Everywhere You Look – “Full House” in Review!

Following my “Saved by the Bell” review, I have decided to critique another sitcom which aired from the late 80’s until the mid 90’s – “Full House”.  Modern audiences may recognize it due to the recent Netflix revival series, “Fuller House”. It has the honour of being one of the most recognizable  family sitcoms of  the last century.  Even though the bulk of its run-time was through the 1990’s, it still maintains that unique 80’s quality.

This show, airing from 1987 to 1995, centered around Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), a widowed newscaster in San Francisco who is struggling to bring up his three daughters following the death of his wife in a drunk driving accident.  He enlists the help of Jesse, (John Stamos), his ladies man brother in law, and Joey (Dave Coulier), his best friend, and childish comedian, to move in to take care of the girls- D.J. (Candace Cameron), the responsible oldest child, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), the sarcastic middle child, and Michelle (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen), the mischievous baby of the bunch. The show focused on the antics that both adults and girls got themselves into that week, which could usually always end with a heart to heart between one of the men (usually Danny) and his daughters, with a hug often called upon to sweeten up the moment, much to the glee of the studio audience.

Later additions to the main cast included Becky (Lori Loughlin), Danny’s co-anchor who would later be promoted as Jesse’s love interest and eventual wife, their twin boys Alex and Nicky (Dylan and Blake Tuomy-Wilhoit) , Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), D.J.’s kooky best friend with an insufferable stinky foot odour and Steve (Scott Weinger), D.J.’s sweet but slightly dim boyfriend.

“Full House” has garnered a repuation for being a wholesome family sitcom, managing to cement the “sappy emotional music” cue, which played during those aforementioned “golden moments”  . The show played up the cuteness of the child actors, particularly the Olsen twins, who could often be depended upon to deliver a cute catchphrase or one-liner.

Despite the show’s roaring success, the male leads of the show have expressed scorn over the overly saccharine plots. Bob Saget, who is now perhaps best known for his profane, raunchy stand up routines, which is a far cry from the soft spoken Danny Tanner. John Stamos similarly strove to put the show behind him by selecting gritter roles.

Nevertheless, almost all of the original cast, with the notable exception of the Olsen twins, signed on for the Netflix revival, “Fuller House”, in 2016. In keeping with the same format as its predecessor, D.J. is now a single mother to three boys,  and has trouble coping after the death of her firefighter husband, so Stephanie and Kimmy step in to help out. As you can imagine, more comedic possibilities ensue! While still considered a “family show, many of the jokes in Fuller House are arguably more laden with innuendo, as summed up here.

“Full House” earns a total of 3 out of 5 stars. Whether you find it or its brand of comedy sweet or sickening, it still remains a staple of classic family driven sitcoms. It’s worth checking out if you like “Fuller House”, or if you, like me, have a love for corny 80’s sitcoms. You got it, dude!

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.