot to stand on him so that he can have his kiss. This was a major “Awwww” moment for me when I was younger!

My Least Favourite Scenes of the Flick: It’s tricky for me to find a scene in this movie which I don’t like, but as a kid, the scenes towards the end of the movie where the government officials are invading Elliot’s home wearing spacesuits always gave me the chills as soon as they find out that there’s evidence of an alien in the dwelling. Watching it years later with a more mature perspective, it doesn’t come across as scary as it had been, but it’s still a tense moment.

Cast and Actor  Observations: For me, the casting in this movie is truly perfect. Henry Thomas is superb as the lonely Elliot, who finds solace in a similarly lost soul, and Robert McNaughton gets in a few comical moments as the initially aloof brother turned protector. Dee Wallace convinces as the mother who, for the most part, is unaware for the goings on surrounding her, as she’s so engulfed in her own grief. But the star performance for me was a young Drew Barrymore as Gertie. I just find her acting to be cute and endearing, and not irritating, as some child actors can be. I never fail to crack up at her declaring that she doesn’t like E.T.’s feet, in that matter of fact way that kids sometimes are particular to. As an additional note, Harrison Ford was to be cast as Elliot’s school principal who reprimands him after the frog incident. However, Spielberg felt that having such a well known thespian would distract audiences from the story, and ultimately sacked Ford.

My Take on “ET”: Part of the reason that “E.T.” is such a memorable movie even 34 years after it was first released is that it illustrates what it’s like to be a kid, especially during the chase scenes towards the end. (Word has it that Spielberg deliberately filmed the angle from the kids’ perspectives, so as to evoke a clear cut sense of opposition against authority). It’s without a doubt my  favourite movie by Spielberg, and one which I never get tired of watching. Plus, as I outlined in  my review of “The Goonies”, it gave me an appetite for “Reese’s Pieces” candy, an opportunity which “M and Ms” turned down, as they believed that the film would be a complete and utter flop. Needless to say, they ultimately came to regret the decision when “Reece’s Pieces” trumped them in sales.

Rating and Recommendations: “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” earns a full distinction of 5 out of five stars from me. It’s a fantastic movie which has aged well. It spawned several parodies, most notoriously in the form of the blatant rip-off that was “Mac and Me” (1988), but that’s for yet another review. The oldest I’d recommend a kid to be to watch this movie is 8 years old, as there are several scary moments. Also, the ending still manages to tug at my heartstrings, and likely will with old and young alike.  Happy watching!

“Stranger Things” is a Marvelous Homage to 1980’s Pop Culture

Greetings! Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past two months, then you’ve probably  heard of the Netflix streamed series that took the world by storm earlier this year- “Stranger Things”, created by twins Matt and Ross Duffer. The Duffer Brothers have worked on shows such as “Wayward Pines” in the past. The Duffers have cited the works of Stephen King and John Carpenter  to be their biggest influences behind the show’s themes. They’ve even gone so far as to emulate the font from many of King’s novels for the title screenshot. It also pays homage to many of the classic movies of the 1980’s, such as “The Goonies”, “Stand by Me” and “E.T. : The Extraterrestrial” . It was a surprise summer hit that came right the heck out of nowhere, but instantly garnered a loyal fanbase.

After hearing about the rave reviews that it had been receiving, I decided to binge watch all eight episodes of the current series. After having viewed all of the episodes in about two days, I have so much to discuss regarding it.

The Plot in a Nutshell:  November 1983. In the sleepy suburban town of Hawkins, Indiana, 12 year old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) disappears suddenly under mysterious circumstances one dark night after playing “Dungeons and Dragons” with his circle of misfit friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) . His frantic mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder) is convinced that Will is still alive, and tries to communicate with him by using alphabet Christmas lights. Chief Hopper (David Harbour) is similarly anxious, and gradually uncovers a governmental conspiracy headed by the ominous Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine).

While searching for Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin stumble upon Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), a mystical young girl with a shaved head and psychic abilities. Feeling that she can help them locate Will, the boys take her in as one of their own. They speculate that whatever stole Will is a creature similar to the “Demogorgon” from “Dungeons and Dragons”, and dub it as such.  Meanwhile, Will’s older brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) teams up with Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) to combat the Demogorgon, with the hope of finding both Will and Nancy’s best friend Barb (played by fan favourite Shannon Purser).  As these disparate parties continue to work upon the same case, things gradually come to a head in the final episode…

Actor/Character Observations: In my opinion, all of the actors were expertly cast in their respective roles. Winona Ryder, in particular, is convincing as a mother who has lost her child. While there are times when her performance can seem a little grating, it’s understandable, given the situation at hand. The child actors all give credible performances, particularly Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. She doesn’t receive many verbal lines, seeing as Eleven has a basic gap in her language lexicon. However, what she lacks in words she more than makes up for with her eerie silence and haunting presence. The other preteens are also given time to shine, and their diverse personalities help to make them relatable to the audience. Dustin was easily my favourite of the bunch, as his one liners cracked me up to no end.

My Favourite Aspect of “Stranger Things”: What I love the most about this series is that it creates an essence of wonder of the 1980’s, and it’s evident that the Duffer brothers have a deep fondness for films and TV shows of that era. In addition to the original story, there’s references to nostalgic shows and pop culture that is synonymous with the 1980’s. Even if you come into this show not knowing what to expect, chances are that you’d be impressed by how spot on their references are in relation to the time period.  However, I occasionally found the obvious parallels, especially to “ET” and “The Goonies”, to be a little too overdone at times. On the other hand, that may be simply part of the show’s charm.

Ratings and Recommendations: “Stranger Things” receives a rating of 5 out of 5 stars,as I found “Stranger Things to be a riveting, enjoyable show.  What adds to its current popularity is that the narrative focuses on adults, teenagers and pubescent children, which means that several members of those demographics can relate to the various exploits that the cast get embroiled in, complete with supernatural elements. I’d suggest viewing this show if you’re a fan of Stephen King’s work, or if you’re a fan of supernatural movies such as “Aliens”.

As of this writing, a second series of “Stranger Things” has officially been commissioned,  and will be expected to air sometime in 2017. Here’s hoping that this upcoming continuation will supply all the answers to the questions that remain unanswered. But no matter what unfolds in Season 2, more stranger things will be afoot for our protagonists!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

“Sing Street” is a Fantastic Irish Musical Comedy

For my latest movie review, I’m going to critique a movie that was released a few months ago in my native country of Ireland, and features a copious amount of Irish actors and was filmed in Dublin- “Sing Street” (2016), directed by John Carney. It deviates from my usual reviews in that it’s a recent movie which takes place in the 1980’s, as opposed to being released in that decade. The movie has drawn comparisons to Alan Parker’s 1991 musical comedy, “The Commitments”, which is also a movie about a group of youths based in Dublin who put a band together. Despite both of them including actress Maria Doyle Kennedy in a supporting role, the plots of both flicks are vastly different.

The Plot in a Nutshell: The year is 1985. 15 year old Conor Lalor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) doesn’t have the most enviable home life. His parents, Robert (Aidan Gillen) and Penny (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are constantly at each others’ throats. While his sister Ann (Kelly Thornton) copes by burying herself into her schoolwork,his college dropout brother Brendan  (Jack Reynor) smokes pot and makes wisecracks.  Due to the downsizing of the economy, Conor is transferred from his private school to Synge Street Christian Brothers School, a rough Catholic establishment. After running afoul of both schoolyard bullies and Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley), the school’s oppressive principal, Conor spies mysterious budding model Raphina (Lucy Boynton) from across the street. Willing to impress her, he offers her the chance to star in his band’s music video. The slight catch? The band doesn’t exist.

Nevertheless, Conor gathers a motley crew of musicians, who remarkably have all the skills needed to create a band. Guided by Brendan, he starts to write original songs for the group, now called “Sing Street” after their school, in a bid to distract himself from his crumbling domestic life. Along the way, he starts to become closer to Raphina, and he begins to embark on a path that he never quite anticipated…

Character/Actor Observations: For starters, the young ensemble cast was very expertly cast. I felt that all of the teenage band members had a natural presence, and that they would be the type of youths that I would run into on a daily basis. As someone who is used to seeing actors in their twenties and beyond portray teenagers on screen, it was refreshing to see real teenagers take on these roles. I especially liked the prominent relationship that Conor has with Brendan, as they reestablish the bond through their love of music. Reynor steals many of the scenes that he appears in, and has excellent brotherly chemistry with newcomer Walsh-Peelo. Lucy Boynton is well cast opposite Walsh-Peelo, and many of their scenes together were tinged with the appropriate amount of tenderness required.

My Favourite Scene in “Sing Street”: Two scenes vie for being my favourite in the movie. The first comes about when Sing Street are shooting their first music video, entitled “The Riddle of the Model” (definitely NOT inspired by Raphina). The video looks amateurish, exactly as if a group of kids had filmed it, with the band sporting garish costumes. The song is additionally catchy to boot!

The second scene appears much later in the movie, when Sing Street are scheduled to preform a concert in their school gym. Conor fantasizes about the whole school breaking out into a dance, to their song, “Drive it like you stole it”, clearly influenced by “Back to the Future”, with the students decked out in 1950’s attire, much like that movie. Beneath the humour, however, there is an undercurrent of sadness to this sequence, but it still manages to be entertaining and visually stunning to look at.

My Least Favourite Scene in “Sing Street”: If I’m being completely honest, I was on board with this film and the characters until the climax. Without giving too much away, I felt that the end didn’t quite mesh well with the rest of the movie, and frankly seemed a little rushed in my opinion. Some of you may hold different opinions on the ending, and I’d be interested to know how anyone feels regarding it.

Actors Before They were Famous: The jury’s still out on whether any of the young cast will amount to greater things in the future. However, it still contains supporting performances from many notable Irish actors, such as Aidan Gillen from acclaimed Irish gangster drama “Love/Hate”, and the aforementioned Maria Doyle Kennedy, who has appeared in such works as “Downton Abbey” and “Jupiter Ascending”.

Ratings and Recommendations : If you’re a fan of 80’s bands such as Duran Duran, The Clash, A-Ha and Hall and Oates, then I’d suggest watching this movie, as it makes for a trip down memory lane of sorts for those who grew up in the 1980’s. For those who were not as fortunate to grow up in that era, such as myself, it can give an insight to how people lived in Ireland in that period.

In summation, “Sing Street” receives a grand total of 4 and a half stars out of five. If you enjoyed this movie, I’d suggest watching some of John Carney’s other directorial projects, such as the Academy Award winning “Once” (2006), or 2013’s “Begin Again”, for some more tales of musical triumphs and pitfalls. Highly recommended!

 

Elisabeth Shue beats the Babysitting Blues in Classic 80’s Comedy

Hi there! Since the Disney Channel’s remake of “Adventures in Babysitting” starring Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson premiered  as the 100th Disney Channel Original Movie recently, I decided that I would also view its 1987 predecessor of the same name, directed by Chris Columbus, who was also in the director’s chair in the first two movies in the Harry Potter Franchise, as well as “Home Alone”, “Gremlins” and “Mrs Doubtfire”.

Growing up, I used to dub this movie as “The Female Ferris Bueller Movie”, as even though the plots are vastly different from each other, they both deal with the characters having adventures through the course of only a few hours. And naturally, both deal with the main characters having to race to get home before the parents do. So, how does “Adventures in Babysitting” hold up almost 3 decades after its initial release?

The Plot in a Nutshell: It was only supposed to be a simple babysitting gig… Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) is your average suburban teenager who is anticipating date night with her hunky boyfriend Mike (Bradley Whitford), when he cancels on her at the last minute. So she’s lumbered with having to babysit the two Anderson kids, precocious and sarcastic Sara, (Maia Brewton), who has an obsession with sledgehammer wielding superhero Thor,  and sensitive older brother Brad (Keith Coogan), who has his own obsession in the form of an unrequited crush on his babysitter. Chris gets a sudden phone call from her runaway best friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who is stuck is a dodgy bus station in the middle of the Chicago city. After being blackmailed by Brad’s sleazy friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) into taking him along with them, the quartet take off to pick up Brenda.

On route, Chris’ car gets a flat wheel , prompting them to hitch a lift with  one-armed trucker”Handsome” John Pruitt (John Ford Noonan), who seems friendly, until he finds out that his wife is cheating on him, that is. Following a shootout against the adulterous pair, Chris and the kids make a break for a getaway vehicle, right as it’s being stolen by amicable car thief Joe Gipp (Calvin Levels). This leads them to them being on the run from gangsters/car thieves after Daryl steals a Playboy with crucial information written on (and the model just so happens to resemble Chris- what are the chances?)

From there, the night just gets more crazier from that moment on, with their crazy excursion leading them to a blues club, a college party, where they run into helpful college student Dan(George Newbern), and a climax which involves a skyscraper tower. Will our heroes ever make it back before the Anderson parents?

Actor/Character Observations: Even though I felt that Elisabeth Shue’s character in “The Karate Kid” was rather bland, here I feel that because her character was of the most importance this time round, she actually carries the movie along. And the kid actors here given funny  lines, and generally weren’t annoying, as some child actors are prone to be. Out of the three kids, I enjoyed Sara the most, as she had some of the best quips. Coogan’s Brad was sweet and at times pitiful, thanks to his unattainable crush on Chris.

My Favourite Scene(s) in “Adventures in Babysitting”: The scene where Chris and her babysitting charges find themselves in a blues club following a chase from the gangsters and are forced to improvise a blues number to get off the stage. Chris sings a ditty inspired by her hectic night, with the blues musicians backing them up, complete with real life musician Albert Collins making an appearance as himself. The 2016 Disney remake converted this scene into a rap battle ,as a way to appeal to contemporary generations. In my case, it simply made me cringe for the entirety of its duration, and didn’t compare to the blues scenario of the original.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “Adventures in Babysitting”: I may be in the majority with this, both I found the scene towards the end of the movie where the quartet have to sneak into a party where Brad and Sara’s parents attending seems would have to get my vote for the scene I found tiresome. It appears to be more slapstick in tone than the rest of the movie, and the bulk of that scene features Chris having to don a mink coat to evade the possibility of the Andersons spotting her. It just didn’t work well at all for me.

Actors before they were Famous: Believe it or not, but Daryl’s actor, Anthony Rapp, would go on to originate the role of aspiring filmmaker Mark Cohen in the first production of legendary musical “Rent”. Similarly, Bradley Whitford, as the caddish Mike, later went on to have a career on the successful political show, “The West Wing”. (Even though Mike is presumably a high school senior, like Chris and Brenda, Whitford was 28 at the time, and he looks every one of those years!) Finally, Vincent D’Onofrio, from “Full Metal Jacket”, “Men in Black” and “Jurassic World” fame, cameos as Dawson, the garage boss.

Ratings and Recommendations: I’d give “Adventures in Babysitting” a solid rating of 3 and a half stars out of five. While some of the situations that our heroes find themselves in border on being slightly ridiculous, chances are that you’ll just go along with the plot, regardless of the lack of realism presented.

If you liked this feature, then I’d recommend viewing “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (you can read my review of the flick here.) If you’re interested in seeing the Disney remake, which has toned down many of the adult themes of the 80’s classic (namely omitting the swearing and the Playboy subplot), I’d suggest watching that with younger children. Please let me know if you’ve seen the reboot, and whether you prefer the classic or original flick!