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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Beverly Hills Ninja - Five (1997)

Beverly Hills Ninja
Cast: Chris Farley, Billy Connolly, Nathaniel Parker, Nicolette Sheridan, Robin Shou, Chris Rock 
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $31 million

Plot: A man tries to rescue a woman with a little help from his half-brother

'Silly, Stupid, Farcical..... Which Partly Sums Up My Enjoyment Of This Movie'

So we've had Beverly Hills Cop 1, 2 & 3, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Down & Out In Beverly Hills, it was only a matter of time that we had a martial arts comedy joining this line-up, but none of us saw it coming when it starred Saturday Night Live's then latest comedic prodigy, Chris Farley playing a fat ninja. 

The 1990s was an interesting decade for comedy movies, with particular emphasis placed on so-called low brow, dumb and farce comedies that involve stupid and sillier routines, gags, banter, humour and slapstick goodness. With characters doing and having stupid - yet funny things happening to them. Examples of these types of movies include Dumb & Dumber and Fathers' Day to name but a few. The humour is so silly and dumb & buffoonish, even little kiddies will find it just as amusing as the adults. 

Beverly Hills Ninja was yet another comedy film that deserves to be mentioned alongside those particular 3 films and of which fits that criteria, perfectly. It was also another in the line of offerings by the late Chris Farley whose career was cut short, due to his unfortunate death. Looking at the film's tagline that reads 'Kung Fool', he surely was that in the movie! & more besides. 

It's more so a parody of martial arts movies, in particular by satirising American martial arts movies, which were relatively known during the 1980s and 1990s U.S movie industry. If I were to categorise this film, I would say it falls between being slapstick and parody. 

Raised amongst other ninjas after being found washed ashore as an orphan, Haru grows up into an overweight ninja and despite his weight, it doesn't deter him in his quest to become a fully fledged martial arts machine. Along the way, he has to protect a young woman from some bad guys, as well as kick ass - even if it means getting his ass kicked too! This of which happens a great deal. Despite being aptly named the 'great White ninja', Haru is anything but great, but rather he is inept, cumbersome, is a total cock-up & manages to get himself injured or hurt in the process. 

Chris Farley is hysterical throughout this film, and one can see the potential he had left unfulfilled as a comedic actor. He could have been the next in line to Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, in terms of in-yer-face comedy. 

Like with all farce comedies, whilst the plot remains stale and thin and doesn't serve much of a purpose, it's the silly antics and gags within the film that drives the narrative forward. & these are very, very funny, ranging from Haru being flung high from a tree to another building.... to working in a sushi restaurant in disguise as a chef & beating up bad guys with fish!  And because this film is centered around Chris Farley that all of the humourous and comedic scenes that occur, revolve around and involve himself. Sure enough, we are laughing at him because of his bumbling antics and when he messes up very easily, and yet it is also for this reason why Beverly Hills Ninja is so damn funny. The ninja gimmick works well in this film too, as Farley plays someone of whom we are supposed to root for: the (unlikely) hero, the good guy, but also in laughing with, alongside and at him as well because he is not so perfect, yet he tries his utmost best. 

Comedians turned actors have different ways of making us laugh: and their brand of humour is key as to whether or not we find what they say and do amusing. Especially in a particular role where they are expected to be more wacky, over-the-top, even during the physical comedy aspects. Chris Farley is an embodiment of this. 

Yes the bad guys are portrayed as stereotypical moving targets and Nicolette Sheridan's sole purpose is to be the film's eye candy & is therefore very one note-ish - yet as this is nothing more than a farce and dumb comedy, this is to be expected. & I shall let that pass because that is what Beverly Hills Ninja tries to be and accomplishes, and nothing more. 

There is one thing I wished could have been a lot better: & that is Chris Rock, in that his role here was way too small and that he doesn't get much of a chance in being funny, which is indeed a shame, because he is a very funny, if at times brash, stand-up comedian. This should've been a good vehicle for him to unleash his humorous banter and wisecracks, in addition to being more involved with some of the action scenes. 

These types of comedy films will never appeal to stuffy, high end movie critics who abhor them, and thus, they will also dish out low ratings and negative reviews. But for people like myself who enjoy a good laugh and don't mind the silliness and absurdity of it, as long as we find it amusing and entertaining, we don't care what they say and think. 

Silly, stupid, farcical, Beverly Hills Ninja is full of laughs galore.    

Final Verdict:

Recommended for those who are looking for a right laugh, but of whom don't care about the plot, nor critical reviews. If you enjoyed Dumb and Dumber and other farce comedies, you'll be entertained by the dumb-foolery of Farley's shenanigans.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Retro Review: Wildcats (1986)

Cast: Goldie Hawn, Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, LL Cool J
Genre: Sports Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $26,285,544

Plot: When a football team nobody wants to coach gets stuck with a coach nobody wants to hire, the laughs go into overtime. Goldie Hawn stars as a divorced mother who dreams of coaching high school football but who collides with sexist opposition. Only when the principal of the roughest inner-city school in Chicago challenges her to take a job everyone else refuses, does she finally get her chance. But tackling the opposition - including tough jocks & a combative ex-husband - may prove too daunting a task

'Arguably, Goldie Hawn's Best Performance By Far'

Kate Hudson's mother, and not least we forget Kurt Russell's wife, Goldie Hawn was one of the - if not the biggest - Hollywood movie actresses that dominated most of the 1980s and 1990s. And before that, she had a brief and notable stint on the comedy sketch series, 'Laugh In'. That show eventually launched her career as a comedic talent and from then on, she later transitioned towards mainstream film, starring in hit movies such as Private Benjamin, Overboard, Death Becomes Her and Housesitter to name amongst a couple. 

Directed by Michael Ritchie who was also responsible for the early 1983 Robin Williams comedy, The Survivors, in Wildcats, Hawn plays the coach of a struggling inner-city high school football team, and like with all fish-out-of-water movies (i.e. Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds), after some resistance from her younger peers, she manages to win them over and turns them into winners. 

Now I know that football means something completely different in different countries: whereas in Europe and here in England it refers to a small round ball that is kicked into the back of the net, in America and Australia, through Aussie Rules Football, football refers to a brown, pigskin, oval ball and a sport that is very much like rugby. It is really rugby with added padding and helmets. But for review purposes, any mentions and references to football I make will be in direct reference to Gridiron, as opposed to football as in soccer.  

So back to the review, Molly (Goldie Hawn) is a divorcee with 2 daughters and, plus she is also the daughter of a football coach. Molly has dreams and aspirations of managing her own side on a competitive basis. But when she finally gets her chance, Molly is lumbered with a bunch of struggling, late 20 -30 yr old jocks at an urban school based in Chicago, as she faces a new set of challenges (that also involves luring the team's best player - & street criminal, Levander Williams back into the fold). Despite the insistence from her rivals that she would fall flat on her face & set up to fail, Molly eventually succeeds. 

She doesn't let them get too infatuated with her pretty looks, nor become lenient in her role; rather she is committed to the task and tells it as it is, becoming stricter and tougher, both emotionally and mentally. And that is in spite of enduring a few sexist comments from the players. Molly also impresses the guys with her physical prowess and shows during the training sessions that she is a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, at home, she raises both her daughters well as a single parent, with her former hubby going out of his way to winning custody of them. She tries to juggle both roles without much success, but that all changes, the longer the film advances. 


For all the mixed reviews for the film, Goldie Hawn being the main attraction of Wildcats turns in what is, in my opinion, her best ever performance, - and it is a performance that hasn't really been toppled by her latter efforts. She was great in Private Benjamin, good in Overboard, all right in Housesitter and Death Becomes Her, & yet was not so productive in Bird On A Wire, The Out of Towners, The First Wives Club, Deceived. As Molly McGrath, she is no dumb blonde compared to many of her other roles she has been known for - in fact, contrary to that, Molly is incredibly knowledgeable, as well as passionate, enthusiastic and no-nonsense, taking no crap from anyone and surely knows the game of football, inside and out and uses that to spur on the players. The film also marks the emerging debuts of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, who starred in latter films like Money Train and White Men Can't Jump as a duo and individually with Blade, Indecent Proposal. There was also a slightly odd character in the team, Finch: the 400lbs guy with attitude, who wasn't lacking in sarcasm but still played a part in leading Central High to success on the field.  

There are some amusing moments and a brief nude bath scene, but for some of the coarse language and a few silly flatulence jokes, which were a little too juvenile and unnecessary. I could have done without the latter. 

Wildcats has been accused of being too predictable, hackneyed and tame in its delivery and though whilst it could do without some of the foul language, in addition to being another in the line of the underdog prevailing against all the odds featurette, it is still an entertaining and at times action-packed sports movie, despite its predictability. & whilst many would have preferred this as a sports drama, even with a basic formula, as a comedy and the nature of the characters, it still works, thanks to the witty and amusing script. The Best of Times starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, Goldie's husband, was also released in the same year as Wildcats, & yet that movie, which is also a football- themed effort, doesn't come as close to this. 

The main highlight is the match between Central High and Prescott for the city championship as the climax of the movie: fast, frenetic, hard-hitting, with great action. It was exciting to see the players charge up and down the field to the opposing end with and without the ball. & though I don't usually watch football, I can see in a film such as this why it is and still is today one of the most popular sports in America. 

There have been a couple of football-based movies produced over the years, but Wildcats is undoubtedly, and arguably the best of the bunch.

Final Verdict:

I'm no big sports fan, but Wildcats is a fantastic football comedy flick that appeals to non-sports fans and football followers alike. Goldie Hawn really comes to life in this film with a masterclass performance that I'd only wished she'd had plenty more meatier roles such as that during her career. 

And yes it's another run-of-the-mill, fish- out- of- water tale, which is cliched. Yet Wildcats also has some terrifically amusing moments, not forgetting the action-packed moments - through the training scenes and the main match- that really gives the movie that 'oomph' it needs. This was a favourite of mines as a child and it's still as fab today when watching it as an adult. 

Wildcats is a film worth sinking your fangs into if you enjoy sports movies, comedies or you just enjoy Goldie Hawn's movies.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Retro Movie Review: The World According to Garp (1982) #RobinWilliams

The World According to Garp
Cast: Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Jessica Tandy 
Genre: Drama
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $30,207,324

Trivia: Robin Williams was originally considered for the role of Roberta, which went to John Lithgow instead

Plot: A struggling young writer finds his work and life dominated by his unfaithful wife & his radical feminist mother, whose best-selling manifesto turns her into a cultural icon

'A Peculiar, Long, Slow - Yet Also Pleasing Reality Show Tale According To Garp'

The World According to Garp is a slightly unusual dramatic movie, especially by Robin Williams's standards. Here he plays a guy who has his share of ups and downs and that with all the unfortunate and sad events that occurred in his life, he appreciated his family, his kids and wife and for living the life that he did. As Topsy- turvy as it was. 

Cited as his major feature film dramatic debut, Robin Williams doesn't appear as T.S Garp until around the 24-minute mark. He looks in great shape during the wrestling scene. He's softly spoken, sweet, at times, shy and sensitive as Garp and there were 1 or 2 touching scenes. He plays the guy we are all rooting for, and this is not without its personal tragedies. 

There are a few adult scenes and moments that include a nude scene where Garp has sexual intercourse with a girl, who later becomes his wife, which rightly and understandably warranted an R-rating. Despite some of the family-friendly scenes with Garp and with Garp as a young boy. 

As a dramatic performance, Robin Williams is great: he plays it dead straight and has some great moments with Glenn Close - however, as the career-defining moment of his illustrious career? Better than Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam and John Keating from Dead Poets Society? Personally, no, this isn't the most career-defining, but it showed bright glimpses of what was to come in his latter efforts and that it is still pretty good. The last 30 or 40 mins was far more interesting than the first 40 mins, with an unexpected twist right towards the end. It's a shame the story lacks the poignancy and depth of say Good Morning, Vietnam. Those 2 hours felt very long and it seems that George Roy Hill was trying to condense a 600+ page book and wanted to tell the full story when here, this is one of the few films that didn't need to do that. Rather just pick the more interesting moments and elaborate on them further.  Having said all that, I always enjoy seeing early Robin Williams movies before his big breakthrough with the latter. Just to see what they are like.

Garp wants a better and happier life for himself and to live a much normal life to the one his mother has planned for him.  

Released in 1982, it's not clear what year or period this film is set in - though by my reckoning I assume it is during the 1950s or 1960s. & like I said earlier though I have not read the book, insofar as to what other users have commented on Amazon, the film does take liberties with the book and alters a few things about it for this movie version, which disappointed fans of the original novel. 

The World According To Garp was not the type of movie I'd originally expected it to be; although it still does its job well, despite a few faults and the twists and turns kept me tuning in. But it isn't, what I would call it, earth-shattering. The story just didn't explode on screen as it should've and there was a lot to take in also. Its ideas are also off-key and fail to connect with the film. It does feel a tad TV-movie-ish also. 

Regarding the characters, I wasn't fond of any of the female characters, although Glenn Close gives a great account of herself, performance-wise. The manner the film deals with feminism, family relationships in respective of the female characters and from their perspectives doesn't feel very thorough and drawn out. The film also features an appearance of Amanda Plummer as an older version of Ellen James: Plummer herself also starred opposite Robin Williams in The Fisher King in 1991. 

The World According to Garp is an offbeat and peculiar drama, which really isn't as great as critics lauded it to be. Original: not really as it was based on the novel, interesting? In places, yes, however, I have a small thing against most movies running at 2 hours long (but for say Steven Spielberg's Hook), and there is a lot in this film that could have been cut out - or perhaps replaced, because a lot of it was just plain boring. The ideas that are presented lack correlation and depth, which should have connected with the film, and yet they, by and large, didn't. 

Just like with Robin Williams's 1986 effort Seize The Day, the performances are wonderful by the main cast members, Williams, Lithgow and Close. But unfortunately as a feature, The World According to Garp is often bogged down with some overdrawn and dull scenes I didn't care much for, not to mention some of the dialogue was rather dull and flat. 

Therefore, the movie would have benefited more by having a director, who had or has a much better vision for it than George Roy Hill's, which really lacked the wow factor. If The World According to Garp was an ice cream flavour, it would be vanilla: plain, kind of boring and not really flavourful.  

If you want to see a really, really outstanding Robin Williams performance and film that for me anyway, far outstrips that of T.S Garp and this movie, then do check out Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Awakenings, Good Will Hunting


Pros +

- Glenn Close and Robin Williams's performances

- Animated sequences were nicely done 

- Robin Williams and Glenn Close's interactions

- Has a few interesting eye-opening moments and interesting plot twists towards the last 30 mins 


- Scenes where young Garp gets mauled by the dog named Bonkers & where he bites Bonkers as an adult

- Over 2 hours long 

- Some of the dialogue sounded dull 

- Some mundane and overdrawn moments 

- Story lacks poignancy and depth of his latter work after 1986

Final Verdict:

My views on this film are not in comparison to the book, which I have not read before, but based solely on his other roles and movies, and more specifically his dramatic performances in the likes of Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting. & frankly, The World According to Garp comes up short. 

Overall, it is a crowd-pleasing film and Robin Williams's performance made this not so entertaining drama & misportrayed film as light-hearted fluff, watchable. Thankfully, Glenn Close, Robin and John Lithgow have appeared and starred in far better projects than this one. Especially for Robin Williams himself. 

If you're looking for an entertaining & earth-shattering Robin Williams movie, there are indeed other better offerings than this one, but if you are looking for a film with some interesting plot twists, then you can't do any better, or worse than this.


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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Retro Review: Soapdish (1991)

Cast: Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Shue, Teri Hatcher, Cathy Moriarty, Kathy Najimy, Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall
Genre: Screwball Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $36,489,888

Plot: An ambitious television soap opera actress connives with her producer to scuttle the career of the show's long-time star, but nothing works as they plan

'Overlooked Screwball Comedy Farce From the 90s'

I remembered when this film first came out in 1991, I and my brother each did a drawing of the cast of Soapdish: mines didn't look as good as his, but in reflecting back it was interesting. I never saw it when it came out originally as I was too young for it, but after a recent viewing of the film, it really impressed me a lot.  

Celeste Talbert is the queen of daytime soap opera and one of the biggest divas on the planet. But after years of success on '', The Sun Always Sets'', she faces a set of problems that involve a niece, who later turns out to be not all she seems, jealous cast members, wacky plotlines and an ex-boyfriend who shows up and has a few scores to settle with her. Whilst all this is taking place, peroxide Blonde bombshell and arch-rival of Celeste's, Montana Moorehead along with David and Ariel hatch a plan to drive Celeste off the show for good, and to make Montana the new darling of 'The Sun Always Sets'. 

Two of my favourite scenes is when Kevin Kline's Jeffery says to Teri Hatcher's Ariel ''you have beautiful eyes'', and she replies ''they're nothing compared to my t**s'' and when Jeffery makes out with Celeste in a funny romantic scene, which they have to act out in front of the crew. 

Currently, this film has a rating of 6.5 on IMDb or something along the lines of that, which is obscene because it deserves a better score than that.

The late director, Garry Marshall, who did Pretty Woman, Overboard amongst other films, plays the head of daytime programming who mutters lines such as ''she's a boy! She's a boy!''. 

Sally Field put on a good performance as Miranda Hillard in Mrs Doubtfire but she was also a dislikeable character. Here as Celeste Talbert, she really is in top gear as she hams it up and breaking new ground in her much lighter role, as she plays the complete opposite of Miranda: she is neurotic, she is feisty and yet she can also be misunderstood at times as well. As well as being rip-roaringly funny and it's not often she gets to be amusing. Sally has terrific camaraderie with both Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Kline, I couldn't really side with either one of them. Cathy Moriarty is wickedly evil as the b****y Montana Moorehead tearing it up with sidekick, David played by a pre- Avengers Robert Downey Jr. who is smitten with her boobs & is practically dying to sleep with her. Whereas Kevin Kline is so good in this, I'm actually amazed at how he isn't a bigger star and how he wasn't as big in the 1990s as he should've been. This performance, alongside as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda further proves he has a fine knack for doing comedy roles. The teleprompter scene is one that can brighten up anyone's mood. I enjoyed Sally and Kevin's scenes together, they had such great chemistry onscreen. Elizabeth Shue's first major cinematic role since Adventures in Babysitting as Celeste's niece/daughter was great, Teri Hatcher - prior to her Lois & Clark New Adventures of Superman and Desperate Housewives days - was in good form too and Whoopi Goldberg puts on an unforgettable show as Celeste's best friend and The Sun Always Sets head writer. It was a great follow up to her turn as a phoney psychic in 1990's Ghost alongside Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. 

What is really interesting about Soapdish is the irony of the message and plotline behind it - Soap operas are known for their over-the-top plotlines, bombshells, exposes and all of these crazy things are happening in real life within the movie and involving the main cast members, in particular, Celeste, her niece and Celeste's old boyfriend, Jeffrey. Though it was made in 1991, Soapdish is way ahead of its time as it parodies U.S soaps. The plot twists are as highly entertaining as they are humourous, the crazier that they become. And unlike soap operas, there is clever writing throughout Soapdish. Although some may feel a little taken aback by the transsexual plot twist that occurs towards the end of the film.

Soapdish is one of those movies that as brilliantly & wickedly funny, entertaining & witty as it is, it rarely gets aired on TV as much as it deserves to be, and that is an utter shame because it truly is an excellent comedy that needs to be seen.

Final Verdict:

Soapdish is a humorous, farcical modern screwball satire that pokes fun at TV soap opera programmes. It's not an Oscar-worthy contender, and yet it is not a film set out to win awards but to make us laugh and entertain, which it precisely does. & it does so with pure, unadulterated joy. 

Life imitated art, and Soapdish truly lived up to that mantle, successfully. This spontaneous and rather overlooked comedy gem deserves one's attention. Especially fans and regular viewers of soap operas, who will certainly lap this one up. 

One of my favourites of 1991, no doubt about that. 


Weekend TV Movie Review: Bad Teacher - E4 (2011)

Bad Teacher
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Lee Eisenberg 
Genre: Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $215,448,997

Plot: For most, teaching is an honourable profession - except for Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). The foul-mouthed, boozy woman can't wait to marry a rich man and quit her job, but she has to rethink her plans when her sugar daddy dumps her. Then Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), a substitute teacher who's cute & rich, arrives. Elizabeth can't wait to sink her teeth into a new meal ticket, but she faces stiff competition from Amy (Lucy Punch), a popular & perky colleague

'An Obscenely Bad Movie' 

I didn't tune in with high expectations, but in coming across so many negative comments and scores for this film, I knew I had to see it for myself to find out whether it is as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. 

Diaz plays a teacher named Elizabeth who has no morals, no depth, is difficult to empathise with. She smokes pot & her improper conduct and lack of ethics spiral downhill. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? For the film that is, yes. 

There are comedy films that are funny, and there are comedy films that resort to crude humour that is to the point cringe-inducing. Seeing Cameron Diaz swear her head off wasn't funny. Her character is obnoxious, unpleasant and foul-mouthed and self-absorbed that all she cares about is getting the money so she can spend it on a boob job. Instead of being a teacher, she should've opted for 
a career in the porn industry. I suppose that had her character been at least funny, I'd have excused some of her behaviours.

I know this is supposed to be a dark comedy & aimed at the teenage market, but seriously the script was just so ridiculous & badly written; it mainly consisted of F-words & scenes of the lead character being so pretentious and vile. The story as straight forward as it is doesn't allow the characters to develop properly, but be mere cartoon character-like characters & act and say things that are 'supposedly' funny. I am no prude and I don't mind cursing in movies, but whereas a film like Spy (2015) had some really interesting and funny characters and the jokes were funny, they weren't funny to the point it was that vulgar, besides the penis scene. But they were funny because there was a point to each gag and scene. Bad Teacher's so-called unfunny and vulgar jokes had no point in any scene or gag, but rather they just left a nasty taste in my mouth. I'm all for low brow humour, - but ultimately when it borders on being so incredibly vile and narcissistic, that's when I draw the line. 

There is a scene where Justin Timberlake sings some song. and the dry humping sex scene involving himself and Cameron Diaz isn't really funny. In fact, I didn't find one scene that was funny, most of the acting came across as being forced and wasn't entirely convincing. There was not one single character that was frankly likeable, no personalities whatsoever - they all had ulterior motives for their actions. 

The film doesn't really go anywhere. It tries to be raunchy with one scene featuring Diaz's character wearing a provocative outfit and trying to wash a car. I managed to stick it out and see it through and after 1 hr 45 mins (or be it 97 mins minus the ads), I was so glad to see it end. It was so poor from beginning to end. The ending was unbelievable but given the state that this movie was in, it summed up how 'bad' it truly was.  

I noticed that in this film the actress who plays Amy looks strikingly similar to Catherine Tate. All the cast members were either miscast, or they just made terrible decisions in being directly involved with this film. Justin Timberlake tried, but he is a better singer than an actor. Or be it not very good with his film choices. One can tell how utterly bored or unconvincing their performances were, due to the terrible and lacklustre writing and lack of character development. 

Watching this whole movie did not leave me feeling good, it wasn't fun to watch this film, it bored me to death as well. It literately makes Horrible Bosses and American Pie look like Casablanca and Gone With The Wind by comparison

Final Verdict: 

Bad Teacher tries to be a Black comedy and it is yet another in the long line of crass comedy movies that mainstream Hollywood has been desperately churning out for the past 10 years, & yet it fails in every respect. It becomes nothing more than a one-joke movie with crass humour, littered with unfunny scenes and lines. Yet the mean-spirited ness of it was what put me off from this train-wreck of a film. 

Boring, crude, lacklustre and a lame attempt at dark comedy and very unappealing and unimaginative, thank goodness this wasn't 2 hours long. I enjoy my comedy movies, but this, by far, instead of the humour making me feel good, it left me feeling absolutely nothing for the characters, nor their fate in the end. 

This is truly one of the worst films I'd sat through in my entire life - yet at least this was on TV and that I didn't spend a dime on the DVD of this film. 

No wonder it was (rightly) labelled a disaster. 


*mark updated: 31 July, 2016*

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Housesitter - 5 Star (1992)

Directed by Frank Oz
Cast: Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, Dana Delany, Julie Harris, Donald Moffat, Peter McNicol
Studio: Universal Pictures
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $94,900,635 

Plot: Architect Newton Davis (Steve Martin) is distraught when his girlfriend, Becky (Dana Delany) spurns his proposal & refuses to move into a lavish house he designed for her. Davis, who cannot imagine himself living alone in the house, shares his tale of woe with Gwen (Goldie Hawn), a dishonest waitress he thinks doesn't speak English. Complications arise when Davis, on the brink of reconciliation with Becky, discovers that Gwen has moved into the couple's soon-to-be dream home

*This review may contain spoilers*

'Neither Steve Martin Or Goldie Hawn's Best Movie, But It Is Still Cute'

Housesitter was released back in 1992 to relatively little fanfare but with mixed reviews, this little rom-com offering sees the interesting pairing of Steve Martin with Goldie Hawn (of whom later reunited for The Out- Of- Towners, which was a vastly inferior film to this one) as an architect, Newton who finds out that waitress & stranger, Gwen has moved into the house that he has built. 

The film plays out more like a screwball comedy, as opposed to your typical standard rom-com as seen in When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman and many more. Steve Martin's character, Newton Davis has his heart broken by his childhood sweetheart, Becky after he presents to her a house that he has built and designed for the pair of them. Astonishingly, she thinks he did a barmy thing that she callously dumps him. Later on, Newton drowns his sorrows and seeks solace in Gwen, of whom he meets at a bar & they end up having a fling together. Goldie Hawn plays a lovable and offbeat con artist/waitress, Gwen: the chronic-yet charming liar who poses as Newton's wife after moving into the house, which was left vacant and both her and Newton stage an elaborate plan in convincing their parents that they are getting married. Martin as Newton is a man trying to get his life back on track, both professionally and in his personal life. 

Complications arise further on in the movie when Newton's feelings for his ex resurface when she admits she made a terrible mistake, after she finds out that he has 'gotten hitched' to Gwen that she tries to weasel her way back into his life and when Gwen realises she has fallen in love with Newton for real. The exchanges between Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin are pretty good and as ever with all rom-coms, this one does have a predictable ending and happy resolution. 

There was a movie titled 'Bringing Down The House' released in 2002, which had a very similar-ish plot-line with the former ex- love, but with the added addition of the kids. That also starred Steve Martin and it was the flip side to Housesitter

Compared to Overboard, Housesitter is not as good, but it is still a somewhat likeable Goldie Hawn movie. It is not either their best effort by a long distance, although it certainly has its moments. Steve Martin plays the lover-able loser protagonist role really well, & a role that he is not usually well known for, whereas Hawn as the awesome love interest exhibits that lovable charm and quirky, free-spirited nature of her character that makes her a cut above Newton's pedestrian and dullard girlfriend, Becky, played by Dana Delany.  

The movie is well paced and is at times, funny and amusing. The acting and performances are good; though there were moments which were so dull that I did not care for them and I just them go over my head. But some of the jokes and humour was good. The humour in many of Steve Martin's movies will not hit you over the head, rather it is very much on the witty side that you have to think about the joke and getting the joke, in order to laugh about it. 

The consequences of stretching the truth are all the more disastrous and amusing -but also for Davis and Gwen, it acts as a real eye-opener as they come to their senses about what they really want. Not just out of this 'fake' marriage but for what they want out of each other, for each other & for their future. 

Final Verdict:

In all, the film is decent and even though it is marketed and comes across as a screwball comedy, there are times where Housesitter completely misses the mark.

The whole pretending to fall in love premise by posing as a husband and wife in romantic comedies isn't a silly idea, nor new, rather it just illustrates how far one will go in this charade and whether or not the other person will see to it that there is more to their 'relationship' than one had previously expected. The fact that Housesitter is a screwball comedy and not your average rom-com, is what attracted my attention in the first place. & I am not usually into rom-coms that much. 

If only the humour and comedy was a lot more consistent; had that been the case, I could see to it being a far more compelling and superior screwball/romantic comedy. 

Both Hawn and Martin have appeared in better movies than this - though I'd still take this over The Out-of-Towners. If you enjoyed Overboard, then I think you will become attached to Housesitter, which whilst it is a dissimilar affair, is still a fairly decent -yet cute rom-com. 


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Retro Movie Review: Hook (1991) #RobinWilliams

Cast: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Dame Maggie Smith
Genre: Fantasy Adventure 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $300 million

Trivia: Robin Williams's upper body and arms were shaved for his role as Peter Pan

Plot: When his young children are abducted by his old nemesis, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), middle-aged lawyer Peter Banning (Robin Williams) returns to his magical origins as Peter Pan. Peter must revisit a foggy past in which he abandoned Neverland for family life, leaving Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) & the Lost Boys to fend for themselves. Given their bitterness towards Peter for growing up - & their allegiance to their new leader, Rufio - the old gang may not be happy to see him  

*This review may contain spoilers* 

(credit to Movie for the Hook screencaps)

'Labelled As A Blockbuster Flop, Hook Is Still An Awfully Great Adventure, Regardless'

Watching Hook on DVD in my 30s, it strikes me to think that back in late 1991 right into 1992 it endured such a nasty backlash from moviegoers and critics & naysayers galore. Because really, it is nowhere near as bad as its reputation and notoriety suggests. The cast and crew seemed to have fun on the set of the movie, judging by the 'Making of Hook' documentary that can be found as one of the extras on the region 2 DVD. I went into Hook not being so familiar with the Peter Pan story: the only other Peter Pan related media source I was aware of, was the famous & classic 1953 Disney movie.

1991's Spielberg version of Peter Pan sees the role reversal of the boy who wouldn't grow up.... to the man who grew up too fast and too much. The film begins in present-day America with Peter Pan as a sharp-suited lawyer named Peter Banning, who has no recollection of his past as a Lost Boy, of whom is obsessed with success, drinks too much and doesn't spend much time with his family. This is something that is picked up by his son, Jack, who feels somewhat neglected and ignored by his dad. He and his family pay a visit to Wendy in London. Through his transformation into Peter Pan and whilst in Neverland, he reclaims his roots and is forced to look within for the real Peter Pan, using this influence to help him fight Captain Hook and to rescue his children. Hook, by vengeance, kidnaps Peter's children & brainwashes Jack, in his attempt to reignite their rivalry. Along the way also, his experiences in Neverland as Peter Pan helps shape his outlook on life, in addition to making him become a better person and a more loving father. 

It can be argued the film's title is misleading; as 'Hook', - without watching this film, nor have any inclination of what it is about -, implies that the film is told from Captain Hook's perspective, when really this is about Peter Pan but now called Peter Banning, who is now a lawyer and happily married with kids.

Despite everything that was said and written about Hook by critics, in truth, there is not much difference between this movie and Disney's Peter Pan: Likewise, Peter's children, Jack and Maggie Banning are the ones captured instead of the Darlings and Peter has to learn how to fly again. 

Though quite a great deal has been said about Julia Roberts's performance as Tinkerbell from all quarters - with most of it being rather harsh -, but given the material and lines she had to work with, I felt she did what was expected and asked of her. That it is not her fault, but rather it is down to the writing and characterisation of Tinkerbell, which could've been fleshed out a little bit more in this film. It's all too easy blaming the casting of Julia as Tink when the responsibility in the character's characterisation falls on the shoulders of its creators and writers. People can say she was hired because of her looks and due to the success of Pretty Woman and being Hollywood's A-list 'it girl' at the time, as arguably there weren't many other actresses around her age around at the time. But Julia & her role as Tink didn't annoy me at all: rather her performance was quite endearing and was just as how I'd envisage Tinkerbell as, & as a character in this version of the Pan story. I thought the Peter and Tinkerbell unrequited love saga with Tink having feelings for Peter were rather interesting, and in acting as a sub-plot to everything else that was taking place. And then, of course, there was that onscreen kiss between herself and Robin Williams as characters, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, which ruffled a few feathers for quite a lot of people. Yet despite the glaring and trifling accusations of further sexualising Peter and Tinkerbell's relationship, for the likes of myself, I wasn't the least bit bothered by this scene. Then again, this was another excuse for me to enjoy Robin and Julia sharing a smooch together. In rewatching that scene so many times, gladly puts a smile on my face. Together, they had great on-screen chemistry & I loved their interactions and scenes with each other. 

As for the rest of the film, there is a lot of heart within the story and the actors deliver brilliant performances to help accompany it. And despite Hugh Jackman's attempts in Pan, there will never be an excellent portrayal of Captain Hook that will far outshine Dustin Hoffman's. Bringing to life the one-handed, clock hating villain of the piece and embodying every mannerism & trait of his, as well as successfully imitating Captain Hook's voice, in my eyes, it was a character performance in costume that is second only to Dorothy Michaels of Tootsie for Hoffman, in terms of excellence. He even delivered a few amusing lines that made me chuckle; hearing him go 'Good form' is one example & through his bonding scenes with Jack, we see that he is not as completely evil as we think he is, making him as one of the more 'likeable' versions of that character. Bob Hoskins makes a great Smee as Captain Hook's accomplice and Robin Williams, was well, a great Peter Pan, considering he won the role and was up against Tom Hanks and Kevin Kline to play Peter, as fine actors as they are, I don't think either of them would have managed to capture the heart and essence as portrayed by Robin as that character. Not only as Peter Pan did Robin Williams showcase his inner child on the outside, giving us brief light-hearted moments, there was also a degree of emotional depth in his dramatic presence, evoked through his interactions and scenes with the Lost Boys and Julia's Tinkerbell. Personally, as Peter Pan/Peter Banning, this is Robin's most complete onscreen performance: he was amusing but not over-the-top crazy amusing, sincere, serious at times & profound. 


Seeing both Williams and Hoffman in the same movie together, was a fairy-tale wish come true: 2 exceptional acting stalwarts squaring off against each other, it was like seeing Mrs Doubtfire going up against Dorothy of Tootsie - hence their drag roles in Mrs Doubtfire and Tootsie - (that would be quite some fight !). But in the form of Robin in green tights and Dustin with the big black wig, fake moustache whilst waving a huge silver hook. Each of them goes a long way in injecting some wit to the proceedings. & their sword fight, whilst it wasn't truly the greatest on-screen, it was still entertaining & fun to see them duking it out. Those tiny moments give Hook that extra bit of polish. & contrary to most people, the A-list casting of Williams, Roberts, Hoffman and Hoskins was perfect in my eyes: I didn't dislike one thing about it. Arguably, Hook is the only Robin Williams film where alongside Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts and to a lesser extent, Bob Hoskins, Robin isn't just that one star with major top billing in a movie featuring an all-star ensemble of '80s and '90s cinema. That has been the case with Dead Poets Society, Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, Aladdin, but not with Hook. There are also guest cameos from a young Gwyneth Paltrow as young Wendy, Phil Collins - yes the singer Phil Collins- and Glenn Close as one of the pirates. 

I did have a few tiny niggles with Hook: them being the daughter, Maggie and Peter's wife, Moira who although and despite not being a central character, to me, she was an afterthought. I didn't care much for her, and in contrast to most people, she - not Tinkerbell was the weakest character in this film. I felt with Moira that though she was Peter's wife and Wendy's daughter and Jack and Maggie's mother, I didn't know much about that character for me to want to get to like her. Again, people had a go at Tinkerbell, and yet the writers didn't do much justice to Moira. In this film, to me, she came across as even blander than Tink. But I guess the writers didn't want to cast another A-list actress as Moira & have her compete against Julia Roberts. The ending scenes, excluding Peter and Tink together, were a tad disappointing. Even though it did end on a happier note. It left me feeling as though everything was resolved, with Tinkerbell and The Lost Boys, not everyone got the happy ending that they wanted. They wanted Peter to stay, but he couldn't and so he decided to return to London and to his family. 

The Lost Boys are much more raucous and wilder than their Disney animated counterparts - and yet it also gives it a sense of realism as well, in terms of not making all of them so cute looking and wanting us to go 'aww!!'. 

The overriding John Williams score that is played throughout in the background may be an annoyance to many, but I really enjoyed it and it was so excellently orchestrated. I loved the music in Hook. The special effects still hold up today, the set designs were also so lavish and magnificent and they really went out of their way to make Neverland as authentic and as imaginable looking as we could envision it to be in live-action form. & the costumes looked amazing. 

I believe that Spielberg is too critical of himself in being disappointed with Hook, just because it wasn't as big a hit as his previous big-name efforts. The thing is, though if you look at many of the Steven Spielberg 'best of' movies list, one thing's for certain: this film is often rarely featured, mentioned or included on there. This is the unofficial follow-up to Peter Pan, and it is still the only Peter Pan film that focuses on his life, post-pubescent years. 

The emotion, heart and warmth of the story are there, the reinvention of the classic J.M Barrie tale was creative and it made a nice change for once to see Peter Pan in another dimension and a different incarnation of the tale. Having an adult Peter Pan instead of say, a teenage Peter Pan was a good move & it did shake things up, in the way that the end product turned out to be more than satisfactory in my eyes. I've always wondered what the film would be like, had and if he did grow up. How would it affect others? What are the circumstances of growing up? Would Peter lose a part of himself by not remembering, or be it denying his roots? Hook does pose such fundamental questions. After a slow start, the film starts to pick up by the time Tinkerbell arrives in Peter's house and whisks him far & away to Neverland, back to his roots and in search of his kids. & from there on, he bonds with the Lost Boys and gets reacquainted with them, learns how to fly and to fight like a man in preparation for his rematch with Captain Hook, falls foul of Rufio of whom he manages to win around, - and all this prior to his transformation from the well-suited Peter Banning to Peter Pan with the green outfit and everything. Minus the hat. 

Hook is more than just a pirate film, it is more than just Peter Pan versus Captain Hook; in essence, it is a story of how Peter learns that to live is an awfully big adventure and more. Of how an adult, who used to be a young boy, tries to find his inner child & finds the joy that he once experienced as a youngster but as a grown-up & uses that to help him overcome his biggest obstacles. And that being a disgruntled, miserable, middle-aged sod won't get him very far in life. 

It's a shame, however, the cynics towards this film don't and refuse to realise this, and in understanding the film's intentions that lie within this particular telling of Peter Pan, in our (or be it my) defence of Hook. I guess it's all a matter of taste, and whilst people were not so keen on and receptive towards Robin Williams and Julia Roberts's portrayals of their respective characters, of Rufio, of the idea of an adult Peter Pan, nor were they impressed by Spielberg's direction, this film never ceases to make me smile & fill me with joy.  

(above: a line taken from the original 1953 Disney version of Peter Pan, which was later uttered by Julia Roberts's Tinkerbell in Hook)


Pros +

- Star-studded cast

- Great performances by the experienced veterans, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman

- Lavished sets 

- Interesting rendition of the Peter Pan tale told from a different perspective

- Excellent score by John Williams 

- Has heart, warmth and emotion 

- The Peter Pan & Tinkerbell or be it Robin Williams and Julia Roberts onscreen kiss (!) 

Cons -

- Peter's kids, or be it more specifically Maggie 

- Peter's Wife, Moira

-The writers could've done a bit more with Julia Roberts's Tinkerbell 

- The ending 

Final Verdict:

25 years ago the critics and naysayers derided this version of Peter Pan as being nothing more than infantile, childish and over-the-top in its delivery. 25 years later, whilst it is still considered a black sheep on Spielberg's filmography, this somewhat refreshing and alternate take on the Pan story, gave it its fair due as an underrated & Spielberg diamond in the rough. & for Williams, Roberts and Hoffman, their careers after Hook were on the up during the 1990s, right after the release of this film.  

I didn't really find much fault with Hook, besides Peter's daughter, Maggie and his wife. All the other characters were interesting, especially the antagonist, Captain Hook (played exceptionally well by Dustin Hoffman). The performances by the main stars were terrific in my book; including those of Julia Roberts, whereby most of the unfair bashing of this film was aimed directly at her role as fairy Tinkerbell. 

The stylistic choices that are in this film would have been accepted better, had Hook been made and released today, rather than in 1991. 

Hook may not be top of everyone's favourite Robin Williams movies list, but for someone like myself who grew up as a child in 1991 and saw him kick pirate ass, as well as unveiling all of his emotional layers in his portrayal as Peter Pan that I never thought he had before as a character actor, Robin truly did him justice. Thus proving he really can play any role and in any genre. 

Arguably, it's a live-action Peter Pan film that remains truer & far closer to the original source material than 2015's Pan & 2003's Peter Pan.

If I have to choose one- and one movie only to treasure for the rest of my life, it would definitely be Hook

I love so many of his movies, but truly, this one, alongside Good Morning, Vietnam - performance-wise springs to mind the most and stands out for me when it comes to Robin Williams. 

Thanks to him, Pan, was indeed, the man.  


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